When In Neoclassical Capital of Scotland: Edinburgh

Our next destination was the city famous for its stone-like structures! The city itself is known as the Stone of Destiny!

Let me take you on a tour of this beautiful city of Edinburgh, and this might also calm your curiosity of how to spend a day in the city of Edinburgh.

As we reached Edinburgh, we first met our host in Haymarket (a wonderful attraction of Edinburgh) who treated our palates with amazing Indian food, the traditional dal chawal! Oh what lunch, a saying came to my mind after that, “A girl can leave India, but India will never leave a girl!” That was exactly the scenario. Anyways,  after having the most wonderful traditional lunch we headed out to explore the city of Edinburgh!

We first went to the Edinburgh Castle, which is located on a small hill, much above the skyline of the entire city. We noticed on the way to our castle, that there were a lot of people and a lot of police on the streets. We found it unusual even for a city like Edinburgh. So after we parked our car while walking towards the castle we asked a kind policeman about the situation. On conversing with the policeman we found out that there was a concert, which is about to start in the premises of the castle. So we hurried up the stairs to see, if we could still go inside the castle. Just outside the castle gates, the government of Edinburgh has built a stadium like structure where people can attend concerts and other events! Which I thought was quite clever.

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When we reached the entrance of the castle, we saw the mighty stage which was set-up for the concert. Also, we caught a glimpse of the band which was going to perform, rehearsing they were known as “Il Divo”, never heard of them, but they sounded very good. Though they were setting up for the concert, the tourist were allowed to go inside the castle and visit. So we did that, there is only a certain distance you can go to without a ticket, after that you need a ticket. So we did not buy a ticket and went till where it was allowed without a ticket. We did not have much time and it was already evening time so we passed. If you have time and want to visit the Castle, you certainly can.

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Attached to the Castle is the Royal Mile. The Royal Mile is One mile long streets, forming the main street of the Old Town. This street ends near the ocean. The street is filled with all the major points of attraction in the city of Edinburgh. So if you start walking down on this street you will find everything! Along the streets are numerous eating joints, souvenirs shops and much more! Weather, permitting you can spend all day on this street!

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When you go further down the street you can find St. Giles Cathedral which is a wonder in itself! Along the street there are numerous street artists that are constantly entertaining with some or the other twists and turns, its a great fun to watch!

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Just parallel to the Royal Mile is the Princes Street. This street is famous for shopping, name a brand and it is there, don’t name a brand that is also there! Want to shop head to the Princes Street!

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We were very very tired of walking from the Royal Street to the Princes Street, and now we were ready to head back, but the biggest obstacle in front of us was how to go back to the car! We did not want to walk all the way back because it was quite a distance, we could see the castle from Princes Street but did not know how to take a short cut! Stuck with the decision on what to do we decided to take the part less known. And boy, am i glad we took that path!

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When on the path, we entered a beautiful garden, I have no idea, if google enlists it on the attractions of Edinburgh, but it was worth a look! We were tired so to give our legs a little bit of rest we stopped on a bench and attempted to sleep, but thanks to the rains, we did not have it in our destiny. So we started walking further, it was raining but not so much, and thank the heavens, we reached our car without getting drenched.

After reaching the car we headed out to the ocean and spent sometime there before heading back home.

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We also visited the University of Edinburgh, just a drive through, and the Holyrood Palace, which we visited on the last day of Edinburgh. The Holyrood Palace, is a palace for the Queen of England, its known that this Palace is her favorite place to stay in.

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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.

Darkness: The Divine Path

Light and dark, a simple concept of good and evil, happiness and sadness, knowledge and ignorance and so on. It is human nature that we always associate light with the good and darkness with the evil. We always use the statement “Let there be light.” Have you ever wondered why?

“Let there be Light” was the first statement in the Bible. In fact Mesopotamian population believed in the concept, that the world was created because of the victory of God over the forces of chaos and darkness. We always associate God with the forces of light. So when we say that the world was created because of the victory of God over chaos we indirectly say that the world emerged because of victory of light over darkness. This is a very orthodox belief. We all quite well understand it.

In this write up I would like to bring out the unknown fact about the concept of light and darkness. 

Egyptians believed that the world emerged out of darkness and swirling chaos. They also believed that darkness had a form and a purpose for existing.

You must be thinking what could be the form and purpose of darkness?

In Egyptian Mythology we have a God named KeK and Goddess named Kauket,  which literally translates as darkness. These two were husband and wife and controlled or more so ruled over the night or darkness. This is the form of darkness. 

Now about the purpose of darkness.

You will not find it anywhere on the internet if you search in mythologies. (Trust me I have tried) The purpose of darkness is very spiritually related. We know that darkness is inevitable, when there is light there is darkness. That is, when there is good there is evil. Where there is god there are demons. What darkness really tells us is that darkness comes from absence of love. It is a constant reminder to us that we are not in alignment with our true nature.

When the sun sets, we feel the light is gone. But this is the most important time. Take darkness as divine path towards Light or happiness or Love. If the sun won’t set we will never experience the joy of a sunrise. If we wont face the darkness or sadness, we will never experience the joy of a sunrise or happiness or a new day, a new opportunity, a new possibility.

Darkness gives us the time to heal, to rejuvenate and get ready for a new day. This is the time when we really find our true selves. It becomes the Ultimate path to Divine Light. Embrace it, love it, make it your part, endure it and you will never feel blue again.

I have started loving sunsets, have you?