Ladakh – The land of grit and determination

Over the last few years Ladakh has become the biking capital of India. Come June, social media timelines are buzzing with people going for their Ladakh adventure – exploring the hilly terrain and getting mesmerised by its natural beauty. So did I – but by chance.

I was planning a trip with a friend when I read an advertisement of a Ladakh tour package. From that moment I decided Ladakh it is. I started planning a family trip to Ladakh – not a group package but an individual itinerary. The first pit stop was to understand if my parents can manage – most importantly when we are not opting for a group tour. My mother had completed Chardham Yatra many years back, but father had never travelled to the hills. Preparations were in full swing of finding the relevant information, medical precautions to be taken, knowing Dos and Don’ts, etc. My brother was so inspired that he planned his long cherished dream of a bike tour the following year. Hence my second chance of visiting Ladakh came exactly a year later – this time accompanying my brother in a support car.

While we city dwellers are awed by the chilly hill tops, gigantic passes, changing nature, for me the visit to Ladakh is that of grit and determination. Completing the journey requires psychological and physical good health. My parents enjoyed the trip, but I took a little time to acclimatise to the climate. Travelling through the narrow passes, seeing army posts, workers paving the roads, observing the local life gives you a glimpse of what grit must be required to survive in this region. More so, during the winter.

This belief was more strengthened during our second trip. Another lesson on how weather gods are so crucial in the region. Once we crossed Jispa, one of the last points in Himachal, it was rainy and weather started changing fast. As if we were trying to race with the nature to reach Leh in time. Indeed we were lucky. Another group reserved at the same hotel did not reach Leh and returned to Manali. Seeing my brother and his friends cross the icy streams on the bike, sometimes dodging the fiery winds was another proof of strong determination required to navigate through.

This essence was visible in many subtle ways like listening to the tales of our driver, understanding how they cope with the harsh climate and circumstances, striving to protecting the topography and witnessing many labourers working along the way to keep the roads in good condition. What I took back from Ladakh was the people’s will and determination to withstand natural and other calamities and forge ahead steadfastly in their lives.

 

New Age Consumer: Caged in Convenience

Cambridge dictionary describes ‘bad hair day’ as a day on which everything goes wrong. Contextually it could mean skipping an assignment deadline, running late for an important meeting, no electricity at home or anything else that interrupts our daily lives. But on thinking about this blog topic, I thought for today’s consumer a bad hair day is symbolic to lack of convenience. We, new age consumers are caged in convenience.

The month of May was a bad hair month for many of us. Our house helps were on their annual village trips. Couldn’t give clothes for ironing as the boy who collects clothes was enjoying summer vacations and his phone was switched off. While one house help came back, another help went on leave the following day. Travelling to work was little easy with less traffic. But the biggest pain was surge price of Ola and Uber. While some drivers were off-road due to holidays, others were vocal about their issues on incentives and payments. My conversations with friends and acquaintances revealed the same story.

Why we were so affected by helpers, iron man, watchman, driver, etc going on leave? Why not travel by public transport if Ola and Uber were unavailable or too expensive. On thinking it occurred to me – we have become caged to convenience.

Traditionally Indian society is known to have used the services of servants and cooks. As a girl growing up in a metropolis like Mumbai I was witness to this underbelly who keeps our lives going. But something else happened over last 4-5 years. Technology became such an integral part of our everyday life that we forgot our old habits and got comfortable with this new convenience.

For a working professional in Mumbai travelling meant hailing Ola or Uber. The carpooling was much convenient than struggling to get inside the train or waiting for a BEST bus. Ordering food on Swiggy or Zomato is much easier than calling the restaurant. Our medicines, vegetables, groceries, ironing, tailoring, paying utility bills, almost everything is just a swipe or a click away. It’s our bad hair day when we are robbed of this convenience even for few hours. We are ready to pay extra if it means saving time or easy delivery, in spite of several issues. It’s a circle of access, service, price, delivery and ease. What will it mean even 2-3 years down the line? It makes me wonder…

Kalyan Karmakar:Kajol of Food Blogging

What made Finelychopped interesting is unlike other food blogs, it featured common eating places, some hidden gems and made local street vendors the hero

While thinking of a new topic, one name that flashed across my mind was Kalyan Karmakar. On second thoughts, I realised as one of the million social media followers, I have seen him transform from a market researcher, food blogger, curator of food walks, author, panelist to guest speaker… it’s an inspiring journey of following your passion and keep reinventing yourself. Somewhere along it seemed as if I know him, but I don’t know him.

Have you ever come across a situation that you have never met someone personally but still seems like you know that person? We have our favourite authors, sport stars, actors. We follow their work so much that it seems we know them. Internet and social media has made this more common and convenient.

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I started following Finelychopped blog some 6 – 7 years back. What made Finelychopped interesting is unlike other food blogs, it featured common eating places, some hidden gems and made local street vendors the hero. Then the food walks followed. An idea I thought the time had come, but didn’t know how and when to do. These food walks and the blog made regional food and local eateries sexy. Kalyan’s love for Bengali and Parsi food was one of the biggest reason. Over the years, my knowledge of Bengali food has increased thanks to him. His experiments with Maharashtrian food gave me personal happiness. Dadar Food Walk put my neighbourhood favourites and childhood memories on an international platform.

Another thing that distinguishes Kalyan, is his responsiveness and ability to interact with readers. He appreciates feedback, comments and suggestions openly. That’s how I have managed to engage with him. These engagements allowed me to understand him as a person and know some commonalities – like SGI. When I read his experience I realised one of the secrets behind this amazing journey.

That’s perhaps the reason I thought of calling him ‘Kajol of Food Blogging’ – an honest perform straight from the heart, not worried about stardom, the next door foodie !