The Perfect Road Trip

The Perfect Road Trip
Runners Up Award- Ambipur Contest

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Bring Back the Touch

The rain drops were fresh on the grass and the cold air was blowing gently as the leaves rustled. The continuous downpour through the night had kept me awake. The military barrack where the Command Hospital is located in Pune is almost forty kilometers from where I was residing. The salubrious surroundings, sight of rising hills and silhouetted Singhgarh Fort with undulating green valleys, made each day a special one! Most of the day was spent in studying as pursuing a full time post graduate engineering course was a daunting task after a long break!
My wife was in a family way and so the little time I got, was spent in taking care of her, visiting the doctor and assisting in the household chores! It was a Sunday morning, and one of my wife’s cousins who were undergoing the military training at the NDA had come to visit us. Soon, an emergency like situation arose that required shifting my wife to the hospital, and as luck would have it the doctor at nearby hospital was on leave. Having no option, we had to rush to the Command Hospital. After reaching there, she was wheeled into the labor room and the interminable wait started! Some more pregnant ladies came in and within hours most of them delivered and nurse kept breaking the news of new arrivals! Every time a nurse appeared, I would jump out of the seat only to be disappointed and told that I would have to wait! The time wore on till evening and the doctors told me to go back but the mental turmoil did not allow me to leave the place. Late at night I was informed that a senior doctor has been called in leaving me more anxious than ever. It kept pouring through the night and the sleep was elusive! Around 8.30AM in the morning, I went out for a cup of tea and the moment I returned, the nurse informed me that we had been blessed with a girl! My joy knew no bounds and after another two hours of wait, saw my wife being wheeled out with my tiny daughter who had her eyes open! Holding hands of my wife and seeing the spark return in her tired eyes was like reliving the moment when we had met the first time! This time it was even more rewarding as she had given me the best gift of my life whom I touched for the first time with a swelling pride!

PS: This post has been written for the Indiblogger and Parachute Advanced Body Lotion (,  #BringBackTheTouch. Contest.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Cleanliness- Next to Godliness

In a country as big as the entire Europe, and population exceeding that of combined Europe and United States of America the basic amenities related to basic health and sanitation is just comparable with Africa or even worse! Is it not a pity that even after sixty years of Independence we have not been able to meet the basic needs of the teeming millions!

The situation gets worse when it comes to avaiability of potable water and even the toilets! It is a despicable sight to see hundreds of people in the villages, small towns, and even in bigger cities heading to the fields and open areas to attend to the nature's call!

I remember when I was still studying is the school, I went to attend a NCC camp while in Class VII. It was a funfilled time with an opportunity to live in the tents for the first time! Every morning it was a nightmare to find a place in the adjoing fields to attend to the nature's call. Not only did I feel ashamed but it would give me shudders as I wanted to get ovcer with it before the sun rise! This was the predicament of a boy just about twelve year old so I can imagine how the girls much younger or even older would be feeling every day, for almost their entire lives if they did not live in a different environment!

India leads the world in open defecation. At least 636 million Indians lack toilets, according to the latest census data, a crisis that contributes to disease, childhood malnutrition, loss of economic output and, violence against women.

The issue is so critical that it featured prominently in Narendra Modi's maiden Independence Day speech, in which the prime minister said"We are in the 21st century and yet there is still no dignity for women as they have to go out in the open to defecate and they have to wait for darkness to fall," Modi said. "Can you imagine the number of problems they have to face because of this?"

Many a socila ills continue to get nurtured and even thrive because we have never really addressed these problems! Not surprizingly, many a young girls get kidnapped and eventually get raped and sometimes even murdered as they had no choice but to go to the open fields and fell easy prey to evil desire of lusty men! How can we say we are any different from beasts when one hears such horror stories day after day.

Many a NGOs/ the government bodies and private enterprise have finally now woken up to the stark reality to set up toilet facilities.India could also learn valuable lessons from poorer neighbours such as Bangladesh, which has cut rates of open defecation from 19% to 3% in just two years by decentralising sanitation programmes.

Domex a major brand has initiated a campaign and is supporting the cause to eradicate open defectation.For more details please go to ( )

PS: This is my blog post for "Toilet for Babli' initiative sponsored by Indiblogger and Domex(

Monday, November 17, 2014

Raining Money

It was a weekend walk through the vegetable market when I spotted the earthen ‘gullak’ ( piggy bank) and was transported back in time. I must have been five or six that time when I was gifted one by my parents and every time I received a coin from them or from a relative or from the neighbors on  the ‘Ashtmai  along with halwa , poori and chana, ‘ the coin would be sent through the slot into the ‘gullak’. The jingle of coins was always music to ears and with time the ‘ gullak’ got heavier. Sometimes, to buy silly knick knacks like ‘gol gappa’, ‘churan’ or ‘orange goli’ from the vendors, I remember using the mom’s knitting needle to slide the coin out from the slot so as not to break the ‘ gullak’. Anyway, the exercise was more an innocent fun than the act of stealing coins more like ‘Lord Krishna’ stealing butter from the earthen pots from neighbors as the folklore goes!

This habit of slipping the coins helped in cultivating the habit of saving money, which goes a long way as one grows to fulfil one’s dreams! While still in school after having won a princely amount of Rs 50/- in a prize, my father took me to an adjoining bank to open a minor, savings bank account. So whenever I received cash from them or from relatives on occasions like birthdays, I would rush to the bank to fill a deposit slip and stash the amount in the savings account. I remember while still in Class VII , one day my parents were away  to office/ school and I was at home with my younger brothers. There was a new movie release  in the nearby theatre and unfortunately, we did not have the money. So with a bit of brainstorming with younger ones, I decided to visit the bank to draw the money. The cheapest ticket was Rs 1.25 so, we quickly got dressed and entered the bank and I filled the withdrawal slip of Rs 5/-. The clerk sent it to the manager who called me inside. He looked at me and smiled as he saw my younger brothers waiting!

‘Why do you need to draw just Rs 5/-‘he queried.

‘Want to see a movie,’ I replied in all innocence

‘You could have asked your parents’ he continued.

‘Sir they have gone for work and we want to see the morning show’ I replied wondering he will accede to my request.

He laughed and signed the slip and having achieved a small victory we headed for the theatre saw the movie, had samosas and were still left with few coins to deposit back in the ‘gullak’.

One day while cleaning the room the ‘gullak’ fell and the floor was covered with coins all over! It literally rained money that day.

 PS : 1.The habit of saving can start very early in life and most parents often get their children piggy banks when they are young!Now a days with a culture of splurging this may sound a little cliche'!
2. Image kind courtesy Google

Monday, November 10, 2014

Close Encounters

This is a strange world! Right from our birth till we come to our senses and start understanding our surroundings we meet literally hundreds of people with progression of time! For a baby the mother and her loving looks, the cuddles and gestures of many who come to meet him are the first encounters with humans. As we grow and step out to school we come across the real world where some are friendly, others rude, harsh or even hostile  The process continues for the  rest of our lives in every walk , be it college, office, market place or anywhere for that matter! I would like to share some very interesting characters that form a part and parcel of my life besides my immediate family, like for most of us!

In the morning I come across a lady who looks like starlet, Monica Bedi and is a fitness freak! She is on the move in the stadium adjacent to our house and walks straight unconcerned of the world around her! Then there is a couple let’s call Mrs and Mr Gupta who are in early sixties! Mrs Gupta is very friendly and never forgets to wave a hello with broadest smile whenever she sights us but the husband who was an aviator once moves curtly ahead of her, to best avoid an impulsive conversation or worst being infected with a contagious disease that we may carry! Then there is a gang of old military veterans ,some are familiar faces that would be discussing the latest national news be it swearing in of the new ministers in the present government, or why the government is still dragging its feet to release a new slab of DA despite the ever rising price index! This saves me the trouble of reading the newspaper where I am likely to come across some grisly news of a recent murder, a financial scam or who are on the invitees list of Salman Khan’s  sisters forthcoming marriage!

On way to the office the gang is fixed who spend most of the time discussing the internal politics or new job opportunities and once in a while including me in the conversation if they have to know something like whether Brazil has more area than India, as if I am Encyclopedia Britannica and ‘Google search’ rolled into one perhaps seeing more dark strands of grey hair than them collectively! Next comes the best part of the day which is a session in the Gym where no one my age is there besides half a dozen well-toned office girls and ladies besides three or four youngsters trying hard to flex a muscle to add inches to their biceps! As I am generally early to grab the treadmill the late arrival younger girls walk up and rolling her eyes asks how long it will take for me to finish?  It is perhaps the best part of the day where no one has ignored me all together!

While walking down the corridors, of the office several times in a day I come across many faces that are familiar and some stop to say hello, some engage in a small conversation, and a few  who have moved up the ladder, glance from the sideways and move on hurriedly as if they never saw me! If I am able to engage in chats it is termed as ‘networking’ in management jargon! By the end of the day when I fall on the bed, I realize how boring this world would be if I had not come cross a few who are always complaining, some scheming, others discussing other people lives as if they are more important to their existence than anything else! I am not including so many more that I follow regularly on blogs who add so much more charm to the life.  Among all the fascinating creations of the god, I feel  humans are perhaps the best!
PS: Image Kind courtesy Google

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Wings of Desire

The settling fog and diminishing light had reduced the visibility. The cold breeze caressed the golden leaves that hung lifelessly on the twigs of the trees! Besides the rustle of the leaves and grey smoke wafting from the hearths there was stillness all around. A lane of shanty huts where a small population of the laborers stayed was reminder of the grisly poverty in the vicinity of Bir Chand Patel Road , an affluent part of Patna. Most of the big government offices, Hotel Chanakya and bank and shops  in the town are located here. Ramesh , who was barely twelve year old lived with his sister Kusum in one of the huts with his parents who were laborers. His mother Shanti also worked as a part time maid in the nearby government colony to augment the income of the household as she wanted to educate her children so that they could lead a better life!

Ramesh had spent the day in school and picked up his study material and moved to the street lamp post and bent over his books to study. The hut just had a lantern that was turned off by 9 PM to save the kerosene. The cold weather and lack of lighting had not deterred Ramesh’s resolve to achieve something big in life. There were days when he had to go almost empty stomach when earning was not enough! The mosquitoes were vicious but Ramesh would light up the dry leaves to create a smoke to ward them off! His struggle continued till one day he learnt that he could one day become engineer if he entered IIT! Ramesh fared well in the primary school and in the evening he started visiting the mushroom of coaching centers located in Patna to gather more information.  While still in school he took up the job of sweeping the classes of one such coaching center to clean the classroom s when the students had left. Most of these centers charged hefty fees from the students so getting admission was next to impossible! He sometimes waited outside the class rooms and would listen to the instructors. He picked up rags of papers and took his notes on these papers and practiced the problems at night when everyone had slept.

Two more years passed and one day when he was returning from the coaching center he came across another boy who was a year older to him. He mentioned that he was studying in a coaching center called ‘Super 30’ where his coaching was done by the institute itself! Even his boarding and other basic needs were being taken care of the center.

Next morning he set out for the ‘Super 30’ center with his mother to meet Mr Anand who was running the place. His mother narrated their story and Mr Anand was touched. He along with his colleagues administered some academic tests and by evening decided to take Ramesh in the next batch of aspirants.

Next two years he worked extremely hard and even in most trying circumstances never gave up hope. The day the results of IIT entrance examinations were declared was a ‘red letter day’ in Ramesh’s life. He had qualified with an AIR ( All India Rank) under 500 and his dream of doing something big in life had donned the new wings!

PS: 1. This is a factitious story based on closely observing some of the most deprived people in the most backward places in India who have realized the worth of education which can act as a ‘ game changer’ in today’s world despite growing inequalities.
2. Image kind courtesy Google

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Clean India

No matter where we live in India, it is not unusual to find garbage littered in streets and piled up at every corner. The misery is alleviated with dogs and scavengers hovering over the piles of refuse to make their own select ion.  In smaller villages and towns the overflowing drains and refuse attract, pigs and stray animals which mar the beauty of the place.  The problem gets compounded as there are no toilets and people deface in the open which leaves the place filled with stench. Khushwant Singh the eminent writer, once on return from a trip abroad wrote in his column’ With malice towards one and all’ that the moment his taxi moved out of the Mumbai International Airport, he was greeted with the familiar sight of scores of people defacing in open. He remarked’ at last I am home’!
“Civilisation is the distance that man has placed between himself and his own excreta.”

Cleanliness not only improves the quality of surroundings and makes them more pleasant, but helps in attaining efficiencies also. The rising private airlines’ Indigo’ is known for its ‘on time flights’ and insists all passengers to pass on the trash to the onboard flight attendants , before they disembark to ensure no time is lost in the cleaning the aircraft when it lands at next destination.
Our rivers like Ganga and Yamuna have become so polluted that the water in plains is considered unfit to drink or take bath in! The constant inlet of streams of polluting industrial wastes, city garbage and other pollutants have deprived them of existence of marine life. This is a stark contrast to cities like Stockholm, Paris and most other places where one can see fishing enthusiasts looking for trout or salmon right in the city center by the riverbed!

While most of us who live in decent dwellings, do our utmost to keep the house and the garden clean but when it comes to maintaining the same level of cleanliness at public roads and parks we often forget this! It is not uncommon to see people throwing the used cans or wrappers straight out of the window of a car or carelessly tossing it on the roadside! The manners we learnt at home and school to keep the environment clean are easily forgotten! How can a handful of sweepers keep the big city clean if we do not throw the garbage in the assigned bins! This results in choking the drains during the monsoon months, and overflowing roads resulting in traffic jams!
In the Singapore Night Safari the otters have been trained to demonstrate how to put the trash in the right bins so that people can learn from animals an important message of how to recycle the trash(Link :

In early 1970’s the ‘Chipko Andolan’( Hugging the trees) was set into motion in the Garwahl hills to protect the trees from felling! Today we can see the disastrous results of rampant deforestation in form of repetitive landslides in Uttrakhand and floods in J& K leading to huge loss of life and property. Only if we had not been greedy to cut trees indiscriminately and littered the hills with plastics , we could have avoided these tragedies!

Time is running out and the new leadership has once again brought the need to keep the keep our surroundings clean in the initiative of ‘Swach Bharat’ to keep our surroundings clean! We should help in this endeavor as ‘Cleanliness is next to godliness’ and it is our duty to leave the mother earth intact for the future generations to see its beauty forever! We can do our bit by not littering the streets and request others if we see them doing so to make a ‘Clean and Green India’

PS:1.  This post is my contribution to Clean India Campaign of IndianTopBlogs.                ( )
2. Image and link kind courtesy Google and You Tube

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A Healthy Child Makes a Happy Home

The house was always noisy with three musketeers around! There was never a dull moment with siblings up to something to keep the parents busy! Either someone had fallen, or one was hungry or the homework was not complete and the vacation was coming to an end! You guessed it right it was none other than yours truly and the younger brothers who raised the din from morn till night! Also, the name ‘The Three Musketeers ‘was given by one of the maternal uncles who were a frequent visitor to our home! I now look back and admire the patience and painstaking efforts of our parents who raised us to do well in our lives!
It was monsoon time and there were mosquitoes especially in the evening those days! One day the youngest brother fell prey and  was knocked out leaving us wondering what we could do to help! Formulations of Allopathic medicine were administered but with little relief except bringing down the body temperature during the day time and return of high fever by late night.  Our team had fallen short by one player and thus there was little that could give us joy. We missed his presence in the game of Cricket which was played in verandah of the house often knocking down utensils in the kitchen. Parents took time off to attend to him and we would do our bit after returning home! Since he fell ill, there was a kind of hush and unfortunately this continued for almost a month as we too fell prey to Malaria one after another! It was a dreadful time as the entire house had fallen silent, and the constant activity that one noticed went missing! There were no cricket matches, no school to attend, very little entertainment and a general lull all around.

In the meantime all efforts were being made by our parents to bring relief by way of trying some trusted Ayurvedic formulations from Dabur like ‘Chyawanprash’ for regaining strength! While we were suffering from Malaria some home remedies like cinnamon, black pepper , basil leaves and honey were crushed and mixed in hot water and were given to us at least three times a day! Gradually we recovered and were back to our old noisy ways! It was a time when everyone reverently wished that we recover and bring the house down with cacophony and shrieks!

Lessons learnt early in life paved way to adopt a natural way of life like always eating fresh food, taking enough exercise and supplements like trusted  Dabur   Chyawanprash,  to make the immune system strong, improve the overall digestion, and providing a shield from the cough and cold and general ailments! It has now become a companion for life!

PS: This post has been written for Dabur / Indiblogger for ‘A Healthy Child Makes a Happy Home’ contest(