Friday, April 12, 2013

Chasing the Hippie Trail 2: Parvati Valley

As Dadu puts it; "If only for that sight once more Dear friend. My mind/body begs for it now Beech was an idealistic portrait of a girl. Parvati is a goddess, who has converted many a such atheist. Mallana is a shrine which will endure its hype and Tosh is a home, which i will never forget."

The second stop while chasing the hippie trail was the Parvati Valley. The first stop was Goa, but I don't plan to reveal too many hippie secrets to Janta Janardan, and I didn't have a camera there, and what happens in Goa is sacred, and it should stay there.
So let's start with leaving Arambol, to up north, in the hills.
Reaching there:
Take a train/flight to Delhi or Chandigarh. There are regular buses to Manali from both these cities.
Alight at Bhunter on your way to Manali.
From Bhunter you can hitchhike or take government buses(there's one at 12PM that goes all the way up) or take a taxi to your place of choice in the valley.

Where over there:
The primary town of the valley is Kasol, you can get money exchangers, camping equipments, Rasta-colored clothes, dreadlock saloons and 'people' here.
Also since it has become popular with annoying Delhi collegeboys, you might want to run away on the weekends.

Tosh Village
Tosh is a sleepy Himalayan village on the Tosh river. Most of the inhabitants are herdsmen and hemp growers.

Ego Death in the valley of trance beats
Start off from Kasol towards Manikaran, from Manikaran a bad road goes uphill towards Tosh. If you have city taxi, the driver might not be very happy driving on the trail.
Our driver ditched us midway!

Local taxiwallahs would be happier taking you up there. [Some serious off-roading involved]

Kasol to Tosh Bus: 1:20PM

After a bumpy ride you reach the Tosh bidge, trek a bit and you're in the magical village.
I would have stayed at the Olive Garden, its owner Jackie is a nice chap, but he was still in Arambol around March-end.

So we put camp at 'The Last Resort", literally the last resort towards the bridge in the Tosh Village.

The Last Resort, Tosh

When you put your bags down, step out, and see towering snow-clad mountains around you, it is what we call 'Ego Death' happening in a matter of seconds.

Its a village where life slows down, and the local Tosh Cream is second only to Malana in quality(we'll talk about Malana later).

Also the local Himalayan Rec Trance music still plays in its original, beautiful unadulterated form in Tosh.

Pizza Hut, Tosh
Not your Dalhi pizza hut duh.! It was tiny-shiny cafe in the sleepy bylanes of Tosh. Its owner Krishna has created fabulous lesser known space with Tosh village on one side and the Tosh river flowing in the valley next to towering mountains on the other side. Whatever he cooks, he cooks with passion, closes the kitchen door, puts on some spiritual trance and dishes out food to the hungry trekkers.

PS: Your digestive system works with triple efficiency at high altitudes.

Krishna's 'Perfect' Cake

The surprise: Ask Krishna for the secret "perfect" cake he makes. I can assure you nothing would show you what psychedelia is better than his cake.

Ask anyone the way towards the Tosh Galcier/'Waterfall'. We started off from Olive Garden towards the jungles, that's also where I met my "perfect girlfriend". A faithful hill dog, she stayed with us throughout the journey uphill and downhill, through dangers, happiness and "I could've just died" moments, she deserves a separate blog altogether and it shall be up next.

Anyhow, you start trekking uphill you'd find a pretty cute waterfall of the Tosh river in the wilderness. You go to a corner there is a tiny cafe called "Ishan Shanti Cafe" the owner Ishan is a pretty friendly guy. He doesn't have much to serve because ration supplies are limited there. But he's more than happy to chill with people most of the times.

Take your tea break there, and sample some local stuff, trek on and on till as far as you can go, the trail is populated with smaller falls, snow, Pin forests, grass meadows, stepped farms.

As you go higher up it starts getting snowy, dangerous, slippery and difficult, but what's in the end is totally worth it.

Suddenly the grand Parvati River appears in front of you and Aloha!!

A huge river falling from a height on gigantic white marble rocks, untouched Pin forest everywhere around and of course, no matter how high up you go, there are always higher peaks mocking you.

One could stay in Tosh forever but Malana was calling us downhill.

Malana Village

We reached Malana to sample the local Malana Cream. Guys, the all the fuss around it is '16-aane-sach'.
So I made friends with this old man Tukaram from Malana, his age could be anywhere between 50 and 70. My question was, what's this deal about the village? WHY do you guys think you're so cool?

5 Myths about Malana busted:
  1. The locals do NOT consider themselves descendents of Alexander. In Tukaram's own words, "Sikandar kaha aaye honge itni door iss gaon mein". Its all media hoo-haa.
  2. According to Tukaram, any Malanese family does not have a problem with tourists touching/living/eating in their house as long as they are Rajputs/Brahmins and most would allow anyone as long as they're not "SC/ST" in his own words.
  3. Not all cream you get in Malana is the awesome cream. It has variants. Try and buy.
  4. The local temple of Jamlu Devta shall not be touched. But you be nice to the locals, you can click its photographs. I did. :)
  5. You can stay in Malana. Yes. There're 2-3 guesthouses. But there's also a secret hippie guesthouse. I wouldn't tell you the way. And the view from there is magical. High-up in the sky, and the Parvati flowing in front of you! Magical. To fall from there is the best way to die. You'd die smiling! If you're a true traveler, find out for yourself.
Getting There:
The road for Malana parts from Zari town. Zari also has the last ATM on enroute the valley. The road is super-rough so make sure you have strong/high base car with you.
The road till Malana Hydroelectric Plant is motorable and metalled. Thereafter, drive at your own risk.

As you drive up you'd see a board reading "Way to Malana village", you could stop and start climbing from here, it's a 4-5hour trek from this gate. Otherwise you could drive uphill and reach another similar gate. The village is a 1-1.5hour trek from there.

The trek is ugly in a nutshell. The hills are barren, all the water has been diverted to the power plant. The stairs might slow/tire you down, but keep trekking nevertheless.

The Malana Village is as primitive as it could get. Hayshacks, wooden houses and tons of muck everywhere.
We made friends with the locals and Ta Da! First time on the internet, a photo of Jamlu Devta Temple:
Jamlu Devta Temple, Malana

Cross the bylanes of Malana to reach the other side, cross the permanent snow and keep going uphill beyond the village. You might just start living there is all I'd say. Go explore for yourself.

Here is a glimpse of life of people there, from my brief stay!
Local Women Celebrating Spring!

Village Dance to Village Beats!

Aap bhi Hindustani, Main bhi Hindustani, Meri photo kheencho, Sheher se banwa ke lana, aur mujhe dena!
 The people of Malana have tasted development, earlier they protested to a direct road link to their village, now they're asking the government to build one. They know tourists bring money, and they locals are far more accepting of outsiders than they ever were.

Since I am phobic to excess human interference, I was apprehensive if Kasol would turn out to be any good. But the place surprised me.
I was expecting 'Baga-Calangute types junta' there but it had its own share of surprises.

We all know about Evergreen Cafe right? Its a nice place. Eat there. Good food. Recharge yourself, then eat Momos at Reyshan's Cafe. Reyshan is a sweet friendly local boy, he can guide you towards cheap local accommodation as well.

You feel like doing something different, start trekking on the road next to Reyshan's cafe, keep trekking up till you see this little house:
World's Trippiest Residence. Period. Btw, that's me! :D
Request the owners for residence, if they allow, come back and tell me how it was!

If you go further uphill, you enter the Karnawat Pin Forest. The Parvati flows here in full force, this is also the perfect place, for those 'Feet in Water, Back on the Forest floor, Eyes on the waterfall' moments!

Underground Himalayan Music Cafes
That's the thing about underground cafes. If non-serious people go there, not only do they spoil the scene, they don't have much fun themselves.
So if you like Himalayan Trance, if you think THIS song is F.A.B.U.L.O.U.S., then visit Cafe Bhoj.

Next to 'Saamy's Travel Agency' in Kasol Main Market is a tiny-shady board that reads 'Cafe Bhoj'. The interiors are as beautiful as as the exteriors are nondescript.
Two floors of pure bliss. Big Hot Box Halls, Smaller Semi-Private cafe rooms, ambiance matching Israel of 1960s. Its also one of the few places that stay open all night.
I spent close to 6hours there and my body/mind still longs to go back.

Other Places of Interest
Now lets keep it simple-silly!

Kheerganga: You can trek to Kheerganga from Barsheni, Tosh or Rudranag.
From Barsheni the Trek is longer-easier.
From Tosh its shorter but tuffer.
From Rudranag its the shortest but pretty killing.

Take your supplies and tents along. If you dont own sleeping bags and tents yourself, there's a shop in Kasol selling the same. There's a singular guesthouse up there, but it has just 3rooms so they might/might-not be available!

The trek is beautiful, and the hot springs on top of the hill are an interesting sight, you might meet a Baba on your way up to Kheerganga. He's a nice chap.
His 'kheer' easily falls in the list of one of the best thing to go into people's body and minds!

Chhalal: Cross the Chhalal bridge, Hike for a few kilometres to reach Mula family Home. Another cafe/guest house in the middle of the rainforests known for their music. They also host trance parties in the jungle frequently.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Vernacular Debate

English medium education and a large English speaking population has worked wonders for the country. "A large English speaking workforce" is arguably the second most important selling point for investors after "a large(hence cheap) workforce."
Communication is not lost in translation. Its the ideal destination for outsourcing, back-end jobs and all tasks that can be completed by following a sequenced set of instructions.

An even larger Non-English speaking workforce works equally well for the economy. They're readily available for work in the manufacturing industry and sweatshops. They're not allowed to dream big and keep themselves in their places. They're a large in numbers(hence cheap) workforce.

The success story is excellent on paper. The growth drivers look just right for steering a fast growing economy to success. India's the world's 4th largest economy by Purchasing Power Parity.

Well, that's just the brighter side.

The nation is still and also estimated to have a third of the world's poor37% of the total Indian people falls below the national poverty line of Rs 37 per day.(The poverty limit is another joke on human intelligence anyway).

The school dropout rate is extremely high. A great percentage of population in underdeveloped states challenges the relevance of compulsory education. Levels of homelessness, health, human development factors continue to rank amongst the world's lowest.

The other day I had a conversation from a simple man from a small city in rural Maharshtra, who came to Mumbai years ago, works as a bartender at a small time bar. What prospects does he have for the future. He can aspire to open his own bar. Alas! He cannot. In the F&B industry dominated by the English speaking elite, no one would take him seriously. He wouldn't be able to find partners, the bank would consider his loan applications stupid and the investors(even Indian) wouldn't know his language.

The problem with English medium education is that only a minuscule percentage. Only 27.8% of the population lives in 5500 urban towns/cities. Even in the most optimistic estimates only 12-15% would live in the 300 biggest urban centers.

So only 5-7% of the population can afford education in private schools or Pratibha Vikas Schools or Kendriya Vidyalayas.
English education given in vernacular medium government schools across the nation is substandard. Hence the vast majority of our educational institutions produce vernacular-speaking manpower fit only for blue collar jobs.

This English speaking population then runs the majority of our enterprises. This population forms the majority of people who can even dream about entrepreneurship. No wonder the country has to import jobs from foreign entrepreneurs.

Social equality starts with equal educational opportunities. English education for all is NOT the solution. Its impractical to find English speaking teachers for the entire nation's students.

The second social model is Japan or any of the European/American nations, everyone is taught in the same language. The local language. A man with modest education but the right attitude can climb up the entrepreneurial ladder. The judgement of a person's intellect is not based on his/her language skills but his intellect.

The divide between the rich and poor. The inability of the poor to uplift themselves despite the presence of great opportunities. The ineffectiveness of the "trickle down effect " can never be addressed unless an average Indian is allowed to work, study, fall in love, judged and allowed to look for opportunities in his mother tongue.

The Vernacular Language.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Dissection of a Love's Death

You don’t believe in relationships. You’re too wild a stag to be tamed. Ungettable. You’ve been single since almost forever now and you enjoy every bit of it. You party hard, are up for intimacy without the intricacy. You’d die single, you’re genuinely happy to admit it to yourself.

Well, she’s almost the same. The problem.

It’s the perfect combination. You’re wildly happy when together. You tell each other what you have is nothing, but your heart still skips a beat when you kiss her goodbye, but you’re both scared of admitting it to yourselves or each other. Your friends who’re too used to you being the whore suddenly sit up and notice what’s up?

Your union feels just perfect. Your bodies are meant for each other and there’re fireworks everywhere around you. Why would you do it with a hundred weird people when this one is just perfect for you?

That’s how some people embrace monogamy. Slowly, scared and very carefully. Scared because you’re scared of your own fiddle mind and you might hurt the other one.

But for the first time you really care. You admit it to them. Impulsively casually. She accepts she’s held it in for too long as well.

You’re just perfect. Equally mad. Equally fucked up.

Dedicate a song for yourself because suddenly you feel like you invented love. Fall in love. Be in love.

Meet a cute girl and notice it. Don't flirt with her, but think about her for the rest of the day. Have sex with your partner that night, 'cause since you saw that girl, all you've wanted to do was fuck. But all this is normal, and you still love your girlfriend, really and truly. Honestly, actually.

Have your first fight. Don’t talk for a day and make up quickly. Have your first string of fights. Say mean stuff, very mean. Hurt her, get yourself hurt. There’s a weird pleasure in this pain.

Go for an open relationship. Your relationship is now “secure.” Realize what you had been missing all this while. Live your single self again. Live the life you’ve been missing. Get bored. You’re perfect for each other. Embrace her again.

Move in. See her everyday. Fight over cleaning the utensils in the morning and give her a feet massage when she returns from office in the evening. Gaze at the sky together. This feels good. This is it.

Something goes missing. Begin to fight more regularly, and notice yourself becoming increasingly passive aggressive. Hate that about yourself. Move out, give each other some “space.” You could use some space. You could use a lot of space. The space feels nice.

Fight after dinner at her place and you’re stuck with nowhere to go. She spews venom at you, you retaliate right back. Break up. Cry on her shoulder. Hug tight and sleep, its your last night together. Two and half years pass by in two and a half hours.

Get your hair cut or a new shirt, even though no one will notice. She would have noticed. Sigh. Wish you were still together. Wait, no, wish you were still together...but happy. Reminisce about falling in love and that part where you were so excited and you had all the sex all the time and you giggled.

Stop talking to her altogether, because it's too hard, and block her from Facebook, because you just don't want to know. Ask your friends to give you regular updates on her profile though. Spend a LOT of time with your friends - sober - and realize how important they are. Realize that your friendships are relationships, just not romantic, and they're important too.
Talk to people who have been through breakups and realize you're not alone. Because just like you thought you invented love, you also thought that you invented heartbreak. Understand that this awful, debilitating sentiment is not limited to only you. 
But everything still hurts. Realize that they all survived, and that heartbreak is a common experience, crushing though it may be. Know that most everyone else lived through it, and now you're a part of this big, beautiful thing, this universal feeling, this harrowing experience. You'll live through it, because everyone else did. You'll probably live through it again. Write a haiku about this feeling and post it on your Blog. Everyone likes it! They've been there, too.

Sleep with someone else, and realize that's something you can do. High five people and go through the day all chipper, 'cause you had sex last night, bitch! Wish it was sex with her, but know that can't happen. Sleep with other people! Or don't! Either way, realize your own autonomy, and
 relish it. Keep missing her, but feel something new: Relief.

Understand you probably felt it the second you broke things off, but couldn't admit it, because admitting it would mean you didn't love her. Don't worry, you did, you really did. But sometimes it's just not enough, and sometimes it just doesn't work. Stop blaming yourself, or stop blaming her. Both. The relief is so honest, and you hope she feels it too, whatever she's doing these days.

Start talking again, and get your friendship back. Realize how much you've missed her! Not her in your arms, or her in your bed, but her as a person. She knows you so well, and vice versa.

Wait, are you still in love with her?

Think about it for a second...nah. But you do love her, just not like that, which, by the way, still doesn't mean you want to meet her new boyfriend. Realize you might be happy, and not only that, but happy for her.

Date around a little, but don't get into anything serious. You're not looking for a relationship, 'cause you know who you're dating? Yourself. Because if you can't make it work with yourself, then how are you supposed to make it work with anyone?

(The post is an adapted by the writer to suit his own heartbreak from a similar post by Katrina on Autostraddle. All heartbreaks are the same yet all are so different!)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The types of people in NSIT

I thought I’d do a profiling of the types of girls in NSIT but then, the sample space was too thin. So here’s to the breeds of people in NSIT.

The Bhand People
The name says it all. They’re found smoking up near Teen pathhar, khokha and Nesci parking if in college. They love Goa and they love to party. Most of their conversations revolve around weed, alcohol and everything above it. The ghissus frown at them and see them as bad role models for their children. They’ve done feats and have had experiences and have lived it!

The Society People
They’re the I-can-do-its. They run the college societies, clubs, car teams, fests, newspapers, NGOs, catering facilities, cleaning services.  They can grouch about how much happier they would’ve been had they been in DU and swear by their non-tech placements is the same breath. Each one of them considers themselves better than anyone else in the college.

The Ghissus
They study. They supply the rest of the class with notes during exams. They also turn mean-bitches and don’t supply the rest of the class with notes during exams. They rarely exit their rooms when in hostel. However, they do puke their intestines out when they get drunk in their friends’ job parties. And every time they puke, they tell themselves, Oh man! I’ve lived it in college!

The Musskle boys
They worship the gym and ask their neighbors for ghals’ phone numbers and think they’re one step closer to patio-ing them after every wanna-make-frandship phone call. They roam around in groups and tight fitting shirts murmuring ‘saali slut’ around college. They proudly wear scar marks on their face, and have atleast two battle stories to their credit. They have gangs and oh boy! Gangwars are serious business!

The pseudo intellectuals
They swear by the economic times in their rooms and brains in their skulls. Nothing less than president Obama and Ahmedinejad interests them on the mess table, bad food, eh what? They were found shouting during Moksha and Inno GDs earlier, now they like to dress up and MUN!

The Good for Nothings
Now I’m no judge but when after 4years of college you see a guy during the placements for the first time, it IS kind of freaky! They find corners to seclude themselves during conversations and classes. They’re probably the best listeners, mass bunk destroyers and good for nothings!

Disclaimer: Meri bhains ko lathi mat maarna, this list is just for a few giggles!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Jummey ke din kiya chumme ka wada! :* :*

There’re times when every man is in his petite woman mode.

Mujhe sachche pyaar ki talaash hai.

Gulia, dude, you don’t understand what true love is all about?

Engineers are more prone to this syndrome. (A sex ratio of 120:1 in DCE Mechanical, what a fuckin joke on humanity mylord?) As I was discussing with Amay’Zing the other day, what we desire the most is always what we don’t have. He has a job that’d pay him 10lacs a month ($_$) and I have a college where every day’s a party!

So this (really)nice chap was truly, madly and deeply in love with some girl, the kind of love that makes you do crazy things, makes your knees go weak and turns you into a disgusting derp! He was a man with a mission. Mission-my-belle. He takes the 2.5hours metro ride to rallies up if front of her, and says the three ‘golden words.’

What a fuckin joke? I cried. I was ganged up on, beaten to death, and brought to life just to be beaten more by nothing but words, sermons of love, life and purity. The motion of the house was concluded and passed, I’m a stone-soul, everyone shouted Aye! in MUNna style.

I recovered feeling proud and powerful. Its always better to be a stone-soul than be pathetic. I assumed I’m the only man alive with any real perspective on the topic of love. I decided not to share the real secret with anyone for god has entrusted me with the hidden code.  I went on the way I wanted to.

A year later, some other woman was the apple of (really) nice chap’s eye. They frolicked around Malviya Nagar Market as I looked away puking and gasping for breath at the same time. One fine day, he summoned me, I looked up like a puppy, he had twinkle of a victorious Gladiator in his eyes. He had won.

So how did it happen? I asked the customary question. He started off “I told her I love her, she told me so does she, I asked her if she’s a virgin, she said yes of course.”

I shouted WHAT as loud as I could. Suddenly the pictures of all those feminist women around me Shiva, Usha, random activist started haunting me. I told him, how it’s no big deal even if she’s not, and he had no business asking that alongwith the proposal.

I was given a sermon on importance of purity, chastity and Indian culture, and how romantic his and their first kiss was, next to the Hauz Khas Lake and the wind and the beer and all that jazz. Awwww!

What a loser, I thought on my way back home. I logged on to facebook and saw Tanuj’s Mwah-ing and oleey-ing with the love of his life splashed everywhere like Dark Pink Holi colors and a terrifying thought stuck me. What if I really did not have God’s penultimate secret?

My first kiss was after all in the scorching Delhi summer afternoon, in a Delhi auto rickshaw, and we were just making better when the troll interrupted and asked “Chirag Dilli se nikalun ya Khel Gaon se?” That was the end of it friends. Sobs!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Daane Daane Pe

So it was final year, examinations, boring subject, excellent intoxication, excellent mood, frustration!! Everything was right. And then this poem came out!!

Jo kuchh tere naam likha hai, likha daane daane mein,
Woh to tujhe milega, chaahe rakha ho tehkhaane mein.

Tune ik fariyaad lagayi, usne hafta bhar maanga,
Kitne hafte aur lagenge, uss hafte ke aane mein?

Ek diye ki zidd hai aandhi mein bhi jalte rehne ki,
Hamdardi ho toh, hissedaari karo bachane mein.

Aansu aaye dekh toot-ta chhappar, deewaron dar ko,
Aakhir ghar tha barso lag jate hain ussey banane mein.

Kuchh to socho roz wahin kyo jaakar marna hota hai,
Shaam ki kuchh to saazish hogi, suraj tumhe dubaane mein.

Jaakar toofano se kehdo, jitna chaahe tez chalein,
Kashti ko abhyaas ho gaya lehron se lad jaane mein.

Koun muhabbat ke chakkar mein pade, buri shai hai yaaron,
Mere dost pade the, maare gaye bade paimane mein!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Of freedom, fests and seniors!

The last blog created quite a flutter. It was not supposed to be a piece of unearthing journalism. But it did turn out to be one roughly 17 hours after being posted.

It was supposed to be an article about an artist’s dilemmas about his art. Unfortunately my doubts did not quite go down well with the Moksha team. The following evening I was called to jeeto for a discussion. What followed was not quite a discussion but a threat.

Delete that post or you’d be beaten up.

More than anything else I was taken by surprise. Hello! Whatever happened to freedom of expression? Our forefathers fought and laid down their lives for an independent India, where mind is without fear, and head is held high (oh! Tagore).

I thought about our primary class lessons, and thought of the consequences of not taking them seriously.

“It’s better to lose an arm, than to lose your soul”- Anju Sinha ma’am, from 9th standard!

I used to tell my colleagues how NSIT is a much better place than DCE, because law of the land prevails here. Hooligan forces do not command respect. Yesterday was an eye opener. More so, because the rogue forces here are the influential people who’re governing the fest.

When we say Moksha’09 was a GOOD fest, we don’t say it in terms of the budget, or decoration. It was a good fest, because it had a soul.

Ability to take criticism contributes to the soul of a team, ability to prove critics wrong contributes to the soul of a team, to let actions speak-contributes to the soul of a team.

I deleted the post initially, because I did not know what better to do. I repost it now, because I revere my freedom of expression. I may have to take a beating and go down with it, but I know if I do, the morals of the Moksha team would have to go down first. And I know all juniors and students of NSIT, who respect their college, principles and freedom, would stand by me.

I Lazarushian-leather Gunga Din!
Though you've belted me and flayed me,
By the livin' Gawd that made you,
I’m a better man than you are, Gunga Din!
-Rudyard Kipling, quoted a bit differently.