Monday, February 7, 2011

Two days of madness

As opposed to the last couple of weeks and weekends, this one's been mad.

I was supposed to leave for Nasik and the Sula Wine Festival on Friday evening. But then plans started changing, not really too surprising..., and I decided to take a very early Sat morning train with B, a CSer I'd travelled in Goa with. The train departs from Victoria Terminus downtown and it'd be a pain getting there in the morning - I'd have to leave home at around 4:15 am. I was on the phone with B and he told me I should come downtown, could crash with him at his friend's place and we'd take a taxi to the station together. He also invited me to some stand up performance in Bombay Gym, one of the best country-club-type-of-things in the city. I decided to get ready and try to make it on time.
Pretty soon, however, it was obvious that I wouldn't - the show was starting at 7:30 pm, I was at least 1,5 hrs away, it was 5:15 and I was just about to meet with S to grab something to eat. So I wrote B I'd be meeting him after he finishes at the Gym and set up a meeting for a drink with M, an Indian American I'd been mailing and txting with through Internations. So I met S at Novotel, grabbed some goodie goodie

carbonara with garlic bread


mushroom foccacia in mint chutney with masala fries

 All while enjoying a very nice sunset.

It was late and I wanted to take a train downtown, but I was tired and already getting a bit sick again, so S insisted on putting me into a taxi. It was sweet and considerate of him, but I got stuck in traffic again and reaching Breach Candy, which is still quite some way from Colaba, took me  1 h 45 min. I got off the taxi, B greeted me and showed the way to his friend's. She's an elder woman leaving alone in a big, if only a bit unkept, house and his friend and him help her out from time to time. A sweet person, but rather old fashioned and going out to meet with M would be more than a hassle. I don't spend my evenings out in this part of town and told myself I couldn't miss the opportunity. So, being me, I decided to take my backpack, party till the morning comes and then meet B @ VT at 5:30 am..

I took a taxi, went to Leopold's (finally got to see the famous joint!), met with M and started the evening out. We went to Polyester, a place I fell in love with the moment we entered it. A very funky space, colourful lights, hippie flowers on the walls. We grabbed some drinks and as the place was still empty (it was around 10:30 om I think) we went to some nearby pub, got ourselves a bottle and numerous redbulls. An interesting conversation and 2 hrs later we headed back to Polyester where the party was already full on. Met some cool people, danced to some good hip hop beats - good times! Already by that time M had decided to head to Nasik with us, so we went to get his things. We even shortly considered taking his car and driving down there but decided agains it in the end. So, M packed his bag and we found ourselves wandering around VT and looking for breakfast. Some time later we saw B, got ourselves tickets for the nearest train and set off to ensure we got seats. 

That process took us a while - the first and last 3 compartments are 'regular', meaning you don't need any reservation to sit in them. That is, if all the seats have not been 'taken' by guys trying to make some money out of you, by getting into the train as soon as it comes on the platform and 'saving' seats for future travellers. Then there are a couple of 'pre-booked' compartments that you should buy tickets for a day in advance (our cost 51 Rs., these ones were around 150 Rs.).  Guys already wanted to pay the extra 50 Rs. per person to take the 'saved' seats but we decided to try our luck further down the train. And it turned out that the last compartments were pretty much empty so we could choose where we wanted to sit. It's a good thing we were at the station that much in advance or it would have been very difficult, if not impossible, to get any seats later on. Already about 15 mins before leaving VT the train was packed. Of course people kept on getting in on next stations, occupying the floor and standing between rows of seats (pretty much like me during my 11 hr train journey on Java). 
So we're sitting on the train, it's about to leave the station in a couple of minutes when M suddenly decides he doesn't want to go, says his good bye's and leaves. I start laughing and not thinking about it too much, try to get some sleep. Luckily I manage to do so, although I wouldn't call it quality sleep :)

Indian trains are really loud. Not really because of the machine itself but the people in it. There's no 'consideration' for the peace of mind of fellow travellers - people shout one to another, play their music (that part's actually not that bad), don't try to stop babies and children from crying.. Getting out of the train can be a bit of a problem so there's also a lot of screaming, arguing and general commotion before every station.

Somehow the train managed to be on time and it took us 4 hours to get to our destination - Nasik Road. I was gonna spend the night at B's friend's place, together with about 20 other people who were coming down to T's for the festival. We met some of them at the rick stop, said our hello's and started the half an hour drive to T's place. I was already half dead after a pretty straining day/night and the huge pollution in Nasik wasn't helping my cause. Of course there's  lot of pollution in Mcity but it looked, felt and smelled to me that Nasik's even worse. After a couple of minutes I already had problems breathing and had to cover my nose and mouth with a folded towel.

We arrived at T's, a huge couple bedroom bungalow, I took a shower, ate some breakfast (how I've missed eating eggs!) and took a short nap. I woke up to see a whole bunch of new people and the old ones alredy a bit tipsy on the Black Label they'd been savouring while I was sleeping. I got dressed, waited for the guys to figure out transportation arrangements and we left for the festival. It wasn't a long drive and we were six in the car so I ended up travelling with style on the front seat..

We reached Sula vineyards a couple of minutes later and immediately got stuck in a line of cars waiting to enter the premises to fight for a parking space. The guys decided to park before the grounds of the vineyard, so we left the car and took a short walk to the festival itself.

We started off in the vineyard's bar with a couple of bottles of wine and some crackers with cheese (stylishly served on plastic plates ;) and I met S, the actor, chilling with a bunch of friends.
B and I had to wait for his friends to reach the vineyard and give us our invitations. Once we got those, we entered the festival's grounds. There were some food stalls, a couple of souvenir stalls and a stage where Indian bands were perfoming. Now I have no idea about Indian music (bolly doesn't count here) so didn't know what to expect. I loved one of the bands though - Tough on Tabacco. 

ToT on stage.

Loved them live!

The next band performing was Something Relevant. Didn't like the guys in the beginning but later on they had some good songs.

Unfortunately due to certain circumstances I left earlier than I was supposed to, thus not seeing the best evening performances, nor attending the afterparty. The good thing is that I got a ride back to Mcity with R, S's friend. There was a bit of a hassle with collecting my backpack from T's - couldn't reach anyone on the phone 'cause they didn't have network coverage or the people I could reach didn't know T's address, R was in a hurry and I was almost left alone in the middle of Nasik, having to go back to Sula, somehow find T, drag him out and beg to go with me so I could take my bag.. But luckily after half an hour of stressing out and trying to find that one little side road leading to his bungalow, we got clear directions and a rickshawalla who got in the car and showed us the house. I picked up my things and 5 minutes later we were heading back home.

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