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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 …

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Bansky & Lane – A Year Since We Got Married

“I Love You”

This is how I precisely concluded the last blog post on the Bansky & Lane series. For starters, Bansky is the nickname of my wife Banupriya and Lane is mine. As many of you might have guessed, I am writing this post celebrating our first anniversary.

30th August day is a special day for us. It’s not only our wedding day but also Bansky’s birthday. As the most famous Chronicwriter suggested, probably we should go ahead and celebrate this day as BanGok Day. Believe me, I badly wanted to write and publish this yesterday, on our special day. But the only reason it got deferred is, I wanted to spend the whole day with her and for her.

One of our most fav pic PC: SharathKumar

One of our most fav pic  –  PC: Sharath Kumar

We knew each other for just 6 months before we got married, and that’s not a lot of time to know and understand a person. As they say, knowing someone is totally different from being with them and we are no exception. Obviously, like any other couples living together, we either complain over the habitual differences for life or eventually adjust and get used to it.

A great relationship is about two things: First, appreciating the similarities, and second respecting the differences.

To be honest, I always wanted to marry someone who has similar taste as mine and appreciate things the way I do. But, now I realize the importance of having a person with a completely different taste and perspective in your life. Though both of us have contrasting views and preferences, we continue to appreciate the differences and learn from each other. Of course, there would be arguments and small fights at times, but don’t you think those are inevitable in a relationship.

I really don’t believe in the concept of soul mates. I bet on the relationships that evolve over time with lots of love and tiny compromises. I sincerely wish ours matures that way too.

She is a simple, no-nonsense person and that’s the trait which I admire a lot. At times, what really dazzles me is her wittiness. The below tweet is one such example. Sorry, it’s hard to translate to English. I can go on and on about her, but don’t think it’s the right place. In the interest of time, both yours and mine, I better conclude it.

Dear Bansky,

I dedicate this blog post to you.
Thanks a ton for putting up with me for the past one and half years.
Thanks a ton for having my back always and saving my head often by being a great emotional support.

Cheers to many more awesome years to come.

Yours Awesomely
Lane

P.S.: I Love You

Loosing My Wing Man

It’s quite a common tendency for people to get emotionally attached to their stuff. Whatever might be the reason, a few would turn out to be much more special. I am no exception, I even remember addressing my 1st PC and Laptop with nicknames, Blacky and LaNeo. One sounds like a dog name, Isn’t it ?. Do you remember how you felt while starting your college, on one hand, you might be excited about a new phase of your life and on the other the pain of missing your thick school buddies. It was pretty much the same feeling for me when I had to upgrade them. Obviously, the excitement in getting a new one was undeniable. At the same time, missing something that has supported you for a considerable period becomes inevitable too. Likewise, the feeling was nearly the same when we moved from our home at Thiruvottiyur where we resided for 10+ years. After a long time, I experienced a similar mixed feeling when I had to sell something today that’s been with me for many years. It’s something special and close to my heart. In fact, it was the very first noteworthy thing I bought out of my own earning and would always be proud of it.

During my college final year, my dad wished to get me a motorcycle. It was merely a rub off effect caused by a few of his colleagues boasting about gifting bikes their sons. Like any other college going guy of my age, I wanted the same. As much as I desired, I was equally determined to get my own and not burden my dad. Though I started working almost immediately after college, I saved money for a year to make my dream come true. Finally, on 2nd July 2011, I bought my Honda Shine. I used to call it wingman because of the wing featured in the Honda logo. Yes, it’s the same one that I had to sell off today.

Since then it had been carrying me around for 8 long years and been part of some of the important moments of my life. It gave me a sense of freedom to move around without depending on anyone else. Some of the rides are truly memorable, especially the long ones to Pondicherry and Kanchipuram.

It had been a reliable partner even in spite of multiple accidents as a result of my sloppiness. In the end, it was hard for me to see it struggle to take me around and decided to give it the rest it deserves. In a week time, a new bike would replace its place however, the wingman will always be missed because there’s no love like the first.

Opinions Does Matter, So The Differences

Let me start with a petty story, but a pretty story.

I have a close friend named Murali. During our college days, I was super fanatic about Microsoft Technologies and Bill Gates while he was an Apple and Steve Jobs zealot. Most of our meetings would end up each other defending our favorite brands and our icons.

Usually, I am the one who would kick start the debate with how Microsoft empowers the masses by building a great developer ecosystem and philanthropical activities of Mr.Gates. As a counteract, he would highlight the iPhone revolution and the innovation made by Apple in consumer electronic device space such as iPod, iPad and iMac. We would also spend hours debating about the “Pirates of the Silicon Valley” movie on who’s the most unethical of them. My tough times were the one when Steve Balmer became the CEO of Microsoft and both its innovation and stocks prices were going down the drain while Apple was turning out to be one of the most profitable companies in the history of the Wall St. Forever we spent our time comparing Apples to Blackberries.

Time moved on the same way until I moved from software development to marketing in my job as the Microsoft Windows Phone platform plunged. Consequently, the company provided me a MacBook Air as a replacement to my Windows Laptop. That was the moment I experience the simplicity, seamlessness and comfort that the Apple products provided. When I moved out of the company, I had to surrender the MacBook air and switching back to Windows laptop was quite difficult. Eventually, I decided to invest in a MacBook myself. I am petty sure, Murali would have laughed for minutes together when I told him about the same. It’s not just me who had a change in opinion, surprisingly, all of sudden he also started appreciating Microsoft. Now he likes how Microsoft is democratizing technology under the leadership of Sathya Nadella. Moreover, he started frequently complaining about how Apple lost its capacity to continuously innovate under TimCook.

That’s not the only contrast of opinions we had. He is one super religious and a devotional person who visits the temple almost every day. On the contrary, I visit the temple only during the festival times only for the sake of my friends, Prasadams (food offerings) and to catch a glimpse of our area girls.

The reason for me quoting the above story is to highlight the fact that, regardless of all the vast difference in opinions we are still close friends. During the course of time, even our opinions got changed naturally, but what didn’t change is the friendship. Murali is not alone here, there are quite a few people with whom I share a strong friendship despite our varied stance and perspective over things.

This post is just an overflow of frustration witnessing people in real life and social media trying to simply force their opinion on others and fight over the same without even empathizing the other’s situation. Time might one day change your opinions, just don’t be in the place where you regret losing people for the same.

P.S: Sorry for too many “opinion” on the post, definitely not trying to force them on you 😀

The Stained and Strained Collars

The International Workers Day or Labour Day is just around the corner. As much as the significance of the day, this short, quick and dirty blog post also aims to celebrate the working class across the world.

“Uzhaippali Illatha” song from the movie “Uzhaiplai” is always the first thing that would strike my mind every time I think of the Labours Day, followed by the famous Triumph of Labour statue by Marina Beach. I am yet to hear another song that glorifies the significance of the workforce as much as this one.

Whenever we think of this day, we mostly relate it to the blue collar workers, the stained collars who do the manual labor. Undoubtedly, they are the most suppressed workforce throughout history. We tend to often sympathize them when we learn about their hardships. But, what we fail to do is to empathize and that includes me too.

A week back, I was a bit furious with a delivery person for canceling my order and with the other not delivering my lunch on time. Then a couple of days back, a few relatives dropped by home for lunch. So, my family tasked me to pick up food from the same restaurant where I ordered last week. I felt burned out just for one trip to the restaurant and back in the hot Chennai sun. It took doses of juice and a long afternoon sleep to completely recover from the fatigue. At that point in time, all I could think off was the delivery guys whom I was furious with. Probably, next time when someone comes to deliver in the hot sun, I would give them something cool to drink or give them some extra tips. Among all their struggles to make their ends meet, these little things might put a smile on their face and keep them going.

With enough being said on the suppressed sect, let me jump to the depressed sect. Yes, If you have guessed it right, I am talking about the white collar workers, the strained collars who are tied to their desk forever. Typically, we tend to oversee their strains. Maybe cos they don’t have to do any physical labor. Maybe, cos they dress neat and work comfortably in an AC office. But, on the flip side, they are the ones who suffer the maximum from the mental health problems as a result of workplace stress. Lack of work-life balance and physical activities put them under the high risk of inducing major lifestyle-related conditions such as depression, insomnia, hypertension, diabetes, and heart diseases.

Self note: So, my dear desk clinging friend, it’s high time you keep a check on your mental as well as physical health.

Wish the stains wash away and the strains loosen up and relax. Happy International Workers Day.

Bansky & Lane

Finally, I get to write this post that was overdue for quite some time. Today is a special day in my life and the sole reason behind me publishing this post early rather than the last day of the month as usual. If you are wondering what’s so special about today? It’s the same day (19th March) last year I got engaged to my wife Banupriya. I can’t find a better occasion to write about our marriage and don’t want to procrastinate it further.

Ours was a typical arranged marriage. If the term sounds alien to you, let me try to explain. It means, we both are incapable of finding our partners on our own and our families pitched in to help with the matchmaking.

We first met on Feb 15th, 2018 at a mall, solely to avoid the typical guy visiting the girl’s home episode. With the blessings of both our families, we were allowed to talk in private. Believe me, all I was given is some 40 odd minutes to decide on my life partner and that’s how Indian arranged marriages work. Never like before, meeting a girl felt a bit weird. Like anyone who knows me would have guessed, I did all the talking and she was patiently listening. Blame the chatterbox in me. Though I liked her, I was inconclusive to give out an answer as she spoke a little that day and that seems to have disappointed both our families. I didn’t want to completely rule her out as I liked her, so we decided to resume our conversation the next day. We both felt more comfortable conversing over the phone than in person and she started to open up a bit. After the call, I found her to be a simple, confident and independent woman. So, I blindly trusted my instinct and momentarily said YES. A month later, on March 19th, 2018 we got engaged in a small ceremony at her home.

Throwback, a year ago. Engaged to Bansky

Though we had a solid 6 months gap between our engagement and wedding, it’s a big no-no for the couples to hang out alone before the wedding as her family was a bit conservative. However, that left us with no other choice than meet secretly after our work hours. Out of several meetings during our courtship period, the most memorable one was taking her out for the first time to the UDH Cafe. As time went on, Nelangarai beach became our favorite hangout spot. For us, that place holds a lot of beautiful memories.

Again, fast forward, we got married on 30th August and it was her birthday too. I deliberately chose that date so that I don’t have to remember 2 different dates in the future. It was quite a simple wedding blessed by the presence of dear friends, family, and wellwishers. Since then it was one hell of a roller coaster ride.

From food to music, movies, and colors we both have contrasting views and preference. Instead of fighting over the differences, we appreciate it and learn from each other. Both our lives have changed tremendously post marriage, in fact, we both are interdependent on each other for a lot of things, but never invaded one’s personal space. There were many instances where she proved to be a very supportive, responsible, practical and mature person. But, that’s not all. Your perspective on her will change when you unexpectedly get hit by her mischievousness and wits. Overall, she is quite a cool person unless you mess up with her and I have learned it the hard way :D.

I dedicate this post to you, Bansky, my dear wife. You know I am nowhere good with cheesy words and romantic gestures. How about I conclude this post with an “I Love You”. Cheers to lots of awesome times ahead together.

Trip To Remember – Amritsar, Delhi & Agra – Part 4

A quick recap from the blog post in this series. Taking off from Chennai, we landed in Delhi. From there, we embarked upon a journey to one of my dream destination, Amristar via train. Visiting the golden temple was definitely one of the blissful experiences in my life. Then, a long day well spent roaming around Delhi visiting the Lotus Temple and the Akshardham Temple. The last thing I could remember was sleeping on the couch in the hostel’s common area exhausted.

Day 4 – 31st March 2018

We woke up around 3 am and departed to Agra by cab around 4 am. Both Alex & Ali got other plans, but Daniele & Justin paired with us for this trip. Sincere thanks to countless movies and songs references as the symbol of eternal love. Not to mention, the numerous portraits and souvenirs I see in the houses I visit. All these got me curious about this place and always wanted to visit there since my childhood. No introductions needed and yes, you guessed it right. It’s none other than one of the seven wonders of the world, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Taj Mahal.

The Taj Mahal, meaning “Crown of the Palaces” is an ivory-white marble mausoleum on the south bank of the Yamuna river in the Indian city of Agra. It was commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan, to house the tomb of his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It also houses the tomb of Shah Jahan, the builder. The tomb is the centerpiece of a 17-hectare (42-acre) complex, which includes a mosque and a guest house, and is set in formal gardens bounded on three sides by a crenellated wall. – Wikipedia

We started quite early with an intention to catch the sheer beauty sun raise over the dome of Taj Mahal. But, unfortunately, we marginally missed it as we reached Agrad only by 7 am. The 230 km long drive along the Yamuna Highway was bit consoling as I got to catch up with some sleep.

Silhouette of the beauty as seen from the Yamuna Highway

No wonder it’s one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. In spite of being there quite early in the morning, we had to wait in a long queue for tickets and security check before entering the premise. It felt overwhelming to see tourists around the globe traveling all the way to catch a glimpse of this beauty. In the meanwhile waiting in the queue something interesting happened. One of the CISF officers managing the security check casually enquired about our whereabouts. After a few mins of conversation, it turned out that his in-laws were the neighbors of Remya and they started discussing the common people they know. Such a small world, isn’t it?

Ticket to the paradise. With QR code.

A few steps ahead welcomed us the gigantic and tall Grand Gate, made of red stones with beautiful marble works. My excitement skyrocketed as we passed the main gateway.

In no time, I got lost in quite a familiar view composed of gardens, fountains and pathway leading to a giant white mausoleum. The same view that got featured in millions of photos, postcards and wallpapers. That’s the mighty Taj Mahal, I told myself for a reality check.

The most familiar view – The Poem Of Eternal Love On White Marble

Here comes the best part. When you go near and realize that it was nothing like what you have imagined all your life. Actually, it was much more huge and majestic than what I have imagined. OMG, the large main dome and the tall minarets, I stood there awestruck by its splendor. My thoughts weren’t around either Shahjahan, not Mumtaz or their eternal love. Rather on the hard work of those awesome artisans, craftsmen and builders who worked relentlessly to create this marvel.

Up close the beast with the beauty

White marbles and intricate inlay works made it look like a poem. As they say, the poem of eternal love on white marble. Our curiosity made us stand in the long queue that leads to the inner chambers of the mausoleum where Shahjahan and Mumtaz rest forever.

The Gang – Smiles on, in spite of a tiring day

By noon we were out of the super crowded Taj Mahal campus tired and hungry as always. After done with our lunch at a nearby restaurant, we headed straight back to Delhi. Wait, there is no way I am leaving Agra without getting some mouthwatering Agra ka Petha.

Back to Delhi, my self and Kavin took a short trip to Connaught Place (CP) to meet her friends in a resto-bar. Back at the hostel, we had a relaxing evening at the rooftop garden with fellow hostelers. Finally, a well-rested night in the last 5 days and that’s how an awesome day came to an end.

Fun time – Clicked using Danielle’s Polaroid

Day 5 – 1st March 2018

Woke up, packed our bags and checked out of the hostel. Then straightaway rushed to the airport to catch our morning flight en route to Chennai. It was one hell of a trip and was quite sad that it came to an end. Back at the Chennai airport, I decided to end my trip with a Biriyani as a tradition. While Remya, Shashi and Shalini decided to head back home, Kavin joined me for some yummy Biriyani. With multiple choices, we narrowed upon Sukkubhai Biryani that’s known for its Beef Biriyani and it’s proximity to the airport added to our advantage. On our way to the restaurant, Kavin surprised me with an awesome northern light painting and a hand-painted bookmark. Thanks a ton, Kavin, means a lot.

Oil painting and Bookmark

 

After munching on the succulent Beef Biriyani I headed back home and that’s how yet another awesome trip came to an end. Definitely, it’s a trip to remember.

The End.