Bridges ——-A Different approach to experience

Bridge – an epitome of  connection, which in itself defines beauty. However, I never wondered about it philosophically , it never seemed to be more than a marvelous construction. Living in India , I have seen some of the stunning constructions among them . Worli Sea Link is one among those stunners.  It has always been a means of fast transportation , so I could admire the fantastic technology behind the construction of cable-stayed bridge connecting Western Suburbs to Mumbai’s main business center.    But you have to stay at a place for a while , to connect to the soul. And this connection I felt for “Henderson wave bridge” in Singapore . This could be attributed for several reasons. One and foremost reason is that I was already connected to this place because this is one of the favorite destinations of my best friend, secondly minutes of walk along the waves of the construction with cool breeze will make you surrender. Far from the bright lights of the city of Singapore lies the highest pedestrian bridge of the Country.  Very true to its name, the bride mimics the shape of waves and surrounded by lush green forests. There are  shell-like niches where pedestrians can sit and capture the beauty of the surroundings. Hours could be spent on this bridge enjoying the panoramic  view of the city. I believe it gives big solace to people who want to experience a different side of the  technology-ready nation. And then, rest all is to do is to stay at the place for a while to connect to it and wait for its magic that will calm you down…..……via Photo Challenge: Bridge

 

Companion or Stranger

When you are alone in a completely new land, what do you urge for most? A perfect view or a companion ! I guess , a companion… Let it be a stranger , doesn’t matter but it should be a person who can understand your demands and needs in a strange land or country. I accidentally met someone in a new country , who was totally stranger to me and just opposite of my character but I must say the beauty of the new land must not have been that memorable if the strange partner cum friend would not been there. New places and experiences become memories with the people , less with the digital photographs captured. My experience would not have been valuable if I would have failed to find the friend in him. Perhaps that’s why we say “value people and relationships”.
I am very passive person, take my own comfortable time to befriend with someone. If the stranger cum friend would not have been there who would have taken the first step to remove the boredom of new land , I believe I would have spend days roaming alone. But later on the excitement was more of our stupid conversations . Unnecessary long walks and useless chit chat add to the energy.
Life is a long journey if we fail to find the companion , doesn’t matter the companionship is of the person itself to him or her . The only thing that is important is the correct bonding .

via Daily Prompt: Passenger

LET THE BEAUTY OF VALLEY BE SPOTLESS

Ever since I visited this land, it feels that whatever has been written or described about this land is not sufficient to justify the cosmic beauty of Valley of Kashmir. War over the geographical boundaries could not destroy the blessed beauty of nature. Moving through the valley seems like moving through the path which is covered by snow laden mountains all around the corners. View of Himalayan mountains and the constant companionship of river Jhelum would never leave anyone alone. Sometimes humming and sometimes roaring, but the presence of Jhelum would always be there. Leaves of Chinar are as fascinating to watch as it always feels while reading about them in the books.  For me, it is like unfolding the pages from my books. I wish I could have also seen the apples in the apple valley, white flowers have covered the entire orchards. It is so exciting to imagine the presence of apples in those orchards, just in a few months. And there is not one or two orchards, but there is valley called apple valley while going to Pahalgam. While driving through the valley, I feel that those perfect paintings and photographs in the books and websites are part of my vision too.

Tulips, I have seen them alive for the first time in my life and I fall in love with them. Massive collection of Tulips in almost every color I can imagine it to be, are there. There are rows after rows dedicated to different colors of Tulips. Forget the colors, there are also contrast in the color combinations of these flowers. When you follow the end of these tulip’s rows, your eyes would meet the clouds almost dropping down from the mountains. When you follow these clouds, you would meet the snow-covered zenith of Himalayan ranges. That’s like a never-ending process, seems like treasure to the eyes and peace to the mind. But above all, solace to the soul comes from the warm approach and hospitality of the local people. In a true sense, they treat their guests as their God, as per our own tradition. They are delighted to receive you as their guests. I stayed with a local family for few days I spent in Kashmir and I would never forget the honor and happiness which they expressed by making me as a part of them for those days. Geographical boundaries have not succeeded to create any marking or boundary in the thoughts of normal people who want to be the part of normal lives.

History and future, both the aspects of this valley are soulful. War over geographical boundaries have injured the lives of normal people. Kashmir is said to be heaven on Earth and off course the natural blessings to this land is divine which is even difficult to document. But the common civilians who want to be the part of common lives shall never be judged and given the opportunity to be the part of them. It is dreadful to live in an environment that is constantly under the rage of fire. Paradise on the Earth cannot be remained as paradise until or unless the population of beautiful human beings living under the roof of Himalayas start living like any other human being in different part of the same country. Then I guess that this saying would be true in real sense “People call it heaven; we call it home “IMG_20170423_161109-1IMG_20170423_144515IMG_20170423_121818IMG_1216IMG_20170422_125334_HDRIMG_20170423_132841IMG_20170422_142727IMG_20170423_142942IMG_20170422_104757IMG_20170422_182439IMG_20170422_121300_HDRIMG_20170422_120240_HDRIMG_20170422_120240_HDRIMG_1219

The irresistible calling of mountains ….

When the call of mountain arises, it become irresistible to ignore the calling. Sometimes I wonder that what else we achieve other than the serene beauty of nature, after conquering the peak with all the bruises and physical pain. And it comes straightforward that is the immense satisfaction of conquering our own challenges and fear. This journey itself teaches us lot many things, in a nutshell probably the journey of life where we walk, run, trip, arise, have fun and sometimes set apart from loved ones, but subconsciously we all are moving towards own goal in our own path. Certainly, this is the reason I enjoy hiking because somewhere it relaxes the nerves of brain to relate to new things which we casually ignore and never feel related to in our daily lives.

Recently I went to Kullu, Himachal Pradesh. Although I was excited to deal with the snow but unfortunately snowfall started the day I left the place. But there is something in the aroma of hills and mountains that ultimately soothes my nerves. And I guess it happens with everyone. This is some sort of meditation which is difficult to explain in words.

Nature has its various versions of beauty but I always have crush for its raw version of beauty which is found in watching the sunrise and sunset sitting on the edge of a cliff. And I am sure its worth all the attention and pain endured to reach this.img_20161229_171713391img_0149img_20161228_175319img_20161229_111558img_20161229_150120

“CREATE THE MEMORIES THAT LAST FOREVER”

Life is a treasure of beautiful opportunities and blessings if we really seek to create one. And in the long run, these blessings add to some unforgettable memories in the chapters of our life.

Our World is beautiful and humanity is the greatest contribution, in an effort to save this beauty. I believe, volunteering injected this belief in me, in a far stronger way than I have always tried to apprehend this.

When I decided to volunteer for Lighthouse project (non-profit initiative) , I was sure that this will add to new learnings and experiences in my life.  But in actual when I really onboarded the journey, it was more than just an experience.

At the training session of the program, we all volunteers were provided with an envelope containing the details of our mentees. With a sense of responsibility, I joined this program. But, the moment I removed the form from the envelope, bright face of a very young girl in the passport size photo met my eyes. All of a sudden, the value and sensitivity of my commitment banged my head. A feeling that, this innocent face and kind smile needed all my sincere efforts. Later on, I came to know about her background and the background of other students as well. And certainly, moments like this, make me more humble and thankful towards almighty, instead of being a difficult child for him. Living in my own space has never been a big deal for me, this is something that I always took for granted. But this is a privilege to the uncountable population in our country. It is well said that the hardships and struggles of life carve strong character out of a human. The urge to come out of the darkness becomes so strong that it pushes to reach the heights which are a dream to many of us. Well, this was only day-1 but filled me with lots of inspiration and compassion.

One week later came the day 2 – Somewhere; it was in my head that it would be fun since it was an ice breaking session. And seriously, I believe that we (me and my mentee) melted all the gap between us and major contribution goes to the little girl who never let me feel that I was a new member in her world.  The sweet and kind smile was an indication of warm reception which made me comfortable to start our conversation.  As instructed, we were supposed to know about each other. I briefed her about me and then she started about herself. Well, forget about the hardships of her life, this is the thing which I knew very well before meeting her and evaluating her on the account of her hardships; I don’t think that child needs all these things to identify her.  Well, I told her about my profession and asked about her aspirations. Very energetically she declared “Didi, I want to be an archaeologist and a filmmaker”. Seriously, I was not prepared for this reply; we are so much used to the preconceived notion that anything out of the box surprises us; at least for me, it was quite an amazement. And very true to her aspiration, she was fond of history and arts. I really appreciate that a 13-year-old kid was able to neatly distinguish her likes and dislikes.Once done with a formal introduction, special activities were designed by lighthouse team to enforce the trust and warmth between the mentor and mentee pair. And that was real fun and I overjoyed the moment of sharing a very little part of my life with her. Life is long and, in comparison, the time which I am contributing to her is almost nothing. But these few hours were full of real laughter and fun that will remain with me forever.

I am anxiously looking for rest of the journey, and these blissful moments are going to leave some irreplaceable impressions in my life, which will continue to challenge me with its innocence.

Bhutan – Journey towards Peace and Happiness

Every land has its own tale. It has its own aroma and freshness. Bhutan is one such land that has the taste of happiness and peace along with serene calmness of nature. And certainly this is the attraction of this beautiful Country which can’t be left unnoticed.  Another attraction is the peculiar culture and tradition of the country that can be felt in almost everything; be it the chanting of the lamas in the monasteries, prayer flags all over the land, traditional clothing of men and women or even the exclusive architecture of the country.

The Journey started with Phuntsholing and marked across Paro, Thimpu, Punakha and Wangadu.  And every land has its own distinguish identity; Phuntsholing and Paro are subtle towns reflecting the preserved heritage; be it in terms of culture of the city or the architecture . Whereas, Thimpu being the capital city has the bit of modernity thrown in but still holding the essence of original Bhutanese identity. Punakha holds the peace and serene feeling of a Hill – Station. But no matter where ever the feet move, journey is always accompanied by the beauty of the pink flowers of cherry trees, positive vibes of the prayer flags, recitation of mantras with the rotation of prayer wheel and off courses the beautiful traditional cottages over vast stretches of hilly land. The pleasing beauty gets further amplified with the flow of rivers along the hills.

Tale of Bhutan is untold and inexperienced in absence of Trek to Tiger’s Nest.  Dedicated to the devotion and belief of the country to its King Rinpoche, Tiger’s Nest is a Monastery situated at a height of about 3000 ft. above the Paro Valley.  Legends are associated with the monastery that  King Rinpoche destroyed the devil and negativity and protected the country from evil at this holy place. So, local people always trek to this prominent Himalayan monastery in their traditional clothing Gho (Men) and Kira (Women) in order to pay respect to the sacred land.  Although it’s high up in the mountains, but one can never get over with the prayer flags and so its blessings.

Among several memories, the royalty of the kingdom can be experienced at the Palace visit and the amazing Flag down ceremony. It’s always special to feel the patriotic touch; no matter you are in a different country.

Celebration of Tsechu festival with the performance of Cham dance is also something which should be seen in order to make the image of Bhutanese culture memorable .  Costumed and masked dances depicting the legendary tale associated with Guru Padmasambhava are definitely to be captured to understand the glory of Bhutanese culture.

There are several places with their own significance either the gigantic Buddha Dordenma in the mountains of Thimpu or Chime Lhakhang at Punakha district known for its founder  Lama Kunley “ Divine Madman” and his unorthodox ways of teaching Buddhism and outrageous behavior.   But the reflection of cultural heritage of the country is quite evident in almost everything. And it is very pleasing to the eyes and good to find that the land is still holding its distinguished identity and grooming it constantly.

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108 Stupas (chortens) at Dochula Pass
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The Paro Tsechu Festival

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Border of Bhutan and India at Phuntsholing
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Stupas – Symbol of Divinity and Prayer
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Prayer Flags

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Chhuzom -Bhutanese, Tibetan and Nepali stupas at the confluence of Paro Chhu and Wong Chhu rivers
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Royal palace under the preparation of Flag Down ceremony
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Cherry Blossom
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The sacred Tiger’s Nest
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Blessings of  Prayer flags
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Prayer Wheel
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Buddha Dordenma at Thimpu

 

INTERACTION WITH MYTHOLOGY AND ARCHAEOLOGY…..

Elephanta caves had been introduced in my wish list since the day I gathered a bit of it in my school course books.There had always been an itch to know more about it. Basically, the name itself is more captivating and being a kid the childish imaginations were more adventurous. Years passed but it was still in my imaginations. But when I finally shifted to Mumbai I can’t hold my excitement to visit this heritage.

It was an almost two-hour journey through the deep waters of Arabian sea. But upon reaching the entrance, I was astonished to see the massive structures. The splendid rock-cut architecture of the caves whose creator and origin is still unknown and a subject of mystery definitely deserves all the admiration and attention. Although these are said to be caves but to me, it seemed adobe of lord Shiva. This adobe houses various statues of lord Shiva which depict several significant instances from Indian mythology and Scriptures. Although most of these statues had been damaged several centuries ago but it’s not easy to destroy the admiration of the travelers who still find it more impressive, massive and subjective. Several legends and archaeological facts are linked regarding the originator and as well as the origin of these huge caves, residing sculptures of Hindu and Buddhist sect. Well, it could ever be revealed or not we can’t say but whoever has created it several centuries ago  has indeed built a masterpiece.

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LORD SHIVA IN MEDITATION – ” YOGISHVARA”
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LORD AS SLAYER OF NEGATIVITY
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NATARAJA – THE COSMIC DANCER
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“YOGISHVARA” DOING PENANCE
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LORD AT HIS ADOBE “MT. KAILASH” WITH HIS DEVOTEE ” RAVANA” SHAKING THE MOUNTAIN TO TAKE  HIS LORD WITH HIM
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LORD SHIVA AND HIS CONSORT GODDESS “PARVATI”
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LORD IN THE FORM OF “ARDHANARISHVARA”
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“TRIMURTI”  ( TRINITY OF LORD BRAHMA, VISHNU AND MAHESH )

Rejuvenation : Few days along the serene coastline…

The less explored beaches of Konkan, Maharastra , beautiful greenery over vast stretches of land and magnificent forts; everything for an Art and peace loving soul.
One might have seen many beaches but the real beauty of these beaches lie in the transparency of water and serenity of the air around them. View of sunset on the edge of beach is one of the most blissful moment for any person and off course to me. Its a complete masterpiece , the way nature transforms its beauty around us during sunset. One can feel the breath in these less crowded and unexploited piece of land.
Beaches offer soulful experience and the remains of magnificent forts of Konkan instill pride and honor in our history. I was really fascinated by the brilliance , energy , dedication and hard work invested to build these giant structures. Although only remains are left , majority of them are damaged but still the history behind these can’t be remain untold. Every structure that has been designed is done with a motive and purpose . And its truly amazing to learn those facts which are taken care while creating these masterpieces of architecture. Most of them belong to the era of Pre-independence so one can’t be left untouched with the tale of the Warriors. And really, that’s when one feels the heroic as well as tragic history behind the freedom of this country.
The more one enters into the depth of these regions , the more traditional and beautiful it turn. Old fashioned homes with mud flooring are rare site in cities these days. Moreover the innocent and pleasant behavior of villagers adds to its beauty and peaceful environment.  But the journey will remain incomplete until or unless one doesn’t tastes the rich and mouthwatering Malvani food. It has its own peculiar aroma and taste derived from coastal influence.
My 6 day visit to Konkan left me with these blissful experiences and memories and its completely worth to take break from the hustle and bustle of cities and spend few days along the coastline.

FEW DAYS IN THE LAP OF HIMALAYAS…

Nothing is as mesmerizing and majestic as the long and vast stretches of Himalayas…One week under the vast and open roof of mountains, without any protection and safety of walls, doors and locks. Its soothing  when we really feel every breathe, far away from the noise of metro life. “Good Morning” feels worth when eyes are opened to engulf the maximum possible beauty of our mother nature.
Every sleepless  night spent under the snow clad mountains and every tiresome feet towards those heights seems meaningless when the height is conquered and at the summit its only you , who is the conqueror and has the chance to helplessly fall in love with the mountains.

 

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A NEW BEGINNING……. WITH A NEW BONDING….#INSPIRATION

“We all live with a lot of apprehensions about ourselves. Yes, we do!”

Recently, I got an opportunity to mentor a child through Green Batti project, initiated by Social Quotient.  I was pretty impressed with myself regarding my decision.

A general interaction / ice breaking session was organized for us before actually moving deep into the program. I was on time at the mentioned venue, waiting for my mentee. I was completely prepared and confident to use all my skills to guide and mentor a child. And finally she came, a 13 year old girl child currently studying in standard IXth.  With a cheerful and confident face, she took the seat beside me, on the bench where I was sitting. At that moment I realized it was not her but I, who was a bit hesitant to start the conversation. Her smiling and confident face however, broke the self generated perceptions of mine and I initiated the conversation.  We both introduced ourselves to each other. I admit that if she wouldn’t had been so much happy and excited about our interaction, I would have to double my efforts to develop the bonding between us. I told her about my profession and the other activities that keep me occupied.  Very proudly, I announced that I am also involved in teaching. But in the next second that innocent child said, “Didi, I also teach children, spoken English. Two aunties from my neighbor also come to get taught by me.”  I was speechless in that moment, perhaps amazed and was looking straight at her. Finding my attention she continued, “ Six to eight in the evening I teach children, then after my prayers. I like to help my mother to prepare the dinner for all of us. My sisters also teach students from our locality.”  I was quiet. Although I was well aware of the socio-economic background of the kids enrolled under the project, I was totally grasped by the narration of that little girl. I asked her what did her  father do. She told me about her father’s profession. And at that moment, I felt lucky and fortunate to be the part of her life for a small duration in my life, I still feel the same. Being a mentor, I have to try my best to reach upto what has been expected out of me, and be an inspiration and a guide in her life, one who can push her to identify her strengths and can ensure that she makes all possible steps towards the limitless sky. But for now, unknowingly though, she has helped me to identify the myself better and understand my possibilities. My work  to infuse inspiration in her is yet to began, but certainly, she has inspired me.

Before leaving, she tied a hand-made band on my wrist, a gesture embarking a new bond.

“Didi, Few days back Raksha Bandhan was there, I made some bands for my brothers. Then why not for a sister? This one is for you.”

Nothing else to say……I just wish and hope that I succeed to preserve the promises of the newly formed bonding.