a curious glance

(little bit of what I see)

Tag: India

Goa, A Gang Of Girls And Pictures Galore

Remember, I mentioned in my very first post of this site, that I have been pestering my friends for a trip to GOA?? Let me quote from that post, “Trip, trip, trip, my soul sister had been chiming continuously since the beginning of year. Well, I very well knew the hidden meaning – Goa, Goa, Goa…. I have pestered my other friends for a year now, taken desperate planning initiatives, but could not land in Goa. Work, Marriage, Budget Constraints, are a few reasons out of the many, that Goa seems a farfetched idea for us. The timing is just never right. Well, we will make it happen together is the pact.”

I decided to quit my job to explore other career options, and my last days would coincide with my soul sister’s 30th birthday.. How could we have not taken this opportunity to reinstate our Goa plans…. Perfect timing it was! I could no longer wait to land in Goa with all my friends together.. Anyway, one of my friends already broke the pact earlier this year! We would someday go together, but in between, whoever gets to go, shall go. I guess this is the new unsaid pact….



We were a group of five girls:

  • Soul sister’s sister from the same mother
  • Her best friend, who is ever ready for a trip and wanted to celebrate her best friend’s 30th Birthday
  • The first person I befriended in my Ex-organisation. You will understand our friendship when I say, she flew from Mumbai for a weekend to be part of my happiness
  • Soul sister
  • I

Gang of girls and Goa was fun and safe. What is the most important aspect when it involves a group of girls and a trip? Safety, right? We rented a car and drove around Goa and thus we were not dependent on anyone. Thanks to Google maps, we could reach any of the destinations with ease.


And what do you want to do in GOA??? Party, hit the casino and laze around in the shacks on the beaches… Some may want to do adventure sports, it was not on our list..

Let me begin with partying, we went to Club Cabana, and were so amazed by the ambiance and the feel of the club. It is a Must go place! Open air, on a hill, so close to the stars, economical entry for girls, stags not allowed and unlimited drinks is the short description of the place. Dance if you want or just sit at the poolside, talk and stare at the stars. This was our first night, and we would not happen to see crowd better than this in any of the upcoming days in Goa.

We hit Anjuna beach the next afternoon and spent time at Curley’s, the ever famous shack.. They had a slow service as it was crowded, however their chocolate muffins are to die for (not many would try them when in Goa 😉 ) We wanted to go to Casino, but all of us were contemplating a minimum expenditure of 4k on a casino. 4k was the minimum entry fee at Deltin Royale, there are other low-priced casinos as well. We checked a few out, and settled on Deltin Jaqk, as the entry was 1K cheaper. Moreover, it was the only one that looked decent apart from Royale. We spent 15k on Roulette. All of us played roulette. We did win in between, in fact I had recovered my entry fee but then the greed and fun got better of us and we finally came out with only 500 bucks! Actually, 15k included unlimited drinks and food, but we did not like their service and the food was average. Casino turned out to be good for experience sake and we got to use probability after ages. At least some Math taught in school turned out to be usable 😀 The friend from Mumbai (she prefers to call herself a Mumbaikar now, huh!?) has been to Royale earlier and says it is way better.



We spent the next afternoon in a shack on Candolim beach. There is only one licensed to operate on this beach currently, otherwise adventure sports stole the show on this beach. We ate lunch at Inferno; their Chicken Chettinad and fish curry was scrumptious. The day before we ate lunch at Fisherman’s cove, their food was tasteful too. Mumbaikar had a flight to catch in early evening and we thought we would drop her and cover some part of South Goa as well. We were staying at an apartment in Candolim, North Goa, booked through Airbnb. But damn it, Goa is vast and the roads in North Goa are so small that once you are stuck in traffic because someone parked a car or even worse, a bus on that one lane road, the only option is to take a u-turn (thank god for no dividers) and follow some other route.. We had to do so thrice during our stay. After we dropped her, we could cover only one beach of South Goa. The sunset was mesmerising and peaceful.








Colva, South Goa

In the evening, after lazing in our apartment for a little while, we went to Baga beach. The shacks are open until late in the night and there are tables with candle light, spread on the sand, only a few steps away from the water… The entire aura was pleasant and untroubled. I would have stayed there forever staring at the moon with the harmonious sound of waves in my ears, if Mr. Special or shall I say, “Future Husband” had accompanied me. However, with the group of friends, we chatted, played dumb charades and then called it a night…



More Pictures-













Ranthambore: An Encounter With The Tiger Or Not….

My feet were itchy, my last trip was in June and it was September now. It was an indication that they would have to soon land in an unknown territory. I was initially planning a trip to Pondicherry with my parents, but we cancelled on it, as we have to save for something else. While Pondicherry remains on the list of places to visit, I had to think of a place nearby that would not burn a hole in our pocket.

I have never been on a wild life safari. Whenever I have considered national parks earlier, it was time of the year when they are closed. A quick internet search revealed that Ranthambore opens in the 1st week of October. Moreover, between Corbett and Ranthambore (both near to Delhi), the latter is more famous for Tiger sightings. Now, one could easily drive to Ranthambore, but we chose to travel by train. There are few options of trains from Delhi to Sawai Madhopur and travel time is 5-6 hours. Unlike Corbett, Ranthambore does not have hotels/resorts within the park. However, I wanted to have a jungle experience, and Tripadvisor came to the rescue once again. In fact, there is a list of hotels on www.ranthamborenationalpark.com, I picked hotels from this site and read reviews on Tripadvisor to finalize.

I booked train tickets, hotels and then safari. I actually delayed booking the safari. I was busy with some other developments in my professional life, so I did not search much about the safari. It is only when I reached our destination, I realized that how important it is to book a safari as early as possible. Ranthambore National Park is huge and is thus divided into 10 zones for people to visit. It is a common belief that probability of sighting a Tiger is higher in zones 1 to 5. And, earlier you book, better chances of you landing up in these zones. One could book either a jeep (shared by 5 people) or a canter (14-17 people). If you book through an agent, jeep costs 1500 per person while canter costs 900 per person. The other option is to reach Ranthambore and stand in queues for current safari booking. This is cheaper but people usually prefer booking beforehand. I did book ahead of our trip but not early enough to land in one of the prime zones.

Before I begin my day-by-day travelogue, an important question for you all: Do you guys travel with your parents? Do you ensure that they get a break from their monotonous life too? I am lucky that my parents like to travel, so it does not require much of convincing. Maybe, I got my travel genes from them and I have taken that interest to another level. When we were kids, my parents tried that my brother and I get to travel (either through school trips or as a family trip) and now I ensure that the tradition prevails. We, of course had an advantage as our mum is a school teacher.

Day 1:

We take a 7 am train and reach Sawai Madhopur by 1 in the noon. Our resort, Tiger Moon, is around 12 kms away. There is an option to take a taxi or auto. Auto charges 250-300 bucks and taxi charges 500 bucks. Tiger Moon, with variety of flora has a forest feel to it. Sometimes in the night, a leopard might give you a visit in the resort. Machli, the famous tigress, which died recently, has even swum in the pool of Tiger Moon.






Mangu, the owner’s dog

We had no plans for sightseeing on our 1st day. Our resort was pretty good and all we wanted was to relax and laze around. Tiger moon goes a step ahead to ensure that one feels close to nature, it does not provide wifi or TV. Yes, you read it right, no TV. My mum was disappointed; she would miss the season finale of 24! However, the hotel gives you a plethora of indoor games as options. We spent the evening playing carom, ludo, snakes and ladders and antaskshari. I played these games with my Mum-Dad after ages. It was an evening full of nostalgia. Now, let me tell you my dad loves to cheat in games and he is a smart cheater. So, rather than concentrating on our moves in the game, my mum and I direct our attention to his moves. Moreover, like a kid, if he were losing, he would make sure to spoil the game. So, if a snake bites him, I am talking about the game not the real ones. Apparently, there were a few found in our resort the previous night. So, if a snake bites him, he would discontinue and scatter all the pieces on the board. We fought and laughed a lot. It was a good family time far away from the social and artificial world.

Another good thing about hotel packages in Ranthambore is that they are inclusive of all meals. Even morning and evening tea/coffee are included. Rajasthan is famous for its food, and the hotel made sure to offer the taste of Rajasthan but in a bit bland way to cater to foreigners as well.

Day 2:

We had an early morning safari. Canter had come to pick us up at 6:30 am, and we were all set and eager to sight a Tiger. As I mentioned earlier, we were not lucky enough to get into zones 1-5. Our morning safari led us to Zone 6. It was farther off from the main zones. As we moved deep into the zone, it started sinking in that it was more of a hill than a dense jungle. I had a completely different picture in mind. We did spot Deers in abundance but no luck with Tiger or any other wild animal. Even the guide in our safari did not seem interested to talk about the history of the park. All of us in our safari were disappointed, and to add to our misery a co passenger said that they saw a Tiger yesterday in zone 8. Everyone bombarded them with questions, “When?”, “Morning or Evening?”, “But zone 8, really?”, “Can you show us pictures?” and etc etc. This became the only interesting thing about our safari.






I had not given up on sighting the Tiger, I made up my might to book another safari the next day. A lot of people do sight Tigers, so will we. I went to my resort manger and following is our conversation:

“Could we get a jeep safari for tomorrow evening? “
He was sure about his reply:
“No, ma’am, you are too late to get a jeep”.
“Okay, what about a canter”
“Yes , I can try”
“I do not want to go the same zone again.” (I had earlier thought I would request for Zone 1-5 but since I was told about a sighting in Zone 8, I did not mind that either.)
“Ma’am, I cannot guarantee that, we get to know about zones at the last moment”
“No, please, not the same zone”
He did not speak, after seeing his not so positive reaction, I continued:
“Please, please, any other zone”
“Ma’am okay, I can guarantee you a visit to one of the zones from 1 to 5, but you will have you pay extra”
“Sorry, what, why?”
“These are the primes zones”
“Oh, okay, I get it, how much extra”
“1200 per person”

The desire to sight a Tiger in its natural habitat led me to pay the extra amount. I am not sure, why did he wait so long to ask for the extra money.

Convinced, we will see the Tiger the next day; we set our foot in the Ranthambore Fort that evening. The fort lies within the National Park region and sometimes one can see Tiger crossing the road from one zone to another on the way. I had my eyes open, so was our driver’s, he was a good man and narrated many stories about the area and tigers. The Machli and the pool story came from him. He has even patted Machli, he claimed. Now a jeep to fort and back costs 1000 bucks. He made us spot a crocodile on our way. He was much better than the actual guide in the safari earlier that day.



Within the fort, lies the famous Trinetra Ganesh Temple (Three eyed Ganesha Temple). Locals believe one’s wish would most certainly fulfil with the visit to the temple. It is at a certain elevation and is not much of a comfortable walk. It has around 250-300 ancient style stairs, but with the trust in God, people make sure to climb them. Fort is scenic, has a lake and one would spot a few peacock/hen and a lot of Langurs.







When we were on our way to the temple and my parents took a halt to rest, a group of students joined us. They were full of excitement, as they had spotted a Tiger on their way to the fort. I asked them what time exactly. And voila, 10 minutes after we had crossed that path! Some could spot the Tiger at no cost, we paid extra, we better do the next day.



Spot the Bird!


Our resort had organised a cultural night with Rajasthan’s folk music and dance programme. It was fun, the kid who was part of the group was talented and more. With the musical beats in our ears, we called it a night.



I have to mention, that a family in our resort saw two Tigers in a single safari in Zone 4 that evening. We were all the more passionate for our encounter with the Tiger tomorrow.

Day 3:

We lazed around in the morning, did some local shopping and after lunch went for our evening safari. Mum, “we will see the Tiger, I kept saying”. Well they say, only if you think positive, would positive things happen. Canter came to pick us up around 2:30, and I am sure you can guess my first question, “Which zone are we heading towards?” Zone 5 was the answer, to my relief.

Thankfully, the guide this time was well informed, and talked about history of the wildlife in the park. We again spotted a lot of Deers and their different breeds. Another point of comfort was that Zone 5 was like a real jungle, with vast greens of trees, langurs, birds and large lakes. We saw a wild boar as well. The guide and the driver stopped the canter and the noise of the engine to concentrate on other noises and hints for the tiger. We went real deep into the forest, this safari lasted much longer than the earlier one. Did we spot a Tiger? No, we did not. However, the zone gave us many scenic views, so we were not disappointed largely.














We were shown a documentary on Tigers that night in the hotel, Sher Vilas. Yes, we changed hotels this morning, as Tiger moon was not available for three nights. Sher vilas was quite opposite of Tiger Moon, as it had open spaces, garden and offered outdoor games like Volley Ball.

We took a train back home the next morning. Over all, Ranthambore is a great weekend away. You could easily cover it in two days. The weather is pleasant in this time of the year, it even rained one of the evenings. The safari was a good experience, even if we did not see any Tiger in its natural habitat, we did see a few other animals in wild and not caged. The way, they should be!

Pricing of hotels:
Tiger moon: 6800 for three people, including all meals
Sher Vilas: 5000 for three people, including all meals
I booked the hotels through Tour My India

Nation Without Feminism?

Sakshi and Sindhu win medals at Olympics; yes, they make us proud; India India is the chant all around… Amongst all this celebration, what disturbed me was the tinge of sexism added to the glory. Social media was pervaded with comments and posts like “Indian Women bring us the glory”, “See, Women did it for India” and “Indian Women make history”. Now, let us understand that these posts in no way meant to demean the Indian men. However, inequality and exploitation of women is so prevalent in our country, that feminism gets promoted at every possible platform. Why was I disturbed? Because, I hope for a nation where there would be no need to cry aloud the word “feminism” persistently. Where “Indian athletes bring glory to the nation” would be the posts irrespective of whether women or men bring us the medals. I hope for a nation where the need to advocate feminism is no more required.

I guess my idea of such a nation is far from reality as of now. Although the contemporary urbane men admire and recognise what a woman is capable of, the overall situation in India and some other parts of the world is reprehensible. Well, some people think, the concept of feminism is misused and the women are trying to overpower men and want to rise and shine above them. I do not think the raging battle is to compete with men; it is in fact to let us be, for us to be born, for us to be accepted, for us to be respected, for us to be free, for us to be equal…The fight for feminism would continue as long as the following ideology/practice exists:

  • Female fetuses are killed
  • Parents consider son as old age support
  • Parents spend more on son’s education
  • Restrictions on girls in the name of security
  • Man expects his would-be wife to be a virgin
  • Girl’s family sponsors the wedding ceremony
  • Dowry and Domestic Violence
  • Man is the bread earner
  • Woman is the family care taker
  • Women should know how to cook
  • Use of words like slut, whore and mother/sister fu_ _er

Yes, the list is long… Until the time women get their due, India will have to accentuate that women got us medals in Olympics, Sania wins Double Grand Slam Tennis title again, leading female actors will feature in Baywatch and XXX, and many more such facts. Until then, the shout to promote feminism will continue. Until then, the India I hope for will only be a dream…Yes, even when men have been achieving the same, we will have to glorify the success of the other gender to make the entire nation acknowledge the strength of a woman.

There is no denying the fact that men are physically stronger, but I do not think God intended it to be used as a weapon to exploit women. Do not call us the “weaker sex” based on our physical strength; mentally we are strong beyond men’s understanding (well, men are right when they joke, “We can never understand women” ).. Do pardon me, for ending on a sexist remark!

(Picture from Huffington Post)

Killing For Honour: What a Disgrace!

Qandeel Baloch brutally strangled by her brother in Pakistan; a 22 year old Dalit man murdered with machetes in Tamil Nadu, India and two sisters shot by their brother a day before their wedding in Pakistan are a few horrid headlines hitting the press in the recent past. What was common with all these cold-blooded murders? They were all in the name of “Honour”. Killing your own family members and gaining satisfaction out of it is atrocious and immensely condemnable.  How can the justifications to kill on a premise “he/she brought defamation to the family” ever be sane?

A brother strangles his sister to death and shows no remorse. The reason for murder being her views were too liberal for their society and her provocative presence on social media caused dishonour to the family. What an irony, he is a callous murderer, and she is the one who brought ill fame to the family? Whatever she did, it was her choice and you, another mortal, had no bloody right to take her life away.

Then there are cases where love, maybe the most beautiful feeling in the world, becomes lethal.  Is it not said that lucky is the one who loves, and receives that love back from the same person? However, in many parts of India and Pakistan, one could die for being in love, especially if the partner belongs to a different caste. That is what recently happened in Udumalpet, Tamil Nadu. V.Shankar, a Dalit brutally murdered in daylight on a crowded crossing because he dared to love and marry Kausalya from a higher caste. Kausalya was severely injured and Shankar died when attacked with machetes by men hired by Kausalya’s father. Yes, her own father directed their killing, ignoble, is it not? In another despicable incident in Pakistan, Naseer shot down Kosar and Gulzar, his sisters because they chose to marry men of their own choice.

Why am I stressing more on India and Pakistan? Because as per a study, out of approximately 5000 cases of honour killing reported around the world, more than 1000 killings occur in India and Pakistan. These numbers are highly underestimated, as there is no separate section or law to report honour killings. Shocked, are you? In the records of National Crime Bureau (India), no such crime head exists. (You can check for yourself, go to http://ncrb.gov.in/, and click on crimes in 2014.) In 2011, Supreme Court stamped these acts as barbaric and issued directives to state/trial courts to award death penalty to convicts. However, the central government, current or the one in past, has not taken any initiatives to pass a separate bill to recognise this violent crime independently. A few former ministers have been of the opinion that if considered separate from murders, it could be misused. Well in that case, why do we have different heads for any kind of murders?

What is even glummer, many such cases do not even get a fair trial. Do you know why? The family members of those murdered plead for acquittal of convicts. Yes, because they are family to the murderers too. In some rural areas, Panchayats resolve such issues or rather they order such killings.  What an obsolete state of affairs. Stringent laws are required to protect those who love or love beyond caste system, which is sadly still prevalent in many parts. And the perpretators should not be set free.

I do not know what is happening to the world. Why do you kill in the name of God, honour or any other rationale? Why do you kill at all? Who are you to kill? Why is your heart so irascible and dark? Why is there dearth of endearment in you?? Why and Why?

Farmers’ Distress: The Tragic Indian Story

He, who reaps the harvest, shall not die

Let him out of the agony, we must try

He, who nurtures the land, shall not suicide

Remunerate him fair, we must abide

Supply water, his farm shall not wither

Fulsome, the produce he must garner…..

How is it fair that the one, who harvests the food we eat, dies because of lack of food and sustenance? Farmers in India are resorting to suicides due to indebtedness and crop failure. As per National Crime Records Bureau, 5560 farmers committed suicide in 2014, out of which 2568 were from Maharashtra alone. The state recorded a grim number of 3228 suicides in 2015, reports Hindu. Drought has drastically affected Maharashtra and farmers commit suicides, as they are unable to aid their families.

I raised this question when I wrote about India’s Hunger Story and I would ask again. How does one justify the economic growth when certain groups of society are dying due to deprivation of basic necessities? Is it not disgraceful for the nation? If there can be Special Economic Zones, then there is an urgent need for Special Agricultural Zones as well. Agricultural sector needs to be organised and there is an exigency for elimination of intermediaries. I cannot understand why our government (current or former) lacks in proper management of rainwater harvesting or storage.

There are numerous schemes like Drought-Prone Area Programme, Indira Aawas Yojana, Swarna Jayanti Gram Swarojgar Yojana amongst others to assist the rural populations. However, if such worrisome is the agrarian state of our country, revamping of these schemes is the need of the hour. As per the budget of 2015-16, planned outlay for rural development is INR 71,642 crore.  In addition, for agriculture programmes exclusively, the budget allocation is INR 5845.45 crore.  If the troubled plight of farmers continues, we all know the reason could only be non-judicious use of funds!

IndianExpress published an article on Marathwada (Maharashtra) recently, it quotes Marathwada as the suicide capital of farmers. It features an interview with a farmer who mentions, that from 10 years ago, there is only a marginal increase in the price he gets for his produce while the cost of labour and fertilisers have grown manifolds. Even water is not free now, they use paid tankers to water the crops. He unhesitatingly blames the government for importing onions whenever onion price rises in the country. They have lakhs and lakhs of debt to repay with no just price for their yield. Farmers are in distress, they are helpless and they kill themselves, as there is no way out of the webs of polity and financial liabilities.

Farmers are abandoning their farms and migrating to cities with a hope of survival. How does one help them? The veteran actor Nana Patekar actively involved in farmer welfare programs pleads not to consider them as beggars. He suggests that we should adopt a farmer each to provide him with food, water and access to toilets. If you want to help the drought affected farmers and widows of farmers who committed suicide, please make a contribution to NAAM Foundation, started by Nana Patekar in 2015.

I would urge you to not just sympathise, but take actions. If you cannot help them monetarily, make others (who can) aware of the grave situation. Let us compel the government to come up with lasting remedies. Sending gallons of water through trains is okay, but that is just a temporary relief. This would not bring farmers out of the miserable conditions. “Jis Desh ki Dharti sona ugle, ugle heere moti,” that Dharti should not be allowed to lay parched. Drought is here to stay; planned initiatives are required to overcome the disaster. Technological advancements in the field of agriculture is more than necessary. Do not sit comfortably and let that grain go down your throat when the ones who sow those seeds are dying……

References: http://indiabudget.nic.in/



Kuldhara Village: Haunted Or Not?

Ghost, does the word and stories around it cause twitch in your body? Do you fear ghosts or are you the unflinching one? When I was a kid, I was always frightened of paranormal stories. I was never a fan of Zee horror show or Aahat. Sometimes, when I watched an episode because of my brother’s interest, I would then sleep in my parents’ room. I considered them as my heroes who would act as shields against any kind of ghosts. I remember my father used to tease me, “What if it comes through the widow of our room?” I used to say innocently, “You would deal with it first and make it run away.” I never openly admitted to my friends that I am not fond of ghost stories. You see, they would talk about it even more, and try to have fun at my expense. That is what friends are for, right?

Am I still scared of such stories? Yes and No. Well, I do not anymore sleep with my parents if I have had discussions on ghosts or watched any such movie. I now have the courage to watch spine-chilling movies (No, I do not mean the best of horror flicks, no way!) or listen to “Ek Kahani Aisi Bhi” on radio. Well, the latter is most of the times not that scary. It is a part of growing up, I guess. However, I do continuously chant Hanuman Chalisa on such nights before I fall asleep…..

I recently went on a trip to Jaisalmer. While I was booking my safari to the desert, the itinerary mentioned a visit to the abandoned village of Kuldhara, which has paranormal activities linked with it. The word paranormal caught my eye and a simple Google search revealed the history of the cursed village. As per legends, the King of the state had intentions to marry the daughter of the Chief of the village forcefully. He threatened the villagers of dire consequences if they do not agree to the marriage. The villagers did not wish to surrender to the King, and therefore one night abandoned the village and vanished. The belief says that before leaving, they put a curse on the village, that no one would be able to inhabit it ever. Post the incident, anyone trying to stay in the village has hurtled out experiencing strange phenomena.

I would have considered all this hearsay had I not come across an article mentioning that the Delhi Paranormal Society acknowledges the presence of supernatural powers in the village. Umm, this made me nervous about my trip to the village. They say that no one can survive the night. However, this team did see the light of the day. (Ever wondered, why all such stories are related to darkness and night!?) Moreover, I would have my shields, my heroes with me in the trip, and we would go in the daytime, so it was a mixed feeling of nervousness and excitement.

Kuldhara is about 15 kms away from Jaisalmer and falls on the way to the desert dunes. We shared our jeep ride with a couple from Australia and to stimulate the excitement, I narrated the story of the village we were about to visit. The woman was too thrilled to hear the history and was all set to hit the haunted village. As we entered the premises, only after paying the entry fee (for the jeep as well), what we saw was a dilapidated village. The place will definitely give you an eerie feeling, it was all deserted and in complete ruins. Paranormal or not, anyone would be psychologically frightened to spend a night in such a place.



As we went deep into the village, our driver cum guide told us something that stole my thunder away! Yeah, he said all these stories about supernatural powers are nonsense. The villagers abandoned the place due to scarcity of water. As the river nearby dried up, it affected the trade and cultivation and villagers decided to settle somewhere else. I was like, but I read it, they conducted experiments with scientific techniques and all, to which he replied, “Your wish, what do you want to believe, false stories or reality.” We got out of the car (a bit dejected) to explore the place. As you wander in the village, you would definitely wonder about the sudden end of inhabitancy. The shattered houses and the missing idols from the temple would increase your curiosity even more.


It is said that the temple stands at its place intact

 Idols missing in the temple but notice the engravings on the wall

There were a few locales of the state sitting around and observing the tourists. My inquisitive mind led to the following conversation with one of them-

“Bhaiya yaha bhooth aate hai?” (Do ghosts exist here?)

“Hamare poorvarj rehte thei yaha, aajatak toh nahi suna ya dekha.” (My ancestors lived here; never heard or seen such a thing).

“Toh sab jhooth bolte hai” (Do people lie then?)

“Aap ghum lo pehle, phir baat karna” (Go roam around the place and then talk to me)DSC02254


I did not attempt to go down further for obvious reasons


After I finished the tour of the village, he asked me-

“Dikhe aapko bhooth, aapko lagta hai yaha kuch aisa hoga” (Did you see the ghosts, do you think such incidents occur here?)

I smiled to this and his next words had a powerful meaning

“Asli bhooth toh insaan hi hota hai” (Real ghosts are humans themselves)

What he told me thereafter was another story about the sudden disappearance of the villagers. After the discovery of a lot of gold in the area, the governing body forced the villagers to leave the place. The governors wanted all the treasure for themselves and thus the place now stands in ruins. Are you as a reader, disappointed with the not so haunted outcome of my journey? Think of me, who visited the place with all the anxiousness. Me, who unnecessarily built up all the excitement for the Australians too. It is up to you to believe or not in supernaturalism; it is up to you to believe in any of the above legends about the village. We continued with our journey and the picturesque sunset in the heart of the desert made us forget about all the spookiness.



India’s Hunger Story

“I finished my tea and threw the mud glass on the railway track, I saw a few children run towards the broken pieces of glass and lick the leftover drops of tea”, says Dr. Hari Om Pawar in his soul stirring recitation of hunger and poverty in India. He through the means of his poetry demands justice for all the deaths due to starvation. His poetry moved me and made me do some research on hunger statistics-

Global Hunger Index (GHI) of 2014 classifies India’s hunger status as “Serious” and ranks it at 55th position (lower number implies better position). There has been an improvement from the rank of 66 (out of 88 countries) from GHI of 2008. India’s hunger status was classified as “alarming” then. India is still home to highest number of chronically malnutrition children under the age of five. According to the UNO report (2014-15), India has an unnerving 194.6 million under nourished people, representing 15% of its population, highest in the world.

As per Food and Agriculture Organisation of United Nations, India produces ample quantity of food to meet the calorie requirements of its population. Then, where is that we lack? There is uneven distribution of food and the public policies focus more on quantity than quality of nutrition. There is a pressing need to improve quality of diets, sanitation and supply chain management of food. Under the MLA constituency development scheme, INR 2 crores is allocated per constituency per annum. Then why 3000 children die every day due to malnutrition?* Yes, 3000, the number is abominable. Thus, Dr. Pawar’s demand to enforce law to penalise the MLA’s for such deaths in their constituencies seems reasonable.

I am a tax paying citizen and I have every right to question whether the funds are not used judiciously or is it the allocation that is not enough? What is the point of spending crores and crores to improve the infrastructure for the sake of development when crores of people are starving? Food is the basic need and if a nation fails to provide the basic sustenance to its people, it fails in its entirety. How can the economic growth be justified if the food consumption is higher only within certain groups of society?

There is also this contrasting side of the country to which you and I belong.  We, who have sufficient means to satisfy our hunger as per our moods and fancies. We, who are guilty of throwing away the leftover food. How many times have you carried lunch to your work and not eaten it because of sudden plans with your colleagues to order/lunch out. Remember the last time, you could not finish the entire meal in the food court and left that food on the tray over the trash bin. Some throw away the food while others seek to feed on that thrown food. Such is the growing inequality across different economic groups in our country. The biggest irony- some die of malnutrition while others incur large sums of money to lose the extra kilos of weight.

We live our lives ignorant to the harsh realities of the millions of people. Let me narrate to you a story I read about the boy who lived, Subhash. He was a year old, severely dehydrated, unconscious and barely weighed two kgs when brought to the Malnutrition Intensive Care Unit of Darbhanga Medical College in Bihar. Only when fed on glucose, therapeutic milk and antibiotics for 40 continuous days, could he open his eyes and cry heartily. Now, not every under nourished child gets the timely treatment and survives. Children die, they are dying and initiatives are required so that they do not continue to die. We need more community-based programs like Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) to manage malnutrition in India. MSF- Doctors without Borders are fighting malnutrition in Bihar since 2009. Not all cases are critical so as to require treatment in a medical facility. If sufficient supplies of nourishment reach them until they gain adequate weight, they might smile, cry, play and more importantly live their childhood.

My purpose is not to evoke the feeling of charity in you. It is rather to make you aware that at this particular second some took their last breath because they could not get a mouthful of nourishment. Maybe the next time, when we are not able to finish the food we order, we can get it packed and pass it to a deprived child on a red light. Maybe, just the thought that someone somewhere is dying because of food deprivation would never let us pile up food in our refrigerators and let it stale. If you organise a party or a corporate event and there is food in excess, please call Feeding India, they will redirect the excess food to the destitute. You could also spare your 5 seconds and go to bhookh.com, and click on “feed a child with a click”. How does it work? The money comes through the advertisements on the site. Sponsors pay for the daily click and make it possible for this non-profit organisation to donate to UN Food Program for chronically hungry children. I would like to share a few lines I penned:

Festivities and Revelry keep us alive

While there are others who barely survive

Luscious food as per our mood and flavour

Why not bestow parts to needy who’ll devour

Endless creation of lavish superstructures

And the hungry yearns and disappears

Let there be laws to punish that state leader

He who could not dispense meals to the poorer

But no one should die due to hunger

No one should die due to hunger……


*As of 2012, I could not confirm the exact recent number of deaths; one may have to file an RTI for it.

My Friend Prefers a Baby Boy !?!

A casual chitchat over a cup of coffee with my friend advanced towards marriage and children. She very firmly said, “You know whenever I plan to have a baby, I will prefer a boy.” Within fraction of seconds, thoughts like, “What is wrong with her”, “Being a girl herself, how could she say this” and “She has a contemporary way of thinking, then why”, crossed my mind. Before I could utter my shock at her words, she continued, “Only because the world out there is not safe for her. I will be constantly worried about her security and may not give her the liberty to live her life to the fullest.”

Whenever I am out of my home in the evenings and the clock strikes 8:30 pm, my phone flashes “Papa calling”. The phone rings after every 10-15 minutes until I reach home. He is absolutely against me travelling alone after 9 pm. Sometimes when I head towards home post the deadline, I hear only two stern words, “kaha ho” and he bangs the phone down after my reply. I am anxious on my way and anticipate the worst scolding of my life. To my surprise, his frown disappears as soon as he sees me. My mum on the other hand never rings me continuously (she knows it irritates me). However, she is the one who is glaring at me when I reach home. It took me a while to understand it is not me that they mistrust but it is this society, especially the lecherous men.

It is the sad truth that every woman in this country faces eve teasing in her growing up years. It is in the form of casual whistling, lewd remarks or unwarranted touch in a crowded bus. I remember I used to walk to my college, as it was just a kilometer away. In that 10-12 minutes of daily walk on a busy main road for three years, I have experienced men ogling at me and walking behind me uselessly.

A woman gang raped on bus in front of daughter after attackers kill her newborn son (Shishgarh in Uttar Pradesh); Mother kills her two minor daughters suspecting father sexually abused them (Hyderabad); 18-Year-Old Records Video To Prove Rape By Father (Jalaun district of Uttar Pradesh); Girl, 15, raped and set on fire (NCR) are the few horrific incidents that occurred last month in India. If these headlines hit the papers on a daily basis, then the world is indeed not safe for current or future daughters. My mom and dad have reasonable grounds to wear that glare and frown respectively, don’t they? Our Parents always say, “You will understand only when you have your children.” Maybe, my friend feels that already. She wants to raise her baby girl in the world that will grace that child with respect and dignity.

National Crime Records Bureau of India reported 36735 incidents of rape in its crime report of 2014*. This implies an outrageous number of about 100 rape cases per day. As per the data, close to 90% of the rape convicts knew the victims (relatives, neighbors, employers etc). God knows where these numbers will reach if the cases that were never registered were to be included.

I used to stay in Munirka when the appalling Nirbhaya rape case happened. It disturbs me immensely that while I was busy watching TV, an incident like such took place in the outskirts of my colony. No woman should ever go through such excruciating pain. Peace marches to India Gate and lightening candles as protest may expedite the entire judicial process but it does nothing to cleanse the hideous mindsets.  Something is definitely wrong at a grass root level of our country. I think this mentality plagues from those times where men used to consider women as mere sex objects. And it still prevails in some households of India.

The punishment for rape offenders must be such that it instills horror for any man ever thinking to commit a rape. Our nation needs to stop breeding such barbaric minds. How o how, is the big question? Should judicial system allow us to pelt stones at the rape convicts to channelize our anger? Should there be public hanging? Should there be castration, more so for pedophiles? Though, I am not sure if any of these steps would eradicate rape completely from our society. Sexual assault is a mental sickness that requires cure.  Is it the education system that needs reformation or is it the parenting that needs correction? Many states of USA, Poland, UK, Germany, South Korea have already accepted castration as an alternative punishment for rape offenders, majorly on voluntarily basis though. Is it not high time for India to adopt the same?

All of us feel the pain caused by these disturbing instances. I hope we can together find answers for this unresolved issue and make this world a liveable place for the daughters not born yet. Let me end by sharing one of my verses for you to reflect on:

Yes it is her fault
She is born for assault
She is bred by her family with care
for you men to ogle and stare
Oh she didn’t wear something that covers her knee
so you have the right to celebrate and glee
Its the dead of night and she is out with a boy
You get the liberty to use her as a toy
Its your horrid mind you coward
that planks your heinous act forward
Dare not touch her without the consent
because that’s how it is rightfully meant
But of course it is her fault
She is a Woman, born for assault!!!

*http://www.ncrb.gov.in/ (2015 data has not been made public yet)

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Dad, Politics and Me

Index (Key)

A: Rising New Star
B: Ruling party
C: Opposition

Apolitical, that is me. My dad, political and how. Anti-B would be a better phrase to describe him. Actually, he used to be Pro- C. He accepted the downfall of C and gleamed with the rise of A. I take keen interest in movies, sports, reading etc. I cannot be away from politics then, can I? The very cliché statement, “everything becomes political in our country” is actually as true as “India never loses to Pakistan in a Cricket World Cup Match.” This coupled with my dad’s interest in my disinterest makes my life as political as his.

Encounter with his enumeration of all the news against the doings of the leader of B, is a typical start of my morning. He never pays heed to my response “not interested”. I usually snap at him, “Do not purposely screen out the good things” and he says, “There is rarely any,” with a furious expression and tone. I exit the room to exit the heated conversation.

Whatsapp him a joke against B, he will applaud. Send him one in support, and he will bombard you with Anti-B’s. I exit the chat this time. He is an avid reader, and thus very knowledgeable so if you argue with him, he will throw facts, you cannot contradict. However, do media print facts, is the provocative question? He knows his not so favourite leader has done some good things too and he sometimes (actually a few times) acknowledges them with a heavy heart. That is a sign of relief for me. I remember he laughed at the political son’s interview with Mr. Goswami too.

There are the following types of political fans (non-politically affiliated public):

  • They are and have been supporters of B since history and nothing will change that
  • They are not really supporters of B but believed in its leaders ideology and his campaign
  • They are and have been supporters of C, while they no more promote C but will highlight  everything against B
  • There are then a few who are so fed up with both B and C that A gave them a new hope

I fail to understand type 1 & 3. How can they have blind faith in any political party is beyond my understanding. What worries me is that many people in our country support a party or its belief because their forefathers did. Your inclination towards a political party is justifiable but why do you have to defend it in its every course of action. It frustrates me that people my age can bomb the social media with anti nationalist claims. Okay, I believe India is a Tolerant Country but if a celebrity’s public statement can cause such a stir (more so because his name is Khan), I would be first to retract my former statement.

I am not a supporter of JNU’s movement against Afzal Guru’s execution. But can the government really be threatened by a student’s speech so as to blemish his identity as”Anti-Nationalist”. India is the world’s biggest democracy and an outcry of “maybe” irresponsible slogans by a few students caused such anxiety and insecurity for the government. Why are words such as Sedition and Anti-nationalist used so freely. If expressing your discontent for the ruling party makes one anti-nationalist, then by that logic ruling party actually becomes equivalent to the entire Nation..?

A wounded horse, Shaktiman was made part of the political gimmick. Can’t someone who does not have the ability to discern Politics be spared? Was the Jat agitation for reservation so violent or was it purposely (politically) made so destructive? I know that these parties would never end the game of defaming each other, no matter how low they have to stoop for it. All is fair in love and war has now been extended to All is fair in love, war and politics. Thus, it becomes imperative for people to use their own reasoning and stop being prejudiced.

“We fully support that there must be right to dissent and disagreement in the society”,  our Finance Minister recently said. I sincerely hope these don’t end up as mere words. I express my gratitude to our Prime Minister for considering the rollback on tax on EPF. Oh, I almost forgot, my mother is really worried about the soaring prices of dals (pulses). Sir, could something please be done about this….?

PS: It is a sheer coincidence that these parties name actually begin with A, B and C


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Almora: Wild and Serene

Trip, trip, trip, my soul sister had been chiming continuously since the beginning of year. Well, I very well knew the hidden meaning – Goa, Goa, Goa…. I have pestered my other friends for a year now, taken desperate planning initiatives, but could not land in Goa. Work, Marriage, Budget Constraints, are a few reasons out of the many, that Goa seems a far fetched idea for us. The timing is just never right. Well, we will make it happen together is the pact.

I have itchy feet, and the holiday list from office showed a long weekend in March that coincided with my birthday. I could not let it pass like a casual weekend. I knew the chiming friend would be game while other friends will find some excuses. The travel bug has not bitten them yet. I had to abide by my pact, so Goa was out of the list.

Party was not on our mind, relaxation was. Escaping the city life was the criteria.

“Where do you want to go?”

“I want a combination of greenery, hills, river, I want to walk in a forest and maybe bird watching”

“When did you become so demanding?”

“Well, it is my birthday”

(A jaunt to Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary has been in our minds, so bird watching unfolded from our previous discussion)

Thus, began the research to find such a place. Almora/Binsar met the above criteria and appealed to us. Our priority was simple, book a luxurious property to stay but to cut down on travel expenses. Pack as little as possible to make it easy for the bus rides uphill. We booked our train tickets and hotel a month in advance. And then eagerly waited for the getaway…

A month later:

Shatabdi made us reach Kathgodam by 11:40 in the morning. Discussion on our way:

“Let us take the cab, it will be more convenient”

“We decided we will backpack and try to save money on the commute”

“Yeah, but state transport, are you sure?”

“Yes, I have never done it, and it will be fun and a new experience”

I already knew this discussion will pop up, my friend has never been a believer of economical trips. Not to take away the fact, she has travelled more in buses for her journeys to her hometown.

Bus it was, and it was not bad, just bumpy, speedy and overcrowded. Maybe when I say that 2 days later we booked a cab for our downhill journey, you will understand me better.

Let me present to you Almora and Binsar:


Breeze so Fresh and fullness of green

Breathing in the environment unusually serene

The overbridge casts an alluring spell

Pristine views adding to the charm of hotel



                           View of Almora from our resort, Imperial Heights


View from the balcony

               View from the balcony


Tiny bridge over a tiny pond in our resort

                 Tiny bridge over a tiny pond in our resort


Stroll in Binsar with wilderness around

Chirpiness and tweet, a never-ending sound

Trust your ears and get clicks on your side

You’ll need luck to sight animals in the wild


In Binsar Sanctuary

             In Binsar Sanctuary




Spot the Bird



There lies a jungle resort near the zero point

Fairyland that turns scary in the night?

Losing track in quest to reach the crest

Chilly winds too dampen the interest







As we descend towards Almora

Highlight is the colourful flora

The valley leaves us spellbind

A definite rejuvenation of mind


DSC02489 DSC02495 DSC02513 DSC02468


Scribe your wish on a paper, tie it with a bell

Then be a strong believer, your prayers will fulfil




                       Golu Devta Temple


As the sun makes mountain its blanket

The sky gradually blushes in scarlet

The peaceful days culminate, the calm remains

With the glimpse of stream, we approach the plains






Kosi River, lower in the hills

                   Kosi River, lower in the hills


Believe me, it was a perfect getaway from city’s hush hush life. Life in these 3 days seemed unperturbed. When the hills are calling, be assured Almora will not disappoint you as a destination.

Hotel and Food Details

The room rent was INR 3900 a day for a valley facing package (without breakfast). The best price was available through cleartrip app.  The views and the entire look of the resort justify the price. It could improve upon its services a bit, like providing barbecue facility even if the occupancy rate is not 100%. The food served in the hotel is more than satisfactory. One could also visit  Kasar Rainbow restaurant for more economical yet delicious meals. You can read books or play chess while savouring the food here.

Costs of Travel

As I mentioned in the beginning, we hired a cab for our return to Kathgodam.  If you book your own taxi, it will cost you INR 1000-1200 bucks (one way).  Be careful, and do not pay for a two-way ride as these taxi drivers make a constant up and down journey with passengers. Do not be misled into paying INR 2500 for your one-way ride. There is also an option of sharing your ride with other travelers. It will cost you around INR 250 per person. The bus rides costs INR 125 per person to Almora. To reach Binsar, you can again share your rides or book your own taxi.  Expenses on train ticket will be INR 700 for one way.

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