About Me

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I hold a Masters of Science degree in Chemistry from IIT Madras.Chemistry is my favourite subject and I never cease to be amazed at the small wonders in the world of chemistry. Currently I am pursuing Ph.D in the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), Bangalore, a part of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Mumbai. I'm an optimist. True to myself.I believe in living life by my own rules because I alone know what it is like to be me.

Monday, April 6, 2015

BREAKING DUSK

PHOTO CREDITS: Ravi Kumar Boyapati

The ball of yellow,
Once fiery during the day,
now subdued, it calls out
“Come, find me”
as it seeks to hide behind the clouds.

Rays of gold radiate outwards
reflect off the glistening glass walls of the NCBS complex
bathing it in hues of orange.

Within its shadows,
a mouse here, a squirrel there
scurry hurriedly from stealthy snakes,
towards the safety of their own burrows

Beyond the walls,
Oblivious to the calls of the Sun,
Students go about their research.

The ball continues to grow larger and larger
Turning from a gentle orange to an angry red
In a vain attempt to showcase its might
Before it says its final good bye for the day.

Friday, December 26, 2014

The Lone Tree


Rising high and alone, above a sea of grass,
Basking in the glow of the setting sun,
Soaking in the warmth and comfort of its rays,
With strokes of red and orange on a blue background,
Leaves dancing to the tunes of the gentle evening breeze
Oh, you beauty!
You paint a picture of serenity and splendour

The apple of many a photographer’s eye
Resilience and grace define you
Through the adversity of the Summer’s heat
Branches swaying back and forth in the dreary winds on a cold December night
Yet you stand, stubborn and unfazed

Your shade is revered by many
Be it the players of football
Cooling between bouts of adrenaline charged matches
Or the batsmen
Awaiting their turns at batting during cricket practice

A symbol for the very principles
On which NCBS is based on
Without you, NCBS will never be the same!

Photo Credits: Mahantesha


On the cusp of dawn
When the misty land beckons
Come, let us take a walk
Into the foggy wilderness,
beneath the clouds
into the unknown,
into no man's land
and seek out undiscovered treasures
Oh such joy and delight!
Come, let us walk together....

Photo Credits: Ravi Kumar Boyapati

Saturday, February 22, 2014

My First Tryst at Adventure-A School Adventure Trip to Satpura ki Rani (Pachmarhi)


“A man on foot, on horseback or on a bicycle will see more, feel more, enjoy more in one mile than the motorized tourists can in a hundred miles.” ~ Edward Abbey




It was a fine cold winter night on the 14th of November,2000 when a group of excited Classes 6th-7th school kids embarked on a journey of self-discovery and exploration.We were accompanied by our teachers- Kalpana ma'am,Meera ma'am,Srinivasan sir and Biswas sir. Our target destination was to Pachmarhi (also called as Satpura ki Rani-The Queen of Satpura) located at southern Madhya Pradesh,in the Satpura Hill Range.

The trip was special to me in two ways. Firstly, it was the first time I was travelling without my parents and in the company of friends. Secondly, it was not a routine sightseeing trip,but rather an adventure trip. Yes, when I mean adventure, I mean,sleeping in tents,on rugs spread out on the cold floor in the camping site, campfires every night, trekking on steep ,narrow paths cut into the hills,cooking in the forest, camping in the forest known to be inhabited by bears,rock climbing, rappelling,going without having a bath straight for 2 days and what not.

The two-day long train journey from Hyderabad to Piparyia, the station closest to Pachmarhi, was a mixture of fun and frolic interspersed with a tint of mischief,courtesy some of the boys and one of the teacher who lost no opportunity in applying toothpase on to unsuspecting co-passengers in deep slumber.

At Pachmarhi, the sight of pitched tents and steaming hot food at the campsite greeted us. Mr. Avinash Deoskar and his wife, Bimla Negi,both of whom are ardent adventurers and close friends of our school Director, Shri Y.K Gurwara were present to invite us.Bimla Negi, in addition to being the president of the National Adventure Foundation-Nagpur Chapter, has also scaled Mt. Everest apart from a number of other mountain peaks.

It was freezing cold and we glad to dig into the food,capturing every joule of heat energy to help us stay warm.Sleepy and tired after a long journey, we fell asleep.Our beds were made out of rugs spread onto the hard cold cement floor which was built on a platform raised a few feet from the ground.

I got a first taste of what being at an adventure camp feels like. I was rudely jolted out of my deep slumber and it was pitch dark outside.Coupled with that,it was freezing outside.Added to that, we had to brush our teeth with icy cold water,followed by a jog in the dense thick foggy forest surrounding the camp site. 
Later on,post breakfast, we were introduced to the first activity-rock climbing (on natural rocks). The instructors explained to us about different rope knobs, hooks and the type of crevices in rocks and how they could be used during mountain climbing. We then had a stint at climbing the rocks.We climbed 2 different rocks, one at a height of 30 feet and another around 40 feet probably.It was one awesome experience for me and I enjoyed the challenge of feeling for crevices/cracks in the rock and then digging in them with my hands and feet that would enable me to climb higher.

It must have been around noon when we returned to the camp site. In the afternoon, we went trekking on one of the hill slopes. In some places the terrain was flat and bushy while in some places it was steep with a deep valley bordering it on one side,the valley filled to every inch by trees. It was my first experience at a real trek and it left me exhausted.At the end of the trek, we came across the Silver Falls (also known as Rajat Prapat), perhaps one of the highest waterfalls in that area.It must have been around 350 feet.
The day ended with a campfire.We were divided into groups and each group had to perform either a dance/song.

The following days, I was pretty much prepared for the day's strenuous activities and despite them, they always left me very exhausted. Apart from rock climbing, we had rappelling which is climbing down a mountain-rather, a steep descent from a cliff.It was my second favourite activity after rock climbing. We even had a whole day trekking to Chauragarh, the second highest peak. At the top of the peak is a temple of Lord Shiva.This trek is etched in memory because of a bunch of monkeys who jumped on my head out of nowhere and grabbed my chips packets.

We even spent two days-nights in the forest.We had set up tents in the middle of the forest beside a stream. That region of the forest was pretty much populated by bears and monkeys though we did not see any bears. Patrolling around the tents at night was a must for us and one student did play a prank on us by scaring us out of our wits.

Other memorable activities include trekking and bathing in a shallow waterfall. Following this, each of the groups had to cook something with the stuff they were handed-vegetables, sticks,no utensils. This was termed forest cooking and our group managed to make some brinjal subji using fire made from sticks and leaves as plates.We had to use twigs and branches to roast the brinjals over the fire.Sunset at the Dhupgarh (highest point in Pachmarhi) was also a beautiful sight to behold.

All in all, it was an unforgettable trip and we returned home with a rich learning experience and a  lifetime of memories.Unfortunately, I did not carry my camera with me (yes it was not a digital camera but the one with film) as my parents thought it would be too risky.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Sensuous Singapore


Since my dad had been on frequent work trips within India, mostly flying between Hyderabad and Bangalore, he had the privilege of getting frequent flyer miles. In fact, the miles were acquired to such an extent that they were sufficient for a two way trip to a foreign country not far off from India. Thus, the miles were redeemed for a two-way free air travel from India to Singapore, for a family of three.

And so, this is the story of how mine and my mother’s first trip beyond India’s boundaries shaped up (my dad had already been abroad earlier). It was the summer of 2000 when the plan materialised. Being our first trip abroad, we were naturally excited and full of anticipation.
Sometime in the month of May, we boarded the flight to Chennai from Hyderabad. A connecting flight took us through a 8-hour journey to the island of the Republic of Singapore. We landed at Changi Airport which is built away from the land, out into the Indian Ocean.

The name of Singapore finds its roots in the Sanskrit language. Singapore, originally adapted from the name “Singapura” (Lion City), which in turn, comes from “Simha” which is Sanskrit for Lion. It is located between the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea, just at the southernmost tip of the Malay Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is the second smallest country in Asia. The main island is diamond shaped and has a total area of 648 square kilometres, three times the size of Washington D.C. The coastline of Singapore spans 193 kilometres.

So, coming back to Changi Airport. It was very huge and incredibly beautiful. It was like no other airport we had ever seen. The airport shuttle dropped us off at our hotel. We were awestruck at the metropolis and the tall buildings lining the city’s skyline.

Later in the day, we visited the Singapore Zoo, located on the outskirts of Singapore. The zoo was built inside a forest so jeeps were employed to take visitors from the entrance to the interior of the zoo. We had a lot of walking to do but we enjoyed the sights in the zoo. We even took a photo of ourselves carrying oraguntans on our lap. The safari took us to the forest and we saw a lioness with her cubs in addition to other wild animals. The zoo tour took most of the day and in the end we were exhausted.

The second day of our stay on Singapore started with a visit to the Singapore Cricket club followed by the Singapore Diamond Gallery. Later on, in the day, we visited some of Singapore’s famous shopping malls. In fact, we felt that the number of shopping malls outnumbered the office buildings. We had our lunch at Little India, a small cute town in the city. The post-noon part of the day was spent travelling to the Mt Faber Hill, which overlooks the Singapore port.

On the third day of our trip, we began a lazy morning by strolling through Singapore’s malls and clean-swept roads. In the afternoon, though, we were in for something pleasant. We boarded a cable car from Mt Faber Hill, which took us to Sentosa, via Harbour Front Tower. Enroute to Sentosa, we could see the bustling activity going on at the Singapore port as the cable car glided above it. Once at Sentosa, we boarded the Sentosa Monorail which took us from the beach to the Fort Siloso Monorail station. 
We visited its famous attraction-Underwater World, an underground oceanarium housing all kinds of deepwater sea creatures. It has 2500 marine and fresh water animals of 250 species from different regions of the world. We spotted a white shark as it hovered over us, the travelator moving us further into the glass-encased tunnel.

At Sentosa, we also saw the Merlion Statue, currently the symbol of Singapore, Fort Siloso and the Surrender Chamber wax museum. The museum housed very life-like replicas of people, mostly the natives of Singapore. The Musical Fountain enthralled us with its music and fountain dance.
We boarded the Sentosa bus which took us back to the mainland.

For our last day in Singapore, we booked ourselves for a one-day tour of the city with a local tourist agency. They started the tour by offering us a visit to the China Town. China Town is a small market selling mostly Chinese-made antiquities, medicines, and clothes. We saw jars containing dead snakes in some of the shops. The sight of snakes made me uneasy followed by the Raffle’s Square, a posh area located in Singapore. There was Raffle’s Hotel and Raffels shopping mall located on Raffles Avenue. 
We had our lunch at Little India and as usual, our post-afternoon event included scouring additional shopping malls. In the evening, we re-joined our group and had a cruise on the Singapore River followed by dinner at a Chinese restaurant where they had rice sticks instead of forks and spoons, served crabs, lobsters, prawns and every other kind of seafood. We then went to a local shopping arena to buy souvenirs and presents for our relatives back home.

The next day, we were supposed to board the flight to Chennai in the midnight hours, which, was delayed by quite a long time(7-8 hours) due to a technical snag. So most part of the day was spent strolling through the Changi Airport and browsing through free magazines, and enjoying free food provided by the airlines. We were glad to be back home after a tiring return journey. But we did bring ourselves golden memories to cherish for the rest of our lives, as exemplified by the fact that I am able to remember all these events despite them having occurred 12 years ago, and not having recapitulated any of it in a diary.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Teach Your Kid To Act With Grace


This article was published in the first edition of Womans' Era,January 2013. I found it to be a very interesting and realistic article.

Author name: Kasturi Rangachari.

What are your dreams for your child in 2013? What do you plan to teach her? To work hard, to play hard and to come out a winner? That its a tough world and if one isn't on top of the heap,one is buried at the bottom?That if one isn't successful,famous and rich,one is a nobody and a nothing? And are you making a resolution that to help your kid,you will rush her from one after-school class to another and push her to succeed at something,preferably at everything?

Are you planning to hep her become competitive because if on doesn't pass everything on the road,one is being left behind and condemned to a painfully dull life of struggle,branded as a loser?

No one could fault you if you decided to do all this. It is a tough world and every parent does want his or her child to succeed because that means that the child will have a good life.

But what is a "good life"? Ask  this question today and the answer most people will give you is that a good life is a life with lots of money. It is having luxuries and power and being envied.

From this follows the next questions. What sort of person can earn this good life and what sort of person should parents try to  raise their child to be? Most people will answer that,to be successful today,a person must be well-qualified,ambitious and capable of doing anything to succeed. If they are honest,they will add that today a person must have a ruthless streak in him or her and shouldn't care too much for morals or ethics.

Does this sound extreme to you?It won't if you consider how obsessed most people are today with every detail of the lives of not just brilliant and successful men and women but even of criminals and anti-social elements who have made a lot of money. Our newspapers and magazines are full of stories about such people-cheats and criminals even when they are politicans and businessmen-and these news stories are devoured by everyone.

Money is so important in today's world that how these people got those huge piles of wealth is first ignored and later forgotten. The details of Dawood's son's marriage are drooled over with envy and parents sigh over the fact that it was a tasteless and ostentatiously grand affair paid for with money earned by very dubious means.

When one hears of the way coal blocks were sold and the profits that those who managed to-illegally- wangle them made,most of us do not think of the unfairness of the system and the loss that accrued to the country.Instead our mouths water as we think of all the money those people-cheats and criminals- made.

The truth is that money has become central to our lives in a way it never was before. In the past, earning money was difficult and the things one could buy with it were limited. Today,one can become a multi-millionaire by taking a few weeks to write a computer code that will create  new social media website and fascinating apps. Or by singing songs that kids not yer in their teens go crazy over.

So anyone with ability and luck can earn incomprehensible amounts of money when barely out of their teens or earlier ,and then the world with its infinite possibilities is in their pockets.

FASTER CHANGES:


Consumption patterns have been changing faster than one can keep pace with. Two years ago,I was both amused and scandalized when a young couple I know bought their two-year child an iPad. Today,I strongly recommend iPads to parents with even one-years. With the hundred of apps, an iPad can teach a child without seeming to. In fast,it can teach better than most teachers can,and that too in the best way possible- through captivating self-learning.

But iPads and everything else cost money and to be able to afford them,we want our children to earn a lot of money. But in the process, we forget to give them good role models. All of us will agree that role models should be people of probity,with high moral standards, people who are not concerned just with making money but who want to do good,people who give and don't just take, people who are honest, polite and principled.
But today,it's sad but true that while we will definitely find such people around is,they will not only be in such a minority that they can be easily ignored, but they are also unlikely to be among the famous and successful. So we are then reluctant to hold them up as good models.

All this makes it all the more important that we parents sit down and ponder the question of whether we are doing enough to ensure that our children grow up to be individuals with high values,integrity and character.

And among the qualities that we should try to inculcate in our children is one that is almost forgotten in today's highly competitive world. This is grace.

One meaning of grace is elegant movement,but the more important meaning is courtesy,decency and good manners. Acting with grace,showing respect and good will to everyone you come into contact with,to be kind nd generous to all and sundry. To show grace is to believe that people who have done us wrong and hurt us are actually good people who are only misled.

A person with grace hates no one. In theBhagavad Gita, Krishna lists out 35 qualities that a good man or woman must have. The first is "advasta sarvabhutnam",the quality of not hating anybody.
But today the world is filled with hate. We hate-to ratify our lower instincts,as a protest against the unfairness of fate and even in the name of religion. We hate because of our own insecurities,projecting enemies where they do not exist. We hate those who are better off than us,feeling that they have unfairly got a better deal than we have in life. Ask any divorce lawyer and they will tell you that most cases that come to them today are born our of competitiveness between the husband and wife that turns into hatred.

NEGATIVE FEELINGS:

In other words, this means that human beings today are filled with negative feelings towards others. But sadly,when we are filled with negativity,we are the ones who suffer,not the objects towards whom we have these. Negativity makes us feel utterly lonely and isolated. We are filled with stress and we all know what that leads to-depression,high BP, heart attacks, and the like.
Acting graciously, is the opposite of acting with hatred and the results too are the opposite. We are filled with love. We have positive feelings towards the world. Grace is inclusive and so we feel part of the society and the world. We do away with stress when we act with grace. We are able to live harmoniously with our fellow being and so we feel no stress. Instead, we feel joyous and uplifted.

Acting without grace in public life can change people's perception of you so completely that it can ruin your reputation and cause the populace to mock and scorn you. The public outpouring of anger over the outrageous reaction of liquid baron Vijay Mallya and his son Sidharth Mallya to the crisis that their airlines,Kingfisher, was facing is an example of this. When Kingfisher employees were on strike demanding that they be paid their overdue salaries(they hadn't been paid for several months) and were threatening to come to Delhi to confront Vijay Mallya at the F1 rally, Sidharth tweeted that,after 18 long and hectic days,he and his team had finally shortlisted girls in bikinis for the Kingfisher calendar girl 2013. He added that it had been a super experience.
In other words,master Mallya had been choosing between girls in bikinis,while according to reports, at least some Kingfisher employees had been contemplating suicide. Neither was his father more tactful or sensitive. After scooting from India,when the crisis broke,he was seen at a motorcycling event in Korea. He only came back(to attend the F1 event in Greater Noida) when his staff had managed to persuade Kingfisher employees to call off the strike with the offer that they would be paid some of their salary dues. And as a final insult, Vijay Mallya later scoffed at the threat that his employees had made, saying that they would never have been able to reach the F1 venue,let alone gherao him.

What does this behaviour tells us about the Mallyas? It tells us that they are selfish,self-centered, arrogant,totally insensitive,that they have no consciousness-in other words,they do not know the meaning of behaving with grace.

Another man totally without grace is Robert Vadra who responded to the exposure of some very dubious financial deals he had been involved in,with a very disdainful tweet about "the mango people in a banana republic". Besides showing the man to be without grace, it also shows him to be stupid. India is certainly not a banana republic and even if it was, who would be more to blame for that state of affairs than the family Vadra has married into?

Another example of graceless behaviour is the way DMK politician A.Raja allowed party sycophants to fete him when he came out of jail on bail. Came out on bail,not acquitted because he had proved to be innocent!He grinned while they wore T-shirts proclaiming that he had conquered Tihar jail and generally treated his release on bail like the return of conquering hero. Did the man have no shame? Any grace? No!

Shame and grace both restrain us from performing acts that go against decency. But today people like Raja, cannot be disgraced because they have no conscience, no sense of decency or any belief in te need for human beings, especially those who call themselves leaders, to set an example by acting with grace. But are the rich,powerful and notorious totally to blame? Since they are pursued by a media intent on covering their every action and relaying it to a hero-worshipping public intent on feting them,can they be faulted for being delusional and thinking they are demigods above the reach of human conscience?

ACTION WITH GRACE:

This makes it all the more important for human beings to realize the importance of acting with grace. When someone acts with grace in our presence,it is a wake-up call that tells us that there are more important things in life than winning,making money and being powerful. It makes us think of character and the kind of memories and name we will leave behind when we exit this world.

The best example of grace I have seen in recent times was on a social media site. Today,people are touchy and easily take offence and especially when this matter concerns religion,this often stokes the fire of hatred, But,the person whose act of grace so touched me,did not react in this manner. She did not stoke the fire of hatred,she doused it.
Someone posted a picture of a girl with facial hair that made her look like a young man on a popular social media site. Viewers were quick to follow it up with thoughtles and callous quips.That girl in question must have felt embarassed to say the least and could not have been faulted if she had lashed out in pain and anger. But instead, she responded with extraordinary grace.
Balpreet Kaur,who is a Sikh, took the trouble to explain her faith and why it forbade the removal of hair from the body. Sikhism believed in the sacredness of the human body and the need to keep it intact,she explained. So it forbade the cutting or removal of hair from the body. She then explained her own belief in the need to go beyond the body into the realm of good thoughts and actions. These,and not one's looks would leave a lasting legacy. She concluded by saying that she appreciated all comments,both positive and negative and by apologising-apologising!- for causing confusion and hurt.
The person who had put picture on the sire came out and offered his heartfelt apologies for his action which he accepted, was "incredibly rude, judgmental and ignorant". This man too showed grace.

Today hardly anyone apologises, or when forced to do so, does so in such a way,with so many conditions,so many ifs and buts,that it is hardly an apology. But the man concerning here,apologised with true remorse and without any conditionality or making any excuses. It is only individual integrity and grace that can save our world which is hurtling towards self-destruction on the backs of anger and hatred.

Yudhishthira was also called Ajatasharu or "one whose enemy hasn't been born" because of the love and grace he showed towards everyone. These qualities inspired respect,admiration and derefence in everyne who came into contact with him and so he had no foes. If the world were full of Ajatashatrus, we never need fear what the future holds for the human race. So let us raise our children to be Ajatashatrus.






Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Of monuments, mountains and valleys: 25th Dec '98-3rd Jan '99


We were a group of around 20 people. It was our first ever trip to North India. We spent about a month preparing for the trip. It all started on Christmas, when we boarded the train to Agra.

 DAY-1 26th Dec,’98:

 We were greeted at the Agra station, by thick, dense fog which persisted throughout the day and cleared only during the afternoon.Initially we thought that we reached the station at 5am,but we were shocked when we saw it was 7 am. It was very dark and the visibility was not even 10 metres for the naked eye similar,in the movies showing persons disappearing into thin air.Opening our mouths,we could see white vapours coming out. It was unusual to everybody,since it was our first experience in such conditions.

The first monument we saw was the Agra Fort. It was very solid, huge, made from red brick. We learnt that during the Mughal era,Shah Jahan,in his later years, was kept as a prisoner in the Agra Fort by his son, Aurangzeb. As per historicans, Shah Jahan requested for a room, in a tower within the fort,known as Muasamman Bur from where he could gaze endlessly at the Taj Mahal. The balcony of the Muasamman Bur was made up from marble.

More details of the fort can be found here:


 The strongest memory of the Agra Fort that I recollect, is a giant monkey jumping out of nowhere on to my unsuspecting mother, who was carrying a bunch of bananas in her hand. Obviously, the monkey could not resist while its favourite fruit was in danger of disappearing.

Of course, we could not leave Agra without visiting the Taj Mahal. In an effort to protect the Taj Mahal from vehicular pollution,we were taken to the monument on carts driven by horses. With the main entrance on one end, and the flowing Yamuna River on the opposite end, the giant expanse of smooth, lustrous white marble, carved into angles and curves, was a sight to behold.

Later that night,we boarded the train to the capital of India-New Delhi. When the train came,women and children got into it from two doors. Luggage was thrown into the train from another two doors and the gents jumped into it,since the train stopped for only 2 min.


DAY-2 27th Dec,’98:


Our day in Delhi began with a visit to the historic Qutub Minar, followed by the Lotus Temple. The evening was spent at the Karol Bagh market, teeming with its never-ending activity, buying additional winter wears for our trip to the hillstations of Shimla and Manali.


DAY-3 28th  Dec,’98:



Off we started on a long road trip to Shimla.  En route,we had a ride in a cable car. We reached Shimla late in the night. But alas, most of the passengers were either sleeping or drowsy from taking the anti-vomit tablets and missed the entry  into the town of Shimla, its twinkling lights, narrow clean pathways, extending out their hands as if welcoming us. We were booked into a hotel,Honeymoon Inn. It was living a dream.


DAY-4 29th Dec,’98:


Shimla is famous for its Green Valley, which, during Jan-Feb, is usually covered in snow. The Green Valley derives its name from the numerous coniferous (pine) trees spread across the valley. We also put on a few local costumes and took various snapshots.


We then proceeded to Kufri, a famous ski resort near Shimla. Usually what would have been full of snow, was now rocky brown and hilly terrain. To get to the top of the mountain, we had to ride horses. My dad and I went together,I on the horseback, while my dad walked alongside. The women stayed back at the base. At the top of the mountain, we saw Mount Kailash, abode of Lord Shiva, through a telescope. The rest of the day was spent visitng a helipad and local film shooting locations.


DAY-5 30th Dec,’98:


Manali. Our next destination. We started from Shimla in the morning and reached Manali in the evening, via Kullu. The scenery was simply mindblowing. We had the Beas river giving us company throughout the journey. Water silently flowing amidst boulders, rocks and pebbles, sunlight playing hide and seek with the coniferous trees, curvy roads, high mountain peaks, are some of the descriptions of the wonderful bus journey.. It was sub-zero temperature in the night, and the heaters in our hotel rooms were not working properly. Till date I don’t know how we managed to survive on heat pads, rubber pouches filled with hot water and placed on the bed. We were not very bothered with it, once we saw our first glimpse of the snow-capped Himalayan peaks during dawn from the window of our room. At sunrise, we saw the snow capped peaks bathed in the Sun’s rays, glowing in gold.


We could not wait to get to the snow-clad mountains. Jeeps took us to Rohtang Pass, located even higher than Manali. The roads leading to Rohtang Pass were very steep, narrow and rocky, huge mountain boulders on one side, and the deep valley on the other side. We were 6 people squeezed into a single jeep and I remember one of my relatives fervently praying that the vehicle wouldn’t fall into the deep ravines below. Traffic was stuck for an hour because of a landslide which had occurred, blocking the road with boulders.

On the way, we stopped by to hire some more fur sweaters and leather boots to protect us from the cold harsh wind blowing over the terrain of Rohtang Pass.

At Rohtang Pass, the snow was hardened and it was very slippery. Our leather boots made it all the more difficult to walk. Cold rough winds blew over, leaving our skin devoid of moisture. That did not prevent us from walking over the slippery ice and taking snaps. However, we could not stay there for a long time and returned back, glad to be in the warmth of the hotel.


DAY-6 31th Dec,’98:

Solang valley, Hidimba temple, Hot springs, Buddhist temple and Club House were some of the places we visited at Manali. At Solang Valley, some of us gave an attempt at parasailing. Solang valley was very beautiful,the snow clad mountains and clear blue skies surrounding the green valley.

At Manali, I had my first shot at French fries. Since then, Ive been a mad fan of French fries!


DAY-7 1st Jan, ‘99:

We proceeded back to Delhi from Manali. It was a very long journey by bus and we were too tired when we reached Delhi at midnight. The route from Manali to Delhi was covered in thick dense fog. All aboard the bus was asleep except for my father and another relative (and the driver of course).The bus was moving in darkness,guided by the tail lamp posts of the vehicle going ahead of our bus. They were scared to death!


DAY-8 2nd Jan,’99:

Our last day of the trip was spent visiting the Red Fort, Raj Ghat, Rashtrapati Bhavan and the India Gate, landmarks of Delhi. We bought few souvenirs as a reminder of the wonderful tour.That evening,we took the train back to Hyderabad.At the station,we were in such a hurry. We did not get proper transportation to the station. We reached in different batches.Time was running out and we did not get seats in one compartment.Cell phones were a rarity during those days,so we did not know if everyone had got into the train.And to top it all.two people paid the same porter for carrying the same luggage!