Monthly Archives: September 2012

Wandering Thinker & a Pondering Writer – Travelogues – 3

The river, it gently strode across the path… a path along which he walked. An indication of the ever changing life around him… An indication of the grotesque way his memories surrounded him…

He had already cleared the tougher parts of the first mountain on this trek… He was on top of the mountain and could get a clear view. A clear view of the entire valley. A valley that amassed a humongous stretch of the beautiful Indus River! A river that engulfed the terrain with its misty eyed stoned somber look. One could just flow into the serenity that this river had to offer. Serenity that you see when you look at the most beautiful girl you have ever seen. That look of awe and that of a crush you have for the look in her eyes, for that beautiful smile on her face. For a moment your entire life with her flashes in front of you. That’s the exact look he had in his eyes when he gazed across the horizon to find the beauty stretching across the valley and numbingly staring back at him.

He knew he had to walk many a miles further from that point on… But he also knew that the journey had truly begun now. At the pinnacle of the first mountain he climbed, the one of many more to come on this not so expectant trail of his. A trail that he had to take to surmount all the odds. And the odds that he was up against weren’t small. Certainly not by a mile. He looked at certain aspects of this journey as a triumph yet he knew this was a very small milestone that he had achieved in the grander scheme of things. His inspiration was not just the mountains, but the journey towards a destination to unravel a mystery of the enchanted mountains… One that had so much more to reveal.

He had set foot not just to conquer the mountains and search for his soul within but also the mystery the mountains held behind its gazing eyes. A travelogue that he was ready to write once he conquered the fear within. He had sketched out a plan to ensure that his destination was reached come hell or high water. He didn’t know what journey he was on… But he knew he enjoyed it a lot up until this point… A lot more than the benevolent lifestyle he had lived under the comforts of his four walls and the general rut of life. It was time that this journey helped him overcome his fear, a fear of stagnation and total annihilation from the constant bond of the comforts attached with the meager perks of a menial life.

He had decided that if he was successful in this venture of his it would attain significant value to his much denied existence of a wanderer. His life of a relic had to begin sooner than he thought… That was the true beginning of his life… One that he had thought would never come… Going back and introspecting on the life he had been living for days, weeks, months and years till today. He had to do it… Break the rut and get on to a path of the unknown. Unknown it was, yet it had a depth… A depth of the river like he walked by…

The river, it gently strode across the path… a path along which he walked. An indication of the ever changing life around him… An indication of the grotesque way his memories surrounded him…

 

 

 

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Wandering Thinker & a Pondering writer – Travelogues – 2

Without the sound of the wind in my face I’ll never know how far I have to go…Without it on my back, I’ll never know how far I could have gone…

He knew there wasn’t a chance in hell that he would give up before the destination arrived. He knew the tricky paths were going to be the most challenging ones to conquer. But it had to be done. No matter what time it took or how much of his energy went into this ordeal. He had taken this upon himself to ensure that the cumbersome path of the mountains had to be climbed. He took along his kit with himself. Packed a little ligher than usual… this way he knew he’d be able to push himself much harder than he actually could with a heavier backpack. He checked that he brought along the most essential items, like a jacket, sleeping bag, accesories and a small portable stove, some food, fruits, a trekkers knife and some water to help him with his parched throat from time to time. Not to forget a small medical kit that could come handy for the rough rides or downfalls he would be up against. Without a lot of thought put in, he had quickly made a decision to climb the mountains and endure the worst that he had ever experienced.

When he started the trek it wasn’t that bright. There was no Sun… The entire terrain was covered in fog… But it was only a matter of time, before it showed up. He looked around after a while, there was a break of light. He could see the sun hiding beneath the clouds shedding rays of light across the mountains. He could see the beautiful mountains all across. He could take a slight peek at the corner of the eye, staring into the sun which was rising up fast and then look away to the snow covered peaks that shone right up in his face. He had an expression on his face that could tell easily how much bliss he was experiencing when he saw those mountains. He knew that despite the challenge, the very fact that he’d be up there sometime was something that gave him a lot of joy… Something that told him that everything was going to be worth it. A definitive moment of confidence and exuberance showed up on his face, slowly girnning, looking up in the sky, sighing and smiling to himself he realized that it was time for the journey to begin. Slowly pacing himself and  briskly walknig across the crooked paths he started humming to himself… To control his breathing and to make sure that he doesn’t exert himself mentally. He started taking longer and slower steps as he walked on the tracks that became steeper at parts. His humming subsiding and some panting that began increasing. He hadn’t done this for a long time… Even though he had got some practice before he began ths journey, it was the first time he faced a track like this… after a long time. Nonetheless he knew this was going to get edgier and more challenging as he went further… All he could do is smile to himself and say, “It needs to be done…” There were times when he did give up… before getting up after a bit of rest and some water, to speak to himself in his mind, “It needs to be done…”  Sometimes foggy, sometimes sunny and suddenly cloudy, he got all bits of the weather, right up untill he reached the open space and the mountains curving into give a straight path without the covering mountains nearby. Suddenly it had become all clear. Suddenly there was a lot more for him to see and to experience. He loved the beautiful mountains staring right at his face. He loved the smell of the green at places and the breeze blowing into his face. He looked up in the clear blue sky and thought to himself,

“How far do I have to go? How far have I already gone?” 

Then he just looked at his compass, look up straight ahead… grin a little bit and adjust his backpack. Quickly he’d start walking again and the smile giving away his secret… A secret that kept him going always, especially in the windy mountains like these…

Without the sound of the wind in my face I’ll never know how far I have to go…Without it on my back, I’ll never know how far I could have gone…

 

 

 

Wandering Thinker & a Pondering Writer – Travelogues – 1

He dug across the path which raked in between the crooked boulders on the mountain. There were trenches, ditches, twisted turns and slippery paths to walk. The trail was the most difficult at this part of the mountain. He looked beyond the broad horizon, one that was starkly glowing in his face. The sunset across the mountains penetrated the entire region with its golden rays and the entire valley. Because of its desert like terrain the sky gleamed with effervescence surrounding the entire mountain ranges. It was hard to not keep staring in the sky and ponder upon the journey… The journey that he had taken wandering about the trodden paths of the most adverse conditions on the trek of his.

He had begun the journey when there was no Sun… The entire terrain was covered in fog… But it was only a matter of time, before it showed up. In fact at one point it was up in the sky dolling out its scorching heat, which was unbearable to him. He held his hand across his eyes touching his forehead. He twisted his woolen cap to cover his face, away from the beaming rays striking at him with an acute sharpness of its penetrating aura. He knew that the trail he had left was quite a long one. One that let him do his soul searching on his journey across the terrain. One that let him think and introspect upon his past and his present. One that told him of the heights that needed to be conquered. One that showed him how a traversal like this will help him dig deep into his consciousness. A journey that made him realize how mystically important this learning of life meant to him. A journey that helped him become what he was today…

He couldn’t judge how humongous and widely spread this entire place was.  As geographically vast and surmountable the terrain was it was nothing compared to the journey he had already finished, in order to finally reach the land which he lusted for many years. The land that he had thought about all his life. A place that was on his bucket list forever and this moment was something that he had always longed for.

But the real question was very tricky. As tricky as probably the slippery slopes he had overcome…

Why had he taken that journey? Why had he made this trek? Why?? What was he doing out there?

The quest to the soul within himself. The quest to the journey that was always in his mind…

This was his answer to that question… The answer to the question that he asked himself forever… Always, right from the time he had started traveling. Right from the time he had set upon himself the quest to wander the world, not just on the outside, but on the inside too. From the time that he had realized how his mind started reacting to the travel bug that had bit him…

An answer that changed his life …

“To traverse beyond the limitations of my mind, I travel to look upon the journey within myself.” 

The most rugged poker games and destinations in the world

Fancy traveling? Poker tournaments can take you anywhere from cushy international casinos all the way to the Arctic Circle!
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If there’s one thing aside from the money that makes joining the international poker circuit so enticing, it’s the travel opportunities. In just a single year, a hardcore tournament player could potentially find himself playing poker in every continent in the world.
Despite the sometimes hectic tournament schedules, though, these poker tournaments are still held in the comfort of a casino. No matter how crowded the venues become, you can still count on air conditioning and some relatively comfortable chairs.
You could even play on a cruise ship like in last year’s World Poker Tour Cruise. Playing poker with legendary Hall of Famer and Team partypoker member Mike Sexton as well as the WPT’s Royal Flush Girls on a luxury cruise liner? Sounds like a dream come true.

Of course, not everybody is out to play in cushy tournaments. Every now and then, some hardcore poker players organize tournaments around the world that require not only the requisite poker skill but a strong enough constitution to keep playing in some of the most rugged environments ever to play host to a poker game as well.

Take Australia, for example. The country is mostly known in poker circles for the annual Aussie Millions tournament. In 2007, however, another game took poker to new heights – literally!

A field of six players converged on a steel platform 90 meters above the Pacific Ocean for one of the more memorable poker stunts in recent years. In the words of the winner, Hugo Asenjo, “as long as you don’t look down, it’s quite fine.”

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Another recent and arguably more rugged game took things in a different direction. Instead of having the game take place high above, the Grosvenor Casino in Huddersfield chose to descend nearly 140 meters to the bottom of a mine shaft at the National Coal Mining Museum.

The 90-minute subterranean poker game took place in November 2011 and attracted a field of ten players. It wasn’t organized solely for publicity purposes, either. The charity game was held for the benefit of the Marie Curie Cancer Care foundation. Perhaps the most rugged poker tournament ever held, however, has to be the one at the Arctic Circle in 2006. With temperatures reaching 10 degrees Fahrenheit, it was the very definition of that one game that you wouldn’t want to lose your shirt in.

2002 World Series of Poker champion Robert Varkonyi eventually rallied from almost getting eliminated early to winning the game over local favorite Juha Helppi, but only after he had to take the option of trading in his jacket for a new stack of chips. Well, at least he didn’t lose his jacket for nothing.

Leh Ladakh – Pride of India

Every traveler has a different story of Ladakh! Every traveler has a vision that is different from others, when he is in Ladakh. Every traveler has an experience of his own when he is in  Ladakh! Ladakh, the most enchanting destination in India for world & Indian travelers was on my list for a long time. Yes, I knew that there was a hype about this place and it had its own set of expectations. When I decided that this is the year that I’d go ahead and fulfill my dream of being in this land of the lost bring my sojourns from an experience that I, like any other traveler would have  a different story, a different vision and a different experience to enchant others with, little did I know that all the hype that surrounded Ladakh, was certainly something that we lived up to!

One keeps wondering what’s so different about this beautiful place and why it’s called the Pride of India! Well there are many stories to it and certainly the ever so different and huge landscapes of various geographical terrains are a testament to it. But what’s so different from this place is the amazing culture and the most diverse and the most beautiful landscape it has to offer. Such that many who have traveled the world would find it a notch above their experiences. Add to it, the Himalayan terrain being infamous for its harsh and cold weather when the landscapes are inaccessible to the common people. There’s something mystic about the place especially with its lineage of Buddhism, its tibetian history and most importantly the nomadic culture that most people live by. A perfect destination for a wanderer, a nomad and many a travelers, Ladakh has its own sense of attachment, a bond that builds around various kinds of people.

We started our journey by flying into Leh directly from Mumbai… Yeah, we flew in, unlike most folks who generally do a ride / drive from either Manali or Srinagar mostly… Maybe that’s one thing that’ll be on my list for the next time around… But yeah, usually when you fly in, one day just goes into acclimatization, which could be a good thing in a way… It was a 10 day trip, so we did have a lot of buffer time for ourselves. So yeah, it was good in a way.. And those 10 days were certainly quite enchanting and our journey was certainly something we’d cherish for quite some time. This is how our journey went and here’s a little bit of a photo essay that tells you all

A view of Leh, Ladakh while flying down...

A view of Leh, Ladakh while flying down…

A picture of Leh palace clicked from a restaurant

A picture of Leh palace clicked from a restaurant

We went to this rooftop restaurant as soon as we freshened up in the hotel room. This was the first view of something really enchanting in Leh, Ladakh and it had to be clicked!

A small prayer bell near our hotel room

A small prayer bell near our hotel room

Sangam - Confluence of Indus and Zanskar Rivers…

Sangam – Confluence of Indus and Zanskar Rivers…

The next day was reserved for local sight seeing… Our first destination on that trip was this place where we saw a confluence of Indus and Zanskar river.

Alchi Gompa - The oldest monastery in Ladakh

Alchi Gompa – The oldest monastery in Ladakh

Scenic Landscapes of Ladakh

Scenic Landscapes of Ladakh

The Indus Valley...

The Indus Valley…

Shey Palace

Shey Palace

Shanti Stupa

Shanti Stupa

Tso Moriri Lake

Tso Moriri Lake

Our next day visit was to the Tso Moriri, or Lake Moriri. They had told us that there was a landslide in the Pangong Tso area and that the route to that lake had closed down. So we were recommended this place and it took us an entire day to reach there and we stayed there overnight… But truly, it was worth it. Tsomoriri or Lake Moriri in the Changthang area, is a High Altitude Lake (HAL) with an altitude of 4,595 m (15,075 ft) in Ladakh, India and is the largest of the High Altitude Lakes in the Trans-Himalayan biogeographic region, entirely within India. It is hemmed between Ladakh in the North and Tibet in the east and Zanskar in the west; the Changthang plateau is the geographical setting with snow peaks that provides the source of water for the Lake. (Wikipedia)

Bullet to Khardung la

Bullet to Khardung la

And of course, what good is a visit to Ladakh, if you don’t take the ride to Khardung La… Although we didn’t do the dream ride or ride on an Enfield all the way from Delhi/Manali or Srinagar, this was the least we could do… Something to satisfy our amicable souls… 🙂

Enroute Khardung La

Enroute Khardung La

Snow capped mountains atop Khardung La

Snow capped mountains atop Khardung La

Atop Khardung La - Worlds Higest Motorable Road

Atop Khardung La – Worlds Higest Motorable Road

Nubra Valley

Nubra Valley

Entrance to the Disket Temple

Entrance to the Disket Temple

Scenic Nubra Landscape

Scenic Nubra Landscape

Ancient Ladakhi stone with inscriptions

Ancient Ladakhi stone with inscriptions

Statue of the Future Buddha

Statue of the Future Buddha

Pangong Tso Lake

Pangong Tso Lake

Dharamsala – Land of The Dalai Lama

For quite a while, this destination had been on my list. Of course one of the biggest reasons being the fact that it is absolutely beautiful area and quite near to the Kangra valley and the Kangra in Himachal Pradesh. Of course the beautiful weather was something that certainly made me forget the totally different kind of a weather that we experienced in Ladakh, nonetheless, this place had it’s own sense of aura and it’s own sense of beauty to itself. But also for the fact that it had been home to The Dalai Lama for quite a while now… It’s own culture and its own roots have been a different aura to people who have frequently visited this place. Something that a lot of people wanted to realize for a long time. Despite the fact that The Dalai Lama wasn’t around and he in fact had come down to Leh, Ladakh and we were out here in Dharamsala didn’t really matter much as long as we got to experience a bit of the place, the culturally sensitive yet strong in roots, tibetian vibes, was something we enjoyed. On the way, I ended up making some good friends from acros the world and certainly shared quite something in terms of a philosophical and intellectual level was what that mattered. At the outset, even though a bit crowded, McLeodganj in itself wasn’t that attractive, but there were a couple of places that I’d certainly recommend people to visit… The Bhagsu Waterfalls (preferably on a weekday) weekends are filled by bikers and local people… And most importantly a place called Naddi… very serene, very peaceful and very very quiet. The visit to the temple was something that was much needed and something that one had to experience for himself/herself. Other than that, the food at a few amazing restaurants, namely Mccllos, and Jimmy’s Italian Cafe is truly amazing… You’ll realize, even with the influx of so many tourists, this place has it’s own capability to keep you captivated and enchanted by it’s own roots. Something I’d like to depict via the photos below.

Outside The Dalai Lama temple

Outside The Dalai Lama templeTibet - One People One Nation

Tibet – One People One Nation
Inside the Monastery

Inside the Monastery

A monk circumambulating inside the temple…

A monk circumambulating inside the temple…

Mcllo’s Inn… Has a great view of the valley, enroute Bhagsu Waterfall

Mcllo’s Inn… Has a great view of the valley, enroute Bhagsu Waterfall

The ever foggy McLeodganj…

The ever foggy McLeodganj…

A nice bunch of German and Finnish travellers I met, David, Katharina & Malin…. Summer volunteers, nice kids :)

A nice bunch of German and Finnish travellers I met, David, Katharina & Malin…. Summer volunteers, nice kids 🙂

Some Lumberjacks enroute, Cantt bus stop.

Some Lumberjacks enroute, Cantt bus stop.