Alibaug of the mind 

Tripoto
9th Mar 2019
Photo of Alibaug of the mind by Harshit Rakheja

Image credits: Urvashi Mishra

Photo of Gateway of India, Apollo Bandar, Colaba, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India by Harshit Rakheja

In the mood for some ringside entertainment, the passengers on-board the ferry from Mumbai to Mandwa would lob bits of Kurkure for their winged escorts. The seagulls would swoop down and grab them mid-air leaving kids and adults alike, wide eyed, their amazement compelling them to continue the exercise. For those riding the ferry for the first time, the entire experience endures for its novelty; a steady wind on the ascendant and the sound of the sea’s currents breaking against the hull of the boat, even as the ship’s frolicking side to side motion leaves one unbalanced and yet, yearning for the experience to last for long. In the air-conditioned lobby on-board the ferry, some wear a stern look on their face, bothered by the eyes peeking from the outside; others were just wary of their lingering sea-sickness while still others were biding time on their phones. Most though, were leaning against the railing, letting their hair loose, the wind kissing their face and eyes fixated on the rhythmic and cyclical movement of the waves.

A Farmhouse near Nagaon beach

Photo of Alibaug of the mind by Harshit Rakheja

The sun shone brightly and there was minimal haze. Half an hour into the ride, the shore’s outline became visible; thereon, the ferry navigated past oil rigs while the seagulls gave up their routine of tailing the ferry. We alighted at Mandwa and rode the bus to Alibaug. While the ride progressed, hamlets made way for commercial establishments serving tourists; the transition though caused some unease for there were mud-brick houses with thatched roofs and barely 50 metres beyond lay a swanky restaurant with a go-karting circuit right behind it. For the uninitiated, a ticket for both the ferry and the bus from Mandwa to Alibaug can be bought from the Gateway of India at a consolidated price of Rs 130.

Photo of Mandwa, Maharashtra, India by Harshit Rakheja

The road leading towards Nagaon beach

Photo of Mandwa, Maharashtra, India by Harshit Rakheja
Photo of Mandwa, Maharashtra, India by Harshit Rakheja

Alibaug announces itself with alacrity, boastful of the good that can come from being a popular tourist destination barely an hour away from Mumbai. Restaurants abound aplenty, exploiting the absence of popular fast-food joints from the mainland whilst a steady stream of vehicles amps up the noise. However, once one starts making way from the city-centre of sorts to the Nagaon beach, the place peels away its urbane exterior. The habitation becomes sparse, network connectivity gets erratic, roads – rickety and pockmarked – taper and are flanked by holiday homes on either side, indication enough that one has arrived where they had set out for, away from all that consumes them Monday to Friday.

Photo of Fantasea villa nagaon, Nagaon Bandar Road, Alibag, Maharashtra, India by Harshit Rakheja

We cashed in on the deals floated on Airbnb and booked ourselves the Fantasea villa for Rs 6000 per night, the wordplay hinting at the beach’s closeness from the place. Indeed, the Nagaon beach lay a 10-15 minute walk away with farm villas on either side shaded by a cooling canopy of coconut trees. After checking in at the Fantasea villa by 3 in the afternoon, a couple of hours were wiled away as we waited for the heat to subside and for the beach to come to life and so it did as the evening wore on. Boys and men alike, baring their torsos, arms outstretched and ready for flight, would run for the horizon, the dipping sun seemingly in their grasp until the waves would crash over their flailing bodies. They’d regain their balance and try again whilst someone rode the jet-ski and someone else tried their hand at para-sailing.

Image credits: Tanya Kundu

Photo of Nagaon Beach Alibaug, Pen, Maharashtra, India by Harshit Rakheja
Photo of Nagaon Beach Alibaug, Pen, Maharashtra, India by Harshit Rakheja
Photo of Nagaon Beach Alibaug, Pen, Maharashtra, India by Harshit Rakheja

It was the night of the new moon. The wind had ceased to rustle the leaves and the darkness brought with it, a calming stillness as the starry night sky enraptured most. Most farm-houses lay vacant while the few that were occupied had music on full blast, the sound escaping the confines of the four walls, into the dizzying maze of alleys where it rose like a distant hum, finding those who were out for a walk.

Nagaon beach

Photo of Alibaug of the mind by Harshit Rakheja

Alibaug leaves one with lasting visuals of city folks sprawled on hammocks. Their farmhouse with its walls painted a gay yellow invites you in, only to be reprimanded for trespassing. The ingenuity of the enterprising folks at Airbnb has ensured that students travelling on a shoestring budget can pool their money and book a place which makes them rue the lack of space in their hostels or PG accommodations. It’s a million-dollar idea but it hurts for the visitor packs and returns to Mumbai’s concrete reality, while the heart stays back in that Alibaug villa which had a front and back-yard!

Moments before we were chased away.

Photo of Alibaug of the mind by Harshit Rakheja

Return to reality

Photo of Alibaug of the mind by Harshit Rakheja

Together we could afford Fantasea villa. A photo taken in the backyard. Image credits: Urvashi Mishra

Photo of Alibaug of the mind by Harshit Rakheja
Be the first one to comment