A Trek to Triund, India

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“Back up along the edge, even the smallest of them have to, the curve is too shallow, to manoeuvre”

This line sums up my recent trek to Triund, in India. Coming at a time when I am at the cusp of a change in my career, preferences and likes. It showed how even the mightiest and the smallest have their powers and limitations.

Triund is located at a height of 3000 meters above the sea level. The place is a ridge with a vast expanse of green cover during the summer months. The trek to Triund starts from Mcleaodganj and takes about 3 hrs for a new trekker to scale the stretch. The path to the top is quite rocky and becomes steeper as and when one approaches the top. The last two kilometers are particularly enervating and a pain in the ankles, literally.

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Apart from the anticipation of a mesmerizing end the trekkers are enthused all along the way by the artistically molded shapes of tall Oak and Deodar trees which makes you smile at their audacious attempt to scale the mountains and reach the top. On the way you can take rest at various snack points which sell water bottles, biscuits, chips and tea that will keep you energized all the way.

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However, as the saying goes “don’t lose heart and let the whole story unfold”. On reaching the top you are greeted by a mighty looking snow clad Dhauladhar range which looks mesmerizing and humbling at the same time. The ridge offers a 360 degree view of the mountains in the front and the city of McLeodganj down on the back side. The obscured view of the white mountains rising among the clouds fills you with awe and admiration. You see, even the high mountains can be shrouded by periods of haze which can often render them unrecognizable and unseen.

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Thoughtfully, it is not just the Dhauladhar peak but the air of the ridge that reeks of silence, giving you a chance to experience the goodness and creativity of nature that manifests into the beautiful things around but is seldom noticed. At night, the place goes pitch dark after 1930 hours with only a few mobile phones and night lamps being the only source of light. The sky dotted with numerous stars is one of the best aspects of the nights on hills. It makes you come face to face with the eternity and you wonder if raising one hand will let you to touch and pluck a few stars to take home to the plains only to be riveted by the scenery.

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After spending the night when you rise early the next day, the sky is light red with a tinge of blue on the outside, the cool air fills you with devotion for the loving nature of the creator. It happens that when we become one with the surroundings and the veil of self subsides we are able to admire the beauty surrounding us which is eternal and rejoicing.

After the sunrise we started our  downward trek with a hope to respect, love and care for each and every thing on the planet. After all the though we admired the skies dotted with stars we tend to forget about the little houses with lights that look same from the hill top, these are the projections of stars on the earth.

Looking up at the stars is longing, looking around and embracing life is love. Perception matters.

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A Whisper

The kiss of a wind,

The whiff of the oncoming storm,

Let me breathe and tell you a story in a whisper;

So as not to wake the sleeping bird.

A story about the temptation to get carried away.

Slowly and steadily in your arms.

To be flung to the far off place;

Devoid of the pain, suffering and the familiar faces

To the fallow lands strewn with the stubble.

Let me till the parched land;

For the fruit of life will sprout once again;

From the womb of the mother earth

But not to be burnt away in the summer of life.

Plight of the “Aadharised” Cow

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Hindutva and Saffronisation are the rancorous topic these days with almost every Tom, Dick and Harry offering their opinions and suggestions. The most interesting topic occupying the front of the Indian tabloids is our Government’s plan to have all the Gau maatas of the country “Aadharised”.  Sounds preposterous isn’t it, well it is true and Indian Government has actually mooted a plan to identify all the cow maatas by a 12 digit number by the end of this year.

Article 48 of the Indian Constitution mandates the states to prohibit the slaughter of cows and calves. This is keeping in mind the religious sentiments and is a sort of our way of paying back the maata for all the good she does for us. Right from the childhood Indians have made a feast of cow’s milk and various by-products of it so naturally a feeling of association and forbearance sets within our hearts. After all Indian’s are so large hearted people. So banning beef and cow slaughter in the country is still justified at large but having an Aadhar for all the cows of country is giving way too much identification to the poor thing.

Hindu scriptures describe cow as an animal that are closest to the humans and they are said to feel the pain and suffering of their masters by shedding actual tears. But that in no way guarantees a right to the policy makers to spend crores on this plan in a country where one third of the population is still below the poverty line. This also belies the Government’s development and economic growth plank on which it rode to an astounding victory about 2 years back.

Stats say that the states where the cow slaughter was banned have registered a decline in the cow population further underlining the Government’s overreach with its ambitious plan .Disappearing grazing land including feed and fodder, healthcare and unplanned urbanization have negative impacts on the cow population thus declining cow population is more of an economic problem than being just a religious issue.

Lets focus on the right issues as I am sure any cow today would be happier to see an improvement in the quality of the country’s poor than having assigned an ID.

Empowerment, the buzzword.

Empowerment is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “the process of becoming stronger and more confident especially in controlling their lives and claiming one’s rights.”The question being asked in the Indian context is that if voicing my opinion on social media initiates this process. Even if it would how would  it sustain. Let uss read a story to understand this

Dhani is a daily wage labourer who works in a Government funded construction project. He barely manages two square meals a day but lives in a pucca house that is given to him as a dole under a Government housing scheme for poor. He curses the government for his pitiful condition but no matter what life goes on. Munni and Chunni are the daughters of Dhani Ram. They know about the prevalent social condition in India and feel strongly about freedom to women and their social rights but rather than being fatalistic, they approach life in very different ways.

Munni likes to go to school . Although being from a conservative family she is not allowed to go outside the house after 8 in the evening yet she happens to manage. She knows the importance of education and keeps doing what any school going student in India is expected to, gain knowledge and pass the exams. She overcomes the obstacles and later on becomes an astronaut. She writes a book about her experiences and how she overcomes  the ups and downs to become an individual in her own right . The whole world listens and appreciates the book

Chunni on the other hand is a bit different. She is vociferous about the issues pertaining to women rights. The constant hankering by her parents about her womanly duties irritates her. She decides to change a few things at home and in society by taking part in student agitations and dharnas. She is after all born in free and liberal India which guarantees equality for all. However in the midst of this charged atmosphere she misses out on her studies. Today Chunni is still living in that Government funded house just a few blocks away from her father’s house. She still keeps herself active by taking part in fashionable and seasonal dharnas.

The story is simple to understand but the cues from it are relevant in today’s digital India. Youth of today should understand that the start of any change is through Education and knowledge. No doubt through social media it is easy to reach the masses and propel your opinion on the national scale but if ill founded these ideas no matter how worthy lose steam and fizzle out.The college going youth must be aware of the political backing of the ideas and should make informed choice that have both the self and societal goods attached to it.  

Shut off the lights

maxresdefaultLong back during one of my night walks when the mind is too tired to fascinate about a bright future or reminisce about the long gone past I wondered what if someone switched of all the street lights or just for a few seconds there be no artificial lights around us. What if just for a few minutes the moonlight is all that we have to guide us forward. Imagining darkness all around seems fascinating to me and I pleaded to God “please, if you can”.

I was brought up in a small town surrounded by villages. Days started with school at 7 and the nights ended with the 9 pm news hour. To imagine the world without the lights seemed so much strange to that small town kid. Now imagine that kid all grown up and in one of the busiest metros of India, Gurgaon.  It seems that this city never sleeps and it never actually does. It is said that evening here starts after 10 pm and end at 5 am.

In midst of all this I wondered why is it that people who work relentlessly all through the week found it so pleasing to go out on a Friday night. When the entire week people complain about tiredness, exhaustion and sleep deprivation suddenly become all charged up to let their hair down at the nearest night club for the whole night. This must be more tiring than 9 hours spent at work every day, isn’t it.

People have become less interactive and less patient. The days have gone when we used to go out with a friend for an after dinner walk or a light chat after office which used to be refreshing and did away with the day’s stress. Man has got to be social but with less and less chances of meeting new people the weekend nights offer a great way to meet people and chill out for a while even if it comes at a cost of loss of sleep and thus more stress.

We have got to revert back to that original lifestyle. Who would deny that Monday mornings, just after weekends, are arguably the most tiresome and lazy.  Parties and night outs are good if done once in a while. Mind’s natural state is relaxed which can be achieved by just shutting the light off or listening to some music it’s the stress that you actually go looking out for during weekends.

The beauty of “Now”

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During those weekends when you feel there is nothing to do when actually you have much on your platter. However slow you want the weekends to be, how so ever early you rise or how much longer you run from your routine extra, you find that at the end of the day the
time flies past. It is like those rows of trees, those small brick houses outside the window of a train that seem to run behind at a constant pace, no matter how you crane you neck out they just go behind you and dissolve into an infinite oblivion. To do away with this feeling of running ahead of my weekends I try to slow down but in vain.

While taking a bus journey, I looked around and found an old man sitting at the front seat ahead of me. He had a mobile phone in his hand that was as old as he probably. The man was in his white shirt and black pant looked about 55-60 years of age. He had a tuft of white hair on his head with a few of them protruding out of his ear.  After fidgeting with his phone for a few minutes he opened his messages and began reading them one by one. After reading each message he deleted it. This went on for quite a few messages. So out of curiosity I craned my neck to read what the messages were. The first one read “Happy retired life sir”, the second one said “We will miss you sir” and so on.

The old man had retired after 30-35 years at service. By deleting the messages he was trying to cut the chords that tied him to his past, to those years of service. We feel not looking back or doing away the memories will make us forget the past. We search for all the memories and try to weed them out one by one in a hope that this would save us from the nostalgia. But why do we want to break away or forget the past which was so good. Do we not like to remember good stuff, do we not want to be surrounded by the happy feeling of good times that make us look at the future in a hope of reliving the past. Then why was he deleting the memories.

We humans are the most dissatisfied out of all the creations of God. In childhood, we crave for good marks. Once we have marks we crave for the top position in class, once teens, we crave for a good college and then a good job. And then after all those years at service, in the twilight of our lives we crave for reliving the past. This is why the man was cutting all the chords from the past. He wanted to forget about something that he will no longer have “the daily 9-5 job.” Getting up in the morning and leaving for the job in a haste only to return late in the evening. Cursing the Mondays and looking forward to the weekends. Cursing our daily routine and waiting for the end of each month for our salary. No matter how sad or depressing this predictable life looks on paper all of us live it and most of us crave for it at the end of our careers.

Those 25 years at the job we are all runners who are running at a great speed. We run to see what is at the end of the race and once we reach the final post we long for the race. We long for someone that boss to manage us. We long for the feeling of completing our monthly targets or for that yearly bonus that gives us a free pass to “dine out”. Suddenly we find ourselves so heavily addicted to our daily routine that even the thought of slowing down fills us with gloom. We forget that this emptiness is not a curse it’s what that has been bestowed on us as a reward of all those years at work. Why do we not see it?

Are we so lost that we don’t see the light the end of the tunnel. Do we love the darkness so
much that even the thought of light scares us. Out of all the living beings, only humans walk on two legs and have the ability to choose. Then why do we choose to ignore the voice within is. Why do we fail to see the beauty of “now”?

Happy Valentine’s Day

Here it is once again. Is it because of the air or  if it is something about the month that makes boys and girls go head over heels during the month of Feb. And as always being single adds to the despondency. When you go to the market and you see little red heart shaped the “heart” hung around the shops and people buying it, what you do yes you just smirk and your mind says “yes, God saved me some bucks” and in my case God has been saving my bucks since what like college, that’s when you know the month love is here with open arms.

So what makes the month of Feb that entire special after all don’t lovers go around hand in hand the whole year. It’s not like they will only bother you with their public display of affection  and that’s the full form of PDA if , if you are wondering the first time I heard greeting-valentine-s-day-card-tree-hearts-kids-kissi-kissing-49704172that term I thought of it as some kind of mobile device that you can take with and roam around with, only during a designated time of the year. This is a month when you already know that for these 28 days or 29(god forbid if it’s a leap year) you will have to tell yourself and say “Deal with it its Feb after all” and the other months you still can’t run away from it.

Mind you loving is not everyone’s cup of tea. Arreee it requires a lot of hard work. Waking up the so called “baby” from bed  that is 10 bucks wasted because a well-loved baby does not get up so easily mind you that baby requires a lot of  “love yous ” and “there for yous”. After dressing up for the office it’s now baby’s turn to call you to say “love yous and love you toos”, that’s another 10 minutes wasted. Once you reach the office and begin the tasks you get so much engrossed that you forget that its lunch hour and your baby does not eat lunch without you and you rush towards the canteen just so late that  it’s time for the baby to go and apparently she always has a busy day and yet she finds time for you. On enquiring and much pursuing it is revealed the baby was waiting for you for so long when instead what she could have done was go out with her friends, not a bad idea is what you think but what you actually say is “oooo baby sorry let me make you eat with my own hands”.  What is a lunch without a walk because lunch is not just lunch idiot it is a way to spend time with loved ones as they say. So after spending a whole 1 hour at lunch you come back to your desk only to find a message on your phone from the baby informing that you forgot to say the parting words that you always used to say and you actually wonder what is the thing you have been doing since long is “wiping your ass”. Anyhow you continue your work till the next time you look at the clock and its evening and you need to go. You have to surprise the loved one after all you know the monster “Feb” is coming. To make things worse they have these designated days teddy, chocolate, hug, propose, and kiss and Valentine’s Day and the poor guy after all the hard work thinks why did they stop at Valentine ’s Day. They should have topped it up with a make-out day.

So you see if you are a lover feel good because you have been doing a job no not just a job but two full-time jobs. And if you are not a lover cheer up and feel good because you saved yourself your hard earned bucks. And to that I wake up from this wild dream and say fuck that “I am a whole lot richer, i am gonna drink to that”. Now that I must say is a “Happy Valentine’s day” boys.
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This Independence Day let it be free

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In the realms of my hands cuddling as if its world is comprised of just the area within the cup of my hand. I came to me on a one fine morning when I was a kid, starting an unknown journey that I don’t know what would have been if not without it. After all I can’t find one instance when it was not there with me if not physically then in my thoughts. It was not long before the days passed when we were always together no matter what the weather or the place, it always came to me. The window sill where she sat while I crammed for my History exams or the treetop in the prayer grounds where it sat smiling while I collected awards and used to see it from the stage wondering would I have the same smile if it won’t be there clapping or those times when I just used to smile just at the sight of it in the morning while I waited for my school bus

I stroke its weathers gently  trying to count them as the time passes softly before she flies away to a strange little bird world. After all life is transient and no matter how much we try we have to let go of the best of things and on the other hand no matter how much we try their memories continue to make us smile halfheartedly, longingly wishing how would it have been if only it had stayed.

The rays of the sun are piercing the body now as if trying to melt the outer core and exposing the innards, the innards that have been covered by multiple layers of happiness sorrow and the toughest of them all resolution. She looks towards me with gleaming eyes, bubbling with energy and raring to go. After all new place, life and people await her. I thought only humans feel elated at the  prospects of new but here it was feeling excited about leaving the past and embracing something new. I look back at my past and see that I too have run away from people and situations but the fact was in the hindsight I knew she would be there overlooking me from somewhere behind the clouds above.

It flew spanning its small wings high in the sky circling above me getting ready for a long flight that will take it towards mountains that will be hard to scale, that will offer various hurdles and test its limits. I am skeptical about the future but my concerns wither away when I see its determination and enthusiasm.

So I smile one more time before saying adios to the bird who had been second to none and who I don’t want it to turn back to say final wishes because breaking the chains of past and unleashing the ropes of future  is what helps in the journey of life.

This independence I let it fly to somewhere………far.

A City of dreams through the gates of sleep

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Shortly after you get down from the train of everyday life at the station of dreams you take a cab and  drive straight through the bustling town of dreams you would see a valley of flowers that is as mesmerizing and beautiful as the face of the first love. After a 20 kms drive not far from the forests of everyday life is a town called tomorrowland”.

No readers this is no alien town, it is a town similar to Delhi, New York or Paris but without a sense of reality. In this town after you get inside the gates of “sleep “you see the people living here. They  talk just like us and go to their offices everyday just like us. Here they live inside houses that are called “goals“, which are made not of bricks or woods but by their hard-work, the hard work that they do each and every single day in their big offices that lie just outside the realms of this city.

Like us mortals these people also have vehicles but here they don’t drive any Hondas, Hyundais or Marutis.  They drive in their aspirations. Well actually the size of  the vehicle  defines its kind here vehicle of small size are called “ambitions”, the medium ones are called “dreams” and the abysmally larger ones are called “fantasies” and if  you dare to think of a bigger images (1)vehicle than the fantasy you have the ultimate beauty called “greed” . The intriguing thing about greed is that although everyone big or small in status thinks or wants to own it actually nobody does or can. So to satisfy themselves they try to go in for multiple vehicles and take pride in themselves and for that they work night and day to earn more, after all greed is costly even in a fictional world. So ultimately they slog at work so much that they forget the way to the town which goes through the gates of “sleep”.

But hey I forgot to mention about the people with no cars, actually they are an endangered breed not worth mentioning about. They talk of something called “contentment” and “higher self”, idiots somebody tell them that the status and position in the society is ultimately defined by the number of cars driven and plots purchased. So let’s not talk about these laughing stocks of the town the contented ones. Let’s content them with just one word that defines them best “losers”.

Coming back to our dreamy and fantasy world once again, I see a solid structure here where everyone sits in silence and bows their head. Some bow in front of a cloth covered coffin, some sit fanning a book and some stand with folded hands in front of the idols. I notice that these idols are crafted with perfection these are so perfect that you barely can tell the imagesdifference a male idol and a female idol. So whether a book, idol, a coffin or in some cases just a mathematical sign of addition these are all housed inside a structure called “hope”. Everyone whether big or small, irritated or contented comes here to satiate their hope. A hope to have a better tomorrow, this is the only thing that is shared by everyone. It gives them reasons to wake up and get on with the day.

Here the town has three seasons in a year. The difference is that these seasons are personal to each citizen. The first is the season of loss, and then comes hard work and ultimately success. These seasons repeat every year for each and every person and the longevity of each season also varies from person to person. Everyone can’t be successful always after all.

In midst of all this these, people miss out on small things that result in happiness. No matter how much they try to make it big or try to reach the place between the stars as they call it, the happiness is elusive to them as it was yesterday. Some are happy in chunks and some in pieces. So there is this new trader who has his shop set up just outside the city of dreams on the outskirts of the city of reality. This trader swaps the dreams, aspirations and fantasies of the citizens for smiles. So everyone who comes to this trader leaves with a smile. The trader, yes you guessed it right is the man whom everyone respects he is called the “money- man”. People trade their bad memories from the past and leave with a smile. If you thought everyone leaves behind their bad memories and goes with a smile you are wrong because it is tough to leave our past behind, isn’t it. Everyone likes dwelling and remembering there past particularly the bad memories. We feel a bitter pain that accompanies this reminiscence followed by the self pity and ultimately that half hearted smile accompanied by shaking the head from side to side  that acts as the ultimate pill and brings us a flood of tears that swell in the eyes. But some people like to be happy and tend to leave their bad memories with the trader, after all past is past and whether bitter or sweet it is gone.sunrise multicolor station railway 2592x1462 wallpaper_www.knowledgehi.com_93

The next time you happen to go to this part of the world just remember to pay a visit to this town that lies just outside the kingdom of realty and the road to which passes through the gates of sleep.

Part4: The Contrast

If you have not read the previous part of this series then I would suggest to click the following link and read:

https://rishabhagnihotri01.wordpress.com/2015/06/13/part-3-the-hope/

But if you are just like me and dont giv a fuck, well then go on 🙂

Rita lay on the gazing at the clouds in the sky, peculiar things that seemed to take a different shape each and everytime she tried to look at them . The sound of the waves hitting the shore is profound as if the vociferous sea would cut into the land and proclaim its farfetched triumph. Ram sat looking into the distance.

Rita shook his shoulder and broke his chain of thoughts.

“Tomorrow is the last day of my college”.

“Ïf anything flies, its time and it seemed to fly at a great pace” Ram thought to himself and nodded his head.

“For a farewell we are going to meet at zodiacs for a treat, get-together sort of no big deal”said Rita.

“So now, bidding goodbyes is celebrated in coffee shops, the idea seems ill conceived and preposterous to me ” Ram smirked and threw a pebble into the sea which made three bounces,

“hmm not bad ” said Rita as she got up and sat beside him. She picked a pebble and  tried to repeat the same feat, failing once again.

Maybe you should come with me and should see how preposterous it is, really now should I call you an antisocial worm but that is a little too rational for you. Maybe one of these days I can see you do a single thing differently than how do you do it every day” she said and raised her hand as she elaborated her point.

Hmm”, Ram sighed as he saw the sun going down and the same route and exactly the same way as it does everyday how can I get bored when all that he does every day is rise in the morning and set in the evening.

The regularity and the fixed pattern that governed his whole life now was a concern for his sister. The daily work and then evenings at the beach were the elements that pretty much constituted the major part of his moribund life.

The clocks have turned and it seemed to have shaped up the personalities of both the siblings quite well. To put in one line

“For him a good day is the one that started well, on the other hand for Riya a good day was the one that ended well.”

But that was 5 years back and they were still together in parts for each  other and in parts because of each other……

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