Monday, September 5, 2011

do we love people simply because we love them or because we need them to love us...

Friday, September 2, 2011

clear the cobwebs

How do you know if the choice you made is your own or the one you have been programmed to make.How do you escape the learned behavior to make a choice that represents you above all. People knit the web of society to take away from you every ounce of individuality that there may be inside of you to make puppet out of you. You cant move out because web that was woven for you but you are weaving webs as well immobilizing others...that is how human society works with relations,emotions and ideas of needs fed in our heads from day 1.

Is this true or is it just another night of failure...where is whisky with namkeen!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Didn't you wish sometimes that your life was like a new gadget you bought which came with a manual on how to install it. The manual that told you what does what in your life and why you need all that you received and nothing really is a waste in the package. A booklet that answers all your queries on ' what do I do when this happens?' or 'what do I do when I need to get this done?' along with a call center number at the end always picked up by the over-enthusiastic people willing to help and trying to get feedback forms filled. You know at least the basic stuff should have been covered. Not asking for much...just a 'How to do it?' or 'Ins and Outs of it all' kind of thing handed over to us when God presented us life. Right now it’s like using a gadget you don't know much about. If we could have also had a charger for downtimes, some replacement parts that wear out and the ability to start all over again in case of a mess that would be great too. But right now, no one is listening. May be God needs a new Marketing director or maybe we need to privatize it all.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Moving onto the next...

Yes, I realize I sounded determined to keep my blog alive through my initial spurt of activity this year but is the inertia catching up now? No way!

A mother who fractured her back and my move kept me busy. So now I have officially changed countries and I am sitting in a different time zone and different climate type. Yes, this has happnened before. And I still remember the awesome feeling you get when on your first trip abroad you get on the plane and the pain of checking in baggage and getting through security is so much fun! The unbelievable thrill of taking off and then watching your city miniaturize in front of your eyes and then eating out of disposable plates the tasteless food with disposable cutlery (which you know won't cut the food), all has its charm. The most amazing part starts after landing, when you push through your baggage to emerge out of the crowd. You find your friend, family who came to pick you up at the airport and greet them with your victory smile. And then starts the journey from airport to your first destination. The first look at the new city, the new place, the different place unlike you have any so far, so different from home.

When you come to London, you expect the same. But hurray, what you find is another place full of your own kind of people and sometimes it feels like you travelled domestically to get here. This could be Chandigarh? Well, exaggeration aside. I am in the UK sometimes in London, sometimes in Bridgewater but at most times in UK.

Dear Blog, I will keep you posted.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The speakers are blasting, people are yelling on the street singing bhajan set on filmy tunes. I can't sleep so I am yelling too just that no one can hear and it is not as musical!

It is Mahashivratri today. Shiv ji's wedding celeberations are on. There is a Jagran happening in the next street which means a community event where the community better be present or it will spend the night just tossing in the bed because the noise will not let it sleep.

Continuing with the grumbling now. So, what is a jagran? Hammer in four poles, hog a street, set up a tent, put up a stage, get a generator and a dholki, some other instruments, a bad singer to whip religious emotions. This Bhajan singing is mostly shouting into a mic without sur. But one thing that can't be denied is that these people sing with a lot of passion and energy. Darn! it is so infectious. Some of the familiar tunes will strike a chord somewhere. If you have a favourite that wrenches your heart you might jump out of your bed and dance in the joy of the moment. I have a favourite that distracted me.Bum boley bum boley bum bum. The next moment, I saw mom looking at me and smiling. Well, I was still yelling but this time I was the bhajan I was singing along.

Monday, February 21, 2011

What is worse than heels???
Bad Heels...bad heels that wobble as you walk.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Travelogue: The Last Frontier of Dudh and Ghyo...Eat at your own risk!

Writing a travelogue usually fills me with uneasy feeling mixed with nostalgia, desire to go back or displeasure in returning home. But, as I right the travelogue for Amritsar I have a smile on that runs from ear to ear. The reason is, well, I don't like going there because I am made to go there too often, and the purpose of travel is usuaully family and not vacation so I know I will return time and again to this city which is rightly regarded as the center of Sikh world and also a sort of center of my family world.

Every third shop in Amritsar is a restaurant/dhaba/halwai/tandoor/tikkiwaala or sells something edible. And they are all proudly "pure desi ghee" preparations. If you are travelling from Delhi, you will be please with the menu and the prices quoted but will be scared to see the portion size and thick butter floating along with sabzi and masala. They say, it is the last frontier of pure milk and pure ghee in India. I agree adding that if you throw a stone in Amritsar and it will fall in the big kadhaai full of rich creamy milk with boiled cardamom and other condiments sold for Rs. 20 a glass. Lassi and Kadhai dudh is the speciality of Amritsar, glass of which outsiders cannot even dare to lift.

Special kulfi faluda, punjab famous Bharawan da dhaba, Gyani tea stall di special chai, beera chicken, kesar da dhaba, makhan fish, chajju da palak paneer...this city has more than what one stomach in one visit. But my favourite that I could accomodate each morning for breakfats was the special Amritsari Kulcha. Baked to such perfection, no matter where you order it, you would be forced to grant that no one can do tandoori stuff better than Amritsaris. Add to it a big chunk of butter with special choley that are served with it and it is a delicacy anyone can afford. There always comes a moment in your stay in Amritsar when you are so stuffed with the desi "ghyo" and makkhan that you feel like food itself. The memory of all this food itself turns my stomach into an acid factory.

Amritsar, "Sifti da Ghar", "Bhajan aur bhojan ki nagri": No matter where you are in the city you will be able to hear Gurbani paath. Amrtitsari people are very dedicated to the religion of Sikhism and their Gurus who blessed the land by choosing it to locate the Gurdwara "Harmandir Sahib" which is historically the most important place of worship for Sikhs. The whole city is dedicated in the "Sewa" of "Darbar Sahib". With people visiting Gurdwara round the clock from around the world, meals and tea is served 24X7. Their is a whole set of people and hundreds of them who find little things to do for the Guru "Ghar". From helping people with plates, spoons and dishes for eating, to serving food, to collecting used utensils, to cleaning the floor and carpet after people have eaten, to washing the utensils or cook for thousands of people each day. People find a little task for themselves in the bigger endeavour of the whole community to attain naam and live their lives around these duties.

All in all, I have'nt seen a city with a bigger heart that feeds well not just richest but the poorest to heart's content and in the royal style. Infact to enjoy the true taste of the city you must get off your big car and line infront of the modest looking dhabas serving lavish meals fit for royalty. Just the reason why the city feels more like home than even home does.

Date with TV - Feb 20th - A weekend I was not travelling

I think its a cosmic conspiracy to turn you dumb...this TV... that here is what I watched all day long:

1. Movie 1 - Junoon - the movie with Pooja bhatt when she looked like a cake of Amul butter. She looked damn gorgeous with that "I will melt at moment's notice" expression. Her co-star was Rahul Roy, the man who turned up in Big boss season something after his major hit "Ashiqui" two decaded ago, whatever happened in between!

2. Movie 2 - Dharam Veer - Starring Dharamendra in mini skirts with shaven legs and Jitender wearing his wife's earrings and necklace, the movie set Metrosexuality in motion which seems to have taken pace only recently.

3. News 1 - Katrina Kaif - Indian of the Year! WTF! I fazed out a bit, befuddled I pressed the button and changed the channel . Why think so much when you can change the world with the click of a button!

3. Movie 3 - Singh is King - I hate the movie, I always have but I am not going let that affect my liking for the movie. My strong bias for the turban and the song "Singh is King". Then I saw Katrina Kaif dance to "Jee Karda mera Jee Karda" and I understood why she was awarded the "Indian of the Year" award by NDTV. I saw so much of her in a day's TV viewing that I achieved enlightenment, the truth revealed itself to me. All doubts were cleared. She was Indian of the year because she had the last word in the Shiela and Munni's battle this year.

4. News 2 - Sehwag apologetic and accepts responsiblity for Sachin's dismissal in the first world cup match against Bangladesh. I also learnt that Indian cricket squad won the first match in the world cup 2011. Weirdo "Veena Malik" in her lovely dress which was (or not) as short as her heels were tall went talking about "our" victory. Was'nt she a Pakistani?

5. News 3 - Madhuri Dixit's evil eye bracelet. Won't say more

6. News 4 - A panel of 3 experts dicussing the case of a vengeful "vishkanya" who contracted HIV virus from her husband and is now out to out having unprotected sex with men in Mumbai infecting 300 other men...

7. Interview 1 - Priyanka chopra talking to Ko-Ko-Koel about being "okay" with plastic surgery. Well! her nose spoke about it louder than she did! She also spoke about being metabolically blessed. Funny was as she sat their worry free talking about "being yourself", I waited for her wig to slip down. I am sure it did, they just edited it out! Darn, the TV!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

30 Kms from Amristar, The other side @Wagah Border

I wanted to go there to see what the other side looked like, for a peep through the gates, to confirm if they spoke the truth when they said the people looked like we do, to check if the grass looked the same on either sides, to see for myself if what lay beyond the boundary was not a land drastically different from ours. I wanted to go there to perceive the reason that caused all the madness through the ages, to cry for a moment for those who died in the name of religion turning the green of the rich field into red and the holy water of five rivers into blood. But I failed. I failed because they wanted me to masquerade my curiosity behind the veil of patriotism.

I heard the Pakistani tunes first. It felt like a marriage party, a typical Indian (or Punjabi, if I may say) style wedding reception. It was my favorite Punjabi singer Abrar-ul-haq on the other side. I thought they were playing music so that people on both sides could have fun. I saw the sight of a flag on the other side, a big Pakistani flag held by the people on the stands across the border. I looked at them full of awe I saw some white caps and long beards. I thought for once we were having a cross border party. But then I heard the tunes of an Indian patriotic song with some school girls dancing in the center. I instantly got the joke which was a serious business at that point. The next to come was people shouting from the stands, and loud slogans which were orchestrated by someone running from point to point signaling the crowd to jeer, clap, shout, whistle and sing.

It was all in good fun for the adults, they came, they shouted slogans and went back but there was child in the crowds who on his way back with his parents was singing, “Chak de, Chake de India”. He learnt that evening that Pakistan is a country he must hate and patriotism is about jeering at its people. That is the harm that jingoism of this sort does.

I wish the flags go down one evening and never rise back again, I wish that the gates open and never close down again, I wish I leave from Delhi and end my drive at Lahore one day to see the sun set on the beautiful land where my ancestors belong. I wish I could call the land that my grandparents were driven away from mine once again.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Little Highway treats: Chaalu Dhaaba Special Chai

Highway treat that makes monotonous drive something to look forward to.

Stop for special chai at a random dhaba available by the dozen on North Indian highway...the better the place the worse the tea is my thumb rule so stop at a chaalu dhaba for special chai
Mixed plate Pakora - 10/-

Butter Toast with more butter than Toast - 20/-

Two Chai - 20/-

Total bill - 50/-

Little Highway treats: Tangerine Delight

Highway treat that makes monotonous drive something to look forward to.

Ambala - Chandigarh highway is flooded with tangerines, called keenu colloquially, this season with hillocks of orange fruit at every kilometer. Stop at any of the many to buy this juicy fruit at wholesale prices (i.e. if you can bargain) or for a fixed price glass of juice.

Total Bill: 5kgs of tangerine - 125/
3 glasses of tangerine juice: 45/-

The Tangerine Hillock

Keeping Company

The Juice maker

Friday, February 11, 2011

Encounter: Boris Nikolaevich Verzhutskii

“Hi!” and the usual conversation ensued. “Please be seated,”“What is your name?” “Where are you from?” and all that mundane stuff. But little did we know that this time it was all going to be with a new refreshing twist.

We were checking out a guest house in Auroville which we heard would cost us 10th the price of what we were paying in the premium place we were at with food included. It well deserved a visit so we hopped on to our bikes and wobbled up to “The Aspirations”. Note the wobbling was because we rented an old bike, most people think it was because I am learning how to ride and had met with a major crash that left me severely wounded less than 48 hours before wobbling to “The Aspirations”.
So there we were, in the middle of small huts with roofs made out of dried coconut leaves and a huge eating hall in the center.

He offered us tea. Then he said that the food was finished because most people had already eaten but he could cook some for us if we were hungry. I refused politely but I was astounded. He offered to cook for us. Such kindness! It wasn’t that he was waiting for a refusal and “thanks, that is so nice of you.” He was genuine, almost ready to cook with the spatula in his hand. But we insisted that tea was good enough. There were another couple of guests finishing their breakfast at the table. I liked Boris instantly. I thought I would have to fight for Boris’s attention with the other guys on the table. But they were not half as impressed with the awesome creature that presided the gathering. Boris was the only one who talked and I was this teenage girl fluttering her eye lashes and animating everything he was saying.
To not be rude, we asked about the other people who were on the table. They were Indians who left India and came back to travel through and “cover” whatever they had missed in their miserable years in the country. Two Indians on a quick 15 day trip around South India and then flying back to UK. Not interesting! A 71 years old Russian sitting in a small town in South India who asks you your name to test his skills in numerology, darn interesting!

Boris & Madman

What a stark contrast was Boris to those people (and to be fair, to all of us)! They gave up India to find prosperity in another land while he gave up all the prosperity to find peace in India living in a small hut with a big collection of books. He eats very little and wakes up at 1:00 AM to do Tai chi and yoga. He uses newspaper to learn French, Hindi and Tamil. He owns an old bicycle, a few clothes and lots of books. He was an entomologist in his past life and knows the name of every plant, scientific and colloquial, in Auroville.

So back to his initial question: “what is my name?” Ishwinder Kaur was the answer. He did some numerological examination to tell me about my personality. I don’t remember what exactly he said, but it must have been something about me being extremely ferocious and stormy (and the man without the pants being very calm). It always boils down to that each time.

And then we returned to see him, again and again and again. But now I cannot return soon enough. I still remember how he looked the last time we saw him. He wore his hat. We rode to some thickly forested area in Auroville called "Two Banyans" where his friends lived. I asked him if we would stay in touch. He said, “Yes, of course my friend.” I knew he would but I knew I wouldn’t. I have come too far from writing letters and he doesn’t carry the modern sickness of mobile phone and email accounts. He is too shy to talk on phones. It would not be the same. Before I left, I touched his feet and what next? Well, he touched mine.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

"First of all u r stupid, then when I explain it to you, you dont even believe me. You are becoming more and more like common people..." --To a certain someone!

Sometimes i feel so lonely with all this intelligence that I have noone to share with. Lame people all around! N you must be equally lame to get along with them. Yes, its quiet lonesome up heya! The tremondous pressure to go down to there level. To laugh at the tupid repeptitive jokes and find silence at something genuinely funny and mirthful, discussing lame stuff about lame places and lame hangouts to do the lame things every evening and on weekends with no end in sight.

Monday, January 31, 2011


The crusty exterior that reveals the bubbly liquid inside, the sharp tender curves that swear to tangle you, the orange sheen invites you to come and lift it between the thumb and index and the stickiness that your fingers feel, you must lick off. And then when you put it in your and bite into it, the warm liquid would come bursting into your mouth like a feeling of passion that held itself back for too long and then gave up. Jalebi, is your ultimate fruit of passion.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Culture on sale

pictures for art fairs of Delhi clieked in 2010

colourful objects and articles, art and craft of India dished out with folk culture to firangi styled Indians sold at premium on sale for all. God! I am such a cynic!

will post more of these pictures

Saturday, January 29, 2011

5 ways to chicken out of the chalaan

Here are my 5 ways to chicken out of the chalaan when you are caught breaking the traffic rule…

• Bribe the police guy, he is waiting to help you and then say you have only Rs 100/. More maybe expected if you have a bigger. But you can always you don’t have money. Daddy didn’t give you much cash and you don’t have ATM card and that you need petrol to get back home. Won’t work if you just got a petrol refill. Works best if along with being an irresponsible driver you are also procrastinator who does not get a petrol refill till the last drop vanishes.

• Start crying. The bigger the tears the better. Subtlety doesn't work. You don’t need to be melodramatic, just look hurt and worried. Almost like you just hatched out of the egg and have no clue of the world around.

• Say a guy was stalking you and you were too scared to stop at the red light or had to call an emergency number if you are caught talking on the phone.

• Put a friend/family/kith/kin sick in hospital. Say it is an emergency you are rushing to.

• Or, be a good citizen and follow the traffic rules. It works the best but is very time consuming and boring if you are driving long distance alone and need to talk on the phone to while away the time. Not 100% though, you still may be caught sometimes for someone else’s fault.

If you are a guy, only the last may work for you. The most important thing to do, in that case, is to get a sex change and become woman.

Disclaimer: I love my country too much to take “do good” lessons from others.

Dont tell me to be a soap!

They want you be normal, as in, what they think is normal. Follow the religion like a “normal” person…too much passion or too little enthusiasm neither is accepted. They even fixed times for when you should pray! Odd times just not accepted. Get married to the “normal” guy, “normal” i.e. not too accomplished neither a loser. Somebody they choose of the same caste, same qualification, same religion! There should be nothing exceptional just the normal and regular stuff. Yeah be regular. There is nothing “normal” about it. In fact normalcy is left way behind to make way for the regular. Be the regular and live by the rules of regularity…like the coffee at a chain that must always taste the same with no extra frills, elements of newness in size or taste. Like the bar of soap that smells the same, feels the same, is packed the same each time you buy it. They want you to be the coffee. They want you to be the soap.

I hate the regular. I hate the soap, I hate the coffee. I want anything but the regular the regular is just not me! I’d rather die an irregular death than live a regular life. But the tension is too much to stand. The resistance to “different” from the norm in their mind! They want you to do what they think must be done but it is actually what their parents thought must be done! It’s the “Ultimate Scroll on the Laws of Living” handed over centuries you are up against. You are not fighting the 60 odd years old…you are fighting the 120 years old thought process. The bits and pieces that they themselves didn’t fight and revolt against stayed in them and then interfere with the life of their kids whom they want to be “regular”.

29 Jan 2011, Beating Retreat New Delhi and "She"

She yelled at me saying, “I don’t like the entire corporate culture”, this was the response to my subtle investigation of the nature of the parade ceremony I was “invited” to by my friend who works in the South (or maybe the North) block in New Delhi. I was taken aback for a moment but I didn’t state my curiosity to know what provoked the exclamatory and inflammatory remark. I met her in the evening before the “Beating Retreat Ceremony” at the Rajpath. There she offered further explanation which made it worse. She clarified her bad intentions by saying “I don’t know why corporates are anti-nationals.” “What!” I gasped to myself. She called me anti-national and corporate in one go and this is despite the fact that I make sure I mention how much I hate the corporate world in every conversation that I have with anyone and everyone and despite the display of nationalism and love for “Desh ki Dharti” at the drop of a hat.

She prejudiced me in that moment, infected me with the germ. All of a sudden all the people around heading for the parade seemed to me like they belonged to another world with another culture, part of another establishment called “India Inc.” And they knew who I was and looked at me weirdly! “Just because I was not a sarkari babu with the reputation of being lazy, asking for money under the table was being targeted and branded as Anti-national!” I thought to myself, “and these people with all their scams are nationalistic!”

I felt the people in the queue were pushing me harder, the security personnel was handling me more roughly my seat was dirtier and wobblier and pavement that I walked on was shoddier because I was from the world of money sucking profit focused private sector. While she enjoyed the perks of being the government babu and part of the establishment that “serves” the nation.

Of course, I didn’t tell her all that. I was too scared to tell her what I was thinking. I did not want to get her all worked up. I was too glad for the passes she got me. I did not want her to take back her invitation and not take me along. Hundreds of people queued up. We were pushed through the security checks by the crowds who wanted the better seat for a better view.

We went and sat in the second row from the front. Barely anything visible but we knew all that was happening. An eager father gave an enthusiastic commentary to his uninterested son. He mentioned all the elephants, camels, horses, instruments carried, their uniforms, their pace of marching, the music in the background, the drums. He made his little son notice everything making the parade look much rosier than it was. Unlike the little kid, we dint have to put with the super excited father for too long. The private sector attitude to find the best seat in the theater doesn’t go away so soon as she observed. We, then, sat in the stands where the uncles jis were too pissed off to stand and make way for us. She persisted, made her way and had us seated.

The typical hindi film drama of families losing and finding each other followed. Through the one hour ceremony, family in the row behind our's, kept locating members of their family, family of family, friends of family, family of friends lost in the crowd and joining them later. The group kept getting bigger, comments louder and patriotism faded to return at moments when a familiar tune would play. I could have missed my lenses at home and yet seen the complete parade. No matter where you sat people would always describe the proceedings to each other seeking assurances that they are all watching the same thing! Oh look that’s where the bells are ringing! oh look their uniform is blue! oh the camels are lovely covered in orange! oh look they are playing drums now! The obvious was stated like it was a revelation to one, ensuring no one misses a thing. To tell you the truth there was nothing to miss. Well dressed men from armed forces playing as a band and marching, breaking into circles and then coming together again.

As for me, I was determined to enjoy the parade. I had to like it! It was to be proof of my nationalism. In my fervor, I stood up in respect of the retreating armed forces playing the national song. I was politely informed that you must stand only when the anthem plays. I then started clapping to the tune of “Saare jahaan se acha”. It was fairly loud and people around looked at me awkwardly (must have been private sector job again!) so I toned it down. I even pushed a few people to make my way thinking that was the norm of "Nationalism"

Then finally, it was followed with the little waving from the limousine window by Pratibha Patil. I can claim to have seen the President now, although I could not spot her but I was looking in the direction I knew for sure she was in. First the bullet proof enclosure 300 meters away and then in the car 100 meters away. She was right there! So I technically saw her. I even saw a tiger cub once while on a jungle safari exactly this way where I could not spot him but I definitely saw in the direction everybody was looking in.

My dear friend has been referred to as “She” in the entire post because she did not want to be named…yeah she is a real person with beautiful Bengali eyes and voice that heals.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I love this word “wannabe”…I just love it…there is just so much potential to “be” in this “wannabe”. Every time you are doing something “cool” (or so you think!), the word makes the moment stand and makes you stop and notice…hmm… wannabe, so wannabe is it, huh? Wannabe is who I am. And then you think about why you want to be that which makes you a wannabe and then you realize the source of your “wannabe-ism” if I may call it. And then you finally acknowledge that you really wannabe and you are a real wannabe.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Dhobi Ghaat is by far the best Hindi movie...ever! At last, someone dares to make a film true to her sensiblities not guided by the nonsense presumptions about what junta wants...after Golmaal, tees maar khan and yamla pagla deewana the movie restored my lost faith in Indian cinema! Kudos to Kiran Rao....she is definately more than just Aamir Khan's wife...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Rock my world

“Is it real? Or is it a joke of some kind?” Am I still dreaming or the vigorous shaking in my nightmare permeated into my wakefulness? I knew now that I was fully awake. The fearful tremors should now go away just as it does every time you wake up from your nightmare. The book shelf above my head still making clattering noises, my bed was moving and I could feel the building rock back and forth just like I rock my nephew to sleep. It took a few seconds for me to perceive that it was an earthquake and that God wasn’t particularly mad at me. I was reminded of precautions that were much advertised after the Bhuj earthquake in 2006. Stand away from glass objects. Stand in the corner where the pillar of the building is and etc. etc. But when you have just woken up in the peak winters getting out of the quilt is not all that easy. Besides the earthquake seemed so powerful that I was sure that we won’t make the day if it carries on this way for a few seconds more. I joined both my hands in prayer and started my chants. I started with “Waheguru”, “Waheguru”. The mantra I am brought up with. But one word mantra seemed insufficient in the face of such huge calamity. So I went on to “Om Namah Shivaye!”…the next moment I got a grip on myself and I could hear my father yelling at myself…”Now where did you learn that from?”Must have been the documentary on Mansarover and Kailsha trek I saw some time ago. The next chant that came was “Om mani padme hum”. This was the Dharamshala trip hangover. But I approved of the chant since it seemed pretty universal and sufficiently long for the situation. My mind then wandered again. I started thinking about my parents in the other room wondering why mom hadn’t started yelling yet. I wanted to shout and ask them how they were doing but I didn’t want to do anything to aggravate the earthquake, the childhood tendency to lie low in the face of danger. I thought it was best to talk directly rather than use words and lines I don’t know meanings of, “Ok, big guy calm down now! This is enough.” I said and it worked. The next moment the clattering of the book shelf ceased. I grabbed my phone to call my boyfriend and checked on my parents…

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Travelogue: The little Himalyan town that is more than just mountains

“Am I returning in the next two years?” The crystal answered “No!” “Will I return with him?” the crystal answered, “No!” Both of these answers left me bitter, worried and scared. I am not returning here in the next two years meant for me that I am not going to be travelling and not returning with him again meant the end of the world in another sense. It was 5th October 2008.

Well, the bad news turned into even better news on January 7th, 2011 as I sat by the window covered in mist, the vistas of Delhi barely visible, I leaned on the pane and saw my two companions looking at me. We exchanged smiles and the thrill of what we had undertaken and what lay ahead - Our first all girls’ trip in India.

If you are a girl, the idea of travelling alone on an overnight bus will scare you. But it was the discussion around this trip with my colleagues which made me realize that the idea baffled guys even more. Tones of advice some welcome some not so welcome, suggestions on alternative destinations, last minute glitches and changes in plan, invective outbursts of an angry Tibetan travel agent who told us “Shame on you never seen more bad people” and kept scaring us of the Karma which will bite our asses for last minute booking cancellations.

The first night of travel from New Delhi to Dharamshala I was told by him would be “worst night of my life”. I was ready for the bus to topple in the extreme cold weather and fog of which our colleagues had warned us. We peacefully slept through the night and woke up to the call of “Kangra!, Kangra!”. The three chattering chickies who did not sleep a wink discussing the cute guys, lipsticks, facebook and their blackberries and everything else pink in the world got off. And then perfect silence ensued. I pasted my nose to the window staring at the beautiful views of the Kangra valley and the enthralling sights of Dhauladhars. The freshness of the hills was so much better than the smell of urine that pervaded the ISBT Kashmere gate bus stand. Ruchi and I exchanged glances while Sukku slept through till Dharamshala.

We got off at Dharamshala running wildly from point to point on the bus stand looking at the fantastic views of the views of the valley. Then we got some grip and got on to a bus to Mcloedganj, 10kms from Dharamshala, @ Rs 10 per person. Then started my favorite part of travelling, hunting for the right hotel to stay in. We covered most of the Mcloedganj market area on foot looking for the right place to stay in our budget. You will get all kinds of rooms in all price ranges. Starting from rooms with hot water facilities for Rs. 400 in off season costing around Rs. 10000 per month. You could also live with the club house by HPTDC for Rs 1500 per night. For on-season prices you can check their website and book in advance.

The view of the mountains and the cleanliness was of prime importance to us so we decided on a room with the “Mount View”. We had an open balcony in front of the room that merged with the mountains. A heater, hot water, warm blankets, clean bathroom and very warm hospitality for three at a steal of Rs. 700/-. In the night, it looked we were blanketed in the stars.

Our first day, we walked to Bhagsu falls then further up to the much hyped Shiva CafĂ©. The place was shady and we spent as much time there as a yawn would last. And there lies the one of the many gender differences. A must visit place for the guys was just enough to look at for a girls’ group.

The overrated Shiva (NOT SHIVA's CAFE)

We then returned to the main square and ate at the famous Jimmy’s Italian kitchen. The food
was good Italian food you would get in Delhi. But what made it awesome was that you paid for it a third of what you pay in Delhi. For a grilled chicken salad, pasta in Carbonara sauce, Tomato basil soup, baked pasta with mozzarella and a cup of honey blended latte cost us Rs. 415/-.

The next morning the highlight was truly our breakfast at Carpe-diem, “Seize the day!” My food plate was as always most experimental with assorted meats and scrambled eggs, toast, butter, marmalade, potatoes, coffee and juice of my choice. The other dishes on the table was a chicken sandwich with fries, baked beans on toast and mixed fruit pancake. The total bill was Rs. 385/-. Can you beat that!

The next stop was the Ghallu temple the starting point of our trek to Triund. We took a cab from our hotel to the point. I was not hoping we would make it to the top but we had decided that we will get to the snow and be back. We were greeted with snow sheets and a frozen pond in front of the tea shop next to the temple. The tall mountains, the views of snow clad giants that I know I will get to sooner than later stood there waiting for me. I will come back for a tight hug later I said. The snow did not let us go any further. We then turned back to the main square after a little strolling.

Back to the main market now, endless shopkeepers selling ornaments, incense, winter wear, rosaries made of yak bones, sandalwood, and souvenirs for tourists to take back home. The air was full of the smell of incense and the little murmurs of “Om Mani Padme Hum” and the colors against the backdrop of mountains covered in white. Religion such a strong part of everyday existence was a sight to savour with people of all ages telling the beads.

Come back you might in 2 days from the but the peace that blankets you in Mcloed will haunt you and pull you back for more. And the call for "Free Tibet" will resonate in your sub-conscious like the deep ringing sound of "Om" from mouth of a monk.

Things to do in
• Religion: Spiritual Retreat for close encounters with the Tibetan culture and Buddhism
• Trekking: Trek to Indrahar pass, Day trek to Triund, can couple with a night stay on Triund, Trek to Chamba Valley
• Alternative therapies: You can learn Reiki, Chakra awareness, Hypnotheraphy, Yoga, meditation. I particularly like this
• Drink and Make merry: Not beer Dude! Sometimes a cup of coffee with a book will give you all the intellectual high needed to carry on! Drink to the beautiful views of the valley at the Mandala coffee house
• Shop till you drop! for the little knick knacks such as silk scarves, junk jewelry, shawls, incense, Buddhist chants, the list is endless…
• Read your book: Mcloedganj is truly a book reader’s paradise with over 5 bookshops in a little area. Books on spirituality and ancient wisdom of India and Tibet are easy to find

Tips for accommodation:
• If you want a peaceful stay and have a cab at your service, look for a place near Dharamkot, a few kilometers ahead of Mcloedganj
• Better places to eat and cheap places to stay are around the Mcloedganj Main Square area which is also closest to the Dalai Lama temple

Links for places to eat:
• Well go and explore! There is plenty that is good and more than worth your money
• Definitely try food at Carpediem. It’s a big hit and a “must do”
• Do not miss the local street food. To go away from Mcloedganj without tasting the Tibetan specialties is a gross injustice many commit

For booking buses: Go for the Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporations buses. They are safe, reliable, on time and comfortable. The only AC Volvo we found from Delhi to keep our feet warm in cold winters.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


I am unable to get over it...a man killed another one...ran his car over him 4 times...all for a scratch on the car...a son is not returning home today and mother is going to wait forever...why is the world such an awful place!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Celebrate 'Singh' Size: Procession in New Delhi

You witness colossal chaos, colossal traffic jams with colossal hysteria as Sikhs get together thrice each year for a cultural extravaganza and grand community celebrations on important dates in Sikh history. These pictures are from the 02 Jan 2011 procession to celebrate Prakash Utsav, (literal translation: day of illumination means birth anniversary here) of tenth Guru of the Sikhs, Guru Gobind Singh.

The parade marked with devotion, feeling of community, sharing and giving where tones of food is distributed by devotees who either set up stall on the roadside or move along the crowds in their cars carrying candies, biscuits, juices, tea, water, beans and rice, bread and lentils...almost anything! You cannot walk two steps without being offered something to eat. But it is just not food.

With people singing hymns from the Guru Granth Sahib as they move along in thousands, some telling stories about the glorious past and martyrdom of the Sikh heroes on the microphones, if you are a sikh, you can feel your chest swelling with pride and heart pounding with humility. To mark the spirit of military faith, young students of all ages and both gender display their martial skills in the art form of Gatka. It was a perfect culmination of the ‘Sant-Sipahi’ Saint & Warrior ideology of the Sikh religion. To be a part of the whole scheme all you need to do is cover you head, get a bag of candies to share with all and sing praises of the one God. Well, just the act of the being around will ensure you have food thrust into your hands with a smile or a polite sometimes aggressive and hurried “Waheguru ji”.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Darling...Oh darling...where are thy pants!

What do you do if your boyfriend has super hairy legs. Well, that is alright you know. You are the old school where the male hair on the chest peeping out of the shirt seemed oh so manly! Unlike the new age "metrosexual" agenda to make our entire species hairless! Ad that show men with skin that is smoother than the leading models wearing "Jockey" underwears and you ask yourself "Is this what men look like?". Exactly what Tyler was aked in Fight club...Ah well... NO!

But honey, I am the conservative kinds. Dont show off the skin ( Cover those legs!

Darling...Oh Darling...where are thy pants!