Weekly Photo Challenge: Morning

Good Morning!

Well, it only seemed fair to break my surprisingly long hiatus with a post which couldn’t be more apt. My interpretation of this week’s theme would be how a typical morning felt like in the paradise that are the Andaman Islands.

Sunrise
When you have sunrises as beautiful as this, every morning is a Good Morning!

Sunrise

And nothing makes a better morning than a dip in the ocean!
And nothing makes a better morning than a dip in the ocean!
And simply because no decent morning begins without food; in the Andamans, the breakfast was always the best part!
And simply because no decent morning begins without food; in the Andamans, the breakfast was always the best part!

Food

Even though I’ve been idle for the past few months, I’ve been trying my hand at different things! And here’s a glimpse of one such experiment. Please do watch, and please do tell me if you liked it! 😀

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The Journey Within – Srinagar-Leh Highway #wanderlust

Some journeys often come with the respite of a long awaited vacation; some take you far and wide; some change your perspective of the world around you; and some end up in increasing your social circle. But then once in a long while there comes a journey, a road, and a destination so mystical that you start questioning yourself. You start questioning your beliefs, your surroundings, your dreams, and your purpose. You tend to ask so many questions that you get lost in that magical place. And when that happens, you finally end up finding a new yourself.

Road

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Riding the Srinagar-Leh Highway is every biker’s ultimate dream. And the one thing I can guarantee you is that this road is in no way overrated. It offers all the challenges and curves needed to make the drive a mesmerising journey. Thousands of adrenaline junkies and routine travellers take this route every summer to reach the city in clouds, Leh. The journey starts from Srinagar, the summer capital of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, India. One can rent bikes, Enfields, and SUVs from Srinagar itself.

The journey begins at the Lake City of Srinagar
The journey begins at the Lake City of Srinagar

We kicked off our journey in Srinagar with damp clothes and hopeful spirits. Rain accompanied us all the way to Sonmarg, a green little hill town which marks the end of the cheerfulness of Kashmir, and the start of the barrenness of Ladhak. The two hour journey was highlighted by a cattle caused traffic jam, which kept us waiting for about a half an hour. We called it a day at Sonmarg, as the road ahead was snowed, and our clothes still moist. Though we weren’t able to explore this shepherd country to its fullest, we sure did enjoy the magnificent views of the Himalayas.

The Shepard Country
The Shepherd Country

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This is where the interesting part begins. As you begin to leave Sonmarg, the surroundings change drastically. As eerily and nimbly as a teenager on seeing his mother. As we took the road to Leh, we were greeted by thick pale mist. It must have been around five minutes of zero visibility when poof! The lush green mountains had completely converted into huge chunks of black mass. It was as if an innocent child had been brainwashed into believing that his dreams were unattainable and taboo. Oh but little does the heart care about puny little things such as the brain; and there still were some patches of a little green here, and a little yellow there.

With absolute zero visibility, this is the most dangerous stretch of the road
With absolute zero visibility, this is the most dangerous stretch of the road

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The black, gloomy stretch of the highway is known as the Zojila Pass, also the ‘the worst road in the world’ or more musically, ‘the highway to hell’. For one thing, it lives up to its name honestly. It is one of those areas of the journey where you need find out why this road is not specifically for the faint hearted. At such high altitude, with immensely chilly winds gushing through your face, rendering the cheeks frozen and pink; with a cliff on one side and a hoard of cars following you like the little lamb following Mary. And don’t forget the part where you’re passing through a gate of unsteady snow, and the vendors stop you in between selling you overpriced tea, and artificial oxygen in the form of chips packets. Simply amazing.

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*Highway to Hell plays in the background*
*Highway to Hell plays in the background*

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Then it happens again. In just a poof, the black in covered in a white mist, and beyond that lay the brown, barren mountains of Ladhak. This whole journey is simply a treat to the eyes. I was just awed by this raw, sullen beauty. It’s as if the mountains are speaking to you; calling out for you. Oh and when the mountains call, you’d be a fool to not listen.

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The road then subtly leads to the Muslim-dominated city of Kargil, passing through some major landmarks such as the Drass Valley, and the Kargil War Memorial. We stopped for the night in Kargil. This yellow valley is always bustling with bikers and mechanics alike. This is the most popular stop over destination while travelling from Srinagar to Leh, and lives up to the name of a busy town.

The Drass Valley
The Drass Valley
Gryffindor muffler! I know right! :D
Gryffindor muffler! I know right! 😀
Kargil War Memorial
Kargil War Memorial

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Kargil City
Kargil City

Next morning we made the final run on the stretch to reach Leh, the capital of Ladhak district. The road follows the trail of the Indus River and the rocks often spot a mixture of various colours. You have mountains hued with red, green, blue, and brown. All of this just adds to the serenity and mystique of the place. Once you leave Kargil, the air becomes more and more calm. It’s as if Buddha Himself resides in this part of the country. The road passes through some of the oldest and some of the newest monasteries. It winds through villages where Muslim, Buddhist, and Hindu kids go to school hand in hand. It curves through some of the most surreal and unfathomable landscapes.

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You won’t ever feel that the road is affecting you in any way. That’s the beauty of it. Everything just slowly creeps inside you. It crawls inside your skin, swims in your bloodstream, punctures your heart, and finds a place inside your soul. As the air gets thinner, the questions get deeper. And by the time you reach Leh, the tiny speck of white and green from the hill above, looks nothing short of an oasis in an everlasting desert. And it’s when you reach the city that you realise the essence of it all.

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Moonlike landscape
Moonlike landscape

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This highway is a journey into your heart. It begins with a bright lush green outer shell, ever-smiling; then it moves into black part, where all the dark stuff hides; and finally it breaks through the last layer, barren, cold, harsh, yet truthful and innocent to the very last drop.

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Some journeys take you outwards; some journeys take you upwards; some journeys take you downwards; but this one takes you inwards. And at the end of it I’m pretty sure you’d step out of the car doing either of the two things; believing in yourself, or questioning yourself.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Careful

Be careful what you wish for, they said; because you might just get it, they said. Oh, but did they know that I have my heart set upon an adventure yet to come; and for that dream turn true would be my greatest treasure to ever become.

The Highway To Hell; seriously, you better put your seatbelts on, 'cause this is gonna be one hella ride!
The Highway To Hell; seriously, you better put your seatbelts on, ’cause this is gonna be one hella ride! 😉
Being a snake charmer ain't no easy job, bruh.
Being a snake charmer ain’t no easy job, bruh.
Traffic jam on the highest motor-able road in the world. Plus the snowfall. *be careful what you wish for*
Traffic jam on the highest motor-able road in the world. Plus the snowfall. *be careful what you wish for*
“Oi, careful there! You gotta get my whiskers right. Okay?!”
*I'm on my highway to hell*
*I’m on my highway to hell*

The Liebster Award

Long time no see, eh? Well, all I can say is that class 11th got me like ‘what?!’  Completely unarmed. It hit me like a wrecking ball; yeah I closed my eyes and swung; left me crashing in a blazing fall; all it ever did was wre-e-eck me. Oh yes, it has left me quoting Miley Cyrus, which ain’t good. Explaining my plight again would be like trying to save a relationship that was never worth more than two potatoes and a pea. So here’s something we all love, awards! Yay! 😀

Okay, right. I was nominated for the award by Suyash and Saya. Be sure to check their blogs out first though. Both of them are amazing people. Drop by Suyash’s blog for some mind-blowing photography and travel stories, and have a peek into Saya’s blog for some awesome poetry and her lovely attitude. 😀

The Liebster Award

LiebsterBelow are few rules for accepting the Liebster Award

  1. Post the award on your blog.
  2. Thank the fellow blogger who presented this award and link back to their blog.
  3. Write 8 random facts about yourself.
  4. Nominate 8 bloggers who you feel deserve this award and who have less than 200 WordPress followers.
  5. Answer the questions posted by the presenter and ask your nominees 8 questions.

Well, since both of them had a different set of rules for the award (regarding the number), therefore I’ve decided to take the average and let the number be 8 instead of 11, and 5.

Eight Other Facts About Me

  • I recently watched the movie Little Miss Sunshine. It’s a lovely movie and I definitely recommend it. It is the one movie which can make you cry like a mother and laugh like a monkey all within a span of just ten minutes! Well, here a small quote from the movie which keeps me going just about for now.

Dwayne: I wish I could just sleep until I was eighteen and skip all this crap-high school and everything-just skip it.

Frank: Do you know who Marcel Proust is?

Dwayne: He’s the guy you teach.

Frank: Yeah. French writer. Total loser. Never had a real job. Unrequited love affairs. Gay. Spent 20 years writing a book almost no one reads. But he’s also probably the greatest writer since Shakespeare. Anyway, he uh… he gets down to the end of his life, and he looks back and decides that all those years he suffered, Those were the best years of his life, ’cause they made him who he was. All those years he was happy? You know, total waste. Didn’t learn a thing. So, if you sleep until you’re 18… Ah, think of the suffering you’re gonna miss. I mean high school? High school-those are your prime suffering years. You don’t get better suffering than that.

  • I’ve just found out that my favourite band is Switchfoot; and the favourite genre Alternative Rock, very closely followed by Indie Folk. Oh god, Fall Out Boy, Panic! At The Disco, Poets Of The Fall, and My Chemical Romance. These people are just out of this world amazing!
  • I hate people who act/are too cool to handle. I know, hate’s a strong word, and also that I should probably not put labels but… They just make me feel like it sucks to be the ugly quiet rude sarcastic emotionally unstable friend with the attention span of a goldfish. (In case you were wondering, this was from a tumblr post; I could never describe myself so accurately! This is gold.) Because in reality, it’s really cool to be such a kind of person…isn’t it? Ah, I guess I’m having an identity crisis here *somebody help me out ya*
  • After my exams, I attended a Model United Nations conference, organised by my school; not as a delegate but as an International Press Photographer. And oh boy, those were three days of ultimate awesomeness. Cheer up, post coming soon!! =D
  • I attended the National Book Fair organised in my city a few days back, and I think I may have have a tad too many books. Because my mother told me that the last time I bought the same amount of school textbooks was…never. And that speaks a lot. (because school books are always bought by the kilo ;_; )
  • I’ve never attended any music concert and I’m pretty much dying to at least have a glimpse of one. Somebody please just give me a lift to the next Reading Festival! Like send me a spare aircraft or spaceship or something.
  • I get periods of madness when I’m unbearably addicted to something. Like once I got a bout of petting, wherein I researched all about my dog, fishes, and turtles. I used to never get off the internet, and whenever I did, it would to be try a new method of petting suggested by the divine.
  • Bow ties are cool. *leaves to put on his bow-tie and binge watch Doctor Who*

The Questions Asked

Suyash

1. Where was your most memorable trip / vacation?

I’d say, the trip to Kerala, India, which I went for about six years back. It was one of those trips which got me addicted to travelling like my parents. It was also the first time I had travelled by an air-plane. And it was also the first time I had got lost myself in an unknown place. Quite literally. Oh well, you can’t blame those lush green coconut forests to not enchant a timid boy.

2. Which is the book that you read, inspired you the most?

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.

3. What is your favourite pastime / activity when you are alone?

Reading/ listening to music/ binge watching television serials.

4. What would you like to do if you win a million dollar in a blogging / photography or any contest?

I guess what anyone else would do; start checking out boxes from that long forgotten bucket list. At least now you have a reason to follow your dreams, right?

5. What is your favourite food / dish?

Eh…I can’t pin point on one! I almost love everything food! 😀 But if it needs to be done, then it’s going to be the gatte ki sabzi made by my mother.

6. Which is your favourite city that you have travelled to or wish to travel in future?

Might be a bit clichéd but it’s got to be New York! ❤

Just look at it! Concrete jungle <3
Just look at it! Concrete jungle ❤

7. Which is your favourite horror movie?

I’m not much into horror movies, but I’d still say The Shining.

8. Who is your favourite personality / character from the history of the world?

Maharaja Jai Singh. This guy had the swag.

9. Which invention / discovery do you think changed the face of the world?

I believe it’d be the camera. Imagine the world without a camera…ugh.

10. What / who would you like to be born as, in your next birth (reincarnation)?

A dog, for sure. For I would love to be the source of happiness in any person’s life, for once.

11. Which is the best photo shot by you so far?

Ideally, this oughta be answered by ‘the one I haven’t shot yet’. But whatever.

What do you think?
What do you think?

Saya

1. Name a moment till now which has brought on tears of sadness or gratitude or happiness etc.

Tears of sadness would be when the two of my best friends left Lucknow, and moved to different cities. This happened at the end of class 10th, and is by far the most soul-crushing thing to ever happen to me. Both of them were like family and now they’re just as distant as the sun.

2. Have you felt an incomplete feeling as to what you are doing is not enough? If yes, what did you do?

Um, I’m feeling it right now. I think I need to study more hard since 11th is not exactly how I had thought it would be.

3. Have you ever had a chance to rectify a wrong decision on your part? 

I guess I’ll pass on this one. (Too Young To Answer)? maybe.

4. Have you ever done a crazy thing while in public? If yes, what and what was other people’s reaction?

Oh yes! Have I ever written about the time when I, my sister, and my mother stole a packet of spices because the shopkeeper was busy attending to other customers, and ignoring us from the corner of his eye? Nope?! Well then, this deserves a full post 😉

5. Have you ever been at cross roads in life where choosing any option over other was equally painful? If yes, what did you do?

Ah, well, yes. It would be my decision of studying in a university abroad than studying in India. Well, if I choose to study abroad then I would have to leave my home, family, and dog, and move into a completely strange place. Whereas if I stay in India, then I don’t think my frequencies would ever be able to match with that of the Indian Education System.

Hmm, so that’s that. Moving on.

The Questions To Be Answered

 Q1) What is the one thing that you’ve learnt from blogging up till now?

Q2) Name a fandom which you’re a part of. Also state the reason why.

Q3) What is the one advice you’ll give to a sixteen year old?

Q4) Are you satisfied with the current world order? If not, what is the first thing you’ll change if given the power?

Q5) If given a chance, what is the one thing that you’ll go back in time for, to change in your life?

Q6) Choose one; choose wisely: an all night party with your favourite music band or a long chat with your favourite author.

Q7) What came first: coffee or hot chocolate?

Q8) If given a chance, which fictional character would you like to go an a date with?

The Nominations

Udayology

confusedandcrazilycurious

The Blog Of Karthi 🙂

A Hysterical Selcouth

Russell J Fellows

icecoffeecouture

Finally Florida

Life Of Srish

Phew! Hopefully, this is long enough for an apology letter. And hopefully, I won’t take such long siestas from my blog. =)

Pahalgam – Kashmir #Wanderlust

“There are two things in this world that can never be predicted; one is the Himalayan weather and the other, Bombay’s fashion” joked my taxi driver, Mohammed Rafiq, as the dark clouds suddenly gave way to let the warmth of the sun reach me yet again, only to last for a short spell of time. The journey from Srinagar to Pahalgam had consisted of unstoppable rains, a cattle-caused traffic jam and warm, saffron-rich Kashmiri-tea. The road that leads to Pahalgam is dotted with apple orchards, and after a while, it runs along with the local Lidder River. The scenery of the valley is impeccable with its dark pine trees and the snow-fed river.

Apple Orchards
Apple Orchards
The Lidder River
The Lidder River

Pahalgam

Pahalgam is made up of two words, ‘pahal’, meaning shepherd and ‘gam’, translating into village. And it so certainly is. Over the last few years, this quiet shepherd’s valley has turned into a bustling spot for tourists and hikers alike. Its lively market and trout-filled river are quite a popular attraction among the travellers; moreover, the valley offers some of the best trekking routes in India.

Pahalgam

One such trekking/pony-riding route leads to Mini Switzerland. Yes, a stunning meadow, with tall mysterious pines surrounding it, on the backdrop of the majestic Himalayas. This gem, locally known as Baisaran, is the perfect retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city. Though most people tend to use ponies to reach here, I chose to trek, along with my family. And the one thing that I can guarantee you is it was the best part of the whole trip.

Mini Switzerland
Mini Switzerland

I started at six I the morning, as the ponies start crowding the place ten onwards. I didn’t have any guide with me, when I started, so all I did was follow the footsteps of the ponies, literally. But after a while, nine year olds, Ali and Imtiaz, became the self-appointed guides of my group. Those cherry-cheeked kids most skillfully leaded the group to its destination, through the very dark and lovely path, guiding us through the short-cuts, rabbits and dogs disguised as bears. Even though Baisaran may have been the destination for us, the most gorgeous part was the journey. Oh those dark pines, and deep forests; those ever-joyous kids, and massively black horses; and certainly that pittery-patter of rain drops on my wind-cheater as I walked into that beautiful mass of green as it gave out some of the best breeze I’ve ever felt… just divine.

Pahalgam

Pahalgam
Ali and Imtiaz
Pahalgam
The dog, we misunderstood to be a bear, from a distance… :p

Pahalgam

Pahalgam

A few kilometers from Pahalgam, lays the Aru Valley, a summer home for the nomadic shepherds who are the heart of this valley. One can either hike or hire a taxi to Aru, but the hike is no less than a few hours. Prepaid taxis from the Taxi Union in the city, covers Aru along with Betaab Valley and Chandanwari in their package. We opted for that particular one, as mostly everyone was tired from the four hour hike from the morning. The ride to Aru is so scenic that I almost never got my hands off the camera. The Lidder River runs almost throughout the journey, as it cuts between two snow-tipped mountains. Aru itself is equally beautiful with the cold breeze and a perfect view of the Himalayas. A good book and Kashmiri-tea, is all you need if you’re travelling to Aru!

En-route to Aru
En-route to Aru

Pahalgam

Pahalgam

Pahalgam

The Betaab Valley is basically named after a Bollywood movie shot there but that doesn’t take away the beauty of that place (though it adds to the overflow of tourists there). Chandanwari, on the other hand, is a glacier and is packed with humans and mountain goats alike. If you’ve already had your fill with snow, then you can easily skip this point. (Although the Maggi there is to die for!)

Betaab Valley
Betaab Valley

Pahalgam

Chandanwari
Chandanwari
My first with the moon! :D
My first with the moon! 😀

Basically Pahalgam is the height of natural beauty in Kashmir, and an absolute feast for your eyes. It’s that cute kid who never lost his innocence and is still a star amongst his relatives. I felt the most relaxed, and rejuvenated here in Pahalgam. The slow churning of the trout filled Lidder, the zephyr caressing your face, and a nice little spot under a pine tree, over the soft cushion of dried pine leaves…oh tell me how can life get any better here?! 😀

Srinagar – Kashmir #Wanderlust

“When I was your age son, the water in the lake used to so clean that you could drink it” said an elderly Nishat Ahmed, who was sitting by the Dal Lake, teaching me the very basics of fishing. “And the lake was filled with fishes as huge as this.”

“This big?! Wow!”

“Yes dear. This big” he said, keeping his hands apart so that a baby dolphin could easily fit in them. And I listened to him for the whole evening, with an expression of awe on my face.

Though I failed to catch a fish that day, I pretty much learned a lot about Srinagar and its history. I learnt that once upon a time, the whole Srinagar valley was filled with water but slowly the water receded to what is the Dal Lake nowadays. I learnt about the remarkable cuisine and culture of Kashmir and how the locals sun-dry and store food for the winters. And also that fishing is a pretty addictive sport, once it grips you, there’s no turning back!

Srinagar

Srinagar, the summer capital of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, is a gorgeous valley city, bestowed with a gigantic water body. The Dal Lake, situated right in the heart of the city is rather the soul of the valley. The whole city is situated around the lake, and half of it even on the lake! Oh yes, the Dal Lake also homes the innumerable stationary houseboats, for the city is famous. These houseboats are basically floating hotels with 2-5 rooms each. Even some locals use them as their permanent homes. They come with a dining room, a sitting room, balcony, terrace and a kitchen. The one in which I stayed was anchored in the Nageen Lake, the west portion of the Dal Lake, and came with its own chef. And on the upside, it even had a mini library!

Nageen Lake
Nageen Lake
Srinagar

Srinagar

Srinagar

The Nageen Lake is much quieter and cleaner than the Dal Lake and the view offered, so much better.  The Hari Parbat fort overlooks the Nageen and turns into a beautiful spectacle in the night. Even the snow clad mountains of Gulmarg could be seen from the roof of my houseboat, being reflected in the deep blue waters of the lake. Now, one of the best benefits of living in a houseboat was that I didn’t need to go to the market; the shops always came to me! Right from six in the morning, shikaras (traditional boats) started lining up outside my balcony and shopkeepers started showing their wares. Florists and jewelers and local shawl sellers and what not! Though their rates were slightly higher than those of the shops in the market, I couldn’t resist making a deal with the florist.

Srinagar

Srinagar

Srinagar

Srinagar

Srinagar

It would not be entirely correct to give all the credit to Dal Lake for making Srinagar famous. The city’s other main attraction is the large number of incredibly crafted and designed gardens, most of which overlook the lake, giving a beautiful contrast between the green and the blue. And they are spread all over the city; in some of the most unheard and beautiful corners of Srinagar, I had found gardens blooming with some of the loveliest flowers and birdlife I had ever seen. Though I visited almost all the major gardens, I did not get the opportunity to go to the Tulip Garden, as it was off-season. Nevertheless, I was able to cherish the a walk in the Nishat Gardens, breathe in the cool air under a Chinar tree, enjoy the panoramic view of the city from Pari Mahal and dip in my feet in the ice cold water of Harwan Gardens.

Srinagar

Srinagar

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Srinagar

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Srinagar

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Srinagar

Srinagar

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Srinagar

If you’re in Srinagar then you can’t afford to miss two things: a shikara ride in the Dal Lake and a visit to the Shankaracharya Hill Temple. The temple is situated in one of the highest hills surrounding the lake and gives a mind-blowing 360 degree view of the valley. It’s only once I got to the top of the temple that I understood how vast the city actually was; the view offered shot back the massive expanse of the lake to the red-roofed houses that marked the end of the city and beginning of paddy fields. To reach the temple though, I had to climb a total of 275 steps and had to leave my camera and cell phone behind, as the temple is maintained by the army. But in the end, the mesmerizing view was worth all the pain.

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Tell me if this doesn't look like Rio! ;)
Tell me if this doesn’t look like Rio! 😉

The Shankaracharya Hill
The Shankaracharya Hill
Having safely left the temple at 17:30, its closing time, I went for a shikara ride in the Dal. And suddenly, as I descended the hill, it started to drizzle, which make boating in the Dal even more fun. Refreshing drops of water fell on my face as I waded through the now darkish waters of the Dal. With almost every floating shop targeting my shikara, I made it to a small café situated right in the middle of the Dal! Having taken a kahwa, traditional saffron tea, I took off again to complete a round around the Dal. My shikara rower said that much of the lake’s attractions had been damaged by the floods of 2014. The floating vegetable market had been destroyed, many fishes and flowers had been killed and even some wooden bridges over the Jhelum had vanished. He added that had I come to visit a few years back, I would have found the lake filled with lotuses, pink and white all over.

Srinagar

Srinagar

Srinagar

Srinagar

Srinagar

Srinagar

What followed was some shopping at the Boulevard and yet another round of it at the Residency Road. The best part of it were the cherries; sweet, juicy, wonderful deliciousness right in the middle of off season winter! Well, finally I reached my last destination, the Jamia Masjid, at nine in the evening. The mosque is famous for its architecture and history. As it goes, it had been burnt down thrice, and rebuilt every time with increased grandeur. It was last rebuilt by Aurangzeb in 1674, and still stands with its splendid construction and chinars.

Srinagar

Srinagar

Srinagar

The Hari Parbat Fort at night
The Hari Parbat Fort at night
The one thing that I realised from visiting Srinagar is that no matter where you go or whom you meet, people will treat you the way you treat them. Respect will give way to respect; and understanding to understanding. Though Kashmir has been an unstable and insecure for decades now, I don’t feel the people bare any hatred. And though there are areas in here where one should never go unprotected, I firmly believe that if you pass a stranger a smile, he will return it back. And I feel this is why Kashmir is known as paradise.

Gulmarg – Kashmir #Wanderlust

Lush green fields buzzing in the afternoon sun with people and ponies alike, on the backdrop of an animated panorama of the Himalayas, is what greeted me when I made my way through the deodar-rich forest into this skier’s paradise. Gulmarg is a hill-station about 50 kilometers East of Srinagar, the summer capital of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The only way to reach the town is by road with local taxis and buses available almost every day.

The road that winds into Gulmarg
The road that winds into Gulmarg

Kashmir has often been given the term ‘Paradise on Earth’. It has been even stated that Jahangir loved Kashmir so much that he visited this heaven thirteen times in his whole lifetime! But what I gathered from a first look was that this swarg had been commercialised way beyond imagination after Jahangir last saw it. The road which led to the rolling hills of Gulmarg was etched with shops boasting of all kinds of imported wares and modern entities. Halfway through the journey and it felt as though I had never stepped out of Srinagar, with her paddy fields and red-roofed houses following me all along. But just as I thought that the whole Kashmir was one enormous city, the surroundings changed so suddenly and dramatically that it took me a while to register the change. Everything seemed to have happened at once; the flat road gave way to hair-pin bends; the plains turned into beautifully symmetrical hills flooding with deodar, and the majestic mountains of Gulmarg became so vivid that it felt as though the Himalayas had taken off their Invisibility Cloak. Round and round the road winded into a lovely forest of deodar and pine trees, and within a few minutes the white-mountains stood straight ahead of where the rolling hills died out, kissing their almighty feet. It was truly a sight which produced much ‘Oohs’ and Ahhs’.

Gulmarg

Gulmarg

 

After checking into the hotel, the first thing that I did was to go for a walk in this dreamy environment. But as soon as I stepped out, a hoard of pony walas surrounded me and started pestering me to take an overpriced pony ride into the market. A word of advice, don’t fall for the sweet talk that they try to lure you with. There is this union in Gulmarg that does not allow your taxi to transport you within the city; it’s either the pony or your feet that will save you in this city and I highly vouch for the feet. The distances are so small that a walk to the local market will be rather energising than draining. A walk to the market will also cover the local points of interest, like the St Mary’s Church and Ziarat of Baba Reshi, though be careful of waste produced by all those ponies and mules.

A shepherd in Gulmarg
A shepherd in Gulmarg
Maggi with a view! :D
Maggi in the hills! 😀

Well, the walk was the best part of the day, except the fact that Gulmarg has been exploited way more than it can sustain. Pollution ruins the magic of the whole city, like blots of ink on a Picasso. The business minded people lure the tourists into buying overpriced and fake products while the pony-wallas poke around all the time. Well, Gulmarg is a really gorgeous place sans the evident damage that has been caused to it.

The effect of widespread commercialisation in Kashmir
The effect of widespread commercialisation in Kashmir

Gulmarg

The next day, I went for the most famous Gondola ride; and boy it was one hell of an experience. The morning was calm and sunny as ever before, but as I started to make my way towards the base station, it started to rain. Pour rather! It was the most ominous rain that I had ever witnessed; thunder and lightning struck as if Thor had just visited earth. Sheltering myself with my gloves, I managed it to the queue for the Gondola.

Now, the Gondola consists of two phases. The first one takes you to Kungdoor, and costs Rs 600. And the Phase 2 ride takes you to the Aparwath (13,500 ft) and costs Rs 800. Kungdoor, or Phase 1, is similar to the base level; lush green fields with deodar tress abruptly rising to increase the beauty tenfold. Perfect place for a trek into the wood. And to my surprise, the place was absolutely clean! But still, that isn’t what most people come for. The destination laid another gondola ride away.

Phase 1
Phase 1
The Gulmarg Gondola
The Gulmarg Gondola

After what felt like a lifetime of standing in the queue, I finally stepped into the world’s highest cable car. Oh the view was breathtaking! Deep green trees slowly being consumed by pure white snow; enveloped by the vastness of the white. And then there was the mist, which seemed to have given away the fact that it was actually snowing here! With every tower that the Gondola passed, the view became purer and purer still. It was about time when the cable car came to a halt, and I stepped out into a view that was unmistakably crowded. There were people and snow everywhere. As far as the eyes could see, dirty and slippery ice with fresh snow falling from the white above. After a satisfying glance, I ascended the mountain, covered in what felt like pearls which were spread all over my extremely overprotected winter clothing. After a small climb, I took a ski ride to a point from which you could see the country of Pakistan. From there I ascended the mountain again to a place where the snow was comparatively less dirty and less crowded. Honestly, it was here that the mountain was the harshest; my feet went numb, too frozen to feel, and the hands were barely kept alive by those clumsy over-sized gloves. But the face was the worst affected of all; chilly winds lashed the cheeks with much force that it felt prickly all over. Oh but it was beautiful. Plain lovely! The sight was well worth the cold and the experience worth spending the rest few hours trying to get your feet back from death. Snowball fights, endless array of photographs and a ski-race is how the Gondola trip ended for me. Well worth everything in the world.

Phase 2
Phase 2

As the cable car took me back to the base, the snowfall turned into a hailstorm. I took off my boots as I ran towards my car in the storm, only to reach all soaked up and white. Well, I left the city with enough rain and lightning to leave an impression, warm and peaceful enough, to last for a lifetime…

There was snow, there was snow; stretched for miles and more...
There was snow, there was snow; stretched for miles and more…

Things To Keep in Mind If You’re Travelling To Gulmarg

  • The Gondola is closed on 1st and 3rd Monday of the month for maintenance issues. And whenever the weather is stormy at Phase 2. If you’ve already booked your tickets, they’ll be refunded. Tickets can be booked here.
  • Don’t go for a pony ride. It’s a complete waste of time and money. If you want to have the experience for once, then go for a ride in Pahalgam but not here.
  • Bargain hard. Most of the stuff sold here is either fake or extremely overpriced, owing to the high influx of tourists. So it’s better to refrain from buying any type of clothing from here.
  • If you’re going to Phase 2 Gondola, then definitely remember to carry your own warm clothes, jackets, woolen caps and mufflers. Though there are shops which give such clothes and boots for hire, but they are generally overpriced. I struck a deal of Rs 200 for an overcoat and a pair of boots.
  • The best time to visit is the winter season when the whole town is covered in snow and it sports the ideal condition for skiing and ice hockey.
  • Please don’t pollute the area and do your bit by being responsible for your own waste.
  • Don’t forget to have loads of fun and whatever happens, go for the Phase 2 of Gondola! 😀

The One With Owls and Potions

Well, well, well. A month of inactivity and all that it has led to is the whole Maggi fiasco! What is it with all you Maggi haters?! Let me tell you guys this, I’ll never stop having my favourite 2-minute noodles until I’m 80 and maybe beyond that!

Right, so having registered the most important part of this post, let’s move on to other things. I left off saying that my results were due in a few days’ time, and so they were. They came out on 18th and guess what?! I got EIGHT OUTSTANDING O.W.L.s!!!!!!!! (Yaay!) 😀  And two Exceeded Expectations… Potions, you see! I was never good at Chemistry… 😦 But I guess I can still be an Auror! 😀

#Potter references; Muggles won’t understand

Non-wizardly speaking, I got a fairly nice percentage of around 95% with socially acceptable marks in almost all subjects. (except Chemistry! Agh!) So yeah, everyone was happy-happy at the moment and materialistically speaking such occasions are the perfect times for quietly adding a few extra items to your gift list. 😉

Karim's! Party party! :D
Karim’s! Party party! 😀

What followed was a boring 6 hour ceremony at my school and a month full of travelling! Yeah, I’ve been travelling ever since my result came out, and landed in Lucknow only on Saturday. And boy was this last month not the most legen-wait for it-dary month of my life! B)

Connaught Place
Connaught Place

The first ten days were spent in Delhi, meeting relatives and all the party you see, and then for the rest fifteen days, KASHMIR and LADHAK! ❤ Ladhak, I feel that I’ve left my heart there… That place is honestly the epitome of all beauty that nature and God together could have managed… Just heartwarmingly beautiful. I don’t understand how He could have stuffed so much love in such a small place. Truthfully speaking, neither words, nor pictures can capture the magnificence of Ladhak, you just got to visit and see for yourself…

<3

That’s it for now but don’t be gone already! I’ll pester you soon enough with my day-wise posts/travelogue-ish entries on my travels to Kashmir and Leh-ladhak! 😀

Very Inspiring Blogger Award

You see, there comes a point in your life when you’re sitting glued to a PSP screen, mindlessly blowing up police cars with a bazooka while standing  atop a taxi cab; and then you have this revelation, ‘What on earth am I doing with my life?!’ Well, I had one of these intense moments of self-loathing while wasting my holidays on GTA and large servings of high-lactose ice cream. Oh! Good old GTA teaches you so many things, besides driving.  Ah well, the only sensible thing that I could think of doing, next to try and apply for Hogwarts, was to write this post.

So first things first; I’m so terribly sorry for procrastinating this one for around a year (right!). Well, instead of blaming it on the schoolwork and the exams, I’ll just say better late than never.. 🙂 Last summer, I was nominated for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award (Yay! My very first award!! 😀 ), by these two incredible bloggers,

Steph

Barbie Beaton

Do check their blog out for they have some seriously awesome content! Aaand and and, I want to thank you both for putting up with me for this long… : )

Right, so let’s get down to the award:

VeryInspiringBlogAward

Here are the Rules (or basically, the stuff that you’re going to copy/paste)

  • Thank and link the amazing person who nominated you.
  • List the rules and display the award.
  • Share seven facts about yourself.
  • Nominate 15 other amazing blogs and comment on their posts to let them know they have been nominated.
  • Optional: Proudly display the award logo on your blog and follow the blogger who nominated  you

Seven Facts About Me

  1. For starters, I procrastinate way more than I should. (No shit about that one!)
  2. I’m extremely lazy. So lazy, that it’ll scare you off. The weird thing is, I’m the only person in the family who’s this dead lazy. For instance, take Sundays; my parents wake up at seven and start doing the chores, cleaning the fish tanks, decontaminating the house and what not! Whereas I wake up at nine and go about whining, ‘It’s Sunday for heaven’s sake! Why does no one in this house like to take a break for a day?!’ Um…yeah.
  3. I gave my Boards exam for class 10th two months back, and the Council just announced that the results will be declared on 18th May; thus with everyone around me talking about the result all the time, I’m quite frustrated and seriously scared! Well, it’s quite a though time for everyone in their tenth year, here.
  4. I’ve spent my entire session break aimlessly listening to Arctic Monkeys, and buying way too many books than this devious time will allow me to read.
  5. Umm well, I love playing football! *

*but only with a group of intimately close friends (because I don’t want the world to know how much I suck at it…) You see, I’m more of a tennis and badminton guy… : )

  1. I no good at convos. Well, I’m no good at comments either, now am I? Every time I read a post, I feel like commenting, but then there is this voice, somewhere you don’t really care about, which says that I’m just going to creep them out. And I don’t disagree. It has always been my fear; talking to people and then realizing that they don’t like you. It’s like a door slamming shut in your face. Therefore, I comment as less as possible and try not to be a creep. And I get extremely nervous when someone comments on my post; oh I love comments (no shit; who doesn’t) but it just gets difficult to talk to a person and not to creep them out. Well, let’s just end this point before it gets even creepier…
  2. I recently made a few changes to the soft-board at my study table. During the exam period, it was crowded with motivational quotes, exam schedule and my time-table, now I’ve put this huge map of India and pinned all the placed that I’ve travelled to. Have a look…
I've covered a bit of South, the West Coast and a huge chunk of the Himalayas... But just look at all that that is still left!! Woah, I would need another life to completely travel India alone.. :P
I’ve covered a bit of South, the West Coast and a huge chunk of the Himalayas… But just look at all that that is still left!! Woah, I would need another life to completely travel India alone.. 😛

The Nominees

Now, I just want to thank all the people who’ve been stuck with since I started this blog, last summer. Thank you so much! *HUGS if that was you* And a huge shout out to all the friends that I’ve made so far… =)

Travellerstree

52 Books

Small Town Girls Midnight Trains

Explore Newness

Wandering Story Teller

Browsing The Atlas

Suyash Chopra

A New Life Wandering

Udayology

I Prefer Deep Blues and Sea Foam Greens

Random Musings

Saya D Poet

Places People Stories

Art-Colored Glasses

Mark ND Photography

P.S. – In the process of this post I’ve found out that there are many bloggers, whom I wanted to nominate but they had made their blogs award free; and now I’ve understood why they did so. Well played guys, well played. 😉

Old But Gold – Day 20 #writing101

Today’s Prompt: Tell us the story of your most-prized possession.

Today’s Twist: We extolled the virtues of brevity back on day five, but now, let’s jump to the other side of the spectrum and turn to longform writing.

My most prized possession eh? Let me see…the book signed by Ruskin Bond…nah, my Bluetooth speaker…nope, my coin collection! …nada. Oh! Then it must be my life sized Stormtrooper statue!! (Waaait a minute…do I even have one?)

Though I love all that stuff, none of it can be branded as my most prized possession. In fact, I don’t even know if I can award this term to any of my possessions, because you see, I’m emotionally attached to a lot of junk that I collect.  But there is this one thing that I believe, has a somewhat greater value than the other stuff. Prepare to be surprised because it’s a Floppy-Disk Box.

Yup, a dull black, repulsively formal looking, and too-damn-hard-to-open floppy box. It’s a perfectly edged cuboid, which looks like a tiffin-box-gone-wrong, from a distance. To open the box up, you need to push its one side, and open the lid, which works exactly like a hoodie. The box’s utter blackness makes it difficult to locate the side which has to be pushed, thus causing a few cuts, while opening it. After you manage to open it, which may take a couple of minutes, you’ll find exactly six floppies inside it, still, jet black in colour. And…um..well, that’s it.

Well, to be frank, I have not the slightest idea of how this box came into my possession, nor do I have a clue of how long this has been in my evil clutches. *cold laugh* But the one thing that I can explain is why I love it so much.

It all started when one fine day, my piggy bank reached its water mark. Now, naturally, a normal person would break this treasure chest, use the money and buy a new money bank. But no! How could I have done that?! So, I started looking for a new place to store my money, which would also make it possible to use the money whenever possible. And then I found this. It was perfect! No one would suspect that this little piece of forgotten junk contains gold !

Now, there are only three sources from which this black box reflects a tint of silver. My birthday, any visiting relative that has been satisfied with his/her visit and the kabadiwala. Yes, the recycling-man. You see it has become somewhat of a tradition, whenever someone sells the newspapers or old books to the recycling man, the money comes to me… ;D So cool, right! =) Thus, I have the security of getting at least a hundred bucks once every two months.

Let’s just hop on to the main part of why this floppy box is so important to me. Now, once I had a thousand rupees in the box, I started to wonder how I should spend them…and well, nothing came to my mind. Absolutely nothing! I realized that everything I needed, and wanted, was already given to me by my parents, and I could think of nothing that I would buy with that money. Bummer! Then what?! I waited and waited and waited for the opportunity to arise but all in vain. Then, one fine October morning it struck me. It hit me like a walnut coming down with the acceleration of gravity! It really did hit me hard. Maybe I can buy my ma something on her birthday! That sounds about right. Or maybe I can surprise her with a present! Better still! I will surprise her with her favourite bouquet of roses, right in the morning! Nailed it!

So, on the eve of her birthday, I cycled to the nearest flower shop and booked a bouquet of red roses for the next morning. And when she finally received the flowers on her birthday, I could not differentiate what looked prettier, the scarlet red roses or the smile on her face… Best amount of money ever spent in my life! And then I did the same thing on my father’s birthday and their anniversary. Now I’ve moved on to books and movie night outs, but the aim still remains the same.

Eventually, my parents did find out about the floppy box and even figured out how to open it. Blimey! Now, even though it’s no secret anymore, everyone calls this floppy box, The Secret Money Box. Yup. Now whenever someone wants small change, or is looking for the easiest way to pay the press-waala bhaiya (Iron-Man) 😉 he knows exactly where I keep my floppy box.

But you know what, in the long run, I guess, it’s the small things that you do for each other that matter. Sure, who would not love you if you gift a Lamborghini to someone, but in the end, it’s the small things that really bring people close… : )

The Himalayan Tragedy – Day 19 #writing101

Today’s Prompt: Today is a free writing day. Write at least four-hundred words, and once you start typing, don’t stop.

Today’s Twist: No self-editing, no trash-talking, and no second guessing: just go. Bonus points if you tackle an idea you’ve been playing with but think is too silly to post about.

Okay, right. So I hope you all know about the earthquake that wrecked Nepal, a few days ago. Well, the aftershocks and tremors were felt here in Lucknow, Delhi and even Kolkata. I was in my school when the first aftershock waves hit, studying chemistry. Sitting on the second floor made the effect even worse. We were instantly evacuated from the building and sent home, with our bags still inside. The next day, same thing happened, although at that point I was in a complex. We made a run for open ground, yet again. This made the State government declare a two-day official holiday.

Nepal

Amidst all panic and fear, our normal classes resumed from yesterday. So the topic of discussion in my Wolf-Pack was naturally, the earthquake. Right, so let me give you a bit of background information. With the exception of the 1934 earthquake, there have been no major earthquakes (7.5 or above) for the past 700 years or so. Owing to this, a large amount of pressure has built up inside the earth, as it has had no vent to release the mounting energy. Thus there is a very high possibility of a super earthquake of magnitude 9.0 in the Himalayan region. To give an idea of how miserably destructive it is going to be, consider this, the intensity of an earthquake increases ten times for every whole number jump. And the force released increases by somewhat 30.5 times. It’s seriously too much.

Quake

Now there are two possibilities, either 30-60 earthquakes, similar to the one that took place in Nepal a few days back, will happen to release all the built-up pressure or a super earthquake of magnitude 9.0 (or higher). Which leads us to the discussion I had with my friends, if you were to choose a way to release all the built up pressure (because, let’s be practical, either of the two are going to happen), which one would you pray for, or in simpler words, which one of the two scenario’s is going to be the least destructive. The arguments in the favour of the 30-60 earthquakes of small magnitude said that such small earthquakes would occur in different regions of the Himalayas, and at different time-periods, thus making it not so devastating. But I’d say take into account the damage caused by this one earthquake to Nepal. The death poll may even rise to 10,000, which is a lot. Now multiply it by 60!

Nepal

The ones who were in the favour of the 9.0 superquake, said that if such an event took place then the Northern Ganga Plains would be able to absorb most of the pressure. But they did not take into account that if an earthquake of that magnitude took place, it will stretch right from Kashmir to Arunachal Pradesh, crossing Nepal, Tibet and Bangladesh. And is something that huge happened, it will almost completely shatter the Himalayas. No region would be able to survive such great power. And from what I fell, you can’t quake-proof a house to that kind of energy. And it will also deeply affect the Northern Plains, destroying many structures…

Well, I have no idea if such an event is going to take place, but if it does, it will within the next two years. Which one do you feel is less destructive, the innumerable smaller quakes or one large super quake?

Chocolate – Day 18 #writing101

Today’s Prompt: Write this story in first person, told by the twelve-year-old sitting on the stoop across the street.

Today’s twist: For those of you who want an extra challenge, think about more than simply writing in first-person point of view — build this twelve-year-old as a character. Reveal at least one personality quirk, for example, either through spoken dialogue or inner monologue.

The neighbourhood has seen better days, but Mrs. Pauley has lived there since before anyone can remember. She raised a family of six boys, who’ve all grown up and moved away. Since Mr. Pauley died three months ago, she’d had no income. She’s fallen behind in the rent. The landlord, accompanied by the police, has come to evict Mrs. Pauley from the house she’s lived in for forty years.

Oh! Poor Mrs. Pauley, I thought as I saw the sweet old lady reason with a bunch of policemen and her unethical landlord. She is a very caring human, but her landlord is not. He’s only interested in extracting the green paper out of Mrs. Pauley’s hollow figure. She’s such a nice lady yet the man troubles her so much. I remember when three months ago Mr. Pauley died. Almost everyone in the street had attended the funeral. The entire neighbourhood used to respect and admire him. Ah and he was a friendly fellow too! But after his passing, she seems to have become so thin and lean. It’s like all the marrow has been sucked out of her bones. And she’s grown so lonely too. I honestly feel bad for her. Oh I wish could do something for her, maybe save her from all this trouble. She’s been so nice to me all these years, and she always gives me the most number of candies on Halloween! Maybe I should help…but how? YES! Maybe I can ask Dad!! But…he’s out of town… OR I can ask Mom! But…I’m too scared to ask her…remember how she blurted out when I asked her if we could adopt the stray dog…No no! I’m not asking her again…. So, now what?! Let me check how much I have in my piggy bank…hm..but will it be enough to pay the rent of a two-storied, well-furnished independent house…I guess not. Oh God! Where have all the people gone who used to come stumbling down to Mr. Pauley when they needed any life-advice? Where have all those people gone who used to come begging to Mrs. Pauley when they faced a parenting crisis? Where are all those people now? Oh this world is a giddy place…when you’re all well and happy, people come flocking towards you, but no one bats an eye when they see you in your times of need… Oh I’ll just go and make some hot chocolate for Mrs. Pauley.

 

Oh, What A Life! – Day 17 #writing101

Today’s Prompt: We all have anxieties, worries, and fears. What are you scared of? Address one of your worst fears.

Today’s Twist: Write this post in a style distinct from your own.

Cockroaches! There, I said it! Phew… well, I don’t fear them as such, but I do find them filthy! Agh…the hairy legs, muddy flat body, that disgusting white ring diving the head and the abdomen, and  those two long gigantic tentacles…Ew! I feel that this hatred towards this species can be traced back to my childhood, when I was chased by a flying cockroach! No shit; It was nasty! And after that day, I was never the same again…

But there are things which I’m more afraid of than a puny cockroach (Mr. Cockroach, I mean you no disrespect, sir). The biggest of them all is disappointing my parents, and along the way, disappointing myself.

You see, I’m clumsily trudging at that point of my life where the path before me is covered in thick grey fog. So thick that even a searchlight can’t penetrate it. Its emptiness envelops me, thereby leaving me completely hopeless. It erases the barrier between cynicism and realism for me. It blurs the very road of optimism, which I used to think would lead me to a happy life.

The thing is, I have two more years of High School before me, then it’s, hopefully, a university in the States or UK. Therefore, according to the society, I must have a clear plan, or a very detailed blueprint, of my life with me. I must know the marks that I ought to be bringing in my exams, the university I’ll be getting into, the career I’ll be choosing, the company I’ll be working with and the salary I’ll be getting. But sadly, I have no damn idea of what I want to do. No clue what I want to study, where I want to study (maybe that’s a bit clear) or what I want to do with life after that.

It’s just that since I was a hairless, ever-curious child, I always wanted to do something different. Something unconventional. I did not want to end up like the herd; I wanted something more with my life. A nine to five job was the one thing that I never wanted. Even the idea of such a monotonous life made me creep out. But this is not the kind of stuff the society teaches you, right?

Society

And more than that, these are the most clichéd lines ever told in the world. Almost every adult says, ‘when I was a child of your age, I used to think that the whole world was in my pocket. But deary, when we grow up we have expectations to meet and promises to keep. I’m pretty sure one day you’ll end up slowly dying in front of computers…’ So clichéd, yet the bare truth.

Honestly speaking, nothing seems to be clear right now. After all those nights I’ve spent digging through the deepest alleys of Quora, I have found out that many people have made it large. They truly have lived their lives. They have quit their jobs, lost themselves in the coolest corners of the world only to find who they truly are. I’ve read about people stuck in the stickiest cobweb of other’s expectations, only to snap out of it and fulfill their own dreams. Sadly this does not help. I’m constantly on the curb of giving in to realism (or cynicism…I don’t know). My optimism is squished by the arguments of the society which sound surprisingly reasonable and safe! Therefore, the only thing I’m afraid of at this juncture of my life is that somehow ten years later, I’ll end up failing my younger self, who used to boast of making a difference. I don’t know what I want to do with my life. I don’t know if I will be able to walk the road not taken. I don’t know if I’ll lose the little spark of madness that is there in me.. I don’t know. I just don’t know…

One Last Time (Part Three) – Day 16 #writing101

Today’s Prompt: Imagine you had a job in which you had to sift through forgotten or lost belongings. Describe a day in which you come upon something peculiar, or tell a story about something interesting you find in a pile.

Today’s Twist: If you’d like to continue our serial challenge, also reflect on the theme of lost and found more generally in this post.

The first one in the series can be found here. The second one here, as well. And the third one here too. (You do realise that the last one will bring you here. Right? Good.

Well, I have no idea how this post adheres to today’s prompt or how this is the third installment in the serious. But since it says so in the topic, believe that it is. *smiles spookily*

To be honest, the new school experience was a bit eerie. New teachers, weird friends, boring environment and the monotonous classes, which focused only on academics. The school offered neither sport periods, nor any co-curricular activities. No competitions, whatsoever, were held. The only thing that qualified as a competition at this school was a mathematics Olympiad. It was nothing like my old school, where we had four games periods every week, and two hours of extra-curricular activity every Tuesday. Initially I hoped that someday the school will, miraculously, someday organise, or at least send us, for an inter-school quiz or something. But eventually, as the days passed, the workload grew like a bamboo and our minds dwindled from the level of our egos to the level of our IQs. Slowly, I lost all hope of shouting my voice out in a debate again, or being laughed at for giving a wrong answer in a quiz. It all became a distant memory.

Therefore, when the opportunity came, of digging through a pile of documents, containing details of some real competitions, I grabbed it instantaneously. The school had, unbelievably, decided to participate in any one inter-school competition and I, along with a prefect had to select the competition. My first thoughts were an MUN (Model United Nations), but the school said that its pattern was too tricky to follow. Okay, no problem. The next I chose was a literary competition in La Martiniere. Fortunately enough, it was accepted by the Board of Directors after scrutinizing it for endless hours. The competition spanned over three days and hosted events such as theatre, composition, photography, modeling, dance and music. Not much of a literary competition…eh? Anyways, I went for the photography one.

Well, this one got me a prize...surprisingly... :)
Well, this one got me a prize…surprisingly… 🙂

And believe it or not, but after that competition, my school started sending me out for more competitions…and MUNs too! And this year, I probably have a shot at becoming a school prefect too! =)

Anyhow, the one thing that I’ve learnt from the two years of High School spent in this alien place is that one should never lose hope. Frankly speaking, I hated my new school since the very first day. I hated how the entire school would easily fit into my previous school’s football field, still leaving space for parking! I hated how the only thing this hell focused on was academics, leaving no time for a teenager’s mind to grow or wander. I hated how everyone worked on as if they were puppets commanded by an inferior force. I hated the very fact that my classmates were more interested in what was taught inside the classroom rather than experiencing the teachings the world outside their little cocoon. What was even worse that after having been held captive by them for a few months, I was slowly turning like them. A soulless robot, who’s only aim was to follow the order and never question anything. At times, as dark as these, we usually tend to lose faith. We start believing that since our thinking is odd and unpopular, we are worthless. But only if we hold on to a single strand of hope, in such times; a weak, untrustworthy thread of faith, our lives will take a completely unexpected turn. Before this I had never participated in a photography competition, and after joining this school, I’ve won two out of the three I’ve been sent for. Before this school, I had only participated in debates, but after a few months here, I was able to be a part of the MUN workshop which was hosted by the real United Nations, in our school! And this all happened after me and a few friends constantly nagged our headmistress for sending us for more competitions. Had I given in to the system and had just gone with the flow, maybe I would have never created this blog, and would be found mugging up lessons, 24*7, without giving a damn for some real experience.

Ah! Well, MUNs.. ;)
Ah! Well, MUNs.. 😉

So I guess, not everything is worth losing yourself for.

Captain Carnival – Day 15 #writing101

Today’s Prompt: Think about an event you’ve attended and loved. Your hometown’s annual fair. That life-changing music festival. A conference that shifted your worldview. Imagine you’re told it will be cancelled forever or taken over by an evil corporate force.

Today’s Twist: While writing this post, focus again on your own voice. Pay attention to your word choice, tone, and rhythm. Read each sentence aloud multiple times, making edits as you read through. Before you hit “Publish,” read your entire piece out loud to ensure it sounds like you.

I gasped loudly as I read the dreadful words, buried deep in the Useless section of the morning daily. It had been in the news for quite a few days now. The evil Cult of the Nihilists was on the rise. They hated everything, everything. And somehow, they had managed to get a few members of the government under their control. Because of this, and the growing fear, the Cult had already banned a number of events, including the Annual Rock Festival, the Sewing Competition and the Tax Paying Month. So far, they had received mixed responses, but now everything was about to change. They had stepped on the most beloved tile of this cultural town. They had rattled the very heart of this artistic society. They had cancelled the Lucknow Literature Carnival, forever.

creativelucknowliteraturecarnival

I immediately got up and started shouting at my imaginary friend. “How can they do this? Are they nuts?! The Carnival is probably the best thing that has ever happened to this town! The authors, the speeches, the music, the workshops, the photography and the cars! How can one probably put an end to all this? That’s it! Tomorrow morning, I’m burning down their office, breaking the place into smithereens! I’m going to call all my friends and we will together put an end to this madness! They hate music right?! The first thing I’ll do is play Muse in front of their headquarters, so loud, soo loud, that the windows will all shatter to scar their faces! Agh! I’m going to call that person from GTA to bring me a few tanks so that I can blast their place up! Their malice will now face my revenge! I’m calling up my friends right now, and we’re going to form The Avengers!! WE’RE TAKING THOSE SCUMBAGS DOWN!!!

Five minutes later

*on the phone, with my friends*

“So it’s final then. Sunday, 10:45 AM, the show shall begin. I am repeating this again, we ought to leave no man behind. Every single person should be a part of this, and if you fail to accomplish this task, we shall never be able to watch them burn again…”

“Yeah, yeah Saksham. We’ll all be there on Sunday. No one is going to miss the Avengers : Age of Ultron, of course.”

“Good! 🙂 ”

An Open Letter To A Tourist – Day 14 #writing101

Today’s Prompt: Pick up the nearest book and flip to page 29. What’s the first word that jumps off the page? Use this word as your springboard for inspiration.

Today’s Twist: write the post in the form of a letter.

Okay, so I got the word ‘tourist’ from a Lonely Planet book (no kidding!). 😛

Dear Tourist,

I hope you’re doing great, you wild, narcissistic, observant flesh-ball. And I sure hope that you are consuming your vacations judiciously to not only visit places, but also travel them. And from what my agents have told me, you’re coming to visit me during the summer holidays. Honestly, I can’t be more scared right now.

Well, I must say that you’ve made a thoughtful choice. In fact, I should be rather glad than terrified of your cautiously planned visit. The period of your vacation corresponds with the arrival of monsoons, and if you’re lucky you can even witness a few heavy-monsoon showers. But alas! You are not here to cherish the monsoons, now are you? You are here to idly lay on the sandy beaches, undisturbed till your insides burn with the tan. Lovely plan, if you ask me, except it has one tiny loophole. I don’t have the sun during June. *Puff goes the dream*

Goa

Ahah! Now you must be wondering, puzzled tourist, what are you going to do here?! Your itinerary specifically covered the important beaches of the state, but lo and behold, now that piece of paper given by your travel-agent is nothing but worthless. What’s the fun in going to a place which is famous for its beaches and not being able to enjoy a single sun-bath? Well, I have a little plan for you, fellow globetrotter.

Dude, just GO GOA!
Dude, just GO GOA! Already!

Explore my insides, Mr. Vacationer. Oh! Don’t get nasty, already. What I mean to say is, leave that pre-defined notion of me being a beach state behind, and discover my off-beaten roads. I become quite the scenic beauty in the monsoons. The whole place turns green with sprouting rice. It is a unique experience to see me during the rains. The rivers overflow with blue water, dashing through the lush-green rolling hills of the state, to fall into the lap of the Arabian Sea. Oh! The ancient forts, damped in the colour of the dark sky, only add to the picturesque sight. Boy, I dare you to step out of your comfort zone and have a rendezvous with the exotic wildlife makes me as vibrant as your agent boasted me to be. I dare you to trek through the most animated greens just to appreciate the deep blue a little more. I dare you to break the stereotypes and learn from what the locals have in store for you. I dare you to listen more carefully to the legacy the stars have left behind for you…

One of the reasons I love Goa, it has the sea, the river and the hills! <3
One of the reasons I love Goa, it has the sea, the river and the hills! ❤

But there is just one thing I request in return; in the process, I want you to be responsible. Don’t act like a fathead and disrespect nature. Try not to litter on the streets, and honestly, please don’t damage flora of the area. Never trouble the wildlife of the state and try not to interfere with the cultures of the locals. Have an open-minded approach to philosophies of the natives and don’t take a leak in the sea. Just don’t.

So now fellow traveller, I hope I have established my point. All I can do at present is hope that you have a marvelous stay here. And I hope you go back a man with a changed perspective of things. (And I also hope that you just don’t pee in the sea!)

Yours enchantingly,

Goa

One Last Time (Part Two) – Day 13 #writing101

Today’s Prompt: write about finding something.

Today’s Twist: if you wrote day four’s post as the first in a series, use this one as the second installment — loosely defined.

The first part can be found here.

The air was fresh with the enthusiasm of optimistic students. The clicking of the hard polished shoes, which the boys carried with utmost zeal, echoed in the assembly hall. The crackling of newly ironed shirts was hard to ignore. Everyone beamed on the sight of an old friend, and some frowned on the sight of new teachers. The surroundings seemed abuzz with the school choir rehearsing in one corner and the prefects revising their speeches in the other. The students were busy forming groups, discussing their favourite football team and the side-effects of eating too much ice-cream, while the teachers were constantly trying to break them up. It was chaos all around, but that chaos was soothing. Maybe the new school wasn’t going to be as inhospitable as I had thought it to be…maybe.

Since I had no one to give the designation of a friend to, I mostly stayed alone, moving along the walls or sometimes stalking a stranger. After the morning assembly, I struggled my way to my classroom, through the frolicking bunch of people. Now, I need to admit, even though I did not feel hopeful about this school, the vibe made me somewhat peaceful.

This was for a photography competition, organised by the school... um..the assembly looks kinda creepy na...
This was for a photography competition, organised by the school…
um..the assembly looks kinda creepy na… IT IS!!

The classroom was strikingly different though. The warm wooden furniture was swapped by the cold, icky metal chairs and desks. There was an oddly placed stage at the front which was supposedly the throne of the teacher…yeah. Anyways, I approached the battlefield cautiously, for the teacher stood cross-handed, claiming her supremacy. Afraid, as I was, I quietly decide on a chair and sat down. Well, I had quite thoughtfully chosen the last bench, but then my class-teacher asked my name and ordered me to sit at the first-bench with a boy, who looked quite the nerd who always topped the class (and that he was…). Reluctantly, I left my chair and slowly walked towards the most hated bench of the class. Ah! The first-bench feeling was miserable.

Quite magically, over the next few days, I started liking the first-bench. I know right! Thankfully, I went back to being a third-bencher! *thank-god* But more importantly, me and the first-bencher struck a deep bond of friendship. We had mostly the same taste in movies, sports and book! Both of us enjoyed reading the newspaper, were extremely passionate about travelling and loved super-heroes! Now, even though we had a lot of similar interests, but still our opinions and differed in many scenarios. I love to explain ourselves like this, imagine the two of us as two different buildings. We are built upon the same foundation, but he turned out to be a corporate office and me, a Disneyland… But that is just the thing I love about us. We have so many topics to debate about, and I love debating!! It’s so amazing spending time, debating about topics that don’t really matter but are still worthy of a discussion. Like are light sabers better than guns, or whether banana’s float.

Even though I initially hated my new school, slowly it turned out that this new place wasn’t as horrible as I had wanted it to be. In fact, I started enjoying the activities of the school after a couple of months. But the best of all, I found a friend here with whom I shall travel till the other side of this life…

Great Minds Think Alike – Day 12 #writing101

Today’s Prompt: Write a post inspired by a real-world conversation.

Today’s twist: include an element of foreshadowing in the beginning of your post.

Great men are often born in the most unexpected places. They sometimes breathe, grow up, live and learn in the most regular situations. They may look similar to the common masses surrounding them, but boy, are they not different. Their level of thinking is so intense that it would even put Einstein to shame; their IQ so high, that we would need to triple the Burj Khalifa to match it. Their traits of brilliance so bright, that the diamond would demand a polish; and their tricks of camouflaging so perfect that even Houdini would need to brush up his tricks. Ah! Great men. Thankfully, I was blessed with the opportunity to meet two such people in my class, leaking of greatness, that I could not help but overhear their conversation.

“What are your plans for the future?”

“Me, I guess after cracking the JEE, I will plan for the IAS examination.”

*JEE is the entrance exam of the Indian Institute of Technology

*IAS exam is to get into the Indian Administrative Services

“Great, IAS has good money.”

“Right, anyways who wants to be an engineer when you can live your life on the bills of the government?!”

“No, engineering provides a ton of money. That is the sole purpose I’ve chosen this line for. Otherwise who wants to get into the rat-race?!”

“The rat-race exists because engineering gives money. But this is what my father told me, if there are ten engineers going in their Mercedes to visit a temple, they will not be given admission into the premises if an IAS has come to visit the temple. See, an IAS officer has an esteemed status in the society, which no engineer can ever achieve.”

“Yeah, right. But for that you need to burn the mid-night lamp too! And afterwards, all the services towards the society and improving the condition of India stuff. Nah! I’m not interested in that! Who cares about the poverty of a country when you are going to own a Lamborghini?!”

“You seriously think I’m going to do all that junk? The only funda you need to know now is, Money: It Gets Shit Done”

Great men, indeed.

Home, Sweet Home – Day 11 #writing101

Today’s Prompt: Where did you live when you were 12 years old?

Today’s twist: Pay attention to your sentence lengths and use short, medium, and long sentences.

I’ve been living in the same house for the past fifteen years. The same two-storied, beautifully gardened house, painted in a subtle white. It has been a witness to all my mischiefs and naughtiness and its giant framework has guarded me like a godparent. Over the years it has not changed, even slightly. Yes, there have been a few renovations here and there but its essence still remains the same. It is the same old white structure watching over me.

I live in Lucknow, at times the sultriest of all the places in India, and occasionally the most pleasant, but always the most appetizing of all. We have the coldest winters (but not snow…why not snow?!) and unkindest summers. And unfortunately, my room gets way too humid in the summers and becomes chilling in the winters. Whereas my parents’ room, which is just three meters away from mine, is pretty much the coziest.

Well, this was one hell of a rain..
Well, this was one hell of a rain..

I live with my papa, maa, grandfather and Jennifer (my Labrador). With the exception of Jenny, everyone in my family loves gardening. Therefore we have two lovely gardens, one in the front porch and the other in the terrace. And I can guarantee you one thing, if you ever come to my home, you won’t find a single day when the terrace isn’t blooming with flowers. 🙂

That's the garden in the porch
That’s the garden in the porch

Furthermore, me and my dad have a thing for pets. Owing to this, I have three fish tanks in my house, two of which contain one exotic fish each, while the third one has about eight fishes. Because of all the different types of fishes, we have one separate cupboard for fish and dog food! Funny, right?! Moreover, we have kept bird feeders at different parts of the house, and due to this, we have had at least three to four hatchlings in our house!! 😀

Oh I tell you! Squirrels are pure evil!!
Oh I tell you! Squirrels are pure evil!!

When I’m not feeding the fish or watering the plants, I will be usually found reading. But reading in your room is way mainstream, and everybody needs his secret spot. Well mine, although it’s not in any way mysterious, is the window by the kitchen. I mean come on?! These are the very two things a person can dream of! A place to read books, where you are constantly fed with the aroma of mouth-watering food, by a window which has a direct view of the road!! What more can anybody ask for?! 😛

Ah! But in two years college will be here, knocking on my door, stuffing me in its rucksack and flying me away. But you know what? Things have to change for the good…(and I’m sort of waiting for that day to come)  😉

Weekly Photo Challenge : Early Bird

Let’s get something straight, I’ve never been a morning person. Never! I just can’t wake up with the sun, leave alone waking before it. One has better chances of winning the lottery than waking me up before 8, at least. But then again, there have been some brutal and horrific moments when I have been made to wake up pretty early. And here’s an account of a few of them.. 🙂

Rising sun reflected by the sand
Rising sun reflected by the sands of Goa
Well, who doesn't love 4 am snacks?!
Well, who doesn’t love 4 am snacks?!
Sunrise in Corbett, kinda! ;)
Sunrise in Corbett, kinda! 😉
Early morning bathing rituals, during the Kumbh Mela, 2013 (and they say it is the less crowded at this time; sure, it is..)
Early morning bathing rituals, during the Kumbh Mela, 2013 (and they say it is the least crowded at this time; sure, it is..)
There are people who actually exercise in the morning!! Note to self: Don't get distracted by them.. :P
There are people who actually exercise in the morning!! Note to self: Don’t get distracted by them.. 😛
The Early Morning Baazar of Varanasi
The Early Morning Bazaar of Varanasi
The 5 am prayer at Badrinath Temple
The 5 am prayer at Badrinath Temple

The Family Curry – Day 10 #writing101

Today’s Prompt: Tell us something about your favorite childhood meal — the one that was always a treat, that meant “celebration,” or that comforted you and has deep roots in your memory.

Today’s twist: Tell the story in your own distinct voice.

I have grown up amidst relatives, a huge bunch of them, whom we proudly claim as family. And even though we live in nucleated families, scattered in different cities of India, we still have get-togethers. Now, don’t cater to the idea that everyone is present in a get-together. Nope. Even a gathering of a couple of people passes as a get-together, for us. So, anyways, the main attraction of a get-together is, and always should be, food. Now, among other affairs, we have this formal sort-of dinner, which requires each and every person to sit down at the dinner table and well, eat (and talk, if you want to. Otherwise, just eat).

So, whenever there is this formal dinner at our house, in Lucknow, my mom cooks up a devilishly beautiful dinner which honestly keeps our mind away from the talk. Her menu has changed over the years, but the only dish that has remained constant on the menu is gatte ki sabzi. (Pronunciation similar to David ‘Guetta’)

Gatte Ki Sabzi Source
Gatte Ki Sabzi
Source

So this gatte ki sabzi is basically gram flour dough fried, and chopped into nuggets sort of things. Then it is steeped and served in this thick, but not so spicy, gravy. This Rajasthani dish is so much more than a normal curry vegetable. The nuggets, soft as an angel’s wings, break in your mouth and combine again to form this dry, textured sensation that your mouth begs for something runny. And that feeling is delivered by the gravy, swirling in your mouth, mingling with the nuggets to take your taste buds on a beautiful journey. Ah! It is, not exactly God (because that would be the lasagna), but it is heaven. Pure heaven. And the best part is that the flavour keeps on getting better after every bite.

Now, the menu of our get-togethers is modified at almost every gathering, but the one thing that I never want to change is my mom and her hand-cooked gatte ki sabzi…

And guess what, I’m having one of those formal dinners pretty soon. So, if you want a bite of this heaven, you know where to come. 😉

 

  

Of Hopes And Miracles – Day 9 #writing101

Today’s Prompt: A man and a woman walk through the park together, holding hands. They pass an old woman sitting on a bench. The old woman is knitting a small, red sweater. The man begins to cry. Write this scene.

Today’s twist: write the scene from three different points of view: from the perspective of the man, then the woman, and finally the old woman.

The Man

The breeze was cool and the sun hidden behind puffs of limitless clouds. I walked through the vast expanse of green turf, feeling as void as the empty swings. Even the weather tried its best to somehow add to my gloominess. But I kept walking on. Walking on, hand in hand with the very staff of my life. The last few weeks had been tough on both of us. We were on the verge of losing something even more valuable to us than our lives. Our very little baby girl was lying in the hospital, critically ill with leukemia. Along with her life, our hopes were dangling by a worn out thread. Doctors said it was difficult for our six-month miracle to survive, but still we held on tight to that thread.

As I crossed the empty play-area, I saw an aged woman, sitting on a bench, knitting a small, red sweater. She seemed oblivious to the world around. Her dark black eyes reflected the threatening red of the tiny sweater she was knitting. Ah! The sweater. The woman had beautifully crafted the patterns that embellished the sweater. It had small opening for tiny, little arms, which could have only belonged to a human angel. As I stared at the sweater, I could feel its warmth. Feel the touch of soft fingers, clinging to my index finger. Feel the radiant smile of a baby, cleanse my soul. And as I felt this burst of emotions, I also sensed the severity of my baby’s condition. Maybe I would never be able to see her smile, maybe I’ll never be able to change her diapers, and maybe I’ll never be able to hold her to my heart…maybe I’ll never be able to breathe again…

As the old woman observed tears in my eyes, she spoke, “What is it, dear?” I was vulnerable, and ended up telling everything to the lady. After what seemed like an hour, she said, “Never stop believing in hope son, because miracles happen every day…”

As I thought of all the darkness in the world, it never occurred to me that probably I should search for a light of hope, no matter how small it may be, and cling to it.

The Wife

These last few days have been difficult on us, but he’s the one who has been the most affected by the recent events. I’ve never seen him this morose. It feels as if he’s lost all hope. I just hope we soon find something that foams his hollowness up with optimism.

Oh! What’s this? That’s a beautiful sweater! And how beautiful it will look on our baby girl! I’ll knit her an exactly similar piece. Maybe it will help her heal…maybe. But for all I know, it is worth a shot! I should tell him about this, probably this will cheer him up. Ah no! Why is he crying again?

“Never stop believing in hope son, because miracles happen every day”

I just hope this lifts him up. He really needed this.

The Old Woman

Oh no! Who are these weirdo’s again?! They are staring at me like I’m knitting a time-bomb! Oh gosh! His stare is driving me crazy!! Oh Lord, no! NO, NO, NO! He’s crying now!! God, I need a little help here! Maybe I should just say something before he starts out and hugs me!

“What is it, dear?”

I just hope this creeps him out and they run away. What?! He’s coming right here! Why’s he sitting down? Oh God no! He’s talking now! I don’t have time for another sad story, mine is fine enough! Why on earth would someone do something like this?! Crazy people walk the planet these days… Wait, why is this girl staring at my sweater as if she’s going to steal it! Someone save me from these people! Should I just shout help or wait for them to make their move?! God, their story is stressing me out. I need some air! Maybe I should go out to the park… Bummer! Oh oh oh! Their tale has ended! Well, why are you still sitting here young gentleman! He’s looking at me in anticipation. Does this mean anything? Why don’t you go already?! I guess, I should just say something…anything. Oh what was that quote that I read in that book? What was it, what was it, what was it?! Ah yes!

“Never stop believing in hope son, because miracles happen every day”

Guess Whom I Met Today?! – Day 8 #writing101

Today’s Prompt: Go to a local café, park, or public place and write a piece inspired by something you see. Get detailed: leave no nuance behind.

Today’s twist: write an adverb-free post.

Okay. So, today I went to a book-signing by the author of the Shiva-Trilogy, Amish!! It was organized in my city, and dude, did he not blow my mind away with his awesomeness. Even though he may not be as famous outside India, but he’s a pretty big deal here. Others describe him as ‘India’s First Literary Popstar’, while he introduces himself as a ‘Boring Banker, Turned Happy Author’.

Anyways, everything about the event was incredible. The venue, the books, my friend, the question-answer session, the signing, the selfies and there was even food! Everything was amazing, except the crowd. Now, there are a few things you ought to know, the first one being that this event was organized for a restricted audience therefore you needed a pass for an entry. The other one being that Amish’s book have a little religious touch in them. Not saying that he is some pundit propagating religion, rather he is a fictional writer who loves to write about Gods and their victory over evil. Um…consider him something like the Dan Brown or Paulo Coelho of India, though not quite. Thus, the crowd present there was not rude, offensive, discourteous or in any way uncivil, rather it was um…boring.

Up until the question-answer session, everything was as calm as the ocean. Except for a few microphone glitches, nothing unusual happened. But as soon as the session began, it was total mayhem. Chaos, everywhere. Old people started raising their hands from everywhere. My outstretched right had was buried in the waves of the constantly rising and falling old, withered hands. I don’t know why but they wanted to point out religious facts to him and ask him about his interpretation about certain religious things, which I did not give any attention to. They carried on talking for so long that it was hard to differentiate the question from their statement. And the mike was being juggled from one person to the other as if it was a football. And all the time I was like, “Dude! Calm down! Are your pants on fire buddy?!” To be honest, I don’t remember a word of what they asked him; all I remember is that it was not worth remembering.

I met Amish!!!! Yaay!!  That's me, on the right and him, on the left!! =D
I met Amish!!!! Yaay!! 😀 
That’s me, on the right and him, on the left!! =D

Alas! At the very sweet end, I got the opportunity to ask him a question, and that I did. And from what I can tell, he was quite pleased to answer a question which did not eat his brain up. : ) After the Q&A session, he signed books and attended to the needs of young- selfie addicted-blessed with a high pitched shrieking voice-fangirls. Yeah right! I learnt a lesson today, DON’T GET INTO THE WAY OF FANGIRLS! Agh!

But all in all, Amish was indeed a cool dude! His humility, even though he is a nation-wide celebrity, made him truly fascinating. All the while, he answered all the bizarre questions thrown at him with a patient demeanor. Whenever someone referred to him as ‘Sir’, he jumped and said to call him a pal. Moreover, he referred to me as ‘buddy’ when I asked him my question and went up to get my books signed. Guys, understand the graveness in my voice, you need to meet him, ASAP! His humbleness will make you want to hug him! ; )

Battle Of The Two Fanatics – Day 7 #writing101

Today’s Prompt: Write a post based on the contrast between two things — whether people, objects, emotions, places, or something else.

Today’s twist: write your post in the form of a dialogue.

Hey there anxious reader! I believe you have come here for a good read. But sadly, today I gift you something not short of monotonous. Ah! It’s just that these pills are making me all sleepy and drowsy and what not! And apparently, my doctor has warned me not to eat fish, chicken and mutton at the same time, ever again.

Imagine that the following convo is going on between a bunch of random people, in a bar, in Antarctica or someplace. 

Tennis Fanatic: “What do you have to say mate, is tennis the best sport ever?”

Badminton Fanatic: “Tennis?! No way, it’s badminton!”

Random-Stranger-We-Don’t-Really-Care-About: “But aren’t these two the same thing?”

Both of them in unison: “Same thing?! Are you Kim Kardashian or what?”

Tennis Guy: “The only similarity between the two sports is that both of them are played by racquets and humans.”

Badminton Guy: “Yeah, and you know what Kim, these two sports are exactly the opposite of each other! For instance, in tennis you are required to hit the ball with your shoulder, whereas in badminton you have to give the shuttle a run by your wrist. Correct me if I’m wrong Mr. Tennison!”

TG: “And in badminton you hit the shuttle, with all your force, like a brat, while in tennis you patiently learn to control the ball, like a gentleman. Right, Baddy?

Kim: “But, but, but if your motive is to force the ball on the other side of the court, then aren’t both of these sports the same?”

*they awkwardly stare at Kim*

TG: “Kim….”

Kim: “I’m not Kim.”

BG: “Kardashian…”

Kardashian: “I’m not a Kardashian either.”

TG: “Okay random stranger, just like in cricket and baseball, even though you hit a ball with a bat, you don’t say that they are the same, comparably, you don’t say that tennis and badminton are alike.”

BG: “Everything, right from the grip you hold to the way you dribble, varies.”

TG: “From the strength with which you play your shots to the way you move on the court, it’s all different! But in the end, all agree that the tennis supremacy cannot be beaten.”

BG: “Tut, tut. Here comes the I-am-the-best talk. Well, I dare you to ask ten people which one is better. And I’ll bet the answer will be tennis”

TG: “um…I just hope I find ten people who have actually heard the word ‘badminton’”

BG: “Seriously, you want to bring this up right now?!”

TG: “I guess I do, Baddy”

*they start rolling up their sleeves*

Random Stranger: “Well, um…we’re having a football match in a couple of minutes, want to join?”

*now, they start rolling up their pants*

“What are you waiting for?!”

*and they depart hand over the other’s shoulder*

*sigh*

O’ Captain, My Captain – Day 6 #writing101

Today’s Prompt: Who’s the most interesting person (or people) you’ve met this year?

Today’s twist: Turn your post into a character study.

“Good Morning, children! So, how’s life?” were his first words, as he entered our class of thirty-four. He stood in front of us with a soft smile, but gleaming from his eyes. Probably the only thing glowing more than his eyes was his head and he had a tendency of gently stroking his hands on his smooth crown. He was dressed in a checked shirt and, with a bulging top pocket. His pair of trousers went down to cover a part of his shoes. He looked at us with hopeful eyes as we pondered upon a question which no teacher had asked us before. As no one of us was able to answer his question, he moved on with his introduction. “Kids, I’m Sanjeev Pandey and I’ll teach you English. Don’t worry! I won’t bore you future engineers with my poems and sonnets…rather, to make things more interesting, we’ll not only talk about English but also touch subjects such as life. Now, as I call out your names, I want you to stand up, and give a small introduction about yourself. Speak out the things you love doing and also tell me the happiest moment of your life…” I don’t know if my classmates felt it, but I could feel his warmth embracing me. I felt secure in his presence. His eyes were a doorway to his heart, which was filled with innocence and wisdom.

As the class proceeded, I noticed that there was something unique about him, other than his double layered neck. It was his style of teaching that particularly swayed my teenage heart. He would rather help his students find their path rather than insist upon teaching what’s in the book. He rather enjoyed himself while teaching than rant about how troublesome our class can be. He seemed more interested in making us grow intellectually, than make our notebooks grow. He did not play by the rules. He made up his own game.

Sir even had a thing for stories. Good stories. Whenever the opportunity presented itself, he would share a story with us. And whenever we had a few more spare minutes, he would ask us to share stories. Not only stories, some used to sing, some mimic and some even told jokes. Almost every one of us enjoyed his classes to the fullest. Therefore whenever it came to his period, I tried to be the Hermione Granger of my class (I know the relation is weird to picturize, but it’s true). I used to finish all my homework, prepare my lessons and revise my jokes before his class. 😉

But unfortunately, good things don’t last forever. Sir taught us only for a year until English was removed from our coaching subjects. Now, knowing that there won’t be a bold, cheerful and shaven face to greet me when I get back to school, I fell a little sad. But nevertheless, he’ll always be there, ready to answer my doubts or talk about life, in a staff-room three doors to the right.

Mr. Parker – Day 5 #writing101

Today’s Prompt: You stumble upon a random letter on the path.You read it. It affects you deeply, and you wish it could be returned to the person to which it’s addressed. Write a story about this encounter.

Today’s twist: Approach this post in as few words as possible.

“Hello! Are you Theodore Parker?” I asked as a young man, dressed in a suit opened the door.

“Yes. And you are?”

“I’m Sam and well, I found a letter addressed to you on my way from the library.”

“Oh thanks!” Replied a jovial voice, as I handed the letter.

“Umm… I’m sorry but I couldn’t help reading it. It’s from your dad…” I added. Suddenly his face lost all expression. He just stood still, staring at me with empty eyes.

Next moment he started reading the letter. The writer of the letter had claimed that he was this man’s father. He further apologised for not being a part of his son’s life for the past twenty-five years. Lastly, along with giving proof that his claim was right, the writer also said that he now lived with his family and would love to meet his son.

Tears had now welled up in the corner of Parker’s eyes. He still said nothing but continued to stare at that piece of paper. He only reacted when his mother called him up for dinner.

“I think I should go now” I said as I started to turn, still expecting a reaction.

“Hmmm…”

I was halfway towards the gate when I heard his voice call me back.

“Can you take this back to the place where you found it?” He finally spoke, but with a hollow voice.

“Yes…sure. But why?”

“This man did not give me the childhood I deserved, and I will surely not let him ruin the future me and my mother have earned.”

One Last Time (Part One) – Day 4 #writing101

Today’s Prompt: Write about a loss: something (or someone) that was part of your life, and isn’t any more.

Today’s twist: Make today’s post the first in a three-post series.

I exhaled deeply as I stood there, staring at the rustic iron gates that led to my school. It was a warm, cloudless March morning but the breeze still carried the winter chill. The sun shone a faint white and everything seemed to have lit up to welcome the long-awaited summer. Everyone around me was filled with glee, everyone except me. I just stood there, trying to take in every single detail of this home.

The hair behind my neck rose as I took the first step towards the road that led to the main building. And as I passed through the enormous ashok trees, nostalgia gripped me. I was soon flooded with memories of the nine best years of my life. My friends and teachers through the years, school exhibitions, debates, quiz competitions, games periods, class bunks, school excursions, recess! It all came back to me with such a force that I almost drowned myself in the wave of the past. Thus, my journey from the school gates to the classroom was merely an empty walk, for my eyes were seeing nothing but the flashback of my school life and the only thing steering me into the right direction were my reflexes.

One of the first things that I remembered was my first stage performance. Now, if given a choice, I would never choose dancing as my act, but sadly, you can’t take decisions for yourself in kindergarten. Therefore, I was put into the dance group, which was to perform salsa on the school’s Annual Day function. I still don’t remember how I did it, but what I do remember is peeing my pants in front of my partner during the practice session.

Then as the flashback moved forward, I started thinking about class 3, when I bagged the role of a passer-by in an adaptation of Tom Sawyer. Huge feat for me I’d say! Then came class 5th, when I finally lived up to my parent’s (and the society’s) wishes and topped my class for the first time ever. It was also in that year that I became a computer exhibitor at my school’s annual exhibition. It was a lot of fun. Staying extra hours in school just to complete the PPTs and decorations of the room, and thus, in turn getting free snacks from the teachers! Moreover, you had complete access to every nook and corner of the school. Therefore, I used to spend hours roaming around the school with my friends, without getting caught!

Next came class 6, which I consider the best class ever. Oh boy! With all the best friend stuff, teacher-student gossip, pen-fights, uncalled library hours, reckless games periods, weird Hindi teachers, weekly movie afternoons and inter-class running marathons, it was certainly the best year ever. It was also the year in which I discovered that back-benches are the best seats ever!

umm...well, yeah! Guess what?! This is me, dressed up as Gandhi...
umm…well, yeah! Guess what?! This is me, dressed up as Gandhi…

What followed was the athletics’ meet (in which I failed miserably), my choir performance, me getting the lowest possible marks in music and Sanskrit, awkward swimming pool – changing room talks, me getting into a fight with someone I don’t recall and me playing Gandhi on the Annual Day. It was all so perfect…

But here I was, throwing it all away for a school that didn’t even have a decent field, any co-curricular activities or awesome annual functions. It was supposedly the best school in northern India. But for me, it was nothing more than a hostel which snatched my home away. I had grown up in this very school, which had witnessed my very first dance, first fight, first trophy, first debate…first everything! This school was my first love, but as I walked its threshold for the one last time, I could not help but feel a small pain in my chest…

Lose Yourself To The Music – Day 3 #writing101

Today’s Prompt: Write about the three most important songs in your life — what do they mean to you?

Today’s twist: You’ll commit to a writing practice.

Well, today’s assignment is nothing short of devilish. Selecting just three songs to write about?! This is really wicked… For a melophile like me, picking three songs was nothing short of naming the cutest breed of dogs…or or or, deciding which one is better, Star Wars or Star Trek?! (It’s Star Wars, by the way). See! So difficult!

Moving on; I have, however, picked three songs which are quite important to me. So, without any further delay (and boring geek talk), let me list them for you. *drumroll please*

The first one on my list is Words by Boyzone

Not only the song, but also the story behind it is worth listening. Now, as far as I can remember, I was a shy boy in middle school (still am, but not as much). So, I never actually participated in group activities which involved singing, dancing or mimicry. I used to make excuses such as ‘if I sing, then you all will run away’, ‘I can’t dance because I’m a flat foot’ , etc. etc. But then, one beautiful, warm, sunny, magical day, God introduced me to this song and made me a singer. And from that day onwards I have never looked back. #truestory Since Class 5th I have sung this very song, every time a teacher has asked me to sing something (group activities and stuff…). And call it coincidence or the universe, but I have been singing this song, in front of my class, since Grade 5 (every year!). *bro-five* I just hope that the streak continues for the next two years as well. 😉

Coming up next on the list is We Will Rock You by Queen

This song may seem a bit overused, but it has a very special place in my life. The first time I heard this song was at a New Year’s Party, when I was 8 or 9. All I could make out, at that time was its tune. Its catchy, quirky tune. The next time I heard this song was when my papa brought home a CD of Queen’s Greatest Hits. He is a huge Queen’s fan (and The Doors too). What next?! The song caught up so much on both of us that we sang it at a karaoke evening in front of complete stranger. 😀

Not only this, We Will Rock You was our anthem in class 8. My whole class used to bang the table to its rhythm. Our class was one of the most mischievous and if you heard this song being banged somewhere in the school, then the teachers knew exactly where to go.

The last one on my list is Fix You by Coldplay

Well, this one is my feel good song. Whenever I’m sad or low, it helps me rise from the negativity. Its lyrics are so innocent and relevant that I’m pretty sure, that anyone who gives this song a listen will relate to it. I’ve heard this song on replay for hours when I left my old school in class 8th. And I listen to this song every time I have to face something sad. (For example, exams). When I heard of my best friend’s transfer, I listened to this song. When feel I’ve lost my track, I listen to this song. When I sit with my dog and stare at the stars, I listen to this song. I was once hooked so bad to this song that I ended up doing this:

Lights

Well, so um…I guess that wraps up this post… 🙂

Queen Of The Hills – Day 2 #writing101

Today’s Prompt: If you could zoom through space in the speed of light, what place would you go to right now?

Today’s twist: organize your post around the description of a setting.

Lush green rolling hills, dotted with a speck of red rooftops; mysteriously rosy skies, donned by a scarlet setting sun; the surprisingly fresh breeze, soft as a mother’s love; the clatter and blatter of the local market, charming enough to lure you towards its eccentric shops; and the uncannily soothing silence, making you aware of your existence… Aye, that is the magic of the Himalayan foothills…that is the magic of the ‘Queen of the Himalayan Hills’…that is the magic of Mussoorie.

Give me a chance, and I’ll zap through time and tide, and everything in between, to visit this paradise once again. Mussoorie, is the ideal spot for getting lost, and then finding yourself again. Come here if you’re looking for a direction, and leave only when its wind has purified your soul enough to be driven by love. This little town has some of the most charming, happiest and caring people I’ve ever known; also it is the home of Ruskin Bond!

All of Mussoorie’s beauty is magnified by the presence of Ruskin Bond. Although you can meet him only on Saturdays, in a particular bookstore, but nevertheless, it is an incredible experience. He is one of the reasons why Mussoorie is so rich and crowded than other Himalayan hill-stations. Well, frankly speaking, you don’t get to shake hands with Mr. Bond, everywhere. 😉

Other than him, Mussoorie is enchanting in its own way. It overlooks the city of Dehradoon, a valley city. During the night time, the view of Dehra is so bewitching, that it almost feels as if an enormous mirror has been placed between two hills to mirror the star… It’s simply captivating.

Even though the main attraction of the city is its Mall Road, the main city may get a wee bit too noisy. Well, no problem for that because Mussoorie has the solution for everything. As you move a few kilometers up the main city, the landscape is covered with huge pointy pine trees and enormous oaks of Dhanolti; the picture perfect place to enjoy your morning coffee, with a book and the snow to lay your eyes upon.

Truly, Mussoorie is a beautiful blend of chaos and calm. Its markets would make you want to move around, whereas its wind would whisper you to stay still. Honestly, it is in times of such difficulty, that the mind sets on the path of finding true peace…

The Beginning – Day 1 #writing101

Let’s unlock the mind. Today, take twenty minutes to free write. And don’t think about what you’ll write. Just write.

And for your first twist? Publish this stream-of-consciousness post on your blog.

Okay, this feels weird… I have never free written anything. Never written down what I feel without thinking about it. (Well, there was this diary journal that I had a few years back but it doesn’t count, now does it?!)

Anyways, moving on, as I was going through other posts, I found out that they were rather amazing and if I want to be in the league then I would have to drop my usual gibberish. But then again, in order to follow the rules and learn something, I needed to get out of my comfort zone. So I’ll write what I’m thinking without thinking about the write!

Okay! So, a part of my consciousness is thinking about my tennis practice! Whooph! Is that game not exhausting! I have recently started my training and its draining me out. God! I need to drink some more water…

Another part of this mind is drifting towards Harry Potter. Well, I’m about to finish the third book now! Okay, I know what you’re thinking, “15 and has still not read Harry Potter?!” Believe me, I’m just as ashamed of myself as you are… *sigh*

Now, a different corner of this brain is wandering off into the woods, to attend the meetings of the Dead Poets Society. I watched the movie a few days back, and captain did it not blow my mind away?! It was honestly one of the most beautiful films that I’ve ever seen. And now, I’m hooked to poetry like bad!

Well, the remaining part of my conscience is scrolling between Passenger, MUNs, dogs, conserving water, life and pizza. Um… I guess it’s more inclined towards the pizza… ;P

Oh! I guess my times up…

*gathering courage to press the Publish button without editing*

Bipolar Traumatic Reversal Theory

WARNING: There is a possibility, rather, its probable that you have not seen a singular post like this before, for the author of this piece of writing is suffering from an immensely severe illness, known as the post-exam hangover. Therefore, proceed at your own risk.

* * *

Hey there!

I have missed you all so much! And now, the wait is finally over. The Judgement Day has passed, the Apocalypse is over, and the country has been led forward by Thee into the heaven of freedom. To sum it all up, my Board Exams are over!

frodo

Now, the only time I felt this excited and sad was when my Board Exams got over! Um… sorry, bad joke. Well, moving on, MY BOARD EXAMS ARE OVER (as if like shouting MY DOG DAYS ARE OVER)!! 😀 To be honest, I had thought that after the exams I would go complete crazy and party all night long. But reality still continues to ruin my life. After giving the last exam, I felt so sad and lost that I headed straight for my home. You see, the months that precede the Board exams, kill your creativity. You become programmed to just eat, sleep, eat, study and eat. Your schedule becomes too messed up to do something productive. Therefore, when I finished my last paper, a sense of satisfaction, happiness, grief and fear gripped me. And even though, I had planned n number of things, all I wanted to do then was sleep…and eat, of course.

* * *

But now, I feel that I’m ready to embrace all the stupidity and craziness of the world. Therefore, I’m going to torture you with my weirdness and unleash my train of worthless thoughts upon you. Below you are going to find random and spontaneously thought-of topics which, as you will observe, make no sense.

* * *

  • Imagine a room filled with the smoke of weed. Dark and suffocating. The windows have been closed shut and the sun has been barred. Now imagine yourself in the room, but the only difference here is that smoke of weed has been replaced by the music of Coldplay. Suddenly, the door creaks open, and you hear someone’s footsteps. You can hear the echo, even though the distance from the source of the voice and the farthest reflecting surface is not 17 meters. (Magic, right?!) The person comes closer to you, and you start feeling scared. The echo is terrifying but the darkness, soothing. Suddenly, in a fraction of a jiffy, the sun is given entry! Boom, the beacons have been lit. The sunshine envelops the darkness all around it and you start to to feel sane. Ah! Insanity was so much wiser. This is exactly what has happened with me right now. Since my Ma has let the light in, I will write this post. But if you feel the contents weird and the thoughts eerie, then you know who’s to blame. The sunlight.

* * *

  • You see, exams wear you out. For example, before opening this up, I checked my brain report;

brain-explode

Oh no! Nothing serious, I’m fine. But then my Ma pointed out to the blood dripping from my eyes;

fine

And just then my friend remarked, “Dude, just look at your arm! IT FELL OFF!”

Me: “It is fine bro, it happened every other day during the exams. I have a few spare ones in my    wardrobe…”

* * *

  • But, you see, exams are not all that bad. In fact, I would anytime choose exams over monthly tests, for even though exams cover a vast syllabus, they push you far enough to actually study. Moreover exams can be pretty fun, sometimes. For example, when you finish your Biology paper a half-hour beforehand, you get bragging rights. When you attempt all the programs in your Computer paper, you get bragging rights. When you get everything correct in the topography section of your Geography exam, you get bragging rights. And when you are able to complete your Maths paper on time, you get bragging rights… See, exams can be so much fun! 😀

* * *

  • One of the best things about Boards is that nobody, not even a single person, disturbs you, for anything. Nobody asks you to water the plants, take the dog for a walk, buy the grocery or just do anything! You are just free (well, of course, free to study any subject that you want to, but free is free!!). And now that my exams have ended, I’m back to dusting the house, throwing out the garbage, killing the neighbours, getting rid of the body, managing the gang…um, well, I guess you get the picture. Normal household chores, nothing extraordinary..

* * *

  • For some change from all the text, here are exams in the form of memes:

Everyone Before The Board Exams

board

Me, Before The First Exam

students

Me, Before Every Exam

exam

Friends, During The Exams

boards

Me, Before The Maths Exam

300

 During The Maths Exam

steam

 After The Maths Exam

images

During The Exams

rambo

It All Ends…

hp

* * *

  • Well, in particular, there is no subject that I hate or dislike, except Chemistry. You see its not the subject but the questions they ask in the paper that I hate. For instance:

Find the missing word:

Copper sulphate crystals are dehydrated by sulphuric acid.

Ans: concentrated sulphuric acid!!!

I mean, come on, no shit! But you know what’s even worse?! The answer to such questions are given in such deep and dark corners of the book that you would need a simple microscope a complex microscope an electron microscope to see it!!  *sigh*

* * *

  •  Now, I don’t want you to deem me as a whiny teenager who complaints about his exams. No. But sometimes, sometimes you feel like a quadratic equation with imaginary roots. *out of syllabus*

Sometimes, it feels better to roam in the English countryside with Sherlock Holmes, dive into the chocolate river with Willy Wonka, be lost in the hills with Ruskin Bond and run across the streets of Rome with Robert Langdon than be snapped back to reality and study for your exam!

* * *

Happiness During The Exams

  • Happiness is a monkey making faces outside the window of your examination hall. (Mind you, this actually happened!! 😛 )
  • Happiness is when your senior leaves a best of luck message on your exam table for you.
  • Happiness is when your cousins send you cards before the exams.
  • Happiness is hugging your friends after the exams are over.
  • And happiness is knowing that you have a three month vacation till your school reopens.

* * *

I am sorry for having subjected you to this silent soliloquy. Well, I could not help it, I had to get it out. And I assume that my chain of thoughts must have left you weary and bored. Therefore, I will conclude this post.

But, tut tut, not so soon, genius. Here you thought of closing this page and moving on to read something more productive and interesting, but I guess, its not your lucky day. So anyways all this while, reading this post, you must have been wondering, “Why is this person ranting about his exams?! How does it help me anyway?!”. Right?! Don’t worry; be happy. I have an answer for that too:

Here is some stuff that I missed during my exams/stuff that you missed me writing about:

  • Diwali
  • My Birthday
  • Christmas
  • New Year
  • Holi
  • International Badminton League in my city
  • Ed Sheeran and Switchfoot in India (Now God truly hates me.. 😥 )
  • um…well, I guess…that is it…
  • not much though, still important stuff, right?!
  • I need to stop putting these bullet signs in order to make me feel important…….

Oh God, I guess I want need some sleep…!

Rakshabandhan: The Festival Of Brothers And Sisters

Rakshabandhan… This word in itself says a lot many things. It’s the tender love of a sister for her brother along with the mischievous teases given in return. It’s the belief in a single strand of thread mixed with the power of a lifelong promise. It’s the joy of arrival of gifts blended with the duties of being a brother. In simpler words, it is the sweetest part of the year…

rakhi

The history of this festival dates back to ancient times. Around 14th century, when the Indian society was divided into four different sects, namely Kshatriyas, Brahmins, Vaishyas and Shudras, the concept of Rakshabandhan bubbled up. It was mainly regarded as the festival of Brahmins. Initially, the Brahmins (whose job was to teach children, and also to perform religious activities) used to tie a strand of thread on the hands of Kshatriyas (the warriors) and in return they would vow to protect the Brahmins for the rest of their lives. But as time fossilised and old customs waned, this practice was adopted by sisters and the festival was renamed as Rakshabandhan (or Rakhi).

Rakhi (2)

Rakhi is celebrated every year on a full moon night (generally in the month of August). But what made this year special was that all of my sisters (except one) were present to celebrate Rakhi with and to extract gifts from me! 😛 And oh boy, what an entertaining mess it was! Not only my brother and sisters were present but also my aunts. So it was a typical family get-together. And seeing the whole family together was nothing but euphoric! 😉

 

The Family Get-Together
The Family Get-Together

One of the best moments of having a family get-together is the weird and exciting feeling you get when someone is about to reach your house (and seize your bed for a few days) 😛 and you are waiting for their arrival, ready to hop on them the minute they turn up! I experienced that capricious behaviour thrice (one of my sisters gave me a surprise by reaching a day before her scheduled arrival!) 😀

 

My Sisters! :)
My Sisters! 🙂

When everyone was together, during the day, most of the time was spent shopping, visiting other relatives, eating, ‘sight-seeing’, taking selfies, shopping and eating again. But the nights were reserved for talking. The whole panchayat used to gather around ten o’clock and talk till one…half past one…and two. We used to just talk and talk and talk. Once in a while, in between, there happened to be a match of UNO, or two. But most of the time the panchayat was busy doing panchayat.

 

My Cousins! :)
My Cousins! 🙂

Enough of all this! 😛 Let’s get back to the main topic… Rakhi!! OK, I’ve told you what Rakhi is, so now let’s get on to how we celebrated it.

There were six of us; two (including me!) brothers (in Hindi: Bhai) one sister-in-law (Bhabhi) and three sisters (Didi). So I, Bhai and Bhabhi sat down facing our small ‘in-house’ temple and then, one by one, our sisters tied us rakhis. Tying the rakhi isn’t the only thing. First you have to put tilak on your brother’s forehead, followed by tying the rakhi on the wrist, and finally ending the ritual by exchanging sweets and gifts!! 🙂

Rakhi (7)

Rakhi (9)

I have four cousin sisters and four cousin brother. Out of which only three sisters and one brother were present. So in total, I had four rakhis tied round my wrist (I received one from the post) and had got four gifts!!! 😀

After the ‘tying rakhi session’, we had the ‘gift opening session’! 😛 You should have seen the ecstatic faces and expressions of my cousins when they opened their gifts, one after the other. It was chaotic to be frank. Everyone opening their presents all at once! You really had to move your head continuously, so that you don’t miss all the drama. In the end, all that was left was a huge pile of enthusiasm and oodles of gift-wrappers! 😉

Rakhi (8)

These few days were both bliss and a brisk (I don’t even know if that fits!). And biding my amusingly whimsical family adieu was sad, but the promise of another reunion, soon, did the job of uplifting our moods… 🙂

 

My First MUNning Experience

The reason for my being so ‘inactive‘ for the past few days was the IIMUN. A Model United Nations was something very new and intriguing to me, therefore I thought of grabbing the first opportunity I got of participating in one. Moreover this MUN was being conducted in my city, thus my dream of being a delegate and walking into a UN conference came somewhat true…

A Model United Nations is basically a replica or a small-scale real-life working copy of the actual committees held in the United Nations. In here, students represent various countries by becoming the delegate of a country. The MUNs function just as any other UN conference. There are debates upon the agendas currently affecting the world, resolutions are passed and various steps are taken. But all of this is just for ‘fun’. At the end of the day, a MUN is an education simulation which is genuinely better than any history or political lecture in the world.

Since I have quite a few MUNner friends, I had heard a lot about MUNs. But experiencing one is way different than listening about one. The kind of atmosphere in a conference hall, the look of gravity on the Chairperson’s face and the manner in which the delegates carry themselves is truly something that has to be experienced in order to be felt. And one thing is for sure, once you attend your first conference, you would never want to miss any other MUN for the rest of your life.

La Martinier School
La Martiniere School

The venue of the IIMUN (Indian International Model United Nations) was the La Martiniere School (If I put it decently, it is one of the grandest schools in the whole of India). And to be honest, I was scared as a cat to attend this conference. I thought that maybe my research was not up to the mark, or that I would not be accepted by my fellow MUNners there, or that I would not be able to follow the procedure, or worse that I would not be able to speak in front of others.

With all these fears in my mind I attended the opening ceremony of the MUN. But I don’t know which sorcerer’s wand worked its magic, the first day was incredibly great. I made so many new friends, did a lot of (what the MUNners call) socialising and met a ton of fun people. I actually started to open up and tried to come over my characteristic shyness. It felt truly amazing surrounded by so many people sharing the same thinking and likeliness.

Okay. So I ain't being narcissistic, but I was running short of photos... :P
Okay. So I ain’t being narcissistic, but I was running short of photos… 😛

Gradually the first day waned away with much enthusiasm and ‘secret pacts’ for the days to come.

The next day started with me being late for the first debating session of the committee (as I was just too engrossed in doing my research). But the Chair was kind enough to start the committee some five minutes late. As soon as the committee started, my enthusiasm (and nervousness) reached its water mark. My committee was the (Futuristic) Security Council, with me being the delegate of Luxembourg, and the agenda at hand was the Ukrainian Crisis.

The UNSC Chair and Vice-Chair
The UNSC Chair and Vice-Chair

I knew Luxembourg played a very small part in this crisis, and that was one of the reasons that made me even more nervous. The main fight was between the USA and the Russian Federation and Ukraine was caught between it. So what part exactly did Luxembourg had to play? I was myself quite skeptical of that but still I spoke whenever I got the opportunity.

Making allies (and frequently changing them) was what everyone wanted to do. Since Luxembourg supported the USA, I mainly stuck with them (though at times I went to support Russia). But all in all the day was jam-packed with fights, challenges and crises. The second debating session ended with the same intensity as the first has started.

But after that came the best part of the day, for me…the delegate dance! 😀 For it was the most action-packed, grooving, energetic, enthusiastic and fun part of the whole MUN. The dance floor was the stage where every delegate could let loose and enjoy himself. This is exactly how a tiring ‘work day’ should end. Everyone danced for around two hours and then the authorities had to push us out of the dance floor. 😛

The Delegate Dance
The Delegate Dance
Loose Yourself to the Music... ;)
Lose Yourself to the Music… 😉

After the ‘better than expected’ second day, I stepped into my committee a lot more optimistic and confident on the third day. In totality I had given four speeches on the second day, along with having questioned a few other delegates (in the Question-Answer Session) and had even made some plans for our next move. On the second day, my confidence had seen a huge boost, therefore I had planned a few ‘secret’ steps to be taken further. Though in the end I failed to execute them, I still had given four more speeches and had taken a more active part in the proceedings and the making of the resolutions.

The third day was all about reflecting the crises and making resolutions in order to tackle the problems. But making the resolutions was one of the most difficult tasks in the world, as we had to keep in mind the interest of both Russia and the USA (which were never the same). So we would end up taking an hour and a half to complete one resolution. At the end if the day, we had passed two resolutions and rejected one (Russia vetoed it). x(

But on a serious note, my heart goes out to all the people caught in this fight between the superpowers in Ukraine and also to all the passengers of the Malaysian flight MH17.

The third day marked the end of three of the best and unforgettable days of my life. The day ended with much laughter, disappointment (for not having won) and hope for more such MUNs.

My Committee... :)
My Committee… 🙂

And I confess that after three such amazing days, I don’t find school that interesting. 😛

So in the end, what did I learn from these three hectic days? My answer, a lot! I learnt how to open up in front of others, the MUN boosted my courage and morale, it made me a bit more confident, but moreover it made me aware… Aware of all that is going around the world, aware of how difficult it is to sit down and solve worldly problems in a conference room, aware of how history is made, and aware of how future is secured.

Therefore I believe that everyone should do themselves a favour and participate in a MUN… 🙂

Memories... :')
Memories… :’)

Travel Theme: Decoration

This week’s Travel Theme is Decoration. So here are a few snaps that have fit with the theme. I know the lights (and colours) mainly dominate this post, but that’s the one thing that I can’t help. India is filled with such vivid and vibrant moments, that it is difficult to ignore them. 🙂  

Charlie And The Chocolate Factory #BookReview

As I started out on my geeky spree, a thought occurred to me. Nothing great, not even intelligent nor something new. Just a plain, simple, eccentric thought. Why not begin my geek obsessed project with the wacky Willy Wonka himself?

What next? I picked up my old and rusted (and don’t forget dusted) copy of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Staring at its brightly yellowed cover felt like I was looking at one of the golden tickets. And the thought of reading the book felt like I was finally going to meet the world famous Willy Wonka, in person.

Who doesn’t know the story of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? But still, here we go. It is a story of a poverty-stricken, chocolate-obsessed, hero-worthy GOOD child (His name is Charlie, genius). One day he gets the opportunity to visit the most famous (and productive (and creative (and eccentric))) factory in the world (along with four other BAD children). Mr. Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. The book describes the tour of the factory, along with telling the importance of being a GOOD person. But I read the book solely because of Willy Wonka’s character.

Mr. Willy Wonka is a highly eccentric, surreal, crazy, absurd and ridiculous character. He’s lovely, charming, creative and rude (and a genius) at the same time (he’s garnished with a lot of sarcasm too). But in the end he’s the best part of the book. His wackiness and weirdness is what makes this story a lot more fun and interesting to read. Whenever I think of him, this quote comes to my mind, “The creative adult is the child who survived“. (Quite literally in this case) 😉

Moreover, I found the characters of Charlie and his ninety-six year old grandfather pretty interesting. They were wise, playful, ‘poor yet joyous’ and most importantly GOOD!! (But don’t forget, they were skinny too) 😛

As the story proceeds, the BAD children one-by-one get into some trouble, and eventually go home. And the Oompa-Loomphas (the factory’s unearthly dwarf workers) would always bid them farewell by singing a song, highlighting their BAD habits. So all in all, it was a fun read.

I will not let my chat-bagginess turn this review into a babblement. So to sum up I would say that Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was a scrumdiddlyumptious book and Willy Wonka was a boot-boggling character. But before starting the book, you should probably check out the Wonka-Vite first.  🙂 🙂

 

Ready Player One #BookReview

“No one in the world gets what they want and that is beautiful.”

And no one in this world can write a geeky story better than Ernest Cline. No doubt there. Seriously.

Moving on, I stumbled upon Ready Player One at a local book fair and bought it thinking that I had seized an incredible deal, as it was placed at just twenty rupees. Pretty great, right? Well, at that time I had not even the slightest idea of how groovy this book would turn out to be.

Fast forward three months when I finally picked up the courage to read this book. And boy was I surprised. The very first page had me hooked. The book was like a powerful drug that I could not get enough of. Cline’s writing was something that kept my curiosity running. And the book’s geeky theme did the job of keeping my spirit alive. With every page-turn, I started to want more. The reference to the pop culture, geek world and classic games never let my battery drain. Reading Ready Player One was like traveling into the past which I had never witnessed. And it was a beautiful journey.

First things first, Ready Player One is set in the future, 2044 to be precise, where the Earth’s all crapped out and the world is coming to an end. So basically, this is a dystopian book. But this dystopia also has a tinge of utopia in it. In order to run away from their ruined world, people live in the other world, the virtual world. Some antisocial geek has provided the world with a video game, OASIS, which satisfies the people with its virtual water amidst the deserted dystopia. And after dying without a heir, this 80s’ pop-culture addicted geek has the whole world dancing to his beats. Before dying he had devised a game, inside the OASIS, and the person who was able to solve this game would win all of his possessions and the management and husbandry of the OASIS itself. Pretty crazy, right? But guess what no one was able to clear the first stage of the game until this young man gets lucky and changes the world (or the OASIS at least).

OK. Beginning written, a quote added, and described the plot of the book. Now let’s get to the part that we really care about. How was the book? In one word, Awesome. In two words, Wicked Cool. In three words, Stole My Heart. In four words, The Best Book Ever! Is that enough or do I need to add more adjectives? 😛

Seriously, there was nothing that I could dislike about this book. Strong characters, addictive story, geek culture and Ernest Cline.

Ready Player One is Cline’s Harry Potter, his Matrix and his Grand Theft Auto. It is a masterpiece that has found a permanent place in my heart.

You say that the book touched the ‘geek centre of your brain’; I say that it moved me to my bones. You say that it was the best geek book ever; I say that nothing can match its grandeur in the Known Universe. You say that Cline is one of the best writers that ever walked on this earth; I say that he even beats Tolkien.

Honestly, a huge shout out to the person who devised such a fabrication that left me flabbergasted. Ernest Cline, you’re the man!

Though, there was just one part in the book that did not make sense to me in the beginning. IOI, the evil organisation portrayed in this book, wanted to take over the OASIS and convert it into a paid service (as it was free of cost, right now). In the early stages of the book, I did not understand what the fuzz was all about. But as the story picked up its pace, I slowly made my brain understand how evil a company it was. After that, everything great.

Having read the book now, I have come to know that there is a lot of geeking out that I have yet to do. And all I can say is that Ernest Cline, I’m your slave, your servant, your student. Teach me, bless me, enlighten me, show me the path… 😛

So from now on I am on a geek spree. I am going to read, watch and listen everything geeky in order to brush up my knowledge (and catch up with that of Cline’s).  😉