April 30, 2009


Hurray!!!! I cast my vote. This is second time in a row that I have cast my vote in the democratic system of India. The first time I voted I was on cloud 9. I was really happy that time and so was I this time. This was my first time to vote in this constituency. This time I was voting for candidate from Mumbai South Central. In 2004 I voted in Mumbai South constituency.
The process was a cake walk today.I and Mom arrived at the polling station. The station was near our house. It was Raje Shivaji High School. We went to the room assigned for our numbers, gave the officer on duty the election card, he made the entry and made us sign. Then I went to get the ink applied on my middle finger. This ink is important yaar. It is the proof that I have really cast a vote. Funny thing happened at this time. The person was trying to apply ink on my finger but for some reason he couldn't leave ink on my nail. He tried 3 or 4 times before he succeeded. Then I went to the polling station and cast my vote. It is as simple as that. I don't know why people don't vote if it this simple. The reason that we give are just to cover up our own weakness and laziness. If we want to then we can find ways to cast our vote. Anyways people have the brain to think for themselves and hence I now leave it to you all to decide. I did what I felt was right thing to do and I am really happy about it.


Yaar I don't understand why we can't just be good and responsible citizens of this country and vote. It just takes few precious moments of your time during a day and guess what that day just comes once or twice in five years. Once during general elections and once during state elections. We spend most of your time just loitering around, doing nothing. Wouldn't it be great if we just spend some time out of this "doing nothing" time and go out to vote.
We are a sovereign democratic country and as citizens of this country it is our duty to preserve the essence of this democracy. We have been given the right to vote. We can decide whom we want to see in office and whom you don't want to see sitting in the high chair. I know it well that politicians do not have a great appeal to everyone. But remember that politicians are also one of us. We are the one who can make them or break them. I agree that once they get out votes they never show their face for the next 5 years. But remember this guys, they do have to come back to us every 5 years. It then when we can decide if we want to keep them or kick them out. But you can do so only when you VOTE. Just sitting at home and cribbing about it would not work. Starting today, we have to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and make new beginning. My earnest request to everyone, please go out and vote.
"Ungli Utha....Button Dabba!!!!"

April 29, 2009

Finally I got my voter card!!!

Yipeeeeee!!!!! I finally got my voter card. It feels great to get the voter card. I have braved the crowds, stood in lines, gone from pole to post and finally have secured the card. And the best part is that I will be able to use it when I go for voting on 30th April 2009.

I have braved lines like this. This is just a trailer. The actual movie is what I had to go through with the people at the election office. But then it was all worth it as I got the card before I cast my vote. I would suggest every responsible citizen of India to get a voter card. It just makes us some what more responsible citizen of this country. Trust me when I say that our country does need more responsible citizens. This is just a small step but then you have to start with baby steps before you make that giant leap. I know it will be some trouble but trust me the feeling in the end is just great. I forgot all the troubles I took to get the card and in the end the feeling of complete satisfaction was what I felt.

April 22, 2009

Captured 11152 Fts!!!

HATU PEAK @ 11,152 fts.



I captured 11,152 fts, in a car dude!!! Hatu Peak is about 2 hours drive from Shimla. It is a beautiful place, situated on a height of 11,152 ft. I hired a car from the hotel and even had a naturalist on with me as I had planned to go on a treak around the peak. On the way, we passed beautiful towns and my guide Pawan told me interesting stories of the region. He told me how people walk miles in the mountains to travel for work, how inspite of the hilly terrain the people have done good farming and also about the people in the region. The drive was all through mountains and for the most part we were on national highway. If I had continued on this national highway, I would have reached Kaurik, the last town on the Indian side before Tibet starts. I would love to travel to Tibet one day. But there is still time for that so back to Hatu peak. After traveling for about 2 hrs we reached Hatu Peak. The last 7 kms journey is completely up hill, through dense forests and a single track road on the hill. I must admit it was pretty scary to ride on the road, even though I was just sitting in the back seat. Once I reached the top, all the scare evaporated as what stood in front of me were the magnificiant Himalayas. It was completely calm and serene on the top. This place was totally untouched by commmercialization. You could be one with nature here and no one would disturb you. No hawkers, no honking of cars and no unnecessary crowd of people. Gosh!!! What a breathtaking place it was!!!
As usual, I could not resist the sights in front of me and began shooting with my camera. I took many shots of just one single sight, just to make sure I do capture the beautiful sights in front of me. I know my camera would not be able to do justice to what my eyes saw but I did try. There was a temple of Goddess Durga on the top of the peak. We paid out respects there and decide to go on a treak around the peak.
We were going to trek to a place called Jog Bagh. First stop on the way was "Bhim ka Chulhaa". The story goes that during exile, the Pandavas had stopped at this place and Bhim had used this place to cook food for everyone. The trek was then through dense forests filled with trees like Cedar, Blue Pine, Brown Oaks among others. During my conversation with Pawan, I came to know that he is campion biker and cyclist. He had traveled from Shimla to Manali on bikes and cycles. He had participated in rallies and was also part of the MTV rally. The treak was great but at this height the air is thinner than normal. The body takes time to acclimatize and hence you do get short of breath here. But as they say, no pain no gain. After trekking for sometime, we reached our destination Jog Bagh. This was a lush meadow where people from the villages get their cattle and horses to graze. They normally get the animals in the morning, leave them here and go back home to do other work .In the evening, the animals find their way back home and we say only we humans are smart.
Jog Bagh was naturally a amazing place. Totally worth the trek. It reminded me of the my visit to Pahalgam in Jammu and Kashmir. It also has a similar meadow which was used for grazing animals. The place in Pahalgam has also featured in a lot of old Hindi movies. This is one the place where the hero and heroine run around trees singing melodious songs!!!! I wished to stay at Jog bagh but then we had to get back to our car and leave for ride back to Shimla. Till we reached our car, it was lunch time. The hotel had packed a nice picnic basket for me. I had a picnic at the height of 11,152 ft. Yipeee!!!!!
I was really happy to be at this place. I was so happy that I wanted to share this happiness with someone so I called all the people I love to share this happiness with. Happiness is to shared and so I did.

New day and I try my hand at something new!!!

The wilderness has always attracted me. I would love to get lost in the wild. Today is the 4th day of my trip and I have decided to go for a nature trail. The hotel had arranged for a naturalist to accompany me. I needed one as I didn't know my way around and I didn't even know which way the trail was!!! Anyways I and Sameer set out for the trail, which was started from the hotel.
This nature trail was called "Oaks and Orchards Trail". Oaks because the trail consisted a lot of Oaks trees and Orchards because there was a old house named "Orchards House" located on the trail map. The trail was part through forest area and part through civilization. The forest area was great to walk in. The quietness of the surrounding was attractive for a city dweller like me. Sameer had great knowledge of the area and was a great guide to have. He told me about the forest area, he showed the summer retreat of the President of India, the house which Priyanka Gandhi was building, fun part of growing up in Shimla and also fable stories. It was from him I came to know a belief among local school kids and lady bugs. He said that school kids believed that if you touch a lady bug and she flies across your entire hand then you will get good grades in exams. It reminded me of all the stories we believed in as kids so that we could get good marks in exams.
I saw the effects of development in the area. I saw a clear picture of how the mountains are losing its soil and how vegetation was lost in the name of development of humans.I truly believe that mankind has to find a way to live in harmony with nature if he truly wants to build a great civilization.
People of these hilly regions are always healthy. One of the reasons his the way the houses are situated. Unlike in our cities, the houses are situated on the hills, starting from the valley and moving upwards. To go to work or even for daily activities, they all walk up the hills to the main town area. That means you don't need to have any gyms there. You need to exercise, just walk up to the market to get bread. Sameer told me that the best thing about Himachal Pradesh is that almost all the cities and villages are connected by road of some kind. That meant you can access the houses on foot, car or bus.
I had a great time on the nature trail. I had the nature to make me feel uplifted and had good company to pass time. I didnot even know when the trail ended and I reached back on the hotel.
After lunch, I decided to try my hand at Archery. The hotel has arranged the set up in its own compound. Sameer gave me the basic lesson of Archery and I was set to go. I hit some shots on the paper and some even in the sand. Archery requires patience, strength and concentration and it comes only with lots of practice. I did hit the bulls eye a few times and overall it was great fun.I tried my hand at the gamr of Croquet after Archery. This was new for me. I had never heard of this game, leave alone playing it. But guess what, it was real fun!!! I scored 23, 18, 18 in my 3 times that I played the game. I would love to go back and once again play the game.
End of another adventorous day. Look forward to another exciting day tomm!!!

April 21, 2009

White Water Rafting!!!

This picture is a proof that I really did go for rafting.

Day 3 of my trip!!! Today was the day I have been looking forward to for a long time. I have always had a phobia for water. In Key West, Florida I was scared while trying water sports like jet skiing and paragliding. I did enjoy doing those activities but still there was a fear. A fear to enter water. This fear might be there from the fact that I don't know how to swim, even for my life. I have always wanted to overcome this fear and got the perfect opportunity when I went for white water rafting today!!!!
We left for Chaba around 9.00 a.m. We were suppose to start our rafting journey on the Sutlej river from this point. The drive from the hotel was about 2 hrs and 30 mins. I was filled with feelings of anxiety and excitement. The road leading to my destination were not really great which just added to suspense of waiting.
Rajeev was our main instructor with Santosh was playing his assistant. Ganesh was the safety guy and he was gonna be riding ahead of us to make sure that if we fall into water, he will save us. I had one another person has company, Mr. Harrold. Coincidence!!! Coincidence!!! I always believe that the world is small and I was proven right. Of all the places in the world, Mr. Harrold was from New York City. It was great to meet someone from New York City. We were given the safety instructions and we got on board. The adventure started!!!
It was not at all scary. In the first 15 minutes I was decided that I want to come back for white water rafting. Rafting on the still water as well as the rapids had different excitement. On the still water, you require strength and patience to move forward. On the rapids, it is the rush which makes you feel exhilarated. Rus of water from all directions just lifts the mood. The Sutlej river flowing through the mountains a picture perfect and gave happiness to the mind. Being on the raft gave me a different feeling, I was completely at peace. The combination adventure and peace of mind was all that I needed. Half way through our journey, we stopped for lunch at the river bank. The hotel had packed a picnic basket and we had a great picnic. With the food we swallowed some dust also as the winds were really strong. After great food and interesting conversations, we started for the remaining half of the journey. Our journey ended at Tatapani from where we took the drive back to the hotel.
I am trying to put into words the experience I had but it really is not possible. You all have to experience it to know what it really feels. Don't be scared like me, do it!!! Also remember that if you ever land in the water, the experts are there with you to save you.
Tomorrow I will be going for nature trail walk around the hotel!!! this is another new activity for me to try!!! Yipeeee!!!!

In the end I just want to say "YES!!!!!!!!!!!!! I DID IT!!!!!!!!!!"

April 20, 2009

Exploring the town of Shimla!!!






Day 2 started with a nice breakfast on the patio of the hotel. The views were as expected awesome. Awe-inspiring Mountains and jungles are what my eyes could see. Today, I had planned the visit the places I had been to last time I was in Shimla. I planned to visit various so called "tourist spots" around the city.
Shimla was summer capital of British India. It now serves as the seat of power for the Himachal Pradesh government. It is a beautiful hilly town, surrounded by green pastures and snow-clapped peaks. The Mall Road is the city center and this is where I started my Shimla tour. Like many hill stations in India, there is always a main road of the city around which the stores and eateries of the city are based. I think people actually were bored to name the roads in these cities and hence mostly these roads are called "Mall Road" in many of these towns.

The Mall road has an uneven topography and to get there I had to take a lift as cars are not allowed on this road. That is so great. No honking of cars!!! The Mall road has the usual stores and food joints. But that is not the interesting part. Here you can find the beautiful Christ Church, the interesting Scandal Point and the mesmerizing views from the edge of the ridges. The Christ Church was built by the British and is the second oldest church in Northern India. I was lucky to visit it as it was about to close at 1.00 p.m. for afternoon rest to the God. The church was small and intimate. An ideal place to go and pray to the almighty. Then came the visit to the scandalous place of all, the "scandal point". This place got its name because from here the Maharaja of Patiala has said to have eloped with a British lady. Legend also goes that from that day, the Maharaja was banned from entering Shimla and hence he built his palace at Chail, a short ride away from Shimla. It is also said that at Scandal point people come and discuss scandals. Guess what, I was sitting there minding my own business when I heard a scandalous conversation between two females. One of the girl was trying to convince the other to marry her brother. It seems that the second girl and the brother of the first girl were an item. But family pressure made the girl back out. Now the guy's sister was trying to convince the girl to think about her decision and the girl was asking the sister to understand her situation. I din't want to evesdrop more so I just walked away. I will never get to know the end of this story, just like so many other stories which just touch our life and go. From the ridge the view of the city and the mountains was breaktaking. I clicked numerous snaps here. Nearly exhausted the memory card. I walked up and down the mall road taking in the life of the city and its people. I remembered the places I had visited few years ago. I went back down the elevator to head to my next destination, "Indian Institute of Advanced Study".
Don't freak out, I din't go there for any educational purpose. This place was called "Viceregal Lodge" during the times of British has the Viceroy of British India lived here. After independence, it was the residence of the President of India. In 1964, the second President of India, Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan dedicated this institute for education and hence it became the Indian Institute of Advanced Study. Scholars from India and abroad come here to do there post doctoral studies in Humanities and social sciences. Viceregal Lodge is situated in an old and beautiful building. It gives you the picture of the era gone by. This building has historic events in India's history. In this same building the details of India's partition were finalized. I saw the table on which this treaty was suppose to be signed. It also had an huge library with books, books and books. The books were calling out to me but I couldn't visit it as I was not one of the scholars studying there. I saw a huge bell gifted by then King of Nepal to the Viceroy of India. The bell reminded me of the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia.
I came back to the hotel happy and tired. I was happy that I got to visit such great places and learn from this experience. I have been wanting to catch up on my reading for a long time. So after coming back to the hotel, I headed to the outside pool. I just sat by the pool, enjoying the views and reading the book "Stranger to History". End of an amazing day in Shimla. See you tomm!!!

April 19, 2009

Start of my Himalayan adventure!!!

People always ask me, "how can you go on a vacation alone?". To this I just say "If you can't enjoy your company, how do you expect others people to!!!". I like getting away alone, as it gives me time with myself. I don't have to follow schedules of others, do what others want to do. I can just be myself and have some peace and quiet time. I did it first time when I went to London for 8 days. After I came to India, I went once to Delhi for 4 days just to get away. And now this is my 3 rd trip.
I have been wanting to go on a vacation for a long time. A vacation where the only company I have is me. I wanted to get away from all the madness around me. I wanted to go to a place where I would find peace and tranquility. A place so serene that it would make me forget all my worries. The internet addict that I am, I naturally turned to web for help and it came to my rescue as always. I found the perfect place for retreat, "The Wildflower Hall - Shimla".
Shimla is one of the most beautiful hill stations in India. I had visited is 10 years back and fell in love with the city. The beauty of the hills, the hilly terrain and the layout of the houses on the mountains can make you fall head over heels for this place. It has everything a nature lover can ask for and more. I couldn't have chosen a more apt destination as my getaway.
I started my journey from Mumbai on 19th April 2009 and planned to spend about 7 days in Shimla. I arrived at the Chandigarh airport in the morning but it felt like an hot summer afternoon. I had chosen to drive from Chandigarh to Shimla. This drive takes around 4 hrs and is mostly through the mountains. It is like a small preview of what is really waiting for you when you get the final destination. The narrow winding roads through the mountains makes the journey really exciting. On the way I passed towns and had flash backs of passing through the towns during my earlier visit. It was a sweet reminder of my younger happier days.I was missing my family but then I was also excited for this trip. I arrived at the hotel in the afternoon and got a nice welcome. The hotel is fairy tale resort situated at 8,350 feet in beautiful Himalayas. It is surrounded by beautiful pine and cedar trees all around. As soon as I arrived here, I lost all my fatigue and was sure that this trip is gonna be unforgettable. From my room, I had the view of the magificient Himalayas, snow covered mountains and a spectacular valley to complete the picture. I wanted to go out and explore the place, but was so tired that I just dozed off. I slept with the surety that the next day I am gonna begin my Himalayan adventure with a bang!!!

P.S.: I have uploaded a snap giving you all a glimpse of the view from my room. I din't take it on the day I arrived and it won't show you the snow covered mountains, but still you will get an idea.