Well something like this happened to me recently. Except in my case the woman was replaced by an idyllic sea beach!
OK, this is a long story so please be patient or skip the next paragraph.
A few of our friends had made plans to go to Mandwa last Wednesday. I wasn’t sure as I had a meeting on Wednesday. That got cancelled and I thought I will join them. Then I felt quite nauseous and had a headache on Tuesday night. So I told Kainaz to join the gang on Wednesday while I stayed home. K left for the Gateway next morning while I stayed back. Then I began to have second thoughts as I felt that I was missing out on an opportunity to do something different. That’s when K’s mama called me and said “what are you doing, just drop everything, jump into a cab and go”. Pretty much like Phoebe in F.R.I.E.N.D.S and the hotel manager in Pretty Woman. I began to consider going when he called me again and screamed, “you are still not in the cab, what are you doing?!”. I quickly exchanged my jammies for a pair of jeans, brushed my teeth and darted out. Well Kainaz and our friends who had set off early in the morning skipped the 8.30 AM catamaran for me. I arrived just in time for the 9.15 AM ferry and we set sail for Mandwa. I threw up over the side of the ferry as we reached Mandwa and the world seemed beautiful again.
The fairly empty and secluded beach of Mandwa is a forty five minute to an hour’s boat ride from the Gateway of India in South Mumbai.
Mandwa is the entry to the more popular beaches of Alibagh and Kihim which are off Mumbai. You can reach Mandwa by a ferry or a catamaran. These leave the Gateway every hour and tickets range from Rs 60 to Rs 90 (1 to 2 USD) depending on the size of the boat. This service is closed in the monsoon months, approximately June to September. During these months you can reach Mandwa by a three hour drive. There are buses to take you from Mandwa to Kihim and Alibagh. The price for these are included in your ferry ticket and you don’t have to pay separately for this.
Now the thing with Mandwa is that it is literally cut off from civilisation. It is not developed unlike Kihim or Alibagh. You have a few shops selling soft drinks, wafers and biscuits and a public loo at the jetty. Apart from that there is a tiny snack bar with a few tables and chairs run by a person called Guru. You get a few local snacks such as vada pao and missal pao and soft drinks and tea.
The beach is a bit rocky but if you are intrepid enough then you can base yourself at Gurus and spend some time at the beach. I believe that there are spots where you can swim too.
We didn’t have to do any of this as two of our friends were members of the Royal Bombay Yacht Club. They took us to the Mandwa Club. Before you get any images of a fancy club let me tell you that Mandwa Club is just a little outpost with a few rooms and toilets and a verandah with easy chairs and sofas. They don’t have a restaurant but you can get your own food and warm it in the kitchen. One of our friends got some lovely Chinese from 5 Spice and we had a great lunch by the sea. There is one, ancient attendant who runs the place.
There were six of us that lazy afternoon, by the sea. The lovely breeze brushed away the pressures and pains of the week. We chatted, we lazed, we stretched, we ate, we giggled … some of us went into the sea and flapped around. I was really glad that I went as I felt very refreshed and rejuvenated… cut off from mad, manic Mumbai. If nature had a spa… then this would be one.
We sat back for Mumbai by the 4.30 PM catamaran. The last boat leaves at 6 PM.
You can stay overnight at the Mandwa Club if you know someone at the Royal Bombay Yacht Club. In fact they have a more modern set up called beside the Mandwa Club which has two rooms and a kitchen. This is air conditioned, has better bathrooms and is more modern. Both of these are right on the sea.
But I’d recommend going to Mandwa with a good book, a picnic basket and a beach towel if you are the sort who likes open spaces, likes the sea, wants a break and is fine with roughing it out a bit.
And definitely if you are lucky enough to have Jamshed Adrianvala as your friend.
Jamshed Uncle: for organising the trip and waiting patiently for me
Shahazad: for the lovely Chinese from 5 Spice. Excellent choice of dishes
Rita and Malka: for making us break into peals of laughter
Freddy Mama: for his calls goading me to go
Kainaz: through whom I know the rest of the cast and for living with my indecisiveness
History lesson: Apparently the Mandwa Club was started after the Royal Bombay Yacht Club was opened at Bombay during the British rule of India. The Royal Bombay Yacht Club was meant for the higher officers of the British Army and navy. Ordinary folks from the ranks who liked to sail complained that there was nothing for them. That’s when the Mandwa Club was set up. What’s remarkable was the location chosen for the club. There was nothing around the area at that time but people had the foresight to pick this spot. The Mandwa Jetty is fairly recent and has come up in the last decade.