Thursday, December 23, 2010

A social animal cannot survive social isolation!

Almost exactly an year since I came out of the formal, corporate world. This calls for a lot of patience and perseverence, test of strength to not get allured into going back again. Some things are not working out because of my way of operating, will rectify that in the new year!!

It will be difficult to paint the corporate world all dark, there is money in there, although after a while the work gets routine, and there is lack of autonomy and you got to do what someone says. However the social scenario is better, you meet people on a more constant day to day basis and gather and develop stronger friendships etc! The human psyche is strange - can swing from extreme to extreme... The need is for a different type of an organization!

A social organization with greater independently work and Dhonuk in a way is trying to build exactly that - as artists are themselves creative folks and work best and produce quality art without any pressure or forced productivity gains. However things cannot be entirely virtual/online - that reduces the human touch; based to some extent on the example of other similar organizations. And humans by definition are social animals and cannot remain disconnected for long - that I have realized...

One thing that I am realizing is that social isolation can be as a killer, in a researcher/entrepreneur role (it has a potential to overwhelm you if you get reclusive) - it is truly depressing at times... No jokes!

Will need to get back to my old social self. True wish for the new year 2011.

Also it is strange that a course such as REIL (IIMB) that extols the virtues of entrepreneurship is actually making me question my very basis or foundations of my convictions and think sometimes even critically of entrepreneurship and my way of execution - which can become key in making or breaking. It is also about my commitment that is at stake due to a wavering mind.

It needs a lot of courage to question your very basis for life, rethink and realign your life and I am no coward!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Prof Ashok Rao at IIM Bangalore

If only there was something called a 'thought missile' - devastating! Prof Ashok Rao (IIT/IISc) should take more classes in IIM Bangalore! What a radical professor - hats off! Whoever has not heard him, has missed out, he is capable of reconfiguring your mind ... I agree with almost 90% of his views.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Meeting Paranjoy Guha Thakurta!

It was indeed a pleasure to speak to Paranjoy Guha Thakurta - an independent journalist and an educator with over 33 years of work in different media: print, radio, television and documentary cinema; yesterday for over a hour and a half at the IIMB! He is such a down to earth man and yet such a deep thinker! Blood & Iron is an extremely courageous movie - Bravo Sir! Inspiring...

The day before (Friday), the first public screening of his movie Blood & Iron at IIMB auditorium left a lasting impression on me. It is a deeply disturbing/heart-wrenching movie on the nexus between criminals, politicians, and businesses; it makes your blood boil because as if they (the mining mafia) are running a republic of their own and no one can do anything at all, the system is helpless. Our national resources are being rapaciously plundered without any second thought. The ecological devastation, economic harm, social injustice/exploitation and national fallout is of a degree just too high for us to ignore!


In the evening met or was lectured by another radical and inspiring professor, Prof Ashok Rao (IIT, IISc) at IIM Bangalore. His view though radical I was able to relate to most of them due to some overlap in my thoughts, philosophy and lifestyle!

Later in the evening there was a discussion involving Ramachandra Guha, Santosh Hegde, Prof Chiranjib  Singh. Prof U R Ananthamurthy was unable to make it to the discussion at the Suchitra Film Society.
The red haze mixes with sweat to form a sticky paste that does not peel off one's skin easily. It becomes dried blood. - What bleeds Bellary - Author(s): Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, Ayaskant Das

Sunday, November 21, 2010

‎'Living up to expectations'

‎'Living up to expectations'! Whose expectations? Different people have different expectations... Everyone's would become impossible :)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

'Shopping Mall Therapy' works!

TAG: Verses, Reverses

'Shopping Mall Therapy' works!
Binging on McD's - CHICKEN INSIDE, 
Browsing books and mags in book BARS! 
MAGAZING at Vidya Balan in some hot attire...
Green shiny blouse, lovely white saree. Heartthrob!
Gaping wide eyed at Apple showroom goodies, 
SO MANY movies and movie tickets... 
Guzaarish - Aish looks cool, smoking hot!
And then there's a LOT :D 
And I remember once 
We had done 'observation studies' 
At a nearby mall,
Part of some design project:
People checking out stuff, 
Shopping, Window shopping, yakking...
Queues, Queue lengths, Consumer behaviour!!
Glazed looks, hyper kids. 
New age thrill. Shiny lights.
Couples walking around like zombies, 
Airtel promoting its new logo with RED colored contests ... 
Had fun, have fun! Go again.
It's the sensory experience stupid! 
And the glassy plastic, metallic energy! 
That's why 
'Shopping Mall Therapy' works!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Reliance: Anil Ambani group got undue benefits: CAG report

Nothing new about Reliance - I just wonder when big money and financial gobbledygook (err policy) is involved anything is possible/things just go haywire - remember sub-prime crisis? Mr Anil looks so thoughtful in this pic! Where's the money - honey? CORPORATE INDIA under the scanner now!! Still utilizing pre-liberalization core competencies and institutional voids?

The report of the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India on the 2G spectrum allocation indicates that it was the Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG) that benefited the most from the arbitrary and unfair manner in which licences were given in 2008.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Some thoughts...

Every human being is like some stage of a budding lotus! May they bloom and blossom into their full blown potential! May nothing hinder them...

A series of tough hurdles, masquerading as failures and even near destructive events are thrown at you in life - you got to survive them all with equanimity! And then you are there. An unforgettable day today!!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Music in Life, Music is Life!

The heart yearns to sing, the songs in our heart!
WOW! A fantastically musical Sunday it was today!

When I got to do what I love to do - sing all day long. The singing session went on from 2 PM to 7 PM with a few breaks in between! Listening to other amazing singers - some quite renowned and some newly discovered talent in our fold within the bengali community. Truly love the bengali community 'get-togethers' for being so culturally rich!! Music comprised of Rabindra Sangeet, Nazrul Geeti and many other bengali genres including songs of SD Burman and other styles, several hindi oldies and melodies galore... It was actually Bijoya Sammelani - a get-together that happens post Vijaya Dashami!

Venue: Jayamahal Samiti building - the newly inaugurated 2nd Floor.

When I reached, Rishi - the newly discovered and a very talented singer was performing, I joined him for a while and then several other artists. Later on I sang a Nazrul Geeti (Aruno Kanti Ke Go which I again sang for a second time in the evening although it is in Raag Ahir Bhairav - a Bhakti song dedicated to Lord Krishna composed by the poet Kazi Nazrul Islam), Raina Beeti Jaaye from Amar Prem, 'Kehna Hain' from Padosan, Saghana Gahano Raatri (a Rabindra Sangeet again which I had heard in the voice of Kishore Kumar), Ami Chini Go Chini Tomaare (that Rabindra Nath Tagore composed in memory of Victoria Ocampo - the Argentine poetess), Yeh Jawaani and Woh Shaam by Kishore again! 'Kahin Door Jab' from Anand. I concluded with 'Chalte Chalte' but not before topping it up with 'Aaj Jyotsna Raate' (a Rabindra Sangeet) in chorus with a few other talented singers!! Although an informal gathering what enthuses me most is that this was my public performance after a long time!

Thoroughly enjoyed the day! The accolades and words of appreciation along with the company of like minded folks all drinking the same nectar of music and getting intoxicated was indeed a sight to behold! Happy to spread the joy through music, and three cheers and hope for more such sessions to follow - sooner or later!

And more performances to follow!

Friday, October 08, 2010

Launch of short graphic novel/book 'Durga Reawakened'

Event Sponsored by H K Kejriwal Foundation

Short Illustrated Graphic Novel - Durga Puja Special from Dhonuk!

'Durga Reawakened' 

Illustration: Mahan J Dutta, NID Ahmedabad & Concept, Adaptation: Shamit Bagchi, IIM Bangalore.

Launch event on 10th October, Sunday at 5:30 PM 
at Karnataka Chitrakala Parishat, Kumarakrupa Road, Bangalore 
(near Golf Club/Hotel Lalit Ashok/Windsor Manor)

You are invited.

The chief guest will be Dr. Harkishore Kejriwal - one of India’s foremost art collectors and patron, founder HK Kejriwal foundation and the co-founder and vice president of Chitrakala Parishat, Bangalore’s most prestigious art institute. 

The guest of honour will be Dr. Balasubramaniam Shekara Professor of Quantitative Methods and Information Systems at the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore. He handles an eclectic course on Creativity in Arts and Science in addition to teaching Thinking paradigms.

More Details on:


A graphical re-telling of the mythology of Goddess Durga. Contemporary in outlook and rendered in a unique graphical format, for the first time! The book depicts in rich detail Debi Durga's creation by the Gods of the Hindu pantheon and her epic battle with the demon king Mahishasura in buffalo disguise, who with a boon from Lord Brahma had wreaked havoc in the three worlds!
Her victory over the demon earned her the name Mahishasuramardini. This victory till today is celebrated all across India during the Pujas and Navaratri, culminating in Vijaya Dashami!
So is there a fresh new re-interpretation for this tradition of worshiping the fierce manifestation of energy, Shakti?
And what about her victory? Is it purely a myth? Or does it hold anything new for us to understand?


Dhonuk is an online ecosystem for art lovers, art enthusiasts and artists with an in-built online social network. It provides an online space for creativity in the arts, and a platform to connect the artist and the artsumer (art consumer
- organizational or individual)! Letting artists share, showcase, interact, learn, collaborate. Acting as a repository of fresh, interesting art content and an energetic ecosystem - it can be consumed for free. Customized or premium
content is paid for! We facilitate this monetization of the content. Dhonuk is currently in the process of actively generating collaborative content.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Contradict Me, No Don't Please

I am reborn now,
The dead past is gone;

Left behind in slices of time,
Of years bygone.

A single root,
No wait, a few of them actually,

Remain stuck  still
In the muck of the past.

A bolus of soft vomit
Of self pity; I play with it.

Will have to now vomit it out
The over bearing stench, getting unbearable!

But it helps you,
Helps you get shorn of all that is unnecessary,

The filthy conformity, the make-believe, the ostentatious.
So what if a little smelly a medicine?

The creativity dies within,
When depression sets in. Shun it!

No way, it is nothing but that pain,
A fertile soil for creativity's gain! Treasure it.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Feel the chill and the thrill.

Being from Bangalore I had never experienced this sort of cold. In June it was 5-6 degree Celsius... what on earth would it be like in the winters? And the real reason was that I was totally unprepared. During the late entry of the bus (around 8 PM) along the circuitous roads with hairpin bends, firstly the mind was shocked and numbed, then a downpour started and as I got off the bus having reached Badrinath with only a jacket on - the chill hit me - hard. Initially it was manageable but later the second day the body was slowly giving way to the onslaught, unexpected, un-acclimatized and unprepared as it was. I managed to reach the GMVN Yatri Nivas asking many people on the way as it was dark all around and the drizzle intensifying and ebbing all the time. 

The Yatri Nivas though spacious it had these flickering yellow lamps reminiscent of massive halls of some old and dilapidated mansion. The cold outside had me blinded and it took me some time to get adjusted, the dorm was nice and cosy looking with wooden beds and massive blankets that would turn cold if left alone for a minute. The second day evening was horror - as I kept shivering even with a jacket and a sweater on, almost caught fever and had to eat properly (a heavy dinner as I wasn't eating properly for last 2 days) to get my system working up to all its potential. The first morning the bath at the natural geysers beneath the very colorful Badrinath temple was like bliss. Hot to the first touch it becomes warm as you enjoy frolicking in the waters. 

The roaming around the Mana village the whole day was yet another exciting experience - we went down the rocks and touched the river waters! Crossing the bridge and reminiscing the idyllic life that the villagers live! It is harsh though very harsh to lead life at those altitudes. Later when I had to get back to Joshimath it was a long wait at the bus depot waiting for jeeps and Sumos and Qualises. Finally quite in a bad health and a Crocin to reduce the pain I reached the sunny Joshimath. Most of these memories is now overshadowed by the breathtaking beauty of Badrinath and Mana. The wait at the temple for hours, the rock formations and quaint huts of Mana, the gurgling river spewing fresh water as it slapped on the rocks turning them to round boulders and smaller stone fragments and even stone powder! The green river, the muddy river, the blue river, the white waters - so many forms, so many colors ...  

Sunday, August 01, 2010

No Voids, Only Friends.

Dedicated to all my friends – old and new - active and dormant ones too…

As I was going back home that night,
In the red air-conditioned bus, in mid-flight.
I looked around, for there was some noise,
Ringtones and mobiles had turned modern day toys.

There sat on a seat - a sister and a brother.
The sister was elder, the brother the joker!
The girl dressed in black, the boy in brown and white,
One would have been thirteen, the other ten, not quite.

They made a jocular pair, the girl trying on a serious face
As the boy continued clowning with his ‘Bugs Bunny’ grace.
As he made faces to her, she laughed and giggled, 
Enthused, the boy in his seat, further joyfully wriggled.

Mumbling jokes, stories and comments he made.
Mischief and energy glowed on the face of the brother
The sister at times would scold and admonish, 
Once resorting to complaining to their mother!

I could feel the palpable warmth and the joy of the siblings.
You share and care and you often fight!
A soul to tell all your stories, pleasures and plight, 
Frees your mind, gets your heart light!

Brothers and sisters I have had none!
So you see, loneliness felt but no damage done! 
Friends have been helpful, always around.
In my friends, that love and caring have I found!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Fire and Night.

This is a new episode #5 - Read the rest of the blog posts bottom up on the tag: UttarakhandDiary

It is getting hazy and dark, the taste of the halwa puri and another syrupy sweetmeat special to Haridwar first grabs my taste buds, sends pleasure signals shooting to my brain, envelopes my mind for a while and then as I finish it off, the taste lingers on in my tongue. Delirious, as I cross the bridge I can see the river of dark molten watery nothing-ness, caressing the banks, which slowly gets filled with thousands of gathering devotees all eager to look at a daily spectacle that will soon unfold. Ganga Aarati – river worship at the Hari ki Pauri starts around 7 PM every day. A glimpse of the holy fire is supposed to be sacred I guess, that’s why the near stampede; which I become a part of in moments. Until minutes before the fire is lit, agents of the Ganga Mandali are feverishly collecting donations from devotees, loudly calling out names of those who contributed and the amount they contributed. My contribution is meager in comparison with others - which means there are a lot of tourists - but then I don’t believe in comparisons!  

The chief priest starts chanting and then the fire is lit in a brass holder that he holds - smell of camphor and other holy oils never reach my blocked nostrils. People pushing to get forward to be nearer to the fire; as leaping flames become visible in stark contrast to the pitch darkness that has suddenly fallen. I turn around to see another flame behind and little flakes of fire come leaping towards us in the blowing wind; one small fleck sticks to my bag and I realize it has caught fire, I extinguish it with my a few blows. There you go - a permanent mark left on my bag. Burnt? Yes and perhaps blessed!

After the Arati I head towards the market hoping to get a rickshaw but at this time of the night the roads are choked with devotees and the few rickshaws that manage to reach the spot quote bizarrely high prices for a ride. I keep walking as a panoply of vendors and devotees throng the roads, walking through is a difficult experience. Finally I get a rick ready to go for twice the usual rate – might have walked down all the way, I think.

I reach the hotel and ask for what kind of trips they arrange for and the man at the reception hands me a pamphlet, the Rishikesh one looks best for an arranged 1 day trip. I enquire about Kedarnath and Gangotri, these are to the centre and north of Uttarakhand and will take quite some time to reach, Kedarnath I am told has to be trekked for about fourteen KMs to reach. I ask about Joshimath and Badrinath, he asks me to go and speak to a few travel agencies down the road, the GMVN (Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam) office is also nearby (there are two actually, one an office and another is a PRO).

So I wander about until I find a good travel agency – a reasonably knowledgeable guy, who speaks confidently and convinces me! I plan the way he suggests – Badrinath (east Uttarakhand) and then I come southwards to South Garhwal, Joshimath, Rudraprayag. Kedarnath and other places will not happen this time given the time I have available or the lack of it, for this trip. Later I go to the GMVN PRO – it has shut by the time I reach there. I come back and book the ticket to Badrinath (the bus is at 4:30 AM) the trip will take almost 12-14 hours I am told.

The next day I will go to Rishikesh! Lakshman Jhula and Ram Jhula. I will come back to this later…

Next Day - After I get back from a whole day’s trip to Rishikesh, I go back to the hotel and ask them to wake me up at 3:30 AM in the morning so I can take the bus to Badrinath. I have a sumptuous dinner and then as I switch off the lights to go to sleep, sleep eludes me completely. You would have expected after all the tiring events of the day sleep would come easily – no sir, no such luck. Thoughts and images from the trip to Rishikesh come trooping in – sleep has vanished! And you cannot force sleep. The mind at times behaves in extremely strange ways and gets attached as it were with certain thoughts, events, ideas and people. The mind capture can be so complete that all else is forgotten for that period of time. It is like that example of a transparent crystal taking the colour of the nearest object and completely identifying with it. So finally I fall asleep at around 12:30 am or so and the room service promptly wakes me up at 3:15 am. Groggy, foggy eyed, I get ready, checkout of Hotel Arati and leave in a rickshaw; a chatty rickshaw driver for company.

The bus is supposed to leave at 4:30 am. I call once and am told the bus hasn’t come yet. I wait till 4:20 and then call again – and when I describe where I am the contact person informs me that I am perhaps at the wrong bus stand. I am wary I will miss the bus. Luckily I reach the other bus stand at about a distance of a kilometer, and as I ask for my seat – seat number 10, a young chap gets off the seat number 10 and goes out mumbling.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A true Art Connoisseur

Visit to Dr H K Kejriwal's residence – a fabulous art experience!

The research on cultural entrepreneurship we are conducting at IIM Bangalore is indeed fortuitous and enlightening for me as we understand the art world dynamics; and add to it the fact that we are getting to meet, interact with and interview some of the best folks in the field and the business of art. 

We had been to Dr H K Kejriwal’s residence today– founder of Karnataka Chitrakala Parishat, me and my research associate colleague. What a treasure trove of art it is – just fantastic. From works of Amrita Sher Gill, Abanindranath Tagore, Jogen Choudhury, to intricately done Buddhist thankas, murals from 3 BC, sculptures and Chola bronze works, Dancing Ganesha to I don’t know what else; cannot recollect all of them now. Stacks and bookshelves full of books on Art all along the walls. Porcelain cutlery, antique wine glasses, heads of temple figures, Buddha, abstract sculptures - many, many more artistic jewels. Loved the bronze sculptures of Ajit Chakraborty. 

The experience was just visceral and sheer joy - very fulfilling for me. The man himself is very energetic at eighty five and as my legs started aching going through the collections after two hours of walking around and explanations by HKK, he went on eager as ever. He has an evolved aesthetic sense having done the entire interior design himself. He is crazy about Rabindranath Tagore (and Mahatma Gandhi) and had many letters of his, could recite poetry of the Indian bard-poet with great emotion in clear Bengali – having stayed in Calcutta for almost forty years of his formative life, all the while himself to no end praising the poet and and his expressions. From the current industry state, players, insider news and the whole gamut of things we discussed apart from seeing the collection for almost eighty percent of the time. 

A passionate man - believing in beauty and pride in Indian relics and the intellectual prowess, learn-ability and adaptability of Indians. The range of topics that Dr H K Kejriwal could expound on was quite extraordinary and his boundless energy and verve quite unfathomable! Inspiring that we are able to meet him as part of our research endeavour.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Hari ki Pauli

Continued from here... [Yet another train to Haridwar]
Or read blog posts bottom up on the tag UttarakhandDiary

As he started off from Hotel Arati sitting in a cycle rickshaw towards Hari ki Pauri – the banks where thousands bathe every day, Mr S felt the drizzle on him – he had expected searing heat – this was so cool – literally! The rickshaw puller experienced considerable agony in pulling Mr S’s bulk through particularly one part of the market where the rickshaw-wallahs can no longer cycle but have to pull the rickshaw and the customer sitting on it as they walk along!

Now we can see Mr S walking across the bridge across the Ganga (Ganges) walking down in the drizzle and then there he is standing on the red paved platform on one side. That’s the Hari ki Pauri. We can see him now as a tiny dot among thousands of worshippers. He seems to be saying “Wow, I love this place, it is drizzling and that makes it even more breathtaking”. Camera in hand he gapes at the thousands of bathers, some changing clothes, some dipping in the holy waters, some getting ready to jump in, some fully drenched. Can you feel the tingle in Mr S’s spine? No - you won’t, you can’t if you have not gone to this place – Hari ki Pauri – Lord Hari’s tank in Haridwar an area where the gushing waters of the Ganga are utilized for bathing and worship.

Mr S speaks to two Sadhus asking them what they are doing here, they retort back to him the same – then they all have a hearty laugh! After looking in wonderment all around for a couple of more minutes, Mr S walks down to the water front and is bending gingerly to take a handful of water in his cupped palm when he hears a strange sound. A Hisssss.


Mr S looks around and doesn’t find anything, apart from people frolicking in the waters - he continues to try and reach the water since if he slips he is going to be in the water, so he is very careful.


“What is it?”, thinks aloud Mr S.


He turns to his left to find a strange creature now visible just above the water surface. It is a strange creamish color water creature – small rounded head, a cup shaped lip, and several tentacles – red tentacles.

“Ah this is something I have seen somewhere”, says Mr S and that’s when he recollects browsing through the Lovely Planet magazine in the airport in Thimpu, six years back. He had gone on a tour through CorningSpar tours and travels. He distinctly remembers his guide Nomit Dhasu. Dhasu was a smart-alecky know-it-all kind of a man, at least in his subject, but had the air of an Indiana Jones about him. He had felt reviled first but the man was knowledgeable.
Anyways here and now he remembered the magazine talked of a Haripauli Gangeticus, scientific name for an octopus - rarest of rare non-oceanic breed found in India and seen only once in four years in and around the Hari ki Pauri. People used to fondly call it ‘Hari ki Pauli’. So this was it, and as the notion went only the most fortunate had sightings of this frothy, odd-looking creature. And apparently it had soothe-saying powers.

“Hey what is it that you are saying”, said Mr S trying to listen more keenly.


“You mean inches?” asked Mr S looking at his pot belly, frowning; then straining his ears, bringing them closer, slipping once almost on the verge of a fall as careful as he was.

“Princesssss, you will see the princess,” said Pauli distinctly.

“Tomorrow,” he added.

“Who, where, when?” shouted out Mr S amidst the deafening roar of the mighty river, his interest now sufficiently piqued.

“The princess in disguise. However there is a condition”, said Pauli – a smile spreading across its brown, grainy and white bulbous head, eyes blinking.

“What condition?” Mr S yelled, unable to control his excitement now.

“Don’t yell. Let me tell. You have to climb the stairs to reach the Manasa Devi temple. There that way”, Pauli raised one of its blood red tipped tentacle.

“Oh really, great!” said Mr S, blood now rushing up to his face.

“Bye then, have a great time ahead”, said Pauli now waving all its tentacles.

It was a wonderful sight that is still etched in Mr S’s memory. He waved back and within seconds it had disappeared as if assimilated within the spray of the gushing waters.

He ran up the stairs and back across the bridge and started walking towards where the rickshaw wallah had told him the stairs to the Manasa Devi temple began. No big deal he thought, he had no idea why Pauli had thrown him this challenge. Was it a joke? Or was it true? Who was this princess? In disguise he had said. Was he sleepy and day dreaming? He could hardly wait till tomorrow…

He started climbing up the stairs, and he went on climbing, and climbing and climbing and climbing! At one point he got so totally breathless that he gulped down a bottle full of water mistaking his breathlessness for thirst! There were hawkers asking him to buy Prasad or holy offerings to the goddess every few hundred or two hundred steps. When he reached the destination it was a revelation. People thronged in great numbers which meant they had all climbed too. Had they?

After the visit to the temple, he asked and someone informed him that there is a ropeway but it was not operational for the next two hours due to gusty winds. That meant he had to climb down the stairs. He was much more prepared now, once he was near the end he asked two people and they told him that he had climbed eight hundred and fifty steps. The stairs had become slippery and muddy in the rains and he could slip anytime so carefully he came down and promptly walked into an eatery in the market place. He could hardly eat anything when sleep started to envelop him. He now realized that he must have slept for one or two hours in the train from Delhi. He quickly finished gulping down some food and hurried back to the Hotel Arati.

Sleep overcame him as he locked the door of his room from inside; he lay motionless in bed, after having tossed the camera on one side of the bed. None of the photographs had picked up any trace of Pauli – the octopus Gangeticus, he discovered later. In his dreams he jogged through the alleys of his memory, Nomit Dhasu and the adventures at Thimpu.

It was evening. Princess Sa Ri Ta had reached Rishikesh the same day, the dusky complexioned, full bodied beauty, with dark pouty lips was staring at the distant something, sitting in the balcony of Hotel Ganga across the table with her mother and they were sipping tea. The two of them were to tour Rishikesh the following day in a bus booked by her dad back in Gwalior. The same bus that Mr S would take – he didn’t even know if he was going to Rishikesh the next day or somewhere else, but then coincidence or otherwise, things happen...


Sunday, July 04, 2010

Yet another train to Haridwar

Continued from here... [Train to Haridwar]

Before I enter Hotel Arati let me abruptly pause for a while here and hop onto another train. This time it is a train of thoughts that travels far and wide to everywhere!

Why am I here in Haridwar? What brings me here? To start with was it a conscious decision – of course triggered or by an impulse - that started it all? Or was it pre planned, beyond my volition? The latter is too farfetched to be imagined being true! At least I refuse to believe it although some part of my brain is instructing exactly the opposite – saying this is a part of my destiny – it had to happen…

Going by the easiest explanation first - it was an escape hatch from the banal life of the city that is Bangalore – academics and work combined had merely intellectual stimulation to offer. Get away, anywhere, now! It was a short break of four weeks (the longest we get between years) between the second year of my post graduation and the next quarter when I had exactly a week left. It was an urgency and impatience to grab this opportunity to travel to some place and I finally chose Uttaranchal, and to start with Haridwar. See? That was easy.

The next thing is this concept of wanderlust, to explore beyond just guided tours and work related travel. It is a sort of honey that attracts us as if we were bees. Getting lost – going up yonder – the pull of the majestic mountains and the beautiful hills – or the plains or the forests and the seas – infinite possibilities - one life. Notions imbibed from books and experienced in life too.

I had done an anonymous trip to Benaras, a year back and probably that was the source, a reference point. Once you take off on your own – you’re hooked, addicted as if to travelling independently, free from all things, going along, through thick and thin – carefree of the consequences. The ‘just do it’ spirit!

You won’t believe it – it all happened in the span of one day. I made the decision on a Sunday morning, went ahead and bought some travel gear that morning, booked the flight tickets in the afternoon and by midnight was on my way. Swiftness of it all also gives you that kick! Adrenaline high – I am reminded of Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara’s remark: “We travel just to travel”!

More than travel it is my free will asserting itself! It tugs at your innermost core and then you give in! It is not your usual sight-seeing or relaxing in a resort (which incidentally I find repulsive, it has its social value I agree) – it goes beyond; it helps you connect to something beyond just life’s immediate, here and now activities and utilities.

Metaphorically the link of comradeship and love is established with the vast expanses of the universe through these spaces and natural formations such as mountains, seas, forests on planet earth and act as perfect surrogates. Transcendence reached albeit temporarily through these means.

The trailing compartment of this train is the destiny bit – the notion that it had all to be and so it did –destined as it were! Someone even told me this exact thing too, later on in my trip. I don’t deny that some part of my brain is reeling in pleasure at that thought but is it rational? Hmmm... Does everything have to be rational in life?

The train screeches to an abrupt halt. There is a momentary silence.

There erupts the hustle bustle of the Haridwar streets. Walking through a small entrance into a place dungeon-like, I check-in into Hotel Arati.


Thursday, July 01, 2010

Train to Haridwar

Continued from here... [New Delhi Railway Station]

Loads of foreigners in the compartment and also noisy kids; one set spiritually inclined the other decibel-ly! With all this however the train is quite comfortable – AC chair car – with breakfast served. After a few minutes of departure a person comes and sits beside me on the vacant seat and gives me a big smile. In another few minutes we start conversing. I tell him about my limited ticket up to Meerut.

“So when did you buy the ticket, did someone tell you to buy it?” he asked, a twinkle in his eye. This man of a smallish build was well dressed and his black leather shoes were shining; he sat in style beside me.

“Yes, the person at the ticket counter where I was all night,” I replied back, to which he started nodding his head in a gesture of knowingness.

“Good,” he continued, “that was clever of you – unfortunately I came at the last moment and had to speak to the TC to enter without a ticket. So where are you from?”

“I am from Bangalore, I hope I can extend this ticket beyond Meerut; where are you headed to?,” I ask him.

Saharanpur or someplace he tells me and he is without a ticket; and I look more nervous than him – he is perfectly nonchalant; I then realize that many people could be doing this regularly.

The checker comes up and I mention to him if I can get my ticket extended till Haridwar.
“Speak to me in a while – I will let you know,” says he in a gentle voice; my ticket less co-passenger speaks to him in some sign language which I completely fail to fathom and then the TC vanishes! He never comes back.

Meerut arrives and we are told to vacate the seats by a mother-daughter duo perhaps, no - in all probability bengalis I figure. Me and my ticketless friend – apparently he is a manager with some Ayurvedic firm - move on, although I put up a brave face in front of the ladies; ultimately the ladies get the priority you see!

We move into the next compartment and find 2 seats vacant. I am sitting in between two people and they seem to be daily travelers. I feel extreme embarrassment in sitting between them like a ticketless traveler. They are calm and silent - going about their activities, reading the newspaper, having breakfast etc.

After a while another ticket checker arrives and I regain my composure then I go on to narrate the facts glibly – he says he would definitely look into it and vanishes – no other ticket checkers come after that and I give up on worrying. Ticketless has also vanished in the meanwhile, after a while.

I reach Haridwar at about noon while chatting for the last hour of the train travel with a serene and chatty but wise, old man with an ivory white, flowing beard; from Baroda. He is from a yoga ashram there and has extensive knowledge of Reiki and pranic – energy healing! I listen to him sceptically, some of his scientific explanations are quite plausible I must add though!

The Haridwar station is very small, I come out of the station premises and there are so many cycle rickshaws waiting in a queue along the road. The rickshaw wallah takes me to a pricey hotel first which I immediately come out of and then we settle for another one. On its board is written in Bengali script: হোটেল আরতি (Hotel Arati).

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

New Delhi Railway Station

The flight landed at the New Delhi airport at 1 AM and I had no further bookings - was still debating: Uttarakhand or Ladakh!

The outside of the Airport is not exactly warm nor exactly chilly, June has just arrived - I grab a Red Bull from a sleepy looking guy at one among the several food counters; ‘cause I know I have to sustain a long sleepless night. I browse on my new touch screen phone - the LG GT505 and make some inquiries about the multiple Delhi railway stations (everything in Delhi is in multiples). I start chatting to an auto rickshaw driver who compelling spins a yarn – but he’s a sweet middle-aged person – speaks with me for a while - tells me why I must go to the farther off railway station and checks and confirms over his mobile that I will get the Dehradun Shatabdi at around 7 AM. As I am speaking a red AC bus arrives, the conductor calling out – I confirm with the auto driver, apologize to him that I cannot take the auto and jump into the bus - the charges are one fifth that of the rick.

These AC buses ply back and forth from the airport to the bus stand/New Delhi railway station. I reach the railway station in 20 minutes. I start asking around for the railway station and meet two more men of roughly my age or slightly younger – they are coincidentally from Bangalore and are headed to Agra. The semi-dark lanes have a few shops open. A couple of men ask me if I would like to hire a taxi, I sit and chat for a while and then let them know I will head for the railway station.

Once I am in, I loiter around for a while, find the over bridge and at its other end reach the ticket counter which is outside the station. Near the counter I chat with the ticket brokers who are desperate to get some cash from me – am waiting for tickets for the Dehradun Shatabdi to Haridwar about which I had checked on the net earlier.

There is this broker with one hand missing, he is the most active of the lot and subtly conveys to me that without their help I will fail to get a ticket booked to my place of choice. Other brokers come and go – this man persists and smiles every often as I keep repeating I am not interested and he says: "Try kar leejiye".

Hundreds of people are sleeping in the open passenger entry area before the platforms. A scene you normally don’t see unless you go at that unearthly hour - twitching, tired bodies now resting. At around 3 AM I feel a bit drowsy, I go buy a magazine and some eatables to keep awake. 

I hang on as they tell me that the ticket counter opens at 4 AM, and it does but the train’s details are not available until 5 AM. Filling up the form and after submitting it, the bespectacled person at the counter checks on his terminal and lets me know that only 2 seats are available and that too till Meerut – he advices I take the ticket, later I could speak to the ticket checker and adjust. I do as he suggests! 

Then I wait for the train until 7 AM. I board the train not sure what I will do after Meerut… Meerut is 72 kilometers from Delhi and Haridwar another 140 plus kilometers.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Fantastic little sojourn to Uttarakhand!

It all started with the trigger, an unbearable pull, also known as 'WANDERLUST'.

There is some allure of the hills,
The raw challenge, the chills
And thrills.
To respond to it and conquer them is a must
And only just,
For then shall I satiate my wanderlust!

Compelling it is to travel,
Ignore if you will, redoubled it’d strike,
And burst forth, the unbearable pull,
The maddening ache of wandering,
Of getting lost, and discovering.
The pleasures of going the distance!  

Map for my trip to Uttaranchal - Go check map actuals on Google  Maps -

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