Living in Mumbai has its ups and downs. One of them is that places in and around Mumbai are always sold out over the weekends. At times all you want is a last-minute holiday! We knew the 15th August weekend was round the corner, but since we had planned a LONG trip at the end of the month we decided to stay in town. But as all plans go, there are always spokes in the wheel and the biggest is ‘work’. So the 10 day holiday got cancelled. Stuck in Mumbai all of August? No way. So we decided to take off on 15th and 16th August. There are some places you mean to go to, but just never end up. For us, one such place is Bordi. Ever since I heard that in summers you get awesome aamras at all the Parsi / Gujarati houses there I’ve wanted to head there. But just never happened. We booked on Wednesday and left on Friday!
The highway from Mumbai to Bordi is the one that runs to Surat. You know you are on the right road when you start seeing the numerous Gujarati signboards and rows and rows of vegetarian restaurants. You don’t even need GPS! Where there are Gujaratis, there is ALWAYS good food and white cars! We pushed our hunger till we got to Kamat; all for the misal pav we’d heard so much about. And it was good — the right mix of crunchy and spicy slurped up with the bland comforting familiarity of pav (bread).
Just after the monsoons all highways out of Mumbai just transport you to another place. And this highway is similar. It’s green, greener and then even more green. Nature seems to have taken over the place and at times it makes you think, if you let it be, will it all go wild again? Once you turn off and enter Dahanu you drive along the beach till Bordi. It is a plain beach that runs along you… a quiet beauty.
Bordi is an old Parsi settlement so you will see a lot of old houses there. We got invited into a Parsi house by old man who was rather drunk. Funnily, my 6th sense wasn’t giving me any negative signals but my husband was imagining the worst. As we walked through the house, he kept imagining that the old man would beat us up, throw us into a room and lock us in! That is why A refused to enter a room that was at the end of a corridor! I was walking around like it was a museum, clicking pictures, asking him about the house and his family. Normally, I am the paranoid one. Always fun when tables turn 🙂
We had a sweet and simple two days at Bordi. Drove to the dam and walked around there, spent time with a Warli artist, visited a chikku (sapodilla) farm and walked around in the weekly local market that takes place every Sunday — bought some village lemons that have orange insides and taste different too. We also bought some Aluchi paane or leaves of the collacasia plant. It was Rs. 20 a bunch! I was shocked and asked the seller,
“This is really expensive. Is it a special price because we look like we’re from Mumbai? I expected it to be cheaper than Mumbai.”
She smiled widely and then replied with a sly grin, “In Mumbai, it should be even cheaper. They just grow it in gutter water, don’t they!!” And it was followed with a loud laugh.
Well, I had no comeback to that!
Back in Mumbai, we had the lemons and the leaves to remind us of our trip. And a lovely Warli painting. Aluchi paane are not used in South India so I had no clue how to make a vegetable. Also I was warned that they are bitter, so needs to be cooked just right. Google did come to the rescue but then my maid (who is not my cook) stepped in and took over. She made this delicious gravy vegetable with dal (lentils) and crushed aluchi paane and topped with groundnuts that she pound to bits. We slurped it all up happily!
Quick tips to make the Bordi trip happen:
1. Getting to Bordi:
From the Bandra Flyover in Mumbai the distance is about 140 kms. Take N.H. # 8 from Bandra and proceed through Dahisar. Pass Manor to reach the intersection at Charoti. At this intersection, you turn left and proceed to Dahanu. Cross the Railway Flyover at Dahanu, turn left and reach Par Naka. From Par Naka turn right and take the sea front road all the way to Bordi via Gholvad.
2. Stay: Tapovan Resort is basic, but more than adequate. Importantly, it’s clean. It is owned by a Parsi family that lives in Mumbai. If you inform them in advance they can also rustle up some Parsi food, specially if you’re a non-vegetarian. The food is otherwise basic and local but works.
3. Activities to do:
- Go to the dam, leave earlier in the day as it’s beautiful and you might want to spend some time there.
- Walk to the beach. As in all small beaches in India, we saw locals taking a dump in the sea. So I wouldn’t advise swimming there, but a walk down is definitely worth it. Just opposite the Vijay Stambh or Victory Pillar lies a small pathway to the crematorium that lies along the beach. It is a quiet place and during monsoons experiences crazy winds! Crematoriums always make me very reflective…. the fleeting moments that makes up this life.
- Visit a chikku farm. There are many around but Madhur seems to be the most famous or the most friendly. It has a big signboard so hard to miss.
- There is a railway crossing on the way to the dam and you always need to wait for a couple of trains to pass. I like the concept of a railway crossing. Somehow slows down life for me… and takes me back to childhood, before subways or bridge over railways came into being. Does it do that to you?
- Visit the Warli artist – famous among the tribal people of this region. At Bordi, there is only one family that still practises this ancient art – Suresh & his wife. And again there is a big sign board so you cannot miss it.
- All of these are along the same road, and your hotel manager will give you directions.
- If you are there on a Sunday, the weekly haat makes for an interesting walk about. Also walk about the tiny town. There are so many old buildings in various states of disrepair. Reminds me of the houses at Matheran… and makes me think about the Parsi community in India and wish, that they were thriving and not dwindling. You might get invited to a meal by an old Parsi, like we were.
4. Supplies: Carry mosquito repellant, a torch and lots of water. We do not like to buy water when we go on road trips, would rather carry especially when its two day trips. Or we drink local water. Here it was from the well, and if you aren’t used to that (like me) then it’s a little hard in mouth feel!