Badminton in Lavasa
These days Lavasa is in the news. For all the wrong reasons. The little known and till recently even less visited part of Sahyadri ranges must be fairly surprised at the amount of Lavasa talk echoing through its seven hills and far beyond.
I first heard about the planned hill city some five years ago. My family in Mumbai sent me regular updates about its progress in the touching belief that its clean and pristine environs would prove to be ideal for me and my family to retire to if and when we decided to return to India. So I knew all about the hotels, the Apollo Hospital, the waterfront living and the rest of it. But I managed to visit it only in the first week of this year during my trip back home.
I was not disappointed. By the way this is not an attempt to shore up the shaken confidence of investors, existing or future. This is merely about my experiences during my one day trip to Lavasa.
Ours is a fairly large family and a very loving one at that. So I have this nagging suspicion that my two sisters who work and thrive in Mumbai, planned to show me the hill city in one dramatic grand sweep for maximum impact. So they booked plenty of rooms at the highest hotel on a hill called Dasve. Since the hotel boasts of only 20 rooms, it felt more like a private bungalow as there were so many of us crowding about on its lawns, its one and only restaurant and the outdoor badminton court.
Why the badminton court? Well, because this is where I broke my abstinence from the game after nearly 20 years. My teenaged nephew, bursting with the newly minted energy of youth handed me the racquet (not racket!) with a flourish and said the magical words, "Mausi, let's play!"
It was 9.05pm. The 4 course dinner that lay comfortably in my stomach gasped at the preposterous thought of being unceremoniously rolled about. The night was cold and I had finally caught the cold virus that very morning. These and some more were some of the genuine excuses I offered to my nephew.
The matter was taken out of my hands when my father picked up the shuttlecock from the ground, put it firmly into my hands and said, "I think you need some exercise. You are only a shadow of yourself." Then he clarified, "A well fed noontime shadow."
I gave up and said, "OK beta. Let us play."
I watched the other members of our family trickling into their cosy rooms. They were content to see us play from their balconies and wave to us from time to time to boost our morale.
At first I dropped all the shots, there was no victory in my volley and my serves always unerringly landed in the wettest part of the flower beds of the garden. But slowly with encouragement from my nephew, whose cherubic face as a baby is still imprinted on my heart, my game began to improve.
I was reminded of the way his mother used to effortlessly thrash me at the game when we were children. She had very nimble feet and although I was much lighter than her, I am convinced I had wooden legs back then. She played at State levels and I played at Family levels!!
Decades later her son and I were playing another match. I was playing with him and reliving all my days with her. At times I felt she stood there in his avatar and not up there in one of the balconies.
We played for a long time while the cold breeze dutifully dried our sweat soaked sweaters and faces. Midway in one of our volleys it occurred to me that my nephew could be tired.
I stopped and shouted across the question. He replied with a particularly clever flick of his wrist and sent me rushing to the net. Too late. As I bent to pick up the shuttlecock I heard, "Mausi, let us play some more". I could not help thinking that after all those years I was still being made to run about. First by his mother and now by her son!!
And oh, I have not bought myself any dwelling in the seven hills. Yet.
Anjna Rawat Pratap is a Singapore based technical writer