Is it good for anyone?
Moon makes our night so much more – spooky, brighter, cooler… Only by inheriting light from its sun… Its sometimes better to inherit something that lights the world around even when it’s only on borrowed knowledge… Correct? What does it teach us… Keep learning!
|Prince, Wifey and Me!|
The onward journey was to be divided into 3 phases as we had classified it and each of these little parts had its own little moments:
1. Part 1 would cover us leaving our home, reaching the boarding point and leaving Delhi to reach a Dhaba (Restaurant) midway.
2. Part 2 would cover us leaving the Dhaba, reaching Dehradun early morning.
3. Part 3 would cover us catching hold of cab and reach Mussourie by 9 am in the morning.
We had decided to leave our home by 8 pm to reach the boarding point by 9:15 pm. The twist here came when auto-rickshaws refused to leave Chhatarpur. What the hell! Now what? It was time to push the panic button and we surely did. We decided to board a metro at Chhatarpur Metro Station and got an auto-rickshaw to drop us there. But as luck would have it, another auto-rickshaw at the station agreed to drop us to our boarding destination and we could reach the place on time all stuffed up in one auto-rickshaw huffing and puffing during the way!
So we boarded the bus and started moving towards Anand Vihar which would be the final boarding point from Delhi and then straight to Dhaba. All of this went smooth. On my way, when I saw the Firozeshah Kotla Stadium, I suddenly remembered that I am missing the IPL match between Delhi Daredevils and Mumbai Indians going on in Delhi and the stadium was easily visible all lit up perfectly and it was passing us by. Score tally summarized via GPRS on my phone – MI struggling.
We reached the Dhaba at around 1:20 am, all sleepy ofcourse with no hunger. But having not tasted an authentic dhaba food since a long long time, I was lured into trying something and had quite a normal quick food in roti, dal and one paneer veg. It was time we boarded the bus again and now was the time we started feeling the pain of small bus and the pain it provides to your knees in the way of pathetic seating positions. It was impossible to sit or lie down but we decided to keep sitting as there was no way to relax the knees. The roads from Delhi to Dehradun are not too friendly if the buses are not comfortable and we bore the entire brunt of it having gotten a seat at the back of the bus. Kept jumping throughout the journey and every pause during the journey was our only chance to catch a nap even if it only lasted for a few minutes. Waking – Sleeping was the pattern as there was nothing but darkness outside amidst all the turbulence. But at the back our of our heads was the peace of a holiday in the making. We were absolutely unperturbed by the tame discomfort or jerks. One look outside would tell us how the still the night was (even though we were not). No complaints though.
By the morning we were completely exhausted. Sunlight woke us up from our paradises in our sleeps and what we saw outside was absolute calm, orange of the sun mixed with the green from the nature and a dense forest covering our bus from both the sides – a sight we hadn’t seen in ages it seems. This was nothing new to us – but certainly awakening and beautiful. May be a knock on our luck for a nice and a comfortable holiday. We reached Dehradun at 6:30 am with sunshine making its presence felt strongly and cool breeze in the air. Not bad at all. Caught a “Tempo – Bhatsuar” and made our way to the bus stand to catch a cab.
Then the surprise of our trip came calling from my wife who had somehow changed her mind during our bus journey – “Lets go to Dhanolti and not Mussourie. I have not seen that place and looking at Dehradun now doesn’t make me feel the same way I felt about it 10 years ago. I think same would happen to me when we reach Mussourie and I don’t want to waste my holiday”. The taxi driver pitched in – “Yes saab. Dhanolti is a better place if you looking to stay there for a day or two – not more than that. It’s beautiful and very peaceful”. This sudden change of mind jolted me but made me aware that these are the situations you can or may always face on a holiday. To decide between what to do and what not to do could mean a lot and I’m glad I made the right decision. “Ok. Lets go to Dhanolti.” – I said.
The taxi fare doubled and we would reach Dhanolti at about 10:30 am. It was a fare deal given we would get ample time to make up for our lost sleep from the bus – which in my opinion I was the most incorrect I had been throughout the journey. Stop no. 1 from Dehradun to Mussourie came when the hunger pangs started talking. Breakfast had bread – butter and omelet in order and we moved on with gust in our head and fresh air in our lungs. God, the air had not felt so fresh in ages and it obviously took our sleep away. Lots of recording from inside the car followed and we could now feel the difference between the city life and what it would be if we lived in the mountains. The twists and turns brought about obvious churns in our tummies but they would not bother us now. We were all geared up for a 3 hour hike in our “Ambassador” car. The car in itself never posed a question throughout the journey and we enjoyed the ride with our driver. Stop no. 2 would be to have photography session few of which along with ones from the car are below:
Lovely scenes them. I think what made us love the entire road trip more than anything was the excitement to see what would be in store for us at Dhanolti when all of this mediocre stuff (I mean it) was getting us so ecstatic. All of it felt so so similar like we are yet to forget our trips from earlier but more was to come. We nearly reached Mussourie when the driver took a right turn for the road to Dhanolti. The air was absolutely clear and fresh, the soil still smelt like heaven from yesterdays rains and all the flowers and trees left their essence in the air like they were about to burst with happiness. The best part I think about the road from Mussourie to Dhanolti is without doubt the clean and smooth roads with absolutely perfect curbs and slants. It goes up and down and left and right and never gives you a chance to sit straight – you are either jumping with excitement or falling over due to left and right cuts. We just couldn’t stop laughing at our plight. It was hilarious. These are the pictures from the turn we started for Dhanolti:
And then we started on. The quietness that engulfed us except the revving Ambassador engine was quite riveting. The road started stretching its legs and faster we tried to move, the slower it seemed. The mountain view and the pine trees were not doing too bad in keeping us distracted from the harsh twists and turns and the fear of mortality arising from the gaping dive to death. Quite frankly, we just weren’t having enough of the scenery. Every next view would surpass the previous one in beauty and serenity. Sometimes the wall side of the road would be on left and sometimes on right and very rightly keeping us engaged to keep a look out for anything that we might miss because of the twists on the road. And I will again mention the quietness in all of this. This is one property that enthralled us throughout our stay and the journey towards Dhanolti and back. Some more pictures from the way:
The next stop on the way was very interesting. First we saw a sign board that said we were only 260 km from Gangotri on the same route. And the next we were told that the mountain side had apples growing on them. Fresh and green. Also we saw an absolutely belligerent scene. How proximate we were to Himalayas could be linked to two facts: the air was absolutely clear from the rains last night and the Himalayas were only a few ranges away and were clearly visible. We just couldn’t believe our eyes but yes that was not clouds hanging in the air but Himalayas at the helm. Gorgeous view. The Himalayas though, could not be captured by our mere 5x optical zoom Sony cameras.
We then reached the eco-park, paid a nominal fee of Rs. 10 per person and entered with burnt corns in our hand. The view – amazing. The feel – simple. The aura – peaceful. The park clearly states a message to conserve forests and plants and the messages were scattered all over the park. We climbed, clicked and made merry. Here are some pictures from the first park we visited:
All of this was such a clear view and our color thirsty and smoke damaged eyes were savoring every minute of the natural colors up there. It seemed that this is what earth is about and not all the development that it makes possible and the ease it provides to the mankind. Although I agree that I wouldn’t have shared this article if we wouldn’t have exploited earth’s resources but still I think we should keep a certain sanctity to how nature performs its daily tasks and keeps life running. All of what we were doing apart from clicking pictures were – thinking. Then we returned in broad day light to our room to catch a nap after deciding that the rest of the sight-seeing will be done after a doze off. During our sleep we noticed that the weather had suddenly gone dark and there were loud sounds of thrashing on our roof and the windows. But we were just too tired to take a heed of those and kept sleeping through what could have been an exhilarating spectacle for us to watch.
As we were engulfed in our thoughts, we realized that it was already dark and the skies were darkening to be unforgiving again through the night and as we would later find out, we made a brilliant decision to have an early dinner at one of the restaurants even though we weren’t very hungry. But the locals had told us that it was going be a hail storm like the evening again and it was going to get extremely cold and the signs were again becoming very ominous. So we had our dinner and had normal food which in entirety cost us only Rs. 240 for rotis, dal, 1 veg and rice again.
Now it was time to run though our mobiles and this is something I have forgotten to mention. Only two networks were working there – BSNL and Vodafone. No Airtel and since all of us three belong to the Airtel family, none of us had network and were not being allowed to switch to any other operator as well – so we were out of touch with the entire world for sometime. So, we tried calling our families and as we would find out, the place has only one STD booth and that too had its lines turned off at night due to palpitating weather and the operator told us that the lines will be on in the morning when the skies are clear. In the end we had to ask a local to give us his mobile and he helped us gladly and told us that this was a common issue at Dhanolti. We paid him duly even on his insistence for not doing so.
Now that we were all hunky dory with our families, we decided to give ourselves sometime in the room and tried watching some local channels. But as fate would have it, we lost electricity for about 4 hours and some till we were awake. After that, it was pitch black with no motion and people had slept outside on the streets at 9 pm sharp. We were the only galactical birds flocking at Dhanolti then and we used our license to stay awake on till very late and enjoyed ourselves, joking and making merry! Life couldn’t have been better!
We woke up in the morning at about 8 am with no electricity and decided that it was time for us to hit the second park at Dhanolti as there would be nothing much to do at home. The bigger eco-park, one that Dhanolti is supposedly known for. My wifey had read somewhere on a pamphlet that we were allowed to plant trees in this park and this had turned into her wish since then and so we decided to abide by it. A wife’s wish is husbands command, remember – all you wife loving husbands will totally agree with me I know – say yes… come on come on – say yes. Ok I see you nodding your head. That’s enough for affirmation to me. So there we were at the eco-park at 11 am after we had had our breakfast which included heavy-duty aloo ka paranthas with butter and tea. And as I said, life just couldn’t have been better!
Again the nominal fees of Rs. 10 would let us have a free willed stroll through the park and we gladly paid for it. This is where the twist in our day would start. As soon as I paid for the park, it started drizzling. It rained at first but slowly the cold winds started picking up. And the rain turned into a slow hail fall. All of this was lovely, we decided to stay out and not get bound by this weather. We also paid Rs. 350 for the tree we wanted to plant and decided that it had to be Cedar Deodar tree. They are simply beautiful and the most abundantly available plant in the area. One more wouldn’t have made a slight bit difference and as it is, that plant was the only one available that day at the park to be planted. So we went ahead with the weather worsening. Started to stroll slow at first but then picked up our speed up the hill so we could reach our spot early which had been marked by the local keeper at the park. He helped us with the tools and water and stuff and by the time we made our way to spot, the slow hail fall had turned into the big hail storm with winds gusting into our faces and throwing us off the already wet track that we were following. We were careful and hence no casualty occurred. My wife apparently was on a completely different plane of resolution that day and totally ignored our calls to stay inside a shelter for sometime. So while we mortals decided to catch a shade, she went ahead with the keeper to plant the tree. So while we were watching from a distance, me being below a mid high plant and BIL below a shade, she was planting the tree. It was awesome for us to say the least because the last time I was eating salty ice from my collar was way back in my childhood and it was absolutely phenomenal to bear it for sometime. As this video would show:
Once we were through with this, we decided to do some photo shooting around the park in whatever time we were left with. Here are the pics:
It was then time for us to leave Dhanolti and we decided to have a short stay of around an hour at Mussourie just to have a feel of what commercialization had done to that place. The place is full and not very enjoyable if you have ever been there before when it was not so crowded. We wished we had more time to spend at Dhanolti though because the locals who knew the weather there told us that there might be snow if it continued to be bombarded with hail storms at this rate and how disappointed we were to hear that. We really wished we should have seen that spectacle too but not to be this time and we saved this for later. The colors, the peace, the feel, the aura, the forests, the rain, the smell of the fresh soil, the hail storms, the cold, the winds, and teas. We had an absolutely wonderful time there. It just couldn’t have been better. The place makes you feel like you belong there. And for people like me, it felt like I should own everything or atleast some part of the land there. And the best of all, it was pocket friendly. Along with the taxi which we were very very lucky about, the entire trip cost us a mere Rs. 10000 for 3 people who also included the bus fare to and fro between Delhi and Dehradun that stood at Rs. 3000 and the taxi cost us Rs. 3200 to and fro between Dehradun and Dhanolti.
The return journey was as painful and hard and bumpy as the onward journey and there was just no letting go of the pain in our knees. The suspensions in the bus were pathetic and we suffered thoroughly. You see, fate has its own ways of making sure that not every thing remains hunky dory throughout a journey.
All in all, Dhanolti is a place worth visiting once in your life time and the best time to be there should be around the end of January as per the locals. Board a taxi and not a bus for the sake of comfort. Everything else will remain a happy dot in your otherwise boring lifetime. I feel blessed to have been a part of this experience. Hope you have yours too.
By the lead up to the event, I mean the way the teams are forging in for the World Cup.
While 2003 marked the emergence of Team India as it stands today, I think then, there stood only 2 things between the World Cup and team India in 2003. One was the belief that they could actually win the World Cup as they never went into the World Cup as the favorites that year. They were at the receiving end of a serious drubbing from New Zealand in New Zealand and though the windy conditions that they came in from were far different from the bounce they were going to experience in South Africa, Indians were never given their share of limelight. The other thing, as they would soon find out were the mighty Aussies who were having the time of their lives then and went into the World Cup as the favorites along with South Africa who obviously were going to feel the pressure of the “Chokers Tag” – yet again.
Indians started off well only to lose against Australia in their second game of the World Cup in the round of 16. On their way to the final was the resurgence of two players who could have turned the Indian fortune on its head on their day. One was their all time saviour – Sachin Tendulkar. He had single handedly demolished England in the pool match with his opening burst, which ended him playing shots he would never have dreamt of playing in the first 15 overs. He launched especially into one man – Andrew Caddick. Whoever has watched that match will never in his life forget the pull that turned a Caddick special into a Tendulkar special. The ball landed out of the park and there then, was no end to Indian fans ecstasy. He then went on to demolish Pakistan from the ranks. A jolt that every Pakistan fan will cherish for his entire life that they got to see the best of Sachin on a day when the likes of Akram, Waqar and Akhtar were searing, seeming and swinging into the batsman. It was that day when the World would learn that Tendulkar had included another shot in his armory – The Upper Cut. He played one and a trademark Tendulkar straight drive along with a typical sub-continental flick of the pads behind mid-wicket – all in an over which would remove Shoaib Akhtar from the attack. Tendulkar eventually would fall to Akhtar but only after he had scored a match winning 98. Tendulkar played a pivotal role for India throughout the World Cup going on the to get the best ever aggregate for any batsman at any World Cup, only to fail at the all important stage when India took on the mighty Aussies in the final.
The other short living find for the tournament was the form of Ashish Nehra. His hand in defeating England can never be forgotten for it was his swing at paces at around 145-150 kph that rattled an English batting lineup which would surpass most expectations on their day. His form in the tournament was like a full Lunar cycle which started at the Waxing Crescent and ended at the Waning Gibbous, his performance against the English being the “Full Moon”.
But that was a team that knew what the taste of winning was, but had never tasted it to full.
And we have the team that stands today that is led by an inspiring Captain. Dhoni has seen a lot of success off-late with comments from the ruthless Indian media sounding from the range of “a man who turns anything he touches into gold” to “Captain Cool” to “the man with the midas touch”. But what India will require from him is what he decides to dish out on a given day. Dhoni can give India a real surge at the back-end of the innings like not many can but he can also come-in and anchor the innings in the middle overs if ever there is slump at the top-order. But what Dhoni himself would be pondering is, what exactly is he doing wrong that he can’t score runs aplenty? He has the power, the patience and most importantly the guts to graft his innings to perfection. But what should really be bothering him would be his shot selection. He has made it a habit to get out behind the wicket to balls that are moving away from him especially from left hand fast bowlers. If India are to make it big in this World Cup at home turf, Dhoni has to fire on all cylinders. Whichever role he plays on a given day, he has to be there on the score card with a respectable score against his name.
This Indian team is backed up by the few of the best batsmen in the world, not that they were not present in the previous World Cups but, they have added something extra to their kitty – experience. Experience on how to handle world class bowlers at home. They have played teams aplomb at home in the last 2 years and that should really boost their confidence. They have the stalwarts themselves in Tendulkar and Sehwag whose pedigree and dedication are absolutely unquestionable. They have the youthful exuberance in Kohli and Raina both of who are lightning on the field, be it batting or fielding. Raina can deliver some useful overs as well in the middle which gives an extra option to Dhoni to handle the middle overs when the batting team needs to be slowed down considerably. They have the power dashers in Yuvraj, Dhoni and not to forget the man himself, the demolisher – Yusuf Pathan. Yuvraj and Pathan have now proven themselves to be more than useful bowlers which turns them into potential all-rounders with both of them being few of the hardest hitters of the cricket ball and their records speak for themselves. Six sixes in an over is no mean feat and Yuvraj sits on that elite achievement. Pathan is coming from a brilliant series against the Proteans and he can be a real headache for any opposing captain any time any day. This way, the top 7 mean in the Indian side this year, all select themselves into the playing 11 in every match given there are no injuries during the tournament.
Then come the bowlers where the attack will be led by the experienced pair of Zaheer and Harbhajan. Both are in rich bowling form going into the tournament and would like to consider their performances in the last 2 ODIs against the Proteans a minor blimp in their calendar as they prepare for the World Cup. If hopefully Praveen Kumar recovers from his elbow niggle, he is always an asset for India in the limited overs format be it the T20s or the 50 over format. Rounding up the bowling on most days could be a choice for Dhoni, depending on the pitch and weather conditions on a given day, between Ashwin, Piyush Chawla, Munaf Patel and Ashish Nehra. Piyush Chawla is yet to show his true colors on the international scene but he is way more than useful with his leg-spin in the sub-continent conditions. Munaf Patel can trouble most batsmen in this world with his McGrathesque line and length. Ashish Nehra is a brilliant death bowler with his yorkers.
This World Cup provides a golden chance for one man to prove his worth in the Indian team – R Ashwin. Personally, I love Ashwin. He is a brilliant and a thinking down-to-earth spinner who knows his limitations perfectly. And considering the fact that Dhoni knows his talent better than anyone in India, he might get an upper hand over Chawla.
All said and done, this team looks very very promising and carries the potential to win the coveted World Cup. I can safely assume and say this on behalf of the entire nation that “WE WANT THIS WORLD CUP AND WE WILL GET IT”. Amen.
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For long India has been country which has produced cricketers in such high quantity that it’s difficult to keep track of who just came and went and, who came and impressed. But this Indian team seems here to stay. Here’s a look at the squad of final 15 members selected –
Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt), Virender Sehwag (vice-capt), Gautam Gambhir, Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Yusuf Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Piyush Chawla, Ravichandran Ashwin, Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra, Praveen Kumar, Munaf Patel.
This Indian team seems to or rather has been perceived by the selectors to have the vision, the power, the belief in themselves to think out of the box, to see victory when they would have seen defeat 10 years ago and that was visible too whether it’s setting 7-2 field throughout the day against the formidable touring Australians or introduction of Yusuf Pathan in the power-plays and not to forget their antics in the recently concluded battle against South Africa. They could come out trumps when all chips were down, a quality which could not be associated with any Indian side in the past.
But many a questions have been raised about some particular selections – Piyush Chawla over Pragyan Ojha, omission over an in-form Robin Uthappa who can single handedly demolish almost any opposing attack in Indian conditions, Sreesanth who was mostly brilliant throughout the South African series. Did his off-field antics erase the memory of his on-field displays in this series.
Sreesanth himself has admitted that he is disappointed. And why mustn’t he be? But one thing is certain, his omission from the best Indian team for the World Cup should certainly tell him that he still has a long way to go as far as his bowling displays are concerned and that players like Chawla can still replace him. Dhoni himself has admitted that he expects Sreesanth to perform consistently well over a period of time. But one must remember, his performances at the bigger stage have always been questionable. He loses his rhythm far too often than he gains it which often ruin his figures during a match.
Another big omission was Ishant Sharma. But he nearly follows the same lines as Sreesanth does, just in more subtle and calmer fashion. The man who made his mark in world cricket on the toughest tours of all against one of the best batsman of our time, has gone into a bit of a cloud unable to find a clear way for himself. He often strays way too short on slow pitches and way too full on faster ones. The problem again has been the same – consistency. How many careers has this single quality ruined, since the day I made my debut at watching cricket!
The most pleasing surprise in this team has been the inclusion of R Ashwin. Arguably, the second best limited overs bowler at Dhoni’s disposal as of today. He has not only created waves with his patience at taking wickets but his variations are hard to pick as well which probably is a result of a very relaxed and easy bowling action. And his figures at the last concluded IPL clearly state a success story. Although, it’ll be interesting to see how exactly will Dhoni include him the final playing eleven if he is not to break the 7-4 playing combination in the Indian batting conditions. Or will he have faith in Ashwin more than what he currently has in Harbhajan? We’ll wait and watch.
Till that time, any of you who have a comment on the article can reply on this article right below.