Saturday, November 26, 2016

Take Your Chance!!

Setting the tone!! ;)
I was watching “Life In A.. Metro” a movie about many individuals who are facing their own challenges with relationships and happiness bounding to it.

We have two characters in the movie, first is Irrfan Khan – a 38 year old guy frustrated for not getting married who fails to be in criteria of normal guys. Second is Konkana Sen Sharma, she is a 28 year girl-next-door who has her challenges being deprived of hot looks and layers of makeup. Thus misses many guys! Finds a hot guy, dates him to find that he is a gay. Ruining her life in best possible way!!

Irrfan and Konkana meet over a cup of coffee and Konkana rejects him. After few months they coincidentally join the same office and spend time together at a sea shore.

Irrfan ask Konkana as why she rejected him.

Irrfan – What’s the reason you rejected me?

Konkana – Because you were staring at the objectionable part of my body. I didn’t like it.

Irrfan – I am 38 and I haven’t touched any girl, as you are so beautiful with perfect body and you are saying.. and Irrfan continues clearing out the fog. But like Delhi fog it failed to disappear.

Konkana – The guy I like might never behave this way.

Irrfan – What’s your imagination of a perfect guy?

Konkana – Should be normal.. Caring.. Sensitive.. Reading books.. Sense of humour.. Loving.. Caring.. Loves travelling.. Knowledgeable.. Creative..

Irrfan – I have a friend; he bought a car 5 years back and is still rotting in the garage. He never used it. He said that he is only going to drive car when all signals will be green in the city.

Konkana – That’s dumb guy, unless and until you don’t take out the car how are you going to find out if signal is green or not.

Irrfan -  Exactly!! Take your car out. Take your chance.

Most of us don’t take that chance “your chance” of confessing the feelings and letting the person know about it.

Don't ever wait for a perfect person, neither the perfect match!! No one is perfect in the world. Perfect person and perfect match both are relative from person to person. Imperfection brings the lame things that we do, moment we hog our food, moment we slide on the aisle or the moment we spill water makes us laugh. But what if we have the most ideal person, life would be so boring to live. I don't want a perfect life!!

We need to take life more lightly!!

I am almost 25 :D
There are obvious reasons we avoid confessing the next person know about emotions, probably because we are not ready for commitment, fear of missing out best friend, career, past relationships or sometimes just we can’t gather the courage.

But believe me it’s never that hard to express feelings. I have been rejected by few and I have rejected few. But that’s really okay!! And this doesn't mean you can't love again. You have this one life to find the right person, if one says No it’s certainly not the end of the world. Take your time to get stable but don’t let that one person from the past ruin the beautiful future. The future which holds the power of witnessing and working on all the dreams together.

For me on most occassions I have fell for a girl is compatibility - finding things in common!! If she is also into songs I hear, shows I watch, hobbies I pursue then mind and heart automatically starts dreaming of the unlimited things that can be done together.

In my case there is a major problem with me. I often like old music by singers like Gulzar, Kishore Kumar, Jagjit Singh. Loves some sensible bollywood movies like The Lunchbox, Life In a Metro, Stanley Ka Dabba,  Swades. Shows I prefer are FRIENDS, Sarabhai vs Sarabhai. Hollywood includes watching multiple times Harry Potter, The Interstellar (and I actually know about all astrophysics part mentioned in Interstellar), Inception, Jurassic Park and possibly all science fiction movies.

I hate Big Boss, music by Yo Yo Honey Singh and Mahesh Bhatt movies – which majority of the population like.

These things make me stand awkward and stupid in-front of normal world. In return I am uncomfortable with many people and I often speak intellectual stuff which many people don’t understand!! And worst of all I can’t flirt and I am hopeless. In short a mixture of Chandler and Ross - a perfect girl repellant :D (FRIENDS fan will understand it).

Easiest and best option that I see in such situation is to consider myself Tea and next person as Coffee, with one common element – Sugar!! :)
Whatever you want to do but never bombard
your feind's timeline with quotes and song lyrics :D :D :D

This sugar leads to communications; this communication leads to multiple meets and this meet to building trust – three essential things for every relationship, friendship to family bonds.

This common sugar leads to endless possibilities of exploring each others, which becomes the connection to each other’s soul. Next person might be having Game of Thrones as favourite series which gives me an opportunity to see it. But what if next person prefer saas-bahu daily soap? :D Fail, sugar is missing and salt can’t go with Tea now!!

And even if we had a bad past experience doesn’t mean we will confront same thing every day. Dumping and betraying is the part and parcel of our journey. If we kept cribbing with past then we have no present or future.

This reminds me of a quote from Kung Fu Panda by Master Oogway – Yesterday is History, Tomorrow is Mystery, Today is a Gift. That’s why it is called PRESENT!!

Not going ahead with the next person because of a horrible past is like you have been to Essel World, first ride was frightening so you skip all others. Or like avoiding SRK’s “DDLJ” (Oct 1995) after watching “Oh Darling! Ye Hain India!” (August 1995). Or losing out scuba diving opportunity in Great Barrier Reef because in childhood you gulped some water down your nostrils.

That huge is what we misses out when we keep ourselves confined to past and are reluctant to explore future.

To get over the fear of everything that you are afraid to do in life there is one scene from movie “We Bought A Zoo”. It states you just need those 20 seconds of insane courage.

In this scene Matt Damon asks guy what's up with Lily. Guy has not told Lily that he likes her so Matt explains - Sometimes all you need is 20 seconds of insane courage, just literally 20 seconds of embrassing bravery and I promise to you something great will come of it!!

Screenshots from the comments below this video –

Some failed

Some nailed

I believe life is full of surprises. Stephen Hawking beautifully narrated life –

“We are on a minor planet of a very average star located within the outer limits of one of a hundred thousand million galaxies. Are your problems really significant in light of this?
You walk this Earth for but a short time. Why not become devoted to having only a wonderful experience. Why not dedicate yourself to leaving a powerful legacy to the world? Sit down now and write out a list of all that you have in your life.”

I see many people finding it hard and confused to go ahead and take that leap of faith. Closing quote from Superman movies “Man of Steel!” - Sometimes, you have to take a leap of faith first. The trust part comes later.

Hope after reading this there will be many people who will be taking that leap of faith and be a superman of their lives. :)

Even if you failed there is no reason to be upset of - keep yourself busy to the core, take up new hobby (I am trying Harmonica and Scuba Diving now), build a skill, volunteer for NGO or best build a company. Just one life and so many things to try.

Nakhre utha iske nakhre utha
Haan dhoop bhi yehi hai
Chaanv bhi yehi hai
Joh bhi yeh kehti hai, tu maan ja

Kho jaana, paa jaana, na paana
Hai zindagi jaan le
Bik jaana, loot jaana, bas jaana
Hai zindagi jaan le

Joh kal gaya woh phir se aata nahin
Ho ho ho guzra hua joh waqt hai
Woh dastak lagata nahin

Kyun zindagi se ho shikva gila
Yeh hasti hai roti hai
Joh bhi hai jaisi hai
Joh bhi yeh deti hai woh hai tera
Kar salaam ... kar salaam!!

- Kar Salam, Life In A Metro ( Pritam, 2007)

All the best with those 20 seconds of courage, do mail me with what happen next!! ;)

Read the below article to know what happens when you get along with wrong partner.

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Keywords: blog, love, friendship, relationship, matt damon, life in a metro, pune, we bought a zoo, friends, chandler, ross

Friday, January 8, 2016

Fabulous ZenPad 8.0 (Z380KL) Review


This blog is dedicated to the technical review of ASUS ZenPad 8.0 P024 (Z380KL) and ASUS Audio Cover, which; thanks to ASUS India I own.  ZenPad 8.0 is the flagship tablet from ASUS’s Zen series. After launching ASUS ZenFone series they last year launched ZenPad 8.0 (Z380KL).

ZenPad 8.0 is a flagship product from ASUS. ASUS has been pretty successful in branding its ASUS ZenFone in market. Watching the market go gala on ‘Zen’ they brought the same ‘Zen’ brand to tablets.

ZenPad 8.0 runs on 1.4GHz Octa-Core Qualcomm Snapdragon 415 SoC which in itself is a huge booster enhanced with state of the art ASUS Audio Cover. Let’s come to the detailed review.

ASUS ZenPad 8.0 (Z380KL)

Fashion-inspired look and feel:
The design of ASUS ZenPad 8.0 is a mixture balanced beauty and strength; modern influences and a simple, clean look that gives it a universal and stylish appeal. Zenpad’s back-cover texture gives a rich look and feel.

The ZenPad 8.0 has a thin metallic strip around the screen which gives the impression that the device is metal, although the actual frame and rear are made up of polymers. The USB and 3.5mm ports are at the top, while the power and volume buttons are on the right edge. The rear has a removable very durable and unbreakable plastic panel with a rough finish that seems like leather from afar. The camera sits in the left corner. The device is 8.5mm thick and weighs 350g, which is fairly comfortable as far as tablets go.

Little monster:
ASUS ZenPad 8.0 is an 8-inch tablet. There are no off-screen Android soft-keys. Instead, the screen occupies a significant 76.5 percent of the front i.e. 76.5% screen-to-body ratio, with narrow borders on all sides - an incredible engineering achievement made possible by reducing the width to least possible.

Enjoyment to fullest:
ASUS ZenPad 8.0 comes with 4G LTE featuring a Snapdragon processor. Allows for 3G voice and LTE for all intents and purposes of every Indian. Superb audio, but low resolution might sooth down the real fun of a HD video, which is still considerable for the tablet.

The ZenUI interface which is crafted aesthetically and intensely by ASUS UI experts. ZenUI comes with material UI foundation which makes it more impressive and user-friendly for non techno-savvy users. Asus ZenPad 8.0 runs on Android 5.0. The UI is comfortable to use, with apps classified and sorted into groups. ZenUI is known for its customisability and personalization, which helps make your ZenPad 8.0 more up and ready for your needs and preferences.

ASUS ZenUI has more than 1,000 features that improve upon the standard Android interface. You’ll enjoy a simpler and smarter experience, with a stylish new layout that expands white space for a cleaner design, placing the information you need front and center. The brand new ZenUI is brighter, smarter, simpler and even more beautiful.

The Asus ZenPad 8.0 is very close to most Snapdragon smart phones in terms of performance. I installed numerous apps and games, most of them ran well except few glitches with video performance. Heating at the top is a problem after heavy usage, which is a pretty common with every smart device. HD video runs fine with very few glitches, ZepPad 8.0 is given low-resolution considering its market – just 1280 x 800 WXGA display.

Although the in-built speaker is of decent volume, enough to enjoy jukebox. I would recommend investing in the audio cover for a better media experience.

Battery life is decent as well, 4000mAh battery powering the device which is pretty good for tablet. I have been using ZenPad with data services running; and been very comfortable in getting a full day use out of it.

The primary camera of the Asus ZenPad 8.0 is an 8-megapixel shooter, while the front camera is a 2-megapixel one. Pictures taken are good in daylight, and ZenPad 8.0 comes with ASUS's PixelMaster technology which gives fine photograph even without flash. The front camera is barely acceptable for selfies, and should only suffice for video chatting.

The camera software is excellent, however. The primary camera records video at 1080p, while the secondary camera records at up to 720p.

The ZenPad 8.0, with 2GB of RAM, 16GB of  internal storage, and LTE connectivity is perfectly designed for Indians. Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi, expandable storage up to 128GB, a 4000mAh battery, an 8-megapixel primary camera, and a 2-megapixel secondary camera, both without flashes is other standard stuff.

Specs in numbers:
Size: 8-inch
Android 5.0 Lollipop
1280 x 800 WXGA display
Processor: Qualcomm MSM 8929 Octa Core
Memory: 2GB
Front: 2MP
Rear: 8MP Auto-Focus
Storage: 16GB
Battery: 4000mAh – 15.2Wh
Dimension: 209mm (L) x 123mm (W) x 8.5mm (H), 350g weight
Speaker: 1 x front speaker with DTS-HD Premium Sound
Colors: Black

Audio Cover:

Above all resides with ASUS ZenPad 8.0. It’s now the turn of Audio Cover.

Audio Cover do not come with ASUS ZenPad 8.0, it is a separate accessory. But I would highly recommend to but it if you are having ZenPad 8.0.

The Audio Cover fits onto the back of the tablet. The speaker on the audio cover is DTS-tuned, and can simulate 5.1 surround sounds. Audio output is heavily boosted, and using the speaker cover makes the tablet an excellent media device for both audio and video.

BASS Boosters on the go:
ASUS Audio Cover is an entertainment accessory that brings cinematic, 5.1-channel surround sound to ASUS ZenPad 8.0. DTS-HD Premium Sound and SonicMaster technology provide further enhancement, ensuring the ultimate audio experience on ASUS ZenPad 8.0.

It has 6 speakers (INCLUDING 1 SUBWOOFER), 6 times sound volume and 6 hours of battery backup.

Final verdict:
Overall I would say ASUS ZenPad 8.0 is a fabulous piece of work, good battery, and amazing media experience. The real problem lies with close to decent screen resolution.

I would say ZenPad 8.0 is a good mid-range tablet with so much to explore. Cheers ASUS!! :)

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keywords - asus, zenpad, zenpad 8.0, audio cover, asus audio cover, zenpad review, z380kl, octacore, qualcomm, snapdragon, 4g lte, performance, battery, camera. specs, zenui, SonicMaster, DTS-HD Premium Sound, SUBWOOFER, 

Saturday, July 25, 2015

I’m 23! Non-alcoholic, non-smoker, vegetarian. And proud ‘sXe’!

Disclaimer: With this blog I do not want to hurt anyone’s sentiments but expecting a small change in mindset.

The world might judge you for not drinking, but you know you are awesome! - Zomato :)
Zomato nailed it again!! :)
May be this is the first blog I am writing on Me – Mr. Sanket Ravi Thodge. What so significant about writing things about me? But there is something I want the world to know and my perspective towards life. And many others who are alike me.

A decade ago in my school days, trotting somewhere between 7th or 8th standard learning Algebra, Geography, History, Science. Peak of teenage and my friends were discovering few adolescence stuff. Exploring a new erotic word in Oxford Mini Dictionary was giving a proud feeling which even Vasco Da Gama wouldn’t have felt that way after exploring sea route to India. Hormonal changes, beard/moustache, heavy voice, and attraction towards porn. Yes!! Suddenly things must have got interested for many of the readers.

That was the tender age when many of my friends started collecting DVDs, CDs of porn all over the world. Brunette, lesbian, gangbang, they felt like song genre at first. Naturally it was fascinating! Intimate for a 14-15 year old guy. Very intimate!! But a typical 14-15 year guy. NOT ALL! May be I was one of those ‘HYPOCRITE’s.

I shifted as tenant in new city Akola for my High School studies. People were carrying memory cards full of adult videos. I was generally fired a question by few of them, “Why you show no interest in porn? Don’t you feel excited?” And my usual answer used to be, “I find them disgusting.” Then there used to be huge debate for the reason why I don’t watch porn. I couldn’t convince anyone of them. This in turn was separating me from group on many instances. Left out on many occasions!

Yes!! I am posting this blog at 3:30 am
on a Saturday morning  after spending Friday
evening in writing this blog
On many instances people used to stop talking about girls just because I was around. Thinking I might get hurt. I was lucky enough to have friends who were feeling my presence.

Now I was in my graduation days. In graduation having alcohol, smoking, having non-vegetarian food was the definition of fun. And yes I was exact opposite to all this – non-alcoholic, non-smoker, vegetarian. This was enough to again detach me from being a customary average guy. I was the person from the group who prefers Frroti-Slice over Pepsi-Coca Cola. And I still am!

For many people it was even hard to believe that people like me exist in this world. I never felt like SUPERHERO or something, but felt pity of myself; am I weird to the world? Have I failed to fit into this globe? Was me not watching porn a decade ago a mistake? Can I do the damage control by starting drinking now?

But I continued being same, my conscience stood strong by me.

I am 23 now and working in an IT company as Hadoop Developer. Corporate world! Most of my friends now have money to spend lavishly; on shopping, in pubs and on their girlfriends. I am doing nothing of these things.

But yes I do charity, I bought novels to read, I help specially enabled blind friends, I spend money on an online course, I go on a bike ride!! For me definition of enjoyment stood here.

In a typical day of office I was asked by colleague, “You don’t drink, you don’t smoke. Do you even have girlfriend?” I said “No”. Next exclamation was, “Why are you staying in Pune? Go in ******* city [Won’t mention city name as it might hurt locals of that city] and spend life there?”

But this time I was well prepared, I exclaimed “Life and fun is not all about girls and drinks, there are many other things that define fun.” Colleague said, “Like what?” I proclaimed, “Travelling, trekking, reading!” with a confused look colleague asked “College is over! Who is the world reads?” I said, “Novels are there. And ya writing. That’s my favourite hobby.” I gave colleague no chance to say anything and continued, “I am third best travel blogger in India by the way. Have won three national level fiction writing competition and have got my blog featured in Times of India’s Speaking Tree column.” I smiled and with a deep breath and continued, “I have also developed my own investment model which predicts the Sensex. On LinkedIn my profile was 469th most visited profile out of 3,18,000 profiles of TCS employees on LinkedIn. Have worked with UNO, in a global event...!”

Words proclaimed by him will remain with me for years, “I am blessed to meet you in my life. Never meet a person till today. You are really talented and...” praise continued for another 5 minutes and he ended it with “...got the reason why you don’t have a girlfriend.”

A quote from Robin William's movie
'Dead Poets Society'
I, as a person would judge someone only how he/she treats his/her peers, I would never look someone in disbelief who drinks or smokes provided he/she is doing it responsibly. You have many girlfriends, be happy with that; I would never say you are a pervert. It’s your choice to have them. You drink a lot and after drinking asks your friend to drop you home in your vehicle, you earned my respect. You are engaged in gambling but also sponsoring a girl’s education, I respect you.

Me as a person would never-ever judge someone by what you eats or drinks or wear, but from your character. That defines who you are. Each of us is unique in itself. Don’t force someone to be you, just because you like being yourself.

If you still think that drinking and smoking is cool here is the list of celebrities who are sober – Bradley Cooper, Russel Brand, Mathew Perry (F.R.I.E.N.D.S), Eminem, Jennifer Lopez, Tobey Maguire (Spider Man), Robert Downey Jr (Iron Man), Kim Kardashian.

Celebrities who are vegetarian? Yes, I have got their list as well – Mike Tyson, Pamela Anderson, Russel Brand (again), Bill Clinton, Benjamin Franklin, M K Gandhi, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Steve Jobs, Leo Tolstoy, Leonardo Da Vinci, Issac Newton, Nikola Tesla, Shrinivasa Ramanujan, Edward Witten (founder of String Theory).

People who don’t consume alcohol, don’t smoke-tobacco-drugs are termed as ‘Straight Edge’ or sXe. Be proud if you are sXe, we are unique people left in the world.

Remaining non-alcoholic, non-smoker, vegetarian is also a challenge. Sharing some questions from Quora who faces the situation just like me –

Luna Lovegood!! < 3

For many of you may be I perfectly define definition of a HYPOCRITE PERSON!! And yes I don’t verbally abuse, don’t go to McD/Subway/Dominos/pubs and am still a virgin (better to clear air before someone judges me).

But yes I do adventure; I have done white-water rafting, paragliding, rock climbing, rappelling. Explored most part of India. Works for a NGO. Help people in need! Do writing, photography, read novels, techie nerd, sky gazing.

Learnt one huge thing in life, toughest job is not to create yourself or finding yourself but its retaining yourself; who you actually are. And I am extremely happy that I have managed it very well.

I won’t request you to skip smoking or drinking or save animals. I just want to request all of us to give every person in the world a chance to be themselves, because not everyone is the world is not strong enough to sustain their originality!! :)

P. S. Now I will be watching 'Dead Poets Society' before falling asleep. :)

On a lighter note ;) :P Found it interesting!! :)

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keywords - pune, alcohol, smoking, smokers, non-smokers sober, adolescence, intoxication, hypocrite, robin williams, dead poet society quote, sanket thodge, sxe, straight edge, vegetarian, non-vegetarian

Sunday, February 15, 2015


LIFE – If we are asked to define it, how well can we explain it in words?
One word, impossible.
A sentence, tough, but not impossible.
A paragraph, comfortably.
A book? I believe that too will not suffice the task given.

But how well we understand it? How well can we analyse it? I tackle these questions every now and then!! I never thought I would get its answer through a real life experience.

I was done with my TCS training in Trivandrum (Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala) and was returning to Mumbai by train. I was accompanied with ten other friends. Our journey was spanning over 24 hours from Bangalore. Very obvious it was that we were a mischievous group of eleven people for co-passengers.

Decorum was certainly missing throughout the journey. We were having an old age couple travelling with us. He and his wife were carrying a grim on their face all over the journey. Obvious reasons were our shouting and babbling.

Somewhere during the journey all of us shifted to the third tier. And obviously continued our jibber-jabber. I took this as an opportunity and started writing one of my incomplete blog (which is still incomplete). Watching me writing the blog uncle beside me asked if I am a journalist. I politely declined it and told him that I am a writer and write blogs.

He became more inquisitive and asked my whereabouts. I was shocked to see his excitement. I counter questioned him. An uncle took a long, heavy breath and started telling about the numerous things that he did throughout his life. About his daughter and son-in-law. Relevant and mostly irrelevant information. I was shocked to know that he forgot to mention his debit card number and its pin number.

An uncle was a journalist. He has written columns, guest articles for The Hindu – very renowned English daily, was a great orator, appeared live on some TV shows on DD National, travelled most of the European countries, visited Niagara fall, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Son-in-law working at a very high post in World Trade Centre with his daughter returning India a while ago after spending 8 years in the USA.

In short, this man was very satisfied with his life. He accomplished and fulfilled almost everything one wishes in his/her life. I asked him his email address and continued writing my blog. Grim was now replaced with a grin.

The thing struck my head that this is the kind of life I want. I asked him more about his past. I realized that my approach towards my life was similar to his. Meanwhile, we reached in Maharashtra.
We reached Solapur, Maharashtra. A small family with a bald lady (Didi), a child in her arms and a woman (aunty) in her 60s followed her. Their tickets were in waiting list. But as it was daytime they were accommodated easily.

I was done talking with the uncle and then got busy into my writing. My attention was grabbed by the bald lady, she had her head covered with saree and looking outside into infinity. The child was playing with all his enthusiasm.

The lady (aunty) in her 60s leaned towards me and said, “It's her last day today!” I was caught on edge, hearing her statement; she continued, She is having cancer. So, we are going to Tata Memorial Hospital (Mumbai) for her treatment. I was hearing her with all ears, The child is one and half years old. I am very worried about his future. I was all dumbstruck with her claims. She took a deep breath while controlling her tears.

I was feeling terribly bad as well as curious at the same time. Bad for her condition, curious about what they are going to do next. Confused if I should shoot more questions at her, morally I thought I shouldn’t. So, continued my writing!!

Our journey continued, they opened their food tiffins and aura spread throughout the compartment. I could easily distinguish different masalas used in food through smell. Aunty offered me to have some food, which I politely rejected. She guessed that I am not having it because the lady was suffering from cancer. To this I told her that this is not the case, but if you insist I can have some. She offered me traditional Maharashtrian food bhakar-besan. Had she told me that she is having this to offer me; I would have never rejected her offer at first.

I offered the same to my friends. And my friends losing all their senses attacked the food as if zombies are attacking human beings. All food disappeared in glimpse. Watching our interest in food she passed us bhaje, which was like a geek getting 10 GBps open Wi-Fi internet with unlimited disk space. In all this chaos she gulped her food and said, Blessings of you all will help us and the child.

She was calling me ‘Baba’ throughout our conversation, which means father in Marathi.
I intrigued more and got to know they were running on mere monthly pension of 8,000 Rs. from Aunty’s passed away husband. That Didi’s husband left her the moment he was informed about her illness. But telling this, Aunty couldn’t hold her tears and dam busted out with tears.

The child was demanding edibles in train. Knowing the fact that Didi is into last few days of her life she didn’t let him have it. But Didi explained him why not to have stale and junk food. Mother and her love towards her child!!

Before giving a period to this conversation I asked them for their phone number and promised them to help them in every possible way.

Dadar station arrived and I get off the compartment. Took their blessings and Aunty asked me a question, Child, are you going alone? Where are you going to stay? I just told her and assured them that I have a place and people to stay with.

Very soon I started working towards getting some charity/donation/money from various trusts and NGOs. But all went futile, some were demanding long list of documents, some were demanding the patient at their office headquarter (which was not possible for the Didi) and some even asked for politicians’ letters. Knocked as many doors as possible. Tried every possible NGO, every possible trust.

Finally, I myself decided to give a share of my salary in her treatment. And with that, her treatment has begun now.

I deeply remember Aunty’s last words; she said I have met a lot of people, but never like you. May be in our past life you were my brother, father, child. I pray to God that you have all the happiness in the world. Your child will never fall ill, you will have the happy life!!

While transferring the amount I was in a dilemma about transferring the amount. But it was all about conscience. The Didi had two dependents. One her son and second her mother.
A simple train journey witnessed me to two completely different planes of life; on one side was the uncle from Bangalore who was perfectly satisfied and happy with his life. Achieved all things a man can dream of. And on other side a lady fighting with her life, her child’s future and her mother’s life. Still unaware if she will be alive the next day or not.

If we believe, then most of us fall somewhere in the middle of these two planes. We still complain a lot in our life. If we worked a little harder, even these complaints would disappear. But we deprive ourselves from going that extra mile.

I suggest you to keep observing the people around you. I bet you will find yourself a lot luckier than most of people around.

This reminds me of a song-

Kho jana, pa jana, naa pana, hai jindagee jaan le,
Bik jana, lut jana, bas jana hai jindagee maan le.
Ho ho ho karle yakin, jo kal gaya woh phir se aata nahee.
Gujra huva jo wakt hai woh dastak lagata nahee.
Jo aaj hai bas wahi hai tera,
Ha kya teree hastee hai, mittee kee bastee hai,
Pal me hee ho jati hai yeh fana.
Kar salam..!!

Kyun jindagee se ho shikava gila
Yeh hasatee hai rotee hai, jo bhee hai jaisee hai
Jo bhee yeh deti hai woh hai teraa
Kar salam..!!
Pritam Chakraborty, Soham Chakraborty, Suhail Kaul (Life In A...Metro!!)

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keywords - cancer, dalai lama, life teaching, mark batterson, quote, tata memorial hospital, TCS, train journey, trivandrum

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Surpassing Sarpass Trek, YHAI Trekking Himalayan Expedition at 13,800 feet - 2

 Day 3: 5th June, 2014 – On the way to Grahan

The travelogue continues from day third here. In my previous blog I shared my experience with the prerequisites, exercises, acclimatization, routine and stuff. It’s time we begin our real trek.
After the very hectic graduation years, this break was a must-have-break-else-you-will-die break for me. My situation was best described in this song.

Aaj Kal Jindagi Mujhase Hai Keh Rahi
Tu Jo Meri Maane Toh Chal Deewaane Sapano Ki Raahon Mein Tu
Saari Khushbuo Saari Roshani Ko Le Le Inn Baahon Mein Tu
Abb Hai Tu Jahaan, Din Raat Saare Naye Hain
Aaraju Jawaan Jasbaat Saare Naye Hai
Pehchaane Saari Muskaane Saari Bhar Le Nigaahon Mein Tu O Ho
Tere Liye Nayi Hai Jamin Naya Aasmaan
Likh De Hawaao Pe Koyi Nayi Daastaan
-      Shankar, Ehsan, Loy (Wake Up Sid!, 2009)

Beautiful waterfall during YHAI Sarpass Trek 2014

Certainly things were all new. This was my first Himalayan Trek. More like backpacking as I was completely unaware of the location and packed everything in 2 days. Guys who accompanied me were all new to me, coming from every corner of the India. And it was Himachal Pradesh – The Land of God! Even the nearest police station was at distant 15 km from Kasol base camp. So, rare were the crimes!!

Today was the day when we were about to depart for the trek and bid adieu to YHAI’s Kasol base camp. We all woke up with ease today. No exercises! No hurry! No standing in bathroom lines! And no feeling of Neil Armstrong!

By 0700 hours we submitted our blankets. Had breakfast. Drank water. Pee-ed! Packed the luggage. Fall in. Gave attendance and by 0815 hours we were waving goodbye to the camp, walking aligned in a line; with SP-35 and SP-36 group waving us goodbye and wishing best luck. The claps were so reverberating that for a moment my ears skipped the gushing sound of Parvati river. Just like soldiers, we were saying hola to the base camp, which reminded me of another song-

Kandho se milate hain kandhe, kadmon se kadam milte hain
Hum chalte hain jab aise toh dil dushman ke hilte hain
-      Shankar, Ehsan, Loy (Lakshya, 2004)

But neither our shoulders were aligning (kandho se kandhe) to each other (as the guys were as tall as Himanshu and Shreenidhi, and as short as me) and nor we were having any enemies (dil dushman ke hilte hain).

We were now on the same path as we were a day before for rock-climbing and rappelling. Slowly I decided to start conversation with every possible guy and know about each other. A little of KT (knowledge transfer) process.
Parvati River with snow-clad Himalayan range in backdrop

I approached the front-runner in the group, Chandrakanth. He was very calm, as if he is alone in the trek. A small grin on his face and broad moustache. I was unable to find the topic to discuss with him. This generally happens with me, when I share very distinct social and psychological background with someone. It’s tough to initiate the talk. So, while starting conversation with Chandrakanth same happened. I ended up with a discussion on Naxal groups in his region. We talked about Prabhakaran. Veerappan from Satyamangalam and Yeddyurappa from Shimoga. We nicknamed Chandrakanth as Prabhakaran (Founder and Leader of Liberations Tigers of Tamil Eelam) hereforth he will be called as Prabhakaran in my blog as well.

The next person I talked was Reshma Di, she works in TCS (that I came to know on the very last day of trekking). The only motto of mine for coming to this trek was to refresh my brain and stay disconnected with the world. Not to think about any other thing beside where to put the next step over the path. To enjoy each and every moment; without any brainstorming. In talking I realized she had been to a Himalayan trek before; Her Ki Doon. She shared her great experience with me. The kind of a trek it was. What kinds of challenges she faced.

Then she explained her wish-list of treks and shared the same with me. I was mesmerized to know that someone does have their own trek wish-list. WOW!!

We kept on moving! The forest was getting denser. Trees were giving the mirage of the horizon. River was streaming against us. I was pretty ahead so decided to take some slow shutter shots of river flow.
!!!!SP-34 group at the height of 13,800 feet!!!!

While doing this exercise I found the first love of my trek – my ‘STICK’wati...!! I found a very nice wooden stick by the river bank. It was all destined, I started believing one shot from movie Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara – sab likha hua hau, ye trek, ye lakdi ka milna! Sab likha hua hain. The only difference was that I was not drunk alike Hritik Roshan.

At a very beautiful juncture where the river takes a Kejriwal turn (U-turn) in the valley. Most of the people were resting, few were posing, few photographing. Meanwhile me, Himanshu and Nagarjun were in talks with guide bhaiya. He shared his very piece of information which was very useful.

And then I struck with the catastrophe; someone threw my ‘STICK’wati in the water for some photography experiment. The first thing I thought of was to throw his camera in the water for some splashing experiment. But then my ANGEL mind said that there might be some photographs of me in the same camera. So, anger swallowed and apology accepted. Lost the first love of the trek. But life is beautiful when we accept the condition and move-on with it instead of making all the efforts to make any changes.

Circumstances do not define us, our reaction to them does!!

Then I meet a very versatile personality, Shreenidhi D S that’s how he writes his name. I was about to ask him – Did Nikon launches its DS range cameras asking him?? My ANGEL part of brain struck my conscience that this should not be the right one-liner to hit the conversation. So instead I started with a cliché – what you do?? He said – WRITING!! And I was like dude, I am asking what you do for your living?? But his answer was straight and clear. He was a script writer of one of the most famous Kannada serial ‘Ashwini Nakshatram’ which is telecasted on ETV Kannada.

Seriously, this dude writes for his living. And then during the trek I got to know a lot more about Shreenidhi bhaiya. Felt good to have him accompanying me.
Thereafter, I don’t remember having any conversation with anyone else.

With the failed first love of this trek I was offered with new ‘STICK’wati by the same guy who threw it in the water. This was my arranged marriage! I accepted it full heartily. I got my new companion. The only problem with that stick was that, that it was equal to my height and everyone was laughing at me. All I can do was to compare myself was with Kali from movie KaalKyuki kali ko kaal kabhi dhokha nahi deta!

Just like Chandler does in ‘The One with The Joke’ episode of F.R.I.E.N.D.S of noting down his jokes to avoid them stealing from Ross. I was writing everything in my small diary. But my reason was being able to write one blog like this even after 6 months of the trek.

As we were heading ahead in the trek the structure of stones was changing and some of them appeared like Paapmani from our childhood superhero serial Shaktimaan. In adult-world we will call them limestone and quartz. The only man-made things were pipelines and electric poles.

Candid shot YHAI Sarpass Trek 2014 -1
I then thought of drinking the fresh Himalayan water (which Bisleri mineral water sells – Advt tagline), but guide prohibited saying that he knows a place where water is more fresh. I bet Bisleri is unaware of it. Somewhere in the route an ice-cream seller crossed us. He was carrying a cylinder, an ice-cream cart and music was playing. To my surprise, he was playing Hindi songs. I was missing songs way too badly. In conversation with him, he told me that he actually belongs to Bihar (so no surprise if he was listening to Hindi songs) and lives at Grahan and takes mere 2 hours to reach our base camp; for same we YOUNGSTERS were taking over 8 hours.

Around 1335 hours we got some glimpse of Himalayan snow and peaks. And then we had our lunch beside river. A guy was already sitting there with maggi and cold drinks to sell. The general talk with our guide continued. His name was Jaychand. I found Chand very common with people here. For a second I even thought if these guys are having a cold war with the Hedge family surname.

While everyone was having lunch I invested my time in sharpening and caressing my ‘STICK’wati. With the help of a grater I tried making it plain and reduced its length. While having a brief talk with three musketeers – Mallesha, Pritham and Vinay. They were all lying down with their bag pack as a pillow.

And from nowhere Chinmay bhaiya came with gilli-danda game. All of us had danda and the broken piece of by stick became gilli. The rules were quite clear, you can only hit the gilli in straight drive and if hit in the forest then out. At that exact moment all I wanted was a Firebolt broomstick, fastest magical broomstick from Harry Potter. But being a Muggle, I don’t have access to Dungeon Valley. The second option was drinking Red Bull – because it gives us wings. But this act meant loss of faith in trek. But even without this I managed to catch a couple of catches. Situational song at this very moment-

Dil Dil Mein Hai
Dil Ki Tamanna Sau!
Dhoop Khile Jism Garam Sa Hai
Suraj Yahin Yeh Bharam Sa Hai
Bhikri Hui Rahein Harazon Sau
Thamo Koi Phir Bhatanke Do!
Uljhe Nahi To Kaise Suljhoge
Bikhre Nahi To Kaise Nihkroge
Hawa Zara Si Lagne Do
Soya Tha Abb Jagne Do
Pankhon Ko Hawa Zara Si Lagne Do!
-      Salim Merchant, Sulaiman Merchant (Salesman of the Year, 2009)

Now our next destination was Grahan camp, 7700 feet. The floor now turned from rock to sand. Footmarks of goats, khacchar, sheep were replaced by footmarks of WoodLand, Nike, Puma and Reebok.

I again engaged myself in talks with our new guide, Karamchand. Another Chand. His body smelt like rotten eggs. I don’t think he had bathed since his last summer. I was also deprived of bath from over 5 days. I was all engaged in talking with him and possibly he forgot that he has the responsibility of over 40 people to guide. Most of the people were lagging behind. The guys behind us were huffing and puffing. If they were left with any energy, it was being utilized in shouting to slow down or best stop. And I got first compliment from Karamchand that I am a strong guy. He said – hatta-katta jawan hain!

Then we passed some sheep herds and then beautiful mountain ranges. Some mountain patches witnessed landslides. The road was now inclined. With few water streams from where we refilled our water bottles.

Reaching the place some huts and people were visible. Then there was an Israeli couple who was walking towards Grahan. The guy’s name was Nadaf. Had a small conversation with them and they were very happy with the beauty of Himalayas. I thanked them for the appreciation and wished them good luck. After walking a few metres Rajesh Kumar was the guy I continued my trek with till Grahan. He was a worker and a farmer. He was building homes during winter in the valleys and during the summer was a farmer.

Mild rain showers welcomed us in Grahan. I started murmuring - Halki-halki si barish thi, pehli pehli mulakat thi...
Beautifully carved temple at Grahan, Kasol, Himachal Pradesh YHAI Sarpass Trek

Once you reach Grahan, you will be surprised to see the built and structure of houses. All made of rocks and wood only. With very beautiful carved artistic works on the doors and windows. People sitting roadside and calves eating fodder. The smell of cow-dung filling the nostrils.

The main attraction of Grahan was an ancient awesomely carved wooden temple. Then we literally captured the tents. Our tent location was in the middle of two snowless mountains and Sivalik range was visible from there and beside it was the Sarpass range. Awesome view it was!
Camp commander welcomed us with the hot tomato soup and then for a ‘SMALL’ address to us. He said our batch reached before time and our batch was first doing so irrespective of having over 12 girls in our group!! We all cheered and then he continued his ‘SMALL’ address. And continued!! And continued!! And was not even close to ending. He seems to be a girl to me now with all talkative and chivalry qualities he imbibed.

He gave a nice and happy piece of information that the temperature will be low here as compared to Kasol base camp. And it was because of the huge mountain ranges between Sivalik Range and our tent site. They were working as a barrier for cold breezes. Vice versa of Kasol base camp where the chilling breeze of Parvati range was hitting us directly without any obstruction.

Then we did some photo shoots, had dinner and went off to sleep by 2100 hours.
Sunset was most beautiful here!!

Sunset at Grahan Camp during YHAI Sarpass Trek

Day 4: 6th June, 2014 – On the way to Padri

The first task we did in the early morning was to protect the Pakistan. Due to heavy wind and rain the toilets that were made of clothes were devastated and one person has to compulsorily stand outside or else sing song & become toilet singer. Tea was out and as I went to take I overheard the song-

Umeedo Ke Suraj
Nikale Chaaron Aur
Iraade Hain Folaadi
Himmati Har Kadam
Apne Haatho Kismat Likhane
Aaj Chale Hain Hum..
-Anish Sharma, Shubham Mahadevan (Dhoom 3, 2013)

I saw the mountain ranges were much similar to those that we used to draw in childhood. It was the 8th day in a row without bath and I was happy with that.
We then gathered and fall-in. Our chivalry camp captain leader with emphatic looks wished us good luck and we departed.

Our new guide was Hukum Chand, OOPS!! I mean Humum Singh. Finally a guide without Chand in end. A small bio of him.

He is the ‘khoji’ of this path and standing with a straight spine at the age of 57. There is one more route to the Sarpass. It’s from Khalipasss via Mandi. With him I got a hell lot of information. Population of Grahan is close to 500 people. To cut trees for the houses you require permission.

I started asking him about every flora on the way. Kaleshi, a flower used to make juice. Shambal, a yellow flower tree was used for treating the eyes. Haham, etching plant, good for blood. Arsada, white poisonous juice. Kharsh, wood my stick was made of.

With this hell lot of Ayurvedic information I meet Khasil. He was selling Ayurvedic medicines. When I shared this knowledge with him, his expression was like Obama if a normal Indian tells him about the NSA scandal in the year 2012.

By now we travelled around two and half kilometre. From Grahan we descended and again rose to find ourselves at same altitude where Grahan Camp was located. That was a bit frustrating.
Sunrise at 4 am at Padri camp YHAI Sarpass Trek
It was 1120 hours by now and we were told to have a tea-break. On the route we can find tea-stalls selling many edibles. Maggi, cold drinks and stuff. By then we were at the height of 8300 feet. All of a sudden I decided to make Maggi of my own in that ambience. I poured water into the vessel and at the right temperature slowly put the maggi cubes in it. Maggi masala being the integral part of the making. Put my timer for 2 minutes and just after two minutes I poured whole Maggi into the plate.

I was expecting a yummylicious taste. But to my distress the maggi was still raw. I thought of launching a lawsuit on the company. But then, thought that at such height it takes some more time for food to cook due to low atmospheric pressure. Cancelled the law suit and enjoyed the taste!!

The seller was having a red coloured juice. After inquiring, we got to know that it is known as the Brass. It is made of a flower and has the medicinal character which helps to digest food.
In my continuing discussion with Hukum Singh he told me that Grahan is also known as Thunja, which means wheat in their language. And the people living there are called Manala.

Around 1330 hours we had our lunch at the height of 8533 feet. The mosses on the trees were getting denser. After a short stop there; Bhanvna, Vainshnavi and I sang Tinka Tinka Jara Jara song. While I was lost in showing-off my hidden talent I lost my pen. And this was a bigger blow than losing my authentic stick couple of days back. Thanks to Bhavna for doing the best favour for me by giving me her pen.

In the next half hour we reached our destination – Padri!! The camp location was just fantabulous. Even Shakespeare would fail in explaining it to the world. Tents were rooted on a grassland plain facing huge snow-clad Sarpass mountain range. By the time we reached there it was sunset time. As the sun was setting, the snow on the Himalayas was showing its vibrant colours.

We were watching the colours of the sky changing from blue to yellow to orange to black. Snow’s was more dramatic. Snow was turning from white to yellow to gold to purple and finally to blue.

We were tired but still managed to play some awesome games suggested by Bhanvna. In the first game I was the winner and second game ended in draw as Mr. Cheater a.k.a Mallesha played some tricks. A song that was describing us perfectly-

Hum Raahi Jab Ho Mastaana
Mauj Mein Ho Dil Deewana
Phir Chalne Waale Rukte Hain Kahan
Yeh khumar yeh nasha jawan bekhudi
Ab na koi nagar na koi gali din vahan rat yahan
-      Udit Narayan, Hema Sardesai (Pukar, 2000)

Soon after dinner heavy clouds started gathering all over the sky and heavy winds started blowing. We were told by the camp captain to collect as many as and as heavy stones as possible and make sure they support tents.

We were so dreaded that we started digging the whole landscape like gold-miners dig for gold. Few stones were taking two guys in place. Tents were still drifting and roving with heavy winds. But we were in relief when the wind speed reduced. Meanwhile, I meet Mr. Ashwath Nadahalli, the entrepreneur guy who has his own company. He has his own company. Plus a data scientist, and plus a very nice and helpful guy. I was happy to share my tent with him.

As the sun set, the stars started twinkling. Before sleeping, I decided to wake-up early and take some photos of our Milky Way.

Our own Milky Way stripping from Soutn to North
To my surprise 100s of people have been already out there in the morning, doing some rituals of their God. Later we found out that it was the annual festival in which they take their God in the height of the Himalayan Mountains and do all the ritual proceedings.

I took some awesome photos of our Milky Way and then went back to sleep.

This shall be the end of my Sarpass travelogue. There are still many stories to tell, experiences to share and things to explore, but the constraint of time is the only thing in-between. Let’s hope if I can write the next part someday in future.

I am also thankful of all of you guys for making my trek the best ever trek till date.
Abhishek, Ashwath, Anil, Himanshu, Bhavana, Nayana, Nitesh, Mukund, Chandrakanth, Chetan, Dayanand, Gautam, Harisha, Jeet , Surekha, Subodh, Khushbu, Kusuma, Mallesha, Preetham, Vinay, Manjunatha, Nagarjun, Reshma, Sagar, Sachin, Sampath ,Sandeepa, Shreenidhi, Chinmay, Gopal Krishna, Mahesh, Phaneendra, Reshma, Sujata, Neelam, Sharfaraz, Ramesh and Sanjay – thanks a lot guys!! :)

My apology goes to all for posting this blog after 6 months. I know there were many expectations from my blog, which I couldn’t fulfil. Many stories remained untold. Gripping nostalgia just lost its flow. Will try if I can continue writing the next sequel.
Till then, CIAO!! Hope we will have one more trek soon.

Candid photo YHAI Sarpass Trej 2014 - 2
God of the Manala people from Grahan

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keywords: sarpass trek, yhai, kasol base camp, kullu, manali, himachal pradesh, 13800, 2014, beskeri, ratanpani, grahan, padri,nagaru