I have always been a city girl.
I’m not going to sugarcoat it – nature and I are at loggerheads. Always have been, courtesy my inability to accept a bug for a friend or go camping to a place where there’s a hole for a toilet! No sir, I love my rooms with their side tables and mirrors, the joy of ordering dinner on my phone and the gushing water spray in the bathroom.
But I do love music. And so when an opportunity presented itself to listen to some kickass artists – albeit in the outdoors – I said yes. The Lost Party at Lonavala sounded like a good idea – a 3-day live music collection of great acts.
There was only one caveat: it was a camping destination.
I allowed myself no chance to think and set off to conquer the great outdoors. After all, could there be a better opportunity to get over my first world problems?
A Camping Destination in the Middle of Nowhere
A good 80 kilometres and a two-hour drive away from the city – deep into the wilderness of Lonavala – is Saltar Lake, where the stage was set. I’d begun to question my decision halfway – courtesy a couple of really bad roads – but then, I saw it. Like light shining at the end of a tunnel: a huge, open space with bright fairy lights strung up on balloons. I was also floored by the sight of two absolutely massive makeshift stages which I knew could hold half of Pune.
I had been lost and found!
My humble abode for the night was a campsite with over 70 green tents – pitched side by side in a large compound. The ‘housing’ had been put together by a company called LetsCampOut, which is India’s largest camper service and which works at getting city people like me to the outdoors. They’d done a pretty thorough job at Saltar, with a host of two-, four- and even eight-person tents, stocked with bedding, pillows and blankets. There was even an airline style array of portable loos.
How LetsCampOut Started
LetsCampOut was started by Abhijeet Mhatre – an MBA man-turned-entrepreneur (a nature lover himself) – to simplify camping. Mhatre explained how a gap in the Indian market (in terms of ease of experience for the customer) had inspired him to open the service.
They currently have about 12 campsites all across Maharashtra and some in Karnataka – and even hope to expand to the north this year.
LetsCampOut also, of course, happens to be the official camping partner of SulaFest, Lost Party – and a host of other music festivals.
“Since we began in 2010, LetsCampOut has the highest inventory in tents in India – about 3000. India is still warming up to the idea of camping, although I must say the movies are helping! We understand that life in the metros can be pretty hectic, and people want time for themselves. Camping is the best way to bond with nature and with people.Abhijeet Mhatre, founder of LetsCampOut
Of Bonfires and ‘Bed Envy’
I had a two-person tent to myself – and one that was water and fire proof. This provided little resistance to cold winds, however, and Abhijeet, sensing my discomfort, was nice enough to start a bonfire.
Bonfires, I learnt, are a staple of all camping packages – not merely to lend camping its ‘classic’ touch, but also to cook dinner. Food is grilled over a roaring fire, all to the accompaniment of a good song or two.
A healthy helping of some awesome Schezwan rice, a drink and a few hours by a cozy fire – and I was ready to crawl into bed. The bedding was basic, but it’s enough to get you through the night with a zip lock assuring safety to the easily nervous.
I couldn’t help looking over at the Glampers who were camping adjacent to my tent. Glampers (or glamorous campers) live in slightly elevated levels of luxury in the outdoors – with all the basics AND a full-circle ventilation (aka, all sides of the tent open out). They even have a private bathroom right next to the tent!
So, did the city girl in me turn into a vigorous camper after one night of staring at a bonfire? I wouldn’t say I’m entirely there yet – but what started as a drive to just get away from the city turned into more than I had bargained for.
This could have been my last attempt to be outdoorsy – had I not discovered the glamorous option of glamping! I am definitely going back next time, except this time I’ll do it with the luxury of my own private bathroom!
(A massive EDM junkie and a Jedi Padewan, Radhika believes in taking life by the fork and knife every day. She has been a media woman for the last 10 years with a huge passion for video technology. While working in content management is her day avatar, nothing gets her foodie side going like a good spicy misal pav!)