A family on the road to self discovery

Offbeat Corbett

It was around eight pm. Mr Mehra brought the gypsy to a gentle halt. We were in a vast expanse of grassland interspersed with a few jamun kunj. Silence of the night echoed everywhere, except for the intermittent calls of Night-jars. As he turned off the headlights, darkness engulfed us in a blinding blanket. He whispered to look to our right. Hundreds of tiny lights were twinkling there.
“What, what is it?”
“Come on Jaishree. You don’t know! You really don’t know!!”
I moved my neck slightly in denial, without ever taking my eyes off the twinkling grassland.
“These are jugnus”, replied my husband in a matter-of-fact tone.

Oh yes, these must be jugnus. How could I not see that these were jugnus! I have seen jugnus but it was limited to spotting a few of them here and there, while taking a stroll in night. However, there these were, ten-twenty-fifty, no, not even hundreds, but in thousands. It was as if the tips of long grass blades developed phosphoric radiance and the timings had been set to fractions of seconds’ to-blink-and-light randomly.

I have seen jungles in real and watched wildlife on National Geography and Discovery channels. But none could match the impressions of that moment. Dear reader, it all happened in our very neighborhood: Corbett which till then (to me) meant Dhikala, Bijrani, jhirna and nth number of resorts. It all happened in its Sitavani area which is a buffer zone of Corbett.

Sitavani ke Jungle

Sitavani ke Jungle

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How to do ‘Birding’?

'Browny Fish Owl' in flight

‘Browny Fish Owl’ in flight

Loud, ridiculous, scolding calls of Rufous Treepie wake me up from the cozy, quilted sleep in the winter mornings. Parrots make a ruckus outside on Arjun trees, adding further to the chaos of late mornings. Sparrows are my day long companion whenever I peep out of the window or venture out of my home. Deep, long cooing of Koel, in the beautiful evenings of summer, competes with torrent of sweet, inquisitive, innocent words emanating from my junior Chatter-Box Tanmay. As I hurry to wind up the day’s last chores after kids come home from their evening adventures in park, all stained with mud and dirt, Owl, high up in my building, announces that ‘day’ has just begun. Continue reading

Dekko Mandawa: the last day of Shekhawati Trip

It was our last day in Shekhawati. We had to reach Delhi before it was dark. Jaishree and Dhanshree wanted to return from Nawalgarh itself. They wanted to relax before starting the daily chores of the next day. I insisted on ‘Dekko Mandawa’, even if it meant “कबड्डी कबड्डी छू” (touch the place and return almost immediately). After-all Mandawa is only twenty-four km from Nawalgarh. Anirudha supported the idea. He felt, he could drive fast enough to reach Delhi before eight. It would be dark, but still we would have time to relax. We men are so optimistic about our driving capabilities. And it turned out to be that special day when men of the house won the case and the ladies decided not to contest them publically.

The road to Mandawa passes through sparse hamlets, locally known as “Dhanis”. The terrain is semi arid with its flagship Khejri trees. In between we saw flocks of sheep and goats grazing around. It was an interesting drive among the numerous sine-waved ups and downs of the road; the road appeared to be vanishing at the summit and as we reached there it re-emerged from no-where.

sheeps grazing

The land of Shekhawati

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Nature-walk in Thekaddy

“Would you like to join us for the Jungle-trail”
“We would love to, but kids below twelve years are not allowed”, I replied, looking at my three year old kid, Rachit.
“No, No, my daughter is only three years old and the jungle officials have no problem in her joining us.”

We were standing at Thekaddy Forest reception center, where just a few minutes ago jungle Officials had refused allowing Rachit because of his age. We were wondering what to do next, when this conversation with a French Gentleman generated hope against hopes. The boat cruise a day before didn’t give us the feel of the Jungle and left us quite disappointed.
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Love of Planning the Travel

Konark in January

Konark in January

As soon as I am back home after December’s long holidays, unpack job has not yet been completed, I somehow find time to go and buy New Year’s calendar. Some sunny afternoon, I sit out in balcony and take out the new calendar and my husband’s calendar of holidays and kids school diaries.Then begins a long process of identifying all the days, be it just one or two or five or ten, jotting them down to keep it safe for the whole year long.

Holidays of March, Summer, Dussehra and December are planned more or less at this time. And I always find to do it despite it being winters (I do not like cold at all), disarranged house after long break of holidays and kid’s exams imminent in February. Why? Why this particular work when I forego all other activities except cooking in the warmth of kitchen and reading in the warmth of heavy quilts.

Because I like this as much as the travel itself, rather more!The act of planning is freedom in itself. The only binding factors at the beginning are number of holidays and corresponding season. Continue reading

Meera Bai : Saint, poetess and rebel queen of Chittorgarh

Chittorgarh had exemplary men throughout its history. The stories of their bravery and loyalty is unmatched. I discussed a few of these men in my previous post. Its womenfolks were no less. I mentioned the loyalty and extreme sacrifice of Panna Dhai. I will write about its brave queens in my next post. But one woman stands out.

Yes, I am talking about Meera Bai.

The famous fort of Chittorgarh has many monuments, each associated with one or the other important person from its history and are witness to the events that had far-reaching consequences in Indian History. All of these monuments, people and events have one thing in common, unparalleled bravery. However one monument, a small temple stands out. Not that it witnessed any less brave events, rather because it has witnessed events and emotions not for the pride or battles but for the God. It is a small temple of Krishna, housed in Kumbhaswami temple complex, and is known not as Krishna temple but as Meerabai’s temple- Meera Ka mandir.

Kumbhaswami Temple that also houses Meera Mandir

Kumbhaswami Temple that also houses Meera Mandir

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