We are all bound by destiny and it's destiny that determines where we go. Though there's no denying we are confined to our roots & no matter how we want to run away, they have a firm hold on us. I am a Punjabi, though have never lived in Punjab, but the place has worked its way of fetching me back home time & again. Wherever I've worked, Punjab has always pulled me back even if its for a week each year.
Having lived in Rajasthan, Himachal & Maharashtra for most of my life, the Punjabi connection never ceased.
Especially for the past three years my work has ensured a month and a half or longer stay here. In these three years I've put on 4-6pounds during each trip & the weight just refuses to budge away. They say there's something about this land even the water here has calories - I can only nod in agreement.
Here people love their food, love their kinfolk and sometimes they confuse kinfolk with the food.......confusing, am I? Proof: when you are in Punjab you are bound to be treated like
a patiala peg : larger than the actual size; or
a paratha : stuffed beyond capacity; or
butter chicken : buttered beyond adequacy.
You'll have to master the craft of wrapping up mid meal because an equal helping will be served after you broadcast "I'm full". Or if you have an over generous host you might have to do so even before you get started.
A burp or two is a considered a good indication of you relishing the meal.The chances of you freaking out will increase if you are a vegetarian for you are most likely to be traumatized by dal makhani & paneer. Paneer which is as essential to a meal as salt, I bet even ur dal will be garnished with some grated paneer. Apart from a thousand recipes of paneer that rule the menu, it shall also sneak its way into your masala dosa, fried rice or even basic maggi. When paneer refuses to marry the food the next favorite "malai" performs the duties.
These folks are quintessentially loud, be it their music, choice of colors, their make-up, or their timbre. Their sentences are seldom formed without a few nasty swears, and it all seems to flow so naturally that its scarcely realized.
They are aggressive & shall never give up an opportunity for getting into a brawl. They barely have a softer side albeit an endearing 'ji' is suffixed to almost any adverb or noun.
I'm always referred to as Jasleenji, almost by everyone. Even if the younger generation uses the modern madam or ma'm it is always as madamji or ma'mji. Its so prevalent that I am likely take offence in being called just "Jasleen".
It annoys me, yet it has worked its charm on me. It brings me pride in a mystifying way to be a Punjabi.
Since the time Bholu & Chatur have known us, they have been fascinated by our lifestyle....right from our clothing, to the vehicles we ride/drive, the places we dine at, and even our 6th floor flat (God knows what’s so exciting about 6th floor!! ). So, Bholu finally decides to get himself a pair of wheels to tickle his traveling buds. And yeah, he did get a bike, but unlike me who is a die hard fan of the royal thumpers....Royal Enfield....he got himself a speedster....that just vrooms on a slight twist of wrist. He decides to go on a long ride with his second wife, Chatur ( yeah...the mechanical dame replaced Chatur as his first wife)....but not to the himalayas or the barren lands (duh! he was born there)....he decides to roll to mumbai.
WHAT??? Was our reply when he first told us about his plan. We thought these guys have gone nuts, but then mumbai is surely a dream city for people living in infinite small villages scattered across the Indian vast-lands. Somehow we convinced them not to come to mumbai (surely not a place for riders/drivers), but settle for Goa and mailed them a few pics. Hell ya! they were excited. So off they rode to GOA!!!!!
'sEPIA fAITH' - St. Francis Church (old Goa)
TRAVEL FROM THE PAST
Dhankar Monastery - 'cASTLE in uTOPIA'
Dhankar, almost as unknown as Utopia, known only by those who have experienced it. The tiny village perches robustly atop a valley where pin and spiti rivers entwine. The first thought that crossed our minds....unvoiced though it stayed....'is it a monastery or a castle'
...meandering road to Dhankar Monastery alongside River Spiti
As my bike thundered towards the village, it felt as if we were approaching a surreal set of 'Lord of the Rings'....far more astounding is the fact that this place is a creation of nature. The 16th century old fort monastery nestles between the eroded hills overlooking the village, enveloping it in all its glory.
Panoramic view of Dhankar Village
....closer view of Dhankar Monastery, situated at an altitude of 12,774 feet
weird natural mountains (erosion)
'iNNOVATIVE pRAYING'....wooden turbine as a Buddhist Prayer Wheel
headgears worn during Cham Dance
...oH my gOAT...
The sight of play-fighting mountain goats was a visual delight and held us captive right outside the Dhankar monastery.
'eMOTIONS & eXPRESSIONS’
We stayed in the monastery dormitory and were delighted to know that the funds collected here are used to feed the lamas and educate the little monks. Dhankar is rather high (12,774 ft.) and has rarefied air. We couldn't sleep much at night, less because of rarefied air and more because of excitement of seeing the beautiful Dhankar Tso (lake in ladakhi/Tibetan) in the morning.
dormitory at Dhankar Monastery
...playtime for Lama Kids
...food for jUNIORS
The day of little monks at Dhankar monastery begins with playtime….followed by breakfast. Here we share their joyful moments.
As we started early and trekked around 2 kms uphill towards Dhankar Tso, we were amazed by how wondrous the whole panorama was. There were clouds flowing along the horizon as if whispering 'Good Morning' to the mountains....fresh snow could be seen on the distant mountains....a reason for the crisp chilly breeze. The trek wasn't long at all....but calling it easy would be misleading. When we reached the top, the sun was high making the wind more pleasant....sadly the lake had dried....and all we could see was parched land and little water. Though disheartened briefly, we sighed at the lake and then smiled to know....' We still have our Sand Castles'
reflection of snow-capped mountain in Dhankar Tso
who moved my cHEESE ???
FEATURED FOLLOWER (read: companion)
Check out some interesting pics by Abhishek at;
to be featured here.
A travel can be relished most if you are open to experiment, just like food, you’ll never really develop a taste until you try. I pass no judgments against the tailor made trips, but I certainly am a sucker for following the heart. Roads have a beautiful way of pulling you towards them, like for places, if you let your conscience listen, there is a calling.
The first step to enjoy your travel is to listen to the call, let the heart lead.
If for some reason you find this absurd as you feel no signals coming from any place, I’d say travel by a book. Books are not only your good friends while traveling; they also work as the conflict solvers. Confused about two places, read about the two & go for it. Something like the Lonely Planet is recommended. The whole series is amazingly helpful in strange lands.
There’s a joke about people & books they say anyone who reads & happens to come to India, has ‘Lonely Planet’ (India), in one hand and ‘Autobiography of a Yogi’ in the other , though now there are plenty of options for the latter, The Shantaram, The Holy cow & many more…
While I do recommend the Lonely Planet in one, for you to read about places you may want to see. I also suggest chase your gut, converse with people or take any road, just make sure the other hand holds ‘Eicher India Road Maps’. I can swear by them for detail, especially when you don’t have the access to Google. Google maps are awesome, but the real places to explore are seldom found on maps.
Incase you are still looking for options I’d say travel in a car like Cedia sports. It has the GPS system so u can shun the map & you can take almost any road that you will, only try getting a little more than your share of local food & music to complete your feel of being there. Hope you have a fab trip.
Our new avatars, Bholunath & Chaturnaar are our travel companions. Meeting them was like finding the brand new us. Vibrant as the roots we emerge from, these characters bring out our submersed desires of living in a free-spirited world and being footloose wanderers. Living in this mechanical high-rise world, following a time-bound routine life, most of us at some point or the other want to break free and drive into unknown lands...the lands we have left behind long ago...which no longer are visible through naked eye, but through kaleidoscope of our sub-conscious desires.
These characters are also travel freaks, but unlike us they are more enticed by the modern-india. Bholu and Chatur own a tractor but dream of sports cars, live in a’ kothi’ (a big house) in the village but yearn to live in a big-city high-rise tower , relish home-made dal-roti but want to dine in a 5-star.....are well known in their own village and around but want to meet the bollywood stars.
This journey is a quest to discover vibrant vast lands of this country from 2 different perspectives...a modern India, which entices Bholu & Chatur and a countryside unadulterated by technology, that gives Amit & Jace a new high.
TRAVEL FROM THE PAST
Chitkul Village - 'the dREAM tHEATER'
Chitkul (Sangla Valley, Himachal), at 3450m, is a quiet village along the River Baspa and is one of the last stops on the old trade route to Tibet. This place is like a little cocoon with all little wonders wrapped up inside…all ingredients for a perfect fairyland recipe…stone and wood houses, a gurgling river, an outstretched expanse of colorful vegetation, towered by mountains overshadowing the sun…..a place full of bliss and even more wonderful people. It has its reasons fair enough to be higher than so many beautiful locales.
Mountain shadows in the sky- sunrise in Chitkul
.Around 3 km trek from Chitkul is Nagasti post, an ITBP camp, which also is the last point till where civilians are allowed.
washing our bikes in bone-chilling cold water stream
Sunset in Chitkul
After spending a day at Chitkul, we moved ahead to our next stop, Kalpa . The road downhill was so narrow, something we have only read about in fables...as we glided through gushing streams and a tide of mountain grazers (read: goats & sheep).
'sTUCK and gOATED'
FEATURED FOLLOWER (read: companion)
Check out some gr8 blogs and pics by Leena at;
to be featured here.
Amit Singh ( read: the tranquility of the Himalayas) Jasleen Chopra (read: the effervescence of the Ganges) In the little journey of knowing us better that we are about to take you through, we hope to give you a reason to hook on to us.
This Dehradun guy has a keen interest in photography & observations he always seems to have a new muse. Travel albeit has remained a constant. Jasleen, a chatterbox, is happy with whatever comes her way.