continued from: http://lifeisanopenroad2me.blogspot.in/2012/02/konkan.html
Varun (and Arun thereafter) had similar experiences and they came out with some lasting memories. In the evening, we headed to Tarkarli beach. Almost a virgin beach, this was one of the cleanest and prettiest beaches I have seen. John & Rajath decided to try out parasailing at the beach and were definitely thrilled. The evening included some great wining & dining. The Konkan curries call for a robust digestive system and a capacity for spices. The fish was great and we ended up having at least double of what we’d initially ordered.
The day began with a drive to the station to meet the gang. The first thing on our agenda was scuba diving. We headed to the Malvan town and struck a deal with the diving- operator. Bargaining hard, we managed to get it to 1000 per head. A pretty decent deal though negotiating too hard with a fellow who’s filling oxygen in a tank for you is not a very bright idea. Mr. Gubbi like many of us water-phobic souls had his apprehensions and was calculating the probability of one of us asphyxiating underwater.
The operator’s boat took us near the island on which Sindhudurg fort is built as the coral is supposed to be majestic here. Diving was a challenging experience. Whether you know swimming or not is irrelevant. Arun & Varun’s command over swimming is as good as their skills with Mandarin & tribal Swahili music, yet they managed a brilliant stint underwater. The toughest part is getting used to breathing through the mouthpiece and familiarizing oneself with the valve. Any attempt to breathe through the nose will give you a feeling of suffocation and you may just panic underwater. Similarly, without a tight hold on the mouthpiece, the water just might sneak in and eventually start filling your lungs.
I took a while getting used to it and went in. The experience is truly out of the world. For here you are, seeing something you would never have experienced or dreamt of before. The life forms are immense in number. With due respect to Discovery, NatGeo etc, I will say this is something you have to experience yourself; TV just can’t recreate it. While I’m no fan of over-hyped expressions of our desi cinema, Hrithik Roshan’s tear-shedding expression in Spain made sense now. The fish were intriguing: zebra striped, small huge, some even bigger than my arm.
Then it happened.. There was water in my mouth… I had the brains to not make an attempt to open my windpipe and flood my lungs, but in desperation I tried my nose. Immediately I suffocated. I signalled my instructor. Within 10 seconds which seemed like forever, I was at the surface. Upon enquiring what had happened, my instructor told me what had gone wrong: There was a slip in my concentration and my mouth had given way to water. Then I remembered: perhaps my lips had curled into a smile upon greeting some weird creature; that slight angle was enough for water to seep in. I promised to not do that again, but now could we continue? I had no clue about the time. Wasn’t it a few moments back that I’d started? He then enlightened me that oblivious to my senses, a good 10 minutes had passed! However, he would be kind enough to take me even deeper..
This time I was at least 20-30 feet deep and the coral got even more interesting. The downside was a couple of scratches and cuts on my hands thanks to these sharp corals.
The next day we headed out for Ganpatipule. Again, coastal highway was taken and we were rewarded with many lovely sights. This was an unknown road from Ratnagiri to Ganpatipule which was unmarked in most maps.
In the evening, I had to bid the gang goodbye. I was a bit tense as I knew it’d be dark by the time I get to Mumbai. On the other side, the ride was very enjoyable as the temperature dropped and the highway had moderate traffic. The only problem that night was.. U guessed it: getting to Mumbai. 50-70 kms near the city and you feel like you are in hell. Humidity, smoke and pathetic roads kill the high, even at 11pm
In all, I was glad I made this trip. And that I’d chosen to ride. I’ve driven some terrific highways but this one was just made for my bike. The other brilliant national highways (NH3, NH4) are a bit too straight and too fast. In short: Boring after a while. The Konkan terrain is something that keeps you on the edge; you yearn for the next turn, bend, the climb, descent and the beautiful sights..