Monthly Archives: March 2012

Mhane Chandra – What Future Holds??

Freezing cold at Sandakphu base camp was something we managed to get acclimatized to. After climbing 14000 feet from the other side of Nepal and feeling on top of the world we had embraced the joy of the cold weather and at the same time the soreness of climbing such heights was quite a battle. Having said that, we had also embraced one downhill descent from Sandakphu to Gurdum. That was a bit of an ordeal, especially for those weak in their knees… No pun intended 😉

During our entire duration of the trek, Gurdum base camp was one of the best ones as most of us managed to climb down quite easily, though nurturing some levels of knees and joints pain, time taken and the stress plus energy burnt was much lesser than earlier ones. The flipside of it was since there was no ascent, most places we had to be careful of our stepping and ensure that we didn’t lose our balance at certain stages.

We stayed in Gurdum overnight, enjoyed delicious soup and fantastic veg momos for snacks! Even the dinner was one of the best and it really felt like we had a sumptuous meal after our arduous journey had been completed. Now we just had to alight Gurdum and reach our final destination (Rimbick) This was again a descent and there was hardly anything that we thought would bother us during this trek. Having said that, sometimes it’s just not your body but also your mind that takes a toll during this trek. It’s something that we think we can manage, but a lot of times struggle doing the same… I guess that’s why trekking is not just a physical but a mental challenge too.

Nonetheless, once we woke up in Gurdum, early in the morning, we decided to go down soon and camp at the final destination. Since it was the last destination of the trek, we wanted to make the best out of it. At least that was the plan. So we quickly started descending the mountain and the terrains called for some really amazing and breathtaking views. Although we did stop at places to ensure we got to enjoy the view, we didn’t wait for a long while…

After trekking for about a couple of hours we could hear a few sounds. We were surprised as mostly very few people came on top from this route… But nonetheless, we thought there might be some locals who wander off here or come to cut trees… We imagined it could be a wood cutter. Someone who has come on top and probably climbs day in and day out to cut wood. So we didn’t think about it as much. We told ourselves in a joking manner, imagine how much weight the person would be losing everyday and how many calories he would be burning. As it is most of the times we go on a trek, we end up losing a few pounds, and once we resume our sedimentary lifestyle, we end up getting all that back. I wonder how fit that person would be who would come to cut wood here climbing at least 11 kms everyday, I said…

As I said that, I just saw someone climb on the hairpin bend across the mountain below… I was looking elsewhere and slowly my glance went towards him… What I saw was something that made me think, ‘What did I say?’ I felt so bad that I even thought about something like this… Although not my fault, I really felt guilty at making assumptions about something or someone whom I didn’t even know. And what I saw wasn’t something that pleased my eyes as much.

Rather this is who I saw.

Sikkim, Darjeeling, Sandakphu, Gurdum, Rimbick

Mhane Chandra

Meet, Mhane Chandra! To him, this sickle is going to be a life, a life full of what his parents told him about. A life full of dreams and a life that will provide him and his family what they need.  But who will guarantee that these forests and the trees will last long? A question that I wonder for his future…

I felt so bad, that I promptly removed a packet of biscuits that the camp leader had given earlier and handed it over to him. At that time, that was the best I could do for him. I tried talking to him for a bit, but he wasn’t the kind who would speak a lot. Must be that his dad was behind or maybe not. Couldn’t really talk to him for he didn’t know our language. He just said, that he’s going up to get some wood to take home. Then he smiled and walked away…

Bindaas Baaji!

Rajasthan, Ajmer, Baaji, Pushkar

Baaji

6 days and 7 cities!!! Yes, that was the plan way back in 2009. It was the end of the year and my resolution was already formed. After leaving my mainstream job, I was about to get into a career switch into writing and something more creative. So my resolution was ‘Go With The Flow’ And that’s when we had planned this trip. My best friend and I, on an impromptu on the spur of the moment, hitchhiking or going by any means of transport available across Rajasthan. Initially we had some destinations chalked out and that’s about the planning that we did…

What happened later is another story and the way the entire trip turned out to be was again something very fascinating. Something that made sure that these kind of trips would be my goal for the next few years…

Anyways, so once we reached Udaipur from Mumbai, our plan was to reach Jaisalmer by getting on to a bus. We boarded a local bus that would take us there in a matter of 8 hours or so… But in a bit, we realized that Ajmer and Pushkar were nearby destinations… Well, that was all we needed, we quickly got down and decided to hitchhike to Ajmer… It was quite a task to do so, but we were traveling light so it didn’t quite matter as much. What was really important that if we got to Ajmer on time, we had enough time to visit the Dargah and then head to my friend’s in-law’s place. So that was one reason why we wanted to go to Ajmer first…

All this impromptu madness meant that we didn’t bother thinking about distances calculating time or anything… But thankfully before we went far, we realized since Ajmer was near and my friend had a place there, we could stop there for dinner and then head off to Jaisalmer.   So we waited on the highway, where we had got off for someone to pick us up… Dusty, hot & scorching sun overbearing on our head, we still had no choice but to wait! Within a brief while we saw an Armada Trax.. Immediately we asked him to stop. Turned out, he was a local who ran trips between Udaipur and Ajmer on a regular basis. We quickly hopped on. Besides it the trip didn’t cost more than 90 bucks. The downside of it… The vehicle was awfully crammed… But that’s the fun of it ain’t it?? The bumpy roads at times, the curvy ones too… everything was fun as we were all out on the road. Completely off the hook. Something that we wanted to experience than ‘Luxury Travel’ After all we wanted to get the sense of enjoyment and the local culture.

That is when we met Baaji… The ever smiling, every happy and the most amazing personality on this trip, absolutely made our journey. One look at him and his smile and you can feel the positive vibe and the aura that he carries. I just couldn’t resist taking his picture, I asked him what his name was in Hindi… He couldn’t speak Hindi that well, probably spoke Marwari (Folk language of Rajasthan) and the others told us he’s called ‘Baaji’. He gave us permission to take his snap. He also told the others to tell us that he liked our bags. We had simple backpacks but for whatever reason, he liked our bags…

After a while, there were many people and the entire vehicle was packed. Baaji was sitting at the window seat right next to the door. We covered some distance and at a certain point, there was a middle aged woman standing with two small kids and one baby in her arms. The driver stopped by as it was a remote place. He wanted to ensure that there wasn’t any problem. After a short conversation, we realized that they had to be dropped to a nearby location and that someone had to go on top of the trax…

Before any of us could offer the position, Baaji, quickly got out, made the woman sit inside… Caught hold of the baby and let other kids get in while she made herself comfortable. Since he was the first person near the door, before anyone could react, he had made up his mind to sacrifice his comfort and offer it to the much needed woman. We tried to persuade Baaji to sit inside and that someone else will easily go up there  and sit. To which he smiled and nodded his head and jumped on top of the Armada mumbling something with a smile.  I asked them what he said, and here’s the translation of what he said:     “If you live for others, you really live life. If you live for yourself, then you are really dead…” Truly this was a Bindaas Baaji! One word… “Respect”

This is my submission to IndiBlogger’s  Expedia – Around The World Contest

Life is a Beach… Truly…

So the other day, I was watching, Life is a Beach on NDTV Good times, that’s when I thought to myself, How many beaches have I traveled to? Come to think of it, I’m more a mountain person than a beach person. But nonetheless, there are some beaches that I’d love to die for. The early morning sunrise, the long walks on the beach, the non-stop swim for hours, the amazing sound of the ocean and the waves hitting at you, the cool breeze blowing across your face and of course, the best food and some alcohol to give you some company. How can I not like the beaches?? That’s when I decided to list down some of the beach holidays I have been to. Here’s the list:

1. Palolem, Goa

This has to be the prize catch. Of all the beaches that I’ve been to, this is the one that I have visited at least thrice. South Goa has it’s own charm and Palolem rocks when it comes to a clean beach, nice blue water and one of the most amazing beach shacks and restaurants across Goa. This has to be one of the best considering the beautiful Sunset point, the Kayaking and the dolphins it has. Not only that, it also is near the Agonda fort, and another similarly serene and calm beach, called Agonda. Both these destinations are a few kms away and one can bike it up. If you are in Goa, taking a bike ride is not new to you, but of course.

Palolem Beach, Life is a Beach, Goa, Beaches, Beach destination

Palolem Beach, South Goa

2. Gokarna, Karnataka

Gokarna has it’s own charm. Besides being renowned for it’s historic and symbolical reference when it comes to Lord Shiva, this destination has an isolated beach called Om, beach. Everyone has a relaxed laidback attitude and this beach is perfect if you want to just put your feet up and have a really chilled out long weekend. I’ve been here once or twice, taking a bike ride from Goa to Gokarna is quite adventurous. Fun if I may say so, especially if you are into riding. The beach has about seven eight shacks and they are pretty reasonably priced and they most certainly serve one of the most amazing dishes. If you are a food buff, this one place called Namaste Cafe’s to die for…

Gokarna Beach, Om Beach

Om Beach, Gokarna

3. Anjuna, Goa

Mostly in Goa, I prefer south Goa, but if you are in North Goa and cannot go further, then I’d recommend either Anjuna or Vagator. Anjuna wit the first preference. Most people like to hang out at Calangute or Bagha if they are party mongers. I prefer Anjuna for it’s serentiy and its beauty.  But besides that, Anjuna is world famous for its trance parties held on the beach during the tourist season. Anjuna also hosts the famous flea market wherein you can purchase many things, ranging from fruits to jewelry, clothes and electronic devices.

Anjuna Beach, Goa, Anjuna, Rave Parties, Trance Parties, North Goa, Beaches

4. Vagator, Goa

This is my place of solitude. I’d like to call this beach as one of the hippie beaches that still hasn’t lost it’s charm. This is totally isolated and if you have to get here, having your own bike or car is the best option. The whole amazing look and feel of the beach is what adds to the whole charm. Vagator Beach is the northernmost beach of Bardez Taluka, Goa. It is located on the opposite bank of the Chapora River from Morjim in Pernem. To the south of Vagator is Anjuna, one of the first hippy haunts of Goa. Vagator Beach has dramatic red cliffs looking down on the shore and two fresh water springs within a stone’s throw of the sea.

Vagator Beach, Little Vagator, Goa, Beaches, North Goa

Vagator Beach

5. Pondicherry Beach, Pondicherry

I went here a couple of years ago, this beach was certainly one where you’d love to relax and enjoy if you are into good food. This destination has a variety of cuisines. From French to Portuggese to Chettinad, you’ve got it all. While Pondicherry beach is near the town and quite a bustle it does not give you the serene and calm nature. For that, I’d recommend Auroville beach. The famous Auroville Ashram a few kilometers away from Pondicherry, the beach is enchantingly beautiful and one of the most calmest and cleanest in South India.

Pondicherry Beach

Pondicherry Beach

Auroville Beach, Matri Mandir, Pondicherry, Auroville

Auroville Beach

These are some of the amazing beaches that I’ve been to and the top most on my list. What are yours?