For a long time I was thinking or rather wanting to go on a solo trip. What best occasion than my birthday. Inspired by a very close friend, I decided to go for it. I chose Matheran as my destination. The idea behind this was A) it was my first solo trip B) if something goes wrong I would be back in Mumbai in 3 hours. C) I had never been to Matheran even once in my 27 years of life.
So the day came. I had only heard, that in order to go to Matheran, you first go to Nerul and you take a toy train. There’s also a road option. But I had made my mind, I wanted to enjoy the toy train journey.
I stay in western suburb and from Andheri there are multiple trains to Nerul. So I started at around 11 a.m. Reached Andheri station and took the next train to Nerul. When the tain neared Nerul, I asked a fellow commuter, as to from which side of the station will I get the toy train. The first person had no idea, so I asked another one. The reply was something I had not imagined in my wildest of dreams. Those who are reading this must have guessed by now what the reply was and how royally I had screwed up at the start itself. The other person told that to go to Matheran you have to go from Neral. My reaction was more stupid, “I said so this is Nerul right?” He literally laughed and said no this is Nerul, there’s another station called Neral (there is difference of `u’ and `a’).
If this was not enough, I was told the right station was one hour away that too with no direct train. Ab karna to he hi. Got down at NerUl. Went back to thane and then took the right train. Till then I had lost like two hours. Now even the train had surprises for me. Due to some technical snag the train was delayed by 45 hours. Overcoming all this, I reached the NerAl station. Another surprise was waiting for me there as well. I reached the station at around 5.30 p.m., now the last toy train was supposed to leave at 6 p.m. so I had just half an hour to find the ticket counter and book my ticket. I ran like anything. Somewhere the fortune favored me, I got the ticket. The toy train ride is something one should must do.
Reached the hill station where the worst was waiting for me. I started looking for a room. I was getting a room the very first hotel I visited. I was even shown a room which was to my liking and within my budget. Then he asked a question which haunted me for the next few hours of that night. “how many people are you?”. I said I am alone. The attendant went in, must have spoken to his owner came back and said there’s no room available. I asked what about the one you just showed me? He said he was not aware that his owner had already taken booking over it and there was no other room available. I started looking for another hotel. There again I was asked the same question again I gave the same reply again I was told there was no room available. This happened atleast at 6 hotels. yet another hotel and yet again the same reply. This time i told the reception guy that look it’s a genuine entry and that I am advocate in Mumbai, showed him my visiting card. I was under the impression they are avoiding a single entry due to safety reasons like terrorist and all. But this person told me the real reason. It seems no single travellers are given rooms in Matheran, as there have been instances where solo travellers would come here check in a hotel and have committed suicide. Then the place where that person was put up, the owner there would have to face the police questioning.
on listening this I had realized that it was difficult to get a room here. I was even suggested by a local to back to Mumbai. It was already post 9 pm and I was still looking for a room. Less than three hours to welcome by birthday. i started walking back towards the taxi stand. Still being hopeful I finding a place to stay I kept enquiring with hotel that I passed by. At one such hotel after facing yet another rejection I met a local. I requested him if he could arrange my stay. He again gave me the same reply but I requested him whole heartedly. He somehow agreed but he wanted to speak to my father. I called my friend and asked him to talk to him as my father. Finally I got a room in a homestay.
I checked in his home. I asked him which is the good resto to have a drink or two. now all the restos were to shut down within one hour. So again I had to run for a drink to have before I welcome my 28th birthday. two beers at a high pace already gve me a kick esp after such a hectic and emotion driven day.