Monday, July 31, 2006
my mind is full of anxiety and distress.
I seek the light that shall bring with it promises,
I wait for the moment, that shall change it all,
but then as I get the answer,
it sounds stranger than fiction,
for what I seek is not always what I get.
I know not, what comes next,
sometimes some questions are better without answers
and some answers are better left not asked for
And amidst the vast confusion that prevails,
there seems no beginning and not an end,
and yet I go on through the only way I know.
Stop, I dare not, since an outcast, I do not want to be,
for this is one journey, where the journey matters more
much less the destiny!
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
The world as we know it is a place which talks largely about the fact that one needs to be concise, candid and very direct in one's communication. However, this largely talked about fact only remains as one that is usually at best talked about and not acted upon or practised rather.
Which brings me to perhaps one of the most simple of facts which yet remains to be understood in its fullest context. No person ever would like a straight faced answer. There is no directness in any person whosoever. No matter what, you get socked despite having done a good job, for the matter of having spoken your heart out in trying to rectify an issue.
Then, here, the issue itself stands disregarded and least important in stark comparison to the manner in which one chose to express oneself even if it were packaged in a very professional manner which most people would appreciate it as!
But then, why would someone still reflect negatively despite the fact that, it is the issue that is being pointed out upon and being requested to be corrected in the most convenient manner which is to add to the common good. The reason, Cheap Ego combined with a sense of superiority coupled with the attitute of being 'God's gift to mankind.'
However, do we still rule out the possibility of perception? No in the most emphatic form is the answer. I as a person, do not at any time follow the thumb rule of diplomacy which is a sure receipe to land me into a lot of trouble despite my intentions of not ever courting controversy!
So what do I do then? The answer is fairly simple.
With the exception of personal life (read: excepting those folks whom I have know for eons) I must at all times maintain the veil of diplomacy despite the fact that I might not always subscribe to the idea that is being put forward.
Diplomacy is perhaps the greatest of all people skills and it does not come with ease, not atleast to most of us who are used to the idea of being outspoken (read: perceptional - brash, In Truth: Real & True)
But let me warn you ( the same bunch of us) that if we do not adopt to this superbly multifaceted talent, then we run the risk of being sidelined, cast away, ganged against, brushed, branded and what not. In truth, the only (few) people who know you the best are those who have been with you through the best and worst of times alike. It is very foolish to think one can cultivate a hoard of good 'contacts' (translate: friends). The very objective of people converging on a professional front is due to the necessity of fulfilling a purely self-focussed (do not read selfish) objective which does not permit the luxury (read: maturity) of actually knowing what the other person is. Added to the unlimited list of constraints is also the limitation of time and factor of openness and understanding, which make things worse.
Therefore, the golden rule of maintaining a professional front always and all ways professional without ever bringing the factor of 'personal aspects' is something that we need to uphold at all times. We do not at anytime have the right to display even in accident our personal fold on a professional front for such an act could only constitute to a huge disaster or worse still a domino effect of unimaginable proportions.
Moral of the story;
Diplomacy - personally adopted professional trait (read: innate/acquired/copied - whatever)
U n I better get started!
PS: But then, hasn't a man got to be a man?
Monday, July 24, 2006
Perhaps some of the oldest adages of wisdom that were remarked centuries ago, have suddenly and ominously become more relevant and true.
Nearly a fortnight ago, the Economic Capital of India - Mumbai was enveloped in a state of disaster that cost a few hundred thousand dollars and over hundreds of precious Indian lives.
As a matter of emergency response, the Indian leadership screamed to the world that this was a case of one of the most blatant actions of terrorism organizedly conducted with surgical precision to destablilize the foundation of democracy and civilized behaviour.
Quite shamefully and dicreetly parallel to events unfolding, the Indian Government directed the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting along with the Ministry of Telecommunications to pull the plug on several blogsites off the internet without much substantial evidence, rhythm or rhyme. Although, the next day's news papers loudly echoed a clear and blatant violation of the freedom of information and press, details were pointed out to alleged support of a number of radical fundamental terror outfits due to which reason a number of blogsites went offline.
It's 24rth of July 2006 and the day's paper carried the expose of a hidesously constructed mission by the Government of India.
The so called fundamental right of speech and expression stood shaken and thereby it seems that the nation stood at the brink of misinformation at a time that called for more unity in action and thought.
This mysteriously unexplained action can at best be construed as an act of desperation. And then the flip-flop continued in all its stupidity glorified amidst the top echlons of the political and press elite.
Just as agitiations and messages conveying grave disappointment and anger poured in, classic ploys of "Hunt the scapegoat" and "Who-is-to-blame?" started full-fledged across the corridoors of politics and media all alike.
At this juncture, when the nation's executive brass remained tightlipped along with a bunch of stupid babus from across Minitries and ISPs alike, we need to consolidate among ourselves and directfully focus our resources in a manner that would ensure that our supposedly wise leadership does not stumble on another faux pass. Therefore as a start, I have managed to obatin some useful information on how best to deal with this situation without much wrangling around.
Everything you wanted to know about the recent ban on popular websites in India - an FAQ:
Q. Which sites are blocked in India ?
Access to all blogs and websites hosted on the following servers is currently blocked in India;
For strange reasons, blogs hosted on Wordpress, Livejournal, MSN Spaces, Rediffblogs, IndiaTimes and Yahoo 360° are spared by the Indian censors and they are still accessible in India.
Q. Why is the Indian Government banning blog sites ?
While there is no official comment, most people are speculating that the ban is connected to the recent Mumbai Train Blasts. Probably the groups behind the bomb blasts used blogs to exchange information and co-ordinate the plan so the Government decided to ban these sites.
Q. Are all blogspot.com sites banned in India ?
Yes, all blogs hosted on blogspot.com are banned. According to some reports, the India Government issued a directive to block only certain blogs on *.blogspot.com but the ISPs decided to block the entire blogspot.com domain.
Q. When will the Blogspot ban be lifted ?
The issue is picking momentum in India and the entire Indian blogosphere is speaking in one voice against the ban. Popular international sites like Rediff Abroad, Mercury News, BoingBoing, MichelleMalkin, Google Blogoscoped, Digg and Techmeme have also picked the story. Again, no official word on when the ban would be lifted but it could happen very soon depending on the media cry.
Q. Did India restrict access to other sites before ?
Yes, earlier a ban was imposed on Yahoogroups.com but it was lifted in a week's time.
Q. I am a Blogger. Can I still blog ?
Yes, the good news is that access is blogger.com has not been blocked. So you can still publish new articles though readers in India may not be able to access them directly. Remember to publish full text feeds.
Q. I am blog subscriber. Can I still read blogspot or typepad blogs ?
Yes, but you can read them only in a web based rss reader which downloads the Blog XML feeds on server located outside India. Or use a proxy server.»
How to Access a Blocked Website or Blog»
What Bloggers Can Do To Bypass Blogspot Ban
Q. As a Blogger, what can I do to prevent such a situation in future ?
Buy your own domain name and switch from Blogger immediately. Don't consider shifting to another free platform like xxx.wordpress.com or indiatimes.com or rediffblogs.com as risk of banning virtually remains the same.
Q. I am in India, how do I read Digital Inspiration ?
Q. Where do I get more information about the ban ?
Head straight to Bloggers Collective - it has reactions and updates from Indian Bloggers located in and outsite India. Some nice conversations happening there.
While I type this message out, I also chance upon a site that reports the much awaited lift of the ban imposed on blogsites by the Indian Government owing to pressure from the blogging community. I must however warn you that this piece of information is a totally unconfirmed report.
"The Department of Telecommunications of the Government of India has lifted the ban on blogs (reported previously on Slashdot) following pressure from the Indian blogger community and the media. Even with the lifting of the ban several bloggers from BloggersCollective are getting ready to file a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) (similar to a Class Action Lawsuit in US) in the Supreme Court of India against the Government censorship of the Internet."
However, this is an act of gross violation when freedom and goodwill need to be upheld with maximum adherence to collective wisdom.
Are we turning into a nation of slaves being watched upon and denied the right to express our ideas and opinions.
Mr. Prime Minister,
Once again, this is a very dangerous prospect that can elicit some of the worst forms of peaceful opposition in order to quell the oppression against a section of the society which endorses, recognizes, promotes, upholds and respects the right to information and its necessity to be shared in any form or context so long as it does not come under the banner of those elements that pose a threat to National Security and the fundamental essentials of a good living.
Please prevail over these issues and ensure that the Indian people are not any further subject to such shameful acts of cowardice when actually the enemy is who needs to be accounted for and killed at the earliest possible opportunity.
Vox Populi, Vox Dei - as you very well know, your voice and stand remains true so long as it is endorsed by a billion plus population that this country is a home of.
Let us not make a choice of expressing our displeasure in your person
Thursday, July 20, 2006
We cannot be drowned out one day, blasted out the other.
It's been too little for too long.
We want to get as good as we give.
And we want it now...........
It was a little past Eight on the morning of Thursday, 20th July 2006. Sitting in the 7th floor apartment of a friend, a small group of colleagues-turned-friends, we had barely finished watching Ali-G keeping it real in the land of Her Majesty and Mr. Prime Minister.
A small column of the 1st page of the Times of India read the headline "Ignite the Change - Enough is Enough - Mumbai Petitions the Prime Minister. And just as the mind ignited the smallest of thoughts that the largest democracy in the world was finally preparing to head towards civilization that it missed out on, boldly splashed from end to end a 1.5" X 9" headline screamed "Centre Warns Mumbai of fresh attacks"
All this and a lot more happening at a time when the worst of enemies are united in their stand and determination to root out the 'axis of evil' and halt the menace of terrorism despite whatever noble cause that it may endorse. And then there is another theater heralding Israel's ssuperb retaliatory action against Lebanon and Syria.
Why then is Pakistan being considered or treated as a de facto exception? The answer lies in India's willinglessness more so in tandem with the spineless and unabashed superstructure of perhaps the worlds worst ever congregation of pathetically shameless community - The Indian political brass.
Although it was past Classic time on VH1 now leading to the breakfast slot of VH1 Cardio Video, I recollected the sober yet imposing voice of Louis Armstrong singing out "What a wonderful world" in commemoration (read condemnation) of America's catastrophic venture in Vietnam.
Probably, my rushed yet momentary optimism aided with the luxury of a cooler day could have been avoided had I read the more ominous 'headline' than the prospective 'idea' of culture change supported by the once again momentary anger blitz of people reflected in the business seeking jazz & drums of the print media which is becoming fast understanding of its role in shaping the future of the nation.
We, the billion plus strong diverse yet so called united Indian dispora, have once again found another plank of expressing our very best emotion in collective form - ENDURANCE
The average Indian is a hyperbuzzy for the most wrong reason. And, when we are expected to exhibit the traditionally age-old good etiquette of endurance, we fail to come any closer to being a tolerant lot. Regardless of a bunch of seriously infested predicaments that makes the average Indian lifestyle undoubtedly one of the worst possible disasters to happen to Humankind, we still devote all our fast-exhausting, subsidized resources in the dumbfounded misadventure of infighting in the name of politically motivated factors such as caste and class.
Coming back to Ali-G, a grab of the movie 'Restecp', shows how Ali drugs world leaders at a peace summit and brings about lasting peace and a show of extraordinary camaraderie, I wonder if that needs to be done to our bunch of so called front-benchers too!
The solution lies buried deep inside the motherland in the minds of all of us. Can you imagine how succesfully evolved the Indian mindset has come to be? We have very effectively established a truly global presence over the time and when we actually need to consolidate the same to reflect a strong sense of identity and strength across the planet, we are being riddled by forces one tenth our size highly potent to our democratic values and morals of existence. Must we not embark on a mission of Hot Pursuit? Yes Indeed, but as I told you before, endurance it seems is an unncessary virtue we have cultivated with extraordinary passion. It is for the very same reason that we have subjected ourselves to yet another millenia of ruling and oppression that continues to extract the very basic essentials of a million plus people who have yet to come to terms with life and are forced to declare contention with one square meal a day. While we shout endlesslessly making a vain effort to highlight every nothing that hardly ever matters to anyone's life, we are mute about the fact that we are deliberately and organizedly treated like sacrificial animals and mere commodities and the more it happens, the more louder we assure our compliance and cooperation. Our roads remain perpetually dilapidated and our water supply systems continue to gift a droplet a day to more than tens of thousands of households. Our electricity supply system hardly remains active and our infrastructure would have shamed any stone age australopithecus! Our social security apparatus is remarkably shamless and resorts to molest the very same people who it is entrusted to protect and our legal system is at loggerheads with gazillions of case instances that could take a 1000 years to address.
Nevertheless, the national capital and its showy political edifices boast departments and ministries with many fantastic names and titles. The result; A state of total and absolute unaccountability and irresponsibility with not the slightest possibility of punishment! This foolhardy state of ours will cease to change unless we ourselves (read every single one of us) unites in the mind to root out the evil within, and that means cleansing our very souls too. Will such a state of consensus ad idem ever present itself? No! Why? Simply because such a situation has to be arrived upon with time and effort........great effort. Remember Plato who once quipped "As the people, so the ruler." Sadly, the reverse cannot happen at all and those of us who are in anticipation of such a juncture will be rewarded with a never ending wait, at best!
Stop, Think & Proceed! Three words that make up for oft-displayed road signs which are abundantly scattered across the nation in all possible Indian languages. Unfortunately, these three words mean nothing to us despite its looming presence in our everyday lives. If only we stopped, thought and proceeded we would have succeeded as a nation of the best brains ever! The answer lies exactly in our will as much as it lies in our ability to change the world to be a better place. It is not a monolith task considering our diverse and strong population and commendable talent pool.
And then, there is also the need to realize who the biggest enemy is. Often, after a deep act of introspection, we come to know that the enemy lies within us. Thereafter, it is important to kill the menace within before dealing with an external threat. The need to obtain a collective and united political will is a very important precursor to any kind of action. In simple words "Don't let the uneducated, uncharacteristic, unashamed 'Babu' ruin your prospect of living a decent life.
The nation has been blessed with some of the finest overt and covert military personnel who should be commission to erase rouge states that promote cross-border terrorism with a religious ideologue. Any or all measures to eradicate all forms of living elements across the border should be conducted. The only manner of effectively tackling terrorism and radical religious fundamentalism is by exporting twice the amount of terror to the enemy itself and overwhelm it. To start with, the declaration of the Pakistan High Commissioner persona non grata and moving to the representation's expulsion could be seen as a sign of mild hope and resolve. Why would there be any necessity to engage in diplomatic relations with an entity that has declared a war on our soverignity? Remember the 1st Gulf war? When former Iraqi Vice President Taha Yaseen Ramadan refused to call off the probability of firing Scud missiles into Israel in the event of an American invasion, then Secretary of State James Baker simply replied "We'll nuke you out." Why cannot India echo such a voice? Why cannot our nation contemplate an extensive operation to eradicate the tens of terrorist training camps that systematically consign Indian lives to non-existence? The answer - The Will to do it does not exist.
I wish we could unite single-handedly to fight against this threat and depose a farce regime that rules us and replace it with one whose sense and sensibility is maturely established and well in place and ready to consider action at the least possible threat. But, I'm assured of the fact that I will not remain to see the dawn of that day.
However much, with anguish or disappointment or both, I have the following message for perhaps one of India's most educated Prime Ministers.
While I credit your remarkable ability to understand the intricacies of Indian finance and foreign trade, I take very strong exception to the fact that you have in a matter of days from the happening of a tragic act of terror and desperation, chosen to tone down your rhetoric against a rouge state whose sole mission it is to disintegrate the world's largest democracy.
I suggest that you relieve yourself from this prestigious yet unmistakenly tough assignment for something of this magnitude requires true courage and will.
I must quote to your eminence a line that I carry from school days which reads thus;
"Never do something unless you are very sure of yourself, however, never relinquish doing something because somebody else is not sure of you."
Failing me and the rest of India is equivalent to failing yourself a billion times over and over again.
How many times would we need to be hit on the head to merely realize that we are being hit?
Mr. Prime Minister, the job of protecting the nation along with many such others has been assigned to you in good faith and trust. All you require is the will and focus along with the wisdom to do it at best. And this you shall not find in any manifesto, and hardly in 10 Janpath
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
This is perhaps India's answer to the Grand Canyon. A huge mountain appearing to have been chipped away by a chisel, this is one of the most spectacular sights one can chance the eyes upon. Good reason why I chose to include this among my top 10 for the year.
For those of you who have seen the movie "A walk in the Clouds" (the 1995 flick starring Aitana Sanchez-Gijon & Keanu Reeves) which was promoted with the famed one liner - A man in search. A woman in need. A story of fate. The understanding can be easier than fathomed. This is perhaps one of the best things that can happen to an intelligent life form.
Go on, take a walk.........a walk in the clouds.
The concept of gaining clarity in vision after a state of confusion or chaos is a remarkable sense of satisfaction. It is also in many ways an eye opener that brings to light the many dimensions of reality in ones life. Life is always divided into different phases and not matter what we do, we always live life in compartments of convenience, reality, hope, despair and many more.
I have not yet conjured words to describe this heavenly sight. I perhaps never will........most certainly!
The slopes enroute to Rohtang studded with some of the finest greenery and forever washed with mild droplets of rain brushed with clouds and mist are perhaps a trekker's haven, heaven rather!
There are a lot of paradoxes in Nature too. But then those contradictions are simply natural.
Note the impending cloudbursts and also a light sunshine lining the clouds. The combination of lush greenery with the dull colours of rains makes the picture even more intense.
Life, in many ways, is also a set of contradictions, some of which we need to live in harmony with.
And then the Sun shines above all else, symbolizing a force greater than any. Dark days and times become etched into a part of history better best forgotten and new doors open up with new and enriched prospects. For life to change, all it takes is a moment, and, in evolutionary terms a moment is possibly the smallest fraction of time.
Blue skies and lush mountains make for one of the most admirable combinations of nature.
So, when I woke up to a bright sunny day and found looming mountains in the backdrop, I hardly could resist the temptation to save the image!
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
On the evening of 29th June, Brij & Raj intercepted me like Sidewinder missles would home in on a F-16 fighter that had made the mistake of giving its cover away. All they asked was if I owned a Rugsack and immediately as I nodded a yes, I was asked to pack them for a long trip without asking any further questions. I had consented to go to Manali, Rohtang and Shimla with the fraternity on the morning of 1st July, 2006.
And then came the date and the appointed time when we had decided to hit the road to this oft heard paradise which I so much wanted to visit over the years that had gone by.
Having left Gurgaon at 04:41 am that morning, we criss-cross parts of the National Capital, into Haryana, Punjab, back to Haryana and then once again Punjab before finally entering the state of Himachal Pradesh. The drive in itself was an exemplary display of India's vast, unique yet diversified culture and their connections with each other in making our land the largest democracy in the world.
My brush with the mountains during this trip came with the arrival of a small stopover called Aount. A narrow but well made road cut across the mountains into the valley with the River Beas hugging along.
The huger than huge mountains with pristine vegetation was not like anything I had ever seen before. Perhaps, on screen in J. R. R. Tolkein's middle age saga series of the Lord of the Rings, was the only time I had seen something so huge and imposing. Can you imagine Earth the size of Jupiter, and then, the huge mountains that would grow into the skies? Phew!
Absolutely overwhelming and breathtaking is a gross understatement to qualify the attribute of beauty that is so closely a part of the place and its surrounding terrain and topography.
Finally, day 1 had another wonderful easter egg surprise rolled for us to bask in. And that came as a place called Span Resorts which is a few miles from Manali. Situated in the outskirts of the town far away from the mechanical humdrum of a place such as Delhi, Span offered a soothing comfort combined with a sense of timeless relaxation which every human being would in some manner or the other appreciate with a rich sense of aesthetics and penultimate bliss.
Walking barefoot on the well manicured lawns and into the unassuming chill of the ever flowing Beas was a treat second or parallel to none. Finally, when we did reach Manali a few miles uphill, the day had accounted for a journey well begun, one that will in all prospects be remembered for a very long time to come. For a person like me, who has had a very shameful record of travelling, this was paradise.
Manali literally means the 'Home of Manu'. Manu is the mythological character who is supposed to have survived when the world was drowned in Flood. He then came to Manali and recreated human life. Thus, the area of Manali is sacred and Hindus treat the temples over here as pilgrimage. Leading up to Manali from New Delhi are the towns of Panipat and Ambala in Haryana, Chandigarh (the Union Territory), Ropar in Punjab, and Bilaspur, Sunder Nagar, and Mandi in Himachal.
The towns of Kullu and Manali are dotted on the scenic Beas river valley. In a stretch of 100 km, Beas is joined by scores of tributatiries or "nallahs" which are known to cause flooding during the monsoon season. It is precisely because of its everflowing snow fed waters, that Manali is so fertile. This has meant that over a period of time there has been a constant flow of inhabitants into the valley. However the culture and diaspora has remained symbolic to the region.
The earliest history can be tracked down in the folk-lore of Mahabharatha, but more importantly in the local folk-lore which is not very well documented.
The valley was sparesely populated in ancient times and its inhabitants were known as literally "rakshas", the non agricultural hunting and wandering communities. The next arrivals were the shephards which came in through the Kangra valley and settled to take up agriculture. Some of the earliest and the most indigenous inhabitants of the regios are the 'naur' or 'nar' which is a caste unique to Kullu. Only a few naur families are known to exist now. A naur family in the village Soyal near Haripur on the left bank of Manali was famous for the vast land they owned and their practice of having 'rakshas' as their labourers.
Britisher officers were the first documented visitors to the valley. Some books written by travellers have the earliest pictures of Manali dating as far back as 1920. The British were also responsible for bringing in cash crops like apple and fish like trout which was not native to Manali. It is said that when apple trees were first planted the fruits were so plentiful that often branches, unable to bear the weight would collapse. To this day apple along with plum and pear remains the best source of income for the majority of its inhabitants.
However, tourism in Manali received a real fillip after the rise of militancy in the Indian State of Jammu & Kashmir in late 1980s. This once quiet village has now been transformed into a bustling town with hundreds of hotels and restaurants that have mushroomed all over Manali to serve the ever increasing influx of tourists.
That night, at 6662.50 feet, I slept a peaceful and very relaxed soul knowing that this indeed was a journey of a lifetime, one that is so valuably gifted to a human being with the sole intent of discovering a connect between the creation and the creator.
Waking up from a night long slumber, especially after a long journey with the added comfort of natural airconditioning, is never an easy task but then the piece de resistance of the journey lay ahead in the day. The ride to Rohtang pass was something not a lot of folks get to do and since I was on for it, I jumped out of the snooze and into a new day. At about midday when the air was slightly warm we had gathered our bikes and readied to hit the track upto Rohtang and when we finally did, the clock announced 01:46pm. We were late a few hours and any change of weather up there would mean a stall in the journey which eventually would delay our return or most certainly bring a pitch dark night long before we could return. Nevertheless, none of these dampened our high spirits and we set off to make the historical journey, historical for a person like me who has over time learned to value even the smallest of happenings time has so considerately thrown for me to be a part of.
Riding past the Snow & Avalanche Study Establishment (SASE) and the Indian Army's transit camp Himank one can enjoy some of the most picturesque mountain ranges known to man.
Situated at a height of 13050 ft, Rohtang Pass is a mere 51 kilometers from Manali.
The Pass itself once served as a crucial trade route, and still is the gateway to the Lahaul and Spiti valleys and the second entry (or exit) point to the tribal region (the other being Shimla). With its snows Rohtang is a major tourist attraction. A two-hour drive from Manali to Rohtang offers sledging, skiing, and tobogganing and a chance to frolic in the snow. The road up to the pass opens only when the snow has melted.
The road to the pass is only open from June to October, and has a well-deserved reputation for being very dangerous because of unpredictable snowstorms.
Just beyond the Pass are the Sonapani Glacier and the twin peaks of Gaypan. The Beas Kund, the source of the River Beas, a holy site for Hindus, as the sage Vyas is said to have meditated at this spot, is also accessible from the Rohtang Pass. There is a beautiful Dashohar Lake left to the pass, where pilgrims go every year on the auspicious day of 20th Bhandon. This is the only access to Lahaul valley.
Up the winding roads we went with Rohtang as the destination for the day and enroute we also chanced upon a bicyclist who rode all way long from France, via Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh onto Ladakh and above. A superhuman effort equalling that from the Earth to the Moon!
The road to Rohtang along with many others is one of the many gifts the Border Roads Organization (BRO) bestowed upon this great nation. With the motto of Creating, Connecting and Caring, this premier one of a kind organization works alongside the Indian Army in c0nstructing some of the highest motorable passes in the world, much of which lies in the Northern tip of India. The BRO is probably one of the few unarmed uniformed civilian organizations modeled and trained on a military pattern. The following is an excerpt published in the Mirror Magazine in July 1975 exemplifying the BRO and its objectives;
"Let us not forget that roads in this difficult terrain have been built not only with mere cement and concrete, but also with the blood of men of the Border Roads Organisation of India. Many lost their lives for the cause of duty on the project. To these men, who always play with danger and laugh at death, duty comes first. These fallen heroes came from all parts of Mother India, to contribute their might to the defence of their mother land and prosperity of their neighbours”.
And as of date, this wonderful establishment has recorded 44 years of excellence in contructing fully laid access roads in some of the most treacherous conditions on Earth. Once again, thankfully, Earth isn't the size of Jupiter.
The biting cold enveloped me soon after crossing Marhi (Mad-hi in Hindi) and I resorted to a warm jacket and a pair of gloves even though the winters had a long journey to make. Nevertheless, I wasn't one bit ashamed! And finally when we reached Rohtang at 05:07 pm I saw one of the most beautiful sights my eyes had ever seen.
It was then I realized that the Human Being is perhaps one of the least important element in a system that has been created naturally. However still, we have continually established our superiority over other beings for a long long time perhaps out of the fear of our own insecurities that have emerged as a result of many thousand years of evolution.
We reached Manali later that evening exhausted yet relaxed and were set to leave for Shimla the next day.
Shimla is the capital of the Indian State of Himachal Pradesh and was the Summer Capital of the Nation under the erstwhile British Raj. The Brits orginally named it Simla and with the passage of time it came to be known as Shimla. It is also a significant part of the Indo-Pakistan relations as it was witness to the historic Shimla Agreement signed by the two nations following the surrender of Pakistan in the Indo-Pak war of 1971.
A Scottish Civil servant by the name of Charles Kennedy built Shimla's first summer home in the year 1882 and by the later half of the 19th century the town had become the summer capital of the Crown's establishment in India. Many British soldiers, merchants, and civil servants moved there for roughly half of each year due to heat and disease at India's lower altitudes.
Shimla is dotted with monuments; imposing buildings with a Victorian aura and often referred to as the hallmark of British rule in India. The Kalka-Shimla rail link, one of the few narrow gauge tracks still operational in India, bears testimony to the engineering excellence of the British.
Shimla is named after Shyamla Devi, an incarnation of the Hindu Goddess Kali.
The last leg of our journey began on the afternoon of 3rd July 2006 and after navigating winding roads, a minor landslip and a nasty traffic jam we reached the cold expanses of Shimla well past nightfall. Arindham Joshi a.k.a Joey runs the Spars Lodge which is a Guest House situated in the heart of a rich green belt which is designated 'protected'. The ambience and the look and feel was incredible. I must thank Joey for the absolutely wonderful hospitality that he extended to us and more so for the wonderful person that he is. A man of extraordinary intelligence and a remarkable ability to comprehend life in the simplest possible manner, I do not for even a brief moment doubt the man's ability to be a superstar in today's Ultra Corporate world of business. But then setting priorities right is the most demanding and challenging tasks and Joey it seems has gotten that very right.
On the evening of the 4rth of July we coasted back to Delhi leaving behind the wonderful places we had set foot on. I will forever carry very fond memories of this fantastic outing and hope to God for many many more for nothing makes a man better than being well travelled and well read. Many thanks to Brij, Bodhi, Uttama & Raj for making this happen.
I can't help, but remember and quote from one of literature's most famous work of art;
Paradise Lost - John Milton (Book 6)
"With joy and acclamations loud, that one
That of so many Myriads fall'n, yet one
Return'd not lost: On to the sacred hill
They led him high applauded, and present
Before the seat supreme; from whence a voice
From midst a Golden Cloud thus milde was heard."
Following is the link to the set of pictures that I shot during the whole trip.
I must state that my old 2.0MP digicam devoid of zoom capabilities whatsoever would in no way do justice in portraying the exquisite beauty of the wonderland we travelled across, nevertheless, I did enjoy each and every one of them