Two days up in the hills outside Lonavala, on an impromptu break that we organized and set off on in a matter of two hours ... what a fillip to the greying cells. Caught up on some of my backlog of reading, got my son acquainted with the joy of identifying Orion in the sparkling night sky, watched The Perfect Storm and decided I like Sebastian Junger's book better, stayed gladly away from email and phones. (Truth in advertising, courtesy my wife's hawk-like presence at my ear: I did try to check email once but was thwarted by a dodgy PC). Bulbuls and butterflies, dragonflies and a friendly dog, in the bathroom a sleepy lizard and a lazy spider: these were our companions and I heard no complaints from any side.
The road to where we were winds up from Lonavala, degenerating into a mud and stone track as soon as the slope hits 10 degrees. That last stretch is only about four kilometres, but bouncing over great stones in first gear means it takes almost half an hour. Lonavala used to be a quiet sleepy charmer of a town, but in its present-day rickshaw- and chikki-shop-infested form, it's as uninterestingly ugly as any suburb of Bombay. So to think that only half an hour away, walking distance away really, there is still a place for Orion and bulbuls -- well, the charm has simply moved up into the hills.
I had to drive into Lonavala last evening to get some paracetamol for my son, whose long walk that morning gave him a mild case of sunstroke. Down that rocky track and then back again. But I didn't mind, because on the way down, I drove past some more of that charm.
Braking down the slope, I came up behind a young couple with their arms around each other, traipsing jauntily along. They paid me no mind except to move over to let me pass. And as I did, I couldn't help a small smile to see them as they were, so obviously happy in each other. But then I glanced at them in my rear-view mirror and I had to smile some more. His arm was draped over her shoulder, his hand on her left breast, stroking her slowly. They were walking like that, chatting and laughing, without a trace of self-consciousness. When a group of women came around the bend, walking up the slope towards them, her hand gently removed his until they had passed; then I went around the bend.
Mildly erotic, yes. But more than that, just a simple, happy, scene in the hills. Does today seem just that little bit brighter?