Friday, May 14, 2010

Trip to Lonavala

It all started with wanting to get away from the heat of Mumbai, May is really bad.I just cannot take the heat and the humidity any longer. I cannot believe that i was earlier in Mumbai for 12 long years. I think its to do with age, when you are young you can take on practically anything. I recall the extremes. I remember our warship visit to Bandarabas the HQ of the Southern Naval Command of Royal Imperial Navy of Iran during the hey days of Shah of Iran.The temperature was close to 50 deg C. Breathing the hot air itself was an ordeal. The sailors on parade to receive Admiral Habibulai fainted at regular intervals.That was 1975.

I was posted in Riga the capital of Latvia in 1978.We had gone there to commission a warship and bring it back to India. A ship mate and i decided to visit Moscow and that was Dec. Having finished viewing the change of guard at the Lenin's Mausoleum in Red Square i proceeded to stand in a pre designated place and wait for my mate. The temperature was close to - 28 deg C.Those were the worst 15 minutes of my life. The ears became red and frozen like red meat.I was unable to stand as the cold was seeping through the heel.As advised by our seniors,i had a shoe with inner fur lining and was wearing two socks.Each one being separated by a layer of news paper cut to size to act as insulators. All this was of no help.It was kadam tal for 15 unbearable moments of my life.

Another incident of interest was an evening out in Riga. All the ships officers were invited to hotel Riga for dinner by our Russian team leader,which meant a very simple operation of getting into a bus in our Stalavaya (guest house) and alighting at the hotel.Never in confrontation with the elements. So a friend and i decided to dress as if we were going out for a stroll in Mumbai.I had never been so totally wrong. During the journey the bus driver stopped at a petrol station and asked all of us to get down before filling in fuel.Well,the rules in USSR required that there should be no passengers in the bus when it fuels. The rest is cold history. Two of us being slowly frozen at -20 deg C. Good old days.
Coming back to Lonavala. The main reason for the trip was to take our grandson out into the open. I had booked a suite in INS Shivaji. A naval shore establishment which trains engineers for the navy. The journey to Shivaji was very usefully spent in answering the never ending volley of questions from our 3 year old GS. What is a tunnel,why is it there,where is the car going,what is a road roller etc.The duty of answering was forcibly taken over by my wife as she feared i may give wrong and funny answers like Calvin's dad.

After she had answered 987 questions we reached Shivaji. To my surprise i found that Lonavala was no better than Mumbai in terms of weather.The afternoon was spent indoors in AC comfort.Our GS needs to hear at least 3 stories prior to sleeping. In the manual of "Roles and Responsibilities of Grand Parents Vol I - Apr 2007" issued by our daughter, story telling is my part of ship. I enjoy story telling.Its unlike answering questions.Here you have the liberty of letting your imagination run wild and a few inaccuracies are allowed. Normally i start with the 'Bad Wood Cutter' story which is so loosely structured,it can take on many other sub sets without loosing sight of the main story. These sub stories change every day. The characters and the plot vary according to the mood and offers a very high chance of making GS sleep.Sometimes you get caught and GS says "Tata, last time you told me that the crow went to the Sparrow's house and now you are telling all ulta pulta". One has to be very alert and on guard to protect ones reputation as a good story teller. Never attempt any story telling after a good beer session - continuity and plot are generally the victims.

Evening turned out to be better and the weather had improved. We went to the swimming pool to cool off. Children love water and that's it. Once inside its very difficult to make them come out.Its the best form of exercise and you can be rest assured they will eat well and go to sleep in a jiffy. One thing the GP should remember is to follow exactly the same routine as the GS. You play when he plays and go to do nini when he does.

Keep them outdoors and they are excellent.Next morning was spent in speed boat rides and swimming.In the evening it was a trek to the Sunset Point. My GS had a taste of sailors at parade training under a banner loudly proclaiming "DRILL IS THE BED ROCK OF DISCIPLINE".He wanted to know where the sailors were going and i had difficulty in explaining to him 'No where' as they were doing 'About Turns', Halt,March,Stop etc and gaining no ground.It amused him a lot.Down the memory lane and i was doing the same thing till 1976 and as a matter of fact i specialized in this art form.

Never venture on a trip alone.GM must go with you as she is the essential link to your happiness.In these parts where guns and uniform are in plenty, you are bound to come across after sunset, a ship type or a course mate or a bar mate and you are compelled to join forces with 100 Pipers band and make merry.On a night like that the GF sleeps making noises like an under fed Nigerian tiger.The GS wakes up in the middle of the night to seek answers to a few philosophical questions which had been bothering him during the day.Why tata has no hair on his head,why is tata fat etc.These have to be dispatched with utmost haste by the GM to ensure the GF continues to sleep well and undisturbed.

Carry lots of fruits,cheese,juices just in case and lots and lots of changes.A video and still cameras are a must. On your part tons of energy to run behind him,lots of patience and cheer.Also ,as soon as you enter any new place make it Child Proof.Ensure there are no protruding nails,loose electrical connections,open
windows,unexploded hand grenade etc.

Cheers and more holidays with GC

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