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Days at Bat 

The thing with blogs is that it is a bit like a relationship. If you haven't exchanged messages for some time, you will hold back from making a fresh effort. Because you can't zero in on what to write and what to omit. So is with this blog.
But the fact that am writing is proof that i have a fair course in mind. So let's tread on it.
It has been a year since we put in our papers. But this month last year we were still going to our offices. Serving our notice periods. Lapping up the last few moments of being an employer. This year this month we are fretting over trips not selling, house plants dying, laptop conking off, freelance not materializing. But the biggest worry is food. Not that we don't have money for it. Well, to be honest, we don't have money to order in every meal. Once in a while we manage to. But let me not digress and tell you what the worry around food is. You HAVE to eat 2-3 meals a day. I mean, you can't have one heavy meal and be done for the day. No sir, within 3-4 hours: knock-knock feed me. And make it something interesting please. How do you keep going there? Fix a meal, multiple times a day, as well as solve world problems. Not happening.
That brings me to the other thing on my mind. And this am looking forward to. A blind-folded walk for sighted led by visually impaired. As you walk through the jungle trail, our visually impaired friend will help you smell the trees, notice faint sounds, decipher wind directions and use it as a guide and navigate using senses other than sight. We are going to try it on our trip at Bir-Billing. And then run it on our other trips as well. Excited? Much.
All of you, life is really fragile. Just heard about a former colleague meeting with a life-taking road accident. Losing someone forever is not a good feeling to have. To losses and silences it brings.
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Pop-culture served with mysticism. Beatles Ashram anyone?

A dome like small room where the exterior is covered with rocks from riverbed

Wild Wild Country is what everyone is currently talking about. Wasn’t our timing to visit Beatles Ashram just perfect. Am writing this as I make lunch for myself.

When you visit a historical site, one is immediately transported to those times and that life. And Beatles Ashram is a mixture of pop-culture and mysticism of the 60s. I have never been to a place any more other-worldly than this. Even if you are slightly interested in meditation, the meditation rooms will highly entice you. You will be drawn to them like a child to a candy shop, sorry for the cliché. These were the personal meditation rooms am talking about (see pic). And I haven’t yet begun talking about the huge meditation hall called Chaurasi Kutiya. I hope I do justice to this mystical corner and architectural work-of-art while describing it. Sadly we don't have photos that give the whole picture of this part of the Ashram. These are 84 small rooms lying adjacent to each other in rows. The walls are covered with rocks from local riverbed. Each room has a small opening instead of a door, just wide enough for one person to slip in. Each room has just one small window near the ceiling for ventilation. The rooms are shaped like small domes. The whole place is cool, quiet, and dark even at 2 in the afternoon. We were overwhelmed by imagining what the atmosphere would have been with people meditating in all 84 rooms at a given point of time. Such energy the place must have emanated. The chants would have echoed in the low ceiling domes. The collective energy would have surely created the transcendental experience most people vie for all their lives.

The Beatles composed 48 songs while they lived in the ashram. These mostly featured in their landmark albums The White Album, Abbey Road and Yellow Submarine. Their visit to the Ashram inspired a global interest in meditation and yoga. And helped Rishikesh become a popular tourist destination, especially for foreign tourists. Remembering their visit to the ashram is the Artisits’ Studio, with huge graffiti featuring them with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. In fact, you will see artistic graffiti throughout the ashram. And they have been made by practiced hands.

If you are going to Rishikesh, don’t miss to visit Beatles Ashram. Thankfully, not many people know about it. So the crowd is minimal as compared to tourist spots in India. In fact, you can totally make a trip to Rishikesh just to visit the Beatles Ashram and spend some me-time there. Do carry your meditation mat.

Dal-chawal and fried bhindi anyone?

Have a look at our photos from the Rishikesh Trip here
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What we do when we do work.

Working for your own company is different from working on your boss’ idea. One, the cribbing is none. But the anxiety levels shoot through the roof when friends who had confirmed participation cancel it few days later. So days begin on a good note, end on a bad one and at midnight it might take a turn for the better. Unpredictable it is. Just like your boss’ mood. But we make the most of the days. Doing our own thing between drawing itineraries and calling people.

Doing our own thing ranges from cooking something we have been fancying for some time. Or trying our hand at a board game. Is Jenga a board game? There’s no board. Well, it’s just a game. Try your hand at it after you are a few drinks down. At this point I would like to re-iterate, Bat Travels doesn’t encourage drinking. In fact, drinking is injurious to health. One should not do it. Even if you are bogged down by the vagaries of life and it seems like there’s no respite. A drink should not be touched. Just believe in yourself and the higher powers to untangle your life. Even if you are an atheist. And sing some karaoke instead. What if you don’t know the song? Don’t you think it is unnecessary when people remember the words of so many songs? These are the same people who won’t remember important things. Important things like they owe you money. And then they won’t take subtle hints either. But start humming a song and they will fill in the words. Without being asked for and with the correct pronunciations. Such a waste of being a human being. Hey, someone increase the volume of the radio. I can’t hear the words.

Click on images to see the video.

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How to enjoy live Santoor music.

Artist on the boat playing santoor. Ganges and the rising sun can be seen in the background.

Try being on a boat, on the Ganges early in the morning when the sun is rising. Sitting at a distance of 3-4 feet from the musician, you will appreciate how delicate the instrument is. It has more than 100 strings running crisscross over the wooden body. And the music it makes is soulful and serene. If you keep looking at the Ganges with the santoor music in the background, something will shift gears in your heart. Try holding the tears then.

Also try holding yourself from the tempting chaats and kachoris and jalebis. We had two breakfasts in a day, because we didn’t want to miss kachori-chana for poori-jalebi. So we had both. And the rounds of banarasi-paan! I have lost count there. The mithais were on our radar and we had our fill there too. Laal-pedas were packed and taken home.

Walking through the narrow lanes, you will find a story at every corner. A marble plaque read 1767, the year the house was built in. The palaces on the ghats will have stories of Rajas who lived there. We stayed in one such palace. And a shivling at every 100 meter will constantly remind you that it is Shiva’s city. Locals will tell you that Shiva is around, one amongst the many sadhus living in the city. I don’t believe in Gods, but I want to believe that a personality like Shiva is in the vicinity. And that I can strike a conversation with him any day.

 

See pictures of the trip here
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Break a leg and other happenings at Bat Travels

Break a leg and other happenings at Bat Travels

 

Well, I actually broke a leg. And then we had a great show. So there, the headline has been explained. What follows is the drama around it and lots of detail.

In my line of vision is the right foot shoe lying alone where it has been discarded when I walked in in my house from my tour. It is covered in dust, and is looking miserably alone. So it the right foot chappal lying at my bedside. But two right-foot footwear don’t make a pair. So they are sulking, missing their better halves who are probably cozying up in the shoe case, as I type. Remember, they are leftist? Radicals!

If you are looking for drama around the fracture, there is none. Just old age, I guess. Which in itself is very dramatic. I say old age not because am old. I meant it in the way that am getting old. My birthday is around the corner, you see.

While we are on birthdays, Divya celebrated hers on our trip. She got a great band to perform, picked up an awesome venue, packaged it like a tour and managed to sell it. Initially when no-one was picking our trip we thought people can see through it. But as the days came closer, people just joined in. It could be because of the long weekend. And most people are normal, in the sense that when they don’t have a plan they leave the panicking to the last moment. So limping on one foot and one walking stick, I showed my happiness at the turn out.

If you talk to the people who joined our tour, they will tell you how good the music was. (By the way, Kanishk Seth and his band performed for us.) They will also tell you about the riverside venue and how they could hear the gurgling water all night long as they slept in tents floating over the river. I will tell you where I slept. In a tent pitched on the ground. I was not taking any risk. For I can’t swim. And these days, I can’t even walk.

The greatest gain from this fracture has been the walking stick. Now I don’t have to walk up to the switchboards. Standing 3 feet away I can switch off the fan. Sitting on the bed I can pull the bottle of water closer. The newspaper that I had thought I had done reading and had tossed on the floor can now be nudged back lovingly. Dogs now look at me with new-found respect. Cats, well cats never really looked at me. They still don’t. What should I do to make you look at me? Break another leg?

In case any of you know of cool activities that can be done on one leg, do leave behind a comment. I don’t promise I will try it. But I will definitely give it a thought. Please refrain from suggesting the adventurous activity ‘bathing’. Have already done that stuff. Woohoo!

Picture credit: Karthik Shriram. (follow him on Instagram @karthik_shriram)