Auli: Where I met Snow and Rediscovered Friendship!

It was the moment I had been trekking for since morning; and wondering for since childhood. I had seen it numerous times before in the newspaper, in movies, in dreams but never for real. I always wondered whether the superlatives used by the poets for snow were descriptive or an exaggeration to amplify its beauty. And then, it was in front of me. Snow, finally, we met. But it was just half of what the trip had in store for me.

 

With a heavy heart, I waved without actually raising a hand, and glanced at our camps. Rishikesh, you always surprise me and help me to find something inside myself, I thought and turned to witness my friends making time lapse videos of the road ahead; however, I was in a time lapse of my own.

Next Stop, Food

In order to save time, our driver had urged us to leave the camps early and we obliged. After all, the breakfast was not included in our customized deal. And a devouring competition commenced between our eyes and bellies where eyes got a 90 minute head start with a picturesque view on the menu. Within an hour we realized the essence of the saying, “Pehle pet pooja fir kam duja.”

We needed Food. Food! Not some fried picnic snacks we had in our bags. And I don’t know why I started having this unquenchable desire for a Mango drink, Mazza to be specific. After driving for half an hour more, we found a chain of Dhabas in a line and we chose one randomly. Almost all the Dhabas looked the same, so no point in wasting time.

We had Pranthas, Pakodas, Tea, Coffee and Bun Maska. Our Hyderabadi friends were like, why you North Indians are so obsessed with Pakodas and Pranthas? And I was like, c’mon embrace the difference as it is the beauty of travelling; and next time when we come to Hyderabad, we would satiate ourselves with Biryani.

I liked Bun Maska a lot. Such a simple dish it was; the sweet-salty taste along with a hot cup of well-cooked tea was awesome. We left the place along with a bottle of Mazza which gave my friends an instrument to scoff for the next two hours with me at the receiving end.

Huh! Nevermind!

Auli is around 280km further ahead of Rishikesh; on the way to Badrinath. And though our Driver was highly efficient, with his negotiation skills, in keeping our breaks to a minimum, there came a view that we were like,

“Bhaiya side me rokna” (Bro, stop the car sideways)

“Bhaiya thodi der mein diesel bharwane ke lie rukna hi hai” (We will be having a halt soon at a Petrol Pump)

“Ha waha bhi ruk jana, par yaha Roko” (Yeah, but stop here too)

And he obliged, ha had too.

I was a little less polite, but the view demanded so. Check for yourself.

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And it was only the starting. There were so many awesome view-points: Perpetual meadows, panoramic views of ranges of Himalayas, the colour changing (might be due to different angles of reflection and less tourists) river babbling along, strip/level irrigation and many more. At many junctions, our driver told us about the destinations of the roads not taken. I was amazed and an idea of a future trip got incepted in mind. A Solo trip. But at that point, Auli had my undivided attention.

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It took us 10 hours to reach Auli. We initially thought of going to Joshimath and then taking a Gandola to Auli, but yet again our driver cajoled us otherwise and I must say it was a wise decision. Why? See it yourself…

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I had seen this thing before when I searched for Auli and I had to rule it out. Why? Because it looked expensive. But I didn’t know that it is a government resort. Yeah!

Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam Limited (GMVNL) is a state government agency which takes care of this resort; and our happiness just multiplied manifolds after hearing the room tariffs. We went to our room after treading two floors by stairs, lost our breath in the process, and placed our bags before collapsing on the bed. Our asses might have thanked us in the form of a creak from the bed. It felt Heaven. It was 8 on the clock, so we just rested for half an hour, used loo, wore jackets and started treading towards the restaurant. None of us said so, but it was a little haunting in the night. I mean, the wind was making a myriad of noises and the sound of footsteps or fluctuating lights in the nearby dorm can freak you out. Later that night, my friends experienced something a notch higher when they went for a stall on the road outside the main gate of the resort. They saw a white reflection. None of them waited for a second to inspect what it was and it was completely understandable. Who the hell would have!

We satiated our tummies in the cafeteria, which was subtle with a TV for us to watch cricket and scrumptious food, before taking a long walk back, 2 floors, to our room. Whether it was oxygen deprivation due to height or low stamina due to unhealthy daily routine, we all were exhausted when we reached our room. I was. Therefore, I wasted no time or energy in a night talk before getting lost in my slumber. And yes, then I understood why some people go to a hill-station to relax and sleep. Though, I would prefer adventure any day, but some nights are better when spent peacefully in your bed.

After getting all ready for our trek, we were about to leave when a friend got an important call for an interview. It was impromptu and can’t be avoided. He had to attend it on Skype in the next 4 hours and hence, he decided to stay back and join us as soon as possible. Everything happens for a reason. This delay latter turned into an Experience that he will never forget.

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The facility of an Air chair was available from the top floor of our resort, which trembled and freaked us out. It was similar to the ones we see in movies to take skiers to an elevated point. I was a little disappointed to see all the land and not the white covering I was craving beneath my feet. But the overall view, was indeed amazing. The Himalayan range was standing tall on all our sides, and we were slowly moving mid-air on a hovering chair. Wonderful. The weather was complimenting the view. However, the weather of Auli is a little unpredictable, so it’s better to confirm before planning your trip. We had expected Snowfall, and it did play for some time on my mind. Though, the air was cool, the sun was enlightening our path and the trek was not hard.

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We had hired a guide, highly recommended, to accompany us to the Snow and the Frozen Lake but he gave us more than just the direction. He enlightened us about a lot of things which is very hard to find on Internet. He told us a scary story of a group of friends who had lost their way and were never found. And also about the local people and their local routines over the mountains. Such stories make a trip more than just snapping some pictures and returning home.

The land was uneven, the soil was moist at places, so we had to be cautious, but it was the view which was enchanting and it was filling us up with energy to trek. Snow was 2-3 km away from the Air Chair, as per our guide. Initially I thought, what the hell. Why we have to trek? But, at that time I didn’t know that these 2-3 km, would lead to a rediscovery.

Next Stop, SNOW!!

 We all have seen various movies in which a set of protagonists trek the unfathomable ranges around the world with unfaltering enthusiasm either due to a dream or for some other reason. They scale the mountains down while facing a lot of hardships and uncovering a lot of mysteries. In real life too, a trek could be such a task. Only, the dramatics and mystical creatures are dearly missed. As, the uncovering takes place inside ourselves.

Few of my friends who love to trek, and have a better stamina, were way ahead of us along with the guide. And I, along with a few, were panting along, taking breaks to catch some pictures along with our breath, and thinking why such haste. Like the day before, I was in a time-lapse of my own, trying to savor each and every moment as if some answers were hidden in the depths of the trunks of our wooden companions. Sometimes having less Stamina than others is also a blessing.

But more than those answers, a question was irritating me.

How trekking shall be done?

Shall it be done as swiftly as possible to see the view from the top or shall it be done at a natural pace while savoring every moment?

Well, it was an irritating question because it was constantly making me think; who is spoiling the fun of trekking together? The ones who are ahead or the ones who are moving behind. But nevertheless, we trekked. After trekking for 2 hours, we reached to a point, from where we can clearly witness the grandeur of Nanda Devi Range from a distance, and yes Snow too! I was awestruck.

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We touched snow, rolled over it, played snow ball, and finally, laid on the snow-less ground (nearby) facing towards the sky. The fresh air was filling our lungs, and the formless clouds were a treat to watch. If the sunlight was kissing our cheeks, a cold breeze was caressing our bodies. It was as majestic as it was laying on the bed of the Ganga river at Rishikesh. And then, I turned my face rightwards to see one of my best friends sitting on a big rock. He was sitting there quietly, as if wandering into the infinite for something. I had never seen him like that. Initially, I thought it was for his Facebook Display picture, but nobody was holding the camera. And it was at that moment, when I got the answers that I was seeking. I had a smile over my face, and turned my head upwards and closed my eyes. The yellow halo was waiting for me behind my closed eyes.

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When we trekked down, we reached a Hanuman temple, I suppose, from where we have to take a different route for the frozen lake. It was there where we received a call from our friend who had an interview. He needed the direction to reach us and because we were at a height, there was no network for him to reach us earlier. We waited for him to come, while our guide and the best trekker among us rushed to get him.

When he came, he told us how he got lost while trekking without any guide. He told us, how he got slipped at a slope, which was literally un-trekable due to solid ice, and how at a point of time he thought that it was impossible. It was scary as we had heard the story of a group getting lost and never found again. And then, he told this:

“You know, when I got slipped I tried multiple times to get back up. It was useless as the ice was too slippery and there was no other way. I screamed to see if anybody is nearby but failed to hear any response. If there was someone else with me I might have given up the thought of scaling it and would have waited for some help to come. But, as I was alone, I knew I had to do it myself and somehow the power manifested within.”

Damn! The answers which I had got earlier at the top got clearer. After it, it was as transparent as air. Better than how, I got the answer to why trekking shall be done. And the answer was to find yourself. For my interview friend, it was the inner strength, for my best friend it was the solace in the infinite, and for me it was the finding that we are just the extension of nature. Nobody is wrong with his/ her approach as the questions which we all are looking for are different. It helped me embrace the differences, with some of my friends, which were irritating me at the start, and turned one more chapter in my book of friendship with a happy ending.

After hearing his adventures last 1 hour, we trekked to the frozen lake, collected some memories which you can find below, and then then descended back towards the Air Chair. On our way, our guide showed us some rooms, which were so beautiful that I decided to visit them again with my family and especially during Snow fall. They were just above the lake.

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We did find some remnants of the animals beside the lake. It was scary to look into that empty eyes’ socket!

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When we finally concluded the trek, I was exhausted. So, I moved back to our room for some coffee and my diary to write about my day, whereas my friends decided to stay back at the only man-made lake nearby. They returned after taking some more pictures for their social media channels.:P

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And that’s how, Auli helped me meeting Snow and rediscovering friendship.

After having a nice dinner, we went for a stall, and slept as we had to depart early next morning. More than the schedule, it was the exhaustion that led us to our beds.

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We left the resort around 10, after having 2 cups of its exquisite coffee, and reached Delhi in 13 hours. And when my mom asked me how my trip was, I was like, “Interesting, very interesting.”

Note:

  1. Don’t worry about the food, the ski equipment, guides, snow shoes, gloves or anything else. It all has been arranged before the trek commences.
  2. Ski training programs are also available in different packages. You just have to inquire it before-hand.
  3. The Air Chair ticket is easily available from the counter without any pre-booking and the Gandola ticket from Joshimath, as far as I know.
  4. Phone networks don’t work everywhere during the trek so keep your fellow trekkers within sight and take a local guide if you are not familiar with the trek.
  5. Last but not the least, don’t pollute the place. Respect the place and in turn it will give you memories to cherish.

If you are here after reading everything written above, I thank you for patience and hope that you liked it. Please don’t forget to spread the love by sharing, liking and commenting.

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Let’s Go to Lonavala


“You may remember a place due to many factors; but you will only cherish it if you had a great experience. And, if it has all the ingredients such as old friends, new friends, minor setbacks, adventure, awesome weather, scrumptious food and a friend who knows how to handle a DSLR, exceedingly well, to capture everything, then that trip is indeed special. Such was my first of many trips to Lonavala.”

Being placed, for your first job, away from home is a blessing in disguise, especially if you are transferred to Pune in mid of Delhi’s summer. The expression I had on landing in Pune was one of the most awesome expression I have ever had. So, after getting all the necessary things in order, from house to wires where we could hang our underclothes for drying, my friend came up with an idea of going to Lonavala. And in hindsight, it was one of the best idea ever.

It  happened 4 years ago, but still while writing this I had a few tears and a huge smile. It made all of us nostalgic, and my friends who have never been to this mini heaven, Lonavala, curious. That’s what memories are there for, aren’t they? To help us relive those good times again and again. I hope you all will enjoy it. Click here to read it.

Love at first sight: Matheran

“Marathon!?!? Is it a place?” was the first reaction I had, when my friends told me that they have planned a trip to Matheran for my weekend trip to Pune. “I am really fascinated after seeing your Facebook check-ins and captivating pictures. Don’t disappoint me” I made my only concern (and warning:P) clear when they told me that it’s a spectacular place with no motor vehicles allowed in the vicinity. The last part really made me google it to find that it wasn’t an exaggeration.

And to be frank, I got blown away or rather, got smitten by the beauty of Matheran. Here are some of the pics and the link to my experience at Matheran. Indeed, it was Love at first sight. <The link is at the bottom>

 

Source: Love at first sight: Matheran

The Frustrated Sheep

Once there was a sheep who was frustrated from its life.
Why?
Because it saw the murder of a fellow grass eater by a beast with wet white pointed teeth; and when she overcame the nightmares of that haunted scene, its wool was greedily snatched away. So, not only the sheep was haunted but naked too. It asked God, ‘Why did you make me a sheep? To go through life like this!?’ The God didn’t answer but manifested a small boy shivering in front of the sheep and asked, ‘would you give your wool to release it from its agony if you could?’
‘Yes!’ said the sheep. And in a second, the sheep realized that it has a purpose.

Was life unfair to the sheep by not making it a lion? Well, maybe but did it stop ‘it’ in serving a purpose, though unintentionally. Absolutely not!

So, the question is, can life be unfair to us who can become anything by just altering our habits, attitude, thoughts and perspective?

Well, ask the sheep! You will always get the answer:)

P.s – I have heard these somewhere and they always give me hope during those frustrated moments.
‘Luck can be cruel sometimes, but the end product of hardwork and sincerity is always sweet. And whatever belongs to you, will find its way home, someday.’

Education And Graduation

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It means nothing to be a graduate if you are not getting educated in the process. Education helps to develop you as an individual, as a human being, as a parent, as a responsible citizen, as the best version of yourself  whereas graduation helps you to get a job, build a reputation and progress in your life. Both are essential.

However, in the current structure of the society, you can survive by doing your graduation and working hard. But if you want to transcend, be educated. Take informed decisions and your own opinions rather than going with the heard. After all, that is the purpose of education, to help you to be the Real and best version of YOU!

A Small Prayer to Almighty!

 

Sing me a song or the darkness would creep me out;

The loneliness in itself is depressing, and my body is shivering with a doubt.

Sing me a song, to let me know you care;

And at the precipice, I will have the courage to dare.

Sing me a song, to soothe my weary heart;

So it could believe more on what it already knows from the start.

Sing me a song, as it has been so long;

To let me know that I haven’t done anything wrong.

Sing me a song, as I know you could hear me cry;

As then I wouldn’t need to ask you why?

Sing me a song as I desperately need it;

And as you promised you would when I ask for it.

Sing me a song, so that I can sleep in peace;

And can drape my soul with your golden fleece.

Sing me a song and the darkness will fear;

That I was right, and my God is always near.

Sing me a song, as the song itself state;

Be willing to write, and I will not let anybody steal your slate.

It assures me that the land I have ploughed won’t get eroded;

The seeds that I have patiently sowed won’t get infected;

The dreams for which I have persevered shall come true;

And which ends with, “I love you too.”

 

 

 

प्रकृति का बुलावा (Nature’s Call)

घड़ी में टक टक हुए जा रही थी
धड़कन मेरी तेज़ हुए जा रही थी
न जाने क्यों मन में हलचल हो रही थी
कि आज तो कुछ काण्ड होए!

रास्ता कोई भी न नज़र आ रहा था
बेबसी का मानो समा छा रहा था
मंद मंद मेरा दिल भी अब घबरा रहा था
कि यह हर बार क्यों होए!

बारिश की छम छम आज तरसा रही थी
जान मेरी पल पल जाए ही जा रही थी
ख्याबो में बस 1 तमन्ना उमड़ रही थी
कि बस वो हासिल होए!

मौसम और ठंडा हुए ही जा रहा था
कभी पैर तो कभी पेट, मैं सहला रहा था
और अब यह दर्द मैं न सह पा रहा था
बस और न बर्दाश्त होए!

तभी गाड़ी को छोड़ मैं भागा
बारिश में भीगा-भागा
क्यों था में इतना अभागा
कि सब गलत 1 साथ ही होए!

पर फिर 1 रोशनी झिलमिलाई
मेरी सास में सास आई
शायद किस्मत ने ली थी अंगड़ाई
जो थी अबतक सोए!

देख मेरी हालत 1 आदमी मुस्कुरा रहा था
पर मेरी मंज़िल का रास्ता भी वो दिखा रहा था
और मेरा पेट अब चिल्ला रहा था
कि भाग इससे पहले काम खराब होए!

आह!!

वो संतुष्टि की आह सुहानी थी
और बारिश की छम छम अब लग रही दिवानी थी
सिर्फ अंदर के गंद के निकलते ही दुनिया हसीन होने वाली थी
ऐसे कभी न सोचा होए!
क्यूंकि यह मन बड़ा बलवान है
मुश्किल में इसका चंचल होना आम है
और तब इसे जीतकर जो लड़ सके
उसी का उद्धार होए!

P.s: This poem is solely dedicated to all the public toilets, which have always helped me at difficult times:P The poem is totally based on true events. 😉 Please forgive me if I have made any spelling or grammatical error. I tried my best to recall all the rules from the Hindi classes I had in school. And last, if it has made you smile, do share it with the people who understand Hindi 😀

P.s.s: For those who don’t understand Hindi, it’s a poem in which a guy is trapped in a traffic and has to go to a Loo. And finally against all odds, he finds his solace in a public toilet:P

 

A Trip to Heaven: Rishikesh

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“You not only enjoy Nature because it’s serene; you do because it’s your beautiful extension.” It’s an epiphany I had while I was enduring the rapids in the mighty river GANGA at Rishikesh during White Water River Rafting.

The experience was one of its kinds; and if you haven’t done it yet, write it right now on your bucket list. However, if the aforementioned quotes are not enough to pull you out from your mundane routine to give River Rafting a try, give the following posts a read and I hope they shall do the needful.

Rishikesh: Conduit towards Heaven Part 1

Rishikesh: Conduit towards Heaven Part 2

Enjoy:)

 

Why haven’t we met before?

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What is life without Music?
I don’t know. All I can say is that I am grateful that I met her, and fell in love with her. But it took me some time to feel her inside me. As just like intercourse, you have to be naked to embrace someone fully —embracing the other person’s vulnerability, and being vulnerable yourself. You have to open your heart out, and let her stay there to decorate it in accordance with your understanding; in accordance with your love. And then, from physical interactions it transcends to a spiritual bonding which results in a cosmic dance, and spreads happiness and harmony everywhere.

Such was the case, when I had learnt how to play a Guitar and composed something. And those 3 minutes truly felt like forever. And since then, just like an old wine, the taste is only getting better with each sip every day.:)

Believe in your Wings

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To all the souls who are down, do whatever you feel like to come out from the valley of self pity, sorrow, depression and suicidal tendencies. (Take your time, I know it’s easier said than done)

If you want to quit on something, Quit. If you feel like giving up on something, Give Up.

But never ever Quit or Give up on your self. Ask your Heart, and believe it, as it really knows everything from the start.

Start afresh, if nothing else is working. Look for the window, and take the leap of faith.
And always, always, believe that you have those wings hidden inside you.

P.s: I won’t go further, as I know everybody has a different story, different demons to fight and different approach towards life. But, remember, the plot remains the same. You fell down, got beaten down, but if you keep on believing in yourself, you will fly one day.:)