Sunday, December 28, 2014

Goodbye 2014!

So one of the best years is coming to an end and here's a video blog on the same.

Except is say nothing that you don't already know.

Took an hour to upload the damned thing - do take time out to watch it. :p

I'll go sleep now. Good night.

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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The mystery called SH71

So last weekend we went on a temple trail.  On our way back, we decided to go to Vadnagar.  Narendra Modi's hometown, and the only reason I wanted to go there was to check out the lake where he allegedly swam with crocodiles. I was so excited. :P

Anyway, so you got to take a detour from Mehsana to reach Vadnagar if you're coming from Patan. Now, on our way back, we come across a signboard which said Ahmedabad - 73 Gandhinagar 53 (straight arrow) and Mehsana was 12 km on our right.  If we would've reached Mehsana, Ahmedabad would've been 90 kms away on the National Highway.  Been on that route enough times to know the way.

But Ahmedabad straight was very tempting.  We were essentially cutting off 12+20 odd kms and after driving for over 500 kms, skipping those 32 kms was too good an offer to not take it up.

We were also in need of tea because I had decided we will stop for tea/coffee once we reach civilization (dude, Vadnagar to Visnagar road was terrible and I just wanted to reach normal road before sunset).

We go straight.  And there are no Bhagyodays or Asopalavs on the way.  (Fun fact: On Gujarat highways, you'd find more "Hotel Bhagyodays" than trucks.)

In fact, there are just trees on both the sides and very few cars.  It is a single lane road.  But very well maintained one.  No potholes, proper signboards (mostly pointing Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar).

The three of us (self and self's parents) were not sure where this road will lead us.  One signboard came telling us this is State Highway 71.  (note: at this time, we had drained out our phone batteries using Google maps to reach Vadnagar and out - so no other way to find out where we are heading except follow the signboards.)

Hmm. SH71.  Wonder where it will exit.

"Chiloda circle" - announced my dad.

where the hell is Chiloda circle.

"we may come out of the lane next to Nirma University" - I said very very confidently.

However, as we reached nearer to Gandhinagar, I saw a sign that made me immensely happy.

Mahatma Mandir - straight 12 km.

OMG. NEVER was I so happy to spot the signboard to Mahatma Mandir. (Those of you who follow me on Twitter, you may have known my love for this place.  #sarcasm)

I got very, very excited because Gandhinagar could get confusing and I know my way back to the city from Mahatma Mandir because of the countless times I've been there for covering events.

When Mahatma Mandir came in sight, I proudly showed it off to my parents and showed them how we have to talk the entire complex to enter because #security and how it is annoying and wondered if they would allow me to use the loo.   I even had my press i-card and wondered if that can allow me access.  But decided against it. Not gonna step inside that place unless I really need to.

Now I was in a known territory.  I knew my way back.

And we all now know where SH71 ends.

Apparently, all roads these days lead to Mahatma Mandir.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The 1000 steps of faith

Few days back my parents asked me to join them on a religious tour.  I was bribed with a visit to Rani Ki Vaav (the UNESCO world heritage site) and Vadnagar (because totally wanted to see the lake where Prime Minister Narendra Modi allegedly swam with crocodiles) and a break from city life.

I agreed.

The temple trail also included Ambaji temple.  It is one of the 51 Shaktipeeths.

Right across the temple is the Gabbar Hill, which is believed that the heart of Sati fell here after the Tandav dance and all.

It has over 1,000 steps to reach the top.  Other option is a ropeway, which takes like 3 minutes, but it is called "Udan Khatola" - not going to risk my life by sitting in something called "Udan Khatola".  When dad proposed the idea of temple trail including Ambaji, I decided I'll climb the 1,000 steps.  On a whim.

And once you decide, you want to finish it off, and don't want to have regrets for rest of your life.  I want to live with more "ah, well" than "what if".  Coincidentally, my aunt was visiting Ambaji the same weekend, and the enthu potato that she is, she immediately agreed to join me on the 1000 step climb.  I insisted the parents take the ropeway. (they've done the Udan Khatola ride before and had no qualms riding on it again.)

En route to Ambaji, wherever we stopped for breaks, you could see that the #GharWapasi is happening right here right now.  Too many NRIs.  It is easy to spot an NRI, btw.  Will write another post on it some day.

Anyway, somewhere on the way, parents decided they will join me in the climb.  Because why not.

So at around 3:45 pm we start the climb.  The steps were uneven, most were higher than others.  Some place they were really narrow and I had to tell myself over and over not to look down.  Even if it was to just see how long way we have come.  You really don't want to faint and fall into the valley. We stopped a few times, absorbed the beautiful, beautiful Aravalli Hills.  Aravalli Hills are the ancient most mountain range in India.  These mountains have witnessed history! It was a humbling moment to stand there, panting, sweating and still finding the strength and courage to continue the climb.

Gravity, my dear friends, is a bitch.

I have heard a lot of people say that "Mataji ka bulawa aata hai, tab hi aa sakte hai".  In that moment, when we climbed the top, lungs burning, face turned red like tomato, I could feel that maybe there is some truth to it.  Having lived less than 200 km from the temple and passed through the road a few times en route to Mount Abu, I still had never been to Gabbar Hill.  Had very vague memories of Ambaji temple, if at all.

I bowed down my head at the top of the hill and said a silent thank you.  To no one in particular.  Just thank you.

(btw, later that night, at Ambaji temple, people were doing garba in the premises.  Some were dressed as if attending wedding! They were here to celebrate visiting the temple, because "Maa Amba" had willed for them to come.  The faith of people in God is truly amazing.  I am not sure if I am religious or agnostic.  And honestly, I don't want to question it either.  But people like those chanting "Jai Ambe" while climbing the hill - bare feet - have unquestionable faith.  It made me want to be little less cynical.  It made me want to believe that things do happen if you have faith.  Faith.)

The climbing this hill was another personal achievement.  As someone who could not walk down the Abby Falls in Coorg without panting and had to take pain killers at end of day while vacationing in Thailand and Bali because feet would ache after 2 hours in a mall few years back, the fact that I did this after driving 250 kms and did not need any medication to walk on my own feet the next day - no blisters, no ache, no rashes.  Next day I drove 350 kms back home, after visiting few other places.

I only had the sweet soreness of muscles for having to work so much.  No "pain".

As someone who has started a journey to fitness two years back, I am extremely proud of myself.  This has reaffirmed my faith in myself.  Faith.  I guess, sometimes, all we need is faith.

I am so glad we did this.  I feel so so so proud of myself right now. :-)

I got this. :-)

Saturday, December 13, 2014

When the hunter becomes the hunted

Everyone knows mothers have these superpowers through which they know exactly where your pair of missing earrings are.  Or those important documents which you had kept at a safe, but easily accessible place, which you have forgotten about, are located.

Sometimes I think she hides things only so she can come at last moment to discover stuff and show how superior she is to us.

Mothers are strange that way.

Anyway, so last night, I got home and thought of catching up with my parents.  They had already gone to sleep, but I could hear the radio from their room and thought they might still be awake.  I knocked and mom was staring into her new smart phone screen and reading forwarded messages on WhatsApp.  This is the same mother who thought my computer would burst into flames if I sit in front of it for too long. (good days)

So for next 20 minutes we chat up, update each other on the day's events.. if anything interesting happened.

Just when I was about to go, dad tells me mom may not be able to sleep well tonight.  Why, I ask.

Well, dad has to take some medicines before sleeping and as mom was handing over the tablets, one of them fell down and is now missing.  The missing tablet will not let her sleep.

Knowing fully well how these things make us all anxious, he now turned off the lights and pretended to snore.

No, we need to find out the tablet or even *I* wouldn't be able to sleep.  One tiny pink coloured tablet.

So, we turn on the lights.  And mom and I lie down on the floor after giving strict instructions to dad to not step downstair and hinder our attempts to retrieve the tablet.

At this point, mom and I, both are lying flat on our tummy on the floor, trying to look around for the tablet.  Sprawled across on the floor like that, we both looked like crocodiles.  The three of us could not stop laughing.  Various attempts under various lighting conditions were carried out to find that tablet, and after 20 minutes, we gave up.

With a heavy heart we had to get up from the floor and try and sleep peacefully.

Next day, Mom tried for an hour more, with broom and all other ammunition, to find the tablet, still couldn't.

Even the maid couldn't find it.

So, right now, one tablet has gone missing in the house and I am not able to sleep with the fact that I cannot find the missing tablet.

Where could it go.

But, more than me, it is my mother who is upset.  She cannot believe *SHE* could not find it.

She is afraid she is losing her Midas touch at Lost & Found superpowers she possesses.

At least tonight, I will sleep with the consolation that शिकारी खुद यहाँ शिकार हो गया।

Also, Friday night. <3 favourite="" most="" my="" of="" p="" part="" the="" week.="">
Have a great weekend, ya'll. <3 p="">

Monday, December 8, 2014

The world doesn't need the United Nations

Technically, the UN is around to increase international cooperation and to make efforts to avoid conflicts.

Talking of conflicts, the world may or may not be on the verge of a third world war.  Almost all countries are conflicting with each other.  

These are the times I am glad my internal conflicts are not as bad as Pakistan's internal conflicts.  (there, there, Pakistan, Big brother prays for you sometimes.)

Anyway, the point is, ancient India has not only predicted the modern technologies but has also shown light on how to tackle conflicts.

I think the most potent amongst them is the "kasam".

Well, yea, so one kasam made Lord Ram go for vanvas, which led to Sita getting kidnapped by Ravan which led Ram taking on an entire country to bring back his wife (dude, how romantic is waging a war against an entire country to bring back your wife) but then, you can never underestimate the power of one kasam.

If one kasam can lead to a war, surely the same kasam can stop wars.  

Kasams have definitely stopped many a love stories from taking off. "बेटा, तुम्हे मेरी कसम. उस लड़की से बात मत करना। अगर तुमने उससे बात की तो तु मेरा मारा मूह देखेगा।" and the kasam fearing son (because being godfearing is too mainstream) will not talk to her because आई शपथ is most powerful weapon.

I say, replace the UN with an Association of Kasam Giving Mothers (AKGM for short, because all cool things need to be abbreviated) and let an Indian mother (because no one beats Indian mothers in giving kasams) be the head of the association (no, my mom is not up for the position - I am offering her precious services to the Army as a radar system to find out things long lost or something like that - or maybe lost and found department. In her case, it would be always found department.) and the world would be a peaceful place.

I am so proud of my ideas. I have no idea why I am not given a Nobel for being just awesome. Or just existing and making this world a nice place one day at a time.

On an aside, today as I was coming back from my jog/walk, a stray dog saw me and ran for his life.  It's like a reverse dog chase. After years of struggling with getting chased by stray dogs, for the first time I probably scared a dog away.  Best. Monday. Ever.