A trek and GNU Pem


A few days ago, over dinner, Anurag mentioned the trek to Kalsubai. Instantly, the trekker in me was excited. At 1600 metres, Kalsubai is the highest peak in Maharashtra. The four of us, me, Satya, Shreyank and Satchit decided to go from Pune. Now the question was: How do we go? Because all the buses running from Mumbai were booked. And booking a taxi for four people, to and fro, would have been a costly affair. After some discussion cum contemplation we decided to go on bike. 🙂

So, the plan was to touch the Pune-Mumbai highway, NH4, by 11:00hrs. on Saturday(July 2’nd) morning and reach Bari village, near Ghoti, by 19:00hrs. But ah, it was just a plan. We were still in Pune till noon, having breakfast and filling up Petrol. My bike’s meter read: 50202km. By the time we touched NH4 near Wakad, it was almost 13:00hrs. From there it was a smooth ride. Weather was cloudy, but pleasant. We, running at constant speed of 70kmph, reached Lonavala just before 14:00hrs. There, a stop for some Chai was not a bad idea, plus Shreyank had an emergency to attend to. As we left Lonavala, clouds were flying low with slight drizzle here and there. Just outside Lonavala, we stopped again in the ghats to savour the beautiful view. There, Shreyank found a picturesque donkey to click a portrait of. From there on NH4 was silky smooth, at least it felt so till we saw NH3 after Kalyan. But that’s for later.

At Lonavala, we had covered not even 1/3rd of the distance. We had to hurry up. So, without wasting any more time(except while retracting couple of kilo-meters on the Express Highway, because bikes are prohibited on it.) we sped across Panvel, riding through the pouring rains, to reach Mumbra-Kalyan exit, at around 17:00hrs…I think. We stopped there to have lunch, and boy what a lunch, seriously! I savoured the hot Puri-bhaji with extra helpings of Puri, while Shreyank finished his Chole-Bhature and Satchit his Punjabi Thali. Plus of-course Chai was to follow. Satya had decided to observe fast for Saturday(God knows why?). With our lunch, rain had stopped. We, once again wore our astronaut suits(jacket + rain pants + helmet + glasses:) and set forward through the crowded streets of Kalyan. It was a real breather to finally touch NH3 to go towards Igatpuri and Ghoti.

Boy…what should I say about NH3? If NH4 was silky smooth, NH3 was way-way more so. Trust me, the last I remember seeing NH3 was, some 15 years ago when I took a bus from Nashik to Mumabi. At that time, it was a narrow two lane highway, with no connection to the words *smooth & silky* for long-long distances. But today, it’s a four lane mega highway with wide divider in place.We rode at more than 80kmph, non stop, for close to 1 to 1+1/2 hours to reach to Igatpuri. Seriously, the transformations the NHAI has done to the national highways in past few years, are just amazing and impressive. From there, Ghoti is some 10-12 kms, while we reached there, it was close to 20:00 hrs. We had covered around 268kms from Pune. All of us were tired and I was dying for a cup of Chai. We asked for the directions to the Bari village and the fellow very casually said – go straight, take the second right, go for some 2-3kms, again take right and go another 15-17kms inside from there. – I was like, dude, are you serious?:) We still had to go some 20 kms inside on the state high way. And everybody was like: STILL 20 KMS? Why-why-why?? 🙂 So we decided to have dinner instead of just Chai and then go forward. Here, The Sai Darbar hotel, at the Sinnar-Shirdi exit, turned out to be a nice place for dinner. They served hot Pithla-Bhakri(Bajra roti) with butter and a spicy green chilli chatni – aka Thecha. In the cold rainy weather that was outside, it was the best combination you could ask for. By the time we finished dinner it was around 21:30hrs. and we still had some 18kms to go. These might be the scariest 18kms I’ve crossed so far. As we left the National Highway, the road became narrower, just enough for one car to go, plus it was pitch dark and cloudy, and no sign of life in any direction whatsoever. We managed to reach Bari village at around 22:30-ish, and then started the haggling for a place to stay. As we contacted Mr Santosh Khade, our local contact, he said the place he had arranged for us, the village school classroom, he just gave away to some other party. After haggling for an hour or so, we finally got the classroom for ourselves and Shreyank lighted the mosquito coils to mark our occupancy. 🙂 I don’t remember falling asleep; But when I woke up at around 6:30hrs, couple of buses had come from Mumbai, and local village women were banging the common hand pump to fetch water from the earth.

There were no toilets to go to, so we got ready in no time. Pohe and Chai was served for breakfast. Slowly, one by one, groups of people started moving towards the peak of Kalsubai. Almost all of them were young, between 20-30 age group. Anurag ushered us towards the peak, we followed. It was a pleasant morning, with chickens running around in the muddy pathways and cats looking at them curiously. Nobody could figure out where we had to go, for clouds had covered half of the mountain. Plus everybody was little extra-cautious not to slip and get dirty, but alas, they were the ones to fall first(read Satya:)). As we climbed up, there were couple of plateaus from where one could easily see the distant mountains and waterfalls. Enjoying these views, we kept moving forward. After about 3 hours, just before the peak, there was this inviting fragrance of Chai(or maybe I just imagined it). But still Chai was there, with the surprise of hot Onion Pakode. After savouring some 7-8 plates of Onion pakode with 15 cups of Chai, we moved ahead. There was a steep ladder at the end to reach the top. At the peak, there is a small temple of the goddess Kalsubai, and a small plateau which could accommodate some 70-80 people at a time. From the top, the view was like nothing I had seen before. Winds were blowing at more than 70-80 kmph, while clouds were flying from below to the top. Everybody was tired, yet happy and cheerful to be there. Some where taking pictures, while others were shouting slogans. A few others were looking for a cozy spot away from all the noise and yet a few others were ensuring they don’t get one.:)

After spending about 40-45 minutes there, we started the march down. It was close to 13:00hrs. Coming down was equally difficult as going up, for one wrong step and you wouldn’t be standing up to take the next one. I think Shreyank and Satya could elaborate more on this. 🙂 After about two hours, Satchit stopped at one of the waterfalls to take a shower, while we reached down to the class room, where lunch was being served. Though I was happy to have completed the trek, yet part of me was already occupied with the thoughts of a strenuous bike ride back to Pune. While others changed gears and finished lunch, I collected my bag and got ready with the bike. Around 16:30hrs. we were back on road again, this time towards Pune via Sinnar. From Ghoti, Sinnar is around 49km. And from Sinnar, Pune is around 180-190kms. Thankfully, road was excellent throughout the journey. We reached Sinnar in about 40-45 mins and stopped for Lunch after another 8-10 kms, at Hotel Atithi, Pure veg, for it looked decent enough to have proper restrooms. But nope, that was not to happen! Everybody was visibly tired and almost ready to crash, if only we had an option. But there was none, because we had to reach home before late.

After the lunch of Tomato Uthappa, Plain Dosa, Bournvita, and Chai, we left Sinnar at around 18:40hrs. Sun was setting at a distance, and darkness was following it’s routine. The tricky part about Nashik-Pune highway is that it has just two lanes and very high heavy vehicle traffic. By the time it was completely dark, we had crossed Sangamner, and it was getting difficult, almost impossible to see anything with the dazzling headlights of the vehicles coming from the opposite side. We stopped for yet another Chai, just before the Chandanpuri ghat. By this time, everybody’s backs were giving in. Sitting on the bike was getting unbearably difficult. Yet, there was no option but to go on. With the night settled in, I was getting worked up about riding on the highway, for it was the first time I was riding at night on a highway and at times it was very difficult to see anything. I wonder if they have night vision glasses, like they have for Solar eclipse, which could reduce the dazzling lights of the opposite vehicles to mere dots, and help you see your way through the dark. It they do, I think it’s high time they should start their mass production; And if they don’t, I think here is a nice business idea for a start-up, no?

Anyway, so from there we decided to stick together and not overtake any vehicles at random. We crossed the Chandanpuri Ghat and again picked up the speeds of 60-70kmph, which was necessary if we had to reach home in time. Most of the time we were riding through the dark. Occasionally a small town would throw in some light for a while. Constantly, riding at 50kmph, we crossed Narayangaon and stopped again for Chai. The watch showed 20:30 or 21:00hrs I think. From there Pune was still 75kms to go. It was a restaurant with lodging facilities. Shreyank said, “Here is a plan – let’s stay here tonight, we’ll get up at 6’O clock tomorrow, ride 75kms and go to office. ” which was quite reasonable, considering how tired all of us were, and how difficult it was to sit on the bike(especially Satchit). Anyway, though reasonable, we decided against staying there and moved on. After Narayangaon, the road is quite better, for there are small towns of Rajgurunagar and Manchar nearby, and after that road becomes a four-lane highway, smooth as silk. Once on the four lane highway, we again touched the constant speed of 70-80kmph and before long we reached near Bhosari. From there, Shreyank knew a short-cut which brought us to Vishrant Wadi. From Vishrant Wadi, we touched the Airport, Viman Nagar, Kharadi, to home sweet home at midnight. 🙂

My bike’s meter read: 50748km. That’s about 550kms in two days. 🙂

Next morning I reached office around 10:30hrs with my body aching everywhere. And in my inbox, there was a mail which was to make all my pains go away, like instantly. It read…

Hi, I’ve recently compiled GNU Pem for the Nanonote, an entirely open sourced platform Palmtop Computer from Qi Hardware ( http://en.qi-hardware.com/wiki/Ben_NanoNote ).

It runs great and has much usage on a device like this, for which we would all like to say a big THANKS.

GNU Pem on the NanoNote