4

#AtoZChallenge 2019 – Theme Reveal #BlogchatterA2Z

#AtoZChallenge 2019 – Theme Reveal #BlogchatterA2Z

The month April gets its name from the Greek Goddess of love, Aphrodite. The Roman calendar also spells it as ‘Aprilis’, which means ‘to open.’ People in Northern Hemisphere usually associate April with spring, which suits it perfectly as it is the season when new flowers and plants bloom. I, being the Joker, associate it with fun since it begins with the April Fool’s Day.

The blogging community for the past decade celebrates it for the A to Z Challenge. This year celebrating its 10th anniversary, it is a global blogging challenge scheduled for the month of April.

About the Challenge

One is supposed to post on each and every day of April, except Sundays i.e. 26 posts for 26 days. Each post should have a title highlighting the alphabets from A to Z. For example post 1 should have ‘A’ as its hero, post 2 should have ‘B’ as its hero and so on. There are no strict rules how you want to use the word in the title – it can be anything, from a name to a place…from a noun to a verb. Everything is fine until the Alphabet compliments the day and is in continuous order.

Blogchatter has soon become the home of all the major blogging campaigns and challenges in India. A to Z Challenge, in India, is also orchestrated primarily by them. These challenges and campaigns are a perfect way to explore, meet and build on your reading fraternity. It, not only, exposes you to the community but helps you build an international audience too. I got associated with them last year during the Blogchatter Ebook carnival and since then have participated in most of their online events.

These carnivals have definitely increased my reader base, along with improving my Alexa rank dramatically. It has egged me on to be more consistent in writing and form newer bonds, which contribute in so many ways.

I want to keep it short and head straight to the Challenge.

So finally, going to reveal my theme. Ohh! I wish I could have some background music.

I guess I am the last person who would be unveiling his theme for the #AtoZChallenge. Nonetheless, would be still giving it my best shot. Do remember this is my first attempt at the A to Z Challenge.

I have decided to go ahead with not one but two themes. Yeah! You read it right. I am going ahead with two themes. Considering this is my first attempt at the A to Z Challenge, I might be overestimating.

I believe the Joker just needed this sort of push to spread its Jokerophilia and create its own CirqueDuJoker.

The THEME

The themes are:- Travel and Politics.

Why these themes:

I was confused till today morning with which one I should go ahead. I even did a small poll with my friends and got blurring replies. Hence, finally decided to go ahead with both of them. (At least will be able to come up with one post 😉 )

For Travel theme: I choose ‘Dubai – the city of Gold’ as the location I would be posting about. It is only place apart from India that I have stayed for a year and have visited it most number of times.

For Politics theme: IPL is on and just like before the 2014 General Elections of India I think it would be appropriate if I will be able to contribute my bit before the 2019 General Elections. For me; IPL carries two meanings – Indian Premier League and Indian Parliamentary League.

Do let me know what you think about my themes?

Now, all I need is support and encouragement from you all so that I can successfully survive the #AtoZchallenge. Keep me in your prayers 🙂

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

 

 

26

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.

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

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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.’