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When Mountains Beckon

The mountains are calling and I must go… said John Muir.

Even though I’ve lived most of my life in the mountains yet seeing their beauty leaves me mesmerized. I’ve tried to capture their charm and exquisiteness in a pictorial blog, for your appreciation.

It’s always the same with mountains.

Once you have lived with them for any length of time, you belong to them,

There is no escape.

RUSKIN BOND

The wonder is that we can see these trees and not wonder more.

RALPH WALDO EMERSON

How glorious a greeting the sun gives the mountains.

JOHN MUIR

Take a walk in the trees and smell the wild air. Nature’s ability to heal is greater than anyone has permitted you to believe.

ANONYMOUS

The tree made it’s first move, the first overture of friendship. It allowed a leaf to fall.

RUSKIN BOND

Behind the cloud the sky is always blue.

Sitting somewhere in the Himalayas the silence that surrounds you is of the Himalayas, not of you. You have to find your own Himalayas within.

OSHO

The future lies before you like of field of fallen snow. Be careful how you tread it for every step will show.

Kindness is like the snow. It beautifies everything it covers.

KHALIL GIBRAN

Spend time with nature it has tendency to settle down all the anxieties inside you.

MUSKAN ANCHLIYE

Each flower is a soul opening out to nature.

GERALD DE NERVAL

Faith is seeing light with your heart when all your eyes see is darkness.

Where flower blooms so does hope.

Mountains have a way of dealing with overconfidence.

HERMANN BUHL

How the colours of the fall inspire. Time to rest in the mountains.

Although I deeply love oceans, deserts, and other wild landscapes, it is only the mountains that beckon me with that sort of painful magnetic pull to walk deeper and deeper into their beauty.

VICTORIA ERICKSON

Deepika…

Please do not use images without permission.

Thanks.

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LAUGHTER THE BEST MEDICINE OR IS IT?

A good laugh is sunshine in the house.

William Thackeray

Laughter sure is the best medicine. Laughing is good for you. It improves your mood and your physical and mental health. Why, there are even laughter clubs where people of all ages gather to well, laugh. Laughing also makes you more attractive. I’m sure it does, for no one would like to look at a person whose face reminds you of “I’m sorry emoji”.

Many benefits of laughing are sited. Laughing keeps your heart good, it keeps your digestive system good, makes you less aggressive, endorphines are released making you happier, you actually breathe better and a good laugh cures many a ill. But what happens when you laugh at the most inappropriate place!!!

God knows all of us have felt the urge to laugh, sometimes at the most uncalled for places. You are trying your best not to laugh, your brain, your heart and you absolutely know it’s not the right time or place to laugh. Yet you don’t seem to be in control.

I’ve been told that laughing is your body’s way to overcome a stressful situation, but I’m sure my Math teacher never understood this when she turned me out of the class while I laughed through the trignometery lesson. Now trignometery was very stressful for me and my dearest friend and we laughed, though we knew what the consequences would be. Maybe our Math teacher needed lessons in Psychology.

Sometimes Loki (God of Mischief) has taken so much control over you that you can’t but help going bananas in a situation that’s straight out of Grimm’s fairytale. It can project you as rude, insensitive and arrogant. I think its okay as long as you are not laughing at a person, but only at a situation. Humour is not sin, but maybe not during a heated argument or when you are with your boss who is not very pleased with you. Yet you laugh for no specified reason.

So what triggers us? Maybe we lose the link between the situation and reaction. It leaves us feeling guilty even though we have no intention to act irrelevantly. Is laughter something we have a conscious control over? I don’t think so and I believe that laughter is not a way of expressing happiness either, not always anyways.

A good laugh overcomes more difficulties and dissipates more dark clouds than any other one thing.

Laura Ingalls Wilder

Maybe we laugh because we are embarrased at the situation, or laugh because we are denying the situation. In either case we laugh to ease the tension in our mind. Laughter is our body’s natural reaction to bond with the other person, it is also the easiest. You cannot control many obstacles at work or life. Barring the serious tragedies, we can navigate through small hurdles by laughing, specially at your messy love choices, which give you quite a shock but a smile too.

However there are times you need to control your laughter and may be a few tips might be helpful.

  • Try to mentally move away from the serious conversation and think of more mundane tasks like your grocery list.
  • Some say sipping water slowly can help you calm down.
  • If you do happen to laugh even after trying your best, be sure to excuse yourself. Your laugh may have reduced your stress but may have added to someone else’s. So be polite and saying sorry never hurt.
  • If nothing else works move away from the place. It will save you the embarrasment and heart pain to the other.

And remember at the end of it, all of us are human. Someone rightly said,

Everytime you find some humour in a difficult situation, you win.

Unknown
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HOW ABOUT A HOBBY !

I was having my morning cup of coffee and was observing my husband get ready for his daily run. I actually found myself admiring him. Yes! A rare occasion, rarer than the sighting of the Blood Moon. He is passionate about running. You name a sport and he’s a master at it. He started learning body weight exercises and now you can ask him anything there is on the subject. His hobby includes astute knowledge about all things electronic and photography. The portraits clicked by him are the best I’ve seen. Okay! This isn’t about me sounding lovestruck. I am amazed at how many hobbies he has successfully developed.

Hobbies! What are they? Is hobby something one is naturally inclined to do. Some how I don’t believe that can be true, as many like me, will be naturally inclined to sleeping. Is hobby something you enjoy doing? That could be it, but does it also have to be constructive and productive? Because I might enjoy watching television. Watching Netflix seasons back to back. Many admire music and love listening to it. They profess that listening to music is their hobby. How is it different from watching television, unless you are creating or playing music? Again that takes us back to the question, does hobby need to be productive?

A dear friend suggested that it could be an expression of a dominant trait. That could partially define why we like somethings more than others and why we are good at certain things. Like my husband is very athletic and outdoorsy kind of person. Oh, I forgot to mention he plays the guitar too and can sing reasonably well. Everyone is bound to have a trait that dominates all others and turns into passion… Is it?

With this I also see a sea of youngsters without any hobby. I think most of them believe “internetIS the hobby. This reminds me of Neil Postman’s book Amusing Ourselves to Deathwhere he writes

People will come to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think.

Neil Postman

Also Aldous Huxley in Brave New Worlddepicted a population “too amused by distraction, entertainment, leisure and laughter to realise they have been made powerless.”

Many do not try to build a hobby because they may have a fear of failing or the fear that they may the worst at it. Something that prevents me from joining Zumba classes, because I know I would make a quite a spectacle. So they give up even before they start.

What, then can be our take away on what qualifies as a hobby or on how we may develop one?

  • Most common interests are dismissed as mundane; like reading, watching movies, and listening to music. Don’t bother, I’m sure it counts even if its not original.
  • Even if you cook and try a new receipe in couple of weeks, I think it’s safe to qualify cooking as your hobby. I don’t think only churning a new dish every other day would qualify as a hobby.
  • You may have an interest that is not popular, don’t dismiss it. Even if it’s playing video games which I think can qualify as a valid, (though not productive in tradition sense) use of time.
  • Everyone cannot be an artist. You don’t need to be great at something to call it a hobby. So you like to paint. Go ahead and paint. If it relaxes and gives you pleasure its work as hobby is done.
  • Lastly I don’t think that a hobby has to be the purpose of your life nor does it have to be your biggest passion. You like to do something and can take out time only couple of weeks for it, then that’s good enough!!

Even if you are doing random activities like reading a book, a blog, listening to podcasts, watching videos, I’m sure you will be able to connect a thread through all of these. A common theme that runs through them. You can work on pursuing those. Having said that, I believe it is perfectly okay to not have a specific hobby. Same repetitive activity to be done every time you are free may be too monotonous for some. If, however, you sense you like something go ahead and try it further. You may enjoy it more, once you get good at it. Each activity can have its own learning curve. Don’t give up if its too hard similarly don’t stay in it if it does not give you pleasure.

Finally a hobby, I think, should give pleasure. Don’t stress if you cannot follow it everyday. Wikipedia defines hobby as “ a regular activity done for enjoyment, typically during one’s leisure time, not professionally and not for pay.”

Cambridge Dictionary says, “hobby is an activity that someone does for pleasure when they are not working.”

Focus on words pleasure, enjoyment, leisure, and list up hobbies you’ve had or would like to have.

Happy Hobby Hunting!!!

Deepika……

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Bucket Lists and All!!!

Was watching an amazing movie called The Bucket List, the other day, starring Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson. A beautiful movie that explores the journey of two terminally ill men, doing all the things they’ve never tried before.

This got me thinking what bucket list means for us in life. Of course on the first look it would mean trying all things we’ve never tried before. Mostly all these lists that we make are physical things that include things like

  • Visiting a certain place.
  • Doing something never done before, most people think of bungee jumping, skydiving and the like.
  • Eating a particular food.

I thought maybe on a deeper level it signified something more. I believe bucket lists inspire us to do more, to set up new goals and aims as we accomplish the older ones but somewhere I also believe these leave us feeling less content. It’s like an unending race. To put it in simpler terms there will always be a bigger aim a bigger goal. Is that wrong? I don’t really have an answer. Just musings of my mind and I feel that it can get you into a vicious cycle. It’s like you are on a giant hedonistic ferrous wheel. You cannot escape from it. I think a simple right or wrong can’t answer this question. It will naturally vary from one to another. I, however, believe that we will tend to focus on what’s next and stop enjoying the present moment. The happiness “in now” will be lost in the race to achieve something better, something bigger.

So lets make an anti-bucket list. How about looking back and making a list of things we have accomplished and experienced. Remember these things may have been on your bucket list once. How about going back and showing gratitude for all your achievements like,

  • Graduating
  • First Date
  • First Kiss
  • First Job
  • Going Overseas
  • And so many other things you can be grateful for.

Did this sound too philosophical. A rather complicated way of looking at a simple concept, is it? Okay, lets go back to doing simpler things. Since bucket list is a list of things you want to do, the anti-bucket list should be a list of things you would never do. We may also include things we don’t want to see and feel. If you get down to it I bet your anti-bucket list will be longer than your bucket list. And if you read and re-read it I’m sure you’ll see the reason why you put that thing in your anti-bucket list. Just like we learn when to speak our mind and when to be quiet, I think it’s important to know what you would never do. Here goes my anti-bucket list:

  • I would never ever do any kind of drugs, other than for medical purposes.
  • I would never cheat a person. That’s just not me. I am honest in my dealings.
  • I would never sleep with a stranger, however bold or exciting that might seem.
  • I would never eat raw meat or uncooked sea food.
  • I would never go surfing in the sea because I don’t know how to swim. Haha.

Those are a few things I could think off the cuff. Why don’t you add to the list of things you wouldn’t want to do in the comments?

Thanks for reading. Hoping to see many anti-bucket lists.

Deepika.

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UTOPIA!! YES IT EXISTS

Had heard of Utopia early on when I was still in school. Our English teacher told us not to live in a Utopian World and wake up to reality. I remember the class giving her blank looks. The next task for the class was to go to the library ( Google hadn’t arrived then) and search what “Utopia” was. Our librarian was pleasantly taken aback when the entire class shouted for information on Utopia. We found Utopia to be a book written by Thomas Moore in 1516 in Latin. It talks of “a fictional island society and its religious, social, and political customs.” That was our take away as other complicated things were way beyond our understanding at the time. Another thing we found in the dictionary was this definition, ” A Utopia is an imagined community or society that possesses highly desirable or nearly perfect qualities for its citizens.” So to conclude, we were not supposed to be living in an imaginary world but wake up to reality. Utopia, henceforth, for me was something so perfect and beautiful that it cannot exist. Not until recently I would say.

I happened to visit a monastery in lesser known part of Himachal. It’s called Norbulingka Institute. First thing it is not touristy at all and Thank God for that. I walked to this beautiful and yes Utopian place and fell in love instantly. The entrance itself was mesmerising. The alluring water structure makes you want to stand there and feel the soft lapping sound of water flowing through it forever.

The entrance

Entering the gates I was transported into a world well beyond what I had ever imagined. There were gurgling streams running throughout the monastery. You could sit anywhere, close your eyes and just be at peace with yourself. The effect of slow sound of flowing water is just serenely calming. It seems to cleans your soul.

The Temple

The monastery is full of lush green trees. You can hear so many birds chirping and flittering among them. The stone pavements are so perfectly laid that you can almost feel the patience of the person who put them there. Even the stones radiate love.

The pavement and trees

I lost track of time and space while moving around this beautifully hypnotic place. Inside the temple is the statue of Buddha Shakyamuni depicted in blue as I learnt in the monastery. An applique that is about two stories hangs from the ceiling. I walked upstairs to the most peaceful library I’ve ever visited. The scrolls were neatly stacked and the sitting was on the floor with low tables and cushions. There were plenty of windows to allow natural light. Had I known of this gorgeous library I would certainly have brought my books along. Nevertheless, I sat there lost in thoughts of Utopia and how close this place seemed to it. Birds, trees, people, even the street dogs (who are allowed inside) seemed calm. I believe even the rowdiest of being would instinctively be serene and peaceful here. My revire was broken when some students walked in. They were friendly and excitedly informed me to visit the Losel Doll Museum inside the monastery itself. It has over 150 dolls in traditional Tibetian costumes. Only two other places in the world house Losel Dolls, one in US and the other in Taiwan, I as proudly informed. And it turned out to be as attractive as it was described.

Losel Doll Museum

They teach traditional applique work, wood carving and wood painting and thangka sketching. The best part of taking up these courses is you can stay in the institute in what is known as Norling House. Well! I will be coming back for this. Standing inside Norbulinka I felt short of adjectives to describe it. It was exquisite, resplendent, splendid, sublime, fascinating, flawless and Utopian in every sense of the word.

I left the place reluctantly with words from Jason Marz’s song ringing in my head:

Utopia

“Peace in My Heart
   Peace in My Soul
   Wherever I’m Going
    I’m Already Home”
  

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NEW AGE ADDICTION

So we are a generation that has seen the transition from no mobiles to all mobiles. Now the mobile is the lord. I remember we had clearly marked “zones”, “areas” for everything. You wanted to read news there was newspaper, you wanted to see news there was TV, you listen to songs on the music system…. now, well there is an app for everything. Ever heard of alarm clock? It was a device we set up each night to get up the next day… now you have the mobile. I still remember the landline numbers of my school friends because we memorised them so we could dial when we needed to call, or wrote them in our phone books. Now you save it in the contacts and forget about the numbers. You search for the name in the contact list. I don’t remember my husband’s phone number, but that’s a good thing. I’m sure he doesn’t remember mine.

Then came a deluge of ‘apps’ to let you stay in touch with your friends. The very first that I remember was Orkut – heard of it?? Well, it didn’t take long for FB to take over. It became a virtual town and everyone spent cosiderable time there. And then there has been no stopping. I don’t even remember or recognise half the apps that allow you to connect with people. Going through the app store one day I chanced to stumble upon Instagram.

My younger friends were all praises for it and encouraged me to open an “account” on Instagram. The naïve me believed that only banks did that. OK a name was selected and my account was opened. The first thing to do was to select a “DP”…. display picture if you may. I’m not very photogenic and am actually very camera shy. So they nudged me to click a selfie. “Oh horrible”, I thought. “Pout!”, they said, “sorry, that’s not happening”, said I. Finally we managed to get it right, whatever that was. “So I put it up now?” “NO!!! It has to go through filters”. Remove blemishes-check, Remove dark circles-check, smoothen-check, and so it went on till it was insta ready. Finally it was uploaded and to my surprise people actually started following me!! I started receiving messages from absolute strangers telling me their names age etc. Some said they loved how I look… of course I loved the edited me too. Wow! it looked like a dating app entirely different from what I was told it was all about. Of course I chose to ignore most requests .

But underneath all this drama I thought, how desperate the present generation seems for quick gratification and also for approval I guess. You choose a fake image of yourself, fake name, fake identity just to impress a random stranger. I cannot comprehend this. Many of them seem to be living all new lives on Instagram where you present a false image of yourself.

We looked for approval too, we too had crushes and first loves, but as far as I can remember it was by seeing the actual person infront of us, not his edited image. We saw how he moved, spoke, smiled and laughed and that took our breath away. Remember the song Ik ladki ko dekha to aisa laga… See the crux ladki ko dekha.. dp ko nahi. If we liked a person we went and spoke to him… not text. Speaking tells so much about the kind of person you are. I bet all the love stories that are carried on by texting would wither away if they had to actually stand infront of each other and speak. I may be totally wrong though… hopefully.

I fail to understand why people need to put up a front and show the world what you are not? Will hiding behind all these filters actually bring any happiness? Is a lie not scared of being exposed at all times or have we come to a point where we have begun to believe in all that we put out there to be true? I do not connect with this kind of projected images and cannot fathom the reason for others to do the same. What I have put up is all fake I know that, then how am I to believe what you are showing me is true or even near truth.

I think I’m from a world where human interactions still hold good. Love, fight, hate, whatever, it has to be personal. Talking one on one, not texting and certainly not by falling in love with a dp.