May 25, 2009

Yet another post on IPL

Photo shot in Nov 2008
Gorai Beach, Mumbai

When everyone is somebody, then no one's anybody. I must be the only body to be able to churn out a post after it is all least for this season. Everybody associated with it - whether viewers, spectators, players, officials, TV crew - were gleefully occupied for almost six weeks! For me too, it became the daily addiction in the evenings. I’m, of course, talking about the IPL. About cricket, the favorite boring game to many; not the insect.

How was IPL to you? To me, IPL was both a mix of the empyreal and ridiculous.

I don’t know if arrangements were made to pump nitrous-oxide in the commentary box, but I liked it when commentators hyped up about a batsman for shooting two consecutive lusty shots to the boundaries only to watch him perish at the next delivery. Or, for that matter, when a bowler was showered with heavenly praise for a few dot balls only to be seen thwacked into outer space while closing that over. Doesn’t it sound sublime, yet ludicrous? What do you have to say?

A business tycoon has said only a small “part” of his package of $1.55 million for his gora-captain was for his cricketing worth, and the rest was for the goodwill he brought to his business. But eventually it was the dear desi-test-captain (with whom I’ve had the pleasure to chat up with at an airport) who lifted the team right up to the final game!

In my house once the match began, for fear of permanent disbarment from watching TV ever again, it was forbidden to change the TV channels to watch anything else (that I am not an avid TV watcher is another matter). If I were in a group, while enjoying the company of charming folks around, the unsolicited and unwarranted detailed “expert” analysis of team performances and past matches was a part and parcel of the scenario. As if there were not enough discussion panels on TV doing the same! Those times, I won’t even begin to write about the punishment meted out to me: compulsory viewing of the annoying clockwork frequency of the repetitive ads.

Indian ads may be the best in the world and I don’t know about you, but to me the sponsor's name certainly does not entreat any positive reaction, on the contrary the attempt to surfeit is more often than not, irritating. At times I began to wonder if I am supposed to be entertained with hours of advertisements through which are sometimes glimmers of cricket. Forced on me without fail at the end of every over, when I felt I’ve had enough to the point of being driven to insanity, thankfully I've had the choice to head to the sanctuary of my cosy room where the TV remote is solely under my control and in relief hit the mute button and looked elsewhere than the ads.

There may have been times when batsmen may have spent less time at the crease than his laundry-man may have spent over ironing his shirt crease, yet cricket is entertaining. For it is a game where the batsman is equipped with a brain box (to protect the head) and a cricketer’s box (to protect the groin) though to some the latter is also brain box as apparently all the thinking is done for those right from there!

I liked to watch Pommie's flashing white teeth and dreadlocks being flung fashionably from side to side and suit-booted Shastri straining his jugular veins while spitting out majestically at players during presentation ceremonies. Oh, I am supposed to show high quality interest and excitement in the game, even when I don’t really feel it. However, where else but in cricket world could I have sought little Bruno so cutely scurrying on the ground and entertaining all, something that even cricketers, at times, fail to do?

To me, the SRKs, Zintas and Shettys, Mallyas and Reddys, Haydens and Pandeys, four-legged Brunos and long-legged cheering girls, players at slips and gals in same, Hollywood and beauty pageants, famed drummers and infamous dancers, passions and statistics, sun-screened faces and hat-tricks, beer-sippers and teetotallers, lisping and lip-kissing, bowling maidens and LBWs (to me, teams Lost Beaten Walloped), Manhattan graphs and “luck-yous”, real IPL players and fake bloggers, controversies and conspiracies, team spirits and misunderstandings, histrionics and composures, cool games and euphories, speeches and gymnastics, and through fireworks, prayers, tears, smiles, cheers and dreams in the making and crashing, the heart-wrenching losses and the elusive wins have all been engaging, and at times, thrilling.

Alas, the over-the-top enthusiasm of IPL has finally come to an end.

It’s time to get a life.

Wow, I love this sweet sound of silence this evening.

And am glad to start blogging… again!


By now, the ‘blogworld’ might have floated thousands of posts on IPL. I shall not apologise for presenting and getting you all bored with one from my end too.

Now that my TV has been off this evening, I have had no choice but to share these few thoughts of my love-hate feelings on IPL… *yawn*

Good night folks and hey don’t forget to write here what you liked/disliked about IPL and which has been your fav IPL moment!


May 3, 2009

Valley of Flowers: The Approach

Route covered so far:
DelhiHaridwarRishikesh – Devprayag – Srinagar – Rudraprayag – Karnaprayag – Nandprayag – ChamoliPipalkoti JoshimathAuli GovindghatGhangaria

Govindghat to Ghangaria:

One kilometer away from Govindghat’s main road, the zigzag mule track begins at Pulna and I notice it has a mark of being 13 kms away from Ghangaria. Journeying from Govindghat to Ghangaria would mean an ascent of 1,220 metres (over 4,000 feet).

It is past 11:30 am. Filled with enthusiasm, I am so enamored with the beauty of the place that, save for a brief stop by at a roadside kiosk to buy a plastic raincoat, I begin the trek right away. The raincoat came of use as it kept drizzling on and off during the rest of the journey. Though it is cool, the looming noon sun beats down on me mercilessly, and makes me wish I had begun the trek early that morning. But then I take solace in the fact that I had a glorious time during my overnight stay at Auli.

I trek relatively easy carrying my backpack for the first two hours during which I ascend about 400 metres or so. At one point, during a steep climb, I suddenly realize that I’ve got to ascend more than 800 metres for the day and then begin to acutely feel the strain of the weight of my backpack. Then I recalled Murphy’s law that backpack strap width decreases with distance hiked. To compound that, I feel its weight miraculously kept increasing. Not just that, as if it is meant to ease my woes, its weight load kept migrating up and down my back as I continue walking. I felt at that time that 80% of its contents could have been left behind at home, but then who knows, the 20% left behind might be just what I need.

Mountain Village

Jokes aside, my backpack weighed about 7 kilograms and on hindsight, had I known that it was nothing but an upward incline all the way, even for that little weight, I’d have taken the help of one of the porters right from Govindghat itself. After trekking for 3-4 kms, I cross the beautiful Bhuyundar village, a cluster of modest houses with the backdrop of misty mountains. I chance upon a porter - who was to charge me only Rs 200 or so to carry it up to Ghangaria - and toss my backpack at him with relief. Thereafter my ascent gets easier and I am comparatively more relaxed to enjoy the rest of the journey.

Pilgrims on animals

For those who are not in the mood for trekking, there's a choice of hiring an animal. For that matter, there are crudely assembled palanquins available for the benefit of the faint hearted (pilgrims mostly, as I believe hikers are tough); and to carry children, also pittoos. Pittoos, porters of mostly Nepali origin, carry kids of the pilgrims in cane-woven baskets on their backs.

A pilgrim being carried on a palanquin

Whether a mule is hired, or a palanquin or a pittoo, one ought to be ready to balance well, because those paths can be treacherous at times. I’d strongly suggest to trek, and enjoy the opportunity to stop at free will to absorb in the splendor and beauty of bountiful nature. It is definitely worthwhile trekking at one’s own pace to soak in the beautiful Himalayan experience.

I come across many pilgrims on their way to or returning from Hemkund Sahib. When compared, trekkers going to or returning from the Valley of Flowers are far and few. The path is, at places, strewn with mule dung. I often hear the pilgrims chanting ‘Waahe Guru’ when able to spare a breath; some of them filling palms of climbers with glucose, toffees, and to those who need it, words of encouragement to egg on. Little do they know that I am one of the few on my way to the Valley of Flowers, not Hemkund, where most seem to be obviously heading. I am quite surprised to see some of these pilgrims undertaking the arduous journey barefeet! But then I often feel the power and strength of religious sentiments is beyond my comprehension.

Brahma Kamal, a rare Himalayan plant
(it was misty when I shot this picture)

I stop often to admire the exotic flora and the many spots of cascading waterfalls from the great heights into the valley before joining the roaring waters of the flowing Lakshman Ganga. The river flows almost parallel to the trek path and gives me company most of the way. The long journey is a bit tiring but beautiful all the way.

River Lakshman Ganga flows

Twice, I take tea-breaks at shacks during the 7 hours trek. I watch pilgrims looking dreamy through the mist plodding along the steep trek path, wearing colorful raincoats. Both times, I choose a spot that has the River Lakshman Ganga running close to the shacks. The effect of the gurgling river has a soothing effect. The marvelous feeling of sipping tea in such surroundings is something that I can’t experience even in 5-star surroundings.

I continue trudging along. Tired towards the end, the journey of the last 2-3 kms only gets more steep but there is no time to rest my weary feet as I am intent on reaching Ghangaria before sunset. Then I come across a helipad area, and a cluster of tents. I know from what I had read online that this is an indication that I have almost reached.

Approaching Ghangaria

Finally after 6 pm, I am glad to reach Ghangaria. Being a base for hikers and pilgrims going to either Valley of Flowers or Hemkund, I find the place is crowded for mountain dwelling standards. I intend to stay at the GMVN accommodation, though fully aware of an unsuccessful attempt at making an advance reservation with them. Their website stating booking can be made only 3 days in advance was also of little help as I had left on my journey by then. As I head towards the GMVN quarters, I notice a major part of their building gutted by fire. Upon inquiries, I learn that their remaining wing is fully booked as their dormitory was destroyed by fire. I sincerely hope it is not a case of arson at this great height in the Himalayas!

The sun having set now, I scout around and fortunately find a damp-walled but tidy lodge with clean attached bathroom and promptly check into it. It is getting dark, and the mist enveloping the area gives me little idea initially of how actually the place looks like.

In the twilight, at one point, I watch the fog clearing up and voila..I see before me just a few feet away from the lodge a huge mountain side, like a tall wall looming right in front of me. I feel it real close like a spectacular wallpaper on my PC monitor but this is real and beautiful nature! It is an exhilarating experience spending time in the midst of these towering peaks some of which are at a height of more than 20,000 feet above sea level.

Ghangaria from a height

I cover up well to protect from the freezing weather to go out for some early dinner in anticipation of having an early night in Ghangaria. I am just one night away from the day that was to dawn when I would be in the Valley of Flowers finally. With pleasant thoughts of anticipation of that day, I fall asleep.

“Towards the end, the mountains have appeared nearby,
yet not close enough not to be in awe of them.”

To be continued…
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