General Topic

She Who Knows No Bounds

Strong women aren’t simply born, they are forged through the challenges of life. With each challenge they develop mentally and emotionally. They move ahead with their head held high and a strength that cannot be denied. This was what I experienced over a weekend when I watched 2 women-centric films in the theatres.

First was a retelling of a famous story of a mother risking her life to get back to her infant son “Hirkani” and the other one a biopic “Saand ki Aankh” (Bulls Eye) based on the lives of Revolver Dadi’s (Shooter Granny’s) who took up shooting at the age of 60 and have won more than 30 National level shooting competitions.

There is not much of a difference between Hirkani and Chandro Tomar and Prakashi Tomar other than the era they come from 17th Century and late 1990’s respectively. All 3 of them did great things in life.

How did the cry of her infant baby give Hirkani the courage to descend the impossibly steep Paschim Kada that too at night? Wasn’t she afraid? One wrong step a slip here and a slip there and she wouldn’t have lived to see the sunrise.

(Hirkani and the steep Paschim Kada)

The Tomar Dadi’s are not far behind when it comes to breaking the stereotypes. Coming from a regressive village setting where even lifting your veil was considered a crime. These Granny’s yielded guns as if they were on a war against all the patriarchs. It was a shame to watch their living conditions. They were literally baby producing machines for the men who knew nothing else other than to have sex and smoke pots of Hookah.

(Shooter Dadis Chandro and Prakashi Tomar)

Hirkani a resident of the Raigadwadi a small village at the base of the magnificent Raigad fort the second capital of Swarajya ruled by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj a ruler of the Maratha kingdom. A Milkmaid by profession she used to milk her cows and take the milk up the fort for the royalty. Everyday at sunset the canon at the main entrance of the fort used to fire signalling the closure of the gate. One fine day of “Kojagiri” when Hirkani’s husband was on a scout tour of the Janjira fort, her mother in law in the neighbouring village visiting a doctor, the baby all alone at home tended by a nanny who was supposed to leave in the evening, Hirkani missed the canon and was stuck on Raigad.

Chandro and Prakashi were also stuck albeit not on a fort but in the clutches of their ruthless good for nothing husbands. They had lost 60 years of their lives giving births, changing the used Hookah pots, cleaning cow dung, working in the fields, in the brick furnaces earning money all of which was usurped by the patriarchs. Such was the suffocation in their lives.

All hopes lost for the three, they did the unthinkable. Hirkani climbed down the Paschim Kada without any formal training, fought a child killer wolf in her quest to protect her baby. The Tomars took up shooting for their daughter and granddaughter who were afraid of the gun, the society and their own family.

These women have shown us that bravery and courage lies not in brute strength but in your will power. As the curtains closed I left the theatre with moist eyes. Is there a limit to the courage, perseverance, love of a woman? I asked myself. A voice answered “There are no bounds”

General Topic

Daya Tod do Darvaza….

Hindi daily soaps do play an important role in ones upbringing. It helps in… let me see … nothing? But one fine day in Nainital I was possessed by the spirit of Daya and I literally gave a ‘Darwaja Tod’ performance. But as this is a travelogue, I must narrate the incident from the beginning.
Well, the story begins from Pune station. It was June 2016. I had registered for a Himalayan trek to Roopkund with trekking group Yuvashakti. Being afraid of heights, difficulty of the hike and owing to parental pressure, my friends ditched me last minute (every single one of them). Me coming from a middle class household, the thought losing 5000 rs in refund (I payed 16K for the trek) was like doomsday. I could hear my mom say.. “ Jaychach nhavta tr paise ka bharayla lavle…” So, without a single friend to tag along I reached the platform from where my train was about to depart. It was a group of 80 odd people mostly aged between 18-24. I was one of the few lone wolves in this pack. I along with Nikhil was secluded to compartment no. S3. The whole gang was in S7. Being a party animal I left my belongings there and went to play cards and ‘ganyachya bhendya’ with the rest of the group. The journey was 2 day’s long Pune-Delhi-Kathgodam.

At Kathgodam we stayed at this beautiful hotel (Name is Satyartha if I am remembering it correctly :p ).With wood like texture the rooms had a classic touch to them.  After having undergone continuous oscillating motion in the train journey, all I needed was a soft bed and a thick furry blanket for a good night’s sleep. It was freezing with single digit temperatures at Kathgodam, Uttarakhand.  As with every trekking expedition, we were given instructions that we are going to be split in 2 groups of 40 each, one group will visit Nainital the next day and other group would leave for Lohajung, the base camp for Roopkund. I wanted to first complete the summit and then chill at Nainital after the 8 day trek. But it was not meant to be… Next day morning I was stuffed in a 35 sitter bus and we were off to Nainital. Again me being group less   (the feeling is more dismal than I can actually convey L ) wandered about the streets of Nainital, soaking the picturesque views the city had to offer… Naini-devi temple and boating in the city lake were highlights… Just as I thought that the day was going perfectly, something disastrous was bound to happen.

We returned to Kathgodam pretty late. All the shops were shut. All that we found was Karim’s Tandoor open. We hogged on the Chicken Tandoor as if we were left unfed for days :p. As the eyelids started to shut, we decided it was time to return to Stayartha room no. 303. Nikhil, Pranav (another loner) and I shared that room. It was assumed by all that I had the keys. It was 10:00 at night. I searched my bag inside out… No sign of the key. And as we had decided to share one bag among 3 of us, there was no question of the other two carrying the key… Then began the game of shadows, obviously me not playing Sherlock.. I was the Moriarty of this story having lost the key… While others tried various keys of other rooms, some wanted to break in like a thief using a hair pin. It may sound funny, but we literally tried every trick in the book. How bad can my luck be… just imagine… Ours was the only room in the hotel, whose spare was not available with the hotel staff.
During this entire ruckus, I was in my ‘mind palace’ coming up with a brilliant idea. It was about 11:45pm when others had given up and gone to their respective rooms. We had to get up early and leave for Lohajung the next day. Suddenly my mind palace shattered. I went to door, gave the latch a little shake and then literally possessed like Daya with two strong Thuds… I broke in.  The latch was into pieces and my roomies were left stumped by this role play of mine. After 2 minutes of silence, we entered the room and there she was that little prick… the key to room no. 303 lying on the bed as if nothing had happened. We were up till 1 at night narrating this incident to all 40 people who seemed to have wakened from their beauty sleeps just to make me remind what a blunder I had done. Our trek leaders were informed about this in the morning. Yuvashakti having good relations with that hotel the fine was reduced to from 8K to 5K. It was the worst deal I could have ever made just to fix a latch. Alas… that’s the way the cookie crumbles…. Nikhil was the saviour of the day and pitched in to help me reduce my loss but the damage was already done… For the next 8 hours I was in the bus to the base camp having turmoil of emotions inside me.
Then, I called back home and narrated the whole incident to Aai, framing it in such a way that make me sound less of a culprit and more of a victim to misfortune. To my surprise not a single bashing came from back home. Efforts were made to pacify me and she told me that shit happens… I started crying… literally imagine a 19 year old crying in a bus while sitting next to a girl who was left amazed. Well lucky for me that she took it sportingly and said the most beautiful thing.. “In today’s times, I rarely see boys opening up and expressing what they truly feel when they are sad…” That made my day.
Had my Aai scolded me for this incident, perhaps I would have felt less bad. I have kept the key of Room no. 303 as a souvenir and a constant reminder that life is full of adventures and that it should be taken in its stride with all its ups and downs. This incident doesn’t stop me from trying again… I completed the Roopkund Summit successfully and am raring to go back to the Himalayas. Just as Yuvashaktis tag line says The Mountains Are Calling And I Must Go…