Lonavala is not “real nature”. It is bungalows with gardens, but that is enough of a change from Mumbai that you might want to dash there now and then during busy times. Locked up old bungalows with imposing gates and no fences were common some years back. They are slowly giving way to weekend fortresses with high walls and closed gates which shut off concrete aprons. But there are few of these as yet. So the colourful birds and insects are still there. Bulbuls still scream in the trees, and purple sunbirds glitter in gardens.
We made a quick weekend dash to Lonavala with friends: just an evening and a morning really. The air is already beginning to get warm. It was not too crowded, you could go out to eat without having to wait for a really long time. What do you do in Lonavala? You wind down the tempo of life. You go for a long walk, debate where to eat, decide on one place and then go somewhere else. Then you go for other long walks. You laugh at the kilometer of shop frontages along the highway, all announcing that they are the original Maganlal Chikki shop. We went in once to the crowded market outside the railway station to the usual pilgrimage: Cooper’s Fudge. Not that we are really that fond of fudge, but is it really a trip to Lonavala if you have not been insulted or snubbed by the irascible Parsi owner of this institution? We spent half an hour looking for a place with an old fashioned espresso machine which can serve up frothed milk with a dash of instant coffee which they call espresso. The pace of life really is that slow.