Matheran: From Taxis to Horses

I, like everybody else in Mumbai, am in dire need of a break come weekends.

Traffic-Mumbai

The fast life takes a toll on you. Even five days of commuting to work, slogging in a heavily air-conditioned workspace, breathing in the occasionally mysteriously stinking polluted air, sweating and walking shoulder to shoulder with millions of people trying to make ends meet, just like you… Just five days of this are overwhelming enough to make you scamper away for a while, just to gain perspective on life.

There are several tiny weekend getaway places around Mumbai. The more popular ones get so crowded that you find yourself right in the middle of the chaos you ran away from. But that doesn’t mean that these places aren’t beautiful. The only thing is, timing is essential to enjoying and soaking in the richness of these places.

SarahSays 1350Matheran is one such place, a popular little hill-station just a local train-ride and a cab-hire away. It’s so close to the city and yet such a contrast, that you forget about the city you’ve been calling ‘Home’ as soon as you reach. One of the most noteworthy things about Matheran is its No-Vehicles Policy. There are no vehicles allowed in Matheran beyond Dasturi Point. In Mumbai, sometimes I wear my headphones even without music, just to cut out the traffic noises. In Matheran, wearing headphones feels like a sin because the only sounds you will be drowning out would be the wind and birds and the clip-clop of the horses passing by.

There are two means of reaching Matheran from Dasturi Car Park- walking or horse ride. Alternately, there are also hand-carts for older people or those with a lot of luggage. SarahSays 1357 I have never ridden a horse before for more than ten minutes, so I jumped at the idea of riding one for almost 4 kilometers, to the hotel. D, my travel partner, and I found a guy with two horses and started our journey through the mulch and trees. During the horse ride, the horse-owner talked all the way to our destination. He talked about how people like him, from the mountains, feel suffocated in cities. He told us about about the prices of the horses, how they are traded in Nagpur, how they are brought all the way to Matheran and trained… My horse, named Abhimanyu, was a favourite amongst tourists, he told us. D’s was called Mowgli who was a little stubborn but was liked by kids because of his name.  

The horse ride was one of my favourite things about Matheran. There was a nip in the air and I could smell the trees and the wet, red mud. These smells are hard to describe but those who know how a forest smells in the monsoons, know how precious these little things are.

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Go Back To Being You!

Things have been crazy in the last two months. I have been too caught up to write. Many a times I found myself trying to piece together all my thoughts and putting them into words, binding them all by a common thread. But, I was all over the place. I couldn’t do justice to the reflections in my mind.

When I started this blog, I made a conscious decision to not give up on something I love- writing. Everybody’s busy. Too busy to do the things they love, too busy to be happy. I told myself that I will never be one of them. Then, I realized that I was slowly turning.

When you get a new job and move to a new city, you adjust with everything to fit in. But what happens when you wake up one morning and realize that in that strive, you’ve turned into somebody you’re not? How did you come so far off the track that you were on, without realizing it sooner?

In my need to adapt, I was continuously trying to push aside myself, without being aware of the frustration that was building up. What seemed like harmless changes, started to pile up against the person that I am. I had this revelation last night. I snapped at my sister for no apparent reason. I realized at that moment that sub-consciously, I was desperately trying to be and stay positive, I was trying too hard. And that one little hint of negativity (or in my sister’s case, a complaint), was enough to invalidate all the efforts I was making.

I can blame a lot of things for causing these unpleasant changes. But who would care for them? Ultimately, it’s me who has to correct my wrongs, get back on track with being true to myself, and make the necessary changes. All I can be thankful for, is the dawning of this realization before things got out of hand and I became insufferable even to myself.

As I write this, I’m reminded of Anne Hathaway’s character- Andrea Sachs- in the movie, The Devil Wears Prada. I’m not as pretty but a lot of my frustration also, stems from work and the power play that goes on in the office. Like her, my social life is zero (which could also be attributed to the new city). Atleast, she had a boyfriend. I don’t. Although if I did, that relationship would’ve also suffered, just like hers did.  And on a lighter note, I was also a journalism student, till I decided to work in the admin/HR department, like her. Oh the similarities!

But like Andrea Sachs, I’m going to make things better now that I know what’s at stake. Unlike her, things haven’t gotten totally out of hand. Whether I keep my job, or not, and for how long, that remains to be seen.