Thursday, April 12, 2007

Let's all go jump in the lake!

A couple of weeks ago, Vani and I, along with our husbands, spontaneously decided to run away from Bombay for the weekend. Pranay, Vani's husband was the insistent one and his enthusiasm was too contagious to resist - so, one minute, the four of us were enjoying a leisurely late Saturday lunch at this nice restaurant called 'Out of the Blue' and then suddenly, out of the blue, we were out of 'Out of the Blue' (sorry, I just had to try this sentence out) and speeding along the highway towards our destination, Wapi.

Why Wapi, you may ask? And pretty soon, so were we. On the spur of the moment, we had decided the place needed to be just a couple of hours away, and further, should ideally contain someone who can help us with arrangements - this turned out to be a Commissioner friend of Vijay's, fondly referred to as Commissioner D'melo. So there we were, finding ourselves suddenly in a dusty little industrial town, with strange smells emanating from factories, seemingly situated few feet apart.

However, D'Melo and wife proved to be delightful dinner company on the evening that we landed there, despite their disastrously naughty little son (who spent most of the evening indiscriminately pouring salt and pepper onto everything in the restaurant that he could access, including the water fountain). It was due to the D'Melo's that we found out that we should not head to the beaches nearby but instead should head to a lake called Dudhni near Silvassa - an untapped paradise lake hidden away in the midst of some hills.

We agreed to wake up early the next morning. My suggestion that we wake up to see the sunrise was quashed by Vani's cunning comment 'But how can we see the sunrise? We are in the west and the sun rises in the east!'. We all had a hearty laugh until we saw the set look on her face. There was a respectful moment of silence that ensued and then we gently asked her to clarify that she was indeed joking. This turned out to be a false assumption on our part, to which she took obvious offense. She stubbornly repeated her argument. We tried to convince her that in order to see the sunrise, all one had to do was look east, but she wasn't buying it at all. When we tried a different line of logic which was 'How then, Vani, does the sun appear in the sky during the day?', she just replied firmly 'It's just there. But you can never see it rise'.

That's when I realized how seldom we actually perceive the dangers we face due to keeping the company of ubiquitious loony tunes that surround us (to remain unnamed). Everyday, in every part of the world, someone teeters close to the precipice of insanity - one step and that's it for them. I was tempted to suggest that it was perhaps because Vani herself does not rise before 10 a.m. that she has never seen the sun rise in Bombay, but kept silent for fear of being hacked to death in the night. So we all just decided to bury the argument and go to sleep.

The next morning we arose to set out - approximately three hours post the planned time, and yes, the sun was already high like a pie in the sky - Vani gave us all a catlike smile and smugly said 'See..?'. And soon we were on our way to Dudhni.

Dudhni turned out to be a truly amazing spot - our first glimpse of it as we were driving along the hilly path leading down to it sent us into raptures. A crystal clear, huge lake with picturesque islands scattered around thoughtfully - we sped downwards to the shore of the lake where there was our saviour of the day: a restaurant to have breakfast at.

While stuffing our faces at the restaurant, I also realized that Pranay can definitely match his wife in looniness. He ordered a cold beer with his breakfast of utthapam which is strange enough; but was also tempted by the promise of fresh orange juice so he ordered that too; and then, thought he felt that a cup of spicy masala chai was just the thing for him, so went for that as well. When all three of them arrived at the same time, he looked thoroughly confused and helpless. When I offered to drink his tea for him, he looked relieved for a minute; but then his face lapsed into thoughtfulness, 'Do you think I should order a lassi? I feel like a lassi'.

Luckily for him, before the rest of us could turn him into some sort of pulpy liquid, we were distracted by the sight of boats gleaming in the sunlight, inviting us to explore the lake in all its glory.

We went out on a huge speedboat, built to seat thirty people, but containing only the four of us and the boatman since it apparently was off-season time. It was a thoroughly enjoyable hour, but it actually just left us hungry for more of the lake. The water looked so pure and inviting, the day was so hot, and we had been smart enough to pack our swimsuits - so we decided to just go swimming!

A suitably innocent-looking boatboy was found by the husbands and recruited to take us to an isolated spot - we paddled out there in his small, fortunately shaded boat, and within half an hour were at our designated spot - a nice little island-type piece of land.

The lunacy that was then displayed by Pranay was of an order that had to be seen to be believed. He was the only one amongst the four of us who could not swim, so had equipped himself with a life jacket ( the boatboy was well prepared for all contingencies). This by itself is not an issue - life jackets for those who cannot swim, make perfect sense. But life jackets worn right upto your chin in a manner that make you look like a trussed-up turkey, coupled with a last minute decision whereby you refuse to take the floaters off your feet, when entering a lake - well, let's just say that this does make for a strange sight. He did kindly agree to take off his spectacles, though, so that's something.

Once he entered the water, all was fine for a bit and the four of us floated around in perfect bliss in the clear water under the midday sun. Until Pranay suddenly decided that he was drowning and started thrashing around in all directions, screaming for help - only to discover that he had unknowingly floated back to the shore and was now in knee-deep water. 'Yeh Kya hai, yaar!' was his disgusted response as he rose up like a six-foot hill and trudged back into deeper waters.

The next outburst was 'Oh, my floater - I think I've lost one of my floaters'. By this time, the rest of us were too weak with laughter to respond.

After this, he was convinced that he had finally met his death and was being attacked by a crocodile or a shark or some such aquatic monster. 'What's that', he screamed, 'I felt something on my leg'. We waited bemusedly - before deciding to swim, we had naturally checked for the presence of aquatic monsters in the lake and were not unduly worried. Soon enough, he was explaining 'It was my life jacket strap', as we struggled to keep our heads above water, while laughing hard at him.

So there we were - the four of us in our own corner of the huge lake. Vijay darting back and forth in the deeper waters like a slim, brown fish. Vani soaking up the sun, floating on her back, occasionally glancing casually over to see whether Pranay was still afloat. Pranay, again slowly drifting back towards the shore with a resigned, fairly peaceful, trussed-up turkey look. And me, too lazy to actually swim, hanging on to that round, floating device whose name escapes me at this moment.

At one point Vani came up to me and without asking, caught hold of the round floating device (what the hell is that thing called?) - and we were both hung on to it peacefully. The water felt delicious and I remarked to her that I had felt a sudden pleasant gush of a warm current running through my legs, in the cool water, and asked her if she had felt it too. And that's when I caught a glimpse of her slightly guilty face and remembered when we were changing into our suits in the ladies room, she had refused to go to the loo one last time, announcing gaily and with her typical, unnecessary candour 'My next pee will be in the lake'. Putting two and two together with my usual alacrity, I confronted her, demanding to know whether she had just peed on me but she began to deny it vociferously. I still don't know if she did it - but nevertheless one day, I will get my revenge.

We spent over an hour thus floating, laughing, slowly turning black under the hot sun, and building up massive appetites in that beautiful, cool lake. And then it was back on the boat, back to the restaurant for a hearty lunch and ice cream - and sadly, back on our way to maddening Mumbai.

By the time we got home at night, we were physically exhausted - but the overall thrill of the getaway still intact. And I really feel if all weekends were like this, maybe I could actually get through the rest of the week - and life would be pretty darn good.