I woke up to the pitter patter of rain. It was 5.30 am already. I saw Mayank and Pankaj up and about and Mayank making steaming hot coffee for all of us.
We sat in his beautiful balcony watching the rain. It was silent, peaceful with just the sound of rain. Mayank mentioned that this is unusual for Pune, as in it usually rains and stops but this was happening non stop since last night.
It was very difficult for all of us to get up from our seats and get ready. Slowly Vishwanath and Babu Bhai joined us too in the balcony and Pankaj insisted them to come with us to the farmhouse. They could stay till evening and then go back dropping Vishwanath at the Pune railway station onward to Bombay.
We were delighted when they said we will join you! The gang packed up and loaded the backpacks in the car with pounding rain.
The weather was so beautiful as we drove through sleepy just waking up Pune.. The wide roads, trees lush green and me eagerly looking out of the window like a child.
The city looked awesome and what a pity I had a few precious hours here. My tryst with Pune had just started, there would more I promised myself!
Babu Bhai drove through the highway, and through that dreaded fog. It was still there, very thick but at least it was daylight. We could get glimpses of the valley as we drove up. Mystical green mountains covered by fog, lush greenery surrounding you everywhere, it was magical. Sometimes I felt like we were going through clouds when the fog enveloped us.. So beautiful…
Just 3-4 kms before Amby Valley we made a detour. There was another 22 kilometres to go. And I am telling you this, it looked like a beautiful no man’s land.. No cars, no people, sporadic homes somewhere far in the horizon.. Was this for real?
The deeper we were going into it, we realized we made a wise decision to turn back last night, it was easy to get lost here. Literally and figuratively..
Then came the really bad road patch. Really bad and so narrow that maneuvering it was pretty challenging. Room enough for only one car and pretty rough one at that.
At one point Pankaj was wondering if we were really on the right road. Mayank was very confident as he had the set directions as well as GPS he had saved. It was raining continuously.
We were driving through dark patches as the trees on both sides of the road would join and form this thick foliage. I was in awe as this would go on for kilometers, I had to again pinch myself to see if I was dreaming!
No human nor car in sight except us and we are going on and on and on… Finally the bad road ended and we were back in the vastness of it’s lush green surroundings. Pankaj could get connected to the caretaker of the farmhouse. Then he remembered that his friend told it was near to the ECO resort ECO-GRID.
Pankaj then remembered that his son had got him to ECO GRID years ago just for a day. The resort itself was very much away and in isolation and we had to go further than that.
I was soaking in each and everything. To be here, at this moment, to feel this lucky and blessed, to have friends, travelers and companions like this, to explore something new and find a new aspect in ourselves, I was feeling overwhelmed by it all.
And then we saw something.. Mountains, Lush green mountains shaped like people, like a hump standing tall, magnificent yet so welcoming that you feel warm. It was so amazing I tell you as we slowed down and watched open mouthed…
How many times does man need proof that THIS exists? That we are nothing in front of all this? That we are wasting our lives over trivial things when in reality nothing matters anymore?
We trudged our way to a road and now there was this rocky muddy small path which would lead us to ECO GRID. We decided to stop there for some Chai and Breakfast. Mayank and Vishwanath decided to park the car on the side and walk towards it.
We started asking the few people around and it led us to this rustic, open and as bare as it can be ECO GRID. I loved it at first sight!
Thatched huts, all locally made in tune with the environment, the only main hall had open rustic bricks and a lovely breakfast corner in the patio. It was raining hard but now we treated it like our friend.
What caught my attention was the Harley bike parked neatly on the side and the moment I saw the owner, a big older man with the warmest smile welcoming us, I knew it was his 🙂
Andy as he was called moved from Bangalore with his wife and set up ECO GRID 12 years ago. I was like 12 years ago? Imagine the kind of amazing stuff people are capable of. They lived here and definitely had no intent of moving out anywhere else.
Made with recycled local materials they set up the entire place. There were no big gates, no fences nothing, it was open. Their two adorable dogs, a rotweiller and an indie mix welcomed us with wagging tails. I was delighted to see them!
Andy was making Poha and Bondas which he so generously offered us with Hot Chai. We sat at the portico with the thatched roof and hogged.
An extremely warm person, he was a hippie at heart. He was laughing and saying I am not much for crowds and don’t attend social occasions. Now he wanted to take his Harley and travel and Pankaj and Vishwanath were giving him routes as to where he could go.
When Andy came to know I was from Hyderabad he started talking in Telugu and I was like what? 🙂 He mentioned that even though his language was Kannada he had lots of cousins in Hyderabad and he used to visit them frequently hence the language. And I knew his nieces! Such a small world!
When his wife joined us and she came to know I am from Hyderabad, her first question was, Hyderabad? and you trek? How come? I haven’t seen people from Hyderabad coming here forget trekking ! What can I say?
Andy showed us the place and it was time to go and honestly Pankaj and myself were antsy to get to the farmhouse. From what little I heard about Vinay from Pankaj and the wild streak he had in him, I was sure his farmhouse would be unique.
And we weren’t disappointed..
The caretaker came to ECO GRID and told us to follow him. We bid our goodbyes to Andy and started our way to the farmhouse.
Now here is the thing about local people living anywhere. You ask them, Kitna door hai? (How far is it) Their answer always is Yahi hai (It’s here only)!
Babubhai’s car had to be parked up to a point only. We had to leave it there and walk. It was muddy, slippery, in fact no road at all and there was no way during the monsoon season a car could go through it except of course Vinay on his bullet!
It was pounding rain and here we were with our backpacks trudging through mud, water and stones. And yup it was definitely not HERE but 2 kilometres 🙂
Pankaj and myself were laughing continuously at this mini adventures we were having one after the other. Trudging through rain, slipping once a while and getting awed by the journey itself. There was no one in sight except Aapa the caretaker whizzing past us and again coming back.
I was by now totally impressed with Vinay as we looked at this beautiful farmhouse he had created. OMG! Simple, rustic with a complete 360 degree view of the vastness around it. He made this? Like here? WOW! a big WOW!
Absolutely no one and I mean no one around here and just this rustic house made with recycled packing wood!
We were finally here!