Adventure, experience, India, Sangam, Travelogues

Travel Diaries – Rishikesh & White Water Rafting

What is it about danger that tempts even the perfectly sane mind? Is it the seemingly aberration liberating one from the mundane world? Is it the heart pounding high and the wobbly knees that you get afterwards? This post continues on from the adventurous safari at Jim Corbett.

After an exciting safari at the Jim Corbett and a long 5 hour drive (without any food thanks to the obnoxious cab driver), we reached Rishikesh. A city scenically located at the spot where the Ganges gushes out of the foothills of the Himalayas and begins her long journey across the plains of India to meet the Bay of Bengal.

Camps on the shore of Ganges
Camps on the shore of Ganges

En Route to the camp at Shivpuri (roughly 16 kms from Rishikesh), the landscape stretched across like a canvas. The Ganges running next to the winding road and cutting across the thick forests, was a sight to behold. We had chosen to camp with the “Explore Himalayan Adventure” operator.

We got off the jeep and made our way down a small slope to a raft which took us to our camps on the other bank of the river. The tranquility of the Himalayas and the proximity of the Ganga, shadowy environment of the prolific and hilly greens, silvery sand and clear blue skies – it was love at first sight.

 After settling down in the camp, we were instructed on the safety guidelines by the operator and we just jumped into the water like kids. The ice-cold water first sent shivers but we soon got used to it and did not simply feel like getting out at all. Attempts to learn swimming, splashing each other with water, it was a fun afternoon. 

Tired yet satisfied "hikers"
Tired yet satisfied “hikers”

As the evening fell, we reluctantly came out of the water to set forth for a small hike. The winding path soon had us out of breath but the view on the top was just worth all the effort.

 If there is a way to disconnect from the world around, one just has to spend the night on the silver shores of the Ganges. No cell phones, no electricity and no modern world creations. It is just you lying on the soft sands staring at the clearest of clear skies where the stars literally shine like diamonds. A gentle breeze from the river just across you – words cannot describe the feeling of serenity you experience. It was as close to inner peace as I have ever experienced. A camp fire, rounds of laughter and singing and dancing, it was a night to remember forever.

The next morning, it was a quick breakfast and a game of beach volleyball before it was time for the rafting. White water river rafting is one of the best ways to experience the raw power of the swirling river. Wrestling with the unruly rapids with just an inflatable raft and a paddle is as dangerous a sport as it could ever be.

All set for the rafting
All set for the rafting

Rafting in Ganga therefore stands out as a lifetime opportunity. We all suited up and moved on to the raft where our guide went over the rowing commands. It turns out paddling through rapids was not scary at all and surprisingly fun – there’s something to be said for the childish adrenaline rush you get out of it.

Holding on to the rope for dear life
Holding on to the rope for dear life

At several points, it felt as if the river was content ignoring all our futile attempts to row furiously but just casually moving us around. Where the current was relatively calmer, we jumped into the river from the raft and just “hung out” with the Ganges. As the raft slowly approached Rishikesh, one could identify it easily with the colour of the river – a murky brown in contrast to the sparkling clear waters up-stream.

Loads of Laughter :)
Loads of Laughter 🙂

 We collected our bags at one of the camps in Rishikesh and made our way back to Delhi for the next leg of our journey. Ganga Mata ki jai!

Culture, experience, life, My Two Cents, Random

What Do You Believe In?

I believe in filter coffee, chocolate and cheese – not necessarily together though either go with every other thing pretty well.

I believe in good music. Not just music that makes you happy, but the kind of music that permeates your very being making you feel and breathe slightly differently.

I believe money can’t buy you happiness but it sure does make doing good to the world a lot easier. I believe that happiness is not a destination but the journey of seeing something ordinary through eyes of wonder.

I believe in good handwriting and manners. I believe in bad comedies with laugh loops and that sometimes it is okay to leap before you look.

I believe that wrinkles on faces are equal to the rings on the tree trunks and that fairness is overrated.

I believe that growing up is dead scary yet manageable and that Nutella with ice cream is godsend! I believe that 90% of what people say when they are kidding is what they are truly thinking and that peacock-blue is the most accepted color for toe nail polish.

I believe that cancer sucks, that the feeling of warmth in your chest when seeing a toothless baby smile is just unparalleled.

I believe that there is nothing funnier than watching a dog chase its own tail, that Opeth totally rocks and that true love is actually possible. I believe that the extra 5 minutes of sleep in the morning goes a long way and so do reading books and poems.

I believe that actions speak louder than words but that the words themselves shouldn’t be subject to a slow, tortuous “hi watzup hru nm hbu” related death.

I believe that sometimes we forget how amazing we truly are and that everything is just going to be fine.

I believe that home-made food, especially pickles are the best, that sometimes it is possible to feel like you have it all or none. I believe that in the future competition will be replaced by co-operation, that equality for all human beings will actually mean something.

I believe in the loud, noisy, belly aching-shaking laughter once in a while, that our beauty and strengths are hidden among what we perceive as imperfections.

I believe in you, me, world peace, serendipity but mainly filter coffee, chocolate, cheese and living – living in a way that is the happiest and the most content you can be. I believe in believing in something regardless of how petty or trivial it may seem because, if you believe in it, its worth believing. Remember that.

Comedy, Culture, experience, life, Random

Coping with the Cubicle Life

Ringing phones. Pinging IM. Loud conversations and sometimes even Background Music. How is anyone supposed to get work done in this place?

Good old Mr.Webster defines the word cubicle \ˈkyü-bi-kəl\

A small partitioned space; especially one with a desk used for work in an office; A sleeping compartment partitioned off from a large room

The second definition is interesting, I must admit 🙂

Today’s open offices are mostly distinguished by their high noise levels, lack of privacy and surfeit of both digital and human distractions. Apart from concentrating on meeting deadlines and getting by one’s day-to-day work, it becomes highly imperative to learn to tune out these distractions.

cubicle_2

I still remember my first day at work. I was brought into the office and lo! Before me, stretched out like a sea of grey on a rainy day, were dozens of nondescript cubicles. They were interesting in an extraordinarily boring way(credits Eddie Izzard). Finding my way in this cubicle labyrinth seemed impossible post lunch and I wondered if I should have left bread crumbs like Hansel and Gretel.

cubicle_4

A recurring scenario is loud personal conversation over speaker phone. There is always at least one love struck colleague who cannot stop talking to their partner every half hour. While the rest of the folks do appreciate the love that these two share, it doesn’t mandate them with a license to annoy others.

On the other hand, it is not uncommon for cube-mates, just a few inches away from each other, to call/email/text things they don’t want overheard. The walls do have ears my friends.

There is nothing more unnerving than casually turning away from your screen to find someone standing right behind you. Some people just creep in from behind without any greeting and just knock the wind out of your breath. On seeing your shocked expression, they would probably laugh it off  and even if you tell them not to spring you like that, they hardly seem to register it. So much for candid communication!

cubicle_5

Whenever you hear shuffling footsteps at the far end of the cubicle line, your brain quickly tries to analyze if it is the “peeper”. Do not get me wrong  it is probably hard to resist a glance when you pass by someone’s cube. But that doesn’t give entail you the right to just keep staring long and hard to get a good look on what the person is working on.

The gossip network in cubicle life is faster than any known processor chip manufactured so far!  Right from dinner plans to domestic disputes, everyone knows it all. No matter how much people cross their heart and swear that they wouldn’t breathe a word, news spreads like melting butter on hot toast.

cubicle_6

Butter reminds me of two distinctive smells that permeate the entire office (thanks to the central air-conditioning) – perfume and feet. One man’s perfume is another man’s migraine. There are those who wear enough to knock out anyone within a 100 foot radius. Come rainy season, here follows the inevitable smell of feet. These literally set your nose on fire and even nose plugs are a far cry from any respite.

The panacea for most of the distractions is to just plug-in your headphones and just put some music on. That way, most of the background noise can be drowned and one can work in peace. One thing that I love is to decorate my cubicle. I can put up posters, some pictures and make it look a bit more cheerful (but again nothing over the top to call for extra attention)

There is one word, that shines like a bright sun in an eclipse, that possesses enough magical power to turn this gray canvas into a plethora of colors – CAKE. “Did someone say cake?” “Sweets/cake at xyz’s cubicle”. This information travels faster than light across the entire floor in a matter of minutes and you can hear footsteps all around like a carnival. Ah, food at desk, I can make it through another day in this labyrinth 😀

experience, life, NaPoWriMo, Poetry

Blue Bird

O blue feathered bird perched on the tree
With a voice as sweet as sugar you sing, blue_bird
In eager anticipation of the spring,
However white and dull the ground and sky be.

Is this wisdom for your simple mind to know
Beneath the leafless tree and weather so tart?
Or is it a feeling of warmth in your heart,
The radiant hope that melts the snow?

I long to be you, blind to what lies
Behind the roots of dreary today
Believe in the promise of May,
The winged hope of sweet prophecies.

Poem #27 for National Poetry Writing Month Challenge

experience, life, NaPoWriMo, Poetry

Angels of the Night

The sun descends in the west
The evening star does shine
Beings preparing for their rest
Darkness befalls the shrine
The pearly sheen of the moon
Adorned with a black cloak sewn,
A lurch of silent delight
She smiles upon the night angel_in_the_night

Cascading the heavens height
Onto the reticent groves
The angels with feet bright
March forth in silent moves
Invisible they pour blessings
And happiness without ceasing
On each shoot and blossom
And every slumbering bosom

Visiting every dormant nest,
Where fowls are warm
Stopping by dens where animals rest
To keep them from harm
Stifling any cries of pain
Pouring sleep in its brain
Watching over the world tight,
As guardians – Angels of the night

Poem #25 for National Poetry Writing Month Challenge

Culture, experience, life, Love, NaPoWriMo, Poetry

A Butterfly

Vision blurred upon a fuzzy landscape
As I tried to focus, nothing solid
came to view, but I blinked determinedly
to see again.  Through the mist,
Myriad of hues and bright flamesbutterfly
Seemed to rise at will and sang a tune
in a whisper, like a natural hymn.

Lo! If I were ever to find an equal
To describe the magic of
The unearthly apparition of a butterfly.

Flashing through the thinning vapor,
Drawing a sigh from this romantic
Glory be! The sun had turned his rage off.
Now I see the flame again
His time has come, He spread a shell
Mother Nature at her best
I lay in peace knowing I was blessed

Poem #19 for National Poetry Writing Challenge

experience, life, NaPoWriMo, Poetry, world

Clouds

Decorating the distant horizon,
Appearing so close yet so far
Atop a mountain like the crown of a czar

Absent for weeks on end at times clouds
Fleeting shadows on a sunny day
Permanent overcast weighing down gray

A hazy pink and A pastel blue,
Crispy white and gently grey
Dreamy castles where children play

Could I fly above the clouds and see
Of who we are, how far we’ve come
And see what have we become?

A gentle parade on the sky
Till life’s pulse shall cease
We need a purer sky where all is peace

Poem #14 for National Poetry Writing Month Challenge