Thursday, April 17, 2008

Maha Maza at Mahabaleshwar - Day 1 - Sight-seeing and fun games...

Magnificent Valley View Resort
The resort was magnificent. It looked very small and low risen at first, but on closer look we realized that we were actually at level 1 and there were 2 levels above it and 2 below it- that made it as tall as a short 5 storey building (if you actually get what i mean :P) We all waiting in the lobby for the other bus people to arrive.
As you enter the resort gate, a slope leads you to the lobby. The slope has plants on both sides and leads you to the parking area and the lobby. The lobby was warmly done up in dark wood. On the right side were the spiral marble stairs leading to the other floors, while in front was the reception and the seating area. Walking down the few stairs to the reception we could see the resort hall on the left, a souvenir shop on the right, a snacks bar, pool/snooker room and finally the dining hall!

Room Partner and room exploration
The names of room partners/room numbers were announced and we were handed the room keys and our identity cards. I was more than happy to have Pallavi as my room-mate. Most people were happy with their roomies, and even if they weren't, there was no choice! After a quick coffee-biscuit snack at the snack bar and a glance through the newspaper, we headed for our rooms.

Our room was room no. 211 which faced the valley and a whole lot of slums (but we learnt to ignore them!) The room was thoughtfully furnished with a double bed, a dresser, a cupboard, colour television, air conditioning, two chairs and a centre table, a foldable sofa cum low bed and the comfort of home. The first thing I did was to sink into the soft bed for my back was sore from the bus ride and a real bed felt, unreally amazing! To avoid dozing off in the comforts of the warmer, I and Pallavi explored the bathroom, got mesmerized by the key system wherein the door key needs to be lodged in a slot inside the room to enable he lights, fan, a/c and TV to operate, settled our luggage and booked the side we wanted to sleep in on the bed.

Breakfast & Chit-chats
Then we freshened up with a hot water bath and joined the other excited colleagues at the dining hall for a sumptuous breakfast. The breakfast was a grand spread with- juices, coffee, tea, bread, sandwiches, and three types of uttapams, cornflakes, fresh fruit and accompaniments like jam, spread, chutneys and pickles to choose from. Stuffed till our throats, we drowned in the exciting chatter until it was decided that we had until lunch to visit the Venna Lake.
In the beginning some non-enthusiasts refused to leave the resort and make good use of recreation facilities like table tennis, carom, billiards, swimming or just catching up on sleep. However with a little convincing, most agreed on the boating, and those who didn’t did what they pleased! The Lake was about an hours walk. We just had 3 hours in hand and decided to take our hired buses instead and save some time and physical strain of walking.
Sparkle and leg exercise at Venna lake

The Lake was like the sparkling diamond amidst the winding roads and masses of green vegetation. The wind was light and just the right temperate to tickle the skin. There was much to do- paddle boat, row boat, horse rides, sit and talk, walk around the lake-but so little time. Without wasting anytime, we all crowded around the lake booking office, trying to divide ourselves in groups of 6 or 8 depending upon the kind boat we were to hire.

I zeroed in on paddle boat for six and ganged up with Meghana Ma’am, Sweta, Shamal, Pooja Chedda and Mrunal! The funny thing was Mrunal was the only guy with 5 girls for company, but he’s known for it! *winks* I and Mrunal decided to paddle, and he wasn’t quite sure if I had the endurance to paddle for half an hour, but poor guy, he didn’t know about my past!

We paddled leisurely at first and then urgently to be able to push our legs and chase fellow colleagues and eventually dash into their boats or save our boat from being dashed. Funnily, Mrunal tired out way before I did and even admitted it despite the male ego; guess tiredness makes you forget everything else!

Aftermath of boating
After the workout of 30 minutes, we docked the boat and began posing for photos! The photos were clicked at the rate of thunder and lighting bolts on a stormy night. They stopped only when we had just enough time to make it back to the Resort for lunch. But, that was not to be.

On boarding the buses, one of them refused to budge! Then what, we all got off the bus and started pushing the bus, while singing, ‘Dum laga, dum laga, laga re dhakka re…’ Even that did not deter our fun and frolic mood. Once the bus started, we cheered and enjoyed the winding road back.

The lunch was another unbelievable spread! The cuisine was Indian, but the variety made it so appealing. We had about 1.5 hours of leisure time before our second course of touristy thing for today. In the leisure time I played TT to the fullest of my desire. The guys wanted to have a full-fledged cricket match, but they were forced to come to Table Mountain with the rest of us! We also had a mini-jam session in our room where me, Pallu, sangita, anuj, ballu, sweta, abhishek, karnav, litesh, kiran, meghana, rupali etc danced like crazy. The best part was Beedi Jalailey and Kajrare (Anuj rocked!). I assumed Anuj was classy, but i chnaged my opinion after the chavanni dance! (angdai steps etc.. :P)

Flat wonder
It took us about 30 minutes by bus and another 20 minutes hike-cum-walk to reach he glorious mountain. On the way we chit-chatted, played antakshari and bet each other at who climbs faster! The table mountain was gorgeous, to say the least! It spread across the sky with the majesty of Aladdin’s carpet, flat and beautiful! There was so much life up there, the flora and fauna, and people enjoying themselves at the rides, some game or just sitting leisurely.

We guys split into random groups and explored the table top at our own pace. I was practically walking alone and Ballu bhaiya noticed this. As a reply to his question, I said ‘I’m walking alone so that I can go where ever I want to and not bank upon someone else.’ After that he stuck with me, and I was glad!

We dodged the monkeys and reached the cave hotel. It was near dark in there and we were bumping into each other and tripping on rocks! We invaded the restaurant like a storm of bees but did not order a thing! After falling around for a while and finding that two caves actually met- Thanks to Ahemdabadi Abhishek Shah-we left the restaurant and headed for fresh air of the open blue skies!
Gaming zone

Back on the table top, we-like true blue photo crazies-clicked more photos. By the time the photo session died down, another frenzy of fun i.e. the game of dog and the bone had erupted! It was fantabulous! There was utter chaos and tons of laughter! Some of the moments worth framing as memories were the Rita-Rima confusion and Kaun si Sweta incident. Avinash even took the videos of these humorous moments, and I’m glad he did!

By the time we were done with the game, our stomachs and cheeks were hurting and it was time to head to the resort for dinner and an evening that promised total entertainment by way of games planned by Fort office articles- Mansi, Ankit, Sweta, and Sneha etc.

Felicitation and Dinner
Back at the resort, we freshened up and assembled in the resort hall. Each employee, article and partner graced the evening with his/her presence. We had a small introduction of all the partners and key employees. Then each of us present were given a huge binded book ‘study material’ and a Swiss knife with G.M. Kapadia engraved on it as a token. The guy from Chennai put up a humorous play, followed by a cake cutting ceremony. Then we were split up into 5 teams, each denoted by a colour viz. green, blue, red, yellow and gold.

After that we gorged on the dinner which unlike the lunch that was served by the resort kitchen staff was buffet. Needless to say, it was again a royal feast! By the time we were done, it was time for games, read 10:30 PM. Most of us were excited about this session, while others who weren’t too enthu, called it a day and departed to their respective rooms, and into sweet slumber!

Fun games
The hall was noisy with a hundred heart beats eager to battle it out for a podium finish! Put a bunch of good-friends in a competitive situation and they change colours! The first game was ‘dress up game’. The rules were simple. 8 members from each team would play. Specific distance was defined and 4 members from each team had to be on either side of it. The first member had to wear the shirt (fully buttoned), wrap round skirt, beads necklace, shades, cap and a bindi and run to the other side. Once there, member one had to undress and member two had to dress up and go to the other side. This goes on until the 8th member is dressed up and crosses over to the other side.

The game, as expected, was utter chaos and guys dressed as women were a hilarious sight! After much cheating, fighting and disagreements, team red won the game. My team, team green also came first, first from behind. The loss did not deter us and we were already planning to have a clean steal in the next game.

It was a rather easy sounding second game. Each team was allowed 8 participants, but the rule was that the team members who were excluded in game one had to be included in this one. The task was to light as many candles as can be and fix them on the glass slab in a time span of 30 seconds. My team made ambitious plans. But we lost, yet again! Not last, but a loss is a loss right?!

Even that did not deter us. The next game was blow the balloon game. 10 members from each team were allowed to participate. There were unlimited number of balloons that had to be tied with a thread and bloated to a size as long as or longer than the mike. The catch was, there was only one bail of thread. Most teams including mine decided to have two or three people cut the threads and rest of them blowing! We came second for a change and saved the grace of our team. One moment none of us can forget was the ratio of body and balloons blown by Ashwin sir and Rajan sir. Contrary to his giant size, Rajan sir’s balloon was tiny and contrary to Ashwin sir’s small framed body, his balloon was gigantic. We even captured this moment in a photo! What picture perfection of an irony!

Three games down, tiredness was catching up. But the competitive spirit remained. The last game tested physical endurance, mainly of the arms. 5 members from each team, including one girl participant were allowed. Bricks had been immersed over night in a bucket of water. The task was to hold this heavy brick with two fingers, keeping the arm extended and as the brick was spilling from the fingers, it had to be passed to the next team mate. The team that holds on to the brick as if it were their dear life wins!

I was gung-ho about the event. It suited my body structure and I was confident of my arm strength. Eventually we won, thanks to the slight confusion when other teams thought that I was the last person from green team, while in reality I was the fourth one and obviously the Marshall Arts background of Narayan Sir! We literally hugged him after the victory and dispersed the hall with head held high!

Calling it a day...
The next day’s events were announced and good-byes were said! But who wanted to sleep? We guys played TT and carom, cricket in corridor, cards in Kiran and Litesh’s room and had a dance party in one of the rooms too! It had been a fun-filled day and finally giving in to sleep; I and Pallavi called it a day at 4 am and set the alarm for 7 am tomorrow.

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