Chadar Trek (Leh to Lingshed) (Travelogue)

There is a certain beauty that Frozen Himalayas ooze out.

And for the first time ever in my life I’ll be exploring that beauty from real close quarters. I will be attempting to do Chadar Trek on the frozen Zanskar River.

Read on to know what chadar Trek is.

Rohit Khattar

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Leh to Lingshed

Day Temperatures : -15 to -20
Night Temperatures: -25 to -35

Chadar Trek is one of the wildest trek in the world and a superb test of your mental strength. Chadar means veil of ice and this frozen sheet/river is the only road-way for the zanskaris living in padum or lingshed to go to Leh or from Leh as other passes are closed during the winters due to heavy snowfall. There are few if any adventure treks in the Himalaya to match the Chadar winter expedition for sheer awe inspiring beauty, and none to match it in terms of day to day challenges and excitement.
Suitable for both men & women (with less experience of trekking)

The Zanskar Valley remains…

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The Hidden Beauty Around Manali

The fabled musk deer searches the world over for the source of the scent, which comes from itself.

In the same way hoards of tourists visit Manali every year but very few go beyond visiting the uber popular tourist spots.

For me, Manali is not any other hill station. It is home for me. In spite of visiting it quite often, I have found hidden gems here. The joy of the exploring the unexplored paths is unparalleled. And I often bypass the touristy spots to tread on unknown paths that lead to hidden treasures. My plans are mostly fluid and depend on local knowledge of local people and Google baba – my 24×7 Travel Guru.

Manali travelogue and places to explore

The Snowcapped Manali

Here are 8 hidden getaways near Manali and most of them are best explored on foot.

1. Goshal:

A 2 kms scenic trek through apple orchards and pine trees from Manu Temple leads you to Goshal village. It is a trek mostly frequented by foreigners. Not many Indians explore this gorgeous route. Don’t be surprised if you get invited for a cup of tea and biscuits at any local’s house. And if you are lucky, you might get to taste freshly brewed chang. Some of the houses in this ancient village are as old as 600-700 years. The Beas stream separates the Goshal village from Bhang. When you visit Bhang, don’t forget to have the finger-licking tasty sarson ka saag and makki di roti from ‘Ludhiyana Ki Rasoi’ dhaba.

The top view of Goshal – scenic village near Manali

2. Shanag and Burua:

Away from the hustle bustle of Manali lie the picturesque villages of Shanag and Burua. The driveway through apple orchards is something that dreams are made up of. This a place where most of the high-end luxury cottages are coming up and in the next 5-10 years this will be the most sought after place in Manali. Near Burua village is the famous Nehru kund from where Pandit Jawahar Lal used to drink water. The sturdy suspension bridge over the river Beas at Burua is a picturesque spot that offers the majestic view of Rohtang Range and nearby flowing river Beas.

Burua village near manali places to go

Burua village near manali

3. Gulaba:

As the name suggests, Gulaba is famous for Himachali Flora and Fauna and is often referred to as valley of flowers. It is a good picnic, photography and paragliding spot. The trek for Bhrigu Lake starts here. In winters, this is the last point up to which vehicles are permitted to go. In winters, from November to May, when Rohtang is inaccessible due to snowfall the skiing and winter sports are held at Gulaba.

gulaba picnic spot near manali, places to visit

Gulaba – A photography & Adventure heaven

4. Vashisht:

Around 3km from Manali, across the Beas River, is Vashist. A small village famous for natural Sulphur Springs. The Vaishisht Sulphar Springs have amazing medicinal and healing properties, curing all kind of internal and external pains. The Vashisht temple here is believed to be more than 4000 years old and is significantly popular amongst the locals for giving a bath to their local Devta (deity) before any big or small puja. When visiting Vashisht, do check out the World Peace Café, a rooftop café in Hotel Surbhi, that offers amazing Mountain View along with Italian, Mexican and Israeli food. And if you like walking in wilderness, then be amazed to find two beautiful waterfalls in the vicinity. By trekking for 2 kms from Vashisht Temple you can reach Jogini Falls and if you trek straight for 2kms you can reach the Vashisht waterfalls.

Vashisht hot springs near manali

Vashisht Temple – A Kullu Devi (local Deity) Puja

5. Jagatsukh:

Located on the left bank of the Beas, Jagatsukh is one of the largest villages in Kullu district. A road from Naggar to Manali runs through the village. It is 12km from Naggar and 6km from Manali and is famous for its 5000 years old ancient temples like Jagatsukh Siva Temple and Saraswati Gayatri Mata Temple.

jagatsukh temple, treks near manali

The ancient Jagatsukh Shiva Temple

6. Naggar:

A historic place glorifying the past through the stunning Naggar CastleRoerich Art Gallery and various antique temples like Gauri Shankar Temple, Tripura Sundari Temple, Vishnu Temple and Jagtipath Temple, which is located in the castle premise itself. Nestled on the left bank of Beas, Naggar is slowly becoming a preferred destination for travellers who want to spend some quality time in the lap of nature. The Naggar Castle offers the most splendid Kullu Valley view. Watching the sunset while sipping your evening tea or having a dinner under a blue star-studded sky is something that you should not miss.

naggar castle, places to visit near Manali

A Kully Valley View from the Naggar Castle

7. Rumsu:

If you walk 4 kms ahead of Naggar you reach Rumsu, a 1000 years old ancient village, which has still not lost its unique old world charm. Like Malana, Rumsu village too worships Jamlu Devta. It is a base camp for the Chandrakhani Pass trek that leads you to Malana.

rumsu jamlu devta temple, treks near manali

Temple dedicated to Jamlu Devta at Rumsu

8. Pangan Monastary:

This was a serendipitous discovery for me. Not even locals knew much about it. It is close to Patlikuhl, 30 kms south from Manali. The Kullu Valley view that you get from the Pangan Gompa is completely out of the world. The Pangan Monastary houses 80 nuns and monks. In the second week of November a weeklong death anniversary celebration of its founder Khenchen happens every year. I was fortunate enough to enjoy the festivities there.

Pangan Monastery secluded spot near manali

Pangan Monastery secluded spot near manali

So next time when you plan a Manali trip, go beyond the obvious. Explore the unexplored and evolve from being a tourist to a traveller.

Explore. Experience. Evolve.

With inputs from Shubham Mansingka

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Malana – the Loss of Innocence and Culture

Top view of malana villageMalana – The moment you hear this word, Malana Cream comes to your mind. But there’s more to this ancient village than just being world’s heaven of Marijuana.

Malana lies in a side valley of the Parvati Valley. The majestic peaks of Chandrakhani and Deotibba shadow the village. Unaffected by the modern civilization, Malana has an impeccable lifestyle and social structure guided by the spirit of village God Jamlu. Jamlu Devta’s word is the last word. They speak Kanashi language, which is unintelligible for anyone outside the village.

Standing isolated from the outside world for several thousands of years, the mystical Malana village is gradually but reluctantly opening its doors to the outside world. Malana’s two coveted commodities – Marijuana and the beauty of innocence, enamor the outside world.

I too was intrigued by it’s mysticism and had a question in my mind – is Marijuana leading to the loss of innocence and loss of unique culture in Malana?

On 8th November 2014, I along with my travel buddy, Shubham, decided to seek an answer to our question. An impromptu trip to Malana was made. After hitchhiking and boarding three local Himachal Pradesh buses, we reached Jari at 4pm. A lousy meal at a Nepali Dhabha, disguised as a Punjabi dhaba, couldn’t deter our enthusiasm to see the solitary village, which attracts more backpackers and travelers than tourists.

After whiling away time for a bit, we finally boarded the only bus service available for Malana at 6pm. Jari to Malana was a 20 kms arduous journey. However, the route was scenic in the backdrop of snow-capped mountains, fall colours of the valley, waterfalls and rivulets flowing underneath. After reaching Malana hydro power plant, road turned really rough, treacherous, steep, rocky and dusty. The bus slowly but steadily moved on the serpentine winding road, which had more potholes than coal-tarred surface. At 7:30 pm, the bus dropped us off at Naarang where the climb to the village starts. Besides both of us, two more people were going to Malana. One was a teenager and other a middle-aged man. However, soon the boy disappeared into thin air. It was pitch dark and the gurgling sound of Malana river and chilly wind made the setting look scary. The first 10 minutes of the trek involved going downhill and then crossing the torrential Malana river with the help of a narrow bridge. The middle-aged man tried to be over-friendly, asking all kind of weird questions. We had no option but to walk with him, considering there wasn’t a soul in the sight. His intentions, conveyed via his body language and words, didn’t give a favourable impression. Besides quizzing us like an attorney, he tried to scare us by saying things like “Kabhi bhi raat mein idhar nahi aana chahiye. Zamana bahut kharab hai. Kya pata kab kahan kya ho jaaye. Yahan kitne log gayab ho gaye. Kitne mar gaye.” We tried to give him an impression of poor travellers who were prebooked in a guesthouse in Malana and our friends were to join us the next day. And thanks to Airtel, my mom called and I gave her all kind of relevant and irrelevant information about my current state of affairs, just to back off that man. And when he was getting too much on my nerves, I politely asked him to shut up, which pissed him off. And that scared the hell out of us. Thankfully two local boys came to our rescue. One of them helped us with the route and my bag. The cobbled climb was an uphill trek. I was running out of breath but the fear of something bad happening to us, kept us on our toes.

Maintaining a constant rhythm, we reached the outskirt of the village in an hour. The village was properly lit and local music was blasting at full decibel from the ‘Family Guesthouse’. We checked for the night stay charges. The guy had blood-red eyes and, like the old man, didn’t give good vibes. So we ditched our plan to stay at his guesthouse. We were so tired that were ready to spend the night anywhere but were told by the local boy that we can only stay in guesthouses meant for outsiders. A single uphill path lead us towards the top of the village where most of the guesthouses were located, namely, Malana View, Dragon and Cosmo. We were asked not to stop anywhere or touch anything. Our young guide told us that any local who comes in contact with outsiders or goes to guesthouse has to wash his hands properly before entering his house. The seldom talking local boy was sweet enough to leave us to the guesthouse. When we tried to tip him and ask for his number, he simply whizzed away, without saying a word. Bewildered, we were left.

We got dingy rooms on the third floor of Dragon Guesthouse for Rupees 300 each. However, before check-in, the guesthouse manager asked us if we wanted some maal. When we replied in non-assertion, pat came his reply “Kutch lena nahi hai to phir yahan aaye kyun”

After freshening up, we came down for our dinner. In a dimly lit room trans music was playing, huge posters of Shiva and Dragon Guest house adorned the Deodar walls of the room. There was more malana cream in the air than oxygen. Tourists from Canada, France and India were busy smoking chillum. After spending half an hour, we retired to our rooms. I was sleeping in the most basic and most unhygienic bed but it didn’t matter to my tired limbs. I slept like a baby in the abode of Shiva.

Next morning the beautiful views of snow-capped mountains greeted me but I was in for a harsh reality check. A tiny, mysterious village, supposedly inhabited by descendants of Alexander’s army, looked in ruins. Thriving Malana Cream trade and rampant construction with no focus on cleanliness now plagued the land, once popular for its secretive, unique culture, and a society that shunned physical contact with outsiders to remain pure.

Malana, once known for its wooden houses built in the beautiful kathi-kuni architectural style, was destroyed in a massive blaze in January 2008. From the ashes, a new Malana – solid concrete and asbestos – emerged. The encroachment of modernity was evident through mobile towers, electricity, satellite dishes, and televisions.

From ancient times there is no caste responsible for cleaning of the village therefore there is no sanitation system in place. Packets of Lay’s chips, chocolates, biscuit wrappers and snack items were littered around.

Women did most of the work. Men were either chatting or smoking up. In fact everybody smokes in Malana – right from women to kids. Education is non-priority. There is one school, recently upgraded to tenth grade from fifth grade, but not many children were seen going to school. They were all playing in the centre court of Jamlu devta ground. When requested for shutterbug, some obliged and some plainly refused. Elders were more cordial than teenagers and kids. Perhaps too much of easy money is corrupting innocent minds. Similar to their urban counterparts, they too are dreaming to own luxury items – swanky cars, expensive clothes and accessories. Fashion has made inroads in the forbidden land. The crime rate has shot up. Politics, drug mafia and police are corrupting the innocent minds and culture of Malana.

The descending walk from the outskirts of Malana to Naarang roughly took us 45 minutes. Once at Naarang, we looked for a shared taxi. But were lucky to be given a hitch by two young Malanese teenagers who in return just asked us to pray for the success of the work they were going to. Their eyes were bloodshot red and were carrying malana cream with them. When we tried to enquire about their work, education and job they dodged the question hinting towards the open secret – they were the new age drug dealers and were perhaps on their way to crack a deal.

On our way back to Jari, the car stopped to catch up with the young village shepherd whose job was to take the entire village sheep and goats down to Jari, Kulu, Bilaspur etc. for grazing. This boy was drop dead gorgeous with Aryan features and looked different from the rest of the Malanese boys. He still had that innocence in his eyes.

malanese shepherd

Wonder how long can the unique identity of Malana be maintained by such few innocent eyes when the Malanese themselves are succumbing to the evil of modernization and unsolicited means of progress. Malana is consuming a slow poison of sociocultural degradation and if this continues the day may not be far off when it will lose its unique identity.

Hope that day doesn’t arrive!

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10 Reasons to Welcome New Year in Manali

IMG-20141119-WA0014If Shimla is the queen of hill stations, then Manali is indeed the king!

You must have visited Manali in the summers when it’s crowded and packed with tourists. Time has come for a change to visit the majestic Himalayas in the winters to welcome the New Year with a bang!

10 reasons why you should bring in the New Year in snowy Manali:

  1. See a familiar destination in a different attire: Manali is prettier with pristine white snow everywhere and that will be an everlasting memory! Keep the beauty to yourself in the absence of bus full-of-tourists that come in high season.
  2. Experience life-like locals: Brag about having seen water frozen in pipes and see the way of the locals go about their daily life. Gaze at the mountains shrouded in a smoky light with every home having a tandoor that works like a heater.
  3. Satiate your gastronomic desires: Manali doesn’t disappoint you when it comes to enjoy winter cuisine. The hot gulab jamuns, gajar ka halwa, jalebi, kesar doodh, chaat…. everything seems tastier in snow-white winters. Discover the mysteries of the local organic rice & barley alcohol and get naturally high. Enjoy winter food – an entirely different animal from summer’s simplicity!
  4. See more. Spend less: Hotels, taxis and activities costs are cheaper in off-season, sweaty summer crowds are a dim memory, and there’s plenty to explore in half the amount.
  5. It’s easier to plan a last-minute trip: Feeling spontaneous? A low-season trip is the ticket to planning a successful break with just days until departure.
  6. Have fun in the Snow: Manali is the top adventure destination. Get an adrenalin rush with activities like skiing, snowboarding, Zorbing, Paragliding, Snow Scooter driving and many other adventure sports in Solang Valley
  7. Capture landscapes in new lights and hues: Photography enthusiasts would love to shoot in the low season. Popular attractions become more alluring. Imagine the rusty Hadimba Temple covered with silver flurry. Also, you’ll often have sought-after attractions all to yourself—so no photo bombing in your perfect shot.
  8. Bonding over bonfires: Let the singer and actor in you come alive over a bonfire. Rekindle the lovely memories – truth and dare, antakshri, crushes and misses over a bonfire and drinks.
  9. Overdress to impress: Winters is the time to bring out the fashionista in you. Drape yourself in colourful mufflers, boots, caps, and trench coats. Overdressing would not be minded.
  10. Best place to make New Year resolutions: Manali through its picturesque and serene landscapes in winters, offer a perfect environment to ponder over the bygone year and make New Year resolutions. And what better way to fulfill your resolutions by fulfilling an old resolution – winter holiday in Himalayas that you promised yourself long time back. Time to act on it NOW.

So what are you waiting for? Start the New Year on a snowy note…
Reclaim your life; come to the Himalayas with us!

With inputs from Shubham Mansingka

Rishikesh – Beyond Temples and River Rafting

Some come to Rishikesh to explore their adventure side…some to connect with spirituality…some to find Nirvana…some to simply lose or find themselves. Whatever might be your reason, whenever you might come, from wherever you might come; Rishikesh always welcomes you with open arms.

Rishikesh has a lot to offer, but very few go beyond the routine river rafting and temple visits around Ram and Lakshman Jhullas. Here is my list of 10 things you must do in Rishikesh:

  1. Learn Yoga in the ‘Yoga Capital of the World’: Thanks to the globalisation of ‘YOGA’, Rishikesh is now referred to as a ‘Yoga Capital of the World’. In spite of Kareena Kapoor, Shilpa Shetty and other celebs trying their best to glamourise the Yoga, very few young Indians have shown interest in reaping the benefits of this great life-enriching practice. Mostly the spiritually inclined senior citizens come to Rishikesh for Yoga. Take a break from the maddening pace of life and reconnect with your inner self at any of the Yoga & Meditation Ashrams.Click here to check Top 10 Rishikesh Ashrams.Yoga Ashram at Rishikesh
  2. Rock-N-Roll at the Beatles Ashram: Classics are forever. It’s the same with theMaharishiMahesh Yogi ashram, famously referred as the Beatles Ashram. It was here that The Beatles, the veritable gods of rock, stayed in 1968, triggering off a craze that made India a happening global destination for the westerners seeking nirvana. The Beatles wrote ‘The White Album’ songs here. Spread over 14 acres of land near RamJhulla, this Ashramwas abandoned in 1977 and is in control of the Forest Department since then. Once a preferred destination for foreigners, now a reminiscent of a glorious past.

    Beatles Ashram Pathway

  3. Feel at home in Backpackers’ hideout: Rishikesh is not all spirituality and contorted limbs; it’s now a popular backpacker hide out too. You can stay at most Ashram’s at as low as Rupees 200 per day, including meals and yoga sessions. And some Ashrams likeShivananda Ashram offer everything for free. Just book in advance and enjoy themodest hospitality of the Ashrams.backpackers
  4. Retreat and Rejuvenate: If you are the kind, whose idea of a holiday is to relax and simply practice the art of doing nothing, then Rainforest House is for you. A homely guesthouse hidden away from the hustle bustle of the town, nestled in the middle of a hillock and Ganga flowing just below it; it is a space where people, mostly foreigners, come to relax and rejuvenate. It is a no frills guesthouse built and run with love by Steve andTrupti. Simple cosy rooms. Organically grown and freshly prepared veg food. No Internet. No phone. The only sounds you hear are the rhythmic sounds of yoga meditation CDs, gurgling sound of Ganga stream and chirping of Himalayan fauna.

    rainforest house

    Rainforest Guest House Open Air Dinning Hall

  5. Witness the divine light ceremony: Unlike other religious places, the evening GangaAarti at Rishikesh is a non crowded and classy affair. Religious agents don’t breath down your neck for offerings andpujas. You can either join in thebhajan chorus or simply savour the visual pleasure. Two important places to watch this evening spectacle in Rishikesh are theParmarthNiketan Ashram andTriveniGhat. The ideal time to visit these places is in the evening around 6 pm.

    Parmarth Niketan Evening Ganga Aarti

    Parmarth Niketan Evening Ganga Aarti

  6. Discover your Adventurous side: If you have the adrenaline rush in you, this is the placeto be in. Be it white water rafting or kayaking or Cliff Jumping or Bungee Jumping or Rappelling or Rock Climbing or Trekking or Jungle Safari or Biking; Rishikesh has a lot to satiate your adrenalin rush. So pick up the activity you like and explore your adventurous side.

    Bungee Jumping

    Bungee Jumping at Jumpin Heights

  7. Treat your eyes to magnificent views: Temples sitting on top of the hillocks, in and around Rishikesh, offer some of the most breathtaking panoramic views. From Kunjapuri Devi Temple, located 15 km away from Rishikesh, one can see the stunning snow ranges and peaks of Garhwal Himalayas to the North and of Rishikesh, Haridwar and the Doon valley to the South. Bhootnath Temple, situated 3kms from theLakshmanJhula on a hillock, is a hidden heaven for pilgrimage tourists and adventure seekers.

    Top View from Kunjapuri Devi Temple

    Top View from Kunjapuri Devi Temple

  8. Food Lovers’ Nirvana: Thanks to the influx of global travellers, from back packers to well-heeled, Rishikesh has turned into a global town offering mouth-watering cuisines from the world. Though Google Baba will give you a detailed list of restaurants and cafes. Per me, some of the best cafes are in the Lakshman Jhulla area. Little Buddha café; a funky tree house-style restaurant overlooking the Ganga offers amazing pizzas and platters. Café 60’s (Cafe Delmar/Beatles Cafe) is a must try for the amazing view and delicious food. Devraj coffee corner – this German bakery is a foodie’s paradise. Do try out their coffee and specialties like brown bread with yak cheese, along with the usual croissants and apple strudel. Bollywood buffs can visit this for paying tribute to Bunty and Babli. If you can put in a bit of hard work in your food trail then don’t miss out Pyramid café, a steep walk away from Lakshman Jhulla, is an oasis of delicious food in a relaxing atmosphere. Set amidst the forest and with a distant view of the Ganges River, it is what your soul needs. Ayurpak café: if you are fond of Ayurvedic food and can do withlesser portions then thisshould be your pit stop. Other gems are freedom café, Moon dance Café, Bistro Nirvana.

    Little Buddha Cafe

    Little Buddha Cafe

  9. Make harmony with your soul. Learn Indian classical Music from the Gurus: Indian classical music like a crystal has been shining bright for ages. Popular it might not be but its soul-stirring powers are world-renowned. So when you are in Rishikesh don’t forget to learn Indian Classical music and dance from the Gurus themselves. Enroll yourself at Veena Maharaj Music School, Sivananda Ramesh Music School, Bhuwan Music School or Om Rudra Cultural Society. Attend the Yoga & music festival, held from 5th to 14th Nov every year where musicians from across India and world come together to teach Yoga and Music absolutely free.

    Indian Classical Music School

  10. Unlock your explorer side: Rishikesh excursions consist of some of the finest places near the city -NarendraNagar,Neergudu waterfall,Garur-chatti waterfall and limestone caves inRajaji National Park,Chila Sanctuary,Chandrashila Summit. So go off the map. Replace the fear of unknown with Curiosity. You never know your discoverycan be someone’s itinerary. All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.

    Garur Chatti Waterfall

    Garur Chatti Waterfall

Rishikesh is immensely popular both in India and abroad but very few people have explored it in the truest sense. Next time instead of ticking tourist spots off a list, try exploring the unexplored in the explored. Who knows somewhere you might find a part of yourself that you never knew existed.

11 Tips for Solo Travellers


“A good traveller is one who knows how to travel with the mind.” ― Michael Bassey Johnson

Truer words have never been spoken. Travelling shouldn’t be a pain. It should be reminiscent of happy memories. It shouldn’t give you nightmares. Solo travel is fun and enriching but poses a lot of questions which must be answered before you embark on your solo trip. Speaking from my personal experiences, here are my 11 Tips for Solo Travellers:

  1. Adhere to ‘Plan A’ but be ‘Plan B’ ready. Golden rule of travelling – always keep alternate itineraries ready. Plans and punctuality are the biggest casualties while travelling. Be patient and stay cool-headed when your plans go haywire. Before heading out on a trip do your homework. Spend time on online traveller forums and blogs to get the real picture of the place you are visiting. Unlike travel agencies, they provide in-depth information about their personal experiences, safety and culture and answer your questions and concerns in an unbiased manner.
  2. Absorb the universe. Don’t let it become YOUniverse: When you return from a holiday are you more excited to narrate the travel tales or to upload your FB album? Unfortunately travel is now showing off your ‘YOUniverse’ than exploring the universe. Updating “At Eiffel Tower” FB status is more important than seeing a sunset at Eiffel Tower. Give your shutter box a break. Absorb the beauty around you. Live the moment. Don’t just capture it.
  3. Stay connected, no matter what: Always keep your family and friends updated about your whereabouts and ongoing itinerary. Before starting your journey, share your local contact numbers with your family and confirm the same after reaching your destination. Buy a local SIM or connect via skype, WhatsApp or whatever is easily accessible.
  4. Travel light but smart: Carry all of your essentials in your carrybag in case your luggage gets lost. That means clothes for hot, cold, and wet weather, comfortable pair of shoes, medication, hand sanitiser, torch, your IDs and important gadgets and light snacks like energy bars, dry fruits etc. Don’t carry too much cash and never put cash and credit cards in one area. Use ATMs. Don’t over pack except for extra pairs of undergarments and socks. Repeating clothes is better than getting stuck with an immovable backpack.
  5. Be confident and stay away from limelight. Dress appropriately and stay sublime. Respect the local culture and their dressing up sentiments. Avoid dressing up like an obvious “tourist” and don’t flash cash, expensive gadgets or jewellery. Dress for comfort. Junk your skinny jeans, skirts and ballerinas. Live and breathe in track pants and always have some emergency cash stashed in them. Wear comfortable shoes. Stay cautious of your surroundings and stick to well-lit areas and main roads.
  6. Don’t stay aloof. Make friends: Travelling solo doesn’t mean you don’t mingle with people. If you do so, you miss out on lot of experiences and might get into unpleasant situations. It’s prudent not to let strangers know you are alone. Little white lies are perfectly acceptable such as letting people think you’re waiting to meet someone until you’re sure they are trustworthy. Walk with confidence and try to get attached to a group, if you end up in unsavoury locations. Talk to people. Make friends. Learn about different cultures. After all to travel is to learn.
  7. Get off the road. Discover off-the-map destinations: The best part about travelling solo is – you are not bound by others’ itineraries. You can make or amend your plans as per your will. Befriend the locals to explore the unexplored destinations. Talk to chaiwala, taxiwala, villagers and hotel staff to discover hidden delights. Be an explorer.
  8. Travel Smart with a Smartphone: Save offline maps, local sightseeing details, and important local contact details. Use google translate and maps to get instant help (if internet connectivity is not an issue). You can even click a picture of a signboard or menu, and it will translate the text for you. Keep jotting down your experiences in your notes. Helps you document your trip latter on. Use ‘draw pattern’ or ‘insert PIN’ instead of swipe feature to lock the screen and install ‘applock’ to avoid data theft in case your phone gets lost. Don’t carry your phone in hand, keep it in a travel bag. And dress it in a case to avoid screen breakage.
  9. Stay empowered by Power Bank: Thanks to Power banks, you no more have to look for charging points at every Homo sapiens habitat. When you get on a road trip make sure you are powered by a power bank. To save battery – turn off auto sync, charge on airplane mode and carry USB charger instead of a regular charger.
  10. Use local or shared transport instead of a personal taxi: Money saved is money earned. It’s prudent to use the local or shared transport. It not only saves you from getting a hole burnt in your pocket but also get you up-close to the local authentic culture of the place. However, before firming up travel plans, do check with the local transport hubs as many places have very few and infrequent services.
  11. Bargain. Bargain. Bargain: To get the best deal on your hard earned money don’t hesitate to bargain. Seeing a tourist, everyone tries to make a quick buck. Never settle for the price asked for. Quote 30% -40% of the original price. Try at least 3-4 places before making a final purchase decision.

Beautiful travel experiences are like cancer. Once the travel bug bites there is no antidote, and travellers love to be infected with this virus for life. Follow these simple tips and stay infected forever.

Keep Travelling. Keep seeing. Keep Writing.

11 Soulful Reasons to Travel to Ladakh

The Himalaya is not a tourist destination for me. It is home. In spite of its uber popularity, I have found hidden gems here. I have discovered beauty in places, cultures and people from fresh angles, every time I visit it. Unlike a tourist, much like an explorer, I try to get off the beaten path to discover serendipity. I look for soulful reasons to connect with the places I visit.

One such serendipitous trip was my recent trip to Ladakh, where I discovered unique faces of beauty. Not just landscape beauty but beauty of heart and soul.

Here are my 11 Soulful Reasons to Travel to Ladakh

  1.  Treat your groggy eyes to the best sunrise and sunset at Tso Moriri & Pangong Tso Lakes: While three Idiots  put Pangong Tso Lake as ‘must see’ destination on every Indian’s bucket list, Tso Moriri is still an unexplored destination. Pangong Tso is shared between India and China but Tso Moriri is all ours. The first views of the lakes left me completely spellbound. Flat, calm, unending they were so impossibly beautiful to accept if I was daydreaming or were they real. Places where nature gets to paint its own verse on its own canvas. Words can never do justice to their beauty. When visiting these high altitude lakes, do not miss the sunrise and sunset.The romantic symphony of the sun, sky, mountains and water is such a spectacular sight, that you’ll be left awestruck. Also, en route to lakes keep an eye on seeing the beautiful fauna of Ladakh – Himalayan Marmot, Ibex, Djo, snow leopard and many more.
    Pangong Tso Lake where on any given day you can see seven shades of blue.

    Pangong Tso Lake where on any given day you can see seven shades of blue.

    Tso Moriri lake in Changthang region of Ladakh is one of the most beautiful, calm and sacred; high altitude lakes in India.

    Tso Moriri lake in Changthang region of Ladakh is one of the most beautiful, calm and sacred; high altitude lakes in India.

  2. Rejuvenate your tired soul by spending time at Shanti Stupa – Japan’s gift to India: Many people visit Leh-Ladakh to assess and rediscover life. And what better place than Shanti Stupa. The Japanese Buddhist organization constructed Shanti Stupa to promote world peace and prosperity and to commemorate the 2500 years of Buddhism. It offers the panoramic view of the entire Leh city. And if you are a photographer, you would be mesmerised by the magnificent views of the sunrise and sunset from Shanti Stupa. Adorned with glittering lights, the stupa looks breathtakingly beautiful at night.

    shaanti stupa at night

    Shanti Stupa shining like a diamond in the sky.

  3. Enlighten yourself spiritually by exploring the Buddhist monasteries and learning nuances of life from the red robed monks: Ladakh is a jungle of Gompas, Stupas and Monasteries. These holy structures are an integral part of Ladakh region. Visit any monastery for peace, tranquility and life enriching philosophies. A small talk with any lama will enlighten you more than a textbook would ever do. Also, if you love to learn and imbibe the local culture then club your trip with local festivals like The Hemis Festival, The Gustor festival, The Lamayuru festival, The Phiyang Festival, The Yuru Kabgyat festival; held every year from July to September.

    hemis festival

    Attend the biggest birthday party in Ladakh – The Hemis Festival

  4. Rafting in foothills is for kids, Rafting in icy cold Zanskar River is the real deal: Being an adventure buff, I have experienced lot of thrilling adventures but Zanskar river rafting gives you a different kind of high. I took the 28 km white water rafting challenge. What an enthralling experience it was in the freezing Zanskar. Mighty rapids were determined to overturn our raft but our determination proved to be mightier. The whole rafting experience from pickup to providing rafting gear to in-the-river experience to serving lunch to drop off, everything is professionally managed. So next time you are in Ladakh, don’t miss this adrenalin rush activity.

    River Rafting in Zanskar

    The Zanskar River Rafting end point is at the confluence of Zanskar and Indus river.

  5. Participate in India’s very own ‘Tour De France’ – Go Mountain biking in the land of high passes: Till sometime back Mountain biking was a challenge accepted by foreign cyclists only. But now lot of Indians are embracing the challenge. Met a 15 members group from Bangalore, who cycled from Manali to Khardungla Top in 11 days. The sheer joy of having a cup of black tea and Maggie at 18,380 ft after cycling for 516 km, is something MasterCard can’t buy, only human spirit can earn. If you don’t want to exert yourself so much then there is always downward mountain biking option which is less taxing on body but great test of nerves and control. So junk that SUV and get on the cycle!

    Cyclists from Bangalore at Khardungla Top

    The Mountain biking Group from Bangalore that cycled from Manali to Khardungla Top. Pic courtesy: darshan

  6. Experience the Gold Standard Hospitality. Stay in a Homestay: Ladakhi homestays are home away from home. Might not offer you luxuries like fancy hotels but the same is overcompensated by unflinching love and care of hosts. My homestay experience in Ladakh made me their fan for life. Ladakhis go out of their way to make you feel at home and ‘No’ doesn’t exist in their dictionary. Surely Hospitality Industry can take lessons from them in how to achieve Gold Standard in Hospitality. For more information, checkout or

    My Homestay room in Leh – Shashipa Guesthouse

    My Home Stay in Leh – Shashipa Dining hall

  7. Share a roof with the real descendants of Alexander the great – the Brokpa Community:The Brokpa (or Drokpa) community is spread in five villages Dha, Hanu, Biama, Garkon and Darchig. They’re claimed to be the purest Aryans in the world, direct descendants of Alexander the Great. Brokpas have distinct features and culture. They are tall, well-built and fair complexioned with blues eyes. Their traditional dress and way of styling is also very distinctive. They speak their own Brokpa language and follow Islam. They are shy, but like Ladakhis, they are warm and welcoming. The custom of marrying within the community, to retain the purity of their Aryan genes, has however, limited the population of Brokpas. The community hardly numbers over 2000. So before they become an extinct species from an endangered species do visit them.


    The brokpas

  8.  Visit the once LOC battleground, now a tourist ground – The Turtuk Village: A little hamlet which was part of Pakistan till 1971; Turtuk is one of the remotest and most beautiful villages of Ladakh. 80 kms ahead of Hunder, it is at the last corner of  Nubra valley at LOC and situated on the bank of Mighty Shyok River. Since it was opened to tourists in 2010 only, therefore it is culturally intact, untainted by tourism and delightfully pristine. It is one of Ladakh’s greenest area where you’ll find more Apricot and Apple trees than anywhere else in Ladakh. Turtuk’s apricots are the sweetest in the entire Ladakh region and only thing sweeter than them are the smiles of Turtukians. Visit this little hamlet before it gets corrupted by tourism.


    Turtuk village – The last village near the Indo-Pak LOC border

  9. Click till you drop in photographer’s heaven: The Ladakh region offers the confluence of three different landscapes – mountainscapes, riverscapes and desertscapes; all in one. It’s your Kodak moment experience to capture a world of landscapes in one single trip. So clear is the air, so large the canvas, so vivid the colours, any photograph taken here is bound to look a masterpiece. So visit Ladakh and become a pro photographer overnight.

    The top view from Khardungla Top, Ladakh

    Rafting end point - the confluence of indus n zanskar

    The confluence point of River Indus and River Zanskar

    Hunder sand dunes

    Hunder sand dunes, Nubra Valley, Ladakh

  10. Be party to a three-day party. Attend Bagston – The Ladakhi Buddhist Wedding: Ladakhi weddings are not your usual Band Baja Baarat type big fat Indian weddings. They are big yet simple. The wedding ceremonyis called  ‘Bagston’ – a social gathering of minimum 1000 people in which the entire village contributes monetarily, with gifts and providing free labour. Instead of outsourcing marriage arrangements, everything is self-handled. A big tent is erected. Pots of Chang and plenty of local food is prepared. The seating is done in Ladakhi style – Tibetan carpets and colourfully painted Ladakhi Tables. Everyone dressed in traditional Ladakhi outfits – colourful silk and brocade robes. The bride wears an attractive headgear called ‘perak’, made of black lambskin studded with semi precious turquoise stones. Traditional songs are played. Slow, calm, and beautiful dance goes on with ‘Chang’ and butter tea flowing through the night. So if you get invited to one such wedding, don’t miss it at any cost.

    Bride and Her Family dressed in traditional Ladakhi dress

    Pots of Chang & Food Prepared for the Ladakhi Wedding

    Pots of Chang & Food Prepared for the Ladakhi Wedding

  11. Volunteer in Ladakh – let your vacation bring a smile on someone’s face: Who says holidays are just meant for clicking pictures for Facebook? How about creating everlasting memories that could bring happiness in someone’s life. Why not work towards a cause while romancing the beauty of Ladakh? The picturesque Ladakh is the most difficult terrain to live in and people here have limited resources and education avenues. Ladakh has many NGOs working for the underprivileged. You can take up various volunteering positions at NGOs, according to your skills and time in hand. PAGIR is one of the NGOs that won my heart. It works for people with disabilities. One of their program ‘Himalaya On wheels’ promotes tourism for people on wheel chairs and senior citizens. Check out


    PAGIR’S Himalaya on Wheels initiative organizes trips for people on wheel chair and senior citizens in Ladakh.

I can cite hundreds of soulful reasons to go to Ladakh. But I would stop here. Somethings should be discovered not just read.

So what are you waiting for?

Get. Set. Go.

Before getting LEH’ed get LAHAUL’ed

The best cure of Himalayan Hangover is to get high on Himalayas again.

Not even fifteen days had passed since I returned from Leh-Ladakh and I had already started dreaming of returning to my favourite abode – The Himalayas.

So when a long Dusshera weekend opportunity of  knocked the door, I planned a Himalayan quickie – a trip to Lahaul-Spiti.

Along with my friend and her 4 years old daughter I left for Manali on 1st October night. As usual, against the promise of reaching Manali in 14 hours, the bus took more than 20 hours. And it was a very treacherous and arduous journey.

Nevertheless, as I landed in Manali, the whiff of fresh Himalayan air worked like a soothing balm. We checked in our Conifer Woods cottage at Simsha village. Conifer woods experience was beyond words. If I could use one word to describe our hosts it would be – BADE DILWALE. They made sure our stay, travel and food was perfect.

Basis my experience, here are my ten suggestions to make your Lahaul trip an awesome trip:

  1. Never ever plan a trip to Mountains during long weekends: I learnt this lesson hard way. Was stuck in a mother of all traffic jams at Marhi,near Rohtang pass for two days – first time for three hours and next time for seven hours.The lovey-dovey couples, the BIG FAT Indian families, the college fuchas,the airport-returned-firang accented babes, the makeup-ki-dukaan babes, the middle-aged uncle and aunties, the ‘Jat Risky After Whisky’ brash men, theUP kebhaiyas (sorry, if I am sounding racist :P)…basically the entire janta from Haryana, Punjab, Delhi, UP, Uttarakhand and MP rushed to collect their share of a treasure hunt at Rohtang Pass. Otherwise why would everybody queue up there?

    Bumper to Bumper Traffic Jam at Marhi

    Bumper to Bumper Traffic Jam at Marhi

  2. Hire a personal cab or book a seat on a shared cab: Thanks to Ramesh and Navang, the owners of Jispa Journeys, we got a local driver at Rupees Ten Thousand for a two days trip to Lahaul Valley. Our Driver, Ravindar’s good driving skills, politeness and sound Lahauli knowledge made our trip memorable and rich. If you think Ten thousand is expensive then you can book shared Taxis which take Rupees Eight Hundred per person to drop you at either Kaza in Spiti or Keylong in Lahaul.

    Ravindar - our driver cum guide

    Ravindar – our driver cum guide

  3. Carry lot of fruits and HPMC juices (Not real or Tropicana) to keep you hydrated: Lahaul and Spiti is a sparsely populated, dry barren region therefore you might not find dhabbas for long distances.The hardly-ever-maintained roads near Rohtang Pass and in Lahaul Valley makes you hungry quite often. Hence, it is best advised to carry your own supplies. And since air becomes thin in this region therefore fruits and juices are best to keep you hydrated. Carry lot of dry fruits and energy bars to keep your stomach full. But don’t overeat as the winding roads might make you sick.

    The namesake road from Rohtang Pass to Khoksar

    The namesake road from Rohtang Pass to Khoksar

  4. Take time to reach your Destination. Enjoy the journey: This rugged region has unique picturesque beauty of interlocking river valleys, deep gorges, lofty snow-capped mountains and enchanting mountain lakes, punctuated by tiny patches of greenery and villages clinging to the sides of rivers and glacial streams. Every village has a prayer flag fluttering over the Buddhist monastery. The views offered by Sissu, Jispa, Tandi, Keylong, Darcha, Zingzingbar, Baralacha La and everything that falls on the Manali-Leh highway is awe-inspiring. It is a paradise for Mountaineers, Trekkers, Hikers, Bikers and Photographers. So fasten your seat belts and enjoy God’s piece of heaven.
    sisu nursery

    Sissu Village Nursery

    Yotche village at bhaga & Zanskar rivers confluence

    Yotche Village, where Yotche & Zanskar nallahs meet Bhaga River. Upward this point you don’t find treeline

    Top view of Tino Village, near Zong Gompa

    Top view of Tino Village, near Zong Gompa

    Jispa Village

    Jispa Village

    En-route to Baralacha from Jispa

    Multi coloured mountains above Zingzing Bar, lahaul

    lahaul road trip - above zingzingbar

    Lahaul Valley view – Enroute from Zingzingbar to Bara Lacha La Pass

  5. Tank up your Vehicle and Eyes at Tandi: Manali-Leh highway only has one petrol pump on the entire route therefore whether you are going-over or halting midway, don’t forget to tank up your vehicle. Also, Tandi is famous for the confluence of River Chandra and River Bhaga, forming River ChandraBhaga which later becomes Chenab flowing into J&K and Pakistan. Sit and marvel the beauty of this sangam. About 4 km from Tandi Village, is the Guru Ghantal Monastery, believed to be Lahaul’s oldest monastery. Built of wood with slanting roofs, it has exquisite wood carvings and images of lamas. If you are visiting in summers, then do attend the Ghantal festival which is celebrated on the full-moon night around mid-June by monks along with the Hindu Thakurs of the area.


    Tandi – The confluence point of River Bhaga and River Chandra

  6. See the majestic sunrise at enchanting mountain lakes. Experience the Himalayan Homestay Experience: Deepak Tal and Suraj Tal offers one of the most splendid sunrise in Himalayas. Break your journey at Jispa or Darcha to experience the Sun’s romance with the lakes. But leave before 5:30 am from your homestay.  Homestays  in Jispa are cheap, available at approximately Rs. 500-1000 per room but food is expensive. You can also stay in tents at Darcha, which charge Rs.100 per bed. However, make sure you have extra blankets/quilts. Even in the early October, temperature dips to zero degree. And don’t forget to carry from top to bottom winter clothes. It gets freezing cold as you move towards Baralacha La.

    The ‘Himalaya’ Homestay in Jispa where I stayed

    Early morning Sunrise in Lahaul Valley

    Sunrise in Lahaul Valley


    Deepak Tal – lies on Manali-Leh Highway ahead of Jispa

    Sunrise at Baralacha la

    Sunrise at Bara Lacha La Pass that stands at the junction of routes from Ladakh & Lahaul-Spiti.

    surajtal, lahaul

    Suraj tal – The lake of Sun God, from where River Bhaga originates

  7. Marvel the hidden grandeur of Lahaul: The customs, rituals, beliefs and conventions of the humble unsophisticated people are the unique features of this border highland, which is also known as mini Tibet. Every village has ‘OM MANI PADME HUM’ prayer flag fluttering over the Buddhist monastery. These monasteries are more than a place of worship – they are the hub of the cultural life of the people. These stunning places of architecture and culture are still unexplored. Key monasteries in Lahaul are Guru Ghantal, Kardang, Shashur, Tayul and Ghemur besides small ones around hamlets and in deep mountains. Check this link for more info Besides monasteries, there is also Lahaul’s lone fort – The Gondhla Fort. Built in 1700 AD, this eight storey fort is exclusively built with wood, in the tower type architecture.
    kardang monastary

    Kardang Monastery

    Zong Gompa Monastary

    Zong Monastery

    gondhala fort

    Lahaul’s lone fort – The Gondhla Fort.

  8. Immerse yourself in the local culture: Lahauli natives are very simple and warm. They are shy in the beginning but then they pour their heart out. Their culture is Matriarchal culture. Three kind of marriages happen – love marriage, arranged marriage and theft marriage. Casteism doesn’t plague their society. However, marrying a person lesser than your caste (sunar, lohar or baniya) raises few eyebrows. Their wedding is a three-day affair where everyone is dressed in a similar traditional dress. Drinking Chang (local beer) is like having an energy drink. Salted butter tea, thukpa and other Himalayan/Tibetan dishes consisting of meat, green veggies is their favourite food. They store their vegetables underground for winter consumption. And each household in Lahaul-Spiti stores at least five years supply of daily consumption items.
    Lahauli women dressed in their traditional attire returning from a wedding

    Lahauli women dressed in their traditional attire returning from a wedding

    tree of devotion at Jispa

    Outside the Jispa Budhist Place of Worship

  9. Relish your stay in Lahaul Spiti like the locals do: This ignored part of Himachal Pradesh requires your special attention. Therefore when you plan a trip for Lahaul-Spiti, do it the way locals do. Slow down your pace. Take it easy. Keep at least 10-15 days in hand. The best time to visit Lahaul-Spiti is from mid-May to mid-October. Lahaul valley remains isolated from rest of the world from October-May due to closure of the Rohtang Pass. Although Spiti is an almost all-weather place.Lahaul and Spiti can be reached via Manali or Shimla routes.
    Lote village

    Summers in Lote Village, Lahaul

    River Bhaga near Tino Village

    Bridging Life and Death

  10. Other small but important tips: 
  • Government Rocks. Rest all Flops: If you want to stay connected with your family then buy yourself a BSNL SIM because no other SIM works Manali upward.
  • Unsaid Rule of the Road – Give way to Army Convoy: Never ever take panga with the army Jawans, even if they are wrong. Our Driver retorted and he almost got thrown in the Chandra River
  • Don’t experiment with Food too much. Stick to basics: Daal chawal, Maggie and Aloo ka parantha are staple food at dhabas here. If possible, have it at a Dhaba in Darcha, just after the police check post. He serves the best aloo parantha on the entire Manali-Leh highway
  • Carry a good quality sunscreen, sunshades and lip balm: Sunlight is direct and harmful in this part of the Himalayas, therefore carry a sunscreen of at least SPF50. Keep applying lip balm after every half an hour to avoid chapped lips
  • Wash your hair daily and keep them tied in a ponytail or a plait: Roads in Lahaul are dusty and with huge potholes therefore take precautions to save your hair from dust storm.
  • Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. No jeans please.

I hope I have given you enough reasons to get LAHAUL’ed before getting LEH’ed.

If you need any information after stay, travel or sightseeing, please feel free to contact me. As Vodafone says, Happy to Help 🙂

Cycling for a Cause – Ride2Light

Cycling for oneself is a good exercise. But cycling for others is devoting oneself to bring a change in the lives of the ones, who need it the most.

Can there be a better reason to cycle than this?

I doubt.

Cyclist enthusiasts from Bangalore, are now cycling to raise awareness and bring in funds for causes that are close to their hearts. While the causes range from education to sanitation to women empowerment to cancer awareness, the motive remains the same: the will to bring about change.


The Ride2Light Team

“Ride2Light is an initiative that combines 2C’s that all of us involved are passionate about, cycling and causes. All riders taking part in this have been cycling for a long time, from distances ranging from 10 km to over 600 km,” says Siddarth, who works with a software solutions firm.

Currently, Ride2Light has attached itself with four causes – helping underprivileged students in Mittur village through Mittur Charitable Trust, generating Cancer awareness through Yuvraj Singh’s charitable organisation YouWeCan, providing Sanitation facilities in Tiruchirappalli and generating awareness for para athletes.

Yuvraj Singh showing his support to the cause.

Yuvraj Singh supporting the cause.

The first edition of Ride2Light will begin on October 2 at Freedom Park, Bangalore and traverse through Goa on October 5, Gateway of India on October 9, Udaipur on October 13, ending at India Gate on the October 18. The journey will cover 2400 km in 18 days across the four stages. Multiple riders will join in at different stages in different places.


Ride2Light Route Map from Bangalore To Delhi

For more details visit: or

While passing through small towns and villages, the Ride2Light team will engage with the community and kids through street activities and gully cricket. Besides working for causes, their goal is also to promote cycling as a sport.

How can you help?

  • You can donate for the charitable causes through Milaap using your credit card, making it as simple as the last online purchase, but this time, for a cause. Every donation, no matter how big or small, will make a tremendous difference.
  • Ride with them for the causes you identify yourself with. You can choose what distance you want to travel
  • Spread the good word about them. Share their story with others in the online and offline world
  • Come and cheer for them up – Freedom Park Bangalore, Fort Aguada Goa, Gateway of India Mumbai, Udaipur lake palace, India Gate New Delhi

Lets Ride2Light! Ride to light logo



Day No. 7 & 8. Leh – Nubra Valley – Leh

Face No. 6 – Gold Standard Hospitality

Face No. 7 – Courageous Perseverance 

Visit to discover Indian blogsWhen I came from Pangong Tso Lake, I thought I had seen it all and nothing can match its beauty. But when you are in Ladakh, be ready to be bedazzled, every single moment. The breath-taking Ladakh highways are the real highway to paradises that can only be described when you are riding on a Bullet on the highest passes in the world.

One thing unique about Ladakhis is they have Gold Standard of Hospitality, in spite of staying in the most inhospitable land. I wanted to have a Royal Enfield experience on the highest motorable road of the world. And James made sure I experience it.

After a good night’s rest and a hearty breakfast of Samosa Cholla and Aloo ka parantha at Skara Punjabi Dhaba, near Leh Petrol Pump, I headed off to Nubra Valley. The route that I took from Leh to Nubra Valley is as follows:

Leh – Khardung La – Khalsar – Diskit – Hunder

Around 150 kms from Leh (5 hours), the route went through extreme ups and downs. The road was well maintained with no potholes in sight. I passed a bunch of cyclists, mostly foreigners, on their way up, huffing and puffing but persevering. Within an hour I reached South Pullu check post, at the base of Khardungla.

Leh is at approx. 11,500 feet elevation and Khardung La at 18,500 feet. The distance between the two places is just 40 kms. So, you gain a lot of altitude in a very short span of time. Hence it is prone to getting altitude sickness! But thankfully I had no such problem. The climb suddenly became steep and hazardous. However, the Enfield purred on effortlessly, leaving a cloud of dust.

BRO guys were doing road maintenance. So we had to wait for half an hour. I utilised the time to give rest to my bum and soak myself in the incredible beauty of the breathtakingly marvelous landscape.


En route To Khardungla Top, Nubra Valley

After a bumpy ride, I was literally at the highest point of my trip. The excitement levels were higher than 18,500 feet height. Khardung La Top towered over its neighbours and the valleys around looked dangerously deep. Lesser peaks played peek-a-boo around the clouds. Snow clad mountains were shining like diamonds. All around me, were naked mountains with no greenery. Rocks of various colours – pitch black, browns, bottle green, blue, grey, yellow and white.

at khardungla

Posing for the shutterbug at Khardungla Top, 18380 ft height from sea level


Top View from Khardungla Top


Top View of other Mountain Peaks from Khardungla Top

So clear was the air, so large the canvas, so vivid the colours, any photograph taken here was bound to look a masterpiece. I was shivering but I couldn’t stop capturing the beauty around me. Finally James told me that we are advised not to stay there for more than half an hour as AMS can strike us anytime. So after a quick pee break at a messy loo, I headed to Rinchen cafeteria.


Standing tall with our proud jawans on worlds highest motorable road top – Khardungla

Khardung la11

Rinchen cafeteria, the worlds highest cafeteria, Khardungla Top

A warm cosy restaurant run by Army, supposedly the highest cafeteria in the world, offers you soupy Maggi and hot black tea. Tibetan lamps, flags and curtains adorned the little café. By the sheer number of mountain bikes and Royal Enfield Bullets it seemed like Khardungla Top was adventurers’ paradise. There is an also a small mandir and souvenirs shop run by army here.


Kudos to the mighty cyclists mountain-biking from Manali to Leh to Khardungla Top. Photo courtesy Darshan.

After Pee-Tea-Maggi-photo break, we started descending on to the northern side of Khardungla towards Nubra valley. The road suddenly became hazardous and dusty. The glacial melts had washed away the tar of the road and boulders of various sizes were strewn all over the path. However, the descent opened up the picturesque sights of a wide river basin. The Nubra River, a tributary of the Shyok River, meandered in a shallow delta over sands. I was mesmerised by the magic of the Master Weaver.


Shyok River en route to Nubra Valley

nubra & shyok confluence

Shyok river, Nubra Valley

Few kms ahead from Khalsar the road bifurcated into two, road on the left led to Diskit while the road on the right went to Panamik. After paying the entry fee of Rupees Forty towards the Wildlife Protection, the National Park/Sanctuary, we moved ahead to Diskit. A group of 10-15 bikers all in 40+ age group from Karnataka joined us.

We were famished. So we halted at CHO Café & Restaurant, Diskit for a lunch break. It was the first place that offered variety but the long wait made the haathi ghoda bhook more acute. We could do nothing but salivate at our foreign counterparts’ food plates. Anyway, after feeding ourselves and the Himalayan dogs, we moved ahead towards Hunder Village.

Nubra Valley is a land of contrasts. It is one of the few fertile green places in Ladakh. Paradoxically, it also has the only sand dunes in Ladakh. Spread over a few hectares on my right, I passed large breast-shaped sand dunes. On my left were spikey pinnacles of mountains of different shades of purple, yellow, brown, green and white rock.


Nubra Valley Top View from Diskit Monastery, Nubra Valley

Hunder sand dunes

Sand Dunes of Nubra Valley

After reaching Hunder, I started looking for a place to stay over. After knocking at few doors, I settled for Jamshed Guesthouse. It turned out to be my Home Away from Home.  The owner of the house, Jamshed, was extremely sweet and warm. He offered me the room with the best view.


Outside view from my room in Jamshed Guesthouse, Hunder, Nubra Valley

After freshening up and having the much-needed garma-garam chai, I was out to explore the much famous Sand Dunes and Double Hump Camel Safari. But I was shocked to see the plight of the poor Bacterian Camels. The place looked like a fish market. There were huge queues for the ride. Camels were not even given a moment’s rest between the rides. So I decided to give camel ride a miss and instead marveled at the brilliant view.


Shyok Tributary, near Sand Dunes, Hunder, Nubra Valley


Double Hump Bacterian Camel who looked famished and tired of tourists, pouring in for Camel Safari in Sand Dunes, Nubra Valley


Double Hump Camel Safari in Sand Dunes, Nubra Valley

After photo-ops, we headed towards the Hunder village. But we didn’t park ourselves at our guesthouse, we kept riding in the interiors. Everywhere there was a sweet fragrance of ripped apricots and apples. Adjacent to the serpent like road, an irrigation canal was flowing. The gurgling water was clear, icy cold brought straight from the glaciers nearby. We decided to ride through the cobbled streets. The beautiful kids with porcelain skin and blues eyes waved at us. The Sunset was an enchanting affair. The high mountains cast brilliant dark shadows, while the mountain tips were lit up in orange hues. It was like an amalgamation of day and night. The sound of music played on by dhug-dhug-dhug of the Royal Enfield, gurgling sound of the canal and twittering of birds.


Bridge over Shyok Canal, Hunder, Nubra Valley


Shyok Canal, Hunder, Nubra Valley


Sunset in Hunder, Nubra Valley

After roaming around till the end of the village, where the pakka road gave way to kaccha road, we returned to our Guesthouse. And I was exposed to the most humane side of Nubra. The staff was extremely courteous and generous. ‘No’ didn’t exist in their dictionary. They practised Gold Standard Hospitality in the most inhospitable land. When I requested for an apple and apricot from their kitchen garden, they gave me kilos of them. I had never tasted tastier fruit than those.


Apples growing in the Kitchen Garden of Jamshed Guesthouse, Hunder, Nubra Valley


Freshly plucked apricots and apples served as tea time snack at Jamshed Guest House, Hunder, Nubra Valley

The young boy Musa, owner’s son, was a charmer. He had startling blue eyes, black hair and ruddy cheeks. Staying in Nubra by no means meant he was less fashionable. He wore a Nirvana T-shirt, a neck wrap and a fake Rayban sunglasses, which he bought for 1000 bucks thinking he was buying an original one.


Musa – The Smiling Assassin at Jamshed Guest House, Hunder, who follows Gold Standard In Hospitality

After indulging in small talks with the staff, we ordered the dinner. All vegetables were organic and freshly plucked from the kitchen garden. Musa, the smiling assassin, brought our dinner and as he unveiled the covered plates, I almost had an orgasm! The palak paneer looked absolutely fresh and fabulous. The navratna korma was too appetising. I was fully satiated. Sleep came easy on a full stomach and a tired body.

However, in the middle of the night when I woke up and looked out of the window, I saw the night sky studded with sapphires. I could just reach out and grab a fistful. But the cosy bed was too cosy to allow me to get out of it. I happily retreated to my dreamland.

Next morning, as I crawled out of my cosy bed and opened the door, the fragrance of fresh air filled my lungs. I went out and sat on the garden plastic chair. Took a deep breath of the fresh air and felt it surging into each tiny pocket of my lungs. After a hearty breakfast of gobhi ka parantha, we went about doing the usual visitor business – visiting Diskit Monastery, Panamik village hot springs and Yarab Tso Lake.

32 metre statue of Maitreya Buddha near Diskit Monastery facing down the Shyok River, Disket, Nubra Valley

32 metre statue of Maitreya Buddha near Diskit Monastery facing down the Shyok River, Nubra Valley

After tick marking all the places, we headed towards Leh. Had a tea-pee-Maggi break again at Rinchen cafeteria.  There I met two KIWI girls who had specially come from New Zealand to do mountain biking in Ladakh. In mere nine days they had covered the journey from Manali-Leh-Khardungla. I was mighty impressed by their courage and perseverance.

So on my 7th and 8th day in Nubra Valley, Ladakh, I discovered two lovely faces of humanity:

  • Gold Standard Hospitality
  • Courageous Perseverance  

End of Chapter 6 and 7 /11

To be continued…

Old Chapters from ’11 DAYS IN LADAKH. 11 FACES OF BEAUTY.’ If you haven’t read them before, Here are the links:

Continue reading

11 Days in Leh Ladakh. 11 Faces of Beauty

Day 5 & 6 : 18th to 19th Aug 20014, Leh – Pangong Tso – Leh

Face No. 4 – ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’ Personification

Face No. 5 – Chivalrous Fabulous Five

 So far I have taken you through three chapters of this marathon blogpost. If you haven’t read them before. Here are the links:

And now comes my favourite chapter – trip to Pangong Tso Lake. A place straight out of dreamland. So let’s hop on the time machine and travel back to 18th Aug 2014.

When I woke up on 18th Aug 2014 morning, even after a tiresome road journey of 24 hours, I didn’t feel a bit of high altitude sickness or tiredness. I was quite upbeat to tick mark one more bucket list item – Pangong Tso Lake.

However, there was one critical link missing – how to reach there. All the shared taxis going to Pangong Lake were full, so either I could wait for one more day or else take a personal cab that would burn a big hole in my pocket. But just then Nami, my host – my saviour, appears on the scene with his invisible magical wand. He throws an incredible offer at me with hesitation, “My friend has to go to Pangong today to collect his bike. So if you don’t mind travelling with boys, you can come along. Your travel, food and stay will be totally free.”

WOW that sounded like a lottery. However, being a Delhi Girl, just a thought of travelling alone with five boys send chills down the spine. But not when you are in hills. In the battle of left vs right brain, finally the latter won. Nami’s demeanour won over my anxieties.

Nami was the guy who hosted me in his homestay – Shashipa Guesthouse at Leh. Extremely adorable. Soft spoken. Sensitive. Caring. Handsome. And most importantly, a guy with the golden heart. Way above the mundane wheeling and dealing that has become the norm of the day to run business. Thank god there are still people not corrupted by greed. He wasn’t merely a courteous host but he was the personification of ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’.

With doubts and fear still clouding my mind, at 2:30 pm, I started my Leh-Pangong journey with five strangers (Nami, Jimmy, James, Kapsunk and Singhey) in a SUV. Before embarking on our five-hour long journey, we tucked a hearty lunch of momos, Shapale (Tibetan snack), fruit and gallons of beer, Breezer and juice.

Shapale - Himalayan / Tibetan Fried Meat Pie

Served with Love – Shapale – Himalayan Fried Meat Pie

As the road morphed into a dusty pathway through slush, boulders and dust, I still couldn’t take my eyes off the stupendous well-manicured valley between the magnificent mountains of different shades of brown, beige, white, cream, green and grey.

Valley View on Leh To Pangong Tso Lake route

Valley View on Leh To Pangong Tso Lake route

Leh-Pangong Tso Lake road is one of the best and well maintained roads in Ladakh with few bad patches of glacial melts and dusty patches. We took the following route:

Leh To Pangong Tso Lake Route

Leh To Pangong Lake Route

Leh – Shey – Karu – Shakti – Chang La: Our first stop was Chang La, the third highest motor-able road in the world, at 17,590 ft. Once at the summit, I took the much-needed pee-chai-photo-break. At the top of Chang La, there is an army base and small cafeteria, which offers free tea. Like all passes, there’s also a mandir, Chang La Baba Ka Mandir, built & taken care of by the Indian Army.

Taking a Pee-Tea-Photo Break at Changla Pass with my Fabulous Five Friends

Taking a Pee-Tea-Photo Break at Changla Pass with my Fabulous Five Friends

Chang La – Durbuk – Tangste: Initially, closer to the top of the pass, the road was bad after which it remained super smooth for rest of the journey. The lichen and wild grasses, in shades of reds, golds and lime greens; was making the drive heavenly.  It looked like a patchwork of soft hues and sparkling glacial streams made the place absolutely stunning.

In couple of hours, we reached Tangste. We halted here for our pee-lunch-photo break. Per my local friends, Aamir Khan ate food at Dothguling restaurant. Like a crazy fan, I too wanted to share the same seat and eat the same food. But my bad luck, there was no food left. Tried few more places, but since it was a late evening, all restaurants were either closed or out of stock. At last, we got ourselves parked at the Peace restaurant. We had Chowmein, daal-chawal-sabji, thukpa & omelette. Restaurants in Tangtse stock limited food, which gets over by evening and that’s why we didn’t get the second helping.

Waiting for our late lunch Peace Restaurant, Tangtse

Waiting for our late lunch Peace Restaurant, Tangtse

Tangste – Lukung – Spangmik – Pangong Tso: When we left Tangste, Change of guard had already happened between the dusk and the night. The road ahead was like a runway and we were cruising at a good speed to reach our Campsite until James had a brainwave.

“Arrey hum log itni jaldi camp mein jakar kya karengey. Challo 3 Idiots point par jakar thodi der baithte hain”

When Singhey and the gang tried to reason out with him saying its pitch dark and it’s not allowed to go that side at night, James had his argument ready.

“Arrey mein pichle mahine hi yahan aaya tha. Mujhe raasta pata hai. Woh ekdum 3 Idiots ke point pe le kar jaayega.”

And so his confidence won over our doubts. He claimed to know the way all the way down to the 3 Idiots point. But he forgot it was a pitch dark night, where we could only hear the whispers of the lake but couldn’t see the whispering lips. We tried to follow the trail going to the lake beach. But couldn’t reach. Got stuck in sand dune. Had to dhakka maro. Almost did an action scene of jumping off the cliff into the lake but got saved in the nick of the moment.

Kupsunk Dhaka Marooing  when our SUV got stuck on the banks of Pangong Tso Lake

Kapsunk Dhaka Marooing when our SUV got stuck on the banks of Pangong Tso Lake

Finally after half an hour of aimless driving, we decided to get off the car and explore it on our feet. By the lake side, we raised a toast to an incredible action packed day.


Raising a toast to our friendship at 3 Idiots Point on Pangong Tso Lake

The night, at Pangong Lake, was the most memorable night of my life. The sky was literally shining with a million stars and for the first time I spotted shooting stars, needless to say, it was nothing short of magical.

After braving the cold for an hour, we decided to move into the warm confinement of our campsite – The nature’s Nest. The Camp owner was Jimmy’s friend, so were treated like kings. The bonfire and the booze added to the magic. Gujju boys from Mumbai, who were on their Ladakh trip, tried hard to impress through their singing and dancing. But I was too tired to oblige them. After a hearty dinner I called it a night. My tent had all what I needed – warm and comfortable bed.

Enjoying the bonfire at Natures Nest Campsite, Pangong Tso Lake

Finally warm n cosy at Nature’s Nest Campsite

Next morning when I woke up, I couldn’t believe my eyes. My eyes, mind, time and everything else froze. It was the most tantalizing sight I had ever seen. Flat, calm, unending it was so impossibly beautiful that I actually sat down by its water for some time to accept that it was not a dream. I was confused. How can reality be better than dream? How can so much beauty fit into one frame? How can there be so many shades of blue? Staring at Pangong Lake I drifted into a state of blissful delirium. Probably this is what ‘discovering life’ means.

It is one of those places where nature gets to paint its own verse on its own canvas, words can never do justice to the beauty of this lake. Pangong Tso, literally means “enchanted lake”. It is a salt water lake which freezes over in winter but throughout summer and autumn, becomes a tapestry of blue. It usually reflects around 7 shades of blue, from violet, purple, cerulean, indigo, royal blue, navy blue, sea-foam green, turquoise and many more. Once 100% ours but after the Sino-Indian war, 60% of this lake is in Tibet.

The Beautiful Pangong Lake View from my Nature's Nest Tent

The Beautiful Pangong Lake View from my Nature’s Nest Tent

While I was gazing at God’s beautiful work of art, I saw Ladakhi nomads rearing their dzos (cross between cows and yaks).


Dzo, a cross between cows and yaks, strolling on the banks of Pangong Tso Lake


The painting of God – Pangong Tso Lake

After marvelling at God’s painting, that he had left for drying, for couple of hours and getting the mandatory photo ops, we decided to start our backward journey to Leh. We left the camp at 12:30 pm. Our next stop was the 3 Idiots Point (yes, the same point that we could not find the night before). It was a point swarmed by hordes of tourists. Mostly domestic tourists.


3 Idiots Viewpoint on Pangong Tso Lake

Thanks to 3 idiots, Pangong Tso was put on the national must-see list and increased the GDP of Ladakh by 25%. And the proof of its influence is in your face. Every single café pays “tohfa Kabul karo jahanpanha” homage to 3 Idiots by using Rancho or 3 Idiots reference in their restaurants branding.

3 Idiots Galore at Pangong Tso Lake Viewpoint

3 Idiots Galore at Pangong Tso Lake Viewpoint

We enjoyed our lunch at the Golden restaurant, facing the sparkling Pangong Tso View Point. The lady serving the lunch had a pretty face and a million dollar smile. She alone was serving all the guests. Incessant tourist demands didn’t bother her. Her freckles made her look even prettier. We had the customary Himalayan lunch – Maggi, Chowmein, Thukpa, Daal-Chawal, boiled egg and Omelette with a very sweet chai. One thing I didn’t miss at Pangong was the absence of chips and thank god for that. Else, we would be seeing a packet of Lays flying over Pangong Tso instead of Bar Headed Goose or Brahmini Duck.

It was after noon when we could manage to peel ourselves away from there. Jimmy rode his bike and we drove back in our muscular boy – Bolero. Being the peak season, the road was completely covered with tourist vehicles. More bikes than SUVs. Per Jimmy, everyday 400 taxis were ferrying around Pangong Tso Lake. Add hundreds of personal cars and bikes to that number.

On our way back, I saw few people standing in the wild grass. They were feeding and taking pictures of the Himalayan marmots, adorable giant squirrels of Ladakh. They were cute, cuddly and not afraid of humans.

The Himalayan marmots

The Himalayan marmots, adorable giant squirrels of Ladakh

The road was in good shape and wherever it wasn’t, the BRO guys were at it. A big salute to these guys, who brave such harsh conditions every day to make our drive comfortable. We drove back at a steady pace but for me time had stopped still by the shores of the Pangong Lake. Before retiring to my guesthouse, I did a bit of local sightseeing at Thiksey Monastery and Shey Palace in Leh.

Thiksey Monastry

Thiksey Monastery

This trip was special not just because I saw God’s marvellous artwork but also because God showed me that his best masterpiece is human, who make this place more beautiful. Jimmy, James, Nami, Kapsunk and Singhey are a family now. If anybody wants to learn how to treat a girl, I reckon you take a crash course from them. They are the knight in shining armour. Thanks to them, I left my heart in Leh 🙂

On this trip, through my Fabulous Five Friends, I discovered two amazing faces of humanity: CHIVALRY and ‘ATITHI DEVO BHAVA’ personification.

End of Chapter 4 & 5/11

To be continued…


  • Best time to visit – May to September. Days are generally warm but evenings get very cold, so carry good layers of winter clothes.
  • Mode of travel: Although shared taxis are available for a  day to-and-fro trip but you should definitely spend a day or two at Pangong Lake. You can hire a taxi or rent a bike from Leh itself.
  • How to Reach Pangong Tso Lake:
    • Route from Leh to Pangong Tso Lake: Most commonly used. You can reach in about 5 – 6 Hrs depending upon the number of break you take in between. You can cover Thiksey, Hemis and Shey monasteries while going through this route. This route provides the best road conditions among all other routes.
    • Route from Nubra Valley to Pangong Tso Lake: For people who are short on leaves and do not want tomissthe opportunity of sunrise/sunsetatPangongTso, there exist two routesfromNubra ValleytoPangongTso directly without going backtoLeh:
      • Nubra Valley – Wari La – Pangong Tso: This route goes via Wari La pass, one of the most remotest passes of the Ladakh region and takes about 11-12 Hrs again. The route is long and rough. The route is as follows: Diskit  – Khalsar– Agham  – Tangyar– Wari– Tathok– Sakti– Chang La – Durbuk– Tangste– Lukung– Spangmik = 243 KMs
      • Nubra Valley – Shyok Village – Pangong Tso: This route from Nubra Valley to Pangong Tso goes via Shyok Village. Though it is shorter than the Wari La route, takes about 6-7 hrs from Nubra Valley to Pangong Tso, but it is landslide prone route. The route is as follows: Diskit – Khalsar– Agham– Shyok Village – Durbuk – Tangste – Lukung – Spangmik = 175 KMs
    • Route from Tso Moriri Lake to Pangong Tso Lake: You should take this route other way round, i.e, From Pangong To Tso Moriri, when you want to exit Ladakh towards Manali highway without visiting Leh again. Tso Moriri is higher than Pangong Tso so as per acclimatization schedule you must stay near Pangong Tso before spending night at Tso Moriri. The drive between Pangong Tso and Tso Moriri is one of the most beautiful drives in whole Ladakh region. The route is as follows: Tso Moriri (Korzok) – Sumdo– Mahe – Nyoma – Loma– Tsaga Village – Tsaga La– Chusul – Kakstet – Merak– Man– Spangmik = 235 KMs
  • Accommodations and Other Facilities:  Accommodations on this route are available at several places.
    • Lukung:camping site right by the lake. You can either pitch your own tent here or can rent one at one of the camping sites. However there is no electricity available at these camping sites.
    • Spangmik: You can stay at Nature’s Nest camps . Or you can stay at Pangong Camp Resort, a JKTDC hotel, but a little costly one. Also, homestays are a cheap option too
    • Tangste: slightly far away from the lake but it has the variety of hotels, guest houses and homestays.

11 days in Leh ladakh. 11 Faces of Beauty.

Face No. 3 – The Defiant Dreamers

Day no. 3: 17th Aug 20014, Manali to Leh

In the last two chapters, I talked about the two interesting FACES of human behaviour I came face to face during my Delhi to Manali journey.



In both these posts, I spoke more from the human angle than place angle because I found human stories more compelling than the places. However, I am going to shift my gear from this post onwards. You cannot write a Leh Ladakh story without describing the beauty of this heaven on earth. No amount of stories and blogs can bring alive the magic of Manali-Leh journey. You had to be there to understand how I felt and what I saw. Still, I’ll try and capture it for you.

So drumrolls!

Manali-Leh highway is one of the Asia’s most beautiful route you’ll ever come across. The gorgeous landscapes and variety of experiences will leave you spellbound. The topography changes so frequently that you will not believe you are on a single journey.

Here is the map of the highway on which I spent the most beautiful 24 hours of my life.

toLeh96 (1)
Manali to Leh Highway Map

1:30 am was the shubh mahurat to board the Tempo Traveller from Old Manali and at 2:30am we were on the highway. THE DEFIANT DREAMERS from Israel, Taiwan and Mumbai were my co-travellers.

THE DEFIANT DREAMERS. Yes, that is the new face of human behaviour I saw through them. Bold dreams but no plans. Believers of ‘Living by the day’ philosophy. High on adrenaline rush but poor on planning. Questions like what they will do, where they will stay, how they will travel, who will guide them; were ducked. They were living in the present without the worry of the future.

Coming back to my tempo traveller story. From the looks, The Defiant Dreamers, seemed excited about the trip but were sitting in their silos. It was a beautiful night. Millions of stars were romancing with the clear sky. Hairpin bends, bumpy gravel, steep ascends were giving a body massage, albeit with hard hands. As we got closer to Rohtang Pass, the crowned prince of Leh Manali highway sitting pretty at a height of 13500 ft, weather became chilly and I cursed myself for being under-dressed.

Suddenly, after one and a half hours strenuous drive, our tempo came to a halt. There was a sudden break in the dreams of the sleeping travellers. Everyone was surprised but decided to stay quiet. Multiple theories ran in head – Probably our driver is waiting for other tempo drivers or he has to answer nature’s call or some problem with the tyres. Etcetera etcetera. 5 minutes passed. 10 minutes passed.

“Bhaiya, hum iddhar kyun ruke hai” asks one of the Mumbaikar.

“Kyunki mujhe neend aa rahi hai.” replies the driver point blankly.

We had our heart in our mouth. Even though we didn’t want to break our journey so soon but reaching Leh hail and hearty was a priority. After all Jaan hai to Jahan hai.

Meanwhile, the Israeli lad and the Mumbaikars decided to take a leak and set shutterbugs rolling. In their Nike and Adidas jackets they were shivering to their bones but that didn’t deter them from giving cool poses. Pain today is gain tomorrow. Documentation of this incident on Facebook will catapult their social image – thanks to the currency of likes and comments they’ll get.

After an hour, as soon as the driver turned on his seat, one of the guys pounced on the opportunity to ask if he had a good sleep and was he ready to drive. The driver was offered cold water. At 5 am, we reconvened our journey.

There are sunrises and then there sunrises in the highlands. The sunrise in Rohtang Pass wasn’t less than magical in its display of colours. The morning’s mist was trying its best to filter out any attempts the sun was making to paint the canvas that was the sky. But Sun is a relentless kid, who doesn’t take no for an answer. Slowly the surreal glow took over the mountains, turning blue to grey and then to orange, culminating in the majesty of the orange ball of fire rising in between two peaks. The mountain tops looked as if they were trying out different outfits.

My eyes were savouring the taste of this nirvanic beauty. Sun, sky and the mountains were playing hide-n-seek. I was so engrossed in that moment that I forgot to take pictures of this majestic sunrise.

Anyway, all good things come to an end. Sunrise gave way to sunny day. The landscape changed immediately after getting past Rohtang Pass and entering into Chandra river valley in Lahaul region. The greenery on the southern side of the mountain pass disappeared and the mountain slopes on the leeward side became brown and arid.

Flower beds in Lahaul Spiti on Manali-Leh highway
Flower beds in Lahaul Spiti on Manali-Leh highway
Arid and Brown Mountains beyond Rohtang Pass
Arid and Brown Mountains beyond Rohtang Pass

We stopped at the first police check post – Khoksar. It is 21kms beyond Rohtang pass in Lahaul and is the coldest place in Lahaul.

We had half an hour to freshen up and have tea. My gall bladder was bursting, so I rushed to the toilet. It had a feeble door but was clean, with a flush facility. There was ten rupees charge to use it. As I checked my pocket, I realised the five hundred rupees note was missing. I asked if I could pay later. The caretaker gave an affirmative lovely smile. After finishing my business as I went up, the local kid lunged forward and gave me my lost note. I guess “Honesty is the best policy” is read by all but practised only by Pahadies.

At the dhaba, one of the two Taiwanese girls joined me for a small talk. She and her friend were studying medicine and was on their maiden travel abroad. She was an extrovert while her friend was an introvert.

We got back into our chariot of fire and started are onward journey. At night, the driver was playing Honey Singh. Now he was playing nostalgic 90s. It was a good mock test of 90s Bollywood music and surprisingly I did well.

suraj tal
Suraj Tal, lies just below the Bara-lacha-la pass in the Lahaul and Spiti valley

From Khoksar to Tandi the valley view was just marvellous. A heaven for landscape photographers. Driving through picturesque highway, we crossed many mountain streams and kept marvelling at the glaciers that make windows home screensavers. We passed through Keylong and Jispa, where cute little kids waved at us and our way momentarily got blocked by sheep herds.

jispa village beyond rohtang
Jispa village beyond Rohtang


Our next stop was Daracha. We crossed the River Bagha to stop at the handful of Dhabas clustered around the river bridge. A new bridge is being built over the river but its completion is still a distant dream. A friendly hulkish Shepherd dog came close to me. I, being the dog lover, offered it Parle G biscuits thinking like the city stray dogs, it too shall love it. But it didn’t even eat one biscuit. I was heart broken 😦

Darcha Police Check Post
Dhabha at Darcha
Dhabha at Darcha

Anyway, I moved on to have Himalaya’s favourite breakfast – Soupy Maggi. Over Maggi, I met my new friends – Darshan, Karan and Anthony. Like me, they too were marketing slaves.

Bonding over Maggi
Posing at Daracha, situated on the banks of River Bagha

After loaded stomachs, we proceeded to Sarchu, 84 km from Darcha. The road climbed to Patseo, where we got glorious rear view of Darcha. A little further was Zingzingbar. Icy streams made impromptu appearance across the road while grey and red-brown scree reached down from the nude mountainside to the road edge. The road then moved over the Baralacha La (54 km; 16500 ft.), at the crossroads of Lahaul, Zanskar, Spiti and Ladakh regions.

After crossing the check post, we followed the Chandra River till Tandi. At Tandi, we saw the confluence of rivers Chandra and Bhaga.

Stunning Valley View at Bharatpur
Sarchu Valley
sarchu valley
Stunning Sarchu Valley
zingzing bar



bara la cha la
Baralacha La (16500 ft.), the pass which falls at the crossroads of Lahaul, Zanskar, Spiti and Ladakh regions

From Baralacha La Pass, we climbed down to Bharatpur. Instead of stopping over at Sarchu, we stopped at Bharatpur. Not our choice but our Driver’s choice because he was too sleepy to drive. Thanks to his owner, he had not slept for a week.

The backdrop at Bharatpur was so stunning that no picture can do justice to its beauty. However, I tried my best to capture it.

Breaking for lunch at Bharatpur
Breaking for lunch at Bharatpur

After the photo session, I along with my new friends, looked around for lunch options. Since few other bike groups and Tempos had halted there so there was a sudden rush. We settled in for the neeli chhatri wala dhaba. We ordered Tomato Soup, Chicken Soup, Sweet n Sour soup, Fried rice and Rajma Chawal. Tasted aam ka acchar made in pahadi style.

Here, I got to know my co-passengers more up close. All in their 20s. Adventurous, funny, ambitious and supremely confident. Everyone had one thing in common – Leh was the big break they were taking before/after the big leap in their life. The Israelis were in India after their army stint. Anthony, one of the Mumbaikar was flying to Dubai for his second MBA, Darshan was planning to do the same in Canada. And Karan was weighing his options. The Taiwanese had just finished their medical exams and were seeking change before getting into the grind. We discussed about food, cultures, tourist places, Israel-gaza situation and China-Taiwan relations among other topics. We even cracked jokes on each other. Did some crazy photo shoot on Tempo’s roof and on bike.

Contrary to the perception, one of the Taiwanese girl (pardon me for not remembering anyone’s name) was quite friendly and forthcoming. She admitted that because of language barrier they are often misunderstood as boring, conventional and closed community. As per her, people in Taiwan hate China and take it as an offence if someone calls them Chinese. When I asked her if they were planning to visit Pangong Tso Lake she said “Being Taiwanese, we are not allowed to go there either from India side or China side.”

The Israelis were in Manali for four weeks and were now planning to stay in Leh for indefinite period. They had no fixed itinerary. They gave some interesting sound bites about Israel like

“You can cover Israel from left to right in three-four hours and top to bottom in seven hours”

“Everyone comes to India with bare essentials – sandals of one particular design and brand, 1 pair of comfortable shoes, 4 pairs of undergarments, 2 Tops/T-shirts, 1 comfy track pant, medicines, one towel, one cap and sun shades. Rest all we buy in India”

“Even though we (she and her boyfriend) stay in the same vicinity in Israel, we didn’t know each other. I met him in Rishikesh two months back and since then we have been travelling together.”

Darshan at Neeli Chattri Wala Dhaba
Neeli Chattri Wala Dhaba
The Defiant Dreamers posing at  Bharatpur
The Defiant Dreamers posing at Bharatpur
The Defiant Dreamers from Israel

After sumptuous lunch, photo and chat sessions, we moved on from Bharatpur to Sarchu. At Sarchu, you leave the state of Himachal Pradesh and enter into the Ladakh region of J&K. Sarchu (14,074ft) is a major halt point with tented accommodation in the Himalayas on the Leh-Manali Highway. It is situated between Baralacha La to the south and Lachulung La to the north. An Indian army camp is sited nearby on the banks of the Tsarap Chu River.

Now we were told that we won’t be stopping anywhere for tea or food break until Pang.

Pang is located 80 km from Sarchu. It is where you cross the famous Gata Loops. Gata loops are 21 hairpin bends. After passing through the Gata loops, we crossed the third pass on the Manali Leh route, Nakee La Pass, 15,547ft followed by another pass, Lachulung La pass, situated at an altitude of 16,616 ft.

Gata loops -  21 hairpin bends
Gata loops – 21 hairpin bends

The 27 kms long descent from Lachulung La Pass took us to Pang, where we stopped at the police check post. Here, we had our last tea break of the day before finishing the last lap of our Manali-Leh journey. We met few traveller groups. Many of these groups had been with us at various dhabas. One of them, a Ranbir Kapoor lookalike Israeli, played and sang “Aaj blue hai paani paani aur din bhi sunny sunny” on his mobile. He said this song is known to every Israeli. Yo Yo Honey Singh you have arrived. And how!


It was already dark and we got into our tempo with a plan to take a quick nap. By now my head and body had given up. Much to the relief of my aching body, the road from Pang took us to the famous Morey Plains; the biggest and the highest plateau on Earth on stretch of 42 Kms at an altitude of 15,400 ft. and is flanked by mountain ranges on both sides. This stretch of 42 kms was relatively straight and in good condition. Our driver utilised this opportunity to cover up the lost time.

Morey Plains; the biggest and the highest plateau on Earth on stretch of 42 Kms at an altitude of 15,400 ft.
Morey Plains; the biggest and the highest plateau on Earth on stretch of 42 Kms at an altitude of 15,400 ft.

After the accelerated journey on the Morey plains, we ascended to the third highest pass in Ladakh, Tanglang La (17,582ft). Final few kms to the summit of the pass were in bad condition but we were too tired to notice that. Everyone was fast asleep until our Tempo stopped in the middle of nowhere.

We heard a man pleading to our driver to help him, as during the ascent their Tempo got damaged and had fuel leakage. They were out of fuel. Our driver agreed to help the hapless driver. But 6 litres was not going to be enough. Another vehicle came from Leh side and they too agreed to part some. And just then our driver realised that we were driving with a flat tyre. So the tyres were fixed.


Troubles didn’t seem to end for the other tempo. Someone had stepped over the key and had broken it. So there was no way they were getting out from that place that night. Our driver tried our key but didn’t succeed. Few more tempos and bikers joined in by then. We left the spot to inform the next Police check post about the incident.

Because it was a dark night, we missed the spectacular views from Tangla La from where you can see the road to the pass for miles on both directions. The rest of the journey from Tangla La-Rumset-Upsi-Karu-Leh was spent sleeping.

We finally reached Leh at 1:30 am instead of 7pm.

I was so sleepy that I even forgot to take anyone’s contact details. Their pictures are still waiting in my camera to be shared with them. But my bad, they’ll stay with me only, at least as of now.

Since Changspa is tourists one stop destination so all the fellow travellers decided to go there while I went to my guest house on Chubi Lane.

So on the fourth day of my solo trip I discovered another face of human behaviour – THE DEFIANT DREAMERS in the marvellous dreamland

So how did you find my journey so far? Do share your feedback.

End of Chapter 3/10

….To be continued

11 Days in Leh Ladakh – 11 faces of Beauty

11 Days in Leh Ladakh – 11 faces of Beauty

Day no. 3: 16th Aug 2014, Manali.

In my last blog post I spoke about the first face of beauty, the patient explorer, that I saw on the first day of my solo trip.

Moving on to the second chapter of my amazing 11 days Leh Ladakh Journey.

On 16th Aug 2014 in Manali, I woke up with no fixed agenda but just to relax for the night’s tiresome road journey.

During the day, I met some really cool travellers and locals who redefined Indefatigable Wanderers. One common trait among them was, not only were they solo travellers but they had the conviction to try different things alone. They were on their own trip – enjoying life on their own terms. Interestingly, I met all of them via gastronomic route. Yes, nothing brings people closer like food.

Meeting Lauren

Meeting Lauren at Cafe Amigos

Meeting Lauren at Cafe Amigos

An auto rickshaw hitch turned out to be a meeting ground for two never-before-met friends. I saw Lauren, a 26 years old girl, dressed in harem pants and a loose kurta with a stole. She wasn’t carrying a camera or any other characteristic tourist symbol but a small diary. My invitation to have the best carrot cake in the town lured her to postpone her yoga classes. We went to Café Amigos, my favourite German bakery. However, as luck would have it, the carrot cake was over. So, we settled in for the café’s renowned coffee cake, apple pie and honey-ginger-lemon drink. Like always, the food was delicious but I was relishing more on Lauren’s fascinating wander-tales. She was a Graphic designer by profession from Richmond but worked as a part-time designer and full-time traveller. A globetrotter with no fixed agenda. Had travelled across North America, Latin America, Europe and South East Asia all by herself. She wasn’t awed by the glitz n glamour of a place and that’s why after staying in Brazil for two years, she left the country just before the FIFA world cup began. She loved football but didn’t like the fanaticism it evoked. In her words “What religion is to India, Football is to Brazil.” Another sentence that got etched in my mind is “In the quest to show-off the best holiday pictures, people forget to enjoy the real beauty of the nature. That’s why I stopped carrying a camera. Prefer good memories over photos.”

Like many foreigners, she got enamoured by the Osho Ashram, Pune; later followed by her long stays at Leh, Kasol and Manali. She had stayed in India for over four months and her next destination was Dharamshala. She had spent 6 weeks in Leh therefore she knew more than any Indian tourist would know about it. Instead of just talking me through Leh-Ladakh travel tales she drew a do’s and don’t map of Leh. In flat twenty minutes she created a Leh-Ladakh guidebook for me. She even told me which room I should stay in for a good view of the valley.

lauren 1 The Leh Ladakh Travel Guidebook hand drawn by Lauren

The Leh Ladakh Travel Guidebook hand drawn by Lauren

After spending couple of hours in the café, we ventured out to explore the streets of Manali. We went shop hoping at  Manali Mall Road. Somehow we got separated and my bad, I had forgotten to take her number. She wanted to have ‘halwa’ and thinking she could be searching for it, I even went to Manali Sweets. But I had lost her. 😦

Anyway, I carried on with my solo travel and met many interesting people. One of them being Jimmy.

Meeting Jimmy

Jimmy - The Chef, Painter, Writer and Guitarist

Jimmy – The Chef, Painter, Writer and Guitarist

He might not be a wanderer like Lauren but he is an Indefatigable Wanderer because in spite of being a full-time chef at the Café Amigos for more than ten years he has not given up on his passions. He loves cooking. His desserts, pizzas, pastas, momos, drinks are to die for but that’s not his only love. When he’s not cooking he is drawing. He is a budding artist and you can see his art adorning one of the walls of the café itself. He is really fond of Shiva and the same can be seen in his art. His style of painting is to work with minimal arsenal. He first draws with a ballpoint pen and then colours it. Besides painting, he is a writer too. He writes short stories and was in a process of writing a book. He even showed his WIP book. And that’s not all. He is a guitarist too. You can catch him performing any day after 6 pm in the café. I wonder how many people visiting Café Amigos would know about this side of Jimmy.

The Art pieces drawn by Jimmy

A painting drawn by Jimmy

And, let me tell you the sweetest thing about Jimmy. When I had gone to Café Amigos they were out of stock of their carrot cake and were not planning to bake it that day. But after knowing my fondness for the cake, Jimmy specially baked it for me. How many people would take that much pain for a stranger? I guess not many. But that’s what separates the Pahadis from the city dwellers. I was already a loyal customer of Café Amigos but now Jimmy is the reason I would go there. After all, no connection is stronger than the human connection.

Meeting Karan

Dr. Karan, a solo traveller

Dr. Karan, a solo traveller

Titles can be deceptive and Karan reinforced it. A doctor by profession but an Indefatigable Wanderer by heart. When I first saw him, he was busy scribbling something in his pocket diary. He was lost in his own world. His DSLR firmly placed on the coffee table. By the look of the empty coffee mug, it seemed as if he had sat at that place for a while. Since there was no empty table in the café, I asked Karan if I could join him and he happily obliged. He had a beautiful smile, peach complexion, toned body and hazel green eyes. Though I didn’t look around but I can vouch he would be the most handsome guy sitting in that café at that time. I ordered my favourites – carrot cake and honey-ginger-lemon tea. After listening to how my craving for the cake has forced the Chef to specially bake it for me, he couldn’t resist the temptation of having it. And as they say a lot can happen over coffee. And actually a lot happened over coffee. I mean conversations. What did you think? He hailed from Patiala and had done his MBBS from China. For the first time, somebody was telling me such unheard of tales about China, a country that has never caught my attention. For three hours, he was my talking encyclopaedia on China – its culture, people, education, sports, street food, fashion and luxury living, religion, tourism, myths and what not. Some interesting nuggets that held my attention were – “China is an atheist nation where people worship only one thing – Money”, “China has strict social media policies because Chinese Government doesn’t want extremists to invoke religious sentiments ”, “You cannot buy a home in China. You can only get a home on lease.”. However, the most interesting piece of information was that he could not date a single Chinese girl in his six-year stay in china not because of language barrier but because they smelled and were cool about it. Chinese eat a lot of garlic and because of which they have unbearable body odour but they don’t find it abnormal. In fact somebody wearing a deodorant in China is considered to be abnormal. Interesting. Isn’t it?

We were like a house on fire, discussing our respective travel tales from across the world – Europe, US, Australia, South East Asia. And during our discussion, he planted an idea in my mind for my next travel destination, Cambodia, for the sheer unspoiled beauty of its beaches.

And then I asked him about his travel plan? He baffled me by saying that his plan was to have no plan. He just came to Manali without any travel plan. And that’s when I sold Leh to him. He asked if he could join me. Sounded like I finally had found a travel buddy but my bad, that day all the taxis and tempo travellers going to Leh were sold out. There was not even a single seat available. 😦

It was already night and knowing I have a 500 km long Manali-Leh road journey that night, I bid adieu to Karan with a hope that we might bump into each other in Leh.

And guess what, I didn’t bump into Karan again but I did come face to face with Lauren in Manali. As SRK said in OSO “Kissi cheez ko dil se chaho to saari kaynat tumhe use milane mein lag jaati hai”, I met Lauren again in the night when she was hurrying towards the bus stand to catch her bus to Dharamshala. We hugged each other like kumbh ke mele mein bichhdi do behenen. After saying our customary goodbyes, we embarked on our respective journeys.

Besides meeting the above three Indefatigable Wanderers, I managed to have many heart-to-heart conversations with locals. Mr. Wangdu, the owner of Chopsticks restaurant (Manali’s best Himalayan food joint), told me how one fine day he came to Manali 22 years back and made it his home. The Mall road chaiwala shared his experiences on how the famous and not so famous bonded over a glass of cutting chai. The conversations were never-ending with Manali Sweets owner, Ram Lal Sons Trek shop sales boys, trek guides and many more. But I had to move on to my next destination but not before spending a memorable day in Manali.

For me a travel experience constitutes two things:

  • Knowing the real stories of real people – fellow travellers and locals
  • Exploring the places – not just sightseeing but exploring the unexplored too

Although, places play an important role in shaping up your travel experiences but I guess it is the human stories that touch the chord. They are the meat of all your future travel tales. I am glad I collected enough fodder.

The third day of my solo trip was dedicated in knowing the real human stories of the real people – the Indefatigable Wanderers.

End of Chapter 2/10

To be continued…

Continue reading

11 Days in Leh -Ladakh – 11 faces of Beauty

704629_10151225903079193_1350670648_oThere are some journeys that you wait for your life to happen. Such journeys are so important to you that it doesn’t matter whether you cover them alone or with companions. One such incredible life defining journey is my latest visit to the arid lands of Leh Ladakh. Ever since I understood what Leh Ladakh is, I had harboured a dream of visiting the coldest desert. The feeling was nothing less than your first love. Your first kiss. Your first night out. Your first salary. Your first holiday abroad.

After looking and sighing at other’s Ladakh pictures for years, making and cancelling innumerable plans with friends, I finally decided this is it. It’s time to visit the place of my dreams.

Keeping the long weekend in mind, the week of Independence Day was finalised for my travel. Only thing to be worked out was how and with whom I will travel. So the discussions with various friends and groups started. But none materialised except for one. I got myself tagged along with a backpackers group. As per the organiser, we were a group of seven people who were to travel by two motorbikes and one SUV.

However, when God has bigger and better plans for you then smaller plans fall out-of-place. So out of the seven people, everyone backed out at the last moment. And the best part was, I wasn’t even informed about the same until the last-minute. Anyways lets not delve deep into it because as they say all’s well that ends well. 🙂

Since I have truckload of stories to share, so I am going to divide this mega long blog post into several chapters, each talking about a unique FACE that has left an everlasting impression on me.

So are you ready to travel the Leh-Ladakh journey with me?

Get. Set. Go!


Day 1 and 2 – 14th Aug to 15th Aug 2014, Delhi to Manali Journey

So the D-day has arrived. I was excited like a child but perhaps the traffic was more excited. A Gurgaon to Sarita Vihar journey which usually takes forty-five minutes took more than two hours. My bags were not packed. My tickets were not issued. Was booked on a wrong bus. Was running terribly late. The incredible Delhi traffic was too much in love with me. Taxis were refusing pickups. Hunger pangs were sending frequent reminders. Food supplies were not in place. Basically my trip has begun on an adventurous streak. Anyways Uber came to my rescue. I finally managed to board the 8:30 pm bus to Manali.


Royal Travels – My Volvo Bus from Delhi to Manali that took 24 hours to reach its destination

My co-passengers were mostly young people, friends, couples, solo travellers – from India as well as abroad. During the journey, I met up with this cool dad, John from Britain, who was travelling to Manali with his two sons – Jacob, 17 & Marc, 10 years old. The best thing about them was that unlike Indian travellers they were not at all complaining kinds. They were the PATIENT EXPLORERS. They were patient with delays and experimentative with food. Instead of opting for a bread omelette they ordered Cholley bhature and kadhai paneer at a local dhaba. In fact I was so worried about them that I asked the dhaabewala to not make their food too spicy but he surprised me by saying that they have asked for a spicy Indian curry. John and his sons were such a breath of fresh air as compared to the Indian travellers.

When the bus got stuck in a day long traffic jam then instead of whining about it they chose to know more about India and its people. They got down from the bus and their shutter bugs didn’t stop clicking. They chatted with everybody, right from the bus conductor to the chaiwala. They didn’t raise their eyebrows on the practically absent roads. They were enjoying whatever they were experiencing.

The Patient Explorers - John and his two sons

The Patient Explorers – John and his two sons

I had got into the bus thinking I’ll be at Manali by 9 am. But nature has its own schedule. Incessant rains and landslides at Pandoh created a havoc on the Chandigarh-Manali highway. There was about 20 km traffic jam. The day went by in more of waiting than moving ahead.

After a long journey of 24 hours, I was dropped on the outskirts of the city, where there were no autorickshaws. I was carrying two heavy backpacks. And to make it worse, it started raining. I was completely drenched but I was more worried about my DSLR. Somehow I managed to reach my guest house at old Manali. After a long road journey, my heart was fully contented to see the hot daal-chawal and warm bed. That night I slept like a log.

So the first day of my solo trip taught me how be a patient explorer.

Chapter 1/10

To be continued…

10 things to do in Pushkar

If you were to divide travellers on the basis of itinerary then there will be two types of travellers – one who goes by the rulebook and the other who goes by ‘what-will-be-will-be’ mantra. I have been of both kinds. But lately I have drifted towards the latter. Blame it on my fondness for serendipity or maybe because I have become more adventurous.

Last weekend, the solo traveller in me started craving for the travel dose. So an impromptu trip to Jaipur and Pushkar happened. Travel and accommodation all done in a jiffy, thanks to a dear friend of mine.

Next day at 9:20am, Sarai Rohilla-Bandra Garib Rath Express was my chariot to Jaipur. After a comfortable journey, I reached the pink city at 2:10pm. One can’t come to Jaipur and not eat the Pyaaz Kachori. So on my en route to Pushkar, I stopped at Sodhani Sweets, Ajmer road to have my fill of Pyaaz Kacchori, Daal Kacchori and a glass of Lassi.


Dal Kacchori, Pyaaz Kacchori and Lassi from Sodhani Sweets, Ajmer Road, Jaipur

The snacks were so heavy that I dozed off in the car itself. It was raining incessantly and the sound of the rain was the sweet symphony to my ears. That sweet symphony acted upon as a perfect lullaby. And the velvety Jaipur-Ajmer highway transformed into a bed of roses.

At around 5pm, I reached Pushkar. I didn’t want to stay in a hotel, so I checked in at a village resort called Lohana Village Resort

A side view of Lohana Resort Cottages, Pushkar

It is a gorgeous 12 cottages resort, beautifully tucked away in a serene and calm natural habitat where you will hear more birds chirping than human voices. And thank god for that. Lohana Resort offered the kind of solitude and natural experience that I was looking for. The resort staff was very courteous. The service, amenities and food were excellent. And watching sun go down the Aravali Hills was an icing on the cake. The resort had lot of flora and fauna. They have their own horse ‘Noorjahan’ and camels for your rides. Also, don’t be surprised if a peacock joins you for Tea.


A Peacock in the Resort Premise


‘Noorjahan’ – Your in- house Horse Ride at  Lohana Resort

After light refreshments, I ventured out to visit the world-famous town of Pushkar. Now let me give some gyan for the people who don’t know much about Pushkar.

Snuggled in the lap of the Aravali hills and embellished by the serene Pushkar Lake; the town of Pushkar is a confluence of Hindu religion and culture, rustic Rajasthan and scenic locales. Pushkar is often referred as “Teerth- raj”, which means the king of pilgrimages. It is believed that a visit to Pushkar is equal to “chaar dhaam” yatra.

Let me give you a small low down on the historical and religious significance of the town.

Pushkar derives its literal meaning from the Sanskrit word “Pushkar”, which means blue lotus. The name of the place has links to a mythological tale. According to the tale been told since ages, Brahma was in search of a place for Mahayagya and he found this place suitable. After a long time, Brahma came to known that a demon, Vajranash, was killing people here, so the Lord Brahma used a lotus flower intoned with mantras, as his weapon to kill the demon. During this process the parts of flower fell on three places which were later known as Jyaistha, Madhya and Kanistha Pushkar. After this Brahma performed a yagya to protect this place from demons. The better half of Brahma, Saraswati, was needed to offer Ahuti for the yagya but she was not there that time so in the propensity to save time, Gayatri, a Gurjar girl, was married to Brahma to do yagya. This act made Saraswati angry and she cursed Brahma saying that he would be worshiped in Pushkar only.

Though I had a brief stay in Pushkar but here is my list of 10 things that you should do in Pushkar:

  1. Visit 2000 year old Brahma temple: Though Brahma said to be the God of Gods but as compared to other Gods, Brahma has only 5 historic temples in the world and the most important one is Pushkar. Attending the Aarti is recommended and don’t forget to listen to Kanhaiya Lal, a Khandani Nagada player, who  has been playing musical instruments at the temple for ages.


    Kanhaiya Lal, Khandani Nagada player at Brahma Temple, Pushkar

  2. Visit the Pushkar Lake surrounded by 52 Ghats: Offer puja but beware of the ponga pandits who will lure you into offering puja by asking you to listen to the mythological tale by just paying Rupees ten forthepujathali. But that’s the catch, within minutes they’ll ask you to give Rupees Eleven hundred or more to offer puja towards your well-being. Don’t get into their trap. They are a big nuisance in the lake premise.


    A couple offering Puja at Pushkar Lake Ghat, Pushkar

  3. Attend the camel fair: Pushkar holds one of the world’s largest camel fairs every year at the time of Kartik Purnima (last week of October or first week of November). It is one of India’s most highly-rated travel experiences, visited by over 400,000 people over a period of around fourteen days, where more than 11,000 camels, horses and cattle and other animals are traded off in every price range. The Pushkar fair is also famous for arranging marriages. Moustache competition and other recreational activities are held. This year the fair is scheduled to start from 31st of October 2014. But make sure to check in advance because the hotel prices skyrocket during the fair. Also, if you want to see the majestic sunrise then hot air balloon ride is what should take. Watching the sun rise from air is sight that can’t be described in words.
  4. Take a camel ride: And if you are going during off-season, like I did, then you can always take the camel ride or go for sawan ke jhulle or just stroll in the town. However, I always prefer to see the place by foot.
  5. Go Foodie: Pushkar, with more than 250 restaurants, is a vegetarian paradise. It is said that Pushkar has more number of restaurants and temples than homes. Being a holy place, Pushkar is a vegetarian town so no restaurants serves meat and alcohol. However, don’t be surprised to find all kinds of world cuisines here. There are many famous restaurants that you must try. For example the rooftop lake view Raju Terrace Garden Restaurant is a travellers’ favourite serving lot of Indian and continental dishes. Other restaurants that you can try are Pink Floyd café, Sun-n-Moon, Honey & Spice restaurant, Sixth sense, out of the blue, Om Shiva Garden Restaurant, and Little Italy among others. Also, Sunset Café is a good place to watch the sun go to bed.
  6. Go hiking on Ratnagiri Hill to Savitri Temple: While Brahma Temple is the most famous temple in Pushkar, you shouldn’t miss Savitri and Saraswati temples. Each one sits on top of two hills near the city. So if you are a trekker, like me, then you would love that long and steep trek.
  7. The Pushkar Music School: Pushkar being a land where Saraswati, the goddess of learning and knowledge, is worshipped it is but natural to find writers, artists, scientists and all others coming here in pursuit of knowledge and blessings. So, if you are the creative one then Pushkar has something for you. You’ll find many Music and Art schools here. One such school is ‘The Pushkar Music School’ where you can learn classical sitar, tabla, harmonium, dancing and more, for Rs150 per hour in a peaceful lakeside location.
  8. Shopping: Any trip, whether for leisure or spiritual reason, is incomplete without a good retail therapy session. And Pushkar doesn’t disappoint you in that department. The main shopping places in Pushkar are Sarafa Bazar, Baza Bazar, Sadar Bazar and Kedalganj bazaar from where you can buy textiles, unique embroidery clothes, casual clothes like gunji and lowers, ethnic jewellery which is specialty of Rajasthan, beads, brass utensil, lovely colourful bangles, great value for money camel leather goods, bags of different kinds but go for camel leather, shoes, paints, spices and much more. But if Jaipur features in your itinerary then I would suggest to buy it from there, considering in Jaipur you’ll get more variety and at a lesser price.
  9. Rent a bike: Pushkar is a very tiny town and can easily be covered in a day or two. So it’s a good idea to head out for a scenic drive around Pushkar. Also, there are more than 400 temples around Pushkar that can easily be covered by a bike. There are a lot of Rental companies offering you a scooter for 150 rupees a day. But before you take a bike on rent, don’t forget to check the condition of the bike. You don’t want be stuck in the middle of nowhere.
  10. Laze around: Last but not the least and my favourite is to do absolutely nothing. Just ogle the nature. Unwind. Relax. Listen to natural music of birds. Get mesmerised by the dance performance of Peacocks. Meditate. Feed the pigeons. Talk to the locals. Eat the local food. And if you like smoking then Pushkar is the mecca for you. You name anything and you’ll have it.

These ten points are just tip of the iceberg. I am sure there is a lot that you can discover more in Pushkar.

If you haven’t been to Pushkar then GO NOW!!!!

When First isn’t always the Best

Hi Everyone! Sorry for a long hiatus. Blame it on the FIFA World cup.

Not really. The reason is simple. I was being myself – being lazy. But now I am back. So let’s begin.

How many of you have seen Goodfellas?

I am sure everyone who’s seen Goodfellas would know about the iconic long take scene that follows Henry and Karen from the city street to the main room of the Copacabana nightclub. It was a very important scene as Scorsese wanted to juxtapose Copacabana to Henry’s entry into underworld by shooting in a way that signified the transition from young hooligan to a big time gangster. However, this scene was never meant to play out like this. It was a last-minute decision forced upon Martin Scorsese.

Scorsese was denied the permission to shoot through the front door of the Copacabana. It was a serious problem. How do you shoot the ‘Copacabana’ without shooting the Copacabana? But Scorsese, known for his gritty and meticulous filmmaking style, is not someone who accepts failure; so he decided to treat the problem like an opportunity. Instead of having multiple takes, he did the scene in one long take. But his cinematographer Michael Ballhaus wasn’t keen on this style and it took Scorsese a lot to convince him for that shot.

All is well that ends well – and at the end we got an iconic scene that is still considered to be one of the best scenes till date.

For those who have not seen the movie, the scene goes like this, Henry gets off his car on a date with his girlfriend Karen.  He gives the car keys to someone on the road to park it for him, he can’t be bothered with car parks. Instead of waiting in long front door queue, he makes his way to the restaurant via a backdoor entry, walking through a long dark alley of corridors and a bustling kitchen, all the while weaving in and out of staff while handing out tips and indulging in one liners with the staff. At the end we see him come out of a door into the Copacabana. A special table is set up for him in front of everyone else. A senior gangster sends over a bottle of champagne. Then the show begins.

This three minutes and five seconds documentary kind hand-held camera long shot is so iconic and important to the film that we can’t imagine Karen’s introduction to the gangster world as playing out any differently than in one long, continuous take. In this shot, we do not see Henry adapting to his world; we see the world adapting to Henry.

This shot is reckoned to be one of Scorsese’s masterpieces but it only happened because his first choice was rejected.

The reason why I am talking about this scene is that your first choice isn’t always the best choice. If first choice doesn’t work out then no point crying over the spilled milk. Embrace the second choice. Life is full of options. If first choice doesn’t work out then take it as a signal that there may be a better option, waiting for you!

There’s another great example of how second choice changed not just someone’s life but a country’s fate too. Jawahar Lal Nehru completed his Law degree from Trinity College, Cambridge. Till 1917 he pursued his law career in Allahabad with his father Motilal Nehru, a successful lawyer. But after some time, he decided to shift to politics. And we all know how successful he became in his second choice. There is a famous story where an Indian student studying Law was once asked what he would do after completing his course. He replied: “Chal gayi to Motilal, nahin chali to Jawaharlal.” What essentially this boy meant was that there is always a second choice waiting for you.

There are innumerable examples of greats like Sachin Tendulkar,  Ab De Villers, Usain Bolt, Ray Charlton, Rafael Nadal, Barack Obama, Milkha Singh, Amitabh Bachchan, Boman Irani, John Abraham etc. who didn’t do too well in their first choice but they did phenomenally well in their second, third, fourth or even fifth choice.

Take another case of a living superstar (and my everlasting crush :)) – George Clooney. He tried everything under the sun before finally realising his true passion – acting. He tried baseball, journalism, selling shoes, insurance, working at construction sites and cutting tobacco among other things. Imagine if he would have stuck to his original choice of pursuing baseball.

There is no winning formula for success but one – there is no winning formulae.

There is just one formulae that Stan Wawrinka has inked on his arm:

 Ever Tried. Ever Failed. No Matter.

Try Again. Fail Again. Fail Better.


15 Tips To Be Happy

“What? You are single!”

“And still you look so happy!”

These kind of remarks I often get to hear from people who hardly know me. And the ones who know me, know that my twitter handle @BeingAHappyGal  is not just a handle, I truly believe in it.

Yes, I am single and very happy 🙂 🙂

People often forget that happiness is a verb not a noun. You have to work towards it. Happiness is not the sole property of couples. It is never dependent on your relationship status. You are either a happy person or you are not. But you can always work towards being happy.

Here is what I do to stay happy:

  1. Relish Small Moments as BIG: Don’t wait for big occasions to feel happy. Don’t wait for a company to celebrate life. If you want to watch a movie, go alone. If you want a drink, buy it yourself. If you want gifts, just go for the retail therapy. If you want to dance, just turn our house into a discotheque. Everyday look into the mirror and give yourself the most beautiful smile 🙂 If you find a guy cute, compliment him then and there. They say chocolate is a gift for the person you love. Love yourself. Treat yourself for any reason or no reason at all.
  2. Stay hungry. Stay foolish: Who are the happiest people? Children. Because they are forever excited to learn new things. Are not perturbed by failure. Try not to let the child in you die. It’s good to act childish at times. There would be a lot of things that you would have wanted to pursue but couldn’t. Now is the time to give wings to your khwahishon ke parindey. When you are hungry to learn new things you explore the unexplored YOU.
  3. Don’t designate, DIY: In the garb of leading busy lives, we delegate even simple jobs. Give home delivery a break. Why go home and sit in front of Television to de-stress? Does Arnab Goswami de-stress you or adds to your stress? Why not unwind by pursuing an interest or joyfully doing even mundane chores? All of us have a creative side to our personality. Why not use that time doing that something?Do anything. But just DIY. You never know you could be the next Amish Tripathi or Sandeep Maheshwari or Susan Boyle
  4. Reconnect with your old self: As time passes by, we change. Sometimes for good. Sometimes for bad. It’s not a bad idea to rekindle the romance with the things that you once loved. Go visit your alma mater, organise a reunion with your old gang. Go holiday tripping with your old buds. Post your old pictures. Gyrate on the hit 90s songs that you so loved. Watch classics again. Isn’t it amazing that we still remember the lyrics of old classics whereas we struggle to remember the lyrics (if there are any) of current chartbusters. That’s because we connect more with the old stuff. Somewhere we lost that touch. Time to bridge that gap.
  5. Make time for family time: Go out pubbing with your friends, but don’t forget to have a meal with your parents. It is a norm to exchange gifts when you are in a relationship, even if the relationship doesn’t even last a month. How about, surprising your parents with gifts without any reason? Why should you remember your parents only on their birthdays or Anniversaries or Mother’s Day or Father’s Day? Shouldn’t we be thankful to them everyday? Take them out to fancy places like you do with your friends. Take holidays with them. Never belittle your parents because they never did.
  6. Befriend new friends: You grow richer from the experiences you accumulate and the friends you make. Making friends from different walks of life always comes handy. Thanks to Twitter and Facebook, I got real-time help without much ado. When I want to know what’s going on in the world, Twitter is my go-to-man. When I want a book recommendation, I just tweet for help.
  7. Don’t be afraid to fall in love: One bad experience and we shut ourselves out from love. We need to let go of the past to move on. Every guy that you meet might not be interested in just ‘one thing’. Give it time. Stay open to relationships. As you spend more time with a person, attraction fades away and you get to know the real person. It’s not necessary that every prospective guy you meet has to be ‘the one’. Sometimes you end up making a lifelong friend that you just accidentally met in a metro.
  8. Appreciate. Don’t criticise: “My boss is so control freak”, “Why do I have to call her all the time?”, “her dressing sense is so meh”, “gaadi challani nahi aati to road par kyun aa jaate hain”; I am sure all of us would have felt like this at some point of time. It’s very easy to have a negative mindset. But it’s not so difficult to be positive either. If you are not cynical about others, others won’t be too. Gratitude towards simple things like appreciating your cook for the lunch she made, appreciating your colleagues on their recent presentation etc. can change the way people treat you. You’ll always be greeted with smiles. And happiness begins with a smile 🙂
  9. Be Selfish: Yes, you heard me right. Be selfish but to help others. When somebody asks you for a favour they are actually keeping you at a pedestal higher than themselves. Nobody will seek your help until they think you can help them. Be thankful to them that they are resting their trust and faith in you. I still remember for a project of mine, people I barely knew went out of their way to help me.
  10. Invest in ‘Me Time’: You need to know who you are, before you start evaluating others. The ‘Me Time’ is very crucial in understanding the real you. When you know what you want then your problems become less problematic. Once in a while it’s not a bad idea to just sit and do nothing. A clean slate is a good way to start new things. Talking to yourself isn’t bad either.
  11. Make bucket list: At the end, what would you want to say to yourself – “wow I am so glad I did all that” or “wish I could do….”? Don’t be afraid to make a bucket list that you really want. Forget your means. Make it  interesting and challenging. Bigger the challenge more the excitement of achieving it. Religiously work towards making it happen. And trust me there’s no bigger joy than doing the things that you really want to do. So go for the kill, baby!
  12. Travel Alone: Why should you postpone your travel plans because others are not free. Had Vasco Da Gama waited for his friends to give a green signal, he would have never become the explorer he became. When you travel alone, you don’t compromise on things you want to see and do. You can alter your itinerary anytime you feel like. You make friends with strangers. People are more than happy to help a lone traveller  .
  13. Change your playlist: Having a favourite playlist is fine. But don’t forget to listen to happy and new songs too. Songs have a deeper impact on our mood than what we imagine. ‘Because I am happy’ definitely brightens up my mood. I love ‘tum itna jo muskura rahe ho’ as much as I love ‘Aaj blue hai paani paani’ but when I feel bit low I refrain from listening to sad songs. Keep shuffling your playlist to stay fresh and lively. And for god sake stop visualising yourself in sad songs. Your life is not yet finished. There are so many things to feel happy about and look forward to.
  14. Read. Read. Read: When there’s nobody to talk to, there’s always a book. There have been times when I felt extremely lonely. At such times, my books comforted me and made be feel loved. They inspire me, give me hope, enlighten me with thoughts of great minds and in the process help me discover myself. Haven’t you felt at times that the author had painted a picture with words straight from your life? Though you might have favourite genres but try to read as many genres as possible. This way your worldview doesn’t become boxed and you can extract the best out of all 🙂
  15. Digital Detoxification: I am guilty of being a digiholic. But I’m far from the worst offender. The average person checks their phone every six and a half seconds – 200 times a day. Can you imagine spending a day without your phones or computers? Hasn’t social networking made us more anti social. Notification anxiety is killing face-to-face meeting joys. Once in a while it’s good to switch off. Digital detoxification is important for rejuvenation. Spending time in the real world is more fun than being house arrested in the virtual world.

You still reading it? Wish I could give you the Veer Chakra for bearing my non sense. But on a serious note, really appreciate your patience.

These are just few things that came to my mind. The list can go on and on. It totally depends on your commitment to be happy.

When you want to be happy. You will need no reason to be happy. You’ll just be happy.

Live happily. Love passionately!


Keep Calm and love the Mountains

I often ask myself what do I like more – beaches or mountains?

Well both have their own charm. But if I were to pick one then it will surely be mountains because they understand my silence like no other. They always have an answer to the querying mind of mine. Whenever I have no way to go, there’s always one way waiting for me to arrive.

Somebody once said to me that we all look for locus of control. Some people have an internal locus of control while others have an outer locus of control. For me, besides my friends and family, mountains seem to provide me that locus of control. They seem to stabilise my unstable mindset. I still remember when I was a kid and my dad took me to Dehradun for the first time, I was so mesmerised by the sheer beauty and magnanimity of the mountains. I watched them without batting an eyelid. I didn’t want that journey to end. I just wanted to marvel at them as long as possible. That curiosity and happiness is still so vivid in my mind. In fact, every time I travel to mountains that feeling rekindles. If mountains were a boy then I would happily propose him 🙂

Early morning Sunrise in Lahaul Valley

Besides being a source of beauty and happiness, mountains prepare you for the fights of the life. They not only challenge your physical stamina but mental strength too. Sometimes abstract can teach you more than living beings. The treacherous windings of treks, the struggle for basics in life, the sheer pleasure of having maggi and adrak walli chai on top of a mountain, the sweet symphony of wind, the chirping of the birds, the steep dives of valleys, the moodiness of clouds, the dew like freshness of air that purifies even the impure, everything has a message for you. In that emptiness you can completely lose yourself to find a new you. That’s why these small little breaks are so important for my survival. When the world and it’s selfishness gets too much to handle I take shelter in mountains.

And this behaviour isn’t unique to me. Many people like me have found themselves by getting lost in mountains. Just a few days back, I finished reading Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail written by Cheryl Strayed.

The book isn’t a masterpiece but definitely a good read. It is based on a true story and somewhere I connected with the protagonist. Our life conditions are different but mindsets seem to be the same. Let me give you a brief synopsis of the book.

Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. Her mother died of cancer, her family scattered and she was divorced. At a stage where she thought she had nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and she would do it alone. Well she did it. And how! When she completed the journey she was a different person. She wasn’t weak anymore. She took life in her control. Today, in personal life she’s is well settled. Professionally, she is one of the best selling authors in US. A Hollywood flick was made on her book.

Why I loved Wild so much was because of the sheer honesty and simplicity with which it was narrated. It had nuggets of suspense, style, warmth and humor. It powerfully captured the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.

Somewhere all of us, at some part of time, are broken inside. And we all look for that healing source. As they say everything heals with time. But what you do in that healing period decides the healing process duration and pain you endure.

Whether you travel to heal yourself or just for pleasure isn’t important. The important thing is you should travel. Travel not to check box but to discover yourself.

And lastly, if you really want to know yourself – TRAVEL ALONE.

But be rest assured you’ll never be lonely because your #BFF, mountains, will always be with you.

Ending this post with my favouite quote from none other than Edmund Hillary 🙂


PS: In case you are a classics fan you’ll love this Denver’s song


Why FA Cup win means life and death to Arsenal?

It was the summer of 2012, I was sitting with a group of strangers-turned-friends somewhere in Italy. We were just discussing random topics and suddenly the topic of EPL cropped up. Being an enthu cutlet, I was trying my best to impress other fellas with my shallow football knowledge. However, just after a brief discussion I figured out the person sitting next to me was a walking-talking football encyclopaedia, who could throw facts and figures at the drop of a hat. And he wasn’t good just with numbers but was emotionally attached to the club. He was an aficionado not a fence sitter.

When I asked him what club he supports, he said Arsenal.


Not Manchester United?

Yes. I was hearing it right.

Unable to curb my curiosity, I asked him why he supports a club that has not won anything in the last seven years. I was blown away by his answer. His answer explained what sports fandom is all about. Real fans are not imposter fans. Sports fandom is being attached to the club not just for glossy attributes but for the club legacy, players who become a part of their life, manager who is seen like a father figure, rich culture and history of the club that keeps the fans glued to their beloved club at a very deep level. An attachment that makes you wring in your stomach when your team loses and makes you cry with happiness when your team wins. I could see that love in his eyes when he spoke so passionately about Arsenal and Arsene Wenger. He narrated how Arsene Wenger revolutionised the beautiful game of football in England. How Arsenal are not just any other football club. How it is different and unique.

Since then I have interacted with lot of club fans and have followed the premier league more closely. Most of the club fans are glory hunters. Out of all the club fans, Arsenal fans have impressed me the most. In spite of their club not winning for nine long years they still support their club wholeheartedly and #InArseneWeTrust is not just a statement. It is a strong belief. It is their unflinching trust in their manager.

Arsene Wenger is Arsenal’s most successful manager and has brought lot of success to the club. But since 21st May 2005, Arsenal has not won any silverware. 2013-14 season brought both tears of happiness as well as pain for Arsenal fans. From being top of the table for 128 days to retaining the trophy of finishing fourth, Arsenal fans have seen it all. In fact, this year has been a relatively good year for them.

However, the biggest moment can be on 17th of May at Wembley Stadium when Arsenal defeats Hull City in the FA Cup final.


All Arsenal fans are desperately waiting for this moment to arrive. It is their last hope to win a silverware this season. Winning FA Club final has become a case of life and death for the gunners for many reasons namely:

  • Nine years long itch: The wait has been quite long and painful. Though gunners are very passionate about their club and manager. But sometimes wait can get over you. Being branded as a club that doesn’t win trophies is a tag that they would love to do away with. Their patience is slowly waning away and they are eagerly waiting for a change to happen. Winning the FA Cup could be that tide of change.
  • Befitting reply to critics: Wenger has often been criticised for not trying hard to win trophies and for repeating his mistakes. He has been described as “Specialist in Failures” by Mourinho, Paul Scholes has blatantly accused Arsenal’s players of having no character, leadership or discipline, and have questioned Wenger’s managerial tactics. Not just critics, even rival fans have not let go of any opportunity to bash Arsenal by trending demeaning hashtags like #SinceArsenalLastWonATrophy. If Arsene Wenger wins FA Cup then it will be the best reply to shut up the critics.
  • Carling Cup heartbreak: The sheer agony of losing the Carling cup final still gives nightmares to Gooners. They have still not forgotten that fateful night, when what should have been a simple collection for Szczesny went horribly wrong, thanks to the awful intervention of Koscielny.  That time Arsenal were favourites to win the title but they came short in front of Birmingham’s defiance and determination. The burden of expectations proved too heavy for Arsenal. It was an unforgettable night where Birmingham played fearlessly and created the biggest upset at Wembley since Wimbledon beat Liverpool to the 1988 FA Cup. Gunners will be hoping history doesn’t repeat itself on 17th May and they are the ones smiling this time.
  • Lacking Self Confidence: Arsenal is often labelled as a club that does well against the smaller clubs but falters against the biggies. One reason often cited in their defence is they lack match winners like Suarez, Rooney, Aguero, Yaya Toure, Kompany, and Hazard. Also, somewhere Arsenal lacks the belief that they can beat the top four. But haven’t we heard about David vs Goliath? In fact, this years’ EPL season has sprung so many surprises where mid table/smaller teams have scripted amazing change stories (Liverpool from being 7th last season to almost winning the title this season, Southampton & Everton improving their standings), relegation battlers like Crystal Palace have pulled off miracles while bigger teams like Manchester United have struggled. Arsenal can take inspiration from them and start believing they are the best. Winning FA Cup final can be a small step in gaining that self-confidence. After all they didn’t reach the finals by defeating minnows. The road to Wembley was a difficult one where they defeated the mighty Liverpool and Spurs.
  • Not reaching the finishing line: Arsenal started the season in overdrive mode but somewhere lost the accelerated edge. It is observed over many seasons they take the burden of expectations way too seriously and start losing the focus. A win might catapult their fortune and help in keeping them focused on their target. After all it’s all about momentum. A win will have a cascading effect. It could lead Wenger to build a team around Ozil and sign the players of his choice. Sometimes signing a big player has a rub off effect on other players too. We all have seen how other Arsenal players started performing well after Ozil arrived at Emirates. A team that is hungry for trophies will keep everyone on its toes to reach the finish line before anyone else does.
  • Injuries plagued Arsenal’s chances: Arsenal had a dream start to their season but the absence of key players like Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott, Aaron Ramsey, Ozil, Koscielny, Gibbs, Monreal affected their form and is one of the key reasons why Arsenal couldn’t maintain their challenge throughout the final weeks. Had all their players been fit then probably the picture would have been rosier. The injury crisis left Wenger short of creativity. Going forward Wenger might change his training methods or medication or adopt new strategies to protect his key players from injuries. A FA Cup win might help in forgetting the injury crisis that hit Arsenal so hard this season.
  • Self-sustaining business model has made life difficult: Arsenal is the only big club that doesn’t have Arab money, American money or Russian money. The Club operates effectively with a robust and self-sustaining business model. “Le Professeur” is a man of principles and is harbinger of change. Unlike his contemporaries, Wenger’s focus has always been long-term – to build a legacy. A legacy that has strong pillars. Firstly, instead of spending millions on signing star players, he started strengthening the team in quality and not quantity by grooming home-grown talent to become world-class players. Secondly, he revolutionised England football by bringing in new training methods, incorporating dietary changes and playing entertaining attacking style football. Thirdly, he wanted to give his fans a gift that they’ll cherish for generations after generations. Therefore he built the Emirates Stadium completely on its own. FA Cup win would be a small step in garnering more support for his style of Business Management. Also, it will be the first trophy in the Emirates Stadium.
  • Perfect farewell gift to the Arsenal players going to Brazil: Though the world cup dream of Arsenal forward Theo Walcott shattered with his knee injury, but the other two key Arsenal players, Jack Wilshere and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, have reserved their seat in the English squad for Brazil. With less than a month to go for the biggest sporting spectacle to kick off, winning the FA Cup would be a perfect farewell gift for the Arsenal players to start their world cup mission on a high note. As they say nothing inspires more than a win.

The win at Wembley can affect Gunners in more than the ways listed above.

If Arsenal beat Hull City in the FA Cup final, it will get the monkey off their back. And doing so could perhaps catapult the Gunners to greater heights.

HOPE this time the Arsenal fans are not disappointed.

HOPE this time Wembley doesn’t witness another upset.

HOPE this time the best team wins.

HOPE this time the best team is the team that has waited for nine years.

HOPE this time HOPE transforms itself into a reality.

PS: Special thanks to my friend  who helped me write this article and    who pushed me to write it.

आज भी है…

हमने जो की थी मोहब्बत, वोह बरकरार आज भी है…

तेरी महकती आँखों के दीदार का इंतज़ार इस दिल को, आज भी है…

हर पल कटता है खयालों में तेरे, दीवानो सी वोह मेरी हालत, आज भी है…

किसी और के तसौवर को उठती नहीं, नामुराद आँखों में तेरे आने की उम्मीद आज भी है…

चाह के एक बार चाहे फिर छोड़ देना तू, दिल तोड़कर जाने की इज़ाज़त तुझे, आज भी है…


30 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself

I usually don’t repost someone else’s posts but this one really inspired and impressed me. So I am reposting it. This is one post that will always remain useful and can act as a ready reckoner during my downtime.

This post was written by Marc and Angel and later on shared by Lesley Carter

30 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself

When you stop chasing the wrong things you give the right things a chance to catch you.

As Maria Robinson once said, “Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”  Nothing could be closer to the truth.  But before you can begin this process of transformation you have to stop doing the things that have been holding you back.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  1. Stop spending time with the wrong people. – Life is too short to spend time with people who suck the happiness out of you.  If someone wants you in their life, they’ll make room for you.  You shouldn’t have to fight for a spot.  Never, ever insist yourself to someone who continuously overlooks your worth.  And remember, it’s not the people that stand by your side when you’re at your best, but the ones who stand beside you when you’re at your worst that are your true friends.
  2. Stop running from your problems. – Face them head on.  No, it won’t be easy.  There is no person in the world capable of flawlessly handling every punch thrown at them.  We aren’t supposed to be able to instantly solve problems.  That’s not how we’re made.  In fact, we’re made to get upset, sad, hurt, stumble and fall.  Because that’s the whole purpose of living – to face problems, learn, adapt, and solve them over the course of time.  This is what ultimately molds us into the person we become.
  3. Stop lying to yourself. – You can lie to anyone else in the world, but you can’t lie to yourself.  Our lives improve only when we take chances, and the first and most difficult chance we can take is to be honest with ourselves.  Read The Road Less Traveled.
  4. Stop putting your own needs on the back burner. – The most painful thing is losing yourself in the process of loving someone too much, and forgetting that you are special too.  Yes, help others; but help yourself too.  If there was ever a moment to follow your passion and do something that matters to you, that moment is now.
  5. Stop trying to be someone you’re not. – One of the greatest challenges in life is being yourself in a world that’s trying to make you likeeveryone else.  Someone will always be prettier, someone will always be smarter, someone will always be younger, but they will never be you.  Don’t change so people will like you.  Be yourself and the right people will love the real you.
  6. Stop trying to hold onto the past. – You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading your last one.
  7. Stop being scared to make a mistake. – Doing something and getting it wrong is at least ten times more productive than doing nothing.  Every success has a trail of failures behind it, and every failure is leading towards success.  You end up regretting the things you did NOT do far more than the things you did.
  8. Stop berating yourself for old mistakes. – We may love the wrong person and cry about the wrong things, but no matter how things go wrong, one thing is for sure, mistakes help us find the person and things that are right for us.  We all make mistakes, have struggles, and even regret things in our past.  But you are not your mistakes, you are not your struggles, and you are here NOW with the power to shape your day and your future.  Every single thing that has ever happened in your life is preparing you for a moment that is yet to come.
  9. Stop trying to buy happiness. – Many of the things we desire are expensive.  But the truth is, the things that really satisfy us are totally free – love, laughter and working on our passions.
  10. Stop exclusively looking to others for happiness. – If you’re not happy with who you are on the inside, you won’t be happy in a long-term relationship with anyone else either.  You have to create stability in your own life first before you can share it with someone else.  Read Stumbling on Happiness.
  11. Stop being idle. – Don’t think too much or you’ll create a problem that wasn’t even there in the first place.  Evaluate situations and take decisive action.  You cannot change what you refuse to confront.  Making progress involves risk.  Period!  You can’t make it to second base with your foot on first.
  12. Stop thinking you’re not ready. – Nobody ever feels 100% ready when an opportunity arises.  Because most great opportunities in life force us to grow beyond our comfort zones, which means we won’t feel totally comfortable at first.
  13. Stop getting involved in relationships for the wrong reasons. – Relationships must be chosen wisely.  It’s better to be alone than to be in bad company.  There’s no need to rush.  If something is meant to be, it will happen – in the right time, with the right person, and for the best reason. Fall in love when you’re ready, not when you’re lonely.
  14. Stop rejecting new relationships just because old ones didn’t work. – In life you’ll realize that there is a purpose for everyone you meet.  Some will test you, some will use you and some will teach you.  But most importantly, some will bring out the best in you.
  15. Stop trying to compete against everyone else. – Don’t worry about what others are doing better than you.  Concentrate on beating your own records every day.  Success is a battle between YOU and YOURSELF only.
  16. Stop being jealous of others. – Jealousy is the art of counting someone else’s blessings instead of your own.  Ask yourself this:  “What’s something I have that everyone wants?”
  17. Stop complaining and feeling sorry for yourself. – Life’s curveballs are thrown for a reason – to shift your path in a direction that is meant for you.  You may not see or understand everything the moment it happens, and it may be tough.  But reflect back on those negative curveballs thrown at you in the past.  You’ll often see that eventually they led you to a better place, person, state of mind, or situation.  So smile!  Let everyone know that today you are a lot stronger than you were yesterday, and you will be.
  18. Stop holding grudges. – Don’t live your life with hate in your heart.  You will end up hurting yourself more than the people you hate.  Forgiveness is not saying, “What you did to me is okay.”  It is saying, “I’m not going to let what you did to me ruin my happiness forever.”  Forgiveness is the answer… let go, find peace, liberate yourself!  And remember, forgiveness is not just for other people, it’s for you too.  If you must, forgive yourself, move on and try to do better next time.
  19. Stop letting others bring you down to their level. – Refuse to lower your standards to accommodate those who refuse to raise theirs.
  20. Stop wasting time explaining yourself to others. – Your friends don’t need it and your enemies won’t believe it anyway.  Just do what you know in your heart is right.
  21. Stop doing the same things over and over without taking a break. – The time to take a deep breath is when you don’t have time for it.  If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting.  Sometimes you need to distance yourself to see things clearly.
  22. Stop overlooking the beauty of small moments. – Enjoy the little things, because one day you may look back and discover they were the big things.  The best portion of your life will be the small, nameless moments you spend smiling with someone who matters to you.
  23. Stop trying to make things perfect. – The real world doesn’t reward perfectionists, it rewards people who get things done.  Read Getting Things Done.
  24. Stop following the path of least resistance. – Life is not easy, especially when you plan on achieving something worthwhile.  Don’t take the easy way out.  Do something extraordinary.
  25. Stop acting like everything is fine if it isn’t. – It’s okay to fall apart for a little while.  You don’t always have to pretend to be strong, and there is no need to constantly prove that everything is going well.  You shouldn’t be concerned with what other people are thinking either – cry if you need to – it’s healthy to shed your tears.  The sooner you do, the sooner you will be able to smile again.
  26. Stop blaming others for your troubles. – The extent to which you can achieve your dreams depends on the extent to which you take responsibility for your life.  When you blame others for what you’re going through, you deny responsibility – you give others power over that part of your life.
  27. Stop trying to be everything to everyone. – Doing so is impossible, and trying will only burn you out.  But making one person smile CAN change the world.  Maybe not the whole world, but their world.  So narrow your focus.
  28. Stop worrying so much. – Worry will not strip tomorrow of its burdens, it will strip today of its joy.  One way to check if something is worth mulling over is to ask yourself this question: “Will this matter in one year’s time?  Three years?  Five years?”  If not, then it’s not worth worrying about.
  29. Stop focusing on what you don’t want to happen. – Focus on what you do want to happen.  Positive thinking is at the forefront of every great success story.  If you awake every morning with the thought that something wonderful will happen in your life today, and you pay close attention, you’ll often find that you’re right.
  30. Stop being ungrateful. – No matter how good or bad you have it, wake up each day thankful for your life.  Someone somewhere else is desperately fighting for theirs.  Instead of thinking about what you’re missing, try thinking about what you have that everyone else is missing.

Serendipity – A Gift wrapped Catastrophe


It was 8:30 am and the group of 15 strangers-turned-friends was raring to challenge the mountain and experience a never seen before beauty of Triund Hill – Heaven on earth for nature lovers and trekkers. We knew the 6 kms trek was tough and will challenge not just the city dwellers physical stamina but mental stamina too. Still the enthusiasm was too overpowering to be weighed down by the scare of the obstacles. The enigmatic euphoria made us complete a journey of five hours in just three hours. And the top view was so breathtakingly beautiful that it didn’t give our mind any wandering space to let  fatigue or negative thoughts creep in.

After soaking ourselves in the natural beauty, followed by lengthy photo sessions, forever ongoing chat sessions,  the soulful live music jam sessions; we decided to call it a night with grand plans for the next day.

We were all too happy to realise that the movie was actually a thriller not a romcom. The serendipity changed into a nightmare. It was bone-numbing cold out there in the open and we were severely under-prepared. The temperature was  zero degree and our tents were not even ready to face 15 degrees.  In between tossing and turning and shivering in the cold with the background score of a storm and dogs howling on a full moon night, we somehow managed to get over the night. Next day morning, we woke up with happy thoughts of embarking on another 60 minutes trek to witness the most mesmerising sunrise from the highest point – The temple of Shri Kunal Pathri Devi but God had other plans. It started raining and snowing, which in other words meant that forget the onward trek even our downward trek was in danger. We were warned by our guide that  downward trek is way too difficult than trekking upwards even in normal conditions. And rain and melting snow would further make it more dangerous as it often leads to loss of control and many mishaps. Following our guide’s advice, we changed our plans to safely reach our base instead of trekking ahead.

Being a brave heart, who like to face challenges head on, I decided to lead. I started my downward journey ahead of everyone else. And I was the first one to finish our trek in flat two hours. So the trek which was difficult for many was a cakewalk for me.

During this trip, besides enjoying the nature’s moody beauty and making some good friends, I tested my limits too and I was pleasantly surprised with myself. I was really looking forward to this trip for numerous reasons. It was my escape from the harsh reality. And it proved to be one. I had the time of life. Met some awesome people. Forgot all the heartache. I was brimming with hope and joy when I reached the concrete jungle.


However, like always, the joy was short lived. I didn’t have an inkling that there was a worse news waiting for me. I didn’t have a clue that the news I am going to get after experiencing the most awesome weekend will sweep away the ground beneath my feet. For a second I could not believe my ears. I was speechless. I was numb.I didn’t know what was happening around me.

The year 2014 had started on a BIG HIGH for me but since then I have been getting jolts after jolts. And this one is perhaps the biggest.

But does that mean I give up?


I stand again with a resolve to win again.

Perhaps these jolts are necessary to challenge my limits and discover my true potential.

Also, I learnt one big lesson in the last 3 months that besides being forever optimist, it is good to be cynical too. Oxymoronic? Yeah. But sometimes oxymoron can co-exist. Pay attention to your intuition and observation while staying optimistic because:

What feels like ‘too good to be true’ is actually not True. It is your intuition’s warning to brace yourself for the upcoming catastrophe.

In other words, Serendipity is a gift wrapped Catastrophe.

Though serendipity has positive connotations but you should always take it with a pinch of salt. Prepare yourself to brace the chaos too. Serendipity is not as simple as Oxford dictionary says it. It is far more complicated. There are different stages of happiness and randomness in the Serendipity curve.




So my advice to myself and others (in case anyone is interested) while you enjoy serendipity do take your intuition seriously to avoid the gift wrapped Catastrophe 🙂



What women want? This question has plagued the mind of humankind for generations and generations. However, what men want is fairly simple. Men are Simple Beings whereas Women are Complex Creatures. And that’s exactly the reason why I am calling this blog post title what it is.

Like all, I too have had my share of love and heartaches. And every time I go through a dull phase in my life I get into the analytical mode, trying to understand why it didn’t work, what could have gone wrong, what could have drifted us apart and what I could have done to save it. To clear the clouds of doubts, this time I decided to dig deeper and table out the differences between the two genders when they think about Love and commitment. While doing so I consulted lot my friends from both the genders, listened to lot of Ted Talks, spent hours on and gathered whatever secondary data I could lay my hands on. And this is what I have to say.


  • RELATIONSHIPS: For women, relationship is a very special, mature connection between two individuals. It’s a very special bond that they dream will last FOREVER. We see ourselves growing old with our partners like our grandparents did.  But for a man, relationship is more of just someone to have in your life that makes you happy both emotionally and physically. They are not so future oriented. They are focussed. They think only about today’s pleasure. Women think that all men want is sex, and that men will leave a relationship for the next prettier face. Women think men cannot be trusted to be faithful. Women believe men do not want to work on a relationship; that when the going gets tough, they run. Men, on the other hand are not so fussy about working on a relationship. They are slightly lazy and easy-going when it comes to relationships. Men don’t like to be questioned. Therefore when they are being made to stand in a guilty box they tend to run away. They shriek from being asked difficult questions. They don’t want to break the relationships but at the same time they fear the difficult process drilling. Once they decide to break the relationship there is no going back. Whereas women generally change their decision multiple times because the emotional investment is way too higher from their side. After the breakup, women seek closure through dialogue whereas men seek solace in avoidance and distraction. Women want to talk it out. Men want to bottle it in.
  • LOVE: Women think of love in terms of Mills & Boons and Yash Raj romance. They want a guy like Raj of DDLJ who can love them, cherish them, pamper them, talk to them, listen to them, and make them the centre of their universe. They want love, protection and security. However, men think of love more in terms of sex aka Babydoll Sone Di. They do not daydream about romantic love; it is the sexual aspect of the relationship that has their attention. Women See Relationships, Men See Body Parts. Men want flesh, women want love. And the reason why they behave so differently is Testosterone. Men have 20 times more testosterone in their systems than do women. This results in a strong drive for sex in men. For men, having a long tally of their sexual conquests is a hallmark of achievement. Women on the other hand correlate sex and love. Men play love to get sex whereas women play sex to get love. Another big difference is men love their freedom the most. Their biggest fear is losing their freedom. They hate to justify their ‘last seen at…’ Whatsapp status to their girlfriend. They enjoy the company and love of their girlfriend but hate the questions and nagging bit. They just can’t give the reins of their life to someone else. Remember Pyaar Ka Punchnama famous scene –
  • BRAIN PROCESSING: Men are able to compartmentalise  different pieces of  information like  emotions, behaviour, physical attributes, relationships, jobs, sex, romance, friendship, family etc. into separate compartments in their brains, while women tend to link everything together. Men see individual issues with parts of their brain, while women look at the holistic or multiple issues with their whole brain. Men can switch over from one compartment to another in no time without carrying a trace from one to another whereas women fail to do so. Therefore generally after a breakup men move on easily without their work-life balance getting affected whereas women take far longer to get over it. One look at their face and people can tell that they are going through some personal turmoil. Their face is their mirror. However, exceptions are always there.
  • LAW OF ATTRACTION: We value that which is hard to get and we think little of that which is easily obtained. In men-women relationships, you are attracted to the person who is hard to get and you run from the one who chases you. The law remains the same for both in the initial phase. The difference arises when both get committed. So while women apply their rational side a lot in the attraction phase, they let their emotional side take over when they get committed. They don’t raise doubts and start dreaming about their future together. On the other hand, men don’t think too rationally before enrolling themselves in the chase game. For Men, the thrill is in the chase. After the conquest has been made, men are ready to move on to the next challenge. They don’t care about the emotional wreckage they have left behind them. After winning over the women, mystery wanes and so does their feelings. What once used to be attractive seems to become boring and irritating.
  • COMMITMENT: This word sends chills to men’s body as soon as it is uttered by their lady love. It is their biggest phobia. They are eager to fall in love but too scared to commit. And when they eventually do, it is after lot of deliberation and rational calibration. Emotions don’t rule their decisions. They weigh every pros and con before committing. For them, it is not a game of love but a mission to be accomplished. They would never venture into a relationship that can put them off guard or pose difficult questions in the future. They don’t want to mess up the equilibrium of their family and career. They like to play safe when it comes to commitment. However, for women it is the opposite. They say yes to a love proposal after visualising their entire life with the guy proposing. They would think up to their grandchildren before saying a yes. Another big difference is, men always have a plan B in mind. They would never put all their eggs in one basket. While they would be dating a girl, they would simultaneously be turning on their ignitions for another chase game.

The above points are generic and as I mentioned earlier, exceptions are always there. I truly believe that not all men are same. Some men are quite hesitant to start or carry on a relationship with a girl that they think they’ll not be able to commit to, therefore instead of breaking the girls heart at the end, they halt their engines in the beginning itself. While some men don’t venture on the path, others know how to build a wonderful relationship, and they know true love and fidelity are the main ingredients. When they meet the right woman they  try their best to make it work. The only small issue is realizing when you have met the right woman. Sometimes they get bogged down by the fear of difficulties and compromise even before trying. My advice to them would be

Don’t belittle love. There are too many ordinary things in life. Let love be extraordinary and precious.




I am a hopeless romantic (thanks to Sharukh Khan) therefore in spite of shredding my heart into million pieces I’ll continue believing in true love. True love which is unselfish and is committed. I believe in love even if the other person has moved on. My love will always be with him. Only for him. Because my love doesn’t believe in giving up but keep fighting for it. I might not shout out from the top of a mountain but it’ll silently climb up the hills. My love is not bound by the shackles of the worldly possessions, inhibitions and rituals. It is beyond all this. My heart only knows how to love and it will continue loving you. No matter what.

Just like Don Williams I will continue believing in love. I believe in love

PS: There are some interesting videos on understanding love. I particularly like Helen Fisher’s work.  

Some of my favourite quotes are:

“Millions of years ago, we evolved three basic drives: the sex drive, romantic love and attachment to a long-term partner.”

“Romantic love is not an emotion. It’s a drive. It comes from the motor of the mind, the wanting part of the mind, the craving part of the mind”

“Barriers tend to intensify romance. It’s called the ‘Romeo and Juliet effect.’ I call it ‘frustration attraction.”

“You know, when you’ve been dumped, the one thing you love to do is just forget about this human being, and then go on with your life – but no, you just love them harder.”

“After a man falls madly in love, he no longer cares how old she is.”

“Romantic love is an obsession. It possesses you. You lose your sense of self. You can’t stop thinking about another human being.”

In case you want to hear some of her speeches. Then here are the links.

Highway – A Journey into discovering Oneself


It was Monday morning, like always, Anshul and I were discussing movies and life in general while sipping adrak walli chai in our canteen. I probed him for a FB message that he has put up a night before about the Highway movie. Before answering my question he asked me if I didn’t want to see ‘Highway’ in theatre. I said probably not. So he started narrating the story scene by scene. And  while he was doing so, I somewhere fell in love with ‘Highway’. Though I was already bowled over by its music, but it was after that narration I got a strong urge to see the movie. First time I saw it on laptop but I was so mesmerised and moved by the film that I went to see it in a theatre. I could not wait to see it in the afternoon show so saw it from the first row in a morning 10:30 am show. And since then I have not stopped thinking about the protagonist’s journey of self discovery. I have already seen it twice and have read a lot about the making and Imtiaz’s direction. The more I know about the movie the more I fall for it. I can watch it again because every time I see it I discover something new. Highway is not a conventional love story. It is about freedom. It’s a happy ending that is not bound by the person you love. It will not give you your routine entertainment dose or an adrenaline rush, but a serene feeling that stays with you long after the film is over.

Even before the movie was released, I somehow knew I was going to love it. It was an Imtiaz Ali movie after all with Anil Mehta’s cinematography, Irshad Kamil’s lyrics and the soul stirring music of the maestro, AR Rehman.

Amongst many reasons let me list down many reasons why I like Highway:



Imtiaz has got a very unique style of filmmaking. Travel is an important character in all his films. He believes in journey lie stories, a search for sights and self.  Be it Socha Na Tha, Jab We Met, Love Aaj Kal or Rockstar,  he has explored this attribute consistently and very refreshingly.  His characters discover their life journeys while travelling. However, in Highway he used travel like artistry, portraying  Veera and Mahabir’s journey. A journey conveyed through the beautiful blend of visuals and background music. Right from the first scene till the last, the story moves around travelling across six states. The strange and interesting locations shown in Highway is as important as the lead cast and helps the narrative to a great extent. Though Highway can be used to promote North India Tourism (Delhi, Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh or Kashmir), the locations are never spelled out only implied through culture, climate and clothing. Every state radiates its own charm and plays an important role is setting the mood and context of the story. Anil Mehta’s cinematography is an invitation to go on India darshan just after getting out of the theatre.


Highway ‘s message is simple, loud and clear – lead a more fulfilling life by expressing yourself in the way you want to. I could relate myself with the lead character, Veera not because there’s any lifestyle  similarity  between us but because somewhere our thought processes seem to match – It’s not the DESTINATION that’s important but the JOURNEY.  One dialogue that won me over was when Alia says to Randeep “Jahan se Tum mujhe laaye ho wahan mein waapis nahi jaana chahti…jahan bhi le ja rahe ho…wahan pahunchna nahi chahti…par yeh raasta bahut accha hai…mein chahti hoon yeh raasta kabhi kahtam na ho.” It rings a bell to the explorer side of my personality. Like Imtiaz Ali, I too think that any exploration is exploration of the self and during journeys our imagination also starts opening up. It takes you to a new unexplored territory that you never even thought existed. Like Veera, I believe past and future should not screw up our present. The prejudices of our past memories should not create our fears of the future. By thinking too much about our future we do injustice to our beautiful present. We should live in the moment. Forget the past and not worry about the future. The future depends on what we do in the present. We should seize the moment. Live for today. Rid our mind of future insecurities. Today is what we have and we should not waste it.


What I really like about Imtiaz Ali films is the way he portrays his characters. They come across as very real and believable with multiple shades, always trying to push the envelope for self discovery. Much like his previous films, Imtiaz’s female protagonist, Veera, wants to break out of the existing rules and regulations, to lead life at her own terms (remember Jab We Met’s Geet and Rockstar’s Heer). Veera discovers her different versions of the same woman – a blend of whim, naivety and verbosity. From an immature girl seeking freedom to a woman who can play different roles to her man – a lover, friend and mother; Veera grows in leaps and bounds as the story progresses. Imtiaz’s casting is perfect. Alia has given a performance that very few can dream of delivering at such an early stage of their career. She was just not playing the character, but she was living the character. Mahabir, played by Randeep Hooda, a rough, abusive, criminal can be confused with any real life Haryanwi Gujjar. Unlike the Bollwood clichéd style of lead pair falling in love with each other, Veera and Mahabir get attracted to each other not because of Chemistry but comfort.  Besides the lead cast, the supporting cast like Goru, adoo, in their minimalist roles leave remarkable impression too. 


During the 133 minutes, Imtiaz never got carried away and left the plot. Hats off to him for staying true to the essence of the film – showing a simple and honest story about two people on the journey of self discovery. There are no unwanted distractions in the screenplay. The characters don’t go into dream sequences, don’t wear designer clothes, don’t get outweighed with layers of makeup, don’t get portrayed larger than life, no god like camera angles…basically nothing that is not real. Also, I noticed there is a similarity between the visual representation of the leads of Highway and Rockstar. In Rockstar, Jordan (Ranbir) clothes became symbolic of who he was. In the same way, Veera’s whole journey is coded in the costumes she’s wearing – no elaborate changeovers, just basic clothes that a normal abducted girl would wear, no makeup. Every shot reminds you of a particular phase in the character’s life in the film. The dialogues are crisp and to the point. No unwanted melodrama.  Second half is mostly dialogue less and abstract. While the Bollywood success formula is to have over the top punchy dialogues (that might or might not be required in the script), Imtiaz Ali dares to make a film that uses real and genuine expressions to convey what the character goes through in that situation.



Whenever AR Rehman gets associated with any movie project you can be rest assured about one thing – the album of the year. An album that will be original and soulful. An album that you can never get bored with hearing, even when played on loop for several years. That’s the magic of AR Rehman. His music grows on you with time. However, of all Imtiaz Ali films to date, the music of Highway is the most experimental. It is more script-based soundtrack that marries the narrative, and not being a standalone chartbuster and popular album. The songs and background music helps to blend the scenes together. Coming to songs. My favourites are ‘Patakha Gudi’ and ‘Mahi Ve’. While Patakha Guddi is about Freedom, Maahi Ve is a love song that all hopeful and hopeless romantics will like. ‘Sooha Saha’ is a beautiful lullaby sung by Alia Bhatt herself. Like all his earlier albums, AR Rehman dedicates at least one song to connect to the God. And that song in Highway is Tu Kuja’. It has a spiritual sufi flavour and is again set in a semi-classical mode and is strictly situational. It is almost impossible to think that Sunidhi Chouhan who is more known for her chartbuster numbers could sing such a soulful song. While I was reading more about AR Rehman’s music I came across this quote of his where he says:

I’m a deeply spiritual person. Sufism is about love – love for a fellow human, love for all round humanity, and ultimately love for God. For me, it’s where music and religion meet – at dargahs, you will find qawwalis. That’s my inspiration. Music is a gift from God and every note should be blessed. Otherwise music becomes noise if it is not blessed. I am influenced by Sufism, which is also connected with music. Before composing I pray and beg to God to give me something. I believe every song should have a pure soul in it to reach people.”

 I can go on writing the reasons why you should watch the movie but I would rather not. Because more than hearing seeing is believing. So if you still haven’t watched the movie then please go ahead and watch it. But just one word of caution. Not everybody’s aim of watching a movie is same as mine. Like Vidya Balan said in Dirty picture some people  watch movies for three things – Entertainment. Entertainment. Entertainment. If that is what you expect from a film then probably Highway is not for you. It is for people who take even entertainment seriously 🙂

Package it well honey!

iStock_tell-your-storySmall1Dove says Real Beauty. Axe says the Axe Effect. Both are the sides of the same coin.

What’s the difference?

The packaging.

Both are trying to impress albeit through different packaging.

Beauty doesn’t lie in the eyes of the beholder. Beauty lies in the DRAMA. How well you package your drama is the trick. Lemme tell you a small story to make it clearer.

Have you heard about Jerry Weintraub? Well if you haven’t then don’t be disheartened. You can click on the link 🙂 Wikibaba hain na!

Jerry Weintraub is a well known name in the western show business. He managed/promoted well renowned celebs like Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Neil Diamond, John Denver, The Four Seasons, Led Zeppelin. He smiled his way through bank by producing the hit franchisee Ocean’s 11, 12 and 13. He became CEO of United Artists. He even has his own star on Hollywood’s ‘Walk of Fame’.

In a nutshell, Jerry Weintraub could sell anything to anyone. But was he born with the silver spoon or great salesmanship?

The answer is NO.

He said he learned it watching his dad. So was his dad from the show business?

Again, the answer is NO.

His father was a salesman who sold gems, not precious ones. Just standard semi-precious stones, in small towns across America. He used to buy his stones cheaply from our very own India. Then he would take his sample case all across the mid-west trying to get the local dealers interested. But he was not able to make a dent in the market. It was a buyer’s market, not a seller’s market. Often the local dealers couldn’t even be bothered to see him. He was extremely hardworking but somehow his hard-work wasn’t getting him the desired dollars. He struggled to sell them.

One evening while having his drink he got a gem of an idea.On his next trip to India, Jerry Weintraub’s father bought a large star sapphire. It  was neither of great quality, nor it was expensive. But his father had it polished until it sparkled. Then he had a case made for it, a case that had to be handcuffed to his wrist. And he did his namkaran as “The Star of Ardaban”.

He hired a small armed security team with him. Before arriving in any city he would call up the local reporters in advance and let them know that he is bringing “The Star of Ardaban” with him. The local press would splash his pictures and articles in the local papers and it would be a big deal when he arrived in one of these small towns. The local cops would turn out to escort him to his hotel. Not just that he would insist on keeping the “Star of Adarban” in a bank vault. It was so much hyped that the local gem dealers would phone up asking if they could see it. He would accept their request and invite them to his rooms. He’d show them the “Star of Ardaban” and tell them a story. Meanwhile he’d also show all his other stones. And he’d return from these trips with everything sold. Everything except “The Star of Ardaban”, which he’d take to the next town.

Jerry Weintraub  says he learned everything from watching the way his father created a story around that stone. Without the story it was just a very ordinary stone. With the story, and the armed guard, it became something they had to see when it came to their town. Something unusual, something fascinating. And meanwhile of course they bought all the other stones, stones they wouldn’t even have looked at previously.

And Jerry Weintraub realised the biggest success mantra – all there was to the business of selling anything.


Generate interest and leave everything to people’s curiosity.

So whether he was selling a script to a star, or selling a movie to a studio, or selling a concept to a backer, or selling a show to an audience, it was always the same.

Package it, build a story around it, and let the story do the work. People don’t buy the object, they buy the story.

Let me sum it up with a dialogue from this year’s Academy Award nominated film The Wolf of Wall Street

“Act as if! Act as if you’re a wealthy man, rich already, and then you’ll surely become rich. Act as if you have unmatched confidence and then people will surely have confidence in you. Act as if you have unmatched experience and then people will follow your advice. And act as if you are already a tremendous success, and as sure as I stand here today – you will become successful.”  Jordan Belfort (portrayed by Leonardo DiCpario)

Jane Na Kahan Woh Duniya Hai

Not my composition but seems like it was written for me:

Kahin To.. Kahin To
Hogi Wo,
Duniya Jahan Tu Mere Saath Hai..

Jahan Mein, Jahan Tu,
Aur Jahan, Bass Tere Mere Jazbaat Hai,
Hogi Jahan Subah Teri,
Palko Ki, Kirano Mein,
Lori Jahan Chand Ki,
Sune Teri Baahoin Mein..

Jaane Naa Kahan Wo Duniya Hai,
Jaane Naa Wo Hai Bhi Ya Nahi,
Jahan Meri Zindagi Mujhse,
Itni Khafa Nahi..

Saasein Kho Gayi Hai Kiski Aahon Mein,
Mein Kho Gayi Hu Jaane Kiski Baahon Mein,
Manzilon Se Raahein Doodhti Chali,
Kho Gayi Hai Manzil Kahin Rahon Mein..

Kahin To, Kahin To,
Hai Nasha..
Teri Meri Har Mulaqaat Mein,
Hoton Se, Hoton Ko,
Chumti, O Rehte Hai Hum Har Baat Pe,
Kehti Hai Fiza Jahan,
Teri Zamin Aasmaan..

Jahan Hai Tu, Meri Hassi,
Meri Khushi, Meri Jaan…

Jaane Naa Kahan Wo Duniya Hai,
Jaane Naa Wo Hai Bhi Ya Nahi,
Jahan Meri Zindagi Mujhse,
Itni Khafa Nahi..



Heartbreak and moving on is a painful process but it brings the reality to the forefront. A reality that you would have not been privy for long time…sometimes life long.

I always try to see a positive side in everything. So every time I go through a difficult phase in my life I try to introspect and figure out the reasons why it didn’t work out.

When you call quits you see some unseen chapters from a life of a person that you were clueless about. And most of the times they are not pleasant to read. You realise the breakup that you were mourning so much was actually based on lies. Lies, which are difficult to digest, come banging straight in your face. The other person shamelessly removes his/her mask to reveal his/her real, the ugly side.

The worst feeling is to accept the reality. A reality in which you were ‘just a time-pass’. While you invested your heart and soul in the relationship they were in it for time pass.They were with you for your entertainment value. Then they got bored and switched off.

I sometimes wonder how it is possible to flip 180 degree in no time.

Does a thing called conscience exist at all?

Why it is always ‘me’ and never ‘we’ in the thought process?

Why does a person need to hide things when they know later on it will all come in the open?

Why pretend someone which you are clearly not?

Why claim to be a friend when you can’t be one?

Why play with someone’s feeling?

Why fake your feelings?


The whys possibly may or may not have answers. But the quest to know will go on.


I am sitting in my room, waiting for my friend to arrive. A friend, who promised several times but ditched every single time.  So when i get a text that I won’t be seeing him today I lose my temper. Forgetting all the good things he has done for me I deliberately send him a nasty text just to make him feel sorry beyond words.

But after two days when I sit back and ponder on why i did what i did; I realised words don’t have power to hurt you. Unless, the person who said them means a lot to you. And when that “means a lot” person doesn’t fulfill your expectations then you don’t act but you react.

Your reaction defies Newton’s third law. Your reaction is far louder than action.

Your reaction is not controlled by your mind but your heart. And that is why it is said it is more difficult to control your heart than mind.

Sometimes it’s just wise to sit back and do nothing – neither act nor react. Just stay calm. But it is easier said than done; especially, if you are as volatile as me.

While I was pondering on ACTION-REACTION I came across an interesting incident. And that is how this blog post idea came to my mind. Let me take you through that story.

A few years ago, a TVC director was at a dinner party with an ad agency NCD in one of the advertising festivals. The NCD had given the director some great projects and helped make him successful. The director was a witty guy, and was known in advertising fraternity for his creative sense of humor. But at some point he said something the NCD didn’t like. The NCD couldn’t think of a witty response immediately. So he poured his glass of wine over the director’s jeans.

Now there were basically two responses at that point for the Director to react.

The director could react emotionally. He could thump the NCD (unlikely, it could end in a law suit). He could get up and walk out (bad choice, it looks a sulk). He could wittily put the CEO down (he looks good but it’s probably the end of the relationship). He could ask for money to get his jeans dry cleaned (embarrassing, the NCD will probably just toss him a couple of 100 notes).

Or the other choice was he could act rationally. Not emotionally.

Just laugh it off and carry on with the evening. Realising that the NCD had given you many expensive commercials in the past. He could probably give you many more in the future. You could load a few grand onto the next commercial to assuage the insult if you want. In fact you could load several grand onto every commercial he gives you from now on. You could get even that way. That glass of wine could end up costing him tens of thousands of Rupees.

That’s if you act rationally. Or it ends up costing you tens of thousands of Rupees if you act emotionally.

See, none of the options are wrong. But, like everything in life, they each come with consequences

To stay in control of your life, all you have to do is constantly be aware of the consequences of your choices. Then choose accordingly. There’s nothing wrong with standing up and thumping the NCD. As long as you’re prepared to never work for him again. Plus a possibly costly court case for assault, and expensive damages from the restaurant. If you’re willing to accept all of that then go ahead and thump him. But don’t moan about it afterwards.

The director didn’t. His immediate thought was probably something like “This is really embarrassing. Shall I throw my glass of wine back?”

Followed immediately by “What will that cost me?”

And he weighs the short-term benefits of getting even against the long-term benefits of swallowing the insult. He decides he’d rather have the big money.  The jeans dry-clean cost around Rs. 150; he stands to make tens of thousands. It would be nuts to throw that away. So he sits and smiles. He balances an evening’s embarrassment against a lot of money.

That’s existentialism. That’s street smartness. That’s business mindedness. That’s action.

There’s nothing wrong with whatever choice you make. As long as the preferred consequences are factored into your choice. The only thing wrong is pretending you have no choice over the consequences. That’s what Sartre calls ‘living inauthentically’. Pretending you have no choice. You always have a choice. Of course, you may not like the choices. But you always have a choice.

All it takes is ‘split-second awareness’ that marks the distinction between a ‘reaction’ and an ‘action’. Be rational whenever possible. It is always possible.

So moral of the story ACT, DON’T REACT.

 Incidentally, that commercials director now has much more money than that NCD.

The possibilities are numerois once we decide to act and not react

Problem is Solution.

People who write blogs don’t write it under compulsion. But because there’s a strong urge to get something out of their heart. Writing is a great pacifier. It is a balm for the soul.

And the reason why I am writing today is because of  ‘The Silver Linings Playbook’ .

the silver lining playbook

On the face of it, the movie is a rom-com but perched on a razor’s edge between comedy and psychological drama. This movie gives a  simple but  life-changing lesson – Positive decisions can be made in the face of imperfection, desperation, and the desolate wasteland of your world in pieces.

For me one dialogue summed it all  – You gotta pay attention to signs. When life reaches out with a moment like this it’s a sin if you don’t reach back.” 

So whether you are sad, angry or just plain disgusted…instead of whining it’s much better to figure out the solution. Remember every maze has a solution. Solution never comes out of outer space. It’s always there. We just need to look around with wide open eyes.

Now let me tell you a real life story on how a person made adversity his best opportunity.

Don’t know how many of you would have seen  Blade Runner.


Blade Runner is a 1982 science fiction film directed by Ridley Scott, depicting a dystopic Los Angeles in November 2019.

Though I am not a huge fan of sci-fi movies but the reason why I am writing about this movie is not that I loved it but I loved the background story behind it that makes it so special.

Blade Runner is based on Philip K. Dick’s novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? The first script was written by Hampton Fancher, a television actor. A friend of his told Fancher, “I think science fiction is going to happen,” and suggested Dick’s novel. Fancher came up with the idea of a detective who chases androids. Producer Michael Deeley (The Deer Hunter, The Italian Job [1969]), read both the book and Fancher’s script ideas and didn’t like either very much. He wrote his own script and approached Ridley Scott to direct it but Scott rejected the idea.

After some time, due to tough financial condition Ridley Scott decided to take on the project with Michael Deeley. Initially the project was financed by Filmways Pictures, but the company was small and having financial difficulties, the group sought out new financing. The film was eventually financed partially by Warner Brothers and other investment groups.

When Ridley Scott finally got the financing to make Blade Runner it wasn’t as much money as he wanted. The Hollywood studio were skeptical about the project. So they tried to cut costs. Ridley wanted to build a futuristic Los Angeles set for the movie. But all the studio would give him was a part of a generic 1920s town they had built ages ago. An unused set where they used to shoot gangster movies. All set in prohibition times. Because gangster movies had fallen out of fashion the buildings and streets in the set were decayed and peeling.

Looking at the sorry state of the available set Ridley wondered what to do. Obviously he felt insulted. Obviously the studio didn’t take his film seriously. He pondered over the options available to him. The most obvious option was he could tell the studio to shove it. But if he did, that would almost certainly be the end of the movie. And probably the end of his film career in Hollywood too. So what could he do? It seemed impossible to shoot a futuristic science-fiction film about mutant robots in a set designed for black and white films about gangsters.

Ridley spent night over what could be the best solution. And guess what his problem gave him his solution.

He thought, the future is never devoid of past. The future isn’t just brand new buildings, and brand new cars, and brand-new everything. The future is always about the latest things, overlaid on what came before. He decided to use the set as the past and overlay the future on it. To give a sci-fi image (which didn’t exist that time) he added shiny aluminium piping to the outside of the buildings. And he added neon signs to the outside of the buildings. And people in modern, plastic clothes, with neon umbrellas. And travelling airships with massive outdoor TV screens. And all these futuristic props overlaid on the grungy old buildings just emphasised how the future always elbows the past aside.

But these props turned out to be much more important than they were initially thought of. Because neon shows up better at night, Ridley decided to shoot the movie at night.  But it would also throw all the buildings into the background. Giving it the feel of a deserted and bypassed planet earth. Which was perfect for a story about returning mutant robots looking for their history. The cumulative effect gave the entire movie an all-pervading dark, ominous, threatening, sinister mood. This short-on-budget movie was truly craft out of waste. It played a pivotal role in Hollywood cinema.  It launched an entirely new genre of film-making. Noir Science Fiction.

Over the years since its release, it has won nearly forty awards worldwide. It has been reissued in seven different versions. Blade Runner is considered a masterpiece. Ridley Scott’s Hollywood career took off. He went on to make many massively successful movies and featured among the important Directors. Many documentaries, novels, comics, video games and television series have been made on this movie.

So what is the moral of the story?

Take the problem head on and turn it into an opportunity.

Being a woman sports fan

When you have grown up in a family where your favourite pastime is to watch sports, mind it sports not cricket, then you are bound to develop an interest in sports by default. Our dinner table discussions revolved around Azhar, Kapil, Ajay Jadeja, PT Usha, Leaner Paes, Prakash Padukone and very rarely Shanti, Svetlana could find place in our discussions. Guess coming from an army background changes your outlook towards life and the activities you indulge into. Although, I was more into watching than playing and that’s perhaps the reason why height didn’t favour me. Anyways it’s no surprise that I grew up to become an avid sports fan.

Barring my folks and friends, people still “test” me day in and day out on my sports knowledge. They still can’t come to terms that a girl can like sports too. Agreed, there are lesser number of women sports persons but that shouldn’t be the reason for me not liking sports. Maybe I have more of my father in my genes. Or maybe I have a boy’s soul in a girl’s body 🙂 I am sure reading that statement crazy ideas would be going in your mind. But rest your imagination horses.

Now let’s come back to the topic of being a woman sports fan.

The barrage of question would start with “Oh, really, you like sports?” and then there will be a tsunami of questions to test my knowledge, to prove myself if I was genuinely interested in sports or was I just faking to impress guys or just to stand out from other girls.

Once I would pass the first hurdle, the bar would be set higher for me. Stats, records, rules, players all will be tested. Believe you me, a life of a female fan is not easy and it’s damn difficult to fit into a male-dominated sports culture. Fandom is not measured by loyalty towards a team, but by the knowledge of statistics, players and history. Even though off late, more female fans have started following sports but still women are not fully accepted as equal-status fans by our male counterparts. We are still looked upon as lesser beings. Recently an avid sports fan indirectly made a pass at me saying that I don’t understand football at all and I made him think that Keys and Gray were right about what they have said about female sports fans. Here’s what Keys and Gray are reported to have said about Massey:

“Somebody better get down there and explain offside to her,” said Keys.
“Can you believe that? A female linesman. Women don’t know the offside rule,” said Gray.
Keys replied “Course they don’t. I can guarantee you there will be a big one today. Kenny (Dalglish) will go potty. This isn’t the first time, is it? Didn’t we have one before?” And then he added “The game’s gone mad. Did you hear charming [West Ham vice-chairwoman] Karren Brady this morning complaining about sexism? Do me a favour, love.”

Though I was initially hurt to read his comment but later on I reconciled to the fact that even if I know nothing about the game, it should not deter me from following the game  I love so much. Since I have not followed football from my childhood therefore my knowledge cannot be compared with them. I am a slow learner but let me learn it my way not your way. Why should I be made fun of? Doesn’t this mindset reek of male chauvinism in a milder avatar. But I have no complaints since everyone is entitled to his opinion. I will do what I feel is right and you can do what you feel is right.

So what is it that makes men feel so fidgety about accepting women as sport fans. Maybe it has got to do with them being misogynist 🙂 (a hot favourite word of one of my tweep friend these days). There could be multiple reasons. I could think of few:

  • Sports fell into male territory. My limited knowledge from history books, movies suggest that sports were considered to be an activity for the male members of the family. Outdoor activities which included hunting and sports were clearly a male domain. Female encroachment wasn’t acceptable and was considered as trespassing. 
  • Men and women consume sports differently and speak a different language. For women, it’s a sensory experience that ends with the match, except for some unforgettable ones like Ind-Pak CWC match or France-Italy WC football final match or Djokovic-Nadal Australian open final. However, for men, it’s more to do with cerebral experience. For them match doesn’t end with the match. In fact it’s a beginning to those endless discussions. They love to discuss games threadbare. The pregame analysis, the post game analysis, dressing room politics, team selection etc. Collecting sports knowledge, is as important as the game itself. Whosoever possesses the maximum knowledge has one-upmanship in his group. If you are not into sports, you are not man enough. You are sissy.
  • Other reason could be sport is the only arena left for men to express their masculinitybesides in the bed 😉 They think the fairer sex is a weaker sex and cannot play/watch sports for long. They think women don’t have the brains and patience to think beyond their kitty parties. But excusez-moi you are completely wrong.
  • Stereotyping is what everybody loves to do. Most of the Indian men have grown up in households where their sisters or mothers have not watched sports. Therefore men tend to generalize that women can’t play sports. Infact our movies like Kutch Kutch Hota Hai have reinforced the same by saying “Girls can’t play basketball”. Even brands like Gatorade, Nike, redbull, Cinthol that have taken sportiness as their advertising plank always resort to taking male models simply because that’s the common perception. 
  • No women sports culture. Women are not promoted to play sports. In childhood when boys play cricket, girls play hide and seek, tippi-tippi-top, gudiya-gudiya, posham-pa, stapu, ludo etc. Basically all games that don’t involve physical activities. And since they don’t play sports therefore understanding, relating and liking them doesn’t fit into their scheme of things. They feel out of place when boys discuss sports.
  • Men don’t watch women spots because they think women aren’t good enough and are no match to men competitions. However, men do watch women’s tennis. But that’s probably because there’s ample skin show. Since they don’t think too highly of women sport persons therefore they somehow perceive that women can’t be good even as spectators.

The reasons could be innumerable but the bottom-line is that Girls are still treated like an outsider in sports discussions, which discomforts me. But slowly and steadily things are changing and men are becoming more open minded. Though there’s still a long way to go.

I agree I am not as knowledgeable as my male friends are about sports. But I am a die-hard sports fan and I don’t feel ashamed to accept that I tend to know less about numbers and history. Maths has always been my weak area so please excuse me for not remembering the stats, even though I would consume just as much current sports coverage as my male counterparts would.

I like sports because I can relate to them. I find them more passionate and less dramatic. Sports inspire me to try harder and never give up on my dreams. Every morning, last night’s match provide me the fodder for my office cooler conversation. On match days most of my twitter updates would be about the match. Watching sports and discussing it is a great stress buster for me. It helps in bringing people closer to me. I automatically become friends with people who love sports. It’s a bonhomie catalyst for me.

In fact the best part about following sports is that even if you are watching a match alone, you are never alone. The constant conversation in the real or virtual world multiplies the fun of watching sports manifold. It’s like watching a game with friends even when you are alone. I am not the one who watches only highlights but I love to watch the match from beginning to end without flipping the channel. My favourite player choice is not based on his legs, or how cute he looks (but of-course excluding Djokovic :)) but how well he plays his game. I might not know everything about every player or his every move but trust me I would know about the team standings, match summaries, the league standings and but of course the rules. Silly point, mid-off, Bouncer, Center Forward, offside, DRS Wing, backhand, cannonball is not nuclear science to me. I am not scarred to engage in a passion filled argument about the team or player I support. I am definitely not a two minute fan to induct myself into the game simply to score with the guys. You don’t have to bother to explain any rules or tactics unless I ask for. Also, I really hate it when somebody would try to disturb my concentration.

My kind of weekend is not to go out on marathon shopping sessions with my girlfriends but to watch a match. I’ll be very happy if I can see it in a stadium or at a pub. I won’t complain even if I see it at home. I get really animated when I am watching the game. You’ll see me cheering the loudest when my team is winning and when my team is doing badly then I’ll be screaming my lungs out to curse the opposition or the referee.


Boys who complain their girlfriends don’t let them watch matches, should make an effort to involve them in the games they love so much. Once they cheer with you trust me you’ll have lesser reasons to complain and fight. And you’ll live happily ever after 🙂4256671-happy-couple-home-watching-tv-their-favorite-sport-team-or-favorite-match-over-television-and-they-e

Bill Clinton’s Speech – Not just an unabashed endorsement.

Hello People. Sorry for a long hiatus. Wanted to write for so long but you know paapi pet ke liye you have to postpone the things you love. Anyways I am back at your service.

So the topic that I’m writing today has been there in my mind for long just that I couldn’t get time to put my fingers on the keyboard to write my blog post. Anyways as they say better late than never 🙂

I am sure many of you would be following the US president election campaign. I am too one of them who likes to know how they conduct their poll campaign.

Don’t know at the end of the campaign who will be having the last laugh – Barack Obama or Mit Romney. Anyways let’s leave that to the time and US people to decide.

So as expected, the Republicans portrayed Barack Obama as a bad president. They criticised his record on jobs and the economy. But their speech lacked both soul and matter.

A week later, at the Democratic convention, Bill Clinton made a speech in support of Obama. It was a lesson that not just politicians but even managers should pay heed to. His speech was not hollow like our leaders make but was full of facts and figures. And most importantly it was presented in a way ordinary people could understand. Clinton’s single minded theme throughout the speech was around jobs. He didn’t delve into other topics just to keep the argument clean and focused.

He opened his speech with a remark that would have won hearts of not just Michelle Obama but of millions of women across the world.

“I want to nominate a man cool on the outside but burning for America on the inside. A man who believes we can build a new American Dream economy driven by innovation and creativity, education and cooperation. A man who had the good sense to marry Michelle Obama.”

Now let’s come back to Clinton’s speech theme – jobs. He kept returning to this, totting up numbers as he went:

“Since 1961, the Republicans have held the White House 28 years, the Democrats 24. In those 52 years, our economy produced 66 million private sector jobs. What’s the jobs score?  Republicans 24 million. Democrats 42 million!”

He didn’t put across his party’s opinion but facts in a language that ordinary working people could understand:

“In 2010, things began to turn around. In the last 29 months the economy has produced about 4.5 million private sector jobs. But last year, the Republicans blocked the President’s jobs plan costing the economy more than a million new jobs.

So here’s another jobs score: President Obama plus 4.5 million, Congressional Republicans zero.”

Another thing that Clinton kept in mind while delivering a fabulously simple but impactful speech was that ordinary people watch a lot of sport on TV. He knew that they understand numbers when they’re presented as sports scores and that’s the reason why he did it this way, time and again:

“Now there are 250,000 more people working in the auto industry. Governor Romney opposed the plan to save GM and Chrysler. So here’s another jobs score: Obama two hundred and fifty thousand. Romney, zero.”

This wasn’t cover-your-arse political doublespeak but a professional speech like a CEO would present to board members. Just straight blue-collar language. He wasn’t just chest-thumping about Obama’s achievements but showed guts to accept Obama’s mistakes too. He explained why some of Obama’s policies had failed. And who the real culprits were:

“President Obama also tried to work with Congressional Republicans on Health Care, debt reduction, and jobs, but that didn’t work out so well.  Probably because, as the Senate Republican leader said, their number one priority was not to put America back to work, but to put President Obama out of work.”

And Clinton wrapped up his argument with a final score:

“Are we where we want to be?


Is the President satisfied?


Are we better off than we were when he took office, with the economy in free fall, losing 750,000 jobs a month? 

The answer can only be YES.”

In leaving the subject, Clinton brilliantly summed up the situation for ordinary people:
“The Republican argument against the President’s re-election was pretty simple: we left him a total mess, he hasn’t cleaned it up fast enough, so fire him and put us back in.”
Then Clinton moved on to Medicare.

He countered the Republican accusations, again in plain language:

“The Republicans attacked the President for allegedly robbing Medicare of 716 billion dollars. Here’s what really happened. There were no cuts to benefits. None.

What the President did was save money by cutting subsidies to insurance companies that weren’t making people any healthier. He used the saving to close the donut hole in the Medicare drug program. Governor Romney wants to repeal the savings and give the money back to the insurance companies, to re-open the donut hole.”

Donut? In a political speech?

No, Clinton wasn’t out of his mind to draw a political reference to a donut. Clinton gave everyone a simple visual mnemonic for a complicated funding issue. His simple reason was that there’s a doughnut hole in Medicare funding. Obama wants to close the doughnut hole. Romney wants to make the doughnut hole bigger.

Finally, Clinton explained the problems with the Republicans’ tax cuts for the rich, in a simple powerful mnemonic:

People ask me all the time how my government delivered four surplus budgets. I always give a one-word answer: arithmetic. 

If the Republicans stay with their 5 trillion dollar tax cut, the arithmetic tells us that one of three things will happen:

1) Middle class families will see their tax bill go up two thousand dollars a year, while people making over 3 million dollars a year will get a 250,000 dollar tax cut.

2) They’ll have to cut programs that help middle class families and poor children, not to mention cutting investments in roads, bridges, science, technology and medical research.

3) They’ll do what they’ve been doing for thirty plus years now – cut taxes more than they cut spending, explode the debt, and weaken the economy.”

That was the build up to an unarguable fact: 

“Remember, Republican economic policies quadrupled the debt before I took office and doubled it after I left.”

And ending on the brilliant mnemonic: 

“We simply can’t afford to double-down on trickle-down.”

And like in advertising we have a tagline that sums up the brand promise Clinton’s last line for me was the killer one.

“We simply can’t afford to double-down on trickle-down.”

Most people know the Republican ‘trickle-down’ theory of growth which basically means make the wealthy even wealthier and some of it will eventually make its way down to the poor. Most people also know the expression for increasing a bet by 100% is “double down”. Clinton portrays the Republicans as flashy Las Vegas gamblers willing to risk everything on a crazy theory.

“We simply can’t afford to double-down on trickle-down.”

Clinton’s speech was like an ace that used factoids and policy ideas to ‘explain’ and score big politically. Mitt’s speech should have done this. Also, the other reason that made Clinton’s speech so noteworthy was that he bears the imprimatur of economic success. Another thing that worked for him was that he didn’t have any personal chemistry with Obama. His failure/resistance to not become a ‘close friend’ of Obama gave Clinton’s speech that extra edge. A hidden message through Bill Clinton’s speech was that, just like Bill Clinton, vacillating voters need not love Obama to understand that he’s a better choice than Romney. Bill Clinton made the speech that Obama needed most.

One thing that I got out of his speech is that when you are vulnerable then you should be REASONABLE not EMOTIONAL. And your best friends do not always provide the best solution.

When all that matters is going that EXTRA MILE…

Yesterday one of my friends came from New York and besides other gifts there was one but obvious gift – I Love NY T-shirt.

Yeah many of us have grown up seeing ‘I Love NY’ logo. Still it doesn’t go out of fashion. It can surly endorse an anti-aging product.  The logo has become a pop-culture icon, inspiring imitations in every corner of the globe.

But now the iconic ‘I Love NY’ logo is set for a makeover as part of a new tourism campaign. In May 2012 New York Governor Andrew Cuomo launched the campaign inviting both locals and visitors to replace the heart in the logo with another item which represents New York for them. (read more about it on

The idea behind the new campaign is to reclaim the logo which has since been hijacked by scores of other countries and cities.

It’s too early to say whether Andrew Cuomo will succeed in his campaign or not. But so far it hasn’t gone down well with many. The New York Daily News accused Governor Cuomo of “breaking New York’s heart”, adding: “What were you thinking Gov. Cuomo – is ‘I pizza slice NY’ gonna pull in the tourists?” “Replacing the heart … with drawings of things like pizza slices and beach balls for the sake of modernisation is like slapping tattoos on the Statue of Liberty to keep up with the trends of the 21st century.” The new campaign also drew criticism from Milton Glaser, the designer of the original logo, who said: “I don’t understand it. I saw one that said ‘I Pizza NY’; I don’t get it.”

After reading this piece of news I thought of finding more about how the iconic logo came into being. And here is the story behind the famous logo.

In 1977 New York was nearly bankrupt. There wasn’t a thriving economy or tourism like today.

Government was really struggling with New York’s brand image and revenues. The then governor decided the best way to raise money was through tourism. But considering New York had a bad brand image he commissioned Wells Rich Greene Advertising Agency to do an advertising campaign to change the image of the city. It was asked to represent New York in a new light and to remind everyone what a great city it was.

Instead of creating a chest thumping campaign Wells Rich Greene went in for a disruptive, simple but effective approach. They decided to create a jingle that could stick in people’s heads and people might play it again and again. As a result it could generate free publicity. They got an old-fashioned jingle-writer called Steve Karmen on board. And he wrote the simple musical phrase “I love New York”.

After seeing the jingle the client felt something was missing. After lot of deliberation the Client and the Agency came to a conclusion that the campaign needed a logo. The idea to have a logo came from a future led thinking – people would hopefully pick up and use logo themselves like on T-shirts, car bumper stickers, posters, graffiti, memorabilia, basically anywhere. That again would generate more free media.

The next name that came on board was Milton Glaser, the famous graphic designer of that time. His job was to design an “I love New York” logo. One thing that was absolutely clear in Glaser’s mind was that the logo has to be minimalistic and simplest graphic form. Lesser the elements better it is. He reduced the four words to two oval shapes. “I love” reversed out of black in one, ”New York” reversed out in the other.

The logo was presented, approved and printing went ahead. But Glaser wasn’t satisfied; he wanted to reduce it further. He had to have the letter “I”, and he could reduce New York to the letters “NY”.

But how could he reduce the word “love”? For days he kept thinking how he could reduce the word to bare minimum. He was thinking about where the word was used. And then like Einstein the great idea stuck him, albeit he was thinking this in the back of a taxicab. Long time back when New York wasn’t a concrete jungle he had seen the symbol for love used as a heart carved into a tree. It had two lovers’ names in it and an arrow through it. The equivalent of “John loves Tina” would be “John (heart) Tina”. He grabbed an envelope out of his pocket. He wrote “I (heart) NY”. He instantly knew that that was his big idea. He called up the client and persuaded him that he had a better idea and they should stop printing. The client as expected was mad at him, but Glaser persisted. Eventually the client agreed.

Now Glaser job was to work on the graphics. He took inspiration from Robert Indiana’s “LOVE”. The word was formed into a square, the letter “LO” above and the letters “VE” below. So Glaser wrote it like that, “I (heart)” above and “NY” below. A simple but powerful graphic.

The idea behind this logo evolved from the way people use language and not developing something new for them.

This logo became the biggest, most imitated logo, ever. Every city in the world copies it. And it’s all free advertising. Because everyone knows which city the original refers to.

The credit goes to Milton Glaser because didn’t stop thinking after the client bought the idea. He drew something better on the back of an envelope in a taxicab.  That envelope is now a collectible item and is in the permanent collection of The Museum of Modern Art. If you want to know more about the man and his agency read here:

One thing that I have learned from this story is that Dreams are the answers to questions that we haven’t yet figured out how to ask. We should never stop Dreaming because you never know when they can become a reality.

It’s very easy to get complacent with the present but victory comes to those who keep the success hunger alive and kicking in their belly.

I am too at a life juncture where I am in two minds whether to be satisfied with what I have or go in full throttle for the biggest risk of my life. This story sure has inspired me. After all I have only one life and as Mountain Dew says “Darr Kea age jeet hai”. So I might as well do the due and let the analysis be left after I have taken the risk.

Who kahte hai na – Kyon dare zindagi mein kya hoga, kuch na hoga toh tajurba toh hoga.


Yesterday while watching Roger Federer create history against Andy Murray (by winning the 7th Wimbledon Grand Slam) suddenly the thought of Monday Blues befell and I felt how good it would be if I can make an excuse of not feeling well and take a day off.

To my surprise, when I woke up today morning I was actually not feeling well.

Guess it happens to all of us that when we want to avoid any event or meeting we conveniently, get sick overnight and sometimes we actually do get sick.

So why does that happen?

Is it sheer coincidence, or is there something deep inside our mind that is actually responsible for us getting sick?

Well, the truth is that – even though we may not have had the conscious thought that becoming sick would be the solution – our subconscious mind “thought” that if we were sick we could avoid the event and thus made us sick.

We are most likely completely unconscious of that thought, but our body responded to it nonetheless.

Not that our subconscious listens only to negative thoughts but sometimes it does the opposite too.

It’s our thoughts and beliefs that decide whether we get sick in the first place, how fast we recover from a disease, or whether we recover at all.

Many scientific researches and Ayurveda have proved the concept of having the ability to heal ourselves by using the POWER OF OUR MIND.

Even Doctors say mind can override the body.

That’s why we hear the dialogue “Ab inhe dawa ke saath saath duwa ki bhi jarurat hai” so often in Hindi movies.

Many doctors would tell you that some people get better when they are given a “sugar pill”, even though this pill has no medical value whatsoever.

It is not the medicine but their belief that does the trick.

There are number of examples wherein people through their strong beliefs and conviction have challenged death on its face and have come victorious.

Lisa Ray was diagnosed with multiple myeloma on 23 June 2009, a cancer of the white blood cells known as plasma cells, which produce antibodies.

It is a rare disease. With strong will power and stem cell transplant she fought cancer and was raring to go in April 2010.

Since then she has become an inspiration to lot of people.

On the power of mind she said, “Overcoming cancer is not about healing the body; it’s about healing the mind. As a patient, I had to go through fear and isolation, it is human. I have learnt that conquering cancer is all about attitude.”

Yuvraj Singh had the entire world under his feet when he won the world cup.

Nobody could think that the flamboyant poster boy of Indian cricket could be suffering from lung cancer.

Yuvraj said that he fought the cancer and the subsequent fatigue with a lot of determination.

He was really inspired by Lance Armstrong, the cycling legend, who was given less than 40 per cent survival chance at the time of his diagnosis but battled it with lot of courage.

Yuvi believes that his battle with cancer has made him more disciplined and now he values life and simple things more than what he did earlier.

So there is a positive even in negative.

We just need a strong heart and mind to move on from there.

There is one more example that I would like to elucidate more because I find it too inspiring and less rhetorical – Stephen Hawking, a British theoretical physicist and author.

His mother believes that his life changed for better after he was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).

She said when he was younger he wasted his life.

He had an absolutely brilliant mind and he did nothing with it.

She said it hurt to see him throwing his gifts away.

During his Oxford days when his class was given a problem to solve in a week’s time. Everyone would work day and night to solve the problem but still would not be able to solve it.

On the other hand Stephen Hawking would get drunk and party all week, and not even look at the problem.

Then he’d wake up, hungover, on Friday morning and finally decide to cast his bleary eyes over it.

Two hours later he would have solved it, handed it in, and gone back to bed or to the pub.

Stephen Hawking was a genius but he spent his time drinking and sleeping.

Then something happened to change that.

He was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or motor-neurone disease.

He was told that his body would stop working parts by parts and eventually he’d die.

So basically he was given a death sentence which he never thought even in his dreams.

But as per his mother it was a blessing in disguise.

It had a wonderful effect on his mind.

Previously he lived as if there was all the time in the world.

He was suddenly came face to face with a very harsh reality. He realised he had very little time. If he didn’t use it appropriately, he’d do nothing but die.

His didn’t want to waste his life. So he began living every day as if it was his last.

Fighting against the disease and the clock.

However, the disease took over his whole body and he couldn’t move a single muscle except in his cheek.He couldn’t even talk.

But that physical inability didnt deter his strong mind and will power.

By using the single muscle in his cheek he managed to type ‘A Brief History Of Time’.

This book stayed on the Sunday Times bestseller list for nearly five years, selling over ten million copies worldwide.

And to prove everyone wrong he didn’t actually die as expected.

He went on to hold the Lucasian Chair of Mathematics at Cambridge University, for thirty years until he retired.

A post once held by Isaac Newton.

His mother considered the motor neurone disease as the best thing that could have happened to him.

We would think how can a mother say that about her son? She has to be a stone hearted to say that.

But the truth is she could compare a wasted to life to a contented life. She compared his previous life to the life post his disease.

And as per her motor neurone-disease was a blessing since it gave a new meaning and direction to his otherwise wasted life.

So the point I am making here is that we can change the REALITY of the real world if our CONTEXT IN THE MIND is clear.

There is no reality outside our minds.

The only reality we can ever know is inside our heads.

As Buddha said “All there is, is mind.”

So MIND THE MIND and the entire world will be yours.

What is SELLING?

For the last two days there is a lot media space and mind space given to the CERN research centre having discovered a new subatomic particle that could be the elusive Higgs boson, which is believed to be crucial in the formation of the universe.

Some people are really gung-ho about the finding and some are totally rubbishing it.

Also, there is a big chunk of people who have absolutely no clue about what they are talking about and are confusing the ‘GOD PARTICLE’ to ‘GOD’.

Although I am still reading through this piece of news and haven’t formed a concrete opinion on the same.

But this news did prompt me to write a post on something very different yet connected.

So what exactly is CERN research centre trying to do?

Well in my opinion they are trying to SELL AN IDEA that they believe has a solid RTB (Reason to believe).

Now it’s upto us whether we buy that Idea or reject it.

What is selling?

An art or science?

I would say it’s nothing but CONVICTION.

If you are convinced about an IDEA you’ll do anything to sell that idea and if you are not then you’ll do the selling halfheartedly.

Sometimes you would not even understand the true potential of an idea but it fructifies into something magnanimous that generations to come in will stay in awe of.

I guess so far I am just talking and talking.

Now let me explain through an example.

Dayton, Tennessee is a tiny town of around 7,000 people, in US. In 1925 an event took place there that made it world famous.

It was known as ‘The Trial Of The Century’.

The State of Tennessee had passed an act which made it illegal to teach evolution in state schools.

A young science teacher, John Scopes, was found to have been doing just that.

He was arrested and brought to trial.

Two of the most famous legal minds in America headed the opposite side in the case.

Three-time Presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan headed up the prosecution.

Famous lawyer Clarence Darrow headed up the defense.

The trial set the modernists against the fundamentalists.

The main case for the defense was that The Bible was not meant to be taken completely literally.

The fundamentalist argued for the prosecution that every word of The Bible was the absolute literal truth.

The literal truth.

So mankind was descended from Adam and Eve.

And teaching that we were descended from monkeys was blasphemy.

Throughout the trial, Williams Jennings Bryan was keen to show off his knowledge of The Bible.

Being a Presidential candidate, he’d been doing this for many years and was proud of it.

The defense masterstroke came towards the end of the trail.

In a brilliant move, they called Williams Jennings Bryan, the prosecutor, to the stand.

As an expert on The Bible.

The judge at first refused to allow it, but Bryan himself insisted.

This was his chance to show off his Biblical knowledge.

Once on the stand, the defense was able to demonstrate just what nonsense Bryan’s case was.

And they ridiculed his insistence that The Bible was historical fact.

It was science versus dogma.

Their exchange became the high point of the trial, and all the subsequent media coverage.

But what impressed me most was something very few people know about that trial.

It was a publicity stunt.

In 1925 the American Civil Liberties Union had run an ad offering to finance the defense of anyone caught teaching evolution.

Three locals from the little town of Dayton were discussing the ad in the local drugstore.

Walter White the school superintendent, Sue K. Hicks a local attorney, and George Rappelyea, a representative for the local coal and Iron Company.

Rappelyea said “This could be just the thing to put our little town on the map. Think of the income a trial like this could generate.”

They asked a 24 year old substitute teacher, John Scopes, if he’d agree to do it.

He said he couldn’t remember if he’d ever taught evolution or not.

They said it didn’t matter, he could pretend he had.

And they persuaded three high school students to testify that he had.

And that’s how ‘The Trial Of the Century’ happened.

At the time there were millions of words by hundreds of reporters, in newspapers, magazines, books, and radio coverage all over the world.

In the decades since, there have been films and TV shows, starring Hollywood superstars like Kirk Douglas, Spencer Davis, Jack Lemmon, and George C Scott.

The revenue generated by that trial made Dayton famous and its residents wealthy.

Even today, there’s still a thriving tourist industry.

People coming to visit the museum, the schoolhouse and court house where it all happened.

To stay overnight, eat at the restaurants, and buy souveniers.

85 years later, tourist dollars are still coming into Dayton, Tennessee, population 7,000.

And that’s how three people chatting in a small local drugstore put their little town on the map.


Time will tell whether all of us will believe in the conviction of CERN scientists or not. Till that time congratulations to the team who have sacrificed their lives for half a decade to prove what they believed in.

The ONE.

“Wait for the one who will be your best friend, who will drop everything to be with you at any time no matter what. Wait for the one who makes you smile like no other, and when they smile you know they need you. Wait for the one who wants to show you off when you are in sweats and have no makeup on, but appreciates it when you get all dolled up for him. Most of all, wait for the one who will put you at the center of his universe, because obviously, he’s at the center of yours.”  – anonymous

This blog post is a sweet fruit of  WAIT.

It is dedicated to a very special person in my life.

I don’t want to bring down the sanctity of my relationship by talking about what he means to me. He’s not my father, not my brother, not my husband, not my boyfriend, not my colleague, not my friend, not my mentor. He’s neither of these…but all of these. He defies any particular relationship. He’s way beyond to be shackled in relationships.

He’s the one that is exactly like me but still different like chalk and cheese. He’s a very special person.

He has changed my life just by being part of it. He met me when I was going through a very hard time.

He makes me laugh until I can’t laugh any more.

He cracks silly jokes that make no sense but still I can’t stop giggling.

He sings in the most besura manner. He make faces.

He pretends to be angry when i use racial slurs (teasingly only).

He is someone who makes me believe that this world is really beautiful and full of life.

He is the one who says that I should read ‘MEN ARE FROM MARS. WOMEN FROM VENUS’ to understand men.

He’s the one who says that I should find someone good for myself and when someone comes a little close he gets jittery.

In other words, he defines FOREVER FRIENDSHIP.

We confide in each other like no other. I fight with him all the times but he’s always there to make it work. He never complains when I take him out for marathon shopping sessions. He lies to his parents to meet me. He sacrifices his sleep to talk to me. He is so much to me that my computer’s hard-disk can crash writing about him but I can’t stop describing him.

There is an electrifying feeling between us that words cannot describe.

The two of us are inseparable. When we look into each others eyes, time and space have no meaning. Our conversations seem to go on forever. There are no barriers between us. There is a special sacredness to our relationship that transcends anything we’ve ever experienced before. Our relationship is definitely for the keeps.

So how did we meet? I met him in a totally unplanned and unexpected manner in very unusual circumstances.

Our story sure can make a Bollywood romcom. I met him in a train journey on my friend’s wedding. Yes….Jab We Met kinds. But in a different avatar.

And rest is history. We didn’t connect instantly. The last leg of our trip made it happen.

And I am so glad we did. He understood me without knowing a thing about me. And I think that was the turning point. He had surprised me in so many ways that I have lost the count now.

I don’t know whether he’s my SOUL MATE or not. But he definitely is a part of my soul.

Let me tell you how soul-mate originated. It is believed to be created by Greek Gods

Apparently, humans originally consisted of four arms, four legs, and a single head made of two faces, but Zeus feared their power and split them all in half, condemning them to spend their lives searching for the other half to complete them: you and your soul mate are destined to find each other.

We are like riverbanks that can walk alongside but can never be together. I don’t know what future holds for us. But he is special and will always be special in my life.

I really wish him luck and loads of love and happiness in life. The way he’s made my ordinary life a happy life may his life be a life of what dreams our made of!

I am sure happiness too would be obliged to find a great companion like him.


Confidence vs Overconfidence

These days I get too many pesky messages and calls on confidence building/public speaking.

Most of the times I ignore them but yesterday I yelled at one of the caller.

But later on I realised that in today’s time CONFIDENCE is the most important parameter to succeed.

It might be a good job to help the ones who need help.

Anyways that call gave me the topic for my new post. And here it is – CONFIDENCE vs OVERCONFIDENCE.

Not that I am going to talk about something that is unheard of but I just felt like talking about it and so here I am at your service 🙂

I am from advertising and the most important thing in our profession is to appear CONFIDENT even when we know we are selling SHIT.

And believe you me we do a fabulous job in doing that. I myself has done it so many times.

But as it is said that anything beyond permissible limit that reaches the ‘OVER’ threshold is bad.

You might have a brilliant idea but if you are not confident about it then it might never see the light of the day.

You might love someone heads over heal but the the moment you overdo it your relationship starts waring off.

So how important is confidence? When does confidence become overconfidence?

Let me tell you story from the past set the west – Malta in 1942.

Malta was an essential British base in the Mediterranean, and a convoy was sent to resupply it.

The Italians and Germans did everything they could to sink the convoy.

To the British, it was vital Malta survived. To the enemy, it was vital it didn’t.

In just a few days, many warships and merchant ships were sunk.

As the convoy neared Malta, many of the Royal Navy warships had to turn back to Gibraltar.

This left the convoy exposed. And at that moment, a massive Italian fleet appeared.

6 cruisers and 17 destroyers steaming towards the virtually unprotected convoy.

If the Italian warships got to it they could sink the lot, at will.

What could the British do?

They sent out two elderly Wellington bombers.

The planes flew over the Italian ships, at night, dropping flares which lit up their entire fleet.

This worried the Italians, why drop flares not bombs?

The Wellingtons received a radio message in plain language “Report position of enemy fleet to Liberator bombers and illuminate target with flares.”

The Wellingtons dropped more flares, and received the message again in plain language.

“Use flares to illuminate enemy fleet for Liberator bombers, action immediate.”

The Italians intercepted both messages.

So that was why the British were dropping flares and not bombs.

An air raid from a massive force of American Liberator bombers could destroy the entire fleet.

Luckily they’d intercepted the messages, now they could foil the plan.

The fast new Italian ships turned 180 degrees and escaped at full speed.

Before the Liberators could reach them.

So the Italian Navy outwitted the British and Americans.

Well, not quite.

There were no Liberator bombers anywhere nearby.

In fact there were no Liberators within flying distance.

And even if there had been, there was no time to prepare them.

The flares and the radio messages were a complete bluff.

If the Italian fleet had carried on, they would have had the convoy at their mercy.

It would have been 23 Italian warships against 15 unarmed British merchant ships.

They could have destroyed them all, as easily as target practice.

But they didn’t.

Because of confidence on one side, and lack of confidence on the other.

Instead of carrying bombs, and dropping them on the warships, the Wellingtons just dropped flares.

They carried their bluff out with confidence.

The Italians weren’t confident.

They were ready to believe that the Royal Navy would do anything to destroy their fleet.

So, instead of thinking of themselves as the stronger force, they thought of themselves as the weaker force.

Instead of opportunities, they saw only threats.

Two elderly bombers dropping flares were all they needed to convince themselves.

It didn’t occur to them to ask why such an important message hadn’t been sent in code.

Why it had just been sent in plain language.

Almost as if the British wanted them to intercept it.

The Italians were worried that they couldn’t afford to risk their navy.

The British knew they couldn’t afford to lose Malta.

So the British knew they had nothing to lose.

The Italians thought they had a lot to lose.

And the British, actually in the weaker position, bullied the Italians into retreating.

It’s all about confidence. Confidence gives you the wisdom.

When to  choose between the safe option and the exciting option.

When to say “Let’s go for it”  or “Let’s leave it”.

When we’re applying for a job.

When you are proposing to someone.

When you are starting a new business.

When you are presenting a game-changing strategy.

When we’re in danger of overthinking it.

Belief creates energy, energy creates chances.

Trepidation has the opposite effect.

If you want to win, you have to be prepared to take a chance.

If you’re not prepared to take a chance, maybe you shouldn’t gamble.

But then of course, like the Italian navy, you can’t win.

So it’s important to clearly demarcate CONFIDENCE FROM OVERCONFIDENCE.

One more bites the dust!!!!

I was living my life like a dream.  Completely forgetting the fact that dreams are after all dreams not life.

Their destiny is to end. Still I completely sidelined it. Only to be woken up from slumber to be left heartbroken once again.

So here I was enjoying every moment of my life with a resolve to live my life in a truly majestic style. I had promised myself to be happy in whatever condition I might be in.

But I have a basic problem of screwing up things when they are just going fine. So as usual I destroyed everything once again.

My biggest problem is that I am very passionate and emotional. And expect the same from people.

I don’t know whether I fall for wrong people all the time or I make wrong moves with the right people. Whatever might be the reason the outcome is always same – I always hurt myself and others.

I just don’t know how to go back. I can never go back once I have traveled a certain distance.

As Katrina Kaif said in Zindagi na milegi doobara “mujhe life mein afshos karna nahi aata” but I still end up doing that. I never apply my brain when taking decisions. I just think by heart and that is what makes me pay in the end.

I have lost so many relations in my life because of my over emotional attitude.

And I guess I am on the verge of losing one more…yes one more addition to the list of never ending list of LOSES!!!!!!!!!!

Give life a second chance

 “Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” – Maria Robinson


This is not just a line but a life changing statement that has transformed millions of lives over ages.

Let me start this post with a moral science story which I am sure each one of us would have heard during our school time.

The King and The Spider
Vikram, a brave king, once had to fight against a large army with just a few soldiers. He was defeated and had to run for his life. He took shelter in a forest cave. He was very depressed. He was blankly gazing at the ceiling of the cave and suddenly an interesting thing happened.

A small spider was trying to weave a web across the cave ceiling. As the spider crawled up, a thread of the web broke and the spider fell down. But the spider did not give up. He tried to climb again and again. Finally, the spider successfully climbed up and completed the web.

Vikram began to think, “If a small spider can face failure so bravely, why should I give up? I will try with all might till I win”. This thought gave strength to the defeated king.

Vikram again and again fought against the large army and finally, after many attempts defeated the large army and regained his kingdom. He had learnt a lesson from the spider.

So the moral of the story is Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat.


Life is all about second chances.  We don’t live in a perfect world. We’re not perfect people. If we don’t achieve in the first go then it doesn’t mean we give up on our dreams. We might try again the same thing or try afresh something else. The key is never to give up.

We rarely get things right the first time.  We might not be successful in the first go but perseverance eventually turns things around.

Personally I might not even remember the number of second chances that have taken so far but I’m not ashamed of them.  Even though I’ve failed a lot, it means I’ve tried a lot too. I might have failed in different spheres of life – relations, love, job, health etc. but I have not lost faith in any one of them.

What transmutes an obstacle into an opportunity is your attitude.  Giving a second chance in life is showing a middle finger to failures in your life.

As Lou Holtz rightly said “Life is ten percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you respond to it.”

 When I was in school my parents dreamt of me becoming a doctor. I too tried hard but life had better plans for me. I couldn’t crack the medical exam but I did get through physiotherapy. However, had to let go of that opportunity considering that time it wasn’t a popular career option.

So instead of taking it negatively I decided to move on. I tried my hand at a different stream. I settled for a graduation in Industrial Microbiology. It was an interesting exposure as it made me realize that I am not cut for science stream. Next I moved on to do my Post Graduate diploma in advertising & communication. Again I entered into an unknown territory.

Whatever decision I took in my career or my life I have no regret as they have made me a wiser person. I have learned more from my mistakes than from my successes. But that doesn’t mean I don’t like success. I am very competitive by nature. And I take life in a challenging manner. Giving up just doesn’t exist in my dictionary.

People enter a relation with rosy dreams but when it doesn’t work out, they try harder to make it work for some time. Some more time…and…some more time. When they realize that it’s not going to happen then the best thing is to move on. This decision might be extremely harsh as it affects not just two individual’s life but others lives too. Sometimes facing harsh reality today craves a beautiful path for tomorrow.

So give life another chance. Don’t compromise.

When Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupati partnership didn’t work out then instead of letting it drag and affect their game, they amicably decided to part ways at the peak of their career. And the result is in front of our eyes. Recently Paes captured 50th doubles title.

There are innumerable stories wherein people kept faith in themselves and embraced life not as it came but what they envisaged.

Here are few motivational stories:

Christopher Reeve. The actor who played Superman became paralyzed as a result of a riding accident. Ironical! Reeve used to cry every day dealing with the reality of being in a wheelchair. But after cryinh hard daily, he would tell himself, “And now, forward!” Despite his handicap, Reeve was an exemplary model of courage. He continued to travel, gave public appearances, raised funds, became a director and served as a voice for the quadriplegics in the United States.


Elvis Presley. Elvis Presley, the King of Rock and Roll, got fired after just one performance. His manager, Jimmy Denny, told him, “You ain’t goin’ nowhere, son. You ought to go back to drivin’ a truck.” 

But your ambition has nothing to do with your age. It’s to do with your pursuit for excellence. Below few examples illustrate the same:

Colonel Sanders: KFC lovers might find it unbelievable that Colonel Sander’s idea was rejected 1009 times over a period of 2 years.  He was 65 when Kentucky Fried Chicken was launched. Before turning into a successful entrepreneur Sander took lot of second chances in life – his  many jobs included farmland, army mule-tender, motel operator, aspiring lawyer, failed political candidate and, amateur obstetrician. Today, more than 12 million people eat at KFC each day in 109 countries.





Walt Disney. The founder on whose cartons many generations have grown up was fired from his first job because he was told that he lacked imagination.

Dr. Peter Mark Roget: Age is just a number when you talk about Roget. He invented Thesaurus. at Age 73. Till 61 he was an accomplished doctor, lecturer and inventor. The second lease of life happened thereafter.

I have come across many people who have compromised with their dreams, life and love because they found it convenient and non-disturbing. My urge to those guys is that life is too precious to be compromised for anything. What is not working today might work tomorrow. The important thing is to listen to your heart. If it says give it a try then go full throttled. If it says it won’t then the best thing is to streamline your energies in other things that could give you a better future.

You can restart your life at any given point. Here is a quick checklist to fast forward >>>>>

  •  Let go of the baggage and move on from the past.
  •  Learn lesson from your experience.
  • Get rid of the negative attitude.
  • Bravely accept accountability for your current situation.
  • Focus on the things you can or want to change.
  • Figure out what you really want.
  • Eliminate the non-essentials.
  • Be specific and concentrate on the main thing.
  • Focus on DOING instead of NOT DOING.
  • Chalk out a to-do strategy.
  • Maintain self-control and work on it for real.
  • Forget about impressing people.


Lastly but most importantly is to stay happy and to be open minded.

Do not sulk and be cynical. 


As Oscar Wilde said “cynic is a man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.”