17

Hidden Gems of Goa – Vasco da Gama

Hidden Gems of Goa

Almost every year I visit Goa since 2009 but the last trip in December 2018 was unique for me. Instead of partying or vacationing this time I was there for the Goa River Marathon 2018. The start point of the marathon was Chicalim SAG Cricket Ground and hence I decided to stay in Vasco Da Gama. On almost all the previous occasions I have either stayed in Panjim or near the Calangute/Baga beach.

Staying in Vasco da Gama gave a different milieu to the whole trip altogether and I made a promise to myself to explore the lesser-known gems of Goa which the regular tourists and travelers miss.

HISTORY

Goa is famous for its beaches, sun, sand, food and partying. Present day Goa is the smallest state of India by area but it’s history dates back to prehistoric times. The Portuguese who arrived in Goa around 1510 to take control over the spice route has immensely influenced the Goa that we see now. Their reign ended in 1961 long after India got its independence. It got full statehood status in 1987. It was a major trade hub of India because of its location of the Konkan Coast in Western India.

ABOUT THE CITY

Vasco da Gama gets its name from the renowned Portuguese traveler Vasco da Gama. It was founded in 1543 and was ruled by Portuguese till 1961.

On the road on my bike

The city lies on the western tip of the Mormugao peninsula, at the mouth of the Zuari River, about 30 kilometers from Panaji, Goa’s capital, and about 5 kilometers from Dabolim Airport. The Murmugao port remains a busy shipping route and a major port of Independent India. It is also nicely connected via railway network and the Vasco Railway station is the other major station apart from Madgaon railway station.

The climate is a typical tropical hot and humid climate. Personally speaking anytime is a good time to visit Goa but as per the locals the season is usually from October to February as most of the discos and hang out places are closed during peak summers.

It has its share of public transport, which is considerably cheap but might be inconvenient and irregular for a traveler’s liking. If you know how to drive and are a responsible driver then I suggest the best way to explore Goa is by renting a two-wheeler. The price ranges from Rs 300 – 800 per day depending on the bike you choose.

Note: While renting a bike, please be aware of one-ways as cities and towns in Goa are full of it and they are very strict about it. From the vehicle number, they know whether you are a local or traveler and hence become easier to get hold off.

After finishing the marathon I decided to take rest that day and the next day I rented a bike for about Rs. 500 per day to see and explore some hidden places.

I started with Three Kings Chapel.

Three kings chapel

Three Kings Chapel

Three kings chapel is situated in the Cansaulim region in a village called Chandor. It is about 15 km from Margao and about 17 km from Vasco Da Gama. As I was using a rented bike to commute I got to enjoy the scenic route by which you reach the Chapel as it is in an extremely secluded place.

The church was established in 1599 by Fr Gonsalo Carvalo S.J. and is affiliated with St Thomaqs Church, Cansaulim.

The Church also has a haunting tale associated with it. According to the story Goa was once inhabited by three rulers, each of which wanted the complete control of Goa, which wasn’t possible under the Portuguese Diplomacy policy. One of the kings was King Holger Alvunger; he invited the rest two over for a dinner and poisoned them. He couldn’t bear the public outrage that followed and committed suicide. It is believed that the chapel is haunted with their souls.

Haunted or not but it is best advised to visit the chapel during the day time – one it is in a remote location, secondly, because there is an amazing view which is not possible to view in nights.

After returning I decided to rest, as I had to wake up early to witness the sunrise the next day at Hollant Beach.

Hollant Beach

Unfiltered Hollant Beach Sunrise

Goa is the beach capital of India but did you know, this is the only place in the whole of Goa where you can witness a sunrise. It is situated right at the feet of the Western Ghats about 3 km from Vasco da Gama and in close proximity to Bogmalo beach. It’s a lesser-known beach, in fact, it’s a small hidden beach with only locals inhabiting the nearby areas.

It was about 6:30 am when the first rays appeared on the horizon. There was no one in sight on the beach barring a few early morning birds getting ready for their day ahead. Few fishing boats were already lined up the banks but the men were yet to come. It was a surreal experience away from all the hustle and bustle and noise of parties.

The Next stop was the Pilot Point.

Pilot Point Mormugoa Port

Pilot point of the Mormugao Port is situated in the Sada region of Vasco. The point gives you a picturesque view of the Zuari River kissing the Arabian Sea. From here you get a splendid view of the Vasco city as well as the Mormugao harbor. It’s a good place to take selfies or simply just sit beside the road and absorb the relaxing view.

On the same stretch, you need to go further ahead to the top of the Mormugao ridge to reach the Japanese Garden.

Japanese Garden and Sada Beach

View from Top of Japanese Garden

There is another hidden place in the Sada region of Vasco da Gama. It is only about 2 km from the Vasco da Gama railway station and bus station.

The secret here is that to reach the beach you need to go through an old small Japanese Garden that has a trail which leads to the beach through a small jungle followed by a temple. The Mormugao Port Trust maintains the garden and it is enclosed within the ruins of huge walls of Fortaleza Santa Catarina. From the garden, you get a breathtaking view of the sea, the sun, and the beach.

Many people visit the Garden but don’t know how to reach the beach and simply go away. The beach is a perfect place to relax away from all the crowd and noise. Here it is only you…the sea…the waves…the sand…and nature.

The next stop is a real secret place because of the way to reach the Fort.

Mormugao Fort

Mormugoa Fort

Going further ahead from the Japanese Garden there is a huge complex of Marine department. You need to enter that and keep going straight till the end. Once you reach the end you will find a small trail that will lead you to this Fort that is now completely abandoned and in ruins. It has a spooky and an eerie feel to it. Inside the fort there is a small circular tower with a cross-mounted on it. You get another view of the harbor from here.

The light was fading fast and since there was no ‘alive’ soul in sight I decided its best to return.

EAT & SLEEP

Maggi and Pav

Vasco has lots of suitable options to stay in. I won’t advise you to stay in Vasco if your itinerary is all about Calangute, Panjim and the regular Churches but if you want to try out a different flavor staying in Vasco is a good economical choice.

 

Anantashram / City shack – their Goan fish thali is a must try.

Shree Kashi Dairy – Decent fast food options at reasonable prices.

The Temptation – lovely café with a good menu, which opens 24 hours.

Udipi Ujwal Restaurant – good veg Goan options.

Goa is not just about beaches and booze – it has a soul – a very alive one 🙂

Me at Sada Beach

For all those who love to travel Solo,

For all those who love Goa,

For all those who like exploring hidden places

And

For all those who think Goa is much more than just beach and booze,

It’s not a goodbye

But it’s a GOOD BYE

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

 

“Today the #XploreBharatBlogTrain has come to Vasco da Gama at The Contemplation Of a Joker from Chennai – Prernawahi.com The next stop of this #XploreBharatBlogTrain is Jharkhand – shravmusings.com

 

This post is a part of the #XploreBharat Blog Train hosted by
Aditi, Esha, Maheshwaran, PraGun, Preeti, Saba, Sanjota, Sudip, Suhasini, Supriya

And a big shout out to our sponsor for taking this Blog Train experience even further.

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52

‘Joy’ of the City of Joy – Kolkata

“Today the #XploreBharatBlogTrain has come to Kolkata at The Contemplation Of a Joker from Hyderabad – Hackytips. The next stop of this #XploreBharatBlogTrain is Manali – Panormic Ripples

One of my closest friends was getting married last year in Deoghar (Jharkhand). He was my batchmate in MBA and over the years we have developed a special bond and hence I had to make the journey to his hometown for the marriage. This was the first time I was traveling to the Eastern part of India. In fact, I have traveled to more than twenty states in India with East being the only exception. This was my perfect opportunity.

Kolkata is just about 4 hours away via a train journey from Deoghar and I had already made up my mind to explore it before I even left for Deoghar. After the ceremonies and rituals of marriage throughout the night, I reached Jasidih station, which is the closest railway station to Deoghar. I wasn’t able to successfully procure a confirmed reservation in the early morning trains to Kolkata hence I decided to purchase a general ticket and board the first going to it.

I reached Kolkata in the afternoon and the weather, for once, was as forecasted. I was greeted by a thunderstorm and it was raining heavily. I checked in a hotel at Park Street as it is centrally located and all the major attractions are more or less equidistant from it.

HISTORY

Victoria Memorial

Kolkata or as it was spelled, Calcutta till 2001 is also referred to as the ‘Cultural capital of India’. Kolkata is celebrated for its cultural heritage, literature, food, festivals, arts, theatre and above all its people. The city is also known as the ‘City of Joy’ because of its seamless amalgamation of food, festivities, and people. French author Dominique Lapierre gave this name after he wrote a novel with the same title. People from every walk of life find their place and space in this jam-packed city.

The British East India Company arrived in Kolkata around 1690 and made it the capital of British India in 1772 till it was replaced by Delhi in 1911. They also constructed the Fort William in 1702 but I was denied the permission to visit it as it is currently under Indian Army jurisdiction.

During the 18th century, it was truly a cosmopolitan city with multiple cultures flourishing here. In fact, the city still has India’s only Chinatown because of Chinese migrants during that era.

ABOUT THE CITY

Kolkata is the third largest city in India with approx. 15 million people after Mumbai and Delhi and is situated on the east coast of India. It is the capital of the state of West Bengal.

The fifth busiest airport in India and with three major railway stations – Kolkata railway station, Howrah Jn and Sealdah railway station, connect it.

Climate: It has a tropical climate and usually hot, wet and extremely humid during summers and comparatively cooler during winters.

Best time to visit: November to February.

Getting around: Kolkata is well connected through public transport. There is a good network of metros, local city buses, local taxis and others like rickshaws and auto rickshaws. Kolkata has upgraded to app-based taxis also – Ola and Uber are operational throughout the city.

The old heritage tram system is still operative but the coverage has come down drastically and it is only there as a tribute to the city. Don’t forget to take any random ‘Tram Ride’ just for the sake of experience. It is considerably cheap. Other striking notable things when it comes to transport are ‘Yellow Taxis’ and ‘Hand-pulled’ rickshaws. Kolkata’s streets are filled with these Ambassador yellow taxis. Most of them have “No Refusal” written on them – to signify no driver can refuse any ride. But be prepared to test your bargaining skills.

As the city is growing and modernizing, the number of yellow taxis is reducing at a faster pace and it is being replaced with an air-conditioned white one with blue stripe; most of which are Maruti Suzuki Dzires.

I didn’t like the concept of hand pulled rickshaw and it reminded me of slavery and hence avoided it completely.

I decided to stay back in the hotel and catch up on some sleep and waited for the thunderstorm to pass. In the evening I took an auto rickshaw to the college street to visit the Indian Coffee House.

TOP ATTRACTIONS

Indian Coffee House

Indian Coffee House

It is an old café with immense heritage attached to it. Also known as College Street Coffee House, this place was one of the locations where a lot of freedom fighters and eminent personalities used to gather before independence. To the credit of Indian Coffee House they have been able to maintain that old rustic charm and if you go by the prices on the menu you will feel they are pre-independence era too. You can get a plate of cutlets and a cup of coffee for a meager sum of Rs. 30. It is crowded by narrow lanes from all sides and is in close vicinity of the Presidency College and the University of Calcutta.

Note: It closes fairly early so make sure to reach there before 6 pm for your tea.

I decided to head back to park street as places start closing early in Kolkata.

The next morning it was already raining by the time I got up. I decided to give up the plan of taking a taxi from one place to another and instead, hired a cab for a full day. I had a lot of places to visit and this would have surely helped in saving time considering the rain too.

I began the day with Victoria Memorial.

Victoria Memorial

Victoria Memorial

The British built the Victoria Memorial in the memory of Queen Victoria and it was completed in 1921. It is made of white marble and currently serves as a museum and houses collection majorly from the colonial period. This is the closest they ever came of Taj Mahal, something they wanted to make in white marble.

Location: Southern end of Maidan along the banks of Hooghly river.

Timings: Closed on Mondays; Tues to Sun – 10 am to 5 pm

The Maidan region of Kolkata is a huge open space under the control of the Army but is open for public for sports and leisure. All around the Maidan, there are prominent monuments that can be covered on foot. The same stretch has Eden Gardens and St. Paul’s Cathedral.

St. Paul’s Cathedral

St. Paul Cathedral

St. Paul’s Cathedral was the first Cathedral built in the overseas territory of British Empire. It is the seat of Diocese of Calcutta and is famous for its Indo Gothic Architecture. It was completed in 1847 and suffered massive damage during the earthquake of 1897. The Cathedral complex has a library and a display of plastic art forms and memorabilia. It gives you a European feel and is a captivating sight the moment you enter the complex.

Location: Southern end of Maidan – walkable from Victoria Memorial

I headed to the Indian Museum, which is about 1.5 kms from St. Paul’s Cathedral.

The Indian museum

The Indian Museum

The Indian Museum is the earliest and largest museum not only in Indian but also in the whole of Asia Pacific region. It was founded in 1814 and has a huge collection of antiques, fossils, ornaments, paintings etc. Make sure you have a complete day if you really want to visit each and every section of the museum. One of the special attractions is a real well-preserved Dinosaur egg.

Location: 27, Jawaharlal Nehru Road, Park Street, Kolkata

Timing: Mon-Fri 10AM-6:30PM Sat-Sun 10AM-8PM

I tried to cover as much as possible in the time I had. My driver informed me that Marble palace and Jorasanko Thakur Bari are close to each other and they were our next stops.

Jorasanko Thakur Bari

It is the ancestral home of first non-European Nobel laureate Gurudev Rabindra Nath Tagore. Thakur Bari is the Bengali name for ‘House of Thakurs’. It is now converted into a museum and depicts all the important events of Gurudev’s life. The more you explore the more you realize that their whole family was full of intellectuals and creative people. The house even has a separate segment where it highlights Tagore’s deep connection with the Japanese.

Location: Rabindra Bharti university campus, Jorasanko.

Timings: 10:30 am to 4:30 pm – Monday closed.

Marble palace

Marble palace and Thakur Bari are only 400 meters apart. Raja Rajendra Mullick, a rich Bengali merchant, built it in 1835. It is like a palace and is also made up of white marble and hence the name. The decedents of the family still occupy a portion of the palace while the rest is open for the public as a museum. There is a catch while visiting the Marble Palace. It requires a special permit issued by tourist bureau and photography is strictly prohibited even from the outside. I didn’t have the permit but was able to work my way around by having a word the guards. Though it is highly unadvisable to do so.

Location: 46, Opp Ram Mandir, Muktaram Babu Street, Jorasanko.

Timings: 10 am to 4 pm – Monday & Thursday closed.

My next stop was Dakshineshwar Kali temple.

Dakshineshwar Kali Temple

Dakshineshwar Kali Temple

Rani Rashmoni founded it on 31st May 1855. It is one of the most famous and largest temples in Kolkata and is built in the Navaratna style of architecture. It is believed that the famous religious thinker Rama Krishna Paramhamsa attained spiritual vision here. The Ramakrishna mission takes care of all the operations of the temple. After the darshan, I strolled down to the ghat. It was a mesmerizing sight of the bridge, lights and the calm river.

Location: Dakshineshwar – It is situated on the Eastern bank of Hoogly River about 20 kms from city center alongside the Vivekanand Bridge.

Timings: It is separate for summers and winters and opens twice a day. Do check before going.

Speaking of Ramakrishna mission my next stop was Belur Math.

Belur Math

Belur Math

Belur Math is the headquarters of the Ramakrishna mission and math founded by Swami Vivekanand in 1897. There is a temple in the center of the math surrounded by lots of trees and gardens. It is about 4.5 kms from Dakshineshwar Kali Temple is on the Howrah side of the twin cities. You can reach there by crossing the Vivekanand Bridge.

Location: Belur, Howrah.

Timings: Separate timings for Summers and winters; opens twice a day and closes early.

It started getting late and for my last stop, I headed to the Kalighat Kali Temple passing the Howrah Bridge.

Howrah Bridge

The moment you think of Kolkata the first that comes to mind is of Howrah Bridge. This is the most iconic feature on Kolkata’s landscape. It connects the twin cities of Howrah and Kolkata and is built on Hoogly River. In 1965 it was renamed Rabindra Setu. The traffic isn’t allowed to halt on the bridge that makes it really difficult for a view and take photographs. I will forever be in debt of my driver that he took me to a spot from where I could get a full view of the Bridge.

Kalighat Kali Temple

Kalighat Kali Temple

Kalighat Temple is the older of the two famous Kali temples in Kolkata. It is one of the 51 ‘Shakti Peethas’. It is of more historical importance than the other temples in Kolkata but currently, the locale around it has become overcrowded. Be prepared to be surrounded by pundits and shopkeepers who will swarm upon you for getting some or the other puja is done for you at some expensive price.

Location: Kalighat

Timings: 5:00 am to 2:00 pm & 5:00 pm to 10:30 pm

Mullik Ghat Flower Market – Ref – TheWrongShot

Other noteworthy places to visit, which I wasn’t able to cover, are:

Mother Teresa home – The home of Mother Teresa – the tomb of Mother Teresa is also kept there.

Kumartuli – it is famous for sculpting clay idols for festivals. It is particularly a great sight during the Durga Puja days.

South Park Cemetery – visiting a cemetery isn’t a normal thing but it is famous for its colonial history

Old Chinatown – famous for its Chinese breakfast and other oriental cuisines.

Mullik Ghat Flower Market – for its colorful array of flowers at the display.

FOOD & STAY

Food is an equally significant part of Kolkata’s heritage dominated predominantly by Bengali cuisines. Bengali sweets are a must try – Rosogulla, Sandesh and Mishti Doi. Do try their peculiar Biryani, which is cooked with a whole potato in the middle of it. Baked Rosogulla is the latest craze and I found it absolutely amazing, as Gulab Jamun is my favorite sweet delicacy.

I can personally vouch for these places:

Balaram Mullick – for baked rosogulla and other Bengali sweets.

6 Ballygunge Place – a chain of restaurants for authentic Bengali cuisine.

Bhojohari Manna – typical Bengali meal but at a nominal cost.

Arsalan Restaurant and Shiraz Golden on Park street for non-veg.

Kolkata has no shortage of places to stay – you can choose as per your needs. But if you want to cover most parts then Park Street is the best centrally located region. It has good restaurants as well as nightlife options with awesome connectivity.

TO SHOP

New Market

New Market – ironically it is one of the oldest markets in Kolkata, built by the British in 1874. If you are good at bargaining then this is your heaven. It is closed on Sundays if you are travelling on weekends to Kolkata.

Garihat Market – It is another paradise for shopaholics. The street market is full of options. Wherever I travel I make it a point to buy a saree for my mother. The market is famous for its ‘Tant’ saree, a traditional Bengali saree and ‘Sakha Paula’ – the handsomely crafted shell and coral bangles usually worn as a combination of red and white.

Kolkata has very aptly played its part in the history of India and no Saga of India’s heritage is complete without Kolkata featuring in it.

For all those who love traveling,

For all those who love Bengali sweets,

For all those who love Kolkata

And

For all those who find the ‘Joy’ in the city of joy…

It’s not a goodbye,

But it’s a GOOD BYE.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

About #XploreBharat

This post is a part of the #XploreBharat Blog Train hosted by
Aditi, Esha, Maheshwaran, PraGun, Preeti, Saba, Sanjota, Sudip, Suhasini, Supriya

And a big shout out to our sponsor for taking this Blog Train experience even further.

KAIV is a personal grooming accessory and appliances brand offering a wide range of world-class products.

FabZania is an upcoming food, travel, entertainment, and lifestyle web portal

4

Garhwal Run 2019 – Road to LA Ultra 111 kms

Guest post by:- Dr. Anupam Das

About The Runner:

Mohd Rizwan, 32 Years, Male.

Works at Tabono Sports (Which Organized Millenium City Marathon, Gurugram, Lucknow City Half Marathon, Lucknow).

He is a passionate runner and cyclist, started running in 2015. Around 2015 he was diagnosed with high blood pressure and spinal pain along with being overweight at 90kgs. He realized that it was high time to make fitness a priority and used it as a trigger. He has since then competed in many long distance runs and this is the story of his first steps towards being an Ultra Marathoner.

At a Check post

Garhwal Run 2019- Road to LA Ultra 111 km Dehradoon to Dhanaulti 74 km

“The only impossible journey is the one you never begin” – Tony Robbins

People know me less as a runner more of a person organizing endurance run events.

I realised this when people in my circle started to ask me recently, “When did you start running?” some of my friends were enjoying also “Ohh! You became an ultramarathoner, now.” This was after I did 50 km from ‘Dehradun to Dhanaulti’ in The Garhwal Run 2019.

Garhwal Runs is a qualifying run for ultra runners who desire to take part in 111 km category at La Ultra – The High. Those looking at qualifying for La Ultra – The High 2019 has to cover the 74 Km distance in 11 hrs. Though the overall event cut-off is 12 hrs.

The Garhwal run puts the runner through his endurance capability, testing his/her ascent throughout the distance, running through lush green forests and countryside of Himalayan foothills. Till the finishing point, Dhanaulti at the TOP, the runner travels through the villages of Kokriyal, Dubhra, Sakalana, and Daulagiri.

Total elevation gained by the runner on the race route is 7300 feet.

Yes, I was DNF at 74km run at “ Garhwal Run”, qualifier for La-Ultra, but I did attempt this tough challenge, because deep inside me there is a runner, who started way back in 2015 with 1 km difficult walk, to be followed by 200m walk runs, to be guided by an elderly person in a local park at Lucknow. Which later translated to a couple of 21km half marathons and a 12-hour stadium run in December 2016.

Being associated with Ultra Man Abhishek Mishra in organizing endurance runs during the running season, I get less chance to find time for run during the busy running season.

I targeted 74km Garhwal Run, Dehradun to Dhanaulti, which is a qualifier for the La Ultra. Being associated with runners in the last couple of years, I knew very few runners target this tough challenge.

“The only impossible journey is the one you never begin” – Tony Robbins. Not exactly the quote, but similar thoughts in mind, I registered for the event on the last day.

The time of the event suited me, as it was just after the 4th edition LCHM, so it was a break for me from my busy schedule.

During the run

I told deep inside me there is a runner, we runner’s take a break from routine by running only.

We reached Dehradun after almost 16 hours of exhausting travel road, by the evening of the 8th Feb 2019, & checked in a hotel, to sleep at about 12 O’Clock at night. It was a challenge for me to wake up at 5am in the morning after the daylong exhaustion.

I depended completely on the alarm to wake me up.

Though alarm God did not ditch me, & woke me up at 5AM, my calculation went little wrong. I had planned to check out while going out. Check out process took a little longer than expected, as the staff at reception took longer than expected to complete the formalities.

This was my first mistake as the flag off was to be at exactly 6:00AM. Though I reached just 1 minute before flag off, I missed vital warm-up & stretching before the Herculean Task ahead. When I look back, I feel, I should have started warm up and stretching while my friend Arpit was completing the formalities of check out at the hotel.

There were approximately 25-30 runners with me who were there at the flag off of 33km & 74 km event.

I started to run in pitch dark with my headlights on, it was very cold as it rained continuously for the last two days and there was snowfall above, our destination Dhanaulti.

The initial 5km was to some extent flat with fewer elevations, I was running the pace of 6.30-6.40 min per km. I was tempted to run little faster, but as I had heard from other runners, that always conserve energy while you are on ultra, I restricted my pace to complete 5km in 33 minutes approx.. I thought I will conserve my energy as suggested to run faster after 21km, which one of my friends told that there will be 26km downhill. Throughout this first 21km I kept thinking the easier part is ahead, let me conserve my energy, by running easy now, which I will make up in 26 kms ahead.

In a way to conserving my energy, I ignored the proper assessment of the cut-offs. The official cut off at 21km was 3 hours 15 minutes and the cut off at 47km was 7 hours.

At 19th km, as I was running through the narrow hilly curved route, all of a sudden I heard the sound of, some stones & sand falling from my right side, the side which had the hills. It was my first encounter with landslides in life. It took me a fraction of a second to realize what it is.

I had to decide quickly, either I run forward very fast to avoid getting hit by the stones, or I moved to the left side of the road to fall several hundred meters below to the precipes of the hills there was nothing on that side except steep downhill.

I escaped the stones, but only to realize that I had developed little uneasiness behind the back of my right knee, which gradually kept increasing.

I finished first 21kms at 2 hours 55 minutes. I now realize that I could have finished this distance easily at 2 hours 40 minutes with 15 minutes more in my hand to reach the next cut off more easily, without stressing my body.

I reached 21km well within cut off, took refreshments & hydration support to start again within 1 to 2 minutes of reaching.

Post 21kms, I was eagerly waiting for the downhill part of the route as was described by one of my fellow runners. But actually, the route was little uphill to be followed by little downhill, which continued as I advanced.

The wait for my uninterrupted downhill track continued till 30km and I was getting impatient. At this point, I saw some villagers, who were enjoying the cozy comfort of sunrays with bonfire light around them. I paused for a moment and asked one of them, “ Ye batao bhaiya, ye chadai kab khatam hogi, aur dhal kad suru hoga” (Please tell me, When will the uphill route finish & downhill start?).

His answer was not at all encouraging for me.

I now came to know that the route is a mix of uphill and downhill throughout.

All that I could get was a mix of downhill and plain route of 4 to 5kms, which I could get only after 43km to up to 47kms, the finishing point of second cut off.

After crossing the villagers, though their reply broke my heart, I continued to advance on the tough hilly track to conquer the remaining distance.

The uneasiness at the back of the right knee has by now converted into a full-fledged pain. I applied pain reliever spray in the 33rd km, the finishing point of the 33km category.

By this time 4 to 5 runners had finished their 33km run and I could see they were relaxed by their teammates with supports and aides from the ambulance.

I thought I have Miles to Go before I can avail these luxuries.

Continued to run again to reach at 40km, by which time the pain had become severe. I stopped to take help from my support van. I discussed with them about the pain and told I would not be able to continue anymore.

Luckily I had Ultra Runner Nitin Pandey with us, who immediately came to my rescue & started stretching my legs.

As Nitin was stretching my legs, I saw a runner carrying a bag with two water bottles, running and cheering a fellow runner Mr Kartik.

I exclaimed to the well-built runner, “Sir’ are you from the Army?”

I could not believe a person can run with weights in this hilly terrain. But I could very well see, he was carrying two water bottles and a bag in his back and cheering runner Kartik.

The well-built runner told, “Yes, I am from Army”. Whatever difficult my condition was at that moment, I felt a sense of deep respect from inside me for this person as well as to our army brothers.

L.L Meena is a major runner. He has represented India at World 100k & Asia 24hrs where India won bronze

It was later when I quitted the race, I came to know he is one of the fastest Ultra Runners of India “Mr. L L Meena”

I was comforted by the stretching, but the pain was persisting. I started to run again, now with Mr L L Meena & Mr Kartik. I discussed with them about the pain, to which Kartik suggested, that I could take a pain killer.

I have not thought about this option until this time. Luckily the medical ambulance van of the route support team was crossing us at that moment. We stopped them and got a pain killer tablet and they applied pain killer gel to the area again.

This relieved my pain a little, but by this time both my fellow runners had crossed me and gone ahead.

I did not feel comfortable being alone at this stage with pain and exhaustion overpowering my will power. I needed some support, even if it is psychological; having a fellow runner by my side.

I started to walk-run faster as much as I could and I met them again at 42nd km.

But the pain was not allowing me to run properly, I had 30 minutes to cover 5km to reach the 2nd cut off at 47km. I told L L Meena & Kartik to go ahead, as I would not be able to run at the pace of 6min per km now. I felt horrible.

At this moment Nitin Pandey reached again with the support van. He got down from the van and tried to motivate me by saying that he would be running with me to help me to complete in time.

Nitin said, “ It’s either a ‘Do’ or ‘Die’ situation.“ To relieve me of the weight I was carrying, he took off my jacket, spectacles and kept running with me.

I started to run again with him with my all energy left. The condition of my body and the tough terrain was not in my favor to cover the remaining 5km in those 30 minutes to reach 47th km within the cut off 7 hours. But I do not know how I gathered my energy and ran as fast as I could.

“Your watch might not be giving right time, his one might be correct” – Nitin told me when I was 200 meters from the cut off line of 47kms, when I told him it is already 7 hours.

These were his words of motivation for me as he wanted me to give a last try and not leave any chance of technical fault to put water to all my efforts.

I ran like as if my life is at stake, with all the pain in my right leg.

It was approximately 1 minute over the cut off finally and I was disqualified officially.

I still wanted to test my limits, I tried to complete the target and started again to reach 74km mark, but I had to give up at 50th KM as my pain had become too severe to continue anymore.

In covering the highest distance of my life, 50 km in this tough yet beautiful hilly terrain I took 7 hours 49 minutes and gained an elevation of 4,723.6 meters.

I decided, I will come back again to conquer soon, as “I have begun the journey already, it’s not going to be impossible anymore”.

– Mohd Rizwan’s Story as Narrated by Dr Anupam Das.

19

Happy Birthday Papa

Happy Birthday Papa

The year was 1991. I was about 5 years old then. Papa always motivated us to be courageous, brave and work on our fitness and had this habit of saying that his body was made up iron and how I should also exercise and eat right to get that perfect balance for the body.

It was a hot summer morning and my summer vacations were going on. Papa was following his daily routine of exercise. I was in a fun mood that day and somehow got hold of a huge stick. He was sweating profusely and was exercising bare-chested. I was always a naughty child and was always ready with one or two tricks everyday.

That day I dared him, “Papa you always say that you are made of iron. Right. I want to test it today.”

He casually replied, “Yes I am and so are you. So how do you plan to take the test?”

Exuding my childhood innocence I stupidly suggested, “I will hit you with this stick on your back and lets see whether you feel any pain or not.”

One thing I would like to highlight about him; he was exceptional with kids especially when it involved their curiosity. He would never shy away from answering lamest of queries and encouraging them to try out new things. He always taught you would never learn until you fail.

He persuaded me to go ahead.

I kept on asking him again and again whether he was sure. Each and every time he confidently replied, “Yes! My son. Bring it on.”

I thought that I had thought this through but I was too naïve.

With all my might I swung the stick hard and bangggg!!!

Papa and Me

A crimson cylindrical line appeared where the stick hugged the skin.

Moments later similar crimson lines appeared on my cheeks with the love that was showered by my mom after the Iron Man test was completed.

Everybody in the family including my mom was shocked that I actually did it. They all thought I was just playfully bluffing. For a moment I was appalled too that I actually did it but it was all too late by then.

This was the kind of bond Papa and me shared for the major part of our lives. I remember he being either my partner at the running end on a cricket pitch or would be bowling to me being as part of the opposition. He always said that we are friends first and father-son later.

I clearly remember the nights scarred with power cuts and me spending most of them on his shoulders bombarding him with innumerous ‘whys’ and then would doze off on his chest. I would suck the juice out of oranges and then would give him the pulp to finish. How he would take me to buy cream rolls every evening. How he would take me on a bicycle round and round every time it rained. The memories are uncountable and the vacuum is forever.

For the last 3-4 years he would constantly say to me that I want an hour from you and want to discuss something but destiny always deceived us. In fact there was a trip, which we both undertook and the only time that we were separate was the time when we would use loo. I guess this sums up what a father-son relation actually becomes when they grow old. Both of them have so much bottled up to say but none of them has the courage to look weak.

Everybody loses someone in his or her life and my case isn’t special. It’s just that sometimes when the people are alive you don’t have the words and expressions to convey your feelings and this is my way of communicating to him. I am sure wherever he will be he will be in peace and would definitely be smiling over me; reading what all I write. It’s been 530 days since he left us and he would have been 65 years old today. There hasn’t been a single day where I haven’t craved to speak to him and hug him. Some would say he left too early…All I would say is that he lived like a king and he left royally too where he didn’t give anyone a chance to serve him in any manner and take care of him.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

A poem by my sister Shraddha Mukul

Life has moved on, and yet you still remain,
Your absence your memories is unbearable pain.

Every day I wait to sleep wait to be with you in my dreams,
I hug you, I hold you so close … your presence makes me smile,
And then I wake up and see you gone,
And that you were never there …you are gone for a while.

I waited on my bday … coz you promised you will always be there,
No matter which part of the world I am, you will come to me to celebrate,
You didn’t come … I am still waiting…
And now I wonder I might go crazy at this rate.

When I was little I always thought … nothing will ever happen to you,
And that you are “my daddy strong”
Look where I am standing Papa,
I feel so so very wrong.

I am angry at you and I feel cheated,
You promised you will never let go of me,
I am falling in the dark Papa,
Don’t you care anymore, can’t you see?

People say I am silly,
that one who goes never comes back,
They don’t know our connection, Papa
I know you will find me even in a world pitch black.

– Shraddha Mukul

22

Cirque Du Joker

Its a WOW post

Once upon a time in a far far land,

It was unique, as it was known as TEDDYLAND.

 

There lived a Mr Joker,

He was no ordinary card…he was the hero of his own Poker

One by one they came and broke his heart,

Though smiling through the pain was his art

 

They love their Jager bombs and Jagermeister,

He would honor them with his own JOKERMEISTER

 

They would cuddle and lay on his chest,

The funny stories he told were his best

 

In his genre, he was a rocker

He brought to the town his own CIRQUEDUJOKER

 

Each had a Paraphilia that brought them to orgasm,

He had his JOKEROPHILIA hat created a lot of LAUGHGASM

 

His art was to touch women’s heart,

All they would do is break his apart

 

So many stories and so many happy endings,

He was a storyteller whose JOKERTALE was never ending

 

They say, Jack-of-all-trades master of none,

For him, it was Joker of all trades and master of some

 

He faded with time, but his stories remained,

The Contemplation of a Joker forever entertained.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

Tell me which one did you like the most of all the new words.

 

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’

The New invented Made up words:

TeddyLand – A place where every inhabitant is a Teddy bear.

Jokermeister – A potion of the Joker

Cirque Du Joker – Circus of Joker (inspired from cirque du soleil)

Jokerophilia – Love of Joker

Laughgasm – orgasm experienced with laughter

Jokertale – A tale of Joker

 

12

The Cricket Bat

Featured post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

 

The Cricket Bat

The continuous ringing of doorbell was a unique trait of Papa’s arrival. Every time that happened I almost instinctively knew who would be on the other side of the door. I was right this time too.

As soon as he entered he announced, “Listen I have a meeting in the evening and I will be leaving early. Sit down, I want to have a quick chat regarding the preparations of the reception”. We both sat down on the sofa in the living room and started discussing. I told him about the things that were already taken care of and what were the expenses involving that.

He went to the items that were yet to be finalized and what would it approximately cost us. While he was still speaking I don’t know when I involuntarily stood up and started walking to and fro. In fact, I didn’t realize until he pointed out to me.

“Why can’t you simply sit and continue a serious conversation? Why are you so restless always?” Papa questioned digressing from the main discussion. By now mom and sister had also joined in. In an attempt to showcase sincerity I blurted, “I am all ears and listening very carefully to what all you are suggesting”.

A smirk had already formed on my sister’s face. She knew where this was heading, like the usual conversations where, in the end, Papa will get angry and frustrated and without completing the discussion, shout at me and leave for some work.

My Cricket Bat

Papa began again with the details. A few minutes later he shouted again. This time I was unconsciously shadowing batting postures with my favorite childhood bat in my hands. “I am earnestly listening to you, Papa. I swear. I can repeat each and every word that you have said”, I pleaded to keep him calm.

It was too late. He was already irritated and all I could overhear was he shouting at mom saying what’s wrong with this boy? Why can’t he just listen to me? Even if he can’t…he can at least act? Someday I will definitely burn this cricket bat of his, somehow it becomes a part of every discussion. My mom sarcastically replied to him, “You are the one who gifted the bat to him”.

The ignition of the car suggested that Papa drive away. My sister was now laughing, as it was a daily routine for her to see every discussion end this way.

My parents say that I have a good memory and a decent recall power. As far as I can remember the first memory about myself is holding a plastic cricket bat and being surrounded by plastic cricket balls. I was about 8 or 9 years old when Papa gifted this bat to me.

Even in ‘the State of Happiness’ I highlighted this. Playing cricket with him was pure bliss. It brought happiness and joy beyond words.

I would carry this bat along with me everywhere possible. Like the girls have their dolls by their side, I would have my bat. I would even sleep with it. I have scored most of my childhood runs with this bat. I still remember how Papa taught me to oil a cricket bat and how I would take care of it like the most precious thing in the world.

It has seen its ups and downs. They were phases where I felt that it might get broken but with the help of some adhesive tapes and extra love and care, it has seen those treacherous and scary days off.

Even today, if you visit my house you will find it in the living room living along with us. You will still see me playing around with it, mimicking cricketing postures even during serious discussions. There were many times when my mother and sister during their clean-up drives, tried to get rid of it. But they know that it is like those older movies of fairy tales where the villain will only die once you kill his pet parrot, similarly my lies in this cricket bat. It is my first cricket bat and is like my first love.

For all those who love cricket,

For all those who have their bats with them,

For all those who still play with them,

And

For all those who are still living with them…

It’s not a goodbye,

But it’s a GOOD BYE

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

 

 

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’

7

An Era of SMART Lives #GetFitWithFlipkart #SmartHomeRevolution

An Era of Smart Lives


Featured post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

A century ago if somebody would have said that there would be huge iron birds flying over our skies and would be used as a mode of transport, I am sure he or she would have been stoned to death on the premise of going insane. But today that is a reality.

Technology is something that helps us dream, create and achieve what most of the people can’t even imagine. With the use of more and more artificial intelligence and the concept of ‘Internet of Things’, we are currently living in a ‘Smart’ world.

From devices to gadgets, phones to watches the advancements in technology haven’t spared anything and left its footprints everywhere. In fact these days, every year a smart product gets launched and takes the whole technological world by storm before slowly percolating into our daily lives.

Smart Wearable Watch – Source Flipkart

Last year it was the year of air purifiers, the year before that was of smartwatches, the year before that was of Smart Wearable health gadgets and the list goes on and on. With ‘internet of things’ gaining momentum the Smart Home with Smart Lights, Smart Electronic Devices, Smart Home Security with Smart Camera is also gathering pace.

Even the traditional legacy systems based realtors are very much aware of these trends and they are incorporating these smart features from the very beginning of the designing and construction phase.

I believe that people born in the late 80s like me should be called the transition generation. We witnessed both the extremes and acted as a bridge between both the generations. I have spent days where basic electricity was treated like a luxury living through 16-hour power cuts in a day. I clearly remember for years finishing my school homework in candlelight, in fact, we were so blessed that we had the privilege of having candlelight dinners on a daily basis. And all this was happening when we were living in cities imagine the plight of rural India.

Smart Home with Google Home – Source Flipkart

My first desktop had only 32 MB of RAM and 10 GB of ROM. Yeah, you read it right. Today my smartphone has more RAM than ROM of my first computer. That’s the real leap technology has taken. In fact, there is a stat, which suggests that technology becomes obsolete every 18 months and with continuous innovation of smart devices I believe this timeframe is getting even shorter year by year.

Remember the day, when the first mobile phone was of brick-sized, black in color with a long antenna attached to it and we had to shell out loads even for incoming calls. The current generation can’t even relate to those days whereas we have closely witnessed the real change that technology and smart devices have gone through.

After my father passed away and my sister and me staying away it was getting really difficult for us to keep an eye on the safety of mom and home. Today with Smart Home Security Devices it has brought us some deserved peace of mind. All it needs is an Internet connection and an application on my smartphone and I can keep a watch over the complete house while being anywhere in the world.

Smart Home Security Camera – Source Flipkart

People are becoming health conscious and these Smart Gadgets are surely helping in keeping a track of your daily activity. You can monitor your heart rate, BMI, numbers of steps walked, kilometers did and what not. Products like electronic cigarettes have their share of nicotine but are comparatively less harmful than the regular ones.

The flurry of smart devices and gadgets is coupling nicely with the modern urban frantic lifestyle. I recently saw a product for new parents known as ‘Baby monitor’. You can use it remotely listen to sounds made by an infant. Such products are really a blessing for working mothers and parents who have separate rooms for them.

The lines are constantly getting blurred among different categories of products with modification, minification, magnification, and innovation. One doesn’t need a separate phone, camera, and computer – all of these are clubbed in one smartphone with a million other features, which in all honesty we don’t even use.

There are a lot of areas that need attention and I am sure that slowly they will also be under the ‘Smart’ umbrella. Moving ahead a lot of focus should be on products for Smart Medical Devices, products for woman safety and education.

Smart Lights with Smart Home – Source Flipkart

Being a writer and a pet lover I wish there would be more products, which can assist us in writing and creating quality content. What a boon it would be if I could get to know what my dog is thinking or what it wants.

The future looks really bright and promising for the ‘Smart’ technologies but it has its ploys too. The mix should be perfectly balanced. A product should not be pushed down our throats just because they have invented it and it is smart in nature. Sometimes I feel that humans are getting dumber while the devices are getting smarter. Just Kidding. The basic premise that it is catering to some actual need and providing a solution to a real-world problem and in the process easing our lives should always remain of utmost importance and priority.

With 5G on our doorways along with artificial intelligence guiding our way into future and its perfect marriage to ‘Internet of Things’, we are embarking on a journey from Smart Devices to An Era of Smart Living.

#GetFitWithFlipkart and #SmartHomeRevolution

Smart Glasses – Source Flipkart

For all those who use smart devices,

For all the tech savvy people,

For all those who are in love with technology,

For all those who use Flipkart,

and

For all those who are ready for a Smarter future…

It’s not a goodbye,

but it’s a GOOD BYE.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

This post is for the Let’s #GetFitWithFlipkart & start a #SmartHomeRevolution contest by Flipkart in association with Indiblogger.