Fire

I am thinking to change the format of how I post a blog entry, I have noticed dumping all photos of trips without details is not gaining enough attention. So now I am thinking to post my blog entries more frequently but with just 1 photo with some details or some quotes to reflect what I wish to convey using that photos. In fact, this is the format of posting I am following in my Flickr, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook accounts and getting the better attention of viewers. Please follow me on my social media handle it’s the same for every platform which is @pawan269.

For this blog post, I am posting a year-old photo of a small roadside restaurant somewhere around Rewa, MP, India. It was a very cold winter night in January 2021 and we were returning from our MP trip to Prayagraj.

Fire gives warmth, comfort, gives a feeling that something lively is happening around. To keep yourself alive, keep the fire inside you ablaze.
Fire gives warmth, comfort, gives a feeling that something lively is happening around. To keep yourself alive, keep the fire inside you ablaze.
Rewa, MP
January 2021

Hope – 2021 Review

The year 2021 was indeed a very bad year, in fact, 2020 was as well, Deaths, lockdown, lack of job, loss of job, and whatnot. I personally saw people who were living in other metros like Delhi, Mumbai, and other parts of India moved back to their hometowns to sustain themselves after losing jobs. 

Felt satisfied when my friends and I have tried helping people in need, but there were a few instances that were shameful as well, one such instance has happened with my brother who went out a night to get the oxygen cylinder filled for the aunt who was a cancer patient and a covid patient as well, police caught my brother and fined him for breaching lockdown. In another instance, a known person refuses to take an ill relative to the hospital due to fear of contracting covid. Friends and relatives were scared to meet and let anyone come to their houses. I have witnessed an instance where both parents and grandparents of 2 very young girls die due to covid in the same building I live in, in fact, 15+ people have died just in the same building I live, more than 8 people died in relations and 10 others in known once. At one point in time when I was also sick, I have lost the charm to live, while laying on a sickbed, I was hearing news of relatives and known once passed away, I was not expecting that I will recover, there was a time when all 3 male members in the family were sick at the same time including my father who is in his 70’s.

2021 was a year of hope, most people were just hoping that things will go better in time, unemployed or those who lost jobs hoping that things will be normal soon, businesses were hoping that the market will revive in time to come. I have seen people coming forward to help others, saw a lot of positive things and co-operation. 

Wishing you a happier and healthier new year. May 2022 will be an ever better year for everyone.

Me – The trip planner

It’s been a year since I took kids out for a vacation, last time we went out for a holiday was during the new year 2021, and now reaching towards the end of 2021. Though lockdown due to covid and our 2+ month-long stay in Prayagraj (Aka Allahabad, my hometown) happened in between but we could not have a stress-free time together. The long weekend of this Christmas has given that opportunity to kids to push and convince me for an outing. Their nagging has increased since my last trip to Spiti with friends. 2 places were on my list – any nearby destination in Uttarakhand or Jaipur in Rajasthan. 

Jaipur offers a complete package to family, where kids can hang out and do shopping while I can enjoy different food and go on a photo walk on my own take picture of beautiful historical places or daily life. But we ended up in Rishikesh as the plan started with a few other families and slowly all of them backed out, Rishikesh was a collective decision but it was my family only who went on this trip. 

The location in Rishikesh I have chosen was away from the city and surrounded by forest (I took advantage of finding the location of my choice). Thinking to unwind a bit, the resort was almost empty when we checked in on Friday (24 December). 25th was a different day though, there were few groups of young people who reached the resort, and my thoughts of a calm and relaxed holiday were blown in thin air. Loud music, booze, abuse, and whatnot. I thought of venturing out with family and spending the day in any market and other locations drove a few kilometers here and there but could not get anything, I have twisted my ankle while taking photos and left with no choice but to return back to the resort. 

The evening was even noisier when the resort staff put up a DJ, another round of booze, dance, and music started which was nothing more than loud noise to me. I was a bit annoyed when the resort manager knocked on the door and requested us to come out and enjoy ourselves. Probably he was telling me to enjoy the time as he thinks is the right way. It’s a common misunderstanding I have found in people that they think that the way they are doing things is right, and the worst is that when they force others into it. It’s nothing more than an embarrassment to people like me. I have decided to stay in the room due to restricted movement and pain in my left ankle. Kids went out though. 

Started our return on the 26th morning around 11ish, enjoyed driving my new car, which I bought in October this year, and it was the first trip with family with this car. Grown-up kids need more space so bought a 7 seater (Ertiga Zxi), it’s 2nd and 3rd row can be converted into a bed where 2 people can sleep easily. I hope it will serve better in long drives. It’s a good family car but the built quality could have been better. 

While planning this trip to Rishikesh I was not thinking of my personal enjoyment rather I wanted my kids and wife to have fun, which I hope they had. This is my tip as well whenever you are traveling with family do not think of your enjoyment, think that you are a trip planner, a driver, a photographer, a coolie, and most important a complaint officer who listens to all complaints and react on none, you will be satisfied that way. 

Breakfast
My elder one
A waterfall (from mobile)

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