Well, I’ve just lost an hours’s typing when this bloody Windows 98 box randomly closed my ‘update journal’ window so I’m hoping I can recall the nice ways I phrased everything.
I’m in Satara, staying for a couple of days in the faded grandeur of the hotel Rajathadri on Shivaji Circle, Powai Naka, Satara 415001 (tell [don’t know the code ] 33818). Satara is the ‘county town’ for the Taluka (‘county’) in which Mahabaleshwar nestles. For 300 Rupees, I get a room big enough to contain the lounge of Mycelium Mansion, fresh sheets put on the bed by a flunky as I watch, a clean towel, a new bar of ayurvedic soap, an en-suite, flushing squat toilet and tepid and cold running water!
Last time I blogged, I was in Mahabaleshwar, having arrived from Pune. However, I’ve yet to blog how I got there.
Another Brit turned up at the hotel, fresh off the overnight bus from Goa – he’s Tony, an Edinburger (although my ear for accents let me down and I thought he was from, er, a bit further west). He and Adam fancied a look at Pune’s old town and invited me to join them. We meandered through a large area or ‘typical Indian/medieval’ suburb, with no problems apart from relying on the rather hopeless map in Adam’s guidebook. (I’d left my map in my rucsac back at the hotel.) We were approached for performance money/baksheesh by two characters dressed in bright patchwork trousers who wanted to perform with their bullwhips for us but we weren’t keen and refused to pay for things we hadn’t asked for.
Around 1pm, Tony’s lack of sleep and my feeling that I should be moving on led us to aim to get back to the hotel, while Adam decided to carry on to a museum he wanted to see. Tony and I got to within 3 blocks of the hotel before asking at a pharmacy for directions. The pharmacist drew us a good sketch-map and we continued on. About two minutes later we were approached by the pharmacist who offered us a lift on his scooter – it turned out he was a close friend of our hotel’s owner. Tony was leery about 3 people on a scooter (I’ve seen families of 4 or five on scooters and motorbikes here) but I was keen to accept a cooler mode of transport and so gratefully accepted.
The pharmacist whizzed me to the hotel and then went back to find Tony while I ordered a large beer to split between us. When the pharmacist reappeared with Tony (and then refused to accept anything for the lift), Tony and I chatted with the two local politicians on the next table and ordered food. As we were eating, Adam arrived, having failed to fin his museum. We chatted and ate for a while, then Toney retired to catch up on sleep and I left for the bus station.
My somewhat annotated diary takes over:
New road in places – smooth
Cold stores in mountains
So dry it’s like SCC are of OC
Many hotels [most of which are just wayside diners rather than accommodation], then farming and more random hotels and buildings
Purander Taluka (Kharipol Village)
Swerve to avoid cow
Devanagari* lessons – near crying and puking [because the combination of failing light and road vibrations makes it impossible to focus on the letters and the guy who’s decided he will help me can’t understand this and won’t stop]
At Mahabaleshwar, set on by hotel touts. I forcefully tell them to go away because I’m about to vomit. All but two go away and these two back off at least 5 feel. I sit, swigging water and recomposing myself until I’m ready to ask for help. (It’s after dark and I don’t have a map of Mahabaleshwar.) I ask one to get me to a hotel costing 300 rupees or less a night and am taken to the hotel Vishva Shanti on Cawasji Street. I get a large room with en-suite, sit-down toilet and only two roaches!
*Devanagari is the script used for Marathi, Hindi, Sanskrit and other languages in the Aryan branch of the Indo-European family. I’ll blog later why it’s so annoying but for now, just don’t try to learn it unless you have a really pressing need or deathwish.
I’ll blog more later this evening or tomorrow but I’ve just about caught up with where I was and need to eat!