28.2.12

Lavasa Women's Drive 2012 (#LWD2012)

The Lavasa Women's Drive is an annual, all-women car rally that drives to Lavasa, a planned hill city near Pune for a cause. This year the main cause was Cervical Cancer. I was invited too, not as a rally participant! [ no car, can't drive! ☹ ] but to see the rally & Lavasa itself. I rode with the Windchimes team & another blogger.
So Sunday started super early, on the way to Bandra reclamation grounds (where the flag-off was happening) I was super excited to see many decorated cars (about Cervical Cancer Awareness) drive past.
Due to some unexpected delays on my part, I missed the flag off for the first ten or so cars. There were a total of 350 cars leaving from Mumbai & another 150 from Pune, all of the rally participants (drivers & passengers) had to be women.
It was wonderful to see all that positive energy on the grounds that morning. People were so lively & happy. :)
A lot of celebrities came to show their support- Diana Hayden, Emraan Hashmi, Parvathy Omanakuttan, Simran Mundi, Dilip Vengsarkar, Chunky Pandey, Sophie Choudry, Bhagyashree etc. Some just came to flag off & cheer participants, some even participated in the rally. I didn't click too many photos of the rally cars & I'm not even sure why? There were such wonderfully decorated cars, one was in support of the merchant navy (my dad is in the merchant navy!) & another one for breast cancer awareness had bras taped on the sides. Perhaps I was feeling sluggish but I really regret not taking photos of the cars. I do have some analog photos that I will share after I get the roll processed. The color theme was blue, there was a lot of blue visible everywhere! I loved all the blue balloons with cervical cancer awareness messages. After watching the flag off for a while we started our journey, I had heard that the road near Lavasa has too many ghats (i.e. very curvy) so I took my motion sickness pill well in advance, but it appeared that I was the only squeamish one in the car. We stopped on the Mumbai-Pune expressway for snacks, I was happy to be able to pick up Maganlal Chikki (the oldest & most renowned chikki brand!) for my mom. All of us chit chatted a little along the way, but I was mostly admiring the view, it was so scenic.
{cervical cancer awareness balloons at Bandra reclamation; bamboo handicrafts for sale at Lavasa}

I was mostly napping during the latter part of the approximately four hour long drive (thanks to the aforementioned pill). And soon we were there- Dasve. It's the first & most complete village of Lavasa & in 2005 it won awards from the Congress for the New Urbanism and the American Society of Landscape Architects. When we arrived there was a band & the carnival there was in full swing. The atmosphere was very festive. There was a main Shamiana (basically an  Indian-style cloth canopy/tent) where a compere was constantly having quizzes & other activities, besides that there were all kinds of stalls set up- there was free tattoo painting, hair braiding & Mehendi (temporary tattoos with henna), there were stalls selling all kinds of bamboo articles including furniture, also small business stalls selling natural bath & body products (I was tempted to buy some lip balm, if I didn't already have so many!) Lavasa has a lot of restaurants, but for the carnival there were also a lot of food stalls set up. I ate chaat soon after arriving & felt pretty full (so what if it was past 2 PM? Lunch could wait!) The next few hours were just spent wandering around the place, checking out the band performances (Did I mention the Lavasa Women's Drive had a really great, upbeat anthem? It was awesome.)
I also had Gola after a very long time, it was just the right weather for it. For those of you who don't know, Gola is a little Indian treat mostly available on the streets where ice is grated then pressed together on a stick firmly, then flavored crush is poured over it. It's yummy in summers (or hot winter days!) After a little bit of wandering around, checking out the festivities in the tent & browsing the various stalls I finally decided to go for lunch.
A quick check at the information/help desk revealed that Lunch was being served at Lavasa International Convention Centre (LICC). The directions were to walk past the promenade, cross a bridge when I see it & go to the convention centre. By this time I was feeling somewhat weary but as I was crossing the bridge I first notice how beautiful Lavasa is. I was on a large bridge over Warasgaon lake with brightly colored apartment buildings on one side, the large convention centre on the other side, a few boats in the water & a dam in the distance. I paused for a while to take in the beauty & then I took a few photos with my Polaroid.
 {raspberry flavored gola; large cloth installation of the Lavasa logo}

After that I went to the convention centre. It's an imposing (& impressive) building, two storeyed with many different conference rooms. There seemed like a really good lunch buffet but I wasn't too hungry so I settled for desserts only. Warm Gulab Jamuns are my absolutely favorite, & I'm craving them again as I'm typing this. Shortly after lunch I got to check into my room at Mercure Lavasa, a luxurious business hotel (one of three hotels at Lavasa). I liked the room a lot, I spent the next couple of hours clicking photos of the beautiful view from my balcony, checking out the days photos, freshening up & sipping on hot lemon tea. I met the team again for dinner, we had the dinner buffet at the Mercure restaurant itself & it was pretty good.
Then we turned in for the night to our respective rooms with plans to be up latest by 9 AM. I watched some tv (Psych was on FOX Crime, though I have every episode of that show & have watched it multiple times I couldn't resist watching again.)
I turned in my sleep a couple of times & saw the breathtaking sunrise over the mountains. I really should have woken up & taken pictures but I was too tired/lazy.
By the time we went down breakfast it was quarter to 11 & we were told that the breakfast got over at 10:30. I was a little disappointed but couldn't complain as I had a fantastic sleep. The very confused looking waiter finally managed to get us some vadas & idlis as well as fresh watermelon juice.
Then we started touring the place. Since Lavasa is going to be a self contained new urban city & not just a vacation getaway, it is planned really well. We passed the administrative building, the fire station & police station, post office & then reached Christel House, an English medium school for the underprivileged children. That was one of the most inspirational stops of the tour- the school building is very nice, & we were taken into classrooms as well. Children there were polite, smart, neat & pretty well versed in English. In the music room the children sang I Have a Dream by ABBA beautifully to the tunes of an keyboard, & after they were finished they left the room in single file with their hands behind their backs with almost no prompting.

{the view from Lavassa International Convention Centre; the poolside at Dasvino Town & Country Club}

Next we were taken on a proper tour of the convention centre, & afterwards a quick visit to the exclusive Dasvino Town & Country Club which had everything- a spa, bar, café, card room, children's play area, pool, tennis court, squash rooms etc.
There was so much more to see as Lavasa is such a large place but we were already a little weary & it was getting late so we had to miss checking out Bamboosa - The Bamboo Factory & The Nature Trail.
We just headed back to Mercure for Lunch. There we were kept waiting so long even though we ordered from the set menu! We were hungry & after being kept waiting for about forty minutes on just salad & papad we were all losing our patience. But when the food finally came it was quite delicious so no harm, no foul. We then set out on the long drive back to Bombay, with a stop for snacks in between. Sadly we got the rush hour traffic once we arrived in the city but I was home by eight. Then it was dinner with margaritas & hitting the sack for me. It was a wonderful experience & I'd like to thank Mukta & Partitosh from Windchimes for making the whole trip so much fun.

Love,


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