Never Have I Ever II

I was reading through my 'Never Have I Ever' list hopefully, scanning it to cancel out the goals that I had accomplished in the past year but, alas, there were none. I'm so boring. Duh.
If I were in a Bollywood movie, an ever-helpful messiah would have walked in, took my list and said 'here we go baby, let's start with task number one'. Hmm. Maybe I should put that in the wishlist too. :P
Nevertheless, I did manage to update the list and here it goes:

1. Attend a Rock concert dressed up all punk. Don't think that would be possible in Delhi though (Metallica :D haha).

Pangong Lake, Ladakh
2. Visit Ladakh.

3. Ride a bike.

Add these to the eighteen previous unfulfilled wishes and I have twenty one things on my list.
Tall ask, but let's see. Can't stop dreaming.

Never Have I Ever, my earlier post.

Coming Back Home

Home is where you discover yourself..again and again.

The year is coming to an end and I can say that I have found myself again.
 I can look into myself again, the person staring back at me from the mirror ain't any stranger no more. This is me.This is home. Cynical, arrogant, authoritative and lazy. Spending hours on the rooftop, in the Sun, wind and under the stars, I set my thoughts free, free to race backwards and forwards in time. It's so relaxing.
My eyes drink in the beauty of every fleeting moment. Observing and analyzing. It's good to be back.

Now for the metaphors.

# There is a swarm of mosquitoes here, fighting and clasping over, what looks to me, air. Just plain,simple air. Yet they crowd over this cramped portion. There's plenty of space around here, it's a fucking rooftop. But they're going round and round over that one spot. Is their goal non-existent? Or is it just invisible to me?
It's a good thing they aren't bothering me though ;)

I can never reveal my greatest fear

I can never reveal my greatest fear
The terror binds my tongue
I have come to terms with the inevitable
But i don't know how it'll change me
As sure as the earth turns
I'll wake up one day to find her gone
Not my flesh or blood,but a bond just as strong
and when the last goodbye comes
I hope she'll know how much she meant
And how she changed the world around me
how she is the reason for a million smiles
And that i've always thought of her with moist eyes
Wish we could live twice.

I take back all the crappy stuff I said about Diwali. I am feeling oddly satisfied with myself. There is a certain solace in lighting candles. Slowly and carefully you bring the lit match close to the wick, pausing to let the flame transfer and then step back to enjoy your handiwork - those flickering yellow lights that symbolize the spirit of this festival.

Train of thought..

It's strange how one moment you feel so strongly about something and in the next it all vaporizes, leaving you clutching at vague impressions.
It so happened that when i was working out today, a strong wave of emotion overcame me and i had to switch off the machine to sit and think about it. Now, it might have been adrenaline, but the feelings were so strong I had almost reached for my phone and started acting on the emotion-fuelled impulses.
Took a deep breath, washed my face, settled down, reached for Debbie to type down all that I'd thought about and .. I wasn't feeling so convinced anymore. Was it because my doubts were baseless and trivial? Or did the sight of my laptop serve as a distraction? I'd never know.
In the mean-time, let me blabber about Diwali. It's not my favorite festival anymore. No more crackers. No more getting excited over gifts and visiting people.There are way too many formalities and technicalities being associated with this festival nowadays. Call me a depressed goose, but there's really nothing to look forward to tomorrow. At least for me. Except that I'd be wearing something new,hopefully.
Ah, it's frustrating not being able to write about what you wanted to.
Hope my train of thought leaves me to that desired station soon. Because there are questions, questions that need expressing more than answering.

Till then, Happy Diwali. Hope you have an exciting one. :)


Hello!hello my friends!Am i the only one feeling the morning chill?Or is winter knocking?
Winter, beautiful, serene winter. Harbinger of ends and new beginnings, of the new year. My pagan self relates winter to a period of contemplation, hibernation, finding out what went wrong, and emerging a fixed person in Spring.
That was for the philosophy.
Now, winter!
The only time of the year I can stay out in the Sun and soak in its warmth!Lay leisurely on the grass,watch the brown-ed trees,feel the Sun on my back..

Of all the festivals we celebrate this season, I like christmas the best-I just love the decorations, the christmas tree and the cakes. When I was in school, it was the only festival we celebrated..spending days decorating our classrooms and then exchanging gifts with our friends. It was special, since it marked the end of the term and the start of winter holidays.
Oh,winter holidays!Bless college life for still giving me those. Twenty days of pure nothing-to-do-ness!Sleeping till late in my comfy bed, waking up to steaming hot coffee and then rushing to the balcony to spend some time in the Sun.
Winter food-makke ki roti, sarso ka saag, gajjak, dried fruits-all of those yummy things that keep you warm, winter clothes-your chance to be creative, colorful.
Though there's no season I detest, I love no other as dearly as winter!
I don't mind the chill, I don't mind the winds or the fog, it's all part of the fairytale image I have of winter in my mind.
Evem though it's only October and the north westerlies are yet to do their bit, I'm up and excited with a broad smile on my face to welcome my favourite time of the year.

Shopping Girl has a Lucky Outing :D

I love freebies and I love shopping. Combining the two of them:pure bliss!Which is why, the twenty fourth of this month proved to be a lucky, lucky day.
It was a bright sunny saturday morning, the ones with the bluest of skies, chirping birds and cool breeze. And ofcourse, everything had to look so beautiful and rosy because it was shopping day!
Suited and booted, we departed to the nearest mall with all the excitement of squeaky teenagers, located our favourite store and started the task.
A fresh batch of Indian-wear had arrived and we had all the choice in the world.
The two of us picked up kurtas of all possible textures, colours, styles and materials and hit the trial room. Satiated with our choices, it was time to try out the western section. I wasn't very impressed by their tees and tops, but one particular tee caught my fancy: white, long and funky.It was six hundred rupees, but what the hell. Even Nidhi chose a similar one in bright red. After spending close to an hour in an out of the trial rooms,we took our spoil to the billing counter.
That was where we heard the good news:shop for over two thousand on BrandX merchandise and get four hundred bucks worth of free accessories. Quickly looking over our choices, we discovered that we did indeed fulfilled the requirements and we selected bangles to take home free. But the salesman squashed all our hopes announcing that the fancy tees we'd brought over were not BrandX, but BrandY. Alas alas, we got ready to just pay the required amount and leave. The guy however, came up with a helpful scheme, he added up the total of all our BrandX-bought items and informed us that we need only spend 14 bucks more to avail the offer. And so we set out again, looking for that smallest item and also choosing the accessories. Midway through it, we decided that it'd be better to just buy another piece of clothing than to spend money on useless accessories. Back to the ethnic-wear, over to footwear, then western,and even the guys' section,but no luck! Dejected, we walked back, bought a miscellaneous hair band to fill in for the fourteen bucks and then selected earrings and bracelets worth four hundred. Back to the billing counter, the staff had changed, our bill was still stationary at nineteen eighty six, and moved to two thousand sixty five on adding the band. Both of us paid a little more than a thousand rupees and redeemed the gift voucher.
Walking out the store, we burst out into laughter and celebrations: we'd just walked away with free stuff worth rupees sixteen hundred. Do the math.:) Ah!

The Idea I fell in love with

'In our lives, we owe it to ourselves to follow what we feel is right for us. Put singularly, you owe it to yourself to follow your true gut feelings and instincts. You know what's right, you know what's wrong. Don't ever follow preconceived notions that others may lead you to believe. If the actions in everyday life feel uncomfortable or forced, maybe you should step back and reevaluate your decisions. Do what you would do, not someone else. Live for you, live to be happy and good to your family and friends. If you have gotten away from instinct and logic, get back to things that make sense. Do the right thing; it makes life so much better and so much easier.'
- Matt Hardy


We're furry,We're fluffy,
When we see you we go woof-ey,
But we have the brains to keep you on your wit's end!

(to the looney toons tune)

SmartAssDogAntic #5

Dogs love science.
I was filling up my bucket for a bath when Carey came in, wagging her tail in the up-
for-mischief mode,observed the water running and the mug rising for a minute..and just 
when the bucket filled up, scooped the mug from the surface and bolted off.


SmartAssDogAntic #4

Some dogs always want to play!
So annoying when you are busy doing something working out!
The other day i was on the treadmill when Carey thought she'd be a little less persistent on her fetch-game and make use of the machine instead.
Place your toy on one end of the track and whoosh it goes to the other end!
:D fetch fetch fetch!


SmartAssDogAntic #3

When our indoors have been suitably destroyed for the day, we try coaxing Carey out with 
a snack or a treat and lock her in the verandah for some peace time.
Worked well until she learnt to act.
She'd go outside, wagging her tail for the treat and the moment one places it into her 
bowl, about-turn and back in the house!

Who said you can't both have the cake and eat it too?

SmartAssDogAntic #2

A ball is treasure.

Once when I was away, Carey got a ball from someone. But it was useless, since there was 
no one to play with.
For seven complete days, she kept the ball hidden and safe in a corner.
As soon as i returned, she guided me to the place to reclaim her treasure.:)

SmartAssDogAntic #1

This dog plays hide and seek.Enough said.

*Never piss a dog off,they'll retaliate by pissing on your favorite couch*

A la claire fontaine

(OST: The Painted Veil )

At the clear fountain,
While I was strolling by,
I found the water so nice
That I went in to bathe.
So long I've been loving you,
I will never forget you.

Under an oak tree,
I dried myself.
On the highest branch,
A nightingale was singing.
Sing, nightingale, sing,
Your heart is so happy,
Your heart feels like laughing,
Mine feels like weeping.
I lost my beloved,
Without deserving it,
For a bunch of roses,
That I denied her.
I wanted the rose
To be still on the bush,
And my sweet beloved
To be still loving me.

Blood And Bone

Blood and bone
Its only blood and bone
The ghost rises in my head
Says sonny,i think you're dead
But its only blood and bones
Fingers so numb i can't feel a thing
somewhere,someplace so white
in my eyes
I hear bells ring
Funeral rhyme
I smell night
Ghost in my head
Says sonny you're good as dead
Does it matter still?
Only blood and bones
Take a peaceful passing
not the way i wanted
grounded with a bullet in my head
Will never see their faces
But will they see the sin?
No time for waiting
Ghost in my head screams death
Blood and bones
Only blood and bones in the end

Who are we?
We find that we live on an insignificant planet of a humdrum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people.
-carl sagan

As the sun goes down

As the sun goes down for another day
An empty twilight mutely questions me
Stillness,Silence and the Painted sky:I'm burning,yearning to find answers
But scared of finality
The night will come and pass 
With my mind dwelling in every possible universe
A sparse moon and stars unmarked
and my solitary confinement-an evil of necessity or of a resolute irrationality;
shall weigh down the atmosphere with the load of my choices

'How happy is the blameless vestal's lot!

The world forgetting, by the world forgot.

Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!

Each pray'r accepted, and each wish resign'd;

Labour and rest, that equal periods keep;

"Obedient slumbers that can wake and weep;"

Desires compos'd, affections ever ev'n,

Tears that delight, and sighs that waft to Heav'n.'

-Alexander Pope

I'm feeling lucky!

It happened in January this year. I was going back to Delhi. I had decided on taking the seven o' clock bus, but my mother somehow persuaded me to take the eight o' clock one instead. Getting up so early would be inconvenient, she claimed. Whatever,I thought. So,at eight thirty, I was sitting comfortably in the bus, looking out the window in the outskirts of Agra, when I saw the seven o' clock bus lying overturned on the highway. It had met with an accident and the windows were all shattered.
I could only thank my stars as I sat there contemplating the consequences had I gone forward with my earlier decision. 'Luck' was on my side.

Or was it?
Was it simply a case of cause-effect? A cosmic game of probabilities and alternate universes? I mean,it was all in my hands,wasn't it? I could have taken the bus and it could have not met with any accident or the bus I was on could have been the
one lying overturned: who knows? who can predict the occurrence of events?
What is luck, then?

What is it that makes people change their names: spelling them with a twist to obtain that magical numeral, wear bracelets/rings or adorn themselves with only a select range of colors? And they claim it to work! Our very own MSD is obsessed with 'lucky' number seven- and hasn't he guided us to the number one spot in world cricket? But you'd say that it was because our squad was genuinely talented and that the most formidable men down under had decided to retire. But,would that be a matter of luck too?

As I see it, luck is basically the child of probability, a series of events occur or don't occur and things are in your favor. But then, can you 'invoke' luck? I assume not. It's only a matter of belief I guess. Present day philosophers would tell you that if you 'believe' and wish for something in the right way, the universe will conspire for it to happen. Hm. Your subconscious is a magnet, they claim. Methinks it may be correct after all, 'cause I've experienced it. If you think about something with all your might and program your subconscious for it, I'm sure unconsciously you'd start taking the steps for your wish to materialize..
('be careful what you wish for,'cuz you just might get it all' )

In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, we read about a potion called 'liquid luck'. It was claimed that anybody drinking that potion would succeed in whatever he attempted. Harry gives the vial to Ron who has his first quidditch match that day and surely enough, they're victorious.
After the match, Hermione confronts Harry for having used unfair means. Which, it turns out, he had not! He'd replaced the contents of the vial with something trivial! The only thing Ron lacked was self-confidence, and the 'potion' gave him just that.

Fortune favors the brave,doesn't it?

The Hangover

Yeah, that right, I'm hungover. But no wine or vodka..I'm hungover a
book, books, to be precise.
The series in question is the Millenium Trilogy by Steig Larrson. I
know I've been going on and on about it for quite some time now, but
that's the way it is. I was glued
to it since the last three weeks or so and have been thinking about it
ever since I managed to finish it. Yes, it was the subject matter, yes, it
was the writing style
too..but more than anything, it was that girl.
The trilogy revolves around crime against women in Sweden(pretty drab
you'd think).
In the first book, The Girl with the dragon tattoo, the author
introduces us to a murder mystery. A young girl, Harriet
Vanger, belonging to a very rich family, goes missing
under extraordinary circumstances and no trace of her is ever found.In
comes Michael Blomkvist, journalist, owner of the independent magazine
Millenium, to investigate
the long forgotten case. Why would he give a shit? Because he's been
bribed by Harriet's uncle to give one last try to find the truth about
his beloved niece. In
return, he'd get damaging evidence against his
arch-enemy, Wennerstrom. The stage is set for a crime thriller, except
for that girl.
Lisbeth Salander is a skinny punkster with numerous tattoos and
piercings. She works for Milton Security. She doesn't speak
much, borders on unsocial. But her brains!
She'll shock you with her abilities. She had been locked up in an
asylum for years though.
Predictably enough, she joins forces with Blomkvist and together they
uncover the crime(s). But what they discover will knock you out. This is
one of those books you'll
have trouble keeping away.
In the second book, The girl who played with fire, you discover Lisbeth
Salander: the girl, the woman. This is where her story begins, and it's
not an enviable one.
But she is one of those who answers fire with fire:no evil ever goes
unpunished. It will be hard to fathom how this tiny stick-thin girl
fights with bulky men, even
brutally injures them. But as they say, all fights are fought in the
mind. But in the middle of the book comes the shocker: Lisbeth Salander
is wanted as a suspect in

three murders.
As the drama unfolds, you get a glimpse of Lisbeth's grim childhood, or
rather the lack of it. However, this woman does not need no pity, she's
already calculated revenge.

The third book, The girl who kicked the hornet's nest starts where the
second one left us. The battle for Lisbeth Salander starts.Micheal
Blomkvist gets together with
her miniscule, but loyal group of friends and establishes 'Knights of
the Idiotic Table' to get Salander out of the mess she's gotten
into. In order to prove Salander's
innocence, one of Sweden's best-kept secret has to be revealed and the
'Knights' face resistance from all corners. But in a brilliantly
thought out way, justice is
finally achieved. The legal battle is one of the best I've ever
read: sharp and effective.

Larrson's style of writing is commendable. It is a book for our
generation:the protagonists sport macbooks and hackers play an
important role. The relationships
described are not your usual 'happily-ever-after' types, but are very
real and presnt-day. None of the characters in his books is perfect, but
they all have the will and
the courage to confront injustice. Especially, that girl.
A must read for fans of good, intelligent literature.

Breaking News

Youth Against Apocalypse
18th July 2011,New Delhi

Predictions of Apocalypse in 2012 has caused great uproar among the youth of the nation. The youngsters in delhi,specifically students of Delhi University, are planning to go on a protest against it, for want of a better thing to do. Students from different parts of India, including Mumbai, Hyderabad, Patna and Bengaluru are also pledging their support to the protest in Delhi. In all,a total of around 2 lakh students are expected to show up in Delhi and around 2000 of them are expected to turn up at the candle light rally at India Gate. Invites have been sent out on social networking site Facebook (check your inbox).
Leading the agitation is 22yr old Shahrukh Roshan(name changed) from SRCC. 'My fight is against those astrologers,religious scholars and filmmakers who are spreading propaganda about the world ending in 2012. Why,I ask them,could they not have come up with their reports a few years earlier? I could've had a decent childhood. Do they even have any idea about the cut-offs at SRCC?' He's furious.
Farhan Qureshi(name changed), a first year student at St.Stephen's, though, has a completely different viewpoint 'I demand the Government of India to do something about this! We just can't let the world end! I mean I've tried so hard and got so far, don't tell me that in the end, it doesn't even matter! Where is NASA and all-powerful USA when you need them? Why aren't they doing something about it? Where is superman goddammit!! I protest! What happened to my right to life??'
News of the agitation has brought response in the form of a series of tweets from the bollywood community. Actor Imran Khan has lashed out at the system for 'playing a ridiculous game with the youth of the nation.'
Ram Gopal Verma is planning to make a movie on it. He tweets,'I want to capture the emotions of the youth who are fighting against apocalypse. This film will be a psychological study on student life.'
Scientists and Manmohan Singh are still maintaining that there's nothing to worry about and that the situation is 'under control'.
But Gayatri Devi (name changed again), alumni of St.Xavier's, Mumbai, exclaims,'How can we not worry?First the earthquakes and tsunamis in Japan, then the freak floods and fires..and even Rajnikanth got admitted to the hospital!the world is ending..'.

Anna To Join Protest
Anna Hazare has lashed out at the congress for intentionally delaying the drafting of the lokpal bill to january 2013. 'The congress is playing dirty games, they know that the world is coming to an end in 2012 and so they have postponed the date for the Lokpal Bill. I'm going on an anshan against this decision! They should either do something about the apocalypse or prepone the date. Citizens,get ready for another battle for Independence!',he was quoted as saying.
Swami Ramdev was, however, unavailable for comment. It seems he has left the country for a vacation on his island. How long this vacation is intended to last,nobody knows.


07/2/08 (eleventh standard:hopes and fears)

Faith/Hope is a very strange thing. Till it's there, everything is possible, your imagination runs wild, you're happy, optimistic, secure.
But when the thread breaks, things go ugly. Fear suffocates. The demons inside resurface. Insecurity alienates you as you realize you still stand alone.
Somewhere in this state, your logic becomes harsher, the truth comes at you with all it's
brute force.
But mostly you begin to see the falser side of things..the areas where you've cheated
yourself and where the others have. You know you can't do much about it except cry, curse
and feel blue. But things have to go on. And so you drag it.

But I'd wonder how long I could take it. Piece by piece I'm giving it up..fading.
I know what all I am capable of having and I also know that I am capable of undoing it
all..and I look at both options indifferently.

16/04/10 (first year in college:can we be friends?)

'Oh simple thing:where have you gone?I'm getting older and need something to rely on'

Complications, everywhere. Never knew I'd have to think so much on every decision and
that every decision could have so many outcomes attached. All I wish for is
simplicity. Laugh when happy, cry when sad and say what's on my mind and just be me. I
don't wanna be another mask, another well camouflaged friend or love or enemy..
Reality is fleeting. Illusion is chaos, neverending.

Ah, but I'll think and speak of happier times,when words escaping my mouth weren't
judged and weighed and filtered, but accepted and stored somewhere, and added to my
image. When laughter came like flowing water and swept away all feeling, uniting everyone
adrift. Sometimes I think whether it was enough to know what all was and would be
possible, and soothe the restlessness with a promise. Sometimes the restlessness
overpowers, refusing to be tamed and there I am, futilely caged.

But I love myself and I would love to embrace the tears, let them flow and cleanse
me, leaving me empty and bereft of ache. Then when the silence is achieved and I am
myself and one, there I'd begin the quest again and look for those sparkling diamonds in
the coal, to keep them safely with me forever.

02/07/11(third year in college:what's next?)

Everyday I come across people..people who have it all/are hollow/with that zealous
dedication towards something, others laidback and pointing fingers..and I think, which
one of them is me?who am I supposed to be?
Would I be lost in the crowd?what do I need to do to stand out?
I don't remember what happened to that thing called ambition, it seems to have disappeared along the way, when I decided it wasn't worth it. And then, it was just about ideals..what is my highest ideal?and more importantly,am I enough for it?
But that I may be incomplete now doesn't matter, cuz there is more to see and learn. What matters is time.
Only time matters. Time is god isn't it?it runs out and bhaam..there goes destiny, ambitions, karma, everything. The day I realized that the clock
is ticking, I became mad. I don't keep clocks around me, I don't wear watches. I don't
like keeping time, don't like to hear it pass by. Instead I'm clutching at the moments, trying to
stretch them to infinite.

Life is the shit that happens to you when you're busy making plans for tomorrow.
Life is now.
I've always maintained that happiness and satisfaction lies in simplicity.
Let's face it:we spend our lives finding solutions, setting definitions and limits-simplifying things.

Take the plunge,life's too short for regrets.

Traveller's Tales

Himachal Diaries(03/06/11-10/06/11)

Day 0:Delhi
I've been up all night, celebrating the last day of second year with friends. My parents come to pick me up from the hostel. We've hired a Tavera and a driver to take us along the mountain trail.
We travel through haryana and punjab. It's okay so far, green flats and raised mercury. Spend the time listening to my favourite songs and trying to get Delhi out of my mind.

First stop:Solan
Its pleasantly cool here, the valley looks gorgeous, with all the lights shining like a million fireflies in the woods.
And the sky is a clear star studded one. It's eight at night so we head to the first hotel we see and get ourselves a room.The view from the balcony is beautiful, we sit there for an hour or so, enjoying dinner in the cool mountain breeze.
Its so quiet here.

Day 1:On the Road

Got up early, bathed and dressed and got myself ready for travelling on the mountain roads. But, ah, the medicine for motion sickness got me and I winded up sleeping through most of the journey.
We're headed to Thanedar, ninety kilometres from Solan.
valley view:thanedaar
When I woke up,I could see the snow covered Himalayas in the background. We'd just crossed Shimla and were near Kufri. The air has become thinner and the breeze colder, but the sun is out, playing with the landscape, reflecting on the snowy peaks and making them shimmer.
We saw a couple of yaks and memory took us back to our experience riding them when in manali.
Oh, how we love the mountains.

Stop 2:Thanedar

We reach here in time for lunch, our abode-banjara camps.
Thanedar is a little village, known for its apple and cherry orchards. The first apple trees here were in fact brought and sown by an American, Mr.stokes. And that explains the difference between the himachali and kashmiri apples. Hm.
One would wonder why we chose to stay in this village rather than go to Shimla. Its beacuse this place is pure, unknown and untouched by commercial tourism. Hence we can get a taste of the local life, of the pahadi way. Our resort has hardly 7-8 rooms and they follow a fixed menu and so we get to really meet and interact with all the families who've come to stay here and try out new stuff to eat (apple chutney,pineapple curd,cherry dessert and lockey kheer).
The highlight of our stay is the trek through the woods. The first one took us through the apple orchards overlying the resort. We were completely on our own and got lost in the greens without any phones. Nevertheless, followed our instincts and followed a narrow trail to the road.
the orchards
in the forest
After tea, it was time for another walk with Mr.Tony, our guide. Tony is from Brisbane and is a passionate traveller. He arrived in India in february and has been staying at banjara since may. He's voluntarily helping in managing the place. We were surprised to find him well acquainted with the villagers in spite of the language barrier. He'd even learnt the Indian names of the trees and fruits. And so he took us on a walk through the woods of thanedar to the kotgarh church. There wasn't much wildlife but we got to see a variety of trees and flowers. There were loads of apple laden trees and cherries, but alas, picking was striclty prohibited. Apart from these,we spotted apricots,peaches, pears and almonds. Kids and women were picking up timber and leaves for their homes.All smiling,healthy faces.
dad at the waterfall..feeling blissful!
The trees were magnificent, some were nearly a hundred metres. There were spruce,pine,oak,cedar and mighty deodar. But hardly any monkeys or birds could be sighted.
We came across a waterfall and stopped there to rest for five minutes. The water was cold and clean but people like us had littered it with plastic bottles and wrappers.
Oh, and marijuana grows wild here, and looks like many poeple don't know about it. Tony grinned at us, pointing to the plant.
One and a half hours later, we reached the church where the reverend welcomed us and showed us inside. A quick look and we made our way back to the waiting car.
So, we'd walked today for nearly two and a half hours, but we didn't feel a tad bit tired. The cool breeze and the fresh unpolluted oxygen kept us energised.
Back at the resort we had a bonfire and everybody sat around it singing folk songs and listening to Mr.Thakur (the owner of the property) tell tales about the village.
At the end of the day, we retired to our beds feeling satisfied and with images of the beautiful forest paths in our heads. A day well spent.

Day 2:Sangla
On the stairway to heaven

Woke up to the most gorgeous of sunrises, with the valley bathed in yellow light and shadows. Walked around and got ready for the trip to Sangla.
The journey itself was interesting as the road follows the river Satluj and then Besva with a few dam sites and reservoirs here and there. You can feel the scenery changing as you cut through the hills and go higher, the snowy peaks coming in view. Civilization thins out and there are only a few small villages on the way, but there're lots of military bases. The road is narrow and winding and you realize the amount of manpower that must've gone in cutting pathways through the hard basaltic rocks. Every now and then, we see a waterfall or catch glimpses of the clear blue-green river.
We arrived in the banjara camps here at sangla at around three in the afternoon.
And the view took my breath away!
The place is surrounded by mountains on all sides, brown and green arravalis in the immediate vicinity and the snow covered himalayas further off. Nothing could've prepared me for the beautiful scenery I got to enjoy here, with the view changing every hour with the change in sunlight and perspective.
mom,by the river
We were greeted here by Marriene, a post graduate in world geography and sociology from Finland. Like Tony, she has also been staying in India since the past few months and is volunteering at banjara.
After lunch, she took us to the riverside. It was an amazing experience,the mountains, the sun, the clouds, the crystal clear but rapidly flowing water, the white sand and multicolored cobblestones. We sat down on the boulders and dipped our feet in the freezing water. Felt like paradise.
It was right there, sitting by the water and hearing it gush, that I felt unusually serene and peaceful. I saw how trifling all my worries were and realized that there was just so much more to do and see in this world. When given a choice of metaphors, I would always compare life with the sea.
At around six in the evening, the staff made arrangements for the river crossing activity. Poles were set up on either side of the river with steel ropes hanging between them. One would be suspended by a rope and harnessed to the steel ones and would have to use his/her hands to pull themselves to the other side of the bank. It sounded easy but I was still pretty unsure about it. Saw a couple of people attempt it successfully but still couldn't gather ebough courage to attempt it. Maybe day after tomorrow...
Post tea we went for a short walk in the village and observed the local people.
While returning to my room, watching the moonlight bounce off the snowy peaks, all I could think of was, if kashmir is rightfully the heaven on earth, this place is definitely the stairway to that heaven, both figuratively and literally.

the temple

Day 3:Adventure is in the Air

It rained here last night, the weather is colder and there is more snow on the peaks. We quickly dress up and have breakfast and get ourselves ready for the walk to the glacier. Two families will be accompanying us alongwith Mr. Ojha, our guide. We take a walking stick and pack sun screen, water and biscuits.
bonding :)

Thus we begin walking towards the Sangla village, our first stop is the temple. Now,the people here follow hinduism with a slight buddhist overtone and this could be seen in the temple. It was built like a buddhist monastery and had carvings of the religious leaders of all faiths. Having crossed the village, we reached the river bank and crossed to the other side on a makeshift vibrating bridge. The forest started from there. It was mostly uphill and rocky with lots of trees and thorny bushes.
Halfway through I realized that my shoe was torn.
Mr ojha helped me fix it with some polythene bands, but they would just keep sliding off. Anyways, we continued on our upward journey. We could see the glacier and that kind of motivated us. Climbing up the glacier was not at easy task as the ice was slippery, but we negotiated it with the help of the stick and tips from the experts. So we climbed up to a comfortable place, laid sheets of polythene on the ice and sat down to take in the majestic view. Behind us, we had the muddy white glaciers, on one side there was a waterfall and forest below us. And all around us, we could see the mountains, both snowy and brown. It was a scene I'd never forget and one that made the three hour long journey worthwhile. We had a mini picnic there, with fresh pineapple juice and biscuits. When everybody was suitably energized, we began the walk back, improvising and inventing our own track. By this time, the sole of my other shoe had also come off and I had to repair that one too. Had some trouble walking every now and then, but it was okay. The downhill journey was not tiring and time consuming but it was more difficult as one wrong step could result in a fatal fall. Hiking, we observed, is a great stressbuster as all you can think about is your next step and breathing rhythm.

my nike :(
A funny incident happened near the village,a stray dog developed a fancy for us and started walking with us, leading the way in fact and stopping at regular intervals to wait for us. It disappeared near the camp but was waiting for us near our room!Dogs, and their sense of smell, never fail to amaze me.

After a wonderful lunch, we drove down to the sangla village and bought a pair of trekking shoes.
Then it was time to go and sit by the river, relaxe and take a few snaps.

By the end of the day,my eagerness for adventure and exploration had increased manifold and I was eagerly looking forward to chitkul and whatever experiences it might bring.

atop mt.glacier :D
 Day 4:Bring me more of it!

Dad went for a walk at 0530 today with Mr.Ojha, the spirit of adventure has got to him!
Back after two hours, he excitedly narrated all he did and saw. They'd met a postmaster and had tea at his place. Observing the beautiful view of the glaciers from his window, he remarked to the postmaster that he was lucky to be living in a heaven-like place. The postmaster replied that it indeed was heaven for half the year, but for the other half, it was worse than hell as piles of snow made venturing out impossible and he'd be trapped in his little hut for days.

Its pretty chilly today.
Dark clouds.
last indian dhaba
But we have drive to chitkul, the last village in India. We're here to walk to the last Indian Paramilitary borderpost. It's a three kilometre walk from the village. Sounds fun.
At the start of the trek, we're met by a dog who curiosly starts walking with us, stopping when we stopped and sitting when we sat. We were told that the path to the border would be flat and easy but instead it kept getting steeper and steeper. Forty minutes later we realised we were on the wrong path. The climb to the right one was so steep that mom grew scared and just sat down, paralyzed by fear. Fortunately, an officer came along and helped her complete it.

When I got to the top, I was rewarded by a breathtaking view: a clear river, green meadows, and mountains so close you could reach out and touch them.
We walked through rain, clouds and sun, crossed streams and waterfalls. Reached the border post in one and a half hours and were stopped from entering by two army jawans. They chatted with us, claiming that this was a peaceful area and they rarely encountered the Chinese army around here. But the Dragon, they warned us,was growing stronger, while we drown in bureaucracy.
last border post
The dog bid us farewell here, following the jawans to their mess for lunch. Huh. It won't eat the biscuits we offered. Looks like it was there with us just for company.

The walk back is always easier and less time consuming and this time, we were even following the right path:a mule track through the fields.

For lunch, we got down for a picnic in the forest, but unfortunately, it started to rain and we had to rush.

Back at the camp, walked down to the river. Collected some sandstone, quartz and chalk (Geology lessons, thank you).There was another event today: rappling or rock climbing. You had to climb down a rock, using ropes, you know, the way they show it on tv.

And no,thank you,I'm a chicken.

Day 5:

'Take me down to the paradise city
Where the grass is green and the girls are pretty
Oh won't you please take me home'

Left Sangla with a heavy heart,with thoughts of coming back clouding my mind. Such is the beauty and atmosphere of this place. The guides, the staff had all become friends to us and leaving them was a task we undertook gloomily.
However, the journey continues, in spite of the greed of staying there for a walk to raksham and a forest picnic.

Next stop:Kalpa
The drive to Kalpa was both dangerous and scenic, as we crossed streams and boulders and rock mining areas.
But lady luck was not happy with our decision to leave Sangla it seems and had sent her dark clouds after us..they floated down from over the mountains and descended into the valley with rain,hail and snow.

The view of kailash kinnor,the reason we came here, is clouded for now.
The rain subsided by evening and we braved the chilly wind to venture out towards Rogi village, and it was worth it. Not only did we get to see the kailash kinnaur range but another snow covered range came into view,white with fresh snow. We'd thought that Chitkul offered the ultimate beauty, but the scene that beheld us now shattered that illusion.
The snow is enchanting, you can never take your eyes off it, watch it mingle with the brown and green of the land and the blue of the sky, sparkling under the sun and the moon.
There were waterfalls, streams and tall deodhar trees..the perfect walk to end our journey in the mountains, combining all the elements of beauty.
the tall deodhar

We walked for around 4 kilometres from our hotel and then drove back to relaxe and watch some tv. Baba ramdev,the bjp-congress blame game and youth against corruption: reminders of a reality we feel loathe to embrace after this journey through paradise land.

Day 6&7:
The way back.
Non-stop driving, the heat, exhaustion :|

Oh,but the memories :)
ever seen roses like these?

From the need to Pour

I've a had a long, lonely weekend and it gave me time to think and speculate, maybe more than was bargained for. I came to an interesting conclusion the other day. I was watching 'The Departed' and it skillfully ended with a picture of a rat. The shot immediately made me go back to the times I'd been a rat and betrayed someone. I felt so sad and gloomy. Then I thought to myself, why do I always keep going back to those days?To that part of my childhood?It's been way too many years and so much has happened, but it seems that I haven't outgrown the me that was then.

I pondered over it in the shower and realized that all the major traits of my personality haven't  really changed since then. It's still the same kind of music, and it still makes me weep, it's still those gory nightmares, those books and works. But more importantly, it's still those principles and ideals. It's like I'm on automatic preservation mode.
Back then I didn't even realize that they'd have such a gripping influence on my life. Never knew that I'd adhere to them so stringently..and then inevitably came the thought:what if it had been different?what if Ihadn't met the people I did, didn't read the books I did, didn't cultivate the ideas that were..what if..would I have been not what I am today?Or was this- this creation of 'me'- just waiting to happen and would have,sooner or later?But no matter what, the impact of one particular friendship was, and still continues to be, immense.
It was by a random shuffling of classes that we met and before we knew it, started the all-important exchange of thoughts,ideas,books,music..and i was never the same again.and even to this day,I can see myself going through life and making decisions with the voices of the younger me and her somewhere in my mind.

Happy Realization to me. :)

Save thy Soul

I'm losing a part of me. Not just any part, it's the one that describes my very essence. Can't figure out a way to hold it, to be. The unthinkable has happened. I'm letting myself become engulfed in the crowd. Swallowed to the point of not being able to turn back.
I've always loved myself foremost. And I've always also had reason to do so. I've prided in living by myself, my ideals and judgement alone. People have come and gone, and I've found precious ones. But never,in the process have I compromised my integrity. I've been brave enough to let go and walk alone.
That was the me I adored.
Now it's just bits and pieces.
I no longer create or evolve, just 'do' to obtain sanction.
There comes a point in our lives when we realize we're not even half of what we'd dreamt to be.
This is mine.

Never have I ever

Its a new year and everywhere around me people are making lists and resolutions. For some, its about things to get done this year, or a list of goals, for others its a to-NOT-do list. But since I'm the kind of person who doesn't believe in goody-goody goals or holds regrets, I made a whole different kinda list for myself. I went up to the terrace, on a thankfully sunny afternoon, gazed into the green fields, and searched my soul for the things that I have never ever done and will (or will not) do someday. Its crazy,and it makes me happy.

Here goes :
1.Board a random train.
2.Perform on a stage, with a real band. And real audience.
3.Dance wild, all night. Rooftop preferred.
4.Join a parade. St. Patrick's day, LGBT, anything..
5.Fight. Beat the hell out of someone.
6.Make a mini movie. Camera, I love you.
7.Cook a grand (and hopefully delicious) meal.
8.Color my hair purple. Or red.
9.Take my dog swimming.
10.Solve a mystery (am I getting too wishful here?).
11.Weigh a hundred pounds (over-the-top-wishful).
12.Design a dress.
13.Drive on the highway. Full speed. Loud Music.
14.Stand up for a friend, for a cause.
15.Watch a comet.
16.Get a tattoo(s).
17.Dive. Always been too scared for that.
18.Gamble. Moolah baby.

There are a few more, but they just won't make it online.:P