Keep moving

That has to be the mantra of life for me, I just cannot stay put in the same routine at all. Ever since I took up an office, I have kind of become monotonous atleast from Monday to Friday and whilst when I started first up I was pretty enthused but now that the newness of it is all out of the way I just cant stay steady. The urge to go away from all routines is really starting to kick up more and more with each passing day.

The other thing is that to advance plan your breaks means the whole excitement bit is gone, you know its done and you have to just wait and whilst you wait you must work coz that is where the money comes to travel, sigh. Every time I read that cliched quote, “If travel were more you’d never see me again” the more I can connect to it.

I end up browsing old photos from trips done and the more I see them the more I want to wander again. Alas this growing into a responsible man bit is boring I tell you and a pretty hard task as well.

Whenever I rant, everyone I know comes back at me and tells me you have just been on a holiday two months back and I am like!? So what? Didnt you eat roti in lunch yesterday? Why do you need it today!?

Anyways this rant will keep on going, thankfully I have managed to convince all who are concerned to sneak away atleast for a small weekend away from work and routine and I am glad! 😀

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D for Division

Math is really not my forte and so I would refrain from going on writing about the formula’s not even sure you call it a formula or what?!

 

Now that I have D for Division to write about I wonder what should I go on about, but once an exercise is taken upon you have to go ahead and accomplish the task.

 

If you ask me that is one of the worst words as far as the human race is concerned, when I think of Division beyond math the first thing that comes to my mind is religion, what has it done apart from dividing us? I am a rational and I would not mind hearing contrary opinions from my readers.

Open up, speak, discuss, find out faults with your religion. Is it necessary at all? Apart from tagging us what else has it done!? Don't close your doors to logic!

Open up, speak, discuss, find out faults with your religion. Is it necessary at all? Apart from tagging us what else has it done!? Don’t close your doors to logic!

Honestly, in my opinion, religion has done nothing else but divide us, out of insecurity in ages when humans were a lot more barbaric we wanted more numbers on our side to survive and hence we sided with those so called similar religion fellows. Great philosophers over a period of time who are now revered as God’s actually showed a way of life, more than showing that way of life, they lived their lives as an example of what they meant, now instead of actually trying to emulate that life, somehow the followers, who I think found it difficult to emulate decided that they wanted to set up some rituals and those who follow those symbolic rituals would be called religious people.

 

The worst thing about religious people and believers of God is they will not discuss or argue a point beyond a certain extent, because they cannot reason and because since our childhood we all are conditioned to believe in something somewhere the ability to question or reason has gone out of the window.

 

Someone please throw some light and tell me apart from creating divisions what has religion done for us? I am a Muslim and you are a Jew, apart from it what is its role? Ghettoism perhaps would be an apt synonym wouldn’t it?

 

 

C for Cricket

DSC_0120The most compelling of all sports, without any trace of doubt if you ask me. Is there any other sport apart from Test Cricket that presents as much of a test of character, resourcefulness, stamina, perseverance and skill all together in one game?! I would like to know if there is another sport like this or better than this with all the diversity this sport offers.

 

Give a few kids a bat and a ball and watch them go, its here, most naturally you will see how captivating and likable the game is. Belting the ball as hard as you can, foxing the guy trying to belt the ball whilst flicking the ball to him or running like made watching skywards trying to grab the ball with open palms, the fun is evident.

 

It is apt that I have to be writing this after yesterday’s test match at Lords, after a rather long season of limited overs cricket it was back to the game’s main version, the main course or the real deal, whatever you want to call it. Just fascinating was the game that just ended. A really dead, low kind of pitch and you might have thought, okay this might just be a drawn match, but, if cricket does not throw a surprise, who will?

 

A 42 year old veteran, who many thought should be retired came out and scored a century, after reaching his century did some 15 push ups, an underdog team that is always found to be unorganised actually managed to trip a far more pedigreed opposition. At all times you thought the comeback was inevitable, however, inspired by Misbah, his team mates won the match in 4 days and symbolically at the end of it indulged in a push up show to prove that they had a lot left in them even after 4 days of pressure cricket.

 

Test cricket has so much drama that it woos me, there are so many plots and subplots and so many characters who are involved at so many different times that it fascinates, a slip catch being bobbed up by one and being grabbed by another, a short leg fielder ducking and getting crouched every time a batsman goes for a powerful shot, the leaping wicket keeper that jumps to collect a ball above his head delivered by an angry fast bowler, a batsman lured out by a spinner and beaten in the air, the thumping straight drive from between a fast bowlers legs, oh there is just so much to love about this sport.

 

Like any good book, Test cricket needs to be entered with a bit of patience if you are not a lover already, read two three chapters of a book and you cant stop, similarly, stay for a couple of sessions, watching, analysing, absorbing and discussing Test cricket and you will be smitten I promise!

 

You might say Test cricket is an ancient form, stretched over 5 days in this fast moving life of the twenty first century, who has the time, but trust me for lovers of this form of sport there is nothing that even comes close. 🙂

Ageing

Age is an issue of mind over matter.

If you don’t mind it doesn’t matter. – Mark Twain

So says one of the greatest authors and story tellers the planet has ever seen, perhaps that is the truth, however, everyone from time to time when approaching an age he once thought was old always has all sorts of thoughts in his head.  A very dear friend is almost there and when she talked about the 40th birthday I didn’t want to listen, I wanted to almost go blind and deaf at the mention of the topic.

 

Damn I am approaching my 40th too and soon, I dunno how I should be feeling like, is this how I am supposed to feel at this age?! Is this just a bloody number, coz I don’t feel any saner or any wiser or any calmness is taking over me. Why am I still the same old(should be young but thats how english goes) fidgety, indecisive, impetuous fellow. Perhaps what Twain quoted, its an issue of mind over matter. Perhaps the mind is the same, so many moments still cross by when I appear to my own self after the moment has passed to be so childish and kiddish. Now wait a minute, how can I myself at one moment be childish and at that very moment call my behaviour childish!?

 

Fuck! Comprehend anyone??

 

Physically yes, I can’t reach that cross court forehand that would have been done in an instant ten years back, so many times I see my opponent on a tennis court playing the ball softly and I know I need to get my fat ass moving, but instead of my body starting to react automatically, that is what used to be called hand eye co-ordination in cricket and eye-feet co-ordination I term in tennis, is kind of stationary till my mind actually compels it to start moving and on so many occasions I am late. Yes, reactions have slowed, the biggest, saddest truth of this age, for a guy who is crazy about sports and someone who used to claim that he is not at all clumsy when it came to flexing the body suddenly feels he is starting to be a bit like the others. That is natural though and I am more kind in accepting it, bloody can’t help it can I?

 

Acceptance or being shoved down the throat, whatever you might call it is happening there, but the brain?! Its perplexing, one moment I am shrieking a song in the house so loud all my mom’s lil students look at me and giggle, the next moment I am advising my brother to spend some less time on his mobile game and spend that time with his wife! Yea, I am scratching my head too, what in the world do you make of it?

 

Perhaps, this antithesis is a more constant thing, age maybe is after all just a number. Inside the top floor of the body, it seems the process is unchanged, its still got to become wiser than it is, it is still going to throw fits of madness, it is still going to behave without any set patterns. It never feels like 40 when I am thinking or even when I am looking in the mirror, okay maybe I am biased there. It hits bad when some young girl of 20 suddenly wants you to adopt her!! It hits you at times and then I shrug it off looking at the fact that you are cool enough that people want you in their lives permanently.

 

Looking at positives in the end is all there is to it ain’t it? Bring on the 40’s!! My lungs still have it in them to climb up these measly mountains, pant a bit on the way but at the end stand tall and set my eyes on the next mountain! 🙂 *totalsmugnessoverload*

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p.s. Writing in order to get the writing bug back after I threw myself a challenge here. 

Munsiari wala ghar

Ever since my first visit to a homestay in Tirthan valley  I have fallen for them, I prefer them to hotels or resorts. They are so much more personal, equally or sometimes even more comfortable than hotels, have loads of character and above all that give you a chance to stay with the locals and maybe even indulge in food with them. Sharing recipe with them or talking about a custom they have. Just so much more insight, chatting away with them is in itself a pretty rewarding thing for me and my wife who anyways are chatter boxes.

 

In Munsiari, we in Shakhadhura side of Sarmoli Village with a lady called Basanti Rawat, from the first phone conversation with her there was a sort of a friendliness that came through. We reached her home and they have made two cottages with huge windows that open to the Panchachuli Peaks, they offer a small kichen as well in the cottage and a few books to read. Life in this village in Sarmoli was very calm and peaceful, about a 10-15 min walk from the road you are cut off from all sorts of noises that traffic could cause.

 

I and my wife both remarked many times whenever we stopped in our talks geez its so quiet, no noise, maybe some birds sometimes would chirp or an occasional goat braying.

 

Basantiji’s house was a pretty simple abode with comfortable chairs and beds and a pretty neat and clean washroom as well. Still work in progress it is, but, then all you need to spend time in the hills is just a base right!?

 

She would tirelessly keep asking us for tea, in the evenings she would make us Pakoda’s which she served with Bhaang Ki Chutney and the Pakoda’s were heavenly delicious! Always adorning a smile and insisting that we were not eating enough, we were trekking about and according to her you need the energy to walk!

 

The subzi of Lingdi found its way through one day, local daals, eggs made as per our request or her own version of kheema which we loved to bits. Home cooked food has its own beauty and eating local food whilst you are travelling even more so!

 

Her husband who had left army was known by the name of Raju Pradhan was a pretty interesting person to talk to, he was keen to tell us all about the surroundings, the people & Munsiyari. Equally keen to get info from us, chatty, and that suited us well. He even told us about Yarsa Gumbo, which I learnt for the first time, can you imagine there is a parasite that grows in a living larva, kills it and that piece of larva and the parasite when matures sells for Rs. 10lakh a kg!! Yes, it does, and I did wiki about it reading and the fact is true. Infact a lot of people locally are engaged in searching for Yarsagumba as it is called on the tall peaks. According to Rajuji in a month many people who go camping and looking for Yarsagumba come back with atleast enough bounty to get them 1-2 lakhs. Apparently a lot of people are even chucking their jobs here and switching to this!

 

Those are the perks of living with locals, apart from the Yarsagumba there were so many tales that were recounted and shared with each other.

 

If you ever go to Munsiyari, ensure you stay in the Himalayan Ark Homestay’s which are run by local women under the guidance of Mallikaji. Its an absolute no brainer. Here are a couple of pics, unfortunately I don’t think I took one with the cottage and view together, yea we used to sit and talk that much and walk as much too! 🙂

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Thats the place where we had our breakfast every morning! With our junior’s favourite people in Munsiyari! 🙂

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The view from the homestay’s balcony

 

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During our stay in Munsiyari, Basanti Rawat was our host, ensuring everything was comfortable for us and cooking some delicious meals galore!

 

Kasol Diaries – 1

Every time I have visited the Himalaya’s I have been awed, apart from being awed at the sheer magnanimity and vastness what has always fascinated me are the small houses and settlements I would see on some pretty steep mountains, I would always wonder, why on earth was someone living up there and why not somewhere lower, perhaps they liked the view or perhaps they liked to stay away from the noise and dust of the lower altitude. Why on earth would someone live up so high where he/she would have such a task taking and bringing things down.

So this year instead of trekking to meadows or cliffs where there was no one, we were trekking to the many little hamlet’s in the lap of Parvati Valley. We were actually looking forward to getting a closer look at the lifestyle of the locals, see them whilst they carried out their daily life, the villages where you couldn’t drive to but had to undertake stiff climbs to reach.

What soon struck me when we stayed with a local in Lapaas was how simply calm they were. Oh yes they were courteous, knew about the world, internet and all that but the simple relaxed frame of mind they all seemed to be in. They never were seen rushing, they would carry on the work in their apple orchards or paddy fields or cutting grass for their cattle in the most easy manner. Whenever I would stop panting for air during my climb and if someone would be crossing us, there would be a “Namaskar” or a “Ram Ram” or an even more concerned “Thak gaye kya”greeting always around. They were always ready to have a chat till you had caught your breath and were ready to resume climbing again. Off they would go on their merry way. Wonder if we city folks would ever have time for others like this.

Coming back to our stay in Lapaas, apparently our friend Amar had told us that he has told one family that we would be coming to stay at their place. When we reached there, we delivered some of the biscuits we had brought for them from the shop at the road below and we were served with Hot Chai with even better biscuits that they already had! Resourceful! The family we stayed with was of 4 members, of which the daughter was not around as she had gone to Kullu, the remaning three Mother, Father and son greeted us with utmost humility and welcomed us. The house was a little away from the main settlement of Lapaas which pleased us a lot, also it had a location to die for, describing it is a little difficult as I lack the vocabulary to describe its serenity & grandness thats where my photography comes in handy. Here are a few pics of that place.

The home where we stayed was perched aside on this hill with valleys on two sides and beyond the valley were snow peaks.

The home where we stayed was perched aside on this hill with valleys on two sides and beyond the valley were snow peaks.

That picture I think tells you about the location completely, at the bottom is the house and the terrace outside the house was where we would sit all day soaking the sun and talking no end!

That picture I think tells you about the location completely, at the bottom is the house and the terrace outside the house was where we would sit all day soaking the sun and talking no end!

Sigh, how I miss the place already. The family we stayed with served us with endless cups of tea, loads of talk about their life, the son was pursuing his 12th and was planning to do B.Tech after that. We wondered if he liked the city life (he studied in Kullu) and the  answer was a negative. He was actually fond of living here, he said he would like to do some proper study and see if he gets some career near by so that he doesn’t have to go to far from his home.

The one thing that struck us was, whilst we may wonder why are people living so high up, its like they have always been high up there. Thats home for them since many generations, its as natural as it can be, they never ever come to the question of climbing a slope for something or not. Yes, modernity has invaded their spaces too, they too have mobiles, internet and tv and whilst maybe say 50-60 years back they never needed anything from the town, now they do need a bit of supply from the town. Perhaps they are not as independent as earlier when they managed to get everything they needed without going to the town, yet, home it is for them.

We walked about the village of Lapaas in the evening visited their temple, which is again located in a superb place, apparently next day there was a mela to happen in Lapaas and the family kept insisting we must not go without seeing the mela. The gent in the family also told me it will make for wonderful photography opportunities.

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We had already committed to attend another mela in Buhad, a slightly bigger settlement which promised an even bigger gathering but we thought we could still stick about till noon and see and immerse in a bit of the festivities the next day.

 

As night fell we returned to our house and in the moonlight the snow peaks looked absolutely ethereal.

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Long shutter click of the night view from Lapaas

As chilly as it was our hearts were warmed by the sheer humility and the glee with which our hosts were talking with us. Chatters we all were till we all realised it was time for dinner. We were served an amazing meal of mutter paneer, aloo gobhi, rajma chawal and salad! Sitting and eating with them was a moment that will stay with me. Not only was the food delicious but the way the hosts went out of the way to make us comfortable and ensured that we all ate to the full was unbelievable.

The hospitality they were indulging in was beyond us city folks, complete strangers, invited to live in their house, sleep in their beds, eat in their vessel and all with genuine smiles and affection.

We slept with our tummies full in this traditional wooden house which was amazingly warm compared to how cold it was outside.

 

The diary continues….

 

Blown away in the wind

I love travelling and I also love capturing what I see with my camera whilst I am on the move, yet there are so many things that go amiss, that are not captured by the lens but only by the naked eye. Whilst somethings stay with us all our lives in our memory and some are captured by the lens or written down somewhere we do forget so many things which at that instant we thought were simply magical.

 

Recently, during our trip to Parvati Valley in Himachal, we tried to attend local festivals and understand local customs as well as living with locals. Stories about the whole experience will come up on the blog a little later. However, I must share this one picture I took. We had gone to a village Buhad, about 15 mins drive and from there a good 2 hour climb away from Kasol to see their mela, their Devta comes out of the temple the day of Baisakhi, people rejoice and dance and worship their god, kids play about and there is a festive atmosphere all around. So whilst I was busy witnessing the little village of Buhad immersed in festivities, my eyes fell upon this little girl. She apparently had bought a bubble blower and decided that she needed to climb up the first floor of her house and watch things from a vantage point. After a while she decided she had enough of watching and took out her bubble blower and started blowing bubbles. Luckily I was able to capture a few of her photographs! I simply loved them and I thought I must share atleast one of them! Here she is looking on at one of the bubble she blew and is sailing away in the wind. Hope you like it as well! 🙂

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Sarafa Bazaar – Indore

Caution : Do not read if on empty stomach. This post contains harmful photo’s and details if you are on a diet!

 

There are markets and malls and then there are Sarafa Bazaar sort of markets, the one in Indore tells me just how much I love window shopping as well, just the right products need to be advertised! Cliche’s all I tell you that say only women love window shopping. There is just so much food available in the Sarafa Bazaar in Indore that you cannot imagine the kind of orgy my mind indulges in each time I visit it. I have to concede I have not seen any Sarafa Bazaar of this scale. My mind is unable to make a decision what to eat and what to leave for next time. There is just such a huge variety of food available that even my epic appetite has to select what desires to satiate.

 

Per se, Sarafa Bazaar, means a Bullion Exchange, however, this bazaar for me has nothing to do with Gold. Indore’s Sarafa Bazaar becomes even more throbbing, happening and crowded ones all the Jewellers close shops. This is when the food stalls make their entry, as all the jewellers go home, their shop verandah’s and the whole street is littered by food stalls. Now, I have seen a lot of street markets, indulged in them, yet, this one stands apart. Two things, for me that separate it are one the fact that they are not selling the overly popular dishes, the major dishes here are not easily available everywhere else, you just have to come to Indore for them, like Bhutte ki Kees, Garadu, Sabudana Khichdi(nowhere else you get it like here), Jalebo(imarti) etc and secondly I have not seen any place where so many sweet stalls are put out on road, temporary ones at that!

 

There are a few popular fixed shops that run day and till late in the night like the Mittal Kachori/Samosa wala, Vijay ki Petis and Joshi ke Dahiwade but them apart a majority of them are temporary stalls that come to existence after the goldsmith’s have gone home after minting money. The stalls come to mint money and people make a beeline not seen during the day by the goldsmith’s.

 

Let me just list a few things you never want to miss out on if you are there :

1.) Bhutte Ki Kees (my personal favourite, I prefer it extra nimbu maarke)

2.) In winters never miss out on Garadu

3.) Joshi Ka Dahiwada – The man is a showman, the way he will feed you is completely unique. He is on youtube too if you want to see him . 

4.) Vijay Chaat ki Petis – This is divinity I tell you! hat

5.) Aloo Tikki Chat

6.) Jalebo – A sort of a jalebi/imarti that is as fat as your thumb! One piece does it for 5 people!

7.) Rabdi with Malpua.

After having eaten all these if there is still space in your belly, there is Sabudana Khichdi, Samosa’s, Kachaudi’s, Kulfi’s, Kala Jamun’s(hot), GulabJambun’s (hot), MoongDaal Halwa(hot), Gajar Ka Halwa(hot & seasonal), Pizza, PavBhaji, Cheese Faafda’s, Dosa’s, Fruit Chat, Chinese, Pani Puri and Chats & Bhel Pakodi’s and what not, the list really is never ending!

 

But yes one thing you will need before you do any of this is drink a Jaljeera first! 😛

 

The sheer scale of food that is available in this small market of that you can walk through in a matter of 3 minutes, that is if you can beat the crowd, is surely going to flood the place with your drool!  This place opens at around 8-9 in the night and goes on well till about 2 am in the night. When you are there you cannot comprehend how many people are eating at this ungodly hour! The market is throbbing and bustling with gluttony in the middle of the night! You just have to go there to see and believe what I am talking about.

 

Indore is called the food capital of Central India, I don’t think anyone can contest that, I mean apart from the Sarafa Bazaar there is another such crazy hangout zone called ‘Chappan Dukaan’ (meaning 56shops) obviously of food all lined up. The highlights are just unending you know, be it Laal Balti ki Kachaudi or Johny ka Hot Dog or Daal Baafle, the Indori’s are one crazy foodie bunch I tell you, from morning Poha Jalebi or Poha Ussal’s to the Malpua’s late in the night! The amount of Namkeen, Sweets, food these people consume is stuff of legends. These folks have my respect I tell you!!

 

If ever you happen to be going to the Hindustan Ka Dil, Heart of Incredible India, as MP tourism dept puts it make sure you are spending atleast 2 days in Indore for just indulging a bit. 🙂 😀

 

Here are a few pics of the foodie heaven of Sarafa Bazaar from a couple of days back when I was passing through and I stopped specially for this.

Perhaps start with a Paani Puri

Perhaps start with a Paani Puri

Thodi Bhutte Ki Kees extra Neembu Maarke ;)

Thodi Bhutte Ki Kees extra Neembu Maarke 😉

Aloo Tikki and Bhutte Ki Kees vendor at work

Aloo Tikki and Bhutte Ki Kees vendor at work

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Aaj Kya loge ji? Kalajamun? Gulab Jamun? Ya Rabdi ke Saath Malpua!? 😛 😛

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Jalebi to gareeb log khaate honge.. Indori’s eat Jalebo! 😛

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The sheer amount of Ghee and Tikki’s that are eaten is awe inspiring!

If you want, we are ready with Gola's! Sirf Flavour bataiye!

If you want, we are ready with Gola’s! Sirf Flavour bataiye!