Trek to Kalu Waterfalls

We completed a pleasant easy level trek to Kalu Waterfalls – monsoon beauty at its best. It’s the highest waterfall in Maharashtra with the water level and force so high, that on merging with another waterfall called Mahuli, it forms the Kalu River. The waterfall originates from the Harishchandragadh mountains, it can be seen from Malshej Ghat but its beauty is such that 90% of it is not visible.

We started early at around 6am from Thane. The trek is short but one takes about 3.5 to 4 hours to reach Malshej. About breakfast, one can find a few decent places after you cross Murbad because if you leave that early, many joints en-route don’t even open.

Malshej Ghat is a trekker’s paradise, with lush green roads, numerous waterfalls and how can we forget the fog. The road to Kalu Waterfall trek is a diversion to the left, just before H2O Boating Club. The road is not an ordinary one, it feels like it’s a road to heaven. A lake runs alongside and the narrow well maintained road, seems to have no end – the only end being when it merges with the open sky. The road itself sets the tempo for an extraordinary experience – 1km on the road, you find local villagers who are willing to be your guide for the trek for an amount of Rs.400 to Rs.700. It’s a short trek of about 2.5-3 hours including the walk time and the time that you spend at the point.

The point is where the waterfall takes full speed and drops from high altitude, the force of wind being so strong that the fall reverses. I had an inhibition that we will not get a chance to get wet in the fall, as the trek will take us to the point where it starts. But I did not know that the fall welcomes all its visitors with a splash, which is similar to how an elephant fills water in its trunk and sprays it. It feels like rain, but it’s actually the reverse waterfall.

When the skies clear for a few moments you can witness the steep valley, with the Kalu River flowing below – a scene straight from a child’s drawing book, a picture showing two mountains and a river in between. The only precaution required is when you step on the stones that have gathered green slippery moss due to being wet all the time. One wrong moment, you lose balance, slide and meet an accident. So one needs to be very careful while trying to capture it all in the camera.  

We had also taken our kids along and apart from the precaution that I just mentioned, kids above 6 years of age can easily do it. The trek by itself is a long stretch of flat land, as if you are walking in the fields. The fog is thick so you can barely see trekkers ahead and behind but the guides keep it real safe. There are big puddles, and muddy sludge that you cross so better to prepare the kids beforehand for the mess. No attempt to jump over or take a big step can prevent you from stepping into wet mud that takes your foot in.

However for any trekkers who are reading the blog this part would not matter at all. Simple corn, Maggi and tea is what you get at the starting point of the trek, and in case you wish to relish a good spread you can opt for a meal at Saj by the Lake which is 10 minutes away – a well maintained property with a running restaurant and warm staff. 

You don’t feel like coming back and wherever your eyes go, you see small and big streams of water flowing. The breeze though harsh, heals you as it embraces you tight and refuses to let you loose. The walk is easy but the wind and water make you feel tired because you cut across these powerful elements of nature to successfully complete the trek.

Bikers have their fair share of fun though it requires quite a bit of patience to ride the bike through the rough smudgy terrain. We came across many bikers but all were cautious and careful with indicator lights on so that we can spot them even through the fog. There was a moment where I imagined myself also on a bike with my better bitter half. I am not a pro at trekking but all I know is that trekking requires a match of spirit from co trekkers and you can pull off  – especially simpler treks like Kalu Waterfall.

My thoughts after completing the trek, on our way back were – it’s so easy to be one with nature with treks like these that require only willingness and time planning.

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Series Review – Maid

I recently finished watching a series by the name ‘Maid’ on Netflix. It’s about the intriguing journey of Alexandra (played by Margaret Qualley) from a disoriented young mommy to a confident mother to three year old Maddy. The husband/father Sean (played by Nick Robinson) is a bartender, is good looking and loves Alex – but when under the influence of alcohol loses control. 

One gets mistaken in the initial few episodes to think of him as a physical abuser but soon it dawns, that it was never physical but always mental. His behavioural extremities shook Alex’s faith in him as a reliable partner.

The series kicks off with Alex leaving with her child in the wee hours of the morning with a meagre $18 in her pocket. From here on it’s a long road with sharp curves as Alex struggles to become an independent woman. With no qualifications and zero support system, she is out in the open with her tender baby to make a living for both of them.

Her parents are divorced, father an abusive alcoholic and mother who is undiagnosed bipolar. The director has given many shades to every character almost every shade being gravely dark. If all is grave, what keeps a viewer glued? It’s Alex’s hope for life, her faith in self, her perseverance to break the cage, her dream to fly.

Do dreams need a degree? The answer is no. She was a passionate writer adept at writing stories of grit and truth. This one skill proves enough to give wings to her mind – which lets her fly miles away. Her passion for writing keeps her soul alive. She envisions doing a writing course at Missoula with the help of a scholarship. A distant dream, but one that gave her peace in hard times.

To meet her day to day expenses she opts for what she is good at – house cleaning that requires minimum education and embarks on a hazy road to financial independence. Her day is long involving hours of travel, irritably dirty toilets and a cold world but her poise inspires throughout. As she reached the end of the day full of sweat and stink, she finds solace in scribbling voraciously in her notepad about her experiences in every new home that she went to clean – and mind you, a maid indeed knows a lot.

A realistic social situation vividly highlighted in the series is that a maid is always there but the owner doesn’t regard her presence as significant leading them to     lower their guards and coming out all exposed – because after all who cares, she is just a maid. Alex’s random notes turned out to be a masterpiece that eventually let her win the once lost scholarship.

During this process she had a weak moment when she goes back to Sean. Quite a few episodes are dedicated to this part of the story. That’s a point when everyone watching the series would be torn in two – one saying yes, he deserves to get a chance courtesy his truthful appearance of sobering for Alex’s sake. While the other side saying, ‘No, no please don’t fall into the trap. Don’t go back.’ Unfortunately the latter seems wise as she loses her freedom, slowly, steadily, once again becoming a victim of emotional abuse.

What next? She rebounds – and this time with full awareness. With government aid, a student loan and a spree of cleaning jobs she makes a solid plan. One of her loyal clients Regina, a rich black woman with a complicated life helps Alex get a good lawyer and she manages to win back full custody of Maddy from Sean. One major reason behind this also being Sean going on a self -realization trip that led him to accept that he will never be able to raise Maddy better than Alex. 

There are many intricate characters in the series but their roles are so neatly defined that they hold a short but impressive span in the series. 

What is surprising is that I am a homemaker, mother to two beautiful kids and a freelance content writer – I lead a life of complete emotional and financial security. I could not gauge why and how could I connect so much with Alexandra. We don’t have any life situation in common, yet I partially felt her pain, also her elation. Probably a strong reason is that hers was not only a story of escape but one of self- discovery. 

Alex’s wishful eyes had a vision and as she patiently manoeuvred, I felt as if I am about to reach my state of ultimate freedom. Freedom from dependence in any form – that allows you to reach your optimum potential.

Even as we live a life of abundance that quest to optimize burns inside each one of us. With titles and properties, with assets and gadgets, there is still some emptiness and that vacuum demands self -discovery.  The series has a woman as the central character but this inner turmoil is also experienced by men.

The way out is to understand what makes you weak? Make a systematic plan to convert the weakness into strength. What binds you the most is your own inhibitions, and the only way to let go is to attempt genuinely and consistently.  And that’s the message that I took from the series. 

Kudos to Molly Smith Metzler for creating this beautiful American drama series that comes real close to the realities of life. The series is inspired by Stephanie Land‘s memoir Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive. A viewer’s delightwith important life lessons to learn.