Kedarnath sojourn

 

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Mr Husband sprinkles the holy water of Vishnuprayag, one of the Panch Prayags and the confluence point of Dhauli Ganga and Alaknanda.

“Why do you have to go there now? Go when your grand kids are big enough to fly you on a chopper,” said my mother as I and the man of the house packed our bags to go on what is considered as one of the dangerous journeys, especially after the 2013 catastrophe, the abode of Lord Shiva-Kedarnath shrine that sits atop the mystic Himalayas at a height of 16,000ft.

But, before I go ahead with my story, here’s a small piece of advice. If you are a travel junkie and like to tread the less-travelled roads, then try not to reveal your plans to parents a little too quickly for they might trap you in their emotional web that they suddenly conjure up out of thin air!

Anyway, it was too late to step back. Besides, we had spent months to prepare ourselves both mentally and physically to embrace the rugged terrain.  While I would do intense cardio workout for an hour every morning and walk at least six km every evening, my husband would climb 19 floors at one go in his office (it took him a week to achieve success). So, yes, we were quite serious about what we thought was a journey of our lifetime.

I have a habit of researching everything and working my finger to the bone while researching about places or things. So, obviously, I had watched every documentary, every news capsule and every talk show the internet had to offer about Kedarnath and Badrinath. Unfortunately, it did nothing but fostered fear and doubts in my mind. Of course, a tragedy such as this that ravaged the terrain plays on your mind. So, another piece of advice, never research a place more than required as it will only create a mental block in your head that you will never be able to crawl out of.

June 6. 2016, the day we reached Dehradun and we were already caught in torrential rains. While the man of the house enjoyed the weather, I mistook it as an ominous sign before setting out to the hills. I was a wreak the night before. Yes, I admit and my doubts grew even stronger every time I would hear a thunderbolt. I knew that it rained scantily in 2013 as well. So, it wasn’t a good sign. Although we had timed our trip perfectly just before the monsoons took over the Himalayas. But, you never know which way the wind would blow when it comes to the mountains.

Thankfully, the next morning the skies had opened up and the day was nice and bright. It was a pretty bump-free ride with bare minimal distractions. On your way, we crossed Tapovan and Vyasi, a small sleepy hamlet where on a friend’s recommendation, we made a quick stop and devoured some ghee-laden paranthas. Now there’s a hiccup. The man of the house is quite a health freak and he tries to reach for healthy food even on a trip but sometimes he ‘mends his ways’ for me! So, there goes three aloo paranthas for him as well. With feeling yummy in the tummy, we continued our journey and rode non-stop till

Gaurikund where we stayed the night. This is also one of the places that saw destruction of epic proportions. It is also where the travelers make a stopover for a night before starting out on a rather difficult trek to Kedarnath. After the 2013 tragedy that destroyed the trekking route to Kedarnath, the state government, along with the help of Nehru Institute of Mountaineering came up with a new route on the mountain across from the ravaged route.

Though we had planned to trek the distance but since it had been drizzling we decided to rent a pair of mules for the uphill journey. And boy, did it pain! I wished I had covered the distance by foot than by riding on the back of the mule. It took us almost three hours to make it to the top. Any kind of transport whether the chopper or the mules, will drop you at Rudra Point. After this, you must cover the last stretch of 6 km by foot. And trust me, the inclement weather with incessant raining made it almost impossible and every step I took felt like dragging a boulder tied to my feet. But when I finally reached the shrine and took in the sights and sounds, it felt so heavenly and worth the pain we had to endure to reach the temple premises. The mountain behind the temple was a cruel reminder of the tragedy, for this was exactly where River Mandikini exploded in its full form and washed away everything that came in her way.

After the darshan, we proceeded to the accommodation that was near the temple for the night. In hindsight, we both think that wasn’t a good thing to stay there for a night as the temperature drops to some -5 degrees and it’s not advisable to stay up there. I for one, had my own issues. To top it all, both of us decided to sprawl out on our chairs outside right in front of the huge mountains, I don’t know what got inside my head but I ended up with a mild fever. Thankfully, we returned hale and hearty and also, not to forget, to umpteen number of calls made by parents since there is no connectivity in the upper reaches of the Himalayas.

It was a journey full of mixed emotions but would I like to go back, if given a chance?

Hell, yes!

 You can also visit a fellow blogger’s website to know more about the place at umeshkaul.wordpress.com/2016/04/30/kedarnath-trip-pure-nostalgia

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The unsuitable content

 

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Since the time I heard that Karan Johar was coming out with his book, I was the most excited soul on this earth and my husband made it all the more special by gifting this to me on Lohri!

But to my dismay, it’s a hell of a smart one played by one of my favourite Bollywood directors (not for his work but for the person that he comes across on screen), for his book has absolutely nothing to offer.

By his own admission on The Most Desirable, a chat show hosted by the yesteryear actress Simi Garewal, Karan had conceded that if he were to write a book then it would only be published after his death. And since we already have one in our hand with him being alive, I think the writing was pretty much there on the wall.

So, if you are a serious gossip monger then you will be in for a huge disappointment as there is neither any dope on the sex life of actors nor any relationship status of who’s who of Bollywood. There is only silence peppered with quotes like “I told Kareena oncethat she secretly writes for Pinkvilla.”

I mean, I really don’t need to buy a book worth Rs 700 to know this! It’s a universally known fact for God’s sake!

Why does the guy, who looks and sounds like a fire brand on the couch reads so lame is something I seriously fail to understand.

Honestly, I think the problem is actually the guy himself , for he has exposed himself to the media so much that now, every piece of information he attempts to give out is stale. In fact, most of the incidents he has talked about in the book actually belong to the pre-dinosaur era.  Take, for example of Kajol tripping over in every film being a lucky sign for him. Then how he struggled to find a desirable cast for the role of Tina in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai.

He puts out every mundane information in the public domain. So there’s hardly anything new that he could put to paper unless its really scandalous!

How many of you have heard about the bonding between SRK, Kajol and Karan in DDLJ? Almost everyone. Even the Kajol episode, he has so cleverly touched upon the issue that he ended up sending social media into a tizzy without stirring a controversy. To quote him, “The problem was actually never between her and me. It was between her husband and me. I want to keep it at that. I don’t really want to say what really transpired”

At this point , I really feel cheated since I obviously didn’t by a Karan Johar book to study PhD. Of course, I need some juice which he is so reluctant to release in the book.

The book, however, does manage to do justice to your money in parts where he talks about his journey with his late father, the mother’s eternal worries about Karan’s career, marriage et al.

But I must say that I really like some of the candid confessions he’s made in the book. For example, how he wanted to direct Kal Ho Na Ho (Kaan wrote the story) half way though but did not have the heart to go up to his assistant director, Nikhil Advani and say it to him.

In hindsight, I think we should give him the credit where its due. The guy is still very much part of the industry. Perhaps, we would have to wait for him to retire before he pens down a Khullam Khulla or drums up a Shotgun Sinha!

A chapter on Shah Rukh Khan though reads honest and genuine. Though he hasn’t said what caused the fissure between the two but he has tried to touch upon the issue in as many words. To quote him. “I think we were two hurt friends for no reason.”

All in all, the book is just about your average Joe, nothing stunning about it.

 

The aroma specialist

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“What have you applied? The whole room smells so nice,” said my husband, who had just returned from work. “It’s Wiccan magic,” I replied smilingly!

Only recently, when I met the beautiful aromatherapist and founder of the brand Wikka,  Rupal Shabnam Tyagi, at the Southall Cafe in the heart of Delhi, I was immediately taken in by her warm persona, or perhaps, blame the essential oils that she might have sprinkled over herself, for everyone just listened to her in rapt attention.

“Actually, the original term is Wicca, which means  the good witch,” smiles Rupal while elaborating on her brand.

Married into a family of royal lineage, Rupal’s interest in aromas and fragrances grew while observing her grandmother who would use varied spices and herbs for beauty treatments. “When a lady gets pregnant in our household, she is bathed with buttermilk and rose petals,” says Rupal.

However, a software professional by education, Rupal discovered her passion only after marriage when she flew to London where she pursued an advanced course to understand the nuances of fragrant healing.

Married into a Bijnaur royal family, Rupal rediscovered her connect with nature and its beauty and fragrance. She says, “My husband belongs to a royal family in Bijnaur, UP. They have mango plantations (mainly Langras and Chausa mangoes) spread over 500 acres.  “In our household, pregnant ladies would go to the hills for the whole duration but since I had an issue , we stayed put on our farm in Bijnour,” says Rupal.

While staying there during my pregnancy, she was surrounded by herbs like chamomile and rose plants. “I am also quite prone to allergies but to my surprise, I did not experience even a single bout of allergy during my stay on the farm,” she adds.

She then started reading books and journals and discovered the uses, healing powers and benefits of different kinds of herbs and how to use them. And while she was scouring the library in her ancestral home, she stumbled upon the book called Wiccan Magic. “And that’s where the name of my brand came from,” says the healer.

For Rupal, travelling takes up most of her time  as she procures procures authentic essential oils and apparatus from countries such as France, Germany, Morocco, and Dubai. “Customisation of perfumes is such a popular concept abroad and is gradually picking up in India too. I go there to stay updated on matters related to aromatherapy as it is a very mature market,” says Rupal.

And now, her two sons have taken a liking to her range of aromas as well. “They have created their own concoction of fragrance –  a mix of vanilla essence, chocolates and orange extracts,” says Rupal with a sense of pride.

While she retails through her website, Rupal has recently launched her studio in Delhi on MG Road, Ghitorni.

“If you go to our website, we have something called the Virtual Clinic where in people from across the country can take a personalised consultation to discuss their problem with ,” says Rupal. She adds: “They just need to fill in a form so that I can analyse their requirements / problems and suggest a suitable product or make a personalised blend for them to use.”

Though what I was amazed to know was that she is also working with some patients suffering from auto-immune diseases. “I have a patient who has Rheumatoid arthritis. Within months of working with her, her reports came pretty fine. That’s the magic of  essential oils, ” says Rupal. She adds: ” Even ff your child is a bit cranky just sprinkle a dash of jasmine or lavender oil and trust me, he will magically become calm.”

Well, I say it’s worth trying her products. All ingredients are either pure essential oils or are derived from the plant and mineral kingdom.

For info on prices and offers, do visit her site at  http://www.wikka.in