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The Pandemic Chronicles – The Beginning

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Hello Friends,

How have you been?

Dictionary.com tells me that a virus means an infective agent that typically consists of a nucleic acid molecule in a protein coat, is too small to be seen by light microscopy, and is able to multiply only within the living cells of a host.

A small molecule that cannot be even seen by the naked eye, that needs us, humans, to live and multiply, has pushed us inside our homes and have locked us from the outside. 

Here are some of my observations from the months spent locked inside the house during the pandemic. I wrote these updates as a personal diary for me to look back into the events later. But then I decided to publish the journal entries for everyone. Of course, not before sprinkling a little bit of humor to the otherwise serious matter. I hope you laugh a bit. And if I upset you unintentionally, please forgive me for I am just a die-hard comic. 

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Creative Routine and Rituals – How to Dream and Create Consistently

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While some people can’t focus until they have meandered around for hours and finally give in to guilt, others sit and get amazing work done by just holding the pen right: having a daily creative routine could be complicated or could come simple and natural. 

What does a creative schedule even mean? A schedule that inspires creativity and helps the creators (writers, painters, entrepreneurs, designers, artists, and other creative professionals) forge their imaginations most desirably.

Also, creativity is subjective. A coder is creative when she can write a 100-line code in 10. A marketeer is creative when he can sell toothpaste such as Pepsodent to the human race. 

Anyone with original ideas (in or out of their work sphere) is creative. 

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Serendipitously Spotting Sloth Bear and Leopard in BR Hills, Karnataka

cheetal in br hills sanctuary

From Bangalore to BR Hills – Venturing Into the Hearts of Karnataka Jungles

Biligiri Rangana Betta hills or popularly known as BR hills lie about 180 km south of Bengaluru. 

Just a 4–5 hours drive away from Bangalore, it is no surprise that the hills make for a perfect weekend getaway. Having been stuck in the city for two months straight, I was in desperate-need-of-greenery-and-fresh-air and quickly finalized upon Biligiri Hills as my weekend destination in Karnataka. The trip was with my husband so it had to be short to accommodate his full-time job. But even a 2–3 days road trip soaked us in so much nature that we savored it through the next few months of the dry pandemic era in which even stepping out of our tiny abode for groceries felt like a luxury.

I hadn’t expected to see much wildlife in BR hills, as my ventures into the hearts of Karnataka jungles (such as the Dandeli Sanctuary) before hadn’t borne me much fruit; I never saw the big cats or even the tail of an errant elephant. But little did I know that my desire to see Karnataka wildlife would finally come to color in the Biligiri Rangana Hills, officially known as the BR Hills Wildlife Sanctuary which was formed in 1974. 

At an altitude of 3500 feet above sea level, BR hills stand where the Western Ghats meets the Eastern Ghats, and make for an ecological hotspot. In addition to the location exoticism, the BRT wildlife sanctuary is quite large, 540 km² in the area to be precise, and is also an official tiger reserve.

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Map of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve(part of Western Ghats). Source: http://www.cepf.net/ / CC BY-SA

Not only did we see two sloth bears, at different times, sprinting across in front of our jeep, but we also spotted a leopard hidden behind the thickets, wild bisons appearing all macho, mama and baby chital(spotted deers), an Indian grey mongoose tottering around, a tortoise couple resting on a log in a pond, vultures and owls perched on high and dry tree branches, lone sambar deers, barking deers melting us with their innocent eyes, Malabar squirrels nibbling through nuts perpetually, colorful birds of various kinds, langurs, wild monkeys, and wild boar. Phew. 

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77 Deep Questions About Life [And My Answers]

galaxy as representative of questions about life (1)

Important Life Questions to Ask Yourself

I remember a quote that once said, ask the right questions. Over the years I have realized that questions are much more important than answers. Without asking the right queries we can never hope for the right knowledge.

But it took me a while to even understand what questions I should ask of myself. Some of those doubts were always there in the background, hovering, emphasizing that I didn’t understand life. I had a vague feeling that I was dismaying over things that didn’t matter while ignoring the universal realities that would pull me out of my little problem bubbles. But I wasn’t sure. And I never took out time to pin those deep questions about life, and, hence, could never answer them.

The process of questioning deepened when I started writing and reading full-time. As I had redesigned my life from a corporate cycle of drudgery, I was too eager to question everything and to be better at things. It was like I had found vigor again. The more life changing books I read, the more I understood, and the more life questions I had.

As Franz Kafka once said, “Anyone who cannot come to terms with his life while he is alive needs one hand to ward off a little his despair over his fate… but with his other hand he can note down what he sees among the ruins.”

The effort continues.

I am putting down some thought-provoking questions that have hitherto found me here. I have followed a natural course and have clubbed thematic questions together.

I have answered all the questions to keep an account of my thoughts on the matter. As you will see, I have some answers, but some of the questions to life still dodge me. You can completely ignore my responses and find your own.

Along with the important questions about life and their answers, I am also putting down the books that have helped me understand the matter.

I plan to update these self reflection questions and answers year-on-year or whenever my understanding changes.

Till then, I present to you the questionnaire of life from my lens.

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Travel Inspires Change and One Small Change Can Transform Our Life

a path going through a pasture showing a journey, a course of change

Everything begins with a story

Let me recite a story from Charles Duhigg’s book The Power of Habits. This is a true story of a woman named Lisa(as per the records) who was the subject of a scientific study for understanding behavioral change and habits.

Please note: Though the story is the key to appreciate this article, I am summarizing the story for those readers who don’t want to read it. If you want to read the story, go to it here. Else continue reading the summary. 

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Deep Quotes About Life I Couldn’t Help Sharing

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Like many others, I read about the lives and work of many great artists, writers, physicists, musicians, innovators, and thinkers. But rather than quoting them, I generally prefer to share my interpretation of their ideas. I feel I haven’t assimilated their words well if I share them plain rather than kneading them with my thoughts.

Benjamin Franklin, Elon Musk, Virginia Woolf, Ruskin Bond, Rainer Maria Rilke, Vincent van Gogh, Marcel Proust, Nietzsche, Josh Waitzkin, and The Little Prince of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry — I’ve adapted lessons, inspirations, and visions of all these great human beings.

But it is not always about the source or amalgamation of motivation. Ideas and inspiration need to keep floating in the universe irrespective of where they come from. After all, we are only the means to an end, and we all need a guiding light.

In this piece, I am sharing some of the most deep, inspiring quotes about life I have come across. The hope is to read these avant-garde quotes, to come back to them whenever we need them, and sift through them even when we feel we don’t require them. Thus we keep ourselves soaked in inspiration and don’t let it deplete.

Let the journey of imagination and belief begin. (Also Read: What is Self-Improvement)

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Thinking of a Career Change at 30? I Quit My Job, Too

Why I Quit My Job, Shelved My IIT Computer Science Degree, and Started Writing changing career at 30

Why I Quit My Job, Shelved My IIT Computer Science Degree, and Started Writing

A software engineer by education, I was once a coder and an investment banker, but now I write full-time.

In this essay I talk about my six-year-long journey of thinking of a career change, why and how I quit my job, and finally went through a career change at 30.

If you are looking for a career change in 30s, I would recommend you read this piece for I have given an honest account of my own journey from coding to writing.

Let’s read.

*

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Coronavirus is Not At Fault – You Are As Happy As You Want To Be

a cat sitting in the balcony alone on the house on a beach

Coronavirus has slowed everyone down. People are staying indoors. Schools and colleges are shut. Offices have been closed down, and employees have been asked to work from home.

Borders are getting closed. Travel is forbidden, somewhere by law and somewhere by conscience. Some are still traveling and facing the wrath from the strangers on the internet.

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Riding the Yangon Circular train – Myanmar Memoirs

women on yangon circular train

Riding the Yangon Circular train – One of my best day trips from Yangon, Myanmar

When you search for things to do in Yangon, riding the Yangon circular train comes as one of the top activities. Pictures of travelers surrounded by sleepy Burmese people carrying overloaded bamboo baskets in the Yangon train would fill the internet feed. 

Those Yangon train pictures promised to offer an insider’s look into the local life of the city. So after exploring Yangon for a day, I decided to get my piece of the train.

The little girl inside me who grew up in India riding trains suddenly sprang to life. Before heading out of my hotel, I packed a small bag with my wallet, camera, water bottle, and strode towards the Yangon Central Railway station. 

Finding the train station wasn’t the easiest task. When I arrived at the Google map location for Yangon Central station, I couldn’t find the place. 

A few locals gestured me to climb the bridge at the location. When I did, I could only see the railway tracks from up the bridge, but I couldn’t locate any ticket booth or platform.

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Highs and Lows of 2019 – Travel Blogging, Himalayan Peaks, and Personal Well-Being

highs+lows+2019-14 by the riverside in burma author priyanka gupta on my canvas personal growth and travel blog

2019 was a roller coaster ride. 

Waking up in my rooftop room that serves as my intermittent writing studio in Bengaluru, incorporating travel blogging with On My Canvas by writing throughout the year about my past and recent travels, connecting with other bloggers and travel writers, slow traveling in the Himalayas for four(4) months of summer while focusing on health and personal well-being and working remotely, writing thirty(30) long and super-researched articles in thirty(30) days in August, traveling in Karnataka on short and long trips, collaborating with both national and international travel organizations for the first time, getting my work and writing acknowledged over other media platforms, and then making my way to Myanmar via flight (after my plans to cross into Myanmar through Northeast got canceled because of the protests) and spending three weeks there — I never felt that the year was slow even though I slowed down quite a few time. 

Oh, On My Canvas also won three travel blogging awards within my first year of sincere travel blogging.

Let me tell you my favorite and not-so-favorite moments from this hap hazardous list of actions and achievements. Later I will also summarize the things that I feel I couldn’t do justice to and wish to focus on in 2020.

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Manali to Naggar – Time Traveling in Himachal

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Manali to Naggar Village, Himachal Pradesh

Who would think that just 20 km away from Manali, India’s top tourist destination, lies the Naggar village, a town that refuses to think beyond stone temples, apple orchards, and wooden huts accommodating both cows and their humans equitably.

Manali to Naggar bus ride took about an hour. After roaring along with the Beas river for a while, the bus passed through tiny countryside settlements halting at them shakily. Call those clusters of country houses a hamlet or a village, but more often then not, the bus had to stop for cows unabashedly crossing the roads or villagers dashing to the opposite side with baskets of farm-fresh apples on their heads.

Once you get down at the main road at which Naggar village peeks from the high Himalayan hills that rise above the Beas valley, one has to trudge up a steep uphill road to get close to any of the Naggar’s many historical attractions some of whose origins are still unknown.

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6 Joyful Weeks in Dharamshala – Here’s What I Did

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What does this travel guide to Dharamshala contain?

  1. My Dharamshala trip at a glance
  2. About Dharamshala District, Himachal Pradesh.
  3. My best things to do in Dharamashala.
  4. What is the best time to visit Dharmshala?
  5. How to reach Dharamshala, India?
  6. How to reach Dharmshala from Delhi?
  7. Where to stay in Dharmsala?
  8. How much would a Dharamashala trip cost?
  9. What to bring to Dharamshala?
  10. Is Dharamsala safe for solo travelers?
  11. How to avoid the smoking culture of Dharamshala if you don’t want to be a part of it?
  12. How to go on a long trip to Dharamshala India?
  13. Around Dharmashala and further reading.

Things to do and places to visit in Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh

This is not your typical Dharamshala travel guide.

During my six weeks in Dharamshala, I hardly ever searched for “things to do in Dharmshala” or “best places to visit in Dharmashala.”

What was I doing? I was busy taking my Dharamshala trip slow.

This might sound clichéd, but I was learning the art of doing nothing.

Visiting Places in Dharamshala and Doing Things at My Pace

I started my journey in Dharamshala by attending a Vipassana course in Dharamkot, one of the many green villages of the Dharamshala district. After a much-needed ten-day silence of body and mind, I packed my bags and headed out of the deodar forests of the Dharamkot Vipassana center. My plan was to stay for a week in upper Dharamkot. 

But something made me leave Dharamkot in two days. Was it the smoky air of my Dharamkot hostel or the hippies lining the cafes in Dharamkot market, I am not sure. I went to live on the other side of Dharamkot to Upper BhagsuNaag, another lush village in Dharmshala.

I had gone to Bhagsu for a week, and I didn’t know I would end up spending more than a month there. 

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