Incredible India Bucket-List

If anything, the pandemic has left us yearning for the great outdoors and newer destinations more than ever. Unfortunately, curbs on international travel will stay longer. But as lockdowns ease, we can pander to our footloose fancies within India.

And believe you me, our country offers great diversity of weather, terrain, and culture… such that is difficult to find anywhere on the globe.

Planning my post-lockdown trips, I chanced upon ‘Incredible India Bucket-list’ by Aditya Sathe, a book listing 26 places across India, including natural wonders and man-made structures.

Organized alphabetically, the book covers well-known and popular places, such as Hampi, the Sun Temple, Udaipur City Palace, as well as the not often explored Xuan Zang Memorial Hall and Loktak Lake in Manipur.

To an avid traveller, this might be a rudimentary guide, but the stories that accompany each destination held my interest. Also, the fact that the guide includes places that a gypsy like me had not heard of… Dharur Fort in Maharashtra is one of them. Aditya covers many off-beat locations, some of which I have already visited. So I can vouch for the accuracy of the information, and the interesting descriptions and accompanying photos.

From Gir Sanctuary to Ziro Valley, from Thiksey Monastery to Hampi, and from Vikramshila to Yamunotri… the author, himself an avid traveller, offers an eclectic choice of destinations to the reader.

Importantly for me, this bucket-list worked as a reminder of places that I had read about, but had forgotten in pursuit of more glamorous journeys. No points for guessing that Edakkal caves in Kerala are my next travel stop!

To find out why, you can download this book @https://www.theblogchatter.com/download/incredible-india-bucket-list-by-aditya-sathe

About the author

Aditya Sathe is a civil engineer and map maker, with a passion for poetry and photography.

Kaikeyi

As a child, every time Grandma told us a story from Ramayana, Kaikeyi was unfailingly described as the bad woman. The description was so strongly stamped in my mind that years later, when I revisited the stories from the epic to tell my son, I would often find myself using the same words for another mother.

It was only recently, while sifting through mythology, that I began to wonder how the women who glisten in black are always the ones who have exercised their will, expressed their thoughts, sought to satisfy their desires, and in the process crossed the lines etched in stone by men. And by erring on the wrong side of these boundaries, they are reviled in perpetuity.

Kaikeyi is a character who often pops up in my mind, when I think of how we expect daughters, wives, mothers to be. She was given away in marriage in a faraway land by her father. She saved her husband’s life on battlefield. She was devoted to the welfare of her offspring. Is her entire life of being a meek and dutiful woman negated by one act of asking her husband to live up to his promises? I would rate her as naïve for taking the promise of his promises at face value. But I don’t see that as a reason to vilify her. No one is perfect. And she was just human.

Kaikeyi

Stoic
I stand here
As I have done
For centuries
Despite the abuses
You have hurled at me
I shall never accept
The tags of
The flawed woman
Or the vile mother
Although I am the
Scorned Queen.

Unyielding
And unrepentant
I have no excuses
To offer
Nor any forgiveness
I seek
What was my fault
Except to believe
Naïvely
That two boons were
Mine for the asking
Any time that I liked.

Judge
Me if you must
Like so many others
Before you have
And more to come
Shall too
But tell me
In all your honesty
How would you
Have labelled me
Were I a man
Making a calculated move?

Being woman
Now that is a price
I must pay forever
And more
The unbearable burden
Of expectations
Of virtue
Of untold sacrifices
And toeing the line
Mutely
Be it drawn by father, husband
Or son.

Handed
Out in lieu of
Protection
For my father’s kingdom
As second wife
To my husband
Although second
I was to none
The tragedy of
Being woman complete
When I was forsaken
By my own son.

Jyotsna Atre
April 19, 2021

This post is a part of the Blogchatter A2Z challenge

Just the news…

Time was when reading the newspaper with my morning cup of tea was the best way to start the day. Even when the television screens shouted out the news, or rather tried to pass off dramatized, opinionated commentaries in the garb of news; the crisp daily remained my go-to when it came to keeping up with the world.


But now, I seem to be losing my taste for news altogether. Does nothing good ever happen anywhere? Do we, as a species, simply have nothing good left in us? Or is that the business of news can thrive only on the negative?

Just news…

Vaccines doses
In short supply,
Hospitals low on oxygen:
Six people die.

Insurance cover ends
For healthcare workers,
But government won’t loosen
The strings on its purse.

No sign of election rallies
Winding down,
All eyes on who will
Wear the next crown.

Maharashtra fights over
Seizure of drugs,
Medicines sold in black,
Do we never run short of thugs?

New variants mutating
In the second wave,
If you still won’t wear masks,
You are foolish, not brave.

As if Kumbh wasn’t
Decision-making at its worst,
Pilgrims can’t wait now to get
to Tirumala On May 1st.

In other news,
Will India get its 1st woman CJI?
Citibank to quit India.
In Ladakh, army still on standby.

Only 3% of global land
Ecologically intact,
As Us and China sign
A business pact.

Can I not share anything
Except my depressing views?
But my dear, I am reading
Just the morning news…

Jyotsna Atre
April 19, 2021

This post is a part of the Blogchatter A2Z challenge

Change is My Cat!

Photo credit: https://unsplash.com/@pactovisual and https://unsplash.com/@grakozy

Love is fleeting. Glory is ephemeral. Families grow apart even during a lifetime, while friendships so rarely last. Haven’t we seen crowns crumble? Haven’t we seen that power is always lost? Why then do so many hanker for stability, permanence, forever?

Frankly, nothing lasts forever. Dinosaurs didn’t. And humans won’t either. Change is the only rule. Change can be the only constant. Which is why, if we accept that you and I must turn to dust someday, we shall know peace.

Change is my cat.

I notice how he averts his gaze,
Just so slightly,
When I look him in the eye,
And that always is the hint,
I have discovered, when a love is about to die.

What do I do now? Do I rant and rave?
Lament the years gone by?
No. That I will not do.
We were great together, while it lasted,
And for that I thank you.

It’s sad of course, when things change,
But hey! Change is my cat.
She will shake out her fur. She will make sure she survives.
She will land on her feet always,
Because Change has nine lives.

Three to play. Three to stray. Three to stay.
So I will take a chance and start over.
Change is the only constant, I have always heard them say,
And if that be the case my dear,
Give me a cat any day!

Jyotsna Atre
April 03, 2021

This post is a part of the Blogchatter A2Z challenge