An Open Sky, some chilled drinks… and the remains from the bonfires
Not long back, I leveraged an opportunity to smudge Panchgani within my closed eyes under the stars. It was the first camping trip I had with bunch of my friends and it was something more than just the trip.
Everyone was in the party mood and had already planned stuff. Some of us left office at around 2:30PM, stopped and stretched our self at a small tea stall on the highway – we were almost half way through. People who are travelling a lot know, sometime even a regular cup of tea gives you wings and strength that can run your car at 110 km/hr. And that’s what happened with us – it didn’t take much time for us to realize that we had already crossed those sparkling tunnels, struggling overloaded trucks on the steep roads, and had started seeing the outskirts of Panchgani.
Though we took some time to locate the actual camp location on various 3G mobile GPS systems we had, but never the less it still helped us in locating various other options for future – not to forget, we even landed near a cremation center which looked quite similar to the one which we were aspiring to go.
It was already starting to dark, so we finally called up other folks who had reached the spot and just found we were quite close. We quickly reached the place, ramped the car down a long steep narrow road, for which we thought thrice because it was looking more like climbing down the hill with a steering in your hand and knowing that you may not completely depend on the brakes. It was quite dark now but more of fun out there.
Yes! Yes! Yes! We are finally here. Wow. It was pretty scenic out there, it felt like we were on top of a plateau. One of the first thing that caught my eye was a green sheet of shrubs and trees down the beautiful valley, plenty of open space, a few tents, a large white box filled with bottles of beers and the sun saying goodbye for the day. The scintillating stars and a quarter of a moon were already waiting to join us for the bash. The booze had already filled up the stomach of early birds and so folks were looking for more options.
God I just love barbeque chicken!! Who is in? Oops Sorry, I think I just asked a wrong question… ! The folks on Corona diet were already in their twenties by now, and it was like asking “hungry tigers” – Who wants the goat?
We cooked not only Chicken Legs but also some Paneer Tikkas as we did had some vegetarian tigers as well. Though, it was really difficult to keep it away from the omnivorous ones, of which I was one – Glad we had sufficient snacks.
Just gazing around the spot fencing we stumbled upon a small area around the corner, where we found some ashes and stones. It did not take us even a flash of a second to think about hosting the sun again in this cold night …. It was a bonfire time!
Few very enthusiasts just managed to collect some dry woods and its dust while another few still trying to figure out why was the snake-skin lying around? It was an intelligent question after gulping down 5 bottles of Coronas, 1 Vodka and plenty other legal stuff each! Don’t get me wrong – I meant soft drinks.
The bonfire started – it was the much awaited item after a long and tiring attempt to lit the woods as we latter realized, the enthusiast had also dropped in some green trunk and leaves. And it took a lot of technical analysis to finally achieve the target. Team Won! Okay no cheating – I think we also tried some petrol tricks.
We gathered around it for a couple of minutes as the bonfire did not last long. However, it did managed to listen numerous organized and some non-organized jokes while gazing at the final non-corona’s bottles which got empty in the hands of people who though were at the bonfire but were still waiting for their turn at the barbeque queue.
Later in the night, we had some good food and started pouring into the tents. The tents seemed quite comfortable after 6ltrs of Beer with vodka and some delicious barbeque chicken resting in peace inside our tummy. While a few chose to sleep inside the tents, I and few other just dropped onto the grass under the sky searching patterns and stories from the past. I was there for some time, watching the stars-I never ever slept like this before.
It was awesome and at the same time very strange. What was I doing here? To be honest, I am not very fond of going around for a bonfire trip. Though now things might just change. There were bunch of questions shot by myself including – Is this life about – drinking, camping, bonfire strategies and barbeque? Okay, what else can you expect out of a drunken workaholic software engineer staring at moon and thinking why the stars look curvy in Panchgani.
Never have I seen a place this mild, this soft-spoken – The dew comes quietly at night, melts off early, before you could catch a glimpse. If I wasn’t staying up until 3am that night, I doubt I would even notice that it was so cold, in fact this chilling night at all. By now, Panchgani had already won hearts of many and of course pockets of the organizers.
The last thing I remember before surrendering to mosquitoes was some French person co-camping near by, asking for the remaining bottles of “spiritualities” which we failed to utilize.
Apart from the teetotaler, few others, woke up early morning and went to Mahabaleshwar to see the beautiful Sunrise. Me and my friends? As always, woke up relatively later in the morning (early morning for us 9:30 AM) and were counting number of people who were there last night…. And to mention are still there. By now, the little bonfire was buried by the morning dew though the ashes still were telling stories of the past few hours.
Finally as the sun started to creep towards the horizon, begging us to start the day! We started our journey back, with loads of memories.
It was a quick night but was enough to capture the essence of living under the open sky. I enjoyed it and I felt this effort was deemed necessary to sit down and write – about the sky gazing, drinks, bonfire and not to forget the mild soft dew. It’s just a glimpse of my way of looking at the world and things around me, nothing more and nothing less. I now had enough memories from all this to sail through the busy week ahead.