A family on the road to self discovery

Raahgiri in Delhi

Dadagiri, Gandhigiri, chamchagiri; this giri clan of words has a new word added to it- RAAHGIRI.

If you come from a small town in India, like me, you must have walked on streets, run on streets and played on streets. Streets were for us, for people. Slowly and sadly, we lost our streets to motorised vehicles and lost our freedom of space to friction of rubber on tar. Day-in day-out, we step out on streets with the same fear in hearts as a deer stepping out on a tiger’s trail. So afraid that we no more dare to walk on our streets, we prefer ourselves in some motorized monster.

How lovely it would be to get that space and its soul again? How wide would be our smile when we let our children enjoy this space and squeal in delight on these streets?

Raahgiri is just doing this unthinkable task in a place where it is most improbable: in Delhi-NCR. It began from Gurgaon and soon spread to Delhi, where Connaught place, CP, is made free of any kind of vehicle, even the rickshaw, every Sunday morning, for Raahgiri.
Raahgiri is making the street available to Raahgeer!

Raahgiri at Connaught place, Delhi

Raahgiri at Connaught place, Delhi

Continue reading

Sunset Point, Matheran

We have been wandering here and there since morning instead of taking any interest in any viewpoint. Our shoes, sacks and tresses are tinged in red of the Matheran earth. But I do want to watch sunset. So sunset point is the destination now.

Wandering  in the wild Matheran

Wandering in the wild Matheran

“Kids! Come back. Sun is getting late. It has to go, else Americans will bomb us that we kept the sun for more time than our fair share.” I try this one after failing to keep them on the trek to sunset point.

“Will it Mamma?” younger one asks, having found, well, heard something more interesting than their adventurous detours in woods.

“It may. If sun gets late, President’s kids will keep on sleeping and they will miss the school bus. Then the president will have to drop them. Then he will be late for the office. He will send the spies to find out who delayed the sun. They will find that sun was waiting for two kids who had promised that they would come to say goodbye.”

Kids chuckle and follow me, expanding the story all the time, and laughter is tired of our ‘more than reasonable’ use of her. The eldest male in the group feels a proud husband for a change from feeling proud father all the time.
We march ahead to the sunset view point. Continue reading

The Legend of Maharani Karnavati and Humayun

गढो में गढ़ चित्तौड गढ़, बाकी सब गढिया
It is a fond saying in Mewar region of Rajasthan- “Among all the forts, only Chittorgarh is a fortress, rest are mere fortalices.

These days the fort of Chittorgarh is a deserted ruin. Air of desolation hangs over its honey colored ramparts, temples, towers and palaces, which sprawl over its rocky plateau. Time has mellowed this once roaring fort, which always stood like the rock of Gibraltar against foreign attacker, still these ruins vividly evoke the zeal of Rajput chivalry and bravery. This fort represents the quintessence of Rajput heroism and valor. Its many known and unknown tales, buried under the layers of time and the ubiquitous sandstone, attract the connoisseurs of Indian history in big numbers.

Vijay Stambh, Chittorgarh Fort

Vijay Stambh, Chittorgarh Fort

Continue reading

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

Continue reading

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

Continue reading