Wednesday, May 28, 2008


The bus ride from Manali to Delhi killed me. I have never been so tense and so 'in the moment' in my life as I was for those 16-17 hours. My tickets to Ahmedabad were booked for the 12 PM flight and I reached the airport around 11.40. God knows how I managed to board, and God bless the sweet staff who let me in after saying the routine, 'Sorry ma'm, Check-in closed'. The time in the flight and the ride back home was like a delirium. It was only when the Amdawadi heat pierced me in that fond, old way that I realised I was home, in the same dreaded, wonderful heat of my hometown. I actually miss the Ahmedabadi summers and it felt especially blissful to be back home this time of the year.

The trek was wonderful. The base camp was at a village called Chakki in Naggar, about 25 km before Manali. From there, we walked up to Rumsu, Pulag, Chans Falls, Gom Karari and finally the Chandarkhani range. On the first day, when they took us to this real short orientation trek and rappling, I found myself breathing so heavily and in such a bad shape, that the seven remaining days scared me no end. But as we progressed, things became better and before I realised, I was on Camp 3 at 13,000 ft.

I discovered I am unusually quiet and at a loss of words more often than not. I also verified that I am a very boring person compared to the constantly chattering girls and guys who can find ways to turn into tales even routine business like eating bread and butter. These rather sorry discoveries were balanced by the assurance that I could spend time on my own in complete bliss. It irked me sometimes when people spent all their free time in the pristine environs singing film songs at the top of their voice, playing cards or talking about prospective or broken love affairs. There was little scope for silence in the company that I was in- effervescent collegians with a passion for getting themselves clicked. But then, being able to talk in Gujarati after a long time, being in the company of that lovable tribe after ages was a treat in itself. Being in Gujju company means having an unlimited supply of snacks- and it was no wonder that their stock of khakra, mamra, ladu, wafers and what not did not exhaust even till our way back. (I am sure they have enough food left to see them through the train journey from Delhi to Bhuj too)

Himachal is breathtaking. The comparitively remote place that we were at and the trek through some remote up-hill villages allowed us to see the lifestyle pretty closely. Describing the place is an effort in itself and this impromptu post won't do justice to the beauty and simplicity of the people and the place. I would post the photos once I am back in Kolkata. Talking about photos, there was yet another blunder very characteristic of me. I have nagged friends to pose in cameras without rolls, I have spoilt many a rolls as I never learnt how to insert or wind those properly in one piece and I have lost many a newly printed albums. This time, I managed to wipe out the memory card while i was fidgeting with the camera menu on Camp 3 (for I had taken extra batteries but forgotten to take extra memory cards). In effect, all the photos that I clicked on our way up were wiped out. But I didn't cry to my surprise and decided I would click some wonderful photos on the way down. Some consolation!

On the last day in Naggar, we went out to see the town in an open milk-van types tempo- the dozen of us standing in the cold wind. To my utter embarrasement, they sang songs at the top of their voice, with all the villagers staring at us disapprovingly. It's a pity when (and how effortlessly) the thin line between pure fun and vulgur pleasure can be crossed by tourists. Anyway, we went to a very quiet area uphill where we came across a beautiful bungalow of the famous Russian painter Nicholas Roerich. (I hadn't heard of him though baba and aaji immediately recognised and beamed with appreciation on hearing the name) We were there after five and the house is then closed for visitors, so I could only click the place from outside. There was this Music centre and someone was singing really well. Then we went to a 1460 years old castle, which has now been turned into a hotel (The Castle, Naggar, HP Tourism). Waiters were taking up drinks and food and the interiors were beautifully lit, the wood carvings were breathtaking. I must go there again with Mitrajit asap. Just outside the castle, I marched on the shopping spree I had promised myself. Bought a wonderful shawl for didun, the himachali jute chappals just like the ones that mummy had, long woollen socks and ofcourse, a handful of cherries to eat on the way. I also got a pair of some really neat wooden combs with intricate carving, and a very heavy, beautiful, but apparantly useless small dabbi whose lid is so small, it would be even uncomfortable to use it as a sindoordani. Nevertheless, I was jubiliant after the shopping, as always.

Photos here

Sunday, May 18, 2008


I don't really appreciate words that seem to be stretched for the heck of it. Incommunicado is one such. But doesn't it make for some whacky title of a post? :D

I am off to a place where there would be no mobile and no electricity to charge the dumb thing even if I take the instrument along. Wow!

The prospect sounds good, but been really long since I have been really alone. Not sure of the venture, not prepared in the least, but I know I must go.

So then, the earliest I will be back here is 27th.

Cya then,

(O, also check Sailu's blog where she's has put up this small poem which all of you have ignored till now. Accompanied by a small little painting I did to go with it. If you are not into poems, you can always try her lip-smacking recipes)

Sunday, May 04, 2008

My daddy strongest

Dharma has been on one of his bummy nights again and somehow, his post took me back in time when I used to drive home late after college.

We used to live quite far away from the city. There were no street lights beyond the highway, the four-five kilometer stretch was pitch dark in the middle of fields and farmhouses. I would be home pretty late. Baba and aaji would be at the edge of their seats, watching TV, but always looking at the gate from the open door. When I look back, I can't really pin-point what to make of their parenthood. (Talking about parenthood, Void has also asked some interesting questions...)

My parents could easily have been those careful, mindful parents who don't let their daughters alone at night. They should have been, if you think conventionally. For there were more chances than less that I could have met with many of those sorry incidents on the long, lonely stretch. And they weren't the mobile-happy types either- 'This and call, that and call... No way! (So when my baba called, it would be a cue that he's really worried and time to move asap, which I didn't...) So what was it that made them let me be the way I was?

Someday, I am going to ask them, what made them give me the liberty they did. And how they managed to keep a tab on their anxiety on all those late nights. But for them, I would not have felt the thrill of being alone, nervous, happy---feeling so completely on my own on the long roads home. Perhaps it was their way of throttling us with cartloads of trust. Their trick was to trust us completely, with a child-like innocence and a fanatic reverence.

Someday, I am going to tell them they have been the most fabulous people I have ever met. My parents may not exactly qualify as guiding angels, the kinds who chalk their child’s future with a neatly planned itinerary of courses, degrees and careers.

Aaji consistently nagged me to work hard, but she never nagged me to be this or that. Baba, when I look back, was only concerned with my being happy. In his vocabulary, perhaps Happy = Full-stop.

I remember once when I was particularly scared before the boards, I sat with him.

“So, you think you won’t even manage to pass, is it?”
“I am not sure”
A short pause.
“Okay, never mind. Nothing matters, actually. Just stop being afraid. I hate it when you move around with that scared and sad face.”

And then, he said something some other time. From his bed where he sleeps all his time after office, shaking the right leg, reading a book, and always ordering this or that (his constant demand is fresh nimboo pani), my lazy, often irritating, but consistently loving and innocent father promised me late one night:

“Remember, no matter what you do and what the world says, I will always be with you till I am alive”.

At that time, though I was touched, what he said really didn’t make sense given that I hadn’t done, or didn’t even intend to do, anything outrageous. But today, I know. And it feels so good.

I leave you with a painting he did a few days back. (I can imagine his child-like glee if he reads this post, especially when he sees his painting online).