New Beginnings?

Sometimes its so easy to articulate what you think or feel. You know the exact words to convey your thoughts. 

At other times, you have a jumble of thoughts in your head and its really quite chaotic, but you are at a loss for words. These thoughts then keep piling up and you go back and forth and back and forth until your head aches. 

What do you do in such a situation? 

This is a genuine question. I am definitely not giving an answer to it through this post. If anything, I am seeking one.

I believe that writing really helps put my thoughts together. But I don’t really feel inspired to write anymore. My last post for this blog was more than a year ago, and I have not found the motivation or the inspiration to write in all that time. I have so many things I can actually write about, thoughts that I could (should) put into words, but sometimes I feel that I just cannot muster up the energy to do so. So much has happened in all this time–only a year, although it seems far longer. 

Honestly, at times, writing about something that happened during this time almost seems like reliving it. That is one thing I cannot do. I don’t want to relive most of my past year; it really hasn’t been good. 

Rather, I would like to think and ponder over my future. Again, so many things to think about. I am actually quite excited about it, although I don’t want to be. Atleast not unless I know I will be able to do what I have in mind. I have learnt that planning too ahead of yourself is not always a good idea. Life has a way of reminding you that you cannot always control everything. It surprises you and makes you realise the value of what you have. 

For a time, I think I was afraid to even think about what I could do, even to dream. I still am. But I think if I can just be determined and strong enough, like my mom was, then I could do it. I just need that confidence back. I don’t think I’ve had that for some time now. 

But maybe this could be the start of something new…

PS. I thought this blog was as good as dead. But I have realised that that’s really up to me. So I think its definitely worth another shot. For myself atleast. I am going to try writing again. Maybe sporadically, but any writing right now is a good enough start. I guess we’ll see how it goes.

In search of Sher Khan: Day 3

Today we have a morning safari again. But we’ve decided to leave a little earlier. We leave at 5:30 because we know the gates of the Reserve open at 5:45. There are atleast 6-8 cars already there and our driver tells us we are late.
When the gates open we all go in. We start the safari along a familiar route. After only two safaris we have started recognizing our surroundings a little.
But, after our two tiger-less safaris, we don’t really know if today’s the day. But we still hope, just a little.
We are on our way when we encounter another jeep coming from the opposite direction. The two drivers exchange some words, softly spoken, difficult for us to understand.
The other jeep moves in the direction we’ve just come from. Our driver tells our guide something and he reverses the jeep to go back the way we came. Our guide tells us that there is a chance that the tigress in whose territory we are currently travelling in will make an appearance.
We reach the spot-incidentally, its the same spot where we waited for almost half an hour yesterday-we see the other jeep and the driver is gesturing with his hands-slow down, keep quiet he is telling us. We park our jeep behind his and our driver shuts the engine. He tells us they have heard a sambar deer’s warning call and the tigress is definitely on the move. We know that her cub is in the jungle to our right and the warning call came from the jungle to our left. She is coming is get her cub!
Behind us, a few more jeeps have arrived, there are now 6 jeeps. Everyone is standing on the top of their seats…cameras poised…eyes scanning the jungle on the left.
Our wait is finally over. The tigress comes, majestic and beautiful, her coat gleaming in the morning light. The cameras start clicking away. But she owns that moment, that place. After all, its her home and we are the intruders.
She walks across the road, never once glancing at the jeeps, as if they didn’t exist for her and so neither did we. She crosses the road and everyone is exultant. We’ve seen what we came for.
But wait, there’s still something going on. We see her cub through the bushes. The cub’s been waiting for its mother. She goes in and gets the cub. Its a little less than half her size, and she is quite large. The cub is not very small but still young enough to not go hunting on its own, still dependent on the mother.
The jeeps have reversed and are now in a straight line along the road in an attempt to get any glimpse possible of the tigress.
But we are lucky. She comes back out and this time the cub’s with her. Its beautiful too and already has the regality of a full grown tiger. It looks a little nervous though.

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With the jeeps lined up, there’s no way for her to cross. She waits.

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Our jeeps reverse further. After all, its her home and we are interfering, we have to move. The road is hers. We back up and she crosses between the jeeps, again never once glancing at us. Her cub keeps close to her, its probably never seen crazy people in huge jeeps with black instruments that make weird clicking sounds.
They both cross the road again and go into the bushes.
Everyone remains quiet, waiting for any further activity and also soaking in the moment, not quite believing their luck. But now she’s really gone. Our guide believes she has just made a kill and is taking her cubs to eat it. She has two cubs and probably one is already near the kill.
We move on. But we can’t get over the fact that after three safaris we have finally seen a tigress (and twice no less, with a cub!).
The last two safaris seem totally worth it.
In fact, we now think that not seeing a tiger in the first two safaris just made this experience that much more exciting.
We still have about two hours to go in our safari and we hardly realise their passing. We see some more peacocks, a mongoose, some deer, two eagles, a few vultures high up in a tree, many different birds, a herd of the Indian gaur, and a jackal.
Its been a very fruitful third safari. We meet many jeeps along the way. Our driver tells them to go towards the spot where we saw the tigress. Everyone moves there, full of hope. We hear later that the tigress was spotted again, crossing over and our guide believes that one of her cubs has wandered off and she’s looking for it. But he says she has gone in the direction where she lives so she probably won’t come out again.
He also tells us that she is 13 years old and has given birth to 22 cubs so far. The cub we saw was about 13-14 months old.
We are ecstatic about this last safari. We saw Mrs. Sher Khan!
Its was an unforgettable experience!
I have seen tigers before but only in the zoo. I have been on a safari where my parents tell me we saw a tiger, but I was too young to remember it. Today’s experience is now etched in my memory. Watching a tigress in the wild could never compare to watching one in the zoo.
Our trip to the Pench Tiger Reserve has been extremely rewarding ๐Ÿ™‚

Photo credits: My sister.

In search of Sher Khan: Day 2

No luck today either.
We start the morning safari at 6 am. Its a pleasant morning,doesn’t feel like summer at all. There’s a cool breeze blowing, the sun hasn’t risen yet and the sky is clear. We laugh about how worried we were about the heat before arriving here.
We see a couple of peacocks, a little black and white bird, the size of a sparrow (I don’t know the name), a few more spotted and sambar deer.
Animal sightings are few today, we hardly see any. The jungle is quiet and appears asleep. But that’s not how its supposed to be.
We meet a few other jeeps sitting idle at a turning. We are told that there’s a chance that a tigress will be seen because the area is known to be her territory and the guides know that her cubs are deeper inside the jungle. The tigress is believed to have gone hunting or for a drink of water. We wait in anticipation, knowing the mother will soon return to her cubs.
More jeeps join us. Everyone is quietly scanning the jungle for any activity. But there’s nothing. Everyone is patient but the younger kids are getting restless. The other guides tell us what they’ve seen or heard. They claim to have heard a warning call.
All the jeeps move in that direction, but again there’s nothing. The sun is beating down on us now and temperatures have risen. Its the dry kind of heat, no moisure in the air at all.
Our driver suddenly stops at a turning, there’s one more jeep ahead of us, waiting. They are scanning the ground. Our driver points it out to us-a tiger’s paw print. Its right there in the dust on the side of the road, looks fresh too. But in these parts fresh could mean two hours old. The tiger may have moved far away by now.
We keep searching, but no luck.
Our safari’s coming to an end. We start moving towards the gate, tired and extremely hungry. We’ve been roaming for almost four hours and haven’t had any luck of seeing any new animals. The sun is making it hard for us to see straight ahead.
We exit through the gate and finish another safari without a glimpse of the national animal of India. One more safari to go before we leave.
Will tomorrow be our lucky day?

In search of Sher Khan: Day 1

(I wrote this post last week, actually the following two posts as well. I couldn’t post this before because there was no internet connection and I wanted to add some photos too.)

Have you guys seen The Jungle Book yet? If you haven’t, please do. Its a very well made film and its quite an experience watching it on the big screen.
The Jungle Book has been a part of my childhood, as it has been for a few generations before me and as it will be for many generations to come. We have grown up with Mowgli and the film took me back to my childhood. My only regret would be not watching it in Hindi (yet) and so there was no ‘jungle jungle baat chali hai’.
But this post is not about the film. I am in Pench, Madhya Pradesh right now. It is a tiger reserve in Seoni, the home of Mowgli. The Seoni jungle is where The Jungle Book is based. We are here in search of the elusive Mr. (or Mrs.) Sher Khan.
We are going on our first safari here today.
Its an evening safari and we get in the gypsy at our hotel. Our guide tells us that there has been a tiger sighting in the morning safari, so we are pretty excited.
The jungle around us hardly looks like a jungle. The trees are spaced out and most of them do not have a single leaf on them. Dry, thin tree limbs reach out over the fading evening sky.

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The heat is subsiding and the weather is pleasant. The gypsy leaves behind dust clouds as it moves on the road. Everywhere we turn, we see greys and dull yellows. Suddenly, a flash of brilliant blue makes us stop our jeep. A peacock struts into view. We are all amazed at the its colour. The blue that we term ‘peacock blue’ in paints and fabrics is nowhere close to the natural colour.

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The first peacock garners some attention. But we soon realise that peacocks are very common in the jungle. Now, we don’t point out the next one we see but I am still marvelling at the colour.
We see many other birds too-owls, kingfishers, eagles, a tiger bird (so called because of its black and gold stripes), and many others I don’t know the names of.

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We see a pack of wild dogs, jackals and their cubs, sambar, hards of spotted deer, nilgai, bisons and monkeys.

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The jungle is alive around us and we keenly listen to its various sounds.
We go towards the river where animals gather for water. The area around the river is open and almost flat. We see storks and other birds near the water, along with a herd of deer.
But we don’t see the black and gold stripes.
We move on to another track and see another peacock. But this one has its tail feathers unfurled and it looks beautiful and graceful. We think it signals rain and as if on cue we hear distant thunder. Soon, the sky becomes cloudy, lightning flashes and huge, cold raindrops spatter on our faces. The wind picks up and blows dust all around us. The dry leaves on the ground are rushing away in the wind. The jungle is filled with the sounds of the rustling of leaves, the thundering and the rain.

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Our safari is almost at an end. We enjoy the weather as we move towards the exit gate.
Sher Khan has managed to remain hidden.
Our search continues…

Photo Credits: My sister, my dad and well, me ๐Ÿ™‚

Trek Diaries #2 Naneghat

Hey people! This is the second post in Trek Diaries (finally, after nearly two months).
The second trek I went to was the best one! It was a night trek to Naneghat, which is in the Western Ghats of Maharashtra.
It was again organised by my professor and most of us from my batch had agreed to go. The most exciting part about it was that it was a night trek, something I had never done before.
We were to catch a train from Dadar at around 12-12:15 pm for Kalyan from where our trek would begin.
Me and some of my friends decided to meet up in the evening itself and then travel together later. It just gave us more time with each other and we had a lot of fun before the trek even began. We went out for dinner and then spent a few hours at my grandparents’ house just relaxing.
We left for the station around 12. It was a great experience. There were hardly any people on the road and one of the busiest stations in Mumbai seemed a little quiet. But we soon realized that that was not the case. Although not as crowded as it is at peak hours, people were still travelling and we realized that Mumbai truly never sleeps.
We met some other people from our group at the station, some more joined us at different stations during the train journey.
We reached Kalyan and started our trek. It was dark, but if I remember correctly, it was a full moon night and there were absolutely no clouds to be seen. The moon lighted up our way and we started climbing.
The only sounds around were from insects or probably other small animals.
It was a beautiful night and we did not expect it to be cold either. Half way up, we stopped for a break. There was a plateau of sorts before another stretch of climbing. We could see the actual Naneghat from here. Naneghat comprises two words-‘nane’, meaning coin, and ‘ghat’, meaning a road through the mountains. The actual pass is a narrow stretch of rocks between two mountains. It was used by travellers to cross from one region to the other and it was at this pass that a road tariff was collected from the travellers. Hence, the name Naneghat.
That pass was still some way up when we stopped. We sat down on the ground and relaxed-ate some food, drank water.
Then some of us lay down on the ground using our bags as pillows and looked straight up at the starry sky, something that was so rare in our city life. It was so beautiful and quiet. One could feel truly at peace in such an environment.
The break didn’t last too long though and we started our climb again.
We were nearly at the top now and since we had made good time, we decided to spend the remaining hours of the night in a cave at the top. The cave was quite large and could easily accomodate most of us. We settled down, exhaused after the trek. What we did not expect, however, was the cold. It was freezing! None of us had prepared for it because, come on, when has it ever been freezing in this part of the world?
But it was-really, really cold! We allhuddled together and none if us could sleep. We spent the rest of the night trying to sleep and get warm, but almost completely failing at both. When the sun came up, we went back out, relieved to see some light and for once eager for the sun.
We crossed the actual Naneghat, there was a huge metal pot at the other end of the ghat that was used for collecting the tariff.
The sun was properly up now and it was a glorious morning. It was if the cold night had never happened. We spent some time in the sun, clicking photos and watching the sun rise higher in the sky. Eventually it was time to go. Our bus, which had dropped us at the foot of the mountain, had come the longer way by road to pick us up.
Our trek was over and we returned home exhausted but happy. This was the best trek I’ve been on because it was an experience I am never likely to forget.

Two more treks to go (only). I’ll definitely try to write sooner, I really should, I know. I will. The next two were pretty good too, so I do want to write about them ๐Ÿ™‚

Until next time.

Trek Diaries #1: Mahuli

Hello people! I’ve been thinking about (and procrastinating) about what to write on for quite some time. A friend of mine, Dhruv (blogs at The Nerdvana Parallel) suggested I write about one of my favourite trips. Right now I can’t really choose a favourite one. But this gave me another idea.
I’m going to write about 4 treks I’ve been on because each one was so different than the others and so much fun. I have so many good memories associated with all of them.
Let’s start with the first one. It was in the second year of my bachelor’s degree that our HOD announced that he was organizing a trek to Mahuli. I was pretty excited but also apprehensive because it would be my first trek but I wasn’t used to the rigours of trekking at all.
Some 25-30 of us from all three years if my bachelor’s course and some from the master’s course decided to go. We went by train to Asangaon. After getting down at the station, we were told that the foot of Mahuli was still some distance away . It was very early in the morning and we couldn’t find a mode of transport large enough to carry all of us nor several smaller taxis or autos. Convincing ourselves that our trek would have to begin right from here, we started trudging on foot.
We walked for some 10-15 mins when we saw a truck coming up the road. It was one of those trucks which have a large open carrier behind to carry vegetables or soil or cement etc.ย  All of us waved at it and the driver agreed to transport us to the base. We clambered inside, climbing from all three sides, stepping on the truck’s huge tyres and helping each other up. It was one of the most fun experiences I’ve had because, really, when would you have the chance to travel in the back of a truck like that?
We finally reached the base of the mountain and began our climb to the top. For a first-time trekker like me, it was an extremely difficult trek. Definitely not one I’d recommend to other first-time trekkers. It had a steep, rocky terrain. By the time we were half way up, I was exhausted and it had started raining. The road had become slippery. But I was determined ro reach the top. I wasn’t about to complain and spoil everyone’s fun. I was probably the last one to reach the top; my friends were very supportive though and not once did they leave my side.
We couldn’t wait at the top for too long because it was raining very heavily by then and getting darker too. We started the climb down after only some time of rest.
The climb down was even more dangerous because of the wet rocks and the slippery soil. We had crossed a river on our way up; however, then it was not flowing as fast and we could easily cross it by stepping on the huge boulders in it. Now, with the rain pounding on us, the river had swelled and was rushing ahead at a great speed. We couldn’t see the boulders that helped us cross before.
There was another trekking group at the river bank facing the same dilemma. Some guys from both the groups got together and carefully formed a chain fron one bank of the river to the other. The rest of us crossed the river with the help of this human chain, literally being passed from one person to the next as we all held on to dear life.
Finally, all of us having crossed to the other side, we went our separate ways. When we finally reached the base, we were completely soaked and exhausted.
We rested in a nearby temple for some time till the rain stopped and then started our journey back home.
It was not what I had expected my first trek to be like. Honestly, I don’t know what I had expected. But it was an unforgettable experience. We returned home feeling like our legs were falling to pieces, but also with a feeling of triumph at having completed the trek ๐Ÿ™‚
I plan to write about the other three treks I went on as well because each one has a special memory attached to it. Let me know what you think about this post in the comments! Have you been on a trek? Do you have any such unforgettable experiences of trekking?

10 Interesting Facts about Libraries and Librarians

Interesting Literature

Great facts about famous libraries and librarians around the world

We thought it was about time we saluted that noble institution, the library, with some of our favourite interesting bits of trivia about libraries and librarians.

Jacob Grimm, Philip Larkin, Casanova, David Hume, Jorge Luis Borges, and Lewis Carroll all worked as librarians.

Another word for a librarian is โ€˜bibliothecarโ€™.

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