How to make friends on the road?

This is one question I have been asked way too many times.

How do you manage to make friends on the move?

Well it’s easier than you may think and this isn’t subject to being an extrovert alone. No I am not a social butterfly or an extremely outgoing person in general and no it is not awkward to talk to random strangers. In fact I have built some of the most long lasting friendships on the road and soon you shall realize that the fun in traveling or backpacking is in the people you meet on the way and the relations you build along your travel journeys.

I have been traveling a long while, which is why I am going to give you super easy and quick pointers as to how you can make friends while you travel.

If you have any more ideas please feel open to sharing them in the comments section below the article!

1. HOSTEL!

Hostels are the way to go peepal!

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Skip that hotel and pick a travel hostel. Travel hostels are designed into existence so you meet like-minded people and fellow travelers. This is by far one of the easiest hacks to meet new people when you travel. Share stories, learn new stuff, sing along bonfires and eat together over beer. Hostel cafes and bars are the go-to place to catch up with a crowd belonging to different edges of the world.

2. Share a meal!

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YES, that’s right. FOOD. As weird as it may sound initially, this is one thing I have learnt from my personal experiences. Share a meal at a local bar or a café, at the hostel kitchen or a chai shop, and you will find words running out of your mouth with no extra effort added. But seriously, sharing a meal with a hungry traveler (I was starving when I found a girl who shared her fries with me. Seriously guys, I am talking yummy golden fried – French fries and cheese dip. Slurpp 😉) might just do wonders. Delicious feed = Loads of friends = You are welcome 😉

3. Join Meet-up sites.

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This isn’t something I have personally experienced, but learning from an old friend’s experiences I am willing to try this on myself. There are plenty of Facebook pages and websites where you can meet like-minded people and build conversations. Share a sport or a hobby and see your comment section flood. Post your location and learn how people around gather to help you. This is one of the easiest introvert-travel-hacks. This is the digital age, and we have plenty of apps flooded on our play stores. Pick one, join it and find fellow travelers willing to join you, weather it is a day trip or a week’s trek, a sit down supper or a social gathering, you are sure to find some help here.

4. INSTAGRAM!

screenshot-2017-09-15-15-01-37-e1505468097871.pngYup. You read that right. This is one of my most favorite social networks to meet and plan adventures with fellow travel bloggers and travel enthusiasts. Alright, this isn’t really a way to make friends while you are literally on-the-road, but Instagram is an easy place to find safe and legitimate travelers. I have built friendships over Instagram and have a bunch of people willing to travel with me in the future. I have even found kind hearted individuals willing to help me with local travels, from across borders.

5. Ask people questions.insurance-640x320

That’s right buddy. Asking people questions about the place, where to find a certain kind of food or anything about the place you are in. A secret to this is portraying an attitude of a tourist. Ask very touristy questions to locals and you will see an entire conversation building up. An addition to this is the fact that people enjoy talking about themselves, so take interest in the people you talk to. Ask them questions about themselves and not just the place.

Many people I know personally have told me how difficult they find even exchanging looks with strangers, let alone words.

Well, I am here to say – You are not alone. I was also one among you until a few years ago. I had no other option but to seek help form the people around me with my luggage as I was travelling from Leeds to London with my entire student luggage in hand (30kg+20kg+10kg+10kg). That is a lot of luggage when your mode of transport in the city of London is the underground and you are all alone, added to that the pressure of less than 2 minute halts at the boarding station. That was moment I realized it’s not the end of the world, asking for help from strangers or even talking to them randomly. 

You just need to get your fear out.

6. Stay open to new experiences2986486d7725736e74ac1d87784dc839--adventure-awaits-adventure-travel

A random bicycle race, a quick day trek, trying a random food dish, dressing up like the locals, sharing embarrassing stories from past, playing the guitar, learning a new dance form. ANYTHING and EVERYTHING. If you want to make friends en-route travels you have to, HAVE TO be open to crazy, wild, new experiences. Indulging in local activities, volunteering for a local campaign, learning a new language, all these are ways you will make new friends. And believe me when I say this, the friends you make sharing experiences will remain with you forever.

 

 

 

Got yet another tip or any information that would help the readers? Feel free to leave in the comments section below.

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#HappyTravels peepal <3

Why are we the best versions of ourselves when we travel?

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To explore the world is a gift in oneself. To be able to meet new people, share new experiences and grow with the world is something I never lose sight of. The feeling of being on a plane; walking that narrow street toward the cathedral; sky diving in the air of Switzerland; climbing one of the many ranges of the Himalayas; sitting in a cafe with a bunch of unrecognizable faces and still being able to share stories of a lifetime; doing the many things you otherwise would have never done. Have you ever wondered what is it that makes us want to travel more? I mean who doesn’t love the idea of a comfortable bed in a big space in the suburbs of the city which junk food and Netflix to the rescue?

But yet, there is an urge to see new things. Why do we feel so great when we travel? Is it about finally having to click snaps in those picture perfect locations? Or to post check-in status’s on social media for the world to know how amazing our life is? Is it the freedom to meet new people and socialize? Or is it something more than that? Something with a deeper intent or something as simple as freshly brewed coffee?

All of us will have different answers to all the questions stated above. Although my reasons might seem more personal, they are more universal and I am sure most of you would strike a chord with me on this.

Reasons why I am the best most authentic version of myself when I travel:

  1. Experiences will always have an upper hand

From a trainee to a senior level executive, from $100 to $2000 a month, from Benetton to Louis Vuitton, from Honda to a Mercedes, all our lives we aim to be better, bigger and run for all the materialistic achievements. What we fail to understand is how perishable our wants are, in this unbelievably materialistic world. What we ignore believing is indeed a very simple fact; experiences will always have an upper hand. While having a big house or a high end car looks satisfying to the world, what matters the most are the experiences we gain out of life.

From my last travel journey, some of my most memorable moments have nothing to do with which car we hired to drive across the hills, or which hotel we stayed in, but instead about the way our team pushed our car out of a waterfall for over an hour; or how I walked up to a total stranger in a café who I am best friends with now or how I found soul worthy connection midst the crowd.

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Travel, for me, has been about finding the new world. Every single time the plane lands onto new grounds, I cannot wait to walk the trail, or taste local food, or even make a new friend over a hot cup of coffee or chilled beer. Every time I travel, I know I am embarking upon a new story of my life, all beautifully gift wrapped around exciting experiences that will stay with me forever even after the leather from my MK bag wears out.

  1. Getting lost is a good feeling!

Only a handful of you are probably going to agree with me on this one. But I truly believe that being lost is not always upsetting.

I was walking the streets of a small village called Zermatt in Switzerland to find myself some good coffee. Almost half way through I realized I forgot the way back to my hotel. There are two types of reactions to a situation like this: panic and try to run back to your hotel and just order room service; be bold and embrace the feeling of being lost and trusting yourself in the hour of need. That’s what I did. I smiled and walked anyway, looked for a pretty wooden café with dim lights, walked in and asked in broken English, for some cuppachino ;). Although it took me over an hour and a half to find my way back to my hotel, on the way I discovered a beautiful little chapel with a catholic wedding on, a quintessential café with mouth-watering coffee and french-bread, streets I would have never walked otherwise and photographs I now keep as self-created souvenirs for myself.

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Getting lost is a good feeling. It’s about how to react to the feeling that decides your course of action. Ever since that (and many other) incident, I have found myself embracing and cuddling my lost soul. I have learnt the ability to adapt to challenging situations. It’s a power, to be so beautifully decorated even when the world around you seems hard to deal with.

  1. Trust – the world and yourself

Enjoying being a lost soul has taught me how to trust myself in the need of the hour. Travel on the other hand, also makes you have faith in the unknown faces of a new place. It makes you build trust in the unknown.

The world is a bitter place, true. And we sure should be careful of the people we engage ourselves with. But the world is more empathetic than we could imagine.

One evening in Granada, Spain, I met a girl and ended up having one of the most amazing conversations of my life. I still remember her words and how fearlessly, she offered me dinner at a local diner. She learnt I was a vegetarian and had difficulty finding vegetarian food in the city, so helped me choose vegan tapas and even offered to walk me back to my hotel.

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It’s hard to be completely fearless on unknown land, in fact we shouldn’t even try to be so, but limiting ourselves because of our fear, and not willing to engage in subtle adventure defies what travel truly means to me. Travel pushes us to out our faith in kind strangers. That is the trust we need in this world. Breaking cultural and social barriers is what travel should be all about.

On the other hand, the ability to face fear, or move ahead of cultural or language barriers makes us trust ourselves. Travel helps us realize what truly matters and pushes us to run after our passions and dreams and fight for the our beliefs, helping us create meaningful lives.

Just imagine how it would feel to live a life without the chains of societal responsibilities, not being answerable to anyone but yourself or not being around people who tie you with expectations and rules and careful establishments?

Travel lets your do all of this by restoring your faith in your own self. You will meet a whole new person, trust me on this.

  1. Comfort is boring

You have a comfortable home in the urban, a fair enough job at an MNC, probably even come back home to a family, watch some TV and fall asleep. Wake up again and it’s the same cycle.

Anyone who has lived in a tent midst vast mountains on a night with feels of -10 degrees, with food not so great and milk getting cold in seconds would know the importance of patience and the fact that there is beauty even in the uncomfortable, that being flexible is a skill we should all master.

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Ever lost luggage at the airport? Ever felt your legs ache so much that you want to just take all your frustration out on the people around you? Ever gone hungry, and being offered nuts by a total stranger? The after feels are precious, aren’t they?

Travel teaches us to get off our comfortable couches switch the digital life off and for once face challenges stepping out of our daily comfort zones. And when things don’t work the way they were planned, we have to go with the flow, build a new plan in the heat of the moment and learn to flex ourselves with the situation.

  1. Everyone is human

We are all humans striving to be better in this world. Keeping aside all cultural differences, boundary and language barriers, religion and caste and all the superficial things in life, everyone and I mean EVERYONE is running behind the same things in life : Love, security, happiness and respect.

Travel has bought me face front with people both younger and older to me, people speaking a different language, richer and poorer; and I have learnt one of the most important lessons of my life: people are out there for love, respect, happiness and security. I have learnt to look past the superficial aspects of life and I have some lifelong friendships with people across the world. This is the beauty of travel, no judgement’s made.

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Last but not the least, I’d just like to say what I have truly believed in: Travel while you are able to, make time for it, because the person you are before a trip and the person you will after a trip, will differ. And you will fall in love with the world and yourself.

#Travelforlife

Zermatt – unending mountain romance

And then as we entered Zermatt our hearts pounded in happiness as we witnessed the mountains in the brochures walk out of the pages and stand in front of us, all tall and exquisite, coming to life all at once.

And then as we entered Zermatt our hearts pounded in happiness as we witnessed the mountains in the brochures walk out of the pages and stand in front of us, all tall and exquisite, coming to life all at once.

With the majestic Matterhorn shining in white and the hypnotic beauty of the village below, all our grievances, all our tiredness came to rest. Kids gluing their faces to the tall windows of the golden express, folks running through camera specifications to capture what were at an eyes distance and the silver heads blankly gazing at the tantalizing sight of snow taking natural forms in pure bliss, Zermatt was like walking into a real life fairy-tale.

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Located in the southern part of Switzerland, in the district of Visp, this German speaking village is nothing less than an alluring beauty to both mind and vision. Not a very commercial destination for tourists around the world (especially Indians), we were a family of four, and happened to visit this quintessential village on our way from Interlaken to Geneva. A two day stay in this beauty was all the rest we needed after all the thrill we experienced at Mt. Titlis and the Jungfrau Joch.

This car free village offers some of the best views of the high snow clad mountains of Switzerland right from the comfort of your bed. Just imagine waking up to fresh dew in the air, opening your eyes to shining white snow mountains and if your stars are shining in luck, then some fresh snowfall too. Offering non-stop mountain romance for all 365 days, this village has a population of less than 6000 inhabitants. Shops and boutiques shut at 5 pm and restaurants usually do not have more than three people working. The one thing I learnt from the people of Zermatt was to multitask. Hotels where the receptionist was also the chef and the house-lady, cafes where a man in his early forties was the owner and the gardener and the waiter and a lot more.

Zermatt lies under the exhilarating Matterhorn peak, which is where it gets its tag as a ski resort. Walking across the tiny bridges and into the narrow wavy lanes in this village, you will find some classy boutique stores and delicate cafes serving some of the best hot chocolate in the world. Also a paradise for stationary lovers (I am one, myself) Zermatt is filled with some insanely intricate stationary shops, offering some adorable range of paper crafts, books and journals.

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Image from : www.fuchs-zermatt.ch

My personal favorite experience in the village was my encounter with a local baker at a small German café. I was out there looking for a vegetarian cake to celebrate the eve of my parents 25th anniversary. I found myself running from café to café, bakery to bakery, just more saddened with failure to gather a vegetarian cake. One last bakery at the corner of Kirchstrasse street, had a kind old lady who cared enough to listen to my story and understood my absolute urge to find an egg less cake in the eleventh hour, offered to bake an egg less cake for my parents. I still cannot thank her enough for going out of her way to bake a cake for us. That was when I understood; people always want to help you, no matter where you go or who you are.

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Zermatt gave me a whole bunch of memory lanes, rich culture, interesting food and enchanting snow loaded mountains. As extraordinary as every other city in Switzerland gets, Zermatt is one of the closest to my hearts. Sure, there isn’t much to do in the village, but just the thought of zero pollution, zero vehicles, zero traffic, happy faces and a load full of snow, is like living in a world before the Pandora’s Box!

 

MIND THE GAP!

“Please mind the gap between the train and the station. This is Hounslow Central. The next station is Hounslow East. This is the Piccadilly line service to Cockfosters.”

“Please mind the gap between the train and the station. This is Hounslow Central. The next station is Hounslow East. This is the Piccadilly line service to Cockfosters.”

It was 5 degrees, 8 pm and the month of December when I got off at Hounslow – dark and quite. I pushed off the underground carrying my suitcase and a backpack and took off to the street. I knew no body, saw barely any people, barely any shops and with google maps found a hotel and checked myself in for 2 nights. I was a student back then and was on budget travel. It was also the first time I was travelling alone to London. I have been here before, with a few friends, but this time it was different. I was more responsible, more self-aware, and more alert to my surroundings. As I entered Days Hotel, I saw a big noisy gang of old men with friendly smiles and liquor spread across their tables. It seemed like they were celebrating something. I didn’t ask. I walked up to my room – a comfortable king size bed with a coffee maker on the bed side. Placing my luggage on the holders, I walked to the wall length window and peeked outside just to find a huge bunch of young boys and girls (probably undergraduates) walking to the train station. I was sure they were all heading for a party at the M.O.S (had overheard a chap)! I cozied up into the warm bed on that cold night all by myself, started some music and crashed in no time.

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The next morning I knew where to go, I had the entire Underground map registered in my head (also some help with the google maps! Wink wink). I headed straight to my favorite spot throughout London just to enjoy one of the best hot-chocolates in the city – The Zen café- right under the London eye. I took the underground got off at Westminster. I have my stories of this particular venue. I had been to this same place over 5 times in the past 2 years and it still seemed to connect to me in a way no other place in London ever did. Yes, it’s ‘The-place-for-tourists-from-around-the-world’, but for me it was about the chirpy voices of kids I didn’t know, the wide eyes of the old men and women I adored, the patience of men and women queuing up on the ticket counter. For me it was about my favorite hot chocolate made by the French guy I crushed on with hazel eyes. For me it was life. Seizing the beauty of that cold day with my eyes, I started toward this striking hidden beauty called ‘the-little-Venice’ of London. Although this place is most lively during London’s summer months, I decided to give my eyes a treat of its winter’s beauty. I started my walk from Warwick Avenue to the little Venice, and although I wasn’t as delighted as I was looking at the pictures of the place online, it still remains at the back of the mind. The dry leaves of that winter morning, the cold moisture that layered in the air, the colorful boats and the small street side pubs and cafes was what the place was all about.

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Post ambling around the beauty of the little Venice, I walked to Camden town and took an underground to Oxford Street to indulge in some retail therapy. I am a little brand conscious which makes me forget all my problems and fall in love with the entire stretch of what oxford street is. One can find all sorts of brands here – premium, mid-range, local – this place has it all. By 7 I was exhausted, literally. My backpack filled with all-things-shopped, my shoulders started to drop but I just couldn’t end my day without a final ‘english’ feel. I walked 10 minutes past the street to ‘Newman arms’, a traditional family run pub for a quick drink-and-chips session. I met a beautiful man there, 30 something years, and that place was no longer about drinks or the food, it was about the story that man shared with me and the sudden connection you feel with the unknown.

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I wrapped my day with some takeaway food and traveled back to my hotel. I read this quote inside a book my neighbor in the underground was reading and I can connect the most to it – “Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.”

That was how I spent one day in the city that enthuses me to feel free. Many people I know say I exaggerate what London really is. I just say ‘You don’t see what I see; you don’t feel what I feel’!

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Intersecting souls

An intimacy, the world wouldn’t understand. An intimacy from which you can never recover. Intersecting souls is all about that!

Have you ever laid eyes on a total stranger and felt something? You have no idea about them, you don’t even know their name, but then, there is something that strikes a cord in your heart. There is something that moved you the second you laid eyes on them. Everything felt right. Everything felt in place. The curiosity burns wanting to know more, because there is something that attracted you so much to them, and you just want to define that ‘something’. I mean, How often does it happen that the strings of your heart, mind, body and soul strike a note all at the same time? 

You dare to make a daydream. What could be? Did you picture the scene in your mind’s eye and make them your’s just for the moment? This scribbling exists because of the moment, the if’s and the day dreams. “Is it just me?” She wondered. “Or does this happen to a lot of other people? You know, the feeling when a beautiful soul attracts you to them like gravity and blows your mind away?”

It happened to her that eventful evening. When she walked in the cafe for a quick coffee and happened to see this stranger. He had the limelight, was the center of attention and the whole place was cheering for him. But that’s not what she saw. To her he was a guy very much lost in a world he had painted for himself, where no body was allowed. Where existed just him and his music. For the rest of them he was a musician doing his job. For her he was a lost soul trying to find himself amidst the shiny lights, the loud air, the smoke. The crowd cheered and grooved every time he played, but her heart dropped with every expression that settled upon his face against every beat. She knew there was more to him than what he portrayed. She knew there was pain and struggle and beauty beyond the look in his eyes. She knew she wouldn’t get over this evening for a very very long time. She knew the face, the serene beauty of feeling lost and his tired soul is not something worth forgetting. He was a stranger and she knew their souls had traversed.

It’s not every day that two souls cross over in a way that changes your entire perception about irony. She was in that place at that moment feeling lost herself, when she knew she wasn’t alone. In a place breathing of people from around the world, she found someone to share her lost soul with. The perfect stranger was around the corner just as much waiting to be found.

It’s not every day that a striking stranger crosses your path and leaves a haze of intrigue in your mind that distorts your focus for the moment. We sometimes somehow encounter people, who begin to interest us at first sight, somehow suddenly all at once, before a word has been spoken.

No promises

 

I am not going to make promises and say I will love you forever. Because here’s the truth: forever doesn’t exist. For some, forever’s extend until death pulls them apart. For some others, forever’s last a few months. For the rest not even a night. ‘Forever’ is just the result of one’s perspective, holding a different definition for each.

So yeah, I am not going to promise you forever, because I will promise you a ‘Now’. You are here in this moment with me. Both of us know we are going to part ways, and also meet again, because the world is fucking small and I believe in destiny. I found a connection with you, which I found with no one else, and I am a traveler. I hop from one place to another and meet hundreds of people on the road. But I have never met another you. I know I cannot stay here for long, and I know parting ways will be harsh. But a promise I can’t keep will only make it harder and more painful. And trust me when I say this, we think we can handle the aftermath, but we do not have that kind of pain threshold. My heart has been scattered, cheated on, stamped upon and broken a lot. Not just by men, but by family and by friends even. I have been promised forever’s from a lot of people who now only exist in my past. I don’t want you to be one of them. I want you in my present and in every coming present. That’s how much I wish for you. I know I cannot have you for all day every day of my life and I have silently accepted the reality. But I do want you in all the moments I know I can. And I want to be there for you as your guiding soul in whatever way I can.

It is not something that can be explained. Surely not something everyone would even understand. And I know the world is going to laugh this belief, this perspective away, even cheap tag it. But who cares? I sure don’t. I know I crossed paths with you for a reason. I know I feel my soul connect with yours for a reason. I don’t have to explain that to the world.

Because the world is not going to understand when I say how at peace I am with you being in the same room. They are not going to accept how quite we can be and still manage to talk to each other without exchanging words. They are not going to believe how only I can see the pain hidden within your hoarse voice. It is me, who gets the unsaid words behind your songs. It is me, who sees a whole universe running behind those shut eyes. It is me, who holds your hand to hold you altogether. It is me, who shares your worries at 3 am and it is me who understands that the world is never going to be fair, but chooses to be there for you, because in you I found my soulmate.

So I am not going to promise you forever, because forever’s are fading and in a time when we aint guaranteed even a tomorrow, forever to me will last only in the present. I am here today, I am here now and I will be the one holding your hand and cheering for you in the crowd, because I know what lies beneath those shiny deep brown eyes and under the cuts on those fingers. And that’s why I promise you a Now.

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The Gentle Rage

  • Treat a woman with equality.
  • Give them rights equivalent to men.
  • Stop making discriminatory statements against them.
  • They are no less than men.
  • There is a woman behind every successful man.
  • Women can reach the moon and the stars.
  • There is nothing a woman can’t do, that a man can.

How many times have you heard these ‘feminist’ statements? How many times have you seen media rushing and gushing with international stars putting butter over bread with quotes and talks on feminism? Who knows how much of these are even being followed or believed in? Or are they randomly moving caricatures wearing masks of feminism?

My idea of this article is not to induce feminist thoughts in you. My idea is not even to lecture you about what a woman is or what she should be in today’s world. We all have enough people out there throwing light in abundance on these ‘societal issues’. I am just a 25 year old trying to convey a few thoughts about what women these days silently go through. Stepping aside from the clichés of women empowerment and ‘beti-bachao-beti-padhao’; female objectification and women’s safety, I am here to tell you the silent killers that exist in our so call ‘society’ with which a girl, a woman fights in pin drop silence.

I am a very strong headed woman and I do not apologize for being one. Being strong headed means being stubborn and self-centered and filled with fuming anger. Or does it?

Let me try and explain what being strong headed really means. A strong headed woman is someone who is a full circle. She knows the difference between wants and needs. She has the ability to pick up the little broken pieces of her heart and carve it into a masterpiece of a kind. She is someone who never regrets her failed decisions, as a matter of fact treats them as a bunch of life lessons to tag along with.

The former ‘definition’ of a headstrong woman is what the society has tricked our minds into believing. And we poor little innocent people have fallen into the trap and accepted these societal definitions of such terms.

Coming to the point, what I am trying to pen down here is the fact that, it’s time for us all to understand that ‘Society’ is the silent killer in all our lives (or your own lives for that matter men/women).

There are a few questions I would like for you all to ask and find answers to if you can.

Why is it that so many boundaries have been created for women at every turn of their lives? “Oh you got your period? Let’s inform everyone we know that our little one has grown up.” “Oh you ARE on your period? Don’t keep the napkin leftovers in the bathroom. The men of the family might run into the embarrassment.” “Oh she goes to parties wearing those clothes? (Are bhai, samhaal ke rakho apni ladki ko, lag raha hai haath se fisal rahi hai).”

Why is it that they are given the freedom to live their lives and meet new people, but when it comes to making important decisions they are tagged as ‘not-being-fit’ to take big calls? “Dear family, I want to introduce you to someone I love = what the hell? You LOVE someone? How could you even? How dare you even? You are not old enough to make such important decisions of your life.”

Why is it that even when we give our women the freedom to speak, their words aren’t heard? “I wish to work after marriage. Not because it’s added income, but because I want to be independent.”

Why is it that some people only listen for the heck of listening and answering back, but not for understanding? “I don’t want to have children of my own which is why I am considering adoption = what the hell? Is there a problem with either of you? If not, then why don’t you want to give birth? Why adopt? It’s so disgusting.”

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I mean, how dare anyone have the authority to judge other’s choices? Who gave the right for anyone to judge someone else’s priorities and way of living? And most important of all- why are women the center of societal pressure and boundaries. Let them work if they want to; let them bare children if they want to, let them be if they don’t want to; let them travel if they want to; let them climb that goddamn mountain if they want to. Let her be her own calming and uplifting ritual. Just having breasts and a monthly period cycle doesn’t mean they are any less capable. The society has injected dirt in our heads with respect to a moving body with breasts and no penis. That is what I term as ‘objectifying’ women. They have stereotyped such moving individuals to being within four boundaries and obeying the principles laid down by the society. And god forbid, if you turn out to be one of those women who stands up for what is right, who believes in no-nonsense, who is a living example of ‘go-get-it-if-you-want-it’ and who has the courage to stand by her mistakes and accept her fate as it comes, the society will look at you with frowning, untoward and disrespecting eyes.

A woman’s body is more than just the dimensions of her physical assets. She, in herself is much more than the shade of her lipstick or her above-knee skirts, the brand of the watch she wears or the color of her skin. If only the society knew how to read between the lines of what a woman speaks, if only they knew how to understand without being judgmental, if only they knew how she could turn the universe upside down, they would never doubt her intentions or chain her to the boundaries that this so-called ‘society’ has created for no logical reason.

It ache’s me to speak these words, but the harsh truth is, we among ourselves make the society and I guarantee each of you reading this right now, know of at least one individual in our very own personal circle who behaves like a hypocrite. I know of so many myself, and I write this article, not because it’s international woman’s day today, but because I walk by these invisible silent killers every day and because I want people to talk about this. I know it might not sound like some big-shot social issue, but ask any and every girl each of you know, how far would they agree to what has been written above? I am sure every girl would have gone through something similar or might go through these issues in the near future. It abominates me to abide by such ill arrangements. Why can’t they just let her be? She knows her strengths and her weaknesses and she will use both to weave an independent and pleasant life for herself. Don’t shackle her to impossible dreams of youth and worldly expectations.

 

My point is:  

“Why break her wings when she can take you along and fly?

Why take her down when she can show you a world from bird’s eye?

Because,

The women whom I love and admire

for their strength and grace

did not get that way because shit worked out.

They got that way because

shit went wrong and they handled it.

they handled it in a thousand different ways

on a thousand different days,

But they handled it.

Those women are my superheroes.

Even myself.”

 

Be the father who trusts his daughter at every turn of life.

Be the brother who has his sisters back no matter what the world has to say.

Be the husband who encourages his wife to go for the leap; if nothing else, he will always be the one to hold her ground.

Be the best friend who brings his friend back to her truest self.

And be the society who understands the wonderful soul of a woman and the lengths to which she can shield the world with her armour.

 

 

Hope and love in abundance,

Sakshi Nahar

INVISIBLE WINGS

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Why are women bound to be within safe boundaries? Why do women need to be told what to do, when to do, how to do? Why is it that the world looks at you by surprise if you are a female traveler?

They say travel broadens the mind and the heart and gives wings to people who gather the courage to walk the path they want. And its true. Travel changes the soul in you. And it requires immense courage and a sense of adventure to travel female.

Here’s a question:

We know travel brings exposure and open-mindedness. Then why is it that the society we live in wants to break our wings every time we wish to fly. What is this antagonistic need of attaching strings to women, some people have?

I wish the world could understand what magic lies in travel.

So this is my voice reaching out to all female travelers out there. I am so happy to see you all do your thing. I love reading your stories and i wish you walk across vaster lands and capture experiences like no other. I am on a journey to fix my priorities, and when I do, I will join you. And that day someone else will look up to me, as today, I look up to you.

Cheers to the courage, willingness, adventure and the zeal you contain within yourselves. Thank you for being an inspiration.

One evening in white

Last night when i was getting back home from Mumbai, I fell asleep in the car. I saw a dream. In the dream i was solo travelling in a cold cold place. I knew not one face. I knew not a single direction. But it still felt like home. I know for sure, i saw snow. A lot of it. Under my feet, in my hands and as far as my vision could go. It was all white. The kind they show in movies like happy feet or ice age. I knew i wore black. All black. From my hair to my boots. I could see white mountains in front of me. It was freezing. I was freezing.

 

And then I turned around to a fire lit right outside a small cottage. Very simple, very plain. It didn’t have many elements, except for a few fairy lights, enough to brighten the cottage into a cozy little home, a bed and a few cozy layers of blankets. The bed was covered in white. And the windows had snow piled over its sill, around the frame. And right behind the fire was a man. He had two layers of jackets on him, a muffler and warm boots. He was tall and dusky and had wide shoulders. His eyes were a shade of deep brown, the kind that speak a thousand words without uttering them. The reflection of the fire only made his eyes shine brighter.

He had a vessel in his hand. I knew he was cooking something. He looked so content. Like he had everything that was needed in this world. Even with a small cottage, a place to light fire, a few jackets, a bed and some food, he looked content. He looked happy. I wanted to reach to him and talk to him. He looked like someone i could have a deep intellectual conversation with. But he also looked like someone i could play snow ball with.

I am a very observant person. My eyes reach the details of everything. So I stood there long enough for him to finish making his coffee. Staring at his long arms as they worked in pair with the fire. Long enough to see a young woman there. With breast length hair, black in color, long socks, a pair of gloves, a muffler and a big thick brown jacket. It wasn’t her jacket, I could say. She looked like she was floating in it. She had a petite figure with long fingers and hands curled softly around a very thin book. The man shifted his eyes every once in a while to glance a look at her.

I stepped ahead to have a closer look at her face. I wanted to know what face lit this man’s face up. So i stepped one big feet ahead and looked at her. And there I was, standing motionless. My feet froze to where they were before. I felt like I was stuck and my heart lost a beat perhaps. I was stunned. I didn’t understand.

She was me. How could I be both here and there. She was a spitting image of me. She was my reflection. A mirror image. Just with softer warmer hands and a smile so wide, I never saw on me.

My heart cried a tear or two. They looked content. Both of them. Like the world didn’t matter to them. Like they were only each others world. She read, while he made coffee on running wood fire. They both did their own thing, and at every interval they glanced at each other, they smiled, the kind of smile that widens the heart in you with affection.

My point is, isn’t it funny, how we run for things all our lives. A bigger house, a better bed, a city front view or a house near the mall. We earn for all that is materialistic. But I realized, while on a realistic front, these things are ‘wanted’, they are also the things that are not ‘needed’. I mean, think about the satisfaction you would get on waking up to mountains, cool breeze, a cup of hot coffee, books to read spread around your home walls, hot water, warm clothes and someone, just someone to share all this with. Is it always the big things that matter? aren’t the little moments, the cozier ones, that make us what we truly are?

I learnt, as I stood there looking at myself from a third’s eye, what being content really meant. I understood how much clean air, heavy mountains and the color white could bring peace to my existence. And I learnt, as I stood there, the reason why my eyes welled up. Once a man told me, “Why are you even doing the things you are doing? You are clearly not meant to be where you are. You are an old soul stuck in the 21st century. Free yourself. Stop being answerable to others. You are answerable to none other than yourself. Go live in the mountains, and be the inspiration you want to be. Stop ‘stopping’ yourself. Be free. Be you.” But the great irony here lays in the fact that, I have understood all of these things. I know exactly what I want. But do I have the courage to fly away to the world I have dreamt for myself? We all have dreams. But there is a catch here. And the catch is tagged ‘Responsibilities’, and I am on a journey to understand if I have the courage to walk the path my dreams take me to, if I am dauntless enough to walk the talk.

I urge you to ask yourself a little question – is this desperate need we all have for materialistic things, to fulfill our desires? Or do we strive toward all this just to look desirable to the outside world? Does it make any difference? To you? And to the ones around you? Do we all have the courage to walk the talk?

 

The Road Less Traveled

When you talk about travel plans, people expect you to speak of the mainstream hill stations or luxury travel destinations. But there is a very thin line between a tourist and a traveller. And I consider myself to fall in the latter. Travel is pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and keeping an open mind to whatever comes your way. This is the reason why my girlfriends and I decided to take ‘the road less traveled’.

The Kheerganga trek was indeed a mind expanding experience for us first time trekkers. With zero knowledge of trekking, the whole idea of carrying a backpack and climbing uphill for over 13 km, the idea in itself seemed scary yet fascinating. With the help of a Delhi-based travel company (MytravelPie), it all seemed fun and possible.

We started from Manikaran where we met our Mytravelpie mate Nitin Ahuja. The rain gods decided to show no mercy upon us that afternoon. Nitin took us through all the details while we were driving to Barshaini. We got off at Barshaini and took a short trek up to Tosh (30 min). This actually seemed like a warm up trek before we could take over the 7-8 hour long trek up to Kheerganga the next day. Tosh is a hidden treasure amidst mountains and tall trees- a perfect home for hippies. Our trek partner Mytravelpie made sure we felt at home. We chilled that evening at the hilltop café. Must try food – hummus and pita, pizza and chocolate roti’s. Chilling under the coal black sky at 7 degrees, Nitin arranged us some wood and fire while we shared more travel stories.

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The next morning we were all set to take over the hills for the next 7-8 hours. There are 2 routes taking you up to Kheerganga – Kalga route(17 km) and Rudra Nag (13 km). We climbed down from tosh back to Barshaini and finally started our trek at 9:45 am taking the Kalga route. This route is filled with rocky-curvy pathways with bridges made from fallen trees and stones. This route took us through one of the most untouched mountains. Amidst all the greenery the parvati river roared in its own charm and pride.

I will be honest, giving up did occur to me many times through the journey, but when we did finally reach Kheerganga, the view was absolutely worth it. It was almost 6 pm by the time we reached Kheerganga. It was breezy and chilly. We threw our bags into the tents and climbed up for another 600 mt to get to the ‘parvati-kund’. It’s a natural water hot spring. One suggestion, DO NOT miss it. A dip in a hot water pool after making your body walk through dirt and mud and freezing water is TOTALLY worth the extra 600 mt climb. Indulging in the hot spring only made me feel like every bit of my body was melting away and before I knew all the pain my body was put through had vanished. It was a calm, cold evening atop Kheerganga with fellow travelers surrounding a bonfire, some good music, easy food and crazy stories.

The next morning we bid the oh-so-gorgeous Kheerganga a goodbye and started the trek downhill around 8 am. Our descent through Rudra nag was definitely more scenic. This was a fairly easier one till we got face to face with a landslide, crossing which seemed impossible. But our trek guide Hemu and a few other local men were at their best to help us all get through the landslide.

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We struggled through the last few kilometers of the trek and reached Barshaini around 1 pm. I remember turning around and looking at those vast mountains and smiling in bliss to the greenery and breathing that air one last time. When I saw the mountains the weight lifted and my restless spirit calmed… I knew I was where I belonged.

Each of us had an entirely different perspective to the trek. Each of us have our share of feelings attached to those untouched trails. But there is one thing that I am sure all of us would agree to – ‘It’s always further than it looks. It’s always taller than it looks. It’s always harder than it looks.’ To me the mountains spoke in silence to the very core of my being. To me hearing my heart roar into my ears and my feet clench in pain meant eternal satisfaction. By bringing myself to the edge and back, I discovered a passion to live my days fully, a conviction that will sustain me like sweet water on the periodically barren plain of our short lives.