Trekking & Astro-Camping At Kheerganga

Nivedita

Caveat: For pictures, scroll to the end.
Weekends are no more just two days in a week. Weekends are a refuge, weekends are rehab, weekends are when most people actually remember that they are ‘alive’. Add an extra day of holiday to those weekends and corporate-robots lose their minds! 😅

Last weekend was one such ‘opportunity’ which I was adamant not to let slip by. In my desperation to go somewhere far off and disconnect from my daily routine, I stumbled across the concept of Astro-Camping by SciComm. I was hooked! The idea of trekking and sky gazing seemed perfect & almost dreamy! I decided to go for it instantly!
Came Friday morning and that’s when I realized that I’d actually be trekking on my own with a bunch of strangers. I lost my nerve. Anxious. Panicked. Self-doubt overflowed my cup of sanity! However, Thank God for long distance friends…

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Awakening – The Journey Within

journey

Two worlds

Poles apart

One foot on fantasy

While the other on reality

Struggling to balance

Despair and ecstasy

 

Her life

A tempestuous ride

And each destination

A blessing in disguise

Offering beautiful lessons

To carry on with pride

 

For how long

Can dusk overpower dawn?

When there is a silver lining

To every cloud

A perfect closure

To all the dreary whining

 

Behold the vast sky

Stygian yet filled with diamonds

Signifying coexistence

A pleasant contradiction

A beautiful insight

Essential for human existence

 

Life is beautiful

She fathomed

If you put your heart and soul

Irrespective of the darkness

Helps you discover                    

The journey that makes you whole.

 

– Akkshaya Varkhedi

Jallikattu – An Emotional Battle

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If you’re wondering if this particular write-up is far or against Jallikattu, I would like to clarify to you that there’s no clear answer. Being a person who strongly believes in neutrality thereby rubbishing any form of bigotry, I was indeed having a tough time to decide, which side of the imaginary line I was a part of. The intent among the protesters, farmers and the agriculturalists was pristine and firm. It was to safeguards the interests of the cattle owners and the farmers who make a living out of raising a bull, and also by using the same to challenge the valour and audacity of the bull tamers, as a part of the Ancient Thamizh culture. But that’s not it. There was yet another strong reason that was hidden behind the veils of the so-called “Age-old traditional sport”. This reason talks about the adulteration in the milk we drink. This kind of adulteration does not involve adding water, well at least that’s something we ourselves do at the time of crisis. Here it is about bringing in foreign-artificially-inseminated cow breeds which produce double the amount of milk than a native cow. The consequences are bigger and I am sure a lot of good articles would throw a better light on that.

Let me get down to the brass tacks.

The protests have been happening for the past four days. I am sure the people who have been watching it closely, either in reality or through social media, would have noticed a lot of discrepancies in the cause and the intent behind the outcry.

It all started with uniting as Thamizhargal but by dividing India.

“No media house gives us coverage. The “North Indian” media often forgets the existence of Indian states beyond the Vindhyas. The Prime Minister is busy touring the world while turning a blind eye to the demands of the Thamizhs.”

I am skeptical of the half-baked facts enlisted above.  Even our much revered Subhramanya Bharathi wouldn’t buy such a crippled idea. Cultural identity may be important, but not at the cost of inculcating wrong ideas to the future generations.

People who joined/supported the protests are Real Thamizhs.

“If you are Thamizh, support Jallikattu. Did you just say you have alternate views? Screw you! [That followed by a good number of verbal abuses/threats].”

We as Indians are notorious for holding on to erroneous tenets. We never really accept that there could be yet another side to the story. It is more like saying, if you aren’t a Modi supporter, then you are probably an anti-national. But if you are one, then you may be a Bhakt.

Men protect women.

“We felt really safe and secure around the male protesters. They took great care of us. They are true Thamizhan – the ones that protect women”.

I hold an unshakable conviction that there is a slim line between protecting and respecting a woman. I have a greater respect for men who don’t display their manliness in wrong ways. For example, it is men who don’t involve in a tirade of abuse when a woman speaks up for herself and especially, if her beliefs hold no relevance to his.  Though I would appreciate the peaceful nights spent by women protesters, as claimed by them, in the beach, I would still not attribute this one incident to believing that all the men respect women and this sets a fine example of how the society I hail from works.

Ban all the soft drinks because they are mostly headquartered in the US.

“Ban coke, Pepsi and other US-based soft drinks because PETA is headquartered in the US. We should bring their economy down and make their own government restrict PETA and their involvement in defaming other cultures. Let’s show who Thamizhs are. Our culture is more important to us than anything”

Where were these voices when there were umpteen number of WhatsApp messages that circulated the ill-effects of these soft drinks? I am definitely not a supporter of any soft-drinks. In fact, I never liked them in the first place. But it pains me to see people foaming at the mouth only when a maniac organization like PETA scoffs at their culture. It is always better to know the ropes before emerging into a dispute of any form.

Bottom-line: I am no fan of slaughtering or inflicting pain towards animals. Hailing from an ancestry that raised cattle that was treated much like a family; I truly understand the emotions of every cattle owner. But I am also aware of the fact that, cruelty towards animals is a part of our culture. From deer’s skin to cows’ to tigers, we have always welcomed the products made out of them. And as a country, we still have societies that enjoy the taste of beef. It’s not fair for us to claim that we are a harmless society as a whole. But through relevant experience and thorough research, I can vouch on the fact that the cattle owners in Thamizh Nadu treat their bulls with utmost love and care. Hence, Jallikattu, if monitored and organised sincerely, by taking the necessary precautionary methods, is definitely a welcome one. I am sure the days aren’t so far.

*smiles*

PS: If I can make one sincere request, please don’t berate all the animal activists. They are the ones who would come to an animal’s rescue when you witness any form of brutality towards it.

When the Elephant tries to get into the Pot! Ouch..

myelephant

I am that elephant. We are all that elephant. No, don’t get offended, I’m not trying to body-shame you. This was a frivolous idiom of my own. I don’t want you to laugh at it and just go away. Nope. Beautiful people like you must ponder beyond what has been shown to you.

Pretty often, I think of myself as a Misfit, only because I dream of things that are quite unusual to this world. Like, ‘Why should we all study so hard and do things that totally derail our potential, only to see a paradoxical happy-ending to this tumultuous journey? Why are we always sticking long-lasting labels of ‘Terms and Conditions’ on our journey to happiness? Why are we in favour of constant hatred, when the magic of Love can add value to our lives? Why do we attach emotions to every deed we perform, and let it hamper our personal growth? Why are we desperate for a human company, even before knowing and befriending ourselves better? Why are women, who by the laws of nature, deserve more respect and love, being treated unfairly? Why are we not appreciative of the existence of people with varying religious beliefs and ideologies?Why aren’t we understanding the very existence of Humans on this planet?’ This list would go on.

Knowing, it isn’t easy to find an answer to all my eccentric questions, I decided to stop ranting about how ugly the world looks. Instead, I promised myself to look at the cracks and the poison, that was oozing within me. I started looking at the world with my curious eyes, as an opportunity to learn, even from the mistakes of others. Trust me, the journey isn’t quite what I expected it to be. It is insightful and also creepy, at times. And that’s exactly why a deeper introspection and a thorough evaluation of the happenings around us, is a Herculean task. And that’s because, this involves, unraveling the strong ropes that have tightly tied our imagination, which in turn gives us many different perspectives, in such a way that, when we try voicing our opinion, we earn the tag “Crazy”, and sometimes, that makes us strongly feel,Solitude is our best friend, that takes us away from all the noises of the world.

This is exactly why, we tend to limit our thinking and settle for the lesser good without knowing the benefits of being Real. And the consequences are, bickering constantly about things that didn’t happen to us by luck, behaving like a green-eyed monster when we see people succeeding and finally, accepting that the life we are living, is all that is meant for us. I call them the “Three-Deadly Sins”.

I certainly did find a way to attain Salvation for all the above-committed sins. Firstly, unmask yourself completely and appreciate your naked soul. Ask your soul in a dearly way, what it longs for. Wake up that Dead Artist, Craftsman, Painter, Singer, Dancer, Athlete or any such latent talent you possess. Make a call to that weird child in you and tell him you are sorry that you shunned him for so long. And finally, look into the mirror and appreciate the human reflection and the endless possibilities that lie right in front of its eyes, that for long was blinded by assumptions and fear.

Sigh.

Are you still that Elephant? Answer it yourself!

 

Confessions of a Soul Seeker.

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To someone who sees beauty even in the tiniest of things,

To someone who cherishes weirdness over normalcy,

To someone who zealously talks about their passion and the mysteries of life,

To someone who believes in magic, not the fantasy one, but in the eyes of a person who talks about things intimate to their soul,

To someone who dances through the hurdles and kisses at their failures,

To someone who feels that, every negativity is not the absence of positivity, but just its reflection,

To someone who strongly believes in offering more than expecting,

To someone who prefers spirituality over religion,

To someone who tries real hard to be a human, with a rebellious mind and a tender heart,

Love is a tough word to define. To them, it’s an experience that’s dissolved in each moment, etched in every memory and an unshakable strength they would proudly carry for the rest of their lives.

– Akkshaya Varkhedi

P.S This is dedicated to all the beautiful people in my life who have made it worth-living so far. The best part is, they know who they are. Loads of Love.

Musings of an Empath

Little does the heart know,

How to let go,

Of the deeply etched memories,

The perfectly timed moments,

The sound of endless laughter,

And the forlorn silent sobs.

It’s hard my friend, it’s hard.

But that’s how you learn,

To feel deeply,

That the pain becomes sweeter than sugar,

Making you taste every bit of it,

For the pure pleasure of believing,

That there is something more to this skin,

To make you feel,

Awake Alive & Wise.

The Bong Connection

This is the story of a person who had moved all the way from Chennai to Bangalore, only to discover that a phase of her life will be spent hearing a language that seemed more like Greek and Latin. To her, a bunch of Bengali pals came as an unforeseen surprise.  

On the first day of my training in Bangalore, my undetermined fate offered me an unusual shock of being surrounded by Bengalis majorly. I didn’t bother much about it until I got to hear only “Ki?.. Haa.. Kenu?.. Bhalo.. Amake.. Ami.. Baba”, totally unaware of what it all means. That’s when I realized, this is going to be a bitter sweet experience. But the greatest challenge initially was to pronounce the names correctly. Names that would make you think you had pronounced properly, being deceived by the spelling. Pronunciation – Something Bengalis are very particular about. If you make it sound wrong, you can be pretty sure that you will be given repeated remedial tuitions unless you get it right. And when you do, brace yourself; their appreciation will make it look like an achievement which would eventually trigger your interest to learn the language better. It’s a saccharine sweet language, and is much sweeter when you hear them speak.

Bengalis are the most culturally evolved and artistically inclined set of Indians who have a thing for rich literature and beautiful music. No doubt, they brag about their very own Robindronath Tagore. As much as they show their unparalleled interest for good music and writings, they can inspire you with their fair political knowledge, mouth-watering description of their native food and an unlevelled craze for football. In short, you will never find a Bengali friend boring.

As a South Indian, specifically from Chennai, I felt a strong connection at all levels with them. Right from their food habits which comprises of rice mostly, fascination for arts especially good music, rich Pre-Independence history, extraordinary interest in festivals to a rich culture with colorful traditions. There are certain things that are worth noticing in a Bengali as that would guarantee to amuse you.

  • When they find Bengali outlets. They behave like a chicken with its head cut off whenever they find a Bengali restaurant. Though it would have been just a few weeks of separation from their homeland, their reaction would make you question your attachment with your native food.
  • When they pronounce certain English words, you can’t help but say ‘How cute!’ Yes, you would not feel like correcting them. You would simply want to hear them say it again. Like some pronounce ‘cover’ as ‘cowwer’.
  • When they substitute ‘Va’ in the place of ‘Ba’. Any outsider would find it odd but there’s a reason behind. They talk according to the Bengali script where ‘Ba’ is not a syllable. Like my name in Bengali would be ‘Oakaya’. LMAO. And I have heard my friends pronouncing ‘Vidya Balan’ as ‘Bidya Valan’. Sweet na?
  • When you hash out about your interest in rock or heavy metal. As per my research, 1 out of every 10 Bengali is a Metalhead. Their fad for rock music would make you think, they handle both of ends of good music pretty well. Be it classical or western.
  • When they smell of tobacco. Haha, this fact owns a tinge of sarcasm. As far as what I saw, 1 out of every 3 Bengali is a smoker – gender no bar. But the best thing is they tend to show their real side instead of playing the phony. They openly display their interests.
  • When the girls dress up. This might sound like an exaggeration, but I personally feel, Bengali girls have a real good sense of dressing. Especially, their choice of accessories and their smoky eye makeup.
  • When they brag about their much-awaited month of the year, the Pujo month. You would be in short of words to see almost every Bengali being so attached to Maa Durga and her auspicious month. They make it a point to go to their hometown to witness the events in real albeit they are miles away from home. You can’t help but respect them for such strong devotion.

Though there are a lot many sweet instances I could add up, I prefer not to, because onek hoyeche. And also there are times they would not fail to drive up your wall, when you hear them talking only in Bengali, by turning a blind eye to Bicharis like me. But that’s forgivable, as long as there are Motherly friends who would translate it for you. *wink*

On a serious note, they are one of the best people I have ever met. I have build friendships that would last a lifetime and learned so many important lessons including Bengali. No matter how many people I meet in the future, the footprints some have left in my heart will never fade. Ami tomake bhalobashi! *blush*

Hoping for a reunion soon. 🙂

Knock Knock? – Block Block!

IT jobs never tickled my fancy but I ended up taking one. Though it came as a challenge to me, I tackled every phase of my struggle with enormous effort and perseverance. That opened gates to the so-called ‘Deployment’ or ‘Hey-I-gotta-project’ phase. Trust me, it’s a scary and a bizarre thing that might either break you or make you. My intent is to not exaggerate the process but to simply put the facts straight. This situation would best befit any person who is staying away from home.

We all have the urge to leave home, travel to new places, meet people from different cultures and taste the native food, because of which we find, working in a place away from home, as an adventure. As long as you undergo the training phase, things are pretty settled and there’s nothing to worry about. The reason being: You know it’s your sojourn in the new place and also you aren’t sure of your base location. Better.

Shit gets real when you realize you have no choice but to stay in the same place. Because, that’s when you start your ‘House Hunt’. Well, it might sound as an exciting thing but trust me, in Bangalore, it is STRICTLY NOT. I’m really not sure what idea people have framed about Corporate Freshers. Like they earn 10LPA? Or even 5LPA? That’s when the trouble starts.

A small squared room stuffed with 3 beds, a hand-size television, 3 long but narrow cupboards and a super-small attached bathroom which could make your bath challenging, charges a heartless 6000 bucks for ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. If you think this is worse, you should check out the ad posts for rentals. A 1BHK for 10,000 with 1 Lakh deposit. A studio room of 150 Sq. Ft. charges 5000 per month with a deposit of 40,000. Looks like we got to apply for a ‘Deposit Loan’ in banks.

Or much worse is, places that have a spacious room but are segmented into dinky cabins, stuffed with a bed and an old cupboards charging around 8000 bucks. The Inner Demon in me would want to punch them in the face and question their morality while my Inner Goddess keeps me calm. Even a beggar would prefer staying in a capacious place like a subway or a railway station. And look at the plight of IT Freshers who earn a bit more than a beggar? Pathetic isn’t it?

I presume, the Karnataka Government has enforced a law where the landlords are supposed to charge, not more than 2 months’ rent as the deposit. But I don’t see it happening. I would appreciate if each house owner would look beyond their greed for money and come in terms with the people who can’t afford so much. The fact remains the same – they got nothing to lose.

I never thought staying miles apart from my family would make me crib about almost everything that’s happening around me. With 20,000 bucks in hand every month, crawling through each phase of life with strenuous effort and struggle betokens Dysthymia.  Finding a place to stay is a different kind of pain.

 

 

 

 

Dismissing personal choices, a new Social Trend?

The problem with us, socially-active, not-so-well-informed, prejudiced, lot of people is that, we always seem to be bothered about what a fellow person does. We often end up questioning their beliefs and plainly insult their outlook towards certain issues. Quite recently, after the Paris Massacre, I came across some Facebook posts that didn’t like Facebook (Mark Zuckerberg) for promoting a temporary change in the profile pictures containing Paris flag, with some opacity. I saw a good chunk of people plainly refusing to encourage the cause and rather started to inquest the motive behind. Blood-shed murders, fire-guns, bomb blast and genocide have become a common occurring in the present world. None of us can envision how tomorrow would look like. That’s where the mystery lies.

“How would changing the profile picture benefit the suffering lot? Will the dead come back to life? Will it lessen the pain in the hearts of the people who had lost their loved ones? In what way is it going to favor them?”

Nothing extravagant is guaranteed to happen, I agree. But it’s just a digital way to honor the people who lost their lives, marking it as a way to remember them. It is just like “Prayers… and RIP” remark that practically has no effect, but is said for a good-feel about self. I am not a Zuckerberg loyalist but it pains me inside to see people making an issue out of something trivial but pleasing.

I am not entirely blaming their mentalities. I do understand, they yearn for justice for other set of people who died abominable deaths in Sri Lanka, Iran, Syria, Palestine, Iraq, Pakistan etc. The loss is irreparable. We are all humans who want our frail voices to be heard. We fear living in this scary world, surrounded by demons camouflaged as humans. We want the world to join hands with us to honor and pay a tribute to the loved ones we lost. More precisely, we crave for warmth, support and words of love. Just like we don’t see any difference between a rich man’s death and that of a laborer, it would be insightful of us to not compare human loss anywhere in the world.

The whole world mourned the mass killing of innocent souls in Peshawar on December 16, 2013. We didn’t change our display pictures, yeah, but were we behaving nonchalantly about the incident? The Syrian Refugee Crisis staggered the whole world with a new form of barbarism & war and also, India is facing an exponentially growing intolerance. Are we not showing concern in discreet possible ways? Isn’t that enough? Little do we know that, just 11 countries in the whole-wide world, are not involved in conflict of any kind. Rest of the world is suffering, begging for peace, and hoping for a better future. They demand support, both financially and morally.

I am not justifying anything in here. I’m trying to bring a few true but unheard facts into light. My only question is, why are we always interrogating the patriotism or morals of our counterparts who display a tiny act of humanity, by expressing a deep sorrow for their foreign brothers and sisters, instead of trying to be morally supportive during such dark times? The world has seen enough enmity and repugnance. Let’s not worsen it.

Let’s try to be exceptional humans who have no craving to please the Government that does no good. Let’s not harm each other, helping political parties to take us on a ride. Let’s put aside caste, creed and religion which could easily rupture our rapport. Let’s overcome our mental foes like jealousy, anger and resentment. Let’s desist from all the negativity and prejudices that has filled us. Let’s all stand for each other during our hardships. Let’s begin to spread the word of love and peace. This is what dreamers like me long for.

A strong union can fight any massive evil that could cause violence of any form.

“United we live, Divided we fall”.

Love… Peace… Smiles.