With everyone who is anyone in Bombay having a second home at Alibag, it has become almost de rigeur for anyone who wants to be someone to have a house over there. However, ever since the tsunami struck the Indian coastline way back in December 2004, our government has woken up to the fact that this too is a possible disaster and the Ministry of Environment & Forests have come up with Coastal Zoning Regulation which prohibit the construction of any dwelling up to 500 m of the coast. This meant that all those beach front houses are a thing of the past and anyone who wants a beach front property will have to make sure it is at least a km deep into the coastline so that a beach shack can be built. Of course it helps if the property already has a dwelling in place, a ramshackle hut notwithstanding, as any existing authorised structure will enable the new buyer to ostensibly repair the old existing ruin and make a swanky new beach house which will be the envy of all who see it.
Because once you build your fancy house, you need to have your fancy friends to grace your infinity pool, sunbathe on your rattan poolside furniture, partake of your chilled French wines and relax by your barbecue pit. If you are really fancy, you will have speed boats or catamarans to ferry your guests from the Gateway to Mandwa jetty from where you will whisk them off in your swanky old SUV while if you are not so swanky you will bring them across by one of the ferry boat operators ( PNP or Maldar). But with beach front properties hard to come by and with labour even harder to round up ( all the old labourers have now become millionaires overnight having sold their patches of rice fields and coconut groves to townies) many people are now developing apartment complexes in Alibag and its environs.
I have never been one for driving miles and miles for peace and quiet : I’d much rather drive down to the middle of town and laze by the poolside in the Club which is so quiet that you can hear a fly buzz. Actually I am petrified of the water and hate swimming and it is something I did only out of an instinct of self preservation. Also, once the kids grew out of their swimming costumes, I was glad to get rid of mine and would much rather watch the pool from a distance. So then of what use to me was a flat in Alibag? None , as Hubby dear told me rather emphatically. But I still thought it was worth making a trip to see this resort-to-be simply because one could be only “invited” to purchase a flat in this property.
Boat trip to Alibag
So yesterday morning at 7.30 I made my way to the pier at the Gateway and waited for the PNP ferry to arrive. Getting on the ferry was not as simple as one imagined – one had to board it via another ferry which bobbed up and down, rhythmically going away from the jetty so that one had to literally time one’s jump from terra firma to a slippery wet boat deck. Of course there were two skinny attendants whose sweaty hands you could hold on to but if the bump was particularly hard, there was a chance of slipping into the murky waters splashing below. Now this operation had to be repeated once more to get onto the PNP and yet again at the jetty at Mandwa.
The inside of the PNP was a pleasant change from the old wooden ferry boats of yore but despite the tinted windows , the airline seats and the airconditioning, the strong fumes of the diesel engine can get to you. They did get to my sister in law who is genetically programmed to motion sickness and preferred standing on the upper deck in the open air on the way back. Since the boats were already out on the water a week beyond the normal schedule, the sea was already rough and nasty. The journey out wasn’t too bad though my stomach did heave a bit but on the way home it was down right scary. I hate to think of how uncomfortable it must have been later in the day as the sea gets even more angry as the day progresses.
After 50 minutes we reached Mandwa and made the 200 m trek to the bus stand where our car was waiting to take us to the resort. It was only 9.30 but the sun was already strong. The roads were empty and we took another fifteen minutes to get to Chondi town from where we had to turn off for the apartment complex to be. Going down a 10″ wide strip of thinly metalled road we finally came upon this plot of land cordoned off with green netting. And that was it. 4 acres of land with 4 mango trees and two structures which looked distinctly like toilet blocks. Of course I had to imagine the whole complex once it was ready but honestly, I’d have to be crazy to come here to swim in a pool after an hour’s boat ride or a three hour road trip. And all to stay for a weekend in a flat the size of my bed room for a peek of a hillock. And as I get older, my bones creakier and my eyesight weaker, it would make more sense to enjoy the view from my home instead.
But I’m glad I got to see it for myself. I can only imagine the glee on Hubby Dear’s face as I tell him that once more his instinct proved to be right after all.