life · scribbles · Travel Diary

Artisans of Bikaner and The Kalbelias

Hello Dear Readers,

In my last post, I talked about how this year has been. How much I have learned and how this year has been a year of traveling and how I intend to make the most out of the last chapter of 2018.

So here I am, sharing another experience which I think might be worth your time.

I happened to take another tour with Miss Guide You and this time it was to Bikaner.

Bikaner is a city in Rajasthan where people don’t really go for the traveling experience because it is not hyped much for whatever reasons. Tourist companies focus mainly on Jaisalmer, Udaipur, Jodhpur, and Jaipur. It is mostly the foreigners who are exploring the cities of Rajasthan, come to Bikaner or film-makers who know about the place. There have been documentaries made by National Geographic and other foreigners and international organizations about the city of Bikaner.

Among Indians, Bikaner is famous for Bhujia and Sweets and that is about it.

So, this tour was one of its kind. It was not a regular tourism package by anyone, it was a carefully curated craft tour which was personalized and planned in an advanced fashion. There was a lot of research done by the people planning this tour- Kriti Bisht and Ashish Godara, the people who run the organization called Miss Guide You and you could see that a lot of research work has been done to get the kind of experience you were getting on the tour.

On the first day of our tour, we visited the famous Karni Mata Temple. I remember seeing a documentary on this when I was in school and I was so scared to enter to a temple which housed more than 15000 Rats but I did and I don’t remember praying there, I went inside and was just looking around me and taking care of my feet. Visiting this temple was a personal achievement and I am still scared of rats.

Here is a 5 minute documentary by National Geographic Channel: Welcome to the Rat Temple

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This one is a very awkward picture of me with Kriti, standing far away from rats, smiling only because of the camera. It was very difficult to smile in that situation when I was fearing rats.

Post this experience, we had our first workshop – Learning the art of Pugal embroidery from a Pugal artisan.

Who are Pugal Artisans?

Pugal artisans are women who were displaced from Pakistan in 1971, and settled in Thar Desert and used their skills of embroidery to earn a living with dignity. But over time, with privatization and onset of FDI and MNCs, these crafts of Rajasthan are dying and Mr. Ashok Bishnoi, founder of The Charkha is trying to support these artists. Miss Guide You partnered with him and organized the entire tour.

The Embroidery Workshop was one of its kind, we actually practiced the art and not just see it or gain a theoretical knowledge, it was a hands-down experience and we were very happy after our “Tedhi Medhi” Creations.

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My mother after her creation of Criss-Cross Pattern and you can see the happiness of creating something on your own. Art is therapeutic and this workshop gave just the feeling.

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Here we are with our teacher, taking lessons in embroidery.

The end of the first day was marked by a candlelight dinner in our Hotel- Harasar Haveli. Pure aesthetic experience it was.

Day 2

The start of the second day was quite touristy- we went to the Bikaner Fort, hired a guide and learned about the history of Bikaner, the fort and all the kings who ruled Bikaner and which King contributed what etc. We got a lot of pictures clicked and it was one fun experience.

After this, we headed to Raisar Village where we met the people who do handloom weaving. We met the weavers, learned how to use the handloom, even worked with the Charkha and talked to the people there, got to know about the entire process of Shawl Making from step one. We met the families, played with the kids and petted Camel.

There are very few people who are left in Bikaner that actually work with the Handloom and the people who know the art of handloom weaving are not teaching their next generation because of how the world is changing. As we are moving toward a globalized economy, these little weavers and craftsmen are bearing the brunt of it. The crafts which are native to Rajasthan, India are not being appreciated by our own people because we live in urbanized cities and work in corporate offices where blending with the western culture has become the norm. But looking at it from the environmental perspective, the clothes that are made from handloom have minimum carbon footprints while the jeans and the regular clothes that we all wear in the daily routine contribute to the environmental pollution and loss of natural resources and not many people are aware to think like that. Through such trips and this post, I hope we are able to bring attention to this issue and do whatever we can as individuals to help these artisans, their livelihoods and our environment on the whole.

After having an enlightening session with the weavers, we spent the night in the middle of nowhere in the Thar Desert where we did open-air camping, made our own food and slept on Camel Carts. The evening was marked by Kalbelia Performances and Stargazing. I don’t remember seeing millions of stars all at once in so long, that was one exquisite experience for which I really don’t have words. So, I’d rather talk about the Kalbelias.

The Kalbelias

The Kalbelias are a nomadic tribe of Rajasthan. They roam around and form clusters, their main form of survival is through Dance Performances. They are the original Snake Charmers. In Namaste London Movie, it was said that India is a country of Snake Charmers and then Akshay Kumar talked about how India has achieved so much and still people think that we are a nation of Snake Charmers, with that reference, they are the ones who are actually the snake charmers and with the recent Wildlife Act, they earn a living through Dance. It was wonderful to note that their dress and dance movements resemble the typical movement of the snakes. The women who perform the Kalbelia Dance are dressed in Black with beautiful work on their dresses and these women design their own dresses while the men provide the music. Kalbelia dance form is not so much famous in India as such, however, it is the foreigners who identified the beauty and the grace of this dance form and made several documentaries on them.

We even met the kalbelia people there and went to one of their clusters where we saw thw work of the women and talked to the kids there and saw the snakes and how comfortable they all were while I was a bit scared. The Kalbelias were very much aware of the politics of the country and were dressed up in stylish dresses. They may not have a a lot of money with them but their swag was unmatched.

Below, you’ll get the glimpse of our Day 2

Group Picture at the Bikaner Fort

With the Kids from the Weaver Families

Trying to get hold of the Female Snake in the Kalbelia Cluster

Understanding the process of Weaving

 

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Waking up in the Camel Carts after a night of Stargazing and Kalbelia Performances

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The beautiful Kalbelia Woman performing the Kalbelia Dance in the traditional Kalbelia dress made at home.

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Here is me trying my hand at working with the Charkha

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The Extremely Stylish Kalbelia Kids

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So much swag in one photograph-The Kalbelias

Day 3

On the third day of the tour, we went to the Old Bikaner City to learn the art of Tie and Dye. We all were given plain white cloth and all of us got a hands-on experience of making our own stoles.

Usually, we just go to the store and ask for a stole and bargain for the price and our shopping is done. We don’t realize how much time and effort goes into the making of a simple tie and dye scarf. It took all of us and seven artisans to make one stole. I really want to describe each and every process and aspect of it, however, I feel that will take away from the experience that it was. So for this one, I am gonna leave out details and would urge you all to go and experience this on your own. This day was exhilarating and we were all laughs at the end of the workshop. The ones who taught us were so much patient and loving that it was worth it.

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The trip ended with a food walk where we all had the best Ghewar of our lives. “Once you die and go to heaven, that was probably the first meal you will get” these are the words of our tour organizer- Ashish Godara.

With this, I end this post.

When this tour was being planned, I really thought it was a little bit expensive for three days, however, at the end of it, it was more than worth it. Spending money on things sure gives us happiness, however, investing money on experiences is a little bit better, this one experience is something which I will cherish forever because it was more than “little bit better”

Images Courtesy: Ashish Godara

 

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life · scribbles · story · Travel Diary

The Himachal Trail

Hello beautiful readers,

It’s been 5 years since I have been running this blog and today I was just randomly checking the stats for my blog and I was surprised to see that I have readers in 42 countries across the world and that made me so happy. I would love to thank each one of my readers for showering so much love for my writings which are irregular and mostly random in nature.

Well, so today I am here to talk about my first ever official tour. Well, it’s been more than a week since I returned. And I had planned on writing this blog post as soon as I came home. However, you know how writers are, right? They are big-time procrastinators when it comes to writing. Okay, okay, I should not generalize. I’ll talk about myself. I procrastinate a lot when it comes to writing because I may have written the entire article, report, blog post, poem or whatever that I want to or have to write in my mind, I am always trying to look for better words and phrases in between the bookshelves and sassy movies, and oh yes, songs too.

Honestly speaking, I had forgotten about the fact that I had decided to write this blog post that you are reading currently. Today, at lunch, our boss casually mentioned that these people did not send in any of their write-ups or feedback about their trip experience and bam, Thomas Edison of my mind lit up!

Enough of the introduction I guess. I should come straight to the point before I exhaust myself with the introduction only and end up writing nothing for the purpose I started writing this in the first place.

Oh, did I mention that I started a job in my previous blog posts? I think not. Well, I completed my post graduation just a month ago and headed off to a vacation- read this as Meditation Camp. I described it here in this post- https://euphoricbeing.wordpress.com/2018/05/12/vacation-diaries/
And I returned from the camp on 13th May 2018 and had my first day of office life on 15th May 2018. So that’s about it.

Well, details about my office life in some other post, on some other day. All you need to know is that I like my job and the people around me a lot.

Now, THE HIMACHAL TRAIL, for which you have been waiting for a while now after reading the above 403 words. I appreciate your patience, treat yourself to a cup of tea/coffee/whatever you like!

As a part of Office Capacity Building Tour, we went to Jibhi, Gushaini, Tirthan Valley and Jalori Pass for a week. This was my first ever road trip to the hills without my parents. I have been an extremely protective kid and never got permission to go on any of the trips with my friends. So this was kind of a lottery ticket for me as my parents could not say no because it was official.

  1. The Journey BeginsMy journey started on the morning of 2nd June 2018 along with my colleagues. We took an early morning Amritsar Shatabdi from New Delhi to reach Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana on the very first day. The journey was an amazing one with one cute incident, as you may call it.
    So I had to board the train at 7AM, I woke up at 5AM, had a quick bath, did last minute packing and rushed and got on the train on time. Now, I have traveled by Indian Railways a lot and Rajdhani and Shatabdi Express have great food. So as soon as I sat down, being a typical forever thinking about food Punjabi Upbringing I waited for the breakfast and IT DID NOT COME till 9:30AM. I legit went to the Shatabdi Cabin Crew and asked them about the breakfast around 9AM because I was HANGRY( I get angry when hungry so Hangry xD) and my colleague Surya noticed this, so by the time we reached, it turned out to be an inside joke between me and him and throughout the trip we shared a laugh whenever I quoted- I am Hungry!So we reached to Ludhiana, chilled around a bit and at night began with our road trip. So, mostly I have experienced motion sickness on road trips, therefore, I took my medicines, put on the most romantic playlist I could, and slept. I slept so much throughout the trip that next morning people said that I slept so much that I compensated for lack of sleep for others. I even tripped while sleeping and had forgotten about it until I was reminded about it later.
  2. Jibhi-The Lato Hut StayWe reached our destination on 3rd morning and checked into the resort-The Lato Hut. I loved the place but didn’t like the food. Presence of WiFi compensated for the food and the extra sweet tea which made me doubt the existence of tea leaves often. Every morning I would wake up around 6.30AM, go to the river right in front of the resort and read a book, listen to songs, make videos, chase the butterflies and put my feet in the water and do- Chhai Chhappa Chhai, Chhapak Chhai. This was my alone time in Lato Hut every morning.IMG_20180604_075805984.jpg
  3. Jibhi-Village Visit and Balu Temple and WaterfallIn Jibhi, we had three things- The Waterfall, The Balu Temple, and The Village Visit.
    I enjoyed all the three activities immensely. I have never had a bath in a waterfall. I have seen many but this time I had a bath too because my mother was not there to tell me I’ll catch a cold and since it was a small waterfall, I did not fear that I will fall and hurt myself as I am very much prone to falling because of I don’t know what defect.20180603_153023.jpgThe trek to Balu Temple was funny. I didn’t fall at the waterfall but fell twice in the trek to the temple and laughed it off like always because life is nothing but a comedy. Reaching the Balu Temple was giving me a feel of Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak movie with its ambiance. I felt like I was being in a Bollywood setting and sang the song- Gazab Ka Hai Din, Dekho Zara Ye Deewanapan Socho Zara.
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    The Village visit was a nice experience because a) I had never been to a village. b) The pathway leading to the village was so narrow and risky that I felt that if I tripped, I would injure myself badly. This was the time I was completely in the moment like it was taught in the meditation camp. This was the time of full awareness. c) I ate a sour apple picked right from the apple tree in the apple orchids.IMG_20180604_152009261_HDR.jpg
  4. Jalori PassRead about Jalori  Pass on Google. I know only one thing here-the location was perfect to wear bright colored chiffon sarees and dance to romantic songs of Yash Raj Movies where clouds flow around and there are winds and everything beautiful which words cannot really do justice to.IMG_3676.JPG
  5. Gushaini, Tirthan Valley

    I am a selectively lazy human being and I love to sleep a lot on my trips. This place took away my sleep. My parents and I are risk-averse people. Throughout my life, we as a family have stayed away from any sport or activity that could be potentially risky or dangerous, we are happy and content in our lazy bubble. Here, I indulged in Rappelling, River Crossing, River Jumping and damn I was scared. But I wanted to do the activities as well. So I was busy in a battle with my own self-The Head Vs Heart and as a result, I cried. I did not want to cry but I did. It was kinda embarrassing to shed those tears in front of everyone but then that’s what makes us human and I was not upset after that. I don’t know how I did all of it but I did it and I am so blessed to have such an amazing support system at the office. Very few people are lucky enough to go on such an official tour and overcome their fears and have a team that is so much supporting and close-knit. This was my happiest phase on the trip.
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  6. The Overall ExperienceOn the whole, this trip was life-changing for me. Each day was a new day, each experience was a new experience. I have wanted to have a trip like this for ages but never really got to have it until I had this job. This trip made me get comfortable with my people and shed away all my inhibitions. I sang and danced, I talked and laughed and I bonded well. It’s important to have friends in the workplace and this trip helped me make friends along with professional relationships.IMG_3724.JPG
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    When we are kids, we are asked to go to school, study well so that we get into a good college, build a good CV in college so that we get a job and when we get a job we wait for weekends to relax and wonder what next, however, I am at a point in life where I am content and I enjoy my work. Work does not look like a work when we tend to enjoy it. This job is probably the best thing that could happen to me. All the upswing and downswing during post graduation was worth it because had I been elsewhere, I don’t think I would have got the experiences and the learning I got here. My belief in the fact that Universe always has better plans for us, all we need to do is to be patient is stronger than ever.

    I have a long life ahead of me and so much more to do, the woods are lovely, dark and deep, I have miles to go before I sleep. But here I am, at a point in my journey where I learn, work and relax while I still have to learn the mechanism of income tax.

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    This much for today, see you all next time with new stories and some very random jokes.

life · Travel Diary

When I was a Traveller in my own city

Delhi, my city. 

Dilli, ishq hai.

I have always wanted to explore Delhi for the longest time but when you’re in your own city, you don’t explore the beauty of it because there’s always assignment to be submitted, work to be done, and sleep to catch upon. After years of trying to get someone to accompany me to be a Traveller in my own city, I was blessed to come across a beautiful human being who was willing to give in to the wishes of a girl like me and it was a date. When we use the word date, we often expect romance, however there was something beyond romance in this date and that cannot be put into words. How do you put across sharing stories close to you in appropriate words, what are we if not stories?

Delhi has a soul which many people don’t explore. Visiting a monument and reading about it’s history in the lush green Mughal Gardens and then having a silent reading meet in the sun is a perfect way to spend time with someone in my world.

Delhi is too good to be true in winters. 

There’re a lot of things I realized today. After spending time as a traveller I met a friend of mine who flew from London to spend sometime home and if I could sum up my time with her, it would be that in life sometimes you come across people who are not people but home. 

Dear universe, 

Thank you for making me feel blessed and loved. And I wish that all my readers find home. There’s nothing better than some soul filling conversations and hugs while the winter breeze flows through the hair as we walk through lonely lit roads in areas of Delhi which feel like another world. 

To love and life. 

life · poetry · scribbles · Travel Diary

​Can a Soul be Sad and yet not Dark?

Yes. And no. Honestly I do not know. Because souls are beings. They define our very existence. Souls are neither happy nor sad. Souls are just souls. Souls are life and a proof that we are alive to feel the emotions of sadness and happiness. Darkness is an attribute we associate with emotions of sadness, jealousy, envy while happiness, bliss and laughter are the light in our lives but two contradicts can very well coexist. How I cannot explain but you can feel them. Being sad doesn’t make you a dark human or a dark soul because a sad person either gives up on life and commits suicide or he uses his sadness to create art. Art that will be so powerful and passionate that it will make you feel uncomfortable. Dark poets are always celebrated yet criticised. Paradox? Irony? Maybe. Because some things are so intertwined that it’s impossible to pinpoint. Fascinating are those that radiate sunshine through their wounds of hurt and sadness. And divine is this thought that gives meaning to art and life. 
My dear, souls cannot be dark, souls cannot be sad. Souls can only be drunk. How? Ask the Nightingales.

Travel Diary

A walk down the road

I’m walking through the lake park, my eyes experiencing aesthetic sunrise. The feet took a halt, struck by realisation. Mesmerised by the reflection of the sky in calm waves of water. I feel inept to describe sudden commotion of emotions. I look for a bench to settle on as I go weak in the knees.
On my quest to find a rusted bench with its green paint withering in a quiet corner, I see life in a strange light. I spot a group of squirrels bouncing hither thither. I observe one at a time, my heart wondering how this world looks like through the eyes of a squirrel. How do I look to it as I attempt to touch its skin and fail terribly because of its spontaneous reflexes? Can it see the water as I see it? Do the surroundings appear green to it too? Does it also feels something inside? The mind in me mocks and says, “No, Dimwit! Only you’re the one who thinks of herself as a different entity. Everything else is in sync with nature. You too are a part of it, only if you realise.”

I’m petrified by my own heart that feels conflicting emotions and a mind that taunts. I give in and pearls of water roll down my eyes. I’m like a mimosa plant open to attack. My leaves closing in, I rush back home to immerse myself in this concrete jungle, away from contemplating life. I know I can’t run forever but today I escape.

Travel Diary

Connaught Place: life in all it’s glory.

“Next station is Rajiv Chowk. Doors will open on the left. Please mind the gap.”

This announcement in metro and a swarm of people board and de-board the train. I always used to wonder why while I was in high school. However, coming to college gave me wings to explore and this place was my first stop to discover, located in the heart of the Capital city is approachable from any corner of Delhi. People live here and I fell in love here (oh, not with a guy like Raj from DDLJ who happen to cross my path. 😛 ) I fell in love with idea of travel, exploration activities, this place and myself (you know I’m irresistible).
I’ve been to this place so many times in just one year that I have lost count and it still continues to amaze me. This place has so many things to offer and to all the people around the world. Yes, the world. It’s a lifeline for everyone, be it a person with low income or a person who is filthy rich. Age is just a number here, people from all age groups have fun here at this very place.

Okay, so let me come to the point, how you, who have never really explored this place, can have some awesome fun with or without friends. (Yes, yes, you can be here on your own and not get bored at all)

Get down from the metro as soon as you hear the announcement and take an exit from any of the gates if you’ve been here before, otherwise take it from Gate no. 7. You’ll end up at A block in inner circle and then decide whether you want to aimlessly wander or sit and enjoy at a peaceful place. I’d suggest that take one whole week to explore this place as there’s so much to do. You can have amazing food in cafes like The Vault, Boombox Cafe, or McDonalds, KFC, Dominos, Dunkin, Starbucks etc and also do some branded shopping in stores like Benetton etc. Also, inner circle have specific interest centric shops too, like musical instruments for musicians, Photographer’s paradise and Oxford Bookstore. Ah, Bookstore, oh shit, I might go off track now as I’ve spent approximately 3 hours in this store at a stretch without realizing the time, will talk about this in another post maybe. So, apart from these big stores, you’ll find people selling cool phone covers, bags, books, accessories, and cigarettes and candies. However, you’ll have to bargain a lot to get the best price for the duplicate things, yes, I got replica of original fast track watch for just 100 rupees after a lot of bargaining. EEEEEEEEeeeeeeee… I feel so good. Okay excited mode on hold. So yes, this was a brief overview of the inner circle.

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Okay, so now if you’re a girl and a shopping freak, Janpath is the place for you. Only requirement being, you love shopping and are a bargaining queen. Since, I don’t fulfill either of the requirements, not going to say much. Been there, twice or thrice, was out of there within 30 minutes and I feel very proud to say that I actually got all the required things in those 30 minutes, you see I’m very fast and a professional. That’s all for Janpath.
Now, if you’re still not satisfied, go to the Emporiums Section which is a five minute walk from Gate no. 7 and you’ll find good clothes there with reasonable price range and longer shelf life. And if you walk further, you’ll reach Hanuman Mandir and Bangla Sahib.

Hanuman Mandir is a place bustling with people and you can see them doing various religious rites and you might participate if you believe in them, however, it’s more fascinating to watch than practice and Bangla Sahib, is a beautiful and peaceful place to spend some time for introspection, and rejoicing the gift of life and if you happen to have langar then it’s a divine experience altogether.
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There’s so much to this place that I possibly cannot write everything even though I wish to. CP has many connotations associated with it. Apart from all the things mentioned above, CP celebrates Raahgiri Day every sunday morning from 6 AM to 12 noon (but it usually ends around 11 AM :P) and currently there’s a Food Festival going on in CP, “Dilli ke Pakwan” as part of Christmas and new year celebration. Do give a visit within this year. Have Fun, and keep on exploring! 🙂

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Truly, Connaught Place is a place where there’s life in all its Glory!!

Happy new year guys! 😀