Panchgani is my idea of an ideal life. Really. Its a small mountain town in Maharashtra. About 5 hours drive from Mumbai and about 2 from Pune. More about it here.
I went there for the first time with Neo. This was way back in 2006 or 2007 when both of us were in Mumbai and had nothing to do on the weekends. We had this stupid notion about leaving the city behind on the weekend and drive away to distant unknown places. In those couple of years we covered a lot of places around Maharashtra. And unlike all other tourists, we hardly took cameras or fancy clothes with us while we were on the road. Our idea of travel was to pack some basics (undies, toothpaste, toothbrush, a book, a notepad) and just leave. Often, we would decide on the destination hours after we had left the civilization behind. In fact Neo had this awesome blog at wknd2wknd.blogspot.com where he captured some images from these drives.
On one such sojourn, we went to Panchgani. Though it was far for a typical weekend ride (we liked doing distances that were between 2 and 3 hours), we went for it and it was a decision that we've been thanking since.
I was amazed at the beauty of the place. It was like the perfect small town of my dreams with all the activity around on small roundabout. And it had everything that you could ask for. The breakfast shop (Lucky's), a barber, long walks, mountains, civilization at a touching distance. Everything. Including the weather
And this is where the love affair with Panchgani started.
I want to retire in a place like Panchgani. Not very far humanity (Mumbai is about a 5 hour drive) and yet secluded enough to allow you to go for long walks without any nuisance of traffic or pollution.
How would it be if I could wake up every day somewhere in the hills. The weather is just right. Not too cold, not too warm. I then take a leisurely stroll through the winding hill roads, sucking in the clean fresh air. I make my way towards the town center. Once I reach Lucky restaurant, just off the center, I would order my regular - two toasts, an omelet and a coffee. I would take time to read the newspaper, hear the gossip of regulars, see the staff serve the customer with fervor and attention. I would leave them with a handsome tip. Walk some 50 steps to the barber. Get a good head massage.
Walk back home would be even slower. With millions of thoughts running amok. Probably the next business idea. Or may be solution to the next big problem. Once home, post a shower, I would spend the rest of day working, taking a break for stretching myself and catching up on other mundane errands.
Once I would be done for the day, I would head to the volleyball court or a swimming pool for the work out. Spend some time there. Work up an appetite. Spend some time with other people at a tea shop and then head back home. End the day with a few poker games on the Internet, some writing and then work on some more problems.
And live like that, happily ever after!