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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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.

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.

 

 

The Death of Freedom!

India has completed 68 years of independence. But what does this independence really mean? I don’t see any freedom around me at all.

Whenever a girl is harassed by men on the road, I see the death of freedom.

Whenever a couple is killed by their own families for falling in love, I see the death of freedom.

Whenever I see moral police beating up lovers for celebrating Valentine’s Day, I see the death of freedom.

Whenever I see police arresting adults who are staying together in a hotel legally, I see the death of freedom.

Whenever I see someone insulting me on a personal level because I don’t agree with the actions of the leader of the country, I see the death of freedom.

When I see crores of money being pumped into cleaning the River Ganga while the pollution of the river continues simultaneously, I see the death of the freedom.

Whenever I see a student with poor marks getting that coveted engineering seat on the basis of being from a backward class instead of the student with top marks, I see the death of freedom.

Whenever I see rapists roaming around scotfree while the victim breathes her last in a hospital, I see the death of freedom.

Whenever I read about someone being killed because of Road rage, I see the death of freedom!

Whenever I see people ignoring an accident victim lying on the road, I see the death of freedom.

Whenever I see people telling a girl to not to roam about at night or to dress properly when a guy molests her, I see the death of freedom.

Whenever I see people keeping their house spotless but dirtying the streets without any qualms, I see the death of freedom.

Whenever my government decides for me what I can or cannot eat, I see the death of freedom.

Whenever I see a girl supporting the archaic rules meant for the subjugation of women, I see the death of freedom.

Whenever I see a woman getting her son married for the second time because her daughter-in-law dared to give birth to a daughter instead of a son, I see the death of freedom.

Whenever I see a bridegroom and his family walking out of the wedding because the dowry was not upto their standards, I see the death of freedom.

Whenever I see people bathing lifeless statues in temples in litres and litres of milk while so many starving people exist in the country, I see the death of freedom.

This is not #RealIndependence and this is not the India of my dreams or of the people who want to see progress, prosperity and happiness for their country.

The Life of a left-handed girl in India

Today is World Left Handers Day and this is the perfect opportunity for me to share my experiences as a left handed person in India.

In India, it is not considered the norm to use your left hand instead of your right hand. I was a born leftie, a fact that my parents discovered when I was approximately 5-6 years old when my dad was trying to teach me to write. He kept trying to make me hold the pencil with my right hand and write and I just wouldn’t. After some time, he lost his patience, kept the pencil down and told me to write when I feel like and started to walk away. I calmly picked up the pencil with my left hand and started writing. That’s when it struck him that I am a leftie.

In those times in India, it was considered inauspicious for people to use their left hand to eat, write or any other activities which were normally done with the right hand. Today, things are a little different, but not at that time. My parents never tried to convert me from a leftie to a right handed person, especially my father who would say that he wouldn’t try to change me from what my natural habit is.

But I faced really tough times with other people. When I would go to the temple, when I would put my left hand forward for the prasad(a sweet dish which is the holy offering that is given to all the people visiting the temple), the priest would look at me like I had just desecrated the temple with my presence. For an innocent kid who didn’t understand what she did wrong, it was really upsetting. But I would still insist on taking the Prasad in my left hand.

We experienced this many times while visiting temples. One day, my dad couldn’t control himself. When the priest at another temple insisted on giving me the Prasad in my right hand, my dad said to the priest, ” The things that you do with your left hand, she does with her right hand. Do you still want to give her the Prasad in her right hand?” The priest was left speechless. I still laugh my heart out at the expression on the priest’s face.

In school too, I would be asked all kinds of weird questions on being a leftie as it was not the norm. Parents who would have children who were lefties would forcibly convert them to using the right hand, sometimes even resorting to beating them to make them convert – all because it was considered inauspicious.

I hope things are different now. If there are any parents who are still forcing their kids to convert to the right hand, please stop. It is not their natural instinct. You are also messing up the functioning of their brain. There is nothing inauspicious about it.

Robin Williams – An Actor par Excellence!

His death anniversary was yesterday and it’s already been one year since he died. I am still coming to terms with the fact that I won’t see any more Robin Williams movies. I don’t think I will ever come to terms with  his death. To me, he was the ultimate actor. No one can take his place. I absolutely loved him as an actor.

The reason for his death came as an even bigger shock to me. The actor who made everyone laugh committed suicide because of depression. It broke my heart.

I have seen many of his movies, but three movies of his are my special favourites.

  1. Patch Adams

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This movie is based on a true story. A suicidal man commits himself to a mental institution. Once there, he finds that using humor to help his fellow patients gives him a reason to live too. As a result, he enrols as a medical student at a medical college and clashes with the dean of the college who believes that doctors must not bond with patients and keep a professional distance. I simply love the movie. Munnabhai MBBS is inspired from this movie.

2. Mrs. Doubtfire

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A man loses custody of his children after getting divorced from his wife. When he finds out that his wife is looking for a housekeeper, he distinguishes himself as a Scottish nanny, impresses his wife with his qualifications and gets the job. The movie has you rolling with laughter and has its touching moments.

3. Dead Poets Society

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This movie is my most favourite amongst all his movies. It captured my imagination, encourages and motivates me and is simply awesome. A new English teacher at Welton Academy, John Keating, surprises the new students of the academy with his unorthodox methods of teaching. He encourages his students to make their lives extraordinary, a sentiment he explains with the Latin words – Carpe Diem(Seize the Day).

Upon learning that Keating was a member of the unsanctioned group the Dead Poets’ Society while he was at Welton, one of the students , Neil restarts the club and he and his friends sneak off campus at night to a cave where they read poetry and verse, including their own compositions.

This movie is very inspirational and a must watch for all those who have not seen it.

Hollywood and all movie buffs have lost a treasure with the death of Robin Williams.

 

Chocolate making – a passion and my biggest interest!

I have always been interested in creative pursuits. Recently, I developed an interest in learning how to make chocolates. I started with learning how to make plain chocolates. This was my first attempt.

Plain Chocolates

I tried many different shapes and earned a lot of praise from people after they tried my chocolates. One day, I came across chocolates with fillings. I had eaten them earlier, but now when I saw them I was really keen on learning how they are made. One day, I saw a post on Facebook in one of the groups I am a part of. The lady taught chocolates with fillings. I went to her classes and learnt how to make them and I knew I was hooked for life. I learnt many flavours like Pinacolada filling, Truffle with Liquer, Marzipan, Hazelnut, Peppermint. I made them myself later in different designs and colours.

Hazelnut

My nieces, like all young girls, are big Disney Princesses fans. So I made these chocolates specially for them.

White Chocolates

I made these chocolates for my colleagues and friends in office. These are in Mint Chocolate Ganache flavour.

Mint Chocolate Ganache

This is something I enjoy so much that I would love to make this a profession. It is so much fun. What could be better than making a profession out of something you love doing?