Give in to the design, it knows how to unfold the best!

that incidental trail, so is life!

Been pretty long since i wrote last, just discovered i had even hit the threshold of forgetting the block setting of the document on my webpage as well. Notwithstanding the rustic fact that i don’t even pay much heed to the suavity and aesthetics as i had just been writing the stuff that filled my mind on a passing, today though i decided to look up for a brighter text color. Pink it was then, the color people do associate with the female living without any particular convincing reason, pink or mauve or whatever it was, not so good with colors and i know ladies would tear through me on the argument on right shade of colour, i stay defensive on this one. My hero today is a female, one i just met fortuitously forced by the circumstances i brought on myself. Writing undecided devoid of a clear aim, clarity has always been elusive to me, couldn’t gather clarity in a trade-off between travel and philosophy so here i am, writing a quasi travel blog with philosophy hanging in between.


Hanol, thats a place of varied consequence, the seat to Mahasu Devta, a form of lord Shiva worshiped in regions of Garhwal, Uttrakhand and parts of Himachal and sure enough a pilgrimage destination for some and a quiet serene mountain hamlet of nothing much on offer except the temple and the tranquility for the city dweller with profound expectations. Now, how i ended up making a journey to this remote corner itself is a tale of my lackadaisical to the brim attitude and the hankering for some way-off woods and i tell you, thats a concoction for failure, kind of failure i savor. Sticking to a plan is confinement one takes comfort in, death of that plan set me free, though bought wrath from the flinty side of dear sister and closest friend’s wife who banked on my vulnerable plan. Those were some whiskey soaked goodbyes that started good about four months before i was to eventually leave Delhi for the new place, regulation shifting that came along the profession. G n R were closest i had and we would sip on some ale every chance we got and more so now as my days in Delhi were numbered. GG has been a friend since college and mind you, more brother than a friend. GG’s wife R has been a friend too since they started dating and eventually got married, R, that lady i always knew as a fiery, strong willed,curt though witty corporate trainer. She wasn’t pretty receptive to the idea of adventure travel as i started planning a trip to the mountains for the final stretch of goodbyes. She couldn’t have been, given the metropolitan life, corporate culture that she was in and then their young child of just three. I promised a plan blending in a cosy night retreat after every day’s drive and she bought it, GG, my man was just sipping on his wheat beer in perfect composure, maintaining that quintessential GG smile, hiding in it his affirmative belief in the fickleness of my plan and his trust in my misadventure.

Chakratta was the place i had my sights on, a serene little hamlet in Uttrakhand that i first visited on a bike and found some good trails to arouse my adrenaline and enough woods to lay it to rest. Perfect plan’s death concoction has a basic ingredient and i bought that enough, started the preparations with buying booze even before checking the booking for the resort or some hideout for the nights, few days passed and i finally paid some attention to the “less important” aspect of accommodation. I started up with checking up with the forest department for some way too deep into the woods sleepy guesthouse and i received my first wake up call, they tell me their guest houses are all gone under election commission for the time as elections were in play. Then came the commercial online booking sites, couldn’t really find some decent ones with my kind of adrenaline junkie palate, was rather fixated to have some way off retreat. I remembered staying at a government owned commercial property at Munsiyari, Kumaon once and it was sure a good experience, that was enough for me to start looking for a government owned tourist resort and nearest i could find was Hanol, a place just over a 100 kilometers of broken, bad road away from chakratta and the only merit it scored was its remoteness. Well, i didnt even know Hanol was that far as i booked the resort and that was the last nail in the already not so perfect plan’s coffin.

A couple of days prior to the drive, i discovered that Hanol was actually too way off if trails around Chakratta were to be aimed at besides it was 12 hours drive from Delhi, i prepared myself for the onslaught, my wife had already warned me against any adventure in this trip besides the burden of not letting my people down played heavy as after all i was the one entrusted with the responsibility of ill-planning the entire trip. Willy-nilly we set out and hit the road, long winding mountain road with relatively scanty traffic and patches of awe inspiring sights reassured me of the place, Hanol, its beauty, tranquility and then the noose of that responsibility just loosened a bit around my neck.

It took an entire day of driving to finally reach and i was starving, kids restless and the two ladies apprehensive. ladies had the apprehensions right, we got two beautiful set of rooms in the resort which had no other guest and there was a reason…. there was no restaurant in a radius of 20 long, curvy, dark and lonely kilometers…..i felt that agony of the noose tightening around my neck, throat suddenly went dry and i was choking, i looked at my wife, at R and i choked some more. Our man GG yet, was smiling, sometimes his composure makes me feel he is the next Dalai Lama and its a privilege being associated with him as someday i would perhaps get a chance of writing his biography, my only chance of hitting fame but right now i was dying of culpability and needed to excavate an eating joint somehow. My lord savior appeared in form of the resort caretaker and told me he is trying to speak to a lady in the village who owns a shabby little shack on the road and perhaps could cook something for us to survive the night. Last we met GG and R was at Fio, that uptown garden restaurant in the Garden of Five Senses, Delhi and this shack was pretty quick a run downstairs in comparison.

A small table with four chairs, a gas stove and few biscuit packs was all we had to call an eating joint tonight, the lady owner was cooking herself with her daughter to assist, Me and GG stayed in the car and turned to the famous Old Monk for solace and some thoughts of wisdom. Notwithstanding the expectations, Sita, the lady had cooked well and for me, the added advantage was presented by the fact that the lady was Gurkhali and had quintessential style of cooking……real hot pepper. Old monk and some hot food, i was good to hit the sack. I sheepishly announced that the next day’s dawn would see us packing for Chakratta and would find some good retreat, asked Sita to prepare breakfast too as there wasn’t a place to offer much before Chakratta on the next day’s drive as well. We in-fact, had bothered Sita at an inappropriate time and she had prepared a custom food order specifically for us, having spent some recent years in the capital city filled with malevolent, hard-bitten people with sole aim of sucking on someone else’s meagre resources one was pretty sure and prepared to pay dearly for what belly full we ate. Sita had a surprise for me, she asked me meagre 280 bucks, maan! That was less than one pack of decent cigarettes, I tried bargaining to pay some 500 that I found still was too little for the hospitality, the courteous smile she maintained as she declined to accept my proposition was touching.

We went back to our night retreat, continued drinking and R was cheerful and was liking the tranquility, I was hanging on to the slender thread of hope of getting some accommodation somewhere next to chakratta now as the plan was laid to rest in peace. Next day started energetic and fresh, we that included my wife and children paid our allegiance to Mahasu Devta, visited the temple and sought blessings meanwhile GG and R, agnostic as they were waited for us at Sita’s shack. We joined them, had our breakfast fill and pretty hearty one. I began my ritual of trying to push some extra money to Sita for what I felt was her hospitality and warmth, she would relent a bit. R requested Sita for a picture with us and she obliged with a tears in her eyes, she perhaps didn’t expect our respect in reciprocation of her candor conduct and humble hospitality without assuming anything in return. We all were touched, that was a basic human emotion that should just be obvious to all of us, helping fellow humans, that’s compassion and we had to travel 12 hours to see that happening.

Sita had meagre resources, she fights the entire day to run her shack, fights to keep the hope of having some prospect alive, she had an opportunity to make some paltry profit for a day but she didn’t let that idea flirt with her daily honesty, she stuck to her values and some random city dwelling people better endowed with some dough couldn’t shake her. She did a favour to all of us unaware, she kindled a belief in compassion, basic human emotions and shook us all out of our relationship with material comfort. None of us was indifferent to love and compassion, we had that already in us, she just stirred up what lay in slumber. She was rich, richer than the rest of us, richer in compassion, her conscience inculpable.

We wished her adieu and I was in jeopardy wishing her better prospects or wishing her status quo, I couldn’t decide. She had her conscience clear, her compassion intact and spirits undeterred, would that all hold on to the assault of civilization, the civilization as we call it however uncivil it may actually be. The contact, the proximity to the “practical’ indifferent city dwellers would spoil the demureness, won’t let her be what she was. I couldn’t decide what to wish for, I just left it to the unfolding of the design. Sure wouldn’t find that humility at manali or shimla or any other spoilt by internees to almighty dollar City tenant hill station. I wish that demure Sita endures, perhaps utopian, I just still wish.

Well, Hanol wasn’t a plan, that was a design that unfolded beyond my influence and understanding. Perhaps a visit to Mahasu Devta and then this lesson on humility. That unorganised jeopardy brought me even closer to my dearest GnR, we sipped on our ale at places we never planned, trails we never imagined leaving a tread on and lush woods that sooth my eyes still. Plans are vulnerable, plans are what we seek comfort in while the higher design governs all unnoticed, mountains have always been inviting and i would stay on a quest for the next summit, the next trail, next set of deep woods…….i wont plan, i give in to the design!


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Getting older and procrastinating it with change in genres!

Did someone just pour some Chipotle sweet onion sauce on my Cantonese noodles or its just my palate grown archaic!

Was time since last attempted some pub hopping and tub thumping on some hardihood inciting guitar and drums so took a trip to a microbrewery ghetto, girls were miser with clothes, people loud, smoke hung over the crowded human congregation as a grim reminder of the 1.4 billions that the nation nurtures.

Two nostalgia filled old timers, walked in with the tough acclimatised rapport and equally zealous thirst for some sweet, sour, aromatic beer and tender grilled chicken.

The beer was good and betting on the artic ice, chilled, some chicken and gulps to wash it down and the sense of motive started taking over.

Something was wrong, yes it was, that rush of adrenaline and long howling with the airguitar moments with a muscle frenzy, that’s what we always came for, damn it was a pub, what’s in a pub without the frenzy?

No led zep zeppelin, no pink Floyd, no G n R, no metallica, no chumbawamba, maaaaaan that was outrageous! And that DeeJay, he kept flipping and rolling those DESPACITOS, some Twerking posterior humdrum then some punjabi track with soft acoustic guitar in it …………….MAAN, HOW CAN SOME PUNJABI TRACK HAVE GUITAR IN IT?? That’s blasphemous.

Music made a forced entry to my ears, something that my soul would reject, nauseating, as obnoxious and out of place as HUMMUS IN MY NOODLES or AJINOMOTO IN MY LASAGNA, my palate sure told me it was degeneration of food.

Wait, what do I see then, girls and boys there waiving their hands and arms out, some flamboyant ladies actually giving twerk an ugly try with mammoth posterior…………….all this on not so music music.

Sure the world was at it’s end, I indeed could notice an asteroid heading in our direction, but then my mind gathered all that rare maturity and echoed loud to me,

MAAN, YOU’VE GONE OBSOLETE, THAT MUSIC IS FOR THOSE KIDS OUT THERE, YOU GO HOME AND PLAY YOURS.

now I know the reason world ends! And for us born in the 80s and stuck with rock retro vision it’s ending pretty soon. Generation gap comes sooner than you imagine nowadays, been hooked to rock for ages now and that love didn’t change with an occasional visit to the Rastafarian hood with some Bob Marley laidback hymns.

It was year 2012 and I was still at my regulation Pink Floyd and Van Halen while a friend brought a revelation, an entire USB drive full of EDM and Trance which I reluctantly accepted, tried listening to with a disinterested ear and then that manifestation started to envelope me with its freshness. I was out of the shower and refreshed, that left me a feeling, the bittersweet feeling of my own obsolescence, that reality punched me in the face and said it loud ” you are getting older by day“.

I had to beat the time, had to prevent it from etching my journey on my skin, i had to change my vintage Enfield cruiser with a faster and more zealous bike, i had to feed myself with that daily potion of fresh energy morsel by morsel. Biking, trekking, travel, fitness and acceptance of the “new” were my “morsels”, music included. I needed to climb that mountain, walk that trail, travel that road, run my ten miles, fit in my old jeans and i won’t let that youth slip away.

They say change is the only constant and i was decided, affirmative that i wont be that bullheaded adamantine cretin to resist the change. Youth was there, pretty much there in the change and that change i needed to embrace and cling on to, i accepted another genre and let myself sway in the rhythmic trance, i was young and that EDM and trance bestowed upon me the energy i looked for.

But then, was it just the change of genre i was longing for? Naah! that was the change and the acceptance of it that aroused the energy within. Staying stiff-necked with a genre was standing against an avalanche of change that was sure going to roll me over, i rather decided to put on my skis and ride along, let that pristine breeze of change hit me in the face as i ride through times, celebrating my journey as it goes.

Are you ready to take a hop, ride along the change? i grant you, that’s fun!

Paucity is a giver, abundance has blood on its hands!

Winter had just set in, that evening it asserted itself profoundly to have Delhi in shivers and though I had ditched my car for the sanity of riding my bike to maneuver through that quintessential Delhi evening chaotic traffic, my pale blue hands, numb with the chill conveyed how idiotic my decision was. I immediately asked for a stiff Old Monk the moment I reached, I was sipping on rum and cola at a restrobar inside the deer park at Hauz khas Village and was joined by the friends who had hosted the meet up. Their son, a little cute kid of about three years and some wanted to see the deers, I wasn’t too sure whether the deers would just be here next to the restrobar’s hedge, we walked to the periphery and to my bewilderment the entire herd was there next to the wall gazing into the restrobar.

It just hit me, a thought, why were the wild right next to the watering hole of civilization, perhaps it was light, the light that wasn’t a norm in dark winter nights in the park which was left undisturbed. That restrobar was the only source of light in their neighborhood. Made me feel grateful for the light we have in our lives without much celebrations about its existence.

Something as ubiquitous as the daylight on a bright sunny day, something that we aren’t in a habit of praying for, thats just there and so it would always be and the haughty soul would just discount even a stray thought of gratitude for what’s a part of everyday living.

So is light, frame a day, a night without and you have the answer, need to be obliged for what’s given and we avail without much heed.

It wasn’t the light that lured the deers, it was the ” Paucity” and paucity sure is a giver, it’s a blessing in everyday life. Paucity is traumatized by our consistent maligning, man wouldn’t appreciate the goodness it brings, not many even understood.

My husband often narrated how good he felt seeing those meagre four hours of light on diesel generator at his Company Operating Base on mountains in wilderness, that was special after every taxing walk back to the COB from a Long Range Patrol or weeks out in deodar Forrest on an operation. He shook hands with paucity for a while, that paucity of a shelter, of comfort, of light, of cooked, spiced food, paucity of a damp cigarette, paucity of a basic stiff rum, of that hot water bath on arrival at the COB, he called that home, the home he had without mobile phone connectivity, without a Wi-Fi connection, without an electric line but paucity was omnipresent, generators provided that precious light and there was paucity of diesel, it ran only for four hours.

Man was wild, had no home, no hamlet no cities, no roads no technology, no vehicles to flaunt, fight for basic meal was the only chore. The city dweller I see everyday has all and yet not many I meet are indeed grateful for what they’ve been served for dinner in the comforts of their home. They aren’t gratified in the life they live, wouldn’t love to go back to the wild either. He’s got abundance and in abundance he’s lost his palate to savour what he’s been served, all his life the man ran from paucity for abundance and abundance killed his joy, his vitality, his frolics, his bliss, his elation. Abundance was an everyday killer, paucity just stood there maligned.

Abundance breeds cynics, critics, the fakes and the depressed, fortuneless, the poor knows nothing, he just savoirs what he is given, he owns paucity and that unknown to him is the source of his everyday joy! But then, he too would ditch her in quest for abundance.

Ungrateful, he won’t write a thanking note for what he has, abundance is a bliss, it’s an art to know how to live with it.

Gratitude