Yesterday, Anjali and me went to her mama's farmhouse near Karjat alongwith her mama and mami. I have never been to many farmhouses before so it was a new experience for me. We had to wake up at 5 am in order to go to Dadar and get the connecting local to Karjat. I had planned to counter this lack of sleep but catching up with it in the train to Karjat. But any such hope was quickly dashed as the train got packed at Dadar and we were thankful to get a good place to stand, let alone sit. And the train was full of groups of teenagers going to the various picnic spots near Karjat and of course, good ol Matheran. We reached Karjat at around 9 am and after a quick breakfast of vada-pao (possibly Karjat's only snack ;-) and tea, we took an auto to go the village nearest to the farmhouse which is around 10km from Karjat. The last half a mile or so was a good old fashioned walk through the village, the nearby fields and a stream with knee-high water.
After we settled ourselves in the farmhouse, her mama took us around for a tour of his farmhouse. And what followed was a hugely enlightening session in Botany. Now, Botany has never been my cup of tea. I am more interested in fauna (in fact, I was trying to spot any snake, lizard etc in the farm). Come to think of it. why does Discovery or National Geographic have hardly any plant-focussed shows ? Anyways, the bottom-line was that my knowledge, and hence appreciation, of various trees and their flowers n fruits increased by leaps and bounds (to the extent that I imagined myself doing full-time gardening/farming and quite liked the idea !!!). One of the discoveries that I made yesterday was that in some plants, there is also the concept of gender !!. After the tour and lesson was over, we took a quick tea break followed by a hands-on session in gardening. Right from gathering the fallen leaves on the ground, collecting and disposing them in the pit, cutting of old branches et al, we spent almost an hour literally getting our hands dirty. It reminded me of the social service camps that I used to go in school. After the clean up activity, it was time to water the different trees. Lunch happened thereafter, with a nearby village household serving us the most amazing home-like meal you can ever expect to have !!. And for once, my Sunday afternoon siesta was more because of exhaustion from the shram-daan rather than overeating.
As the afternoon sun began to move towards the horizon, we went on a quick tour of the adjacent surroundings before finally getting back to Karjat in time for the 6.24 pm train. Another three hours later and we were back home, having spent a Sunday unlike any other and one to remember for a long time !!!..