Nirbhaya to Hathras- A Journey of Forgotten Promises and Hopes

Image from Google.

On an average 87 rapes happen in a day. Is there any outrage over them? No. Rapes have almost become accepted as a common issue. Like stealing or pickpocketing. It no more shocks people, no more makes them think where as a society we are heading towards. Unless of course done in the most gruesome way. But as a society, we will forget about this as well. Elections will be fought on this. Promises of a safe society will be made again so that they can be broken again. We were neither safe in the hands of Congress nor are we in the hands of BJP. This is because the governments come and go but our collective attitude and conscience as a society, remain the same. Everything is momentary. This is why even the slightest good work done by any party in India is just before the elections. Because in our pea-sized brains we will forget all that we have faced in the past 5 years and remember just what we see in that moment. Every political party knows this and hence we are where we are.

Don’t worry, my intention is not to agitate you. Why should I? Everyone is already momentarily agitated. I am here to comfort you by saying that the day is not very far when news like this will not shake you to your core anymore. See, once 500 cases of corona per day used to scare you to death, but now you don’t even have the time to think about the 90,000 new cases of corona per day. In the same way, the pace at which Gunda Raaj is gripping the entire country, we will soon be also used to cases like Nirbhaya and Hathras, just like we have to the everyday cases of rape that take place without murder, to the cases of horse-trading in every other election, to the cases of corruption, and to those limitless number of cases that are pushing our country towards absolute anarchy.

Image from Google.

Democracy doesn’t die in a single day. It gets killed every day in broad daylight by people who choose not to voice an opinion even when every limit is crossed, by people who are blind with selective love and with hatred, by people who choose to readily accept everything that is thrown at them by the government, and lastly by people like you and I, who choose to forget.

Poetic Prayers

Image from Google.

Had the most frightening night yesterday. But today as I look at the images of devastation all around, I realize what I experienced in the protection of my concrete walls, was almost nothing in comparison to what actually took place outside. Seeing the photos of big trees laying completely uprooted, of the airport almost completely submerged, it strikes to me why Nature is often seen as a mother figure. It is because when Nature like a mother decides to unleash her wrath, she doesn’t just hurt her children, but also rips a part of herself out in the process.

You see, I have the luxury of being poetic at this moment. But the people who have actually experienced the worst of this cyclone, don’t. They don’t have the luxury of sitting and sharing images over the internet or fussing over why the PM has not tweeted about the disaster yet. They are too filled with their own sorrows now. Some have lost the only source of income, some have lost their home, and some a part of their family. No compensation will ever be enough for them. And either way, whether the central government chooses to allot enough funds or doesn’t, we all know how much really is going to reach the hands of the people who genuinely, need it the most.

All in all, my heart reaches out to those people who are punished a little extra daily, by us, by the government, and by Nature as well- sometimes for not being able to afford the luxury of “Work From Home”, sometimes for not being able to afford the necessity of migrating back to home, and sometimes for not being able to afford a home at all.

Image from Google.

For now, #PrayForBengal and #PrayForOdisha but may the forever unfortunate ones, find a place in your prayers always.

The Key to the Locked Room

There has been a lot going on around about the Boys’ Locker Room incident. However, I didn’t ever find the messages surprising. This is what it has been for ages. This is what makes India what it is today. Every single girl that I know of or that you know of will have stories of being harassed, molested, or being gazed at as a piece of meat. Masculinity has become so toxic, that a single word “feminism” often becomes the point of outrage for many because its root word happens to be “feminine”.

Charity begins at home, so does toxic masculinity. Most Indian men have been so much conditioned with the idea of the world revolving around them, that they cannot accept anything beyond themselves. Not even a word.

With just a Rakhi, boys apparently become the protectors of their sisters, because women “need” to be protected. But no one talks about how sisters have also been acting as protectors of their brothers through “Bhai-Dooj”, how wives have been constantly shielding their husbands through vermillion, “Karwa Chauth”, and the numerous bangles, how mothers have only been fasting and asking for a longer life of their male children on “Neel’s Pujo” or “Jitiya”.

Even when a majority of the Indian festivals and rituals that we have been celebrating for ages, are for the protection of Indian men by the women of this country, we are still conditioned into believing that we as a gender and as human beings are weak, vulnerable and in dire need of protection.

It has taken a lot of time for girls to be taught to speak up against harassment and for their rights. But our conditioning has been such, that most of the time, we choose to stay quiet. The fear of being tagged as a feminazi, fake feminist, or a player of victim card, add up to act as an excellent silencer.

Good parenting is the only easy solution to this, I believe. It is the first and most important step towards helping your child discover the hidden bundles of positivity locked inside them. The present might be gloomy, perhaps bereft of any silver lining as well. But the future can be better if we choose to act on it. Thus, a request to my friends, seniors, and juniors who have already gotten married or will be getting married. In case, you plan to have kids, please do plan extensively on how to be a good parent first!

[P.S- I am aware that the Boys’ Locker Room turned to be a fake scandal, wherein a girl posed as a boy to suggest sexual assault on herself. I heavily criticize the incident and in no way am in support of people who abuse their rights and powers. The “Boys’ Locker Room” in this passage, thus, is only to be considered as a metaphor that is indicative of the different kinds of abuses, both mental and physical, that girls face in their day to day lives. However, having said so, I also do not deny the cases of the abuses men and boys face. The world today has become unsafe for all genders, but it is just that it has remained unsafe for us girls since eternity.]


This picture is probably 15 years old. My most cherished days in Xavier’s Raiganj. Cultural events in school used to be our favorite. Cultural events meant we could have the chance to skip classes in the name of practice, we could also have more get-togethers in each other’s houses on the pretext of rehearsals.

This girl next to me used to be my inseparable constant in everything. We sat together, ate together, bunked together, danced together, laughed together, and created so many memories together. In fact, I had many friends in school who I really believed I could hold on to dearly, forever!

But you grow up, your perspectives change and differences of principles and opinions start creeping in between. And in the rare times when you get the time to sit back and indulge in reminiscence, you realize you have lost all of your school friends because you just can’t connect to them anymore. Those constant faces who were a witness to all your ups and downs for 10 years suddenly have become so distant that you feel hesitant to even drop a “hi” in their inbox.

But as you think more about it, you understand no one is to be blamed for this. So, you gradually accustom yourself to the loss of your first priciest possessions. You make new friends and you hardly give yourself the time to look back. But, when you do, you know that the gap and sense of longing they have left in you is there, and has now become your new constant.



Not to be copied or reproduced without permission

I generally run out of words when I desire to express the most. Right now, I literally am struggling to gather the right words that make this passage riveting, so that it doesn’t get boring for you all. This is because I want you all to read about a place that remains and will probably always remain close to my heart.

Varanasi, the place that I had always complained about. Rightly, it does have many aspects that might lead to a constant bellyaching, but that’s there as long as you stay in this city feeling like an outsider. I had merely 2 years in my hand to stay in Varanasi. And during that period, imagining myself in alignment with this particular city, was the last thing in my mind.

Not to be copied or reproduced without permission.

I left Varanasi in 2017 and hence another 2 years have passed by now. But the last thing that I do now is not miss this place. After the 5 disastrous academic years (H.S+Graduation) in Kolkata with science and C.U, my confidence in myself was almost gone. The teachers under C.U are extremely knowledgeable but are also equally unapproachable, inconsiderate, and tormenting. Anyone who has graduated from this university will vouch for it.

Anyway, coming to Varanasi, it was like a fresh breath of air to me. My family, though, was quite unsure of how this timid, food-loving girl would survive in a city with a completely different culture and food habit. But, in the 2 years that I have spent there, I was a completely different version of myself. I had laughed like crazy, had fought like crazy ( literally crazy, the warden had to come to stop us), had danced like crazy, had roamed around like crazy, and had fallen in love like crazy. Fallen in love with my teachers over there, fallen in love with the friends that I made over there, and fallen in love with the place in general.

In the past 2 years since I left BHU and returned to Kolkata, I have been to Varanasi twice and each time I bid this place goodbye, I am not sure when I will be seeing it the next. Nevertheless, deep inside my heart, I know that these ghats, those lanes, and the city has a unique charm and a unique way of bringing me back, time and again. And so each time I leave, I leave with a bag full of memories, an eye full of tears, and a heart full of hopes of returning again.

Not to be copied or reproduced without permission.

Varanasi, to me, perhaps is way beyond anyone’s understanding and way beyond anyone’s power to be able to successfully describe in words. Yet, as I try, it appears to me that Baba ki Nagri, indeed happens to have a strong and close resemblance to one’s parents. It might appear to be full of flaws, a little outdated, and in complete contradiction to this age and its principles. But in spite of all these, you would feel a strange degree of connection and get a certain amount of warmth here. And, hence, no matter how many times you end up visiting the same lanes, the same ghats, or listening to the same Ganga Arti, you are bound to feel and return refreshed, energized, and uplifted.

Not to be copied or reproduced without permission.

This is me, at Assi Ghat, all decked up at 5 in the morning, for instagrammable photos. Yes in Varanasi, I always tend to have this insane amount of energy.

Chopta-Tungnath-Chandrashila Trek

Image from Google


Mountains are magical and have thousands of stories hidden within them. Be it history, myth, fiction, or a fairytale, the mountains have seen and have been a part of it all. It is therefore quite justified for the mountains to keep “calling” us time and again, because the more stories one has, the more is the urge to share. The Chopta-Tungnath-Chandrashila trek is one such extramundane trek, where with each step you not only get closer to the peaks but also to the epic saga they have stood as a witness to.

Tungnath, literally meaning the Lord of the mountains, is one of the Panch Kedar temple points, believed to have been built by the Pandavas. It is presumed that when the Pandavas got hold of Shiva hiding as a Bull at Guptakashi, the body parts of Lord Shiva as the Bull got scattered to different parts, and it is in Tungnath that His arms fell in. Apart from this, Tungnath also boasts of having the highest Shiva temple in the world! The Chandrashila peak too is no less in its mythological luxuriance. It is very much believed that Lord Ram meditated and prayed to Lord Shiva at this spot after having killed Ravana.

Besides all the above, the 360-degree panoramic view of the snow-covered mountains glistening under the brightly radiating sun is a vision to die for.

Difficulty- Easy to Moderate

Max Altitude- 4000m

Approx Trekking Kilometer- 35 km

Base Location- Chopta in Uttarakhand

Starting Point and how to reach-

Route- Haridwar-Kund-Ukimath-Chopta-Tungnath-Chandrashila-Chopta

The nearest railway station to Chopta is that of Haridwar. However, buses on the route of Chopta will only be available at the GMOU bus stand, situated opposite to the Railway godown, and 500m away from the main Haridwar bus stand. However, there will be no direct buses leading you to your destination, and you will possibly have to break your journey at Rudraprayag and change buses to reach Kund. The entire journey will take around 7-8 hours and cost you no more than 500 rupees. From Kund, shared cabs for Ukimath are easily available for Rs 20. From Ukimath, you can effortlessly reach Chopta in a shared vehicle, by paying around Rs 50.


The amazing trek from Chopta to Tungnath and Chandrashila is sure to set your soul free. Chopta specifically, with its thick Deoder, oak, and pine tree forests, is one place that is immensely rich in biodiversity and thereby often considered a sanctum for bird watchers. The avian fauna includes birds like Long-legged Buzzard, Red-headed Vulture, Snow pigeon, Golden eagle, Spotted dove, Koklass Pheasant, Himalayan Monal and many more. Tungnath, on the other hand, besides providing its visitors with a sweeping view of the Himalayas, also is home to the Red fox. Chandrashila, the highest point of this particular trek, is the best of the lot as well. The 360-degree panoramic view of the snow-capped mountains like Nanda Devi (7816m), Trishul (7120m), and Chaukhamba (7138m) is something that will not only make your thoughts go wild but will also etch a place in your heart, forever.

Chandrashila Top View. Image from Google


Day 1- Haridwar-Kund-Ukimath (314m-1350m-1300m, 196km, near about 9 hours)

From Haridwar, one can either halt at Kund or Ukimath on their first day. In winters, however, halting at Ukimath has additional perks. The Omkareshwar temple in Ukimath happens to be the winter abode for the deities of the Kedarnath temple and the Madhyamaheshwar temple, and so halting at Ukimath will obviously pave a way for you to transform your adventure trek into a spiritual one as well.

Day 2- Ukimath-Chopta-Tungnath-Chandrashila-Chopta (1300m-2800m-3680m-4000m, 35km, approx 3-4 hours)

Shared taxis are easily available from Ukimath to Chopta, and it is best to leave as early as possible. The sunrise from Chopta is something that must not be missed. The entire hike from Chopta to Tungnath is quite easy without any significantly steep ups and downs. It shall take near about 2.5 hours to reach Tungnath from Chopta and a large portion of the trek is through lush green meadows and thick tree covers. Let your eyes rove as far as they can and capture the monumental beauty around. Tungnath has the highest Shiva temple in the world, but it only remains open during the summers. In winters, i.e from November-April, the deity of the Tungnath temple is shifted to the Mukku village.

From Tungnath, Chandrashila is about 1.5 km away and can be quite easily reached in an hour. Needless to say, the bewitching beauty of and from Chandrashila, is sure to leave you spellbound. The grandeur of the mighty snow-covered peaks of Nanda Devi, Trishul, and Chaukhamba, is inconceivable and way beyond words to describe. The sight shall leave your soul as free as the wandering clouds and bring in you an altogether different sense of peace, tranquility, and happiness- something that you might have never experienced before. However, at a height of 4000m, it is very likely for the travelers to suffer from Altitude Sickness and so it is advisable to carry an ample amount of water and camphor on this particular trek.

After experiencing some unforgettable moments and creating some everlasting memories, it is time to bid Chandrasila goodbye and trek down to Chopta. The descent is easier and can be completed within 2 hours with moderate speed. There are plenty of options for accommodation at Chopta, but in case of an unlucky scenario of finding all lodges pre-booked, you can easily find alternative boarding options just 3kms ahead, on the Gopashewar route.

Image from Google.

Best Time:

The best time for this trek is April-early May, in case you wish to find the entire landscape painted in pink with the Rhododendron blossom. However, if you wish to have a clear view of the mountain ranges from your trekking trail, then September-early November should be your preferred time. The winter months, from December-March, make the trek quite difficult with the entire route being deeply buried under snow. Also, it is advisable to avoid the monsoon seasons, i.e July-August.

Image from Google.

Cellular Connectivity:

BSNL works fine at Chopta, whereas Vodafone has a very poor network. However, on the trek from Chopta to Chandrashila, cellular connectivity is very unreliable, and it is best if all the important calls are made at Ukhimath itself.

The last ATM is at Ukhimath and so it is advisable to carry enough cash with oneself.


Evening had fallen when she woke up with Stephen’s arms entwined around her. Surrounded by darkness and silence, in the dimly lit room of theirs, she saw Dedalus’ abnormally bright eyes anchored in hers. Under the gaze of his eyes and in the pandemonium of his thoughts, all she felt was unusually calm. With each other, they always seemed to feel kind of meditative, as if fit for nothing but placid staring.

(To be continued…)


The world is a place,

Where we fight for peace.

The world is a place,

Where we fight between Her and His.

The world is a place,

Where the toys come stuffed and men come hollow.

The world is a place,

Where words have depth, but actions are shallow.

The world is a place,

Where dreams are as broken as reality.

The world is a place,

Where Beauty is no Truth, and Truth no more Beauty!

20 things you have to have, when in Banaras

Banaras, Bholey Baba ki Nagri, has been blessed with food items that can provide you with ultimate salvation. To taste the feeling of salvation and salivation at one single time, just start chanting Har Har Mahadev and indulge yourself in the innumerous delicacies, the holy Nagri has to offer you. The following listed, are the top 20 things that you have to have, when in Banaras.

1. Kachori Sabji: 

A staple breakfast food for almost all Banarasis,- this is one item you have to try. As the round ball of sun comes up in the vast sky full of clouds, the street side stalls are ready with their hot fluffy ball like kachoris, floating up in their huge utensils filled with oil. Early office goers or simply hostelers tired of their hostel food, throng up the streets and devour the hot kachori with an even hotter and spicier sabji. Give it a try to have that authentic Banarasi wala feeling.

2. Aloo Kachori:

Coming to another of the delicacies of Varanasi, the Aloo Kachori is a slight variation of the Kachori Sabji. Here the normal kachoris are stuffed with real spicy potato fillings and instead of sabji, they are be taken with chutneys. One of the best Aloo Kachoris is served at Shri Madhur Jalpan Sweet shop, Godowlia.

3. Desi Ghee Ke Jalebee:

Do not make Republic Days and Independence Days, the only days to indulge in this heavenly dessert. When in Varanasi, all days are Cheat days. Another of the best things that Madhur Jalpan has to offer is this Desi Ghee wale jalebi. Succulent, crispy, juicy and hot- it has got all things that will make you crave for more and more.

4. Baati Chokkha:

This is another widely loved food of Bihar and U.P. Though there are a lot of street side stalls selling the mashed balls of boiled potatoes, tomatoes, and baked brinjals, an authentic taste of the dish can be experienced in the Baati Chokkha Restaurant at Teliyabagh. Do give it a definite try.

5. Aloo Tamatar Chaat-

Besides the famous Deena Chaat Bhandar and Kashi Chaat Bhandar, there are quite a number of road-side stalls at Lahurabir Road, that offer you with an out of the world Chaat experience. Adding just the right amount of spices and masalas and garnishing it with a sweet chutney, the makers of this Banarasi cuisine will definitely succeed in holding your attention, for quite a long time, like the Masaledar saas-bahu serials of Hindi channels.

6. Golgappe-

There won’t be a single sane person saying a No to this. Of course, there are Chaat shops like Deena and Kashi Chaat Bhander selling the best of Banaras ke Golgappe. But if you are anywhere near Maldahiya, do try out the golgappes from the stall right outside Vishal Mega mart- they are simply out of the world.

7. Launglata-

Stuffed with khoya and cloves, this will be a spicy and sweet treat for you from Varanasi, with love.

8. Lassi-

After Punjab, I guess, it is Varanasi that can serve you with the thickest and creamiest of Lassis. One of the must haves in Varanasi,- the best of it can be experienced at the Pehlwan Sweets Lassi and Doodh, at Lanka. Go and have your Malai markey experience there.

9. Thandai-

Banaras aake thandai nahi piye, toh kya kiye. Thandai’s are one of those things, Varanasi is really famous for. Do come here and grab a glass at Godowlia. The lip-smacking delight is found at its best in Baba Thandai and Kashi Vishwanath Thandai Ghar.

10. Bhaang-

This though is not a must try, but when in Bhole baba ki Nagri, you gotta give it a try, in case you have never tried it before. Varanasi, if not the only one, is definitely one of the very few cities in India, with officially permitted Bhaang shops around. You can easily get it with your Thandai and if you want that added effect you better start chanting Bum Bum Boley!

11. Pedas-

With a lot of mandirs around and even a larger number of sweet shops around, there is no scarcity of pedas in Banaras. I agree Pedas are widely found all over India, but there is a very distinct taste in the pedas you get over here. Try avoiding small roadside shops and get yourself a packet from either Madhur Jalpan, Ksheer Sagar or the lanes of Sankat Mochan Mandir.

12. Sankat Mochan wale Besan ke Laddu-

Even if going to Mandirs is not your thing, do visit the lanes of Sankat Mochan, for experiencing these completely awesome round pieces of absolute love. Garnished with Tulsi leaves, the taste of these ghee-laden crisp laddus is infused with a different kind of aroma,- a kind of aroma that is going to titillate you to keep going back to it.

13. Makkhan Malai-

A winter specialty of Varanasi, this dish is not only prepared by a lot of boiling, and churning of milk, but also with a hell lot of patience. However, the result that you get is an ABSOLUTE bliss that completely melts as soon as you put it in your mouth. A MUST MUST TRY, is all I can suggest.

14. Rabri-

Rabri is another of the famous delicacies of Varanasi and tastes even better when combined and taken with that of the desi ghee laden Jalebis. So, head towards any of the renowned sweet shops of this holy city, and indulge yourself in an experience of absolute sweetness like never before.

15. Chhena Dahi Bada-

Unlike the common Dahi Badas found all across the country, Varanasi’s Dahi Badas consist of Badas made of Chhena( boiling of milk and then curdling it with whey). In contrast to Launglatas, which give you a spicy and sweet feeling at a single time, Banarasi Chhena Dahi Badas give you a taste of the sweet and sour at the same time.

16. Dalmandi wale Chicken and Roomali Roti-

At a pocket pinch of just Rs 60, Dalmandi at Godowlia, can offer you with a delicious treat of Rotis and grilled chicken kebabs (4-6 pieces). Worried about the taste? Well, in that case, be informed that it tastes absolutely Mamma-mia!!

17. The Bhog/Bhojan at Annapurna Temple-

Annapurna temple situated just beside the old Viswanath Temple, Godowlia, offers a free Bhog to all the devotees, every afternoon. The Bhog consists of Rice, Dal, Papad, Pickle, Sabji, Fried Potato, Dahi, and one piece of sweet. However, the best part is that you can take as much as you want, provided you don’t waste.

18. Kulladh wali Chai-

In Varanasi, buffalo milk is kind of preferred to cow’s milk, not only because it is healthier but also because it is a lot more thicker. Therefore, the tea in Varanasi also happens to be creamier and richer than the usual lots. Added to this, is, it being served in Kulhads or earthen cups,- in all creating an altogether different aroma – almost like that of petrichor.

19. Lemon Tea at Ghats-
When at Ghat, always opt for a Lemon/Masala Tea, and not a milk tea, because in the later, the milk is usually diluted with water. Assi Ghat and Dasaswamedh Ghat offer the best lemon teas and trust me- the hot piquant sips that you take while the cold winds from the river-side brush against your face, is something you will treasure throughout your life. DO NOT MISS THIS.

20. Banarasi Paan-

Just like a meal is incomplete without having a paan at the end of it, your visit to Varanasi shall remain to be completely futile if you fail to have the Banaras ki Shaan- Banarasi Paan, during the course of your trip. Prepared by stuffing sweet betel leaves with fennel seeds (saunf), cardamom, cinnamon, menthol, camphor and clove powder along with gulkand and coated sugar- the paan of Banaras is famous all over the world. Two of the best shops, where you can have an authentic and unparalleled taste of Banarasi paan, are Kuber Paan Bhander at Godowlia, and Keshav Tambul Bhandar at Lanka.

I don’t know about you, but the list is already giving me a Foodgasm. Here I come, Banaras!!!
Har Har Mahadev!!!

Fairly Unfair

Why is fair so fair, and unfair this dark?

Why is the lightest color, always allowed to leave behind the darkest of marks?

Why is Kali not the Goddess of Wealth, and Shiva the God of Creation?

Why can Lakshmi and Brahma be never seen worshipped as the forces behind Destruction?

Why are you so afraid of the night, and so fond of everything light?

When it is in the dark that you get to sleep, and in the light- constantly put up your fight?

“Light is stronger than the dark”, you say.

“O, damn you,  damn you hypocrites”, I say!

Why then, why then in a world driven by patriarchy-

Have you attached the darker shades of hue to that of masculinity?

Be not satisfied with the plain white salt , neither be, with just the dark spices of life.

But beyond the blended greyness of black and white,

Do be reminded of the dawn and dusks, that exist beyond the realms of both day and night.

Be reminded of the orange, red, crimson colours that get scattered up, daily in the skies.

And in doing so, be reminded that in each GaurI, ShIva, KaalI, and LakshmI-s

There is, and will always be, an existence of several I- s.