I was going to begin with a funny poem to mark my return to blogging but when I searched for funny poems on comebacks and homecomings, I was bombarded with sickeningly happy ‘Back to School’ poems and it sent me straight home.
Silly joke: √
Before writing this blog, I’d been wondering what to write as the “Comeback Post” and then my parents planned a road trip and that immediately answered the question.
This Friday, my family and I went on a day-trip to Lonavla, a small city in the state of Maharashtra, located between my city of Pune and the state capital Mumbai. It’s a pretty little place, nestled in the hills and the rainy season brought in some lovely weather which made the trip a blast.
So, without further ado, Imma begin telling you about the road trip on a rainy Friday.
Road trips in India are always a treat. There’s so many unique things that one comes across while driving through cities and highways and it’s fascinating, even as a local.
We came across this idol-tent in my city of Pune a little before we hit the highway. For the last week, India has been celebrating the Ganpati Festival dedicated to the Hindu God Ganesha. This festival originates in Maharashtra so the state truly comes alive in splendour during the ten-day festival. This year, however, celebrations were very lowkey owing to the pandemic and very few idol tents were allowed to open and large ceremonies were totally banned. This is one idol-tent that was open and I was glad to see at least one idol of Lord Ganesha. I love how well the idol is decorated despite the subdued festival and it sure gives me hope for brighter future.
The first picture is a nursery, right before the highway begins. The initial parts of a highway often have a row of shops selling either road essentials such as tyres and tools or even recreational shops such as nurseries, toy shops or even a stall selling sunglasses as seen in the second picture. In fact, highway nurseries often have the best collection of plants and most of the plants and flower pots in my home garden are from a highway nursery. They also have gardeners who can be employed for your home garden. As for the sunglasses, the variety is brilliant and it’s got the last-minute packers covered in the rare(?) occasion that that they forget their sunglasses. Hehe.
The highways also have fruit stalls for pangs of hunger and these stalls are set up on the dividers running through the centre of the road. The stalls are close to a food mall or a service road off the highway to prevent interruption of traffic. Some stalls can also be colourful as they sell trinkets for heavy vehicles such as trucks and trailers. I mean, even vehicles need retail therapy, innit:) The highways got them covered.
We stopped for breakfast at a small restaurant on the highway. Indian highway food-malls have variety ranging from brands like McDonalds and KFC to local cuisine of the state. We stopped at a local food mall selling mainly Indian breakfast, complete with tea shops and tiny cafes.
Local food malls are usually located on a rough service road off the highway. This particular one wasn’t overly crowded as we were a wee bit late for the breakfast rush but the stalls are open throughout and offer a nice brunch. We ate in the stall with the yellow board. The name, written in Marathi, translates to ‘Anand Wadewale’.
The restaurant was very clean and comfy and the food was brilliant. Before I get to the culinary angle, though, let’s have a look at the vast menu. The whole yellow board is the menu, written entirely in Marathi, giving it a great local touch. As you can see, the food is made ‘live on the counter’ hence service is really fast. They do have a small kitchen for bigger meals but breakfast and on-the go meals are served in the blink of an eye.
Finally, the breakfast itself.
The dish on the top right corner is Poha with sambar. Poha is a dish made out of flattened rice, cooked in turmeric and chilly and often garnished with lemon, onions, coriander or even some savoury Indian spices. Sambar is a kind of soup, loaded with vegetables and spices. Poha is a very common breakfast in Maharashtra and even in my house, we make it every weekend.
The dish beside the poha(top left) is called ‘Vada Pav’. This is the most popular and beloved snack in Maharashtra and is the ultimate solution to a growling stomach. It’s often called ‘Indian Burger’ as it consists of bread or the ‘pav’ which is stuffed with a mildly spicy potato cutlet called the ‘Vada’. The grainy condiment on the plate is garlic chutney which is used as the ‘sauce’ to spice the dish up. Different restaurants have different varieties of this chutney ranging from garlic to coriander to mint but personally, I prefer the garlic though I urge everyone to try all of it.
The dish on the bottom left is ‘Puneri Bun Maska’ which is a buttered bun, slightly sweetened by ‘tutti fruity’ or tiny fruit bits. Finally we’ve got two shots of milky tea and a bottle of Sprite. There ends the breakfast:)
Do we always have such a heavy breakfast? Yes. Trust me, it’s fun!
These are some of the other stalls in the food mall. One of the cafes had a very funny name i.e ‘Chill Out Baby Cafe’. It had a vibrant menu and I will definitely visit this next time. After all, the vibes are brilliant, hehe. There’s also a tea shop called ‘Jaggery Tales’ which is marketed by that ant holding a cup of tea on the right. The shop specialises in jaggery tea which is not something I would try as I’m way too attached to my milky, sugary tea but I’d definitely want someone to try it and tell me how it is. It’s supposed to be healthy. At least that’s what the ant said.
After breakfast, we drove straight to our destination without a stop. The drive was absolutely breathtaking as the rainy season brought out the whole cavalry of greenery and mist, complete with some flowers and foggy hills. It was straight out of a fairy land, the drive was:)
Here’s the proof….
Breathtaking innit? Imma show you some more but before I unleash Mother Nature at her best, Imma tell you a bit about the tiny statue above the AC and the dashboard. Every four-wheeled vehicle in India has a tiny statue of a God or a Saint above their dashboard. It’s like a tiny charm for a safe journey on the road. I love how people beliefs and faith is seen in small gestures like this. The power of a prayer is a good thing to carry with you on the roads. Or anywhere:)
Right, now here’s a wave of Green….
This is a makeshift pond formed due to the rain, seen through a raindrop-stained window.
A lush hillside. I love the waterfall here, it’s a pretty little surprise in a picture taken through a speeding car:) I love how the most unprepared photos offer the best clicks.
You see that little hilltop peeking out from behind the hill? I like to call it the ‘Peek-A-Boo’ hill hehe.
We also passed the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium. It’s one of the hotspots that showcase India’s cricket craze and a lot of International leagues and matches take place here.
We reached Lonavla in about forty five minutes and had a whole blast in the city.
I will be writing about Lonavla city and all the adventures we had there in the next post. Coming up next Saturday is a lot of colour, plenty good views, a bit of city hustle and a lovely lake.
And that is a wrap.
Until next time,