I am 24. I am working in a corporate. The company is paying me decent amount. I am satisfied with my job profile. I get 2 offs every week and I am able to maintain work-life balance. Should I still be dis-satisfied and look for a start up?
I remember my school days, when IT boom had just started in India and all of a sudden young graduates were getting hefty packages. Suddenly, “job” became a new fad. The sons and daughter of rich businessmen were also opting for jobs to establish themselves as self made individuals. But by the time I grew up and settled with a job, there was a new term in market, “start up”.
Everyone was talking about start up. There were articles online, web series on it, seminars, groups and what not. All my friends were engaged or planning to start a start up. Few days ago, the same job which was giving me everything- money as well as satisfaction- all of a sudden became the biggest burden of my life. I started hating myself for wasting my time in this monotonous job. Now, all I knew was that I wanted to become an “entrepreneur” like a Birla or Tata. I had ideas- one, two, many- each one having one common theme, e-commerce. But, how I was going to proceed- I had no idea. All I knew was that I wanted to have a start up because jobs are for the losers. But are jobs really for losers, as envisaged to us?
Today, I am earning well enough to feed my tummy and my family. But they ask me about my creative appetite. According to them, if I am a civil engineer, its not buildings which is his passion. If I am a Chartered Accountant, its not auditing and consultancy which will providing me contentment. However, a start up in which I won’t be doing anything related to my educational qualification, will give me creative satisfaction. Is this your idea of following your passion?
Jobs give you more chances to apply, in real world, what you have learnt in those many year. Still if one is not contend, jobs give you time to devote to yourself. You can join a workshop on weekends, volunteer in a NGO, read books during commuting and can plan expeditions to your favourite places. In start ups, there are no concepts of working hours, weekends or vacations. Its 24X7 throughout the year. Even on a trip, you will be spending half of your time on phone. Still you call start up as the ‘only’ option?
In my current job, I am earning well enough to take care of my parents old age needs as well as ensuring my own future. I can take my wife for shopping twice a week. I can donate money for charity. But for them, this is not enough. They want me to be the Rahul Yadav or Sachin Bansal. But what if I want to be Indra Nooyi or Satya Nadella?
Here, I would like to make it clear that I am neither pro-job, nor pro-start up. However, I am against all those articles and that ideology which glorifies start up and paint a picture of jobs as if they are meant only for non-creative, boring and dumb people. There can be a guy who loves the corporate culture, and there can be another who may feel suffocated in the cubical. The choice of career can vary with persons.
Just because all your friends and office colleagues are looking for a start up, it doesn’t mean that you should also. Evaluate what you want. Is it only your unwillingness to work or incapability to cope with work pressure, that is driving you to start up? May be all you need is a job change, because with start up, work pressure and tensions are going to multiply several times. By no means, it’s an escape route or any short-cut to success.
Also, it’s perfectly OK to spend whole of your life in a job. Be proud of your work. If you are able to take care of yourself and your family, you are doing a more than decent job.
“Tu beer hai!“. Let yourself flow, but sometimes, its better to know if you are going inside a beer mug or a tea cup.
Please don’t go into ethics and morals!! These things are good only for books and lectures. In actuality they are very subjective and people mould them as per their needs. I want a practical reason of why should I celebrate if I get a daughter and not a son. Why I should not kill my daughter in the womb itself? What’s wrong in craving for a XY chromosome over XX?
The first and foremost argument I hear regarding this are the names like Sania Mirza, Indira Nooyi and Kalpana Chawla. But for every Sania, there are Dhonis and Virats who have got fame and money several folds higher than her. For one Indira Nooyi, we have, don’t know, how many male business tycoons and top managers. And talking about Kalpana Chawla, Rakesh Sharma had achieved the same fleet 15 years earlier than her! Not just India, this thing holds true worldwide. Take for example, out of Fortune 1000 companies, only 5.4% have women as CEOs. So, when it comes to success or achieving something big, women are far behind men, in ALL the fields! (Cooking? Its Sanjeev Kapoor!).
So if you want me not to kill my daughter, first provide a level playing field for men and women, and show me results that women are as capable as men.
Even if she is successful, we all know that after marriage, the girl will spend rest of her life somewhere else. I will bring her up, will spend money on her education, will teach her, will take care of all her needs, will protect her,and then, she will be taken away by someone else! But, in case of boys, whether they take care of me or not, but at least they will give me food and place to live.
So, if you want me not to kill my daughter, then first change this system of marriage where the girl has to leave her parents and not the guy!
Forget about success and marriage, the mere thought of raising a girl child terrifies me. How will I protect her? She will be eve-teased, guys will stare her, touch her inappropriately. She might be raped or attacked by acid. And then I will be blamed to have failed to teach my daughter Indian culture and way of dressing. She will be termed slut or prostitute for inviting rape. If I have a son, I can teach him how to respect women; but if I have a daughter, I can’t teach the whole society to respect her.
So, if you want me not to kill my daughter, then first teach the society on how to behave with women!
Not just the rape, but I will have to worry about her friend circle because no one is going to accept her if she loses her virginity. I will have to stalk her facebook profile and mobile phone. I will have make sure what kind of clothes is she wearing, where she is going. I may have to stop her from pursuing her dreams- a post graduation course or a job or marrying the guy of her choice. Its not that I won’t want my daughter to live her life, but I won’t like my daughter to face repercussion for going against the social order. I won’t like if a guy cheats on her or if she’s beaten by moral police in a pub. If I have a guy, I can at least sleep peacefully.
So, if you want me not to kill my daughter, first make this country worth living for women- not just security, but respect!
I can still hide the fact about her virginity, but there is this more gruesome issue- What if she had a dark complexion? The society is going to ridicule her and nobody is going to marry her. I may have to spend a hefty amount on this disease called dark-skinned. And then there are also chances that she may turn out to be obese. I can’t take such risks by having a girl child.
So, if you want me not to kill my daughter, first make this society understand that there is more to women than her looks and body!
Even if by any chance, the fair n lovely cream is able to do any kind of miracle, then that is only going to reduce the rate of dowry. I will still have to pay a hefty amount for marriage of my daughter. Even if take a hypothetical situation, where I won’t be asked to pay any dowry, I will still have to bear most of the marriage expenses and whenever there is going to be any festival, I will have to spend money on sending sweets and clothes to my daughter’s house. Why should I be on the giver side and not on receiver side?
So, if you want me not to kill my daughter, then first stop this dowry thing- IN ALL FORMS!
See, we all know that gain and risk go hand in hand. Wherever there is return, there will be some kind of risk. So is the case with X and Y chromosome. Where boys are a retirement plan, girls are only a liability! So, you got a boy, its your gain whereas a girl is a risk. And why should not I take steps to reduce my risk? Why shouldn’t I get it checked before and remove the risk? Because, even if I am going to let her live, the society is going to kill her- her dreams, freedom, desires, respect and dignity.
I am not a murderer and neither I am some sort of heartless or anti-social person. Its does not give me any pleasure killing my own daughter. I would love to love my daughter as much as my son. But I will have to be rational. And by any measure of practicality, I bet that you can’t convince me to have a daughter over a son. You change this equation- provide equal opportunity to women, respect them and do away with evils like dowry- and I will change myself. Till that time, I will continue with the murders.
“I will not kill my daughter, if the society will let her live!“
P.S.: I don’t care about sex ratio because my son in any case is not going to marry his sister!
Late night beach parties. Bikini clad Russians. Cheaper than water alcohol. Yes, I am talking about Goa. But no, its not about those crazy Goa stories which you would have heard and read several times. Its about a baba- The banyan tree baba and his peace garden. Its the same baba who has been referred in the song ‘Babaji ki booti‘ from movie ‘Go Goa Gone’.
One of our friend had told us about a baba situated near the Arambol beach. Not that we were any religious bunch, but what all we had heard about that baba was exciting enough to give him a try. We were told that we had to take some fruit for the baba and in returns he gives a magical booti as prasaad. We were also told that we can have a mud bath at baba’s ashram and umpteen foreigners visit baba’s peace garden.
So the five of us enquired about that baba on the beach and took the way towards him. We were shown a small hill, at some 500 metres distance, covered with thick green cover and told that baba stays on it. The hill was beside a sweet water lake. While some said its a 10-15mins walk to baba, others warned us that it may take an hour. Not the distance, our worry was time. It was already 6 and sun was touching the Arabian sea.
We were at the footsteps of hill and we could see the beach at some distance now. There was not any way visible which could take us to this mystic baba. It was starting to turn dark. As we were about to turn back, three foreigners came and took a way in the hills. Only then, did we realize that there actually was a trek to climb the hill, going through the forest, which may take us to the baba. It wasn’t a laid down trek. Less than a metre in width, it was rocky, muddy, slippery with sweet water lake on one side. And it was all dark. And we had no idea if baba will still be available. Not so apprehended, still we decided to take the road less taken.
The trek was taking us up. It was taking turns every few metres and we could not see anything ahead. Five minutes in the walk, there were just five of us. In the middle of a jungle, walking a path in total darkness, not knowing where it may take us and for how long do we need to continue our walk. One wrong step and it could be the end. Needless to mention, there were no mobile signal either.No practical reason could define why we were still going ahead. But we continued.
It could have well been a scene from a horror or suspense movie. We were all scared by now. Few foreigners crossed us as they were heading down. And trust me, none of them could help in settling our nerves. The way they were dressed up and their body language, it was only adding to the screenplay of this thriller.
15-20 minutes. We were still walking to meet that baba, with our mobile torches on. Some of us, now wanted to go back. But the others continued to walk. At one point we reached a juction, with two ways heading towards right amd left. There was a board indicating peace garden towards right. We turned and all of a sudden, out of nowhere, in the middle of a jungle, there was this man. With the built of a bouncer, that Russian guy scared off whatsoever the shit was left in us. We asked him the way to baba and he told us to take the other way. It was very much clear now that we were at a wrong place at the wrong time. But we continued to walk.
10-15 mins further. Another junction. But both right and left seems to be bringing us to a dead end. Then we realize, there was an arrow heading right towards peace garden. We could also hear some voices now. And that’s it, we knew that we were that close to our destination. Before we could move further, one of us backed off. Scared, he gave up and started walking back. Being so close and after so much of the efforts, we couldn’t have missed the chance to meet baba and neither could we allow our friend to go back on that dangerous path alone.
“Come back yaar!” “We have reached our destination.” “You can’t go like this” The remaining four of us were shouting. He had already made his mind. He was gone and we could only hear him refusing to come back. And you really can’t blame him for this, because we all knew that what we were doing was stupidity. But going back alone in pitch darkness was idiocy. And when I add that his cell phone was switch off and he had no torch light, his decision becomes insane. Not to forget that his panic button was on.
The four of us were looking at each other’s face. What to do now? After so much trouble, when our destination was right in front of our eyes, we couldn’t give up. So we shouted and asked him to wait as we were coming back. Meanwhile we decided to just go and rush through our meeting with babaji, expecting/ hoping that he would wait for us. There were some rocks over which we had to move and move carefully because had we lose our balance there, it could mean disaster as a small stream of water (that hill’s natural drainage system) was flowing beneath. Few steps towards left, a turn on the right and we were at our destination.
Have you seen in any of of the movie where a tantrik would be doing some kind of pooja in the middle of a jungle at night. It was something like that. There was fire in the middle and the baba was sitting across it. There was a guy lying on the left side and 2-3 others, probably his chelas. We took our floaters off and stood on the right side of fire. The baba was having a chat with his chelas. If I remember it correctly, he was dressed the way a baba is supposed to be i.e. in a saffron dress. But he was not your ordinary baba. He was speaking Punjabi and using all sorts of cuss words involving mothers and sisters.
We had no idea what to do now. We were just standing trying to figure out what were we doing there. Meanwhile, the baba offered us to have a seat. We politely refused. “Baba ko kabhi na nhi bolte! (No one dares to say no to baba)” came a voice amongst his chelas with an intimidating undertone. We sat on the mattress spread beside the fire. Obviously, we were hell scared. So much that, none of us had the courage to present to the baba the gift we had brought for him. Twice did the baba’s chelas prompted us to offer gift by asking babaji to accept gift from us. We were just sitting, looking at each other’s face with the question that should we move now. Meanwhile, in background, we could hear the voice of our friend, “Where are you guys?” “Are you guys coming back?” But we could not shout back at that moment. I don’t think so it was more than 5 minutes that we spent there. Without uttering any words, we made an exit.
Before we could analyse what was that, we had to find Saurabh. He was not at the place where we had left him. We kept walking and after every few seconds, were yelling his name, but in vain. “He is not a kid. He must have gone back”- was one set of thoughts, but it was such a dangerous path to walk alone at night without any light. We were obviously, very concerned.
Meanwhile, we reached the beach and tried calling him. His phone was obviously switched off. Where could he go? We kept trying him phone and finally, we could go through the call. He was at the parking lot safe. He then told us how he was standing alone petrified and was in tears when none of us was replying to his calls. It was at that time a foreign couple crossed him and helped him to reach the beach safely. At the end, we all were safe.
This crazy little adventure ended without any harm being done. Or probably, it wasn’t any kind of adventure, just the fear of our minds. In the midst of all lunatic things we did at Goa, this crazy experience will stand apart. But I will have to admit, it was by no means a wise thing to do. There could have been much better ways to celebrate Valentines Day (Yes, it was 14th Feb!) then visiting an unknown baba on top of a hill in the darkness of night.
Keeping all this aside, we then visited the Saturday night market, followed by the famous Curlies shack at Anjuna beach and enjoyed Goa the way it is more traditionally supposed to be enjoyed.
Dear Arvind Kejriwal
I am one of your supporter. I am the one who is not your volunteer, but have fought numerous whatsapp and facebook debate on your behalf. My facebook timeline is filled with posts in your favour. I am one who saw you as a hero who is going to change the way politics is done in this country. I am your fan, follower. I am your aam aadmi.
Like in December 2013 and April 2014, I have again voted for you. But this time I am little disappointed from you. Because the party I have voted for today, is not the same as it was last year. This new AAP was contesting to win elections, unlike the older AAP who wanted to change political system. Its not that I have lost hope and neither I am saying that any other party is better, but I am fed up of defending you.
Now that the votes have been cast, sir, I want honest replies from you (You, the Aam Aadmi, not the Aam Aadmi Party convener) on the following topics
1. Free Free Free!– You entered politics for the sake of Jan Lokpal, to make India corruption-free. But this time around there were more hoardings of “wifi free”. You want to make Delhi, a wifi hub. Full marks for this. But free wifi? Why? If a person can afford a wifi-enabled mobile or laptop, then he has sufficient means to pay for internet. Similarly, is it practically possible to install 15 lakhs CCTV cameras?
Sir, I want promises of rain water harvesting instead of free water, use of solar energy and making buildings energy efficient to reduce electricity consumption instead of subsidized electricity. Sir, the issue here is provide us the facilities, develop them, make them available to the poorest! You may or may not provide them for free, but at least, the focus of your campaign should be development, not these freebies. Your campaign only wanted to attract more and more votes, instead of spreading awareness. Weren’t these only a marketing gimmick, just like Samajwadi Party distributing free laptops to youth in UP?
2. Money Power– Sir, tell me honestly. How much money did you spend in December 2013 elections and this time? The way you contested election in 2013, I got the hope that now any aam aadmi with whatever little means he has can contest election. Money is no longer a decisive factor. But this time, it was all about money power- who can out number the other party in number of hoardings and radio ads.
And then, there was this controversy on Rs. 2 crores donation. Sir, I am a Chartered Accountant, so I know that legally you are nowhere at fault. But you want me to believe that you or anyone in your Accounts Committee was not aware about the bogus companies or the real source of income? I am sorry sir, but I can’t accept this. I wanted to believe that you have any explanation. So I watched your interview on 5 channels and for the first time, I was not convinced by you. Can I get an honest explanation now?
3. Aam Aadmi or Arvind Kejriwal Party?– In 2013, I voted for aam aadmi, but in 2015, it was about Arvind Kejriwal. I have full respect for you as an individual. But I was disappointed that the whole focus of your campaign was not on aam aadmi, but on you! I agree that every campaign needs a face and you deserve to be the face of Aam Aadmi Party. But wasn’t it the same what BJP did in Lok Sabha elections by focussing on Modi?
4. How were the candidates selected– I remember, there was this long exercise done by you in 2013 which was completely transparent in selection of candidate. But this time around, I have no idea how candidates have been selected. I heard that there were 17 candidates imported from other parties. Sir, there were also many winning candidates who were changed from last year. Were you long in selecting them last time?
Hasn’t your selection process become like those followed by other parties?
5. What’s your gotra– Sir, it was clear from that BJP advertisement that they were not targeting your caste. May be, the choice of word was incorrect, but making it an issue was pure politics from you. Before that, you were an aam aadmi of India and all of a sudden you became aam aadmi belonging to a certain community. You were my only hope that caste-politics will end in India. Honestly, tell me sir, did BJP really target your caste through that advertisement?
Sir, even today, I am your big fan. And being your supporter, I think, I deserve to ask you questions and expect honest answers.
You are our hope. I can understand that certain wrong things have to be done in politics. Had you not done such things, other parties would have eaten you up. But please remember sir, that you are there to change the system. Please don’t let the system change you!
Your disappointed but adrent fan
P.S.: Yes, I have my resentments, but still an #AAPtard!
P.P.S.: No matter what, AAP is still waaaaaayyyyyyyyyyy better than other political parties! They might have made some compromises, but their intentions are still clean.
There is this story about a fish. For the entire life, she was kept in an aquarium bowl. One day, her master decided to let her free in the ocean. But in the ocean also, the fish kept on revolving at one place as that’s the only thing she knew.
Auditors are like this fish. Right from their articleship, the only thing they are taught is to find mistakes. These are the people who ask the doctor about the sampling technique used before giving a blood sample. Wherever you put these auditors, they just start their audit process.
To prove this, we did a small experiment. We picked up an auditor and threw him in a kitchen with a cook. A normal person might have learnt some cooking tips or enjoyed his favourite dishes in kitchen. But auditors are special (read: abnormal). After spending a day in kitchen, he came out (actually thrown out by the cook!) with this- ‘ A Guide to Audit of a Kitchen’
AUDIT OF A KITCHEN
Kitchen is the production area of any household where raw materials such as potatoes, cheese, pulses are transformed into finished products called as breakfast, lunch or dinner, depending upon the time it is consumed. Various consumables like oil, ghee, spices are used to carry out the transformatiom process, called as cooking.
Being one of the biggest cost centre of any house, it is necessary that the kitchen is always working in the most efficient and effective manner. For this, it is recommended that an audit of cooking process is carried out each quarter by an external, independent agency. The audit process should follow the following guidelines-
1. Gaining Process Knowledge–
Visit any recipe site like tarladalal.com to learn about standards applicable during preparation of various items. Auditor may also refer tutorial videos of Sanjeev Kapoor for the same. During the exercise, special care should be given to technical jargons such as “namak swaad anusaar“. Also, the auditor should make himself comfortable with both Hindi and English name of spices, so that he is not struck with question like “Hing ko English mein kya bolte hai?”
2. System Walk through–
The auditor should visit the actual site i.e. kitchen and have a system walk-through of the cooking process. The walk through should include the purchasing process of raw materials and consumables, selection criteria for food to be cooked, process of cooking, estimations and the complaint handling process.
3. Audit Planning–
After becoming familiar with the whole process, the auditor should prepare an audit plan and check list of points to be covered. The check list may include checking of purchases, tasting the food before it is served, reconciliation of actual production vis a vis consumption, sample survey of consumers and the treatment given to scrap.
- Purchases: The auditor should obtain the list of all purchases including vegetables, spices, cooking oil, and salads made during the audit period. On sampling basis, it should obtain the purchase orders and check if the tendering process has been adequately followed. If should be checked that the quotations from each vegetable seller has been obtained and the PO has been issued to L1 vendor after adequate bargaining. The quality certificates of purchases should also be checked. Analytical procedures must also be applied to check if purchases have been made on the basis of minimum order levels. Excess purchase of vegetables like gheeya and tori, should specifically be pointed out in the audit report.
- Stock: Details of stock lying in kitchen along with those under production should be obtained. Stock turnover ratio may be computed to determine fast, slow and non-moving items. A surprise physical verification may also conducted on the basis of ABC Analysis of different items. Material lying unused for a long period may be disposed off to a stray dog or cow. Special attention should be given to FoC (Free of Charge) items such as ketchup and chilly flakes sachets coming along with burgers and pizzas.
- Production Process: The process of production or the cooking is the most vital process of the system. It should be ensured that it is done by personnel having sufficient experience in this field. Auditor may ask such personnel to prepare items like gajar ka halwa to test their capabilities. It should be ensured that selection process of item to be prepared consider all the factors including available stock, health meter and the feedback of consumers. Items like baingan ka bharta should be discouraged. The efficiency ratio of gas usage for each item prepared should also be checked by auditor. In the end, each of the item prepared should be tasted by the auditor and given marks accordingly.
- Reconciliation: Reconciliation is done at two levels. The first is of raw material. Purchases should be reduced with standard level of consumption to arrive at closing stock. Any material deviation should be enquired into and reported accordingly. The second reconciliation is of finished product. The auditor should check the quantity of item produced and must reconcile it with the total number of people present. Adequate weighage should be given to the weight of each consumer. It should also be checked that whether any item left unused has been utilized the subsequent day.
- Consumer Feedback: The consumer feedback mechanism should also be checked. The auditor may conduct a sample survey regarding the quality of food. However, while conducting the survey it should be ensured that the cook had not prepared paneer that day.
5. Reporting– For reporting purpose, the auditor should note its weight before and after the audit on that basis must issue its report.
- If the weight has increased- The food prepared is unhealthy and unhygienic resulting in the problem of obesity among the consumers
- If the weight has reduced- The cooking process is unable to meet the demands of the people and as a result they are being forced to starve.
- If the weight remains same- The whole process of cooking is a waste and does not provide any benefit to the consumer.
You will have to visit it once, to realize why its called Nye-mae-el. This second smallest and the least populated state in the country has everthing to offer you- the lively city of Gangtok, one of the highest lakes in the world- Gurudongmar Lake, casinos- a rarity in India, the historic Nathu La pass of the Old Silk route, breathtaking landscapes and astonishing waterfalls. But most importantly its the beautiful people of this state, which makes it a must visit for any traveller.
The post can go endless if start giving details of my week long experience in Sikkim during June 2014. I will try to keep it short.
Beautiful, peaceful and they don’t have arranged marriages
The second thing we noticed about this city of Gangtok was cleanliness. Its an aberration to an otherwise filthy image that we have for India and an example for rest of the nation, that a clean city is possible in India. As we entered the city, we were warned by our taxi driver not to smoke in public as it may attract hefty fine of Rs. 5000. The plastic bags are completely banned. And the best part is that these rules are implemented strictly. But the first thing that beheld our attention were the beautiful women of Sikkim. They have this default smile on their faces and I must say, they have amazing fashion sense.
During our stay, we had this habit of having small chit-chats with locals. Like, one of those nights in Gangtok, we stayed in the market a little longer as all the shops were closed down. There were 3-4 policemen who joined us as we were sitting on a bench. For next hour or so, they shared their experiences, about the culture of city, crime scene and also asked our whereabouts. Unlike the image of police we have in other parts of India, they were very polite. One of them was, in fact, NSG trained commander. We got to know that Sikkim is a very peaceful place, partly due to the fact that with such a small population, a criminal does not have many options to hide. Also, its a zero-corruption state. As I googled, I got to know that it was once on the list of Guinness for being a ‘zero-crime state’.
As we had chats with more people, we also realized that its a very different culture. Like in Sikkim, they do not have this concept of arranged marriages. Its love all. Also there, women are not only safe, but equal too. You can trust the people of Sikkim. But they are also quite adamant and you can’t argue a lot with them. Like once, we had an argument with our taxi driver as he was not allowing us to stay longer at one of the place. But later on we realized that it was for our own safety sake as we had a long way to travel that day and the skies turn darker very soon in that part of the nation. And yes, like other north-eastern states, its football crazy.
Welcome Back to the Medieval Age
It was a blessing in disguise. No mobile networks for 2 days!
The journey to the real Sikkim began beyond Gangtok into the higher altitudes. Its a military controlled area and only authorized vehicles are allowed there. You have to take permission a day in advance before going. It was 2 nights and 3 days journey mostly involving travel into the mountains of Himalayas. There were beautiful waterfalls in the route and we took stop at few of them. There were times when we were actually passing in between the waterfalls. 4-5 hours into the drive, the mobile networks disappeared. And trust me, there can not be anything more peaceful in life than this. For next 2 days, we were safe from all those cancer causing rays. No whatsapp or facebook! We learnt that only BSNL network is available in the region that too on alternate days only.
By the time we reached Lachen, our first stop, a small, lazy town, it was already dark. Stay was already included in package. We were provided with candles and matchsticks as after 7 PM the generators would stop and there would not be any electricity.
The wooden finishing of the hotel only substantiated our belief that we were teleported to medieval age.
Gurudongmar Lake- Breathtaking, literally!
From Bagdogra, place from where mountains start, its a 4-5 hours drive to Gangtok. From Gangtok, its another 7-8 hours drive to Lachen. And from Lachen, it further takes 5-6 hours to reach Gurudongmar Lake, situated at the height of 17,100 metres, the highest accessible lake in India. Its, actually, second highest, but Cholamu lake, 5 kms from there, is restricted for access for being in a sensitive area near Indo-China border.
First the journey from Lachen to Gurudongmar. We were instructed by our taxi driver to be ready by 4AM in the near freezing temperature. Though, not on time, but leaving by 5AM was an achievement for us. It was about to dawn. Not the best of the roads, and neither did we expect it to be, it was just sufficient for tyres of car to fit in. One wrong move and we would have been experiencing a free fall. Also, hardly, there were any other vehicles visible in route. Sometimes scary, it was adventurous. The terrain outside was captivating, mountains capped with snow, deep trenches and then there was this sight. Water was flowing few hundred meters below us and there was this mountain on the other side of it. There was vegetation on its slope, but in between it was appearing as if a razor has been used to cut out all the vegetation. The driver informed us that it was the result of 2010 earthquake. One could imagine what kind of landslide would have occurred at that time and it was enough to give goosebumps.
As we moved further, vegetation disappeared and it was all rocky- a vast plain of rocks with only mountain peaks visible. We were told that this whole area remains covered in snow in winters. Since, it was June, there was not much of it, but whatever little snow was there, with sun rays falling on it, it was shining like diamond. We were very near to the Chinese border and the tanks of Indian army were visible. En-route, we took a short break at “World’s Highest Cafe” at 15000 feet. It was run by the military and they even gifted us chocolates.
The car stopped near a temple. We were finally at our destination. The water was cleaner than the mirror. It was reflecting the snow clad mountain peak without any distortion. It was Gurudongmar lake. The driver warned us not to stay for more than 15 minutes as low oxygen level can make it difficult to breath. But our breath was taken away, by the very first sight of this lake. Luckily, there was pleasant sunshine, otherwise the wind was bone-chilling. We tried to manage to stay as long as possible. 45 minutes, out of six, two were already on grounds and while the other two, including me, could barely walk. It was only after an hour’s sleep after coming back to Lachen that I could get rid of the headache. But the hangover of the mesmerizing view has stayed till date.
Zero Point- Sliding in Snow
We left Lachen for Lachung and again it was dark by the time we reached. And it was raining lightly. A perfect setting to go out and have a walk. There was this small shop run by a lady where we had maggie. You could not have asked for anything better. The next day, again in early morning, we left for the zero point to have some fun in snow. On the way, we took the necessary gears- shoes, gloves, jacket- on rent. We also crossed the valley of flowers, but not being a season, there were not many flowers.
Probably in 3-4 hours we reached the zero point, having a slope of mountain covered with snow. We had to cross a small stream of water to reach that mountain. And then it was like a pig having a mud bath. It took some efforts to reach to the top of the slope, but for coming down, we preferred to just slide. As a result, all our clothes were wet and it was only after we reached back to hotel in Lachung that we stopped shivering.
Same day, we left for Gangtok to complete our North Sikkim tour.
Nathu La- Welcome to China. International Roaming Charges will Apply
There was just this fence of four wires separating 1.2 billion people on one side, and 1.3 billion on the other. I even tried to shake hands with the Chinese soldier but of course he was not allowed. Though we could not cross the fence, we did manage to get ourselves clicked in China, as window of the building on the side was black and reflecting our images. If that proof wasn’t enough, we also did receive as SMS from Airtel welcoming us to China. Not just on land, there is Chinese intrusion in mobile network too.
Few kilo-meters off route, there is temple of Baba Harbhajan Singh, an army office who had died in 1960s but is considered to be still performing his duty. All army persons in that region have full faith on this. So much is the belief that the government of India also pays salary to Harbhajan Singh. Infact, in Indo-Chinese flag meetings a seat is always reserved for Baba Harjbharan Singh.
We also visited the Tsongma lake en route Nathu La. The lake has its cultural value and its water is considered very sacred. Not comparable to Gurudonmar, it was still a worth visiting place. We got ourselves clicked on a Yak and also enjoyed the momos and chinese near the lake. The food was perfect for a drizzling day.
The whole trip was completed in a day’s time from Gangtok.
Some win. Some lose. The Casino always Wins–
It might not be the best place to visit and though it was my first experience of a casino, I can say that casinos in other part of the country (called Goa!) would be better. But still, it was worth of an experience. We went to Mah-jong , the better of the two casinos in Sikkim, at 11 PM and came back at 5 in the morning, only to visit it again at night. There was a stage where dance performances were taking place and by what I have seen in movies, it was very much closer to a Mumbai dance bar. In the rest of the arena, it was all money!
We had got few chips with our entry passes and we tried our hands at Roulette. Few of us, in fact, made good amount of money. But we were the small players. There were people who were dealing in 6 digit figures. Few lakhs here and there was not much of their concern, as long as they were having fun. Its these places which makes you realize that no value of money is too big.
Apart from Casino, Gangtok also has places like, Cafe Live n Loud and Lounge 31A, which can compete against any hangout place in Delhi.
This week long trip made us realized that size always does not matter. Its such a small state but will leave you mesmerise for the whole life. Its very unique and its still very much untouched. If you want to have something more than just a weekend gateway, to experience the nature as it is, to have little adventure and at the same time, do not want to miss the fun part, then Sikkim is the place to visit! No matter why, the Lepchaas, the natives of Sikkim, has named it Nye-mai-el, meaning paradise.
P.S.: These many places should ideally be more than enough for a small state like Sikkim. But it does not stop here. You still have Pelling hill station, East sikkim, hot springs, Tibetian Museum, rope-ways, temples, monasteries, trekking! Just “Come, Get Blessed”.
Am I a human being, responsible for global warming?
Am I a male, having rights to rule over women?
Am I an Asian, eating up jobs in the west?
Am I an Indian, who is either poor or corrupt?
Am I a Hindu, who has to hate Muslims?
Am I a North Indian, who is ill-mannered and uneducated?
Am I a youngster, boozing and playing around?
Am I am Delhite, who only cuss and rapes?
Am I a baniya, always trying to save money?
Am I a Chartered Accountant, converting black money into white?
Am I who I am?