Monday, December 27, 2010

The memory lane..again..

Yesterday, we came back late after an afternoon trip to Bheemtal. I thought it was a reason sufficient for late rising today morning.


And around 8 AM today, we both (Adi and I) were awake and were trying to fake asleep.

Silence broke. Kuhoo came in the room, dispensed a cup of tea almost on my head, “We are going to Corbett Park. Get up both of you”. To my horror, she had already taken bath by that time.

Adi got up immediately, eyes shining. Message was clear to me; both the terrorists were now on the prowl. I had to get up. Mission statement was given. No questions solicited.

We started from Haldwani at 9 AM. Bhaiya drove the car. Fresh and chill air of Kaladungi forest welcomed us. Holiday was on.

We reached Ramnagar around 10.45 AM. There we had to get into an open jeep and we were asked to wear caps. Of course, both of us hate that.


I had to do something more objectionable to get rid of the stupid cap. I told Kuhoo I will drive the car to the forest. I told since childhood I am passionate about driving an open jeep in a quiet hilly forest. And to her dismay, the driver agreed. Cap was no more mandatory.


I sat on the back seat. And we moved ahead in the forest. Adi was having fun. Kuhoo said she wanted to sit with me.


Of course, I had to wear the cap finally.

After a number of years, we were on the memory lane. We remembered the days spent in Dehradun, the hills, the quiet of the forest and the nip in the air.


Lived those beautiful moments; forgave and forgot the world and myself. Time stopped once again. We completed the safari trip sometime in afternoon.

Our next stop was – Mata Girija Temple - around 20 KM from Ramnagar.


Honestly it is one of the best places I have been to. The temple is in middle of the river on a small cliff surrounded by white sand.


Goddess Girija is an avatar of Goddess Durga. The stairs are steep but safe and manageable.


It was evening by the time, we completed our prayers. Spent some time near the river stream and came back home. 

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Up in the air...

I am fat, short and bald. Most of you know anyway.

But to me, it was difficult to know or accept..since it happened slowly, day by day, month by month, over the years I grew up.

Despite that it has been difficult to stop going after those ‘Oh-so-beautiful’ girls around. And there are times even today, when Kuhoo is not watching, I try my luck. Anyway it is easier to apologize than to get permission.

And that has resulted into some learning I am sharing herewith:
  • Honestly if you are any one of those, that is, fat or short or bald, you are already in disqualified category.You have to be as fool as I am, to keep trying;
  • If you are fat, they think, you are lazy. Could be lazy even during those hours when they expect you to be agile.
  • If you are short, reality strikes as early as in school itself. I remember, those tall and sexy ‘Punjabi Kudis’ never really bothered to even look at me. Actually the problem with short is, they suspect you could be something like vacation..never long enough..
  • If you are bald, let us face it, you don’t look as appealing. Girls look at you only by mistake. You are normally considered ‘old’ and expected to be sober and decent. Worse is, if you try too hard to be sober or decent, they start considering you a ‘safe’ guy.
  • To some girls, you may act rich. But they too dump you later as soon as they realize that you don’t save as much you earn, to spend on them, obviously.
  • Some girls will reject you out rightly. The cruel ones will call you ‘Bhaiya’. Kind-hearted ones will give reasons like having a boyfriend, commitment, and engagement etc.

Well while I was typing this post, it looks like I have made a good impression on a cute girl sitting in front of me. She must be thinking I am one of those – ‘always busy- no time for stupidity-reserve and focused’ type guy. I still don’t know why these girls get attracted towards those who don’t pay attention to them.

Anyway, she appears to be boarding the same flight. You never know, her seat is the one next to mine. On second thoughts, I don’t think I am completely bald or too fat or too short. The issue is, I cannot always keep my feet on ground else…I will never be able to put on pants..

Guess sometimes it is ok to be, up in the air.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The ringing bells..


The train took a sudden stop before Haldwani.

“What is it?” I got up and saw Adi quietly looking out of the window.

“Papa, a station has come but there is no one on it. All I hear some bells ringing?” Adi keeps talking about the voices he believes he hears.

“No and it’s not a station beta, we are at outskirts of Haldwani. Let us start packing. We should reach in few minutes”.

“It’s there Papa. You don’t hear”. Adi shook his head.

“Oh I do beta. But we need to rush”.

I was wrong. And I was lying. The train stood at the outskirts for around half an hour. And I didn’t actually hear anything ringing. Perhaps I wasn’t quiet or open enough.

I found later that on the other side of the train was a temple and actually the bell rang.



Surrounded with past nostalgia, current struggle and uncertain future we end up accumulating and submitting to all our emotions. And in that we fail to hear the sound.

But there are songs to all of them. Songs of an old loss or love, of pain or misfortune, self-inflicted or caused by others, shared or kept within the heart. Songs those help us forgive ourselves as we hear them*.

Perhaps we aren’t as difficult as we pretend to be. We owe a tryst to self acceptance, of whatever we are, however we are and wherever we are. Complains must stop, burdens must go, as we learn to enjoy the present with an open heart and resolute mind.

 
 
(* sharing a poem by Wendell Berry, 1987)


I go among trees and sit still.
All my stirring becomes quiet
around me like circles on water.
My tasks lie in their places
where I left them, asleep like cattle…

Then what I am afraid of comes.
I live for a while in its sight.
What I fear in it leaves it,
And the fear of it leaves me.
It sings, and I hear its song.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

My Father's eyes..

There is little bit of chilliness in westerly winds today. Smells like early onset of winter season.

I remember it was one of these days when the letter came from Kolkata. Sonu had cleared the DMET entrance exam. My father almost cried as he blessed, “May you always be happy”.

I really never cared much about why our elders spoke ‘be happy’ almost instantaneously when we conveyed regards to them.

I always construed happiness as an outcome; like getting a good job or life partner. ‘Be happy’ somewhat, meant ‘be successful’ to me.

A long time has gone by since I joined the race to be successful. Am not sure whether I could make it as the definition of success changed at each turn. But quietly, I kept running.



The rainbows were still far when I heard that my father passed away (last 15 October) unattended. We thought we had taken all care and precautions, but despite that he left us behind. And he took away with him a part of me as well; the happy part of me.

I don’t think life will ever be the same again. This race appears to be meaningless as my youth also appears to be racing ahead now.

But I have learnt that ‘Be happy’ doesn’t merely mean ‘be successful’. Happiness is not an outcome; but is a state of mind. We cannot plan to ‘be happy’. We all have to recognize and realize our happiness ‘individually’.

Perhaps happiness lies in what we enjoy doing; and what we enjoy doing comes inspired by the God. Perhaps that’s why our elders actually prayed to God for our happiness when we conveyed our regards.

The world moves on as my father sleeps. Comes from far, the blurred sound of those eternal bhajans and chimes I’ve heard since childhood. I remember what he often used to tell us:


• Life is not a race. We must not get driven by self or anyone’s greed, ego or illusion.


• As we love our lives we must respect death. It can come to us anytime and ‘no one’ can control it. Deathbed mentality helps in focusing on what we enjoy doing and in avoiding time waste on meaningless matters.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The love has just begun..

My phone rang impatiently during team meeting last Tuesday.

On the other side of the phone was Srestha. A friend, who is difficult to be described, charming and careless, beautiful and intense, cute and a little confused.

“Manish, I just wanted to know if you can come along to Jaipur. We are leaving on Saturday early morning. Please say Yes”.

I answered I’ll try my best. Finally I managed to join. But little did I know that the trip will actually add to one of my fondest memories so far.

The trip..

First rays of the morning fell on the car, as we started at 5.45 AM.



Srestha remained half-asleep for about an hour in the car. And then she began. Within next one hour, I knew about her likes and dislikes, the place she has traveled, those she could not travel and is planning to travel, things to buy and bargain, specialty of jaipur and of perhaps 3-4 such cities in India, her Mom and Dad, her work and then about Sarees, Jewelries in Rajasthan, West Bengal and Karnataka etc.

I watched her talk. She was happy and excited. Thank God, I could come with her.

Words lost their meaning as we moved ahead mesmerized with approaching range of Aravalies.


Jantar Mantar..

We picked up Jantar Manar as our first place to visit. Easily one of the master pieces from our history of astronomy, where all the watches are still working precisely.

We learnt how two persons born in within same sun-sign may have totally different personality and preference.

First impression was made. And that was great.
 


Hotel..

Around 4.30 PM, we checked in Hotel Teez, a typical RTDC hotel.

We found the hotel quite reasonable (Tariff around 1200 per day), had good food and well-mannered staff. We came out of our rooms by 5 PM for shopping at Jauhri Bazar.

Jauhri Bazar is easily a heaven for local Rajasthani products, jewelry and clothes. Please bargain (~40-50% of price asked).

We both tried to apply our negotiation skills at Jauhri Bazar. We ensured we were not cheated on price or quality of the goods. But no further details please.

Choki Dhani..


By 7.30 PM, we reached Choki Dhani, a place that represents a Rajasathani village with all its cultural and traditional offerings.

This place can only be felt and cannot be explained. No place in India beats this place in food and fun.

We had camel ride, chukkad tea and typical rajasthani food (dal bati, gattay ki sabzi etc, all offered with entrance ticket price). Please don’t miss this food. You'll never forget that taste and experience.
 




Next Day…

Sunday morning started with Moti Doongri temple (Lord Ganesha). We found the temple clean, quiet and soothing. We sat there for a few minutes before starting for palace museum.

While coming back we got chance to play with pigeons. The museum is wonderful and full of the history and belongings of various rulers of Jaipur till date.



En route..

We then started towards the forts. En route we stopped at Hawa Mahal and Jal Mahal.


The forts..

Rajasthan perhaps has some of the best forts in India. The best part is RTDC and the Government do take care of forts security and cleanliness.

We started with Nahargarh fort..
 



..then Jaigarh (the fort with largest cannon of the world)..



and finally the Amber fort..




...and the sheesh mahal..the best...this is inside the Amber fort and shows the real 'tashan' of the rulers of jaipur.
 


We came back to Delhi by Sunday evening remembering each moment of the fun we had. It was such a relaxing trip.

And I took revenge; and kept speaking most of the time while returning back to Delhi. Though I realized later than most of the times, she was sleeping.

I’ve decided I’ll be back soon, and this time with Kuhoo. Wait for me Rajasthan. The love has just begun..

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A trip to Yercaud..

Went to Yercaud last weekend to celebrate Kuhoo's birthday.

Found it nice. Herewith some travel tips:
  • It is only 220 KM from Bangalore. Ideal for a couple of days trip. Road (NH7) is very good. Drive yourself, it takes around 3.5 Hrs.
  • It's peaceful and yet not commercially spoilt. Try one of the hotels - Grand Palace, Sterlings, Lake Forest and Shevaroys.
  • Rose Garden and Pagoda Point are good. Killiyur (fall) is good but difficult to go with small kids. There are other places like Ladies Seat, Lake Boat etc where you can spend some time.
  • Don't buy perfumes unless you want them only as souvenirs.



All the best.
Manish

Friday, May 14, 2010

Trip to Mata Vaishno Devi Temple..

Spent last week of April and first week of May traveling to Mata Vaishno Devi Temple in Jammu.

Sharing a few pics and some information that you may like to note.
  • The Best month to go to Vaishno Devi Temple is January.
  • Don't rush - try to get a room to spend a night near the main temple 'Bhavan'. Get up early next morning and spend some time among the Trikut hills.
  • Don't climb up/ down barefoot. Take light canvas shoes.
  • Ponies can be taken to climb up but while climbing down better avoid them. Instead walk and enjoy the scenary.
  • Take Yatra Parchi in advance. You will thus avoid long queue in Katra to get the same. Yatra Parchi is available online at - https://www.maavaishnodevi.org/yatraparchi_detail1.asp
  • Paper Walnut is worth buying. Depending on season, it will cost around Rs 150-200/- per Kg. (Walnut season is September-October)



Jai Mata Di....


Sunday, May 9, 2010

A melting ice-cream..

School days..

Ms Anne normally used to wear sleeveless blouse with an almost transparent saree. For us she was like Ms Lily of the ‘Rockford’ story. She was the one we never wanted to miss the class of. She was the one who made us feel like males.

Over a few years, somehow, I developed a guilt pang. A little disturbed, I sought for penance when I finally disclosed it before my confidante, Ruma Di, who lived in my neighborhood.

She wasn’t angry or surprised. Actually she told, “It is ok. A bigger issue to most of the girls is, when one doesn’t find her attractive”.

Came college, came people more generous than Ms Anne..

I understood what are - attitude, snobbishness, insecurity, ostentation and love. I encountered some strange behaviors as well, like - act innocent, show popularity, invite and dump, etc.

I too had love stories or the stories of love. But, obviously I failed before those experts who had mastered the ‘rules of the game’ by that time.

I did learn, though slow, that:

  • You love a person if you behave in a manner that makes her/ him happy. (And that includes, sometimes, keeping yourself away if that may keep her/ him happy).
  • Don’t treat that person as a moon, mountain or rain. Express your love.

Came job, came marriage and wife..

Some constraints waived off, many more imposed.

Being with wife is like living in a mango orchard. You can have mango pudding, mango juice, mango pickle, mango ice-cream, mango shake, mango etc..but it is mango that you get ‘all the time’.

So if you want to have strawberry or litchi, and if you are imaginative enough, eat mangos imagining you are eating strawberry or litchi etc.

Came today…

I only see responsibilities and boredom accompanying it.

Today sitting at an almost lonely platform at Haldwani, with a mild sun overhead, I get a feeling of coming too far. I don’t dream anymore, I hardly get surprised over anything. Experience and so-called knowledge has made me a kind of teacher of moral science.

We have been living in a society that idolizes perfection. We recognize either Rama (the best) or Ravana (the worst). For all these years, I have carried both Rama and Ravana inside. In the fight within, I never let Rama die but could never kill Ravana either.

And then came the train…

I got into my favorite side upper berth.

I found an old lady sitting on the lower berth. I found the face familiar. I found Ms Anne.

We talked for some time. She was still so attractive, so self-assured. She told, “You have changed a lot”.

I couldn’t say anything. Indeed I had changed both externally and internally. I felt like crying before she spoke again, “Perhaps you have started expecting too much from yourself and from others. Perhaps you have set too high standards for happiness. Come out it and be happy”.

I got up when the train was coming out of a tunnel.

“…life is like an ice-cream. Enjoy it before it melts”.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Happy New Year !!

Spent last week of 2009 and first week of 2010 traveling to Munnar, Alleppy, Mahabalipuram, Pondicherry etc. Spent a lot of time introspecting and resolving my priorities. And it helped.

Sharing a few pics and some information that you may like to note.

Munnar

  • Stay in good resorts only. There are lots of good-for-nothing hotels with catchy websites.
  • Tea Gardens are best. Wake up early, walk in tea gardens and do not touch plants.
  • Beef is cooked in most of the hotels. Avoid/ be careful, if you are not too fond of beef.
  • Don’t try buying a ton of tea. It is not too different from what we get in our cities.




Alleppy

  • Water is dirty and deep. Be very careful if you are coming with a kid.
  • Boats start around 12 Noon and stop moving by 5.30 PM. After 5.30 PM, you will stay in same boat till next morning. After another hour moving on boat in the morning, you’ll have to check out.
  • There is not much price difference between AC and Non-AC boat. And AC works on batteries and is started only at night.
  • Bring your Music/ Movie CDs and DVDs. Don’t drink too much. Wake up early and have a tea/ coffee on the deck.


Mahabalipuram, Pondicherry
  • Have written already. Pondicherry is good for a weekend, not more. Try getting Park Guest House, Arvindo Ashram on Beach Road. (Tariff is Rs 600/-).
  • Visit Auroville near Pondicherry. It’s really good.
  • Mahabalipuram is good for 1 day. Come back to Chennai or Pondicherry in the night.
  • Avoid night driving in East Coast Road (ECR). It is good during the day but difficult at night because of no road dividers; and people normally drive too fast.





And I close this post with the point I have decided to follow here on:

"Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you should determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you."

Happy New Year !!