This was a hot but lovely evening and I happened to be at India Gate, New Delhi. India Gate happens to be surrounded by lawns and people come there and look at the majestic figure of war, struggle, freedom, sacrifice which India of course is.
On this evening, I did the same and instagramed about it as well earlier
I saw some hawkers running with their material while looking behind occasionally as if somebody was following them. Some of them even entered into the water body and hid their wares in water. Looking at them, it certainly became a matter of amusement and I could not help it but ask.
It turned out local municipal corporation people were confiscating their stuff so that they could not sell it there as they were not allowed to use the site for the purpose. These were the people who made their living by doing these odd jobs and selling food, snacks & knick knack at this kind of busy places.
Indeed they were doing it illegally but authorities were not giving a solution but mere a scare. One of hawker shared,”looks like their salaries are delayed and they want some money, as usual”
Life just took a deep sigh and moved on.
How scared are you of being penniless? how important is money for you as a traveller? Now a days web is ripe with stories of people who claim that “money is not necessary for travelling but the will power to do so” Do you think so? If one travels without money, how do you pay your meals? ( forget about flights) Don’t you have to think twice or hundred times to how would you go from point A to point B because only comfortable and convenient way is expensive? or is it okay to be dependent of mercy of people? What would you think of somebody doing the same? beggar? That’s not so nice I guess!!
In conversation with another backpacker it came out that he was being served a free pizza by known cafe of us and for some reason and he was damn happy about it. He could not stop grinning and I asked, him being a european, it was just a pizza! what’s the big deal man? And he came out emotionally, “You don’t know value of a free pizza for a backpacker of 1.5years”.
Intrigued, I was all ears and he obliged telling me, it is not as it looks like for every person from EU, in fact in many ways this is good time to be in South East Asia at large and India in particular. Cost of living, ratio of quality of life to cost of living, quality of people, society, food. Top of that who does not like a free pizza. 🙂 He kept going on and on for some time. We moved on after that ….
But the thought stuck to my mind and I come out here to ask you, what do you think?!
When I left Delhi for Aut to join the Jalori Pass Mountain Biking Expedition, little did I know about course of event are about to give me memories for life time. In small villages of Aut, Manglore, Jibhi and Sojha there were so many moments about to unfold themselves before me that I would be left in different array of expressions and emotion sometimes expressed otherwise not.
Aut, situated roughly 68kms before Manali on Delhi Manali Route ( Right after the 3kms long tunnel , NH 3) is peaceful hamlet saving all day noise of vehicle passing by on the main road. There is one route which takes you towards Shimla.
The route itself in scenic and exhilarating would be an understatement when you start moving toward Sojha, it feels like you are in the movie, Lord of the Rings and walking in the mountains where elves are about to appear any moment. Weather changes colours fast then a chameleon can and roads become a roller coaster ride. Every turn you take feels you have discover a new world which keep happening more often then not.
When all this can happen and you choose to cycle your way around these mountains, it increases your fun quotient by several fold as it gives you time to take as much as possible without rushing through the region as the length of this route till Jalori Pass is roughly 40kms which not too long if you want to take a motorised vehicle.
I was fortunate enough that rain gods thought of gracing my ride with their blessings and it was fun to ride in light rain fall along the way and it was beautiful to be able to differentiate between area where it was raining and areas without rain in that comparatively small patch of route with naked eyes!
Anybody who wants to train themselves for high gradient cycling, it is great idea to ride this route as it starts with easy roads and take you to HQ gradient coupled with no roads. Reaching to each of these villages is fun and moving too. However entering Sojha is unparalleled possible for many reasons like its altitude, its proximities to the pass yet charm to hold you for stay. The fragrant air which one can’t get enough and many more.
If you want to just relax in lap of nature and cool your mind off. These are the places for you. C ya!
P.S. Don’t forget to pack your rain jacket.
This picture had been taken at village Tedagaon near Jim Corbett National Tiger Reserve, India while I was cycling there with a group of amateur cycling enthusiasts, the things on the branches are Not leaves but parakeets which are common in this region.
It is interesting to see sometimes that how much difference is there in perception & reality. With each passing day and people a mole becomes a mountain and then wise people make a saying on that. We, as human race, seems to be self obsessed specie. Are n’t we?
So I have searched and read about Jim Corbett National Tiger Reserve many times ( in hope to just pick my bag and leave for the place ). I heard a lot about it from travellers, friends & traveller friends which led to some sort of imagery in my mind about the place. Indian film industry popularly known as Bollywood also fed some dramatics in my already hyper dramatic mind ( no, it is not my assumption but I have been informed by lovely people around me about the same, I just embraced it with fervour , coming back to main theme), so you get the picture, don’t you?
This is what this jungle offers you when there nothing else to offer which include picturesque sights, Tiger, Leopard, Elephant Tuskers and other wild animal species & a lot of wait if you are just interested in Tiger as King is not easy to spot. In our case it was more interesting case as we wanted to spot Tiger before he spots us as we were riding our cycles in this jungles and just in case Tiger spot is first and make up his mind to have a quick snack, we did not stand any chance, in theory at least.
I spent almost 15 days in the jungle and cycling in and around the region and it was meditation for me as I was doing two of my favourite things together that is being in jungle and cycling.
Every day was filled with anticipation of danger and thrill of spotting wildlife.
The moment when you are taking a leak in jungle and hoping that any wild life wont prefer this time to meet you in person.
Looking at pass by safari jeeps as they watch us in horrid expressions and extra open eyes riding out cycles.
Getting cycle puncture in the middle of jungle and fixing it on the spot anxiously.
Appreciating the life every moment as it can be your last moment any time.
Crossing water streams riding on cycle.
Eating at river bank and drinking fresh water after lunch.
Looking at Sun Rise & Sun Set from different angle every day.
Spotting flora and fauna and learning new things about them.
Camp Fire and fun at night.
I can keep writing like this and this post would never end.
Thank You Jim Corbett National Park for a wonderful time.
I have been little, okay damn lazy for updating this pace, however there you go with third and last installation of my date with Amritsar.
I felt “hypnotisingly” happy, if Queen allow this word, the moment I set my eyes on the dome of the temple. It’s colour, Golden, mesmerised me and I sat down at a spot to just watch it for some time. It was peaceful. After marvelling on beauty of the place for some time which I did not realised became 2 hours or so. I decided to go and have a talk with the holy seat.
Taking a bath right before the teté a teté with the Primal Seat in the Gurudwara Sarovar was great experience which made me awakened me from a trance. I went right in front of Sahib and spent some time.
When I came to my senses, Sun was already on its way to glory and my stomach started asking for the day’s installament. I headed out towards lane of the eatery right outside the gurudwara and quenched my need with a Patiala style glass of Lassi which is great Indian yogurt based sweet drink.
During the Lassi time, It was a great conversation time with the guy who managed that place. I came to know how much this place was inportant for local economy as well. Tourist viait thia place from every part od the globe and they some try his Lassi. His generations had been doing it and how it was honour to be in vicinity of the Holy Seat.
I took leave from him and went to Jallianwala Bagh which has a tragic history. Spent some time there breathing in the history,one can watch informative movie administration showcase there and get to know details of the place and event took place there.
Then on it was time for some dramatics filled with Nationalism, Yes, I am talking about the daily ritual at Vagha Border Post, where one of the most thrilling event happens as closing ceremony of the Border Gates between India & Pakistan.
I reached there oblivious to the fact that the place get full of people in no time and its difficult to get a good seat if you are little early for the ceremony. Nonetheless I knew how to make my way in that crowd as usual and I got to watch whole ceremony with a weird feel good sense.
The whole ceremony portrayed many aspect of both of the sides including rivalry, common history, recent conflicts etc. Both the sides want to outmatch each other in the way they perform the ceremony.
It took me few good ten minutes to recover from the euphoria I was engulfed in by the whole ceremony and to realise my date with Amritsar was coming to an end and I needed to head back to Delhi. I took same PunBus state service which safely transported me back to daily life from an usual day filled with spiritualism, nationalism, history, cuisines and what not. Memory worth archived. Thank you Amritsar.
There are times when we think and there are times we think again, again and again and again. There topics can be bone of contention, happy memories, future plans and so on however the topic which we tend to think more often then not are things/activities we always wanted to do but could not for some or other reason!
Kolkata has been one such topic for me and here I go to Kolkata now! I have been to rustic city twice before once for work and once just for visiting and aquatinting the city, however it had been long time now like 3-4 years and I am not willing to write those experiences anymore for obvious reasons.
When I visited Kolkata, I found the city can not be described in word howsoever one can try. Albeit try we will for same. Kolkata, formerly known as Calcutta is a city in ruins which used to be centre of attraction from each and every possible way, be it Politic, Economic, Art or Culture and arguably remained so for long time span that was 700 – 900 years.
Kolkata I saw had old and frail buildings, some new one though too far & few, comparatively. Only City in India so far where I saw soccer grounds in centre of residential complexes. It felt like I was talking to old granny who had seen a lot many autumns then anybody could imagine while having a grace which only comes with spending time surrounded with gracious things art, literature, wealth, wisdom and of course character.
I wanted to come to the city again but for what I did not know ( as usual ) but there came one of the friend to save me when he offered to host me for my Kolkata sojourns and expressed his desire to participate in #FreedomRUN2015 being organised in Kolkata on Aug 16, 2015 as part of Independence Day celebration. I could not smiling on the timing of the opportunity as I was already thinking about going there following reasons:
1. Rain Rain Rain : West Bengal is drenched with rainfall and weather has become awesome, I hear.
2. #FreedomRUN2015: Well, what a way to celebrate Independence of my country.
3. Train Reservation: Yes, this can be a reason for going anywhere as it is difficult to get reservation in time with Indian Railway. Any doubt about that? Try booking your tickets.
4. I have been organising travellers meet ups and one such meet up is now in Kolkata which Kolkata Couch Surfing people has welcomed, it would be a great opportunity to meet more travel minded people.
5. Traveller or not, everybody should visit Kolkata at least once just to watch the grandeur it used to be.
The picture from my first journey
So Kolkata, here I come!