25-Sep-2005 -- I’m new to confluence.org I must admit. Infact, I had only known about the Degree Confluence Project for 4 days when I did my first visit in a suggestion from my friend Akshay Raut. While we wanted to start from the as yet virgin 18°N 76°E or the in water 18°N 73°E, a lack of time and some other factors forced us to start with the 18°N 74°E point. With a borrowed GPS unit and no idea about how we were gonna do it, we headed out.
We started out from 18°29’N 73°49’E in Pune. Putting our faith in Google Earth and an old school atlas, we headed onto NH4 for the confluence point which was supposed to be located just after Khambatki Ghat. We crossed the 74th meridian before we even reached Khambatki, but we were somewhat relieved when the road turned westwards. The confluence point was located in a tiny village called Wele (वेळे) just at the base of Khambatki on the other side. We stopped our car at the mandatory by-the-road truck stop located at Wele. At this point the GPS was showing the confluence to be 400m to the left. While our initial efforts to find the point were cut short by a wide smelly canal that no one wanted to jump over, we soon managed to find a way across.
We were soon treading dried out crop across fields in search of the point, trying to explain to the bewildered locals what the hell we were trying to do. Thanks to Akshay who thought ahead far enough to actually find out the Marathi words for latitude and longitude. We were quite startled in between when we were addressed in English by a local, a Mr. Pawar. (He spoke flawless English I must say, and he resorted to it primarily because he mistook Rahul as a foreigner. Background info on this, Rahul is fairer than the white seen in the Tide commercials.). He helpfully pointed us to a pathway. As it turned out, we were needlessly walking through sludge, there was a perfectly good pathway. The CP infact turned out to be just a couple of meters off the pathway. Instant jubilation was seen when the GPS unit showed 18°00.000N 74°00.000E and 0m to target.
Coincidentally, the point turned out to be in Mr. Pawar’s field. This piece of information later got redundant when we found later that almost everyone on the village was called Pawar. This Being our first confluence and all, we hastily planted an ill constructed flag at the spot which I’m pretty sure has been uprooted till now. We prophetically thought of the words ‘One small step for man, one giant leap for village Wele’. A few quick ticks on the checklist and a photo shoot later, we headed back.
On a lighter note, the entrepreneurs in us were awakened on the way back. We managed to make grandiose plans for starting the confluence burger shop, or the confluence wada pav shop at Wele; and o'course printing the 'I went to 18°N 74°E and all I got was this lousy t-shirt' shirts..