The morning was spent walking up and down the rugged slopes, Lake Charlotte, Echo Point, One tree point, and lot more point I cant remember. In paths were shadowy even in late morning/ early afternoon, and sometimes spooky bungalows ambush us round a corner. They say wealthy Parsis and Englishmen of yore had bungalows built with the intent of spending torrid summer months in peace. Now, they stand deserted and mummified in soot and cobwebs.

Matheran is basically a steep plateau, surrounded by the oldest hills India, with water trickling down its slopes, to meet in a large distant lake way down from where we are standing. We climb down the edge to a recess few metres below the top and tourists. The sun is behind us, and burns the rocks we are staring at, in the darkest shades of red. There is a cool breeze, seemingly trapped in between stony walls, blowing on our face. We don’t talk. If footprints of time is visible anywhere, it is all around us. Time, and its brute force.

We took a horse back to the town. We were hungry and needed a place to dumb our satchels. We were covered with a layer of redness that we badly needed to wash. The bag on our shoulders made it difficult to ride, for we were misbalanced. My horse is called Shaktiman, and my friends, SSS(Sahebo-Shah-Sahenshah). I make small talk with the guide about the horses, where they were bought from, how long they live, what they eat, and where they sleep… Back straight, look straight; rein low in hands, trot-trot-trot…

Three hours worth in sand, we come back to Hope Hall Hotel. We go in. The same lady is sitting on table. Smiling at our red selves. My friend tells her we need to stay. She says the room has been taken, and there are no double or single bedders left. We ask if there is any dorm or anything like that. She says she can let us in a 5-bedder, provided we don’t even sit on the bed. We are happy and take the keys.

“Don’t even sit on the bed”

“Never. And thanks, Ma’am”

“Don’t call me Ma’am. I am Maria “

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