Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Lavasa Love...

I was once again lucky to be at lavasa last Sunday morning, what an awesome way to start a bright, blue day. I had been to lavasa a few times, its one of my favorite, I have been there on different seasons...I still remember that dew drizzling monsoon morning, headlights on all the way and at the top no visibility beyond 20 feet. Drenched in clouds and swaying with those foggy whites.... this time I wanted to be with the beauty with one more beauty beside me....heehaw....I was complete...with my better half....I was to start early morning on a bike. One of my friends too was interested to ride with his wife, we decided to meet at chandni chowk (pune, not delhi) at 6.00 am., from where lavasa is just below 50 kms.

We started slightly behind schedule, still it was quite dark and cold enough to put on a jacket. It reminded me of all those winter bike rides we had taken around Lucknow and Agra. Remembered our first bike ride together years back. The air was cool, but no fog, as we have in north india. We rode past sunrise, infact we were at the wrong side of the valley when the fireball came up, so missed the sight. By the time we were up the mutha ghat the sun was all over the ghat with its golden hue, we stopped there, it was namita's (my better half) place, we soaked some of the light and breathed-in the nostalgia spread over the fogged valley and the village there. What a sight it was, an amazing misty morning was just out there, greeting and smiling at us. The quietness of the atmosphere was awesome, we were together enjoying the silence. God tussi great ho...(i haven’t seen the film), we seeped in some more of the gold and green and rode again towards lavasa. Another 10 kilometers when we heard a river...yes it was playing through the rocks and the morning raga it was creating made us look for the play. It was somewhere beyond the bushes off the road, We got down and followed the sound and again we saw a big WOW...through the bushes and the array of tall grassland flowed a river, full of youth, playing through the rocks while the morning light kept teasing the smoky river. I tell you, it was rare...and I had never seen such a scenic smoky river...actually the water was cold and you could see it evaporating in the sunlight giving an amazing look to it, as if everything was floating, dancing like the ravishanker disciples in a rhythm. Walking on the long grass we were wet upto the knees due to the dew, so refreshing it was, my wife sat at the edge of the river beside a small tree, almost meditating, I knew she was lost to it, the chirping of some birds in between was sounding too spiritual to get out of it. On the other side of the road far away a few farmers had begun their day...I was amused...whether they know where they live ? Ah... life is too simple to mess up.....

Just before the temghar dam we stopped for a tea break. The dam is around 10 km before lavasa. We were at water overflowing the dam ! I have shot the dam during monsoon and have seen its scaringly beautiful look...but my friend was here for the first time, he was a bit disappointed with that huge structure without water but I knew that a big water body awaited us behind this rocketing wall. We were on top of the wall and WOW....can words convey it ? the other side of the wall it was all blue and brown, a big blue water body mirroring the beautiful expanse of sky, reddish mud adding adequately, coloring the canvas complete. The water had receded to quite a low level and the trees and bushes which were under the water just a few days back were afloat with their remains.The cracks of the mud and those stark leafless naked trees were all telling a story, the pain they went through, left almost lifeless.....the blue waters embraced to the reflections as a all was so mesmerizing....and even after such a story it didn’t lose its serenity.

I quickly climbed down to reach upto the water, it was so fulfilling sitting there, a calm and quietness started getting in, as I started shooting, namita chose a suitable place to sit and sip the place slowly. Thats her typical way....she always tells me that you are so engrossed into your photography that you see only through the viewfinder and miss the place, hey, you may be right there, you take it sip by sip and I seem to be in a hurry to gulp it down shooting crazily, maybe I just want to keep it with me forever, maybe I fear losing it, maybe I am a fool trying to do that but yes I go crazy and meanwhile miss that which you get, but let me tell you one thing namita...I too wish to enjoy the place the way you do...

We were to shoot some biker friends too somewhere on the curves of lavasa and we were to be there by 10.00 am. My friends were from a pune biker's group called Rubber Smoking Angels (RSA). We were just a kilometer before the top when I spotted the RSA bikers and my captain friend engrossed freezing them into frames... I quickly joined them and shot those zooming machines, rohit aka rash paradkar (president of the group) was as usual awesome on his Yamaha R 15 ....Zoooom....Freeez......Zooooom.....Freeeez......

We went upto the top, earlier the road going beyond the city was open to the public and I myself have been on that road, from there one can have a hilltop view of the lavasa city, but this time the lavasa city gaurds stopped us from taking the road left to the main gate, I am not sure whether it was part of the lavasa city private land, but anyway...God Bless them.....

The sun was right over my head hinting me to packup...I bid bye to those roads and wheeled down to the temghar dam without igniting the engine...yes so steep the ride is...what an amazing sunday it was. Yes, lavasa is a place I am never tired of coming to. I will miss this place when I am not here...and I just wish lavasa too to miss me.....

fogged valley n village enroute

gold n green

the smoky river


the perfect merge

with self

merged colors



lost in water

the recede

heaven all the way

the bikers

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Real Roadies...

Speed thrills...definitely....but is dangerous too...but "who cares" seems to be the punchline for those daredevil bikers...they zoom in and out of those lovely twisties of sahyadris...come weekend and they are all ready with rock hard helmets on, knee and elbow gaurds and all those protective gears. Last sunday one of my friends, a retired indian navy captain and an awesome biker too and a member of a bikers group named "rubber smoking angels" was to shoot some bikers near the amby valley to get some "killer" panning shots and I was to be in pune that sunday, so I accompanied captain for the shoot. We were to meet the bikers at the highway at 7.30 am., the bikers were a bit late so we decided to move on and asked them to meet at ramakrishna restaurant, a popular hangout place at lonavla, just when we saw around 8-10 bikers racing at breathtaking speeds racing towards lonavla, all were imported superbikes, the hayabusa and honda types, later we caught up with them at ramakrishna (lonavla), they were a different group named "cops", they just had their breakfast and were off back to pune...but we waited for the rubber smoking angels, soon they were there and we all proceeded towards amby valley. passionate daredevils, all in their early twenties, few of them have had really "mindblowing" and "heartshrieking" accidents. I know one of my friends from the same group, a daring biker, who had that "big encounter", had more than 40 stitches above his neck and was back on road with his bike within a few months and then again had a similar "fearful" encounter and again he is on road... the sense of adventure, thrill, speed or just the feeling to be ahead of all which takes them there, i dont know, god, the real roadies i say... anyway...the sun was bright but it was not hot, quite windy. Being sunday the road had some traffic till the tiger's point, we checked the road upto amby valley, things seemed ok except that there was still some traffic, but it was the given, we zeroed in a few spots and those roadies were all set to race up and down those twisties of the valley...what a sight it is to watch a biker coming at jet speed and zoom past you like a flash...yes, I too enjoy speed and am always thrilled to do that involves some risk...I think its human nature to seek a sense of achievment in such acts. Somebody has rightly said, "I've been trying to find the word that says what I need to be in life. 'Brave' is the only word. It's the only thing that I ask myself to be." Yes, being brave has some amount of risk too attached to it but the end we will regret only the things we could not, thats should live it. Me and captain enjoyed the shoot and froze that bone chilling speed to our heart's content and after we had finished we stopped at tiger's point to refresh ourselves, had that yummy makai ki pakaudi with some mango drink and packed off by afternoon. Come next week and we may be off to a similar shoot to lavasa, a beautiful place just 50 km off pune. Its one of my favourite places too. I just love those calm and smooth twisties of the valley, almost nil of traffic and one can just hear the silence
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