Friday, April 29, 2011

There is no top | There is no race

They just moved ahead of us, can’t you fucking speed up? , said the elder brother
The younger brother responded, his face all red and body sweating on a cloudy winter day in Dharamshala, “Come on bro, it is so tiring. And what is the point of going there, it is too far, we don’t even have jackets and we are wearing bathroom chappals. I am damn sure that we will go back all drenched to home and mom will beat the shit out of us.”
Why don’t you grow up? Look at them, they are just like us but look they are going to the next level and we are just sitting here, said big brother.
The younger brother abused himself and reluctantly started moving towards the next destination and said to himself, “Why we have to beat them? Can’t we be just what we are?”
They both had decided to roam in the hilly area, which happened to be just below the mighty Dhauladhar Ranges, that’s where they had lived in their colony. They would go and visit the lower ranges of the great Dhauladhar, almost every other day.
However, today they have met few foreigners who have come to the majestic lands of Himachal to see, feel and be blessed by the nature. The elder brother was overwhelmed and he wanted to stay ahead of those foreigners. If they would climb one mountain, he decided to climb three.
They both sprinted and reached at the top of another mountain. However, those foreigners have decided to call it day. They had fixed their tents and were just relaxing down the hill. The two brothers could see them relaxing; the elder brother had this sense of joy in his eyes. The younger brother also had a sense of pride in his eyes but it was absolute. He was feeling good about being there, where he was, not about beating someone in the race, in a race that never started.
Let us go, that one is the last, said the elder brother pointing towards the next visible hill.
Are you crazy? How do you know that is the last one? That is what you said when we were down there, and now we have climbed two more hills and no one seems to be the last one, said the younger one, perspiring, his face almost swollen because of high altitude and wind pressure.
BB - Come on now, listen to me. I know this is going to be the last one; we will be on the top then. These foreigners will be able to see us clearly from there.
YB - Why do you want to be seen by them? Didn’t they look at us and smiled when we were just starting? How will they get to know if it is we or some wild animals standing at the top?
BB - They will know, when you are at the top, everybody knows you.
YB - Do you want to know them?
BB - No, I do not.
YB - Then what makes you sure that they want to know about you? If you are at the top or at the bottom, why would anyone care?
The elder brother had moved on and the younger brother could not do anything but move behind his brother because he was feeling scared by now, as it was getting dark.
They both started climbing the next visible hill and after thirty minutes of struggle, they reached on the top. And when they reached there, younger brother was overjoyed at the sight, but the elder brother could not hide his disappointment.
YB - See bhai, look at the mighty Dhauladhaar, it is just endless, there are so so many tops, that’s why they call it Dhauladhar Range, I guess.
There is no top, said the elder brother to himself, I thought it was the last place to be reached. He could not admire beauty of the place, the open sky and endless mountains; he just could not notice them. He was blinded by the fact that there was no top.The day has ended but I could not reach at the top.
However, the younger brother was over joyous at the sight, now he did not want to leave that place. However, both of them had to leave because they had to go back to home. They slowly descended and moved past the sleeping foreigners. The younger brother was turning back and looking at the place from where they have just came back.
The elder brother was still thinking about the fact that there was no top at all.
The elder brother was too young to think beyond his mind, he could not accept the fact there was something beyond his vision too. But he was just 13 years old and at 13 you are allowed to make mistakes because they enable you to learn.
Several Years Later
The younger brother has studied and earned more than enough and now he had gone into depression because he could not handle the pressure of life, if life has ever exerted pressure on anyone. The reason could not be figured out; however it was assumed that he wanted to have more money, bigger cars because he wanted to outsmart his friend and his friends and his friend’s friends.
The elder brother was telling him a story, so that he can pull his brother out of depression. The doctors had failed and they had declared his scope beyond any scope.
The elder brother said, “You remember our old days? The small town days, when we were kids, we used to climb the hills. Every time we would climb a hill, we would see another hill, taller and farther. And if my memory serves me right, once we even went on to climb the taller hill, which we thought was the biggest mountain of the region. And when we reached there, what did we see?

A series of taller and farther hills, spread all around. We were so confused and we decided to come back.

That is life.
No one reaches at the top. There is no top at all. You have to draw a line, not for this society, not for people around you but for yourself because in this blind pursuit, in the blind race of winning the race, you forget to look around, to stop and breathe and to see the colors that actually make up life. You keep running and when you realize , OK, I am tired now, so this must be my top, and then you realize you just don’t recognize the colors, because your eyes have forgotten to recognize them.”
The younger brother blinked and a silent tear rolled down his eyes.
The elder brother just kept looking into his eyes, trying to see the joy, which he himself could not enjoy at the top of ‘that mountain’.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Who belongs to the future?What about the present?

Scene: Sector 17 Chandigarh, one of the most happening market places of India
There were lights, there were people, there was noise and then there were candles. People standing in front of the fountains and they were all lovers of the country, patriots you see. I was standing right in front of them, outside a showroom, looking at the blinking lights of the candles and the movement of feet. There was a gathering and people were supporting Anna Hazare’s fight against corruption. There were few young guys, wearing white kurtas and sporting a bandanna with Ashok Chakra printed on it. They were very excited, telling people about the Lok Pal Bill. They were explaining to the gathered masses that what good the Lok Pal Bill is going to do and how is it going to prevent the corruption in this god-damned country.
I was looking at them, feeling happy about witnessing such a mass movement in this country, first time after I was born 25 years ago, and I was feeling proud of those guys, wearing all white and making the crowds believe, hear and understand.
Then I saw three young ones moving in between feet of the people. Their movements were brisk and they were breaking something with their hands. It got me curious and I moved towards them. As I approached them, I saw people looking at me and some of them even smiled at me but my focus was somewhere else and as I sat on the floor with those young ones, I could sense all the activists sensing my weirdness.
I asked them about what were they doing. [I already knew that they were breaking the unburned wax with stones and bricks in their hands and putting it inside their plastic bags so that they can sell it or make candles out of it.]
They all were abusive and they were speaking in much distorted Hindi, mixed with the dirtiest [abuse] gaali’s that one could not speak or even think of.
TG: What are you doing?
Boy1: [he ignored me for a while, looked at my beard and then smiled and then said], breaking wax saab.
TG: What for?
Boy1: We will use it at home, it is getting wasted here, at least we can put it to some use. [यहाँ पड़े पड़े भी खराब ही हो रहा है, हमारे काम आ जाएगा]
TG: Why did they light these candles?
Boy1: They are all crazy but why do we care, we getting work. [दिमाग़ खराब है इनका, पर अपने को क्या, अपना तो घर चल रहा है ]
TG: What will happen if they light these candles?
Boy1: India will be corruption free. And someone in Delhi has lost his head, they say if we light these candles, minister log will save him. And we will have a better life, all of us. [इंडिया सॉफ हो जाएगा, और दिल्ली में किसिका दिमाग़ खराब है, उसको बचा लेवेंगे मिनिस्टर लोग , और सबकी जिंदगी ठीक हो जाएगी, हम सबकी भी]
TG: How?
Boy1: Why do I care saab! They all are free, probably they do not have anything to do, they have come here to score points with girls, why do I care, take the wax and use it, tomorrow restart the whole process for food. [खाली लोग हें साहब, काम होगा नहीं इनके पास, यहाँ लोंड़ीयाबाज़ी करने आ गए हैं, हमारे बाप का क्या जाता है, मोम ले जाओ, मोमबत्ती बनाओ, आटा खरीदो, रोटी बनाओ, खाओ और सो जाओ, कल फिर खाना ढूढने का है ]
TG: OK. How old are you?
Boy1: I am 12, he is 11 and that little sonofabitch is 9 only. But he is all set to sell of his own mother soon. He is too smart for his age.
TG: Where do you live?
Boy1: Ghaziyabad saab। We stay here with our uncles. You a musalmaan saab? [आप मुसलमान हो क्या साब? ]
TG: No. I am not sure about that. Why do you ask? [ I was taken aback and I was about to say that I am a Hindu but then I realized that I am not sure about my religion anymore]
Boy1: You have long beard and that makes you look like a Muslim. [इतनी लम्बी दाढ़ी है आपकी, ऐसी तो सिर्फ मुसलमान लोग रखते हैं, मुसलमान नहीं तो ऐसी दाढ़ी क्यूँ राखी है?]
TG: Its my hobby. [शौक है मेरा]
Boy1: You have weird hobbies, are you crazy? [अजीब शौक पाल रखे हैं आपने, सनकी हो क्या?]
I could not help smiling.
In the meantime, the little nine years old sonofabitch has gone close to the area where candles were still burning। The little one was actually smart and he started pulling the burning candles and started putting them inside his bag.

One of the activists said, : Don’t go there, first take off the dead candles and then come here when they are also gone.

The little one passed one heavyweight expletive and moved back.
They squatted and started waiting for the burning candles to go down.
I got up and started moving back.
In the background one of the activists was explaining another fellow about how this all was about the future of our country about the coming generations. He also said that we have to think about the coming generations, so that they live happily.
I laughed at myself because if I am future and younger generation of this country, who were those three who were busy collecting wax from the ground and knew nothing about Anna Hazare’s fast and March Against Corruption.
I wanted to ask them about education and school and then I realized that asking that would be a sin and I left the place, with a heavy heart.
The future belongs to us, they say. I wonder if they are a part of that 'us', or even I am a part of that 'us'?
No body knows!

P.S: I am optimistic by birth :)

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Road Less Traveled - Boat and River and People @ the Banks of Beas

The FotoGrpaher, standing in the silent waters and the subtle flow of water is disturbed as we see the waves and ripples and designs at the point of intersection of feet and water


Whatever has happened spontaneously in my life [so far] has always remained good. As we say, ended up in good, this statement fails when I do things spontaneously because spontaneous and heart-felt things have always stayed inside my heart and mind as a long standing, unforgettable memory. So this trip was a spontaneous, unplanned and just-happened trip, that's what I meant, in simple words.

I have seen numerous rivers, dams, check dams, canals, lakes jungles and deserts, well no deserts as of now. [If we consider lots of silt a desert, then yes ;)] I have always liked places and what I witnessed during my last trip was just beyond words, unexplainable.If I am asked to tell what is my favorite place of the month is, then I would definitely rank this place at the top, but no one is going to ask me, so I am not telling you the ranking standings.

We [I + JP] decided to take a break from our not-so-regular life and decided to visit some new place in our vicinity. Hamirpur is notorious for having nothing worth tourist interest so we ended up in dropping the plan and continue to sulk in our room. Then one good friend suggested us this beautiful place, which he thought was beautiful and we did not.

Amtar Cricket Stadium

Not beating around the bush anymore and coming to the point, name of the place is Amtar, popularly known as Amtar Ground because we have a cricket ground at this place and training camps are organized by the state government to train new Sachin's and Yuvraj's and Nehra's too ;)

Men @ Work

On a side note, do I know name of any Hockey Ground in our state, district or country, well yes Major Dhyan Chand Hockey Stadium, and that's all I know.

The Place


On the Shimla-Dharmshala HIghway, NH-88, when you just cross the bus stand going towards Dharamshala at the Nadaun Town, you see a huge gate on your right hand side that welcomes you and asks you to visit the famous cricket ground.

Ranji matches are frequently played here and most of the times Himachal State team ends up losing them, I hear they once lost to the Nagaland Cricket Team, if they have any cricket team playing at the Ranji's at all. ;)

You have to take a detour from the National Highway and move into the single lane road for One 'green and windy' kilometer. There you will see a cricket stadium with huge walls and boundaries. However you are not supposed to stop because there is no one to stop you, you get inside the stadium, park your vehicle, ask for permission if you see anyone there, otherwise feel free to park the car/bike/scooter [I am not sure about trucks though]

The stadium is nicely built and most of times one can find players playing there. However, the stadium was not our main motive of visiting Amtar, after all we have won the World Cup now, so there is no point in watching IPL or local level cricket or whatever.

The Other Side of River

The main motive was the majestic river Beas, which happens to flow from this place and makes it an amazing sight. I have never understood the flow of Beas, it originates from Manali and then I don't understand how does it reach Hamirpur District but anyways, I have not understood flow of Ganga, Sutlej, Cauvery or Godavari either, so nothing much to worry about here.

The Story

Walk few meters from the stadium and you happen to see a nice landscape with sand in the front-ground, water in the center-ground, and village in the background [hope you got it]. The Beas flows silently, and if I have to explain in detail, the river does not flow at all. The water is silent, the river-bed stones are still, the sand is still, even the trees are still at that place. On the other side of the river, we have a village where kids play cricket and we have a temple and we have cattle and fields and almost everything similar to this side of the river. The river does not run deep and it is some 15-20 meters wide. There is an old boat that takes people from one side to another. The old uncle oaring the boat was 55 years old and what he could do with 15 people on-board, I cannot do at 25. But yes, then I cannot do so many other things as well, so nothing to worry about.

Boat Ride

Chaotic Silence

The fair is 5 INR per trip per person and in between those trips people talk. They share their lives, their work, old days when boating was the sole medium of transportation, when kids used to start their study not before 7 years because the schools were at least 10 km away from their village and sending young ones on foot was not a wise thing to do.

Then there was an old lady who runs a sewing center in her village and she has to go to the far end of the town to get stuff for her students and employees. She was carrying something on head, which I after analyzing it carefully in terms of weight, offered to carry for her. She told me stories about her village. Village is connected to the roads but buses are not frequent, bus fare is also very high and they can't afford spending 1 INR per km. She also told me that we have a temple in the village. Few years ago people from all the villages , at least 15-20 villages used to commute through boat because there were no roads at all. During rainy seasons, Beas is very dangerous and they have to walk all the way to their offices, shops, courts and ration depots because boats cannot handle the extreme flows of Beas. I decided there and then that I will come back in the rainy seasons too. Still-waters and mad waves are just two extremes and watching extreme ends of the same thing has always fascinated me.


The sun sets and the boat stands still in the water because everyone has retired for the day. I, the sun, the water and perhaps the air surrounding the river too.

I can't conclude this trip because for me its not yet over. The silence outside has made me chaotic inside.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Gobind Sagar - The Submerged Temples

|Don’t tell me how much educated you are, tell me how much have you traveled| ~ Fellow Traveler

Gobind Sagar Lake of Himachal Pradesh has remained a bright shining star in the history of Himachal Pradesh for various reasons. Hydroelectricity, fish breeding, water sports and so many other things, which even I do not know. However, one thing that is worth mentioning here is the submerged temples that have gone down under the deep waters of this Man Made Lake.

One can visit the lake during any time of the year. Those who want to see water must go during the rainy season. Those who want to see the submerged temples must go during the summers because it is practically possible to hire a boat and see the temples and appreciate their architecture, if you understand anything about it or not, you can’t stop praising the make and design of the temples. It is believed that Pandava’s built these temples during their Exile [though I am not sure who built it or Pandavas even existed] but yes whoever made them, he/she was a genius. Those who just want to go, it does not matter what time of year it is, take a bus go there, have fun and come back.

The lake is so full of silt that its bed level has raised by at least 5 feet for sure. Boats run from one bank to another because it is faster medium of transportation and it also saves money because state transport costs you 1 INR per KM where as the boats run of the mixture of kerosene oil, gasoline, diesel, water and so many other additives that can pollute the air very well and cost nothing actually. Usually the charge is 5,10 INR per trip but in case if you want to go close and look at the temples, you might have to pay 200-300 INR for an exclusive trip. There is one temple that can be seen in its full form and shape, as it lies outside the major water body.

However, walking on silt is dangerous because it is soft, it has absorbed water over the years and it has become swampy at places. So place your foot firmly, hold your camera tightly and jump on the silty desert of the Gobind Sagar Lake.

There is another temple that lies close to the lake and it is called as 'Dholra Temple’. I, and my twin brother were born somewhere near this area but that is not at all related to this blog post ;)

The Silt Desert

The road diverges from the extremely busy National highway-21 on the left hand side, just when you are about to reach Bilaspur coming from Chandigarh side. There is no proper mention or sign board but then here in Himachal people are fond of helping and sharing, so ask anyone and you will get the right answer with all the directions about turning left , right and what to do and what not to do. Do not worry about parking your car, truck or bus because there is ample space in the hearts of people when it is about God. Parking lot of the Dholra Temple would be at your service.

God has settled upstairs @ Dholra Temple

All photographs by Jaipal Mandyal [Humble Arrogance]

P.S: Do not carry plastic bottles and in case you are too thirsty make sure you carry your bottles back because if you do not carry it back, the GOD will punish you, one day ;)