Thursday 18 January 2024

A memorable trip to Amritsar & Hills, Travelogue - Part 1

Nestled far up in the northwestern corner of Punjab, Amritsar is easier to reach than what you might imagine; with this thought we began our recent trip to Amritsar, Dharamshala & Dalhousie in December to enjoy a long awaited vacation. I have always been a history buff and particularly about our country so naturally a trip to Amritsar was always on the cards because of many historical places and the nearby border with Pakistan, popularly known as 'Wagah Border' although Wagah is a place in Pakistan, the Indian side of the border is at an area called 'Attari'.

We had planned quite extensively and had the itinerary ready, so here is the story of the trip:


  • We had landed up in Amritsar at 11 in the morning via a flight from Ahmedabad. We then proceeded to check into a hotel near the Market area adjacent to Partition Museum. The atmosphere was great and it took some time for us to soak in everything. The city is filled with delicious smells of chole Kulche, bazaars, tea-stalls, kulfis and fresh lassi. You will also find cycle rickshaws plying around in narrow old city streets and some friendly locals.

    Coming back to the Partition Museum, it is very well put together with a lot of anecdotes from the people who had gone through the pain, it was the largest migration in human history. The museum documents the catastrophic loss of life and livelihood through testimonials of the partition survivors.

  • After Partition Museum, we had made our way to Attari/Wagah border, it is located some 22 to 30 kms from Amritsar market, with scenic views on either side. There is a stadium constructed at the border where people can sit and watch the ceremonies being conducted by the BSF. 
    If you had been a nationalist, this spot will heighten that emotion further. The 110 meter long Indian flagpole happens to be the highest flagpole in the country.

    The flag retreat ceremony is a treat to watch and the atmosphere is filled with patriotism. The ceremony involves elaborate drills, synchronized marching and the lowering of both countries' flags and a show of mutual respect. The event is a public spectacle drawing tourists from all over the world. I would recommend everyone a visit at least once here to witness this. The feeling is literally something else.
    There is also a BSF museum detailing the history of BSF along with its achievements.

    The 110 meter Indian flagpole

  • We had a night walk around the Golden Temple complex and it was beautiful to see the temple with all the lights. The place is huge and you can see people milling around, volunteering and helping others. It was an unforgettable experience. The market around temple complex is quite unique and you would not be blamed if you go for shopping or having lassi, we had ended our Day 1 with some amazing memories. It's a city of pilgrimages.


  • Day 2 began early as we went in for a morning walk to the market near the Partition Museum and walked all the way till Golden Temple. Its a shoppers' delight, you can easily get good quality clothes/footwear with reasonable prices all around in the market. The air is usually quite fresh.

  • We had our breakfast at the hotel where we had stayed and quality of the food was good, in fact that's what we had observed in our trip; you may leave here with few kilos added to your weight. Ghee is a staple in Punjabi cooking and the local butter is found in hot naans, dals, curries and rotis. 'Kesar Da Dhaba' & 'Brothers' Da Dhaba' are two must visit Dhabas in Amritsar according to me.
  • Our next stop was the Jallianwala Bagh, the place where I was filled with sadness. It's a place which reminds us of the cruelty of General Dyer and his men who had shot down innocent people. It has walls ridden with bullet holes and memorial plaques displaying the happenings of the dreaded massacre. The garden is maintained impeccably with galleries providing the information about the history. The true account of Jallianwala Bagh brutality is too hard for me to describe here hence just focusing on the tourist side of the story. 

    Things to see in the Jallianwala Bagh Compound

    - A section of the wall that still bears the bullet marks.
    - The Martyr's well, the well into which people had jumped on that day to escape bullet shots.
    - A semi-circular section that presents the place from where British soldiers had fired at the people.
    - Flame of Liberty, the memorial built in memory of martyrs
    - The martyrs galleries with audio visual notes. 

  • With a tinge of sadness, we left Jallianwala Bagh and went back to our hotel and proceeded towards Dharmshala during the day. That will be covered in the Part II of this travelogue. Some pictures of Jallianwala Bagh.


Saturday 11 November 2023

Good Bye to Good Old Trusted Companion!

Saying goodbye is never easy in life, be it for a person or a thing which you loved dearly. It's always a sinking feeling but deep down you know nothing lasts forever. There's an expiry date to almost everything in life and no one can escape it.

With this in mind, I have had two such incidents in the last two months which have made me realize once again that we cannot hold on to people or things in life.

I have written excessively on my good old trusted companion- my car on various platforms. Here are the links of two of my blogs :

It has been a wonderful journey and I have already written on how peaceful it was driving that good old car and so much more but as happens to all of us, the car started showing its age of 17 plus years but was majorly trouble free apart from few niggles here and there. It was unanimously agreed by everyone in the family to upgrade to a better car and I couldn't convince my family to keep it for the sake of nostalgia and positive vibes. If it had been my call, I would personally never sell it; would keep it forever only because I know life is hard and few things which give you happiness should be preserved. There's obviously a pragmatic and more mind-over-heart view that old cars are not worth keeping, given the rising running costs.

Anyways, so that's done now. It will go most probably this month end and a part of me will miss the sound of that amazing and powerful engine (it could pull on steep incline even with 5 on board), comfortable seats, spacious cabin and loads of memories.

Moving on, I have had the pleasure of working with my mentor of last 7 years for last 6 months. He had been posted to the higher office where our office reported to and I got the opportunity to work with him for last 6 months. He had attained superannuation (retirement in common parlance) at the end of September 2023. I knew he was going and kept on counting on days in reverse but post his absence, it struck me how life at office was so different.
My office colleagues and myself included would agree that he was a pillar in our department and trained all of us to become independent with sheer hard work and constant learning. He worked tirelessly for years and made the company stronger by going out of his way to mentor young officers like me.

I am now in his shoes and I hope to replicate what he did! Thank you sir, I will forever be grateful for your support, training and for always listening to my stories. 

Saying Good-Bye is difficult always!

Thursday 2 June 2022

Remembering KK, his soulful voice and my childhood memories!

On the night of May 31, the news about the sad demise of KK came out, it left everyone shocked and sad. I wish it was just a bad dream but as more details emerged, it was truly heartbreaking to accept. It was too early, he was just 53 and was as good as before. As it happens with life most of the times, we realise the value of a person/something when it is not with us, I had started to look back.

You had given us the best time of our childhood to us 90s kids. Your voice was sort of coming of age for many of us. We sang your songs at farewells, with friends, family and weddings too. You were everywhere and rightly so - Phone FM, Walkman, CD Players, Music Systems at home, Computer Speakers, Musical events, School Bus/Auto, Car FM and in our minds. It was very easy to remember the lyrics of the songs because of your melodious and soulful voice. You were the ultimate rockstar for us back then, now and forever. For me, your voice is the voice of love. I still have a lot of your songs in playlists everywhere.

It was a dream come true when I had attended your live concert in Ahmedabad back in those days of pre 2010 era. I remember the aura, fan-dom, the love which youngsters and teens had in those days for you and you had never disappointed your fans. 

Your songs made all of us now in our late 20s/early 30s, turn back to childhood and relive some memory bookmarks to our life. Every important memory of my life has a KK song attached for that background music. That feeling of nostalgia. That feeling of being wanting to go back to those days. Those beautiful memories of school and college. Your song had become the official farewell song in schools and colleges. You were part of everyone's farewell. That fuzzy feeling. Come back sir for once! 

A big part of my youth was shaped by your melodious songs. I still listen to your songs whenever I hit a bad patch in life and feel low. Your song 'Aashayein' from the movie Iqbal is my go to song for a dose of motivation in life.

Your voice had all range of emotions and the way you seamlessly shift through the varied pitches required in singing was totally a joy for us your fans. Yours is a story of perseverance too, very few people know that KK sang 3500 ad jingles before he got his first big break in bollywood. Thank god, the industry discovered you.

The reason why we feel so much for you sir is that you felt real. Nothing brash about it. You inspired us through your hard work. We were connected through unspoken words. I don't remember the last time a celeb death hit me so hard.

Thank you sir for making our childhood memorable! You will forever live in our minds and hearts through your songs. It feels a like the end of a generation now, it is has brought curtains down on a beautiful era in Indian music. Most of us lost a big part of our life today. Rest easy now sir! 




Sharing some of his songs:


Ashayein -

Pyar ke Pal -

Tu Hi Meri Shab Hai -  

Kya Mujhe Pyar Hai -

Maine Dil Se Kaha -

Zara Si - 

Beete Lamhein -


Thursday 4 November 2021

15 years of Good Old Trusted Companion - My first car!

I have written a lot on my car and some of the people who know me personally also know how much I love to talk about it. The last time I wrote a blog on it was in 2018 with this post.

Not a lot has changed since then but the car has turned 15. I still love the way it works, the way it starts, it feels so awesome. Some of my rough days in life had been sorted by just going for a small drive in this good looking car. My parents too love this car as much as I do and a part of me always loves to drive them around in this car. 

I was 14 when we had bought a 2006 Hyundai Santro Xing home and now 15 years later how much things have changed that I have finished my education and into the 6th year of my professional life. My formative years were spent looking at the car asking questions to my myself; whether I will be able to afford this car? Would I get to drive this one day? This car reminds me of my insecurities of teenage life surrounding career and life at large. And now in 2021, to be able to drive this around, it is extremely satisfying.

Looking back, 15 years is a long time and there are loads of memories; some of which are as a teenager being driven around by Daddy and then as an adult driving the car around. Back in that era of 2000s, the roads were filled with Wagon Rs and Santros, it was a moment wherein a lot of families had their first car. Most of us know how it feels to get our first car. You are filled with joy, excitement and pride. In my case, Daddy was already using it (his first car was an Ambassador) but I had to wait till I was 21 to drive this car. I remember the first time I drove this car, it was pure happiness to do something which till now was done by my brother or Daddy.

Having a car changes our young life, we have new found independence and responsibility behind the wheel of that car. It is reflective of my journey from teenager to an adult wherein I have far more responsibilities to fulfil. We had great family moments too! My cousins have always been very kind enough to travel in this small car even when we have better and bigger options in the family!

A first car is always more than just a car. It can be symbolic for one of the memorable times of our lives and although I am not thinking of letting it go, it know it will be tough to say goodbye to it. It will be like saying goodbye to a part of me. I was never left stranded in this car. I was always impressed with this car as a teenager and fell in love when I had started driving it.

The way it works, the engine is butter smooth and zippy even after 15 years, steering is precise, everything else functions just as well as it should. We never did anything after market for the car, only regular service and replacement of worn out parts at Authorised Service Centres; of course driving it well immensely helps also.

We do realize the age of the car and have a second and a bigger car for doing the routine travel but I would like to believe that good old trusted companion as I call it, is irreplaceable.  

I know nothing is permanent and some day I will have to let go of this car but the memories of this car will be etched forever in my mind and heart. 

Hoping for next 10 years with this one! 

Tuesday 9 March 2021

Visiting the Indo-Pak Border Zero Line at Nadabet in Gujarat

I had always been fascinated about Border areas; the lives of our soldiers and army men though I had never interacted with them in person but thankfully I got a chance to visit the Zero Line, India Pakistan border at Nadabet in Gujarat in February 2021.

The emotion of seeing our security forces guarding us was so overwhelming. We were so taken away by the place, the charm it exuded, the air, the things around us, was just exhilarating.

The border roads with their typical single lanes and side lanes opening every km on either side for vehicles to pass which means if a vehicle is coming from the opposite side, you had to wait in the side lane or else you run risk of taking the car off the road, we did not take the risk since we were driving a Hyundai i20.

However, we came across a diversion and we got to test the off road ability of our i20 😀 

One of the side views!

About the Place! 

India Pakistan border stretches from Gujarat towards Rajasthan and J&K. The total length of the border in Gujarat is around 508 kms out of which 340 kms are feasible for construction of fencing. 

One such fenced Border Outpost (BOP as BSF calls it) is Nadabet which has been developed as a tourist spot with assistance from Govt of Gujarat.

The attractions involve retreat ceremony by BSF, camel show, fusion band performance, bird watching, photo gallery and a film on BSF. However, the retreat ceremony and camel show have not yet commenced after COVID. They will start the same once the pandemic ends.
Another reason for me to visit this place again :)

However, besides the border, there is a Nadeshwari Mata temple with a lot of clean open spaces and a perfect place to rest before going to the Zero Line. We had our home-made lunch at the temple premises itself. There is a guest house too.

How to reach?

It is close to 257 kms from Ahmedabad (small variation of 10-20 kms based on the place you live in Ahmedabad).
We left in the morning at 7 am and covered the distance without hiccups. Highway is reasonably good however we expected better roads.

The last town/village is Suigam. Suigam-Nadabet Zero line is 45 kms.

The Place - Zero Line

We had to avail the permit and got ourselves one with ID Proof and after complying with the registration/checking formalities at BOP Nadabet, we proceeded towards the Zero Line. The last few kms were surreal, it really made us rethink about our privileged life.

The way to the Zero Line is the best part of the journey. There is a vast rann on both the sides, you can see the white surface and history(not confirmed though) has it there was a river few decades back.

We did spot a few birds but there were rare anyways, here is a panoramic view of the scenic desert.

The view from the viewing deck! They have constructed these wonderful viewing decks for tourists to view the vast expanse of the desert.

With this, we reached the Zero Line with BSF Jawans welcoming tourists with smile (who knows what all hardships that smile is hiding), there is another viewing deck at the Zero Line. I wondered how difficult it must be for BSF to work tirelessly in extreme heat, wind and unfavourable weather. Respect!

The most iconic image of the journey.

It was just a one day trip and we came back the same day but this was on my bucket list for a long time. I really feel this was my best trip post the pandemic driven 2020. The picturesque environs, the conversations with BSF Jawans, the drive really made it memorable! This is an underrated place!

(P S - Most of the credits for the pictures goes to my brother Parag and also for agreeing immediately for this trip without any second thoughts, he drove while I was watching the desert all over from every side)

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