Wednesday, May 30, 2012

How I ‘flew’ and landed in Journalism


My entry into the field of Journalism two years ago was completely dramatic. Dumbledore would have said, “It is our choices Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” But well, in this particular case of mine, it was a matter of pure ‘chance’ supplemented with a very little ‘choice’ which I am going to talk about here. Exactly two years ago on this day, 30th May 2010, at 7 PM, I sat in the waiting hall of the Biju Patnaik Airport at Bhubaneswar waiting to take my maiden flight to Delhi.

My boarding pass- Yes, proof!
The train tickets had not been confirmed and at the last minute tatkal tickets in Duronto Express had been booked for me, my father and my grandmother. The train would be reaching Delhi early in the morning of 31st and I had my entrance exam scheduled at 10 AM that day. A little research later, my uncle called in to inform us that this particular Duronto had the habit of reaching its destination around 6 hours late every time. This implied that I was going to miss my entrance exam if I took the train. Extreme last minute changes resulted in my ticket being booked in IndiGo flight 6E-258 from Bhubaneswar to Delhi for 30th, so that I could appear for my exam next day.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Internet is Fun, isn't it?


When you have a smartphone and Vodafone provides you a wonderful internet surfing connection while you are on the go- in the metro while travelling to college or in the boring lectures at the back bench- anywhere and everywhere at all times, life can never be boring. Check out this short video and imagine how difficult life would be if you do not have this life-saver with you- the internet. (Watch it in full screen with your speakers on)


If the above video doesn't work, here is the direct YouTube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E4qwwiRl3-s 

Yeah, I know my exams are going on and most of you, my regular readers, would be wondering how I get the time to do all this stuff. Well, this idea had been running in my brain since almost two weeks but I had no idea how to implement it. I woke up last evening from an unexpected long nap and this sudden brainwave had me opening Adobe Premiere Pro and working on the recently gained knowledge of the software (thanks to my BJMC programme) for 6 straight hours before I had the idea-to-screen implemented. I hope I have been successful in it. You be the judge and decide!

And in case you were wondering why I have made this video all of a sudden, let me tell you. This is my entry to the ‘Internet is Fun’ Contest by Vodafone on IndiBlogger. Check the Vodafone site here: www.vodafone.in/fun


P.S.: I know I do not own a smart phone yet! I am happy with my unbreakable Spice QT55! :P
P.S.2: Congratulate me! This is my first ever 'video-blog'! :D

Monday, May 14, 2012

Going Places- Part 3


These are places which I have been to in the recent years, at a time when I actually remember things and not rely on wikitravel for writing the forgotten info. Take a look and now with the digital age adventing, some nice pictures as well deserve your attention.

The Deccan Odyssey
I have been to Maharashtra a few times after my aunt got married and moved to Aurangabad. The sole thing I knew about Aurangabad was that it housed the world famous Ajanta Caves. My knowledge ended here before I had visited the place. I haven’t been to the Taj Mahal yet but I have been to the lesser known duplicate Taj Mahal- Bibi-ka-Maqbara. Nirala Bazar, being close to where my aunt lives, is a market place which I have been to every single time that I have been in Aurangabad. Ajanta Caves are located at a little distance from Aurangabad (a little over 100 kms to be precise) and visiting the place was a great feeling. No, not for seeing the cave paintings, but for being at a historic site that I could now proclaim I had visited!

In October 2005, we had taken a road trip of many places across Maharashtra, similar to our Karnataka trip three years ago. Our trip had started from Aurangabad with the first halt at Shirdi. We halted for the night at Triambakeshwar, near Nashik and witnessed the overcrowded Sangam. Subsequent locations on our itinerary included Matheran (As my luck would have it, the toy train was closed due to landslide. I did walk on the track from the car point to Matheran and I stood stubborn at the baseless fact that it snowed here in the winters), Alibag (I was sure I saw the cottages where Jassi stayed in her visit to Alibag in the serial), Murud (the motorboat ride on the sea to visit the Fort- wow!) and of course, my dream ride on the Mumbai-Pune expressway at 140 kmph! One of my visits to Aurangabad (I can’t recall when) took me to Shani Signapore- the place which my grandmother had described as one with no doors and windows in any house.

My most recent trip to the state was to Pune in June 2010. My admission at Symbiosis Institute of Design was what had got me to the place. Although I cleared all the tests, I never took the admission offer and instead moved to Delhi. During my brief stay at the place, what I was awestruck with was probably the unique architecture of each building. I did visit the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) but due to unavailability of an appointment, could only make it till the gates of my dream institute!

Another trip to Maharashtra is surely on my cards. The one when Mayanagri Mumbai comes calling…!


The City Beautiful
I visited Chandigarh when I was in Class 12 in November 2009. It was my first road trip from Delhi. The two-day trip that included visiting most of the places at the most beautifully planned city that I have ever seen remains glued to my memory. The roads at right angles with maps at all road crossings plus the green cover, it was something worth seeing to believe in one of the fastest growing metro-cities of the country. Our visit started from the Rock Garden and then taking an open top HoHo bus ride to Sukhna Lake, boating there and then visiting the Chandigarh Carnival before moving to the city centre. Deja-Vu took over me when I saw the concrete floored and colourful-fountain covered main shopping plaza. Was such a clean place actually part of India? It was difficult to believe. Day 2 of our trip included visiting the nearby Yadavendra Gardens- Seven floors of beautiful garden space. Wow! I had loved it. Fighting the urge to drive to Shimla, which is not very far off from here, must have been difficult for my uncle. Another trip to this beautiful place isn’t something I would like to miss any time soon.

When adventure beckons
Rishikesh, yeah, my most unforgettable trip till date. The trip about which I have written so many times over the past year. Whether it is the unexpected and sudden planning or the life-threatening rafting or literally drowning in the Ganga, this 3-day trip (the first one for me without my family) can never possibly be erased from my memories. I read an article recently in The Times of India Crest Edition and it said ‘Rafting in Rishikesh was for novices. Zanskar was for more thrill lovers’. Well, I am sure that a trip to Leh isn’t going to remain a dream for long now.

Jai Mata Di
Right from the time I had joined college, I used to hear some friend or the other talking about his/her trip to Vaishnodevi. All I knew about the place was from a mythology serial that my sister used to watch a few years ago where the goddess in the form of a little girl, climbs up a mountain while being chased by a demon and then inside a cave, kills him. I also remembered seeing a song video at the end of Rangoli on Doordarshan when I was a kid- that of a lady holding her son and climbing the hills to reach the temple in the caves while chanting Jai Mata Di. So when I got this chance to visit the shrine, I was overwhelmed. More than seeing the Goddess inside a cave, I was interested in two other things- covering the whole 12 km distance and back by foot and crawling inside a cave to reach the shrine. The first wish was accomplished successfully, but the second one left me disappointed as the original cave had been closed for the general public years ago. Next is the tale of me getting lost there in the middle of the night. That’s a story you ought to read (check the third paragraph at the link) and well, (don’t) laugh!

Another trip to Vaishnodevi? Yeah. By helicopter and when it is snowing. ;)

So that brings an end to my ‘travel sperm’ entries. There have been a lot more places that I have been to including Ooty when I was just a year old and remember nothing of. Probably these anecdotes would find a place here sometime later. Right now, I think I have bored you enough by ‘Going Places’ and hopefully, the stock of watermelons and juices and ice-creams haven’t ended in your fridge. The Delhi heat is taking a toll over me and I am wondering Where next?

Missed the previous entries? Check them out here: Travel Sperm, Part 1, Part 2.

Do tell me how your experience has been while reading these entries of mine and beating the summer heat. Have an experience to any of these places to share? I am all ears.
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Friday, May 11, 2012

Going Places- Part 2


Keeping in continuation with my ‘travel sperm’ entries, this is the second one in line. Yeah, I have grown up a little since I went to the places in Part 1. But still, here you will find a lot of things that would show the wanderings of a young mind and probably will make you laugh. Enjoy them!

Tamil Nadu Trip
My first trip to Tamil Nadu was a religious one with my maternal grandparents in March 2002. We started from Bangalore and went to Madurai. Apart from the Meenakshi Temple and a palace/fort which had many coloured glasses, I can’t recall anything about this place. This was also the time when we used to go to the STD booth to call home and let people know that we are fine. Yeah, the time before the advent of mobile phones into every hand.

From Madurai we had taken a bus journey to Rameshwaram and Kanyakumari. The Pamban Bridge on the Bay of Bengal had fascinated me. How could people build a bridge on the sea? I had wondered. I had read somewhere that the main temple of Rameshwaram had the longest corridor. And so, every corridor I saw in the temple, I exclaimed that it was the longest corridor that I had read about! I was also hopeful of going to the beach and finding the ‘floating stones’. Yeah, the ones which Lord Ram had used to build the bridge to Lanka. I was so disappointed when I learnt that there was no such actual bridge which connected to Sri lanka!! I did buy and get some of the ‘floating stones’ home! I was elated :)

The trip to Kanyakumari was even more anticipated by me. I had just recently studied in one of my English lessons about Kanyakumari and the Vivekanand Rock Memorial. I also knew that this was the bottom most part of India where three seas meet. So, when we reached the holy spot near the sea, I enquired why I couldn’t see three different seas. It looked like a normal beach!! I was disappointed! A motor-boat ride to the Vivekanand Rock Memorial was the next stop. I always thought the huge statue on the rock was that of Vivekanand. I was shocked to learn that the statue of Vivekanand was instead inside the big hall! Haha…

I have been to Tamil Nadu on subsequent trips. One was in 2007, when I was in class 10, to Pondicherry. The place had been amazing, although I was shocked to see that there was no beach where I could go and stand in the water! The roads at right angles amazed me. I loved learning the little French during the trip. Probably the only word I remember now is ‘Rue’. It means ‘lane’, right?

My most recent visit to the state was in 2008. It was my first long distance train trip alone. My family was at Vellore and during the Diwali vacation I went to visit them. Although every day used to begin with a trip to the huge CMC campus, I remember going to some tourist places in the town including the Golden Temple and the Vellore Fort.


Karnataka Trip
My very first recollection of anything related to Karnataka is a wooden toy train which my grandparents got me from Mysore around 12 years back. I still have it safe and secure in my room. As per my first Karnataka trip, it was to Bangalore in March 2002. My maternal uncle resides in Bangalore and that is the reason of my so many frequent trips to the place. On this first visit, apart from visiting the usual tourist destinations in the city which included the Lalbagh Botanical Garden, the all-lighted Vidhan Soudha, the huge statue of Lord Shiva which one had to enter to see the various ‘lingams’ at one place, Wonder La, the big banyan tree- Doda-alada-mara (I loved saying this as a tongue twister) and many more which I am unable to recollect right now, what I remember vividly and one which I looked forward to in all my subsequent visits to the city was ‘Kemp Fort’. I am not sure if the huge shopping destination exists now or not, but for a 10 year old, visiting a huge castle was something really huge. I had just loved it! This was also the trip when I first got to know that Bangalore had K.R.Puram and Delhi had R.K.Puram and R.K.Puram was the place which housed DPS and which was going to be my dream school 5 years hence! :D

My next visit to Karnataka was in October the same year with my parents. This was going to be a week long road trip of places all over the state. So we started from Bangalore and went on to visit Hospet, Hampi, Badami, Mangalore and many more places which I think if I look at the map of Karnataka I would be able to recollect easily. The Jog Falls with the four different falls (Raja, Rani, Rocket and Roarer) is vividly imprinted in my memory. Then there was Udupi, which according to my father is the birthplace of the ‘Dosa’. He intended to try the native dosa but due to lack of time and a dosa-providing restaurant nearby, he couldn’t. St. Mary’s Island was another beautiful place we visited. ‘Ye to TV ke beach ki tarah dikh raha hai’, I had remarked happily. Climbing the 600+ steps at Shravanbelagola and then our ambassador going out of fuel in the middle of the jungle on the highway are a few moments which I fail to let go off from my memories.

I had been to Bangalore for the last time in October 2008. That was a short trip for me from Vellore so as to catch the train to Delhi. There is still a lot that remains to be seen in Bangalore and hopefully I shall be making another trip to the city soon.

Keep an eye for the next and probably last post in this series which would describe some of my recent explorations of the places of the country. Till then, keep filling your fridge with more juices and fruits and beat the summer heat. Tada! :)


Update: Look here for Part 3.
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Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Going Places- Part 1


So bags packed? Watermelon and camera ready? Your favourite ice-cream brick stocked in the fridge? Good. Starting off with the first post of my ‘travel sperm’ diary, I bring to you few destinations which constitute the earliest travel memories for me. Enjoy the young me in the pics!

(Don’t know what I am talking about? Click here)

The Rajasthan Odyssey
I have been to a lot of places in Rajasthan over several trips. The earliest one was in 1998 when I was in Class 1. Udaipur. Yeah, I have very faint memories from that trip. A few things which I do have some photographic memories of include the Udaipur Lake and the huge palace. I think we even visited Chhittorgarh. Actually we did. A photograph of me standing in front of the Vijay Stambh proves it!

Then there was this visit to Mount Abu. My father had been influenced by the Brahma Kumaris and so he had taken us to Mt. Abu in 2006. The lectures at the Ashram were boring of course but Rajasthan’s only hill station had a beauty about itself. I remember climbing the many hundred steps to reach the town top at Guru Shikhar, the view at the sunset point, the Nakki Lake and of course the beautiful Brahma Kumaris campus.

The only trip, of which I have an ample memory of, is probably the trip to Jaipur that I took with my relatives last October. Starting right from the City Palace, Hawa Mahal, Jantar Mantar, ISCKON Temple to Chokhi Dhani, light and sound show at Amber Fort and Jaigarh Fort, the three day car-trip from Delhi is beautifully etched in my memory. (Well, the cops in Jaipur do have a keen eye. I didn’t have the seat belt on and it cost us 500 bucks!)

Another trip to Rajasthan is awaited by me- one which would include camping in the desert. Amidst the dunes and camels and an oasis, it should be fun!

The Trip to the Hills- Darjeeling and Gangtok
Darjeeling yeah! The first thing that comes to my mind when I think of this beautiful hill station is disappointment. Disappointment of a young train lover of not being able to travel on the toy train!

I visited Darjeeling and Gangtok in 1999 with mine and a childhood friend’s families. The trip had started from Sambalpur, my hometown, via Calcutta and Jalpaiguri to Darjeeling (By bus and not toy train) and Gangtok (by jeep). We had been to the Indian Mountaineering Foundation, had travelled by the cable car (which I think was shut down for many years after that), took the dangerously winding downhill road to the rock garden in a Maruti Omni, clicked pictures with the toy train at Batasia Loop and our parents got into the tea-planters get-up at one of the tea gardens.

The visit to the Tsongmo Lake in Gangtok is one which I would remember every time I visit a hill station. Two reasons- One, due to the cold, all the exposed areas of my body including my face (the parts that the monkey cap didn’t cover) and a hand had swelled. That was when I was told that I am not suitable to visit very cold places. (Talk about my dream of having a huge bungalow in a snow-covered hill resort!!) And the second and bigger reason- I lost the Tazo inside my Lays packet! (Well, if you are wondering, I still have my entire Tazo collection at home! Don’t laugh!)

Another important thing about this trip- I could never forget in any of my Geography classes that Kanchenjunga is in the Sikkim-Nepal border, is the third highest mountain peak in the world (and of course, is beautiful). I am surely going to make another trip to Darjeeling sometime in my life and shall make sure I travel by the Toy Train! [;)]

Manchester of the East
A Google search told me that Ahmedabad is termed as Manchester of the East due to its huge textile industry. I never went to Ahmedabad to visit the place. It just happened to be a train-change mediator station while we were going to Mt. Abu in 2006. The brief one-day stay on our way to and from Mt. Abu at Ahmedabad wasn’t anything less memorable. We saw the laser-show at the musical fountain (I don’t remember at which place) which was amazing. It was this visit when I got to know that there was a big temple called ‘Akshardham’ in Gandhinagar where there had been a terrorist attack recently. We never visited the temple but at least I was excited to visit the Akshardham temple at Delhi after that.

We had also visited the Sabarmati Ashram, the zoo (which I had found really boring and small after being to the NandanKanan zoo just few weeks ago) and I had cried in vain for persuading my parents to buy me the recent Harry Potter movie DVD. Haha… (Now I own all 8 DVDs of the series! [cruel smile] )



(Almost all the photos in the slideshow are photos of printed photos and so the clarity is missing)


Have you been to any of these places? If yes, how was your experience? Do share with me. Keep an eye for the next post in this series with some more amazing destinations in India. :)


Update: Look here for Part 2 and Part 3.
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Monday, May 07, 2012

I am a travel sperm!


Well, if you have seen Vicky Donor then you probably aren’t surprised with the title to this post. Having seen the movie last week, when I updated a status on facebook, my friends had some great adjectives for me- thinker sperm, omg! sperm and so on. I was on second thoughts. I am not sure about these, but yeah, one adjective that truly defines me is (in Dr. Chaddha’s terminology) a travel sperm. Yeah, I love travelling and seeing places!

At 'Freeze' Ice Lounge, West Gate
Mall, Rajouri Garden- 27.04.12
“There are three types of travellers in India. Those who go on religious trails, people who travel to fulfil social or familial obligations and lastly, the group that travels to satiate an emptiness in their gut- that of exploring the unknown.” On reading these lines in Sunday’s HT Shopper South Delhi, I categorized myself into a fourth category- one which includes all the three previously mentioned categories. Yeah, I love travelling. Whether it is for religious visits, familial obligations (I hardly have any of those at this age) or the adventure trips, travelling and seeing places is what matters to me. The fact that my father loves visiting places as well is probably the reason I inherited the ‘travel sperm’.

The travel sperm has taken me to many beautiful locations across India and I have an amazingly wonderful memory of most of these which I would love to share with you and I am sure you are going to enjoy them.

I originally planned this entry to be a single slightly long post with loads of pictures. When I was less than mid-way through writing the post, I realized that I had reached nearly 1800 words and along with the pictures this was going to become a really long post. So I thought of dividing this post into several parts, each with a new travel destination in India where the travel sperm has taken me to in the 20 years of my life. Keep an eye open for the punches I have tried to include as distant memories in each of the destinations. ;)

Of course the list doesn’t include many places where I have been to- Delhi, many parts of Odisha- probably because I have been living/visiting these places so frequently since I was born that these places do not actually count in the list of places I have gone on a trip to. But if I start writing about these, I am surely going to have a lot to write and considering the fact that these places constitute a very delicate part in my heart, they deserve special and dedicated entries from me.

I have realized over the past few days that the quality of my blog posts is degrading, thanks to me getting confined to a ‘topic given to me’ and writing for various contests (something I have been very bad at always). So I have decided not to attempt another forced-topic blog entry for any contest unless I am completely passionate about writing for it. My semester is over and exams are a few days away and there is not much to study. This implies I have got some great vella time in the days to come and yeah, some wonderful work-ideas are lying stagnant at the back of my head right now. I hope some of them get to see the light of day over the next few days. Till then, keep an eye for some ‘good’ entries here on second thoughts. 

Get your sunglasses, Charge the camera batteries, Cut the watermelon and Pack your bags and take a virtual tour from the air-conditioned comforts of your bedroom to many destinations across India to beat the summer heat. Exciting...eh??

Bon voyage! :D


Update: Here are the links to my series of entries: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

My Most Memorable Epoch


The last few hours have been weird. All I have been doing is open facebook, check the non-existent new notifications, poke a few friends, see random photo albums, open my blog and wonder why the number of hits isn’t increasing, lie on bed and wonder what to do next, read the newspaper (or only skim through it), watch some of the memorable videos I have made, and that is it. What’s wrong, I wondered. I played some random songs in the media player when even starting with the fourth season of Friends wasn’t helpful.

Yesterday, I was telling one of my friends about the websites I have designed over the past years. I opened one of them, the one I dedicated to my DPS hostel mates two years back. With songs playing in the background, I went through the various posts I had made there. Went on reading stuff, seeing the photos, reminiscing the good time we had together. This is probably the one thing which when I think of even today, brings back all the wonderful old memories and I miss the time.

I took my phone in hand and opened the contacts list to contact any of the five special people. The first one is having his university exams till 14th. The second one has just reached home and is enjoying time with his family. The third one has chosen to vanish from being in touch. The fourth’s cell is out-of-coverage area and I haven’t had any telephonic conversation with the fifth since probably my last birthday (except a few texts) and so I texted him. I got no response. And I willed to talk to nobody else.

Now while I was going through my writings regarding my hostel life and these five people, I was surprised. I had forgotten so many things. And these were stuff which according to me two years ago ‘are unforgettable’. Things, moments, memories that I classified into the most memorable times I had. I was reminded of so many things. I was very happy. My blog writing and other ‘useless’ stuff’s writing wasn’t going in vain after all. If not for others, at least for me, these are acting as catalytic agents to recall and remember the small details of the time I spent with these five very special people of my life.


I spent twelve years at DAV Burla but none of the memories from that time seem very close to me. Two years of college life have passed and there is just one more to go before college ends, and I don’t know yet how I am going to recollect the enjoyable time I am having right now with my friends. But yeah, one thing has been certain. Although it’s been over two years since I steppedout of the DPS VK Boys’ Hostel on the 26th of March 2010, till today, there hasn’t been a time when I haven’t thoroughly enjoyed talking about the two years I spent there. I just love that time, the people, the memories, everything. This has been the topic of my blog entries so many times, and still I never feel that it is now becoming redundant to write the same things over and over again. It hardly matters to me if people perceive me as an over-senti-type guy when I write these kinds of entries. For all I know, these have been the best people life brought my way.

I haven’t met Venky, Love and Mangu in two years. I last saw Siddharth on April 17 last year. I have met Amrit a few times over the past months. These rare meetings are blissful. They are a ready reckoner of the fact that time once gone is gone but moments spent together are blissful memories.

I miss you doston. I am still waiting for the day when all six of us would meet up, catch up on all that is happening in our lives and just sit together and smile at each other reminiscing the days gone by and planning the next big adventure. The Principal’s office this time…eh? [;)]

PS: Google defines 'Epoch' as a period of time in history or a person's life, typically one marked by notable events or particular characteristics.
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