India : Where chaos seems beautiful

Swaminarayan Akshardham, New Delhi

India Gate, New Delhi

Welcome to the Jungle.

Fifth attempt to try & write something hoping it would work this time. I will not talk about AIESEC or my application process, neither will I talk about what I learned nor I will leave a moral of a fable. I will just tell you what I saw, felt, heard, touched and smelled during the time I was in India, perhaps it will be easier for you to understand what I experienced to give you a flavour of what India is all about.
I’ll be totally honest here and the first thing you will see in India won’t be neither elephants nor cows, nor people dancing like in Bollywood movies, for real. The first thing you see will be thousands of people in a very small place, you will feel unbearably hot and hear car honks everywhere and smell a particular scent originally from India. I spent my first two weeks in New Delhi and everything you know as “traffic rules”, “be kind to others” and “privacy” is going to hell when you get to Delhi. And the thing I am sure about Delhi is that this is the real human jungle. And I absolutely love this amazing city. It has got in my nerves. There is something in particular that I like about Delhi and most of the people who have been to Delhi will think I’m crazy, but here it goes. I love the sound of the honks (I feel connected to them), a particular sound that will make you feel like your eardrum will explode anytime. Everything in Delhi is Intense. After I wasn’t able to breath in the Delhi Metro, I had profound understanding of what “personal space” is. It is crazy. I come from a place where the only public transportation is the bus and when I came to India the metro network was a shock for me, with more than 3 lines with different stops and hundreds of people. If you really want to experience Delhi, you got to move around the city by metro.
In India everything is chaotic, specially food, with every meal being a bomb of flavours. Paneer Masala, Butter Naan, Aloo Tikki, Mix Veg, Dosa and Mango Lassi are my favourites. I love the way Indians use spices, adding them to any cuisine there is. If you are a person who loves to see new things and experience innumerable cultures at once, India is the perfect place to be. Stalk people live, eat without giving a second thought to what the person next to you will think, follow anyone on the road who seems interesting, I’m not kidding, you can stare at a person for more than 5 minutes and everything will be all right.
Let’s change the topic and talk about what I really want to tell you about India. When you get to a place where there are children who do not know what his/her name is or where they come from and you look at a women without clothes outside a shopping mall, that is when reality hits you hard and you start to be grateful for things that you didn’t think were important. What struck me the most (besides the Taj Mahal) is the devotion of people to their religion. During the time I was in Varanasi (the holy city in India) I asked the tour guide: “How can you believe in something you can’t see?” and he said: “It is not about seeing, it is a matter of choosing to believe in something, that way you’ll have something to hold on to.” And that’s where I started to realise what I was doing wrong with myself. It is incredible how a simple sentence can change your perspective of life.
There is no favourite place but favourite moments. It is difficult to choose a moment, but if I have to choose one right now, it would be my first visit to Taj Mahal. It’s undeniably overwhelming. It is not most people imagine it to be: clean, peaceful and calm. It’s a total madness when you try to get in but when you see the Taj Mahal, everything that is around you doesn’t bother you anymore, it is impossible to believe that for the love of a woman such a thing was built. Apart from the Taj Mahal, you’ll see cultural diversity, different religions, beautiful customs and little girls with eye liner. It’s eye catching.
Delhi, Dharamshala, Varanasi, Rishikesh, Jaipur and Jodhpur, every city has something specific that makes them different. I can not describe at this time what it is but each of them is going to teach you something, it shows you something, it makes you feel something. The question is not “Why India?” the real question is “What is India?” and my answer for that question is: “India is the perfect, beautiful, colourful big ball of chaos.”
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Invitation to Kasol

To all backpackers out there,

For every soul of our backpacking species , the term KASOL is equally exciting as a whole adventure itself. So by great fortune I came down upon the chance, to be offered the role of a manager, of this upcoming hostel in Kasol, by this super hospitality start-up called The Hosteller. Considering the fact that It was 3 years since my last job , this had to be something special that I agreed to join. And special it was, and is. 

Kasol Blog Photo

The Parvati valley and its hamlet of Kasol has for ages , held and captivated the minds of the travellers and wanderers from around the globe. From singers looking for inspiration , artists seeking motivation, to simple sages and people just wandering , everybody is a part of the crowd in Kasol. The young , the old and some who never age, are all here, with their diverse background and various interesting stories. The cosy cafes , the delicious German bakeries , the hanging bridges , the towering cedar trees , the blooming Himalayan flowers , the blue sky , the white clouds , the apple orchards , the wooden houses and the green grasses, all add to the myth and legend of Kasol which I am glad to explore and invite you all to do so along with me.  

As happens with inevitable flow of time, Kasol has commercialized too, it has grown in its reputation and attraction , that today it is not only visited by travellers , but typical tourists also. Sadly , that declines a little portion of the magic it once held as a backpacker’s paradise.  This is why we decided to open up our hostel here for the core wanderers , travellers and backpackers. We are also proud to claim us as the first backpackers hostel in the Parvati valley, and with it we hope to fertile Kasol again back to its true magic.

Fortunately enough our hostel is perched on a higher grounds , a little far from the hustle and bustle of the main commercial centre of Kasol , yet it is just a 5 minutes’ walk from there.  Glad shall I be , if you choose our hostel as your home to discover the valley , as we expect true core backpackers and travellers.

Our hostel is made of finest cedar wood and is a Himalayan architecture to gaze upon itself. Add to that , some creative vibrant artwork on the wall, by other backpackers and wandering souls making it lively and amazing.  And being perched on a higher level gives a view of the far extended valley , with horizons covered in cedar tree with its emrald leaves.  The busy town of old kasol , cradled in the valley by the rushing parvati river adjacent to it, is a beautiful view from our balcony of the private rooms we provide. Perfect for people who enjoys solitude , yet , enjoys mixing and knowing with other people too.

The front yard with open space has a cafeteria to serve your stomach with great tastes from both the western and Indian culture.  The backyard is a part of the apple orchard which continues far in step cultivations, is as beautiful a sight to wake up as one can imagine. We have also added tents to give the adventure feel to the people, whose soul yearns for camping and wants to sleep under billions of stars. I hope like me , a lot of you shall fall in love with our land.

We know the value for money , as we once too wandered with a penniless pocket. Our dorm bunk beds help backpackers , students with shoestring budget to fit himself in nice warm blankets and find a cosy bed in the cold chilly nights of the mountains, yet enjoy all the good basic facilities like hot water , laundry and great food , and most of all the charisma of Kasol.

We already have two hostels in Jaipur and Delhi , loved and adored by backpackers around the world , now with one here in the Himalayan valley, we have the icing on the cake , literally during the winter months!!

So are you not already planning your trip here??

From the 70’s , the crowd of Israelis made their home here, in the laps of Himalayas, and even now some of them choose never to return from here. So what is it that enchants their heart and mind? Why is the youth captivated and infused with the magic and mystery of this place , so much so , they never leave? Such question has always been around my mind and finally, I hope , along with you all, we shall discover this myths and secrets. So I hope together , we shall not only travel this valley but live the experience called KASOL.

Come with a smile , return with memories. Thanking You,

Yours sincerely and waiting,

– Deep

Manager , The Hosteller , KASOL

 

People I met in Delhi Metro

If we are next to each other in metro, we are talking. I am probably listening.

I am fucked up in a way. I want to know how are you fucked up?

So I ask you a lot of questions. I am also curious about how you live your life and hopefully I learn something new or might gain a new perspective.

So let’s commute together in the metro –

  1. All I wanted to do was brag to my colleagues that “I brought a girl from the metro to our event, The Hosteller-Bookmark”. That would have been cool. So I made her quite uncomfortable by asking her 4 times if she wants to come to the event. She turned it down because she said she was sick (?).
  1. A photographer. He was coming from a fashion event. I had to see his pictures. We started commenting on every girl in the picture. He said he got numbers of many pretty girls from the event. I told him that my girlfriend is a photographer too. And I certainly hope she doesn’t collect numbers from the guys in her events.
  1. A retired post office employee. I wanted to know about the thefts they made in the Post office (I know some people who got their packages tampered). But apparently he was proud to retire as an honest employee. So no inside stories for you guys!
  1. A police officer on duty in the metro. I had a quick head scan of my pockets after hearing this. But thankfully we ended up having a good conversation about his job.
  1. “I will call the metro helpline number. Go away asap”. AND I RAN. Apparently I boarded the women coach by mistake. I hardly had a seat for a second and was about to do my “thing”, when she yelled this at me.

In the past 6 months, I have initiated conversation with lots of people. But I have never been on the recipient of this.

My parents always said “don’t talk to strangers”. But sorry mom and dad.

This is just too much fun.

– Brinder Singh