article, dharamsala, friends, india tourism, life, LOVE, memories, road trip, traveling, Uncategorized

The Road Trip

We pulled into Dharamsala around as the sun was first rising, with two fingers of light on the horizon. We crossed the breezy but narrow roads into the city limits, making our way to a bus depot.  Rubbing my sleep-filled eyes, I tried to peer through the hazy glass, at the snow-covered mountains on my right, the sky turning the color of light orange with wispy blue clouds at the edges, like froth at the top of a drink. Most of my classmates were asleep, the target of my envy —for the rumbling-swaying bus devoid me of the much-needed rest—considering we had a long day ahead of us.  I had stayed up, flitting in and out of sleep, leaning in, my weight on the shoulders of a friend, who had blissfully slept, much to my chagrin. We walked up to our hotel, with the taste of our exhaustion livid in our mouths, slept on the bed in the same outfit, only to wake up an hour later, drink a cup of coffee in the beautiful terrace area and later, drive to our first destination.

We had the trip of our lives, with the fear of imminent placements put mutually on the backburner. I have no adjectives to describe my classmates— they are the most eclectic bunch of people I have met! Our class would throw their hands up in the air and relax, with music in the background and a cigarette in their hand, than battle out political differences. This educational trip, or so it was meant to be, was a proof of our symbiotic association. We travelled all day, amidst the cliffs which were marked by tall trees along the roadsides, their arms up like they were being frisked. We ambled along a clammy-smelling, muddy trail to the Tibetan parliament in exile, and trudged lazily from a library to a human rights discussion. We braved the sleety rain ricocheting off the rocks. We were bemused by the plight of the young children at a Tibetan Children’s school and amused by the extremely cheap desserts at the Tibetan café.

We would come back to our hotel, exhausted from the day but pumped up for the night. Groups were fluid as people drifted in and out of different rooms with ease, some fumbling around for shampoo, and some for a matchbox. Amidst all the clamor of our incessant bickering and bluff sessions, we all felt united by one purpose—that we did not let our fears prevent us from missing out on this trip. We shared childhood (read embarrassing) anecdotes and danced to old Bollywood jingles into the night (well some did, I slept. Huge regrets.) I trekked — or something close enough to a trek —with my friends, without a care in the world, without any fear of being embarrassed of my child-like naivety. I’d like to think the time spent on a stony wall, within the reclaimed cathedral just off the road, brought us closer to each other. I’d like to hope that somehow, this short tour gave us all memories to store within each fleeting moment. Before we start feeling limited by our lives and jobs, penned in by money or family, we stretched out in our bit of the leg-room and somehow, just somehow, made this tour into the road trip we all dream about.

allegory, feelings, Poem, rhyme, Uncategorized

Doubt’s Dreadful Deed

via Daily Prompt: Devastation

She shifts through the cracks
and makes home in the shacks
of feelings in those tendrils weak,
in sinew holding to the strength it seeks

Doubt makes her way up to the heart
playing on its mysterious part,
as shouts and screams reach cacaphonous highs
She pats her back,and grins more wide

Hatred seeks to place himself where once
feelings dwelled, bowing to none.
they have long deserted the splendid ways
of lovely walks and silly word plays.

Love is shunned out of his seat,
Jealousy moves in, swiftly meets
the despicable residents of the forlorn town
Called heart,which now breathes no sound.

Doubt’s done her deed, celebrations begin,
the shunned inmates cry out in vain
for some respite, to the one they belong,
unaware of the Love gone wrong.

article, bosphorous, istanbul, life, LOVE, traveling, turkey, Uncategorized

ISTANBUL – A trip to the Turkish Delight

Istanbul, the gorgeous capital of Turkey, can boast of many things, being an exciting amalgamation of the old and the new, the traditional treats and the modern breath. Napoleon Bonaparte rightly exclaimed- If Earth was a single state, Istanbul would be its capital. It has had an adventurous journey, having been founded in 660BC as Byzantium, and then falling into the hands of the Roman conqueror Constantine, who christened the place as Constantinople. It earned its new name, Istanbul, in 1930, after Turkey became a republic in 1923.

Sitting on the famed European-Asian border, the city has much to offer in terms of stunning architecture, historical delights and boat trips on the Bosphorous, one of the world’s busiest waterways, connecting countries to the Mediterranean.

The Grand Bazaar

The bazaar is famed for being the oldest and the largest covered market in the world, with over 4000 stalls to entice any shopaholic’s interest. Situated in the Old City, Kalpali Çarsi has an assortment of thoroughfares from carpets to brassware. Be sure to haggle, for the merchants are known to often bend a little.

The Topkapi Palace

Home to the stunning 86 carat Spoonmaker Diamond, the palace was once the palatial residence of the Ottoman Rulers. The garden is a stunning piece of art, and overlooks the Sea of Marmara. Containing four courtyards and a number of other smaller structures, the palace’s Construction began in 1459, ordered by Sultan Mehmed II. It became a UNESCO world heritage site in 1985. It is now a museum and shows on display beautiful Ottoman jewelry among other artifacts.

Hagia Sophia

It transcended a journey from a church to a mosque and now finally rests as a fine museum and one of the city’s favourite destinations. The byzantine architecture, with the intricate mosaics and marble pillars make for a beautiful scene.

The Basilica Cistern

All Dan Brown fans out there will remember the mention of this place in his book titled INFERNO, where the 6th century structure does not fail to impress even the most unassuming. Known locally as the Sunken Palace, one must make an eerie-full descend into the cavern which houses three hundred and thirty six columns with bases in a few feet of water. It was earlier used to store water for the nearby buildings. It might remind you of the nail-biting end of the movie, the dramatic setting of which will make you visit this place for a closer look.

The Bosphorous

Istanbul’s waterway, which forms the continental boundary between Europe and Asia, is straddled by the metropolitan population. It divides the Asian Turkey from its European counterpart, but what it does better is give the travelers a beautiful boat-ride.  The city’s official ferry company, Sehir Hatlari, offers short, full and night cruises to suit individual needs; and for a more breath-taking local experience, hop onto a ferry bustling with Turkish tea-sippers and catch a glimpse of the sun setting across an orange sky.

Hamam

For those jet-lagged days and sore travelling feet, the experience of Hamam is a must. The traditional spa experience in the old city includes masseurs engaging in the ritualistic series of soaking, scrubbing, exfoliating and rinsing treatments. It all varies according to the bathhouse; however, if one wishes to splurge, most hotels offer modern versions of the same experience.

Galata Tower

The spectacular view of the city from this towering structure is a must see for all first-timers.

Istanbul Modern

A perfect glimpse into the contemporary art scene of the city, the converted Warehouse near Karaköy on the banks of Bosphorous, showcases works of Turkish artists, sculptors and photographers. Book a table at the outdoor terrace Restoran Im and mix Cuisine with culture which makes for a sumptuous visit.  A set of Rainbow stairs nearby join Findikli to Cihanger.

Rumeli Hisari

The ruins of an old fortress, Rumeli Hisari,are located in the Sarıyer district of Istanbul, Turkey, on a hill at the European side of the Bosphorus. Since the 20th century, the place has been a museum and also doubles up as an open-air theater for various concerts at festivals during the summer months.

 

Lastly try the Turkish coffee, which is a thick concoction of black unfiltered coffee. ‘Mandabatmaz’ is one of the most famous variants!

*Featured picture credit- onorient.com

article, bhutan, road trip, traveling, Uncategorized

A Hidden Kingdom: In the lap of Bhutan

Bhutan is very near yet almost unknown and mystic to most, who happen to relate it with last kingdom in the world and also the last Shangri-La!

Bhutan’s pristine environment offers ecosystem which is rich and diverse, due to its location and great geographical and climatic variations. Bhutan’s high, rugged mountains and valleys boast spectacular biodiversity, earning it a name as one of the world’s ten most important biodiversity hotspots. Bhutan does not have GDP but a Domestic Happiness Index. Gladly one country has its priorities straight.

The journey to Bhutan is possible in two ways. You may start by flight to Paro from various places such as Bagdogra or New Delhi also but you miss the very essence of Bhutan which you capture once you start the road journey from Phuntsholing which is about 4 hours drive from Siliguri, West Bengal.  This is not the only road entry but happens to be the most popular. There are two more road entry points from India only and there is no entry from any other country to Bhutan.

Once you enter Bhutan the calm atmosphere is as loud as anything else. The aromatic luxurious nature of the country rejuvenates one instantly. From Phuntsholling the journey to the core of Bhutan begins and it’s an exhilarating and adventurous journey to say the least. Through the mountain roads, it is almost 160km to the capital of Bhutan, Thimphu.

In Thimphu are many places that are feast to the eyes and speak to the soul.

Buddha Dordenma:

This is a short drive from Thimphu city and a lovely place on the hill. The golden statue of Buddha, one of the largest in the world, was built on the 60th anniversary of the fourth king Jigme Singye Wangchuck. It’s almost 55 meter tall and is visible from Thimphu. You can see the Thimphu valley and enjoy the peace and chants of monks while the prayers are in progress. The Kuensel Phodrang nature park provides the forest cover which surrounds the statue.

Punakha Dzong

Called Pungthang Dewachen Phodrang (Palace of Great Happiness), this Dzong is the second largest and the second oldest palace in the country and competes for the title of the most majestic of them. The spring season is the best time to visit the valley, for beautiful Jacaranda trees surround the palace, lending it their beauty and borrowing some from it in the process. Nestled between two rivers, Pho Chu and Mo Chu, it is connected to the mainland by a wooden bridge.

Tashichho Dzong, the main Dzong of Thimphu:

Situated on the western bank of the river Wang Chu, it is massive, beautiful, and timeless. It’s a Dzong along with palace for the royals. Traditionally it was the seat of the country’s civil government, the Druk Desi, and also the summer capital.  The surroundings are beautiful and mystic. The carving on the walls, prayer wheel and majestic charm make for a delightful sight.

Dochula Pass: On the road to Punakha, this pass in the snow-capped Himalayas, is the one of the highest place in Bhutan and that makes it an excellent vantage point to see the mountains. With 108 Stupas or chortens known as “Druk Wangyal Chortens” in the middle, it’s an amazing experience while you can sip your coffee or something stronger in a small but well made café.  The pass leads to the Royal Botanical Park.

Tiger’s nest or Taktsang Monastery:

This tops the chart for all the reasons to visit this country. Also called Tiger’s nest, Tiger’s nest is perched at a hill top not meant for anybody with week knees. The steep 900m climb is strenuous but the view of the Paro valley makes you forget pain. Perched on a cliff with a dazzling view of pines and rhodendrons, the monastery’s entrance descends to a waterfall close to the Snow Lion Cave. Inside the monastery, the holy atmosphere among the monks makes it very serene.

Chele La Pass:

It’s a view point 4000 meters above sea level! A breath-taking view of the pass which separates Haa and Paro valley. A lovely drive with a view of Mt Jumolhari is definitely worth the visit but be very careful in winters as the temperature drops to the wrong side of zero.

And finally for those who like to indulge in high spirits, Ara a local spirit brewed from rice or corn can be tried and for little refined taste, a local raw fresh beer brand name “Red Panda” is fresh and good for the tingling taste buds. Cheers!

*featured image credit: makemytrip.com

 

animals, article, cat, life

Diwali Blues

via Discover Challenge: Animal

While most of my peers were busy uploading Diwali pictures in pretty clothes, much to my chagrin, I was nestled in the warm albeit dark corner of a cozy closet, which had doubled up as the nursery for my pregnant and visibly-in-labour cat, Hyde*. It all started on the night before Diwali, and the entire day was spent comforting my little kitten that was quickly (and annoyingly) on her way to motherhood.

With my phone in one hand, I probably spent hours surfing the internet, and hissing at random posts of people busy in Diwali festivities. I am not much of a festival fan, but I like getting together with people and dressing up in great clothes once in a while, so yeah, you get my point. I was almost fuming, as I sat on my bed, comforting Hyde, who was getting more anxious by the minute, with her tail constantly fluttering around my face, her way of catching attention. I petted her head and ran my fingers along her shiny coat. I could almost read her mind, as she jumped from the bed to the table, knocking a few things in the process. She must’ve been blaming Zaru, my elder male cat, who was probably the reason why she was now visibly exhausted (and fat).  Exhaustion was something we both had in common I guess.

So Hyde’s pregnancy had limited my Diwali revelries to the confines of my room, with my sister and mother in tow, who were both busy in stocking supplies and preparing probably the most weirdly comfortable birthing area for our cat. And that’s how the closet was chosen since it was dark and cozy, both things a cat’s favourites. We all manned the gate and alternated between attending to guests and pampering Hyde. Her condition worsened and we were overcome by a sense of foreboding- maybe her inexperience was hindering the delivery. Three years ago I had lost a cat to labour pains, and I couldn’t bear to think of past repeating itself.

In all the tension and chaos,Diwali came and went. The next morning, my mother called up the Vet in order to ensure that Hyde was tended to by a professional instead of us amateurs. But of the only two days his clinic is closed, Hyde had inadvertently chosen one. My mother hustled to find another doctor. In the entire frantic search for help, we left Hyde alone for a while. When my mother next checked on her an hour later, at around 9 in the bright sunny morning after Diwali, Hyde had become a gorgeous mother to two babies who looked just like her and were nestled carefully in the curve of her stomach.

One look at the kids and all my vanity vanished into thin air. I couldn’t remember the disappointment but only joy enveloped my mind. My mother finds solace in the belief that our love for them comes back to us through each happy day that we spend with each other. And I’d like to have faith in her faith. The quiet Diwali blues are a thing of the past. Those tiny fur balls were worth sacrificing any damn festival.

Always.

 * the cat in the picture is Hyde, with her two pretty kittens, Max and Cooper.

 

free verse, life, LOVE, ode, Poem, Uncategorized

Before You

Before you,

I turned my back to the sunlight in the doorway,

The shadow glistened on the ground;

A sad picture.

I sat with cold coffee,

My companion; a newspaper, and household pets

Filled the void.

I ran into the shade of a broken tree,

To save my shirt from quivering drops

of heavenly tears.

I ran ahead of my life, away from myself.

Before you.

 

Now I see the red curtains like a sky

With its damask cheeks, grinning at me.

I see the pawns of Chess- valiant warriors

Strutting on the board, knights-at-arm.

I see poetry, with each living breath.

After you.

Life.

free verse, life, LOVE, memories, Poem, Uncategorized

I AM NOT YOUR EXPERIMENT

I am not your experiment;

drink deep or taste not the chaste lip

that I’ve held in reverence

for so long .

 

I am not your dust ;

don’t hold me in the barrel of glass but fling me to the winds.

I’ll fall like rain.

 

I am no saint;

pluck not the stars from heaven,

but adorn my hair with flowers

of love requited.

 

I am no cloud with silver crest;

hope not for shade from

the grizzly Rays

but hand to storm the weather.

 

I am not your mirror;

look not to me to see yourself in glory

but your worst critique

and truest fan.

 

I am your song;

hark closer, and you will hear

a longing desire for love

that echoes yours.