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Sikkim Diaries – day 8

What a way to welcome your last day in Sikkim. Woke up to rain, and thunder and lightning!! Such awesome weather. The weather gods were unhappy that we’re leaving Sikkim, and that showed 😉

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Rain, thunder and lightning – waking up to this view

My flight back home is tomorrow, but the plan was to leave from Gangtok today and reach Siliguri by evening. The distance between Gangtok and Bagdogra is ~130 km, but sometimes mountain roads get blocked. Didn’t want to be in the mad race from Gangtok to airport on a Sunday morning.

Yeah, obviously we didn’t set off from Gangtok directly towards Siliguri. There were a few pit stops along the way.

Bags loaded into the cars, and we were off. Bye bye Sikkim 😦

First stop along the way – Do drul Chorten in Gangtok. There are 108 prayer wheels around the stupa. The rain hadn’t stopped yet – it was drizzling. Didn’t stay here for a long time.. just walked around clicking pics. There was a glass enclosure full of oil lamps. Don’t know what it’s called, or why the lamps were lit. But it looked so beautiful.

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do drul Chorten – this is quite a climb!

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oil lamps

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Prayer wheels

The next pit stop was the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology, also in Gangtok. It was not a part of the itinerary, but whoa .. what a place. Glad we visited it. This museum is very close to the do drul Chorten. It’s a nice place to visit if you are interested in Tibetan Buddhism. Small, but an impressive collection of artifacts. Neatly labelled too. We spent a lot of time here looking at the artifacts. One thing that bugged me here was the noise, and the crowds – since it is listed as one of the “must visit” locations the place was full of tourists. Not that it is a bad thing but at least keep the chatter down to a minimum – it’s a museum. :/

Anyway – nice place. And yeah, a “must visit” too. There’s a small souvenir shop too. I bought some postcards from this place as well (had bought postcards from other places too)

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Namgyal Institute of Tibetology, Gangtok

With that we started our journey towards Siliguri. It was a pleasant drive – the rain had brought down the temperature.

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Pleasant climate along the way – Gangtok to Siliguri

Oh, there was one more stop before we reached Siliguri – RAFTING!! We stopped at a rafting site – along the Teesta river.

 

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Rafting – Start point

So Rafting, and then a quick chai break and we were on our way. No certificates for rafting .. Paragliding was good 😉

So after a long, long drive – we finally reached Siliguri. This was our last stop before we all left for our respective destinations the next day.

The drive to Siliguri was pretty long – but the awesome company and the great music in the car didn’t make it boring.

So Siliguri at last – checked in (yeah, check in – this was not a homestay like everywhere in Sikkim), refreshed and a chai/snack break done. The group decided to head out and explore a place called Hong Kong market in Siliguri. I decided to give it a miss – hopefully didn’t miss much.

I did join the rest of the group for dinner – after they returned from the hong kong market. Last evening together – a bit sad, but happy, and glad that I made this trip – met 7 amazing people, and was going back home with great memories.

 

 

 

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Long time ….

No see 😉

Back after almost one year.. guess my blog posts have become a yearly event now. Starting a series of posts about my trip to Sikkim – will be titled (very creatively) as Sikkim Diaries.

I always carry a notepad whenever I travel… never blogged about my travels. But this trip *WAS* special.

So watch this space – coming up next – Sikkim Diaries Day1.

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Monday blues?

It’s Sunday evening, and most people are dreading the “Monday Morning Blues”. Me included.

The more I think about it, I realise it’s not Mondays… but Fridays that should be blue. Why? Okay, Monday mornings are a bit blue – I’m going back to work after a lovely two days off. Thinking of all the fun times I’ve had over the weekend. Monday mornings are a bit hectic. But once I’m in the office, and have had my daily dose of caffeine, I’m all ready to tackle whatever the day throws at me. But Fridays? The day just drags on and on and on and on and ….

I often find myself working late on Fridays. I’ve got to finsh everything before I leave for the day. Can’t leave anything pending, and then come back on Monday to find you have forgotten what you were doing. Okay, not that bad memory loss. But I don’t like to start a new work week with the previous week’s backlog. It’s not that on other days – you can always be at work a bit early the next day. I simply must finish everything. At least bring things to a logical conclusion.

So whenever I hear a colleague say TGIF!! on a Friday morning, I cringe. No. Don’t thank anyone. It’s going to be a long day (for me at least).

I’m thinking of changing it to TGIM, and Friday Blues. Anyone with me?

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Justice For Jisha

Books And Strips

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I know this has nothing to do with books but I had to talk about it.

A week ago a woman was raped brutally in Kerala. Her intestines were pulled out and she was assaulted with sharp foreign objects. She was alone in her house when she was attacked by an unknown number of men (one of whom is said to be absconding and the other is suspected to be her neighbour) and raped repeatedly, sharp objected inserted into her private parts and her intestines pulled out; in a shockingly similar manner to the infamous Nirbhaya case from Delhi.

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Hello, Mr. Pochettino. Few minutes to spare?

“We’re coming for you!!”

I had originally planned to write this blogpost at the end of the season. But then I thought, we’ll all be busy celebrating after watching Hugo lift the trophy. So decided to post this right now.

This isn’t a season review post. I never do that, no. Not before the season ends. Last time I posted about how great our season was progressing, and how we were going to play Champions League the following season .. well, we blew a 10 point lead and a guranteed (almost) 3rd place finish. I’m kinda superstitious about all things Spurs. I believe that post jinxed it. That’s not what really happened. But hey, superstition.

So, this is not a review post. Not going to utter (um type, actually) a single word about what’s been happening this season.

Okay, first things first.

This post is an apology post. Long overdue apology. Mauricio Pochettino! I owe you an apology. So sorry man. So sorry I ever doubted you. And I’m glad I was proved wrong.

Remember the days when there was a lot of speculation about the next Spurs manager .. Remember? Plenty of names were being linked to us. LVG among them. And back then my first preference was LVG. Mainly because he had the ‘experience’ managing big clubs. And Pochettino? He was with Southampton. He had them playing great football, no doubt. But it’s Southampton! Come on. They aren’t as big as us, no? Also I had no clue about his previous clubs. HOW WRONG I WAS!!! And how ignorant. How stupid. How judgemental. How … …

Looking back .. at Man Utd, and their season. It seems like we dodged a bullet. Not a bullet. We dodged a flukking A bomb.

A couple paragraphs above I said I won’t be talking about our season .. Ha! It’s Spurs. You just can’t shut me up.

My love affair with Tottenham Hotspur Football Club started in Feb 2001. How (and why) I fell in love is a different and a long-ish story – and a separate blog post. More about that later.

All the years I’ve been supporting Spurs, only a handful of seasons stand out as ‘Whoa’ seasons. My favourite being the lassagna gate season. Proper Spursy! Dream a lovely dream only to end in a Heartbreak, and I cried. I actually cried after a football match. That is not me.

Well, lassagna season – you’ve been demoted to second place. Say hello to my new favourite season of all time (until the start of 2016/17 season, anyway). And the person responsible for that is Mr. Poch. (Sorry, again). He’s not the only one instrumental in bringing about this change – but this post is about MP. So…

Watching Spurs play has ALWAYS brought a smile to my face. Win, lose or draw. Can’t smile without you. And I’m smiling right now (watched the highlights of Stoke vs Spurs – AGAIN). But this season it has been different. Very different. The way the lads are playing is Unbelievable!!  We’re playing as a team. A well drilled unit. There’s no “one man team”. No toys out of the pram superstar tantrums. We’re TOGETHER. Together THFC! (Kinda sounds like “We is Us”, yikes!). The transformation from a wannabe challenger to actually challenging for the PL title is phenomenal. Loving every minute of it. And with 4 games to go (and 5 points behind the Foxes) I haven’t given up. Still dreaming. A sharp contrast to previous seasons when the dream started fading away after March.

Every season it is a Head vs Heart argument – Head says we’ll do okay. Heart says TOP 4 or nothing. And in the end Head always won. Not this season, no way. I believe we will fight till the end. Till the final whistle.

So once again – Sorry for doubting you Mr. Pochettino. You’re COYS AF.We’re gonna do it.

Oh, and Mr. Levy. Give this man a raise, and a new contract.

COYS, forever and always!

 

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The Curious Incident of the Dog In the Night-time : my thoughts

So, it’s that time again .. when I decide to write a “review” of a book I’ve just read. Just read means – read a couple of weeks (or even months) ago, but finally decided to write something. After a few weeks of yes-no-maybe, here I am.

The Curious Incident of the Dog In the Night-time. Interesting title. Very highly recommended by my friends. Plus there’s the word ‘DOG‘ in the title. There’s no reason I shouldn’t read this book. D-O-G!!!!

You had me at Dog. 😉

This is the story of Christopher, a teen with autism. What we know about him is that he lives with his father, and his mum is dead (or is she?). He’s comfortable around computers, does not understand people -humans- at all, loves dogs, likes to mark his days as ‘Good’, or ‘Quite Good’ and so on – this based on the number of cars of a particular colour. Attends school – probably a school for special needs children. Oh, and he doesn’t like anyone touching him. Classic signs.

So far, so good?

Then one night he finds his neighbour’s dog murdered. Stabbed with a garden fork. What happens next sets the wheels in motion.And that is the book.

A dog is dead. Murdered. And no one cares. So he decides to investigate the murder himself. With a little help from his teacher, he decides to write a story. A murder mystery. He starts maintaining a journal of sorts, with notes about his investigation.

So. Does he find out who killed the dog? Of course he does. Happy endings and all that?

We eventually find out who killed the dog, and also what *really* happened to Christopher’s mum (No. She’s not dead – and that’s spoiler #1. Kinda.).

Not going to write everything that’s in the book here. But all I’ll say is that it’s a bitter sweet ending. And I would definitely recommend this book.

I rated this 2/5 stars on GoodReads initially, but then updated it to 3 stars. This does not mean I didn’t like the book, or the story sucks or anything.

I just rated it that low because (and spoiler #2 coming up) during the course of his investigation, Christopher finds some letters addressed to him …… from his mum. His dad had kept them hidden. She’s not dead – and at this point I figured out he’ll want to meet her or at least write back. Then (spoiler #3 – and a big one) his father confesses. He killed the dog. Why? Aw, come on I don’t want this to be a spoiler fest. So basically these two were the turning points, and I lost interest. I know who killed the dog, and I know about his mum. So there’s no curiosity, there’s no mystery left anymore. It’s all about what happens now.

The book is written as if a teen (or an adult) with autism is writing it. It’s meant to be Christopher’s book about the mystery of the murdered dog, remember? Did I mention he is an absolute genius at maths, and prime numbers are what interest him? The chapters in this book are numbered 1, 3, 5 … Prime numbers.

What I really liked about this book is that it gives you an insight into the lives of families with a child who has autism. One needs superhuman patience to deal with them. Much respect for people who have family or those who work with special needs children.

The way the father cares for Christopher, and how he reacts to his questions, just numbed my brain. There were times when I wanted to scream ‘Shut up, Christopher. Don’t you get it? The dog is dead. The owner does not care. Drop it. And get on with your life’ Like I said – Superhuman patience.

Don’t let that low rating fool you. It’s a damn good book. Go and read it (if you haven’t already).

Alright. Phew!

Have a great weekend!

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2015 – a year in books

2015 has been a great year for me, in many respects. But one thing that stands out is that I set a target for myself, and stuck to the plan. I am not a big fan of new year resolutions, and I hardly keep any. Most are broken in the first week of January anyway 😉

So, the target I set myself was to read a certain number of books. Also, it included the part where I step out of my comfort zone and read books of genres/authors that I’ve never read before and am not comfortable with.

The target I had set was 20 books – doable. I have always been a decent reader – though I’ve never actually kept a track of the number of books I read in a month or a year. But considering I read at a good enough speed of ~2 books per month – sometimes more, if they are short reads, I think I read around 25 books a year.

Anyway, 2015 was the first time I had officially set a target for myself, and I intended to see it to completion.

GoodReads is a wonderful site, and though I’ve been on there since 2013, I have just recently (i.e since the start of 2015) using it regularly. GR helped me keep a log of the number of books, and also my ratings.

Here is a link to my 2015 YEAR IN BOOKS. Though I had initially set a target of 20 books, I revised it to 25 as soon as I started reading my 19th book. I surpassed that and ended the year on 31 books – not bad. *applause and drumroll please*

A snapshot of my 2015 progress

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My Year in Books

Some highlights of the year :

  1. I read my first Haruki Murakami book (Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman). Whenever I ask for recommendations, some authors always get mixed reactions. Murakami is one. People are big fans, or not at all. There’s no in-between. I loved this book – it’s a collection of stories. And I intend to read a couple more in 2016.
  2. My struggle to finish The Fountainhead continues. I have this book sitting on my bookshelf for about 3 years now, but I’ve never been able to finish it.
  3. The best of 2015 – too many to list, but if I have to pick one it is Billions and Billions by Carl Sagan.

For 2016, I have set a target of 25 books – and yes, I’ll be tracking my progress on Goodreads.