Category Archives: Travelogues, Stories and Life

Short Stories from my Travelogues…

Adventure and Magnanimity – #Timexpedition to Dudhsagar Waterfalls

One of the best things about life and travel is a feeling of adventure that surrounds us. The minute you have tasted any form of it, it becomes an addiction of sorts. In a good way though, it’s the best thing to have happened to me in all my journeys so far. While I love climbing the mountains, trekking and my partner in travel Feet on the Map loves beaches, oceans and water, this was a perfect combination of both. We had the opportunity to see the renowned Dudhsagar Waterfalls which was laden across green, lush jungles on railway tracks and had an element of magnanimity in itself. And around the same time, I had just received my Timex Expedition watch which was a perfect partner in my travel to set the pace to an adventure of a different kind. That’s when we began our #Timexpedition to Dudhsagar Waterfalls! We were raring to go especially after having seen amazing photographs of this beautiful phenomenon across various blogs earlier.

The #Timexpedition Begins...

The #Timexpedition Begins – The day I received the amazing Watch!

Having said that, there was a certain sense of exploration that we hadn’t done before. This was our first trek together and also a first visit to a waterfall in the country. I would be lying if I said we didn’t enjoy this experience, cause this must have been one of the best experiences of our lifetime for sure, and not just for our travels together. One of the tough things about this journey was that we squeezed it over a weekend and we were going rugged backpacking taking a train journey from Pune to Kulem and back over a two day period. So with very less time available we had to make sure we made the most of this journey.

One of the tricky things about this journey was that, we had to make sure that we got off the train very early in the morning at around 4:00 AM at either Castle Rock or somewhere just near Dudhsagar waterfalls. The time the train stopped for, was only a mere 30 seconds, or so we were told by the Mumbai Travelers, a group with whom we were traveling for this trek. So come what may, we had to make sure that we got up as early as 3.50 AM in the morning. Thankfully, the #Timex alarm came to the rescue, especially since I didn’t want to use up my phone battery and save it for some amazing shots in the morning.

Setting the Alarm to rise and shine early

Setting the Alarm to rise and shine early

Well, thankfully the train was delayed and by the time our destination came, we were all up and ready to make sure that we get off the train to take a short hike towards the waterfalls. And what’s more, the train stopped more than 30 seconds so all 40 of us could get off easily and regroup.

Early in the morning as we got off the train

Early in the morning as we got off the train

It was foggy, misty and a bit of dampness in the air made us realize that we are all in for the beautiful escapade and the streams of the waterfalls would certainly make for a delightful view as soon as we reach there. But before we even got there, we could find some teeny tiny waterfalls scattered across the mountains besides the railway tracks. But what made for most of our morning to start off fresh and early was the amazing weather and the beautiful landscape that surrounded us. Couldn’t ask for a better Sunday Morning! 🙂

Foggy Morning and a Beautiful Landscape

Foggy Morning and a Beautiful Landscape

With a little water on our toes, fresh air in the backdrop and after a quick round of introduction among fellow travelers, we were moving towards the enormous waterfalls! It was something all of us were excited to get a glimpse of!

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And boy, what a glimpse we got! This was the distant view of Dudhsagar Waterfalls and if it looked this amazing and this humongous at a distance, I could only imagine how it looked up close and personal!

Magnanimity at it's best - Dudhsagar from a distance

Magnanimity at it’s best – Dudhsagar from a distance

Didn’t take us long before we could reach the foothills of Dudhsagar waterfalls and everything had suddenly become hazy and there was  a huge stream of water falling and blowing and the winds were blowing streams of drizzle all across our face and I could barely see with fog covered spectacles and being totally drenched at the foothills of the waterfalls. Not to say, it mattered much to my #Timexpedition, thanks to it’s 200 m water resist. Heck, it wouldn’t matter if I took a dip in that stream below the waterfalls, but I’d be a foolish adventurer to do something like that. Nonetheless, the view and the experience at the foothills was so amazing that we didn’t want to leave despite spending a good 3 hours at the foothills, followed by some breakfast and tea.

Dudhsagar Upclose

Dudhsagar Upclose

 

At-the-foot-of-Dudhsagar-Falls

At the foothills of Dudhsagar Falls with my #Timexpedition

After all the fun at the waterfalls was over, it was time for us to head back to Kulem. But this time around it was a daunting trek back to the station and it was a good 14 km stretch. I wanted to make sure that I lap this fast so that we have enough time to freshen up, have lunch and then board the train in the afternoon at around 4.30 pm to go back to Pune. Well, of course, the Chronograph came into action. The trek was going to be fun as there were some really amazing sights on the way. Of course it was going to test our endurance, but a close encounter with the nature and the local wildlife it offered was worth the walk.

Friendly Banter with a local crab

Friendly Banter with a local crab

A wild centipide in action

A wild centipede in action on the Railway Tracks

Route towards Kulem

Route towards Kulem

With that kind of view and a beautiful morning, who’d worry about trekking 14 kms! Well, not as easy as it may sound. I haven’t trekked in the last year, so I was a bit rusty. But over a period in time, with a will to keep going, we all set foot and made sure that we got to Kulem on time! Exhausted, elated, beautified if I may say so, it was an arduous trek that gave a grand finish to our journey. And what a journey it was! An expedition, a wild adventure and last but not least a memory to cherish for sure! Truly what makes it a #Timexpedition! Something that’ll be framed in ‘Time’ for life!

Finished the trek in 4 hours!

Exhausted and Elated – Finished the trek in 4 hours!

Travel Enthusiast of the Month

Fourways travel, Travel

Fourways Travels – Travel Enthusiast of the Month 😀

One of the best things about being known as a traveler and a wanderer is to share your exciting journey and your lust for travel with everyone who wants to be there and beyond! Recently Fourways Travel reached out to me to feature me in a category on their blog called ‘Travel Enthusiast of the Month’ Was happy to know that I’m one of the first in the series to come and would be watching that space to find out perspectives from people across the country who give their opinion on the way they travel.

While I don’t generally have a theme or a pattern in mind, other than ‘Backpacking,’ it was a great opportunity to pen my thoughts down on some specific questions that they asked and answer my responses!

From what inspired me to travel, to describing how my first solo travel experience was. From the best of my trips to the top on my bucket list I got to pen down some of my most favorite travel moments for others to seek inspiration towards. Something that gave me a perspective on how this journey has come out so far. Some of these questions were for them, but the answers I gave were answers to myself. As a wanderer, as a traveler, what makes me happy and what are the reasons why I travel. Well, all of it encapsulated in this interview. So go ahead, read all about it on this blog here!

Wandering off beyond reality

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“To wander off beyond the realms of reality, sometimes you just need to travel to get back to the roots of your imagination.”

Isn’t it true? Whenever you travel you make sure that you go to the places that you have dreamed of many times. When you travel, you always make it a point to find something that you don’t get in your day to day life. You find that escapade, that solitude and that beautiful far off distant places that you wondered about every single day of your life. Travel to me is beyond finding that escape, beyond just rediscovering myself or finding my soul. Sometimes I travel to just look at the beauty that is around me. Sometimes I just travel to find an interesting observation that I won’t on a day to day basis. Many a times I travel to just look at things that I don’t pay attention to if I am living my so called ‘life.’

How do you decide where you want to travel? The truth really is, you don’t decide where you travel, it decides you. Yeah, you might say that it’s a cliche, that has been fed to many a writers, artists and now people don’t accept it the way it is meant to be. Yes, many of us make our bucket lists and travel to places that you have been wishing for many years and I fall in that category too. The truth is, no matter how much you plan, how much you travel you would never get enough of it. So don’t think about it. Travel as much as you can, travel without a goal, travel without a dream. Just travel for the sake of it, if you will. Believe in the fact that you have the world to yourself and get going on the road that you have thought of in your mind!

Just wander off! Just start traveling, just start dreaming and start believing in the fact that, no matter what you do, you’ll always keep traveling at the smallest occasion you get. Believe in the fact that you can do it and you will do it! When you look at it a few years down the line  you’ll realize how far you have come! And that’s what I do, today. I am happy! I feel and I think I am for sure. I know I can be happier, and I know I will! Cause I have a belief that that is the only goal I have in life and I will pursue it day after day until I die! Cause I believe in what I want, and what I shall get! To travel the world till I die!

Hampi Ruins – Vijayanagara Empire with Friends

I’ve probably written about three or four posts up until now on Hampi! A lot of these contain the historical relevance and the places that one can see and visit as travellers. A lot of times whenever I’ve been to Hampi, I’ve travelled alone and come back to write my experiences and my journey in the historical and archaeological realm of the empire. Some things that I always have cherished and realized about my relationship with this magnificent place was my Kannada roots and of course more recently my understanding of ancestral connections to this place through Late. Shri N.S Rajpurohit, my great grandfather who was part of excavations of the Talikota battlefield, the place where the Vijayanagara empire marked its death.

This time around, during Diwali, with a couple of old friends and a few new ones, we decided to set foot in the Vijayanagara Kingdom… It was quite a bunch of us friends. Some writers, thinkers, some travelers like me, some who were just like me fascinated with Hindu mythology and its symbolical association with historic cultures especially here.  So this blog will be more about the journey and some photographs which embellished quite a memory on this entire trip, making it truly special for reminiscing old friendship while building new ones and some very special ones too.

Our first day began when we left Mumbai in a bus to Hospet. We had decided to stay at Hampi Gowri guest house this time around. This is across the Tungabhadra river on the Anjaneya mountain side. From the minute I had started speaking to Mr. Srinivas, my namesake, I had decided to go and stay there. The very helpful and polite manner that he spoke on the phone sounding very helpful and accomodating was something that made me pick this venue in not more than a few minutes of speaking with him.  He also offered to pick us up from a destination enroute Hospet, which is towards his side of the town.  When we reached there we mostly freshened up and took a walk to the Sanapur Lake, which was nearby and pretty much chilled out. waiting for the day to get over, finish our wonderful home cooked dinner made by Mr. Srinivas’s wife and crash…

Second day began when we set off in our mini van to take the tour of the city. It was very well spent with a guided tour, by me of course 😉 visiting the ancient ruins of Hampi and the various places that we ended up taking great pictures and spending some good time talking about their historical and archaeological significance from the standpoint of ancient India. Our day mostly touring and grabbing a quick bite of Chitranna and some mirchi bhaji was very fruitful especially after witnessing the Stone Chariot, our last and the most infamous and quite enchanting monument in this UNESCO World Heritage site. After we returned, thanks to the wonderful arrangement of a camp fire and a barbequeue! A fitting day to a tiring and yet very fun day!

Third day was mostly chilled out. It began with a late rising in the morning and eating our breakfasts, finely cooked Idlis, very tasty and certainly ones that you could gulp down as many as you could and yet feel the craving for more. We had decided to relax a bit since the second day was quite tiring and hectic and probably start slowly to end the day by climbing the famous birthplace of Hanuman, the Anjaneya temple on top of the mountain.  We started off by heading to boating point, to cross the river in the famous round small boat of sorts, the coracle or putti as it’s called in Kannada. This was something one of our friends, Rahul wanted to experience and I had to ensure it was done! And quite an experience it was, for me for the second time, but all the more fun especially with good friends around. We also recorded a video, which I’ll upload later! So after which, we visited the Virupaksha temple and returned to the other side to have our lunch and head towards the Laxmi temple and Anjaneya mountain. Climbing the mountain just about the time the sun was setting, was a great experience. Once out there, witnessing entire Hampi, filled with boulders and mountains as if God himself had thrown mountains from the skies was quite overwhelming. Sitting with close friends seeing the sun set, added a perspective to this. On our way back at the foothill of the mountains, we stopped by to drink some coconut water, which I’d say was one of the best out here in the entire trip. We also happened to meet some really down to earth, humble and truly loving family who ran that shop, Govindappa Cold drinks house. Govindappa, his wife and his daughter ran the place. They were very hospitable, friendly, in fact really good people who offered us some bananas also for free. They were decorating the place as the next day was Diwali and we helped them out in some ideas. They really enjoyed it and thanked us as well. It was quite fun hanging out there as it gave us another perspective of how life is. How people like them still exist and how life is more than the materialistic living that most of us pursue out in big cities like Mumbai… Such was the ending to our 3rd day at Hampi. Surreal but true.

With all this amazing experience over a period of 3 days of staying in Hampi, gave us a lot of time as well. A lot of time to talk amongst each other and get to know each other more. A time to share stories of their own, anecdotes from their lives or the books that they read, was certainly an experience that we all enjoyed thoroughly. Some special moments, some fun, a lot of PJs being cracked, and some profound wisdom and knowledge shared amongst all of us friends. It was something that made the trip even more memorable. It gave us time to introspect on our own life and share some of those with each other to learn something remarkable about each other. Our final day was going to be the one where we explored some of the Anjaneya side of Hampi. We decided to rent mopeds, from Mr. Srinivas. They were reasonably priced as well! We set forth towards Anegundi, the old capital of Hampi. On our way back we stopped by at a place nearby the road. There were open fields staring across the horizon for acres and acres of land. Deepika my friend, had suggested that we go walk  in the fields. Quite a good idea, I wondered to myself and decided to stop by. We asked a guy who was sitting near the field, he said it wasn’t his, but he told us to go ahead and take a look and that no one would mind. He had a smile on his face and was very happy that we wanted to explore these beautiful fields within his lands. And so we went, played around with the crops in the field, took some good DP worthy pics and went back on our bikes to go towards the other side of the river to explore the Monolithic bull area and probably do some last minute shopping. While the last minute shopping didn’t happen, we had quite a time in yeilding our mopeds on to a motorboat and taking it to and fro. But we managed to catch some really stumptous meal at Geeta River View…

With heavy hearts we bid goodbye to the Kingdom of Vijayanagara as the first day of Diwali came to an end with the brigh orange sun which we could see on our drive back to Hospet. It was an end to this trip, but a beginning of an alliance of a group that is going for some more travels of this sort and of course raring to come back to this beautiful ruins of Hampi…

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The Photo Journey
Day 1
View of Hampi

View of Hampi

Reaching Hampi

Reaching Hampi

Hampi Gowri Guest House

Hampi Gowri Guest House

Hampi Sunset Day 1

Hampi Sunset Day 1

Day 2

Stone Chariot at Vittala Temple

Stone Chariot at Vittala Temple

Underground Shiva Temple

Pondering...

Pondering…

In conversation with Uday

In conversation with Uday

Carving Inside Hazara Rama Temple

Carving Inside Hazara Rama Temple

Uday and his Politician Pose

Lakshmi Narsimha Statue

Lakshmi Narsimha Statue

Virupaksha Temple From Hemakuta Hills

Virupaksha Temple From Hemakuta Hills

Kadalekalu Ganesha

Kadalekalu Ganesha

On Hemakuta Hill

On Hemakuta Hill

Mel & Rahul with some kids we met inside

Mel & Rahul with some kids we met inside

Chandikeshwara Temple

Chandikeshwara Temple

Watchtower in the Zenana Enclosure

Watchtower in the Zenana Enclosure

Lotus Mahal in Zennana Enclosure

Lotus Mahal in Zennana Enclosure

Krishna Temple

Krishna Temple

Hampi Bazaar Pillars

Hampi Bazaar Pillars

Me outside Krishna Temple

Me outside Krishna Temple

Bal Gopal inside Krishna Temple

Bal Gopal inside Krishna Temple

Barbequeue

Barbequeue

Day 3

Coracle Ride

Coracle Ride

Banks of Tungabhadra

Banks of Tungabhadra

Calf feeding from her mother near the Virupaksha

Calf feeding from her mother near the Virupaksha

Virupaksha Temple

Virupaksha Temple

Inside Virupaksha

Inside Virupaksha

Idranna a local kid at the Lakshmi Temple

Idranna a local kid at the Lakshmi Temple

Lamani Woman with her kid near the Lakshmi Temple

Lamani Woman with her kid near the Lakshmi Temple

View of Hampi from Anjaneya

View of Hampi from Anjaneya

Monkey climbing down Anjaneya

Monkey climbing down Anjaneya

On top of Anjaeya...

On top of Anjaeya…

Govindappa and his family

Govindappa and his family

Day 4

All set to ride

All set to ride

Entrance to Anegundi

Entrance to Anegundi

Fields of Gold

Fields of Gold

Riding away...

Riding away…

Villagers of Anegundi

Villagers of Anegundi

In the fields...

In the fields…

Sadhu Baba outside Anegundi

Sadhu Baba outside Anegundi

Mr. Srinivas and his family from Hampi Gowri

Mr. Srinivas and his family from Hampi Gowri

Picture Courtesy: Deepika Gumaste, Uday Mane, Niha Khan, Rahul Wakude & Melanie Joe 🙂 Thanks guys for the clicks….

Thanks to Mr.  Srinivas for his hospitality and kindness. His wife for the awesome food, and to Harsha his son who served us and helped us out very diligently. I’d reccomend this place as a must stay and next time I’m down there, it’s going to be the place to stay 🙂

Contact details:  www.hampigowri.com

Wandering Thinker & a Pondering Writer – Travelogues – 4

He stopped by the river looking up in the sky… He didn’t hesitate to randomly stare at the wilderness around the place! A gentle splash of water on his exerted face… And everything seemed all right!

So he had already realized that a lot of distance from the top of the mountain had been covered. He also thought about the parts that were up ahead of this tricky journey, one that hadn’t yet actually started. After many years of trying to understand what connected him to the magic of the mountains and why he kept seeing the beautiful images again and again during the slumber of the night he realized it now… He had always been a fan of the terrain, being an avid mountaineer and generally being fond of exploring Himalayas he knew that this was going to be something he would do for sure. This time around though he had taken a huge break, a break to backpack all the way to the daunting mountains and figure out how far could he go. He already had a history of a lot of ardouous journeys that he had covered up until now. Taking across this long and tiring journey was something he had prepared himself for.

He had to get all the way to the mountains called Tahilla. After crossing a lot of mountains enroute the top most part across this no man’s land in a terrain that had not been trodden upon for many years. A glimpse of a few nomads and some local wanderers is all you could get around this part of the world. Sometimes you would go for days and weeks without coming across any soul on the land of the lost. But he didn’t worry so much about the pitfalls of getting lost… For he knew what direction he had to follow. He had instincts, one of an avid mountaineer, he could capture trails, one similar to a hunter. He had all those qualities that he acquired sublimally over a period of a decade of traveling across such mountains.  He knew that this quest of his was one of the most important. Why? he asked himself sometimes… An answer to which took him back… always to ask himself another question… ‘Why not??’

15 years ago his grandfather had died… He always was the reason for him to get inspired into hauling away across all these mountains. They always spoke in detail about the various terrains and the kind of forrests they were engulfed amongst. There were a lot of maps and epigraphs with charts that his grandfather always carried along with him. Shange, (meant Buddha) as he was named by his grandfather knew a lot of the secrets of various destinations across these terrains. Some tough, some rough and most of them always ordained with various different levels of challenge! The ones that called upon the most ardouous travellers to push the envelope and try and fight the harsh conditions to come across various hazards of a journey into the wilderness and into the unknown. Only to discover a secret and a very important key peice of puzzle that no one had solved before. Shange’s grandfather always knew that this quest was not one of the empty types. Many a times he told Shange to keep an eye on the odd things and certain trails that were easily spotted to take twists and turns. Yet, they challenged each other at points to figure out short cuts to different points. Tough, but faster to reach… Many a times when they went hiking, they always closely observed the nature around themselves. They always meticulously detailed out their plans to pick up peices of references or traces that could be useful in one of the future revelations on the journey as it traversed through these terrains. There were a lot of clues and a lot of references from various other places. One that were quite relevant to this journey of his. A treasure hunt of sorts, so to speak. And by the time he had reached the first river, he knew that the journey had now begun and it was going to be a completely different escapade from here on…

 “This is where I’ll set up my tent tongiht…. Looks good enough to camp…”  he said to himself with a sigh of exertion and tiredness that he could feel beyond his bones…

 He stopped by the river looking up in the sky… He didn’t hesitate to randomly stare at the wilderness around the place! A gentle splash of water on his exerted face… And everything seemed all right!

 

 

 

 

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…

 

 

 

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.” 

Truly a Tibetian Tigress

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

“Brrrrr…” Freezing cold weather in Darjeeling in November. The Sun setting down as early as 5 PM in the evening. Rising across the Kanchenjunga peak and it’s horizon early in the morning, as early as 5 AM on the North Eastern Himalayan terrains! Yes, that was the time when Darjeeling was to be visited… And thankfully I was there at that very moment. I went there to trek the Sandakphu-Gurdum ranges and hopefully climb the mountains at the highest point of Sandakphu to see the Kanchenjunga & Mt. Everest up close and personal. Before we started our trek, we had a couple of days where we could acclimatize ourselves to the conditions and get to know Darjeeling a little more…

I took that opportunity to tour the city in search of interesting people, stories and certainly take some really great shots of the local culture around. As soon as I entered Darjeeling, everything about it fascinated me. Looking at the small town like manifestation of the entire location felt very close to home and gave a significant amount of warmth in itself. Everywhere I looked around I could visualize the beauty of the North East India that started here. I was told that girls and women in Darjeeling are truly beautiful, but this was the first time I got to see it and indeed, “Seeing is believing.”  Besides their beauty and aura, every girl and even guys had a strong, bold empowering style to themselves. They definitely knew what fashion was and could teach a thing or two to Bombayites like me.

Having said that, another aspect of Darjeeling I really admired the most, was that one could, at any point in time always keep an eye on the Kanchenjunga peak. It’s magnificence bore a stark resemblance to divine feeling of spiritual transcendence. And why not, Kanchenjunga is also called as the Sleeping Buddha, for it resembles HIM sleeping and his features show across. Look carefully and you will see the head, prosperous tummy & feet. 🙂

Kanchenjunga Peak

Kanchenjunga Peak

So the first day we whiled around the town, checked out the local places, shopped for some warm clothes, hung out at a local pub ‘Joey’s’ mostly I was with Mr. Shashi Patel, an American Indian from the Bay Area whom I met while strolling around the railway station at Sunset. So after hanging out with him and talking about travel and my experiences across India, we headed back to our respective hotels. Our plan the next day was to catch the view of the sunrise early in the morning at Tiger Hills.

While returning back we decided to stop by at this local place and check out some interesting items that we could purchase. He wanted to take some gifts back home. Something easy to carry and not too much on his pocket as he wanted lots of gifts for all his friends.

Tibetian Woman

Tucking away her earnings…

We began strolling across and started to scan the place for interesting items. There were caps, clothes, strolls, scarves, glares, Darjeeling special Tea and a lot of other interesting items. But what really caught my eye was this old woman, who was pretty occupied within herself. She looked very busy and had a certain aura about herself. She was very bold and mostly her voice was very prominent. Certainly caught my eyes and ears. But that is not what made me go check out what she was selling… I looked at her, she was around 60-65 years old, had sharp features… Her eyes were certainly a lot bigger than others around. She not only spoke in Hindi but also had a sharp way of speaking in English as well. More importantly, she was out there as if she meant business.

We looked at what she was selling and did find it pretty interesting. They were small purses, caps, scarves and strolls… All of them handwoven with a special pattern that they had about themselves. They were excellent pieces of handicraft. Certainly intrigued me and I wanted to buy a few purses for some of my friends and my mom.

So, I decided to take a look at the items on sale and thought of which ones to pick. Mr. Patel also was interested and we told ourselves, let’s buy 10 of these purses together. She will give us a good deal if we take in bulk.

I asked her “How much does this purse cost?”

“Rs. 30,” she replied, while hastily giving money to her previous customers and sorting out her own sets of the products that were bit off the carpet she kept them on.

“We’ll take 10… How much will they cost then?”

“They’ll cost as much as they cost now…”

“But I’m buying in bulk…”

“That doesn’t matter, the cost doesn’t change…” she replied calmly…

We both looked at each other and smiled. Looks like she needed some more incentive probably for us to get a better deal. So my newly found friend picked up some other products and asked for their price… Surprisingly they also were priced at Rs. 30. Except a couple of the items all of them were priced at that amount.

We asked her again, but she wouldn’t budge.

“I won’t change the price for you, If you want to buy you can buy… It’ll sell anyways, if not today, tomorrow. I’ve been making these purses on my own for 30 years… and never have I gone without selling all off every year. Besides, we don’t work off season cause of the cold.” She smiled at us mischievously. 

Handicraft, Tibetian Lady, Tibet, Tibetian Handicraft.

Smiling Away…

While we realized, our deal won’t happen, we both admired her headstrong, entrepreneurial sense of ownership. She was a true businesswoman of sorts and I can’t think but admire her perseverance that at the age of 61, which we found out later in our conversation, she had this energy and level headed and amazing attitude about herself. We got to know that she migrated from Tibet in 1972 and has been making and selling these works of art. She is alone and lives in the city below. Every morning she wakes up at 4 AM, finishes her chores and sets off to come here, by walk with her backpack of items to sell. Once people who come down after viewing the sunrise to shop at her place and more often than not, her inventory gets exhausted by 9.30 AM. If not, she takes the remaining ones back home and then goes to a tea shop that she runs outside her house…

Reminded me of ‘The Steve Jobs’, I was reading that book on the trip, but clearly I could identify her sense of feel and value for quality and niche business value add. Don’t go by the price, but her stubborn yet confident decision to not back out of the price for a product that was of true quality. Something that many wouldn’t hesitate to pay ten or fifteen times the amount if it was a designer product, much like this one and in fact made out of the same material, only added with an elitist price tag… Salute to the Tibetian Tigress! For the beautiful work of art, Thuk Ji Chhe (Thank You in Tibet) 

What do you think about her attitude?

The Tiger Kid of Himalayas…

Himalayas, Nepal, Jaobari, India, Travel, Mountains, Trekking,

Jaobari Terrains of HiImalayas

This was a few months back when we were trekking in the North Eastern Himalayas… The Sandakphu trek to be precise. Every once in a while you meet spirits that give you such great vision of your own life that you can’t even imagine what heights you can reach.

Buddhist Philosopher, educator & peace builder Daisaku Ikeda once said

“The human spirit is as expansive as the cosmos. This is why it is so tragic to belittle yourself or to question your worth. No matter what happens, continue to push back the boundaries of your inner life. The confidence to prevail over any problem, the strength to overcome adversity and unbound hope – all reside within you.”

This story is a true depiction of how this really applies. A lot of times we are so overwhelmed by the many tasks which we give utmost importance to, we tend to forget the real reason we are here on this planet. Many times we focus on the tasks which have no underlying purpose or very little importance, that we forget what we can do if we stop thinking in boundaries or shed the limits. This story tells us how we as adults have stopped imagining behind certain boundaries and stopped pushing the envelope when it comes to achieving something.

Buddhism, Monastery, Dalai Lama, Monk, Spirituality, Himalayas

Shange Norbu of Jaobari Monastery

While trekking the Himalayas, we came across a small monastery in the Nepal side on the Indo-Nepal border. Jaobari village to be precise. We decided to visit the monastery and spend some time while catching our breath. We met the monk who lived there, Shange Norbu. Shange is another word for Buddha, he proudly told us. He gave us information about the monastery. He also told us that he teaches the kids there. We could see some kids playing outside eating some porridge in a small bowl. When we went inside, what was most striking was the utter peace and serenity which made the monastery quite blissful. Besides the striking calm, we realized that it was much warmer inside than it was outside. So that was quite a relief as we knew we had to trek a lot more and climb about 10 kms with a steep ascent.

While the others were resting, I decided to take a stroll around and click some pictures around. After getting a few shots of the breath-taking view I headed a little further, I met this kid. The kid was very playful and he was enjoying himself and doing just nothing. Generally this is probably the last point where civilization ends and the terrains start. A few houses here and there, otherwise the whole plateau after this is just mountain ranges. So most tourists who have come, would stop going further at this point while the trekkers move on to climb the magnificent Himalayas.

The Tiger Kid of Himalayas

The Tiger Kid of Himalayas

With a really nice winter cap covering his ears and a denim jacket to keep him warm, he looked very comfortable and was in his own world. His smile was innocent and his brown eyes were like deep ocean. He had a stick with him, which he held on to very closely. I took a few pictures of his and tried to initate conversation. But communication in a common language was a mystery to the both of us. We resorted to our body language and yes, eye contact… He smiled at me, I smiled back… Then he put his hands to his head.. A gesture to tell me something.  Probably, to show me that he had great imagination. Imagination that made his mind greater than the regular one. To me it looked pretty much like the thing Sheldon Cooper from the Big Bang Theory does when he stares at you and tries to get your brain to explode… But obviously this gesture had a different meaning altogether.

Nonetheless, after a few exchange of glances and communication through our eyes, he said something… something which I didn’t understand but I asked Shange to translate, who was standing nearby. He laughed when he heard what the kid said. That made me even more curious as to what was this kid saying. I asked him to translate it to me and this is what he said.

“If you go on top, the tiger will come and kill you… But don’t worry, I’ll help you and fight him off with this stick.”

I’m not kidding, that’s exactly what he said, according to the monk. Hence the laugh. But I was blown away, blown away by the astronomical level of thinking and ultimate confidence within himself. Now, I’m pretty sure, he was told stories of great white tigers in the Singalila National Park stretch of Sandakphu. One that ‘we’ know do not exist, stories of great ‘dragon warriors’, which we think are myths and kings who have slayed tigers with their bare hands. Considering that, using a stick to kill a tiger is definitely something which is easy for him, now isn’t it?? Something he believes in and in his world, that’s how the ending of this story is. Him emerging victorious and a saviour to my life. The great hero of Jaobari as I’d like to call him. Come to think of it, it could be achieved scientifically if you hit the right spots, but that’s a different point altogether.

Do you remember as kids we had so many dreams and for us boundaries meant nothing. Do you remember as kids we wanted to go to space as astronauts, we wanted to become actors, we wanted to become cricketers and a lot more… What happened to those dreams? All that was possible and for some it became a reality. For a those who couldn’t get there, well, it’s never too late…

We have to stop putting boundaries to our thoughts, limitations, and stop compromising by just saying, life is a compromise. Actually when I recollect this story, I truly feel it isn’t… As Daisaku Ikeda says, The confidence to prevail over any problem, the strength to overcome adversity and unbound hope – all reside within you. How many of you have realized this?