You all know that Fat Uncle Cheapo loves loitering around historical places. If you are of a poetic frame of mind then you can say that the ancient stones speak out to him.
However, that being said, if you are of a poetic frame of mind, then bugger off and do some actual work.
Because, let’s face it, no matter how hard you try you are never going to be able to match up to Edgar Allan Poe.
So stop writing poems, and instead start travelling.
There are so many places to see
Including a mysterious island in the middle of the sea – the Arabian Sea
And this post is about Fat Uncle Cheapo’s journey to said mysterious island.
The adventure started just after I disembarked in the not all predictably named Chatrapati Shivaji airport. I was accosted by a dacoit. You see, this illegitimate offspring of a duck billed plaatypus and a Bangladeshi tried to take over my cab. I had to firmly shove him off while explaining that “This is a black Indigo Marina numbered 9601, ergo it is my car and thus, you sir, can just piss off”.
After refreshing myself with some refreshing cold coffee I then went to invade the Mumbai railways.
It was Andheri train station – where the booking counter is in one way and the route to the platforms in another – and I had to take recourse to the bodaciously judicious use of the Frown and my significant bulk to not only enter the train but to also waddle under one of the fans. Not only that, but I was also assailed by a hermaphrodite dacoit hell bent on extorting money. There is no need to tell the result of said encounter – I am not called Cheapo for my charming personality.
I got off at a place called Mahalaxmi, intending to go to Haji Ali Dargah. I walked down to a junction to wait for a taxi, where all of a sudden I was accosted by the teeming hordes of Xerxes. Apparently, there are shared taxis which ply from this area to the Mahalaxmi temple and the Haji Ali place. Suffice to say that this whole host of unwashed humanity thoroughly spoiled my mood with their pushing, shoving, jostling, elbowing and shouting.
Not only that, but in the meantime, another one of those innumerable dacoits tried to latch onto me with high hopes of getting free dinner. He had a cockamemmy story about being in an accident and losing his memory. He further embellished his story by claiming that he has only started a job a few days back and that his account will open on Monday. Another use of the Frown beckoned.
Anyway, Haji Ali. The fornicating place sucks like…well…like a hungry baby with attention deficit disorder. Its stinky (the Haji Ali place, not the baby), noisy, dirty, and teeming with an unwashed multitude of humanoids…as well as a few goats….and more or less inevitably, the most obnoxious species on this planet – the Bong tourist.
In fact, it was after coming upon this species, that I decided to turn back and go away as far from that place as possible. I tried Chowpatty and Marine Drives, but neither appealed to my highly honed aesthetic sensibilities, so I boarded the train back and ended up in a place called Hiranandani.
In fact, if any of you had been in the vicinity of said place on the evening of the 23rd of March 2012, you must have seen a massively rotund gentleman with oodles of oomph and gazillions of gravitas loitering with intent – the intent being to find a place to eat. He finally ended up in a sizzling place and had Grilled Chicken with chips, Chicken Exotica (mushroom, baby corn, cauliflower, potatoes, carrots and slices of cheese) sizzler and some other stuff.
So we come to the day of the journey. On the morning of which, we find our protagonist Fat Uncle Cheapo near the Gateway of India haranguing ferry operators to give him a ticket…..for a Journey to the Mysterious Island.
I boarded the vessel and paid an extra 10 rupees to go to on the upper deck……mainly coz there were Bong tourists on the lower deck…..and it was fornicating worth it. Ah what a view.
To begin with, I saw my first Indian naval vessel – actual naval ship with guns and stuff. There were about 3 of them…and one of them was belching smoke. One question though – why does our navy still have the St George’s Cross as part of its flag? We don’t have enough mythical characters of our own that we have to borrow from the Britishers? Fornicating bourgeois colonial hangover!!!
Anyway, I also saw my first catamaran, my first yacht, my first sail boat, my first gigantic luxury cruiser and my first Chinese dhow. And soon I came across a weird naval installation thingy. I think it’s the Indian version of Alcatraz, and being off the coast of Mumbai, probably named Chatrapati Shivaji Naval Prison.
Next came ONGC oil drilling/refining area with some huge assed oil tankers and a whole plethora of rescue ships. In fact, there was a time when I could totally empathize with Old Priam. Just like that old dunderhead, Cheapo gazed upon the horizon, and out of the epic smog emerged hundreds and hundreds of ships of all shapes and sizes. To quote Senor Cortez as he first entered Montezuma’s Hall in Tenochtitlan – “mucho awesome!!!!”
And then there was the actual sea…..miles and miles…or if you are nautically inclined….knots and knots of the sea with possibly the filthiest water known to man. I have seen the nullah in South Kolkata as well as the so called Musi in Hyderabad not to mention Hussain Sagar, but when it comes to dirtyness, the waters of Arabian Sea not only takes the biscuit but also the whole bakery.
And so, finally, I reached the mysterious island, mysteriously named Elephanta. The whole island was shrouded in a veil of smoggy mystery – kinda like the breath from Smaug the dragon. There was a jetty which stretched to infinity and beyond. However, there was a toy train to carry people from the jetty to the base of the mountains.
I hopped on said train and soon came face to face with the auld enemy – stairs, who this time, has entered into an alliance with another nefariously heinous entity – upward curving slope.
There were a few people who were willing to carry me on a precarious looking chair the whole distance for a sum of five hundred rupees.
Now, since I am more or less always looking at destitution in the face, that was way too much.
My destitution coupled with my proletarian tendencies and tripled with the fact that I felt ashamed meant there was only one course of action. I said CHALLENGE ACCEPTED and began.
And naturally collapsed.
But I did not give up people.
I crawled one foot at a time through an avenue of souvenir shops selling such legitimate souvenirs of Elephanta islands as Tantra t shirts, crystals and Mithryushka dolls.
And finally, sweating like a bashibazouk in a Turkish sauna, I made it to the top.
There are two groups of caves; five Hindu caves, and a smaller group of two Buddhist caves. The Hindu caves contain rock cut stone sculptures dedicated to the Lord Shiva.
The rock cut architecture of the caves has been dated to between the 5th and 8th centuries. The caves are hewn from solid basalt rock. All the caves were also originally painted in the past, but now only traces remain.
The identity of the original builders is still not clear though.
There are mucho mucho speculations by critics about who built the caves and about whether the king who sponsored the temples became bankrupt.
But think about it, if there is one thing that was abundant in ancient India, it was land.
So, why would a king need to go to the middle of some island in the ocean to build temples?
And who in the name of Batman was the king?
See nobody knows.
So here’s a list of much more plausible theories
- Elephanta was Atlantis and what we see today is only the ruined ‘cherry on top’, the rest of the civilisation is under water
- There was a race of ancient people living on the island but while digging the caves they found a portal to hell and woke up some Balrogesque figure who ate all of them, and thus the place remains unfinished
- It was a pirate base ala Isla de Muerte but the Portuguese defeated the pirates and destroyed the city and took away all the booty
- It was Lanka and all this was built by Monsieur Ravana (a follower of Shiva lest we forget) and later destroyed by Hanuman
The island is also teeming with flora and fauna – doggies, monkeys, birds, squirrels, a couple of cows (how they turned up in the island I have no clue) and scores of Bong tourists.
Suffice to say that the last species were the most disturbing and wild. The dogs were lying down just chilling, the monkeys were busy picking lice, the birds were chirping, the squirrels were after nuts, the cows were ruminating about the fate of the planet and Bong tourists were complaining and being their normal obnoxious selves. So things were pretty much normal.
Anyway it was time for refreshments. Knowing Bong tourists I figured that the only place free of those obnoxious barbarians would be the most expensive place in the vicinity. So I went to the MTDC Chalukya restaurant, which lies just beside a quaint traditional path marked by a thousand beer bottles. [For the record, one Kingfisher 650ml costs Rs. 150 at that restaurant…..and there are quite a few numbnuts who actually order that!!!!]
It was while I was re-hydrating the body with half a gallon of fresh lime soda…that a raven decided to visit.
Now we all know that barring the noble and graceful hippopotamus, the ravens are the most fascinating creatures on the planet.
As Odin’s eyes, they are omniscient and mediators between life and death. As Apollo’s messengers, they are messengers of gods and as God Shani’s Vahana, they are experts of evil.
So a most refreshing and interesting dialogue commenced.
I asked the raven a few questions about the fate of mankind
1. Will we remain under the lies and deceit and desolation of the Commies?
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore” (btw within 6 months Mamta decimated the Commies in Bengal)
2. Will we remain under the anti national corrupt
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore” (within 2 years the Congies got decimated)
3. Will Arsene Wenger ever change?
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore” (well duh)
4. Will I ever be healthy and fit again?
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore” (within 2 years my lungs and liver joined my spine and heart in malfunctioning)
5. Will I ever realize the dream?
The raven burst out laughing
And flew away cacking