First Month Review – January 2016

The first month of the year is over already. I know its not the best use of the blog space that wordpress has so generously provided to me and countless others like me to share a part of ourselves with the world, but, I am still going to use some bandwidth to write about the progress on my goals for the year that I very ambitiously put up on my blog. This is to hold myself accountable in the public domain, and believe it or not, its not easy. So, go easy on me for now, people 🙂

Read more books – I did manage to read four books as desired and am on my fifth, but frankly, I am a little disappointed with myself on this front. Here is a glimpse of my reading list –

  1. Daughter of Destiny
  2. Chronicles of a death foretold
  3. Animal Farm
  4. Many Lives Many Masters
  5. Crime and Punishment (Currently reading)

Watch more movies – I watched some good movies over this month. These were –

  1. The Machinist
  2. The Pianist
  3. Wings of Desire
  4. The usual Suspects
  5. Amelie
  6. The American Beauty
  7. Air Lift

Blog more often – This is my fourth post of the month! (Hurray for somehow managing to write these) But again, there is so much I want to write on. The initial wait and procrastination of switching on the laptop and starting to put your thoughts across is the major put off for me here. Any suggestions on how to drive yourself to put in words what you know and want to be known, are heartily welcome!

Travel more – January passed with me being in Delhi (home sweet home), Mumbai (the naval dockyard and Colaba stay), Dehradun (Wildlife Institute of India), Jim Corbett National Park (Field visit) and I am writing this from Gwalior. So, I guess, these count!?

Getting fit – I ran a grand total of three kilometres in the entire month. #EpicFail. I guess this is something that I am doing really bad at!

All in all, the books, movies and travel are giving me more than enough material to blog on and getting fit would just have to be more prioritised.

That’s all for now! Back to the year, marching ahead to a brand new month!




At-One-With-Nature – A Visit to The Jim Corbett National Park

As a part of our professional training, we are attached to various departments we work in tandem with, so as to understand different aspects of our job. One such attachment is with the ‘Wildlife Institute of India’ for which we come to Dehradun for a period of two weeks. While the entire program is quite engaging, the most exciting parts of this module, in my opinion, are – the nature’s trail, a visit to the forensics lab and field visit to the Jim Corbett National Park, and it is this last leg of the program, the field visit, that motivated me to write today.

There were ~90 of us, who started from Dehradun in four buses on the 67th Republic Day of India, towards Corbett. The seven hour long arduous journey was tiring but the very first view of the ‘River View Retreat’ resort refreshed us literally and figuratively, with a glass of fruit punch as a welcome drink and beautiful and cosy rooms to retire to for the time being. The event began at 8 PM the same day with director’s address informing us about the place and telling us what to expect for the next three days.

The next day started fairly early, with all of us up and about at 6 AM. We were divided into two main groups to visit two of the four areas of the national park, Bijrani and Dhikala. I was to go to Bijrani first. We were made into subgroups of 5-6 people per jeep for further in the day. Armed with hoodies, mufflers, sweatshirts, jackets, gloves and boots and cameras, braving the chilling winter of northern India, with a driver and a guide, five of us started, full of excitement, for the jungle safari. After taking the requisite permits and renting a binocular, we headed to the forest area.

Bijrani is said to have a good record for sighting the big cats and we were hoping to sight a tiger. Our guide was informative and told us about the park, its history, the flora and fauna and answered various queries that we had. There were Elephant Safari’s available as well and it was quite exciting to start our journey with a view of an elephant mount and a little boy in a howdah on an elephant moving towards the jungle. We sited a number of spotted Deers and Langoors. A little ahead we saw pug marks of a big cat on the ground. All excited, we ventured further to listen to the call of the birds indicating the presence of a big cat nearby. However, we were unable to spot one there. Our guide asked us to be as still and silent as possible so as not to scare away the wild animals. A fellow tourist jeep driver mentioned that a Tigress with her cubs had been spotted in the same area the day before. We waited for some time at that spot but bound by the limitation of time, we moved ahead. Th jeep manoeuvred itself well on the rough terrain but when we passed through shallow water on our way, the scene was worth looking at and locking in in our memories. We could also see a number of birds, a Sambhar Deer and hear the call of a barking Deer meanwhile. Then we moved to a watch tower and looked at the vast expanse of forest from the top. On our way, we met more people, some of whom said they had spotted a tiger today. Even after a long while when we were still being deceived by the wilderness, disappointment started to creep in. We had started our return journey since there is a limit on the number of vehicles allowed inside the park and the duration for which they can remain there. It was then, that we saw some disturbance on our right. We changed course and straight ahead, saw a couple of jeeps halted at a place about 100m ahead of us, everyone looking in a particular direction. Our guide broke the news we had been waiting to get since the morning, there was a tiger there in the woods! It took some patience to locate the tiger there but once done, boy, what a sight it was! The huge face of the animal was visible first, he (it was a male) was yawning. Binoculars focused, I could see it straight ahead and up close. Oh, what a beauty! After a few minutes, he moved and walked up. What a royal walk! What grace! Oh, I will never forget this instance. We had achieved it. We had seen a tiger! Happy to the core, we started to move back once the tiger retreated back in the woods. This time, the mood in the jeep was very different, electric with happiness and excitement, We took a few photographs on our way back and then came out, right on time!

Dhikala was the next stop in our day visit plan. Eighteen of us, in a canter, started off to this area 55 Kms away from our base. This time, satisfied at having seen a tiger before, we were relatively quieter. Here we spotted barking deer, spotted dear (a number of them!), hog dear, sambhar (one was lazily standing in water, so still as if posing for the camera), wild boars( a couple at first, they looked ferocious and crossed the road running right in front of our vehicle, and then seven to eight of them), crocodile (very well camouflaged, basking in the sun), antlers of a deer shed naturally on a tree, pheasants, jungle fowl, peacock, and a number of other beautiful birds I was unable to identify. The landscape at Dhikala was beautiful, spellbinding to say the least. The water so pristine, the grass so green, the grazing deers, roaming around, as though unseen! It was a sight to behold. And then we headed back to our resort.

The next day, on 28th Jan, we decided to spend the morning lazing around, enjoying the beautiful resort we were staying in. Sitting by the river side with a book in hand and basking in the sun was absolutely wonderful. In the afternoon, we took the safari to the third area of the national park, Jhirna. In my opinion, it had the most beautiful landscape of the three. While we could not spot any big wild animals here, the variety of birds, deers and the grasslands were absolutely delightful to look at.

This visit was beautiful in many ways. Not just because we could see so many animals in the wilderness, but also because it made all of us feel so naive and small amidst nature.

So, next time when you want to get away from the city and be at one with nature, do visit the National Park. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

PS Pictures coming soon

Bucket List 2016

After having been lazy for so long, I finally decided to put the virtual pen on paper. This list should have come out a month ago. However, better late than never. So, here are a few things I want to do this year –

Read more books – A tangible goal is to read one every two weeks. At the least. And to track my progress, I have joined the HT Brunch Book Challenge. Armed with a new kindle and the rekindled love with words, I hope to be able to do justice to this goal.

Watch more movies – My husband is a complete movie buff. Every time he talks about movies, he gets all animated and excited. And all the movies that I have watched on his recommendation have been really good watch. So this year, I have decided to watch some movies so as to be able to share his enthusiasm. (I know, lucky him 🙂 ) My goal, the same as the books, one evey two weeks at the least.

Blog more often – While my first year in blogging was fairly good, in the second one I became lethargic. This year, I plan to write more often and share my thoughts and views online. I have a long list of draft posts which I plan to write and publish with a humble goal of one every two weeks.

Travel more – Thanks to my job, this goal would be more easily achievable than the others. With the travel for the first four months of  the year already planned and booked, the real goal would be to travel with an open mind and learn something from each one of my outings. Looking forward to this!

Getting fit – Though the kilograms and inches may not be declining, I definitely feel fitter this year as compared to the last, with decent outdoor time. I plan to continue the same this year, a little more regularly. Running shoes on!

Hoping for a happy 2016!

The Fault in our stars

The  fault in our stars

I don’t remember on whose recommendation I ordered this book. But whoever (if a person) or whatever (a website/ newspaper/ blog) it was, I thank them for this lovely suggestion. This 313 page story by John Green has all possible emotions one can think of – love, pain, humour, empathy, sympathy, anger, tragedy, helplessness and what not.

<Spoiler Alert – The review below gives the plot away>

The book is about Hazel Grace, a terminal cancer patient on an experimental drug who doesn’t know for how long would she be around, and about Augustus Waters, a cancer survivor in the sense that he has had no evidence of cancer detected in a long time after his treatment, yet.

They meet at a support group that neither of them seem too inclined to attend and bond over a fiction book to which both of them can relate. What follows is beautiful romance between the young couple joined together not by a disease but inspite of it. Their conversations seem so real and touching, their reactions so very natural. It is impossible not to root for their beautiful love story and wish with all your heart for a happy ending. But that is not what the author has in mind. When Hazel has been trying to avoid being a ‘Grenade’ which can explode anytime and leave all around her who care and love her hurt, it is Augustus who turns into one but not before fulfilling Hazel’s wish of wanting to meet the author of her favourite book on a foreign land on a trip which leads to the discovery of their love for each other. And I for one could never have thought such a beautiful story being told against such a background, of ‘eulogies’ like ‘love letters’ and of ‘okays’ as ‘always’.

The emotions portrayed in the book have a quality about them, of demanding to be felt, much like the pain that the protagonists talk about in the book. You can almost sense the worry of the parents, their wanting their child to have a normal life, the hesitation of the patients to get too involved with friends and family, the pain on being diagnosed, the excitement of a dream coming true and the helplessness and futility of the disease that takes all away.

There are some beautiful one liners in the book, and some poignant quotations, which remain with the reader for a long time even after the chapter has been finished, so to speak.

Highly Recommended!

भला भागीरथी क्यों न रूठे

Written in view of the Kedarnath cloud burst event, on the prompt mentioned in the subject


आज से कुछ अठारह वर्ष पहले, मैं गयी थी हरिद्वार
इतनी विशाल नदी, विशाल तट, मैंने देखा था पहली बार
एक नन्ही बालक थी मैं, देख रही थी भाव विभोर
ढूँढ रही थी नीला रंग वो, सुना था जिसका अति विस्तार

तब कुछ दूर नज़रे ले जाने पर, वो रंग ढूँढ मैं पायी थी
अधिक सोच कुछ सकी नहीं मैं, दादी वापिस लेने आई थी

कुछ बढ़ी, कुछ पढ़ी, धीरे से मेरे विश्व ने लिया आकार
तब ढूँढा फिर वो रंग मैंने, आकाश में, सागर के तट पर
अखबारों में पढ़ा की यमुना नाले सी हो आई है
पर मेरे दिल में वही नदी थी, वही रंग और उससे प्यार

जब समय मिला तो उस नदी को पढ़ने मैं उसके तट पर आई थी
आंसू ढलक पड़े गालो पर, उसके तट पर जमी बड़ी काई थी

किताबें ली, पढ़ा की पीने का पानी, वहीँ से पाता है हर घर बार
तब मैं समझी बोर वैल पर, फ़िल्टर की दुकानो पर लगी कतार
फिर एक तस्वीर में संध्या आरती, देखी बनारस के घाट की
तैर रहे थे कागज़, फूल, पत्ते, दोने, द्वीप, पानी में बहने को तैयार

आरती से, रोशनी से, सुकून मिला था, पर आँखें फिर भर आई थी
निर्मल नदी में वो सब जैसे, एक सुंदरी के मुख पर मैली झाई थी

बढ़ी और कुछ, भूल गयी मैं पानी, भूल गयी नदियों का संसार
कुछ माह पहले तक, जब सुना गंगा के कहर पर हाहाकार
बाईस लोग एक भाभी के घर से, केदारनाथ को निकले थे
न वो वापस आये और न जाने कितनो पर हुआ वैसा संहार

तब नम आँखों को मैंने मूंदा, मुझे मैली गंगा यमुना दिखाई दी
कानो में “भला भागीरथी क्यों न रूठे”, आवाज़ मुझे सुनाई दी

भक्ति हो, अर्चना हो, हो हमारी कला, संस्कृति का प्रचार
पर मैं नहीं चाहती, नर, पशु, वृक्ष, बन जाएँ दुर्दशा के आहार
कर जोड़ प्रार्थना सुन लो, ए विश्व, हैं समय आज भी
वार्ना प्रकृति पहले थी, पहले हैं उसका विश्व पर अधिकार

इस विनाश से सीखा कुछ हो, ऐसी इच्छा दिल में आई थी
आँखों में वो नीला रंग था, कानो में शंख ध्वनि बज आई थी