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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Writing to Change the World

Can writing change the world? Can it bring about social change?

Yes, it definitely can. Throughout history and till today, people who wanted to change the world have written books and articles to bring about change, You must have heard the saying ‘Pen is mightier than the Sword.’ It is truly so. It is when we write about the wrongs in the society around us that people start to notice the same wrongdoings and start speaking out against it, that’s when the change happens.

During the pre-independence era, the freedom fighters and revolutionaries would circulate magazines and newsletters, sometimes anonymously or sometimes openly to encourage people to rise against the British rule.

The advent of Internet has made this even more easier. One powerfully written article can be read all over the world and open people’s eyes. For me, it has been a boon to have the Internet where I can express my thoughts freely about the wrong practices in our society and the system. There are people who think I am too outspoken, too opinionated and think I can change the world. They will come and tell me, you shouldn’t give your views on every wrongdoing in society. And I tell them very politely, i am going to do what I think is right – they can block me, unfriend me on the social media platforms, It makes no difference to me.

I want to make a difference to the world and if I am alone in that effort, so be it. But my writing wil always be honest, powerful and I will always speak up against any wrongdoing through my writings. This is the best way to reach out to people and help them open their eyes. I wish there were more people who would do this and then positive social changes won’t be far away.

Ghost Story


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After a long bout of sickness in the family and then falling sick myself, I am back to my greatest love – writing. Indiblogger’s latest Indispire topic is any ghost experience we have had. This takes me back to my time in Shillong. Shilling is the quintessential hillstation with beautiful bungalows, pine-trees, lakes, mountains, tranquility and peace all around and of course lot of fables and tales surrounding it. We lived in a Bungalow in Pinewalk in Shillong. It had huge gardens all around with a long walkway and a white painted gate at the end.

As in all hillstations, there were a lot of stories of ghosts, supernatural beings and unnatural happenings. One such story really intrigued me as it was close to my home. I was 18 then and still was a child who believed in the magical, the supernatural. In the magical, I still do. So there was this story which my friends and I had heard about a ghost with feet facing backwards standing in front of my house gates everyday at 8 p.m.

Now, since Shillong is in the north-east of India, the sun rises very early there and sets very early. So, in the winters it would be pitch dark at 3:30 p.m. in the afternoon, the way it would be in other places at 11 or 12 p.m. No one would really venture out in Shillong in winters after it grew dark, primarily because it is so cold and also because of safety issues.So this story could be quite true.

All of us friends were rather curious to know if this was true. One day, we decided to find out. We took dad’s army car(an Ambassador with a driver, of course) a little before 8 p.m. and waited outside my house’s gate. We were five people in the car, squeezed in,rarely having ventured out at this hour, petrified as the hour grew nearer, jumping at the slightest sound or at the rustling of pine trees. And then it was 8 p.m. We waited with baited breath.

Suddenly, we see someone approaching and we clasp hands in fear. There was only one streetlight and we waited for that strange spectre to emerge. Suddenly, he appeared in full view under the light. And what do we see! He was only a poor guy with deformed feet. We felt terribly relieved and a little ashamed of ourselves.

We turned the car around and went back inside the warm confines of my home. For sometime, we were very quiet and then burst out laughing together, rolling on my bed and warmed ourselves with hot coffee.

So ended my ghost experience :D

Ten Things I Want To Do Before I Die


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All of us have unfulfilled dreams, unrequited passions and desires in our hearts. I am a very imaginative person and I never curb it because dreams are only fulfilled by those who dream.

So here is my #LifeDeathBucketList for Indiblogger’s latest Indispire topic.

1) Travel to each and every corner of the world, preferably alone and if I have someone with me, it should be someone who has the same thirst for travel that I  have.

2) Write a book – It will be part autobiography, part fiction. I will write a simple and a touching story which will touch the reader’s heart and make them want to read it again and again.

3) Open a Cafe cum Book Shop: It will be one of those sunny and cheerful places where people feel rested and comfortable, not feel like they are being rushed to leave and empty the space for the next customer.

4) Adopt a child: A longtime dream of mine is to adopt a homeless child who doesn’t have parents to love her – yes, she will definitely be a girl.

5) Find true love – a person who will accept me with my mood swings, independent nature and need for lots and lots of space in a relationship.

6) I want to reach a stage where I support my parents financially without them having to spend a penny.

7) Take my parents on a world tour.

8) I give a lot of value to education, so I want to do my M.A and Ph.D in English Literature – right now, time is a constraint. But, definitely sometime in the future.

9) I have a picture of my dream house in my mind – I will build that one day and it will definitely be next to the sea or mountains where I will spend my retirement years.

10) The dream closest to my heart – Go to Shillong and stay there for a few years again. I stayed in Shillong for a few years when dad was posted there and for me if there is heaven on earth anywhere, it is Shillong.

10 Books That I Simply Love!


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From a very young age, my parents worked very hard to instill the love of reading in me. I am extremely grateful to them for this as to love reading is to never feel lonely in life. You have a bestfriend for life. So, as a part of the latest topic in Indispire on Indiblogger, here a list of my 10 favourite books.

1. The Malory Tower series: I was in school when I started reading the Malory Tower series. The good students, the bad students, the wicked students – I loved all of them. The midnight parties and all the mad but harmless antics of school girls was something I totally loved and still do.

2. The Nancy Drew Books: The Nancy Drew books are the story of three friends who are detectives and solve mysteries. The books also depicted the bonds of friendship, their romances and their capability in solving cases. In my teens, my favourite birthday gifts were Nancy Drew books.

3. The Hardy Boys: Anyone would consider The Hardy Boys are boys books, but I simply loved reading them. They are the same category of mystery books as Nancy Drew stories.

4. The Diary of Anne Frank: Anne Frank, a fun-loving gregarious girl who was a normal teenager. All she wanted was her friends, school life and fun. She was a Jew in the times of Hitler’s regime who went into hiding with her family. Every time I read this book, I cry. It is a wonderful book of human spirit, resilience and the value of human life.

5. Gone With The Wind and Scarlett: Gone With the Wind is a true classic. It is a book that truly painted a woman who lived life on her own terms and conditions, she is a woman who is practical and doesn’t shy away from taking on a world that was completely a man’s world and being successful at it, hated but grudgingly respected by everyone and the legendary love story of Rhett Butler and Scarlett ‘O Hara. 

Scarlett is the sequel to Gone With The Wind where Scarlett is heartbroken after separation from Rhett and goes to Ireland explore her roots. Another awesome book!

6. Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist – This book is about following your dreams and believing in them inspite of the people around you making fun of you and discouraging you all the time. I simply love this book.

7. The Harry Potter series: My list of favourite books would be incomplete without the Harry Potter series. I don’t know how many times I read the series and I can keep reading them again. The plot, the lessons you learn in the books, the importance of truly important things in life – the books are simply amazing.

8. The Shiva Trilogy by Amish Tripathi – These series of books will have you hooked from the first page of the first book to the last page of the last book. You will look at religion, Gods in a way that you will never forget. This series challenges all mindsets about religion, Gods, good and evil and will shake you up from inside and will have you permanently hooked.

9. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte – A girl who has lived a loveless life as an orphan and grows up to build a happy life of her own, unconventional decisions and a strong-minded woman – a truly wonderful book.

10. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – Elizabeth, a sensible and intelligent who is surrounded by her foolish sisters and mothers – a fact that makes her a little arrogant and very quick to judge people. As you turn the pages, you find her perceptions changing, actually starting to understan how people can be different from inside and outside. A book that so many of us women will identify with.

The farce called Candle March

16th December, 2012 – A girl was brutally raped and beaten and her guy friend was also brutally thrashed and both were thrown out of the speeding bus where they were lying approximately for one hour. No one came to help them in that crucial one hour and they were lying their ignored until someone informed the police and they were rushed to the hospital in an ambulance. That one hour had been very crucial for the girl who could have been saved if she was rushed to hospital in time. And the same people who would have seen them lying on the road and ignored them would conduct a candle march later. 

A true case of complete hypocrisy. A woman’s chain is snatched by speeding bikers and with mute spectators around, a girl is being abducted in a rickshaw and everyone around ignores her cries for help. The girl jumped out of the speeding rickshaw to save herself, hit her head on the pavement and went into a coma. Thankfully, she is out of danger now. A man will openly harass a girl in public with mute spectators around again.

  Once a driver bumped against our car and got into an argument with our driver. Our driver ended the argument and left the spot. The guy followed the driver to our building and our stupid security guards let the guy come up to our house. Our driver had come up and he followed him. He started fighting with us and my sis-in-law was at home with us with my nieces. I told that guy to get lost and do what he wanted to. He pretended to call the MNS from his phone and said he will get our driven beaten up. My sis-in-law got scared and told us to just pay him off. I told him to do what he wanted to and we were not scared. But my sis-in-law just paid him off.

She missed a very important thing that I was trying to teach her. If someone threatens us if we are not wrong, the last thing should we do is get scared and back off. He was threatening us with the MNS. One call to my Complex’s security and he would have been rotting in jail. When you back out when you are not wrong, you are teaching your children who are watching to do the same. And the cycle will continue when they do the same when someone does a crime against them or someone else. The need of the hour is brave people who face up to cowards that the perpetrators of the crime are. Don’t get me wrong. I love my nieces like they are my own children. But the last thing I want to teach them is to be weak women who get scared of anyone who scares them. I am always soft spoken and polite, but God help the person who dares to mess with me. And that’s how I want them to be.

Let me tell you of another incident that happened a few days back. An old lady in my complex was coming out of the bank in our complex after withdrawing money and a young guy came and started trying to snatch the handbag away from her. A lady was passing by in a rickshaw with her 10 year old kid and seeing what was happening stopped the rickshaw, got down and started hitting the guy who was stealing from the old woman and called the police. It was then that the people around who had been mute spectators came and started bashing the guy. A powerful lesson to the guy who was trying to steal from a helpless old woman and most importantly to her son who learnt a live lesson in bravery and courage. I salute the woman everyday.

Let’s take action when the crime is being perpetrated and not when the victim is beyond saving. I end with the saying in hindi that I totally love – “Jurm karne se zyada jurm sehne wala doshi hai.”

The five books that really influenced me as a person

The love for reading was inculcated in me from childhood by my parents and that love still continues today. There are some books that influence you and stay with you all your life. For me, those books are as follows(these books are in chronological order starting from my childhood):

1) Beauty and the Beast

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It is a simple and sweet story. But it has a powerful moral behind it – Never judge anyone by their outer appearance, rather look at their inner beauty and love them for it.

2) The Little Prince

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The story of the innocent prince from another planet who looks at things from his own perspective is very unique and refreshing. The book actually brings out the honest hearts of little children and how they see things as they are and when asked what the thing is will actually name as it appears unlike grownups who will agree with everyone around even if they are wrong. This book is a must read for people of all ages. It encourages us to believe in what we see rather than what the world wants us to see.

3) Little Women

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This book is a must read for any girl entering her teens and will remain her faithful friend and companion all her life. The story of four sisters who face all kinds of trials and tribulations in life and find their destiny at the end will definitely touch your heart and will guide you through life’s troubles.

4) Love Story

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I doubt there would be any book lover who has not read this beautiful novel. Oliver and Jenny’s love story captured my mind and heart forever. I have not read or seen a more beautiful love story. It is romantic, funny with a tragic end which will have you crying and yet, your belief in true love will be reinforced.

5) The Harry Potter Series

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I was a late entrant to the Harry Potter world. I finished reading the last book only in the year that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 released. My cousin sister was a die-hard Harry Potter fan who asked me to send the latest book to her as soon as it was released(she lived in Amravati where the books would reach very late). I would buy the books and send them to her, never reading them myself.
She kept nagging at me to read them till finally I gave in and started reading them four years back. With the first book, I was hooked. The Boy Who Lived started living in my heart like countless other Potterheads. He has created his own cult – I believe the largest today.
The Harry Potter books teach you the importance of truly valuable things – friendship, love, courage, bravery, loyalty, not letting go of your values and honest nature when faced with tempting situations. All Life lessons are in the covers of those seven books. If you are not hooked onto Harry Potter, pick up the first book and you will be hooked forever.

Singham Returns

Singham Returns continues the story of a cop’s fight against corruption and the system. BajiRao Singham is now posted to Mumbai. Guruji, who was his mentor in school, is making his own chosen candidates stand in the upcoming elections. He is trying to bring about a change in the political system by bringing in young people who are chosen because of their abilities and not because of whom they know. Because of this move, he has become a serious threat to his opponents and his life in danger. On the other hand, Bajirao’s most reliable constable is found dead under mysterious circumstances with an ambulance full of money. 

    While suspicions of the constable’s being corrupt are circulating, Singham is sure of his honesty and loyalty. He vows to the constable’s wife and mother that he will prove his innocence. One day, Guruji is travelling to Delhi and has Singham as his police escort. On the way to the airport, they are attacked by hitmen and in the shooting, Guruji gets killed. The man behind both the killings is Satyaraj Chandra a.k.a Baba, a corrupt man who has people fooled with his holy attire and religious talks and is assisted by Prakash Rao, his assistant. He is now on Singham’s hitlist. The story is about how Singham unravels the plot and reveals Baba’s real face. 

The good points of the movie are showing how a mentally strong officer can also weaken and make wrong judgements. Singham comes to know that Prakash Rao has paid some people to influence the upcoming elections. At this point, he is at a complete level of frustration because he is losing against the system and is not able to find evidence against Baba. THe constable’s wife is going to lose her house as her husband has been declared as corrupt and hence can get no assistance from the government.

He reaches the place where those people are and without thinking starts hitting those boys who have been paid with his stick. Suddenly, a woman comes forward and starts abusing Singham. She is the boy’s mother whom Singham had been hitting. She openly admits that they have taken money from Prakash Rao. She says it doesn’t matter to her who runs the country for the next five years, but it does matter to her that she will have money for medicines and food for the next 5 days – a simple statement that shows the condition of the poor in our country. She accuses him of targetting helpless people and challenges him to hit Prakash Rao with the same stick if he has guts. Singham is speechless and realises she is right.

The movie hits you hard in many places. Though Ajay Devgan has acted really well, his acting still is a little over-dramatic in places. For me, that killed the effect in many scenes. He has very intense eyes. He could have used them to portray the emotionally charged scenes instead of the hand movements which looked artificial.

Other than that, the movie is very well made and worth watching.

Police in India


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When I think of the police, I feel no fear, not because I think they will help me get justice when needed. I don’t fear them because I see no reason to be afraid of them. They are public servants, assigned to do their duty and to help us get justice.
We have given them this power to frighten us by thinking that they can do anything because of the position they are in. The day we stop being scared of them is the day they will lose the power to scare us. And there are men and women in the police who still respect their jobs and will do anything and everything to help you in time of need. I am not afraid of approaching the police if I want to report a crime. Because I know how to get my point across to them. If they don’t pay heed to our complaints, we have every right to take strict action against them and we should. We may have to struggle and go through a lot of stress to achieve this, but we should never back out. Only then can change happen.

We blame the police for being corrupt. But, who is really responsible for their being corrupt? When they ask us for bribes, isn’t it our fault that we agree to give it? We will always have people advising us – Paise khilado, kaam jaldi ho jaayega. Why can’t you go straight and honest way to get legal work done, even if it takes longer? We defend their rights to take bribes saying they are paid not well.

Here are the pay structures of a constable and IPS officers:

Constable:
pay scale for the position of Constables, who are coming under pay brand 1 is Rs. 5200-20200 in addition to grade pay of Rs. 2000. Candidates will be paid all admissible allowances, which includes free leave passes, free accommodation, free uniform, medical assistance and ration allowance.

For IPS officers, please do visit the below link to view the salaries offered to them.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_Police_Service

Over and above the salaries mentioned in the link, they also get all admissible allowances, which includes free leave passes, free accommodation, free uniform, medical assistance and ration allowance.

My father served in the army for 28 years. When he took voluntary retirement, he was a Brigadier with a salary of only Rs. 9000 per month.

He also would get free accomodation, free rations, free medical assistance, leave passes. The rations we would get would normally be inedible. Yet, inspite of all the hardships we faced, the only memory I carry is the feeling of pride that my father was a honest man who never took one paise that did not rightfully belong to him.

These are people who protect the borders of our country everyday. In all the years that I spent in army life, I saw only brave men who gave their heart and soul, sacrificed everything to protect our motherland. In my entire life spent in army, there was only one case of a minor bribe by a junior officer and he was removed from the army.

Think about it the next time you support some police officer or constable taking bribes from people. Today, he is taking a bribe in a minor offense, tomorrow he will be taking bigger bribes which could be to compromise the security of the country.

Think about it. If the army personnel who earn the same start being corrupt, where will our country be?