Tag Archives: Travel Blog

Mussoorie – I Gotta Feeling..

Have you ever seen people’s facial expression coming right from the pit of their stomach? the dance moves emerging out of the naughtiest corner of their hearts? The dialogues appearing and disappearing all at once and yet leaving a flutter of imprint on your mind?.. Have you ever felt the overwhelming urge of ordering the universe to freeze everything there and then? and for the time to keep shaking the dice but to never roll it.. EVER!.. The time, when no matter how much you try, you can’t manage to reduce the size of your smile which has started looking creepy after a while.. Yes! That’s the kind of joy I am talking about..
This trip that I am going to take you to, lasted as long as the two spins of earth, and they were two spins too awesome and too crazy..

To start with, I’ll give a background picture of the cast of this accidently well directed feat! There were four childhood friends.. Aashish, Shruti, Shivani (me) and Mohit.. plus shivani’s brother Mahir and cousin Kartik, and Mohit’s brother Raghav.. and let me tell you that we all together, are part of a much larger Gang of not so Wasseypur..

For the love hate relationship that we all share, we certainly know one thing that we complete each other’s ‘basic’ need of crazy.. and we come together now and then to do each other the honours..

So one fine day, Mahir decided that we all leave for a trip the very next day and we did.. yeah, you wish that it was that simple, but I’ll spare you the description of the sincere efforts put by all of us in bringing it to the point when seven of us were in a car ‘Driving down to Mussoorie’..

The drive from Delhi to Massoorie is about 320 km. We started from Delhi at 11:30 PM, and crossed Delhi border around midnight..

There begun the journey and simultaneously, our search for the ‘truth elixir’,( which we literally discovered towards the next day’s end).. basically, we with our driver Satish Bhayiya, were earnestly looking for a Theka (wine and beer shop) on the highway from 1 AM till 4 AM (when we finally gave up on darting our eyes from one potential sign of an alcohol shop to another), and then indulged in not so earnest games of forging imaginary, crazy and hilarious stories starring Aashish, two horses and a bull.. ok fine, a girl too.. ;D. and then went on, singing and interrupting others from singing to get to sing ourselves, intermittent with sessions of tea and nature calls on the way.. till we all had spent every last bit of our energy and dozed off..

The morning came with a beautiful blueblack sky skirted with a freshly dyed horizon with the hues of orange going deeper and blending in the fresh silhouettes of the emerging mountains.. the sun sprouting out every minute and finally taking it’s Augustus possession over the entire scenery, making it brighter and beautiful.. Dawned upon us, the celebrated day of EID!..

With our lazy yawns and excited hearts we reached Mussoorie at 8 in the morning and… SLEPT!. Yes sir! We go on a trip to a hill station where people wake up early to breathe in the fresh air and enjoy the beauty around.. but we my friend, do not believe in indulging in such petty pleasures.. we rather stooped to pettiest … ‘Sleep’ (at least me and Shruti did.. can’t explain what happened in the other room,, well no one really can actually.. ;).. )

After our sleep (and the ‘not apt to be mentioned’ crocodile experiences by the boys..) we explored the Queen of the Hills in the chilling weather, guided by Mahir’s expert and constant one liners which never missed a cue, Shruti’s unbeatable laughter and all the guys’ grading of all the birds in town which started getting contagious to the girls by the next day.. By the evening we were all tired and exhausted with finding and losing our ways on the mall road, and finally directed our energies to putting together a wonderful feast for the night.. we ordered special Biryani and fried chicken from the Nizam’s kitchen near the Masjid near Gandhi point, invincible chilly chicken from our hotel’s (The Ashok Continental) kitchen, and a variety of drinks from the nearest source available..

The night began with the awesome ‘truth elixir’ produced by Shivani (yup that’s me) and directed to perfection by Mahir.. (we finally found it! For the recipe, you may contact me or maybe not.. ;)..) one shot each of the notorious drink had us all in mood, and we all probed and wilfully confessed the deepest and wildest truths of our lives.. and then danced to the tunes of Ooo Womania (found a rockstar in Raghav).. sang all the songs from the bottom of our hearts, professed our love for each other, shared the wisdom of the new found prophets in us.. and did everything that you read in the beginning of the story.. the facial expressions, the dance moves (by Shruti and Aashish), the dialogues, the smiles, the petitions to the universe.. and to end with.. the legendary barf-laugh or laugh-barf (dunno what came first) by @#$% (can’t name the person for the fear of a life threat.. ;).. ).. and then after a bone chilling walk at midnight and enjoying a starlet view of Dehradun from the mall road we slept to gain our energies for the following day..

This day was mild compared to the last, yet not so modest.. We did some awesome bargaining and shopping from the Tibetan flee market (check out the grumpy night suit I bought..).. and then drove to K-empty Fall which was amazing and not so ‘empty’ as you can see in the pictures.. Here more than enjoying the drizzling water and gushing wind, the guys enjoyed a whole other view of the flocking birds.. and of course, Shruti participated with the boys in giving them grades based on various parameters like looks, dressing sense, future potential, etc.. (well the grading system is pretty elaborate..)..

Started our journey back home, which was no less fun.. It was marked with some more remarkable discussions on our lives and future plans, gossips about random people, reminiscing the entire journey, strewn with never stale jokes on Aashish (who takes them all as a good sport..most of the time.. ;))… we even almost nudged our driver to participate in our crazy..

Finally, ended our trip with a feeling of ‘What a wonderful world!’.. coz we all were overwhelmed with the entire experience that went so fast with so much that happened in such short time.. all the laughter, talks, teasing, fun, sharing and knowing each other yet again was just beyond what we ever thought of taking from this trip.. So here we are with our hands full and still feeling the thrill of it all running through our veins.. Just one word. BLISS !!

With Love
Shivani Ahuja

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A Cotton Journey – Madhya Pradesh (MHOW)

Hello peopleThis time I am going to take you to MHOW (military headquarters of war) in Madhya Pradesh, India.. but this story is not about soldiers or wars.. well in a way it is.. It is about a place where farmers work day and night to produce cotton and other main crops.. these soldiers in the villages of India, fighting a war to earn their livelihood have very less choices that force them to adhere to farming methods that are cheap, but very harmful to sustainability of their farms, their health and ecology at large.. I am also going to tell you about the experiences that me and my friend Kritika (kittu) had on this journey.

Well i am a little late in writing this blog, actually almost a month, but every bit of it is worth telling. It is about a journey that showed me some of the new and surprisingly adventurous thoughts and feelings that I had in me..

It all began with my Minor project for this term, on which, me and Kittu are working together ( as I have told you before, these projects are not so minor. 🙂 ). One fine day we both discovered our love for sustainable fashion and decided to work together. Upon consulting our mentor, Mrs. Pritika Bawa (NIFT), it occurred to kittu that her uncle is the managing director of an organic cotton producing organisation, BioRe India, in Madhya Pradesh, and surprisingly when she asked me if we should go there for some research, i said yes before my next blink.. That is one of my new sides that I discovered on this trip, being super spontaneous..

So we booked our train tickets on my birthday (22nd march), and I guess it was my birthday luck and kittu’s super skills that we managed to book tickets 2 days before the journey.. After two crazy days of my birthday celebrations and no sleep, we embarked on a journey to Indore on the third day with a lot of unanswered questions and without any return tickets (trust me.. it requires some guts to do that when you already have short attendance in one subject in college… ) .. but we still decided to enjoy the trip with our new found courage and adventurous spirit .. 😉 .. On the train, we watched India-Australia World Cup quarter-final match, and everybody on that train was enthusiastic and celebrating as if they knew everybody else.. (One advice for the politicians.. if there are riots in India, schedule a Cricket match, as it is ‘The game’ that can unite this entire country…) Later we dozed off to sleep after an unsuccessful attempt to watch a movie, which we thought was inappropriate to be watched in a public place.. ;).. lol..

Next day with some interesting and entertaining conversations with a fellow passenger, who was ready to file lok sabha complaints on all the things possible, we watched some ‘appropriate’ movies and later boarded off at Indore station. We were received at the station by Ritu Aunty. Ritu aunty and Rajeev uncle were our hosts for the trip. Their house in MHOW was an hour drive from the station, and upon reaching there I realised that all the stories that kittu had told me about that place were amazingly true… One certainly falls in love with that lovely house and its people at the first glimpse.. (Oh i think I missed one detail.. aunty and uncle are Kittu’s childhood friend’s mom and dad…). So, after an introduction with everybody and a round of admiring that wonderfully built house amidst beautiful fields, we had a delectable and filling lunch and dozed off to sleep… ( these are two of the routines that occupied maximum time in the itinerary of our trip.. ) In the evening we went to attend a dinner party at Preet Uncle and Neelam aunty’s house (one of Rajeev Uncle’s friend).. A beautiful family and an equally wonderful house, where I got a chance to meet some more lovely people, and trust me, more than the place, it is the people living in MHOW that make you fall in love with that place yet again..

Next day was the most important day of the trip.. Early morning, we had breakfast and left with uncle and aunty to learn about the working of BioRe, the ways and methods they adopt to produce organic cotton, and how they contribute towards creating a better life for the society.. It was the start of an overwhelming day, on which we not only learnt about the working of the organisation, but also saw the true soul of India, its farmers putting their sweat and blood in producing the basic and the most important things, food and clothing, for those who live in the cities and who put so trivial values on them. After a wonderful drive past wonderful fields of wheat and cotton, when we got some valuable insights from uncle and aunty, we reached the Cotton Ginning unit of BioRe.. We were welcomed by ‘the most beautiful sight’ for a fashion student, a mounting heap of raw cotton that looks like a snow cloud with a little dust on it.. obviously me and kittu dint miss our chance to climb on that heap and take some pictures.. After that we were taken for a round inside the ginning unit, and Rajeev uncle showed and told us about the safety measures followed during the entire process.. After that, Ritu aunty showed us the Mobile health unit of BioRe that takes care of medical needs of the farmers in the nearby villages where proper medical advice and treatments are not easily accessible..

Following a trip to both of these facilities that where state-of-the-art, we drove to the training centre, where local farmers are trained on the ways and methods of producing Organic Cotton without the use of any pesticides and fertilizers. The spirit of work and restructuring the conventional methods that ran through the people there was so strong and contagious that one becomes bound to give a thought on how important it is to think.. to think about how you can do things better, to think about how you can help the people around, to think about how you can work to save the world from that clouding ghost of selfish interests and power. People there had two words running through their veins, and they were ‘organic and sustainability’, everything they did revolved around creating a better tomorrow or adding at least one spec of a second to earth’s life.. After some valuable lessons, refreshing lunch & sleep, and some shopping at Aavran (the handloom unit of BioRe foundation), we headed back home and visited the research centre en route.. (not to forget, kittu’s entertaining dance on all random songs on radio.. yes! she can dance in a car too). Upon reaching home, we freshened up and got ready for another dinner party at Zaal and Anaita’s house.. This beautiful Parsi family has a wonderful house that is more than 150 years old.. Not to say, but we enjoyed every bit of our time there and had amazing dinner (courtesy Anaita and Zaal’s aunt, Dinu), after which we bid adieu to everybody, as we were scheduled to take next day’s afternoon train to Delhi.. (but lemme tell you that our train tickets were still not confirmed..)

In the morning, we packed our bags and clicked some random pictures in that beautiful house (not to miss those unbelievable views of the fields around and a golf course in front).. we came downstairs for breakfast.. and upon checking the status of our train tickets, which felt like waiting for our board exam results, we got to know that we did not get the confirmation on our tickets, and kittu was inconsolably sad for being ‘one down’.. Well I am sorry that I cant tell you that story, else i will be publically killed by her.. lol… Anyways.. then we thought of taking resort to our newly invented interests.. eating and sleeping.. :)… , and after sleeping the entire day, we went for cycling, and the smartest thing that we did was to leave 20 minutes before twilight.. (I said the word ‘smartest’, as there are no street lights in that area and most of the vehicles that ply on that road are military and village trucks and buses..).. So by the time we rode till the end of the road, that was some 800 meters far, we were out of breath and low on day light… But still we had a speck of energy left to click pictures, after which we rode back in dark, with only way to alert other vehicles of our presence being the dim moonlight and our camera’s flash.. On returning back in one piece, we silently thanked god, as we both tried putting up very brave faces on the way back home.. and then we went on to freshen up and change for another dinner party.. well we were just lucky to land up at uncle and aunty’s place when they had a stream of parties to attend… So we went to Rupa and Harry’s house which again was a lovely place.. most of Rajeev uncle’s friends are former army personnel who have classic army living style and houses.. We enjoyed yet another delicious dinner with those amazing people and finally said bye to them before returning back home..

In the morning, we woke up to say bye to uncle and aunty who were leaving for the training centre, and then we had breakfast and packed our bags and went out to explore the fields around.. (we gave up our urge to doze off again and finally decided to be a little adventurous) .. We took some wonderful pictures around and then bid adieu to the place and its people and drove to Indore airport to take a fight back home… Well not to miss, that was my first flight ever, and kittu was more excited than i was.. but that is how she is… always high on life, and happy for others.. It was a great experience to get those unbelievable views of India from the height of 10,000 mt from a plane.., we landed in Delhi 1 and half hour later around 2 :30 pm..So here we were, back in Delhi, with more in hand than we ever thought to learn, with some unforgettable memories and wonderful lessons of life that we certainly are going to remember forever..

It is always great to share my experiences with you all. Take care and I hope to take you to some more interesting places and experiences in the magical land of India, where thousands of stories are waiting to be told..

With Love

Shivani Ahuja

Sattal- Niftians Into the wild!

Hey friends!
I don’t have words to write about this experience, but still I’ll try my best. It was the last day of our exams and then half of the class including me had our Minor Project presentation (which was not so minor)… and then began the time which none of us imagined would be like that at all… We went back home after some last minute shopping and most of us packed our bags in almost 10 minutes and left for Old Delhi Railway station. Some of my friends picked me on the way to the station and there began a journey that I can bet that none of us will ever forget. It was certainly a nice start with few almost hot or warm chicken nuggets packed by my mom for the journey.. It took us 30 minutes to reach the station.

I must say that Old Delhi railway station is a state of the art facility with a medieval look marked with contemporary eating joints and facilities.. Our class assembled at Comesum (a 24/7 eating joint at the station). You need to quote this, as for the first time our entire class was on time… 🙂 … The scene was worth being video recorded, as everybody was full of excitement and last minute jitters, there were a lot of ‘Hi’s and hugs and few emotional good byes too.. ;)… We finally embarked on our journey with the train departing just on time. The train journey was crazy as we talked, shouted and laughed the entire night, and almost half of the passengers sitting near us or trying to sleep abandoned their seats. By the time we finally decided to sleep, it was super cold and we somehow cuddled up in our blankets and pretended to sleep on the train’s not so comfortable sleepers. Upon reaching Kathgodam at around 6 A.M. we were transferred to our camp on jeeps. We drove through beautiful valleys and breathtaking landscapes, with chilled wind ruffling our hair. The expert driver cruised smoothly on that ‘almost a road’… Well the ride was totally worth it as when we reached our camp (Wildrift), the beautiful sight of a born fire place, wooden sitting areas and wonderful scenes of the hills making the backdrop made us fall in love with the place instantly. We were greeted by the camp’s instructor, Mr. Manoj, who introduced us to our daily curriculum and camp’s rules. We got some time to unpack and freshen up, and after struggling to be on time we left to take up some adventure sports like Kayaking, Rock Climbing and River Crossing. The class was divided into three groups and all the groups got to experience two adventure sports on the first day. This experience of learning new things, working together, encouraging each other and that urge to push you to take one more step was certainly one of the best. That hard work and few bruises paid off when we were served hot lunch that we all savoured together. After one more round of adventure sports we left for the camp and on the way we had an unusual and intriguing activity. We were suppose to accompany one of the least acquainted classmates to the camp, and one of the two people were alternatively blindfolded, while the other talked about himself/herself. Upon reaching the camps we discussed our day’s experience and then had a delectable dinner. The night was spent singing and chatting beside the born fire and then some more chatting in the tents.. That’s how we called the day off with some aching muscles, dead cold weather, so many new thoughts and so many new feelings inside our hearts.

The morning began with a hot water bath and a nice filling breakfast.. After which we left for another round of adventurous activities and a Kayaking competition between the three groups.. Our walk back to the camps was fun and memorable, when we chatted with our friends and made up the most foolish stories in the world… When you are tired and hungry, nothing can be better than hot pakoras and tea, and that is what the awesome camp people welcomed us with.. We had some leisure time in the camps and after dinner we all participated in treasure hunt.. Our only saviours on this stunt in the wild were our torches, moonlight and a map guiding us about the way to the flag and then back to the camp.. It was a crazy experience as we trekked on almost invisible path in dark, with scary voices from the valley… ok I am exaggerating a little bit, but I am not lying about those scary voices.. but it was our fault as our shouting and running woke up the poor animals.. Finally we returned alive to the camps. We relaxed a little bit beside the camp fire again.. This day we called it a night pretty early, but upon returning to the tents we changed our mood and went on chatting till 4 AM where there was no light beside from a beautiful gas lantern.. (However, half of the friends dozed off mid way and the rest of us went on disturbing all others in other tents)…

Next morning, most of us decided not to take a bath, and we went on for breakfast, after which we had some team building and leadership activities.. After lunch, we went trekking to Hidamba Temple, where we met a baba who had an unusual sense of humour.. Everybody there was very hospitable and they offered us hot tea, biscuits and bananas… Oh i forgot to mention about the way to the temple… Well this was ‘actually’ an invisible way ‘in the bright day light’… Only one person could walk on the path at a time, and at times not even that.. ;)…Well somehow we managed to reach the top and then to return back in one piece… Suddenly it dawned on us that it is our last day, in fact few hours left in the camp… there was a mixed feeling of leaving the camp where we had no sense of time and no time to get bored and now going back to our homes, to our cell phones, to our laptops, to facebook… We packed our bags, bid adieu to our tents and then celebrated Omar, Anir and Suhani’s due birthdays before saying bye to the camp’s staff and Manoj Sir… The drive back to station was no less scary than the one from it… Again the driver showed his immaculate driving skills on that kutchha road and then we boarded the train to Delhi from Kathgodam at around 8. This time most of us were low on energy and tired, though few of my classmates still had a little pack of energy left to sing and play on the way back… we reached Delhi at 4:15 in the morning.. Here we were, back in the capital city, back to our homes, but at the end of it all, we were a little more mature, a little more close to each other and a little more emotional.. This camp was not just an adventure trip, it was a place where we laughed, we sang, we played, we bonded, we cried and most importantly we learned a lesson called ‘life’.

With Love
Shivani