Another way of travel 

A couple of years back I met a group of sadhus and got a chance to talk to them. I was thinking of writing that experience in a blog post but went busy with work and forgot over time, also I never had that expertise of writing in English words and sentences precisely what I have experienced. 

While exploring old photos I found a photo of one of the sadhus, this refreshed my discussion with him and I thought of an attempt to write that experience.

It was the end of July of 2018 and I was returning from a hill station in Uttarakhand after a short family vacation. We took a stop in Rishikesh for a tea break, while talking to the restaurant owner noticed a bus which was also coming from Uttrakhand stopped near the restaurant and 4 sadhus alighted. The bus moved on while sadhus came to the restaurant and took place on a free bench. 

Belonging from Prayag, I have seen Sadhus since childhood and was taught by parents to treat them well and give them something (money, rice, flour, or lentils). This group was not very different so I ordered my tea and started walking towards the car. One of the sadhus waved his hand towards me like he wanted to talk. I walked towards him and asked what I could do for him. He asked if I could pay for their tea and a few snacks. I said ok and looked towards the restaurant owner, he understood what I was going to say and assured me that he will serve them with tea and snacks, the owner mentioned that it is a common thing for him and happens often when travelers passing by pay for sadhus food. “If they don’t have a few hundred rupees to pay for tea and snacks then how are they traveling? Don’t know where they are coming from and where they will be going to? how will they be able to afford the travel?” These were a few questions that struck my mind. When I plan for a vacation, the first thing I look for is budget, while they are traveling with no money to pay for tea even. I felt we both belong to 2 different dimensions. This thought triggered me to start a conversation with them, talk about their way of travel. 

While the restaurant owner was preparing our tea, I decided to sit with them and know more about them. “Where are you coming from?”I asked the first question, he replied that they are coming from Kedarnath and were heading to Ujjain. Before Kedarnath, they were in Amarnath. I did a quick googling and figured out they will be traveling more than 2,000 KMs. “How do you plan your trip and bare expanses of these trip?” he replied it’s almighty who takes care of everything, we just need to think where we want to go and start our journey, rest things get arranged on the way and problems get resolved by itself. I checked their belongings, they hardly had anything, on the contrary, my car boot was full of bags of clothing, water bottles, food items, and even a hot air blower. We had a long conversation after that, I asked everything from the beginning till that day. 

They were 4 childhood friends belonging to a small city of Mirzapur near Varanasi. They got married early and had children early as well, once their children grew up and took the job, they decided to become sadhus and left home. It’s been 20 years since they were traveling in different holy places across India like that. They just board on a train or bus and no one asks for money or if anyone asks they take the next bus or train. They stay in temples, Dharamshalas, or under the sky, people feed them or give them money sometimes. They just carry a blanket, a Kamandall (a pot), a stick, and a bag with a few basic stuff for survival. They do not have any sense of ownership. They rely totally on the almighty and it has worked for the last 20 years without fail. 

I belong to a world where budget, planning, and management skills are required for weekend trips and on the other hand, there are those people who don’t care about anything and just travel. We post pics, tag location, and go live while in travel they don’t have a phone even. They travel, learn, and teach, spread words of wisdom to people, talk about love, peace, humanity, and harmony in society, while I go back to the rat race and show-off business after the trip. Felt pity…

Learned something that day, the first trust in God, second people are kind, third and most important thing I learned is to start the journey, problems will be resolved and the path will be discovered on the way. Posting a pic of that wise godman here – 

A Sadhu

A Sadhu

My Travel journey

Happy Diwali!

Feeling like writing something, was thinking about the topic of this post, whether it should be related to travel, photography, thoughts, or friends and family, finally decided to write about my travel experience so far.

Let me write how I have evolved in my travel, initially, I wanted to visit cities just to see urban life, then I was fascinated by natural beauty, whether it’s forest, river, mountains or deserts, then rural lifestyle and now its spiritual. So travel is there but the purpose has changed over time. Recently visited Gangotri over a long weekend, will travel to other destinations of Chota Chardham in time to come. In bigger plans, I wish to drive to actual Chardham Badrinath, Dwaraka, Puri, and Rameswaram in my car, solo, with friends or family doesn’t matter.

My individual (not with family) travel started a bit early as I use to visit different cities in UP for playing volleyball tournaments. During the final year of my post-graduation, I have traveled few places in MP Gwalior, Bhind then came to Delhi for university related work, this was my first tour out of state. I have visited Manali first time in 2003, that was my first trip during my job, after July 2006 I have become an international traveler, was fortunate to visit different countries of South East Asia and Europe.

Travel has made me very humble and I learned that you need not have everything to be happy. In recent years, after moving back to India in 2013, I have traveled extensively in Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, and Madhya Pradesh (and UP of course) within India. Each of these states has its own beauty at different times of the year. Winters are best to see snowfall in the Himalayas at the same time you can enjoy it in Thar desert or Forests of MP as well, Summers are for Hill stations of Himalayas (HP or UK). Being said, Monsoon is the time when I mostly go out to Uttarakhand or HP, it’s a bit risky of course but totally worth taking it, as all mountains are lush green, a lot of waterfalls on the way and most important all the tourists are back home as schools are open post-summer vacations, so no crowd and low tariff in hotels :). I drove so much in the mountain of Uttarakhand and Himachal that now I can claim myself as a Pahadi driver :P.

Winters is the time when I visit my home town Allahabad (Prayag, now Prayagraj) every year, I drop my kids at their Nana-Nani place and go on a road trip to MP with my brother BK and friend Dr. Sharad. We have given this road-trip the name “The Freedom Trip”, why this name – we all do whatever we want to do. We eat or drink whatever we want, stay wherever we want and visit places which we want, It is the trip I always look forward to, it is the time year when I feel totally detached from worldly things and pains. In the past 10 years, we have traveled all most all cities of MP many times. What fascinates me about MP is its low population density, you will have to drive miles before you see any human face. As the terrain is rocky so not much farming is being done in MP this is the main reason why population density is very low. street food of MP is organic and great in taste and air is so refreshing, people are humble, simple, and helping. There are plenty of forest reserves and historical sites in MP, you will fall in love with MP at the first sight.

Feeling blessed to live in Delhi as all type of natural beauty is within reach, I can cook a plan for the weekend, complete it and join office the next day. When you do something else for living and want to takeout time for your passion for travel, can only be achieved only if you are in Delhi.

Winters has started which is triggering me for our yearly ritual “The Freedom Trip”, but seems this year the trip is not going to happen as we have few students in the family who have board exams in 2021, but me taking a week break in winter is confirmed, I may be driving solo in Rajasthan again, the road between Longewala and Tanot is calling me, I also need to see Kuldhara as well.

I have also started preparing myself for tracking, one of my friends is organizing trekking trips and wants me to join him to take photos of his trekking group. It will be to a very remote location near the China border next summer. I have to lose weight and strengthen my muscles and lungs for that, working on that, and hopefully, I will be ready by next summer. It will be 2 days trekking each side and 2 nights camping near a lake, can not disclose the location but I hope you can understand that it will be a cold and rocky place.

My car (Ford) is asking for retirement, I drove it around 1.7 Lakhs KM in the past 7 years and it is breaking apart now. I really love this car, it was the most strong, spacious, and economical car at that time in its class. As kids are grown up, they need more space to sleep in back-seat, I will go for a 7 seater car this time, Cresta (Toyota) may be. Seems creating a flatbed like XUV (Mahindra) is not possible in Cresta, hopefully, they will do something by the time I buy.

I read a quote somewhere – “Die with memories not with dreams” and following it since then.

Planning to add few more gadgets to my photography kit, but will write about my photography experiences in another blog soon… stay tuned 🙂

We are Colored! (Holi 2019)

This should be celebrated as no-discrimination day internationally as this is the only day of the year when we know person in-front as a fellow human being and do not ask of his/her race, religion, cast or any other crap. Sometimes I wonder how much ahead of time our forefathers have thought before starting this festival and the way it is celebrated AMAZING!!!

Well on shooting Holi, this was my first time in the middle of the crowd and chaos all around me. Loud music, rain dance, colored powder, colored water, wet and colored people grabbing each other to color, hugs, smile, shout, laugh, spring breeze, you just name adversity and imagine me in the middle of that carrying a costly DSLR which is highly sensitive to powder and water. Luckily people were considerate and noticed the camera in my hand… phew!

Post processing was the most adventurous bit as my personal computer with Adobe Lightroom went kaput before downloading raw (CR2 in Canon) files, being a Linux expert I took up the challenge of post-processing photos on Linux (I use another Laptop for work with Ubuntu). Got a great tool for Linux – Darktable which has all most all features of Lightroom but being naive to this tool, I am not yet very satisfied with the outcome.

I think I should log more on my thoughts on discrimination bit – Proving ourselves superior to others is human nature, so until two people are different there will be discrimination. At the same time there is no possibility that any two people will be the same, not even monozygotic (identical) twins as they get different experience and influences in their own lives, this is how nature works and wants us to be different. Educating people on how they treat others is the only way to suppress (if not eradicate) the feeling of being superior.

Well enough! … take a look of few photos I have shortlisted and post-processed in Darktable on Ubuntu –

Holi 2019

Holi 2019

Holi 2019

Holi 2019

Holi 2019

Holi 2019

Holi 2019

Holi 2019

Holi 2019

Holi 2019

Holi 2019

Holi 2019

Holi 2019

Holi 2019

Holi 2019

Holi 2019