Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Up-close and personal with nature…

The great Greek philosopher Aristotle has rightly said, “Nature does nothing uselessly.” And so, when it calls you for its attention, you know there is something miraculous waiting for you. The same miracle waited for me somewhere in the hills of Pachmarhi, where I recently took a temporary recluse, away from the hustle of the city.

No, am not a travel-freak. Neither do I like hitting the road all so frequently. But when it’s a place, which promises to offer a soulful connection with its surrounding sans the ever-noisy, ever-polluting ambience of the city, I am all for it.

And when I packed my bags for the 5 day trip to enchanting Pachmarhi, little did I know that this tour would be a lot more than ‘just another journey’ of a lifetime..

With some apprehension, I climbed the bus to Pachmarhi. I was apprehensive, because this was one of those few journeys, which I would be exploring alone, without my family. I’ll be all by myself. But I still wanted to drink in the enthralling nectar of adventure, which I had heard, Pachmarhi offers to its visitors.

I was hungry or rather starving, as our (mine and 240 other co-travelers’, mostly students) buses awaited the RTO clearance. I somehow managed to gorge on some Parle-G biscuits to appease my hunger. The cold breeze was making its way into the bus through the driver’s glassless window. It was getting colder inside. My shawl and jerkin came in handy. Thank gosh I surrendered to my mum’s insistence on keeping warm clothes in the hand-baggage! All this gave me some relief from cold. I patiently awaited the morning sun and dreamt of how it would look from the running bus. And somewhere in between intoxication put me to sleep.

The morning sun was deep orange and its rays soothingly welcomed us to a brand new destination of beauty and magnetism, never seen before. This was Pachmarhi, one of the most under-rated paradises on earth. I could feel the freshness in the air. It took away all the lethargy that I thought only a morning cup of tea could do! I could smell the nostalgic fresh fragrance of the wet soil, which reminded me of my nanny’s village…

We reached our hotel. Everything was fine until I stepped into my room along with twenty other girls, who pulled, pushed and yanked the door open, only to rush inside and fast forward the seemingly ‘organized’ place into a total mess. The so-called ‘hall’ soon lost its identity. ‘Well, this is how I have to spend the next five days, but let be.’ I consoled myself.

Our ‘dhanno’ (our jeeps), waited for us, outside the hotel building. There were two people to guide us through our journey. Our excitement made us hurriedly rush into our respective jeeps and we headed straight to ‘handi-khoh’, a valley named after an Englishman ‘Handi’ who committed suicide here. It was jittery to look deep into it. This was how our garrulous jeep-driver described it. And how right he was! It was frighteningly deeper than what we had imagined! The sight was fierce but, nevertheless, exciting.

We moved on with hearts full of exhilaration to our next destination, Chauragarh, which was a whopping TWO AND A HALF HOUR CLIMB! And mind you, the way to Chauragarh is extremely zig-zag and bouldery. And over 1200 stairs have been constructed to reach the blissful seat of Lord Shiva. Our legs became stiff and numb by the time we reached the place where a life size idol of Shiva bhagwan was enshrined. The sight of this beautiful statue made us forget the pain and the numbness for some time and the ecstasy of climbing such a huge distance helped in reaching back to our jeeps.

But seeing our leg-weary condition, the two guides suggested calling it a day. Coz they knew better that the rest of the destinations called for bigger action and sprightliness.

Usually am very fussy about making my bed tidy before I hit the sack, but that day I was too tired to bother about all that stuff. All I wanted to do was to sleep like a log. The condition of the room was pathetic. Given the fact there were twenty girls staying in one ‘hall’, what else can you imagine? But I didn’t care a damn. Before I could think any further I was already deep into the land of Nod.

We woke up to start the day afresh and my legs surprisingly had become sturdy enough for another escapade walk in the woods.

The second day was less tiring than the first one and we enjoyed our stay tremendously at Apsara Vihar. This beautiful bathing pool offers an unforgettable joy to its guests. Water continuously falls upon a small ‘kund’ creating magic. We clicked as many pictures of this awesome fall as we could and left some memory space of our cams for the next tourist spot.

I can never fail to remember the beauteous scene of the sun immersing in the sky, just like a new born falling asleep in her mother’s lap. We know the baby will get up again the next morning to light up the face of mankind. This was the sunset point. No matter how tired we were, nobody wanted to miss the chance to be in dialogue with the Sun God, when it was innocently cool. I bet, once you are atop you desire to stay there forever.

The night was musical with the tabla and harmoniums playing some old classical numbers. The musicians accompanied us throughout the course of the trip. The music was the icing on the cake and was greatly rejuvenating.

Next day we scarily hit the ‘reech ki gufa’. We were warned not to make any noise there as it could alert the wild animals residing in the jungle. But hey! Girls have got to do what girls have got to do, right? And when there are 250 of them, even the roaring of a lion is belittled. But thankfully, we didn’t face any of the savage beasts of the jungle. And cheerfully we went on with our joyride of exploration.

Before coming back to the hotel, we had two ravishing waterfalls waiting for us. Both were spectacular. Though the arduous roads consumed a lot of body glucose, we still were flabbergasted to see the beauty of these falls. Bee-fall is about 150 feet high and Dutches fall has its own charisma. Visiting the two waterfalls was truly a spiritual experience.

The last day observed a bundle of mystery unfolded as we visited the Pandav Gufa. Pandavas are said to have spent their days of exile in these caves. It was intriguing to know the detailed history of this place as explained by the usher. We also spent some time in the laboriously built Pandav Garden there and enjoyed the splendor of the place.

Pachmarhi Jheel was my personal favorite. In contrast to the hastiness of our caravan, the Jheel appeared placid and undisturbed. It’s a fabulous spot. The scintillating rays of the sun falling on its surface made it appear like a bed of diamonds. Back home, I knew my sis, chacha, mum n dad might be missing me. I missed them too. And I wished they were there with me at the time when I was rejoicing in the tranquility of this stunning creation of God.

Well, sadly the trip was over. Jheel was the last spot of our trip but it will always be the first destination of the memory ride, whenever there’ll be a mention of God, beauty or nature.

It is only after visiting, relishing and falling in love with Pachmarhi, that you realize that it is truly, yet another paradise on earth.

On our way back home, we halted at Hoshangabad, on the banks of Narmada. As buses couldn’t make their way to the narrow streets, we had to walk through a busy market and it was a pretty long distance, given the already worn out condition of our shoes. We walked past people who would comment – ‘ye koi naari mukti morcha hai kya?’, ‘Kidhar se aaye ho behenji?’. God knows how I managed to walk like that. Except for the morning walks in quiet streets or joggers’ parks, I am not used to walking like that, in the middle of such busy streets, people staring at you n all. But I did. There was no choice. But in the end I enjoyed my stay at Hoshangabad, Narmada kinare.

All in all, the trip was an unforgettable experience. Sometimes you just want to sit and marvel at the beauty of God’s creations. That is exactly what I did in Pachmarhi. It only reinforced my faith in that Supreme Being and His Godliness, which together cast a spell on your existence through these magical creations.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Gali cricket…howzzzat!

It’s a sleepy weekend afternoon and you’re still deep in the slumber land….on a date with someone as sultry as tom cruise…whisking away to paris in a hot air balloon...sipping red wine with strong plum aroma..(it’s a health-conscious choice u c…) and….. bham!! The balloon bursts in the midway… and…. so does your dream..and you are woken up by an unruly, highly unromantic clamor…you wonder what went wrong with the air balloon, and you look around for your date, but in no time you realize it was a gushy reverie…you are nowhere but in the paris of your room and balloon of your bed…and alas! there’s no Tom Cruise…no red wine…juz the blank walls staring back at you and the coffee machine buzzing…

You jump at your feet. Your eyes filled with wrath. The one who dared to put a hold on your flights of fancy won’t be spared! Not this time!

As you stump your feet with fury in the direction of the hullabaloo, you are greeted with a broken glass window and some small, scary faces peeping through the glass if they’ve seen some prehistoric, gigantic dragon break free from a museum…

You open the door with a vengeance and are all set to spit out the fire…but even before you think of opening your stinking mouth you hear the unusual, sugar-coated apology that is exactly the opposite of the wild screaming, which echoes your gali all the time..”didi please ball wapas dedo”..

At one moment you are driven away with the false innocence..and you stand helpless..but soon you gather yourself back and refuse to give them the “saare fasad ki jad” , “afat ki pudiya”, the cricket ball. You shout at the top of your voice, as if convincing yourself “now it’s my turn to scream” …and close the door on their face with doubled force…throw away the “afat ki pudiya”, the “dream shatterer”, the sadela cricket ball into the dustbin, march back into your room and sprawl across the bed. And then….no matter how hard you try…tom cruise had gone for another date. You keep abusing those little monsters…but you know they’ll come back again tomrw with another ‘haath-gola’, which will bombard someone else’s dream with impunity..and fair chances of that someone being you again! HOWZZZAAAT!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

San Francisco Calling - A Momentary adieu

Being an elder sister & having known her for years, I have always considered my sister, my ‘little angel’, as she’s the only soul on this earth who has brought blissful joy & unfazed happiness in my life since her birth. And now this girl occupies a special place in my heart not only as a sibling but also as my best buddy.

Keeping roadmaps ready for all of her pursuits, this gal is capable of doing anything which requires imagination & creativity. Her ingeniousness & knack for sketching & animation will surely take her to great heights. Since I was knee-high to a grasshopper, I knew she’s a star.
Call it clairvoyance or just an intuition, but I have seen her wearing the crown of glory many times in my dreams. Firm & resolute as she is, one day she’s definitely going to make her family burst with pride.

And now it’s time. I have to see her off for good, to the place of her dreams and our hopes. She’ll be embracing all new world full of opportunities and challenges. But this goodbye is temporary. She’ll conquer the battle of the identity quest and will return with the winning sword.

But before she leaves to execute her ambitions, here’s what I have written for her -

Shared smiles, shared tears
All intensified though years
Your dreams, our hope
With you these elope

All wish you return
For the day we yearn
With the golden crown
And valor around

A momentary adieu
We bid to you
And to Him we pray

Victory fills your way…

Lots of blessings from all your loved ones..

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

my dental bling bling!

Hey girls! Listen up! I have a wonderful ornament added to my vanity. This, you don’t need to remove, so no need of brooding over its safety. What better place to store your essentials in than your body? And neither do you need to worry about your looks..because you know you look like the television superstar – our very own “jassi ji”..jiske jaisi koi nahi.. Trust me, it’ll be painful in the beginning to have it, but once you are the proud owner, nothing like it.. Oh..It’s a different matter I forgot the original look of my dearie dear teeth. Ok! I have a brace put on my teeth. Fine? And am wearing it since such a long time, I could well become the next iron & steel ambassador of this country!

While initially I ralphed at the thought of visiting my dentist, the clinic now has become a second home. Initially I used to dreadfully stare at the big tacky posters of bracy people with my mouth wide open (so much so, the entire universe could dwell in it).

But now sometimes when the treatment takes too long, I don’t even mind catching up on a siesta or even filing my nails while the most hateful person in my life, my dentist, performs his ‘kasai-giri’ or his so-called duty of dentistry.

Just to keep me reminded of where I am, the doc has to be hard on my teeth, making the pain unbearable sometimes. Just that. Nothing else. It only leaves me unable to have my meals for days and I have to survive on liquid intakes. See, my doc is so thoughtful! He’s keeping me on a diet! he he he..that is why I hate him so respectfully. (Only if I could get a needle of some anesthetic to stab him in the eye!) and to top it all, what a good breath he has! Sometimes when he forgets to wear the mask, it doesn’t bother him as much as it hurts my long nose. There’s no need of any anesthetic then. See, he’s so economical. Saving on the medicines so crucial to the patients!

And, and, and, he’s such multitasking personality! What should I say? He treats his patient, attends phone calls at the same time, talks ruthlessly to his assistant, and in the process drops the tools on the floor and without washing puts them back into the patient’s mouth. Eeyu! Squeamish, isn’t it?

Tried changing the dentist, but I was told the jaw treatment that I was undergoing had very few doctors.

Doctors are considered Gods. And when they just want to enjoy the title, without being one, they break the faith of millions who rely on them, harboring suspicion for the profession of dentistry.

I’ll miss my braces so much when they’re gone..and more than that my hateful dentist.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Dulha hum dhoond layenge!!

"Aapki badi beti ke liye ek bahut acchha rishta aaya hai. Ladka hazaron main ek hai!" Sounds very filmy, I know..but these are the dialogues of my real-life film..the writers-directors being my relatives. Just notice the change in the dialogues as the film proceeds – When I was 16 – the protagonist (me of course) used to say – papa, he’s my friend. His dad is an IAS officer. Just look at him once! Dad – who cares? Just stay away from him. And at 24, there is a role reversal –

Dad – “Beta, this guy is my friend’s son. He’s an IAS officer. Just look at him once!

Zamana badal gaya hai. Says who? Society is still suffering from male dominance. If you are a girl who is of a ‘marriageable’ age, you know what I am talking about. Independence brings many perks, but it can’t change the rules for girls. If we try to bring about the change in the society, which is very crucial as we all know, we are looked at with suspicion, especially if we are a girl. A woman still has to leave her parents’ house and go to live with a stranger. She is still expected to know everything right from preparing good food to being a working woman, taking care of both the fronts with ease and without making any fuss about it. I know there are live-in relationships and now even the guys leave their house and work somewhere else, away from their parents, but still they’ll be men. The ‘supposed- to -be -more –privileged’ ones. What? Don’t agree? Just pick up the Sunday times, and have a look at the matrimonial section – look for the BRIDES WANTED column – it reads something like this –
“Wanted a tall, fair, slim, beautiful, educated and working bride, who’s a good mix of tradition and modernity.” Nothing wrong with this. People have their own expectations. But what really gets annoying is when you enquire about the guy who put this advert; he turns out to be a middle-class, greedy, dark, short and dumb-witted creep! When the girl objects to this, they say “why do you expect so much? You have to compromise somewhere. The guy has a good family. He’s well-earning.” Yeah, right. So what if he forgets to greet your parents when he meets them, doesn’t flush the toilet after using it, laughs like a monster and looks like a shit!”

just compare the above mentioned ad with the GROOMS WANTED column – just to quote one example, which reads like this-

“wanted a well-educated, well-earning, cultured guy with a good family background. LOOKS DON’T MATTER.” Not that the girl does not want a good-looking or a tall, dark, handsome guy. It’s because the girls are expected to compromise. They are a matter of worry as soon as they reach a certain age. And if they don’t marry at that age, they are considered to have some major flaws. And it’s very humiliating for their parents. I am not saying it. This is what I have seen myself. No matter how fast our country is running towards modernity, certain aspects of history, good or bad, do run along!

Shaadi ka laddoo

No no, am not talking about the phrase..what I mean here is the literal thing…the laddoo-pedas that u eat or rather willingly or unwillingly overeat in marriages..ufff! those jijajis and phuphajis…those kaki-mamis…this is the only time in the year when u hate them so much! Isn’t it? Am talking about the marriages in which you are the ‘atithi’ or the guests, which in Indian culture are equivalent to God (?)…probably this is the reason why they do or rather overdo the traditional ‘atithi-satkar’, the grand Indian hosting tradition.

God is great. He is infinite. But we poor souls have a finite body wherein resides a finite stomach which is capable of digesting finite number of things. This simple rule, if not followed may lead to infinite exigencies! Why in the world is this so difficult for them to understand? ‘Bas ek aur’, ‘arre aapne to kuch khaya hi nahi!’, ‘ek laddoo mere haath se please’…oh c’mmon give me a break! They grab any food item that is around, stuff your mouth mercilessly with it and make you gulp the entire thing in the ‘marriage dustbin’ (oh I forgot, it’s also called stomach haan).

The only genuine smiles that you see on such marriages are of the everyone suffers from an artificiality syndrome. They carry smiles which are so pretentious, it would give a complex to our highly pretentious netas..and why not, after so much of over-eating what else can they do?? So, now whenever I attend a marriage ceremony, I always carry a bottle of hajmola or for the ‘things-are-getting-worse’ situations, I carry pudin-hara. Once bitten twice shy!

Tell you what, this blog thing is a really nice concept..nice place to unburden all the frustrations and, ok, the good experiences as well. But this being my biggest pet peeve, I am beginning my blog with this one ‘shaadi ka laddoo’, which everyone of us have to eat once, no matter we eat the bigger laddoo of marriage or not!