When I Accidentally Landed On The Moon

It seems 2020 continues to be the worst year, not just for me but for the whole world. Since the beginning of this year, we have lost many famous talents, such as Irfan Kahn, Chadwick Boseman, and Sushant Singh Rajput. Out of all the losses, one felt too personal. And, that’s the demise of the singer S.P.Balasubramaniam a.k.a SPB, a few days back. I was really hoping that he would recover soon, but fate thought otherwise. On 25th Sep 2020, my mom barged in into my room all of sudden while I was middle of an official call and announced SPB is no more. Things around almost went blank and only the moments accidentally meeting him flashed in front of me.

It was 24th Jan 2016, and I was returning home from my friend Srijani’s wedding at Kolkatta. As it was a midnight flight, we landed in Chennai around 3 am early in the morning. After landing and while waiting to collect my baggage from the baggage carousel, I noticed a few famous faces. And, that’s where I saw the Padum Nila (Singing Moon) SPB Sir, who was waiting to collect his luggage along with singers Srinivas and Karthik. It appears they were returning from AR Rahman’s Coimbatore concert.

Myself being super excited after seeing some of my favorite singers right in front of me, I first approached Balu Sir for a selfie.

Me: Sir, nan ungaloda periya fan, unga kooda oru photo eduthukalama (Sir, I am a big fan of you and would like to click a picture along with you)
SPB Sir: Kandippa, aana ennoda patula unakku romba pudicha pattu edhunu sonna than photo (Sure, we shall click a pic only if you tell me your most favorite song of mine)
Me: Vannam Konda Vennilavae from the movie Sigaram
SPB Sir: Romba ushar thambi neenga (You are a smart fellow)

The reason why he might have said that I am smart is, I mentioned a song which he not only sang but also composed and acted on the same. And below is the pic that I clicked with him.

With SPB Sir

He is an incredible singer whose melodious voice has transcended generations spanning more than 50 years. This blog post is one of the countless tributes to that great soul who melted our hearts with his voice. The following are some of my most favorite songs of his in no particular order.

1. Vannam Konda Vennilavae – Sigaram

2. Unakkenna Mele Nindrai – Simla Special

3. Kadhal Rojave – Roja

4. Idhu Oru Ponmalai Pozhuthu – Nizhalgal

5. Thanga Thamarai Magale – Minsara Kanavu Song

6.Raja Raja Cholan Naan – Rettai Vaal Kuruvi

7. En Kadhale En Kadhale – Duet

8.O Butterfly Butterfly – Meera

9. Sundari Kannaal Oru Sethi – Thalapathi 

10. Yenthen Vanin – Kadhal Virus

Let your soul Rest In Peace.

Bansky & Lane – I Hate You

You must be wondering why I have published the post almost a day ahead of the usual last hour of the last day of the month. Yaay! It’s cos we are celebrating our two years of togetherness today, and it’s Banksy’s birthday too. And, this year is even more special cos it’s our first anniversary that we are celebrating with Iniyaal. Technically, Iniyaal was there last year too, but in her mom’s womb and kicking.

These two years have been an exciting rollercoaster ride for us. As much as delightful, this journey is quite challenging as well. That’s both of us evolving as a couple and also as parents. Definitely, we are not that impractical perfect couples. Instead, we are just two crooked pieces of Jigsaw Puzzle from totally different sets that tend to fit well.

Of course, when there are colorful and fragrant petals, there would definitely be some thorns too. We had our fair share of difficult and depressing moments, especially during the layoff, and should thank Banksy for being super supportive.

With the cutie pie ❤

You might be curious why this “I Hate You” title despite all the sweet things above. I certainly do have my reasons.

“Hate You” has always been the phrase that we use to express our love for each other, just like friends. We are strange and not so cheesy couples that way. Nevertheless, there have been very few stupid and not so cupid moments where I have made her meant it literally. Think it’s ok to hate each other once in a while. And, most importantly have to ensure that it doesn’t end like the fight on Mr. & Mrs. Smith movie. Anyhow, I am happy that we even made hate synonymous to love at our household.

Note the caption of her WhatsApp status 🙂

Recently, on a fine morning, Bansky handed over me a chit torn from the daily calendar out of the blue. While I was almost on the verge of discarding the same, she insisted that I read it. On the flip side of the chit, to my surprise, I found “Banupriya hates Gokoulane” written on it. And, that put a big smile on me cos that’s the very first love from her. In fact, when I tweeted this, Twitter went crazy, and this became Viral with 61 Likes 😛 (usually it’s 5 likes in avaerage from some awesome souls).

Jokes apart, before I conclude, let me share some of the totally random jokes from my home below for a good laugh.

Dear Bansky,

As usual, dedicating this post to you. Kindly consider this as my Birthday Gift. Unlike other material things, I have put in my invaluable time and all my skills (kathukutta motha vithaiyaiyum…) in penning down this masterpiece, just for you. I sincerely hope you like it.

Cheers to many more awesome years to come.

Yours Awesomely

P.S.: I Hate You A Lot.

Mixture Uncle and The Sales Woman

Though the title might sound scandalous, I just wanted to make it clear at the beginning itself that Mixture Uncle and the Sales Woman have no connection with each other. I am really sorry if you have got deceived by the title and deeply disappointed, this post is just about two recent mutually exclusive events.

Curious Case Of Mixture Uncle

It was a rainy evening, and as usual, we craved for some hot snacks. Given the COVID-19 lockdown, It’s been a while since we had some hot vada from one of the neighborhood shops. With the restrictions relaxed, I decided to pay a visit there for some takeaway and suited myself with the mask and other precautionary measures. After exchanging pleasantries, the Vada Master (that’s how we address the person who makes Vada) checked if I could wait for a little so that he shall prepare it hot for me. And, that’s the perks of being a regular customer.

Vada on the making

In the meanwhile entered a decent looking middle-aged man, and enquired the cost of a particular Mixture sold there. Recently, post-COVID, the shop has diversified its offerings with some packed snacks in conjunction with their freshly made Vada and Bonda varieties. After hearing the price, he could have bought it or left the place in peace. Instead, he started making a big fuzzy argument with the Master about the cost and stated how his product is costlier than the Navarathna Mixture sold by one of the largest Indian snack brands in the world. Though the Master clearly communicated that it wouldn’t be feasible for him to sell at that price, our Mixture Uncle doesn’t seem to cease. It felt more of a namesake argument rather than a genuine price negotiation. He even commonly accused the vendors in Tamil Nadu for overpricing and cheating the customers and claimed that things are cheaper in north India. Briefly, I stood there wondering why this respectable person owning an iPhone (can’t help notice the logo while he was using it) is arguing over a 5 Rs price difference. All these never affected our Master, and he continued to focus on his Vadas.

Quite irritated, I chipped in to save the Master. I don’t want his focus to move away from the Vadas. Our uncle, who has been arguing in Tamil all these while, suddenly switched to English, once I started questioning him. I am pretty sure he would have expected the least to get a lecture on Unit Economy, Economies of Scale, and the Law of Demand from a shabby-looking guy like me. Quite shocked and out of arguments, he got irritated and started leaving the shop. But, the Master emphasized that it’s unfair to leave without buying anything after all those arguments. Yet, our uncle walked out with a grumpy face. When I was about to leave collecting my share of hot Vadas, the Master frustratingly ranted that there are always such customers who are determined not to buy anything, but come and argue just for the sake of entertainment. I think it’s our inherent mentality to feel a win when we buy a thing after a negotiation.

That Fantastic Sales Woman

A year back, I remember reading a blog post from a friend Karthik Pasupathi on how a little care for the customer would eventually translate into a great customer experience. Below is one such experience.

A couple of weeks back, our 18 years old refrigerator at home went to a toss. Usually, we fix and continue using it with the help of a service technician. But this time, against all our hope, the technician deserted the refrigerator as it was beyond repair and suggested to get a new one. After shortlisting a few from the e-commerce websites, we visited the nearest showroom of a famous home appliance chain to buy one. Though we found the model that would suit our needs, we decided against buying it from there. It’s not just the overpricing that led us to that decision, but also the attitude of the salesperson when we pointed out that their price is way beyond the listing price on the brand’s website. We truly understand that they might not be able to match the price on the e-commerce price, but pushing to sell above the MRP listed on the brand’s official site is totally unacceptable. So, with all the frustration caused by the salesperson, we decided to head back home. But, dad suggested that we shall check in another appliance showroom that’s on our way back home, and I half-mindedly agreed to the same.

Once we entered the showroom, the manager enquired to know what we were looking for and immediately assigned a male salesperson. But once he noticed my mother accompanying me, he instantly allotted a saleswoman, so that it would be comfortable for my mom to interact. She clearly explained the features, patiently cleared our queries, and above all, she didn’t try to oversell. In fact, she even convinced my mom to go for a robust and cheaper model rather than an expensive one with not so great extra features. She also clarified that they are currently not matching the online price due to the increase in demand. Yet, she managed to get us a price close to the online rate and even discounted the delivery charges. Most importantly, even after the sales, she followed up and ensured that the refrigerator got delivered on time.

No conclusions and just wanted to share these interesting incidents up on my blog.

Eat With Your Eyes

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you would clearly notice a trend emerging from the posts across the year. Usually, most of the blog posts would pivot around that one major trip of the year. Then, I fill the rest with life events and some random posts. Now thanks to COVID-19, for disrupting the longstanding trend, and obviously our lives too. With no trip and nothing much happening in my life, my content lake has completely dried up, and I am currently stuck with writer’s block. So, writing this one just for the sake of keeping up with my blogging streak and nothing else.

People who know me well mostly refer to me as a big foodie, and would also agree with the fact that I look most happy when I relish the food I love. Honestly, I concur with the above, as the face is just a reflection of the soul, and good food makes my soul happy. Of lately, between work, job hunting, and learning, I have been watching a ton of food shows and thought I would share some of my favs with you all. I strongly recommend you to get a Netflix subscription as most of them are available on it. If not, you always have that friend of a friend who has one.

Ugly Delicious

A dish doesn’t need to look great to taste awesome, especially when it comes to soul food, and that’s precisely Chief David Chang’s take on soul food. Each episode, he explores the cultural, sociological, and culinary aspects of such popular dishes. My most favorite episode of this show is titled ‘Don’t call it Curry’ where he demystifies some of the wrong theories related to Curry and also features the most popular and least highlighted South Indian cuisine.

The Chief Show

If you are someone who loved the movie titled Chef, this show for you and it’s an extension of it. In this show, director, writer, actor, and screenwriter Jon Favreau and chef Roy Choi take on a culinary journey that pushes the boundaries of their favorite dishes. During this exciting food journey, it’s quite exciting to see them experiment with their favorite recipes by collaborating with some of the celebrities from the entertainment and culinary world.

Somebody Feed Phill

This show is all about Philip Rosenthal‘s journey to some of the famous food destinations in the world, where he experience the cuisine of the land. That one key factor that pulled me towards this show is Phill’s smile and reaction when he tastes the food. And, that smile is quite contagious and radiates happiness. At least, in my case.

Midnight Diner

Midnight Diner is a Japanese anthology series that revolves around a small midnight diner that operates between 12 am, and 7 am and run by a chief referred to as Master. The dinner has got a limited menu, and the Master cooks whatever the customers requests, given he got the ingredients in stock. With customers from various walks of life visits his diner, Master tries to bring out their emotional connection with the food.

Street Food – Asia

I am a big fan of street food and love this one. This series explores and features some of the best street food stalls across Asia. Not just the food, it also highlights the story of the hard journeys embarked by the hawkers to master their dish and become successful. My most favorite episode is the one that features Jay Fai, the crab omelet grandma from Bangkok who owns a Michelin Star.

Food Wars – Shokugeki no Soma

This Japanese manga series revolves around Soma, a boy who aspires to become a chef in his father’s restaurant and later joins the elite culinary institute in the country to shape his skills. The rest of the series is about the challenges he faces to prove himself worthy in the institute. One thing that swept me off my feet was when they featured ‘Kozhi Varutha Curry’, a South Indian dish.

Chūka Ichiban

It’s yet another Japanese manga series set in 19th century China. The story revolves around the wonder boy Mao who aspires to become a Super Chef to take over late mother’s restaurant. I must really thank my friend Deepan AKA Deepu for recommending this to me.

That’s all for now folks.

Layoff, Lockdown and Lots of Love

Though I write only one blog post per month, I try to make sure not to miss out on any significant event in my life. Honestly, I held writing about the following for a couple of months, hoping things would get better. Who doesn’t like stories with happy endings?

If you are wondering if things got any better? Actually no, It’s pretty much the same. However, I currently feel quite positive to pen it down, and honestly, I have nothing else to write.


The 16th of March 2020 is a day that I can never forget in my life. Unfortunately, not for good reasons. It started as one ordinary Monday at work until my super boss called us in for a surprise meeting, individually. With no experience of being fired before, the only thing I can relate the meeting to is the firing scenes in Hollywood movies. The HR cited that the layoff is due to corporate restructuring, and had nothing to do with my performance. I was wondering if I should be thankful for the kind clarification. Extremely shocked, and all the HR communications on how they dearly care for employees felt like one big joke. Though I felt devastated, I was quite hopeful of landing in a job soon.


To make things worse, swiftly followed the coconspirator CORONA a.k.a COVID-19. And, that further thinned my chance of getting a job. Even roles for which I attended interviews got held, given the uncertainty that surrounded the businesses. In addition to that, being away from my wife and my newborn daughter made it lonelier and depressing. Despite all these, I did spend some quality time learning new things and applying for jobs right, left, and center. But, from time to time, I suffered from depression and lack of sleep. It might be a shock for most of my friends, as I am well known for my superpowers to sleep anywhere and anytime. Only then I realized how important is mental health, so please take care of it. It’s a self note too.

A couple of weeks back, amid all this chaos, all of a sudden, my daughter fell ill. We had to admit her to the hospital for a week until she got better. Those are the moments I felt like hitting the rock bottom of my life. To our relief, luckily, doctors ruled out anything serious. The only good thing that happened was, my wife and our daughter returned home, and a major missing ended. For now, both the lockdown and my pursuit for a stable full-time job seems to continue.

Lots of Love

Initially, I was too shy to share with my friends that I got laid off. But, once I reached them for help, what I received is lots of love and support. Some regularly called and checked if I was ok, some went beyond their way to get me job referrals, some helped me update my resume and profile, and so on. And, of course, my family was quite supportive and encouraging as well. I was totally overwhelmed by all the love and care that I received.

And, a big bunch of it got delivered on my 31st birthday three days back. Bansky woke me up exactly at the stroke of midnight, and I thought it’s just to wish. But, she handed over her phone and insisted that I watch a video. The video had wishes from my best friends and my school teachers. I was super surprised and couldn’t stop smiling for the next hour and a half due to overflowing happiness. And, that’s what a 15 mins video from the loved ones can do to you. I have zero clues about how she got it done. For a while, she was hinting me that she wouldn’t be able to get me any gift for my birthday due to the lockdown. On the contrary, she gifted me the precious of all, the time, wishes, and love from my loved ones. Probably, the best birthday gift ever. Thanks a ton Bansky, Love you 🙂

The collage of wishes from my fiends and teachers ❤

Later in the evening, I had a ZOOM call with my school besties, where they together sang our school birthday wish song in Tamil. In fact, Sam Sung too (that’s an inside joke). Super thanks to all my friends who wished me on my birthday and It means a lot.

During one of the recent calls with my friend SJ, she said, “When you are down, just think of people who are going through a lot worse and be thankful for what you have got, and that would take you a long way ahead.”. And, how true is that. I hope things turn back to normal soon. Not just for me, but for everyone else who’s going through a tough time.

Postcards & Me – A Few Highlights

Recently, we were discussing poetry WRT the postcards in our Postcrossing WhatsApp group, and below is a something that I wrote impromptu. I understand, it follows a typical alternating rhyming scheme and quite far from being called a poem (I usually term them “So-Called Poems). Yet, It clearly reflects the kind of comments that I received from my family and friends when I started collecting postcards.

It’s just a piece of paper,
May be slightly thicker.
It’s soo old school,
and definitely not cool.
It’s damn slow as a snail,
Oh! You call it the mail.
Easily it might get lost,
Surely a thing of the past.
All those comments you say,
Never gonna get in my way.
When I receive one, in it I see a person.
Do I need any other reason?
With a stamp stuck to the corner,
It puts a big smile even on a loner.
A Postcard.

Apart from my wife, kid, job, and venturing out, yet another thing I badly miss during this lockdown period is receiving postcards. I have been writing and collecting postcards since 2016 and currently have around 1000+ cards in my collection sent from 102 countries across the globe. If it’s not for these postcards, I wouldn’t be even knowing the names of most of those countries. Below are a few that I have received from rare to get places, mostly small island countries with a low population.

1. Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK) aka North Korea

It wasn’t easy getting this card from one of the closed and authoritarian countries of all. One of the Chinese tourist guides helped me with the same.

2. Antarctica – Indian Antarctic Base

It’s a self-sent postcard to National Centre For Antarctic And Ocean Research at Goa, which was then transported to Bharati, an Indian Antarctic Base for cancellation and back.

3. Tristan da Cunha

One of the fellow Postcrosser helped me get this postcard from this World’s Most Remote Island. Trivia: The nearest mainland city to the island is Cape Town in South Africa, which is 1,743 miles away.

4. Longyearbyen – Svalbard

It is the world’s northernmost town, with all settlements further north being research or meteorological outposts. One of the fellow Postcrosser, who is also a professional guide was too kind to send me this card from there.

5. Cape Verde / Cabo Verde

A fellow Postcrosser sent me this card from this small island located in the Central Atlantic Ocean. She was also kind enough to put the lovely stamp of Cesária Évora, their cultural icon on the card.

6. Gibraltar

It’s a tiny British Overseas Territory of just  6.7 km2 and located between south of Europe (Spain) and north of Africa (Morroco). Should thank a fellow Chennai Postcrosser for helping me with this.

7. Fiji

Located in the South Pacific Ocean, Fiji is an island country formed by a group of 300+ islands. This card was sent by an Indo-Fijian Postcrosser.

8. Faroe Islands

This island group consists of 18 major islands is located between the Norwegian Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean.

9. Guyana

It’s one of the not so common South American countries. One of the stamp collectors from there helped me with this card.

10. Vatican

This country needs no introduction, it’s also the smallest country in the world with an area of 0.49 sq km. Thanks to Minu, a CBC friend who sent this during her trip to the Vatican.

I will write more about postcards in the future, but that’s all for now.

My Rediscovered Love For Tamil Mega TV Serials

I understand that most of us are going through a tough time during this quarantine/lockdown period, the case same with me. But, on the flip side, it has brought back some great things too. Personally, things weren’t that great for me at the beginning of this Corona outbreak, which kind of even continues till today. But, despite all the personal miseries, I would really like to thank this lockdown for one thing. That’s for bringing back Tamil Serials back into my life.

During my childhood days, I used to enjoy watching these mediocre and average soaps such as Marmadesam, Vidathu Karuppu, Veetukku Veedu Looty, Chinna Papa Periya Papa, Sakthiman and Kana Kaanum Kaalangal, etc. Later, due to bad influences such as my friend Murali Krishna, my interest got shifted to Prison Break and FRIENDS of the world. From there on, I ignored the TV and pretty much stuck to my laptop watching English series, right from downloading them via Torrents to Netflix and Prime. Eventually, I lost track of the innovation, transformation, and revolution that happened post-Chithi Era in the Tamil TV Serial ecosystem.

At home, I usually like to be in my own zone, and spend most of the time in my room, minding my own business. But now, due to the lockdown, I have been spending more time in the hall with my parents. Initially, I felt like being forced to watch these Tamil series. As time progressed, I ultimately started picking up appreciate the artistic nuances in them. I believe platforms such as Netflix, HBO, and Amazon prime are misleading us, and make us think West is the Best. I urge that we all should come out of that particular mindset and start appreciating the creative gems treasured in the form of the Tamil TV Serials. If you are not convinced yet, the following are the main reasons why you must pick up watching these epic serials.

  • Subtle Acting
    The ability of the Tamil Serial artists to uncannily bring out sort of emotions subtly during the act is quite astonishing. Especially the romantic and angry family fight scenes.

    The act of subtle acting

  • Exceptional Cinematography and Editing 
    I would say, Cinematographers and the Editors are the real unsung heroes of the Tamil Serials. The way they literally freeze the time in their frame is another level, especially when they employ “Repeat Surpised Flash” and “Emotional Zoom” kind of shots. They have always been quite generous and inclusive. They would make sure that the beautiful and subtle emotions of ALL the artists (including the junior artist standing km apart) for every scene is captured and telecasted.

    Another level Cinematography

  • The Story
    Tamil Serials are quite efficient when it comes to repurposing the story. With an almost inexistent storyline, new serials are created just by changing the location, artists, and character names. You could also notice how most of the stories are highly feministic and revolves around strong female characters. One of the recent trends across the series is, the hero and the heroine gets married accidentally and waits for another 500 episodes to consummate the marriage.

    Name only different, Story the same. Source: hotstar

  • Engaging Screenplay
    Multiple engaging elements such as contests, festival celebrations, event organization, and divine intervention are added to the scenes to make the serials engaging and connected to the audience. It’s even quite common to combine these elements between two Serials when the writers run out of ideas.

    Audience Engagement

  • Mesmerizing Music
    Though the title songs are quite nominal, the BGM scores in most of the serials are out of the world. What really makes me wonder is the level of reusability of the BGM tracks. You can observe this aspect not just within a Serial, but also across the Serials. In fact, I even doubt if they use shared libraries just like the developers do. Just like the cherry on the top, the way they add existing movie song tracks to the romantic scenes is always class apart.

    Amazing BGMs

I am really sorry if you are a true fan of Tamil Serials and didn’t get the sarcasm of the post. I might have failed to be sarcastic but feeling very content, as this is something I wanted to rant for a very long time. I think the quality of the content in Tamil Serials has gone down to drain. And, also quite happy that the OTT platforms have started producing quality content in regional languages and the current generation is embracing and enjoying the same. Not so soon, these TV channels would lose their audiences if they are not resilient to change in audience preferences. I rest my case with one of my favorite comedies scene below.

Trip To Remember – The Valley Of Flowers Trek – Part 4

A quick recap from the last blog posts (post 1post 2post 3) in this trek series. We kick-started our journey from Chennai and landed on Dehra Dun via a flight. From there, we hired a cab to reach Rishikesh, our base camp. Then, we traveled to Joshimath by bus and trekked to Ghangaria from Govindghat. From Ghangaria, we hiked the most beautiful Valley of Flowers and the divine Gurudwara Shri Hemkund Sahib.

Day 5: 1st August 2019

As usual, we woke up early and was all set and packed by 7.30 am to commence our descent back to Govindghat. I decided no to repeat my mistake, so along with others, I dropped my backpack to the Mule Guy, hoping he would safely transport it to our bus stationed at Govindghat. I decided to trek down on foot, whereas Buddy, Nigi, Govi, and Thiyaga had another plan, to fly by Helicopter.

Luckily, I got the company of the super-fast Himakar and Kavya for this leg of the journey. We oddly stopped anywhere in between, except for some lemonade on the way. It was a fun and easy downhill trek. In fact, we even waved at the chopper that our guys flew, I wonder if they had noticed it. It was just around 10.30 when we reached Pulna. Again, I was determined not to repeat my mistakes. So, we took a shared cab back to Govindghat instead of trekking down the motorable road. We were a little tired and super hungry as we reached Govindghat around 11 am. Again it was a Gurudwara to the rescue. We had a heavenly Langar before returning back to our bus. It took around 3 pm for the rest of the folks to return to the bus and head to our next camp. In the meantime, we whiled away the time chitchatting and catching up with some sleep. After an hour and a half drive on the thrilling mountainous roads, we reached our next camp, YHAI Badrinath.

Hands down, it was possibly the poshest camp that we have stayed in all our 3 treks with YHAI. As usual, we were welcomed with some hot tea and Potato Fritters. Badrinath is also home to the most famous Badrinarayan Temple. It’s considered to be one of the Char Dham (“four abodes”), visiting which would help in reach salvation. To our advantage, the temple was just a km from our camp and is open only from April to October. So, after a quick fresh-up, we merrily walked to the temple. This one is definitely one of the unique temples I have ever visited. The front face of the temple looked more like a Buddhist monastery, rather than the typical towered structure. After the temple visit, we roamed around shopping souvenirs for our families. Then, after heading back to the camp, post our dinner, we had some fun time dancing and singing at the common hall. And, that’s how yet another awesome day came to an end.

Day 6: 2nd August 2019

I woke up with all the excitement, cos we would be visiting a place of both geographical and religious importance. The camp had a long-standing tradition that every group visits the camp plants a sapling. So, we planted a couple of plants before starting for the day. A 20 mins drive and a couple of mins of walk bought us to our next destination, a significant one. Around 8 am, we reached Mana, the last village of India. Located 10,500 ft above the sea level and 26 km of the Indo-Tibetan border makes Mana the last inhabited village of India. Quite interestingly, while exiting on the other end of Mana, you would notice a few shops self proclaim themselves to be the last shop/tea shop in India.

From there, we had to trek another 6 km to reach our next spot. The first half of the trail was kind of flat, and the next half was quite steep and challenging. Nevertheless, it was the most scenic route of the whole trek and a bit adventurous too. As we approached, I was awestruck by the view of the magnificent Vasudhara Falls. The scene of the water cascading 145 mt tall mountain cliff and the sound of the water splashing down the rock bed was absolutely breathtaking. Views like these signify how minuscule and weak we humans in front of nature’s forces. We spent almost an hour at the falls enjoying its sheer beauty, before returning. It was already around 2 pm when we reach back to Mana, and we were super hungry. So, we went to “India’s Last Tea And Cofee Corner” and had some Potato Fritters and some Maggi. Then back at the camp, the rest of the day was spent relaxing and chitchatting. Just like the last night, we even had some fun sessions at the common hall. And, that’s how yet another awesome day came to an end.

Day 7: 3rd August 2019

Life is uncertain as much as the mountain weather. We were supposed to start back to our base camp as early as 7 am. But, as it heavily rained the last night, our departure got delayed till 10.45 am due to landslides. The clogged roads and very slow-moving traffic further added to the delayed start, and it was already 1.30 pm when we crossed GovindChat. Again yet another massive landslide after VishnuPrayag caused a heavy traffic jam and delayed us further by an additional couple of hours.

It started getting dark by 7 pm as we crossed the Rudraprayag. And, our driver advised us that it’s not safe to drive on the mountain roads all night, That crashed our hope of reaching Rishikesh by the same day. As advised by YHAI, we reached the town of Srinagar Garhwal around 9.30, where we would be spending the night at a Gurudwara. Again, a Gurudwara to rescue. We were super tired traveling on the bus for a whole day. So, we went and hit our bed straight after having our dinner at a nearby cafe. And, that’s how yet another awesome day came to an end.

Day 8: 4th August 2019

As per our initial itinerary, we should have already been in Mussoorie. But, due to the delays the last day, we haven’t even reached our base camp, Rishikesh yet. Now, expecting the unexpected on the mountain had become a new norm for us. As planned, we departed to Rishikesh as early as 5.30 am. After a quick stop for breakfast around 7, we finally reached our base camp by 9.40 am. Then, we got freshened up, collected our extra luggage, and completed the checkout formalities before finally bidding adieu to the base camp.

By noon we got a cab and headed to our next destination Mussoorie, a hill station located a couple of hours drive from Rishikesh. On arriving, we decided to chuck all our initial plans to visit the famous touristy places. And, unanimously chose to relax and unwind after one hell of an adventurous trek. As soon as we reached our homestay, it started to rain heavily. Damn, yet another curveball to our plans. In the meanwhile waiting for the rain to subside, I took a relaxing hot shower and ate my lunch. Luckily, the rain stopped around 4 pm, and our chances to roam around became as bright as the sun that began showing up. Our first stop was the Lovely Omelet Centre, one of the most famous eateries in Mussoorie. I was super impressed even with their plain omelet and was able to see my friends happy devouring their chili cheese and butter versions.

Next, we took a cab to Landour to taste the food at Char Dukan, one of the oldest eateries and well known to be frequently visited by celebrities. There, we had their famous Bun Omelet, Choco Banana Waffles, and soothing Ginger Lemon Tea.

Then we roamed on the Mall road for a while, just for the food to get digested. Finally, we concluded the outing with a sumptuous dinner at Kal Sang, a Chinese & Tibetan restaurant.

Back at the homestay, we spent the night boozing and playing board games. And, that’s how yet another awesome day came to an end.

Day 9: 5th August 2019

The day started well with a yummy Poha made by the homestay people. Being the last day of this trip, and I felt both homesickness and the anxiety of going back to the routine. It was a kind of hard to describe mixed feelings for me. Around 11.30 am, we took a cab to Dehradun Airport, from where we would be boarding our flights to Chennai via Mumbai.

On the way, we decided to try the Biriyani at the most famous Doon Darbar restaurant. Against my expectation, the not so spicy Biriyani failed to impress me but loved their Special Chicken Changezi.

After a splendid meal, we reached the airport around 2.30 pm and checked in on time for our flight scheduled at 4 pm. Our bad, the flight got delayed due to the bad weather and took off to Mumbai only by 4.55 pm. Again, the bad weather played the villain and made our flight circle the Mumbai skies for a while. Only after landing around 7.30, we realized that our 8 pm connecting flight to Chennai would depart from another terminal. Damn, we took an Auto and rushed to the Terminal 2 and literally ran in the airport to board our flight on time. For a while, it felt like “The Amazing Race” tv reality show. Finally, we landed around 10.30 pm and, there is nothing like the feel of homecoming. But, unfortunately, it wasn’t quite welcoming. It seems, unlike us, our baggage didn’t make it on time to the flight, and we had to wait for another hour to receive them. At that point, all I needed was to get done with this trip and the endless curveballs that it throws at me. Ultimately, we got back our languages just past midnight and headed back to each other’s house after bidding adieu. And, that’s how an awesome trip came to an end.

Right from the bus accident on day 2 to the baggage delay on the very last day, this trip was full of twists and turns, just like those mighty mountains. That’s definitely why this is a Trip To Remember.

The End.

Trip To Remember – The Valley Of Flowers Trek – Part 3

A quick recap from the last blog posts  (post 1, post 2) in this trek series.
We kick-started our journey from Chennai and landed on Dehra Dun via a flight. From there, we hired a cab to reach Rishikesh, our base camp. Then, we traveled to Joshimath by bus and trekked to Ghangaria from Govindghat.

Day 4: 30th July 2019

It was around 7.30 am, we started our trek from camp Ghangaria. A few meters down, the route branched into two. One led to the most anticipated Valley of Flowers (VOF) and another to the Hemkund Sahib. As per the itinerary, we headed towards the former as the latter was scheduled for the next day. With a tiny waterfall, a rapidly flowing river, and flowers all along the way, the route was serene and scenic. Just like the icing on the cake, the misty climate added to the bliss. It was roughly 4km trek with an altitude gain of 1500 ft to the opening of the valley. The rest 3 km into the valley was kind of flat. As the mules aren’t allowed inside the valley, a few porters carried the elderly persons and the kids on their back. The route wasn’t as tough as the last one, which made the trek less demanding and enjoyable.

Once we entered the valley, it felt like heaven. Especially if you are someone who enjoys the tiny wonders of nature. The place felt mesmerizing with thousand of flowers around me. After having my packed lunch around 11 am, I tagged along with the YHAI guide who patiently pointed me to many unique species of flowers around. One of the best experience was running behind the colorful buzzing honey bees and try clicking it while drinking the nectar from the flowers. Must say I got lucky and managed to capture one awesome pic. Undoubtedly, this natural botanical garden was one big feast to my eyes. Below is the little I managed to capture through my mobile camera. Brace for some pic spamming.







After clicking a ton of pictures, we reached the second waterfall by 12 pm and started returning back from there. On the way back to the camp, I felt much delighted. Literally, the person inside me was jumping out of joy. Roughly around 3 pm, we arrived back at the camp. We relaxed a bit after having our usual hot soup and snacks. Then, around 7.30 pm, we had our dinner and played UNO after that. That’s how yet awesome day came to an end.

Day 4: 31st July 2019

The day started with a cup of hot tea early in the morning, followed by some hearty breakfast. Initially, we planned to begin our trek by 7 am. But, rain doesn’t seem to agree with our plans. So, we started our ascent around 7.45 am as soon as the downpour subsided. It was almost the same route as yesterday for the first 1 km. Then, at an intersection, we switched to the one that led us to Gurudwara Shri Hemkund Sahib, the summit of this trekking expedition. Situated roughly 15,000 ft above sea level, Hemkund Sahib is a sacred place visited by thousands of Sikhs every year. This leg of the trek was quite challenging as we had to trek 6 km one way with an altitude gain of ~5000 ft. Buddy, Nigilan, and Govi accompanied me for this whole stretch. Considering the altitude sickness factors, we decided to go slow and steady. After a couple of km, we stumbled upon a small tea shop and decided to take a short tea break. To our surprise, we noticed some soaked rice being laid out on a wooden plank for the birds to feed and a few Himalayan Sparrows feasting over them. Such a cute scene it was. With melting glaciers and ice-cold waterfalls, the route was a breathtaking one. Literally breathtaking, as you would feel your lungs screaming for more oxygen as you climb. Again, I got lucky. I somehow managed to click a beautiful pic of a Honeybee sucking nectar from a Himalayan Blue Poppy flower, the state flower of Uttarakhand. The last 1.5 km was strenuous and steep, but with great company, nothing is unconquerable. Finally, after 5 hours of excruciating trek, we reached the summit around 12.30 pm.

The Summit Pic - A mix of physical pain and mental joy

The Summit Pic – A mix of physical pain and mental joy

Finally, we were at the world’s highest Gurudwara, and this place had amazing positive vibes. What made me wonder was, how on this world did they build this Gurudwara, high over the mountains. After depositing our footwears to the kind volunteer there, we all entered the star-shaped Gurudwara and spent some time in their prayer session. In spite of not understanding even a single word, we sat throughout the sermon. To my surprise, they even provided us with some woolen blankets to keep us warm and comfortable. While exiting the prayer hall, we were served Kara Prasad, a sweet devotional offering. Just adjacent to the Gurudwara, located a beautiful lake filled with icy cold water straight from the glaciers. We even noticed a few devotees taking a dip into it, how strong!!. Just next to the lake, there exists a small temple that’s dedicated to Lakshmana, the brother of Rama. What astonished me was their Langar service, in spite of being located in such a high altitude. The hot tea and Kichadi served for the Langar was undoubtedly some of the soul touching food that I ever had.

After done with Hemkund Sahib, we began our descent around 1.45 pm. With continuous drizzling and mist causing low visibility, the downhill was as painful as the uphill trek. We took it slow with a couple of stops on the way for some hot tea and Maggi. Finally, we returned to the camp around 6 pm, totally exhausted.

To our relief, there was a shop nearby with electric massage chairs that eased out our pain a bit. Nothing like a hot water bath after a tiring day, followed by a good sleep. And, that’s how yet awesome day came to an end.

To Be Continued…

Hey Little Pink Line

Dear Iniyaal,

I hope you are Happy, Hale and Healthy.

I am writing this, even though it’s quite unlikely that you would read it someday by yourself. But, knowing the narcissistic me very well, I bet I would definitely make you read this when you are old enough. Probably when you grow up, the hobby of blogging would have become a history. And, I would brag that I used to blog and all and even wrote about you. So, apologies well in advance.

To a maximum extent, I try to jot down the key moments of my life in this blog. Something like a memoir, predominantly for the sole reason to savor those memories later. Though the objective of this blog post is no different, it does feel extra special.

It was on 25th March 2019 we suspected that your mother was conceived with you. Then, you were just a little pink line on a pregnancy test. A couple of days later, I was just leaving the office after a bad day at work. While I was just about to get into the cab, your mom called me to deliver the good news. Yes, the doctor has confirmed that we’re pregnant. That completely changed my mood, and I was jumping out of joy with a big smile on my face. Momentarily, I even clicked one horrible selfie and shared it with your mom. Cos, that’s a moment worth remembering forever.

Since then, it had been one hell of a roller coaster ride for us. It was your mom who went through all the hardships in bringing you safely into this world. Right from diet restrictions, morning sickness to discomfort, and swelling of the foot, she somehow managed it all. All I did was support her a bit by taking her to the hospital for checkups. And, still complained that my weekend got ruined cos of the same. The journey was a bit challenging for me, as I was struggling to fit into my new job at the same time. But on the other side, it was filled with many memorable moments and a few that I would love to recall.

When you were just a 6-7 week only embryo, we went to the OBG doctor for the checkup. During the visit, the doctor showed me a small dot on her Ultra Sonogram machine and made me hear a sound. Then she said, it’s your baby and what you heard was its heartbeat. That moment my heart skipped a beat, hearing your heartbeat.

Your mom started feeling your little movements as early as 4 months. But, I had to wait a couple more months to feel you kick inside her. Now and then your mom would promptly pull my hand towards her belly, just to make me feel your movements. She would always mention that you jiggle a bit extra than usual whenever I used to talk and sing to you (despite my horrible voice). One of those days, you kicked in your mom so hard that I was able to feel it hit hard on my palm. It was such a blissful moment that momentarily got me goosebumps.

This one is definitely unparallel to the above two moments, in fact, unparallel to none.
It was quite stressful as the due date approached. It seems you felt so comfortable inside and didn’t even bother to come out, as your mother didn’t have any sign of labor pain even after the due date. On 27th November 2019, around 1 pm, while I was still in the middle of my work, I received a call from your mom that put me straight into the panic mode. She told me that the doctor has advised a c-section, as there was some complexity. I swiftly rushed to the hospital, where your mom was all prepped for surgery in a surgical gown. She instantly noticed my face filled with fright, then she held my hand tight and comforted me that it would be all fine. Yes, it should have been the other way around, but your mom is a strong woman. It’s really tough to explain how I felt waiting outside the operation theatre. It was a mix of anxiety and excitement at the same time. It was almost an hour since they took your mom into the OT. On the other side of the wall, I was trying hard to calm my nerves down with music and ignore everyone around. Around 6 pm, the nurse came out and announced that it’s a baby girl. OMG, I was literally jumping out of joy and can’t wait to meet you for the first time, because I always wanted a girl child. Then 15 mins later, the doctor walked out of the OT holding you and handed you over to my mom and mentioned that you were born at 5.25 pm and weighed 2.450 kgs. You looked so adorable and cute. I can’t be happy enough. A few minutes later, they bought your mom out of the OT. Despite the effect and discomfort of anesthesia, her face glowed with a faint smile. That smile meant a lot of things to me, it’s like telling me that I got what I wanted always. I am pretty sure that she would have been the happiest person that day. That’s definitely one of the most defining and exciting moments of my life.

Just before 15 days, on 15th December 2019, we officially named you Iniyaal (இனியாள்) in a simple naming ceremony at your maternal grandparent’s home. Guess what, I am the one who came up with that name even a few months before you were born.

Now you are just a month old baby who spends most of the time feeding and sleeping. I admire every tiny aspect of you and go really crazy when you smile, though you smile quite rarely. Very cute and adorable, I must say.

That priceless smile.

Currently, you are a Chamathu innocent baby, but soon you would become an annoying kid. I hope eventually you transform into an intelligent girl and a strong woman. I wish that you grow up as a queen of your own world, rather than the little princess of mine. And, I extend all my support for the same.

Your mom would definitely kill me for posting the below pic. But, just look at the way she adores you. She loves you a lot Iniyaal.

Again, I apologize for the lengthy and boring letter.

Be Happy and Keep Smiling.

Your Awesome Loving Dad,