Of being offended…

These days, my blog is becoming a very rant-y place. If you’d like to read something more fun, I suggest going to the Wanderlust category instead).

Offended (adj): resentful or annoyed, typically as a result of a perceived insult.

The feeling of being offended is a very interesting thing, in that different people get offended for different things.

Some people don’t like it if someone swears.

Others don’t like it if people pull their legs or make jokes about them.

Still others may get offended just because they don’t like the timing of what you said.

It’s easy to say that if everything could offend, you may as well not say anything, because that way you don’t offend. Except, that’s another form of offense, too.

Sounds confusing?

It is. It is, because, offense, like beauty lies in the eyes of beholder. And many times, you can offend not by what you say, but how you say it. That’s why it’s so important to think through what you say and when you say it. You may not think that what you said was offensive, and you may think a puff of smoke blew away all the anger in the room.

But that may just be in your head.

Because, like I said, offense lies with the beholder and not with you. And therefore, when the beholder tells you about it, try not to get mad at them the second time. This isn’t about you, really, it’s about other person and why they felt what they felt, however illogical it may seem to you.

Listen, apologise (preferably meaningfully, if you are a big enough person), and help make things better. Remember. It may be nothing to you, but a lot more to someone else. Especially if they are in a minority to start with.

Just. Be. Nice.

And for those who watch this stuff unfold, and say nothing – you are a perpetrator, too. You are silent, and complicit, and you let this happen because you didn’t have the courage to stand up for someone who needed it. So if you think you’re ok because you weren’t involved, think again, and think hard.

You’re as much to blame as the other person.

 

 

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Of metro rides and being independent

On Thursday, my personal space was invaded, and I was physically shoved.

My problem isn’t really with the fact that I was shoved. It’s also not with the fact that this happened at the metro turnstile, which meant that I wasn’t able to scan my card not once, but multiple times leading to a man (not the one who shoved me, or maybe he was?) yelling at me. Not once, but thrice in a row.

My problem also isn’t with the fact that I tried to call this entire experience to the attention of the metro staff and that they refused to try and isolate the perpetrator (I don’t know who shoved me, and whether their attempt was to shove me, or grope me). Forget the person who invaded the physical space, they didn’t even rebuke the guy who yelled at me for not moving fast enough for his liking.

My problem is with the fact that the female guard at the turnstile believed that if she apologized on behalf of the other passengers, I’d let things go. Even though she and her colleague let the men RUN scot free while I pointed and yelled that I wanted them stopped so I could change the person’s final destination from the railway station to the police station.

My problem is with the fact that the metro supervisor tried fobbing off the entire incident with varied excuses ranging from the fact that the lady officer empathizes with me “because a woman understands a woman problem”, to “excessive crowds to control”, to “we cannot do anything, Madam, passengers should behave like educated people”. The last was the point at which I stalked out of his office because I realized there really was nothing I could do.

My biggest problem, though, is that thanks to this entire incident, the next evening, I called V to come get me when I couldn’t find an Uber to get home at 8.30PM. I live 2 KM away from work, in Bangalore. I’ve lived for four years in Gurgaon, and I never once had to ask someone to bail me out of a situation.

I always prided myself on being independent, and I actually (kinda) like public transport. And yet, here I am, trying to decide what bothers me more – asking my husband to come pick me up, or driving myself to and fro the one location that’s best connected to my house by public transportation.

Bangalore Metro, you just made me lose a portion of my independence, and for that, I cannot forgive you.

Note: The best (and only) outcome of my kicking up a fuss was that the guards started yelling out a public service announcement at the turnstile – “Please move away and give the lady passengers some space.”

ET, when did you become a neighbourhood aunty?

Dear Economic Times,

Last I checked you were a business paper. That’s right, BUSINESS. I understand that conception and fertility are businesses now (and probably bigger than most other businesses), but that still doesn’t give you the right to judge those of us who are a “tad late” by your standards. Brilliant piece of reporting by the way, what with the use of that phrase, in addition to quoting “a research” that states whatever point you’re looking to make, with zero data or methodology or even a source. I’d love to know if this research was carried out by an intern in your office as a full-fledged summer project, or whether she came up with it over a tea break just in time for you to send the article to press.

I’m also curious by that photograph you used to illustrate your point – are the treatments and doctors you quote (good job with the subtle paid advertising gimmick Aveya Fertility and Cloud Nine group!), also guaranteed to give you the Caucasian skin the model in your stock photography sports? I’ve seen enough of these models in fertility clinic ads around town, so maybe the idea is to wait till one is a ‘tad late’, and then get a double whammy of fair skin AND a baby (or two, or maybe more because anyway one must be freezing ones geriatric eggs at 30)?

My favorite portion is your section on prenatal precautions, which tells me I HAVE to quit smoking, but I only need to ‘limit’ my drinking. Is this a concession for today’s generation? I mean, what is this limited drinking – how much do you think an average woman drinks, and therefore what’s the limit? I got my drinking chops in Gurgaon so I’m a “tad” worried that I may be over your limit. I’d also like to understand what are the so-call ‘acceptable levels’ for weight. Your esteemed professionals don’t really tell me this, just like they don’t tell me how I’m supposed to “keep my pre-existing conditions under check”. I assume they mean continue to take the relevant medication, but it sounds like you want me to will it away. I will try that and let you know what my medical practitioner thinks of my attempt.

Basically, you claim you’re telling me the pros and cons of my choices, but all you have are sweeping statements, generalizations, and enough quotes to convince me that the 3/4 of the page this article took up was paid for by these so-called concerned healthcare providers. By the way, did you consider the fact that the planet is already groaning under the weight of the people we have, and maybe, just maybe, not everyone needs to necessarily procreate?

ET, I think you should go back to what you’re supposed to do, and what you’re actually reasonably decent at, and report on business news. Dr. Shenoi and her ilk can work with other papers in your group, and maybe Aveya can be a part of the Ads for Equity program, given that they’re only a few months old.

After all, there are enough well meaning neighbourhood aunties as-is, without your having to take on the mantle of one.

Best,

Me

PS: For those concerned, this is the article in question. The top search result leads you right to…surprise surprise – the Cloud Nine website. I guess there really isn’t a doubt on who’s judging those of us who are “late”, and how much they benefit from fear mongering to aid their business?

What I Learnt in Tanzania

There I was, in Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, trying to find the gate to our flight to Tanzania while simultaneously scoping out bathrooms. I spotted one, and told my fellow companions (my husband V, my cousin NK, his wife RT, and their friends J & K) that I’d be out in a second. “No, let’s find one closer to the gate”, RT said, a woman on a mission to get to the gate in the minimal time left on our layover. So we trudged on, and finally found our gate. As luck would have it, there was a bathroom right there. It said ‘Gents’ so I confidently walked to the one right next to it, expecting that it would be the Women’s bathroom. Except, this one said ‘Gents’ too. I thought that maybe my sleep deprived eyesight was tricking me. Only to hear K say, “We have to go back – these are both men’s bathrooms!”

And that’s how on Day Zero of our Africa Trip, I learnt my very first lesson – When you see a bathroom, just GO! 

***

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Dazzle – you heard it here first!

On Day 1 of our trip, we drove from Arusha (where we spent our first night post landing in Tanzania) to Tarangire Safari Lodge. Along the way, we went on our very first game drive through the Tarangire National Park. While the drive until the Park entrance was largely uneventful (highways all around the world look largely the same), we saw a dazzle of zebras as soon as we entered the park, thereby raising the bar for the overall trip right there (incase you’re wondering, I also did NOT know the collective noun for Zebras up until I Googled it). Before we could process what we’d seen, the Zebras began crossing the road, thereby bringing a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘Zebra Crossing’. V provided entertainment by responding to NK’s question, “How do Zebras recognize their mate?”. In case you’re wondering (and knowing his PJ skills you may wonder why you did), the answer is – “They can’t get confused. It’s all black or white for them!”

We also spotted wildebeest grazing, and got very excited thinking that they were all still in Tanzania and we would get to see the migration, which in our heads looked EXACTLY like what we’d seen on NatGeo specials. Our guide gently explained that most of them had already migrated, and these were just the lazy ones that continued to hang about on this end, and were likely not migrating this year.

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So NOT planning to migrate this year.

In true Type A city-dweller fashion, I decided to re-visit the objective of the trip and work toward spotting the Big 5 instead. My quest began with spotting a memory of Elephants (language nerd alert – loving these collective nouns as much as I loved seeing the animals!). Check one for Day One!

We got to the Tarangire Safari Lodge in the evening and discovered that we were glamping in some fantastic tents. There’s no real fencing of the property so animals come right up to the tents! Their outdoor eating area also had a great view of the forest, and we got to see the Milky Way at night. I must admit, that the uncluttered view of the stars beat any city skyline hands down.

 

Tip: While at Tarangire Safari Lodge, try out the local Mango Wine and Honey Wine. They’re both quite awesome.

***

Our second day was another game drive at Tarangire. In addition to everything we’d seen the day before, we also saw elephants at lunch time. This was the closest that we’d seen them, and watching them eat was quite a relaxing activity.

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Lunch and exercise, in one fluid move!

We also spotted some Wild Buffaloes, even though they were way off in the distance. We decided to count this as No. 2 on the Big 5 list, as well as consider this a ‘migration’ because they were crossing the river. After all, who knew if we would see the lazy Wildebeest migrate given how green everything was in Tarangire? As we discussed the technicalities of what we saw, we were also lucky enough to spot a Leopard (OMG! No 3!). Like the ones in India, this one was shy, and on a distant tree, so we had to be satisfied with blurry pics (and the hope that V’s photoshop skills could somehow make the yellow blob look more Leopard-like).

The highlight of the day (other than the Leopard), was spotting everyone’s favorite Disney character, Pumba, and his friends, leading to a ‘Hakuna Matata’ moment. Only to realize later that night, that we didn’t even know the REAL Hakuna Matata song. This was one of my favorite discoveries on this trip, and lesson 2: Disney does not always have the best version of the song. . For what it’s worth, this is a birthday song. On my next birthday, I’m requesting this instead of ‘Happy Birthday’.

Overall, the Tarangire game drives were fantastic, and we were quite convinced we’d seen a LOT. We even wondered if there was going to be anything new to see on the next couple of days.

Tip: Do NOT wear dark blue or black, if you do not want to be hounded by the dreaded Tsetse fly (bonus PJ – “Tsetse, tsetse, tsetse mujhe log bole!”). I made sure not to pack anything in these colors, only to forget that V’s sneakers are black with blue laces. Basically, he was wearing a Tsetse attraction flag on his feet!

***

On Day 3, we awoke to discover waterbucks peering at us through the thicket near our tent. I thought this was the pinnacle of what we were going to see, and wondered what we’d do over the next few days. That day, we drove from Tarangire to Ngorongoro, with a game drive through the caldera, home to the highest density of wildlife in Africa. I’d been hoping to spot the Black Rhino over here. Yes, that’s Type A crazy city girl for you – I took the “Rhino” requirement off the Big 5 list, and raised it to “almost extinct Black Rhino of which there are only 21 left in Ngorongoro.”

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Ngorongoro is beautiful, with plains framed by mountains. As we drove down into the crater I realized that even if we saw no animals, the natural beauty of the landscape alone was worth the trip here. But, Tanzania doesn’t disppoint when it comes to animals – we saw our very first glimpse of lions amidst great excitement! V was also thrilled to see hyenas, jackals and wolves up close.

We got a better look at the buffaloes up close, looking all judgy at us and leading to our philosophical question of the trip – “What do the animals think of while they stand around all day?”.

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Whatchu’ lookin’ at? HUH??

There were also vultures, kites and eagles perched on the trees here, in addition the the ostriches and other birds ranging from the Starling to Grey Crested Crane, and our favorite the Secretary Bird.

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By this point in the trip, V was wondering where the African food he was promised went. RTs friends who’d visited Kenya a year ago mentioned that they got local food (and meat), and we’d thought this would be the same. However, all our lunch boxes offered us were sandwiches, chips, juice, mini pizzas, and enough fruit and peanuts to start a business selling them! V tried convincing our guide to take us to a local African restaurant enroute to Ngorongoro, but he was told that he should ask the chef at the hotel. That night, at Sopa Lodges, V asks to see the chef. The chef shows up, and he’s very clearly of Indian-origin. As V begins to ask his question, I can’t help but point out that V Singh was speaking to B Singh. A little more questioning revealed that B Singh came from Rishikesh, and moved to Tanzania about 5 years ago. He could name African dishes, but claimed they’d all take time to make, and instead tried to subtly convince us to request dal khichdi for our lunchboxes the next day. Thus ended V’s quest to eat local African food.

Lesson 4 – There may not be a Malayali on the moon, but there’s definitely a Singh in Ngorongoro!

***

Since this was our last day at Ngorongoro, I was all set to see the Black Rhino, and it seemed like our guide was, too. We stalked a black blob in the horizon for hours before it got into a reasonable zoom range and we could spot a horn and confirm that it was indeed a rhino, and not a hippo that had accidentally wandered away from the ‘Hippo Pool’. Unfortunately, these rhinos have been poached so brutally that they don’t come anywhere near the paths (except during mating season) because their survival instinct drives them to stay away from humans. So, while we managed to see the Big 5, I have no real proof of the fifth. For those of you who say pictures or it didn’t happen, that distant blurry, grey-ish blob, is indeed a Black Rhino.

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Check your eyesight – can you spot the Rhino?

Also, we saw two of them, because we spotted the second later in the day. OK, maybe it was the same one twice. Nevertheless, we spotted the Big 5, with 3 days to go!

We also saw many more hyenas – they’ve apparently evolved enough to scare away all the leopards in the area, as well as a cheetah in the distance. V insisted that our best view of a cheetah will come when we are closer to the river, because “Cheetah bhi peeta hai” (if I have to listen to this on a daily basis, you may as well hear some of these once in a while!).

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Do you know how to say “giraffe” correctly?

So far, our best views have been of the buffaloes, giraffe, elephants, zebras and wildebeest. We’ve also spent some time trying to learn how to say ‘zebra’ (more like see-bra) and wildebeest (‘wild beast’ NOT ‘wilderbeast’) correctly.

 

 

Lesson 5 – When in doubt, pronounce it like the locals do. It doesn’t matter what the British vs. American pronunciation is, if the animal is African. 

 

***

Just in case we felt we’d seen everything, we spotted a dead buffalo as we drove off from the crater toward Serengeti. “Oh my God! That poor buffalo’s head has been cleanly chopped off!”, I said. Only to be informed that I’d seen the wrong end, so I’d basically been looking for a head up the buffalo’s ass. Clearly, 4 days in the jungle haven’t really gotten rid of my city slicker ignorance.

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Yes. He IS the Lion from those Shampoo commercials…

As we drove toward Central Serengeti, the grass got yellower and shorter. Everyone was concerned that no animal would show up in plain sight in these plains when suddenly we spotted a pair of lions by a signboard in plain view! We were thrilled to get such a good view of the lions, without realizing that we were going to see way more by the end of the day. Our grand total when we headed to the Wild Frontiers Central Serengeti camp was 34, including a 19 strong pride of lions that were taking an afternoon nap on the side of the road. In addition to the predators, we also saw all the usual suspects, none of whom seemed particularly concerned by the predators in the vicinity. There were more lazy wildebeest still lazing around, even though the yellow grass offered them slim pickings.

That night, V finally managed to get some African food. Our dinner included Ugali, a rice like preparation made with maize. No signs of any weird meats – looks like we will have to go back to South East Asia later this year, to update his chart. Meanwhile, for all the vegetarians reading this, I can assure you that you will get enough and more food to eat on a safari trip.

Lesson 6: While looking for a head, make sure you’re looking in the right direction.

***

As we began driving from Central Serengeti toward the North, the grass got taller and greener. This didn’t stop us from seeing lions – we saw the same pride of 19 having breakfast that morning, as well as some others. We also managed to see a pair of cheetahs (likely a parent-child pair) that crossed the road in front of our jeep so they could go catch some gazelle. Unfortunately, the cheetah gave up chase early on so we didn’t get to see the complete hunt.

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Striking a pose before it’s time to chase the gazelle.

Our disappointment was soon forgotten, however, as we were able to spot a Leopard on a tree, and this time we were able to drive up to it. The Serengeti truly lived up to its reputation of allowing you to see all predators during the dry season!

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Nap time!

As we drove by the Mara river, we  saw crocodiles, and spotted wildebeest that appeared to be interested in crossing over from Kenya to Tanzania. However, on that particular day they didn’t summon the courage to cross because one wildebeest had died in its attempt. Not to mention, that there were quite a few crocs who appeared to be awaiting the crossing as eagerly as  we were! This is when the guide decided to finally tell me that wildebeest cross over back and forth multiple times in this area, so we could still see the migration, so to speak. Given that the plains looked similar on both sides, this was clearly a case of wildebeest believing that the grass was greener on the other side!

***

On that last day, we truly believed that we’d seen all there was to see, especially since our personal bar had been raised every day. We were no longer impressed by the zebras, warthogs, giraffes, or even the birds. They seemed like everyday creatures, as common as pigeons on my balcony in Bangalore.

The Serengeti had saved it’s best for our last day though! We started out by stalking the wildebeest by the river in the hopes that we’d see a crossing. Until lunchtime, all we saw was one very brave wildebeest that tried really hard to escape the jaws of death as a giant crocodile attempted to drag it under. The animal put up a really good fight, and I was rooting for it. Until the guide informed us that even if it escaped it would likely bleed to death on land, at which point I decided that Nature was willing the crocodile to have a good meal that day.

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The video is better than the photo.

Post lunch though, we spotted about 3000 wildebeest all set to cross the river. Once the first animal jumped in, the hordes followed and we watched them cross the river in full force. However, there were quite a few wildebeest who went back and forth in confusion, owing to which some friends were left on the opposite side. The friends and family looked for each other on the opposite bank and even went as far as the edge of the banks to cross over and bring their friends with them. However, they seemed to wary of being the first to jump. All it takes is one brave wildebeest to set off the move, otherwise they wave a sad goodbye at the bank and abandon their friends – until the next crossing. It’s interesting to watch how these disoriented and confused group of animals suddenly rally and go forth in a single direction.

Lesson 7: There’s a very real reason why the collective noun for wildebeest is ‘confusion’ (I did not make this up!)

***

On our last day, we took a bush flight back from the Serengeti to Arusha. The bush flight was an interesting experience, and offered us some nice aerial views over the Serengeti. I quite liked it, until NK told us how many risks the pilot took, and how many errors he made. Thankfully, he chose to tell us these after we were in Bombay, and not while we were on our way back.

Lesson 8: (For all pilots) The guy sitting behind you on that bush flight may just be another pilot who trains pilots.

***

I went to Tanzania expecting to see wildlife. What I didn’t expect was just how beautiful and varied the Tanzanian landscapes would be. I went to Serengeti to see the animals, but instead I felt the silences of the forest at night, I saw the blues of the daytime sky, and the silvers of the stars in the night sky. I’ve always been a total city girl, but something about these forests brought this city girl a few steps closer to being one of those “nature types”. And that’s probably the biggest lesson I learnt on this trip.

Until next time, Africa!

Tip: If you’re planning a Safari, I highly recommend BaseCamp Tanzania. And ask for Josef – he plans to retire soon, so go while he’s still around!

Of cycling, trekking and misplaced enthusiasm…

It all began with an innocuous packing list that started with “1. Cycling shorts”. I figured that hard-core cyclists like wearing specific shorts to prove their street cred, and ignored it. But after two more reminders with this item at the top of a must-have packing list for the cycling trip I’d signed myself and V up for, I realized it was time to Google this. Even after discovering that these shorts contained padding, I continued to stay in denial, and unilaterally decided that they couldn’t possibly make much of a difference. Finally, I mustered up courage to ask A (who couldn’t believe I signed up for this trip in the first place), and she’s like “yeah, you need them. That’s how AM does his long cycling trips. Your butt will hurt if you don’t have the padding.” That was the moment I knew I was in over my head. I’d signed up for this trip to Wayanad primarily because I’d get to see the place, and I thought maybe some exercise wouldn’t hurt. I should’ve known it wasn’t that simple, given my history with trekking, if not cycling.

With misgivings (and a brand new pair of cycling shorts), I showed up at the bus terminus on Friday night, wondering what I’d gotten us into. We reached Wayanad, and for a while I forgot about my worries once I saw where we were staying. I even optimistically took a pro-biker picture.

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My optimistic bike shot

Post the photo clicking, I suddenly realized that all we got before we began the ride at 6AM was a cup of tea. I was essentially cycling about 10kms just to get to breakfast! But I had Plan B – the option of riding in the support vehicle once this exercise business got to be too much. We set off on our ride when I suddenly realized that Plan B had disappeared in a cloud of dust with the pack of cyclists ahead, leaving V & me to puff and pant while P helped us out at the back of the pack. I should’ve quit then, but well, I needed my breakfast.

We rode on, and on, and on, while I wondered when we were reaching those lovely flat tea plantations I’d conjured in my head. So far, we were just headed upwards on some hilly terrain that was way more exercise than I’d bargained for. I mentioned something about flat trails when P burst out laughing and asked me what tea plantations were found in the plains. That’s when I realized that this wasn’t just exercise, this was a cardio punishment that involved steep uphill riding. I was told that the downhills are worth the uphill pain, but let me be the first to tell you that a free fall downhill flow felt more like a rollercoaster gone wrong than a reward of any sort. I somehow muddled through to breakfast (finally!) and inhaled the food. At this point, I was done, but I didn’t want to give up that easily (I blame the food and the mountain air for impacting my rational thought process).

 

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Getting high on the mountain air to forget the lack of breakfast

So I persevered, and pushed my bike up through the bad roads and steep climbs. Just when we could see the last stretch of our return up ahead, D was enticed by a local at a tea shop, and our plans changed. We were going to take a new path that would show up a part of the Meenmutti waterfalls. Oh and by the way, this was a route the support vehicle couldn’t take so there went my Plan B yet again (worst Plan B ever!).

We arrived at the water falls, and I was THRILLED to discover a swing by the river and promptly settled on it. I was contemplating if  I could get some reading done (yes, yes, I took a book along on a bike ride), when someone asked the pertinent question of how we were to get to our resort, given that we could see it on the opposite side. Turns out that we were supposedly going to haul our bikes across the river and cross it. Um, OK then. I’d almost resigned myself to living on that swing when enthusiastic V set up a process where he & D did most of the heavy lifting to get the bikes across. Reason #1000 that I married right! All that remained was for klutzy me to feel my way across the smooth river stones and somehow crossover without falling flat on my face, and thankfully this was one of those days when I pulled it off.

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V keeps me company while I push my bike instead of riding it.

If you thought this was the 50KM ride I signed up for, you’d be mistaken. This was about 25KM. I still had the evening ride to get through. I started off by blocking space for myself in the support vehicle for the after-dark portion of the ride. Turns out I couldn’t even get that far. After a punishing uphill stretch of about 2KM, I quit wimg_9730ithin the first 5KM of the ride and checked out the scenery from the confines of the car (the way God intended man to enjoy these things!). I also doubled up as the photographer and took some of these after-dark photos, for those of you who are reading this and thinking, “this sounds awesome, what’s she complaining about?”

The next day, we had 2 treks. As some of you may know, I don’t do treks. The incentive for the “walk” in the morning was breakfast. It was fairly simple, probably because I’d recalibrated my expectations post the first day. We had breakfast by a lake, and while others ran around trying to spot birds and enjoy the scenery, I did what I do best when confronted by a nice peaceful space – I read (with my back to the lake, because who needs to see the angry bull stare at you).

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The walk/trek to the lake, with very few uphill climbs!

The day was fairly light in that we got quite a bit of time to relax at the super awesome heritage bungalow we were at, so I also got in a Sunday nap. Then came the second trek, to the top of Neelimala peak.

As soon as we got to the start point, we were accosted by folks trying to sell us the option of going up on a jeep. Tempting though it was, I used my rusty Malayalam skills to pack them off so we could begin the upward trek. I was suffering my way through some treacherous uphill (at the back as usual), and was just about beginning to enjoy the views. I was ALMOST deciding I liked (ok, fine, tolerated) this climb when suddenly a forest dept official materialized to say we were late and we couldn’t go up. We tried arguing that half our group was already ahead, but he began grumbling. The tourism guide (who we’d paid) then began to have a conversation with the ranger and they promptly proceeded to argue for the next 15+ minutes. With all hope of peace gone, I soldiered on, wondering why I was doing this anyway. Finally we reached a point super close to the peak and the forest ranger decided that he was going to draw his imaginary Lakshman Rekha at this point, even though we could see the rest of our group. I was pretty mad by then, and I told him that I was fine to stay where I was provided he didn’t say anything more. All I wanted was the silence. He began complaining almost immediately so I stalked off to a point where I couldn’t hear him anymore.

A few minutes later, he’d let us go through. So we hurried ahead, saw the views from the peak, got some cursory inputs from the tourist guide, took the mandatory photos (I didn’t take any because it wasn’t worth the loss of mental peace on the ascent), and began our descent. This time though I made sure I was well ahead of everyone so I could get that elusive quiet that the argument had destroyed on my way up. And that’s when I realized, that silence is the key to trekking. It gives you time to just be, and you actually feel good (of course this was downhill, and it had been two days of inhaling mountain air so maybe I was just delirious and mistook it for happiness!).

At the end of it all, though, I’m still the city girl, who needs the city air. I’d rather get my mountain air as instant gratification by inhaling it through the windows of a 4-wheel vehicle. Huffing and puffing in the air does not have the same kick. I will probably still go on these trips with Pedal in Tandem, because of the awesome locations, stays and food. Most importantly, I can threaten D into letting me do most of it from a car! Also, I need some exercise and even if all I do is push a bike up a hill, Apple Health tells me that’s the equivalent of the 81 floors I’m NEVER climbing otherwise.

If you’re one of those who likes to cycle, trek and all that (*shudder*), please contact Pedal in Tandem – they’ll find you awesome locations to get your weird endorphin high every month. If you’re someone who just likes traveling, you should still sign up, the #protip is to be sure to block rides in the support vehicle upfront.

As for me, next time, I’ll get into the jeep instead of getting on the cycle so they don’t have the opportunity to strategically ensure I get the exercise!

PS – anyone who tells you the padding on the cycling shorts saves you from an aching butt is a liar. Also, lycra combined with sweat will give you a rash. Whoever thought it was a good idea to reduce the padding on the cycle seat and compensate it with padding on lycra shorts was clearly onto trying the printer + ink business model in the cycling industry. 

“Imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality”

I don’t ever post my artwork here (except for some super old ones that I put up when I first switched over to WordPress), but today seems like one of those days when I should.

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When I think of why I love reading so much, these are a few names that pop into my head – Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton, Daphne duMaurier, Harper Lee (I dislike the damned lawyer that published that prequel). Right at the top of the list, is Lewis Carroll, the man who told you you could believe six impossible things before breakfast (it’s no coincidence that I also love the number 6). The man who told you that if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there. And most importantly, the man who told you that it doesn’t matter if you’re bonkers, because the best people usually are.

If you thought he writes “children’s books”, well, you just grew up too soon (and you don’t realize that writing a good children’s book is infinitely harder than writing any adult book ever. Children will tell you if your work is crap, adults lie and often don’t have the imagination to know any better). If you thought he was high, you’re reality is just very different from mine. If you think that nonsense words do not “teach” right, then may the Jabberwock get you by those slithy toves.

I’ve always believed that one must never do something unless one is good at it, and this is someone who reminds me over and over that the bar for what I want to do is pretty darned high. Thank you Mr. Carroll, for setting such a high bar (and maybe someday I’ll make it somewhere close to it). Until then, thank you for also always, always reminding me to keep my muchness alive.

Of Despair, and Hope…

It’s weird how you can see a weird karmic cycle in a single day.

You wake up in the morning, and find out that something ended before it ever began. And then minutes later, you see a smiling face that gives you hope.

You go through half the day in a daze and realize you were upset, but you didn’t even realize it. You start to go into a blue funk. And then minutes later, you watch hope try to crawl.

You spend the entire day texting, trying to help in your own way,  while wondering how you could make this better. And then minutes later, you see pictures of hope from exactly a year ago, before this ever happened.

I am holding onto these little bits of hope.

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Dear A & N,

I can’t say anything to make this nightmare fade. I wish I could’ve made this right for you, the way you always did for me. I thought dancing was the hardest thing I’d ever do for you, but what a fool I was! I wish things were different, I wish you never had to go through anything like this ever, I wish, I wish, I wish…

I wish so many things, but mostly I wish you the strength you’ll need to get through this. Here’s sending you all the strength I’ve ever built up (I only ever learnt it from you, N), may it add to the immense strength you already have. 

Love always, me.