Dehradun

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I travelled to Dehradun last summer to meet my childhood friends whose parents are staying there and they all come together in the parents’ home every summer. We are family friends with uncle and aunty being very close to my parents, especially aunty and my mom. 

When I thought of Dehradun, I was expecting a very scenic and pretty place. But it’s even dirtier, crowded and dustier than our big cities, hotter than Mumbai and Delhi, which was a shock for me. Just before my vacation, I had caught a terrible viral fever with fever ranging between 102-103. I had thought I would have to cancel the trip. But my fever went down and I took the trip though weak. The heat was unbearable to bear with my weakness, but I took the trip. i was meeting my childhood friends after 20 years, not something I wanted to miss out on. Some places I visited on this trip:

Tapkeshwar Mahadev Mandir

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Tapkeshwar Mahadev Mandir is situated on the bank of the river. It has a cave with one of the oldest natural Shivalings where the river enters and the water from the river naturally falls in drops on the Shivalinga.

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The small cave also has another history behind it. It is said to be once resided by Dronacharya – the teacher of Pandavas and Kauravas. The cave is named Drona cave after him. There is a statue of Dronacharya here, the only one I have seen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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There is also a Vaishno Devi Gupha Mandir which is an exact replica of the original. It’s very beautiful but a very cramped and tiny cave. Go inside only if closed places don’t scare you and you don’t suffer from claustrophobia.

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Robbers Cave

Robbers Cave, Dehradun has a legend behind it that a long time back, robbers would come down from the mountains and hide in this cave from the police. It added the sense of adventure of the place for me. It is a beautiful cave with a stream and waterfall inside it. It should not be missed at all.

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Forest Research Institute(FRI)

Forest Research Institute is an institute which researches on the preservation of trees and plants in that region. The entire complex has European style buildings and beautiful gardens in the french style. It is also the institute that served as the college in  Student of the Year.

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Buddha Monastery

The only other place where I saw such beautiful Buddha Monasteries were in Bangkok. Dehradun has a lot of Tibetan influence in Dehradun. You must try the Tibetan cuisine if you go there, especially if you eat Non-Vegeterian food. The Wok and The Orchard have awesome food there. The Orchard also is located at a very beautiful spot. Go there in the daytime preferably, it has beautiful scenery around.

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My thoughts about my past life!


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I have always been intrigued by past life and what might have been in it. When I hear of cases of people saying that they remember their past life and go back to their birth place from previous lives and relive their experiences, I get very intrigued and follow the story with a lot of interest.

Do you ever go to any place for the first time and feel like you have seen it earlier or meet someone for the first time and you feel astonishingly close to them? I do believe that past lives do exist and I am totally curious about who I must have been in my past life, after reading Indiblogger’s latest topic  #IntuitionofMyPastLife on whom you think you might have been in your past life.

It set me thinking. I have always been intrigued by past life, but I never thought about who I might have been. In this life, I am the kind of person who speaks her mind without any fear, doesn’t mind challenging someone who is doing or saying something that is morally and ethically wrong. I can never see anything wrong happening and walk away quietly  from the scene. I know that it will keep haunting my mind forever that I kept quiet then. I also can’t see injustice happening.

Hence, I feel I must have been a social reformer and a feminist in my past life who must have fought against injustice and equality for women. There is another intriguing thought that I have always had, though I have never mentioned it to anyone. My dadi(father’s mother) went into a coma before I was born and died when I was 3 months old. She was a freedom fighter and had worked with Mahatma Gandhi. I somehow feel that some of her spirit has entered me and made me the brave, strong woman that I am.

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The inner world of an introvert!

You remember that girl in your class who sat with her head buried in books or the guy who sat quietly at the corner of the playground, never participating in the games on the ground.

Having been an introvert for most of my life and still being an introvert in many ways, I am completely understand the people like me. We always ignore those quiet folks as the most boring people around or maybe even ridicule them. They will calmly ignore you and live in their own happy world. But are they boring people, not in the least bit.

People who are introverts live in a world of their own. They let very few people into that world. If you are one of those lucky people who have been allowed into the private world of an introvert, you couldn’t help but agree with me. You wouldn’t meet a more interesting person who is so so much fun to be with, can make you laugh so much and is so lively and carefree.They make every moment spent with them totally worth it.

They have multiple layers to them and as they grow closer to you and start revealing those hidden facets of their personality to you, you will love and enjoy every moment of time spent with them.

So, the next time that you see this quiet and boring looking person sitting in a corner, go and befriend them. If they decide to like you, you are in for the time of your life.

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Lufthansa A380 – The dawn of a new era in Indian Aviation

I love the feeling of being in the air, amidst clouds floating around like soft cotton wool, looking at the earth from the sky, seeing huge seas passing by from the top is an experience that should not be missed. I love all of this and even more about flying. I would forget my fear of heights in a plane and look down and around and enjoy the sights like a kid who is seeing different facets of the world for the first time.

But there was always something that lent a slightly bitter touch to my near perfect experience in a plane. You see, I am tall – 5 feet 8 inches. When I would sit in my seat, I would just keep hoping that the passenger in front of me wouldn’t decide to recline his/her seat to the back. I couldn’t do the same because I start feeling nauseous the moment I recline my seat to the back. Hence I have to keep my chair in a straight aligned position. So, what did it mean for me to be seated behind someone who wanted to recline his/her chair back – less leg space. I would be sitting with my knees cramped against the back of the seat and have a totally uncomfortable journey. This would be even worse, if it was a long flight like say 7-8 hours.

Now, there seems to be a relief in store for people like me who face the same problem. A new era has dawned in the world of Indian Aviation with the launch of #LufthansaA380 – the largest commercial aircraft in history.

Many people in India still prefer a train ride over a flight because the former is more comfortable. However, the increasing workload and tight schedules force people to take flights though the lack of space makes them very uncomfortable. #LufthansaA380 has designed the seats keeping this in mind. They have created narrow seat backs which make you feel like you have your own personal sense of space with no intrusions. The narrow back seats definitely don’t mean an uncomfortable seat. Internationally renowned designers and ergonomics experts have joined up with leading manufacturers to create the perfect seat. The optimized seat structure provides a comfortable amount of leg room, a boon for a tall person like me.

The other problems that Indians face while travelling on a plane is a complete lack of entertainment. It can be very boring, especially in long flights. With Lufthansa Media world, you will have access to 50 programs with films available in upto eight language versions, 30 international radio channels and 100 CD’s featuring different types of music. There is entertainment for fidgety kids too with KidsFun, a program created with the young passengers in mind.

Right now, #LufthansaA380 is plying only between Delhi and Frankfurt, but I hope to see it serving all major Indian cities too soon.

Take a look at the excitement on Delhi’s IGI Airport while preparing for the inaugural flight of the Lufthansa A380,

You can visit the Lufthansa India website for more information: http://a380.lufthansa.com/TAKEPART/#/DE/EN/home

#ToiletForBabli – An Initiative to support the health, hygiene and dignity of a female

For four year old Hiya, it was just another regular day in her life. She lived in Khadakpada on the outskirts of Aarey Milk Colony, an area that lies on the periphery of Sanjay Gandhi National Park in the suburbs of Mumbai. In the early hours of Tuesday morning, she stepped out of her house to answer nature’s call. A leopard was possibly lurking in the foliage there and attacked her. Hearing her screams, her father chased the leopard and tried to snatch Hiya from the leopard’s jaws. The leopard retreated, however little Hiya was declared dead at the hospital.

In another incident, seven year old Sanjana Thorat accompanied by her mother and grandmother, stepped out to answer nature’s call in Shankar Tekdi, Mulund Colony, another suburb of Mumbai. A leopard pounced on her, caught her by the neck and dragged her towards the jungle while her mother and grandmother screamed for help. But it was too late for Sanjana.

We are in the 21st Century and 597 million people are still defecating in the open. They have no access to proper sanitation facilities. I live in Mumbai and everyday when we are traveling by local trains, you will see a line of men sitting, defecating in the open on the train tracks with cans of water next to them. Women have to do the same, but they come really early in the morning when there are fewer people around. Mumbai is a very crowded city and there is no such thing as fewer people around. So, a woman loses her dignity everyday.

The case in our villages is even worse. A female, whatever her age(even if she is just a child), will step out to defecate and will most probably be raped and killed, sometimes even gang-raped. This is only because she doesn’t have access to proper sanitation and hygiene. Most of us want to help, but don’t know where to start in a country with such a huge population. We turn away our faces and try to ignore the situation because we feel like a tiny drop in a mighty ocean who doesn’t know how to make a difference even though we feel desperate and helpless seeing their plight and hearing of such incidents everyday. Now, here is your chance.

Domex, HUL’s flagship sanitation brand, has started a campaign to make hygienic facilities accessible to all villages across India. Their campaign is called #ToiletForBabli. You can bring about the change in the lives of millions of kids, thereby showing your support for the Domex Initiative. All you need to do is follow the simple steps below:

“Click” on the “Contribute Tab” on www.domex.in and Domex will contribute Rs.5 on your behalf to eradicate open defecation, thereby helping kids like Babli live a dignified life.

Let us all come together to join Domex in their latest initiative to help make villages open-defecation free.

Everest

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I absolutely hate watching hindi T.V channels nowadays because all you get to see boring and unreal soaps where the women are not seen without a Pallu on their head, sleep with make-up, heavy Sarees and jewellery. All they do is plan and plot against the other women in the show. It was irritating beyond and belief. I have completely stopped watching T.V nowadays.

A few months back, I saw the promos of Everest, a T.V show produced by Ashutosh Gowariker. The promos showed the story of a girl(Anjali) who spent her life longing for her father’s love who wanted a son. Her father is an army officer and he wanted a son who could follow in his footsteps. His dreams are shattered and he has a daughter and spends his life ignoring her.

Anjali has two dreams – She wants is to win her father’s love and do something great in life that will make him proud of her. Her father just wants to be done with her responsibility by getting her married off after her graduation. But, Anjali is determined to do something in life and joins the Mountaineering Course at Nehru Institute of Mountaineering.

She is a strong, brave girl who believes in the equality of the sexes and her leadership skills come to the fore at the mountaineering course. So far, the TV show has reached till this point.

I have been watching the show regularly and am enjoying the refreshing story with no stupid Saas-Bahu Sagas and shows a normal girl with dreams, ambitions and a warm and caring heart.

Five Point Nothing


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Today, Indian authors are gradually on the rise and some of them are really talented and some just rise on hype. Chetan Bhagat belongs to the second category. He can’t even be called ordinary, he is just a mediocre writer. Be it One Night at the Call Centre, Five Point Someone or Revolution 2020, I haven’t read any books that could be more dull.

The only book that is slightly appealing is 2 States and that could be only because it is a true story. I didn’t even try reading Half Girlfriend. There are so many Indian authors who are extremely talented, but don’t get their just due. And we unnecessarily hype someone who has no appeal as an author.

I am an avid reader since childhood. I have read all types of genres of books and authors. According to me, a good writer is someone who touches a chord in your heart, whether through humour or tragedy. An author should write in a way that it is difficult to keep the book down.

Things have changed a lot in India and it is becoming a lot easier for authors to gain popularity, but we need to be careful whom we put up on a pedestal. Chetan Bhagat is surely not someone who deserves that ranking. Five Point Someone is a very dull story and it is only because Aamir Khan made a masterpiece out of it with 3 Idiots that people made an effort to read the story. Instead of being grateful, Chetan Bhagat gets into a war against Aamir Khan about not getting just dues, inspite of his name being in the credits.

His books are getting worse and worse day by day and I am only wondering how much more boring can he get.

My trip to South India – Dhanushkodi

 

I visited South India in 2012. i have already shared my experience of the Kumarakom Backwaters Cruise. Now, I am going to share the other experiences in a series of blogs.

Pamban Bridge

The Pamban bridge connects the town of Rameshwaram on Pamban Island to the rest of India. It opened in 1914, it was India’s first sea bridge and was the longest sea bridge in India till 2010. The bridge and the view from it is absolutely breathtaking and not something you can forget easily. Take a look.

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Dhanushkodi

Dhanushkodi is a ghost town at the southern end of Pamban Island in Tamil Nadu.

According to Ramayana, it was from here that Rama built a bridge to cross the sea to Sri Lanka. It is said that you can still see the submerged bridge under the sea. You can see it from Sri Lanka side, hence you need a Visa to get there. After Rama destroyedRavana, he appointed a new king of Lanka, Vibhishana, who requested him to destroy the bridge. Rama broke the bridge with one end of his bow – hence this town was named Dhanushkodi(end of the bow).

It is called Ghost town because the town was completely destroyed in the 1964 cyclone and a passenger train with over 100 passengers drowned in the sea. Now, only remnants remain of what must have been a very beautiful town.

 

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The floating stones with which Rama built the bridge to Lanka was supposedly blessed by Rama to float on water. You can still see the floating stone in Dhanushkodi which the locals have preserved in a temple. To me, the floating stone floated on water because it was made of limestone. But, what is life without a little bit of magic and fairytale?

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There is a pure water well in Dhanushkodi with water so sweet and pure to taste, it is absolutely wonderful. There is a local there who takes the water out in a bucket and you can taste it.

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Faith and God


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Many people worship God, fear him and are afraid of incurring his wrath, they pray hard to him everyday. They look for God in temples and other places of worship.

My concept of God is very different. I don’t worship God. I talk to God as a friend. Sometimes, I will bargain with him – you give me this and I will do this. Sometimes, he listens to me, sometimes he doesn’t. I bargain with him most fervently when I leave late for work and need a miracle to reach office on time(this happens quite often). To me, God is not someone who is to be worshipped in a particular building known as a temple or in the small mandir at home.

God is a faith that you carry in your heart all the time, a feeling inside your heart that there is someone looking out for you. To me, God is a friend who lets me make mistakes, lets me learn from the lesson and never forsakes or leaves me alone. Try as I might, I can’t find God in temples, mosques, churches etc. I visit these places because I love history and I feel history coming alive there. To me, God is not a stone idol, but a feeling of strength, a guiding force that travels with me everywhere I go.

That’s why I believe in God and when I pray to God sometimes, it is just praying and at those times, the God I pray to doesn’t have a form. I just feel a supreme being who is present in all the things around us. At those times, when I am praying, it is just a prayer. I don’t ask for anything.

(This is not meant to hurt anyone’s religious sentiments or portray those sentiments as false or unreal. It is just my portrayal of my vision of God).

Haider

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A doctor is considered a life saviour. But, what should he do when the person whose life he has to save is a deadly terrorist. That is the crux of the movie Haider.

Dr. Hilal Meer is greatly respected in Srinagar, Kashmir. He is trusted as a doctor and the army officials too look up to him. One night, Dr. Hilal is called to check on a well-known terrorist who has appendicitis. There is a curfew in Srinagar and he can’t be treated at the hospital and is in a critiical condition. Dr. Hilal decides to take him to his house and operate on him there. He knew that the army or the police wouldn’t check his ambulance.

The terrorist is operated upon and Dr. Hilal decides to keep him there till he heals. His wife, Ghazala(enacted by Tabu) is uncomfortable in this situation knowing the tense atmosphere in Srinagar. After the operation, they go to sleep. In the early hours of the morning, Ghazala is waken up by the sound of a loud siren. She wakes Dr. Hilal up, telling him there is a crackdown. All the men and women come out of their homes with their I.D proofs. The men are taken in front of a masked man sitting in an army jeep who tells them to keep going ahead when they are not suspected. With those he suspects, he honks the horn once and they are arrested. When Dr. Hilal comes in front of him, he honks the horn continuously without stopping. All his men come rushing down and surround his house. Dr. Hilal is arrested and taken away. In an ensuing battle, Dr. Hilal’s house is destroyed and the terrorist killed.

Dr. Hilal’s son, Haider(enacted by Shahid Kapoor), returns to find his home destroyed, his father’s whereabouts unknown and his mother in a romantic relationship with his father’s younger brother Khurram(Kay Kay Menon). Haider sets out to find his father and leaves no stone unturned in the efforts. He is helped in his mission by his childhood friend, Arshia(Shraddha Kapoor) who is a journalist.

Now, contrary to what you have heard, this is not a movie of Kasmiri extremists against Kashmiri Pandits. This is simply a story of a young man searching for his father whose whereabouts are not revealed to him. Under the army laws, any civilian found guilty of militant activities is to be handed over to the Indian court within 30 days. This law is flouted in Kashmir.

All of Haider’s efforts to find his father are in vain when he is contacted by a mysterious character, Roohdaar(Irrfan Khan) through Arshia. He claims to know about his father and asks him to meet him.

When Haider meets him, he comes to know his father is dead. He refuses to believe it but accepts it eventually. Then, he comes to know of a story of betrayal and treachery. His father had been betrayed by his own brother and wife. Haider has a very complex relationship with his mother. He had always idolised her and adored her. Now, this betrayal has left him shocked. He sets out to reveal the facts. His father’s tomb has been found and they have a prayer ceremony for him. Immediately, after the prayer ceremony, Ghazala and Khurram get married. At some point during the story, Ghazala reveals to Haider that she has informed Khurram that they were giving refuge to a terrorist in their house as he was Dr. Hilal’s brother. She was unaware that he was an informer for the Indian army. Urged by his love for Ghazala, Khurram betrays Dr. Hilal.

From here, Haider is a story of vendetta and a son’s pain at his mother’s betrayal. Even though Dr. Hilal was treating a terrorist in his home, never once do you feel that he is a traitor. Now, this is a very thin line. As a doctor, he feels that his job is to treat a patient who comes to him and not to let him die, even if he is a terrorist. Shahid Kapoor gives an emotionally rending performance. During the song Bismil, there was pin-drop silence in the movie hall, people were so emotionally moved.

The only shortcoming in the movie is that it is a bit too long. If it had been a crisp two hours movie, it would have had more impact. Apart from that, the movie is totally worth watching inspite of the extreme violence. Please don’t take your young kids for the movie as I have seen people doing. It’s not a movie that kids should watch. The movie is too violent for them.

A Few Days Without Gadgets


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We wake up in the morning to the sound of the alarm, not from the clock, but from our mobile phones. As soon as wake up, even before getting out of bed – we check our Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Whatsapp, E-mail( for me in this order). Then, we get up and say a good morning to our family. While eating breakfast, we are back on the phone or the laptop this time. I am completely hooked to my phone and am continuously on the Internet on my phone. So, it is a bit difficult for me to try and stay away from it.

But, there are times when I will completely switch off from the cyberworld. One such time is when I am sick and the other time is when I am on a vacation. I will still do my check-ins to the interesting places. Other than that, I will enjoy the peace and beautiful scenery around and just keep my phone inside my bag and forget about it. I never carry my laptop on vacations.

The one time that I completely forgot about my smartphone was on the Kerala Backwaters cruise. We spent the night on the cruise. It was so peaceful, serene and lovely all around that I was completely immersed in that moment. Even in the night, my phone was kept somewhere and I fell asleep to the sound of water lapping against our boat with no noisy TV, no internet connectivity.

Apart from that, I am trying to have even one whole day when I don’t look at my phone, don’t use my laptop and stay away from the Internet. So far, I have been unsuccessful. I hope that I succeed sometime in the not very far future.