THE HILLS OF MUNNAR: A LIFE-DEFINING JOURNEY

Author: Saumyaa Sinha

It came about the same time as my mind started shutting off, possibly and most probably even because of it. The incredible thing about college is it helps you lose all expectations, so clearly, I was expecting nothing out of my trip to Munnar.

The dark doom gloomy cynicism ceases to exist the second I agree for impulsive trips, sheer energy and no planning, I am aware, but sometimes the breeze shows you a direction and you follow it. Munnar is an underrated little hill station in the Idukki District in Kerala, obviously at the time I didn’t care for the geography as much as I did for the thrill factor. Brushing up on the knowledge came much later when my mind could perceive beyond the feeling of liberation. Getting into Kerala was the easy part, then came the real stuff, the gold dust, the je ne sais quoi. Spiralling to the top of the mountain with curves sharper than the ones in engineering graphs, we made it alive at 11pm.

The sunlight broke into my life, playing hide and seek with the curtains, and when I drew the curtains, I was drenched; in the warm soft glow of the sun, in complete awe, in overwhelming ecstasy. The balcony opened to the full frame of the Sun and the sky. Living in apartments and high-rise cities, I only ever got little pieces of the sky puzzle, but standing there, experiencing the sunrise, the sky as though finger painted with rich orange and yellow hues. A little bit of blue there, a tinge of red here. Everything was so close, I felt small and tremendously tall at the same time. I’d say it was as though tasting the whole universe at once. As though the wind was trying to slap me awake, as though in the grand scheme of events, little things moved us and became us.

The chaiwaala at the end of our guest house road believed in nothing else other than making people smile. He didn’t say much, brought us his speciality, adarak ki chai (ginger tea), and perhaps it was the strong force of the hot tea down my throat or the awakening by the ginger, that it finally hit me: happiness is where you want it to be. The wrinkles on the old man’s face spoke of years in front of a stove, the flames lapping up his youth, yet that smile…that smile melted all those years into a seamless journey of insights gained. Munnar is a chai-lover’s paradise. The smell of tea is everywhere, practically owing to the rows and rows of endless plantations. The entirety of Munnar spills out of a teaspoon, the whole hill station is a tea plantation and factory miracle, the leaves glow, they glint like pearls in the sunlight. Shy little leaves stay their ground, covering every patch of the hills seen by the eyes.

We hired a Safari jeep, especially to soak in the tea gardens, everything else we experienced was a plus. We were told to hold onto the frame bar tightly; I don’t think I realised how tightly I was supposed to hold it because the jeep rode over rocks and slopes and jagged cut hills and for the first fifteen seconds I was just tossing in the vehicle, dangerously close to propelling out. It felt like the last eighteen years of my life being described physically. But I found my hold, very proud to say, that I found my grip. We kept travelling uphill, the sun was throwing soft shadows and the dust danced a ballet like blown away dandelion petals. The closer we got to the top, the more women we saw between the tea shrubs, clad in a thick lower long skirt and a full sleeve wrap around, heads covered with the same thick and dull fabric, their backs bent with the endlessly long jute jholas, their skin tanned and smooth, glistening with sweat. Their work was tedious, plucking leaves, one at a time and filling up the jute bag up to the brim, they then walked the rest of the journey upwards and delivered these bags to the tea factory. The number of bags and their dedication both seemed too much to comprehend, I smiled at a woman, and she returned the warmest one I had ever seen.

The tea factory and museum weren’t the most extra-ordinary or awe-struck thing you’d see, but it was a place where you could enjoy the success of a tea-worker’s day vicariously. The simplicity was its charm. We were guided through the entire process of tea preparation, right from the plantation to the packaging, each process infused with the hard work of a thousand workers. Perhaps I dithered to think too much then, but I felt so much at once, sitting on an earthen chair, sipping chai, realising that the intricacy of life was so much more than work, projects and deadlines; it was simple things like tasting the journey of each tea leaf as the warm sips touched my lips.

We clambered onto a mountain peak, the jeep left us off at a wooden gate, we walked the rest of the way. A narrow path, only ascending with no railings at the height of 8661 ft above the sea level, made way for us into the breath-taking view of mountains, lush greenery, all hazily lying under a layer of thin misty fog. Maybe I had slumbered through the mellow ticking of time, but right then, that was all that mattered. It was too much to take in, standing there, one tiny homo sapien, looking onto a slice of this Earth, just handed out to the eyes. It was overwhelming, soul gratifying and completely numbing to the point where I couldn’t peel myself away from the peak. Everything felt right. That night in the guest house, when I lay down on the deck chair, I realised I loved the night as much as I loved the day. For the first time in my life I found clarity, both up there- the stars glistened playing lights out against the black buttery sky, and in my heart. The unfathomable thing was that our thoughts and the stars- both constitute of the same number.

To embark on a self-recovery and soul-searching journey, the go to place, most certainly is Munnar. The breeze will touch you deeply and the sunrise will move you. You’ll find yourself alright, but what you’ll also find is that the subtle beauty of travelling will change your perspective. With this new found drishtikon, fill up your backpack, pull up your socks and tie your laces- there is a long journey waiting, the hills of Munnar are calling, the world is screaming your name- keep moving forward.

A small dose of art

Author – Aditi Chandrasekar

Art ,in its traditional sense, can sometimes be conspicuous by its absence in our daily lives. So it can be pleasant to stumble across some thought-provoking pieces occasionally. Here are two interesting art pieces I came across today.

Conviction by Gigi Scaria

This was one of the pieces put up in Gigi Scaria’s art exhibition ‘Ecce Homo’. This exhibition presented a bleak future that is, in some ways, already in our present-the whole exhibition itself felt like a bunch of singular pieces that didn’t quite come together for a larger narrative which portrayed a feeling of anxiety. In his book ‘Ecce home’, German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche addresses the necessity to create ‘redemptive’ men-this comes to mind when we look at Scaria’s conviction, a set of three paintings depicting torsos. The protagonists open up their shirts to expose their chests possibly imitating Hanuman’s episode in the Ramayana where he rips his heart to reveal the image of Lord Ram and Sita. Scaria shows up no gods in his work but we are instead confronted by the symbols for pause and play-the figures require external forces to activate their beliefs.

That quiet corner by Yardena Kurulkar

This art piece in Yardena Kurulkar’s installation ‘So it goes’, consists of a cast iron structure that looks like a tomb pretending to be a bed. That quiet corner was born out of an attempt to capture the effect of death in the spaces that surround it. Yardena laid down amongst the tombstones in a Jewish cemetery to capture the world around her. While she did point the camera up at the sky, the lens bent the world around her allowing the tombstones to peek into the picture. Instead of a mattress on the “bed”, there is a 3D form of her skull unraveled to be laid flat on a 2D surface, superimposed on the image she captured at the cemetery. This is a piece that embodies Kurulkar’s whole show as it is a bit overwhelming, and leads to interrogations about death.

She let herself burn.

Author: Divyang Arora

 

As she cooked the rotis, the heat from the flames made her sweat. It was deemed an unnecessary luxury, so there was no fan in the kitchen to provide for comfort against her hardship.

It was a dark and dingy place, made of bricks, which were damaged at places in between their beehive-like structure, and a tin roof. The house, if you can call it that, was a single room. There were a few pieces of furniture and it looked its inhabitants slept on the cold hard floor, which was caked with dust, with clean patches looking like silhouettes spread on the floor. There was no room for ventilation, so the heat got trapped inside. The only door had sunlight seeping from below it, but the sunlight had not managed to expand its territory to even half an inch from the main entrance. A particular spot quite near the roof, however, was damaged enough to let the sunlight come through. The beam of light fell on her, making a natural spot light.

She sat there, in her lumpy and colourful clothes. She had three white dots on each of her cheeks and wore a simple yet elegant nose ring. She wore moderately long, cheap earrings that had lots of smooth glittery stones which reflected some light from her spotlight and formed a cluster of tiny flash lights. The skin on her face was starting to sag. She wore a cheap, plain saree that was devoid of any trinkets or decorations but was an extremely bright hue of red. The sunlight filled the cluster of bangles on her hands with light, brightening them up but fading the depth of their colour at the same time.

The heat waves from her cauldrons shimmered and made everything around and beyond seem hazy.

The smell of food she had made enticed her nostrils. In one corner, there was a small area dedicated to her gods and the agarbattis she had burned mixed their essence with that of the dinner in making. It gave the house a very misty look. It made the very place stricken with dire poverty and helplessness look serene and gave her a very peaceful look.

Someone better off may come along and call the scene aesthetic, but it couldn’t have been comfortable.

She looked around like she was taking this all in for the first time and in her eyes, it seemed like heaven. Maybe that’s why she didn’t leave, even though her saree was laced with sweat.

She was hungry, but could eat only after her family, to ensure that everybody got their fill, much like mothers creating the society and its laborers but not getting to eat its fruit of productivity till much later, when everyone else is done with it.

The heat from her own creation stung her eyes and the oil that came spurting out threatened to burn her clothes and rob her off her dignity.

She brought out a plate to transfer the chapattis from the tava with her naked fingers. Picking them up would bring her fingers in contact with the steaming tava, but she didn’t seem to care. She could have stretched out her hand. She could have picked the cloth lying not so far. Not out of her reach. She could have used it. But she didn’t bother. She had done this for years now. She didn’t mind taking the brunt of the heat.

Her hands did not swell or become red, not any more.
She had to feed her family. She had to achieve what she had been told was her aim and dharma, her whole life, and be the ideal wife.

She let herself burn.

Out For A Walk

The breeze is cold, with no identifiable smells, it’s pleasuring. The city looks beautiful, calm and the major intersections are the only places with lights. These huge flood-lights look like mere toothpicks from where I stand. The city looks like a collection of a kid’s building blocks, organized as on a circuit board of some complex electronic device. I have seen this view multiple times, probably in every lighting condition that the eyes can perceive, yet, it looks especially mesmerizing right now. I stand on the visibly largest bridge crossing the Ganga river, marking the start of this holy city. The oldest bridge was replaced by the latest one. The double-decker bridge is barely visible which identified the city in films like Raanjhna. A train chugs through the bottom and some two-three people walk by on the top every few minutes. Dawn will break soon.

 

I stand here, after hours of trying to sleep. The breeze keeps pushing me back, tailwinds of trucks passing on the highway behind me keep thrusting me forward, and I keep swinging like a disoriented pendulum. I came here to see the end. Option 1: Fall on the bottom of the pillar, crack your skull, instant, and certain death.  Option 2: Fall in the water, I’m high enough for the surface tension to shatter my bones, I writhe in pain and eventually drown. Another possibility is I enter the water safe and sound, the cold water and strong current give me a long, slow and agonizing death, my body is found somewhere downstream. 

This is it, my dream of twelve years is finally becoming a reality. I climb and sit on the edge, anytime now.

“Hey, why are you here? What are you planning to do now?”

“I have seen it all, I have reached the tipping point of my life, it cannot get any better. I will jump and end it all.”
“Yes, that’s the best you can do, I mean, you being here or just disappearing, wouldn’t make a difference in the grand scheme of things. Your existence is known to a maximum of a thousand people. About 500 remember that they met you. About a hundred remember you regularly. Some fifteen-twenty people care about your existence, only to eventually benefit from you. NO ONE ADORES YOU. It would be for the best for you and everyone around you if you died.”

“Wait. You have so much to live for, didn’t you want to go Bungee Jumping? You could do it if you didn’t jump now.”

“This isn’t much different though.”

All three of us laughed as a tear rolled down my face.

“Yeah, that’s true but you wanted to buy a car, raise a kid, live a happy life?”

“But isn’t that inviting more trouble down the line? Every change brings discomfort.”
“Exactly, right from choosing the pursuit of engineering. No, from choosing science. No, wait, from the first time I ever spoke, I have only invited trouble to myself and the people around me. My words, my actions, never solved anything, but definitely sprouted seeds for trouble.”

“Yeah, and you were also responsible for 9/11, don’t listen to him. You’re doing good. You’ve got a healthy lifestyle, a stable job. You are who many aspire to be. You can do anything you want to.”

“Haha, as if you’ve ever had anything in control.”

“That’s true, I have never had anything in my control. Isn’t that the truth of the world? No matter what decision I make, it always has consequences beyond my control. What am I doing, where am I headed? I will never have the life I wanted. It is all pointless. I will never know what’s next and uncertainty is never good. I can count the major events left in my life on the fingers of just one of my hands and most of them aren’t happy ones.”

“You can’t end here. People look up to you. They tell their kids your story. Wouldn’t you want that story to get better every time you meet them? Or do you want it to become a foreshadowing?”

“That is a part of the problem. I very much hate the life I have lived till now, I do not want anyone to follow my footsteps of all people.”

“The underachiever, the meta of our generation. You are spitting on the greats by calling yourself one. You idiot, people your age are running corporations, changing the world and whatnot. You are the worst example to follow. You yourself don’t want to be you. You are everything that’s wrong with you.”

“True, nothing I ever did has made a difference. My whole life has been a compromise. I have never had what I wanted. I was and never will be satisfied with what I have, and will live my entire life hustling for something better trying to unsuccessfully satiate myself. I do not want this. This is the worst part: I will never know what I truly want. What will make me full? A woman? A big home? Many big homes? Kids? Grandkids? Supercars? I guess I dreamed too big, haha. You get the gist.” 

“Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get. Not opening the box could be the biggest mistake you make. Walk back, and you can set a better example than the one you would if you jumped.”

“Haha, a box of chocolates can’t have ice creams or potato chips. I know where my life is headed, the last time I got a surprise gift was in sixth grade when my parents got me a digital camera for my birthday. There haven’t been any welcomed surprises after that. My life is not a movie, if I jump down and swim to the next town, they wouldn’t cover me in papers. They would put me in an asylum.”

“That reminds me, your birthday is coming up. Let’s postpone this ordeal until that day, the sun is up too. You do not deserve a release so soon, you should suffer more. Wouldn’t it be poetic to do it that day?”

“Yeah, not knowing what to do when they sing happy birthday would be the best torture. How bothersome, I loathe that day. I have to pick my own gift, sometimes I pick it months before or after, depending on when I need something. I have to plan a party for a bunch of ungrateful nobodies, who would dissolve in the crowd as soon as the party’s over. Leaving a debt to be fulfilled only on their birthdays.”

“Hey, you came here to celebrate that. A birthday with your parents after 4, maybe 5 years.”

“Yeah, let’s call today a trial run for what we will do on that day. Everyone will be tired from the party, it would be easier to escape.”

“Yeah, let’s head back.”

 

The sun shines from way above the horizon. People have started their days. Cattle owners, taking their herds of buffaloes to pasture. Milkmen cycling with huge tin containers on either side of the bicycle, headed to deliver or sell it at the “Satti”. Dust flows as school buses and vans rush on the roads to force start the dozy kids’ day. “You coward.” 

I put my head down. My cheeks keep getting wet, my breath keeps pacing and I blame it all on the dust. No one turns their head, ever. “They all have their problems to deal with, not everyone is as weak or has the time to lament over such issues.” The same sound keeps screaming at me on my way back. “You coward, you’ll never have the courage to do what you want. You can’t even JUST DIE. People work very hard to live and your puny, pathetic self can’t even do that. You can never be happy for you will NEVER BE SATISFIED.”

I reach home, wipe the mix of dew, dust, sweat, and tears off my face. Maa sips her daily tea while watching the headlines. Advertisements start, and she changes to some religious channel as I walk in. 

“Where were you?” She asks.

I don’t have an answer, I stay silent for a moment, it always makes me look like an intellectual who knows what he is going to say. I answer, “I was just…”

UNBURDENING

Author: Nikita Suryawanshi

“If you use your mind as a memory bank, the past will repeat itself in cycles. If your mind becomes pure attention, you will know everything that is worth knowing.”- Sadhguru.

Our body is said to be the temple of our mind. And I believe that our mind is the abode of our souls. Not only that, but it is the power house from which we draw energy to nourish ourselves. It is our mind that gives us the strength we need, the faith which we put in ourselves and others, the emotions we experience, the courage to take risks and move forward. Yet, have we ever stopped and thought about how much we inflict on our minds? Once in a while, our mind should be allowed to think about itself.

Sometimes, I think our mind is the equivalent of a time capsule. We bury so many things in it and leave it there. Many memories, emotions we were too scared to express, the anger or the hate that we felt towards someone, points we could have said in an argument but couldn’t think of at that time, imaginary scenarios and conversations that we have, all of these are stuffed in this cabinet, thinking that they will stay there and eventually get lost. But we all know that that never happens. Like and actual, physical closet, there is only so much that our minds can take. It will reach its saturation point sometime and then it explodes. And when it does, its outlet is our own lips. We need to understand that what we impose on our minds will come back to us; to shape us, to define us.

In this constant battle between the mind and the brain, we let the brain win. Why? Because the brain is a practical machine and the mind is a sentimental fool. The brain will analyze and the mind will feel. The brain will take us forward but the mind will only make us open to emotional damage. But maybe it won’t. Let the mind win. Let it win more often than you’d like. We will realise that there were so many other gates in the dark that the eye of the mind could see but not our brains because it rationally concluded that there is nothing in the shadows. We will let in a little happiness, a little love and yes, a little hurt. But I guess it is okay. It will be a lesson worth remembering.

When it comes to nourishment, the first thing most of us think is nurturing our body. Nourishing the body without nourishing the mind is a fruitless endeavor. We can very well feel what’s going on within our mind and others can feel it too through our energy. Nurturing our minds will bring us closer to ourselves and give us a sense of peace. Why not start with unburdening? Find outlets for our frustration, don’t stress bout petty things, maybe try living without over thinking things, give meditation a shot, stop self-sabotage, express the emotions we feel and mostly feed our minds with positivity. A positive mind will let in unfiltered joy in and give us the hope that in the end, everything will be okay.

Well-being encompasses all of our parts, not just the physical body. It is important to create balance by actively nurturing your whole person, consistently and lovingly. Your mind is one of the most powerful tools you have available to you to create the greatest version of your life and the highest level of health. Choose to drop the struggle. Learn to love yourself. Be an expression of joy. All of the support and guidance that you need to manifest this and so much more, will always be within you.

THE VESSEL

Author: Dhruv Yadav

 

Timber, iron, scrapes and paint,

he put them together and he didn’t waste a grain.

There at the shore,

he formed a vessel of his own

To battle the odds of his drowning,

deep down into the unknown.

The boat laid still in the water,

quaint.

Ready to embark on the journey which remained.

While all of his time, energy and efforts were in vain,

for he just sat there in the vessel,

in pain.

Easier would it have been for him to just drown,

for he was just seen as confused and misunderstood

rowing in the crowd.

REMINISCENCE

Author: Afreen Ahmed

 

Looking at the darkening sky

 I can feel that it’s almost over.

As I gaze around and let out a sigh,

I pause and regain my composure.

 

What are we doing? It’s all wrong.

My vision blurry through the smoke.

Searching for the stars, they’re all gone.

Silently, we breathe in and choke.

 

Cascading down, we’re hurting now,

It keeps pouring, stinging us as it falls.

To the end of us, we sincerely bow,

Storms forced upon us by squalls.

 

Life, as we know it, struggling to stand.

Temperatures rising, the skyline glowing.

Extinguished treasures in higher demand,

Memories of rivers that were once flowing.

 

Seven feet of wind-driven snow 

And smoldering remains of forest lands.

Earth belongs to us, we all know,

The quietus by human hands.

 

Look out to the future, but it tells you naught.

We don’t know how to live with a good thing.

This world to become an afterthought,

After we break it into nothing.

 

In spite of how bittersweet I feel, 

A joy tinged with sadness,

When to nature, all we’d do was kneel,

Before everything went to madness.

 

All I ask is for this world not to end.

For better or for worse, we are stuck with this.

We still have time, and much more to mend,

Earth should not be something to reminisce.

 

Cavemen

Author: Divyang Arora

From the day we are born, everything’s fuzzy. It’s like we are surrounded by a layer of haziness and nothing is clear. We are told to live the same life that millions before us lived and billions after us will continue to, and most of us don’t question that. There’s a phase where we all think of rebelling, to go against the norms and challenge something that has stood its ground for years.

In the last few years I have met a lot of people who had a fire in their eyes as they told me that they won’t submit to the society’s expectations, that they would carve their own little niche in the mountain, separate from the cave everybody else has been sitting in. Slowly they all grow tired of carving it and you can see the fire die as they submit to what they sometimes call their pre-written destiny. When there’s already a well-made cave to live in, they say, why should we do all this effort when everybody else is comfortably settling down? Some of those who get close to carving it realise that they would be alone in it and that thought scares them. Maybe people will follow their example and bring their axes to expand that small hole and make another cave, but maybe they wouldn’t. If they don’t, well, nobody’s ready to take that risk. Maybe they realise they can’t build a fire in their hole because it’s too small and doesn’t have enough air for the fire to burn for long. They aren’t ready to stay cold till their hole is big enough. That struggle is more than they can handle and less than what others expect of them.

It’s tough to open your eyes in this cave. Sometimes your eyes are open but you can never be too sure. Is it dark because your eyes are closed or is it because your eyes are open but there’s no light in the cave? Sometimes you are too frightened to open your eyes because God knows what horrible sights wait for you. So you live in your illusions. You refuse to open your eyes and just feel other blind people around you and go wherever they are going because the feeling that you’re not alone gives you comfort. You touch the walls and walk alongside them, failing to acknowledge the idea that there can be paths in other directions.

You walk the tried and tested path, which has led everybody to not exactly a happy, but not horrible either, place. In retrospect they tell you that it’s been a fine journey, forgetting all the sleepless nights and the hopeless ends, because no one remembers bad times when they are gone, and you believe them. You trust their experience and refuse to hover over the idea that maybe what the majority says could be wrong. You live in your cave. You refuse to progress. There will be times when you will try to blame the other blind people that you held onto for the path you followed, but there will be no one to blame because you didn’t see their faces. Maybe then you’ll blame yourself for trusting the wrong person. In the end, though, you’re going to sit around that fire in your cozy cave, telling the newcomers with a sigh what a satisfactory walk it has been, hiding that you wish it had been something more than satisfactory, and they will listen to you, because somethings never change. Because no matter how far we reach, in some ways, we will always be cavemen.

What I Learnt After Taking Three Short Trips in a Month

Author: Aditi Chandrasekar

Warning: This is not, in any way, intended to be a guide or a helpful article for travel. These are probably things that everyone already knows but I only learnt now because I’m quite slow. Enjoy reading!

After arriving from Pondicherry last weekend, drained and dreading the work that was about to inevitably pile up, I felt a sudden itch to write about and summarise what I have learnt after going on 3 very short trips in a period of a month. The trips were to Chennai, Bangalore and Pondicherry and all three were for very different purposes. The first one to Chennai was to conduct a 2-day workshop, over a weekend, in the recently introduced engineering faculty in Sri Ramachandra Institute. We started off from the campus at around 8 PM with heavy bags and an air of nervousness and excitement as none of us had ever taken on the task of organising and conducting a workshop before. One auto ride later, we were at the bus station and I stood and stared at everything around me in awe. This was because, until this year, I have only travelled in trains from Vellore. So the first, wild lesson I learned that day was-

1. Bus & train

For the past 2 years, almost everyone I know has constantly chided my choice of travelling by train instead of bus every time I go home to Chennai, but I always shrugged them off and boy, do I regret it now. Travelling in a bus was comfortable, cheap, and there are at least 5 different buses going to Chennai at any given time so there’s no worry about getting late/missing the bus. A plus was the view from the window. Rows and rows of green and roadside tea stalls made for a surprisingly pleasant sight. Before getting onto the bus, we ordered dinner from a tiny restaurant outside the campus and ate in the bus. One delicious cauliflower roll later, I learnt another lesson-

2. Always carry tissues, and a couple of extra covers/a bag

We Swiggy’d our food, so they were in a cover and after our lip-smackingly tasty dinner, we simply used that cover to dump the trash in, but none of us had anything to wipe our hands with so we used up quite a lot of clean drinking water from our bottles to wash our hands which could’ve been avoided if we had just brought a towel/some tissues with us. The rest of the Chennai trip went more or less smoothly, and we celebrated the successful workshop with a trip to Fun City in a mall. Approximately a week later, I got in a cab to Bangalore. It was a one-day trip to an Assistive Technology Accelerator. Somehow, we underestimated the Bangalore traffic and reached the venue an hour late which was pretty unprofessional, and arriving there annoyed and tired didn’t improve the situation we were in. Obviously, there was one more lesson to be learnt there-

3. Never underestimate traffic

Every time you plan a trip by road transport, it would be useful to remind yourself that the country we live in has an enormous population of 130+ crores and travel is bound to be a pain if you don’t start as early as possible. After we arrived at the venue, we had to sit at a stall and stare at Rahul Dravid having a fireside chat on a stage, which is surprisingly only interesting for about half an hour. Much of the rest of the time was spent mindlessly scrolling through social media, and impatiently waiting for lunch to be served which taught me another lesson-

4. Carry a pack of playing cards

Whoever/whichever group of people you’re travelling with is bound to know at least one card game in common. It’s also amazing how, when your head’s not buried in a screen, there’s some actual conversation and bonding that could take place with the people you’re with, which is one of the primary purposes of travelling with a group. On the bus back from Bangalore, we ate some food and slept a lot as we were pretty tired, but a pack of cards would’ve made for a more enjoyable trip, I’m sure. About a week later, I took off to Pondicherry in a bus and 36 hours of scrubbing off sand from our bodies, an unhealthy amount of pizza consumption, and lots of cringe-worthy tourist photographs later, we got on a bus back to Vellore. At a rest stop, I bought a silver foil container of curd rice, and happily skipped back into the bus, only to realise that my heaven-in-a-box came with a tiny, flimsy plastic spoon that broke in half after the third bite I consumed. While I proceeded to eat my curd rice with half a spoon, I took a mental note-

5. Carry your own cutlery

I am a sucker for the good, old stuffing-food-into-my-mouth-using-hands method. But it is true that it is much less messier and simpler (especially when you’re travelling) to eat using traditional cutlery. Of course, I am pretty sure that these are things that I could’ve easily implemented if I had given my travel choices some rational thought, before I embarked on these trips. But I realise that is a bit much to expect of myself. Better late than never, right?

Breathe

Author: Dhruv Yadav

Breathe in
For this moment isn’t going to repeat itself
Breathe in…
this is the best you’re going to get
This has always been what you’ve been waiting for
Breathe in
As this can be your chance, your escape
Your salvation
Your fears have no place here
Nor does your skepticism
They can’t prevail here
nor can they intervene
For this is your place and this is where you ought to be
Breathe in
As the sun is going to rise
Realize it’s warmth on your visage
And it’s glimmer on your path
For those are the things you have craved for so long
Breathe in
And let this glee sleep into your body
Making its way into the darkest of your corners
The world has never been this way before…
For you ought to live in this moment
Just…breathe in