August 27, 2007

Are They Not Innocent?

I am not a psychologist of human or child behavior, yet I feel reasonably confident in voicing out that children are pure and innocent.

Children are new beings to the world which makes them ‘innocent’ of the way the world works. Young children probably do not understand anything beyond themselves, since they are too busy in their own world. According to some child psychologists, until a child is 2-3 years of age it is difficult to near impossible to discipline children because they are so self-oriented. Other experts also claim at the same time that a child can learn and absorb so much early in life, so one has to teach good habits early on or they could grow into little ‘demons.’

As children grow up, they start interacting with others, and they begin to learn that there is more to the world than themselves. They learn how to share, to barter, to earn things, and in the process of growing up, they start to understand the rules that go along with interacting with others.

Are adults very different? Don’t some adults also have some levels of purity and innocence according to how they conduct and control their life and their minds? It's a sadly different thing that the world offers many temptations and sometimes one succumbs to those on certain occasions easily.

Is a child pure and innocent or just an untrained, inexperienced human being growing into it's potentiality? It’s a debatable question. What are your views on this matter?

Let the discussion and analysis go on; in the meantime, I insist on posting what I feel right now about them: Children are innocent and their smile is always great.

This is a 2-year old picture of my sweet niece and her little American friend,
clasping on dearly to me while on a walk in the snow.

August 24, 2007


A few of my many pictures shot in October 2006 during my trek in Sikkim:

Tshoka Village

Yaks on the trek route


Trekking in Pedhang

Towards Yuksom

View from Bakhim Lodge

Holy Lake and Tshoka Gompa

On the way back to Yuksom

August 20, 2007

Incredible India Indeed!

After weeks of an exhilarating experience of travelling to some of the most fascinating places on this planet, I am back. I'm refreshed and feel filled with enough strength and energy in me to hopefully continue being here until its time for another holiday.

The trip to India that I undertook this time was a different kind of trip in many ways. Without indulging into the details, what happened mainly is that a few plans that I had made of travelling in the company of a couple of friends did not materialize for some reason or the other.

There is something about the mental freedom that I experience when I am travelling, and I couldn't afford to miss it just for the lack of right company on the way. It is said that courage defines all other human behaviour, so it didn't take long for me to realize I have enough of it to go on my own and hence decided to continue on my journey, most of the time solo, and catching up with others, who could meet up, in a few places.

Some may complain of the narrow lanes, the pollution, the heat, the rains and stifling humidity and noise of India, but I love it and right now, I miss it. The friendship of the people of India, their hospitality, trust and warmth can't be explained. It can only be experienced. And this reality has struck me more so since I've returned here.

Since I travelled solo, I was fortunate to strike up conversations with an array of fascinating fellow travellers, including two bankers and an educationist, while on a journey on Shatabdi Express, as I was simultaneously enjoying the glorious countryside roll by. It was also good to have insightful conversations with a businessman from Delhi and an air hostess of Lufthansa while on a bus journey on the way to Jaipur.

Intervening in the heated dispute between the taxi driver and a young Canadian couple on the journey between Manali-Sarchu to finally bring about peace between them was an interesting episode. The other Australian-German couple was more understanding, and helped me into hammering the message into the young couple that it certainly wasn’t a good idea to raise the BP of the old taxi driver while driving down from a height of almost 17,000 feet above sea level on the Rumtse valley. Conversing with two gentlemen from Srinagar on the way to Nubra Valley was equally interesting, and it ended up with sing-songs on the way back from the beautiful Himalayan village of Diskit.

It's such a pleasure to watch and experience the culture of fascinating Jaipur, including their menfolk’s colourful turbans in shocking pink, red, orange and green and their sparkling white shirts and dhotis. Cool Manali, situated on the Beas River Valley, was a welcome getaway after spending time in sultry Japipur. I must emphasize here that journeying through the Manali-Leh highway, maintained by the Border Roads Organization that includes the highest mountain passes in the world, with a stop-over in the tents in Sarchu, has been one of the best road-trips and experiences of my life. Passing through the valleys of Lahaul, Rumste, and Nubra is a captivating experience.

Spending an entire day at the picturesque mountain village of Fiang, and meeting a wonderful and hospitable Ladakhi family of four generations, each member of the family diffusing warmth and friendliness throughout my stay with them, made me feel it was a special day and got me into a delightful mood. I thoroughly enjoyed the joyful ambling from one house to another through the mountain brooks, fields of potato, mustard and other cultivation, drinking cups of delicious home-made yoghurt and sipping endless cups of their ‘pink tea’ laden with fresh butter, both before and after lunch. With a tummy full of exotic food, towards evening I walked, to pay a visit to their beautiful Fiang Gompa built on a steep hill, with a bunch of tittering girls of the same family. It has been one of the most memorable days of my life, thanks to the Soto family.

Fulfilling my dream of being atop Khardung-La Pass was rewarding in more ways than can be described. Passing through the mountain passes at Rohtang-La, Lachulang-La, Tanglang-La, Baralacha-La and finally, Chang-La on the way to Pangong-Tso Lake have been enchanting experiences. I won’t even make an attempt here to describe my experience at Pangong Lake, which certainly deserves a full posting.

For me India is a place where I can walk on the mountains of Himalayas on a particular day and a few hours later, can have a stroll on a sea-shore with a beer. And I did just that! I left the northern Himalayan capital of Leh of Ladakh at 6 am to reach my home town in the South-western part of India (Karnataka) by 6 pm – all within a span of 12 hours (of course with 3 flights to board too).

I love my India for what it is, for its splendour and misery, its chilling socio-political success stories and failures, for its poverty and its amazing heart-warming munificence.

Some of the happiest people I've met in my life are Indians, who actually live by the day. Sometimes I feel shaken up by the overwhelming poverty seen around. Yet the needy people’s blank refusal to see a bleak future or a life not worth living is a lesson to be learned by the pessimists of this world. Poverty is not necessarily a question of lacking money and I find many of them rich in almost all other aspects. They refuse to be bogged down by the harshness of the realities of their lives and continue smiling. It is so heartening to see the strength of the human spirit that greets me everywhere in India. India is a place that moves me to wonder about many things, a place where the extremes of the human conditions are exposed – unadulterated and raw. That may fill some people with disgust but I am filled with awe.

For every little inconvenience of travelling in India, there is a rich reward of rare and wonderful experience. So often during the journeys I am reminded of what is really important in my life and what is not.

India is beautiful, magical and mysterious. I love the journeys, the excitement, the peace, the railways, the crowds, the airports, the vast expanse of spaces, the crisp mountain air, the awesome forests, the astounding flora and the fauna, the flowing waters of the rivers, the majestic mountains of the Himalayas, the high passes, the exotic birds, the variety of languages, good humour and the sense of humility I feel when I am in India.

With my interests in people and culture, I have a great time feasting on the variety of life available in India. It's a wonderful time just to watch it all unfold in front of me, observing people and their ways. That includes bazaars, festivals, and crafts, the temples, the faith of the people, the superstitions, the hustle and bustle, the colors, the unusual and unexpected sights and the people one gets to meet.

Even if I were deprived of any one of these, I would still be fascinated by India. I feel alive in India, I feel at home in India. It's one place where I feel at peace.

India keeps me endlessly curious. There is so much unity in diversity, and to think of 60 years of harmonious living in a pluralistic society is something to commend about.

India provides such a rich mix of experiences that it indeed is a special place to visit. Being an Indian, I love many more things beyond what any tourist to India would generally enjoy.

I must soon find a way and fulfill my dream of making India my permanent place of residence. I am told that once a person returns to India for good, the initial charm would wear off quickly and reality would set in after which one starts to deal with the daily hassles of what it is really like to live in India. Nevertheless, I still feel intrigued about India. Reality should be as we choose it, and like it. In the end, I need just one home to return to and I know where it is!

As of now, I have traveled through 17 states of India. It seems that the more I travel, the more I want to continue to do so. I feel there are a million more fascinating places within India that I could travel to. As an Indian, I feel happy that I think this way about my country.

I am not boasting if I say that I've realized no other place I’ve seen can be compared with it. India is truly one of the best. I am hopelessly in love with this incredible country.