Diwali 2021

Experimented with lights this year during Diwali, post my trip to Spiti I have started understanding lights more, enjoying playing with the camera, and getting the exposure I wanted to :). Also, I have started discarding photos of motion blur or camera shakes more, sometimes I need to repeat the shots and it becomes challenging to work with non-professional models (my kids) who get irritated with repeated shots or can not reproduce the same pose the second time 😀

There are tons of photos like these ones that can be found on the internet, making each composition unique where I have started working towards. Hoping I will be executing those soon.

Few tips for Spiti Trip

We returned last Sunday and went busy at work, did not get enough time to post details about the places we have traveled and overall experience, the only thing I manage to do was to post-process photos and post them on the blog. You can refer following 2 links in case you are directly landing on this post – 

https://pawan269.wordpress.com/2021/10/18/spiti-infinite-landscape/

https://pawan269.wordpress.com/2021/10/20/spiti-infinite-landscape-2/

Our start and finish point were Delhi and the entire trip was planned for 9 days. Our stops were Fagu – Kalpa – Tabo- Kaza – Manali. Kaza and Manali were 2 nights while Fagu, Tabo, and Kalpa were 1. This is totally insufficient if you are planning to cover Kaza all the way to Chandra Tal. We have completely missed Sangla, Chitkul, and Nako. My recommendation will be to plan for at least a 12-day trip. Following are a few other recommendations in bulleted points – 

  • Carry a BSNL or Jio sim, Kaza has only these 2 networks as of now which will also disappear if you are going to Chandratal and further to Manali after that. We heard that Airtel is also setting up their tower, hopefully, it will be functional soon. 
  • October end is the time when the season for Kaza ends, though tourists go there during snowfall but do not plan anything after October if you can not tolerate extreme cold. It was -8 degrees centigrade at night in mid-October.
  • Carry good quality sunscreen, sunglasses and drink a lot of water to prevent sunburn, sunlight is too bright and wind speed is high and cold. I am still recovering from sunburns. Cover your face and wears glovers if you are out.
  • If you are traveling from Kaza to Manali road conditions are very bad, your car will not run more than 20KM / hour, there is no phone network so you will not be able to guess how much pain you need to take before reaching Manali. You will be sitting ducks in other words. There are places where spring water is flowing through road and these places are very difficult to cross even for big cars, be careful while crossing, car in front of us got stuck and we spend a couple of hours before a pick-up truck came to rescue them. 
  • We did a mistake driving in the night while going to Manali from Chandra Tal, will suggest staying around Chandra Tal if it’s late, there are few camp sites nearby. There are 2 reasons for this suggestion first because the road condition is very poor after Chandra Tal you will be confused which way to go and second you will miss viewing the landscape and wildlife on the way. The route is not dangerous but just bad.
  • If you are driving by yourself, be careful with stones and rubble on the road, sometimes they have sharp edges which can cut your car’s tires. We have seen 2 instances where car tires were cut by stone. It’s mostly rocky around Kaza and the border road organization is breaking them to make way so getting any type of rock is possible. 
  • You won’t get a fuel station after Kaza until Manali, so get your car tank full in Kaza or Manali (if you are coming via Manali) 
  • There are some local food and drink you can try, these are not much different than other Indian food in taste, though my personal preference is not to explore too much of local food and stick with Daal + Roti while I am on travel. 

So these were a few tips that I have thought to share while on this trip, we (Dr. Sharad, Balkrishan, and me) have done some good research before going on this trip, went through some youtube vlogs and blogs. I will suggest to you do the same. 
I personally find reading material much easier to grasp as compared to videos as you can find the keywords which you are looking for, extracting any information from video is a bit difficult. I will not deny the fact that vlogging is picking up these days and people are making money as well. Though I have not created any videos on this trip but compiled my photographs in a video and posted on youtube. Sharing that link below if you like – 

https://youtu.be/AIkwaP34gyY

Apart from the above 2 blog links and one youtube link I am posting one last photo of this trip, a landscape version of same is already posted, but somehow I like this upright format photo of the landscape, though it was rejected by my Guru, but still posting.

Spiti – infinite landscape

Traveled between  9-17 Oct 2021

Managing leaves and keeping up with the right time to travel does not work all the time, though we have planned this trip 3 months back, it’s almost the end of the travel season to Spiti. Many hotels and restaurants were about to shut for the winter when we reached Spiti. Noticed mainly different shades of brown as winters are about to start. View of Chandratal lake makes all effort worth, capturing all the landscape which I have seen while driving will take another thousand years though. Posting few photos among 1000 odd photos I took on this trip.

A lost Wednesday

Thought to jot it down before it disappears from my mind or I lose interest in that. 

One fine day of this week I was starting my day like any other day. The first thing I do in the morning is to manage my calendar and decline or propose a new time for all those meetings which I can not make. These are mostly meetings which are overlapping with other meetings. During this exercise, an important weekly meeting pops up. I wondered why this meeting appears today when it has to be on Thursday while today is Wednesday. Due to the importance of that meeting I prepare well at least a day in advance, it seems the creator of that meeting has preponed the meeting to Wednesday, “how I am going to prepare that?” The first thought came to mind. I have started thinking about my options to avoid that meeting or to remain silent and not interact much. 

While thinking about what to do I noticed that the calendar was showing that today is Thursday, not Wednesday. “How come?”, “how come it’s Thursday today when it should be a Wednesday”. Took a look on another computer and mobile too, all devices were showing Thursday. If it’s Thursday, what I was doing on Wednesday, I tried going back to Wednesday’s calendar and recalling what I was doing, but whatever was there was mostly identical to today’s or any other day’s calendar. I have started thinking about what I have done yesterday which can confirm that I have lived Wednesday but nothing came out.

Living in the same room for the past one and a half years and hardly going out, doing the same activity every day, had no vacation hardly any off-day, and was working on the same thing even on my off days was probably the reason why I have missed that Wednesday.

I have noticed that Facebook and google photos have shown a lot of my travel photos lately, and most were in the month of August. August is about to end and I hardly stepped out of my home, even room, I only go out of room for nature’s calls. My desk and my bed are the 2 places in my room where I work, eat, sleep, rest, talk to family, make phone calls to my father or brothers. I watch movies, videos, learn new things, process my photos, and whatnot in the same room. I am living the life of a voluntary prisoner happily, this is not who I am or ever was. After selling my car I have added one more reason to not go out.

I am a bit lucky that I have a job else I would have gone mad living these identical days of my life, but I should plan a trip or something very soon and break this monotonous life routine. Started thinking now…

Future of my Travel

As the car is gone now, I was thinking and exploring options to continue my travel. Family trips are definitely going to be difficult but solo will still be possible. 

Family trips will be limited and I may need to rent a car for a few days for that. 

For solo, buses and local transport will be the best option. I was unable to get a clearity if buses from Delhi to Spiti or Leh are still in operation. They were stopped due to the surge in Covid cases, not sure if they have started again, will explore again post monsoon as it’s not recommended to travel to these locations in rains. Regulations due to Covid are changing very frequently and each state has its own regulations, this is causing a lot of confusion. Tried calling bus stations a few times but the calls were unsuccessful. 

I prefer state government operated buses over private operators. Privately operated buses are congested, while state government buses are spacious, though they are not well maintained sometimes, but I can live with that. 

Traveling in buses will add additional experience to my travel. One thing which I need to plan is what exactly I want to carry. Travel light will be a good idea but those camera lenses, camera body and laptop are something which can not be ignored. Travelling to cold places will need extra clothing as well, while travelling in a car since the last few years made me forget what are the essentials I need to carry. It was just stuffing everything in the car and starting driving. 

Travelling in public transport will require a lot of background work and study, timing of buses, local transport or rented vehicle availability on destination should also be considered. Seems i need to think though and visualize everything end to end before i start anything, will do so. Will keep posting the progress as well. 

Posting few pics which I have captured back in 2015.

Jaisalmer, February 2015
Kufri, HP, January 2015
Kanatal, Uttarakhand July 2015

Covid Experience

It was the day of Holi when we have got the news that my elder brother-in-law passed away due to cardiac arrest, we have rushed to my hometown, Prayagraj. He was sick for some time but we were not expecting that it will turn so bad. The train was not an option I have decided to drive. This was about the time when the covid second wave started picking up. After reaching Allahabad came to know that 3 of my relatives from my parent’s side have already passed away in the gap of few days.

Few days after reaching to hometown, my father, elder brother, and I all fell sick, it was Typhoid as per pathology lab, but it had all the symptoms of Covid, we called a lab to send someone for sample collection but no one turned up, my entire neighborhood stared coughing in few days, luckily all recovered except 3 unlucky ones. All 3 people who died were living not more than 10 feet away from my house.

I was constantly in touch with my friends in Ghaziabad, the situation here was even worst. My building alone had at least 15 deaths in April and May. We were only getting news of the deaths of many close and far relatives, friends, and known people in these 2 months. At one point I have lost hope for my life.

With the grace of God, the covid is slowing down and life is again coming back to normal, but fear of Covid returning is there.

As we have rushed to my hometown unplanned, so could not carry much, just a few sets of clothing, a work laptop, and a mobile, and spend more than 2 months there, the longest since I have left my hometown back in 2002. All these photos were taken from my below-average phone Redmi 6 Pro.

A sadhu is seen at the bank of river Yamuna. Prayagraj
New branches and leaves growing from the cut trunk
An old mansion sighted in Civil Lines, Prayagraj
Brother Balkrishan and Dr. Sharad chilling between berry bushes in the alluvium of Prayagraj
My car condition after returning from alluvium
An air-cooler shop and owner in Katra, Prayagraj
Company (East India) Garden, later renamed as Chandra Shekhar Azad park
Ram-Janki Temple
A couple of temples at the edge of Prayagraj alluvium, approximately 1 KM from my home. It was visible from my home rooftop in my childhood. The entire stretch is now packed with houses.
Flowers on Cactus
An old building in new Katra, Prayagraj
Sangam, Prayagraj
Dr. Sharad on his morning walk
All Saints Cathedral, Allahabad (Prayagraj). A gothic style beautiful building in the Civil Lines area
Keoti Fort, Sirmaur MP
Monsoon and roasted corn, one of the fond memories of childhood
Tea after our morning walks

Ancient water purification

Relying mainly on rainwater for drinking, the people of Mandu have developed a very advanced water cleaning mechanism in the 15th century.
Water collected in Baolies was flown first in a small tank filled with limestone, then it passes through various small tanks filled with different materials like coal, fine sand, coarse sand, gravel, herbs, etc and then finally gets collected in a small solid tank, from where it then gets distributed to royalties for drinking.
Mandu, MP,
January 2021

Baoli in the backdrop and limestone tank in front, first step of water purification

Baoli in the backdrop and limestone tank in front, the first step of water purification

The second step of water purification with other materials

The second step of water purification with other materials