Always, during the long weekends, and this one I sreally long, friends invite me to their country estates. To go and spend the weekend with them at Marve, Mandwa, Alibag, Khandala, Mahableshwar. They tell me: "Just come there and relax, put your feet up and do nothing."
I have found out that relax is the last thing you can do. Unless you are totally insensitive, you cannot relax is somebody else's house, with your hosts and other people around.
So I decide to take up the invitation and go to Mandwa. The host informs: "You can just laze there, sit under the tree and read. Or lie in the hammock, I have got a nice hammock in the garden."
The first thing is the host has to arrange the transport for me, I would not know the first thing about hiring boats and tindals. So already I am dependant on him. "Let's say 1.30 at the Gateway. And be on time, because I want to catch the tide at the other end," the host instructs.
So, the day my long and easy weekend starts, I rush, rush, rush through the morning and make it to the Gateway at 1.30 p.m., hopefully in time for the tide. The host introduces me to two other guests and their child.
On the boat, I would like to just sit and trail my hand through the warm water and watch the seagulls and the dolphins. But, being a good guest, I have to carry on small conversation.
At Mandwa, we reach the house and we all assist the hostess in opening it and airing it and chasing the lizards back into the cracks. After that, I would like to lie down for a couple of hours, but the hostess has not pointed out which is going to be my buck and I am too polite to ask, so I stand around, doing nothing, and occasionally mentioning how peaceful the place is. "Yes," says the host, "it is very peaceful, you can relax and relax here."
There is, however, no relaxation. The child of the other guests wants to go for a walk in Mandwa village, hoping to find Amitabh Bachchan there, and, after that, the host and hostess have a plan to take us to the Mandwa Club.
I consider the hammock, but children from neighbouring cottages are playing see-saw on it. I decide to read the book I have brought along and which I have been planning to read on the first available long weekend, but the guest tells me: "You have not come here to read!"
The evening is unending is no Amitabh Bachchan in the village, but a lot of people who look like Mithun Chakravorty, and at the club there are familiar Bombay faces in sailors' caps and half pants.
It is late by the time I finally go to bed and the last thing the host tells me is: "tomorrow morning, the village is having its annual bullock-cart race, so we will be getting up early to of and see it, and in the evening we are having a bonfire and sing-song on the beach. Goodnight."