Tuesday, 8 December 2015

My First Solo Trip to the Magic Mountains of Dharamshala! | Ayesha Majid

Unlike most of my trips this one was a bit...unplanned....

The original plan was to take a 3 day Vipassana course, head to the mountains with a friend, catch up with another friend, have a typical touristy trip, never ever leave my comfort zone, inhale the fresh air, click enough photographs that would cover my FB profile pics for a year (I did that anyways) and come back.

But things didn't really turn out to be that way....which is always the case with me. The friend who ACTUALLY planned the trip had to cancel...well that was fine you know, I was going to meet up with another friend and trip anyways. But as luck had it the other friend couldn't make it either...and I was told about this minutes before my train stopped at PATHANKOT.

You heard it right! That was the moment I knew I was going to be completely on my own. I was terrified. There was ABSOLUTELY no one I knew in Dharamshala. No clue where I was going to stay... How safe would the hotels be?...How was I going to make it...?

 So what made everything right? How did I survive 10 days of solitude in the magnificent Himalayan Range and came back without a scratch?

Well you have to read ahead to find out....

Home Outside of Home

I was standing at Borivali station at 8 am, my train - Swaraj Express was to reach platform No.5 at 8:30 am. It was a one and a half day trip and just the thought of it gave me shivers.
More than being alone at an unknown place I was afraid of the 28 hour train journey.

What if there was a creepy dude sitting right across me? What if someone flicked my stuff while I was passed out?  Dreadful thoughts kept polluting my mind, but at this point there was no turning back.

As I boarded the train my fears were wiped away within seconds...

[L-R: Saurav (Bride's Mun bola bhai and a total entertainer, Anu (the bride),
Mrs. Agarwal (Bride's Mom), Masi, Elder Cousin, Jiju, Ashish, Mr. Agarwal
and yes the hanging body on top is Sheetal]

 As I began looking for my seat I dragged my trolley bag over every passenger's feet (Yah I was dumb enough to carry a trolley bag to the mountains. Well in my defense I did not have a big enough back pack for all those wintery clothes) and pushed my way through the 2 tier AC coach only to find out that my seat was right in middle of an amazing Punjabi family who was heading for their daughter's wedding to Jammu.

Yup!! There were people over flowing with joy and excitement, and amongst their loving energies I found a safe spot for myself.

 With end less games of UNO and some crazy singing sessions I felt completely at home. Oh and the food! This was the first time in my life I ate Dhoklas from Surat and Aloo Ka parathaas from Jalandhar all in one train journey! I must have put on 2 kgs in the train itself!
As if their comforting voices and warm smiles weren't enough, I later discovered that the gorgeous bride-to-be knew me from college and that the entire family lived 5 minutes from my house in Bombay!

That's when I knew all I had to do was enjoy myself and rest would be taken care off....well at least till I reached Pathankot!

One and a half day went away in a blink of an eye, but the I can still taste the delicious food that was fed to me with so much love. I had found home outside of home and that too within an hour of leaving my beloved city.

The Avatar Effect

1 pm, 24th Nov my train stopped in Pathankot. I put on a brave face said bye to my one and a half day old family and got off. I was so scared I could have caught the next train to Mumbai and gone back home.

Right before I was about to get down Mr.Agarwal introduced us to a Table Tennis Champion who was sitting a few berth's away. A cute 12 year old with curly hair smiled and sat next to us, chomping on the yummy aloo ka parathans which had just come from Jalandar (courtesy of the Agarwal family).

She was heading to Dharamshala for a Table Tennis Tournament where she bagged a silver medal. How do I know?

On the way from Pathankot-Dharamshala 

As I walked out of the station I spotted her bouncy locks. I asked if I could tag along till Dharamshala. The entire Maharashtra TT team was present, eyeing me with suspicion. She looked at her dad (who by the way had the exact kind of curls). He looked at me and in his Bengali accent asked "Tum Akela Aaya hain?" I said yes. "Theek Hain chalo hamara saath." A wave of relief flowed through my body.

If you have watched Avatar you must have noticed how the humans connect the end of their tail to the huge tree at the end, the tree that symbolizes the universe. That is how I felt. Like I was so connected with the universe that what ever I thought of came to life. At every step there was someone waiting

Pathankot to Dharamshala

Google says that the bus ride from Pathankot to Dharamshala is 2 hrs 22mins, but don't believe that. It takes atleast 3 to 3 and a half hours to reach.

Well for one the roads are quite narrow and then there is the cattle. Herds of Goats and Sheep are being taken around for grazing, this often causes traffic, but that's just fascinates  the Goras!

We boarded the bus at 2 pm from Pathankot and reached Dharamshala by 5:30. Yup that's a long ride but totally worth it.
Snow Peaked Mountain 

I first glimpsed the snow clad mountains from the bus, The excitement was unbearable. Thankfully Swastika (the TT champ) shared the excitement!

By the time our bus stopped in Dharamshala it was pitch dark and also quite scary at that our. And I was alone again.

With no concrete plan in mind, I decided to ask around. The locals suggested Mclead Ganj was better than and thats where I decided to head.

A 30 min bus ride from Dharamshala to Mcleod was all it took for me to feel alive again. The mountains were laced with tiny diamonds. Small houses were situated all over the Himalayan range, replicating the starry night sky.

After a nervous 30 mins I finally reached Mcleod Ganj! Oh What sight! Unlike Dharamshal (which by the way freaked me out a little ) McLeod was fabulous. The amazing streets and beautiful houses sent a wave of relief down my almost frozen toes.

I walked down the lively lane full of fascinating shops, delicious Momo stalls and a large number of tourists.

A number of Hotel guys followed me around I obviously picked the cheapest one. At Rs.400 I had a TV, an amazing balcony with a magnificent view, hot water and I could call for warm water how many ever times I wanted.

Where to go? What to see?

The first legendary landmark I visited was The Dalai Lama Temple. The Dalai Lives there! It was a Monestary!  It was a 15 min walk from my hotel room! Oh Ya! I almost forgot, you know when I thought there was no one I knew in Dharamshala, turns out I knew a guy who knew a guy who could help me out with stuff!
The Main Temple

And it so happened that this guy Manish was a Himachali and a Super sweetheart. He offered to
show me around. Since it was my first time alone I did not hesitate to take the offer. . But before that we took a quick tour of the residence of the global spiritual leader. HImachalis are amazing hosts, they treat their guests really well and also make sure they are safe,

The Tibetian Architecture immediately captures your attention. As you keep walking through the streets of Mcleod, you will witness Monks strolling in their maroon overalls. I am thinking that is what Tibet feels like.

Dalai Lama's Personal Quater

Security at the temple was quite high. I still can't over the fact that the Dalai Lama feels protected in India!! We make the world's spiritual leader feel safe.

As I strolled through the temple I was lucky enough to witness the Monks debating while their teachers assessed their performance.

Monks Debating 

The Himalayan Water Fall - Galu

Once I had explored every little corner of the temple. I was ready to head to the one of the highest points of Dharmashala - Galu. And a superb bike ride to this place is all that you need to feel beauty in your veins.

View from Eagle Crest (Eagle Crest), Galu - Dharmashala.
Just the mesmerizing winding with oak trees welcoming and acknowledging my presence were enough to make me fall in love with the place. And when I reached there I was dazzled by the beauty.

I checked into a beautiful guesthouse named Eagle's Crest. The rooms were enormous, clean and the bathrooms, let's just say you won't really miss home. There was hot water and a superb caretaker named 'Bagga'. He was my super hero. Whatever I needed was there. Be it hot water, yummy food, clean sheets or just some friendly banter. He told me about the bears and the Snow Leopards that wander the mountains. Apparently bear's don't really attack women.Weird but the locals said it was true!

After settling in I was too excited to miss a single moment in the mountains. I immediately asked
The Blue waters of the Himalayan Waterfall
around about the beautiful places I could visit and zeroed down on the Himalayan Waterfall. It was an hour-long trek from the hotel. It was quite a tricky trek and you ca
 go there by car or bike. You have to trek it up. 

After breathing like an hold woman and groaning all through the trek I finally saw one of the most serene waterfalls ever. Since it was an offbeat place there was no one around. I lay on the rock, closed my eyes and enjoyed the sound of the water gushing by. Sun on my eyes and the cool stone made me lose myself in the comforting arms of the magnificent mountains!

Also the trek had tired me out so I had to take a 30 min nap!

Hot Water Spring  - Tatwani

The next extraordinary spot I visited was the hot water spring 52 kms from Galu. To tell you the truth I expected something amidst the mountains, with hot steam coming out of the pool.
But since this is India and everything miraculous is a gift of God this place was converted into a temple. And it was how do I say a wee bit dirty. I was reluctant to get into the natural Jacuzzi, but I had ridden 52 kms on a bike, there was no way I would go without taking a dip. After slurping up some hot noodles I decided to do it. Fortunately by this time there were two more girls in the pool. Also the girls and the guys get to soak in different Jacuzzis. The guys have the hot water spring and ladies so that there is some privacy are sent to the other side, where the water flows in from a small hole. A wee bit unfair you might think, but its so that women can soak themselves in peace without men ogling at them. 
Hot-Water Spring at Tatwani

The girls from a local village told me to have faith and slide in and so I did. And man that was the best decision I ever made. The water was just warm enough to relax my muscles. Even the geysers at home don't have such a controlled temperature. I took complete advantage of the hot water tub, letting the hot shower fall on my back and calm my soul. Once I was done I quickly got out changed into some dry clothes and headed out.

And that is where I saw the baby from Ice Age 1. There she was running around with her cousins. She came up to me and said something in Tibetian. I didnt get a word so I picked her up and began showering her with kisses. Just when I asked
someone to click a picture of us the other munchkins came running to me and clung on to my leg. Oh! what a feeling that was! A warm bath and beautiful warm hugs! My day was complete. I put on my jacket (trying to preserve the warmth till I reached Galu), sat on the bike and headed back to base camp.

The same morning right before I was leaving for the hot water spring, I met Nolan from Modern Family! He was as shocked to see me as I was to see him. I looked at him and ran like a psycho person.

Me: "Oh My God! Oh My God! You are ...you are that person from Modern Family.

Nolan: HI! I am Nolan! Nice to meet you ...

Me: Ayesha! And your name is (Yes I was dumb enough to say that) I just watched your latest episodes before I came here. Oh mY God! I dont remember what I said after that, but I dont really think it made sense.

Nolan and Me

He just smiled after that. First time ever in my life I was STAR STRUCK!! He had come down to Dharmashala to shoot a documentary on that place. Also he didn't believe I lived in India. That was one crazy start to my day!

The night that followed was one I shall remember for the rest of my life. The temperature had dropped and the moon was covered with dark clouds. No stars shone that night. I ate my dinner and retired to my room. Only to wake up at 4 am with crazy thunderstorm that made my doors and windows rattle. It felt like air bombs were being thrown on my hotel roof and all I could do was hide deeper into the warm igloo I had created out my mountains. The previous afternoon looked something like this

But the next morning I woke up to the most mesmerizing sight I had ever witnessed in my entire life.

The mountains peaks were snow white which meant I couldn't trek to Triund that day! Not that I really cared. Instead of the trek uphill I decided to move to a much warmer place called Dharamkot.

Bhagsunag Waterfall - Bhagsunag

After settling in I took off to another adventure to the amazing falls of Bhagsunag. It is a 20-25 minute trek downhill from Dharamkot. And having spent so much time with the locals I had learnt to find my way through the forest! 

It is a 700 mt. climb up hill but the sight is totally worth it! And you will not believe whoI bumped into on the TOP of the waterfall. It was the TT champion who had just bagged a silver and had come sightseeing with her family. What are the odds of bumping into her 3 days later at the peak of a fall.

On reaching the top I saw a few people going even higher. I was like there is no way I am going up there. I have seen the waterfall now I am going back and heading to Shiva Cafe. 

And then I read a sign that said Shiva Cafe and the arrow pointed to the exact place where I thought I wouldnt climb. 

As I got closer to the cafe I could hear trance revebrating in the mountains! I couldnt wait to get there. Right next to the waterfall there was this superbly built cafe that served Hookah and gave a total hippie feel! I was in paradise! This place hidden so well in the mountains was something I wouldnt have missed for the world.
Shiva Cafe - Bhagsunag

Market in McLeodganj

My trip ended with a long day of shopping from Mcleod Ganj. You get everything in these amazinf streets. Jewellery, clothes, paintings, bags, statues, you name it! There are also a number of Cafe's where you can enjoy a soothing sunset while sipping on some nice rum! This picture marked the end of my crazy, life changing journey! I emerged stronger and calmer! 


Everyone told me it would be freezing out there. Well in Dharamshala it wasn't really cold, you could easily hang out in a light overcoat. As I climbed higher the temperature kept decreasing and the amount of clothes I had to wear became inversely proportionate.

Dharamshala was the warmest with 25 degrees (I didn't think so before I reached Galu)

Dharamkot - This was warmer with 22-17 degrees

Galu - When I reached there on the 24th it was around 15 degrees and as the days passed by the temperature went to 5 degrees

Where to stay?

Dharamshala you can just get out of the bus stand and look for a place. It was a bit expensive, but you will manage to get a place for 600 per night. That's the minimum in November.

Mcleod Ganj - This place has  a lot of options. You can  get a room for Rs. 300. I stayed at the Lord Krishna Hotel for Rs. 400 a night (I still think I over paid. 300 was more than enough). You can also find a dorm in Mcleod where you can stay at Rs.250 per night.

Dharmakot - There is a secluded guesthouse with a beautiful view called Paul's House. I paid Rs.400 per night. Only to later discover that there was a homestay right next it at Rs.100 per night.

Galu - 10 kms away from Triund (Highest point of Dharmashala). Stayed at Eagle's Crest at Rs.300 per night.

P.S - These rates were only available because it was off-season or else the price per room goes upto 1500.

Some Handy Tips

- Don't wander around after dark unless you are in a bright well lit place like McLeod Ganj or        Dharmakot.
- Always carry your pepper spray
- The himachalis are amazing, it is the Delhi, PUnjab tourists that may pass some comments or stare.    DO NOT I repeat DO NOT react to anything they say. Keep your safety above your ego.
- Carry a flashlight and Pepperspray at all times
- Keep your phone charged
- Pack atleast 2 jackets and a blanket
- If your hotel doesnt have a restraunt pack some food, since you cant get out in the night and you might feel hungry in the middle of the night.
- Be vigilant.
- Don't get over friendly with the locals
- Keep someone from home informed about your whereabouts
And Ya Have a BLAST!!!

How I reached Dharmashala

Mumbai-Pathankot - 28 hour long train journey
Pathankot-Dharamshala - 4 hour long bus ride
Dharmashala - Mcleod Ganj - 30 min bus ride
Mcleod Ganj-Galu - 20 min taxi ride

So if you are planning to take a trip by yourself dont hesitate for a second! If I cna take unplanned trip I am sure you can plan one and experience the mountains for yourself!

There is liberation and strength that comes with travelling solo! So dont just sit there and PLAN go ahead and make that super solo trip happen!

Friday, 13 February 2015

Travel Tales - Gokarna

May Life do to you,what Gokarna did to me.

How it all began...

Well it all began, like all trips with friends do. Unrealistic expectations, to travel places without luxuries. Only this one came true and how..... It took us every ounce of motivation to plan this vacation. And as expected nobody made it easy for us. For starters we both had bosses, who were either so loaded with work or had absolutely nothing to do. In either case they made it very clear that bunking 5 Working Days was absolutely out of the question. And then came that delightful Diwali Weekend, that was our window. Since neither of us had to celebrate it at home, Gokarna seemed like the best option. It certainly was.

The bosses were still an easy hurdle to jump, it was the moms, boyfriend,brother, friends, who were a bit of a prick in the butt. You see we are perceived as reckless, absent minded, bimbos in their early 20's who have lost their minds and want to travel India ALONE, (yes, Indians are not exposed to the whole idea of travelling by yourself)

To describe it in words is as hard as talking and laughing at the same time..its tough! But what I can assure you is that, it was what made me believe in the signs of the universe. They without a doubt, a 100% exist. These signs....I learnt of them when I read 'The Alchemist' by Paulo Cohelo, it always made me wonder, but the more faith I had in them the more they started to appear, just like how look at the sky at night, and all you can see is that one brightly burning star and as you keep looking, slowly,slowly clusters of glitter start appearing before your eyes.

Every minute of that trip from the time we stepped on to the metro to the time we came back was pure MAGIC. 

What we EXPECTED and what REALLY happened

Our first hotel room was , a midst  the mountains and right next to the sea. Sounds of splashing waves woke us up each morning. The Cafe's were a kilometer downhill, and the path was that of a dried up stream.
Although there were a few tourists on Kudlee beach, we somehow felt we weren't at the right place! And so we decided to explore. Overwhelmed by the fact that we made it to Gokarna, without a scratch on our body, we saw 3 beaches (out of 5) in one day. And the best part was, we could only do it by boat.

When we came to Gokarna, we didn't know what to expect, accept for scenic  beauty. Still carrying the Bombay chaos within us, we were desperately trying to look for a Mainstream Goa Party (which till date I am glad we did not find). 

And thus began, the fruitful quest of silencing our minds. Our first destination in Bliss World was OM BEACH and that is where the real magic started to settle on our tired souls.

Our first friend on Om beach was a British guy named Jamie, everyone called him Crazy Jamie. He had those crazy eyes, also nobody could really understand the motives of his conversations, but everyone loved him. See that's the best part about vacations, neither do you have the heart nor the energy to dislike someone. 
So crazy Jamie, was the key that opened the door into Bliss world.
This place consisted of hammocks, tourists (Israelis, Germans, British, Americans, French) with sun kissed skins and marble colored eyes, music and good vibes (not initially, since we were brown girls in bikinis, who spoke a lot, they were a little skeptical about talking to us, but once they got to know us, we were inseparable)

All of them had been travelling in India for the past 4-6 months, and none of them had a single bad thing to say about it, except for how we bob our heads side ways and they in million years will not know what we mean. (Unlike, the lame, wannabe NRIs, who keep yapping about how India should progress, without once taking the trouble to explore it).

This was something I had definitely not expected to find. Although we were aware that the place was full of tourists (one of the reasons we chose it), we didn't expect them to be in such deep love with India. When I saw our country through their eyes, all I could see was beautiful mountains, back waters of Kerala, Parvati Valley, helpful people, spicy food, sun, Vipassana, spirituality, love and the list goes on.

All Our wishes came true....LITERALLY...

On the second night at OM beach, Carol realized she wanted to go Cliff Diving, in the middle of NoWhere. There were no tour guides, or Adventure Camps or even a medical store for that matter. A few hours after I told her how ridiculous her idea sounded , we met Osian and Pasha.

These guys happened to stay at the same shack as ours, and offered us to go cliff diving. Yes, the very next morning. It felt like everything and anything can be yours, only if you wish it with a pure heart.

So next morning, I woke up at 8 a.m.,( had'nt woken up once at 8 a.m. for a 10 a.m. job), went for a swim, chatted with Rob (a 60 year old American, who sat at the same spot at our shack everyday and who had a tattoo of a Japanese writer on his right arm) and finally woke Carol up.

We ate a heavy breakfast and set out on our Cliff-Diving adventure. I just love saying the word adventure or rather typing it. It was a 20 minute trail uphill. The boys who were also a bit like Phineas and Ferb, knew the way like the back of their hands and walked the entire way BARE-FOOT, I couldn't walk it with my shoes on.
So after exhausting our legs and burning our skin we finally reached the cliff and believe me you, it was worth it!

And this is how it looked.

As much of sea lover, I am, this height scared the living shit out of me. But for Carol things were the opposite, she fearlessly, ran and jumped right away.(She did fall flat on her stomach, reddening it later). Which also gave me a little courage to shut my eyes and give in.

I don't think I have ever felt as free, as I felt diving into the water. Never has adrenaline calmed me so much.

Everyone in their lives should ONCE, jump into the deep blue sea.

We jumped till we had just enough energy to get back to the shack (Yes, we did it more than once. and each time was more liberating than the last.)

And the cherry on top were the jumping dolphins. YES, You could see them right from the top of the cliff and to think we were swimming just a few meters away from these beautiful creatures.

After a long, eventful day of trekking and cliff diving, we needed to relax a little and that's when we found our masseuse, again on a freaking beach, with no way to travel but by boat. It was a rainy day, so we spent the morning taking a nice massage, the afternoon getting wasted and the evening going to the city and watching a football match and coming all the way back at 1 am drenched from head to foot. When I say 1 am in Gokarna, its dark, its I-Think-I-Am-Blind Dark.

Gokarna city is two beaches and a 20 min rickshaw ride away from Om Beach. Going was the easy part, coming back was crazy. While going there was a stream we passed on the beach and since it was daylight it didn't matter much, but while coming back, we completely forgot about the stream, it was pitch dark and pouring. You might have guessed what happened to us.

Another adventure of mine was night swimming. I had never swam in the night before. And just like cliff-diving it was frightening as hell. After slowly easing into the water, feeling the current and diving under the waves. I realized it was exactly like swimming except for the fairy dust, which were the plankton. The sea was filled with these glowing fish and you could see them from a distant, sparkling in the black sea, replicating the night sky.

But  without a doubt my top favorite wish was when I met Yarden. To meet a person 700 km from home who is a few days away from his first Vipassana course is something that makes me believe in the universe and most of all in me.

Let me tell you a little about Yarden. He is an Israieli, which means he had to spend  3 years of his life in the army. And not just any part of the army, Yarden was in the special forces which is one of the most deadliest and ruthless units of the army. He has seen more violence than most people I know. He knew that the only thing you need in life is happiness. He had turned vegetarian and had given up intoxicants one month before his 10-Day Course (a detoxification process one must ideally follow). Talking to someone who knows more about Gandhi and Gautama Buddha more than you do is a treat. 
What this also made me realize is how lucky we are to be born in the place of so many cultures, languages and spiritual beliefs. People spend their entire lives seeking for what is present right here in the spiritually enlightened country called India.

Ingredients for a Perfect Trip

A person who you are comfortable with, who gives you space and with whom you can share serene silence. That person can also be you. A mind which seeks nothing but peace, and is ready to accept and move on if things don't go according to plan And Positive Vibrations

Gokarna Travelogue 

Gokarna is made up of 5 beaches, Kudlee, Gokarna, Om, Paradise and Half-Moon.
Gokarna beach is like Juhu beach, very commercial.
Om Beach is like Baga, enough number people to interact with and enough space to do your own thing, It has an internet cafe, a masseuse, and amazing cafes named, Sangam, Moksha, Nirvana, and so on. Sangam and Nirvana have the best food and rooms.
Kudlee is a little like Om, but with lesser people and clearer water.
Paradise and Half-Moon have no shacks and you can either trek your way there or go by boat.


You can either book a :
Train - Matsyagandha express (Makes you reach Gokarna in 14-16 hrs) Rs. 1,200-1,400
Bus - That will either take directly Gokarna(15 Kms away from Om Beach)  or to Ankola (15 kms away from Gokarna)
Car - 724 kms and 11 hrs away


Shacks are available on Om Beach and Kudlee Beach. A room with bathroom will cost you Rs. 500 and a one without a bathroom will be Rs. 300. These rooms are not very luxurious but give you the basic amenities, which all you need. And the best part is you can watch dolphins dive right from your shack. 

Although if you do feel you need better rooms you can visit Namaste Farmhouse, Gokarna. or Hotel Gokarna International.
The only drawback of these resorts are that they are away from the beach, but if you are more into temples and luxuries, this is the best place for you to stay.

Best Time to Go


What to do

Well for starters you can tire yourself by swimming in the magnificent sea.
Trek to Paradise and half-moon beach
Have a look at the temples
Shop in Gokarna City
Take a boat ride to see the dolphins
If you are living on the beach, all you have to do is ask the locals when the dolphins come out and watch the dance and play in the sea.

Kindly do not try cliff-diving by yourself.  We were fortunate to find some people who had already tested the waters and only then we jumped in.

So make a wish and set out to the secret paradise of India.

Monday, 9 February 2015

How women in India should be raised.

The reason I say raise your GIRLS right, is because women can have the most influence on people who are close to them. They are persistent, nurturing and influential and have natural maternal instincts.They can obviously sense and understand a child's need better than a man.
Hence the saying, A hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.

Indian women since birth are instilled with a mindset which does not go beyond,  -Having Kids, Cooking, Raising a Family, Not going against the wishes of her family before marriage, Not going against the wishes of her husband after marriage, Working if the family needs money, Not working if the husbands family doesn't want her too, and the list goes on.

 There is nothing wrong with expecting your daughter to become a beautiful bride and raising an incredible family.What is wrong though, is to constantly inject into her sub-conscious, that this is what she is eventually going to be and it is pointless to work towards what she really wants. This might be what she eventually wants to do, but it should be HER decision. And it can only be her decision if she is raised right.

There are obviously girls, who are Doctors, Engineers, Architects, but this again is NOT always their choice'. Unfortunately, Indian parents think happiness only lies in choosing a profession that the society perceives as PRESTIGIOUS.

Teach Them HOW to think not WHAT to think.

Meddling with the child's decision starts from kindergarten. Telling them whom to play with and whom to not, without giving them a reason is sheer stupidity. Children should be taught what qualities they like in a person. I have been friends with people  whose parents are constantly meddling with their lives. Calling them 20 times a day, asking them to not interact with this one or do interact with that one. How will your child learn if you don't let them think for themselves?

I was one of the 'Bad Kids' and most of the parents would ask their daughters to not talk to me. And you know what the irony is, these girls today are either having illegitimate children or are have fallen into the deep, dark abyss of drug addiction. Yes, these same girls whose parents, ASSUMED I was 'Bad Company', just because I wasn't afraid to give my opinion.

Hence, I say teach your girls how to extract good traits from others.

Marriage is a Choice

 Indian women should be made understand that marriage is NOT the most important thing in a woman's life. She is not born solely to make babies and cook food for her husband. She is an epitome of strength, she has the power to create life inside her body and that is just what Mother nature has blessed her with. When she starts to explore her talents, her capability, her intelligence is when she will realize her true potential.

She should be constantly reminded that she is strength and beauty combined and has the power to be or do whatever it is she wants and she should only get married when she is ready or when she finds a man she is deeply in love with. Forcing someone to spend the rest of their lives, with a person they have known for a month or for a week, is highly irrational.

Parents should set better Ideals for their girls

Maximum Indians girls are highly fascinated by either  Katrina/Kareena/Deepika/Priyanka, who either have climbed their way up in Bollywood by compromising or by being  members of the ancient BollyClans. The girls feel that these actresses are flawless, despite knowing the fact that they can hardly act, they are popular, pretty and get away with almost anything.
Which is fine, how they came up is none of OUR business, what pinches me though is that they are being idolized by the youth of India. What they have achieved is NOT as important as HOW they have achieved it. That is what the girls should be taught. When at the tender age of trying to understand what you want become in life, girls are exposed this, they will think it is okay and that is how things are done. Again, I am not saying ban your girls from watching Bollywood actresses. Instead, ask them to join some acting classes or give some auditions, to make them realize the reality of it.Teach them to do things the right way,

Idolize Mary Kom, Look upto Sania Nehwal, or our very own former president Mrs. Pratibha Patil 
And by idolize I don't mean WORSHIP.  Absorb the qualities of these women and try to understand how they reached where they are.

Stop saying 'Like a Girl'

I cant believe I had to watch this video Do things "Like A Girl" to stop saying 'Like A Girl'. I am a FREAKING girl. When you say this to a child who maybe crying or whining, you sub-consciously making  it a synonym of the word weak. Is that how you perceive yourself? I don't think so. We have never been corrected and have always considered the most natural thing to say.

Women are NOT objects

The minute you hear arrange marriage, you can visualize a girl  dolled up, offering tea to the family who has come to SEE her. And you know what the scary part is, we don't think there is anything wrong with it.
 As a child I watched my aunt get ready each time some 'Ladkewale' came to see her and each time they left, she awaited eagerly to hear from them and when she did it was always things like'The girl is too dark'', 'My son is too good for her'. Can you believe this, can you believe that her parents took it from people and asked her to become better. They let her go through the hell of being shown like a piece of cloth and be rejected. DO you know what this can do to her self-esteem. It can shatter it into pieces invisible to the naked eye. 
I only realized how wrong this was when I was 18 and the exact same thing  happened to my neighbor. For 18 years of my life I thought it was the way marriages are set universally, 

If only her mother would have been strong enough to stand against her father, society and proudly said, things would have been different. If only she would have proudly said, "My daughter can decide when and who she wants to marry" 

 It is so deeply rooted in our generations that we do not even realize its wrong

Raise your voice 

If you are being wronged raise your voice. It is only you who can stand up for yourself.  If you don't want to get married say it, don't go on doing courses after courses just to delay marriage. If you want your independence work for it. If you want your freedom, show them you can do it. Teach your girls how to be independent,

Beauty Lies on the Inside 

Girls need to constantly be reassured about themselves. Make them realize that beauty lies within. Work on their personalities, rather than their superficial outer beauty. You can do this by not saying stuff like, look at how you dress, who will marry you if you look like this.
 It doesn't matter how you look. There is no need to wear 3 pounds of makeup on your face to feel good about yourself. Teach them to do something productive. It can be anything from volunteering in a zoo to joining a public speaking class.

Replace pretty, slim, fair with intelligent, well-spoken, bold, charismatic.

And while you are raising them to be strong, independent, self-sufficient women, instill in them abundant love, kindness and acceptance.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

How To REMAIN Happy!

I am sure you must have read a lot of posts that say " How to Be Happy!", "10 Ways To Be Happy", "How to REMAIN Happy". And they must have given you tips like

1) Let go of Your past
2) Count to 10 when you feel angry
3) Exercise
4) Be Kind
5) Spend some Family Time
6) Love Yourself..... and more of such Introspective Tips.

But what they don't tell you is HOW to follow these tips. How to keep doing it or even START doing it for that matter. It is only natural, for humans to be motivated for a week, maybe a month and eventually lose it. (Except for a few 'Mutants' who  have unshakable will power). 

1) Accept that you want to be better
Just like all correctional therapies, the first step to remaining happy is also to find out what is it that you lack? What regressive qualities do you possess? It can be anything from procrastination, envy, fear, recklessness, being self-centered, or just plain laziness.

Evaluate yourself. Ask people what is it that you should change about yourself. Observe what you don't like in others and understand that there maybe something within you that might not be appealing to others .  Most people are highly aware of what is it that they lack, but are hesitant to accept it.
And trust me, the day you find out those things that maybe slight, put persistent flaws in your personalities, life will become a wee bit easier.

2) Vipassana - Cleanse Your Mind

This is the toughest and the most crucial step you need to take. Most people do not know what Vipassana is and those who do, think it is as an Ashram where 'you cannot talk for 10 days'. 
Well let me tell you one thing for sure, Not Talking is the easiest part.

When I went for my first 10-Day Course I was 20.  This is what most of my close ones imagined me doing.
Vipassana, Meditation, Happiness, Love, Mind, Soul

Fortunately, for me, it wasnt.

Vipassana, (in sanskrit pronounced as vi-pa-shya-na) is one of the most flawless techniques used to strengthen your mind. It trains your mind to unload emotions which are deep-rooted. When you break your Vow of Silence on the 10th Day, you will walk out with a clear mind and a content soul, provided you follow the rules.

You can give yourself infinite  reasons to not attend the course, but all you need is to get rid of  unnecessary excuses 
You need just 3 things to attend a 10-Day course. Will Power, Time and Effort.

The link below will take you to the schedule of the 10-Day Courses and take you one step closer to remaining happy in life.

3) Be.Here.Now.

This will be much easier and mechanical once you complete a 10-Day Vipassana Course What Vipassana does is, it cleans out your mind and makes it faster.( Think of it as a clean-up app for your phone or computer). Live in the present. Focus on the task at hand, even if its as simple as eating or bathing. Keep your mind and your body synchronized.

4) Karma always works. Always!

Give Good, Get Good. Karma is the one thing that Every Body,( except for religious fanatics) believes in. And it undoubtedly is true. Do as many good things as you want and fear doing bad things to others. Fear it as you might fear hell.

And when you do good, keep your mental volition crystal clear. Don't do it just because you are afraid it might come back to bite you in the ass, but also because it will make the life of another easier.

5) Exercise

When I say exercise, I dont mean go crazy and become a body builder. You should either workout at home , join a gym, do yoga or enroll for a dance class. DO anything that keeps your body moving atleast for an hour. 
This lets out built up energies, and enriches your mind on daily basis

6) Nothing is Permanent

Remind yourself, just like the seasons, nothing in your life is permanent. Everything is constantly changing. Your sadness is not going to last for long and neither is your happiness. Find a mid-path and stick to it. (This also is one of the things that become much easier once you do Vipassana)

7) Have an outlet

Either you have that one thing that always relieves stress or  keep trying out different things that work as an outlet. Avoid using Intoxication  as it does more harm than good. Instead of letting things out, it pushes it deeper into your mind and makes it all the more difficult to get rid off.  Also avoid materialistic therapies like shopping, spending. Do productive things. Maybe volunteer for an NGO, put up a stall in an event, anything that makes you happy.

My outlet is Bhartnatyam, a form of Indian classical dance I have been practicing, since I was 8. I also love to try out new things, meet new people, that is when I go to Blue Bulb

8) Love & Kindness

Love with all you have and be kind to those who cannot give you anything. Kindness is as effective as love. If you are well equipped with sacks full of L&K you are SORTED for life. Not only does it give you good karma but also purifies your soul in ways you cannot imagine.

And remeber, the only way to live life is in absolute happiness.