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Majuli, the land between the rivers.

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When I was travelling around the northeastern part of India, I kept hearing about Majuli. People said that it was a beautiful island in the middle of the Brahmaputra river. Being someone who is averse to travelling to these "touristy" spots, I was immediately apprehensive about Majuli. I took it as a personal mission to avoid going to Majuli at all costs.  If I recall correctly, the first time I heard about Majuli was in Guwahati. I was staying at the Gibbon Backpackers' hostel. This was during the peak monsoon season of 2019. The Brahmaputra was about to overflow. A heavy monsoon meant that the river was a huge swollen mass of brown, muddy water filled with frequent and alarming number of tree branches. Just one look at the river got me wondering how any island could survive in the midst of such an angry river. I remember walking back to the hostel in rain. I wondered if Guwahati could survive this, let alone Majuli. Later that day I learned that Majuli was flooded heavi

Kindness - a personal view.

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Kindness. Merriam-Webster's dictionary defines kindness as "the quality or state of being kind". Kind in itself is defined as "of sympathetic or helpful nature". It's difficult to provide a definition that explains an emotion. It's difficult, if not impossible for that definition to be foolproof. And yet, sometimes it's necessary to string together a definition that helps us to get an understanding of it. A signpost that guides us in the general direction and allows us to recognise and work upon an emotion. Of late I've been thinking about kindness a lot and have been wondering what it actually means. Incidentally I stumbled across a book titled "The field guide to emotions" (yes a book as such exists!).  A dear friend of mine suggested this book. The book provides a very strict boundary for emotions and tells how we might confuse it with some other emotion which might feel similar. The example being how compassion might be mistak

Thoughts from the lanes of Puraani Dilli

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Puraani Dilli, also known as Old Delhi. This is the third time that I’ve stayed here. And even now I get overwhelmed by this place. I’m a fan of walks along the narrow lanes of markets. The sights and smells intrigue me. I enjoy looking at the people selling their wares and the innumerable commuters walking to nowhere and everywhere. And yet, Old Delhi has this capacity for infinite chaos that I don’t comprehend. The sheer volume of possibilities here makes me feel like it’s a universe in itself. Today I went out into the lanes and the by-lanes. The weather wasn’t oppressive. The sun was hidden behind the lingering monsoon clouds and this made for a pleasant walk. Walking along the narrow lanes, I started to wonder what life must be like for those living and working here. For me, this is one of the highlights of the walks - to become the people I see for a few micro seconds. Let me explain. When I walk through these crowded markets, I try to become the people I see. I try to feel

Kolkata diaries.

Kolkata. What a welcome this city gave me! Due to some unfortunate circumstances, I ended up spending my first night at the Howrah station. But I have to admit, it did allow me to have an experience like no other. I was helped by a taxi driver and a juice center shopkeeper in the middle of the night. And to follow it up, I was able to witness the early morning local trains, the first few flower and paper vendors, the hectic set of activities which were a preamble to the dawn of a city known for its laid back attitude.  Kolkata is also known as the city of joy. I stayed at a beautiful hostel named the Vagabong diaries. The place is completely curated by its owner and the place gives you a sense of warmth. The first day of mine was spent mostly exploring the nearby places - just walking into the lanes and the bylanes, watching the local vendors selling their wares, listening to the incessant honking and the rhythmic Bengali accent.  Kolkata has a charm. I realised it during the next coup

Mumbai and Aurangabad diaries

When I left Goa, I had this dreadful feeling of going to the big city of Mumbai. I had read and heard so much about the city that I admit, I was a bit scared. The journey (Konkan railways), touted as one of the must take train rides in India did not disappoint. Lush green fields, loads of tunnels, lots of river crossings. To add to it, the monsoon rains. The journey was a visual feast.  Come Mumbai, my fears were still pretty alive. The late night taxi ride from the Victoria terminus to the hostel seemed like any other taxi ride I had taken. What changed my perception was the day after.  Mumbai, the maximum city, the city of dreams. This place has a vibe of its own. What it gives you is a sense of freedom and belonging. There’s something about the plethora of people walking around minding their own business that makes you comfortable. Staying in Colaba area helped me to visit some of the well known places of Mumbai on foot. The famous cafes like cafe Leopold, cafe Mondegar, the iconic

Goa and Gokarna diaries.

Phew. So the travel has actually kicked off now! It feels almost normal in some ways. Of course till now I’ve been in south India with Kalpana. I’m expecting things to change a bit once I reach Mumbai. We started off from Bangalore on 11th of June. This being my first visit to Goa, I had some preconceived notions about the place. I expected it to be full of foreigners, pubs and loud music. When we got down at Canacona, it was the complete opposite. It was a quaint village with hardly any tourists. Travelling in off season has its own advantages. Being in the south of Goa meant that we wouldn’t have much tourists anyway. On top of it, the monsoons had arrived. So the shacks on the beaches were all shut, the beaches were deserted and the waves were rough. We spent three days here - going around to Palolem and Agonda beaches and just relaxing around the village of Agonda. The strangest thing was that we neither had network coverage nor electricity in Agonda for a good 2 days!!! 

Moving on

It’s difficult to take a leap. To take a decision which could affect your future in a big way is not easy. Today is one such day. Or rather, today is the day that things have come to a culminating point. A decision I took almost six months back comes to life today. I’ve quit my job and will travel for the next 6-7 months.  Some time in January this year, with the help of a loved one, I took a call to quit my job and travel around this vast country of mine. Having worked at Subex for almost 9 years, this wasn’t an easy call by any stretch of imagination. The multitude of memories and learning, the fun times and the hard ones, the pleasure of creating something new and the despair when I failed. All these kept me wondering if I had taken the right call.  After quite a lot of internal debates, I came to the conclusion that that are no right or wrong calls. You take decisions that help you personally. Some of these would look like the wrong ones to others but are right for you

Decisions

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Time and again, we are faced with situations that require us to take some decisions. A host of choices present themselves in front of us, and then the dread of making a choice, taking a decision kicks in. These times aren't always easy. I've always been someone who has erred on the safer side. I've not been a risk taker. The way I grew up might have to do something with it. I prefer stability. This puts me in a peculiar situation. Most of the times, I try to minimise the chances of failure. In some ways this makes me a person who is averse towards taking decisions as well. What's the issue there one might ask - given that I'm pretty decently placed in the society - doing well on all social parameters people are usually judged upon? The issue is, you lose out on opportunities that can teach you a lot more than what you know right now. The issue is, you stop growing after some time. The issue is, you experience less variety in your life. The fear of making a ch

The One Legged Man.

He was not the best judge. Looking around he realized that he was in fact, the only one available. This was not a one time thing. He was the judge, the referee for most of the fights. He turned back, tried to see if there was someone he could appoint in the place of his. But then, he had known the answer well before he had turned back. No one seemed to notice that he was a fighter himself. One of the best his era had ever seen. No one seemed to notice his powerfully built body. His flattened, thickened ears. His broken nose or even the missing incisors. For the whole batch, he was just the one legged man. Someone who hopped around and made himself useful by being the referee. Despite of the lack of respect for his own fighting skills, the respect for him as a referee was immense. For his voice was that of the kings. Majestic and strong. His eyes, they shone of justice. He was a man of justice and honesty in the eyes of the young lot. He was, The Judge. But this time around, the situa

How to prepare for your first Himalayan trek?

After having trekked quite a lot, I decided to put together a small post about what helps when it comes to preparing for a trek in the Himalayas. Following is my personal view on the topic, something I've learned myself. Travel and planning: One important and often neglected aspect of trekking is how to reach the trail head and what season to trek during? Many forget to plan for contingencies for travel. Most of the cities/towns in the Himalayan region having winding, ill-maintained roads. The average speed to consider is around 30-40km/hour. Plan your travels based on this estimate (a 150km journey usually takes around 4-5 hours of travel by road). Seasons - The best time to trek is from end of July to mid of November. End of November hails the start of the winter season which extends up to Feb/March. After that comes the summer/rainy seasons that extend up to June end/mid July. Solo/Organised treks: Most of the Himalayas are rife with trekking agencies and guides. Thes

Smiles, laughter and a dab of colors!

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A few days back Prasenjit had asked me if I wanted to attend this event organised by a couple of fellows from Amani institute . I found the brief an interesting one. However, as my nature goes, I decided that it would be quite a challenge given that the event was a social one. When the day came, I approached it with a sense of openness and a tinge of nervousness. The following narrates the day, and tries in brief to explain some of the learnings I've ended up having. The Event: 18th November, 2018. I'm nervous. The fact that Prasenjit and Isha are also part of this event gives me a bit of relief. I know I can hang around with them. While I wait near the venue, I spot Isha shouting out of a cab - "Stop looking at your face! You look pretty" or something similar (I was indeed checking my face in the front camera of my mobile!). Soon, Prasenjit, Isha and Kalpana pour out of the cab. I hadn't met P and Isha in a long time. It had been 3 months now. The mo

Chance encounters and wonderful learnings.

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Life, is a journey. So a couple of weeks back, I met this wonderful lady at a local climbing gym (which resulted in less climbing and a lot of talking and ice-creams later on). This writeup is about some interesting takeaways from that chance meeting I had with her. I'll address her as "L". L is from Switzerland. She had come to Bangalore to transit to Hampi. In case you don't know about Hampi, Hampi is a beautiful town full of ruins. It's a wonderful place to visit for anyone interested in architecture, history or even bouldering. So L, has taken a year off, just to travel. She went to Africa, visited a few countries there, then went to Sri Lanka and now, she's in India. When we began to talk, we all gravitated towards the outdoors. She told about Kilimanjaro, how she loves Africa, how wonderful it was to sleep under the stars and others. We (Akhil and I), spoke about our love for the Western Ghats, the majestic Himalayas and stuff. Soon I was le

The last day of the experiment - Day 30.

Day 30 (Monday, July 16th, 2018). I'm aware that I've skipped the last two days. As mentioned elsewhere, I find it difficult to keep things up without getting a bit of rest. So this post is about the learnings I've had over the duration of this experiment. It's much easier to write than to talk - for me personally, I seem to find it easier to express my thoughts in the form of written words than spoken ones. This feels more natural to me. This also signifies that I need to work on my ability to communicate vocally to people. It's difficult to create something every single day - one can always say that one has to create something new every single day, but even when I knew what I wanted to write, it was really difficult some times to write these down on a daily basis. The reasons for me are both the time constraint and the writer's block. Some days my mind would be switched off and it would be really difficult, if not impossible to write something. I

Progress update - Day 27

Day 27 (Friday, July 13, 2018). This is just a progress update on my words and impacts post. So as I had already mentioned in the post, I've been working hard on monitoring my words. I've been actively trying to know what impact my words could have on the other person. The task is getting much easier by the day. Before, it was an active monitoring, now it's more listening and then thinking before responding. In other words, before it was reacting, now it is responding (with emphasis on impact). This is a significant change in the way I've been communicating. The interesting thing to note is that people who communicate with me non-verbally think I'm balanced and thoughtful. Many who communicate with me verbally or in-person, think I'm sometimes rude and harsh. The reason for this is that I spend time before I write something to someone. I read it, re-read it before sending. This in itself makes me remove any unwanted sections from the mails/messages. Bu

Failures and the outcomes - Day 26

Day 26 (Thursday, 12th July, 2018). This short post is to remind myself about how failures and how subsequent learnings lead to better outcomes eventually. There are times when I sit hours together (10-12) carving out chalks. Sometimes I have an idea in my mind and want to execute it, sometimes it's just random designs that I want to try out. The toughest times are when I have an idea to execute. The challenge often is to get the execution right. A chalk piece being a chalk piece, is delicate to handle and quite often, unpredictable. Sometimes you feel it would sustain a specific carving and it breaks instantly. Sometimes you think it wouldn't sustain and it'll sit in tight. This unknown makes failures quite too frequent. Some days, out of the 10 hours I put in, nothing credible comes out. Quite literally, nothing! The bright side though are those times when you end up achieving the design you started out with. Or the occasional inspirational new design that you