Thursday, 11 January 2018

Experience of My Delhi – Kolkata – Darjling – Sikkim – Delhi Journey – Part 4

I reach station before time. Waiting rooms are bulking with passengers so I stroll at station. Every pinch of this huge station is pack with passengers. Sultry weather is making me sweat. Luckily train is on time and I find my coach easily and acquire seat. One family is already there busy in gossiping in Bengali…

In a while, one more passenger enters into coach. Family is still busy in talking loudly and moving from here and there without caring others. Evening light is shadowing everything outside the window. Suddenly very low voice comes to me. I turn my eyes inside. Man is interacting me – where are you going ? I turn to him and reply – Darjling. How will you go from Jalpaiguri ? – he asked next question. No idea – My sudden reply. He advised – you may take share taxi. Taxi stand is just outside the Railway station. You will easily get share taxi in the morning. Useful advice. I ask about him. He says – I am army person and going Jalpaiguri for official work. I am actually from Maharashtra but posted in Kolkata…

In family, I noticed an old lady staring me continuously. She been staring me since I entered in coach. I don’t know why ? One more lady in the family is chubby short height middle aged woman. She is sitting on upper birth like a queen surrounded with food items. In every second, she picks something starts eating and distributing. She is talking continuously laughing loudly. One boy in the family around 17-18 years has start singing in every five minutes. He hums few words then stops again he starts humming and stops. Whole family seems hilarious. Old lady is still gazing me…

Its dark outside. Train is far away from Kolkata. Area seems like village area. Huge crops fields along with small huts are visible. Suddenly heavy rain starts and all become blur. Family is still busy in themselves. Lady is busy in eating and distributing. Boy busy in humming and old lady is still staring me which is really awkward now but as she is too old so I haven’t say anything to her. Army person is napping…

After dinner, I lie down.  After a tiring day, I soon fall asleep. Middle of the night old lady has start speaking. In the silence, her voice echoes. I scared and wake up. I saw everywhere but all are snoring. I stand up and notice that she is talking in sleep. Oh, this old lady is really scaring me now. I watch outside. All I can see is huge fields, rivers and jungle. Its bit cold too but I spend whole night gazing out…

I am relieved when it dawn. Huge green fields, rivers, water ponds, small hut are still in scenario. Few towns are also taking place but for a while only. Again heavy rain starts and become cold. Family get off at one junction but around 13-14 ladies get inside. All are wearing bright traditional dresses and imitating jewelries are enhancing their beauty. Their nose peers from both sides, which is making them more attractive. Small girls are also in the group wearing vibrant frock printed with small flowers on them. Girls are busy in playing and ladies are busy in chatting. Seems they are coming from some party or festival. They actually filled coach with the vibrant energy. Well after a while train reach Jalpaiguri and for my relief rain has stopped…

Coming out from train, I sweep between the ocean of human. Jalpaiguri Railway Station is huge and busy station. When I headed outside, I saw a poster asking Donation for Kedarnath Tragedy. I am sad about tragedy but glad to know that last corner of the country is worried about it. After walking long I reach taxi stand where touts are shouting everywhere. Some touts are going Nepal too coz Nepal is attached with Darjling. There is small market along with the taxi stand. Whole market is dump in muck and rainwater is logging everywhere. I found a restaurant and went inside… 



A young guy comes to take order. Thin tall long hair guy gave me menu card and ask for order. Though he is speaking Hindi to me but he is speaking in Nepali with others too. I find all North Indian dishes here too. After finishing food, I come out where I get a share taxi for Darjling. Taxi has already occupied by a family, few young boys and some others too. Only one seat left which I occupied. After a while driver start taxi and soon we reach Siliguri. Siliguri seems a big city and a green and clean too. Driver tunes a Nepali songs and journey become more enjoyable with melodious Nepali songs. Driver is a young guy but very short tampered and aggressive. He is shouting on everyone and getting aggressive in every little thing.



Anyway young boys sitting in cab are musician and football players. They play guitar and sing Nepali songs. All belong to Darjiling and coming from Jalpaiguri where they had football tournament and they are in winning team so all are celebrating success with music. They tell me with big smile that real celebration would be in night and all laugh together…

By the time, Siliguri left behind. Now hill area has started. Roads are turning and twisting. Fog takes place. All are green. Mostly are due to tea garden. Huge tea gardens are both sides of roads making scenario beautiful. Suddenly driver plays Hindi songs and his lips and head is moving with the lyrics. It’s a romantic song so I think driver relate with the song deeply and emotionally...



He stops taxi for breakfast. I don’t know where but its green, fogy and rainy. After this point tough hill area starts and roads become more and more hilly. It was almost fogy and rainy. I couldn’t see anything outside. From one point I see the toy train trek but no toy train is running on it. Soon cab reaches Darjling. Here its raining and I can see the people working in rain. Darjling is just like a one more hill station so I am not feeling stranger here. Only people and language has change but you can easily communicate with people in Hindi or English. Its raining heavily here. Crossing these small towns, we reach to Darjiling. I can feel the change here too. People are more technology savvy and all old and traditional construction is changing with new construction. Driver drop me at taxi stand. From taxi stand I take help people to reach hotel and crossed some streets I reach to hotel…

Continue... 

Friday, 8 December 2017

Experience of My Delhi – Kolkata – Darjling – Sikkim – Delhi Journey – Part 3

wake up early I went to morning walk. Streets of Kolkata are still in sleeping mode. Footpath has acquired by baggers for sleep. I stop at bifurcation and not able to decide which road I should follow. I saw tram lane is passing through one road so I will follow the tram lane road. This area has many societies and shops but not big shopping malls. School going students are giving life to the road. Kolkata is simple metro city. Life doesn’t run like Delhi or Mumbai here. People are not rich but well literate and simple. After a long walk, I way back to hotel. Road become alive while I return to the hotel… 


I get fresh and off to see the city without any fix agenda. I ask hotel boy about tram. He says – Tram stops in stopping points only so you have to go to stop points. He also shows me the direction for tram stopping point. First tram come and I sit in it without even knowing where the tram will go ? interior of tram tells that this is oldest tram. Paintings on wall are depicting British time. Sitting arrangement for ladies and gents are separate. I sit in ladies area. A huge old fan is hanging on the roof and blowing wind with full speed. Driver wearing khaki dress ask me - ticket. But as I have no agenda so I ask him with smile - Where the tram will go? He looks at me with smile and asks - New in Kolkata? I move my head in agreement. He suggests - I will drop you after two points, from there take another tram for metro station and then take metro for Maidan. Great!!!  I am glad that I have agenda now…


He drops me after two points. I wait for another tram and enter into it. When I ask conductor for ticket to Maidan he tell me – its wrong tram and said he will drop me on next point. He didn’t collect ticket from me. Next tram was again a wrong tram and conductor again drop me into next point without ticket and tell me that I should wait opposite direction for Metro station tram. People are really helpful. Anyway I travel so much in tram now but next time I get right tram for Metro station…

Watching city through the tram is also an experience. This tram is new tram. Interior is new inside. No separate seats for ladies and gents. Fan is new and driving seat has also new technology. Kolkata is really a different place in so many means. This is the place where every old machinery is still in working condition and rents are still cheap. Kolkata is still a cheap state according to expenditure…

Most of all now I am enjoying my nomadness…

I stop in Metro station and went inside. Crossed few security checks I reach to ticket counter and take ticket for Maidan. This station again decorated with mosaic paintings depicting Hindu Mythology and British era but photography not allowed here. Waiting for few minutes’ metro comes and I get in. Metro is jam-packed but luckily this is new metro so I will get all the announcements and this is AC too…

After 30 minutes, I reach Maidan. Maidan is huge and posh area of the city. This is newly made area so it is well managed. I didn’t find any hustle-bustle here. Roads are broad so traffic jam is very less but before go anywhere else I will search a restaurant and eat something coz I am hungry and drizzle has also start so I need a shelter too…


I find a restaurant and went inside. This is double story restaurant and I went to upward. Boy around 18-19, come to me and ask me in Bengali. I request him to speak in Hindi. He speaks in Bengali mix Hindi and put menu in front of me and asks - what will you have? I don’t see the menu but ask him – what you have? He tells me everything in single breath. I stop him in middle and look up the menu card where I find all North Indian food. I order for Aloo Paratha and tea…

This restaurant is small but well managed and well designed. All young students are here and they are talking about their studies and there preparation for next exam. I think this restaurant is also an Adda type restaurant. After a while, he gets my food. After food, he brings me tea in an earthen pot. I appreciate it. This is natural and harmless stuff. I ordered two glasses tea now…

I came out but it’s raining heavily. Sardarji sitting in a main chair tell me to wait there and we start a little conversation. He tells me – I was child when my father migrated here and established this restaurant. Now I am more Bengali then the Punjabi. He tells me – in Kolkata you will find Punjabis’ South Indians and Bihari doing business. Rain has stopped and my final question to Sardar ji is – Where can I go from here ? Sardar ji advise – take taxi and go to Victoria Memorial, which is not very far…



I take taxi to Victoria Memorial, my next destination. Traveling through the taxi, I saw this area with broad roads, huge buildings, big shopping complexes. Few minutes later, I was in Victoria Memorial. Tourists are taking pictures at the building gate where two huge marble tigers are taking place. I went inside the gate. Huge white color building has surrounded with the green grass fields. Grandness of the building is showing the luxurious life of British period. This is more lavish inside. Huge rooms have decorated with precious stuffs. I follow the stair and reach second floor. When I saw downwards, it was like I am standing on high peak and watching downside. Many tourists are here so after roaming little more I went to other side of the building where I find the Canteen. I went inside the canteen just to check the rate list and I am again surprised that the rates are very low. Even when I went to the toilet – worker sitting outside demand me for 1 Takka. When I asked takka ? he says – 1 rupees which is so cheap…

After spending some time, I back to road and start walking. As I have no agenda so want to know my next destination. Again I ask to a local person - where I can go ? He suggested me concentrating his eyes on his wristwatch - take walk for metro station, which is nearby, and go to the Thakurbadi, home of the great poet Rabindranath Tagore…



With my next agenda, I walk on footpath towards metro station. While walking I saw many huge buildings along the road including Birla Planetarium. Roads are broad and neat. Many type of mosaic works I can see on wall on different topics. Weather is sultry so I am not enjoying walk but metro station is not coming. Everybody tells me – just to come. After a long-long walk I reach metro station and collect ticket for Thakurbari. In next 30 minutes, I reached but still have to walk… 




I crossed long footpath. Sidewall of the footpath has decorated with mosaic art. Actually, this is good to see and keep city beautiful and clean too. Anyway, after crossing footpath I enter into a busy market. Whole area is showing the essence of old Bengal. People are lethargically sitting on road and busy in talking. Road is cramped with rickshaws, hand pulling rickshaws, car, scooter, pedestrian everything. I take my way between everything and watching the architect of old buildings too. Now I am in broad and open society area. I ask here the way of Thakurbadi. He hurriedly replied – go further and take left from there. This is first time when someone replies me in hurry…


Heavy rain starts when I reach Thakurbadi. I wait almost half n hour at the reception. I saw a big red color building through the heavy downpour. When rain stops I move to take ticket and deposit my bag inside then went upstairs. I went into room belongs to Rabindrnath Tagore and then went to many other rooms. All rooms are showing the luxuries life style of Rabindranath Tagor. Rabindra music is blowing in the air and making everything calm and cool. I saw a girl showing reverence to Rabindranath every time and in every room. She seems to be influence by the Rabindra. I ask her. She says with glittering eyes – I am learning Rabindra Music and I am a huge fan of Rabindranath. This place is like a temple to me. I love to come here whenever I get time…


Now I have to back to hotel so I didn’t ask anybody where to go ? I crossed a long lane of different markets. First market is Idol market. Huge idols of Hindu God and goddess are here and makers are making them here too. School kids are going home from the school, heaving fun with each other, and teasing each other too. Crossing this market, I reach to sweet market and sweet makers are making sweets here but unfortunately no one is making Misti Doi and now I enter into iron smith area. This area is dirty and road is clogged with rain water. I anyhow cross the area and take taxi to my hotel…

Collect my bagpack from hotel I take taxi for the Syaldeh Railway Station for Jalpaiguri. Now time to say bye to Kolkata but with promise that I will back again, and again I will wander like this… 

I really enjoyed my no-madness here…

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Experience of My Delhi – Kolkata – Darjling – Sikkim – Delhi Journey – Part 2

 Outside station, many yellow color Ambassador Cars are in a file. Ambassador cars? Till now? Strange!!! Ambassador cars have been vanished from India long ago and here these cars still exists?  But if so then I will love to experience ride in this car. I was thinking about it and a guy comes to me for taxi. My first question to him is – do you have ambassador car taxi ?  He replied with big smile – yes Me ‘am. Then I ask him anything else…


Soon after I was in yellow color ambassador taxi. Taxi guy, copper color, white hair old man, has started conversation in Bengali but I cleared him that I don't understand the language. Then he starts with Bengali mix Hindi.  He turn back his neck and says - I am 76 year old and been through the two heart attacks and a brain-hamirage. My financial conditions are not good so still working. Suddenly he asks about me. I told him - I am from Nainital. He seriously says – Oh !!! Your state has faced serious catastrophe of Kedarnath this year. Whole state has divested badly. He is well aware of my city and state. I must say again that Bengalis are well-educated people...

He is still talking but I fix my eyes outside from window. Cultural and historical city is in front of my eyes. Many old British buildings are on the way. Some maintained but some are dying. Old buses are running on road but what seeks my attention is Tram. Trams are still in function here. I am excited to see the city in two days as much possible. Driver still talking but I am indulging to see the city. Soon I reach hotel...

Get a quick shower I back to road again.  As I reach on road one tram across me but I cannot sit in tram because tram has fix stop points. I start walking on foothpath along with many shops like tire puncture shops, grocery shop, musical instruments shop, iron smith shop and so on. Road has traffic but not like other metro cities...



 I have no any fix agenda for this journey so I will only go the places where local will advise me to go. I wanna roam around Kolkata without making any plan.

Bengalis are well-educated and simple people. They love talking with outsiders and have enough time to tell address for any place, they have enough time to ask about you and they have enough time to tell about themselves too. This is the reason Bengal still carry the Adda (gossip points) culture...

I went to a shopkeeper and ask him where I can go from here ?  Shop keeper who have grocery shop, came out and asks me about myself then tells me – You can go to Kalighat Temple. Then he wave his hand in front direction – go this side, you will reach to a crossway from there you may get bus or taxi both.  I ask him – will tram go there? He says with giggle – no. So now I am going to Kalighat Temple. Soon I reach crossway but this is busy one. I saw few buses too but all are madly packed so I will take taxi…

This area looks posh with heavy traffic. I try to talk with taxi driver, around 30, tall and tiny, but he don’t understand Hindi properly. In his Bengali mix Hindi he says like a keen politician - Mamta Banarjee’s government is not doing good work for the state. CPI should back in government. Outside window, a huge Church is showing its presence from far away. Driver tells me something about it but couldn’t understand. My taxi is sweeping between the whirlpool of heavy traffic which includes Buses, Old buses, Rickshaw, even Hand rickshaws are still exist here. Most of the buses have very decorative and artistic windows, which seeking my attention…


I reach Kalighat Temple. Once upon this temple was famous for sacrifices but now it's a history. On my way to temple, I stopped by many shopkeepers who are selling paraphernalia for temple. Many shops taking my attention for the stuff they are selling like Goddess Durga’s face on Dry grass bowl. One seller is only selling the statues of different god and goddess. One old lady seller has also stall here. Wrinkle of her face says that she must be very needy that is why she works in this age too…


Crossing market, I enter into tiny street, which covered with both side shops. Everybody offer me good stuff for prayer and few offered me to keep my shoes in free. Everybody is forcing me to buy and few had threatened me by saying - if you will not perform puja Goddess will punish you. I am shocked. Meanwhile a young priest comes and says - I will arrange shortcut visit to main Goddess temple. Shortcut visit for temple !!! time for another shock. These experiences are heartbreaking. I cannot keep my shoes in open so I bought few things form shop and shopkeeper will do priest job for me too…



I reaches into temple promises which is almost empty. I easily visit to main temple without using any shortcut. Jet-black face shining with sharp red color eyes statue magnetize my attention through the narrow window. Before I could understand anything priest pulled out me. He don’t want me to stay there for long. Kalighat temple is not huge but historical. I went to a tributary of Ganga nearby my heart sink again to see the condition of the river. Its stinking badly. Mud and garbage have covered most of the area over which mosquitoes are hovering and more of that one man washing utensils. Though river is long but tiny…

Back to road, I saw hand pulling rickshaw puller. I went to him and ask about nearby place. Tiny middle-aged man says lying on his rickshaw – go to the metro station and take metro for Esplanade. So my next destination has decided now. I sit on rickshaw. Though I find it very inhuman but this is giving job to many jobless people so its good. I ask him – where you from ? He turns his head towards me and says - From Bihar and pulling rickshaw here since last 30 years. My family lives in a village of Bihar. I visit my village every year and send them money every month. My old mother live there with my wife and three children. I want to live with them but there is no work therefore I am working here. He dropped me at metro station...


Before going inside the metro station I need to eat something. I stroll in a narrow street cramped with shops both side. I went to restaurant and order for the Thali in which I get dal, two types of vegetable, roti, curd, chatni and pickle. Soon I get my platter of food. Food is enough for me and its yummy. I order coffee too. When I take first sip of coffee, I am so much impressed. Now I am done so ask for bill. Bill must be around 300 bucks or something but I am amazed to see 40 Rupees only. I went to reception and confirm it again but bill is correct. 40 Rupees bill including coffee. Kolkata is very cheap place. Even in this time you can get proper food in only 30 Rupees. Unbelievable for me...

After food, I stroll in market and back to metro station. In metro, I haven’t faced security checks like Delhi. I get ticket and wait for metro, which will arrive in 15 minutes. Station has decorated with mosaic paintings depicting Indian mythology and British Era. Metro arrive and I entered. Its crowded like anything. This metro is old Non AC metro. In kolkata metro started in 1994 and old metros are still in working conditions. For air ventilation upper glass of metro has been removed. In this crowd, I forget to get out in my station so I off in next station where somebody advice me to take return metro for Esplanade…


 Esplanade is a huge and beautiful British architect building. Many shops and offices are in this building. This is very broad area and I came opposite side of the building to see another angle of it. Now I again ask to a local guy about next place. Advice I get is Howrah Bridge. He also tells me that I can take bus for the place even he himself is also waiting for the same bus. Drizzle starts and I enjoyed it until bus arrives. I entered into blue bus with decorated window. Bus is crowded too but conductor gave me his seat now I can enjoy cool breeze and beautiful scenario of kolkata...

Wearing Khaki dress young conductor gives me ticket. I give him money and he returns me extra money without asking change. Ticket is very cheap. He does not ask me for change like other part of India. The way he is folding currency between his fingers is attractive…

Everybody in bus is busy in talking but I do not understand anything because they are speaking in Bengali. This area is vast beautiful and clean. Drizzling is still up…

I cover huge area by bus to reach Howrah Bridge.  Howrah Bridge is long and huge iron suspension bridge. This bridge is famous for its architect. Bus is now entering inside the bridge. I can feel the vibration of bridge inside bus. This is really a giant structure. Uncounted traffic is moving on the bridge and uncounted people are walking on the bridge.  Conductor drops me in front of Howrah Railway Station. Red color building made in British Architect is in front of me…


I take turn and huge River Hooghly is there. I went near to river I comes to know that I can go for ferry ride too. Find out ticket center and ask him – Sir where can I go from here ? Ticket wander is an old man. He looks me through his speck and asks me – new to Kolkata? I replied with smile – yes. He smile back and says – you can go to Baaga Bazar and take return ticket to back here…


I went to deck and wait for ferry. Duck is bustling with passengers. One ferry reach to deck and some passenger came out and some get inside but this ferry is not going to Baaga Bazaar so I have to wait. For me ferry ride is exciting thing but the people of Kolkata use it to move one place to other. This is the part of their daily life. Howrah Bridge is showing huge presence from here and background of blue sky and clouds are making it beautiful. Few wanders are selling food stuffs...


 Ferry arrives and I enter into it. Atmosphere inside ferry is completely different. It was again full. I made little efforts to make my space. Center area of ferry covered with long wood benches. Some passengers are sitting on them some are standing and some are holding hangers hanging from roof. Its sultry inside. I come to an open place from where I could see the River Hooghly. When everyone settled ferry start with ballistic sound of engine. After a while, ferry is flowing on brown color water of river like ocean. Cold breeze starts blowing and making weather pleasant. Few wanders are selling tea and Jhalmuri (Bengali junk food) in ferry but bad part is that all are throwing plastic garbage in river.

As ferry moving forward scenario is changing every time.  Many small places are existing on the bank and reflections of these places are spinning in water. Ferry moves below Howrah Bridge. Huge bridge is above us. I am immersed by the beauty of river Hooghly but now time to get off because my station has come…


Where ferry dropped me is Hindu graveyard. Smock coming through burning bodies is making atmosphere smoky and air smells different. Row of mud shacks are along with the graveyard, which sell funeral paraphernalia to the people. Beyond these shacks, huge British architect colony is existing. I could not go further coz it was getting dark. I back to Ferry station when I saw few kids are engage in a small procession I could not understand. Anyway I back to ferry stand and get return ticket for Howrah Bridge...


Atmosphere of ferry is still same but dusk filled everything in yellow light.  River Hooghly is glittering in this light and making landscape amazingly beautiful. Cold breeze is enhancing the beauty. Soon I reach to my destination. Howrah Bridge is giving different feel in night. I start walking on wide footpath along with Howrah Bridge. Until I walk on bridge, it was continuously vibrating due to vehicle vibration. I stand for a while to gaze the River Hooghly, which is sprinkling dusk light …

Crossing bridge, I come to main road. Then again, I ask to someone for bus to my hotel. Fruit wander advice me – take little walk and reach to bus stop from there you will get bus. While I walk, I saw huge flower market down side. Almost every type of flowers are selling here. After crossing this market, I reach narrow vegetable market and then to bus stop…

This bus is yet again jam-packed. I somehow arrange seat but I am uncomfortable. Passengers are busy in chatting in Bengali. This is M.G. road, which I saw in shops address beside with road. I am cramp in bus and somehow manage to take ticket. Luckily I soon reach my destination. However, this is not my hotel. Bus conductor advice me to take auto rickshaw for hotel. I take auto rickshaw and through the many narrow streets I reach my hotel…

I am tired but I went out for dinner. Receptionist suggests me not to go far this time. I went to nearby Bengali restaurant and order for Bengali food. He serves me Bengali plate including dal chokha, aloo chokha, chawal and few more. As I didn’t know how to eat it so I finished my food in my way but later he tells me how to eat food. Anyway, now I need something sweet so order for Misti Doi but my hard luck they don’t have this so I order Rausogulla...

Everything has been closed by now. Street is in dark. I back to my room and slept... 

Continue... 

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Experience of My Delhi – Kolkata – Darjling – Sikkim – Delhi Journey – Part 1

Sitting in Kathgodam Railway Station and waiting for train to Delhi. Actually I didn’t want to take risk of landslide in rain season. From Delhi will take train for Kolkata. From Kolkata I will go to Darjling then Sikkim then back to Delhi and back to Nainital. Indeed a long journey…

Kathgodam railway station is small and beautiful. One of my favorite places for wait. I love stroll one end to another end rather than sitting in a place. This railway station is single platform railway station so no madly hustle-bustle. After a while I went into waiting room. Mostly ladies are here. Men must be strolling outside. I noticed mostly ladies are interested in talking about television serials which is boring. I back and went out for strolling. Now station is in little hustle coz Jammu-Tavi-Express is on platform. Before leaving station rail, release deep dark black and suffocative smoke from engine, which has polluted everything. After train left station become quiet and peaceful again…

Sitting on chair I starts observing people. Two young guys come and sit next to me. Both are busy with their mobiles and earphone. No one has time to see their surroundings. One father-son couple also takes place on my other side. Son is though simple but father seems irrational. He is scolding someone on phone in an very insulting way. My train is about to come so time to go. I meet one Bengali family and lady member asks me – where you going ? I replied – Kolkata. Her straight question is – Alone ? and why are you going to Kolkata. Luckily train arrived and I went to my coach because I had no answer for these stupid questions…

Trains are always a complicated question for me so it takes time to find my coach and my seat inside coach. After little struggle, I find my seat and just after me Punjabi family arrives. Punjabis are good people. Traveling with them is safe but lady in this family is bit complicated by nature. I don’t understand why she is trying to show that she belongs to richest family on this earth. After little noise, atmosphere become peaceful though family is still busy in chatter. Soon all fall asleep and I become alone. Disadvantage of night journey is that you cannot see anything outside and lying down is boring for me. Middle of the night I went to the door and stand for long time. It is pleasant to see outside in fresh cool breeze. Village or town or city are coming and going fast. I only can see the lights and then again, all become dark. In one station, few more passengers come into my coach and soon all become quite again. Early morning 3 AM train reaches Delhi station…

  It was too dark yet and Delhi is not a safe this time to move alone so I spend time at station until morning. I searched every place to sit but people are sleeping everywhere. I guess homeless people also come here for the shelter. Though its irritating but I cannot blame people who are sleeping like this. Its the failure of policies which still could not provide them a shelter…

  This railway station is dirty and filthy. Luckily I get seat after strolling long. I am not in mood of strolling coz I am tired and sleepy. Though place is dirty but I have no choice and I am too tired to stay stand up anymore. Next to my seat, a paralytic man is sitting but which attracts me a lot is his brother who is taking care of him like anything. Indeed a lovely and caring brother. Suddenly one train comes to platform and I am amused to see that every doors and windows are cover with hanging milk pots. When train stops, many milkmen come out. I think locals use it for their daily uses.  Anyway after spending two n half hours in the station I comes out take auto rickshaw for Nizamuddin Railway Station. My train time is 4 PM so again a long wait…

Crossing long area and security checks I reach into AC waiting but it is jam pack. I went to wash room which again bulking with women and floor dump in water. Without wasting time, I left the washroom pick up my backpack and off to find out clock room where I could put my luggage. Now I am again on road. As I comes out from station many rickshaw guys are keep coming and asking - where I wanna go ?  Which I myself even don’t know right now…

I am hungry and Chadni Chawk is best place to satisfy my hunger glands.  Sit in an e-rickshaw travelling through the polluted road I reach Chadni Chawk, which is crowded like always. I walk in a narrow street and find out a decent restaurant. Ordered paneer paratha and Kauchuri…




Now I will go to Red Fort. Independence Day is round the corner hence decoration work is on peak. Labors are hanging on walls to clean them. Weather is cloudy and sultry. Few tourists are busy in taking pictures. 




I think to go to Jama Masjid (mosque) as it is Roza Month so I will get good pictures but when I reached I been stopped outside. Man wearing white Kurta-Payjama, white cap asks me – show your ticket.  What ? – I reply in a question. Its free – I said amusing. But you carrying camera – he justifies. Oh this is the reason anyway I ask for ticket - 900 Rupees only – he said normally. With stretching eyes, I take turn and back to road again. Man shout from behind - you can go without camera too. Going without camera is absolute useless so I ignore him. 


Strolling on road, I eat meetha paan (sweet beetle) stuffed with many ingredients. While chewing paan I thought to go to underground market of Palika Bazar in Connaught Place. I take metro for Palika Bazar. Palika Bazar is underground market where you can buy anything in cheap price. I am not here to buy anything but to kill time. In this busy market photography is not allowed. I went inside the fully air conditioned market. Spending time here is relaxing. I walk through the narrow lanes inside. Both sides of the lanes have shops. All lanes are connecting with other lanes and almost everything is available here. This is huge market. After roaming around, I sit in a place. People are busy in shopping and shopkeepers have many ideas to attract them. I find mostly youngsters are coming here. Meanwhile in this cozy temperature I take a small power nap too. I kill long time here and now its time to go back to the Railway Station… 

I collect luggage and went to platform. Train is on time. I find seat and sit with big relief. Other passengers in which one man and a family with husband wife and little girl also come. Other seats are empty. In a while train moves and I set my eye on window...

Scenario of outside is changing every minutes. When all get settle then we introduced ourselves. Man is from Delhi and going Kolkata for official visit. Family is from Jharkhand. They came Delhi to visit his in-laws. All become busy after this introduction. Husband wife busy in their personal chat while man gets busy over phone. When the man is talking with female his voice becomes soft and sophisticated while talking with males his voice become tough…

After a while train boy appears with lemon juice which is most demanding thing for me this time. Soon I fall asleep. I wake up when train boy come with soup and lunch. Delhi man is still busy over phone and I can guess he is talking with a girl coz his voice is soft and sophisticated. I sip soup and little girl playing with father and want go back to Delhi for her grandmother. Husband looks me with smile and says - my daughter loves her grandmother very much. My mother is old and sick so she can’t travel anywhere…

Sky fills with rainbow colors of dusk. This is magical and spell bound. Soon train attended serve dinner. I sleep soon after dinner...

Its cloudy everywhere in morning when I wake up. Family is getting ready to leave as there station is about to come. From here, two security guards are on duty outside each coach. This area is Naxlide area that is why security is tight here. In station, many army soldiers are roaming everywhere… 

Soon Dhanbad arrives and the family leaves. Beautiful green fields and huge rivers are in the scene. Jamshedpur is next station. A thin black layer of smoke is covering whole city. This area is famous for steel factory and smoke coming from chimneys of steel factory…

I indulge in the outside scenario when a melodious voice breaks my focus and get me back into compartment. Voice is coming from next compartment. Some guy is singing Bengali song in a very pleasant and melodious voice. Voice is resembling with great sing Shri S. D. Burman ji and I am imagining a boat a river and a boatman and ofcourse me too and S.D. Burman’s  song Mere sajan hai us paar, Mai man maar hu is paar, O mere majhi abki baar le chal paar…

But I back to present when I saw the Kolkata city is welcoming me with big flyover, traffic jam, crowd, pollution. Train reaches to Syalde railway station. Huge station is bursting with a mob of people. When I came out, Splash of hot wind spank on my face to make me realize the temperature and ocean of people is making me crazy… 

Continue...


Friday, 18 August 2017

Tapovan : A Life Time Experience - Part - 4

After almost half-n hour, I wake up and move towards Babaji’s Hut. There I saw a man wearing trek-suit, sunglass and covered his head with white cloth. His curly and knotted hairs are poking out from the head cloth. Babaji looks me when I greet him. He greets me back with hand gesture. Amit introduce me to Babaji and says – He is Mauni Baba (reticent hermit). He doesn’t speak to anybody. He explains his feelings through the hand gestures. I know him from many years so I understand his language. After introduction, I sit at verandah where Amit serve me tea in small steel glass. With the sip of tea, I saw the group of blue sheep moving in front of Babaji’s hut where a little creek is flowing. I ask about the creek to Amit. He tells me – This is Aakas Ganga comes from Peak Shivlinga and merge with River Bhagirathi in Gaumukh. River Aakash Ganga is a real source of River Ganga...


I am so much exhaust so I only watch them moving around with the sip of tea. After a while when I get my breath back I slowly went to near the place to observe them roaming freely. I am amaze to see that they are so confident that I am not gonna harm to them. One baby Blue Sheep comes in front of my camera lens and then his or her mother come and take him off from my camera. They are running and eating and drinking water and relaxing and enjoying warmth in frosty temperature. They show every possible drama in this open amphitheater of nature. Then suddenly all went far away from my eyes. I turn back after watching the refreshing show…


By the time, I back Amit call me for lunch. I went into the Babaji’s small but neat and clean corrugated roof hut made of stones. Mud floor has covered with woolen mats. Hut is warm and cozy. In one corner, Babaji’s kitchen existing where he makes food on kerosene stove. Babaji serves Khichdi, which is no doubt very tasty. After lunch Amit show me my hut which is same like Babaji’s hut. In one corner of this hut has temple and in other corner Babaji has stored bedding for the guests who stay here. I take my bedding place it on the floor and I lie down for some time…


In the evening I went for a long walk near to the River Akash Ganga. Suddenly weather become nasty and snow fall starts. I can see the snow flacks falling on my face and on my clothes. I am far from my hut which is scary because there is no any shelter where I can hide. It is a big relief to see one hut in distant. I walk towards hut to get shelter. One more Babaji (hermit) welcome me there. I am surprise to see him because I was thinking hut is deserted. Anyway, I greet to Babaji and went near to the hut. He lit the fire and asks me to come near it. He asks me after some time – am I here for trekking ? I nodded my head in yes…

Now when I am comfortable I saw the Babaji. Copper color face normal eyes long mated locks hair tie on head sweet spoken person is a Baba’ji. I ask him about him – he says with very soft voice – I am Sai Muni. Living here for Tapshya (meditation). He invites me inside the hut, which is same like Mauni Babaji’s hut. Burning kerosene stove to make herbal tea he said – I have cooking gas too but gas has been finished and its not easy to get gas cylinder here in this altitude so I use kerosene stove too. He offers me tea and says – Its herbal tea. It will give you warmth in this weather. I take a first sip and really, tea is very flavorsome. I can feel the flavor of different herbs. With the sip of tea he tells me about him and says – Life is very difficult here in winters. In coming winter, I might go somewhere else for meditation. After spend a good time with him I turn back. However Its not snow fall now but very chilly…

It is almost dark when I reach to my hut and Amit calls for dinner. Dinner is another delicacy in 5000 mt altitude. Babaji serves me delicious green vegetable with fried yellow lentil dal and rice. Amit Tell me that babaji is appreciating my efforts to reach in this height. After dinner he gives me boil water to drink with smiling face. I wash my pots and back to hut. Sky is crystal clear and stars are shining like a diamonds though chilly temperature is making it impossible to stay out...


I wake up early morning stars are still in the sky but soon it becomes sunrise.  Peak Bhagirathi, Peak Shivling, Peak Meru and other peaks are gleaming in the beauty of morning rays. I again go for a little walk. When I back Babaji gives me porridge for breakfast. After breakfast I pack my stuff and start return trek. This time trek would be steep descent. I cross this glacier patch fast before it gets hot and glacier start melting…


 From Goumukh trek is easy so I walk like a lazy girl. I can again feel the sound of River Bhagirathi, sound of cold chilly wind. I can be a part of huge mountains and snow peaks. I can again see the color of jungle. Now it’s time to leave everything behind, so not feeling good. I sit in a place to inhale this beauty inside me. I see the River which is bending between the valley here and sky is busy with nomad clouds. Everything is so pure and so beautiful. Yesterday when I was going to Tapovan all were coming near to me but now all are going away slowly slowly. This is the part of every trekking. With the very slow speed, I reach the campsite…


I reach ashram by lunch. After lunch, I pitch my tent. In dusk, I went for short walk near River Bhagirathi. Peaks are blazing in evening light however chilly winds are making temperature freezing. When I back entertaining and hilarious gully cricket match has been start but soon all went to the Ashram as it was seriously cold. I too went to Ashram for dinner. Sky is shining with lots of stars and galaxies but temperature is killing so I went into tent… 



Whole night I struggle with cold. When I wake up in the morning my tent had layered with frost. When I saw all around, it was frosty everywhere. Night must be chilly no doubt. Due to frost, my fingers get numb even inside the gloves. I try to fold my sleeping bag and remove my tent but my hands are still numb. I went to Ashram for the breakfast. When I back, sun has spread rays over the valley and white layer of frost has start melting slowly. I roam around in sun light to warm myself, then pack up everything, and get ready for trek…



 I am walking slowly as if I want to make distance longer. Its tough to get back from such places. With my every forward step, everything is leaving behind and I am going near to civilization again. Colorful jungle, huge peaks of Himalaya, River Bhagirathi everything is leaving behind. Though River Bhagirathi will be with me till Uttarakshi but yes this is the most beautiful part of River Bhagirathi with roaring voice. I am walking walking walking and just thinking of all these only. I am in my own when Amit stop me from behind and says _ we reached Chirbasa. Now take little rest then will move forward. I wanna tell him that I don’t wanna move but I know I have to go…

I stop in Chirbasa and I start getting the sign of civilization. In a small hut-restaurant I wanna drink tea and eat something but due to price issue I haven’t eat anything though I am badly hungry. I saw Maggi’s Noodle packets here, which have been banned in all over India. Anyway I walk further and get away from the place. Trek is easy now and I am near to the Gangotri.  Soon leaving everything behind I reach Gangotri… 

In Gangotri I ate lunch and then after lots of struggle get taxi for Uttarakashi. I will stay in a same place at Uttarakhsi and next morning I will go to Dehradoon and then to Nainital. Bus and taxi journey is more tiresome then the trekking... 

After all struggles I spend, a beautiful and memorable time in trekking and now its time for rest at home…

End 

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Tapovan : A Life Time experience - Part - 3

Weather was clear but cold when I wake up in the morning. I move straight to Ashram for tea and breakfast. Then pack-up my tent and sleeping bag dump them in the Ashram coz Amit told me I can get everything in another ashram at Tapovan. After done all packing I start trek. Today’s trek would be straight till Goumukh but after Gaumukh it will be difficult. I start trek in sunny and bright weather. Few small and naughty clouds are playing with deep blue sky. Though trek is plain but whole path is rocky, on which I have to be careful with balance otherwise my feet can be bend between rocks…



 Anyway keep the road aside but scenario is still beautiful. River Bhagirathi is flowing like serpent with roaring voice colorful jungle is giving the essence of springtime. Above all huge Himalayan peaks are showing their strong presences. Till the Goumukh many devotees are walking in groups. As I like walking alone, so I am trying to walk fast so that no one can bother me.  After three hours of trekking, I reach Gaumukh…


 It says Goumukh is a source of River Ganga. Shape of this source is like cow’s mouth so it’s called Goumukh. Goumukh Glacier is the largest glacier of Asia too. I want to go to near to the source but Amit told me in warning tone- it is dangerous so better not to go near. Stones fall every time from upward and melting snow pieces are making it more dangerous. Then I went near to the River Bhagirathi to touch the water, which is chilled and few saints are bathing in this chilled water. Strange…


I sit silently in one place and gaze around. Whole valley surrounded with stunning Himalayan Peaks. Deep blue sky is adding more charm in the beauty with small naughty clouds. I can hear slow rhythmic sound of river Bhagirathi. This is the only sound, which is breaking the silence of the place. I am indulging deep and deep into the spell of nature.  I am here to feel the voice of my inner, to search myself, to listen my inner sole…

 I am still in this spell when suddenly Amit comes and tell me to start trek for Tapovan, which is straight up from here. He takes me to the place from where we will start. I look upward where no any path exists. Only I can see the brown heap of mud. I confirm again but Amit says - this is the path. I place my first step on this heap and I almost shout – oh!!!  this is slippery!!!  Then I scrutinize the path intensely and find that the path is a mixture of mud and melting snow. Actually I am walking on glacier and in hot weather snow is melting and making slippery mixture with mud. Small rolling stones are making this more strenuous…

Gomukh is now leaving behind and I am moving up. Jungle has vanished and brown dry mountains have taken place in scenario. In many places, I saw deep crevasses. If anyone will slip inside these crevasses, no one can save them. These are the killer cracks. I remember what Amit told me about his friends who died in such type of crevasses in Kalinidikhal trek…

 Anyway, trek is getting tough and scorching sun is no mood of mercy. The only charm in this struggle is beautiful Himalaya and Deep blue sky with naughty clouds. I take rest for a while and then start walking again. It is too steep up and now I am struggling for every step and want to sit after every step but Amit not letting me rest. When I have trekked much then Amit told me near small water fall – You can rest here. This place is cold too. Before Amit completes his sentence I already put my rucksack down. Amit look at me with giggle and says – you may take long rest here because after this final ascend is difficult though it’s not very long…

When I sit near water I notice few black birds hovering over me. These birds are not crow. After a while birds start coming to me and trying to snatch food from my hand. This is Yellow Billed Choug bird. This is smellier to the crow but size of the bird is small and beak color is yellow. In the higher altitude they don’t get food easily so they come to humans for the search of food. Anyway I ask to Amit – Amit do you know the bird? Which bird is this? Answer he gives is the funniest answer. He innocently replied like an expert – Ma’am this is Chinese crow. In winters when china’s weather becomes cold they come here for warmth. I didn’t say anything just smile…   

After this short break I again start trekking. Though I am only few steps ahead but every step is becoming heavier. My breaths are going abnormal and I am drenched in sweat. I struggle for each step. I want to take long rest after every step. I saw upward from where Amit shouting – Madam just two more steps and you will be in Tapovan. I hear his voice and want to run but my steps are not moving. I sit down for a while and when I stand up I finish my trek in four or five steps…


 I put my last step and I was on Tapovan. I saw a huge field covered with dry yellow brown grass and huge Himalaya peaks. I sign with relief and lie down on earth. There is nothing between me and sky. Though sky has been covered by the grey clouds but still I keep watching sky and then close my eyes. I was feeling so light and relax that I fall asleep for a while…

#tapovan
#adventure