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My Journey to the Unknown- Day 4 & 5

Posted by Mrityunjay on September 25, 2014

4th day:- I guess today was the least eventful day. Why? Goa, no? Self-explanatory. Rent a bike. Roam around. Just that, sun was at its most arrogant today. So a church, beach and a bit of jazz was all that was possible. Also, I realized I am more of a mountain person than a beach guy…Rest ‘Usual Goa’ stuff.. So there!

5th Day- Off to Belgaum. Left early morning. 150 kms from Panjim. Kadamba bus (Goa state transport). I was halfway through when I just didn’t like going further. I just felt I was rushing through things. Perhaps I was not. But I just felt like stopping there. In hindsight, I think I should not have accepted free flat/bike accommodation in Goa. Somehow that triggered comfort n laziness which in turn broke the momentum and rhythm. So I am on hold. Will go back to Mumbai, I guess.Panjim Church

Reflections so far! And notes to Myself:-

  • Yesterday I talked about total Expenses being 2100 or so. Yes, the idea was to have a budget trip and to be frugal. See..Point is, once you loosen your purse string, the world is at your feet. It’s only a matter of swiping your debit/credit card once and You can have best of resort and private cab and all. Money simple brings the business and the end consumer in direct contact removing all the intermediary factors. That works really fine in every other sector but for travel. While you travel, it’s these intermediary factors that provide you with real thrill, fun and experience. How else could I have met these folks like Bunty, Rakesh, Salim, Fishermen, those two ladies et al who actually enriched me with so many wonderful memories? Money facilitates not completes.
  • People- None I repeat none of the people that I asked for help, direction and other stuff refused me. It was incredible. Honest, grounded and traditional folks. Though I own minuscule element of cynicism and sarcasm floats through my veins, this entire trip makes me love Neanderthal even more. Homo sapiens, did you say? Oh puhleez, Let’s not flatter ourselves. At the same time, Best memories are those that you do not capture on camera. None of the people who I befriended had any pics clicked with me, nor any sort of phone number, Facebook thing exchanged. Sometimes it’s better this way. In any case over familiarity breeds contempt. Just memories and feel good factor.Karmali
  • My insomnia was not cured. But it doesn’t matter any more. I guess my mind and body is just not tired enough though mind seems to be in perpetual motion. As Dheeraj Rai had once suggested, “subah-subah 10 km daud ja or 100 km cycle chala le..apne aap bed pe gir jayega”! How wonderful of him! ‘Keep it simple stupid’ funda. Additionally, on Belgaum highway, a dhaabe wala told me “yaha ki coffee piyo..neend bhaag jayegi”. I said that’s the problem na. Neend ko laana hai.. his reply was- “insomnia is a disease of rich people!” am not rich but his response made my day. .and dil ko behlaane ke liye ye khyal bura nahi hai…
  • Had a chance to interact with a group of different nationalities @Calangute/Baga till 2-3 in night. A Dutch/French/Argentine. Conversation ranged from Louis van Gaal, Robben, Van Persie, Total football, French Riviera, Marseilles, Bordeaux Wine fermentation/tasting process, Jean Reno, Carla Bruni to Argentine stagflation, Currency Devaluation, Messi, Di Maria, Erstwhile Dictatorship, Che Guevara and impact of Jorge Luis Borges etc and plenty more which I can’t really remember. There is only that much you can recollect when you are under the influence of strange liquids. It helped that both French n Argentine were as fluent in English as I was. ;).. . point is- Reading, GK, Literature and world cinema really helps. Personally for me, such conversations are just so rare and so fulfilling…

What Else? I guess, I have so much to talk and say..but all this looks like I was point preaching or sounding so..I admit, certain things mentioned here are not possible for people with wifey/kids in tow..but any ways..thank you to all of you for allowing me to take you all to this..journey/adventure/experience/escape whatever you call it..Really Really appreciate it..Cheers.. Winding up..

P.S- I think, I am having ‘Travel Withdrawal Symptoms’ since coming back because my heart is feeling trance, tandava and tranquility all at the same time but then Didn’t Kurt Vonnegut say, “Bizarre travel plans are dancing lessons from God”? Adios!

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My Journey to the Unknown- Day 3

Posted by Mrityunjay on September 24, 2014

You travel far and wide and you meet yourself. At last I can say, if not completely, I did manage to meet a part of myself. And it’s a wonderful part, I must say. Well, So much for humility!

20140912_121953Left Tarkarli early morning. Back to Malvan. Tried Sindhudurg fort but it was out of bound. High tides. Saw how fishermen were bringing one boat after another loaded with varieties of fishes. Pretty unique the subsequent bidding war. 5 huges mori (small sharks) and bidding started with 100 bucks which finally culminated @15000 Rs./ when only one bidder was standing. My earlier experience of bidding was restricted to Bollywood potboilers.

Wandering for a while. Then a bus to kudal. Then another to Sawantwadi. Lost for a while. Then to Amboli. Great spectacle of flora and fauna. Beauty. Everywhere.

Finding fanny? I am rather smelling fenny! What is this place? Just saw water being more expensive than some other sort of liquids! What the hell? This signboard- Tuborg @30!! “Ya khuda, ye Kaise khwaab dikha raha hai! Aise khoobsurat mazak mat karo..mat karo!” Then I see Gateway to heaven- Panjim. Voila! Goa! How? Well..

Just when I was about to embark further in Amboli, got a call from this amazing soulDevbaugh Dheeraj Rai (A dear friend)- “wanna have a cup of tea?” Oh yes! Where? Madgaon! WTF! He saying “it’s just 100-150 km. Big Deal”. Yeah, right! For Someone cycling for 200 kms before his breakfast every Sunday, definitely 150 km is nothing. But you actually mean tea in Goa!? Never mind! What then! Thought for a second. Back to Sawantwadi. A lift to Baanda. Another bus to Panjim. Then another to Madgaon. Reached at 4. The dude comes to have a cup of cutting. 5 min. Then he says, I have got a flight to catch! Oh man! I felt betrayed..but It was one hell of tea session.

But before leaving, he gifted me his wonderful Junior! Oh you dirty mind! It’s a MALE offering me his flat to stay. Should I? Why not. It’s one night may be! He also offered his bike not expecting me to touch it and just enjoy his refrigerator filled with some dark coloured obscene liquids. But it wouldn’t be fun, no? 7 in the evening. Let me roam. its been ages in this magic land. Raining heavily. Got the bike ferried in a ferry! Some ferry-tales that’s happening with me. .err..fairy tales I meant!

It’s called Calangute beach! And I am so wet. Figuratively speaking! Some light issues. Only candles. Befriending/conversating with guys from Nagaland. Then some Jaats. Now it’s guys from Netherlands..hick! Those girls. . They. .awes..hick! *poof*

P.S- 64 hours since I left Mumbai. Almost 1000 kms covered. Total Expenses incurred until reaching Calungute- 2200/- (Don’t raise your eyebrows please..I am also surprised! ) but UNTIL NOW! And’s Goa..well..

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My Journey to the Unknown- Day 2

Posted by Mrityunjay on September 23, 2014

Let me Finish Day One first.

Kudal then! 8 o’ clock. Train was in sync with my mood. Pretty late. Rejoicing every nondescript station of konkan. Sleepy town. Hardly anything after 8. Kudal to kasaal.ST bus.Wait. Then to Malvan. Wait again. ST bus again. Has to be a frugal trip. 2 local females. Interacting with me in Konkani/Marathi/Malvani mix. Basically sign language. Aghast at my unknown schedule. “Aise Koi karta hai! Na koi dost hai tera na hotel booking. Ab tu raat mein kaha jayega! Umm… Chal mere ghar! Tu sharif dikhta hai. .main mere husband se baat karegi”! Felt humbled but no.. really..I will manage. They relented. Wished me and warned me from doing it again. 10 P.M. Where in Malwan? Not a soul in sight. Shops closed. Street dogs not showing any fondness for me. Another stranger on pulsar and ruptured sound of silencer. Nice. Chit-chat. “Chal mere saath”. – I hopped on. Not knowing, not imagining anything. -“Eat here. Good food within budget. Be Right Back”. After 20 mins. “Food done? Ok. Have talked to someone. Nearby home stay. Sleep there for the night. Call Me in case of any problem”. Basic room. No frills. Just like my one BHK. Except, it had a double bed for a single soul. 3rd floor. Coconut trees swaying to the rhythm of whistling wind in pitch dark night. Delight of strangers. Beauty of not hiring any service. Thank you Bunty.

Day 2:-

A Lovely Morning. House owner-“stay more. Use my bike. Go wherever you want.” Umm.. Nah. I will just leave and find my way. “Ok. As you wish but please visit nearby Ganesh temple. My request. It will be good for you.” Touched again. Done deal. Temple. Done. Rock garden. Done. Chivala beach. Clean. Isolated. Done. Next?

DevbaugTarkarli. ST ticket- 9 Rs. Sleepy village. Pristine water. Coconuts. Cashewnut. Narrow pathways. Virginal feel. Roaming on beach. Off season. No crowd. Complete solitude. Tanned. Humble souls. Knock-knock! House stay? Welcome. Lunch. Want Fresh fish? Oh yes. Come then. A River close by. Hunting and teaching me how to fish. What joy man! One hour konkan style preparation. Can’t forget this taste ever.. Siesta.

Devbag. another Gaon, Surrounded by River on one side and sea on the other. And the confluence of River & sea at tipping point. Magical. Conversations with several locals. Beach cricket with fishermen and kids. Can still feel my youth. Nice. Tried few selfies but Man, I am so damn bad at 20140912_182750it. Invited by a fisherman to visit his hut for a cup of tea. Unbearable stench but..but for man’s sincere desire to host me! He explained business of fishing, seasonality, equipment, ROI etc. Good to know. By the way, lovely tea. Adios Sir.

Beautiful sunset. And several delicacies of veg items. Gastronomical orgasm. Feeling like a traveller. Not a tourist. Happy. Tomorrow? Let it come first. Today is magnificent.

P.S- Pics of Tarkarli beach and the place where I stayed.

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My Journey to the Unknown- Day 1

Posted by Mrityunjay on September 21, 2014

Morning 5 A.M. Divorced from sleep. And a sudden urge to travel. How about Konkan? Never been to famed konkan railway. A quick online check. Plenty of seats. No rush. Sleeper? Been a decade. AC won’t be fun. A quick bag pack. But go where? Never mind dude. First get in the train. 

Man, never seen so much greenery. It’s green, Green and blinding Green. Eyes started seeing better. Wearing soul getting rid of inertia. Coach footsteps felt like plush cushion of La Meridian. Add to that constant drizzling. .showering my being with strangest of pleasures. And then this aged crazy Goan-Portuguese couple. As normally happens, Husband confiding in me the glorious pages of his youth & inevitable failed love affair. Wife staring at me with suspicious eyes. Me Not knowing how to react. But I have been an integral listening part to several love stories of folks. One more to the list. He pestering me about my destination. Not satisfied with my answer he accusing me of going to meet my secret mistress. What a lovely crime to be accused of. Loved it.

20140911_102907 (2)Bunch of Goa bound beautiful girls from Delhi. Oh Delhi! Oh girls! Dhak-dhak! Sigh! Loud singing. Me joining the chorus- come to Goa na with us. Too tempting but..Nah, this is supposed to be a solo journey.

Then tunnel after tunnel. Beautiful reflection of life. Sunshine, rain, nature and darkness. But where should I get down? Sindhudurg? Umm..looks too crowded. Adavali? Can’t see a single soul. Kudal? May be! It has a nice ring to it. Now? Figuring out.

With that, am gone. *poof*

P.S- I first posted this on Facebook (that’s why this minimal writing method. Feels like Codes written during WW2) though I had this nagging feeling that this deserves a proper blog post. But blame it on my eternal procrastination habits. However, I felt nudged by Kedar, Anand and then Manish (Twitter). Could have been more elaborate but let it be..for the time being..;)

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My Yoga Voyage to Isha

Posted by Mrityunjay on October 31, 2011

I am in a state of duality. I am not sure about which stories to tell, what to opine and what to ignore. All stories seem same except for my yoga sojourn. I am not too much into planning and plotting so it does not really surprise me to have decided on a stay in Yoga Ashram two months back. I was tired, exhausted, in extreme pain and frustrated. I was just going through worst year of my life and I needed an escape route desperately. Nothing was going my way and I had totally excluded myself from any sort of social connections. Additionally, my intrinsic nature prevents me from sharing my fragile feelings. So bottled up feelings coupled with crippling state of reality and terrible joints pain. Consequently I ran away to Isha Foundation, Coimbatore. My dear friend Rajiv’s blinding faith in the Ashram further boosted my decision.

Honestly, I had no inkling of what I was signing up for when I headed for my yoga voyage. I wanted to learn yoga, Asanas, meditation, pranayam and anything that could help me in subsiding my chronic pain. The idea was also to remain away from the cacophony of my surrounding. Thankfully, there was no internet, newspapers and endless mobile usage; in short I was forced to stay away from all of my addictions. I was enrolled for two programs, Hath Yoga & Bhav Spandan Program (BSP). My first brush with Isha Yoga was in 2009 when I had attended their Sambhavi Mahamudra (Inner Engineering) program. Though, it did seem beneficial but I could not continue it for more than two months. Purely my fault! Nevertheless, I was here to rectify my mistake and go a notch above.

I had expected to find clean air, picturesque location, solitude and a break from the tedium of daily life and I must say, I got all these and more. Hath yoga was 3 days’ workshop introducing us to Sun Salutation & various other yoga Asanas. I was pushed to the limits. Each and every body part was aching and yet I could not have felt more joy. Participating in each activity was compulsory and we were supposed to wake up by 4 in the morning. It definitely seemed tough initially when you are accustomed to sleeping by 2-3 in the night. In that sense, this program was unlike any common notion of a yoga holiday or retreat. But I was glad, programme was designed that way. My body that was practically inactive for last 3-4 years started to find its rhythm back. The pain was inevitably sweet.

The food offered in the ashram was enormously healthy, practically oil-free. Sharing your meal with more than 200 participants was a completely different experience. Most of the participants were from Tamil Nadu and the best part was interacting with them. There was language problem and not many were proficient in English and that made the entire communication even more interesting. It was fun using broken English, sign language, gestures, nod and what not, to convey the message. The Hath Yoga program was in Tamil and I was more like an outsider there but in hindsight, I could not have made a better choice. I received wonderful help there whenever I stumbled because of language barriers. People were genuine, warm and never shied away from offering help. In fact, I have a new found respect for Tamil natives.

The BSP program was a different concept altogether. It is about letting go of whatever baggages you are carrying. The structure of the program does not allow participants much to reveal but it is worth attending if you can.

I ended up spending close to one month in the Ashram. I found myself totally immersed in yoga, meditation; chanting and you don’t really feel like coming back. To my utter surprise, things that were integral part of my life like newspaper, internet and mobile, ceased to matter. They just did not matter. Things previously considered important were actually no more that important. Staying in a dormitory with tens & hundreds of other people was something I can never forget. Lights off at 10 P.M sharp and waking up at 4 o’ clock in the morning; it felt so so good. How can I forget about the meals? I doubt, I ever had a chance to eat healthier foods than what we were being offered at Isha Biksha Hall. It was delicious, sumptuous and completely sattvic food.

Isha Foundation is nestled in the foothills of the pristine Velliangiri Hills so in effect you not only get to receive best of the Ashram but also find an opportunity to soak the beauty of Mother Nature. It could not be more soothing. I cannot finish without mentioning the wonderful people I met at Isha. I had got a rare chance to make new friends and I did not miss a single opportunity. What more, many of them are in constant touch. Total bliss!

It was definitely one of the best thing my wayward spirit has ever done in life. I am feeling far better emotionally, physically and mentally. Throughout the month as I practiced, chanted, relaxed, breathed, meditated, worked and ate with thousand others, I was learning that all I needed to really learn and to do was simply be myself. My belief in the theory that if I could just allow myself to be, then everything else would follow perfectly, was further reinforced. It is really okay to be whoever you are. And as Henry David Thoreau would say, “Our life is frittered away by detail… simplify, simplify, simplify!… Simplicity of life and elevation of purpose”.

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Tirupati Tirumala

Posted by Mrityunjay on March 7, 2010

If you travel by bus from Hyderabad to Tirupati, it will take you total of approximately 12 hours. Bus services are usually in evening. After 48 hours sojourn in Hyderabad, when I took the bus, I did not know I would be reaching Tirupati in a pretty bad shape. In that physical condition, it was a real pain carrying a heavy bag on your shoulders and trying to find a decent hotel. After 1-2 hours, finally I gathered the courage to take a bus to Tirumala. Initially, thought of dropping the ‘Darshan’ plan because of my health and my previous experience but then thankfully, decided against it.

I don’t know why but there is certain discomfort I feel at Tirumala perhaps because of administrative issues, language barrier or the rush factor. The whole excitement of visiting a famous Hindi pilgrimage place goes in ashes. While you embark on a religious journey, your heart feels in a certain way, full of devotion and positive vibes. But the place is very unfriendly. People don’t really help you if you are looking for some sort of directional needs.

The fact that, there are different fees for darshan puzzles me. There are different categories of Rs. 50, Rs. 300, Rs 500 and so on, so forth. The higher you pay, less time it will take you to have a glimpse of Lord Venkateshwara. Why is it that, Temple authorities have created categories like ‘normal fee’, ‘special fee’, ‘VIP fee’ etc. When you are standing at the gate of the lord, everyone should be treated equally, right? But no, equality has ceased to exist even at the doorsteps of God.

And if in case, a big time politician or film star arrives there, you are supposed to wait for him to receive his iota of blessings from the Lord before your number comes. Remember, you are an ‘Aam Aadmi’ (common man) and not even God will take away that curse from you. In my case, the visitors were left stranded in queue because some minister from Pondicherry had come calling. And a minister being a minister has some privileges that common people are not supposed to have. But compared to my last experience here, some 7-8 years back, this time it was less problematic. The system had changed a bit.

It took me ‘just’ 3 hours and this time the priests did not misbehave with me like last time. Perhaps the fact that, this time, some common people were acting in disguise of volunteers or service people hired by temple authorities or whatever, were managing queue, helped. No doubt, the sanctum sanctorum is exactly like how the God’s abode should be. Mesmerizing and lavishly decorated. The state of Andhra Pradesh can never be poor with the amount of gold being dedicated at Tirumala. Yes, I did feel all devoted and spiritual for a while but it was hard to feel totally immersed in the glory of Lord amidst the logistical issues. All in all, compared to last time, I faced fewer problems last month yet some of the problems are likely to stay there till eternity.

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Hyderabad Tour

Posted by Mrityunjay on March 6, 2010

Two weeks on the move and need I say, it was worth every minute, every second of it! I always had a desire to explore South India and fortunately, I got a chance this time and trust me, I capitalized on it with a child like curiosity and enthusiasm. Like everything else in life, the trip was not planned and just happened to take place. Perhaps, that’s also the best part of any tour; not having a certain plan and you flow along. The unpredictability factor is essentially one of the best things that can work in favor of you.

My journey began with Hyderabad and proceeded towards Tirupathi, Coimbatore, Ooty, Coonor, Kodaikanal and yes, Madurai! Phew! Jealous, huh?! 😉 When I boarded Andhra Pradesh Express, I did not expect it to be 5-6 hours late. It was supposed to have a 27 hours journey from Delhi but by the time I reached Hyderabad, I realized it has taken 33-34 hours. Poor Rajeev had to wait for excruciatingly long hours for me.

The first thing that I had in mind was to explore famous Hyderabad hospitality and cuisines. Hyderabadi Biryani and Tandoori Kebab! Umm…Yummy! The place had a pleasant weather during night time and there is certain traditional warmth about it. Despite, it being the new Information Technology hotspot that has been progressing by leaps and bounds, Hyderabad exudes an old world charm. The food here is definitely lip smacking, better so if you are a non-vegetarian.

City of Hyderabad boasts of a duality at the core of which lies harmony and peace. There is distinct mark of cross-cultural influences. The twin cities of Hyderabad and Secundarabad have a distinctly different culture than that of rest of Andhra Pradesh. The confluence of two major communities, Hindu and Muslim leaves an indelible mark on the landscape of Hyderabad. The place gives you a feeling as if; every street and every corner has a different story to narrate.

I did not know that the city is also called the ‘City Of Pearls’ but sadly I could not make much use of the information. Guess, will have to shop for pearls as gifts, some other time. Though, there are certain things that definitely need improvement like public transport system or congested roads but let these issues remain out of this post as of now. For once, I felt as if I am roaming in the by lanes of Chandni Chwok. Life would be more comfortable in the city if you have your own personal vehicle.

Charminar was one place I was quite eager to visit. Charminar stood tall yet somehow, there was something missing though I don’t know what. However, once you are standing on perch of it, you can truly feel the heartbeats of the city. There is small temple made (by accident or design) adjoining the base of the structure. This symbolizes a nice little facet of the southern city. It’s located in old Hyderabad with plenty of pearl shops, Choori bazaar, and kebabs places in its vicinity. Golconda fort is also visible from the Charminar though it is approximately 12 Kms. Away from it. Mecca Masjid which is hailed as one of the largest mosques in India is just beside the Charminar.

Located in the heart of city, Hussain Sagar is a popular tourist spot. You can also have a look at laser shows organized by nearby park authority. It was fun.

Some other popular sports are, Qutub Shahi Tombs, Birla Mandir, Salarjung Museum, Birla Planetarium, NTR Gardens and of course the famous Ramoji film city. Later on I munched upon all those famous Hyderabadi food items. Foods were spicy and totally delicious.

Next up on my travel itinerary was Tirupathi.

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