It was around 2300 hrs as we all returned from a sumptuous dinner followed by ice cream. There was still an hour to go before the great old grandfather clock would announce the arrival of Sudhir bhais 60th birthday. Just when everyone was running low on enthusiasm came the news of early arrival of the next set of family members.
My sister Aditi, her husband Manish, both doctors and their two kids, Malhar and Maitrayi were expected to arrive past midnight from Pune, but the latest news was they would reach much before that and hopefully before the day turned. Along with them was my other maternal aunt Purnima (mavshi) Shetye who also resides in Pune. The news infused us with new vigor. Most of them were excited to greet and meet the kids.
It was 23:45 hrs when Manish's swift broke the silence of the night outside as we all went out to the front porch to greet them. Surprisingly and luckily the kids were awake. For the next 10 min the house was in a chaos, with the cacophony of people talking and cross talking over each other's voices.
5 min to birthday and Manish enquired with me about the cake cutting ritual. As Sudhir Bhai wasn't expected to be awake till midnight there were no arrangements of the cake for tonight. Luckily though, the recently arrived Puneites had got along with them the famous mava cake of Kayani bakery to be had during coffee. This simple cake took on the onus to stand - in as the birthday cake as we brought in Sudhir bhais birthday at the stroke of midnight of 12th Sept 2014. Another round of chaos prevailed after which we finally went off to sleep.
One invariably wakes up in Dahanu to the sounds of the train horns and today was no different for me as I made my way downstairs to the dining area as I knew it would be the place I would find whoever was awake. There were the usual early risers, all elders (since Kailash mama hadn't arrived yet), Jui, Prajakta, Aditi and now me. Over the next 1.5 hrs people kept joining as they woke up and gorged on the usual bakery products along with awesome breakfast. (To the readers of this blog who were present that morning, please help recall what was the bf, first one will get a special something!).
Later as we were idling our time away Jui chided me that even in this trip I won't fulfill my long desire of swimming in the well, which I had declared openly to put some positive pressure on myself. It was the perfect season when the wells would be swollen, so taking the cue I decided to finally settle it once and for all. Sudhir Bhai has two wadi's, one right behind the house and the other 2 km away called kankradi. I was recommended to go to kankradi as that's maintained better. As a norm, if you are going out of the house for fun in Dahanu, I shouted randomly asking who all are interested in joining. Manish and the two kids were the only one exited about swimming in the well, however Aditi, Akshay and Jui decided to come along to kankradi but would stay dry.
We took out the duster and all squeezed in for the 2 km journey through some very narrow paths which have some furious dogs and naked running kids and hens. We parked right besides the building which houses some interesting stuff like, a 'taraju', dumbbells, tractor, manure, and the java bike. Without wasting any more time Manish and I went to check out the well. I hadn't seen so much water in the well before. It would have been a great thing if not for the fact that the water levels had submerged the only way out of the well which was a stone staircase within the walls of the well about 10 feet from top. If we had to use that staircase we would have to go underwater into the staircase opening and up the submerged staircase. The water was an opaque green and there was the risk of banging our head into the staircase if we didn't judge the opening well. Other than that there were two logs jutting out of the wall maybe 5 feet down from top, that means 5 feet up from water. We could hoist ourselves out of the water and pulled ourselves to the top, or maybe we could not (physically). At that moment the man working at the wadi got a long thick nylon rope. Not sure how that would help but it improved our chances.
We had waisted around 10 min planning our escape route with the non swimmers not helping with their suggestions to give up. I had enough, you can't keep a piscean outta water for so long as I decided to take the plunge with my favorite attitude of 'dekhlenge Jo hoga' and let go of myself jumping right in the middle, 10 feet down. The cold waters swallowed me whole as I first went down and then came up to witness Manish do the same.
Wells don't have any place to hold onto to catch your breath so 20 minutes in the well and we both were exhausted, thanks to the rope, which acted like a nice swing after being tied to the two logs, else we would have been done in 10 min. From inside the well also the submerged opening didn't feel like a good idea to get out. So Manish first hung onto the jutting log and pulled himself up onto it and finally on dry land. His years of gyming and recently lost weight getting him through. I followed his manouver and out we were completing one of the biggest and longest pending achievements, of swimming in the well.
As we dried ourselves we were joined by Aditi and the kids who had their share of fun getting wet in the 'haud', a tank meant for cleaning all the chikoo's. Jui and Akshay also came after a brief disappearance into the bushes! We all had freshly cut coconut water from the orchard itself, got many more packed in the car for the others at home and off we were to receive the next set of guests.
Mummy and Papa were in Delhi and had taken a train yesterday to come to Dahanu. As we moved out of kankradi it was about time for their arrival. The station is just a wall across from the house. Manish and I decided to receive them at the station after dropping the others home. Their train was about 10 min late so we sat at the platform benches. It is fun to watch the activities on and around the platform of a small town which are much different from that of big towns. The train arrived with Papa in the door of the bogey waving at us. We got their bags and made our way to the house walking, as it stared drizzling a little.
Back at the house, with the arrival of new set of guests the decibel levels rise in a sine wave (for non engineers please ask Mukul), reaching a crescendo and then returning to normal, after which we all sat for another day of yummy (pun intended) lunch followed by the mandatory siesta!