The Bicycle

We lived in a usual 90s middle class colony. Colorful blocks arranged in a neat pattern around a park. It was like one of those monopoly boards. I was just learning to ride a bicycle then. My father used to help me mount and dismount the bicycle. The rest was taken care by me.

I used to take rounds of the park. The difficult part was the turn. Four of them in a lap. I used to go complete mental on the bell at the turns. Because God forbid if I had to apply the brakes, I would have come crashing down. After 30 minutes of peddling and executing the plan perfectly to avoid the brakes, I was helped to get down. And there ended a session of me practicing to ride the bicycle.

I was too short then to do all of it on my own. But that was not the only reason I was not learning. I was too scared to give it a try. Even when I did try, it was only when I knew there was someone who would hold me if I fall.

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Highway to Leh

This July, we found a beautiful place to get lost – Ladakh.

Coordinating with friends for a few months. A Whatsapp group. 13 members. Few sneaked away. Few stayed.

And on a overcast Saturday afternoon, we all met at My Bar at Rajiv Chowk to kick start our journey. A journey we have been looking forward to for some time now.

There were six of us, to be precise, in a place which was flooding with rucksacks. There were so many travelers in My Bar at that time that one would believe it was a base point for everyone who was starting to Leh from New Delhi. We had our share of discussions and drinks and left for Manali at 5 in the evening.


I remember someone quoting this to me on a stormy morning during our Har Ki Dun trek – “Red sky at night, traveler’s delight; Red sky in morning, traveler take warning”. The sky that evening was crystal blue, with puffs of cloud someone painted across the canvas. We all had our doubts of weather during the journey as it is usually very unpredictable at this time of the year. But the awesome weather gave us the confidence. All is well that ends well. But a good start never harmed anyone, has it?

After around 5 hours of music, we reached Chandigarh, where we crashed at a friend’s for dinner. The cab that we booked from the online cab booking service Gozocabs was very reasonable and kept their promise of no hidden cost. The driver was a little cranky though, but we gave him the benefit of doubt. Anyone can be cranky if they would be driving for 30 hours straight without getting a proper sleep. Tobacco was what kept him running. We didn’t mind it though, he promised us a touchdown in Manali at 6 in the morning.

We managed to find an open petrol pump near Kullu

We managed to find an open petrol pump near Kullu

But what’s the fun if everyone go as per plan? It was around 4 in the morning. There was an argument going on the cab, regarding which song to be played. And suddenly the music went all loud. I don’t know if it was the volume, the lights or plain dumb luck. BOOM. Our back left tyre just burst. Everyone did their bit by inspecting the damage and helping in the getting the tyre changed. By helping, I mean getting the flashlights of our phones on while our driver set up the OT.

It was just before the dawn. The time when night is at its darkest. We were standing next to a dam in the town of Mandi, observing the silhouette of the distant peaks, when the news struck us that the spare tyre had negligible air in it. Great. Talk about plan B. We were stranded in a place where you can only see a truck once in a while, with no sign of any inhabitants whatsoever. Need to wait for the morning, we thought. But the driver still had his part to play. “Jump In. We would try to make it through with the flat one only.” We followed. Being engineers, we had to do our bit as well. We loaded an extra man on the right side, making it uncomfortable for everyone and we kept on going on for an hour or so, where we finally found a petrol pump which had the air machine working.

The damage control was done. It was already dawn. And we were in the heart of Himachal. Manali was just a few hours away. The toll of the night took over us and we gently passed into sleep. A beautiful sound woke us up. Beas river running forward with an ecstasy. The trees waving by as the clouds blocked the Sun. We entered the city of Manali, which was as beautiful as always. Google Maps came to rescue as we bunked in our hotel, had our lunch and decided to catch some sleep. It had started raining by then.

Manali - In the heart of The Great Himalayas

Manali – In the heart of The Great Himalayas

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It’s still raining here. Monsoons have been with us for almost two months now. They will be leaving soon. But until then, the city will continue to be at it’s most beautiful. 

September is here. That part of the year when you take a pause and think – “Wow!! The year has almost ended. But it started only some time ago”. That’s the beauty of time. It runs as fast as a Gazelle when it wants to. Otherwise, it just drags along link a stoned snail. 

But when you know that it’s galloping away, you should make sure to hold on as tightly as you could and just enjoy the ride 😀

The Bat, the Truck and the Moon

It’s approaching dawn. The night is silent as usual. Silent means normal. A parameter that ensures that everything has gone as per the plan.

The deep night has engulfed everyone in its clutches of sleep. But it’s not only me who is awake at this hour.

I stand at my flat’s terrace, trying to locate the Moon. But I cannot see it. There are too many clouds. I can say for certain where exactly it’s hiding. I can see the source of the light. A blurred dull ball appears in the sky, momentarily visible behind a thin puff of clouds.
I can see the moonlight falling on the Mango tree’s leaves. Mango tree which is slowly extending its arms, trying to capture our entire terrace, leaving us with a little space. But still,  we will bear with it. For it will bear fruits for us. Literally.

Just next to the tree lie a bunch of bats, continously shifting in their sleep, trying to find the perfect posture. Perfect hanging posture. They all have snuggled up in such a mess that I couldn’t possibly do a head count right now.

I look down at the road downstairs. It is completely deserted. Only exception being a Goods Carrier making a run along the path, every now and then. A truck passes by,  making a loud sound. Loud enough to scare a bat out of its sleep and into the sky. It flutters away as quietly as it could.

The clouds appear to have scattered for a short time. I can see the Moon now. It looks to be just a day away from being exactly half, like the protractor. It looks tired. It looks dull. I wonder why.

Another truck just passed by. It didn’t wake any bat up, this time around. The Moon has also made its way back behind the veil. The Mango tree stand there tall, apathetic to everything that’s going around him.

The dawn is approaching. The night is silent as usual. And it’s not only me who is feeling sleepy right now. So are the bats, the trucks and the Moon.

The Light

I was blinded by a light.
Too blinded to see the darkness that it was building in the hindsight.
My sub-conscious begged me to take cognizance of the same.
But I was too blinded by the light.

With time I started noticing the shadows the light had created all around me.
It was not until it started feeding off me.
It was not until I realized the light was artificial.
Fueled by the perception of false shine I had.
I knew I had to make a choice. To move towards truth, which was tough, or to be stuck in the false realm, which was comforting.

Then there came a few torch bearers.
A few good men who took the initiative to reach out to me.
They did not lead me out of the reach of the light. But they did show me the path.

For years now I have had conflict of thoughts.
A part of me still favored the light. It thought the light was innocent.
I felt weak many a times and succumbed to the false reality.
I gave in to the light.

Then I saw many others who were blinded by the light.
My guardian angels helped me see that.
For a long time I kept searching for the answers.
There came none.

I had never resisted the light for such a long time as I had done then.
I had to bred hatred towards the light in order to escape it.
I distant myself from it but the shine still occupied my mind.
I knew I had to completely kill that shine before it took control of me again.

I found a new light.
A light I can directly look into without being blinded.
A light that hid no lies.
A light that helped me discover myself.
A light that made me question everything, for my own good.

I came out a new person.
I no longer longed for the light, for the shine.
I moved forward with a confidence that was long lost.
I moved forward with my torch bearers. A few good men that never left my side.

I look at the idol of Lord Shiva and smile.
For I have discovered the truth. My truth.
And it is beautiful.