Sunday 28 July 2013

A drive to remember!

This was ridiculous! We had been roaming the roads of Gangtok looking for a guide and a vehicle to take us to the famous Nathula Pass and Changu lake. We had checked in with a hotel that promised us a package including the trip to the Pass and Lake, but like usual hotels, citing unavoidable circumstances, backed out. Just plain...backed out. After a loud argument and few unshed tears, we left the hotel in search of a travel agent in Gangtok who would take us to the coveted places. Unknown city and a chill night coupled with the irritation of locating an agent...I was almost sobbing. We finally located it- Sunshine Tours and Travels. The owner was a kind understanding guy. Few minutes later, I was glad I ended up in his office. Our travel applications were ready. Now we awaited the permits which would be issued only the next day.
Sunrise in Gangtok is pure Heaven.
Sunrise from the roof top of our hotel
Clouds floating beneath, the pink peaks of Kanchendzonga shining in the early morning sun...birds chirping all around, roses and daisies in full bloom and me sipping a cup of warm chaai cuccooned with the mister, watching the sunrise. We started early and our permits were ready by ten o clock only. Nima- the gift of our Sikkim Tour was driving the Innova. He knew the mountains like the back of his hand. A simple and down to earth person, he loved us Madrasis to the core. Our Hindi astounded him. " Memsahib...tum to bahut achche hindi bholte ho", he used to say once in a while. The drive of 54 kms from Gangtok to Nathula is one journey you have to undertake, if you want to know what a spectacular scenic and thriller ride is!
Clouds drifting apart and the winding road in between!

The entire drive reminded me of cliff-hanger!

The road built and maintained by the Border Roads Organisation is indeed a marvel. Criss crossing valleys and negotiating bends, climbing cliffs and rolling down the slopes, the journey was made memorable by spectacular sights of mist floating by, innumerable waterfalls and occasional sighting of yaks! As we climbed altitude, my breakfast threatened to make its way up which I pushed down with all my might. As whit sheets of snow slowly came visible, I felt incredibly hungry. And we slowed down at a small town for a snack of piping hot momos. A visit to the North East is incomplete without a plate of momos dipped in chilli sauce. Lip smacking momos came to the table, but my eyes were riveted elsewhere...The sight from the window of the tiny motel was magical and dreamy.
The best view from a window!

As we continued our climb, sheets of melting snow gurgling as little waterfalls all along and lazy yaks grazing the little grass left, the mighty mountains unfolded in myriad maze of white and brown. We crossed semi-frozen lakes and quaint villages. As we crossed Sherathang, we were surprised to see the highest ATM of Punjab National Bank at 14000 feet! The Army post located nearby must have been blessed with this ATM! The ascent through Changu lake is a sight that one can never forget, with snow playing hide and seek.
Highest ATM of PNB, Sherathang
One of the many serene lakes
Our drive and us

Without stopping by, we continued to the Nathula Pass, where we had to walk almost a kilometre up the snow, thanks to a traffic jam. A traffic snarl at 14000 feet is unimaginable and the walk to the pass' entry and climb up the flight of stairs leading to the Indo- China Border is no mean feat. My father aged 60 and my baby girl aged 6 then were the happier ones enjoying the climb, while I was huffing and puffing like a rail engine on the rocky mountains...Few pictures at the summit and we were happily playing with the snow, throwing balls at each other and pushing each other on the soft bed of snow.
Finally! At Nathula Pass

On the way back, Nima took us to another small eatery, rather a home where we were served chow-mein and I wandered out as always to play with a huge yak on the road. He seemed unperturbed and cool. As I inched close for a picture, the camera-shy guy was so nervous that he almost touched the edge of the cliff.
Poor yak!

The yak ride in Changu was another adventure. The little yak that was supposed to carry me looked at me with utter disbelief. A good 80 kilos, I was too worried that his back would break. But the little one seemed well mannered and handed me back safe to my family. The drive back was swift, Nima keeping the conversation live and active as I dozed on and off, now used to the tumble and rumble in my stomach. It has been almost a year since our drive to Nathula, but the memories of the snow sheathed mountains remain fresh, tucked away in a safe corner of my heart. To reminisce and ponder on what a drive it was!
Enjoying the traffic snarl at 14000 feet, playing with the snow!

Written for the Michelin Pilot Experience Contest by blog adda

A chance to win a trip to Michelin Pilot Experience at

As I Fall...

This post has been picked by blog adda as a WOW post!

Tring Tring...the phone rang...
The shrill tone echoed along the long dank corridor. Footsteps rushed to pick up the phone. Then ensued a free-for-all and finally the receiver ended up with the little guy in his white pyjamas. His mouth still wet and smudged with red cream, he yelled a loud "Hellooooooo". The lady in a black satin night gown stood beside him, her long hair tumbling down her curvy back. She looked pale and exhausted but a smile dazzlingly lit up her beautiful face. " Pappa!", exclaimed the little guy with all his might. And as a chill hand touched my shoulder, I turned and looked straight into her face...the face contrite with unshed tears and something else simmering deep inside- agony. My throat goes dry...
The phone rings...tring tring...The shrill tone echoes along the corridor. the smell of fresh cake being baked touched his nostrils and the little guy in white pyjamas runs towards it. So does his mother- the beautiful lady with long tresses that almost kissed her waist with her every footstep. The playful tiff  ends with the little one winning the fight and yelling a mighty "Pappa!" over the phone. This happens almost every night, as I watch them in the adjacent flat, from my fourteenth floor balcony, holding my cigar, reminiscing my non existent family. The call from the young man who is employed abroad and the two loving souls who run to talk to the man of their lives...hmmmm...
With a wife divorced years back and no kids to hold on to, my life is just the routine and mundane "run of the mill. All I want is a loving hand to hug me tight and call me "Pappa!". And she- the most adorable woman I've seen all my life. What kind of a man would live life apart from such love and beauty? Her husky voice when she sings to her son, her elegance in black sarees, her lovely locks of soft and wavy hair...Oh God...I am mad with want, hungry with need. It was one such dark starry night that I went knocking their door. I had heard her bedtime story being read out with warmth and the ensuing silence must have emboldened me.
I knocked on the door and waited with bated breath as she opened the door wide, her smile lighting up her whole face and my whole being. The smell of freshly baked cake floats around the hall as I walk behind her, adoring her long tresses and curvy back. She insists on having a coffee as I watch her moves with lust and longing. Unable to resist my feelings anymore, I pull her waist from behind. Unexpected of the sudden movement, she turns, flips and falls back with her head hitting the granite counter top. Blood gushes out as a stream...flowing freely on the kitchen floor as I watch stupefied with horror. She lies still and it takes me just two full minutes to register that she is dead...plain dead. Sweating and panting, I turn to run, as the little one in his white pyjamas stands near the kitchen door clutching his Tom teddy, his eyes wide with fear. His mouth still is wet and smudged with the red cream from his favourite cake. Shit! I try to think fast. What did he see? He shouldn't be what my head orders me.
" I didn't do anything", I yell, as he tries to kick himself free from my vice like grip. I grab the big Tom teddy and push the little one on the ground, smothering him. His limbs flail and try to grab something, anything...And I could reach the phone cord. Pulling it around his neck and smothering his groans with the teddy, I exert all my energy in wringing his tiny neck. His limbs loosen and finally he lies still...I run fast from the house, so fast as my legs could carry me and rest only when I reach the confines of my home.
I try to wet my parched lips and shriek at the top of my voice. But I can muster just a weak ahhhhh....I wrest myself free from her grip and the hollowed eyes of her little son. I finally break free, the cigar in my hand still intact. As I tumble to my death fourteen floors from my balcony, all I can see is her long tresses of hair rolling along my death and her soft husky voice reading the usual bed time story.
Tring Tring...the phone rang and rang and rang....
This post is a part of  Write Over the Weekend an initiative for Indian Bloggers by Blogadda.

Saturday 27 July 2013

Mama's Mia Princess!

My Princess!
"I am a princess"...she sings in her husky, tiny voice to the little Barbie perched on her lap. I watch my little girl, transfixed, as she keeps on crooning and changing hairstyles and hairclips. My cheeky little one is someone who I look upon at adverse times, trying times and whenever I feel low. She has an 'attitude' and carries herself with style and beauty. Everything she does, is a poem. Her every word of wisdom is a joke. Imagine this- the other day we were driving to the doctor on my two-wheeler when I asked the little one to tell her math tables. It all came wrong. Coming back home, she recited them exactly right! When asked why it all came wrong on the ride, here goes my little one- " Mom...the numbers got all jumbled when your bike hit the speed breaker". I was left speechless!

She knows the right moment to keep us ticking, to make us reel in laughter. And oh, at school, she is always surrounded by friends. It was fun watching bigger kids calling out her name when I go to school for meetings. The school van arrives with the chant "Leina, Leina". She chooses her wardrobe, her jewellery and her makeup...and I feel she is every bit a DIVA! And all I can wish is many more laurels in her life. If I had the luck of choosing her jewellery, it would definitely be Mia! I wish I could accessorize my angel's 'aura' with these pieces of simple, yet exquisite jewellery. Just check out the trendy jewellery designed for the divas of tomorrow by Tanishq. Check out the video below-

Written for Mia Blogger Contest by Mia, tanishq.

Wednesday 24 July 2013

Picture Card Perfect- Pelling, Sikkim

This post has been selected as Spicy Saturday Pick by Blogadda. A huge Thank You, Blogadda!

Pelling- The place is distinct, quaint and ruggedly loveable. By the time we reached the hotel we had booked online, in a cool April day, the town was in its afternoon slumber. The 'town' is barely a few streets, dotted with plenty of hotels, tiny eateries serving steaming momos and spicy chaai, souvenir shops selling chinaware and bric-a-brac. After a late lunch and a nap, we left the hotel for a walk, a walk to remember it was...Holding hands with your loved one, walking along the peaceful walkways, counting the stars and being kissed by the pristine weather...Pelling always remains etched in my memory as something sweet and romantic.

The aroma of pink lilies bursting into bloom woke me in the early morning and I was so eager to have a glimpse of the mighty Kanchendzonga that I rushed to the balcony, tugging my woollens. Mesmerised is all I can say. Pulling the chair and glued to the balcony I geared myself for one of the spectacular sunrises of my life. The light came in slowly, showering the icy top of the ranges a crimson orange that transformed to a lovely mauve, pink and finally settled down for a peachy white. The chirping birds around, sounds of  a small town waking up and the bountiful nature around you is almost dreamy and magical.
Sunrays kissing the icy Kanchendzonga

A simple beautiful cottage, Pelling
We had a full day to roam around the place and i was very particular in making the most of the day. After a breakfast of chow-mein, we set off with our favourite driver cum guide, Nima. The travel to Kanchendzonga falls is by itself Heaven, with winding roads that criss cross valleys and mountains. Little villages perched atop the hills, beautiful women going about their routine chores...I jumped at the chance of meeting two Lepcha women who posed cute for pictures with me and i had a hard time understanding their language and adoring their jewellery. The Kanchendzonga waterfall is about 30 kms from Pelling and the drive to Kecheopalri lake is through this awesome water marvel.
Local Lepcha Tribe woman- loved her jewellery!

Majestic Kanchendzonga Falls

The Acrobats near the falls- found it hard to control them!
The steps leading to the falls is a bit tricky, but once you cross the canopy, you are rewarded with a graceful shower of waterspray. I loved crossing over the stream and walking amidst the rolling stones. The path to the falls is dotted with shops selling channa, chaai and noodles.

Our next stop is equally breath taking- the Kecheopalri lake called lovingly the wishing lake. The path leading to the lake is mystical, aged trees dotting the path that begins from a temple with a huge bell. The ramp way to the lake lined by wishing bells. Bells, bells and more bells. The sight is simply astounding. And any mention of Kechoepalri without mentioning the fishes of the lake is incomplete. The huge shoals of  fish come to see you on the shores, they just circle calmly seeing you, feeling you. A truly rewarding spiritual experience is the gift  that Kecheopalri lake offers you. A very sacred lake of both Hindu and Buddhist faiths, devotees throng the place.
The Wishing lake, shaped like the footstep of Goddess Tara

The fishes in the lake

Singshore suspension bridge was next in the itinerary. Mighty high at 198m, this bridge connects two hills. Touted as Sikkim's highest bridge and Asia's second highest gorge suspension bridge, a bird's eye view from the bridge can just send your adrenaline pumping. I wish they could start bungee jumping from this vantage bridge, would definitely love to plunge down from it one day! Pulling the kids, we walked the stretch of the bridge across and was rewarded with the sight of lovely 'sunakhari' orchids blooming on a rock! And red roses along the road. Built for about 16 years by Sikkim PWD, this bridge is definitely worth a visit.
The Singshore Bridge- second highest gorge suspension bridge of Asia!
Sunakhari in full bloom!
Our last visit for the day is the Pemayangtse Monastery. Situated at the entry point of Pelling, the monastery dates back to 17th Century. The main statue of Padmasambhava with his consorts and the paintings around the temple are unique. The first floor houses several ancient Buddhist dolls, idols and paintings. The second floor is magical- the seven-tiered wooden structure, a model of the Heavenly Palace.
Pemayangtse Monastery

Intricate Lord Ganesha painting- Pemayangtse Monastery

Heavenly Palace- Monastery
The little monks around the place, the fluttering flags, the icy peaks jotting the landscape and cool breeze- the picture unfolds in my eyes as i write this. A visit to Pelling can rejuvenate and re-ignite the passion to live, as I discovered...

p.s.: God...I am dying for a trip again. Dear God, let my darling husband read this post and sponsor my next trip ;)
p.p.s.: Hearty welcome to the Royal Son. When are we going to see our own India's Royal Son? Speed up, Ra(h)ul!
p.p.p.s.: How are fried ice-creams sinfully tasty? :P