Tag Archives: Friends

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.

Layoff

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.

Lockdown

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.

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…

Trip To Remember – The Valley Of Flowers Trek – Part 2

Surprised?

Pertaining to a hypercritical life event, I am quite unsure about the availability of my time by the end of this month to write this blog post. So, trying to churn out something before I get super busy. Isn’t something better than nothing?

A quick recap from the last blog post 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.

Day 2: 28th July 2019

We woke up around 4 am as instructed. Being a habitual early riser, it wasn’t hard at all for me. In no time, we quickly packed our bags and lunch for the day. Then we had a quick huddle for instructions followed by flagging off the bus by 5 am. The route was quite scenic with the clouds passing over the mountains, the valleys and the rivers flowing through them. Believe me, there is nothing like the view of breaking of dawn over the mountains. And, that’s the kind of scene I adore a lot.

It was all fine until our driver stopped the bus out of nowhere. Initially, we thought he stopped for nature’s call. But was super shocked at what we saw a few feet away. It was a bus simar to ours met with an accident and about to plunge down the valley. The only thing that was holding the bus from falling down was a thick fiber optic cable and a stone beneath it. Luckily it was just the driver riding the bus empty who somehow managed to escape safely. Then I realized it’s not just the climate on the mountains that’s unpredictable, the roads too. It took almost an hour for the local authorities and workers to slightly widen the road allowing passage of vehicle in a direction at a time. In the meanwhile, we had bread-jam, biscuits, and juice that we packed in bulk from the base camp.

That one bus crash

After a couple of hours on the road, the driver stopped by a Dhaba. Damn, I wouldn’t have stuffed myself with bread-jam and biscuits if I would have been aware of such hot and yummy Parathas that I could get on the way. Again around 11 am, we took a brief stop for some tea. It was such a bliss to drink tea by the riverbank covered by mountains. OMG, the view was breathtaking and even made not so good tea feel worthwhile. Later we crossed the town of Karnaprayag and stopped for lunch around 1.30 pm. We munched on stale Chapathi and Bhindi (Ladies finger/Okra) that we packed from our base camp. Luckily, the nearby shop served some Maggi for rescue.

A yet another 4 hours of tiring continuous bus journey took us to our next camp Joshimath aka Jyotirmath by 6.30 pm. Luckily they served some hot Tea and Pakodas for relief as soon as we checked in. As we freshened up, around 8 pm, some hot Rotis and Potato Curry were served for dinner. After some 12 hours of continuous and tiring bus journey, all I needed was some good rest. I dozed off with a little excitement of trekking after a long gap the next day. That’s how a yet another awesome day came to an end.

Day 3: 29th July 2019

Being an early riser, I woke up around 5 am as usual. As the dawn broke, I stood in a corner and rejoiced the view of clouds slowly moving over the mountains far away. Though it was a bit cold outside, the serenity of the environment brought peace and warmth to my soul. Narcissistically, I thanked my self for giving me such a blissful experience. Then came the hot Tea to add some warmth to the body too. While I was busy clicking some pics, our camp leader pointed to a nearby mountain and asked what do I see. After taking a closer look, I replied, it looks like a face. Then he corrected me saying, they call it the sleeping lady. Damn, how did I fail to notice, it did look like one.

Waking up to the views like these

Least I knew, Joshimath is famous for its temples. It’s also home to one of the four Maths established by the Indian saint Adi Shankaracharya. As most of us were interested, we decided to visit a few temples before heading towards our next camp. As planned, we started at 7 am after breakfast. First, we visited the most famous Adi Shankaracharya’s Math (monastery) and the nearby Kalpavriksha (divine tree) where he worshiped. Then we visited the marvelous Narsingh temple.

It was around 10 am when we got dropped at Govindghat, from where our trek would commence. For the ease of trek, we were given a couple of options. First, our bags could be ported directly to Ghangaria camp by Mules. Second, the initial 4 km of the route is motorable and could be covered by Jeep. Only after trekking the 1st 4 km, I realized that I failed to factor in an important aspect while considering the options, and that’s my fitness. By the time we reached the Pulna village (end of the motorable road), I was tired and dehydrated. While everyone else in our gang went ahead on their own phase, it was Nigilan who stuck with me accompanied me the whole route. After having our packed lunch at Pulna, to reach the camp alive, we decided to put our bags on the Mule and continue the trek. The next 6km wasn’t that difficult with moderate ups and downs. At the end of 10 km, we had Maggi and Tea in a shop along the fierce stream of water running down the mountains.

I must say, we literally crawled the final 4km. Blame the super steep stretch and exhausted us. It was the mutual pep talks and serenity of the mountains that motivated us all along the way. The sky was almost dark when we reached our camp at Ghangaria (10,000 ft) around 7 pm. Though our friends were worried about us being late, that didn’t stop them from playing a big prank on us. They almost made us believe that our bags were lost as the Mule fell on the way. After freshening up, we had our dinner and played some UNO. I dozed as my body screamed for some rest. That’s how a yet another awesome day came to an end.

To be continued …

You Might Be The Next One To Get Hacked

Spooked by the title? I was equally shocked after hearing about the incident that happened to one of my friends in the US.

It has been a long time since we last spoke, so we connected over a WhatApp call. Post sharing the usual pleasantries, out of curiosity and concern, I asked him why he isn’t active in social media these days. I was expecting his answer to be a hectic work schedule or some personal problems. But, to my surprise, he replied that his accounts got hacked. Eventually, when he had to decide between saving his financial accounts or social media accounts, he had to let go of social media accounts. If someone techie as my friend could get hacked easily, the case of the rest sounds really scary to me. Digging a little deeper, this is how my friend got hacked exactly.

  1. My friend entered his mobile number on the day of flight information while checking in for an American Airlines flight scheduled for the next day.
  2. Data breach at AA systems
  3. A few hours later, my friend received a notification from his mobile service provider that his number was activated in yet another device. Yes, you read it right. The telecom operator provides a feature that enables customers to use the same mobile number across multiple devices.
  4. Realizing something fishy, he immediately reached his mobile operator to report the issue and block the new device.
  5. Within the next 10 mins, he received two One Time Passwords (OTP) one for his personal Gmail account and the other for the Cash App (payments/fund transfer app)
  6. After getting access to his Gmail, the hacker not only changed the password but also the mobile number used for 2-factor authentication.
  7. Using the e-mail, the hacker also got access to all of my friend’s social media accounts and started posting abusive content.
  8. In the meantime, the hacker also transferred $100 out of my friend’s account via the Cash app.
  9. Not just that, the hacker ordered a cheesecake via a food delivery app using my friend’s credit card (Too much I say).
  10. The worst part was, the hacker even tried to apply for a loan using my friend’s Social Security Number.

Somehow my friend was able to recover his financial losses as the bank refunded the unauthorized transactions. But he lost his e-mail, social media accounts and definitely his peace of mind. If this could happen to my well-educated techie friend, all I can wonder is the case of the people who have just started using these digital channels. Especially the elders who aren’t much exposed to technology and not much aware of its risks. If you think this issue only concerns the people in the US, you are wrong. India is no exception in this as many similar sim-swap frauds have been reported in recent times. Probably, the following precautions might save you from becoming a victim to these hacks.

  • This one is the most basic of all. Never ever share your passwords, pin numbers, and OTPs
  • Don’t blindly believe in the messages that you receive via WhatsApp, E-Mail, and SMS. Especially the Nigerian prince who wants to share his wealth.
  • Kindly reinforce the above message to your parents & grandparents as the majority of the victims fall under the same age group.
  • Both your e-mail and mobile number are sensitive information. Share it one and only when it’s absolutely necessary.
  • Better to have 2 sets of e-mail and mobile number. Use one solely for highly critical usages such as banking & payments related apps. Dedicate the other for less trivial usage such as website and event registrations.
  • Have a habit of periodically review the following in the security settings of your e-mail and social media accounts.
    • The devices you are logged in from – Remove the inactive devices from the list
    • 3rd party access to your accounts – Avoid this as you don’t have any control over how 3rd party use your data
  • Make a list of what you would lose if you completely lose access to your primary e-mail account. In the case of highly critical items in the list, either make a backup or add an additional recovery mechanism.
  • Keep your mobile devices & financial apps updated to protect you from new security threats.

As they say, precaution is better than cure.

Trip To Remember – The Valley Of Flowers Trek – Part 1

Been a while since I wrote a trek series, the last one was the Sar Pass way back in 2017. It’s not like I went on a trek and didn’t write a word about it. I skipped the trekking trip in 2018 due to my wedding and went on a short trip to Amritsar, Delhi & Agra and honeymoon trip to Meghalaya. So when my friends were planning for the Valley Of Flowers, I jumped on the wagon with no hesitation.

Before marriage, I would simply inform my parent a day prior then pack my bags and go on trips. But the post-marriage scenario is a bit different and it would be worst on my part if I don’t credit my lovely wife here. She really understands my love for traveling and super supportive of me going on this trip in spite of some resistance from my family. So, thanks a lot Banksy, it was one much-needed trip for me.

As they say, any trip is good just as much as your company. So I better introduce the people who made this trip most memorable. To start with, it’s Jayashree (a.k.a Buddy) and Nigilan, yes the same friends from all of my previous treks and many other trips before. Then we had Thiyagarajan (a.k.a Thiyaga), the Thagappa/Daddy of the gang who was part of my first Sandakphu Trek. What’s charm without new people, we had Govindarajan (a.k.a Govi) and Himakar (a.k.a Hima) who are the work buddies of Jayashree.

This time also our trek was with the Youth Hostel Association of India (YHAI) and the main reason for this being their nominal price for the amenities they provide. Though the trek was scheduled for July the planning for the same has started well in advance by Jan. This helped us to register for the trek before the slots get filled, apply for leaves well in advance, and book flight tickets before the price goes sky high.

Day 0: 26th July 2019

In spite of all those advance planning, I was due shopping and packing with just less than a day left. Thanks to the gang for sharing one elaborate checklist which helped to a greater extent. I began my shopping only post afternoon and somehow completed the same by the eve. However, the mammoth task of packing was still pending. Finally, with some extra helping hands from my wife, I finished packing just before midnight. Seems I took the words packing at the 11th hour quite seriously 😀

Finally ....

Day 1: 27th July 2019

With our flight from Chennai to Dehradun via Hyderabad scheduled for departure at 11.15 AM, all of us reached the airport around 10 am and checked in on time. Nigilan was the only exception as he told he would be flying directly from Bengaluru via Mumbai. After roughly an hour in the sky, we reached Hyderabad airport. To our surprise, Nigilan was there at Hyderabad Airport awaiting us. In the meantime waiting to board the connecting flight, we munched on some overpriced airport restaurants. It was around 4.15 pm when we touched down at the Dehradun Jolly Grant airport. I was super excited to set foot on a state that I have never been to. Happy to cross one more from my list. From there, we hired a prepaid taxi and headed straight to our base camp at Rishikesh.

Upon arriving at the base camp, we completed our registration process and were allocated rooms. While repacking our stuff, we all realized that we missed packing a few small items. So, we decided to pay a visit to the nearby market for some quick shopping. After done with shopping amidst some surprise rains, we felt hungry and decided to have something light like a snack. Our search narrowed on a newly opened restaurant that served hot samosas, Kachoris, and fresh Ghewar. Back to the base camp, we separately packed the extra clothes and deposited the same before having our dinner. Before heading to the bed, we were all instructed by our camp leader to wake up and get ready by early morning 5 am. That’s how one awesome day came to an end.

 

 

To be continued …

How To Convince Your Parents To Let You Travel With Your Friends Or Solo

Now don’t get surprised for publishing the blog post a bit earlier than usual. Actually, I am traveling to someplace with less or no internet connectivity by the end of this month. So, I better write one before I get myself lost amidst nature without any intrusion of the internet. Doesn’t the duty come first?

post request

One of my foodie Instagrammer friend Vaishnavi posted a yummy pic of fried Momos from Kailash Kitchen, my most favorite Tibetian place in the town. With sheer temptation for some lip-smacking Momos, I commented “Yummy, stop tempting me” on her post. Replying to the same, she asked me to write a blog post on how to convince one’s parents to let them travel with friends or solo. Think the topic “how to convince your wife to let you travel with your friends or solo” would be much more apt to write given my current situation. Anyhow, here is my 2 paise.

“Once a year go someplace you’ve never been before”
– Dalai Lama

Before the convincing point, let me touch upon my views on why one must travel.

First of all, the experience and exposure that traveling gives are unparallel to none. It helps to come out of one’s comfort zone, explore & experience something new. Trying out new cuisines and meeting absolute strangers and befriending them is the most exciting part of any trip for me. That’s not all, it also helps one to understand the harsh reality that surrounds us. So, it doesn’t matter if you are hitchhiking or taking a charter flight, but keep traveling.

Below are the few tips that would help convince your parents.

Experience At Your Own Expense

Yes, you are right. Travell on your own hard-earned money rather than pestering your parents. It’s fine to depend on them for school and college excursions. But beyond that point, it’s better to take care of your trips by yourselves. The main reason for their disapproval of your trip expenses is to do with their perspective on spending money. By inlarge, the older generations preferred investing in assets rather than investing in experiences. So, better ask them only for permission and not for money along with it. Better the chances that they would say YES.

Being Self-sufficient

Being an independent and responsible person would give natural confidence to your parents. It gives them the faith that you are capable of handling hardships on your own on the course of your trip. If you are someone who would rely on your parents even for the tiniest of things, then it is going to be practically hard for them to let you on your own.

Company Of Familiar Face

To start with, travel with friends that your parents are familiar with. Someone like your long-time school friends or college besties whom your parents can easily associate as your friends. It’s even best if your parents have met them multiple times in the past. The best strategy would be adding some like aged cousins to the mix if possible.

Safety First

One thing that concerns the parents the most during travel is safety. To ensure the same, try starting with nearby safe and popular touristy places where the connectivity wouldn’t be an issue. Then you can gradually extend your travel to exotic places like forests and mountains that are close to nature with sparse connectivity.

Be A Rebel

Given the mentality of a typical Indian parent, in spite of you doing all the above, most probably they would still disapprove for your trip. In that case, better stand up for yourself and be a rebel. If you are so interested in moving out of your comfort zone and explore the world outside, then you must stop expecting the approval of your parents to travel. They would still blame you for wasting money and being irresponsible. But believe me, the pleasure of traveling is worth all of it.

To conclude, as I always say,

It’s about the journey not the destination – Happy Travelling.