Protectors In Disguise

Background: A small travel story, i hope you will enjoy it.


Since an early age I have been volunteering for travel companies, who take children to spend an adventurous summer. My passion has always been to travel the farthest. So gathering up all my courage and my backpack, on 27th May 2017 I stepped out of my home for a solo trip to Uroli. Located 6131ft. above mean sea level, its a few kilometers above Nainital and 27km away from Ranikhet by bus. I finally reached a small village on the bus where I saw the villagers doing their daily chores. They scanned me from top to bottom, but I gave them a pleasant smile so they would allow me to stay for the night. In India the people living on the mountains are friendly and stand true to the saying “Athiti Devo Bhav” (A guest is equivalent to God) and so they took me in willingly, providing me with a cozy warm bed and a delicious dinner for the night. As I woke up to a beautiful sunrise in the morning by the sound of my alarm, I was ready to start my adventure.

I walked a few miles, in the morning confirming the address, from where the trek was to be started. When I finally reached the foothills of the mountain I was to climb, I stood there for a moment and scanned the mountain side. Though the mountains were not very tall, the pagdandi (trails) were the real challenge. The weather was mild, the sun shined above me, as I had started my trek early in the day. The whole mountain area was covered with lush brown colour, with the pine needles from skyscraping pine trees, giving the mountain its color. With clear sky above my head, I carried on with my trek, already contemplating the place to rest for the night.

It was the middle of the day and I had walked continuously for about 4 hours, taking short breaks to hydrate of course. I started feeling hungry and I could see no place where I could light a fire and cook something for lunch, because of the pine needles there was also a risk of lighting the whole mountain on fire and burning myself with it. So I sat for a while eating what could have been eaten without the requirement of it being cooked. After having sufficiently filled my stomach with biscuits and water, I knew I had a little time to rest according to my map timings.

The place where I was sitting was covered by the shade of a tree. The cool breeze, and the comfort of the shade, made my eyes heavy, and in no time I fell asleep. It must have been the weather and tranquility, and the fact that I had woken up early in the morning and had walked for 4 hours non-stop. When I woke up, it was about 3 o’clock in the afternoon, way over the time limit on which I had decided to start back. So I hurried back on my track, because I had to find the camping land shown on the map.

I am a crazy fan of sunsets, so to witness this beauty when the sun was at the bottom of the horizon, I started to walk slow, taking in the beauty that the nature had to offer. When the sun was about to disappear, I decide to stop to remove my jacket and my guiding light. After taking out the necessary equipments I started staring into the horizon, witnessing the utter grandeur of a setting sun. I hoped the serenity of the nature would calm me down, and rationalize my thinking, as I knew I was already behind my schedule.

After the sun disappeared from the horizon, leaving only a little light behind I decided to move along in my journey. Looking into the map, I realized that I had about 3-4 hours more to walk. I kept climbing at a faster pace. The hours passed by, I became tensed, my heart started racing faster, and as I had a breathing condition, I had to take more stops than I did before. Walking for about an hour now, the little light from the sun had disappeared, the moon shined brightly allowing me to see only a little in the darkness.

I read in my research that the mountains of Uroli had dangerous animals, like leopards, the most harmful snakes and jackals, but I was sure I was not going to encounter them. After walking for another two hours, I saw the camping land and in my excitement hurried to the place, threw myself on the ground and laid down with relief. As it was a set campers place for the night, I was sure that before me some campers had camped in this very place, as there was a hole dug in for the fire. I used the same hole, to light my fire and cook my food. Till the time the food was being cooked, I pitched my tent, spread my sleeping bag and waited for the food to be cooked.

I had made inquiries and found out that, the weather changed in just matter of time one minute the sky was clear, flaunting the stars and next the thunderstorms struck and it started to rain. I had to take my food inside though I kept my tent’s door open. I sat inside comfortably and enjoyed the meal that I had cooked. I was busy eating, and suddenly I heard sounds, of something running. I panicked, it was my first time in the mountains alone, and I did not wish to die. I was too scared to sit inside and too scared to see what it was. So I opted for the latter, I gathered up my courage and opened the back window of my tent and looked. Jackals stood about 500 ft away from my tent. They did not growl or attack, they just stood there. I did not know what to do, it was still raining outside, so I decided to pull out my pocket knife, curl up in my sleeping bag, and call it a night, but as petrified as I was the curiosity of jackals standing outside my tent did not allow me to sleep.

Few hours passed away, and they did not flinch. So I decided to do something. As soon it stopped raining, I stepped outside the tent and tried to shoo them away, but they did not even cringe a muscle. So I stepped back inside. After sometime I had an absolutely absurd idea, first I decided against it. One peep outside into the eyes of the jackals I decided to go ahead with my decision. I stepped outside the tent again and I did what animals do best, I peed to mark my territory near the tent, and shouted at the jackals, “Mine, and yours” as I had seen in the movie Life Of Pie. At least this way I would be a little relieved that they wouldn’t come near the tent, I still had my doubts though, if the human pee works the same way as the animal? But after that I spent the whole night in my tent, apprehensive, yet a little calm. The pocket knife still my hand, I woke up to the sharp rays of the sun and chirping birds. With caution I opened my tent door avoiding sudden movements I first peeped out, and there were no jackals in the near site of my eyes. My eyes fell on the horizon and far off were the beautiful Himalayas. I did not know what happened in the night. I knew that I was alive in the morning and I was happy about it. Just when I had finished my breakfast, I saw cattle approaching. On arriving, I greeted the man with a smile and a pleasant good morning, he returned my greetings and asked how my night was. In reply to his question I described the whole incident of the night. He gave a smirk and told me, that I was very lucky to have had jackals, in the night. He told me that there is almost every night a visitation made by the leopard for water and because there were jackals, I was. I bid goodbye to man and he did the same. I thought about what he said, it was definitely a superstition, but the fact that the jackals were there in the night, posing as protectors was enough for me. My rest of the trek went on smoothly, and as I had peaked my trek, the clear sky showed me the beautiful outer Himalayan ranges far in the distance glorifying their magnificence. I met other trekkers at the end of my uphill battle and decided to hitch along with them for the downhill trek. The jackals posing as protectors against the leopard was the last thing I had expected on this highly adventurous trek in the mountains of Uroli. The delightful end to this adventurous trek, with other trekkers was the only add on I needed to etch this trip as the best one in my small but brave autobiography now making me a true traveler.


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Thank you for reading!

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Lost Hopes

Background:

There is no background as such, it was just a thought process.

Hope you enjoy it


Lost Hopes

I lie like the dead sea, still, lifeless.

The night sky, full of stars, full of hope.

Lingers above me.

But I lie still, just like, the dead sea.

The sun rises, it shines,

Here comes tomorrow,

Here comes endless new possibilities

Here comes the summer

But I lie still, still, just like yesterday.

I sit at the window

Looking at the seasons pass,

The rains, washing away the dust,

The autumn stripping the trees naked

The spring, blooming the flowers

But I lie still, just like the trunk, watching the days go by.

Is there no hope?

No hope for a better tomorrow?

Because,

Hope for me,

Is like the rain in a drought

Like a silver lining on the darkest cloud.

Like a light at the end of tunnel

Hope is what I need, it’s the sun that I need.

My faith in good is lost

My faith in a better tomorrow is lost

There is no strength

To carry on, to see thing through to go on.

How to rise above this?

How to go on without faith?

How to go on without hope?

Because I still lie like the dead sea, lifeless, don’t know how to go on…..

– Shaheen.


A NEW BEGINNING

Background,

It is the continuation of the poem Demons.


A New Beginning

With dusty winds blowing in front of her, she struggled to break through.

She fought the dirty wind of the world, she fought the people who scorned her.

She strived to step away from the darkness that followed her for years.

She strived to reach the light she saw at a distance, but was still so close.

She had too much of the cold, she had had enough winter.

She lay down on the ground just before the ray of sun: tired, lifeless!

She could see the sun, but could not feel it; she could see the wonders of the world but could not touch them; she could see her better self, but could not become.

She had lost, she thought, she could not go any further!

She lay still for a while, without any movement, without even a breath!

She found every ounce of her strength and leaped toward the light she craved.

She leaped towards the summer she craved.

With Eyes crystal clear from the tears, with the heat of the sun on her skin, with velvet grass under her feet and with fresh smell of flowers…

A New Beginning awaited her

A New Beginning was ready for her!

– Shaheen


Thank you!

Hope you all enjoyed it!

Demons

Background;

Early this year we had a fest in college. In which, in a competition of writing poetry we were given a topic, “Demons”.

I have written this poetry on that topic.

Its an open to interpretation type of poem, with no particular rhyme progression to it.

The theme of the poem is of a girl, going through emotional challenges of life.

Below is the poem, hope you all like it.


Demons

She sat in a far corner of the room

She sat there staring, staring in oblivion.

Sometime she murmured, sometimes she screamed, sometimes she screeched and sometimes she cried for hours together.

She became restless, she ran, she kept running, she ran nowhere, though she knew exactly where she wanted to be.

She was haunted, thrown away from self, scorned by the world, scorned by those she really held dear.

Soon, she grew tired of running, she had no choice but to stop, she had no choice but to face what she hid, deep down.

She shivered from the cold, she could not feel her hands, her eyes grew red and she was lost, lost in the winter.

She stopped, she looked to the left, she looked to the right, and she peeked over her shoulder, she sighed, a sigh of relief.

She bend down on her knees,

She cried for the final time!

Now she knew, she was far away from the past, in which she had drowned herself for years.

She knew she was out of the misery, she knew, she was going to be okay.

Because, she knew, she knew now that finally her Demons were released, she knew.


I hope you all like it. Constructive criticism is most welcome.

Thank you!


Picture Credits: Nicholas Lindau

Visit the Administrative Capital of India in just 1 Day: Delhi Darshan

Delhi Darshan

Off, to travel another mile, discover another road and experience another landscape.

Super excited my family and me left from our respective places of residence to meet in Delhi. On 17th of May 2016 we landed in Delhi, we had a one day stay joint with Delhi Darshan.

The sweltering heat of Delhi did not stop us from resisting the temptation of resting and we went on to witness the beautiful capital and the administration city of India. We were staying in a cantonment area called Rajputana Rifles. After staying a night, on 18th May, 2016 we booked a cab for our day tour of the city. Early morning at around 8 o’clock we started our tour with the blessings of Nizamuddin Auliya by visiting his dargah. Along with that we also were privileged to see the dargah of Amir Khusrau, who along with being a renowned Sufi poet was also a spiritual disciple of Nizamuddin Auliya. The care-taker of the dargah, Kamran Nizam took charge of our tour and took us to the dargah of Amir Khusrau and after that Nizamuddin Auliya where he presented my mother, my sister, my aunt and me with green dupatta’s of the mazar.

After being blessed we started our tour by first visiting the magnificent Humayun’s tomb where, the second Mughal king, Emperor Humayun rests’. At the ticket counter we happen to meet 3 tourist from Paris, and noted that they had to pay 500rs whereas being an Indian we had to pay rs 30. On entering the main gate of the compound we first saw on the right hand side the house of Isa Khan, which is also remarkable because of its shape, size and the construction techniques. After a long walk we reached the main tomb. And it was too beautiful to be true. The compound was large and awestrucking.

After visiting the Humayun’s tomb we drove of to see India gate which stands strong in honour of the fallen soldiers and along with that we also saw the Rashtrapati Bhavan and the administrative buildings where the most important decisions of the country are made.

After an exhausted morning we were way too hungry to go any where except for Karim’s. The finger licking, Karim’s food was amazing and can’t be forgotten once tasted. Just behind the Jama Masjid, you can give your taste buds a great treat. After a heavy lunch we still had place left in our stomach for an amazing desert at Giani’s which is located in Chandni Chowk. Sleepy, after lunch and desert we took a drove through all the remaining attractions including Cannaught place and finished our day by taking a good night’s sleep after spending an informative and historical day in Delhi! 

Sorry I have so less pictures, more indulged in actually visiting than clicking! 

Kaas Pathar — The Valley of Flowers

20 people, one bus, at 6:30 am we were on our way to Kaas Pathar — the Valley of Flowers.

 

The drive was for about 4-5 hours. From the eldest generation in Pune to the youngest generation we were all in one bus, playing, talking and listening to music. After driving for about 2 hours on an empty stomach it was bound that all of us started feeling hungry. To feed our hunger stricken taste buds we stopped at a small dhabba. There we had home cooked kheema freshly made by Nargis Bhen, with rotis and some superb chai.

Drive from there was quite soothing. Mostly people slept, but some of us were entertaining ourselves. After hitting the ghats, even if I wanted to I couldn’t get myself to close my eyes. I switched my seat to that of a window one with Saqib, because I did not want a perfectly amazing view passing us by.

Every turn of the ghat made us shout out in awe (literally). Lush green mountains on one side and Kaas lake parallel to us on the other. The road could not have been better than this. I was excited, if the approach road was this amazing, where would my jaw be when we reach the destination!

After we reached the destination, because it was a little bit of a walk to the main plateau, I had to wait in the traveler because of my recent operation.  Hahaha.. kidding you think I of all people would let my health affect the serenity my eyes were about to witness, never in 7 hells!! So to say my jaw was nowhere to be found because it was dropped dead at the scenes my eyes beheld. Wonderful lush green plateau on both sides what it lacked where flowers, I mean there were flowers but we were early in the blooming season to visit the plateau so there were not as many.

Tip: 1. If you have decided early in the year to go to Satara, make sure your trip is well planned and that your visit is not to late or early in the season.

2. Pre-book the tickets and parking spots through the internet so that there, you are not face to face with to too many problems.

3. If you are going all the way to Satara make sure it’s a 2-3 day trip because first of all there is a lot to see in Satara than just Kaas, and second of all, it is too long a drive from any major city so might as well stay there for a while.

We walked for quite sometime, and in the end found a nice place to sit and start our photo shoot. 2 of us carried DSLR camera and I carried my possession, the Nikon digital camera (the photos on this page are from the same). After about an hour or so, hanging out in the lush green serene plateau, with the sun shining bright just above our heads, we decided to head out to the Kaas lake, where we had our delicious lunch. We had a very late lunch at about 4 o’clock or something. With our stomach full with multiple delicious dishes, for a little bit of relaxation we headed to the Kaas lake, which was walking distance from our lunch place. There were a lot of people inside the water so we decided against getting wet and for sleeping outside on the heated rocks for sometime.

There for sometime, with Tazeen’s bag underneath my head, my legs stretched out and my complete body at rest, I closed my eyes and tried, amongst all those noises to make this journey a journey within.

As once a far off dervish called SHAMS OF TABRIZ said: ” East, west, south or north makes a little difference. No matter what your destination, just be sure to make every journey a journey within. If you travel within, you will travel the whole wide world and beyond.

And alas it did turn out to be a journey within, in a small way, but it did.

After the raindrops started to fall on our heads, we took that as an indication to head out and hit the road, and go back to Pune. The rains in the end made a perfect ending to a perfect day.

Etching Happiness: Uroli

 

I was travelling again, alone again, in the train again but this time to Delhi, the capital of India. My mom was very scared and happy as well, as a matter of fact she gave me a name also, vagabond. While the train was heading towards Delhi, I was sitting quietly in my seat which was thankfully near the window. I had mixed feelings about this trip. I was laughing to my self, feeling proud and having fun by myself. This is when I conscientiously realised that I in fact do love my own company, I love to stay with myself.

So, this was it, I was on the road yet again, this time ready to experience and learn. What came as a surprise were the amazing friends that I made, which I am very proud of. It all started out in Delhi, I reached Delhi during early afternoon and was in the hotel by lunch time. I saw a lot of familiar faces as well as new friendly faces who were very welcoming. I was sharing a room with another instructor named Sonia. We became relatively friendly and after a while I found myself with her and 3 other instructors on the metro train on our way to Decathlon.

After the alarm went off at 3 o’clock in the morning me and Sonia got up and got ready as we had to leave the hotel by 3:30 with other instructors. The meeting point for the kids was the Delhi Railway station. After sometime we found ourselves on Shatabadi Express honking our way to Kathgodam station. I was put in a different coach, but because of the kids had to constantly make my way through 2 coaches to keep the kids entertained. Which was fun as its better to get acquainted to kids before hand. Then the camp is nothing else but a lot of fun. When we reached the Uroli campsite, I was awestruck! It was nothing but pure beauty which existed in reality in front of my eyes. All the tiredness from the 12 hour journey just vanished and i was ready to conduct the camp.

The first programme was only of 6 days. I wanted to stay a little longer, and right then a miracle occurred and I stayed back for one more programme in the same campsite. I adored the camp with all my heart. Along these 6 days of the first programme, I learned a lot. I was thankful to be working with the best team there was, with Tony sir as my team leader, who I had already worked with. Our team was like a well oiled machine, everybody knew their own parts, no tiff’s no grudges and we carried out the activities very very smoothly and somewhat very humorously.

During these 6 days I was with the backpacking team. I wanted a little bit of a change and for one day I changed my team to that of rock climbing. There was this kid who wanted to be with me for very long. When she found out that on that day I was not going for backpacking she lost her cool. Thankfully she did not cry, but she made a huge scene even with my team leaders, nothing major. But that act was very emotionally touching in a certain way. Moreover, I could see that my team members also did not want me to leave, I mean that’s what I felt. But I went with rock climbers anyway.

All in all when these 6 days were over the kids took away with them a lot of memories and bonds were created with us as well. We all had a day’s break before the next group was going to come. The whole camp was to ourselves, there were no kids to watch over, no one to wake us up in the morning and on top of it, it started raining. All of us were more than happy to crash out early after dinner and sleep in late.

The next set of kids were a bit older than the previous lot. They made themselves at home as soon as they entered the camp. Though tired from the the long journey, their energy level was still as high as the Everest! they were welcomed with heavy rain, very heavy rain. After they were all allotted to their respective tents, they were made acquainted with us as we all were to spend 8 days with each other. Might as well spend it peacefully. :p

So, I was in the backpacking team again with two new members and two old members including me. This time each group would stay with us for 3 days and then the next group would come again for 3 days. These 3 days also included a night out in the wild. I adored my first group very much. On the first day we took them to our usual route and the usual lectures that we conduct. During the course of day one, we all became very close to each other. Which put my mind at peace that the next two days will be good, especially the night out. To my surprise all the kids of my team were crazily excited about the night out. In no time, on day two, we were packed and ready to go. Because there were a lot of girls and it was a night out I insisted on taking one more lady instructor with me. The night out which we were a bit scared of went off very smoothly. Kids did see a baby fox there, but they were not scared at all. We had a campfire which the kids thoroughly enjoyed. From that day on wards I was known as the “Chuha” didi, because I did a rhyme which they absolutely loved. I was also known as the “Haryali” didi because of a power up I conducted.

Oh! The night out for the kids was a total hit, but the night out for the instructors…… It was no doubt amazing, but we had no tents, we had to sleep under the tarp. Which was indeed amazing, but then it started raining, and to top it all the tarp was not big enough to fit 6 instructors. But the night past and we all came out of the tarp alive. That night changed the equation between me and the kids. We all became much much closer to each other. They adored me and I returned their love with all my heart.

When we came back from the night out in the morning, the kids were in for a surprise. We took them for a bath, in the stream. It was the coldest water I had ever been in till date, on top of that, there was rain with hailstorm. That day was unforgettable, it will always be etched as a perfect memory in my brain.

The next day the groups were switched and I switched with my group to rock climbing. But sadly, it did not last very long, I injured my self and was not able to go with my group for remaining 2 days. Though, I kinda left the kids, the kids of group 1 did not leave me. The kids would come to me to talk about their day, show me their talents, and then we would start singing songs. And of course the chuha rhyme followed. The most special thing was 3 of the kids, made a lovely get well soon card for me. I was emotionally touched, with all the love I was getting.

On the last day, I did not want to leave the camp site, but I had to go back, I had to come home. The kids cried because they didn’t want to leave the camp, some actually cried because they did not want to leave me. But they had to, everyone had to go. And so did I.

And this way, another wonderful camp came to an end, and I was home again. This trip was nothing but a wonderful journey of friendship, love and happiness. I made friends with the instructors who are still very much in touch with me. I created memories with the kids, which will always be ingrained in my brain, and always hold a special place in my heart. Uroli was the best camp of this summer, hands down. I tell this very honestly and very truthfully. The lessons I learned, the love I received, the bonds I created are beyond anything in this world. This trip was all about discovering yourself and it made me realise there is so much more to this world and with just a simple smile and politeness we can touch so many lives and hearts.


 

Thank you for reading.

All the pictures in this blog which do not have me in it are clicked by me.

Everything in this blog is written through experience. I hope you all like it. Please like this blog so that i receive your encouragement. Since you are here please comment, criticism is most welcomed.

Thank you!

P.S- The featured image does not have me in it, but it describes my exact feelings for this camp.