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Posted in Personal Memoirs, Travel

Dehradun

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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Posted in Personal Memoirs, Travel

Tribal Museum, Bhopal

Recently, I went on a vacation to Mhow, Indore and Bhopal. I visited many beautiful places there but the highlight of my visit was definitely the Tribal Museum in Bhopal. It is so beautifully made, reflecting the tribal life of olden days with such beautiful structures that I was left awestruck. This place is a must visit for anyone going to Bhopal. Take a look at the pictures. There are a lot of pictures, but trust me, browsing through them will be an experience.

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Posted in Personal Memoirs, Travel

Narmada Ghat, Omkareshwar

Living in a city takes you away from the beauty and grandeur of nature and makes you long for the serenity and peace that only nature can provide. We were on the way to Omkareshwar to see the Jyotiringa there. Unfortunately, we could not see it due to the Kumbh Mela Rush. However, on the way we stopped at the beautiful Narmada Ghat. A very serene and beautiful spot with clean river water and relatively clean Ghat(river bank). Pictures of the beautiful spot:

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Posted in Education, Social Initiatives, Social Issues

Religious Rituals – Are They Relevant

The latest Indispire topic on IndiBlogger had me thinking of somehow of the rituals that we as Indians blindly follow. Here are my pet peeves in Indian Rituals.

Fasting for a particular God:

We will fast and starve ourselves irrespective of our health conditions at that time for a specific God. We could be completely physically weak but we will not give up our fast. Since we are all God’s creations, which God will tell you to starve yourself in his or her name? And how are you of service to God with this silly fasting? If you want to do anything for God, go out and feed so many of his hungry children.

Arranged Marriage

All our life, we(especially girls) are advised to not talk to strangers but when it comes to reaching the so called marriageable age, we are expected to meet a stranger once and decide whether we want to spend our life with that person or not. And God forbid if a girl especially refuses a perfectly ‘eligible’ boy only because she can’t see her life partner in him. She’ll hear everything from ‘Who do you think you are?’ to ‘At this rate, you’ll never get married.’ What highlights a parent’s insecurity better than this?

Silly superstitions related to Marriage and Horoscope

According to Indian traditions, all the 36 characteristics of a couple should match as per the horoscope, otherwise they will be incompatible and lead an unhappy married life. So, here’s my question? Will all the characteristics matching guarantee a happy married life to me, no divorce, no problems after marriage? This question itself highlights the stupidity of this custom. In today’s times, where it is very difficult to find the right life partner, totally in love couples are separated because of horoscopes not matching, doesn’t matter if they have been happy together for years and years which leads to next pet peeve of mine.

Honour Killing

Yes, I know – honour killing normally happens when a guy and girl of the same Gotra marry each other. But it also happens sometimes in cases like the above mentioned case where their horoscopes don’t match. Now to come to the point of the same Gotra marriage. So a girl or a guy married someone who is of the same Gotra. So, their families decide to kill them and if it’s a village, it’s with the approval of the village panchayat(rule makers and local governing body of the village) Some of us will ask, what is Gotra? In Hindu society, the term gotra means clan. It broadly refers to people who are descendants in an unbroken male line from a common male ancestor, with the marriage within the same gotra being prohibited by custom, being regarded as incest. So a girl and a boy who belong to the same Gotra are considered as siblings. This doesn’t make sense again to me. The common male ancestor may be generations and generations removed from today, to me honour killing for Gotra or for any other reason is an inhuman act.

Donations at Temples

How many times have we been to temples and seen devotees standing with different kind of offerings in their hand and patiently waiting in line? To give those offerings to whom? To the stone statue inside. I go to temples too and I have no objection to paying respects to the God’s statue inside. But it is God’s statue, not God himself. It is a symbol of God. Who do you think enjoys those offerings? Yes, those fat-stomached so called Panditjis or Gurujis sitting inside the temples along with the other temple employees. Outside the temple, you’ll see a line of destitute people with no or bare minimum clothes. Why not feed them?

How many of us have seen the movie Ohh My God? There is this scene in the court where Paresh Rawal talks about seeing a host of devotees standing outside a temple, each with a jar of milk in their hands. He thinks, if there are so many people standing, then there must be a God inside who drinks the milk. Then he goes inside and sees, but there is no one drinking the milk. He sees the milk going out of the temple through a pipe and thinks there must be some God at the end of the pipe who drinks the milk, Again, he is surprised to see there is no one. He sees the milk going out of the temple into a dirty drain and at the end of the drain, he sees a poor man putting his mouth to the drain and drinking the milk. Paresh Rawal gives his jar of milk to the poor man. After drinking the milk, the poor man says, “May God Bless You”. I don’t need to add anything else.

Considering son as the name-carriers and the torch bearers of the family

We will commonly hear people saying even today that we need to have a son to carry the family name forward, even if they have 5 daughters. So they’ll continue having babies till they achieve the wondrous feat of having a son. So many evils because of one stupid belief – population overgrowth, poverty, lack of proper education for children because of too many kids and normally only one earning member. Then this belief leads to the two biggest evils – female infanticide and child marriage. A couple, in their desire of a child, will kill the baby when it’s born or kill the baby in the womb, if it’s a girl.

In India, it has been made illegal to know the gender of the baby before it is born for this reason. Even then in the small towns and villages, this continues. Then, even if the baby is allowed to be born and the parents keep having babies in their dream for a son, it leads us to the second evil – Child Marriage. In order to rid themselves of the burden of daughters, girls are married off at a tender age when they should be playing and studying.

As a country, we need to eradicate these evils to truly calls ourselves a developing country or a developed country.

 

 

 

Posted in Bollywood, Entertainment, Movie Review, Movies

Kapoor & Sons

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Kapoor & Sons was one movie that I was really looking forward to. Even the people who totally disliked Hindi movies from my friends circle were raving about it. So I was really keen to see the movie. I didn’t find the movie so great when I went to see it.

It is the story of a typical middle class family with fights, love, tears, misunderstandings and family bonding. A husband and wife who have grown apart as the wife suspects him of having an affair, two sons who were very close to each other and while they still have a strong bond, they are strangely estranged. One is struggling to achieve success while the other is a successful author. The entire family reunites in their hometown Coonoor to fulfill the last wishes of Dadu of clicking a family photograph titled ‘Kapoor & Sons’. Both the brothers become friends with Tia a lively and cheerful girl with a sad past. How Daadu’s last wish is fulfilled, how the brothers’ clear their misunderstandings and how a family resolves their issues to click that perfect photograph is what the story is about.

There are some high points in the movie with sweet and touching moments. All the actors have enacted their roles very well. It was nice watching all the talented actors like Rajat Kapoor. Reena Pathak, Siddharth Malhotra, Fawad Khan, Rishi Kapoor and Alia Bhatt.

Apart from that, the movie was just okay. I felt like I was watching a Nicholas Sparks novel in which tragedy is normally forced in without any reason.

Posted in Book Review, Hobbies, Life and Hope, Reviews

Winter Garden – A Book I Can Never Forget!

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About six month back, I have added a new author to my list of favourite authors. Her name is Kristin Hannah. I have read many of her books but the book that left me speechless is Winter Garden. It is a book that touched me to the core and left me teary eyed by the end. What an amazing way to weave a story! I have read so many books that it rarely happens that I just can’t wait to know what happens in the end. With Winter Garden, I couldn’t put it down till I completed it.

Synopsis of the story

Anya has a warm relationship with her husband but had always been a  cold and distant mother to their two daughters, Meredith and Nina and they have no clue why. The only time she came alive and really connected with her daughters is while narrating a fairy tale, till an incident happens and Anya stops narrating the fairy tale to her daughters. They grow up and Nina moves away to become a journalist while Meredith stays near her parents after marriage. It was only when their father dies and has a last wish for his daughters that the sisters come back together to fulfill his wish.

The wish is – To get their mother to complete the fairy tale. A very silly wish, you’ll say. But it has a whole story full of sadness, tears and a heart-wrenching truth. It is a journey of two daughters getting to know their mother and a woman’s journey of accepting her past and forgiving herself.

This is one book that’s a must read for everyone, irrespective of the gender and whether they love reading or not.

Posted in Book Review, Hobbies

My Favourite Fiction Writer

I started reading as soon as I could recognize words, thanks to my father who instilled the love of reading in me. I have read many books that have touched, made me cry, inspired and encouraged me. But there is only one author who has managed to do all this. Her name is J.K Rowling and the books are her Harry Potter series.

Harry Potter is a boy who has led a very ordinary mundane existence till he reaches the age of 11 years and discovers that he is no ordinary boy, but a wizard. His destiny is extraordinarily intertwined with the greatest wizard of all time who has gone on the path of evil. It is a story of growing up, coming of age and facing your biggest fears. It is a 7-book series in which Harry Potter has the dangerous mission of defeating the evil Voldemort.

Friendship, courage, love, leadership, team spirit are the important lessons that inspire you in the series. This book is a must read for everyone, irrespective of the age.

Also, not only do i admire J.K Rowling as an author, but she is also a strong and gutsy lady. After her separation from her husband, she was extremely poor and had an infant daughter to care for. She was living on state benefits while writing the first Harry Potter book. She had no idea how she would survive the coming years. After she finished writing the book, her publisher submitted the book to 12 publishing houses and it was rejected by all of them. In spite of all the hardships, she didn’t stop believing in her book or give up. Eventually the book was published by Bloomsbury and the rest we know is history. She is the perfect example of believing in one’s dreams.

Posted in Personal Memoirs, Social Initiatives, Social Issues

Bloggers and Social Responsibility!

Pen is mightier than the sword! A very well known saying and so true and holds especially true for us bloggers. We can influence change, raise awareness of various issues being faced by the country and the world. Whether it is social issues like dowry, child marriage, injustices and politics, we can make a difference.

However, it is not where our responsibility stops! A lot of us endorse brands as paid projects or as a favour. Do you think we should endorse any brands or be very careful of the brands we endorse? I personally don’t endorse brands that are not socially, environmentally safe or brands that endorse social evils. For example, I stay away from endorsing brands that are known for testing their products on brands and also fairness products. Brands that cause environmental harm are a complete no-no for me. I would love to have the views of my fellow bloggers on this.

Posted in Book Review, Hobbies, Reviews

Book Review: Second Chance at Love

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I had walked into a Crossword outlet and was just browsing around. Suddenly, this title in the New Releases section caught my attention and I got interested in it. The name of the book  – Second Chance at Love by Ruchita Misra. I just picked up the book on a whim and it was a complete impulse buy. Did I know it would be a journey with two characters I would fall in love with? No, not in the least.

Bindiya Saran is a cheerful lively girl, but with a troubled past. Samar ‘Satan’ Chauhan is the strict corporate professional whom no one can please, with an even more troubled past. Their worlds collide when they start working on a project together. And they get what they thought they would never get: a second chance at love. But, little do they know that they have a storm brewing that could separate them forever.

I loved the book from the first page to the last. The characters are shown as real people with real faults, they are endearingly human. The story is told in a beautiful and simplistic manner. Each character has an important part in the story and they are etched into the story beautifully. Samar and Bindiya touched my heart with the real, genuine human beings they are and I identified with them. After a long time, I cried while reading a book.

This book is totally a must read for everyone.

Posted in Bollywood, Entertainment, Movie Review, Movies

Bajirao Mastani – A Total Dud

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I know a lot of people will disagree with me here and I have complete respect for your opinion but I totally hated the movie. Let me tell you why.

Grand sets, a promising start, the best director, the best actors and a strong character on whom the story was based – yet the movie disappointed me.

Bajirao was a great warrior who led many successful military campaigns and extended the Maratha rule over a large part of India. He was an able leader and a tactical and intelligent warrior.

The movie started off well with Bajirao’s character being established with the above mentioned qualities. However, in the second part of the first half itself(before the interval), the movie’s focus turned only to the love story of Bajirao Mastani which is shown in the most dull, vague and uninspiring manner. By this time, I was already regretting coming for the movie.

I had expected a historical movie of which the love story would be a part. I didn’t expect the love story to be forgotten and only the military leader in Bajirao to be spoken about. But neither did I expect only the love story to be highlighted and everything else to be forgotten.

Now, let’s come to the second half after the interval. You’ll forget that you are watching Bajirao Mastani and think you have accidentally come to see Devdas with different faces. Kashibai(Bajirao’s first wife) and Mastani are suddenly shown dancing with each other. There was no interaction between them before or after this song sequence – the Devdas hangover. In the end, Bajirao dies pining for his love and his love dies pining for him. So, a brilliant warrior becomes a loser who gives up everything for love.

I was completely disappointed in the movie. This is not Bajirao’s story. Now, compare this to another historical movie – Jodha Akbar. The love story is beautifully interwoven with the historical saga. I wish Sanjay Leela Bhansali had taken some pointers on how a historical movie is made.