Reminiscing the land of pretty waterfalls – Kharghar
This year, around May it was decided that we will be moving out of Kharghar, a picturesque Navi Mumbai town in Maharashtra. My husband got a new job in another corner of Bombay and therefore the decision to shift.
First time the decision to move was finalised, I felt a sense of exultation, a kind of euphoric feeling of happiness that finally I am going to leave this godforsaken place, which I dreaded for more than a year now. The circumstances, because of which we had shifted to Kharghar, had not been particularly pleasant for me. I was extremely unwell physically and keen to take a break from work. So the memory of such troubled times along with the fact that it was so freaking far from the heart of Bombay city, made this place a sort of dreaded zone for me.
Now that my days are numbered in Kharghar, I am moved to a zone of retrospection about this place which has been my home for more than a year now.
My earliest memory of Kharghar is going to a restaurant called Tawa, which served Indian cuisine. The joint could have been a decent one, but my perception about the place had such an incredibly negative impact that I felt it was one of the most repulsive places to eat, with funny looking waiters and even intolerable cuisine. And I felt the people who had come to eat in the restaurant were the most irritating lot with no manners whatsoever. This was just the beginning of me treating Kharghar perpetually like a sordid rural destination, a pessimistic, depressing zone, which can never offer anything worthy of my standard. And God only knows what that was or even is!
After the din and chaos of Bomaby, Kharghar seemed a desert to me always. Commuting in public transport is a major issue here. It was always so very difficult to get an auto rickshaw to go from one place to another. And if ever I could manage to get hold of one, the driver would charge an exorbitantly high price. Auto running on meter is an unheard of concept in Kharghar! In short, travelling in Kharghar sucked and I had harrowing experiences on several occasions. The people, the places, everything seemed extremely annoying to me. But the worst was going to office, at the heart of Bombay and returning back to Kharghar every day. I felt at times I was cursed in some way and therefore had to tolerate this entire ordeal.
So it’s really a matter of surprise how I spent fourteen months in this place. Now that I am about to leave it, somewhere I get this tinge of sadness as well. When I think of this place with an open mind, many pleasant thoughts come to my mind. I can never deny that after a hard day’s work in chaotic Bombay, Kharghar offered me a feeling of respite among its beautiful environs. The lush greenery, the lofty hills, the spectacular waterfalls and infinite stretches of meadows were always there with me as companions in moments of my despair.
Even unknown to myself they offered me their silent support; were a balm to all my aches. Every day, while going from Kharghar to Vashi in my husband’s car, Nature, like a stunning seductress lured me into its infinite charms. Early morning when I looked out of the car, Nature rewarded me with its best bounty. It was like being on a holiday and feeling fantastic about it every morning. Then I figured that the hatred for Kharghar perhaps had taken leave long back with the passing months. The bitter emotions for this Maharashtra suburb, which kept coming back now and then, were just like a toy to a child.
The fact that commuting was a problem in Kharghar propelled me to learn the art of driving a four-wheeler and soon enough my determination was transformed into action and I actually started driving a car. The empty roads, the long stretches gave me the convenience to practise without any interruptions. Soon my driving skills improved and Kharghar is the only place I can thank for it.
The people of Kharghar, whom I had considered much below my standard slowly, became my good companions and I actually spent joyous occasions like Ganesh Puja, New Year bash, Holi and others with them.
There is one person who deserves special mention when I pen down my thoughts on Kharghar. She is majorly responsible to make me actually give this place its due worth. Well, she is none other than my 2-year-old friend Gunu, who addresses me as Aunty. Her mannerisms, gestures, endearments are one of a kind. At a stage in my life when it seems the entire universe is judging me for not procreating soon enough, children appear quite a threat to me, as if living testimonies of some major lack in my life. However, Gunu is different. Well, she might be just a couple of years old, but in reality just like any us. She can chill with us adults way past midnight, eat spicy dishes with equal relish, join in a joke just like any one of us and laugh out loud as if she is totally in sync with what’s happening around. Gunu touched my heart in a manner few have done. I am quite thankful for my stint in Kharghar, since it helped me know an adorable darling like her.
A week more and then I will leave Kharghar and I have already started missing this place. I miss the roads; I miss the fields, the clouds in the sky, the cosy restaurants and snug cafes, the nice and friendly people of the place. Last monsoon, Kharghar treated me with a fascinating relish. The gigantic hills that surround the entire Kharghar turn from muddy brown to lush green every morning during the monsoon season.
The constant drizzle, the comforting winds, the long drives while munching on spicy hot corn sticks, climbing hills to get wet in the waterfalls are all so well etched in my memory. Last year I could see tourists crowding under waterfalls that were almost like everywhere. That had been a moment of pride for me when I could feel a kind of oneness with this place. What’s mine was an object of fascination for others. There’s no end to Kharghar’s charms. The infinite stretches of the Golf Course, the planned Central Park, the tranquillity at Iscon Temple, the old-fashioned Gurudwara ,the quaint eating joints like Flurys, Cafe Monza, Garam Masala, Hot Wok, all add up to make me realise that Kharghar indeed was a place that could be made a home. And home it indeed had been for 14 months.
Adieu Kharghar! Goodbye the bitterness, irritation, the resentment. From now on, only your fondest memories will live on.