Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Am I Alive?

16th June 2013

Dear Kanta,

We had a peaceful time at Kedarnath as well but the weather here is not that great. The locals said that it might rain today. We’ll be leaving in an hour or more.

I will write all the details of this journey once I’ll reach home. Till then, miss me. I miss you.

Bubye!



***



Agarwal wasn’t well enough to travel alone in that deteriorating weather so I decided to take him on the horse ride rather than coming down walking with Birju and Mastaan. I wish I knew how adversely that decision will cost me.

In order to help Agarwal consult a doctor before finally taking our taxi back home, we departed an hour before Birju and Mastaan. I think that was the decision that reversed my destiny.

It took minutes to convert the lovely cloudy sky into a horrific stormy one. I felt a sense of shiver going down my spine as soon as I had a look at the fearing sky. I remember calling Kul to tell him that there was something wrong with the weather and I might not be able to contact him or anyone in the family due to signal failure.

What instigated as strong winds and drizzles of rain transformed into the worst storm and I saw it all happening in front of my eyes. It all seemed like a worst nightmare, but I could feel all that happening with me.

The wind was no longer blowing; it started screaming and together with it started the screaming of everyone witnessing it. The trees no longer swayed but instead were creaking, bending and uprooting from theirr oiginal positions and then it started raining heavily. Even shelters didn’t seem safe as the weather turned worse with each passing second. There was nothing that any of us could do as the storm was teared apart everything that took decades to get developed. Communication, lightning and strength, it all broke down and I could see the rivers alongside swelling to give rise to a more threatening consequence.

I was almost out of my senses and didn’t realize that I was no longer with Agarwal. I was not in a condition to think of him as I was losing support of my own mind. In the lap of god, each and every human present there was asking for his mercy and strength to face it.

I was surrounded with darkness, a deep sense of fear and then it all started drifting apart. Suddenly all what I felt was lightness. Yes, I started feeling very light, I no longer felt fearful, nor that darkness frightened me anymore. Besides, I started feeling a strange sense of contentment which was long missing from my life. Rising above those haunted memories, I was no longer able to listen to the shrieks of those around me.

It was strange. A few minutes back, I was shivering with fear, fear of losing thousands of those around me and fear of losing my own self but then, it all went away, I was feeling satisfied and relieved and fearless.

And then, I could see my family in front of my eyes. I felt as if I reached home. Though I wanted to enquire about the three of them but my body wanted to rest which was why I decided to ask about them after I regain my senses and strength.

I was about to sleep when I felt like I was surrounded with extreme bright lightning. The light was slowly engulfing me within and that was when I asked my own self, "Am I alive?". Steadily, I realized departing away from my own body. I could feel rising above realizing the ultimate truth that I died.



***




I not only died that day but my life also became a mystery for my family. They might still be confused of my whereabouts of whether I am alive or not, of whether I died because of the rainfall or my panic attacks killed me way before the monstrous river could. I don't know what happened with Agarwal, Mastaan and Birju but I know I am no more. I think my wish of meeting Kanta was fulfilled much before my expectations. 

"After spending two years of my life without you, I hope spending my life after death right next to you here on the front wall of our bedroom", said I to her photoframe from my photoframe on the left.


***


PS: This is an imaginary depiction of my Daddu's true story. We lost him in the Kedarnath tragedy that took place on June  16th, 2013. He was very fond of telling stories and even ended up giving us one more story with his mysterious death. ♥ 

Sunday, 27 January 2019

Hold yourself back!

Have you ever had one of those wierd kinda moments where you'd just be driving by yourself, or like even sitting at the same spot for hours where you feel like everything is wrong and you're all silent because you don't know if anything at all could be done to come out of that sinking feeling. 



But then you have a life that you have to continue living without letting anybody having any hint of what you're going through. You've to continue your day normally and act like you forgot how you felt but inside you didn't. 

Do you wonder if that silence is trying to tell you something? What if it's saying that silence and numbness are never ending. That nobody but you yourself could help you coming out of it. That if not for the joyous moments you have to go back to life for the creepiness and gloominess it holds for you. That you have to go back to singing songs again maybe the sad ones this time. That you have to roam around places, some new ones this time. That you have to click pictures of the bizzarre soul you are left with. 

Maybe, then you will start to miss the places you've been once at, not because of the people you went there with but because of somebody who you used to be when you were there. That might help you to come back. That might narrow down the silence and bring back the sound of the singing sparrow to your life. That might help.

Saturday, 27 October 2018

Find a Travel Buddy with XOXO



Have you always wanted to travel solo but were kinda worried about how will the people out there are gonna be and how will the locals there end up to be? 

OR are you a girl who's had a lot of trips with friends and family but still can't gather the courage to go solo? 

OR are you a parent who's cool enough to help your son/daughter find a travel buddy who'll end up teaching your kid how to travel solo. 

OR, do you just daydream about traveling solo one day, some day? 

If you answered YES to any of the questions above, this post is for you. 



Hello world, 


23rd October 2017, somebody told her, "See, stepping out of your home, out of your comfort zone is good. You should do it more often now". This changed her life. It was that day and today, a girl who was too afraid and uncomfortable about people outside her comfort zone has finally started to travel. I am that girl.


I took 24 years of my life to take this step, you shouldn't (Wink) especially in this world where if not your friends, if not your family, you could actually have a travel buddy. Wondering who this buddy is going to be? 

Let me introduce you with a one of its kind concept of travel dating. No, you are not forced to date somebody. No, it isn't a replica of Tinder. 

Meet, Xoxo Tours, a dating app for travellers. This basically is a combination of Travel Dating and Social Networking designed for travellers, travel enthusiasts, wannabe travellers or solo travellers to connect with locals or other travellers to date, meet or roam together while on a trip. People can connect and chat to decide to meet up/date & go on a trip. 




OR, you can just chuck off the meet-up based on your travel experience (This is especially for the female travellers). So, relax, let's travel girls

It is a free Indian dating site/app where you can actually find a like-minded travel mate and explore a whole new world with them together. Who knows, you might end up finding your soul mate on signing up at this website. 

If not, you might end up with a bag full of travel friends that you keep meeting on your trips till you gain the passion and confidence of travelling solo. 


Pros of the website


- It's free of cost. 

-‎ Easy to use, allow you the flexibility of selecting your language. 

-‎ Saves you from asking everybody on other dating websites whether they like travelling or not. 

- It's you who decide who you want to travel with. 

-‎ You can chuck off a conversation if you feel unsafe. Do not want another girl posting #Metoo. #Respectwomen 


Cons: Apart from some fraud humans, I don't think there're any. OR let's just try this first and then come up with some (if any). I am sure there aren't any. 




Dear Men,
In a world full of women crying about #Metoo, I hope some of you are decent enough who would be true and genuine to the women who look up to you for nothing but respect. 

Dear Women,
It would be great if we behave likewise and respect men as well and if not anything else, be smart and trust your gut more than the one on the other side of the screen. 

Dear humans, 
Irrespective of your genders, let's try to be kind on this platform and take India towards a time where fear and safety won't be the glitches in one's solo travel plans. 


Happy travel, happy dating.

-Lots of Love 
Mani


Saturday, 13 October 2018

Turning 25

Dear Soul Chutney,

It was a private ritual that I started some years back of writing birthday letters to my own self about the lessons that I learnt that year, about how I would like to move on, about how I was feeling at that particular moment and it was always amazing to read them again. This year, I had a thought of writing a blog post about it which made me write all of it. 


25th it was. Happy belated 25th to me. Wondering why I broke the ritual of writing a self letter and writing a public post? Even I am wondering about the same. But the reaaon could be the grown up feeling that I have, may be it is the maturity of voicing out my opinions publicly without the fear of being judged is making me do so. 

This year has been awesome in its own ways. I took years to understand one thing and then it just took a day to help me realise all of it. I learnt to keep moving on in life, to forgive others even when it's out of my principles, to listen to selective stories than all of them, to be a l'il more vocal about my thoughts, to know the difference between needs and wants, to know what's worth keeping and what's worth letting go. With the twists and turns that took place all emotionally and physically in the backdrop of my mind, I learnt to calm myself down, to relax, to understand that 'It's okay'. It's okay to not get everything that you wanted. It's okay if the world isn't fair as you are (C'mon, you are a libran, not everybody is that). And above all, I learnt that 'why' sbouldn't be the only question you need to ask, most of the times, 'why not' helps. It was this year that I finally decided to step out of home to explore what lies in the world outside I call home, it seems easy but it wasn't. Collecting all the faith on my own self, puking in every other city that I went to, learning different lessons every time, losing people in between has been the pros and cons of travelling. Hoping to be a l'il better of in health when I travel next. All of this was fine, tough but fine but this 25 days to go in my 25th brought another sudden change in my life which I never though would happen. Many of you might guess it right, I am working out on my diet. From an 'only junk-foodie', too much junkie, having junk every other day, I pledged to control on my habbit of having junk. I did it for 25 days straight before my birthday. Yeah! I deserve a big round of applause for that. But, okay, I am blushing now. 

Everyone, trust me, everyone around me wonders somewhere in the back of their mind why 2-months of celebration? Birthdays are cliche ageing process that just make you realise that you've completed one more year of your life. 

Frankly, I ask nobody to celebrate them with me. I love this personal space of 2-months that I spend loving myself to core. In the hustle bustle that we are a part of, we often forget to pamper ourself, to love ourself, I do it all in the 2 months. And, I have no regrets even if I look like a fool to everyone. I love my birthday, you should love yours too. ❤️

People who dance to the rhythm of my birthday beats with me love me the most, hate me the most for poking them that it's my birthday coming soon. And I don't do this to everyone. So, you must be very special to me to witness all of that. 

Cheers to all the lessons, beautiful memories of this year, some promises, new habbits, getting over some bad habbits, loss and addition of a few humans in my life, to the new me, the new inverted bob, fashion-conscious, still a crazy kid at heart girl who just turned 25. 

The clock seriously is ticking very fast, oh god, I hope I live up to my happiness goals & purposes in life and spread love. 

-Love
Mani


Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Lansdowne: Away from the hustle-bustle!

Mom: What all did you visit today?
Mani: Maa, I can't hear you. Networks here are weak. I'll text you what all I did as soon as I get the networks.

My mom was shocked as soon as I told her that I visited no places other than the resort I was staying at during my weekend trip to Lansdowne. 

Are you confused too as to why I am writing a blog about it if I actually did nothing there? Let's clear your thought bubbles. 

In the far off hills of Uttarakhand lies a not so populated hill station that is still undiscovered by most of the humans. Less crowded, unexplored, well maintained, full of peace with amazing natural attractions, Lansdowne is located around 40 kilometers from Kotdwar, district Pauri, Garhwal. If you'are travelling from Delhi, it will not take more than 6-7 hours to reach this peaceful hill station.


I went there with my colleagues (who are actually family) the last weekend. Most people I consulted told me that it is not the right time to visit this place because it would be all rains and we won't be able to roam around in the streets and visit the tourist attractions every traveller talks about after coming back. This 'not-the-right-time' actually made Lansdowne one of the best trips for us among the rest that happened till now in 2018.

You know what, there's this old-fashioned belief that one needs to roam and visit all the famous spots around a city or destination to call it a trip. To those who believe in that, Uhu uhu, times are changing now and I think a trip to relax, a trip where you find time to slow-down your fast paced life back at home is more of a requirement. So, dear new-age travellers, I know you understand this need for peace, I know you will love this place. Trust me, there's no right time to visit places, all you need is a will to wander.

We stayed at the resort we booked (Astre Vue Resort) for a day, enjoyed the clouds that were walking with us, stared at the valley underneath, played indoor games in a glass room built just above a cliff with valleys on both sides, sing along with the guitar player that the resort arranged during the bornfire time and made memories.









A few 'what all we visited and did' shots for old-fashioned travellers.


St. Mary's Church
This isn't tea, I am a coffee person, remember.

The old bridge enroute Lansdowne.

On the way to Lansdowne.

An unknown, natural, surprize waterfall found on the way back.


I am sorry if I am not entertaining people here who want to know of the places they can visit when in Lansdowne. Take me along the next time and we'll check out those places together. For now, these are the places even I googled before travelling. This might help. Hell yeah, thank me later.

1. Tip and Top

2. Garhwali Museum

3. St. Mary's Church

4. Tarkeshwar Mahadev

Lansdowne Look-book:

The most important part of a trip is to stay comfortable and dressed as per the demands of the weather. Because I visited this place in the rainy season, I tasted both the flavors of pleasant and foggy mornings and chilling evening and nights. Here's a look-book of what I wore and where.

1. While travelling from Delhi to Lansdowne

Okay, what's better than your PJs to have a comfortable journey? I wore this relaxed Pajama with a soft round-neck tee while travelling from Delhi to Lansdowne. Also, just the color and print on my tee changed while I was coming back. So, there's no while coming back look. Also, I was too tired and all lazy to click a picture in that. Hope you don't mind, right?



2. Day 1: At Astre Vue Resort

This is the day we reached our resort which was about to be our home for the next two days, Astre Vue Resort. (Visit this link to check out the resort, it was one heaven there that I will cherish for lifetime). I wore this cute l'il blue bohemian dress (from Reliance Trends) with a pair of tan brown bellies to complete the look. Does this look remind you of the Nirma girl? No, no, I didn't pose for them in childhood. LOL!




3. Day 2: While roaming around the city in rains.

It was out final day in the city and it was raining hard. The non-stop rains made the weather a l'il cool. I wore this woolen dress from 109F and paired it again with the same rain-friendly belly. 


Tips: If you are visiting this place in the season like this i.e. Rains, make sure you carry a jacket, an umbrella, some rain-friendly flip-flops, waterproof bags, polybags and a hand-towel with you.




Life here in cities is tiring, routine based and polluted. Amidst all of the hustle bustle we face everyday, a weekend trip like this can rejuvenate both your mind, body and soul. 

ये वादियाँ ये फ़िज़ाएं बुला रही हैं तुम्हें 
खामोशियों की सदाएं बुला रही हैं तुम्हें |

तुम्हारी ज़ुल्फों से खुशबू की भीख लेने को
झुकी झुकी सी घटाएं बुला रही हैं तुम्हें | 

PS: Let me confess something today. I have anxiety disorders that makes me restless and and unwell (upset stomach, nausea) a week prior I am about to travel till the trip ends. Talk about my last 3 trips and ask the people I travel with, they will tell you about all my 'we're not taking you the next time' stories with heart-felt disgust. I was almost convinced that I am not made for travelling (even though I wasn't ready to stop) when Megha (my love) told me, 'have you noticed that with each trip your nausea disorders are reducing, you don't need to 'not travel', all you need is a l'il more travel darling'. So, this post is dedicated to you Megha. Thank you.  


So, when are you planning your visit to Lansdowne, the Unexplored Natural -Habitat for the new-age travellers.

About the trip:


Total expense: 3500

Travel: 1600 INR (We booked a traveller, a car or a bus might cost you below or equal to this amount)

Stay: 1300 INR per night (tripple sharing)

Food: 600 INR 

Stay: Astre Vue Resort (Stay, facility, rooms, service: 5/5, Location: 5/5, Food: 1/5)


Also, a special thanks to my Manager/friend Sourabh Raj for these amazing shots. :)