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Western Ghats calling!

The rain gods are here. Finally. And they have brought joy and cheer to all quarters. A tiny yet important sector within the city that must also be breathing a sigh of relief are travel companies. They are the folks who give us the time and ideas-starved urban junta loads to look forward to on our weekends with their tempting getaways and activities that reach a crescendo every monsoon.

Blessed with fascinatingly diverse topography, flora and fauna, the Sahyadris come to life in the monsoon. Naturally, soaking in the sights, sounds and smells of these natural wonders, is a must on the travel calendar. Sometime in the middle of June, when Mumbai, and its surroundings were still in the grip of an unforgiving hot spell, one recalls an operator sharing his concern over the no-show (until then) as far as the rains were concerned.

“A late/poor monsoon means a rethink of our plans, especially as far as water-based activities go,” he rued. He went on to spell out how river rafting, waterfall rappelling, river crossing and several other adventure sports that rely on the monsoon all big draws for Mumbai’s outdoor thrill seekers take a beating due to sluggish rainfall.

In fact, an itinerary to a village that thrives on its annual firefly spectacle in June had to be altered at the last moment as these insects didn’t show up in encouraging numbers! Still, to their credit, most far-sighted companies that work around the weekend escape circuit for Mumbai, seem to have found innovative back-up ideas. It’s encouraging to see them think out of the box by introducing indoor camping activities like setting up barbecues or jam sessions with aspiring musicians and poetry-reading sessions even. We like.

Years ago, when we had another not-so-encouraging monsoon — one recalls a particularly amusing time while river rafting on the Kundalika River, often the hub for water-based activities. So lacklustre were the water currents that most of the adventure felt like a gentle rowing session.

At one point the water table was so low that the raft got stuck on a rock from the river bed along its course! Two of our fellow rafters had to step out of the raft in calf-high water (not even the levels seen at Dadar’s Hindmata Junction) and move it back along the course. Later, the organiser profusely apologised for the slow-speed rafting adventure!

One hopes that the coming months bring in loads of fresh, new exciting ideas that weekend escapists can revel in, with the blessings of a generous monsoon, of course. High time you bring out your monsoon gear, and get a healthy dose of green!

The writer is Features Editor of mid-day

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