At the plateau, Nohkalikai , Shwetha Krish, ShoePenLens

MEGHALAYA – ABODE OF CLOUDS

MEGHALAYA – ABODE OF CLOUDS

It was dark and a chill air ran through my spine…. The walls of the caves were damp. It was eerie! I have a phobia of caves and more so this intriguing cave was getting on my nerves with each step. We were 5 of us venturing into the darkness with a head torch, phone flashlight and our indomitable spirit. After a while of carefully meandering through the caves, stalagmites…. we decided to head back as it was totally spooky and we didn’t know where our next step would land us in.

Two days prior we had reached Shillong via Tezpur from Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh. It was quite a ride and we headed to our hotel to get some rest and figure out on our trip around Meghalaya. Luckily, after a few phone calls and chance meets we had found our man-friday who would take us on a tour of Meghalaya for a week.

So it began….

Day 1: Shillong- Mawlynnong- Shengpendong

It was a bright sunny day when we started on our tour of Meghalaya. We first went to the Elephant falls just on the outskirts of Shillong city. The Falls can be seen from various points as it is multi-tiered and one can traverse to the Falls along a short trail of steps.

Our next point was to the Single root bridge which are over 100ft long and are roots from Rubber Fig trees and can withstand 50 people on the bridge!

Single root bridge, Meghalaya, Shwetha Krish, ShoePenLens

We then headed to the cleanest village in Asia-Mawlynnong. It is situated on the border of India and Bangladesh. One can see the border atop a stilt tree-top. It is a lovely village and one can walk along the clean alleys and engage with the warm villagers. Many tourists and travelers stay at well furnished home stays of the villagers. After spending some time on tree tops and a simple sumptuous meal, we left for Dawki.

 

Dawki is a town in West Jaintia Hills of Meghalaya. It is at the border of India-Bangladesh. A crystal clear river, Umngot flows through the border. The main highlight of this place is the boating along the river which is beautiful to look at as one can see through the water and the bottom of the river!

An hour’s boat ride along the clear waters was quite an experience.

We later headed to Shengpdeng village alongside the river. We managed to hire a tent for the night and spent our time playing random games way into the night!

In the morning, we crossed a bridge and reached the other shore and spent considerable time listening to music and the waves.

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One can also enjoy  various water activities like scuba-diving, kayaking etc. at this place.

Day 2: Shengpdeng – Krang Suri- Cherrapunji

We bid goodbye to Shengpdeng and went to a small village, I forget the name. At the end of this village was a forest. As we walked about 500m into the forest, we were standing face to face with an old cave. We carefully walked into the dark caves with the support of a torch light and the flashlights from our phones. The villager who accompanied us mentioned that the cave runs for 20km. Without a constant source of light along the cave, we headed back thinking it would be too risky and stupid to go along the narrow, unlit paths of the cave.

Must say it was an intriguing experience added with my fear of caves and we headed straight to our next point- the gorgeous Krang-Suri Falls. As we drove through winding mountain roads, many a limestone quarries added to the landscape on the way.

The Falls is a treat to one’s mind, body and soul! The sparkling aquamarine waters beckons one to swim, get drenched and enjoy the beauty of the place. A life-jacket is compulsory which one can hire at the Falls and anyone can swim, spend as much time in the cool shimmering waters and bask in the rainbow in all its entirety!

After playing and swimming in the water, we added some fuel to our tummies and off we went to our stay for the night, Cherrapunji!

Day 3: Cherrapunji-Mawsmai Caves-Nohkalikai Falls

Cherrapunji, locally known as Sohra is a town in the southern part of Khasi Hills in Meghalaya. Known for being the wettest planet on Earth after Mawsynram, it is a beautiful place with numerous living root bridges, falls, caves and of course forests.

Our first stop for the day was at Mawsmai Caves. These are beautiful caves, maintained by the Govt. The caves are well-lit and one can explore the caves without a guide. There are a few narrow paths where one has to squeeze themselves to move ahead. But it is quite an adventurous one and less scarier than the caves we had visited on the previous day.

Later on we went to our next pit-stop Nohkalikai Falls. As it wasn’t the season of rains, there wasn’t much water. Thanks to that that we could explore the path of the Falls.

Nohkalikai Falls is the tallest waterfall (1115 feet) in India! It is fed by the rainwater which gets collected in a plateau. We were excited to visit this plateau.

A small trek down through a forest takes one to this mesmerizing plateau. One can see spellbinding rock formations across the plateau. I was in awe of this place. We went to the small falls ahead which was truly vibrant and something which I hadn’t seen at all.

At the plateau, Nohkalikai , Shwetha Krish, ShoePenLens
At the plateau, Nohkalikai

A walk on the opposite side of the Falls leads one on the path of the Nohkalikai Falls. As there wasn’t enough water, we traversed along the splendid huge boulders like monkeys. The path was utterly adventurous and a bit scary as we had to squeeze ourselves into natural rock tunnels. After quite some time we went to the edge of the Falls. The view is spectacular and this was something of a first I had done- getting to the mouth of the Falls.

We went back up the forest only to find one of our friends waiting for us. She had had a bad fall and had maybe broken her leg. We had a couple of villagers called for who helped carry her along the trail. Post that we drove back to Shillong to get her leg checked at the hospital.

Doctor says, ” I need to put a cast as there is a fracture but you can start walking in 10min and probably visit places from tomorrow onwards!”

This was too much of news but we had suspected a fracture beforehand.

After the necessary procedure we headed back to Cherrapunji where we hit the sack after a long day!

 

Day 4: Double-Decker Living Root Bridge

After a long day and more so a painful one for my friend, we woke up late and relished our breakfast.

Our friend stayed back to rest her leg much to the hospitable folks at the stay and the two of us headed to Double-Decker root bridge!

We drove from Cherrapunji to a village called Tyrna. There we started our hike down 3000 odd cemented steps. We reached a village along the way and then a couple of single root bridges. After crossing Iron bridge made of rusty cables, we reached a Chai point where we refreshed ourselves with a gulp of hot tea and chocolate cookies.

After treading ahead for about 15 mins we reached Double-Decker Root bridge! It was quite a view but we headed further ahead to reach the Rainbow falls.

As we hiked further, we came upon an empty football field and then trudged our way along a steep trail of steps. After a few twists and turns we came to the gorgeous Rainbow Falls. We were too excited to get to the tip of the boulder below.

Rainbow Falls, we headed to the tip of the boulder! Shwetha Krish, ShoePenLens

As we went to the very end of the Boulder, we could see the Falls falling almost upon us and it was an amazing feeling to be at the behest of the Falls!

A nap and light snack completed the amazing moment at the Falls. We headed back on the trail and now to explore the Double-Decker root bridge. It was quite an amazing spectacle of the strong roots of the tree as they stood still embracing us fellow beings we we walked upon them.

Double decker Living root bridge, Shwetha Krish, ShoePenLens
Double decker Living root bridge

With a couple of hours left for the sunset, we headed back up a shorter forest trail to reach back.

Day 5: Weisaudong Waterfalls- Nartiang Durga Temple- Monoliths- Garden of Caves -Shillong

Weisaudong waterfalls is beautiful but it is quite a hassle to get to the bottom of the falls as one as to walk through narrow forest trails. We were happy to get to the Falls but we carefully walked on the rocks as it was very slippery and we managed to stay put in a spot and enjoy its beauty rather than monkeying around!

 

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Weisaudong Waterfalls
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Meditating me at the Falls

Later we headed to Nartiang in the West Jaintia hills. It has a Durga temple- Jainteshwari and is one of the Shakti-peeths. The temple is around 500 years old.

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Nartiang Devi Temple

We paid our respects at this beautiful abode of the Devi and headed to the Nartiang Monoliths, which are a complex of stone monoliths erected by the Jaintia empire in 1500 AD.

We later visited Garden of Caves (touristy spot) and a few Falls along the way. 😉

Day 6: Shillong- Mawphlang Sacred Forest- Shopping at Police Bazaar

The next day we headed to the much awaited Mawphlang Sacred forest. Legend says that nothing should be taken out from the forest, not even a leaf or a stone, nothing!

We were intrigued by the stories and after a mind boggling tour into the forest along with the guide, we were even more mesmerized of the story! It is quite a tour to experience!

After lunch in the city, we went to Police Bazaar for shopping. Apart from hardly shopping a few clothes, we took to buying and relishing the Mulberries!

I think the delicious highlight of the Meghalaya trip were the lip-smacking Mulberries and Raspberries!

Meghalaya is splendid and offers a wide range of places to visit – be it Falls, Forests, Caves, Root Bridges, Stilt-tree tops, Mountains, Rivers and of course with the clouds playing hide and seek.

Well, when are you heading to Meghalaya?

PS: This is the number of our Taxi Bhaiya who drove us all over Meghalaya- Addy – 09774749839, a decent chap, very helpful and a wonderful guide all along.

 

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The WINDOW!

 

Window-ShoePenLens

 

This is a Window at my Grandmother’s place! And it was a window to the world for me!

The Summer holidays at my Grandmother’s place used to be fun; climbing Mango, Jackfruit trees, eating Kulfis whenever my Uncle would buy, listening to deafening music from my Uncle’s massive Music player, playing games with my sisters and cousins and of course loitering around the house running away from my Grandmother’s dog – Raksha!

Apart from this the window in my Uncle’s room was my favorite place; I used to sit by the window ledge listening to the wind blowing, the trees humming a soft tune and obviously enjoying the pitter-patter of the rain! If not for these, I would stare at the passers-by on the street and the myriad of vehicles.

On one occasion, there was a congregation probably some ceremony which I don’t remember now. Being the introvert, I stuck to the room, sitting by the window and watched the innumerable guests passing by the lovely garden and engaging in amusing conversations. I lost track of time and I remember Mom coaxing me to meet the guests and at-least have Lunch. So the Window happened to be my silent companion!

As I ponder, Windows have surely kept me company and have given magnificent views. I do remember a Window at my house years ago. The three of us Sisters shared a room and the window opened to the street by our house. As soon as I woke up, I would stare at the blue sky, the swaying trees and the weather would certainly set my mood for the day! Many of my creative works then used to happen by the window!

Lately, I am getting back to the mode of creating pieces of Art by the Window at my present home now! Wonder, if Nature beckons to this Soul to create a piece of Art which defines her and the language of the Universe! Well hope to decode it completely one day!

Do you have any Window stories or musings?

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Exploring Peppa to Masha way!

I have always loved watching Cartoons since my childhood days. Though the urge to watch has obviously subsided over the years, I do get a peek into the cartoon characters and shows through my nephews!

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Lately, there is a routine watch of a few shows with my nephews! Thanks to their summer holidays, I do get the opportunity to roll in the fun of their leisure activities!

I do remember watching DuckTales, Talespin, Aladdin, Mr. Bean videos(thanks to my Uncle for making me an ardent fan), Starwars, Shaktimaan, Captain Vyom and of course Tom and Jerry. It was in my early teens that I started watching Popeye, Scooby Doo, Dexter’s Lab, Powerpuff Girls, supersonic, Simpsons and maybe a few more… The joy of watching these cartoons surely helped me with my reasoning capabilities and of course being creative with my drawings and paintings back then. But they certainly helped me improve my diction and a glimpse of the world in a way!

There were a few which I used to watch a few years back Oswald, Spongebob Squarepants, Noddy- a favorite one of my 4 year old nephew then.

Well the shows that I watch now or have a peek into are Peppa Pig; a cute preschooler who learns and does a lot of activities along with her brother George and her loving family, Paw Patrol; here Ryder, a gadgety boy takes on rescue missions along with six tech talented puppies, Dora the Explorer/ Go Diego Go(the boy version)- where an 8-year old goes about exploring the world  and learning the mundane things in a beautiful way, Masha and the bear; is my 3 year old nephew’s favorite cartoon thanks to the versatility of the circus bear and the innumerable adventures that Masha has with him and they are adorable, Max and Ruby; brother-sister duo take on their everyday adventures with utter cuteness. Other cartoons they often watch are Shiva, Winnie the Pooh and Rusty Rivets.

Well you know I am thoroughly refreshed everyday with the innocence and beauty of these shows and it is great fun to watch along with my 3 and 5 year old nephews. These shows truly have a moral, a learning and I can see my nephews take on a few words and use it while conversing with us. It is splendid and it is really nice to see them relate to things, of course there are a few cons to that as well pertaining to toys and gadgets! 😉

Well thanks to my nephews, I have grown through the cartoons and probably growing again with more morals and learnings! It so happened once that when these kiddos weren’t there I have gone ahead and watched these cartoons at the respective times. Funny me!

There was a phase when I used to watch Anime / Manga series. They used to play on Animax Channel. They were quite interesting. I recently watched one series ‘The Death Note’ – it was quite a thrilling story and I was glued to it for about a month.

Well it is an adventurous journey along with these cartoons over the years. I am sure we as adults would love to watch no-nonsense cartoons once in a while curled up in bed with a hot drink/soup to go with. Or maybe just about cut off from the reality with these cute little characters! The child in us never dies.

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So what have you watched recently, I mean cartoons / animes / animated movies?

Let me know if there are any intriguing Anime series for adults or an educational cartoon for the kids!

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Varanasi: The Flashback

Varanasi, the place was on my travel list since 5 years and I was wondering when the D-day would arrive!

Lately, I have come to realize that things happen at the right opportune time!

So it did! November 2017 was the month I set foot in Varanasi with no expectations but a heart filled with enthusiasm to explore this intriguing place. And of course with the people I adore! 😉

The ride from Sunauli (Why sunauli- will get back to that probably in my next post on Annapurna Circuit) to Varanasi was quite interesting. My friend and me started early morning in the UPSRTC bus to reach Varanasi! From scenic paddy fields, mustard fields and farms galore the road took to small towns, cities and finally reached Varanasi. One can feel the chaos as soon as you hit the city center. We hired a auto-rickshaw to take us to our stay at Zostel.

It was 3pm when we reached and took some time to freshen up. We went on a stroll to explore the streets of Varanasi in the evening!

Our first pit-stop in Varanasi was at the local famous Chaat shop. We tried a variety of Chaats and of course ended with a sweet-meat! We were too tired to get on with our exploration that we took to the terrace at our stay indulging in a chat and then hit the sack after the long day!

Let me give you a glimpse of Varanasi!

So our stay was pretty close to Kashi Vishwanath temple, the main street and about 2-3 kms to the Ghats and of course the Ganges!

The streets were amazingly crowded! More than vehicles on the road, there were people and it was more difficult for the vehicles to meander through the crowd. But the two wheelers, auto-rickshaws, tuk-tuk, cycle-rickshaws and a zillion other variety of vehicles added of course to the rhythmic chaos! The street also had a good number of street vendors selling trinkets, fruits, neem twigs,chaats and what-nots! The main street leads one to the Ghats where certain rituals and ablutions take place. There along the Ghats runs Ganga with all exuberance and serenity! Along the main street the road leads to a lot of narrow alleys which house series of temples; big and small! Apart from that there are popular lassi spots, kullad chai addas, paan shops and of course the hot jalebis / samosas spots!

All in all an interesting place to explore.

Let me talk about the history and importance of Varanasi; It is a spiritual and a religious place for Hindus where one is believed to attain Liberation if one is cremated there after death!

Kashi, Benaras, Varanasi are some of the names it goes by! It is a revered city on the banks of Ganga in the state of Uttar Pradesh, India. It is called Varanasi owing to the confluence of Varuna and Assi rivers! It is known as the ‘City of Lights’-Kashi(to shine)!

We were joined by two other friends the next morning and we got on a temple hopping spree!

Each and every temple had a certain vibration and of course different deities. Right from Kalabhairav temple to Sankat mochan Mahabali Hanuman temple to Devi temple to the main Kashi Vishwanath temple to Annapurna temple, each had its beauty and fervour! (PS: these are the few temple names I remember, we did a visit a few more maybe!)

Kashi Vishwanath temple, the main temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is a huge temple which houses smaller shrines and temples. The temple has withstood a lot of battles and rampage over 12th-18th Centuries owing to the Mughal attacks. The temple is beefed up with a lot of security personnel! The various smaller temples runs along the narrow alleys which is quite a meandering tour!

We were present for a couple of Aartis (rituals) at the Vishwanath temple and the energy of the chants, the mystical place, the awe-inspiring rishis were mind-blowing! I cannot put it into words but it was truly a remarkable experience!

Food and drinks are at its best out here in Varanasi. The evenings were spent in exploring and tasting the cuisine of Varanasi. Puri Bhaji, hot jalebis, Kachoris are the popular and tasty breakfast dishes. One can snack upon chaats, taste variety of lassis, kullad chai, hot-lemon teas and bhaang which is legal in the streets of Varanasi! Well, not to forget the Benarasi Paan!

One of the highlights of the place is obviously the Ganges.

She flows with all zest unperturbed about the life and death at her banks!

Sparkling her way through the lights of Sun and Moon!

Ready to sway by the flickering souls in the midst!

All set to trigger the divine you!

A boat ride takes one along the Ghats from one end to the other. It is a beautiful ride!

By the Ghats, Varanasi,ShwethaKrish, ShoePenLens
By the Ghats, Varanasi

The ghats / embankments along the Ganga are a place of rituals! Manikarnika and Harishchandra Ghat are popular for cremation rituals.

Dasashwamedh Ghat is very popular for the Ganga Aarti which takes place in the evening twilight! There are 7 Rishis who perform the rituals facing Ganga! We sat on one of the boats and saw this beautiful array of lights, lamps and of course the 7 rishis perform synchronous rituals with the lamps. It was a sight to behold! The fervour of the place, the people in unison, serene Ganga, the rishis were magnetic and splendid! This is something that one shouldn’t miss if visiting Varanasi!

The Ghats are open 24*7 and the best time to visit is in the early mornings for the spectacular Sunrise and the evenings during the Sunsets and of course the Aarti!

Sunrise at Ganges, Varanasi, ShwethaKrish, ShoePenLens
Sunrise at Ganges, Varanasi
Sunset at the Ganges, Varanasi, ShwethaKrish, ShoePenLens
Sunset at the Ganges, Varanasi

One place which we considered our amazing serene hang-out was the Nepali temple in the Lalita Ghat. The temple is a replica of Pashupatinath temple, Nepal. It is made of wood, stone and terracota. It was built by the King of Nepal during his exile and was completed by his son. It took three decades to complete this beautiful structure and it is surrounded by tamarind and peepal trees which makes it all the more lovely!

Nepali temple, Lalita Ghat, Varanasi, Shwetha Krish, ShoePenLens
Nepali temple, Lalita Ghat, Varanasi

One can also visit Banaras Hindu University (BHU) which is the largest residential University in Asia!

All in all, Varanasi is a place of wonder. One has to visit it to experience the immense beauty and delve into this mystical abode!

Stranded in Tranquil Tawang!

It is quite amusing that we were kinda stranded in a way! I will get to that in a while.

Arunachal Pradesh! The place obviously sounded inviting when my friend had decided to go visit this place. After much thought and conversations in my head, I think I decided to go for it. Lately, I haven’t been feeling the urge to travel- Oh my God! Well, I will surely get back on this on my next post as it is a long story!

So yeah Arunachal!

We were kinda prepped up as travelers – as in we didn’t book any transport / stays! We intended to do it on the go!

But of course we booked the flight to Guwahati to and fro and we got the Inner Line Permit to Arunachal by applying online!

The morning flight from Bangalore to Guwahati was quite refreshing because we fellow travellers- the 3 of us had loads to talk that we ended up discussing insane topics in the flight too.

US before we boarded the flight!
US before we boarded the flight!

I think one fellow passenger was so annoyed that he sweetly retorted- “Could you please continue your conversation in the ground floor?”

We did stop our talk but we couldn’t hold our grins! 😉

We reached Guwahati well in time, thanks to Indigo!  Later we hired a taxi to the nearest bus station Dharapani and got into a tempo traveler taking us to Bhalukpong which was our pit-stop for the night.

The ride was pleasant, we traversed along the city to scenic paddy fields and the roads were lined with rhododendron trees with red-orange flowers!

Once we reached Tezpur we got onto another tempo traveller which took about an hour to reach Bhalukpong.

Bhalukpong is a small town on the border between Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. We reached Bhalukpong around 6:30 in the evening and stayed in a good hotel close by the border. We got a chance to see the Bramhaputra river from a distance out here.

We had booked a share-taxi at the Taxi Union for our journey to Tawang the next morning.

In the North-eastern states of India, the transport works mostly through Taxis under the Taxi Union. One can hire a share-taxi to get to places for a predefined rate. This works out cheap for a traveler or a group of travelers.

So the next day morning after a quick breakfast at the roadside dhaba and quite an interesting conversation with the dhaba owner we were in the taxi to Tawang for about 6 hours!

The ride was uber awesome, obviously up the mountains. The roads were cobbled up with stones in a few areas and there was construction up the roads. After about a couple of hours, it started raining and  we crossed a series of mountains and were steadily climbing up! The roads were dusty but as we moved ahead the scenery changed to beautiful lush mountains.

We reached Bomdila at about 2-3pm. Post satiating our hunger we took to the nearby marketplace of Bomdila. We engrossed ourselves in window shopping and took to the chaats and sweets at the nearby bakery!

As we got to our stay, books, music and games kept us engaged!

It was almost 8 pm when we felt like eating but as we got out, the roads were empty and there just a streetlight flickering. With no hope of a restaurant being open, we strolled a bit and found one open restaurant. 🙂 A day in the mountains ends pretty quickly say about 6:30 pm everyone is in their warm homes!

We were looking forward to the meet the gorgeous Sela Pass at about 13000 odd feet. That got us up in the morning and after a frantic search for my ring which I thought I had lost we were in for another day of long ride up the mountains.

Lo and behold we reached there after cruising through the splendid mountain curves.

Trio at Sela, Shwetha Krish, ShoePenLens
Trio at Sela

The sight of the Sela lake was pretty spectacular. I wanted to stay right there but all we could get were a few clicks and a momentary capture through our eyes. The biting cold and the gusty winds shoved us into the taxi in no time!

Sela Pass , Arunachal Pradesh, Shoepenlens, Shwetha Krish
Sela Pass , Arunachal Pradesh

After 2-3 hours we reached Tawang! We had booked a stay right in the center of the town and the rooms were fabulous and gave an amazing view of the mountains!

Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh, Shwetha KRish, ShoePenLens
Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh

We strolled a bit and went to the War Memorial. We were in for a visual treat as there was a movie scheduled for the evening! It was a wonderful movie about Arunachal, its culture, the people, the Army and the wars too.

After a tasty dinner at our stay, we hit the sack only to hear the roof rattling in the middle of the night. It was snowing!

The view in the morning was spectacular, the mountains around were white-washed! Our plan of crossing the Bum La pass was washed away too as the snow pile was much that the Army had barred the way!

We spent the day in visiting the Tawang monastery which is the largest in India and the second largest in the world. The monastery stands atop a mountain and one can see the scenic valley, mountains and the city of Tawang from here! The monastery also has a museum which houses various artifacts, models and pictures!

Rest of the day was spent in reading books, chatting and just about enjoying the weather!

We decided to stay for another day in the hope to visit Bum La pass. But it turned out to be yet another day with no luck as the pass was closed owing to bad weather. We were invited by a fellow guest at our hotel to tag along on a tour of monasteries. With nothing much to do we tagged along!

He turned out to be quite a intriguing person. He was an elderly gentleman who knew much about the Monasteries, the Tibetan culture and a lot about spirituality! He kept us engaged with amazing stories and his life experiences.

We got a chance to visit Urgelling monastery which is the birthplace of the 6th Dalai Lama.

Third day in Tawang and we were happy to find that we could atleast visit a couple of lakes further up the mountains if not for the Bumla pass.

As we headed on to the beautiful vistas, we were in for a treat as we were surrounded by snow clad mountains and white pathways!

Beautiful vistas,ShwethaKrish, ShoePenLens
Beautiful vistas

Spectacular views of the lakes came into view and they looked mesmerisingly beautiful.

PT Tso, Arunachal Pradesh, Shwetha Krish, ShoePenLens
PT Tso, Arunachal Pradesh

As we made our way to Madhuri Lake, coined that way owing to the movie ‘Koyla’ starring Madhuri Dixit which was shot in this location. The vehicle we were in skidded and got stuck in the snow. The Army men who were traveling behind in the truck helped us out. But further ahead into the snow clad mountains the vehicle was skidding and it was going to be a risky affair at the end of the day so we headed back to Tawang. But the beauty of the lakes and the short trek we managed to do while our taxi was getting repaired, was splendid!

Himalayas – they time and again woo me, intrigue me and leave me stunned! There is always something new to learn and feel within! The Soul craves for more always!

Until next time…. See ye Himalayas!

Our stay in Arunachal especially Tawang was for about 3-4 days before we headed on to Meghalaya! But the short and adventurous trip was brilliant! Well so we were partly stranded owing to Bum La Pass. Hope to get to her soon!

More on Meghalaya in my next travel post!

 

Freelancers are not free!

Freelancers-SPL

Freelancing for me has been an amazing space to explore various avenues, learn new skills and also to interact with a lot of passionate people across fields and industries. The freedom to choose the work and time is most certainly the biggest advantage in a freelance career!

Freelancing on and off for almost over 2 years has certainly made me rich with experiences; some amusing, some annoying and some totally off-putting!

Let me share with you a few scenarios and for all the freelancers out there I am sure you will resonate with the below:


Firstly most people think ‘Freelancers are free and rich!’ 😉 That would be amazing right if it were true. Well, let’s get to the actual definition by Cambridge dictionary – “Freelancing-working independently usually for various organizations rather than as an employee of a particular one!” And of course getting paid for the service provided!


Client: Could you JUST do this? It does not require extra money!

Frankly Me: Ahem! JUST = my time, my efforts, my skills! And yes you have to pay me for that!

Freelancers of course have to be paid at the end of providing a service! It is as simple as paying for food at a restaurant and secondly even after you were happy with the meal or not!


Client: I will make the payment tomorrow!

(tomorrow never comes! When is tomorrow?!)

Frankly Me: How about I provide the service tomorrow! 😉

It is so annoying when people expect a product/service to be on time but are least bothered to make the payment on time!

Or in worst cases, don’t make the payment at all! It is disheartening to see people act this way after using the service provided!


Client: Could you make the charges lesser?

Frankly Me: Oh yes, how about I provide you a lesser service with a lesser quality!

The service is priced at a certain level owing to the time, effort, skill-set, quality!


Client: I have the tools, could you teach me how to ace the skill in a day?

Frankly Me: As good as saying I am new to Cricket and have all the Cricket gears, teach me how to hit a six in the match today!

A person provides his skill after working hard on learning it, practicing it, mastering it and expects to be paid fairly when providing the service. Respect the person’s time and effort. It has nothing to do with exposure!

‘If a person is good at something, don’t do it for free!”


People: You are free right, could you come and do this?

Frankly Me: I am not free but I will make some time for it!

Juggling with multiple projects, commitments, they make time for people!


People: You have all the free time in the world, what are you actually doing?

Frankly Me: I am a Freelancer!

People: Ok, but what do you do for making money seriously?

Frankly Me: Seriously I make money through freelancing!

People: Oh! Does it pay you so much?

Frankly Me: A decent amount from which I can sustain myself and I am growing day by day! Most importantly, I enjoy what I do even if it pays me a decent amount!

Freelancing is a possibility, a reality! You just have to try it and be one!


Client: Why should I pay you?

Frankly Me: Because I am providing a service which you want like any other company!

Do Companies get a upper hand than Freelancers? Is it because they have a logo, registered company, an office?

It really doesn’t seem fair to compare these parties. At the end of the day, a service is a service!


Well, all in all, those were few of the many things that happen in a Freelancer’s world!

With all that said, I have to admit, each day is new, challenging, intriguing when I have to find out new ways to work out things. It keeps me on the edge and I get to use my brains a lot! The avenues are innumerable if one wants to take on a freelancer / entrepreneur mode!

Though in the US, especially New York City Freelancers Union have an Act in place which protects the freelancers’ rights of getting paid timely and legally.

In India, many people are opting out to be Freelancers but there aren’t any local laws in place yet. I guess firstly and hopefully, the mindset of people should change with regards to taking Freelancers seriously! And more so respecting the work, time and efforts put in the service provided!

These are a few small annoying things but the journey of a freelancer / entrepreneur / solopreneur is quite a courageous and an adventurous one!

More power and love to all fellow freelancers and entrepreneurs, we rock!

So, have you experienced any of the above with your clients? Or have you been a good client? Time to reassess!

Do you have good laws or acts in place in your region or industry?

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Why everyone should know about Permaculture? You are responsible!

Engaging in Yoga and Meditation sure does have its perks, well if I want to put it that way!

Over the years, my rendezvous with nature has been quite overwhelming, satisfying, mind-boggling and filled with an insane urge to get to know myself better.

Lately, I have been wanting to get closer to nature. I am not talking about travels and treks which I am engaged in already, but this is a calling, deep within to be in touch with the Earth.

Sounds ridiculous eh! Can’t explain to a tee but I wanted to play with soil, mud, plant saplings, grow them and be a part of its growth in a small way.

I have been close to plants all my life, thanks to my parents who are ardent lovers of plants and of course gardening! We have had a garden with innumerable plants each serving its own purpose. The number of plants at home have reduced over the past few years owing to my parents’ physical ailments but we sure have enough to tend to and care for! Dad surely does start by giving the scientific name of the plant and explains everything completely, whenever I ask him a small question about a plant or gardening per say.

So with my passionate folks I have learnt a thing or two about the beautiful beings and it feels like I have grown with them and around them.

But I haven’t quite engrossed myself into the art of planting / growing / tending to them.

Thanks to my inner calling and a suggestion by my friend to do this workshop on Permaculture, I was ready to get my hands dirty the right way! 😉

So this workshop was conducted at the Art of Living premises. This was my first visit to AOL and it was quite a refreshing walk through the premises and to the far end of the ashram where the Permaculture workshop was being held. I crossed by Goshalas (Cow-sheds), banana plantations and numerous fields. The path was narrow, muddy but of course endearing!

The workshop was very interesting and the best part was that we were taught how to make the soil bed with many layers so that moisture could be retained. We also took part in composting, harvesting cabbages and sowing seeds. I wouldn’t want to reveal much about the workshop because I want you to go and experience for yourself if you plan to attend the workshop!

So let me talk a bit about Permaculture.

It is ‘Permanent Agriculture’ which is a means of creating sustainable living by using the natural resources in an efficient way and making use of the resources in hand to the best of our ability. There is no usage of pesticides, artificial chemicals in the process of Permaculture. The produce is obviously fresh, healthy and sumptuous when consumed! 🙂

This would be in line with ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!’

Permaculture can be done by anyone and anywhere. Be it be in homes, businesses, farms, apartments, community centers, yards, window boxes, waste lands etc.

According to my experience, if one is willing, the art can be learnt easily but one can become proficient only by getting involved in the process and continuing it time and again!

The best part about Permaculture is we can grow our own vegetables, fruits, plants etc. at no massive costs but at a minimal or negligible cost!

I feel Permaculture is an art that everyone should learn and experience.

As city dwellers, we have overlooked the importance of Agriculture, plants, food grains and more so farmers. Farmers take pains to get the produce on time or in innumerable cases seek death! We think anything can be bought but the stark reality is that there is dearth of water, natural resources, fertile soil and in a decade or so we might have to beg for water / food grains.

With Population being on the rise and growing by the minute, with the natural resources depleting, we might have to count days for an apocalypse! I am sorry to term it that way but it is the truth staring at us and we have been overlooking this matter.

Let’s get responsible and start using resources in the best possible and minimal way. We are a speck in the universe and one of the species in this wide world. At the rate of our ignorance and greed, we are surely moving towards the inevitable!

Wake up! Let’s use our resources in a better way. Permaculture is an art anyone can learn. Don’t let your identities, likes and dislikes get in the way, for life is more than that!

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Isha Vidhya School: A ray of hope to the li’l angels!

“Teaching children is an accomplishment; getting children excited about learning is an achievement!”

It was a bright sunny day as we drove from Bangalore to Dharmapuri in Tamil Nadu. We were a group of 20 odd people visiting the Isha Vidhya School.

After about 2.5 hours, the bus took a turn from the highway and headed towards a dusty narrow road. The landscape was a treat to the eyes; green lush fields of paddy and mustard flowers paved the way. There were a few huts, small houses, a few distance away from each other. By and by we came across small villages and then moved further ahead into wilderness. The rolling hills, big trees were a constant companion along the journey.

After about 3-5 kms, the bus stopped in front of a huge building. And the board read…

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I was amazed to see such a big lovely building against the expanse of fields and hills. As we entered, the principal, staff and few students gave us a hearty welcome!

The entrance hall had a beautiful painting of Sadhguru and the Principal did share a few thoughts and vision on Isha Vidhya school, the unique methodology in the curriculum, the innumerable scholarships and of course the stories of bright young kids.

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We were ushered on a school tour guided by a few student volunteers. The excitement and the warmth they put forth while explaining to us about the school, classes and just about everything was truly heartening!

I can’t quite fathom how happy and gleeful these kids were in each of the classrooms we visited.

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The school follows their own methodology from Kindergarten to 4th Std. This is quite an endeavor as many post graduate students come and study regarding the unique methodology and practices taught in the school!

The school has a Math Lab (which obviously was something new to me) where the Math concepts are taught practically with designs and materials. They also have a Computer lab where students are taught on the basics of computers and to make photo stories etc. A student showed us a photo-story of his family and school and it was very creative!

We had a glimpse of their Art and Craft class, Library and also Science labs.

The teachers too seemed to be humble, enthusiastic about the children and very grateful for being a part of Isha Vidhya.

The corridors and classrooms were equally decorated with puzzles, stories, English quotes, alphabets, Tamil alphabets and certain unique concepts were put up on the wall which had me racking my brains for I was learning something new right there.

We later had a tour of the school kitchen where sumptuous, nutritious lunch is prepared for the children everyday. They use the resources in a sustainable manner and the vegetables, grains are grown in the farms nearby. We could not see the farms presently owing to water shortage. The lands are dry and it is a stark reality which needs to be addressed.

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On the whole, it was an overwhelming experience to see these children from poor families in the nearby villages, interact with us and talk about everything from science to computers to art to yoga to things galore!

What really struck me was – these children are the first ones to get educated in their family and they are so talented, humble and so driven to learn more. And they deserve to be given all the opportunities to realize their true potential!

This was quite a beautiful experience to see the children smile, greet you time and again and so eager to show you around on what they are learning.

There were kids everywhere bidding us goodbye as we left the school premises.

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Children bidding us goodbye!

Isha Vidhya is a non profit initiative by the Isha Foundation for educating and empowering the rural children in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. There are currently 9 schools in Tamil Nadu run by Isha Vidhya. Through the support of innumerable volunteers, donors, village communities the schools are creating a strong foundation for the children in education and making them employable on par with any student.

It is an amazing endeavor to be able to provide affordable and high quality education for our future citizens who will take on the world!

If you are willing to visit this school, do let me know or DM me.

Lastly, if you want to donate or raise funds for Isha Vidhya, please go through the below links.

  1. To raise funds or donate – https://letzchange.org/nonprofits/isha-education
  2. If you want to support Isha vidhya, you can be a part of TCS 10k run or Majja run. Link- https://registration.procamrunning.in/tcsworld10k/registration.php
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The team which visited the Isha Vidhya school

Am I lucky enough to travel?! Aren’t you?

‘Oh you are so lucky, you are traveling?’

‘I don’t know how you do it!”

‘You are living the life!’

‘Keep traveling while you are single! I don’t think I can’

‘You are young, travel more!’

‘You are freelancing, right? You have the time! I don’t have the time with work’

Hmmm, these are a few of the responses/ quip I get from strangers, acquaintances and friends!

These are quite amusing yet annoying at times because it is not big a deal!

So here goes, I am going to give away the other side of the story….. not to make it sound boring or scary but for the fact that traveling is possible by anyone and you need not be lucky but passionate!

  1. For starters, being single doesn’t mean I don’t have responsibilities, family, commitments and work. At the end of the day, I have to work around these for being able to travel. My toughest times have been at convincing my folks for my travel! 😉
  2. I am not rich that I can afford traveling now and then. I have to work, earn and save for being able to travel and explore the places galore. Trust me, my bank account balance hasn’t seen a decent amount in the past couple of years! I am not kidding! Security is far far away!
  3. Being a freelancer, doesn’t mean I am free! It means that I take up work according to my pace, situation and variety and the amount of work involved etc. And of course it is not a fad and is more than a 9-5 job; considering multiple commitments, clients, projects and being a one-woman army is quite tasking!
  4. Age doesn’t have to do anything with travel! If you are interested and want to really explore a place, just get out of your comfort zone- you will surely be able to do it! Well I have seen elderly people from across the globe take to traveling from all walks of life. The smile and gratitude on their face, inspires me to keep traveling  forever- like even when I am way tooooo old!
  5. Frankly, I am not lucky. I am grateful for the things I have and work towards making the best of what I can do and go traveling- for it is my passion! If you are passionate about traveling and exploring the unknown- I am sure, you already know- Luck doesn’t have anything to do with it!

So,  I haven’t written the above because I found the statements/responses offensive but for the fact that ‘I am not lucky’ but I do work towards getting what I want.

I am blessed and grateful to make the best of what I have with utmost passion and reverence!

Or in other words, we are all lucky that we are in this beautiful world! What you make of it or how you explore all depends on what you really want!

Well, next time you think about wanting to travel, think of how passionate and focused are you for wanting to do it(nah nothing about luck) and just get on with it!

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Life a Circle / Spiral?!

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PC: Pinterest

It has been a while since I blogged. Well, a lot many events, travels and work have kept me away.

Well here I am today pouring my heart out!

Lately, I am feeling that I am back to the same point where I started ? That is a question on my mind and I can’t find the answer.

I know I have grown a lot, changed mentally, spiritually, even physically and understanding life in a completely new perspective or must I say experiencing life in a different way.

But somewhere deep down I feel I have come back to the starting point, it feels like I am starting everything anew and now. It does feel great!

From a spiritual perspective, we tend to grow and move ahead spirally transcending into the dimension unknown! Well, this is something entirely intriguing and gives room for more exploration.

Well, maybe I am moving ahead; my understanding of life has changed, the way I lead my life has changed, relationships/friendships (some have nurtured, some I have let go, some I am beginning to understand the shallowness/depth), the dilemma between reality and illusion or in another words thinking illusion as reality still boggles me about living my life. Well all of these sound very complex but trust me the way I look at things are somewhat clearer.

Well, you must be thinking what gibberish is this all! But I can only hope that you reach a point in your life when all of this makes sense.

Well, I don’t think I have answered the question I started the blog with. Because I am still unsure but all I know is I am better equipped to take on another circle of life.

What has your journey been like? Have you ever felt this way before?