Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Celebrating 2 Years of Togetherness with a Heartfelt Thank You...

How time flies like a flying machine... The world today has become so swift and speedy... Every moment in time looks to have shrink-wrapped, such that events and proceedings motion past us in a blur... everything seems to be in such a fast forward mode, everyone seems to be caught in a frenzy... that we barely have time to stop, reflect and muse...

Yet, even as time continues to become an even more luxurious entity and moments continue to slip by like sand particles in an hour glass, there are some days that always remain special... days that compel you to pause and ponder... days that coerce you to leave everything and embark on a enthralling journey of yore...

21 Nov 2011... was one such day in my diary that I would love to bookmark. It marks the day I had, for the very first time, put pen on the first page of my diary...

Blogging Gift from a blogger friend - A diary
A sweet gift from a sweeter friend, Mohinee...
One of her 3 blogs, Chaitanya Puja, celebrated it's
first blogging anniversary on 24th November!

Today, as I continue to wander in the bylanes of my blogging yatra and stop, just for a few moments to observe the footprints left behind...

...I see many fuzzy images of myself, of days when I was down and low on confidence... When words were hard to come by...

I see... how You had refused to leave me all alone... how You had stood by me and formed my strength... how You had invigorated me with new zeal and enthusiasm by leaving behind your wonderful thoughts for me... how You had completed me... 

I see... How YOU have helped me in filling up this diary...

A hand made virtual cake thanking blog followers
My Yatra Diary... Thanks All of You :)

Thus, I take this opportunity to turn back a few pages, and thank all those who have been with me and for me in this beautiful journey of my blogging life...

My First Readers – Sushma Mallya, Rachana and ...Petty Witter. I remember how I used to eagerly await their comments after publishing each post of mine. They never let a single post go by without their words of encouragement and each time they did I literally jumped with joy! And I still do! I am fortunate to come across them very early in my blogging life for through them I learnt a lot about blogging and commenting conduct and etiquette...

"A Special Thank You for them :)"

The MasterChefs – Aipi, Satya (a great devotee of Krishna, through her I learnt the meaning of the phrase ‘genuine follower’), Ushnish da (a very senior travel blogger too!), Rachana and Sushma too.

A Wonderfully Well Knit Travel Community – Slowly, I became acquainted with a magnificent group of travel bloggers and fell in love with them. Anu (I was in complete awe of her writings from day one!), chitra (my silent inspiration), Santosh BS (a very warm and affable travel blogger), Sridharan (a regular commentator despite being an irregular blogger himself), Team G square (one of the shortest commentators but one among the most meaningful ones), Rajesh Prabhu (despite being so popular, I always saw him as a very humble human being), Srinidhi Hande, Umesh Derebail (has a range of blogs on diverse topics! I always wonder how he handles so many blogs so efficiently), P N Subramanium, Nisha, Arun, Indrani - all of them are different and unique, all inspirational, and admirable, highly supportive of one another, and they all have fabulous blogs... I learnt something new from each of them and continue to do so with each passing day... I feel very very proud to be one amongst them!

Talented Artists Martina (I don’t remember if ever there was a day when I left her blog without a smile on my face), Lady Fi (One blogger who never fails to leave me speechless), Sylvia (visit her anytime and I am sure to brighten up my day)

Travelling Japan – Snowwhite, sarah, Red Rose,
Barb, stardust, cosmos, cocomino - (Though I have never been outside India but somehow I feel I have visited this part of the world, thanks to all of them!)

Meeting other Bloggers who joined in the convoy as the journey kept moving – Ginny (always curious to know more... I thank her and Petty Witter for their questions. Many a times, I have had to consult my elders to find the answers to them and they have been very instrumental in increasing my knowledge too), Karthick S (another of my very early followers who has stuck with this diary for long), Abhishek Bharadwaj, Kavita Saharia, Cloud Nine, sm, Purple Pooch Reign, Sallie (Full Time Life), Angeli (we share the same birth date!), Agnes, Farmchick, Magda, Margaret cloud, Scott, Rizalenio, Mark Weins, Here I am/ Carrie, Draffin Bears, gigihawaii, Mareta Kusumaningram, Nancy @ A Rural Journal, Ms Becky, Rahul Bhatia, Rakesh Kumar, Krishna, Purvi... I don't know how to describe each one of them but all I can say that each of their blogs is simply beautiful!

IndiBlogger A wonderfully warm, welcoming and a very friendly community… it has been a huge pillar in my making… IT has given me an identity…

Magiceye (Very supportive, never short of encouragement), zephyr (a very senior and respected blogger, I am in seventh heaven whenever I see her name in my blogger dashboard comment section...), Mohinee (one of the sweetest people I have met online, creative and talented, how do I describe her... she is more than a blogger to me), abhi, Hemal Shah, Pramod Lohia, DS,
RanjithThe Xeno, The SorcererAnimesh K Mishra, Saru Singhal, Varsha, Richa KholkuteLeo(Vinay), The Fool, Geeta and Pratibha Singh, Madhumathi, Simran, Ahimaaz Rajesh, Sushma, Sunita Kurup, Sairam Rajamani, Farila, Jayendra Sharan, Indegenou, Deboshree, Sudha Ganpathi, Deepa Gopal Sunil, Harsha, Binu Thomas... there are so so so many... It is ONE BIG Family out there... How many do I name and how? The list is just never ending and I am sure to forget names here... So let me just say the entire community has been too loving and caring for me and a great source of strength in this yatra of mine!

Last but not the least, My Family – Although you sometimes feel you can do it very well all alone, but deep inside you know that you do need them…

My Father (he calls himself a huge fan of this diary… I guess that’s a father’s way of encouraging his beloved daughter), My Mother (not an avid reader of the diary, still never leaves an opportunity to say about it in the town) and finally, My Brother (my biggest motivator and my biggest critic... if not for him, there wouldn’t have been this Yatra Diary...)

Signing off (Final thoughts from a not-a-blessed-writer and a-very-amateur-photographer) -

...2 yrs on, with 136 posts and around 4180 comments, I feel so happy and contended to see the very same diary still filling up pages... And a major credit for that goes to the tremendous love and support I have received from YOU!

My Yatra Diary... Blogger Dashboard overview

Thus, If I witness celebrate this day today by writing this post, it’s only because of You... You have encouraged, supported and contributed to the growth of the diary… You are the reason it has all been possible! I have nothing more to say except a --


PS: The above list definitely isn’t limited. Please forgive me if I have forgotten to mention you... It is purely unintentional from my side, you know that :)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Miss You Ma...

Recently during Deepawali, I was faced with the herculean task of cleaning my messy cupboard. Inside it were bundles of papers, books, novels, and other stationary, jutting and jostling for space and asking for some urgent breather. But what I anticipated to be a tedious and a boring activity actually turned out to be quite delightful and enjoyable in the end.

As I started to put things in order, I lay my hands on a small folder containing a few hand written letters, personal cards, greeting cards and scribbled postcards. Some of these were notes from my school friends and postcards from people I had met in my travels but majority of them contained conversations between me and my mother. I reminisced those times when we both shared this rather cute bond of hand written cards and letters...

A collection of handwritten letters and greeting cards of birthdays and anniversaries for Mother
A collection of beautiful memories...

I think it had all started out with her. She loved to attach a personal touch to everything she did and highly valued the joy of connecting to others via the old-fashioned art of personal correspondence. In such a scenario then, the chances of me inheriting this quality from her among many others was very high, almost inevitable. As I grew up in her arms, it did not take much time for me to realize how magical this ‘personal touch’ was and before I knew, I was completely enchanted by its spell...

As a small kid, I developed a deep affectionate fascination for letters, notes and cards - all handwritten! I still remember how I loved writing them. I just needed an opportunity – birthdays, anniversaries, even moments of fights – I always rushed for a pen and paper and not only did it work but somehow always worked best! I remember those times when I would misbehave and she would stop talking to me; I would compose a small verse asking forgiveness and place it delicately in one of her kitchen shelves. Then at night, in the midst of my moments of sleep, a warm hug would envelop my body. And the day of her birthday... that thrill of gifting ‘my card’ to her and the joy of watching her radiant smile beam when she would hold it in her hands... And how could I forget that ‘I Love You’ letter that I had written to her on Mother’s day... Ah... Memories!

A hand written apology card for Mother
Look at this... haha...
One of my Apology letters, I think I was in 6th std then...

Cards, letters, and poems - they were all there... Oh, when and how I had forgotten about them...?! Soon enough, I found myself buried in a heap of memories, going through the scribblings, chuckling to myself, getting reflective over some, while finding others quite childish. I ended up spending the whole afternoon rummaging through the letters that had gathered dust over time and found utmost joy in wiping them off. These letters bought back so many bitter sweet recollections and I patted myself hard for having preserved them over the years.

All of a sudden, I could recollect the joys of writing on a neat piece of paper. I felt really sad that it had been ages since I did that. I wondered why?

As I grew older, in the winds of change amidst project deadlines, work pressures and hectic schedules, this love of mine drifted away from me and we both got lost in the wave of technological advancement. Text messages, emails and skype made an appearance and I was completely hooked. And why not, after all this mode of communication was so much faster, pacier, convenient and above all saved a lot of time. But intimate and personal? Just think about it... Still, that’s what I always end up doing now... sms, mail or better still chatting on phone... the reason? Time... or should I say, the lack of it!

A letter to the most special person in my life...

As I am posting this right now, my mom sits far away from me, in Gujarat while I write this in Mumbai. I talk to her daily – two times, three times or may be even more! Still, it is not enough, it never can be... I know how much I miss her... We still have our moments of fights and angers, her birthdays and anniversaries still come and go... But I can’t remember when was the last time I gifted her a hand made card or took the trouble to write something personal to her... I am sure, even now she will enjoy it as much as she used to then but... I... I... have no time today as I have completely submitted myself to the mercy of the razor-sharp claws of technology...

A few days back, a question at IndiBlogger - If you had 2 extra hrs in a day, how would you spend it? ... got me thinking...

Spend it with nature, with myself, watch TV,
hang out with friends, dream…
...what else could I do..?

Umm... naaah... I think I knew a better way to utilize it...

I would switch off my cellphone, turn off my PC, sit down with a warm cup of coffee, and write my mom something. For I think, it’s been quite a while since I did that and more so because I know it will be bringing a wide smile onto the face of someone very close and special...

Miss you Ma...

PS: The above post is written for the Indiblogger Contest " If you had two extra hours in a day, how would you spend it" sponsored by Surf Excel Matic #GetSmart. Hope you enjoyed reading it :)

If you are an IndiBlogger and liked reading this article, you can vote for it by clicking here. Thank You :)

Update Note: Inspired by the question – 'What would you do if you had two extra hrs in a day', one of my hugely talented travel blogger friend, Rizalenio (a finalist in the Lonely Planet's 2010 Photo Competition) has put up a fabulous photo post titled Two Extra Hours. Do check it out here!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Photographical Memories from the Himalayas: Faith...

Hear with your heart...

Temple bells at the Bhairon Devta Temple, Bhaironghati in the Garhwal Himalayas
Temple bells at the Gangotri Temple, Garhwal Himalayas
A temple bell hangs in Gangnani, Enroute to Gangotri
[From top to bottom: Temple Bells

See with your soul...

Colorful chunaris tied believed to fulfill wishes at Gangnani
[From top to bottom: Chunaris (red and silver colored in pictures)
- a symbol of divine power @Gangotri, Gangnani]

Be guided by a hand...

Leaf Diya (candle) being ignited to be floated on the Ganges
Priest chants holy mantras for the devotees
[From top to bottom: A Lamp being ignited in Rishikesh,

... that you cannot hold,

Red Chunari at the Gangotri Temple in the Garhwal Himalayas of Uttarakhand
Swastik drawn at the Gangotri Temple compound, Garhwal Himalayas

Trust even if you cannot see...

A woman shows the power of faith in Harsil, Garhwal Himalayas
A man immersed in  reading a holy book at Kemundakhal, enroute to Badrinath

That's how "Faith" must be... - JP

Faith - One thing I strongly suggest... if you are sometime planning a trip in the Himalayas!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Photographical Memories from the Himalayas: Snow...

One of my most cherished and warm remembrance
from the Himalayan travel –


Glowing streak of snow clad mountainous Neelkanth peak in the Garhwal Himalayas in Uttarakhand

Glowing streak of snow clad mountainous peaks in the Garhwal Himalayas in Uttarakhand
On the Way to Badrinath - Garhwal Himalayas Highway

Snow clad mountain peaks at Harsil near Gangotri during the Char Dham Yatra
On the Way to the Gangotri Temple - Harsil

Snow clad mountainous peaks and clouds in the Mana Village near Badrinath in the Garhwal Himalayas in Uttarakhand

Snow clad mountainous peaks at Bhaironghati in Uttarakhand
On the Way to Gangotri - Garhwal Himalayas Highway

Snow clad mountainous peaks at Harsil in the Himalayas

Snow clad mountainous peaks in the Garhwal Himalayas in Uttarakhand
On the Way to Uttarkashi - Near Harsil

Snow clad mountainous peaks of Kedarnath and Yamunotri in the Garhwal Himalayas in Uttarakhand

The snow itself is lonely or, if you prefer, self-sufficient.
There is no other time when the whole world seems
composed of one thing and one thing only.
- Joseph Wood Krutch

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Photographical Memories from the Himalayas: Waterfalls...

'What color is God's spirit?' he asked...
'It doesn't have a color,' she said.

A Waterfall in the Garhwal Himalayas in Uttarakhand during the Char Dham Yatra
[Enroute to Uttarkashi from Gangotri, near Bhatwari]

The color of the mountains is Buddha's body;
the sound of running water is his great speech. - Dogen

Surya Kund Waterfall, Gangotri in the Garhwal Himalayas in Uttarakhand during the Char Dham Yatra

When you hear the splash,
Of the water drops that fall, Into the stone bowl;
You will feel that all the dust,
Of your mind is washed away. - Sen No Rikyu

Waterfall in the Garhwal Himalayas in Uttarakhand during the Char Dham Yatra
[A chilly waterfall near the hot water springs of Gangnani]

Study how water flows in a valley stream, smoothly and freely
between the rocks. Also learn from holy books and wise people.
Everything - even mountains, rivers, plants and trees -
should be your teacher. - Morihei Ueshiba

Waterfall seen in the Garhwal Himalayas in Uttarakhand during the Char Dham Yatra

One can not reflect in streaming water.
Only those who know internal peace can give it to others.
- Lao Tzu

'God is the color of water.
Water doesn't have a color.'
- James McBride