It wasn’t an Alto that accompanied me; rather it was a Wagon R. Puneet was glad to leave his car for me, and I lost no opportunity to grab it and drive all around. Back from Bharuch on Friday evening, I was looking forward for this ‘different’ weekend.
After getting the car from his place at Kandivli (which is a good 17km from mine), a thought came to me that I could use the time to take a drive of the famous western express highway. Starting from one end at Bandra, I drove along the road (after crossing two newly inaugurated flyovers) to reach Borivali and then Dahisar. My instinct didn’t stop me from paying the toll fee at the over crowded Dahisar Naka, as I breezed out to NH8. it was another wish fulfilled. I took some 10km on the highway, and decided to return, citing reasons of time and fuel expense. Travel for the day: 100km.
My Sunday began very early when I packed my washable clothes and the regular stuff for my trip to pune. I left at 5:20 from Santacruz, and was at Vashi by 5:45. it was only after I hit the Mumbai Pune expressway when I realized that I was too early, and would rather slow down, else would be at my Guptas’ place at an unearthly hour! It didn’t look so wonderful at that time, but every vehicle was doing over 100. I was the overtaken all the time, and stuck to the leftmost lane. I had a lot of time to spend, and utilized some of it at the overpriced Food Mall (which incidentally had very few travelers).
It was dawn by the time I left the food mall. The ghats had begun by then, and the sight was mesmerizing. I wished I could stop and take some photos. But the constant traffic flow and the instructions didn’t allow any such opportunity. Some twists and turns later, I was back on straight roads, the hoardings told me that I was nearing my destination. It didn’t take much time to reach their place at Pimpri; I had landed at 8:30.
But that wasn’t all. In the evening, we joined the Mulkalwars to visit Chokhi Dhani, which is apparently a Rajasthani setup that also includes food. It was a mela of sorts, but the number of zealous people entering the mela was just too much for us to try it out. We went back to Koregaon Park, and hit upon Barbeque nation. It had the same menu as the one at Khar, but I enjoyed it nevertheless. To justify the charges, one needs to have the right kind of appetite. The Guptas, with their limited capability, could only do so much! I had the company of Annu and Sayali in this matter.
From Koregaon park, we went around Baner and then the NH4, the Pune Bangalore highway. The oldies on FM only added to the wonderful feeling. Some good drive later, we were back at GGR for the night! The usual bakar ensued, and we retired by 2:30.
the republic day morning started with patriotic songs sneaking into GGR. It seems the society’s function didn’t have enough participants, so this was a way to wake people up from the deep slumber. We had Dems’ cooked Poha with Bingo snacks, and then went to ASR to drop the Mulkalwars.
On the return trip, the NH-4 felt better than the expressway. The car glided with minimum effort, making me anxious of the two-wheeler and pedestrian traffic. But the road soon gave way to the expressway, and the fun began. How can one call the road boring? It is one of the most interesting drives I’ve ever had. I was doing some 80-90 on the leftmost lane with all cars overtaking me from the right. Then Robert Miles started, and I found myself making for lost ground. I overtook a lot of cars at 130, then again slowed down to keep the sanity (The twists and turns on the lonavala ghats are too dangerous to go beyond 60). Two tolls later, I was at Navi Mumbai crossing Panvel, Belapur, Kharghar, Nerul, Sanpada and Vashi. In my flow, I missed a turn at Chembur and found myself in Chembur colony looking for the way out. The way to Sion didn’t seem to be too easy. A couple of turns later, I was the Easter express highway wishing to turn for Sion. But in my speed, I took the flyover, and was soon at Matunga and then Dadar. I had no intention to reach CST without any reason, so turned back at Dadar TT and went northwards till I found the left turn for Sion. The rest of the route from Sion to Bandra and back to Santacruz was easy to judge, they aren’t new for me.
The total trip was of some 432 km, and my estimate of FE is around 17 kmpl (without AC). Before leaving, I was wondering if I am doing right by taking such a journey all alone..but at the end of it, all’s well that ends well. And most importantly, I am thrilled!!
Some pics of my drive