The King Maker of the kitchen

As Pandemic opened Pandora’s box, realisation dawned on me that ‘ Happiness is homemade ‘. Confined indoors , one realised that  a small box opened many possibilities. This discovery came as an enlightenment.  The heart of the kitchen lies in this magical box and as they say – 
“Where hearth is , heart is ‘ , this small storage box  genuinely turned out to be  the king maker of the kitchen , keeping everything  in circulation,  a right mix of taste and flavour, an immunity loaded boxand had immense health benefits to list a few. 
If it could tell its own tale , it would definitely say :
I have a colourful world of my own, there are various stories  encircled inside me, I depict and carry various phases of sacrifice within me, at times intact despite of rough weather, temperature or pressure ,at times  crushed  to core and at times losing one’s identity to form the mixed identities.  Your lives are indispensable without me as I add flavour ,taste and spice to your life.Its a small world ,fluttering cluttering , only at a pinch . Like an oasis in the middle of nowhere,  I have become a saviour to many culinary delights. Making many lives more organised, colourful and in good in taste( tasteful).

As these testing times made us ,the humans, enter the forbidden territory called the kitchen, more often, and as I took it’s full-fledged takeover. I m still discovering its virtues and vices , but this small magical ingredient box has played wonders for me. As I take charge , I have the choice of filling or refilling it with my favourite magical and mystical ingredients. 
Though I’m not a novice , and can easily distinguish  yellow pulses from the orange one or wheat flour from the refined one, but the recent discovery has come as a welcome surprise , the ingredients inside it , which need regular circulation and upgradation,  supply the taste , flavour and fervour to every bite we consume.
Eureka! The treasure trove had been found. As life became bereft of outside food , the homemade food became the new normal.  Many like me found the values and benefits of good health in their own kitchens.A small box of  spices became the rescue box for many ,like me, with its loaded goodness required  in minute quantities.
As the omnipresent fast food is  not fast anymore and takes a backseat, the goodness of the spice box has come to the  forefront. 
From Gun to Garam Masala,  this box can handle all the spices.  Powder or standing spices,  the strategic blend has produced the most exotic dishes world over.As the  nostalgia sets the  old world charm , I am transported to times when grandparents in earlier times used the motor and pestle to grind their fresh spices while cooking. 

: Faint memories became fresh when this box was unboxed,fondly I remembered  the generous spread of lip smacking delicacies in the ancestral home steaming with aroma and flavours taking charge of my taste buds and olfactory senses. 

:Countless stories narrated end number of times on old age recipes  by grandparents about the closely guarded secrets pertaining to making of the legendary stuff with culinary prowess was all based on specifications for using the spices and condiments in roasted or grounded form , coming out of this small magical box. 

:This box is originator and protector to many ancient and royal recipes. Call it a treasure or ammunition box , this small steel /wooden/plastic box with its amalgamation of various magic potions has given birth to many new tasteful stories as well as keeping many ancient stories are still intact.This small box has acted as a game changer, as many stalwarts transformed their simple dishes to masterpieces . The credit goes to the sizzling chemistry between the spices gracing this small box. This prized possession,  heirloom for many as family legacy has acted as the solution box for centuries now.
Masala chai to sprinklers for garnishing, home remedy for cold to tooth ache , migraine to antiseptic remedies , this small box has all the solutions. Call it the powerhouse container or the  store house , no dish is complete without its opening. 

Yes! this quintessential box has every time a new story to tell.The heart of the Indian kitchen and cooking truly lies in this small box,which keeps alive the fresh flavour of the food and makes our heart beat and gives a new lease of life with various fragrances sashying their way out of the kitchen .

So next time when you enter your kitchen , don’t forget to atleast appreciate and admire the  small box by refilling the humble yet power generating mini box of spices .

“ Secret of happiness is vanity but the secret of variety , like the secret of spices is knowing when to use them.”

 -Daniel Gilbert 

And this Masala Dani  always comes handy ,to our rescue.

Trenches at R.R Hills

Early morning start  from  Gwahati, being  in  a  civil  hired  vehicle,  as  a  part  of  large  Army  convoy,  the  only  thing  which  came  to  my  mind  was    a phrase  “a  rolling  stone  seldom  gathers  moss”  and  so  here  I  was , travelling  to  reach  my  destination  .As  being part of Army life never let’s a dull moment  in. The life in the Army , takes us to places, which one would not even think of travelling to,  in wildest of their dreams.

But then this is the beauty of travelling the country, as Army life comes with its own set  of perks and privileges . 

As my journey began,    Karupetia  in Assam,  became  my  first  halt, moving  further  towards  Tejpur,  I  realised  the  importance  of  the  place,  in  terms  of  a  military  establishment,  as ,  till   this,  very  place,  the  Chinese  army  marched,  during  the  aggression  of  1962.  Next,  As  I   crossed,  the  place , called  Balukpong,  it  was  time  to  say  goodbye  to  the  long  plain  roads,  as     the  hills welcomed   me , with densely forested areas and banana plantings along the road side with regular water falls on the way,   but  not  a  single  roadside  vendor  or  kiosks  on  the  way  to  be  seen,  except  for  the  hardworking  hill  folk  pedestrians  .The  tiresome hill journey with twists and turns accompanied  with motion sickness and bumpy ride  continued till  we reached our next halt, called ‘ Sessa’ ,  for  lunch  . As I  moved  beyond  Sessa,

  along the roadside ,  there  were   end  number  of  epitaphs in  the  memory of the people , who met with accidents,  reminding  us  about  the  road  safety  norms,   and  cautionary  warnings  for  the  drivers.. ,   . As I touched the   place  called  Tenga,   one was welcomed with colourful flags  and  symbols  pertaining  to  Buddhism,  but  still  the  journey  appeared  to  be  never-ending,  with  each  hair-pin  turn, I  became  restless , by the time I reached   Bomdila, I was only cribbing  and cursing my luck,   to  be  struck  in  this  corner  of  the  country.  All I  could   do  now,  was  to  just  hit  the  bed  and  wait  for  the  morning  to  happen  ,    but  that  too  happened  a  bit  early,  as  Arunachal  Pradesh  is   known as the land of rising sun,  and  so  I  was  welcomed  by  the  first  rays  of  the  Early  Sunrise.


As  one  took  to  expoloring  the  place,  one  could  see   ladies carrying babies strapped  to  them,   with pink cheeks and running noses  clung  to  their  mothers  like  baby  monkeys,  but  the  women-folk  in  their  Bakku  looked  absolutely  adorable , the  older  lot was  the  most   hard-working,   carrying   the wooden logs on  their  backs,  and  walking  for  miles. 

  The upper and lower Gompa  of   Bomdila  with  vibrant  and  colourful  flags  and  soothing  sound  of  the  prayer  wheels , with  monks  soaking  the  sun,  made  the  place  all  so  calm  and  serene,  but  something  vital  was  yet  to  be  explored.  Bomdila is  also  known  for  other  reasons  as  well   , as  it  registers  the  presence  of  heavy  military   establishment  here. It  is  the  same  place  which  along  with  Tawang  and  Rupa  saw  major Indian resistance, during 1962 Chinese aggression . The memories of which are still fresh in the minds of the people  here, as it was hard times for them, the locals. However   the Arunachali’s, took   it with pride and honour as  they helped Indian soldiers to fight against all odds, against the intrusion of Chinese soldiers.   Stories of war   have  become, the tales and folklore’s  here,  elderly so  fondly  recollect  the  happenings  of  the  past,  stories being handed down from one generation to another.

   For Indian soldiers it was a prolonged war against enemy , hostile terrain and biting cold , as we look into the history, we see that in the autumn of 1962 ,  Tawang  fell  to   the invading Chinese people liberation Army 

 And  in  Bomdila,  then  ,  the   Headquarter  of  Kameng  frontier division,  there was sheer panic.

.Though  the  place  is  abundant  with  the Heroism  of  our   jawans, who  fought without appropriate clothes  and rubber boots in such  hostile  conditions,  in  freezing  temperatures,  that  too,  unprepared.  The  spot  where  this  all action  took  place  is known  as  R.R hill  now.

 R.R hill stands witness to the Chinese aggression, it also holds within itself the  the  courage  ,  valour  and  sacrifice  of  Subedar  Pritam Singh, who   kept holding the position   till  the  last.  The trenches are  witness to the history, which look, as they have  been freshly   dug  up,  the valiant  young officers, who fought without any logistics support. Their names are etched   in  the  history, details of bravery, the direct confrontation  with  the  invaders, but  mostly  died  while retreating ,as the orders came, but along with them their heroic tales  lingers  on  for  decades  ,  as  well  as   of the locals  here,  who are not to be sidelined , as  they carried food for the  jawans on mules, then.

.The memorial  at  the  hill  is dedicated to the 

soldiers,  who  laid  down  their  lives,  who  fought the icy cold winds,  the  ones  who  faced  the   extremity of the nature ,  how unprepared soldiers fought a war with Chinese in freezing temperatures ,  even  the  Chinese soldiers walked for days without food  ,  just surviving on  the   wheat  dough, and reached Bomdila , and now this  place  is  witness  to  the  history,  when  the  Chinese  infiltrated  behind  the  Indian  lines  by  launching  multi-directional  attacks,  as  they  caught  our  soldiers  unaware   ,  but   still   had  to  face  stiff  resistance  from  the  platoon  of  I Sikh  LI under  Subedar Pritam Singh.

Though  the  platoon fought  ferociously,  it  lost  most  of  its  men.  Subedar Pritam  Singh  despite  of  his  bullet  injuries,   outnumbered  the  enemy  and   refused  to  be  evacuated  and  fought  bravely  against  them.  When  the  situation  became  grim,  he  and  his  men   with  their   bayonets  unsheathed,  emerged  from  their  trenches  with  the  war  cry  ”  Wahe  Guruji  ka  Khalsa,  Wahe  Guruji Ki  Fateh.”

Now,  As  I  see, around  me  ,  along  with  the  memorial,  lies  the     trenches   ,  the  observers  of  the  historical  event  ,  which  changed  our  equation  with  our  neighbours  forever.   But  apart  from  this  ,  the  trenches,    reminds  me  of  the  blistered  hands   of  the  soldiers, which  must  have  ached  while  digging  them,  but  then  so  tired   at  the  end  of  the  day,  these  constraint  spaces  must  have  served  a  wide  purpose,  as  they  also  acted  as  beds  for  the  exhausted  souls,  while  they  slept  peacefully.  Yes,  they  are  still  lying  here  as  a    witness  to  the  happenings  of  the  past,  have  acted  as  frontiers  as  well  as  power points , have  supported  arms  and  ammunition’s,  life line     in  the  form  of  supply points,  as  it  was  through  these  trenches  the  soldiers  were  provided  their  ration  ,  one  may  also   find  the  old  scraps  of  tin  cans    here,  in  harsh  weather  these  trenches  acted  as  a  shield  for  the  soldiers,  dawn  to  dusk,  as  boredom  persisted  accompanied  with  fatigue  and  exhaustion  ,  the  only  source  of  recreation  was  letters  from  the  home ,  read  and  re-read  by  these  soldiers  in  the  narrow  trench  ,  by  the  candle  light.  In  the  final  moments,  while  bleeding  to  death,     the   moans  of  the wounded  men ,  their  war  cry,  all  was  soaked  by  the  soil  in  the  trenches,  as  their  dust  covered  bodies  lay  in between  these  spaces,  these    confines  have  now  become  the    markers  and  makers  of  the   history.   

  ”  To  save  your  world  you  asked  this  man  to  die:

Would  this  man,  could  he  see  you  now,  ask  why?


The  trenches  are   reminiscent  of  the  world  of  sacrifice  and  courage  of  our  valiant  soldiers  and as  one  visits  these  trenches  spread  across  the  Pass,  they  remind  us :

” Their  shoulders  held  the  sky  suspended;

They  stood  and  earths  foundations  stay;

What  God  abandoned,  these  defended,

And  saved  the  sum  of  things  for  pay.”

-A.E Housman., 

Dad’s Maruti 800

We  had  turned  a family  of  doubters,  as  the  ongoing  list of  spectators  was  on  rise  day by day.

Dad was in serious retrospection mode but solutions were none, adding on to the confusion.

He had plethora of options around him but this was not a cake walk for him,  not as easy as choosing a soap or toothpaste brand, though in today‘s day and age fetching even the simplest of things is an uphill task.

Decades ago , dad was confronted with the similar dilemma, when he graduated himself from a two-wheeler driver to a full fledged four wheeler owner.

He was not ready to part from his second hand scooter, which he bought in times of financial crisis , the reason he could not go for the brand new purchase.

Though , those times were economically not viable and even the sporadic troubles given by the scooter were a regular feature adding on to the monthly expenses.

But the nostalgia of the long rides , still rekindles so many memories. Traffic laws being less stringent and lesser vehicular traffic on the roads , back then, made four of us, a happy family on a joyride, that too without any hitch.

Monsoons or dreaded Summer heat, nothing mattered, as , we as kids just dangled our feet and were thrilled seeing the world around , that too moving , with the wind brushing against  our faces.

Back then , we did not require any air conditioning , only what was required was a free spirited childhood, away from the superficiality of the society.

It was two decades back, that On the verge of  retirement from the Army , my dad decided to invest in a four wheeler, as it was more of a necessity for a family of five, which comprised of him, his better half, two grown-up teenage kids and a dog. Though , the car was small ,but upgrading to a four wheeler was a middle class dream come true , at those times.

This major buy was his second life time investment , after his home, though it lacked the safety standards , like the cars of today which offer airbags, air conditioners, auto gear or power steering or Windows,  but back then , the requirements were few.

As choices were less , so were the confusions.

But off late , this once life time achieved functional memento of my fauji (Army) dad ,has become  more of a standing joke with the family and friends. Same people who, appreciated and adored this major buy , now consider it as a, just a mere piece of junk , which lacks the basic amenities ,such as an air-conditioner. 

 Well of course ,according to them, as they flaunt their sedans and sport utility vehicles, this is more of an ancient or vintage piece, that too , without any antique value.

Though , this mighty buy of its times, abides by the norms and my dad rejects any intervention on our parts to persuade him for a new purchase, but the unavailability of the NOC (no objection certificate) from the concerned authorities has added on to his woes and to our joys.

Our fizzled out plans of the past, can now see the light of the day , as we look up to various offers with gusto and enthusiasm, to convince dad.His ‘old is gold’ phrase can be rephrased or replaced by ‘new is diamond’.

But the doubt still persists, so strongly in his mind, like ‘Hamlet’, “To be or Not to be”.

How can a two decade long association, come to a  grinding halt , how can the manual steering which he wrestled with his strong forearms be replaced by a power one , does it means that now he also lacks the capability of swerving or negotiating on his own, as the age progresses.

Do we have smart cars like smart phones , and dumb drivers like dumb users now?? he argues!!

He has very well cleared his stance of buying a new one , on his terms and conditions.

It has to be within his budget , with all inbuilt facilities of today, if not then he will not exceed beyond his budget or shell out some extra shillings and will continue with his old love , no matter what.

While, for the rest of the family it has become a herculean task ,as  In a confused state of mind , we are working out on luxury as well as on the economics of the budget car .

But it seems , with variety of offers and numerous hatchbacks , we are just falling into the spiral trap.

Times gone by, were much more simple , but at present  with each passing day ,the confusion increases and dad’s choice of simple things makes sense.

To match up to the neighbours and friends , and drawing comparisons has only denigrated our decisive capabilities.

The epiphany of various offers , their delusive charm has only accentuated  our state of confusion.

So finally, to eradicate this impasse, we have turned back to the basics, 

where we all have agreed that dad knows the best, we have learnt our lesson,  that ‘grass is always greener on the other side’ no amount of coaxing or comparisons can remove our confusions. We have accepted our fault as ‘diamonds are bright by mere reflections’ and gold continues to shine on its own, dad continues to be an alchemist and we mere doubters in a confused  state.

Purana Dak khana 

Purana Dak -Khana (Old Post-Office)Dagshai in Himachal Pradesh is one of the oldest Cantonments in India. Dagshai derives its name from the word ‘Daag-e-shahi’, which means ‘Royal mark’,put on the forehead of the criminals during Mughal rule there.

Dagshai holds within itself abundance and rich History of British times in India.

On one side there are cemeteries , churches and cottages dating back to British regime and on the other side we have Dagshai Jail once visited by Mahatma Gandhi.
But still, Dagshai is a lost forlorn hill station with hard rocky terrain,due to which it goes unnoticed in comparison to Kasauli and Shimla, which are almost an hour distance from Dagshai.

Similarly, The Post Office at Dagshai which comes under Heritage Building and is very much functional, but has not got its dues in terms of popularity. It is also a major witness to Historical happenings at Dagshai.

So next time when you happen to visit Kasauli or Shimla, do visit Dagshai and especially this cute little structure of historical significance. — at Dagshai Hills, HP

The old Post box 

Post-Box @ Kasauli club
Kasauli, a beautiful hill-station is a major tourist attraction of Himachal, as it holds with-in self beauty and rich history of British-Era. One can find beautiful Bungalows, some dating back to British rule, apart from this we have Tibetan market, Sunset-point, Monkey-point ( called so, because it is believed that, Lord Hanuman set his foot at that very point in search of Sanjeevani-booti), then we have the famous Lawrence school at Sanawar, Famous writer Ruskin bond was born in Military Hospital , Kasuali, The Raj-villa is the name of the bungalow of eminent writer and journalist Late Khushwant Singh.
Apart from the above mentioned attractions, Kasauli club is one of the landmarks of Kasauli, it was established in 1880 by the Britishers, as Summer retreat for the members , it is still the social centre of the town, as we enter the club or move across from outside, we get the first glimpse of the history in the form of a ‘Post-Box’, which can be seen near the entrance of the club. This Post-box is believed to be the major source of communication between the British soldiers and their families in the past, as it was very much functional then.

It is a beautiful piece of History, and witness to many beautiful writings between the families, and now it stands near the entrance to the club as a guardian, care-taker and as a host to the club members. So next time when you happen to visit Kasauli, do visit the club even if a non- member of the club you still get to see this historical piece visible from the road-side, majestically standing . A close look at the ‘Post-Box ‘ will make you realise that it is in the shape of a crown, as only the elite and rich used it for their correspondence, in the past. — in Kasauli.

Gold Umbrella 

Umbrella ( Chattar) at Jwalaji
Visiting ‘Jwala ji’ temple in Kangra, Himachal Pradesh is a voyage of a world where History ,Science and Technology coexists creating a divine realm out of their own mix, which results in the immense faith of the devotees. 

> Some spiritualties cannot be researched. Science and Religion are like the track of a rail which cannot join together but yes they do run parallel to each other.

> ‘Jwala ji’ is the name of Hindu Goddess who is said to reside as an eternal flame since times infinity, in Kangra located in Lower Himalayas.

> The flame has been burning since time immemorials.


> The religious history depicts that when lord Shiva was in unconscious state due to death of his wife Sati, who then threw herself in holy altar after her father accused and insulted Lord Shiva.

> It was then lord Vishnu divided Sati’s body into fifty one pieces which fell on the earth at various places.


> These places came to be known as ‘Shakti Peeths’ and the place Sati’s tongue fell is known as ‘Jwala ji’ .

> It is here the flawless blue flame burns.

> Some say it could be a natural gas reserve but nothing has been validated. Science has been unable to answer the reason behind the immemorial flame.

> Devotees and believers all over India and abroad throng the temple to seek the blessings of the divine.

> Every time I visit this magnificent and historical temple, the feeling of faith and spirituality resurfaces.

> Adjacent to the temple, there is a big hall with a huge glass box enclosing an umbrella shaped plate called the ‘Chattar’ of about one and a quater quaintal of some known and unknown alloys till date.

> The legend has it, that listening to the rising name of miraculously and constantly running jyoti (flame), Akbar sent his General to Jwala ji to test the presence of this miracle in this world. The General tried to extinguish the flames by putting various thick sheets of iron on top. 

> However the powerful and divine jyoti’s of Maa Jwala came above tearing the sheets.

> The General was still not ready to accept his defeat and went up the hill to get a river down the hill through temporary path of stones. He then flooded the auspicious flames with water. As the temple was flooded with water the jyoti’s started floating on the water.


> The General had to accept his defeat and Akbar realizing his fault went barefeet to Jwala ji and offered the Gold Chattar (umbrella) as an apology, but the Divine presence refused to accept the offering and turned it into a dark metal or alloy.

> Seeing all this Akbar fell on Maa Jwala’ s steps and asked for forgiveness. Maa is said to have forgiven Akbar and he then returned back to Delhi happily.

> This Chattar can still be seen there , after paying obeisence to the divine and it is the biggest example of faith which can be seen as well as experienced. Jai Mata Di


The Nomadic life

The Nomadic life 
One thing that I miss the most in Delhi with onset of

summers is the cool and soothing climate of the hills.

Himachal is known for its simplicity and serenity, but apart

from these qualities, the distinct culture of Gaddis also

known as the shepherds is unique about the hills. With

setting of summers, these hill folks come back to their

habitats after roaming like nomads the whole winters in the

plains and in the lower parts of the hills.
Amid rugged snow covered mountains, these hardy shepherds with

their flocks of sheep are unaware and unaffected by the

happenings of the outside world.

These wanderers of the mountains all through the changing

seasons roam from one destination to another, witnessing some

of the most awe-inspiring terrains as well as facing the

toughest climatic changes.

The mere site of these beautiful hill residents with their

herd of goats, sheep and gaddi dogs itself depicts the aura

of romance around them.
Hill paintings such as the Kangra bride, the Gaddan(shepherd

woman) and the evocative folk songs so beautifully depict the

rich culture of these hill wanderers. The moving love story

of Kanju and chanchalo- folk heroes of the gaddis has been

immortalized by their folk songs.
Kunju used to visit Chanchalo, his sweetheart, secretly at midnight,

braving dangers. He had to cross a raging, torrential stream and then

pass through a dark forest where wild animals lurked. In the end, the

rivals of Kunju, armed with guns, proved to the more dangerous than

wild animals.
During the day, watching these Gaddis reaching the chosen

pastures to find some shade to rest-perhaps an overhanging crag-while

their flock grazes contentedly, is an amazing site. Seen from the

valleys below by those who are uninitiated, the sheep high on a

mountain-side appear as mysterious specks of white against a dramatic

blue green back-ground. At night, the glow from Gaddi fires-against

the rocks gives the feel of glow worms hovering over the

mountains. To while away the hours in solitude, the flute played

by the Gaddis is so enchanting and as melodious as the

cooing of a cuckoo.
 The charming hamlets between Palampur and Baijnath, in Kangra,

Chamba and a few other places in Himachal are the abode of

Gaddis and generates a breathtaking view of their existence,

survival and living.
But when a Gaddi is on the move, small rock caves in the mountains are

his abode. If he has to camp out in the open, and it becomes too cold

during the night, the Gaddi simply pulls a few live sheep over himself

to keep warm. Gaddi women, known as Gaddans or Gaddinis, keep the

hearths warm and spin and weave wool. The loose frock of white wool

(the chola), with a high peaked cap over their heads worn by the

Gaddis and Gaddans wearing a woolen frock and a printed petticoat

with traditional silver jewellery gives a peek a boo of their

rich heritage. Witnessing Cairns decorated with flags while

travelling on the roads leading to hills represents the abode

of a Gaddi deity , who must be appeased to ensure a safe

On festive occasions, there is music and dancing, and lungri(the

rice beer) is served as a drink. Watching the Gaddi men and

women performing the Natti or the Gaddi dance gives a

glimpse into their happy and jovial way of living. These

ardent devotees of Lord Shiva have made the hills the ‘land

of Gods’, called the ‘ Dev Bhoomi’.

Gaddis inimitable mode of living enables them to savour at will the

rare joys of a free, untrammeled yet challenging lifestyle amidst some

of the most breathtaking scenery and their entire way of life

is built around the welfare of their folks.
For us the outsiders visiting hills and getting the glimpse

of their tough as well as terrific lives is an experience

of a lifetime.

Himachali Monalisa

Himachali Mona Lisa
Kangra valley in Himachal Pradesh is a rich source of art, and culture. It is surrounded by snow-clad Dhauladhars, which in turn generate a breath-taking view. Kangra has a lot of significance in terms of Historical happenings in Himachal.  
Apart from famous Kangra fort, there are many other places in Kangra which makes it of utmost importance and puts it on the world map.
Andretta is one such place in Kangra. The famous Sobha Singh Gallery is located here.

Sir Sobha Singh settled in Andretta in 1950 and now his house has been converted into an Art Gallery and Museum.
This gallery showcases his world famous paintings. One of the most appreciated and acknowledged works of Sobha Singh is the ‘Kangra Bride’, a beautiful painting of a bride demurely sitting on a modest palanquin and looking out. All dressed up in fine Himachali jewellery :A big nose-ring, red bangles, saggi phool ,kaliras, toe-rings and anklets. 
The painting portrays a beautiful hill bride leaving her parents place and going to her husband’s house. A beautiful pahari bride in all her elegance and with her dreamy almond shaped eyes leaving her home with lots of memories and looking towards the hills, as the palanquin moves forwards .
Kangra Bride painting by Sir Sobha Singh is no less than Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Mona Lisa’ or some may also term it as Kangra’s ‘Mona Lisa’

Work in Progress 

The work is in progress, upgrading of human status from developing to developed via broadening of the roads is becoming the sign of a progressive Nation.Well, why not , if travelling and commuting becomes easy, then it will make the lives of travellers/commuters much easy.
Necessity is the mother of all inventions, but when our basic needs leap to the level of luxury , the human needs become greeds.

Hamirpur is of the youngest districts of Himachal Pradesh, being in close proximity to Una and Punjab , the weather it shares is more in accordance with its neighbouring State , instead of being a hill town with cool climes.

In comparison to other districts , it has always been considered to be dry and arid climate wise.

But it does have its share of beauty and serenity. As a child this part of Hamirpur always fascinated me. The road leading from Deputy Collector’s residence to newly made bypass at Bhota chowk ,has always been the major attraction of this place.
But this time , childhood nostalgia didn’t strike me, as the work was in progress with upcoming two-laned highway , just in front of my house, I was not greeted by my old buddies. My tall buddies were no where in sight, may be it was due to my night bus and exhaustion caused by it. After all a day long, early morning travelling from Delhi to Hamirpur , a journey comprising of almost 12 hours of sitting, was playing a spoiler in keeping my mood upswing.
May be an early morning stroll would give me a better view of my buddies, I thought.
As I stepped out of my parents house in the morning, to greet the pure, clear and clean air of the place , known to be a pseudo hill, but still retaining its mark of being raw and rustic in terms of life style here, to my dismay a puff of dust greeted my nostrils. I pondered over the ineffectiveness of my buddies , who always stood to the occasion in the past, but at present , where were they, they always flaunted their great heights , at times scaring us by swaying left to right in the middle of the storm.

But now where were they , were they playing hide and seek with me , or was it a prank played on me , for my absence for so long and once a year visit.

The city is prospering with educational hubs, newly opened multistoryed buildings in the market, erasing the old slate houses , giving way to matchbox sized apartments, to meet the overgrowing demands of bursting population, and inflow of visitors.

But amidst all this , I kept looking for my old friends across and along the roads. 

All along , rock sized boulders could be seen, with progression a diversion board greeted me ,at every turning accompanied with potholes and bumpy rides.
Wait a minute! I just spotted some thing familiar , alongside dusty and muddy roads , I could spot my badly bruised and axed buddies. Lying in neglect , adding on to their misery , the reason I could not spot them earlier, but now seeing them Like this was a heart wrenching site.
Yes , the work is in progress, for better or worse , I don’t know ,but I have for sure lost my buddies , my childhood friends , my long Pine trees. 

Once a place surrounded with thick pine forests, housing numerous fauna, with its flexible branches which bounced in unison, is now a mere painful site with felled and axed trees.

My tall upright standing buddies have given up , for my betterment, for the work in progress, even if it was at the Cost of losing their lives. And now , all you see is their butchered branches and trunks, uprooted, piled up on the roadside in mangled heaps.
Was this , a gift of environment day or the from the month of June for my buddies, who always supported me, in my thick and thin.

Avenues once prospering with thick shades of greens , with canopies of pine trees are now mere rubble strewn.

The forests on the roadside have been denuded of green belt cover.
My rooted, shady co-inhabitants are long gone, now just lies their skeletons, which are still in use 

for us and being ruthlessly used , for purpose of firewood ,to making of barricades.

I learnt it late, that these green tall pine trees were actually a hindrance towards a progressive human society, so bulldozers and brazen tree choppers were called in for the ongoing development project. 

So now we are soon upgrading to a city without shades, which was essential for uplifting the society.

And so I mourn in silence , the loss of my highway buddies, but I need to move on, .

Hamirpur of yore is drastically different from Hamirpur of today.

Rising buildings , palatial houses with financial status is the mark of progress , where my green buddies played a major hindrance.
But I m from the old world, may be towards regression, a tree hugger, pine cone collector ,bird observer, and an old timer, who fails to abide by the rules and norms of a progressive society.

May be I call myself , a lover of the old world charm. I miss my buddies.


My Salt-Pepper look

 I have  touched  thirties  and  with  it,  i  came  face  to  face  with  the  harsh  reality  of  life.  I  have  officially  become  a  grown-up  and   a validated  ‘middle-aged’  now.  The  lush  black  crop  of  my  head  has  now  many  alarming  grey  specks.The  crowning  glory  of  lavish  black  has  now  many  new  visitors,  who  will  soon  become  the  permanent  members,  by  overtaking  the  black.  

Yes!!  very  soon  the  black  will  give  way  to  white,  but  we  do not  call  them  so.  As  the  word  ‘white’   sounds  so  harsh  and  constantly  may  remind  us,  especially  the  ladies  and  mommies , about  getting  old  and  aged.For  white  hair , on  my  or  your  head  we  use  a  much  more  sober  or  may  call  it  more  sophisticated  term  known  as  ‘grey’  hair,  where  we  console  our selves  with  the  hope  and  possibility  of  still  having  the  black  hair.  Well  a  mix  of  ‘black’  and  ‘white’  colour  does  give  us  ‘grey’  so  term  grey  is  used  frequently.  But,  apart  from  this  there  are  several  other  ways  to  console  ourselves,  we  may  term  our  ‘greying  hair’  as  ‘salt  and  pepper’  look  or  even  as  silver  streaks.

Trust  me  i  am  still  coming  in  terms  with   my  grey  hair,  am  i  getting  old!!!!!!!Should  i  flaunt  my  salt  and  pepper  look  or  go  in   for  regular  parlour  visits  for  camouflaging.  Am  i  fighting  a  losing  battle.  Should  i  accept  my  fate  and  defeat.No  not  really!!!!  though  it  may  be  depressing  and  demoralising.  I  have  still  consoled  myself.  I  confess  that  i  have  Googled  the  Net  endless  times  for  help.  Tried  number  of  remedies,  from  Yoga  to  rubbing  of  my  finger  nails,  even  tried  home remedies,  such  as  washing  my  hair  with  herbal  products  and  even  henna-dyed  my  hair,  in  order  to  avoid  the  chemical  products,  but  all  in  vain. 

Grey  hair  could  be  attributed  to  various  reasons  such  as  stress,  pollution,  chlorinated  water,  unbalanced  diet  or  ageing,  and  especially  in  ladies  after  child-birth.But  cheer-up  ladies  there  is  no  need  to  worry  ,  as  motherhood  is  a  blessing  and  an  achievement.  So  need  not  worry.We  females  are  constantly  told  that  we  are  supposed  to  be  eternally  youthful,with  sparkling  skin  and  toned   body.  Men  with  grey  hair  may  be  attributed  with  mature  and  attractive  looks  but  ladies  are  labelled  as  old  and  unattractive.  With  first  strand  of  grey  and  crows  feet  near  our  eyes,  we  feel  that  our  stagnation  process  has  started.  We  dread  ageing ,  but  this  is  the  law  of  nature,  we  can’t  be  sweet 16  or  forever 21.  Lets  accept  ageing  gracefully,  we  are  not  mannequins  but  humans,  made  of  flesh  and  blood,  who  cry,  smile,  laugh,    and  get  laugh lines  as  well.  So  chill  and  relax,  otherwise  greying  will  increase  with  tension  and  stress.Rather  welcome  these  signs  of  ageing  with  grace,  to  age gracefully.  Yes   till  recently  i  was  worried,  but  now , I  proudly  flaunt  my  ‘Shades  of  Grey’  ,  yes  i  have  developed  a  fabulous  hair  sparkles,  my  all  natural  non-chemical  grey  highlights. 

 Yes  i  may  claim  to  have  become  wise  with  my  greys,  my  wisdom  highlights.  Going  grey  is  a  pivotal  moment  in  woman’s  life.  You  may  opt  for  dyes  or  go  natural  with  grey  shades.  Let  your  hair  follicles  breathe,  show-off  your  hair-roots.  It  is  the  God  gifted  graffiti  on  you.  So  display  it  proudly.Well,  about  my  salt  and  pepper  look,  i  give  the  credits  to  my  experience  and  hard labour.  The  sleep-deprived  nights,  the  parenting  stress  has  majorly  contributed  to  my  streaks  of  grey.And  i  am  not  complaining,  as  these  are  the  stripes  of  motherhood   given  to  me  by  my  ‘Suns’  and  ‘moons’,  yes  these  are  my  silvery  twinkling  stars,  on  my  head  of course.Let  us  take  all  this  in  a  optimistic  and  a  jovial  way.  Let  positivity  spread.Ageing  gracefully  is  all  about  maturity  and  if  it  is  complimented  and  accompanied  with  grey    hair,  then  it  becomes  more  like  ‘ an  icing  on  the  cake.

‘Having  grey  hair  is  not  a  problem  but    rather  it  is  a  ‘silver  lining  in  the  black  clouds,,  so  ladies  just  enjoy  and  make  hay  while  the  Sun  shines.