There has always been this romance associated with unreserved and unplanned travel in terms of meeting new people, understanding their life story, and exploring lands already explored by well known travellers.. I set off on this trip alone, after office on last friday. At 7 15 pm, I decided to call it a day and head to Dadar Railway station for buying a ‘unreserved’ ticket from Dadar to Pernem. Now the best train to catch, to head to the konkan coast, would be Train number 6335, from the outskirts of Mumbai. When buying unreserved tickets in Mumbai, for travel north or south, the best place to buy it would be at the bigger railway terminuses like Dadar/VT/Bombay Central/Bandra Terminus/Borivali/Panvel. I tried buyinga a ticket from Lower Parel, but that is seemingly not possible and if you do head to the Dadar, you need to get it only from the counter on Dadar East.
Dadar-Pernem- 137 rs
Now after purchasing my tickets and realising that the 10 pm train at Panvel was a better option than the Konkan Kanya express, I decided to head to Mani’s lunch home at Matunga and explore the combo that keeps every Tam guy worth existing- Ghee roast and filter coffee. After a short tiffen, I managed to find a taxi to Wadala Road station and took the local train to Panvel, which eased and ambled to Panvel by 9 30 pm, with the crowd being 1/1000th of what it was when I bullied people to head butt my way at Wadala road.
Once at Panvel, I removed the heavy bag I was carrying and allowed my shoulders to be free. The last 2 day’s work out sessions had obviously made every sinew of my shoulder writhe in pain. I was feeling weak all of a sudden, whether I would have the energy to last the night braving the crowd in the unreserved compartment. But Today was Gudi Padwa, Maharashtrian new year, so every Mumbaikar was at home celebrating with family and if he was a travel freak, he would have left on Thursday night and not on Friday night, when I was leaving.
Just when my shoulders were groaning, I came across a short, dark man who seemed to be glancing into reams of paper. I guessed, he must be the TTE, and went and asked him if there was a possibility of getting a reserved seat. Today was my day, and given that quite a few states celebrated new year on Friday, nobody was competing with me on the train to Sawantwadi. The TTE charged me 200 rs extra for accomadating me in a middle berth, for me to lay me shoulders to rest.
Fine to the TTE- 200 Rs
I must have woken up every half an hour after 2 30 am, and finally decided to get up at 5 am, as the train was scheduled to arrive at Sawantwadi at 5 15 am. With everyone sleeping in the compartment, I couldnt rely on ‘wisdom of the crowds’ to get off, so I decided to take the plaunge of connecting the mobile phone GPS on my N-81, on Roaming(this combo guzzles the charge on your mobile). I was still a few kilometres from my destination, and so I decided to abandon my 2 foot space of the middle birth and stand at the footboard, allowing the morning chill winds to hit my face. After staring aimlessly at darkness, I saw that next to the toilet, there was a charging point and decided to charge my mobile phone. My friend Vinay, was to pick me up at the station. He had arrived the previous night after a sales visit to central Maharashtra. Vinay had brought an auto along and we drove to Sawantwadi town, which was 9 km’s from the station. I hear that there is only 1 hotel near the sawant wadi railway station, and if you are caught up at the station, there’s atleast a paid home to go to unlike stations in Goa( Pernem/Thivim/Karmali/Cancona).
We had breakfast in an udupi hotel, where the sun’s rays had just pierced in at around 7 15 am. We tried to ask the hotel proprietor for breakfast at 6 20 am, but he was least interested in serving us, as words like ‘customer’, ‘dhandha’ are alien terms in this slow moving,bovine and peaceful town.
Its not that you have too many options within a few minutes of the hotel opening. Whatever we asked for resulted in 3 items being suggested/reccomended. Upma,Sheera and Poha. We were in a mood for any thing, as long as it facilitated bowel movement and gave us a pleasant taste to make us feel good, while we saunter around the town.
The plate on the left is mine, which has Sheera(Yellow sweet) and Upma. Vinay is seen having Poha, which has become his favourite dish after he relocated to Mumbai.
The town reminded me of the faint little town of Malgudi, which had a sense of calm written all over it.
People are early to rise and discuss news with other people in the promenade of the lake.
For more updates, watch part 2 of the Blog, to be published soon