बचपन

शब्द ही है जो कभी कभी नज्में बनते है,

नज्में ही है जो कभी कभी कुछ याद दिला देती है,

यादें ही है जो उस वक़्त को ज़िंदा रखती है।

एक खुशनुमा बहार जैसा वो वक़्त,

एक ठंडी बौंछार जैसा वो वक़्त,

एक मीठे अमरुद जैसा वो वक़्त,

कभी आधा कच्चा लगता है,

कभी आधा पक्का।

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How I was Mesmerized by Atacama, the Driest Desert of the World – And You Would be Too

They say that the Atacama is the driest desert, but I disagree.

 

The blue lagoons quenched my interminable thirst for beauty,

the flamingos still fly right through my dreams, 

the imposing mountains showed me how high we could reach, 

and the deep valleys let me look so beyond that I didn’t even know existed.

Come, let’s ride this journey together, 

because my friend, 

you would need someone to hold onto,

when you are not sure if what you gape at is the reality,

or it is just another dream you behold. 

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San Pedro de Atacama – A Bustling–yet–Quaint Gateway to the Driest Desert

 

Sleeping on the semi-sleeper first seat in front of the wide glass window on the second floor of the bus, which was driving from Santiago to Calama, I woke up to find ourselves driving next to the Pacific under a star-studded, deep-blue sky which was complimented by a shimmering rotund moon. Even the contour of the immortal rabbit that Ruskin Bond says was dropped on the moon was difficult to trace on the bright moon. It was like a painting.

Having admired the scenery, I dozed off again and kept waking up intermittently until we arrived in Calama. That was when I pulled myself out of hibernation and, an hour later, I was riding on another bus to San Pedro de Atacama, Chile. At the end of this blended twenty-five-hour journey, I stumbled out of the bus like a zombie and the glowering February sun focused all its anger on the first-time visitor. Luckily, my hostel was a five-minute walk from the bus terminal. I strapped on my blue backpack and strode as I had loaded the directions to the hostel in Google maps.

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My Worst Travel Experience – When Two Teenage Boys Snatched my Phone and Ran Away in the Delinquent Santiago

I donned my white formal dress, painted my lips red with my matte-look red lipstick, lined my eyes with Kajal Magique, brushed my hair and let them fall loose, strapped my G-Shock on my right wrist, checked my wallet for some Chilean pesos and put it in my bigger black leather purse, picked up my black Lenovo phone and earphones, launched Google maps, and walked out of the Airbnb to go for my interview at the English teaching center located in downtown Santiago. I had had to visit the center a few times to secure an interview with the English owner of the promising institute.

I took the lift to the ground floor of the building and having exchanged pleasantries with the joyful guard, walked out, and found myself face-to-face with the glowering January sun. I strode through the almost-empty roads towards the closest bus stand which was frequented by the bus that would have directly taken me to the cosmopolitan center of the town.

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Elon Musk – Twelve Things We Can Learn from the Hulk–Like Tycoon

The prime-time news and the first page headlines of reputed national newspapers and the gossiping internet forums and the geeky silicon valley blogs have bombarded us with Elon Musk. They scrutinized the guy first for his electronic money transfer system (Paypal), then for his electric cars (Tesla), then for his rockets and space stations (SpaceX), and then for solar energy (SolarCity).

But I felt I still knew nothing about the silicon valley tycoon who manufactures rockets and cars in one of the most expensive places on earth aka Silicon Valley. So to know more about the real-life Iron Man, I read his biography Elon Musk: How the Billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla is Shaping our Future by Ashlee Vance.

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The Historic and Breathtaking Angkor Wat – Wrapped in a Photo Essay and Mystical Mythology

Mythology has always fascinated me. As a child, I used to read all the thin and thick Hindu mythological books kept in the rectangular wall-hooked showcase temple in our mandirwala or the temple room. I grilled my mother about Shiva and Lakshmi and Parvati and Vishnu and Hanuman and the snakes and the elephants and the monkeys and the Ramayana. Then I visited college and opted for literature courses and read all the different versions of Mahabharata that I could put my hands on.

So while walking around Angkor Wat or the City of Temples, when I saw that the fellow international travelers were mesmerized by the temple but also confused, I donned my narrator cloak and recited tales of the Hindu mythology and exposed the personal lives of the millions of gods and goddesses that Hinduism has.

One of the stories that I narrated was the famous tale of the churning of the sea or the samudra manthan that has been depicted at the entrance of the temple and has been engraved beautifully on many of its walls and columns.

Now I am not that cruel that I would devoid you off this bewitching story. So here it goes.

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Travel Tales from the Tragic Cambodia – Reflecting Upon the Ruthless Destruction of Life in the World

I was climbing the stairs of a high school in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. No, I did not intend to repeat high school to recognize the petals and sepals of a flower better. The school wasn’t ordinary. The faces of the men and women that had been tortured and killed in its classrooms stared at us from behind the glass frames hung on the bloodstained walls. The rusted iron bars, withering waterboards, and used bloody clothes kept in those classrooms narrated a gruesome story of the ruthless Cambodian massacre, that happened not so long ago. The metal shackles with which people were tied to the waterboards and to the iron bars were still chained to them; I assume those metal chains couldn’t be used for anything else now.

Unwillingly, I vividly imagined the bodies possessing those faces and donning those gory clothes tied to the iron rods with the cold shackles. A guard came throughout the day to beat them and torture them with electric shocks as the helpless stifled on the floor. Or to cut them with knives and suffocate them with plastic bags. Blood oozed out of the wounds of the tortured but medicine was out of the question. Four small spoonfuls of rice porridge and watery soup of leaves were given to them twice a day.

My skin crawled. I shivered in the scorching month of June.

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रंगाथिटटु पक्षी विहार – एक दिन पंखों वाले स्वर्ग में।

हम रंगाथिटटु पक्षी विहार की एक दिन की ड्राइव पर गए। सुंदरता से अभिभूत यह जगह मानो अपने पंखो से उड़ा कर कही दूर ले गयी मुझे ।

मैंने अपना ये अनुभव एक कविता में लिखा। आखिरकार, प्रकृति और कविता से बेहतर क्या है?

तो वो कविता आपके सामने पेश करती हूँ।

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A One–Day Road Trip From Bangalore to Panchapalli Dam and Bettamugilalam Village – Driving Through Wilderness and Rejoicing in Nature

One needs to control his or her mind to do anything in this world. Even the most enlightened of us all, Plato, Seneca, Marcus, Aristotle, Buddha, Socrates, valued this virtue. I do not possess this quality, yet, and hence couldn’t sleep the Saturday night before the Sunday drive. At 4 am, when I disabled the alarm and dragged myself out of bed, I felt as if a hundred pins pierced my eyes. 

Determined to hit the road, we packed our country-egg-omelet and Amul-butter-pasted sandwiches, that I had already prepared the night before, in tiffin boxes and then in a backpack, along with bananas, water bottles, and Unibic protein bars. We wanted to hike the world. Soon, we sped on the road in search of a green and sunlight-lit golden Sunday in some distant hills or next to a lake or a dam, may be accompanied by an elephant or two. 

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Indian Marriage Conundrum – How I Hold My Ground as an Unmarried 30–Year–Old Woman.

My mother called me thrice at 8 in the night. Editing an article, I thought something had happened and picked up the third call. And then after some small talk about my writing and if I was ever going to take up a job, she said she wanted to talk about something.

As a thirty-year-old unmarried woman in India, I recognize this something, like dogs can sense tsunamis, for at least five years now. This something — without any exception — is marriage.

To humor her, I asked what did she want to talk about. She said she always worried about me and often cried because she cannot do anything else. That she didn’t know what my life plans were. That nothing made sense. That I must have been lonely. Didn’t I like having a family? Was there anybody? That why couldn’t we — mother and daughter —share everything with each other.

These sentences stumbled out of her mouth as she choked.

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