Sunday, October 27, 2013

मांजर

गेल्या  आठवड्यात, मी आणि संजीव जेवायला गेलो रात्री बाहेर. तसा उशीर झाला होता. गप्पा आणि जेवण होई पर्यंत रात्रीचे अकरा वाजले. हॉटेल मधून बाहेर पडलो तेव्हा नेहेमी सारखे valet पार्किंग करता दिलेली गाडीची किल्ली मिळाली आणि आम्ही गाडीच्या दिशेने चालायला लागलो.

जेवण छानच झाले होते, त्यात गप्पा पण भरपूर झाल्या होत्या. एकंदरीत तृप्त वातावरणात घरी जायच्या विचारात आम्ही होतो.

तितक्यात छोट्या मांजरीच्या पिल्लाचा आवाज आला. मी आजूबाजूला बघून आवाज कोठून येत आहे ह्याचा शोध घ्यायला सुरु केला, पण काही केल्या मांजर दिसेना. संजीवने गाडी पार्किंग मधून काढण्यास सुरु केली, आणि अचानक मला ते पिल्लू आमच्याच गाडीच्या खालून ओरडत आहे असे लक्षात आले.

मी संजीवला सांगितले गाडी हळूच मागे घ्यायला जेणे करून ते पिल्लू आपोआप मागे राहील आणि गाडीच्या खालून बाहेर पडेल. पण पिल्लू इरसाल निघालं. जशी गाडी मागे जात होती, तसं ते अजून पुढे-पुढे जात होत. पिल्लाला काही गाडीच्या खालून बाहेर पडायचं नव्हतं.

आता आली का पंचाईत! आमची गाडी रस्त्याच्या मधोमध तिरकी, त्यात चालक बसलेला. गाडी सुरु होती, पण गाडी ना पुढे नेता येत, ना मागे.

पार्किंग attendant च्या लक्षात आले काही तरी गडबड आहे, म्हणून तो आला विचारायला. त्याला सांगितले की गाडी खाली मांजर आहे. तो प्रयत्न करू लागला पिल्लाला हुस्कावायला. पण पिल्लू हुशार निघालं. एक माणूस आपल्याला आपल्या लपायच्या जागेतून बाहेर काढत आहे ते त्याला समजलं. त्याने अजून एक युक्ती केली. पुढच्या चाकावर जाऊन बसलं. attendant  अजूनही "छुत छुत" करून पिल्लाला हाकलायचा प्रयत्न करत होता.

मांजर आता चाकावर बसल्याने गाडीला हलवणे अशक्य झाले होते. गाडी रस्त्यात तिरकी बंद पडलेली दिसते, काही मदत लागत आहे का बघावी ह्या उद्देशाने एका बाईक वरून दोघे जण गाडीजवळ आले.

"गाडी बंद पडली आहे का? काही मदत करू का?" अशी विचारपूस केली.

"अहो, बंद नाही पडलेली. चाकावर मांजर शिरून बसलंय. हालातच नाहीये"

"काय?! चाकावर मांजर कसं काय चढलं?"

"गाडीखाली लपलं होतं. बाहेर काढत होतो आम्ही, तर चाकावर चढून बसलं."

हा संवाद चालू असताना पिल्लाने अजून एक पराक्रम केला. चाकावरून चक्क आत bonnet मधेच शिरलं. गाडीचं  इंजिन चालू होतंच, मस्त गरम-गरम ऊबदार ठिकाणी बसायची जागा पटकावली. आता मात्र हद्द झाली! आता पिल्लाला बाहेर काढायचं कसं?

एका बाजूला हा गोंधळ सुरु होता तर नेमकं त्याच वेळेस संजीवच्या ऑफिस मधली एक मैत्रीण तिच्या होणाऱ्या नवऱ्याबरोबर त्याच हॉटेलच्या बाहेर उभी असलेली संजीवने बघितली. तिचे पण लक्ष गेले तर ती आली आमच्याशी बोलायला. तिच्या होणाऱ्या नवऱ्याची ओळख करून देऊ लागली.

माझे तर काही लक्षच नव्हते तिच्या बोलण्याकडे. ओळख करून दिली तिने तसं "hi" वगैरे बोलून झालं. पण चिंता होती की ते पिल्लू बाहेर काढायचं कसं. ज्या वेळेस ओळख करून देणं  चालू होतं, त्या वेळेस आमच्या गाडीच्या bonnet  मध्ये चार अनोळखी लोकांची डोकी खुपसून मांजरीला शोधणे सुरु होते.

आता ह्या चार डोक्यांमध्ये आतून आलेला वेटर पण शामिल झाला. एका माणसाने त्याच्या मोबाईलचा flash light चालू केला.

"अरे, ती बघा तिथे आहे, दिसली का?"

"कुठे?"

"तिथे खोपच्यात बसली आहे."

"हां, हां, दिसली. हात जातोय का बघ ना."

"इंजिन गरम आहे. आणि जागा नाहीये हात घालायला."

तेव्हड्यात कोणीतरी खराट्याच्या दोन काड्या आणल्या. bonnet मध्ये घालून, मांजरीला हुसकावण्याचा प्रयत्न करत होते. पण काही केल्या पिल्लू बाहेर येईना. अखंड "म्याव म्याव" चालूच होतं.

सगळा गोंधळ बघून मैत्रिणीचा आणि तिच्या होणाऱ्या नवऱ्याचा प्रश्न, "गाडी बंद पडली आहे का? मेकानिक ला बोलवायचा का? अर्ध्या तासात येईल मदत."

"अहो, गाडी ठीक आहे. गाडीला काही नाही झालेलं. bonnet मध्ये मांजर शिरली आहे."

"मांजर कशी काय शिरली? रिट्झ गाडी मध्ये शिरते माहित होतं, पण तुमच्या असल्या गाडीत पण शिरेल वाटलं  नव्हतं."

"आता माहित झालं ना!" मी माझ्या मनात म्हटलं.

तेवढ्यात कोणाच्या डोक्यात कल्पना सुचली माहित नाही, पण कोणी तरी पाण्याची बादली घेऊन आलं. मोबाईलच्या flash light च्या अंधुक प्रकाशात नेमकी मांजर कुठे बसली आहे ह्याचा अंदाज घेऊन पाणी ओतलं गेलं. तसं त्या पिल्लाने बचावात्मक पवित्रा घेऊन bonnet मधून बाहेर पडण्याचा निर्णय घेतला. पण पूर्णपणे बाहेर न येता, पुन्हा एकदा चाकावर बसण्यास पसंती दिली.

"निघाली, निघाली! गाडी खाली दिसत आहे का?"

"नाही खाली नाही आली अजुन."

"मग आवाज कुठून येत आहे?"

"अरे ही बघा, परत चाकावर बसली आहे."

"अरे घाल बिनधास्त हात. पिल्लाला काय घाबरतोस! चाकावर आहे तर पकडून काढ बाहेर!" असा सल्ला देणाऱ्या गृहस्थाच्या मित्राने शेवटी हिम्मत करून, चाकावर नखाने घट्ट पकडून बसलेल्या, बिथरलेल्या, बिचाऱ्या पिल्लाला सुखरूप बाहेर काढले आणि आम्ही सुटकेचा निःश्वास टाकला!

वीस मिनिटे चाललेल्या नाटकाचा अंत शेवटी आम्ही सगळ्या अनोळखी लोकांच्या आभार प्रदर्शनाने केला. म्हणजे प्रसंग असा होता की गाडी आमची, पण आम्ही काहीही करू शकलो नाही. बाकीच्याच सर्व लोकांनी अथक प्रयत्न करून पिल्लाला तर वाचवलेच, पण आमची पण सुटका केली.

मांजर हे कुठे कुठे शिरू शकतं हे त्या दिवशी मला उमगले. 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

रात्रीचे भजन

काल जन्माष्टमी. मुरली मनोहराचा आगमनाचा दिवस. खरं तर रात्र. रात्री झालेला जन्म आपल्या कृष्णाचा.
ह्या शुभ रात्री शेजारच्या मारुतीच्या देवळात रात्री साधारण दहाच्या सुमारास भजन सुरु झाले. रात्री श्रीकृष्णाचा जन्म होई पर्यंत चालू असावे.

असावे म्हणाले कारण मला भजन संपायच्या आधीच झोप लागली. खूप शांत झोप. कित्येक वर्षांत भजन ऐकता-ऐकता झोपण्याचे भाग्य लाभले नव्हते. ते काल रात्री जमले.

खरे तर भजन म्हणणाऱ्या लोकांचे आवाज काही खूप खास नव्हते. पण तरीही खूप तन्मयतेने भजन चालू होते. टाळ-मृदुंग, आणि हरी नामाचा जप ह्याने आसमंत दुमदुमून गेला होता. हवेतील कुंद गारवा भजनाचे आवाज दश-दिशांना घुमवत होता.

मला आठवण झाली काही वर्षांपूर्वीची. आमच्या घराजवळच्या मारुतीच्या मंदिरात दररोज रात्री भजन होत असे. तेव्हा रात्री झोपताना भजनाचे हलके स्वर आणि टाळ. खूप आल्हादायक वातावरण व्हायचे. तेच काल रात्री अनुभवायला मिळाले.

आज-काल भजन पण ओघानेच ऐकायला मिळते. गावा-पाड्यात अजून होत असतील रात्रीची. पण शहरात अभावानेच.

भजनाकरिता काही सुरेख आवाज असण्याची गरज नाही. मनात भाव असला की ते थेट अंतःकरणात भिडते. म्हणूनच भजन म्हणायला कोणी "Indian Idols" लागत नाहीत. भोळे-भाबडे, कष्टकरी लोक जमवले की झाले.

थोड्याच वर्षांमध्ये आपले म्हातारे-कोतारे लोके पण नाहीशी होतील, तेव्हा भजन म्हणजे काय हे सुद्धा
सांगणारे उरणार नाहीत. तोवर आपण भजनाच्या रंगी रंगून जाऊयात. 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Letting Bygones Be Bygones

In a budding relationship, with all the trust, love, and faith you have in the other person, it is necessary to let bygones be bygones.

Whether you are in office, with acquaintances, with your family and loved ones, you cannot build on hostile feelings. You need to sit back one day and try and understand what is really holding you up.

When in office, you may come across some of your colleagues with whom you are not comfortable. Yet you need to work along with them. Sometimes, it is much easy to ignore the little quirks that may irritate you as long as the work is done. You can easily do that, because after all, it's for a short time that you are together with that person.

Eventually, you get used to the person and the whims and fancies. You come to accept the person as he or she is until your work is getting done and until that person is not a real hindrance to your job, position, and progress. If someone is a hindrance, dealing with that person is an entirely different story.

But on a personal level, what do you do? When a person irritates you, gets on your nerves, and does not let you be, what can you do?

Sometimes, it's best to ignore. But, it certainly is not easy to ignore and let go. Then at times, you don't know how to deal with a person who cannot understand you, is really self-centered, doesn't give you the required space, cannot understand your point of view, is obstinate, and has entirely different goals.

That's the time when you sit down and make each other understand what the goals are. The short-term goals and the long-term ones too. It is time to sit down and clarify things, make each other understand what you like, what you don't.

Mind you, it's not easy to see through somebody else's point of view. Most of the times, the person who has felt dejected, unloved, and lonely will feel themselves to be martyrs. And for you, that person may seem to be the culprit for all the wrong things that have happened.

You wouldn't be able to forget the smaller fights, the real big fights, and the hurt that has been caused because of being headstrong, stubborn, and unhelpful.

That's when you need to keep patience. Handle each situation very, very delicately. Put forth your points, your ideas in a way that will help the other person see your perspective. The other person may not believe in your perspective, but will at least understand that, finally, that is what your feel. And the most important factor in all this is not to keep reminding oneself of all the fights and hurt in the past. For some time at least, you must keep them away. Keep them on the back burner.

You may want to pick on them again when the issues at hand are resolved. But it is extremely important that at the time when you are trying to patch up things, you let bygones be bygones. Slowly and surely, the soreness, the feeling of being hurt and unhappy fades away. A real understanding between each other develops. That's when peace will return!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Just A Small Gesture Made All The Difference

It was a Saturday and the roads were quite busy. We were on bike and there was a small truck ahead of us.
We were trying to overtake the truck when the cleaner who sits on the left signalled us to wait before overtaking. Sanjeev patiently waited till he signalled back that we could now overtake the truck.

As we passed the truck, Sanjeev waved to him. He smiled a big smile. I waved back too. And the way he smiled was so beautiful.

All along the way, he had been guiding other vehicles, allowing them to overtake, or signalling them to wait their turn. He was an old man, with missing teeth, unshaven face, and yet with a beautiful smile.

We both waving to him was such a wonderful thing. He smiled a smile that brought tears in my eyes. He was so happy to be acknowledged for the small work that he was doing. Perhaps for him it was nothing extraordinary. But to get attention for your routine work, to be acknowledged and thanked for that, was great for him. His face expressed the sincerity and truthfulness that he had. His old, wrinkled face that was full of the wisdom of so many years exuded the childlike joy that he felt when we acknowledged him.

When he waved back, it was just like waving back to his own kids, and giving them that lovely smile that makes your heart jump with joy.

Just a small effort from us was needed to make that man feel happy and loved and acknowledged. Perhaps he will remember us some day, perhaps he won't. But I will always remember that old man's blissful face. I will remember how it seemed like he was blessing when he waved back to us.

The man was certainly old, but I do wish that in the remainder of his life, he stays happy.

Just one gesture makes so much of difference in the world. World is beautiful! Let's try and make it more beautiful!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

What Is Important In Life?

That's the question that we should ask when we are in a crisis-like situation. Or in a situation where there are multiple problems and you cannot figure out where exactly you should start.

At any given point of time in our life, we face multiple problems. (Un)luckily, our life is not so simple to give us one problem at a time and give the solution to it. When problems come in, they come in hordes. And we have to deal with each one of them. There's no escaping.

Escaping is really what we ought never to do. Not looking at the problem at all, ignoring it and willing it to be resolved by itself is something that is never going to happen. Remember that unless you take efforts, your problem is not going to solve.

When you know there are issues among people, and if you keep on ignoring them, thinking that if you ignore them, the issues will cease to exist, you are totally mistaken. Not only will those problems never be solved, but they will aggravate. And you alone will be responsible for that.

Agreed that most issues, problems, hurdles are not so simple! Life never has been. But you have to deal with them. At times, you just need to accept the facts. Facts that are as difficult to digest, that are sometimes painful, and not the ideal situation that you had hoped for. That's when you need to understand that things cannot change. Too much water has gone under the bridge and things haven't been as you had expected them. And how much ever you try, situations are not going to smoothen out.

That's the cue for you to sit back and think. Take some time out to introspect. Think what is of the most importance to you at that moment? What will make the situation better? What solution can you find that's going to make things work out? Or at least marginally better? Would you need to compromise on some things? If you would need to, are they worth it?

In all this, make sure of finding out that one goal towards which you are working at that moment in your life. It could be as simple as changing your job for better opportunities, finding a new place to live, getting married, moving to a different city, and so on. Think whether the situation that has arisen is hampering you from achieving your goal. If it is, you must take the necessary steps.

Remember, do not back out from doing the right thing. It needs great courage to do the right thing. Not just for everybody, but most importantly for your own self. Never refrain from doing the right thing because of fear!

Face it up front, fight it out. You might as well go down fighting, than be down and out for ever! And never give up too!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Growing Up

What does it take to have a better life? Love, friends, family, work, peace of mind, happiness, safety and security, togetherness, understanding partner, overall stability, people who treat you well and never let your down?

I think all this together. Man is a rather selfish animal. Apart from food, water, sleep, and physical well-being, there are so many more things that man requires to survive. We need love and acceptance from our partner, friends, colleagues, relatives, acquaintances. That's one of the most important requirements apart from the basic needs. If that's not fulfilled, if you are not accepted as you are, as the person that you are, you will always be dissatisfied, frustrated, and driven to craziness.

As you move upwards in life, you grow. People around you grow and change. You metamorphose into someone that you never thought of as you started your journey. A simple example is how you are at the start of your career. Ten years down the line, when you sit back and look back at the time that's gone past, would you say you had foreseen yourself there where you are? Very few can. Very few have such chalked out careers. But all will certainly have matured over those years. Each one would have learnt so much and experienced so much that you would definitely agree that you are someone who was not so ten years before.

Today when I was chatting with a very good friend, I was talking about what I was when I started my career. I was so naive, so untamed, so untrained. I was so coarse. Today, after eight years, I know I have grown. I have experienced different types of people and learnt to deal with them. I have learnt so much technically, something that I never could have thought of eight years back. And I am so much more confident today.

I always remember Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice. Elizabeth remains unfazed by the pomposity and grandeur of Lady Catherine's home and person. A few years back, I used to feel diminished even thinking of facing and interacting with highly technical people, developers, and engineers. I used to feel that I would never be able to face them because of my lack of technical knowledge. But today, like Elizabeth, I feel unfazed. I can meet them with an equanimity which has come with experience and learning. And I am happy about it.
Growing up also includes an important aspect of knowing what you don't know. Realising what you are not good at and striving to achieve an acceptable level of knowledge in that.

I had attended a training in April in which I learnt to eat the ugliest frog first. In simple terms, it means that if there's something that you find the hardest to do, you should always do that first. Get that out of the door and the work will become much lighter. In some ways, I've started using that in my work as well as personal life. It's working too. :)

That's how things are currently. I am growing and I am happy.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Changing Times

Times are changing, things are changing, people are changing.

One of my closest friend recently got married and has moved to a different city. I didn't realise the big change it would be. Not just for her, but also for me. She was always there for us all. Now she has started her new life and I am surely happy for her. But that is what it is...circumstances are changing.

What was taken for granted earlier isn't there anymore. You have to adapt to it and change yourself too.

My parents moved to a new house. That's a big change indeed. They are still trying to settle in. The house is beautiful, comfortable, and very conveniently located. It also has car parking (which really is a boon.) Surprisingly, we all have adjusted to the new house quite quickly. Fortunately it's in the same locality so not much change with regards to the maids, newspaper boy, or doodhwala. Nevertheless, it's a change. It's a good change.

At work, a release is just over and we are moving towards a November release. But before we start working on that, we are doing new things with new additional team members, and with new technology. I am responsible for an entire new project along with existing tasks. Exciting times ahead.

Changing times indeed!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Back After A Long Time

After an unusually tricky release, I have now relaxed and got into a comfortable routine. My routine now consists of getting out of office sometimes as early as 4.30 p.m. and on most days no later than 6.30 p.m.

Work is manageable and hopefully this is how it will continue for quite some time.

The only problem now is getting into the groove and starting new things. In office, I still haven't got the thrust or push to start working on new items (and there are plenty of them.) However, out of office, I am doing new things, starting with long-pending activities, and hopefully turning a new leaf soon.

Another thing I will try to do is write more frequently here. :)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Tiring World

Too much work, too many things to do. Spending a lot of time on office work. Not getting enough sleep. Too many hassles at work. Too many egos to handle. Sometimes too much expectation. At times, taking a lot of shit from people. Collaborating with people. Giving help to all. But getting back roughness! Expectations that you should take the first step (as usual) because you are smarter. That's damn tiring and disillusioning!

Because you are too helping, and  too accommodating, you are expected to change. But then you have your limits.

All this happens when release comes closer!

But it will pass soon (I hope!)

God speed!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

समाधी साधन…

हे भक्तीगीत ऐकले की मी एकदम वेगळ्याच जगात जाते. जुने दिवस आठवतात. घरातले त्या वेळेला घडलेल्या घटना जशाच्या तशा डोळ्यांपुढे राहतात. खरं तर त्या घटना काही एकदम वेगळ्या अशा नाहीत. पण कसे कोण जाणे, पण ह्या गाण्याचे आणि त्या गोष्टींचे एक association झाले आहे माझ्या मनात.

कालंच ऑफिस मधून परतत असताना हे गाणं कारमध्ये ऐकलं. डोळ्यांसमोर पहिली गोष्ट उभी राहिली ती म्हणजे पाठमोरी आई ओट्याजवळ, चपात्या करताना. वेळ आहे सकाळी पावणे आठची.

आणि मग पूर्ण दृश्य उभे रहिले. शाळेचे आणि कॉलेजचे दिवस आठवले. आई सकाळी उठून आमचा डबा बनवायची. त्या वेळेस आमच्याकडे चपात्या करायला बाई नव्हती. आईच करायची. तिच्या चपात्यापण किती मस्त व्हायच्या. एकदम खुसखुशीत, माऊ, आणि ताज्या. तव्यावरची एक गरम-गरम चपाती घ्यावी, आणि नुसती खावी. काय स्वाद असायचा! मला 'समाधी साधन' हे बाबूजींचे गाणे ऐकले की तो चपात्यांचा घमघमाट पण येतो.

आम्ही कायम उशीरा उठायचो शिकत होतो तेव्हा. आई दररोज ओरडायची. चपात्या करत असताना स्वयंपाक घरातून आवाज द्यायची. सकाळी सात पासून. आम्ही कसे-बसे आठ-सव्वा आठला उठायचो. तो पर्यंत आईची भाजी टाकून झालेली असायची आणि चपात्या सुरु झालेल्या असायच्या. 

बरोब्बर त्याच वेळेस सकाळी रेडिओवर भक्तीसंगीत लागायचे. अजूनही लागते म्हणा. बरोब्बर त्या वेळेस उठणं व्हायचं. बाबा काम करत असायचे, सकाळच्या आवरा-आवरीचे. आणि आम्ही निवांत कशा-बशा उठणार. "किती हाका मारतेस!" असे म्हणतच उठायचो. 

मग आमची हळू-हळू गाडी सरकणार पुढे आवरायला. आरामात तयार होवून, मग शाळा अथवा कॉलेजला स्वारी निघणार. तो पर्यंत आई-बाबा, दोघांचे आवरायचे, आणि ते पण त्यांच्या कामांना बाहेर पडायचे. 

सगळ्यांचाच नवा दिवस सुरु व्हायचा, भक्ती संगीताने आणि खमंग चपात्यामुळे!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

(Boring) Long Weekend Coming Up

We have a holiday on Friday, a long weekend is coming up. It's been quite a long time since we've had a long weekend.

I had proposed if we should go for a short trip. But as usual, Sanjeev has flatly denied. He has some presentation to be given in the next week and he wants to prepare for that.

That means entire three days will be gone, sitting at home, doing nothing. I don't believe he is going to work every hour in those three days. But he just doesn't want to take the efforts of managing things properly.

And because I'll be at home all three days, I am going to get totally irritated and angry. I am not going to like it at all. I am damn sure that he won't even be ready to step out of the house for a movie or an outing. He'll just loiter around, spend time the way he wants it, and spoil my long weekend.

I know I am going to be totally bored and irritated by the time Monday comes. Once Monday's here, it will be back to work. No respite, despite having a long weekend.

Tired of these repetitive happenings!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Shakespearean Words By Baba

It is not the thing in itself that is good or bad.
It is the maker of the thing and what thou thinkest of him
That makes it thus or thus.
Done by the one, it is remarkable,
Done by the other, it is reprehensible.
Done by the one, it is commendable,
Done by the other, it is condemnable.
And thereby hangs many a tale.

Story behind these lines

Baba: Can you recall from which Shakespearean play these lines are?
(He recited the lines.)
Me: Are they from The Winter's Tale?
Baba: (Smiling cheekily, pointing to himself) They are by this Shakespeare!

Amazing what Baba can come up with!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Baba As A Teacher

Baba has always been a great teacher, be it English grammar, Sanskrit shlokas, English literature, and even Marathi literature. He has always helped us understand the grammar rules and the logical ways of learning a language. And he has always been a humorous teacher. He would explain things in a funny way, giving funny anecdotes, play on words and bring out the humor in the language.

But of all this, I become proudest when I hear his praises from his students. All over Pune, somewhere in a mall, on a road, in a hotel, in a ticket line, we come across his students. All of them say that he has not changed a bit since all those years. They name the students from the batch, the year when he taught them.

Baba never remembers them. He never remembers names or faces. But his students remember him even after so many years. That, I think is the sign of the greatness of a person. That people remember him even after so many years, including the way Baba taught, what subjects he taught, his jokes, his personality. That is when I feel proudest!

I feel emotional and extremely happy to see his students bowing down to take his blessings. I grin madly when I hear the students telling their spouses or friends who are with them about how wonderful a teacher he was, how much it has affected them, and how much they still remember him.

Baba has taught students of standard five to right up to the university. Now-a-days he teaches English to students appearing for competitive exams. There have been so many cases where students have remembered him in the smallest possible ways and repaid him.

I remember a Bengali student, Shaunak, who used to come home to learn English. After he passed his exams with flying colours, his parents had specially come to present Baba a gift. They had also gifted Aai a saree. Frankly, it was completely unnecessary to gift a saree to Aai. But that was the power of Baba's teaching and Aai's hospitality.

Another incident that happened recently was when a student offered them a trip to Goa, all costs paid. It is extraordinary how people have reciprocated their appreciation and love. And I love it all. I say it again, I feel extremely proud.

I am so glad to have a father like Baba. My sister and I have been really lucky. Love you Baba!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Chai Time Musings

It's 5 PM and a weekday. In office, after a long-drawn meeting, you decide to take a cup of tea. Because your friends had already been earlier for tea, you are left alone. A cup tea all by yourself is always welcome. Gives you time to relax and contemplate.

And so I walked into the canteen, got a cup of tea and some snacks. I tried getting a good spot at the "balcony," but the best ones were occupied. After around 5 minutes, one of the tables became vacant and I quickly moved on to sit at the balcony.

My office canteen is an open area on the first floor overlooking a road. Across the road as I had mentioned in an earlier post, the Yerwada Jail fields are spread out. There are around four-five two seater tables arranged just at the canteen railing. These are really good for a quick chai and a quick dekko.

The road has been newly constructed. Earlier it was a dusty road, bumpy all over the place. Now it's transformed into a tar road and got a character of its own.

As I sat having my tea, I could see so many things happening around me. People in the canteen were enjoying their break from work. The food caterers were busying serving. A few people were having "chai-time meetings."

What intrigued me most was the road below. Earlier when it was a dusty road, hardly anyone walked by. But now, although not a main thoroughfare, there were a lot of people walking by, going for their work, teenagers talking loudly, gossiping, and laughing away to glory. Some bikers zoomed past on the smooth road. And I watched it all.

It felt as if I was standing still in the vast ocean of activity and life was happening and passing by. I felt as if I was the only stationary object for whom time had stopped. It was a kind of strange feeling. I suppose it's exactly how old ajobas and ajjis feel when they sit at their windows watching people walk by.

My own ajji had her house in one of the busiest places in Pune, right in the centre of the city. We all cousins used to fight for the coveted place in the small window that opened out to the main road. I remember  looking at the people working, talking, walking past, loitering, fighting, travelling. People going on with their lives and we mute spectators. It was like a bird's eye view. It was how God would look at the going-ons in this world, except that it was not at all our creation. Things just happened and we were the by-standers watching and observing. Never playing a part in it.

All ajjis and ajobas would be feeling the same I guess. They must be contemplating on how life has been for them, what future they have in store, what problems they faced, and how they overcame them. What life really was for them. Waiting and watching!

That's what perhaps I will be doing 30 more years down the line. Who knows! I will be one of those ajjis in the window up there, looking down at the fast world around me, thinking of my own life gone by. While everybody then would be in the fast lane, going at a speed of 80 km/h, I would be ruminating at my life in the slowest and farthest lane, going at a constant speed of 30 km/h.

The destination would be in my sight, but no deadline of reaching it!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

All For Money

The other day, I had to submit some papers for insurance claims. And I made everybody work for it. In the run to submit the papers, I fretted over small things, got frustrated, made other people work for me, and ultimately felt bad about it all.

The story goes like this...My Baba was admitted to the hospital a month back due to undiagnosed fever and drug reaction. He was in the hospital for eight days. He is now fully recovered and in excellent health. Because I have paid the premium for the insurance under which he is covered, I thought of claiming the hospital bill.

I duly downloaded the form and got it filled from hospital authorities. Then I immersed myself in work, gave reasons that I had no time to call, or complete other formalities to submit the claims, and delayed the submission.

In the first week of March, I thought of calling the insurance helpline to cross-check if I had got all documents. That's when I realised a couple of things. To start with, I had filled up the wrong form. Secondly, the end date of submission was 30 days from discharge. And I was already on day 26 from discharge.

Now started the run against time! The same evening, I took a printout of the correct form and left early from office to visit the hospital to get the new form filled. As luck would have it, the TPA section had closed early that evening and I returned empty handed. That also triggered the chain of making others work for me.

I handed the form to Aai to submit it to the hospital authorities the next morning. She also had the additional task of coaxing them to fill up another form when they had already filled one before.

Fortunately, the hospital authorities filled up the form without delay and I got it back the same evening when it was submitted. To fetch the form from the hospital, Aai had sent one of her office staff.

By the time I got the form, I realised that I also had to photocopy all the medical reports. The documents had to be couriered to Bangalore the same day. I couldn't locate the Blue Dart office near my office and asked Aai to show it to me.

Just opposite the Blue Dart office, I could find a photocopier, who was copying a lot of documents for two customers who were there before me. I fretted over the lost time as I waited for my turn. Finally as I got my copies, the Blue Dart office was about to close. We stepped in and they closed down the shutters.

We finally did manage to send out the courier by 8 PM that day.

But I felt quite sad after all that. I had made a lot of people work for me to submit those docs. Especially when I had wasted time initially and not downloaded the correct form.

Was the money really worth the tension and frustration that I faced that day?

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Fights

Yeah, that's what you'll experience when you visit the Sinhagad Fort. That's what we experienced too.

Sinhagad is located around 30 kms west of Pune and reaching there is pretty easy. You can either take a bus from Swargate, Deccan, or Shaniwar Wada bus stands. These buses go till the foot of the fort. You need to climb up from the foot. Otherwise, and the better option if you do not want to be tired from the climbing, you should hire a car, or even better, take your own car.

The fort lies around 10-12 kms from the village that's at the foot, called Donje. You must pay a toll of Rs. 20 or 50 for a two or four wheeler respectively as you start climbing. If you have got your own food, you also need to pay a nuisance fee of Rs. 100.

The first five or so kms are smooth and enjoyable. The middle patch is excruciatingly painful. It is completely neglected and the road has been washed out. It's full of potholes and worse than a village road. the last 5 kms are again very good, and you heave a sigh of relief as you see the smooth road.

As you park your vehicle in the parking lot, lots of ladies with "dahi" and "taak" will literally follow you up till the fort. They just won't let you go. As you visit the different points, they'll keep on asking you if you'd like to have curd or buttermilk. Even if you keep saying no, they'll persist. When you finally decide to have some, there'll be a fight between a couple of them about who "caught" the customer first.

Their loud discussions are enough to distract you and make you wonder why you ever selected that lady. But don't bother, it's nothing to do with your selecting her. It's the other way round. They select the customers they want right from the parking lot, and follow you till you have to have the curd and buttermilk from them. If you don't, there will be a big fight.

Obviously, the price seems too much, especially after the fight. After this first haggling, you'll again have to face various other food providers who are trying to catch you. You'll get a simple meal of pithla-bhakri there. But even that is enough to start the whole fight all over again.

Thankfully, the food is decent wherever you have it. Remember to order the kanda-bhaji first and then pithla-bhakri. And lastly, have the dahi and enjoy the meal.

If you can ignore all the petty fights, it's a good half-a-day outing that you can enjoy. Especially when the heat is mild and there's a gentle breeze flowing all the while, making the sun all the more bearable. Despite all the troubles reaching there or the fights at the top, you'll certainly enjoy the outing.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Just One Incident

It takes just one incident to know what you want to do ahead, how you want to deal with things, what path you want to take ahead. It all boils down to that one single moment of truth when realisation dawns on you. One single moment in which things fall apart. One single moment when things start making sense. One single moment that helps you take a decision.

Nothing more, nothing less. One incident can shape your life.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Jodhpur - Part I

The Blue City

The Blue City

That's what it is called. That is how it looks when you look down from one side of the Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur.

Travelling to Jodhpur

We travelled from Udaipur to Jodhpur by car. The distance from Udaipur is around 266 kms which makes it a journey of around 5-6 hours. On the way are two places that you should visit: Kumbhalgad fort and Ranakpur Jain Temple. I'll talk about them momentarily.

Neatly piled flat stones that make the farm hedges
What thrilled me in the road travel was the landscape that changed from Udaipur to Jodhpur. Udaipur falls in the Mewar area which has a fair amount of greenery. As you travel towards northwest, the vegetation becomes sparse. Trees change into shrubs and bushes that line the borders of farmlands. Farms are neatly arranged with hedges that are flat stones piled neatly to form a small wall.

Passing through villages, you can see similar kinds of village houses. Each, however small it may be, has the same design. The facade is a small door with a couple of rooms to welcome the guests. Inside is an open square bordered on all four sides by rooms. At the far end is the kitchen. Peek inside and you'll see the women folks busy with their household chores. That's the real Rajasthan that you can see.

As the sun set while we were travelling to Jodhpur, we could enjoy the orange hues of the sunset and the long, increasing shadows.There were still miles to travel and we were quite tired as we reached our destination.

There was an exciting moment as we traversed the long highways. We were going at quite some speed when our driver suddenly slowed down, and for good reason too. Right in front of our eyes passed a pair of beautiful nilgai, the largest Indian antelopes. To see them in the wild was quite a treat and we really felt ourselves to be lucky.

Kumbhalgad Fort

Kumbhalgad
Situated around 82 kms from Udaipur, this is the birthplace of Maharana Pratap. Kumbhalgad is a beautiful fort whose boundaries extend to up to 36 kms. From the top of the fort, you can view the boundary on all sides far into the distance.

Built by Rana Kumbha, Prince Udai, the founder of the city of Udaipur was smuggled here for safety when Chittorgarh was under siege. There is an interesting tale about Prince Udai. His Dai Ma, his caretaker sacrificed her own son for Prince Udai. When Chittorgarh was under siege, she hid Prince Udai. She laid her own son on the bed that Udai was sleeping on. When soldiers came in to kill Prince Udai, she pointed to her son who was sleeping as Prince Udai. Her son was killed by the enemy soldiers and she smuggled Prince Udai to safety to Kumbhalgad.
Ranakpur temple

Kumbhalgad is a massive structure and definitely worth a dekko. We were in a hurry to reach Jodhpur and could spare only half an hour here. But to reach the top of the fort and to see everything, it would take at least two hours.

Ranakpur

The next stop was at Ranakpur. Ranakpur is famous for its Jain marble temple which houses 1444 marble pillars. No two pillars are alike. All pillars are carved in minute details and are full of animals, humans, gods, goddesses, and imagery. The roof too is intricately carved and it is mesmerizing to look at the beauty of the temple.
Roof of the Ranakpur temple
It is also said that it is almost impossible to count all pillars. With each pillar carved differently, it would definitely take hours together to look and admire each of them.

What to See in Jodhpur?

In Jodhpur, you should certainly not miss the Mehrangarh fort. If you really are interested, you can visit the Jaswant-da-Thada. And you should also visit the Umaid Bhavan Palace. Also, do not miss the main market place, also known as the Clock Tower area. It is always fun to walk around in the market place and enjoy the local life. 

One of the pillars in the Ranakpur temple
I am going to create separate posts for the attractions of Jodhpur, because this would otherwise be a very, very long post.

Where to Stay?

We stayed at Kiran Vilas and Marvel Umed. 

Kiran Vilas is owned by a Col. Rathore and is a decent place. Col. Rathore has converted his old home into a hotel. They serve good food and the service is good as well. Col. Rathore is a man of around 60 years, complete with a typical military-like moustache. He likes to regale you of tales of how his other haveli is converted to a hotel too where only firangis stay. He has a benign attitude towards life itself, which perhaps comes from his yoga practice, for which he gets up daily at three in the morning. He'll also tell, if you are keen and patient enough to listen, of how he and his son are advocates and happy with what they are doing. He'll boast of all the places that he has visited and the various hotels that he has stayed in. As a gift (of listening to his banter,) he'll give you lots of almonds. But despite all that, the hotel was good and we had a comfortable stay.

Jodhpur and Umaid Bhavan seen from the Mehrangarh Fort
Marvel Umed was the best hotel in our entire trip. We had booked their super deluxe room and really liked the room. The room was equipped with a nice, warm bed with side tables on each side. A big wooden cupboard was provided to keep our belongings. A beautiful wooden writing table was also given which served a nice place to keep our things that were frequently required.

What we really liked was their service. The hotel is professionally managed and the staff goes out of their way to make sure that your stay is not just comfortable but also something to remember forever. Marvel Umed has their restaurant in an open space. It's private and relaxing. But the open space also makes it very cold. The staff was very helpful and made a separate "shekoti" for us. They prepared a small portable fire for us while we had our dinner. The food was very good and with the warmth of the fire, we really enjoyed it to the fullest.

The next day, we were supposed to leave early by 7.30. Their breakfast is served by 8 a.m. When we inquired if we could get our breakfast before that, they readily agreed to serving it before we checked out. Our breakfast was served to our room within 15 minutes of our informing them, and a complete breakfast it was: parathas, chai, toast, jam, bread, sugar. Hot and yummy. We really had a great stay at Marvel Umed and advise you to book it if you are planning to visit Jodhpur.

Where to Eat in Jodhpur?

The market place! Seriously! If you do not want to eat at your hotel, the central market place offers a great variety of eating options. At a small corner just before the Clock Tower, is a good samosa and chat center which was pretty decent. It is a road-side eatery joint. Have a samosa there or some chat.

But if you want to try Rajasthani thali or any such item, go to Priya Thali. This shop is right at the main corner of the market. It is a proper hotel, but interestingly, it is not housed in proper rooms. It's an extension of the footpath, and you can sit there and enjoy the market sounds, traffic, chaos around you. It is a welcome change and the price is also not too high. You'll see a lot of firangis too here. Priya Thali is indeed a good place to have your lunch or dinner.

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Secret Of The Nagas

This is the second book of the Shiva trilogy.

After reading the first book, I wanted to read this book for a very, very long time. After the first book, because I didn't want to finish off the second immediately making it a long, long wait for the third, I did not buy this book at all. I just kept postponing it. Finally, I succumbed to my indulgence and bought the book. Yet again, I kept myself away from it. I deliberately avoided taking it up for reading.

Finally, three days ago, I could no longer wait. I thought of starting off my New Year with a good book and I took it up with a great deal of anticipation of finding it very interesting and exciting.

It definitely is a great read. Most of the times, I could not stop reading and had to pull myself out of it to complete my household chores.

The book starts where the last one ends. Just like the earlier one, it is fast-paced, exciting, full of mysteries, a very unique mixture of mythology and fiction. New characters are introduced, new mysteries are revealed. Old characters grow and develop complete new personalities.

The Shiva, Neelkantha is again the great Lord that everyone worships and believes in. Most of the characters, including the aam jananta believes that he is the One who will deliver them from evil. He is shown as a man of great character, yet he has his flaws. He has his misgivings. He has his highs and lows. He is a warrior, so is he a doting husband, a responsible father. He is accepting and totally in love with his wife. He accepts his wife and her relations without a question, without caring of what their past deeds have been or without giving any undue attention to their physical abnormalities. He is truly great in that sense.

But he has his flaws. To quote a sentence from one of my favourite authors, "his temper is not to be vouched for." Sure enough, just as we know Shiva, the great God of destruction, just as we know of his temper to be truly the ultimate force of destruction, we see similar rage in Neelkanth. It's the first time he actually screams out aloud, getting out his anger in a vehement fashion, not the cool, calm way that we are used to. He really is human after all.

Shiva goes through so many revelations. Faced with the unknown, his discussions with the different Vasudevas are interesting and the discussion of what Evil really is the crux of the book. What was good before no longer is, what seemed to be always bad, may not really be bad. Nothing really is good or bad. Circumstances are. People behave in a good or bad manner. But each would have a reason for doing what they are doing or what they did.

Shiva has lost a great friend in Brihaspati, and that anger is still there in his heart. It is really this incident of losing someone like is brother that urges him ahead in his quest. Whether he is out to find the Good or the Evil, whether Evil is really Evil is what remains to be seen.

The book has it all. Romance, death, fights, battles, complex relationships, carefree moments, happy moments, religious moments, philosophical discussions, betrayals, trust, courage, failures, and all intermingled with good dialogues, and a fast-paced style of writing. The descriptions of the various battles, the minute scene-to-scene descriptions create the whole picture right in front of your eyes. You are transported to the war scene and can see it all from various angles.

Some characters are shown almost on the verge of death and brought back from the precipice, which really made me happy. I would have been sad to see them go.

Two completely different lifestyles are depicted. The Meluhans are strict and disciplinarians. The Swadweepans are carefree and relaxed. While the Meluhans go strictly by laws, the Swadweepans don't care much for laws, are lenient towards even criminals, and are happy to let each one live life on different terms. What's really required is an amalgamation of the two types of lifestyles. The book is leaning towards that. Extremes do not work. What works is a median attitude. A way of life that is beneficial to all.

The author has done his homework and used all characters in Hindu mythology or history to great advantage. Each character has his own philosophy, ideals, and behaves accordingly.

I probably liked the second book more than the first because everyone has grown in the book. New people are brought in. New secrets are revealed, a new way of life is seen. The book is definitely going towards the end of the story that comes in the third book called The Oath of the Vayuputras. I am eagerly waiting for the third one and I really hope Amish brings it out quickly.

A must read, I'll give this book a rating of 4.5 out of 5.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Udaipur - The Lake City

Arriving in Udaipur

Udaipur has good connectivity with other cities in Rajasthan by road and railway. You can also reach from Ahmedabad by road in around 4-5 hours.

We arrived in Udaipur at around noon and found the city to be welcoming and friendly. Truly speaking, in a new state, in a new city, with a different language, you are kind of lost. When we stepped down from the bus, we weren't sure where to go. A rickshaw driver offered us to take us to our hotel and we were apprehensive if he would take us where we wanted to go. But we could reach safely and our adventure started.

Where to Stay?

Our room in The Little Garden guest house in Udaipur
We stayed at a little guest house called The Little Garden. It is a small haveli owned by the descendants of the royal poetto the king of Udaipur, Mahadeo Rao Singh. Two rooms in the haveli are converted to first-class hotel rooms with all amenities. Because it is owned by the family, the setup is quite friendly and not commercialised. Mostly, foreigners have stayed there, and we were told that we were just the second Indian guests to stay there. We came upon it by chance and were extremely happy with the rooms and the service. They do not server lunch or dinner, because the rooms are really a bed-and-breakfast accommodations.

Apart from such small guest houses, there are innumerable hotels where you can find good accommodations.  They also usually have their own restaurants which are good enough.

If you are planning to go in the peak tourist season, it is better to book hotels well in advance.

What to See in Udaipur

There's so much to see in Udaipur. Do not attempt to cover everything in a day. You need at least two days to see the various attractions in Udaipur. Here are some of the things that you can see:
  • City Palace
  • Lake Palace
  • Jag Mandir
  • Jagdish Temple
  • Lake Pichola
  • Lake Fateh Sagar
  • Saheliyon-ki-Bari
  • Gulab Bagh and Zoo
  • Shilpgram
  • Bagore-ki-Haveli
  • Karni Mata Mandir and Ropeway
Out of all these, we covered only the Lake Pichola and City Palace. We were there only half a day and didn't get enough time to cover anything else.

History of Udaipur

Before I proceed to talk at length about the City Palace, it's better to know the history of Udaipur.

Udaipur was founded in 1559 by Maharana Udai Singh II as the capital of the Mewar kingdom. Udai Singh was the father of the famous Maharana Pratap. Maharana Pratap fought the Mughals and defeated them in the Battle of Haldighat. Maharana Udai Singh II built the City Palace and subsequent generations have added rooms and other structures to the palace.

Udaipur dynasty is one of the longest running dynasty in the country. The current king, Maharaja Arvind Singh Ji is 68 years old, and still stays in the newer wings of the palace.

City Palace, Udaipur

Udaipur Palace as seen from Lake Pichola
The Udaipur Palace was built by Maharana Udai Singh II in 1559 when he established the city of Udaipur as his capital. The palace is located on the banks of Lake Pichola. The palace has been built by 76 generations of the Sisodia dynasty over 300 hundred years. The palace has a facade of 244 meters in length and 30.4 meters in height. There are 11 separate small palaces in the complex. The architectural design is a rich amalgamation of different styles of architecture. The palace complex is built in granite and marble.

Windows of the palace
The interiors of the palace complex has balconies, towers, intricate mirror work, carved marble work, murals, paintings, and windows of coloured glass. The intricately carved windows with support from below present a beautiful picture to the eyes. The whole palace presents the grandeur and royalty in which all Maharanas and their families lived in.

The palace has gateways or big entrances called Pol. As you enter into the palace from the Bara Pol, you enter the courtyard. The courtyard has numerous shops and kiosks lined up owned by craftsmen, miniature painters, cloth dealers, and antiques. The huge courtyard was a place to alight from and climb elephants, and view elephant fights. From this courtyard, you can get a beautiful view of the city of Udaipur.

From the Ganesh Deodhi you can enter the main palace. Here again is a courtyard that leads you up to the rooms of the kings and queens. It's here that you can enter the palace museum which contains a showcase of armoury, Sheesh Mahal, and Rang Mahal along with other rooms and attractions. There is a nice courtyard called the Mor Chowk that has peacocks depicting three seasons made out of coloured glass and fitted into jharokhas.

The museum starts with the display of armoury, takes you through the different private rooms of the Maharanas, and then through the Zenana Mahal, the dwellings of the queens. It is an interesting walk through the past and definitely enjoyable.

I would also recommend taking the audio tour of the whole palace. It gives a lot of information about the architecture, history, and use of the different rooms of the palace. The audio tours are made with full sound effects and transport you back in time.

One of the hotels in Lake Pichola
The Lake Pichola houses two more palaces now converted into heritage hotels run by the Taj group and the HRH group. The HRH group is the His Royal Highness group that is owned by the Maharaja of Udaipur. The current king owns 13 such heritage hotels across Rajasthan.

From the lake, if you take a boat ride, you can see the breathtaking view of the palace along with the shore line. Because those are heritage hotels, the prices even in the restaurant are exorbitant and it's better not to buy any food items there.

Once you come back to the shore, do make a point to enjoy the beautiful sunset on the lake. I have experienced one of the most beautiful sunset there. You'll certainly enjoy it.

Sunset at Udaipur
The only thing that I was unhappy about the Udaipur palace is the money that they ask you to pay. A boat ride before 3 p.m. costs you Rs. 300 each person. After 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. (closing time,) it costs you Rs. 500 per person. The palace entrance is Rs. 25 per person, while you need to shell out Rs. 100 per person for the entrance to the museum. If you want to take pictures, you must pay Rs. 100 per camera. This is really too much considering how much the Udaipur Maharaja already earns through his 13 heritage hotels, and the exorbitantly priced in-house restaurants.

The timings of the palace are 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. The museum is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Do make sure of checking the timings before you go.

Despite the money that you shell out, the palace is extremely beautiful and enjoyable.

Vintage Car Collection, Garden Court Restaurant

Pebbles
I think this is again owned by the HRH group. The Udaipur Maharanas owned a fleet of old vintage cars. Although we saw the current Maharaja being driven in a Jaguar, the vintage cars they own are really beautiful and in working conditions. You can see different models of Rolls Royce, Cadillac, Mercedes Benz, and a cute car called Pebbles.

Again, the entrance fee to the car collection is Rs. 150 per head (no wonder!)

Around 15 cars can be seen in working conditions. The cars are attended by specialised mechanics who have a whole workshop set up there for each of the car. The cars are really beautiful if you are interested in vintage cars.

Other Attractions in Udaipur

Other than this, you can visit the Bagore-ki-Haveli that stages a dance show every evening at 7 p.m. You can also visit the Karni Mata Mandir using the ropeway. Other places that you can visit are the Jagadish Temple, other lakes, Shilpgram depending on how much time you have.

Bye, Udaipur!

Where to Eat?

If your hotel has a restaurant, you should go for that. Just outside the City Palace is a nice restaurant called Gateway where you get decent Punjabi and Continental food. There are other restaurants too that you can try, especially if you want to try out the Rajasthani Thali.

Saying Goodbye

So much to cover and so little time...that's what you might feel in Udaipur. It is really a beautiful city and I took a liking to it. But our Rajasthan tour had just started and we were ready to head to our next destination of Jodhpur.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

General Information About Rajasthan

The Land of Kings

Rajasthan is a beautiful state in the northwest of India. It is the largest state in India and covers 10.4% of area of India. Jaipur is the capital of Rajasthan and is the largest city in the state.

Rajasthan literally means the "land of kings." It was formed on 30-March-1949. Rajasthan enjoys a long history going back to the Indus Valley civilisation. The Rajputs, Rajpurohits, Charans' Jats, Meenas, Bhils, Gurjars, and Bishnois, and other tribes contributed in building the state of Rajasthan. All these tribes have taken great efforts to protect their land and culture.

Geography of Rajasthan

The Aravalli Range runs from southwest to northeast for almost 850 kms. The northwestern Rajasthan is sandy and dry and most part of it is covered by the Thar Desert. The Thar Desert is thinly populated.

Rajasthan is surrounded by Pakistan on the west, Gujarat on the southwest, Madhya Pradesh to the southeast, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana to the northeast, and Punjab on the north.

Rajasthan has only one hill station, Mount Abu, that lies in the southwestern range end of the Aravalli range. The southwestern region is the wettest in Rajasthan and has dense forestation.

Rajasthan has various regions such as the Kathiabar-Gir region in east and southeast, Vagad region in south Rajasthan, Mewar just above the Vagad region. Mewar boasts of the famous cities of Udaipur and Chittorgarh. On the southeast lies the Hadoti region. North of Hadoti and Mewar is the Dhundhar region that has Jaipur. Mewat is the easternmost region of Rajasthan.

Climate in Rajasthan

Rajasthan has a wide range of climatic variations with extremes of hot and cold in the desert areas, and relatively moderate climate in the hilly areas of the south. In peak summer in May, June and July, on an average day temperatures can reach a high of 44° - 46° C (111-114° F). The evenings are cooler and there is a palpable drop in night temperatures. Similarly, the winter temperatures can go lower than 0° C. 

Best Time to Visit Rajasthan

The best time is the winter season in India, between October to February. This is the time when the sun is mild enough even in the desert for you to enjoy the harsh, arid landscapes. Even during the day, you can feel the chill, and may make you wear light warm clothes. Nights are pretty cold with a biting nip in the air. You should pack good warm clothes for the night.

What to Eat?

Good hotels on national and state highways provide Punjabi food, and Gujarati and Rajasthani thalis. The thalis usually consist of numerous vegetable preparations (sabjis) and lentil curries, along with a sweet, rotis, and rice. If you do not want the whole thali, you can also choose from Rajasthani vegetable preparations, and rotis. Both vegetarian and non-vegetarian food is available. Mostly, chicken and eggs are preferred to any other non-vegetarian items.

What to See?

There are so many places in Rajasthan: Jaipur, Jodhpur, Udaipur, Jaisalmer, Bikaner, Ajmer, Ranakpur, Kumbhalgad, Mount Abu, Bharatpur, Ranthambore, Pushkar, Chittorgarh. You can research about these and choose your own places.

Get Going

For more information, you can just google for Rajasthan and you'll get plenty of information. So, what are you waiting for, get set, and start planning your next trip to Rajasthan, the Land of Kings.

Places That We Saw In Rajasthan

Destinations in Rajasthan

One of the first few things, apart from the number of days of leave that you can get from work, that you need to finalise is the places that you want to visit in Rajasthan.

You can choose from the following places in Rajasthan.

Jaipur, Jodhpur, Udaipur, Jaisalmer, Bikaner, Ajmer, Ranakpur, Kumbhalgad, Mount Abu, Bharatpur, Ranthambore, Pushkar, Chittorgarh

And there are many more that I have not listed here.

Depending on the days that you have in hand, you can select the places. One thing that you must keep in mind is the distances between two places. Rajasthan is a huge state. Really big. The distances between two cities worth seeing is most of the times not less than 250 kms. That means around 5-6 hours of travelling. So plan your trip accordingly.

Our itinerary

After a lot of deliberation, we decided on the following places:

  • Udaipur
  • Jodhpur
  • Jaisalmer
  • Jaipur


You can see the route that we took in the adjoining map. The distance from Jaisalmer to Jaipur directly was long and we opted to go back to Jodhpur from Jaisalmer, stay there for a night and then from there we moved to Jaipur.

The roads are good in Rajasthan, at least the roads that we travelled. There's not much traffic too and you can travel fast. But as I said before, the distances between all these cities was more than 250 kms each and that can be quite tiring.

Nevertheless, a good itinerary is what you need for sightseeing in Rajasthan.

Ideal itinerary

I would recommend at least 7 days in Rajasthan for just the three cities of Udaipur, Jodhpur, and Jaipur. An ideal itinerary would look like this:

Day 1: Arrive in Udaipur, sightseeing. Stay in Udaipur.
Day 2: Sightseeing in Udaipur. Stay in Udaipur.
Day 3: Start early morning to Jodhpur. Sightseeing in Jodhpur in the second half of the day. Stay in Jodhpur.
Day 4: Sighseeing in Jodhpur. Stay in Jodhpur.
Day 5: Start early morning to Jaipur. Sightseeing in Jaipur in the second half of the day. Stay in Jaipur.
Day 6: Sightseeing in Jaipur. Stay in Jaipur.
Day 7: Sightseeing in Jaipur. Stay in Jaipur.
Day 8: Back to your home.

If you want to add another destination, you should add 2 days so that you are not just travelling and find time for relaxing too.

On the way to Jodhpur from Udaipur, you can stop over at Kumbhalgad and Ranakpur.

You can get detailed information about all the places that can be visited in these three cities in separate posts.

So, go ahead and plan your trip to royal Rajasthan.

Royal Rajasthan

I am back from a week long holiday in Rajasthan and boy! What a time we've had! We've travelled a lot and  visited four cities in Rajasthan. There were so many new things, different people, different landscape, different weather, different surroundings, and so much to see and learn and enjoy!

I am going to attempt capturing all that we experienced in our trips in my blog posts here. The aim is to help other tourists to plan their Rajasthan trips. And of course, I want to pen down all my thoughts as I travelled in unknown lands. I also want to note my experiences, my understanding, and the rich culture and history of Rajasthan.

Do wait for my next posts. Till then wishing you all a very Happy New Year! Have a safe, joyous year ahead!