Ajit Doval – The James Bond of India

“India has a mindset that, where it hits, it punches below its weight. We have to increase our weight and punch proportionately.”

Meet India’s fifth National Security Advisor Ajit Doval with his usual blunt and fearless style.

Courtesy: Google

Doval – The James Bond of India

In his more than 50 years of career, Ajit Doval successfully carried out many dangerous missions. This is why, he is often called the “James Bond of India.”

Apart from Doval’s illustrious career, what is interesting about him is that there is no information related to his life on any government website. It was only during a lecture in Mumbai in August 2015, brief information about his life was given. According to it, Doval was born in 1945 in Ghiri Banelsyun village in Uttarakhand’s Pauri Garhwal district and he graduated in master’s degree in Economics from Agra University in 1967. 

Career as an IAS Officer

Doval joined the Indian Police Services in Kerala Cadre in 1968. Within six years of his role as an IPS officer, he was awarded with prestigious Police Medal for his outstanding services. To earn this medal, an officer must have at least an experience of 17 years. But, Doval became an exception by receiving this honour as the youngest police officer ever. Then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi herself honoured him with this medal.

Intelligence Officer With IB

Doval entered the world of espionage with joining Intelligence Bureau (IB) in 1972. He spent 30 years of his career as an active Field Intelligence Officer. During this period, he undertook many secret missions, including stints in the restive regions of northeast, Jammu and Kashmir and the UK.

Anti-Insurgency Operations in Northeast 

Doval played an important role in anti-insurgency operations in Mizoram and Punjab as a field agent. He was successful in penetrating the underground Mizo National Front. After winning the confidence of six rebel Mizo leaders, he was able to bring the seventh leader Laldenga for talks, which eventually led to Mizoram Peace Accord. Not only this, in order to break the dominance of 20 years old Mizo insurgent group, he secretly entered Myanmar and China. For this, Doval was awarded with Kirti Chakra – India’s second highest peacetime award – in 1988. He is also the first police officer to receive this award. In addition to this he, along with ex-Army Chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag, conducted successful military operation against rebel group Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland in Myanmar.

Sikkim’s Merger With India

For another assignment in northeast, Doval worked as an undercover agent. It was a highly confidential mission details of which are not available till date. It was his tireless efforts which made the merging of Sikkim with India possible.

Courtesy: Google

Winning the Confidence of Kashmiri Separatists and Militants

Not only an extraordinary spy but Doval is also a great strategist. He is an expert in psychological warfare. This quality of his has been the reason behind the success of his every dangerous mission. He was also instrumental in bringing separatists like Yasin Malik, Shabbir Shah, Syed Ali Shah Gilani on the talks table. By winning the confidence of Kashmiri Militant Kuka Parray (later the founder of Jammu and Kashmir League) and many of his associates, Doval convinced them to cooperate with the Indian Army in counter-insurgency operations. It was a major step as it paved the way for 1996 general and assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir.

The Surrender of Khalistani Militants

When Punjab was reeling under militancy, Doval, under Operation Black Thunder in 1988, disguised as a rickshaw puller and established contact with Khalistani terrorists hiding in Golden Temple. He convinced them of him being a Pakistani agent and gathered all strategic information from them, which he shared with security agencies. Earlier police estimated of 40 Khalistani militants hiding in the temple but Doval revealed the number of militants to be at least 200. The Indian Government had already paid a huge price by launching Operation Blue Star in 1984, so it dropped the idea of raid on Doval’s advice. A different strategy was followed in which the supply of water and electricity was stopped in the temple during peak summers. The plan worked and all Khalistani militants finally surrendered before security forces on ninth day.

Resolving the Highjacking Case of Plane IC-814

Doval also had direct role in the resolution of highjacking case of Indian Airlines’ plane IC-814 in 1999 where he held negotiations with Taliban terrorists in Afghanistan’s Kandahar. From 1971 to 1999, Doval efficiently dealt with 15 incidents of highjacking.

Doval with Taliban terrorists Courtesy: Google

Safe Return of 46 Indian Nurses from Iraq

Doval is also credited with the safe return of 46 Indian nurses who were held hostages in a hospital in Iraq’s Tikrit by ISIS terrorists in June 2014. For this, Doval himself went to Iraq to assess ground realities there. He established high-level contacts in the Iraqi Government, which finally paid off. On 5th July, 2014, all nurses were safely brought back to India.

Courtesy: Google

Living in Pakistan as an Undercover Agent

His stint of living in Pakistan as an undercover agent was extremely dangerous. Posing as a Muslim for seven years, that too in a hostile country, frequenting mosques and befriending people there was not at all child’s play. Even a negligible mistake could have cost him his life. But Doval, not caring about such high risks involved with the mission, successfully provided the Indian agencies with vital information on Pakistan’s nuclear programme. In one incident, he was recognised by a man, who himself was a Hindu. Rest details related to his assignment in Pakistan remained classified. Later, Doval was stationed for some time in the Indian embassy in Pakistan.

Role in Abrogation of section 370 and 35A in J&K

The role of Doval was much talked about when section 370 and 35A were repealed in Jammu and Kashmir in August 2019. The next month in September 2019, he visited Jammu and Kashmir to take stock of the situation after the withdrawal of its special status.

Courtesy: Google

Similarly, when Delhi witnessed one of its worst communal riots in February 2020, he visited the riots-hit places. However, a big intelligence failure cannot be denied in this matter.

Courtesy: Google

Setting Up of Vivekanand International Foundation

Doval headed IB’s operation wing for 10 years and remained its director from 2004-2005. After his retirement from IB, he set up Vivekanand International Foundation, a think tank which had former spies and diplomats as its members.

PM Modi’s Most Trusted Man

It is said that Prime Minister Modi trusts Doval the most when it comes to national security and foreign policy. This was the reason that once again in 2019 Doval was given the responsibility of national security advisor but this time also with a cabinet rank.  

Courtesy: Google

The Doval Doctrine

During his lectures in 2014 and 2015, Doval expressed his views on defense and foreign policy. These views were called “Doval Doctrine.” This doctrine is believed to be the catalyst behind Modi government’s strong stance towards terrorism and hostile nations. As per Doval, the opponent can be engaged at three levels – defensive, defensive-offensive and offensive. Though he favours the defensive-offensive approach. This is evident from surgical strikes on terror launch pads in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir in recent years in the wake of Uri and Pulwama terror attacks. During a lecture he famously warned Pakistan, “You May Do One Mumbai; You May Lose Balochistan.”

Showing India’s Tough Stand to China

China, too, is well aware of Doval’s tough attitude. The 2017 India-China Doklam standoff was resolved after Doval made it clear to his Chinese counterpart that India would not hesitate a bit in fighting a war for protecting Bhutan’s interest.

Doval – an Asset for India

Doval holds firm grip on national and international security matters. Time and again, he has stressed the need of strengthening Indian security structure and robust relations with international security agencies. Doval, a veteran in the field of internal and external security matters, is undoubtedly an asset for India.

Krishna Bhakti – Chapter Shishupal

   Lord Krishna Courtesy: Google

Who was Shishupal?

Shishupal was the son of King Damaghosha of Chedi kingdom. His mother Shrutashrava was Lord Krishna’s paternal aunt, thus they were cousins.

The story of his three incarnation goes like this. According to Bhagavata Purana, once Jaya and Vijaya, Lord Vishnu’s attendants at Vaikuntha (Vishnu ji’s abode), refused the entry of four Kumaras. These four Kumaras were Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanatana and Sanatkumara – the manasputras (sons born from the thought power) of Brahma. As a result, they cursed Jaya and Vijaya that they would be born on earth three times, each time as an enemy of Lord Vishnu and would be killed by one of His incarnations. In their first life, they were Hiranyakashyapa and Hirnaksha, Ravana and Kumbhakarna in second and Kansa and Shishupal in the third.

             Vaikuntha – the abode of Lord Vishnu Courtesy: Google

His birth, deformity and cure

During his birth, Shishupal was born with three eyes and four arms. There was a prophecy which said that his deformity would be cured when a certain person would put him on his lap but he would also be killed by the same person. His parents took him to many sages and kings to get him rid of his deformity, but all in vain.

Once Lord Krishna visited his aunt Shrutshrava and put baby Shishupal on his lap. His deformity get cured instantly. Then Shrutshrava requested Lord Krishna to forgive Shishupal hundred times before killing him to which Lord Krishna agreed.

Disliking for Lord Krishna

Shishupal was a friend of Kansa and Jarasandha. Lord Krishna killed Kansa and also helped Bhima in killing Jarasandha. These incidents resulted in his dislike for Lord Krishna. Shishupal was also the friend of Rukma. Rukma’s sister Rukmani wanted to marry Lord Krishna but Rukma fixed her marriage with Shishupal. So on her wedding day, she eloped with Lord Krishna and married him. This particular incident increased Shishupal’s hatred for Lord Krishna.

Lord Krishna and Rukmani Courtesy: Google

Lord Krishna Killing Shishupal at Rajasuya Yagna

During Rajasuya Yagna organised by Yudhishthara, it was decided to worship Lord Krishna on Nakul’s suggestion. Bhishm Pitamah also supported this. Shishupal objected to this and started insulting and abusing Lord Krishna. Pandavas, Matasya, Kekaya and Srichayvarsha kings got up from their seats to kill Shishupal but were deterred by Lord Krishna. Shishupal kept on calling him names and Lord Krishna listened everything silently. Even when he crossed the limit of 100, Lord Krishna warned him to either keep quiet or leave the place immediately. Shishupal did not budge and continued humiliating Lord Krishna. Finally, Lord Krishna chopped off Shishupal’s head with his Sudarshan Chakra. A light emerged from his corpse and absorbed into Lord Krishna.

      End of Shishupal by Lord Krishna Courtesy: Google

A Bright Star Gone Too Soon

“I have had dreams, and I’ve had nightmares. I overcame the nightmares because of my dreams.” – Jonas Salk

Having big dreams is not wrong, nor their shattering is. What actually unfortunate is the shattering of a person when s/he is no more able to dream big, when s/he is totally hopeless with life, when s/he is unable to search the rainbow behind those dark clouds.

The suicide of Sushant Singh Rajput has come as a big shock to all of us. Sushant – a handsome, intelligent, vibrant, multi-talented man – had aspirations to reach for the skies.

Sushant with his infectious smile Courtesy: Google

Sushant was not my favourite actor nor have I watched all of his films. But don’t know why I feel this pain of him leaving the world. And like me, people all over the country are experiencing this pain.

My friends and I are often talking about his smiling face. At times, I feel horrible imagining his mental condition, the loneliness he had been going through, the pain of rejection he was bearing since last few years. The more I try to divert my attention from him, the more I chance upon getting his videos or news on social media platforms. Even while writing this blog also, I got this video of him, which completely shows how full of life and down-to-earth he was. He was undoubtedly a self-made actor.

The sudden demise of this super talented, young man, who had a long list of things to be achieved, is absolutely an unbelievable thing.

The long list of his dreams Courtesy: Google

There are reports all over the media about him dealing with depression, which is being seen as the main reason behind his extreme step. As per some reports, he was boycotted by almost all big banners and was ousted from many projects. This might be the main cause of him going into depression and eventually taking his life. Failed relationships can also be a factor. He was in so much of pain and pressure yet he did not let people know what he was going through because of his introvert nature. He must have shared his problems with his loved ones but seems like that too could not help him get out of it.

The prevalent nepotism in Bollywood is being blamed for his suicide. This nepotism is everywhere, in every field. There is nothing surprising or new about it. People having big links are given preferences, irrespective of not having considerable talent; whereas deserving people continue to struggle. Few are lucky who make it in the industry, rest either switch to other professions or leave this world in frustration born out of constant rejections.

But the way these Bollywood mafias were hell-bent on destroying Sushant’s career speaks volumes about their arrogant, egoistic and sadistic behaviour. A bright person like him, who had made a mark on small as well as big screen only on the basis of his extraordinary talent and hard work, would have never imagined such kind of ruthlessness on these Bollywood sharks’ part. He was not at all a threat to anyone not even to those privileged star kids who are still here without any talent or acting skills, all thanks to their strong family/political backgrounds. As it is always said, behind this glittering, glamorous world of Bollywood lies a dark, gloomy reality where the dreams and hopes of many people like Sushant get crushed every day.

These are few meaningful dialogues from his last movie, Chhichhore.

हम हार जीत, सक्सेस फेलियर में इतना उलझ गए हैं…
कि ज़िन्दगी जीना भूल गए हैं।
ज़िन्दगी में अगर कुछ सबसे ज़्यादा इम्पोर्टेन्ट है…
तो वो है ख़ुद ज़िन्दगी।

सक्सेस के बाद का प्लान सबके पास है…
लेकिन अगर गलती से फ़ैल हो गए…
तो फेलियर से कैसे डील करना है…
इसकी कोई बात ही नहीं करना चाहता।

दूसरों से हार के लूज़र कहलाने से
कहीं ज्यादा बुरा है…
खुद से हार के लूज़र कहलाना।
तुम्हारा रिज़ल्ट डिसाइड नहीं करता है…
कि तुम लूज़र हो कि नहीं…
तुम्हारी कोशिश तय करती है।

This blog is my humble tribute to Sushant who in his very short lifetime left an indelible mark of his outstanding work, intelligence and generous nature.

I still cannot get over with his untimely, unjustified worldly departure; I never will. These following lines absolutely define you, Sushant.

“They laugh at me because I’m different; I laugh at them because they’re all the same.” – Kurt Cobain

Stay happy wherever you are.

Om Shanti!!

Edit: Now-a-days, so many theories are cropping up on Sushant’s death from suicide to planned murder. Whatever it is, truth must come out so that he and his family get justice.

The Story Behind Becoming a Blogger

Blogging was never in my list. I am the kind of person who never ever thought of PLAN B in her life. After completing my studies, I started working and this kept on until 2017. I learned, earned and gained many experiences – some good and some bad as well – from my different jobs but somewhere I was not happy the way it was going. I realised that I was heading towards a mediocre life, which was getting mechanical with each passing day.

Impacts on health

On health front also, I started having serious issues. My cervical spondylitis issue, which I got during my second job, aggravated so badly. The inability of getting up on my own from bed every morning still sends chill down my spine. Turning from one side to another was absolutely impossible for me. There were times when I lied on a same position the whole night as I was unable to move my body. The pain on my neck, shoulders and entire back area was excruciating. That was the time, I understood the gravity of my health condition. I decided to take a break from my professional life and shifted my complete focus on improving my health. From homeopathic treatment to acupressure, acupuncture, yoga and regular exercises; I did all and managed to get rid of it to a great extent. This whole period of sickness was very difficult but I survived it and again gained valuable experience from those difficult times.

How the idea of blogging surfaced?

During this health break, some of my friends suggested me to write blogs. Though I liked it, I never gave it a serious thought. So one fine day, one of my friends once again talked to me regarding writing blogs. This time, I gave my clear consent to this idea. And the next moment, my friend started searching for my website’s domain name. It was available so without wasting any time, I bought it. That’s how it all started during a casual chat with my friend.

Choosing a topic for blogging

Now, the issue was what topics should I pick for blogging? Of course, travel blogging was the first and foremost one as I love exploring new places. But as it was already lockdown going on all across India, I started writing with my last trip in September 2019. I kept coming across various topics for my blogs and so far tried to cover some here on this blogging website. As we are still not over from this current pandemic situation, all my travel blogs would be from my past trips, whereas rest ones would be covering different aspects of life.

What I achieved here

Writing for my own blogging website has given me the liberty to express my views. Unlike a job, there is no pressure to write stuffs to impress boss or clients, there is no target to achieve, there is no compulsion to prove myself. I have always believed in speaking my mind, conveying my own thoughts sans anyone’s influence. Such liberty I enjoy here. I write here to fulfil my love for writing. 🙂

How I Became a Music Lover

Music has always been a relaxing therapy for me. This profound love for music goes back to the time when I must be hardly 9 or 10. That was the time when I started realising my irresistible inclination towards music. As times passed, I also noticed my natural tendency of easily memorising any song.

This love for music was tend to increase manifold when you had a music buff as your neighbour. We all knew Sengupta uncle’s ardent love for music. Almost every evening, he used to play evergreen songs from 50 to 80s era, and I must admit that he had one of the greatest music collections with him. His all time favourite singers are Mohd. Rafi and Asha Bhonsle. Many times, he used to play Bengali music and sometimes latest hits of those years. I always enjoyed his super collections of melodious songs.

On weekends, he used to play songs in daytime and I used to sing along with those songs. Eventually when he learnt about my music love, he started discussing it with me. Those small discussion sessions were so enjoyable and full of good info. We both used to share our thoughts and sometimes have a healthy argument on the topic. There were many instances when he came to my house only to know about particular details of a song. It was the time of 90s and google was not even there. In that situation, the only source of information on music was movies, newspapers and television.

All this continued even when I went to college and started working. Whenever Sengupta uncle had a confusion regarding any song or he had to share some knowledge with me, he used to come to my house. All knew that music was the strongest reason for our bonding.

As times changed, technology advanced to many levels and it became quite easy to store your favourite music. In my case, I started carrying all my songs in my mobile phone as it is quite easy and you do not need any extra stuff to listen to your favourite songs instantly. So whenever I feel like listening to any particular favourite song of mine, I just go to my phone’s music library and enjoy it.

Few years back, my family shifted to our own house and Sengupta uncle and his family, too, permanently shifted their base to Kolkata. I am still in touch with him and his wife and still remember those old days of our music discussion sessions.

When You Have an Artistic Sibling

We all are born with some inherent qualities. This is absolutely true in my elder sister Swaran’s case. Apart from being an awesome cook, she is flawless in making sketches. Swaran has a God-gifted talent to whom drawing something or making sketches is like a child’s play.

After completing her formal education, Swaran worked for some time and eventually got married. As it happens always, she got so much busy in her family responsibilities and raising kids that we all forgot how talented she was. Few years back, I happened to see my niece’s one of school assignments prepared by my sister. Her artistic bent of mind was clearly visible and impressed me extremely. I encouraged my sister to focus on her exceptional talent for art. But like all busy full time moms, she listened to me yet forgot about it.

Still, I did not lose hope. I kept on persuading and reminding her about her love for art. It took her some time to once again start drawing. But when she started it, she proved how brilliant she was in it.                          

Not only my sister but my nephew has also shown his love for art. Seems like this budding artist will soon give a tough competition to his mother.     

I believe that there will be people in our family, relatives or friend circle who have such innate but dormant qualities. Let’s encourage such people to discover their hidden talent.                                            

The First Solo Trip

Since childhood, I knew that I was fascinated by nature. Somewhere, this love has deep connection with me belonging to the hill state Uttarakhand. Various family trips made during childhood ended up in my unbreakable bond with nature.

During my trip to Kainchi Ashram in Uttarakhand, I got the opportunity to explore the nearby areas.

In this blog, I am sharing my experience of discovering those places.

The first day after visiting the ashram in Kainchi, I left for Garam Pani which was about 12 kms. Private cabs are available from Kainchi to Garam Pani but the owner of the restaurant, where I often used to have my meals, advised me to take a bus. One can easily get buses or shared jeeps from Kainchi, which are available in every 10-15 minutes and the fare is also reasonable.                                         

The main road outside Kainchi Ashram

Like any other place, buses here are usually overcrowded in morning and evening. Since, it was already half past noon, the bus I took was less crowded. The journey to Garam Pani was comfortable. One thing I strongly experienced during my entire Kainchi trip was that people there were so decent and helpful.

I reached Garam Pani in almost 20 minutes. After deboarding the bus, I simply walked towards the local market area. I can’t recall the last time when I strolled so freely in my city life. I was just walking down the road purposelessly. It was the month of September and the weather was little hot but overall I enjoyed it.        

                                   Shops in Garam Pani                                                                                               

While returning, I again chose to walk a little. After some time, to my sheer surprise, I found a place where I saw zip lining activity being performed. So, that was it. This adventurous soul tried her hand at the thrilling activity. 😎

Then, I went down towards the stream and spent some time there soaking my feet in the cold water. After some time, I left the place and took a bus to my hotel.

Next morning, I was waiting for a bus to travel to nearby places. There I met Monika, a doctor from Delhi, who was staying in a homestay close to my hotel. Soon, we gelled with each other and decided to visit the nearby tourist sites together. We took the bus for Kamal Tal and within an hour we were there.                                                                             

Like me, Monika turned out to be a great nature lover. So from there, we both set for a leisurely walk towards Naukuchiatal adjoining Kamal Tal. The views we came across during our nature walk left us awestruck.

Such enchanting views kept coming our way.                                           

On our way back, we stopped at Cafe by the Lake. What attracted us about the cafe was its outer decor.                                                                 

When we entered the cafe, we were equally struck by its interior beauty. The ambience, lights, music, books, furniture; all were complimenting one another. Food at the cafe was too amazing. Just sitting there was so relaxing.

Monika and I decided to leave together for Delhi by train the next day. Her friend arranged for our train tickets. Somewhere, we were not yet done with our sightseeing thing. So, the next morning both of us left for Sattal. We had only an hour to explore the place. Tourists at the lake were trying their hands in kayakaying and other activities while we two were busy in capturing the wonderful aspects of nature.              

We got so engrossed with the beauty of the place that we ran short of time. Both of us skipped our lunch in order to make for the lost time. We left the place in a hurry and took a bus to Kathgodam Railway Station. Luck was on our side that day. Both of us were literally running carrying our luggage but somehow we reached there just on time. Finally, I boarded the train with Monika cherishing many beautiful memories of Kainchi trip with me.

And yes, we finally had our dinner in the train. 😛

The Charismatic Irrfan

“Beehad mein baghi hote hain. Dakait milte hain parliament mein.” (There are rebels in ravine. Dacoits are found in parliament.)

I cannot forget this dialogue of Irrfan Khan-starrer movie “Pan Singh Tomar” following which the entire theatre burst into applause. The sound of clapping and hooting was overwhelming. Such was the impact of his dialogue delivery. I guess this was his only movie I watched in a theatre. Irrfan, who recently passed away after fighting a long battle with a rare form of cancer, was known for his effortless acting.

An accomplished actor like him received recognition little late. Irrfan’s initial years into acting had been struggling. He did many tv serials and few films. But it was Haasil and Maqbool in 2003 and 2004, respectively that gave him his all due success and boundless love of his fans.

Courtesy: Google

This success was followed by movies like The Namesake (2006), Life in a… Metro (2007) and Paan Singh Tomar (2011), which earned him National Film Award for best actor.        

Irrfan belongs to one of the finest generation of actors to whom acting came naturally. He had the mastery of expressing emotions without using a single word only through his magical eyes.

He kept on spelling his magic with his power-packed performances in Haider (2014), The Lunchbox (2013), Piku (2015) and Talvar (2015).

Be it the portrayal of the frustrated taxi business owner in Piku or the doting father of his last film Angrezi Medium (2020); Irrfan’s spontaneous acting again and again succeeded in winning his fans’ hearts.

A scene from Angrezi Medium Courtesy: Google

So, in Hollywood, Irrfan showed his distinguished acting skills. From Slumdog Millionaire (2008) to The Amazing Spider-Man (2012), Life of Pi (2012), Jurassic World (2015) and Inferno (2016); he proved himself as an actor par excellence.

A scene from Inferno Courtesy: Google

For his notable contribution to the world of cinema, he was awarded with Padma Shri in 2011. Madaari (2016), Qarib Qarib Single (2017), Blackmail (2018), Hindi Medium (2017), Karwaan (2018) and Angrezi Medium (2020) are Irrfan’s final gifts to cinema connoisseurs.

Apart from Irrfan’s phenomenal skills, his generosity and simple attitude towards life, even after being in the glitzy world of show biz, were equally remarkable.

Today, we all are feeling the pain of his sudden untimely departure from this world. The void created by his death will never be filled.

Dear Irrfan, you are our shining star and you will always remain alive in our hearts. Om Shanti!

Staying Positive During Coronavirus Pandemic

We all had many expectations with 2020. Some may have planned for a career or job change. Some would have thought of finally getting hitched. Many must have prepared their fresh travel bucket list while people like me were all set to join yoga classes. Everything seemed to be going well until the villain – Coronavirus – made its entry and brought everything to a standstill.

This must be for the first time ever when almost the entire world is under a pandemic’s grip. Developed countries are worst affected with huge numbers of casualties and crashed economies. Thankfully, the situation in India is not that bad and together all of us are waging this war against the Covid-19 virus fiercely.

So now the question is how can we stay positive amid all this environment of fear and anxiety? Well, I have applied following things in my life to keep myself mentally strong.

Go for your favourite hobby or find a new one

For me, music has always been the best way to unwind myself. Apart from that, watching good movies and reading good stuff, it could be anything not necessarily books, have helped me in destressing myself. I have also started doing meditation, yoga and other physical exercises to keep myself mentally and physically fit. Sometimes I watch motivational videos as well. Painting, gardening, cooking, writing, indoor games, photography are some activities which anyone can indulge in at the comfort of their homes.

Sketches by my sister – the good result of lockdown

Keep negative news at arm’s length

When the lockdown started, I used to daily surf the internet regarding coronavirus news updates in morning. This resulted in me as anxiety and fear. So I immediately stopped this for few days. Once I felt better, I started the same but this time more carefully. I google news during daytime just for the sake of staying updated.  

Photo by Kaboompics .com from Pexels

Stop worrying about things

Breathe easy. Don’t overburden yourself with things. We all are going through trying times but this too shall pass. Have faith. When the going seems to be difficult, talk to your spouse, friends or parents. And when your loved ones are scared, comfort them with your love and soothing words. Problems are about sharing burdens and caring for your near and dear ones. The journey of life has never been easy and facing problems head on will only boost your morale eventually making you stronger like never before.

Develop your skills

This is the best time to hone your existing skills or learn some new. Many of us, due to our busy work life, could never really focus on polishing them. Don’t let this opportunity just go like this and start working on it today.

Photo by Gabby K from Pexels

Praise the beauty of nature

How many times have you ever noticed the natural beauty around you? When was the last time you saw the rising sun or listened to the chirping of birds or enjoyed the melodious singing of cuckoo? No worries. Now is the time. Come out of your air-conditioned rooms. Go to your home’s balcony or terrace and let the wind caress you. Behold the beauty of star-lit night with a splendid moon. You will feel the healing within you the same way nature has started showing since the implementation of lockdown.

Sunset view from my home

Adding the medicine of laughter to life

Don’t suppress your feelings. Open up and embrace the laughter therapy. This stress relieving exercise amazingly benefits our mental, physical and emotional being. Laughter helps in improving immunity, increasing lung capacity through deep breathing and enhancing oxygen delivery to all body parts. It provides internal massage to our digestive tract and improves blood supply to our internal organs.  

Image by Emi Lija from Pixabay

Learn from mistakes and have gratitude

It’s okay to goof up. The most valuable life lessons come from bad experiences. They make you wiser and help in having an easy, less-complicated attitude towards life. In addition to this having gratitude for the blessings we have, encourages us in developing a positive bent of mind. Therefore, we attract more positive things in life.

Photo by Brigitte Tohm on Unsplash

Each adverse situation always brings something good with it. Same is with this #Coronavirus ordeal. Whatever may be the current scenario, this time is going to be one of the most life-changing experiences for all of us.

So, stay home, stay safe and be happy.

Getting Back to My Roots

I remember visiting my native place in Uttarakhand in 1998. It was my distant cousin’s wedding. Since then, I never seriously thought of going there. Gradually, the cosy lifestyle of this city dweller overpowered that thought.

Such houses are a common sight in my village

I always felt nostalgia for my village. For, it was the place where I had spent many beautiful moments of my life. But the availability of very limited basic amenities discouraged me to consider the very idea of visiting it.

A house on way to my home

It was in November 2019 when I had to rush to my village due to my mother’s sudden illness. At that time, my parents were staying there for the reconstruction of our old house.  

The beautiful flowers seemed like welcoming me

The place brought me back to those beautiful days of my life. I could see many changes but what actually struck me was the fresh air and clean sky – a rarity in cities like Delhi.

Early mornings can never be as perfect as this one

Morning bloom

I still cherish those childhood memories when I, with my siblings, used to roam around the entire village and have unlimited fun. Like other houses in the village, ours, too, bore a traditional look.

My ancestral house in a dilapidated condition

Few years ago, it collapsed and now has been replaced by a new house – a concrete one. Still, there are traditionally-built houses in the village but the sign of modernisation can be easily felt. Now, villagers prefer concrete houses over traditional ones as they require less time, efforts and money. Moreover, they are easy to maintain. The architecture of Uttarakhand is based on locally and easily available materials like stone, clay and wood. It represents the rich cultural heritage of the state. That’s why, I believe this trend of concrete houses should be the reason for concern seeing Uttarakhand’s distinctive heritage.

A traditional house in neighbourhood

Once reaching there, I did not leave a single chance to explore things around my village. After having tea at my uncle’s house, I went on to discover the surroundings.

A usual day in the village

On my way back, I met a lady who was returning after collecting fodder for her cattle from fields. She invited me to her house. Both of us along with her husband had a fantastic conversation over tea. After some time, I took their leave and came back.

The hospitable couple

But perhaps, I was not done yet. So, I went on meeting people in my neighbourhood. The usual busy urban routine hardly allows us to think about life’s other beautiful aspects. I had this realisation while visiting these naïve people.

Happy in their own world

The generosity of the village people touched me. I found them to be simple and affable. It came to me as a big surprise that they are happy in their own world, caring little about the superfluous things. One may think of them being complacent but I will definitely call them contented people.

Village people have their own extraordinary charm

The simple life of a village, however, comes with many challenges. Living in a rural area with few basic facilities is really a tough deal. Water scarcity is still a huge challenge here. There are many households which have piped water supply in their houses. Others fetch water from hand pumps or water tanks (locally called diggi) which are almost 1 km from the village. Humongous task indeed!

Villagers store water in all possible ways

Migration is another huge problem here. Most of the houses in this village are either abandoned or occupied by older people. In my case, my grandfather and father left this village owing to their respective jobs in Delhi. Eventually, they permanently settled there. Therefore, my siblings and I had our upbringing in Delhi only. So, we never really had that much connection to this place except from attending few family events and spending some school holidays.

An abandoned house after its only occupant died few years ago

Once farming used to be a major source of livelihood in this village. But with the passage of time, people moved to big cities desiring a comfortable and prosperous life. Villagers here grow few grains, vegetables and fruits for their basic needs. But the constant threat of monkeys and langurs often result in the destruction of their crop. Today, almost all vegetables, fruits, etc. here come from other states.

Farm animals are still an integral part of the village

Another challenge which I personally experienced here is the limited transport options. Usually, sumo jeeps are easily available in every 15-20 minutes but getting them on public holidays can be a reason for inconvenience. However, efforts towards the overall development of this village are on.

Solar lights have proven to be a big help for villagers

A government school in the village

The place proved to be a perfect retreat for me from a mundane city life. Summers here are not too hot, whereas winter season is extra cold.

Nights here are equally amazing

The mesmerising beauty of this place is something to be experienced. Seeing people living such a simple life gave me many valuable life lessons. I can say that I have imbibed little bit of their qualities towards leading a less complicated life.

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