Category Archives: Postcrossing

Thank You 2018 Welcome 2019

I wished to continue the trip to remember series but in my case wishes seldom realize. Time constraint usually sounds like a good problem to have (KP hope you read this :D) and it’s easy to shift the blame on it. Behind the scenes stands new responsibilities and complete mismanagement of time.

It’s been a while since I wrote a year-end note, the last one was way back in Dec 2013. This 2018 being quite a pivotal year in my life, I indeed feel indebted to write about it.

My top 9 Instagram pics

 

Dear 2018,
I got to thank you for a lot of things. At the top of the list is my marriage with Banupriya. Our first meeting was in February, since then it was one hell of an exciting journey together. Eventually, we got engaged in March and got married in August.

Professionally, it has been one hell of a ride. My 8-year long stint at INXS/Market Simplified came to an end in November. Following the same, I joined a multinational bank. Moving from a fintech startup to a financial conglomerate, Isn’t it quite contrasting?. Currently, I feel like a pond fish that’s learning to swim in an ocean. Eventually, will learn to survive, sustain and hope to excel.

Though I missed my annual trek trip this year, I more or less compensated it with a dream trip to Amritsar, Agra, and Delhi. Visiting the Golden Tempe at Amritsar was one of the most memorable and blissful experiences of the trip. The list doesn’t end there, a few brief trips to Pondicherry, Banglore, and Hyderabad kept my traveler’s spirit moving. To conclude, the jewel in the crown was our trip to the most mesmerizing Meghalaya for our honeymoon. Undoubtedly the best trip of the year.

Once started as a hobby to fill the void and get connected to people, collecting and writing postcards have become almost an addiction. Later this year, my collection crossed 100 countries mark. With a long way to go, I thank everyone who helped me in this so far.

Last but not least. Thanks, for all the fun and great moments with my friends. I do cherish each one of them. I don’t mind getting greedy and wish for more.

On the downside, my fitness went into the drain. I didn’t run or cycle much in this whole year, almost negligible. But, I did learn a bit of swimming early in the year. Wish I continued the same.

Dear 2019,
I welcome you with open arms. As usual, I don’t want to tax you with resolutions and unrealistic expectations. All I can ask is, kindly be fair and square to me. Give me all motivation to restart my running and cycling. Give me all the strengths to face my challenges. Keep everyone happy and smiling. May the force be with you.

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The Golden Temple Saga – Trip To Remember – Amritsar, Delhi & Agra – Part 2

Don’t be surprised for publishing the post a little earlier than usual. Also, this post is predominantly just about one place and it’s totally worth it.

A short recap from the last blog post to bring you up to the speed. Inspired by the below song, I convinced 4 of my friends to travel along with me all the way to Amritsar. On our 2nd day of the journey, we visited the most famous Attari – Wagha Border between India and Pakistan. And, it was one remarkable experience.

By now, you all might have guessed the place. It’s none other than the Sri Harmandir Sahib, famously known as the Amritsar Golden Temple. From the local sources, we got to know that the Gurdwara is less crowded during the early hours of the dawn. Kavinnila  (a.k.a Kavin) and I were super excited and planned to start as early as 4 am. On the other hand, Shashi, Remya and Shalini was super tired after a crazy day, so they decided to opt out for some more rest and join us later.

As planned, we started a little later than 4 am. As our hostel was just in walking distance from the Gurdwara, we didn’t have any trouble reaching there. It’s a hard rule that men and women who enter the temple must cover their head by wearing a scarf or a turban. On our way to the temple, there was a respectable old man who offered me a headscarf and even tied it on my head. Later, he DEMANDED DONATION for the same. It’s quite unfortunate that there are people capitalizing situation like these. If you are visiting the temple, kindly don’t entertain such people. There are tons of head scarfs placed in bins just outside the Gurudwara for free.

One could get easily awestruck by the glittering structure against the background of the dark sky. And, I am no exception. Just before the main entrance, there is a place where you can safely deposit your footwear for free. A continuous stream of water flowing through the entrance cleanses your foot before entering the temple premise. OMG, I have never been to such a peaceful and calm religious place. I felt the tranquility of the place subdue my usual excitement. And, quite short of words in precisely expressing that feeling. The main temple sits in the middle of Amrit Sarowar (Pool of Nectar), a holy tank where devotees take bathe. We went around the Parikrama (Pathway surrounding the tank) clicking some pictures before joining the queue leading to the sanctum. I am not even exaggerating, the devotees here are the most self-disciplined ones I have ever seen. Firstly, there are no separate queues except the one dedicated for elderly and physically challenged people. Irrespective of their caste, creed, gender, social and economic status, the rest of the folks share the same queue. In spite of thousands of devotees waiting in the line for hours, we didn’t find even a single person trying to push others or trying to get ahead or even speak loudly. Probably, we are the only uncouth ones in the crowd who are incapable of zipping their mouth. You would be amazed to see that there isn’t anyone except just an elderly guard near the entrance of the sanctum to control the crowd. All the time spent in the queue I enjoyed the devotional songs with marvelous deep voices played there. To my surprise, while entering the sanctum, I spotted a group of musicians performing live. That’s some incredible stamina and serious devotion performing continuously without any drop in their energies. A few moments passed entirely lost in the charm and resonating music of the place. Again, the blissful experience is hard to explain with words. It’s two storied structure with its walls & ceiling filled with pleasing decorative artworks. The devotees quietly find a spot for themselves to sit, read their holy text and meditate. Again, there is no one to control or manage them. Further, we reached the terrace just to get lost in the breathtaking view from there. We were offered Karah Prasad, a sweet made of whole wheat flour, Ghee (clarified butter) and sugar on our way out of the sanctum.

The following are a few awesome pics clicked by Kavin.

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Sri Harmandir Sahib, Golden Temple – This Beauty

The Karah Prasad didn’t completely solve our hunger problems, so we headed straight searching for the Langar Hall.

Langar is the term used in Sikhism for the community kitchen in a Gurdwara where a free meal is served to all the visitors, without distinction of religion, caste, gender, economic status or ethnicity. – Wikipedia

So, no one returns from a Gurdwara hungry. Might be the effect watching umpteen number of documentaries on the Golden Temple Langar, it became a dream to have a meal there, cos it’s no ordinary Langar. Following are the amazing facts that make it more special[Source].

  • It’s the world’s largest community kitchen.
  • On an average, 1,00,000 meals are served every day, absolutely free of cost.
  • More than 90% of the workforce involved in preparing and serving the Langar are volunteers.
  • On an average, The kitchen consumes around 1800 kgs of pulses, 5000 kgs of wheat flour, 1400 kgs of rice and 700 liters of milk daily.

Just at the entrance of the hall, the volunteers handed us a plate, a spoon, and a bowl. After waiting amongst 1000s of devotees, we were allowed into a large dining hall with carpets laid in parallel rows to sit down and eat. With not much difficulty, we found ourselves a spot amidst a large crowd. Then, they served us, Roti (flat bread), Daal (lentils), Sabzi (vegetables) and Kheer (dessert). OMG, the food was not only yummy but felt soulful and wholesome. Once done eating, we handed our plates and cutleries to another set of volunteers stationed at the exit of the hall. It’s quite amazing that the Langar is run entirely out of donation from the Sikh community across the globe. Their philanthropical mindset and natural willingness to serve people is highly commendable. I came out of the Gurudwara with both my soul and stomach filled. I am never a religious person, but the vibes this place gave me is beyond any typical place of devotion. It was a long dream come true for me and definitely, a moment to remember for the rest of the lifetime. Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh.

A few meters walk from the Golden Temple took us to yet another significant landmark, not only in Amritsar but also in India’s struggle for independence. It’s Jallianwala Bagh where the sorrowful Amritsar massacre took place. On 13th April 1919, Reginald Dyer a British army Colonel ordered open fire at unarmed innocent civilians who gathered to celebrate the festival of Baisakhi which resulted in the infamous Jallianwala Bagh Massacre. Around 1000 died and 1500 injured in this Mishap. One could still see the bullet marks on the wall and the Martyrs’ Well where many jumped to save themselves from the shooting. The place also houses a small museum to provide more detailed info on the incident. This place reminded me of the sacrifice made by many that lead us to the path of freedom that we enjoy today.

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The Memorial

It was already past 1 pm when we got united with the rest of the gang after visiting the Jallianwala Bagh. We all were hungry by that time and unanimously decided to have lunch at a nearby Dhaba. There is no way we would miss the famous Amritsari Kulcha while being in Amritsar. The Dhaba served a yummy Kulcha with some Chickpea Curry and a sour chutney which I loved. From there we reached our hostel, freshened up, packed our bags and headed straight to the railway station to catch Amritsar – New Delhi Shatabdi Express that’s destined for Delhi.

Wait, the day didn’t end here. A couple of interesting things did happen. The first one was a sheer coincidence. We again shared the compartment with the same family that traveled with us from Delhi to Amritsar. The next one was a pleasant surprise. A Postcrossing friend Mr.Piyush came all the way to Ludhiana railway station to handover me some awesome postcards when our train halted there. The best part was, my phone was in silent mode and didn’t hear the ring when he called. The train just started moving when I returned his call. As the train was already in motion, he came running and handed me the envelope. That’s an extraordinary gesture to show towards a person whom he oddly knows. Thanks, Piyush. It means a lot to me.

Phew, That’s how yet another incredible day came to an end.

The next day had some serious twist and turns for us. But you got to wait until the next blog post in the series.

To Be Continued …

Serendipity

Believe me, I don’t even know how to pronounce the title properly. Thought of using some fancy word in the title so that it would boost the readership of this post. But, later realized that it’s no longer a fancy word. #Overuse #TwistInTheTale

Serendipity
ˌsɛr(ə)nˈdɪpɪti/
noun
The occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.

Most of the people close to me are well aware that I collect postcards, even a bit obsessed with it. So far, I have collected 541 postcards from 90 countries and made a few awesome friends across the world. If you aren’t aware of the term Postcrossing, I highly recommend you to read my post “The Story Of The Random Postcards“. Don’t worry, if you are too lazy (like me) to open the link and read, the following must help.

Postcrossing is an online project that allows its members to send and receive postcards from all over the world. The project’s tagline is “send a postcard and receive a postcard back from a random person somewhere in the world!” Its members, also known as Postcrossers, send postcards to other members and receive postcards back from other random Postcrossers. Where the postcards come from is always a surprise. – Wikipedia

So by this time, you must have understood that most of the cards I receive are absolutely from totally RANDOM people. Random coincidences are some of the best kinda stories to narrate and brace for it, cos here comes one.

Two friends from The Netherlands Sanne and Kristen planned to write postcards together cos it would be so much fun. Yes, there are people like us in this era of Facebook and WhatsApp who think writing postcards is so much fun. Now, let’s come back to the story. So, Sanne & Kristen requested for an address together from the site. Guess what? To their surprise, they both got mine. Whenever an address is requested, a code is also generated along with it so that the recipient can register the postcard upon receiving the same. Guess what? even the Postcrossing code were consecutive numbers. Here comes the best part. They wrote, “We weren’t sure if Ravi is your first or the last name, so we decided to start differently”. As they were confused with my name, Kristen addressed me as “Dear Gokoulane” whereas Sanne addressed me as “Dear Ravi”. They even posted it together at the same place and time, so that I would receive it together. Thankfully it did.

As I love food, they have sent me yummy Dutch Snacks Postcards with awesome stamps.

So, Thank you, Sanne & Kristen.

The Story Of The Random Postcards

The day was great with me messing up with the work and awarded with a sarcastic comment from my boss. I returned home drained and all I wished was the great day to end momentarily. But, back at home awaited a surprise. As I entered the home, my mom handed a square-shaped envelope over to me. The envelope was from the CzechRepublic and bore the name of someone I never heard of. The envelope contained an awesome Minion Christmas card and a tiny 2017 calendar. I stood bewitched wondering how the sender knows that Minions are my favorite and that card made my day. That’s not the only instance where a postcard from totally random people put a big smile on my face. Thanks to Postcrossing.

The following is what beloved Wikipedia got to tell about Postcrossing. To know more about Postcrossing, read their FAQ page.

“Postcrossing is an online project that allows its members to send and receive postcards from all over the world. The project’s tagline is “send a postcard and receive a postcard back from a random person somewhere in the world!” Its members, also known as postcrossers, send postcards to other members and receive postcards back from other random postcrossers. Where the postcards come from is always a surprise.”

I randomly stumbled upon Postcrossing while I was searching for places to buy postcards in Chennai to send to a friend in Australia. I found the concept interesting and gave it a try.  My very first postcard was to Russia on 19th Sep 2016 and the first one I received was from CzechRepublic on 14th October 2016. Since then I have sent 25 cards in which 7 of them are still in transit. I have also received 18 cards from various countries across the world.

Postcrossing not only enables random people to exchange postcards, it also contribute to the conservation of fading art of snail mails in this world of e-mail and social media. The fact that some random unrelated person spending a few mins of his life in writing and posting a postcard is what that delight me when I receive one. Each and every card you receive is a surprise. It might come from a 17-year-old boy or 67-year-old granny, it might be from well know countries such as Germany or from countries that you have never heard of such as Latvia and Belarus. Apart from the cards, the stamps on them are also equally interesting. All you have to do is send one, keep calm and wait for another one to hit your postbox as it takes an average of 15 days for a postcard to get delivered.

 

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My Postcrossing Stats

 

If you are someone who wish to connect to rest of the world and have all the patience to do it via one of the slowest modes of communication then Postcrossing is one of the best hobbies for you. My subsequent post might be on from where I source the postcards, Postcrossing community in India and postage details. Till then, Happy Postcrossing.