Tag Archives: India

173: Mountain Drives

23 Jun

We had quite some plans before we set off on this trip to my in-laws, or so I think we did. One plan involved travelling as far as to the Indo-Nepal border, and what have you. The only thing is, and I’ll repeat again like I did here; never make plans. Or make loose plans if you so love making plans. So, having said that, it can be established that all our plans went for a fine toss. We’ve been put at home and our outings have been limited to either the market or our haunts that are not more than half an hour away. And given yesterday’s situation, today seems to have had a silver lining – because we stepped out and went beyond just a half hour’s drive.

We drove to Binsar today, which is Almora district’s forest area. As we drove past the check post and ascended its serpentine roads, one thing was getting obviously clear – the forests here looked as dense and similar in foliage as the ones you find in Kerala. I mean I always expected conifer forests and more conifers as the forests got denser, but instead I found trees (unrecognizable to me of course) that looked more like the ones you see in tropical rainforests. Nonetheless, it was fascinating to see all this foliage around me; dense, lush, beautiful, serene; and what a welcome change it was.

It’s sure to be known that there’s no better cure than time, and nature. :)

146: Getting Into The Skin Of Delhi

26 May

For decades, and even till late last evening, the idea of spending an obnoxiously hot summer afternoon outdoors was just never an option for consideration. Ever. I never lived in this part of the country for more than five years, all put together, and there was never a time when even during touristy summer visits, that we stepped out during loo-y, debilitating afternoons. Evenings were a lesson enough, whenever we did venture out i.e. But here was a chance I was getting to explore a hugely popular shopping market with a colleague after school hours. It was the beginning of the weekend and our summer break – a celebration of sorts was warranted after the mad day every single teacher had had. Therefore this was an opportunity on many counts – one of making new friends, seeing this city more, plus fabulous flea-market shopping which automatically adds +5000 points to the entire deal, no?

And so I went along with a colleague, and so we shopped till a point when all I wanted to do was get into my cab and flee from the market. I barely lasted 2.5 hours, but we did see quite a bit, and I did go crazy quite a bit too. From my explorations, here’s what I discovered about Sarojini Market in New Delhi:

They’ve got the best stuff ever.
They’ve got all the latest fashion trends hanging in every nook and cranny.
However, if there’s a fashion trend doing the rounds, it’s very difficult to find anything/something that doesn’t fit said trend.
They sell clothes at a steal. We picked up beautiful cotton shorts for the men in our families for 150 rupees apiece, tops ranging from 100-250 rupees apiece, and the softest cotton nightwear at not more than 250 bucks apiece.
I even chanced upon ceramics for a steal – where two beautiful mugs and a very pretty kettle cost me 250 in total.
Shopkeepers here do not bargain for some reason.
The ceramics stall guy did, though.
I prefer Lajpat Nagar for footwear and a greater refined collection of clothing and materials. Also, they bargain there.

However, all said and done, there’s no way I could’ve bought whatever I did, at the steal that I did, from anywhere other than Sarojini Market.

It indeed makes a shopper thrilled to find great collections and an even better price, without the pinch of spending the money that you do. I’ve never felt more satisfied after a shopping deal. Of course the last time I went to Sarojini Market was over a decade ago when I was a student and couldn’t exploit its offerings like I can now. But some things never change, and that’s just as comforting to anyone who wishes you venture into the streets and gullies of this market, where shops are as old as our grandparents but as up-to-date as the next tween is. Notwithstanding this weird habit (I’ve now come to realise; back then I was just another innocent alarmed Bangalorean) men have of fondling their crotches while talking to almost every customer; it’s a great place to spend many an evening at, because I’m certain every visit just allows us to explore just the tip of all that it has to offer. And having said that, I feel like a little more of me has gotten into this vibe that is New Delhi.

109: Can It Get Any Hotter?

19 Apr

Apparently Yes, it can. FOR SURE.

Yesterday while scrounging around my house for chocolates, hoping against hopeless hope that I hadn’t already had them all, I managed to find a tiny box, enough to sate my need for something sweet post dinner. They’d come all the way from Paris, cherries soaked in alcohol, completely adult, and all. I find it imperative to mention this fact here to establish just how delicate REAL chocolates really are, in comparison to our sugar-loaded Indian counterparts. Having been stored in a cool, dry place, I extracted my treasure with great anticipation, and rushed off to our air-conditioned tv room to savour them. What I found instead of a perfectly moulded, beautifully shaped, and easy to hold sweet treat, was a gooey mess. It was savoured, nevertheless.

Things have turned within the span of a week. It hasn’t even been a month since I kept my woolly blanket away and here we are, dying to strip excess all clothes off of us. This weather knows no smoothness, no ease in progression, no kindness. It has arrived, it’s made its statement, and it’s here to stay. Besides, this madness is just the beginning.

There will be days when boiling hot air will poke and prick our skins. There will be days when all we’ll need is water, and seldom anything else. There will be days when two baths won’t be enough; and yet somehow I cannot muster the heart to waste water on simple luxuries. Slathered by talcum powder, it will have to be. There will also be days when you’d want to stay holed up and turn the AC on full whack. And not feel cold in that extreme.

But, people go through this grind, most often with a lot less than we have, and they make it past it without much hue and cry. There will be wars waged because of water, but that’s for another time, and another mindsore.

96: If I Could…

6 Apr

…I’d wish for this. 

73: Post Festive Blues

14 Mar

I’ve always maintained that the day after a major festival ought to, by rule of thumb, be made a mandatory holiday. It was my firm belief much before I even got married or had this mountain of responsibility land on my head. There’s nothing more dire than the need to put one’s feet up and just not care about the whats, wheres, whos, and hows of life, forget the day. The changing face of how we celebrate festivals now makes sense. Who has the time to dive into the fineries and traditions of festivals, who has the bandwidth to undergo all the madness and then head straight back to work without feeling like a whirlwind stormed past you? It all fits now.

Most of our Holi was spent in getting things together. No matter how hard I tried to be more hands on and organized, I just couldn’t help but enter the kitchen and dive right back into the spirit of Holi’s festive cooking right on the day of the festival. There was a Saturday workday to blame, but I’m not going there again. Considerable amounts of bhaang ki thandaii were also consumed once we’d smeared each other with some colour post which there were sessions of mindless, stupid roars of laughter. This was the first time I dove headlong into the world of bhaang, and it was great fun while it lasted. The next day, not so much.

It turns out that we both felt more bogged down in general, which we attributed to general tiredness. Our day has been considerably long so far, and there’s still some more to go. All said and done, and keeping bhaang aside, my only wish to the calendar gods is this and this alone: we need a post festive holiday.

44: Saying Goodbye For Now

13 Feb

Winter is a strange season in the north. It’s frigid, grey, dull, dark, and heavy. It’s also intoxicatingly beautiful, and overflowing with warmth in everything else it produces. I love this season the most, especially in our country. Anywhere in our country. Even the extra layers, and the hot hot baths. There’s this freshness that I look forward to, the crispness of the sun, the frivolity of the flora all around us. I’m always sad when it’s time to say goodbye, because look what I’ve to bid adieu to. 

Every season has its own purpose, its own beauty, its own lessons. But despite how harsh winters usually are, it’s this season that warms my heart the most. ❤️

35: Of Monumental Gratitude

4 Feb

This is my third visit to Agra; the city of the one and only Taj Mahal. The first time I came here was with A for a day’s visit, back when he was courting me. Unfortunately neither of us were aware that it was the closed on the very day we’d taken time out to visit it – Friday. After all, who shuts a wonder of the world down for a day every single week, I ridiculed. We drove down on a Friday, obviously oblivious, and returned back thoroughly disappointed; I’d come all the way from Bangalore back then. Our second visit was dominated by family time and commitments, which left us with no room to step out. 
This time when we planned our travel, I’d left the idea on its own…if it happened, I’d be thankful, and if it didn’t happen, I’d have to wait till my time to see it arrived, I told myself. With that, we set off for Agra again, to visit family. 

Today, at long last, this happened. 

The only thing I remember saying when I climed the steps up to the mausoleum was an exclamation! I’ve never ever seen a building this beautiful, this humbling. I will talk about my experiences in greater detail sometime. However, all I’d like to say for now, is how immensely grateful I am for witnessing this piece of history, beauty, remembrance, love if you will, and melancholy that made me stop and stare, today. 

26: It’s The 26th!

26 Jan

As my country woke up to its 68th Republic Day, I found myself awake at a time when I was hoping to be ensconced in a comfortable sleep instead. It was much before the parade was due to start anyway, and the idea of reading in bed did strike my fancy when I woke up at 5am, this morning. I would’ve ideally loved to get out, sneak a bake in, get back into bed, and then wake up to the divinity of a freshly baked cake or muffins, perfect for a weekday holiday indulgence. It would’ve also made me feel super productive, efficient, and capable. But I sneaked a peek at my phone instead, and drifted back into sleep, thankfully.

I woke up well in time for the parade, and having prepped today’s meals yesterday, because I was feeling efficient and not because the parade was to be on (it’d slipped my mind, to be honest), everything went on smoothly. We had our rounds of tea, breakfast, and I even made it to watch the anthem, the 21 gun salute, and of course the entire parade, in time. At first we were on NDTV, but nothing of national significance is complete without featuring our national channel DD on it, no? So we switched to DD instead, and relived numerous moments from our childhood via this simple switch. It’s amazing how so much has changed, and yet how DD still remains the same. So much so that it even missed the proper coverage of the sukhoi formation. Sigh. But I did love the presenter and the language she used. So much grace, and so much dignity.

Either way, the weather has turned for the worse here. We’ve switched on the lights so early, and it’s a grossly saddening experience to endure. The storm outside makes me want to find my comfort in a hearty meal or an engrossing book. I wanted to do a bit of shopping but that’s ruled out. Moreover, since every single cop in and around NCR has been deployed for R-Day duties, it’s quite a challenge to go out on roads with no authorities supervising them. Lol.

Anyhoo guys, it’s the 26th, it’s a holiday; you’re probably on a long weekend break if you booked in advance, or are just doing more holiday things instead of staring at a screen. It’s time for me to get out of here as well, and see what I can treat myself to, in this wretched weather. Happy Republic Day, peeps!

Wasn’t It Just Yesterday?

15 Sep

The other day someone on FB posted a picture of Santa saying Christmas is just a two digit number of Sundays away. Not only is that astounding because woah the year is nearing its last quarter already, but because India’s festive season is almost here and wasn’t that like just yesterday? Don’t get me wrong, I love this time of the year the most – I’m a thoroughbred autumn baby and my stars and sun sign will vouch for the same. But astrologically and astronomically apart, this is that time of the year when an already alive India (in the context of festivals, because don’t we have something or the other almost every single day?!) really wakes up and we see her in her splendour. This is my most favourite season of the year as well – things do cool down quite a bit, literally and figuratively, and it’s almost like time changes gears very distinctly and infuses a very celebratory spirit into everything around it. There’s much ado and so much festiveness everywhere; it’s hard to not feel the jubilant contagion at all. But time really has decided to play a fast one on us this year especially, or so it feels to me. It seems like just yesterday when I was celebrating Navratri with my family and friends, just yesterday when Diwali sparkled her way through to our doors, just yesterday when we celebrated Bhai Dooj and the time that ushered in my departure from Bangalore. Oh time, you trickster.

This entire period is like that one bar of chocolate you’ve been saving up to savour at leisure…the anticipation of it ever so delightful and tingling, yet the disappearance of it equally saddening – almost like how Charlie rationing that one slab of chocolate he got for his birthday every year from Willy Wonka’s factory. Time, it is clear, is sweeping by us like a breeze we cannot control, just watch, and hopefully enjoy. Like everything I love, it is in their wait that lies my joy and excitement; for when they arrive, it is but mandatory that they will depart as well. But perhaps it’s best to stow away the sadness of time travelling at supersonic speeds and enjoy today for what it is. The South East nations already are celebrating mid-autumn I read, but while I can sense a change in seasons, it hasn’t happened here yet. October is hands down my favourite month and it isn’t too far away – both yay and woah!

Yesterday was a first when I published what seems to be a semblance of a health/workout tracker. I never thought I’d do something like this and haven’t really done anything like this before because I’m one who doesn’t really deliver in this arena – working out is something I love, but am just so undisciplined about. They say it all lies in the first step, and let me assure you, I’ve lost track of the number of first steps I’ve taken. It was more a whim of an upload on Instagram than really actually being serious about it. I guess my mind is occupied and obsessive about a lot already; my heart isn’t going to surrender watching what I eat that easily. It’s an emotional thing you know? I love food too much. Just. Too. Much.

Moving on to other realisations, it has occurred to me that despite claiming to be anti social, which I really can be, I’ve found the need for some sort of company. Back when I was working, all of us were by default surrounded by people. It was, well, human and normal. I don’t ever recollect socialising extra or being overtly friendly. The last time I had a job, it was just three of us sitting amidst each other, working. We had our space and we had each other. That was perfect…and now since I have just chairs and walls to keep me company, some weird sort of loneliness has begun creeping in…sometimes. Now that the house is more or less set up, I’ve found myself plugging my phone to the speakers first thing in the morning. Picking instrumental music or tracks with minimal words has been my go-to; comforting enough for company and silence. This has become a routine the past few days and one that I have lapped up like a parched piece of sponge. Back at work, I remember being plugged into music like this to not only keep me going at a productive pace but to also drown out unnecessary noises. Here I am, doing just the same. And chatting with you, dear reader. Socialisation done for the day, yeah?

Because today is Thursday and I’m feeling a tad nostalgic thanks to randomly scrolling by photographs on FB, I’ll follow TBT (Throw Back Thursday) tradition. Apparently I’ve done this on my records twice before over here and here, already.

Throwing back to random girly dates with S, though both she and I would shudder at the thought of calling our crazy meetings dates. Oh those times. Those random, random times.

Also throwing back to the times I used to bake. Olive focaccia was one of my favourite savoury bakes of all times; mostly because my kitchen smelt like heaven.

Also keeping up with TT (Thankful Thursdays), this small mercy/gift is something I’m grateful for.

Have a stupendously amazing Thursday. Best vibes to you, dear reader.

Back On A Time Machine

14 Sep

A and I made a trip to Govardhan, a first for me, back in March sometime, if I’m not mistaken. Yep, procrastination, among other blatant excuses, has kept me from writing this post which I so badly wanted to document the moment I set foot into this famed and extremely pious town for many, many devout Hindus. This sacred town which is actually most popular for its Govardhan hill, lies in Mathura district, Uttar Pradesh. This is where Lord Krishna; an incarnation of Lord Vishnu’s – one of the lords of Hinduism’s Holy Trinity – saved the entire village of Mathura from Lord Indra’s wrath by sheltering everybody during a storm under this same hill which he lifted with his little finger. 

Devotees throng this place year round, often performing parikramas (revolutions) around the hill in various forms – barefoot, in dandaasana, by prostrating, by walk or by road…but always with a sense of devotion I’ve never seen before. Ladies, men, children, young mothers, middle-aged family members, the elderly, sadhus, kids even…everyone embarks this journey with an unshakeable and unbreakable steadfastness. 

I’ve never been to a religious place of this historical and mythological stature before. Not only was my time there punctuated by sights like these, but it also almost took me back to a place where time had decided to stand still indefinitely. It’s a marvel of sorts to stumble upon the pages of history for real. For a thorough city-bred girl like me, Govardhan offered me a view of what life used to be like when I was small, or not around, perhaps. It certainly took me back to all the maze-like gullies and cobbled streets overflowing with oversized bullock carts, buffaloes, open drains, wooden doors without locks, bricklane pathways that I had long left behind when we moved away from UP back yonder. It was both overwhelming and wondrous – a walk back that I filled with photographs and snippets to keep fresh in my mind for the times to come. 

Here is my picture story of Govardhan.