Category: Travel

You, Me and no Cuppa Joe





Ek Chai toh banta hai…


In fact, it is You, Me & Cuppa Tea!

I haven’t been to Parsik Hills, CBD Belapur for ages. Not that this spot was easily accessible for me when I was living and studying in a nearby college. I remember this place being a non-accessible, quiet, lonely and, some say, a place not to be found at after dark. Let your imagination run wild over the last one.

Things have changed after ten years, but not much. It is still inaccessible – if you don’t have a bike or a car. It is still dark and lonely as the streetlamps don’t work all the way up to the top and there are dark corners. This is strange given that the Mayor’s Bungalow is situated somewhere along the way to the top. Security measures, anyone? Unless there are stealth mode Ninjas in training. And I don’t mean the 250R or the 600R variety. Though these can be seen racing up and down the hill.

Many houses and buildings seems to have popped up on this road. But they don’t seem to be heavily inhabited.

What does add spark and light to this place is the tea parlour that has sprung up in the middle of the Hill.

You, Me & Cuppa Tea seems unassuming, yet cosily inviting at first glance. It does raise your curiosity meter by a few notches given that the rustic look of the place blends in with the dense foliage growing on the hills. On a closer look, you start seeing and noticing the details. And this is when you are blown out of your mind.

We – as in my group of friends – got the opportunity to visit this place for a book signing session. This was my first attendance for such a session. Our friend Venky’s mom is an author. We love Venky and wanted to meet his family – they don’t live here. So this was our opportunity. It was an informal session and a memorable one!

Lalitha Rao has been a columnist and a writer for over 30 years. Bougainvilla Magic is a beautiful compilation of her experiences over the years. It is well written, a pleasure to read, and one can relate to the stories of a time gone by.

Some stories were read out and more experiences were shared and laughter was one of the key ingredients to the evening. Venky did choose an idle place for the event.

Since there is outdoor seating, our group of 12 were comfortably sprawled out, listening to the stories and swapping some more. I was in seventh heaven when I read the menu card. I am a tea person. Completely. There were concoctions I hadn’t even dreamed of! Although I knew I couldn’t try out all of them at one go :(

My friends, they are not so adventurous. They settled for Masala Chai. Which I must admit, was a cup well brewed! I went for the Christmas Tree tea, for the flavours they mentioned. I was, well, a little disappointed. I don’t know too much about tea, but I don’t like my tea overly boiled. It tastes bitter. I couldn’t taste the orange or the roses or the essence of Christmas at all! But since I had ordered it, I slugged it down. Thankfully, there were sandwiches which were ordered and they covered the taste of the tea for me!

The owner is from Kashmir. Maybe they brew their teas for a longer time. Well, their brew was lost on me. The company saved me.

Also, the decor saved my drowning spirit. Once I got over my disappointment, I realised I had to visit the loo. Which meant I had to go inside the establishment. The decor is simply beautiful. Thought has been invested in doing up the place. There are wooden seating arrangements which are comfortable. The reception desk is a tea cup! Delightful!


And there are “sitting rooms” A Japanese sitting room, a Chinese one and even one for the managerial meetings! It is complete with low ceilings and small tables. You would have to stoop and walk and be seated on the cushions on the floor. Very authentic. I am not sure on the comfort levels, but I hope they provide tea in the traditional cups of the Japanese. I had a visual that you’d have to dress up in kimonos and wear wooden shoes to enter this area.

There are lot of items for sale. Like copper tea pots from the Mughal era. It was a thermos in its own right! With contraptions for putting in hot coals and will keep the tea hot throughout the day! Prices ranged from Rs 10,000 to Rs 75,000 depending on the size. I quietly and carefully put those babies away. There were also tea sets and tea pots with funky designs! All for sale. And let’s not forget tea mixes. Specially kept ready for brewing your own cup at home. Walnuts, directly from Kashmir, were for sale.


There was art everywhere! This was paradise for me. I am sorry the tea didn’t impress me much, but the decor surely did. There were paintings even on the bark of the trees around the place. Another item that is worth mentioning was their wash basin. I will just put up a picture so you see what I am blabbering about.

The owner is easy to talk to. Maybe he will brew me a mellower cup the next time I visit their Tea Lab. Which means I don’t mind giving this place another go. This place can be a hang out when you want to just unwind. Get a book and get cozy with a pot of tea. And wonder about the mysteries of the universe.

What it requires is more accessibility and streetlights. Will it lose its charm? I don’t think so. It will only make the Hills safer.




Hello, 2016!

Hello, 2016!



The New Year did come in with a bang!
And it was followed up beautifully with a day spent out in the open.

Kumbu had asked me keep my day free and he wanted to take a few of us to a special place.
By the time we had to leave for the drive, it was the three of us, including Chota Bomb.
Everyone else had things to do and people to meet. We had the day free, so we took off!

We left at 1230 hours. The place where we were headed was kept a secret. Sneha and I knew it was towards Nasik. Where exactly, we weren’t sure.
But we didn’t bother too much about it. Kumbu was at the wheel of his beloved Achilles (Honda Jazz) and we were making good time with not too much traffic.

In fact, the maximum traffic we found was in the restaurant Green Lawns just after Kasara Ghats, on the way to Igatpuri. Human traffic, that is. The place was packed and the waiters were super busy.
I wish I could say that it was the awesome food that drove in the crowds. I think, it was just the location. Easily accessible and visible.
The food, by my experience, was spicy. The dal khichidi was spicy, the pav bhaji was spicy, even the masala papad was spicy. It was like the cook decided to ensure everyone has a spicy and hot new year! Thank fully the chaas (buttermilk) was cool and saved me from my peril.
It was already 1600 hours by the time we left for the secret location.


The road seemed familiar – it looked like we were heading towards Shirdi. I told Kumbu if he had told me before, I would have gotten my mum along. She would have been thrilled!
By now, I thought I knew where we were going. Towards the sea of windmills!
But what could be so special about these windmills? I can see them from the road!

This is where it got interesting. Kumbu took some turns through some villages and we found ourselves at the base of a curvy road leading up the mountain.
Do you know the feeling you get when you know you are going to be greeted by something that is totally awesome and breathtaking?
That is exactly how I felt.
I became quiet, rolled down my windows and sat up.

Nothing can prepare you for the first sight of the windmill, standing tall and straight, going up towards the limitless sky. What appear like sentinels guarding the Western Ghats, keeping a watch over the sleepy inhabitants from a distance, ends up being a force that you don’t want to mess with when you come close to it.
It seems like such an everyday thing – windmill. It’s there somewhere in the deep recesses of our brain. We don’t pay so much thought to it. Because it doesn’t really affect our day-to-day life. But now, faced with this giant, I am forced to think. To acknowledge. And be amazed.
It is a man-made wonder and common but yet – not so common. The weight, the length, the height – I cannot even think to put that in numbers. I am sure Wikipedia will do that for you.
For me, I cannot attempt to put AMAZING into numbers.

When you stand close to the windmill, you can hear the blades making the whoop…..whoop…..whoop sound as it slices the air. And the unmistakable sound of electricity buzzing through the wires. You want to just lie down on the ground and keep looking at the humongous blades as it keeps going round and round like the propeller of the airplane.

And the view! It felt like you could see the entire world from up here. It wasn’t really the entire world, but that’s what it felt like. Of course, we had to keep in mind, one wrong step and it would be the end of our worlds. So we gave the edge of the mountain the respect it deserves. And kept away.
It was the silence that was the added gift. I mean, you can try to listen to silence anywhere – you only have to try a bit. Here, you don’t even have to try. It surrounds you. And if I had to stay there long enough, I would become Silence.

Of course, we did the city-people touristy things and clicked hundreds of photos. To share it with people who were not there with us. I think we clicked them for our memory bank – so that when we come across these pictures, we live those few moments where we experienced feelings of complete joy and freedom once again.

The air started getting cooler and the sun, softer. Everything was bathed in magic dust. And it was time to leave. We travelled for almost seven hours to spend just a half hour at this place. And it was totally worth it. I had started the journey not knowing what would I find and whether I would be disappointed or not. Faith prevailed. Of letting the day take its course and that it would be worthwhile. It was totally worthwhile.
And sometimes, you just have to do things on faith. Like a road trip, not knowing what the destination holds. You will be rewarded with Magic.