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tanyaroy3112

Eco-Tourism

Life in Thin Air and Sub Zero – How Spiti Sustains Sustainably

March 17, 2017
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” The highest education is that which does not merely give us information but makes our life harmonious with all existence” – Rabindranath Tagore

We are all curious to know much about our existence, who are we? why are we here? what is our purpose of this life? and that is the thirst we thrive on everyday of our lives. I suffer from the same syndrome and for the little bit that I have been able to conclude is that some part of the Himalayas is perceptually calling me and Spiti obviously is on top. You can easily say its just following the call, or curiosity of the call.

IMG_7283Frozen Nako Lake

After being in and out of Spiti several times, I certainly wanted to experience the winters there. I have been studying Spiti very closely. Understanding Spiti as a Micro-Ecosystem seems an area that interests and intrigues me and one would truly believe that any natural ecosystem if not anything else must not be disturbed at all. It doesn’t deserve to be disturbed – heaven doesn’t need disturbance.

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After alot of planning and speculation about the weather and the roads we finally made it in there. Without much thought we decided straight to head to Dhankar, my favorite village in Spiti. The temperature in Dhankar was -5 maximum with minimum going to -15. We decided to stay in a traditional home stay, I was curious to see exactly that, how do the locals survive in such harsh winters?

 

IMG_7320Dhankar Village at Dusk

 

Spiti being a dry mountain desert terrain doesn’t have much stones in its topography. Like other similar terrains i.e Ladakh, Mustang Valley in Nepal and Tibet, villagers in Spiti have been building the traditional mud houses for centuries now. These mud houses are warmer than modern concrete houses. To be very honest, concrete houses are a complete no no for a terrain like that of Spiti, the reason is that modern concrete houses absorb the atmosphere’s temperature and reflect the same inside close spaces in the houses, which means that in a place like Spiti, one will only feel colder inside a concrete house. With growing tourism and modern telecommunication technologies taking over Spiti, the growth of concrete houses are also rising, one can even find concrete in new monasteries that have been constructed. This will most certainly adversely affect the ecosystem.

 

IMG_7411Kibber Village – Traditional mud houses and concrete constructions on its way

However, one can still find mud houses in Villages in Spiti and the homestay we decided to stay was a traditional mud house. All Spitian houses have the traditional Tandoor heating system. The Tandoor heating system is used all over the Himalayan sub continent. In greener patches of the Himalayas access to fuel-wood is easier, though timber trade happens, not always dead wood is used. Spiti not having any access to fuel wood has a more efficient fueling mechanism, Spitians use biomass (Yak Dung) and dessert shrubs as fuel for the Tandoor. Modern LPG gas has reached most households in the village for cooking, however a substantial amount of cooking is done on the Tandoor.

IMG_7366Tandoor in a Spitian Home

We parked ourselves at the main room with the Tandoor and kept ourselves entertained watching what an everyday life of a home in a Spitian Village looks like – in winters. The morning goes in bringing water in huge jerry cans on domesticated donkeys from stream a bit distance, enough water for a family of 4-5 to be able to drink, cook and wash., bathing happens on a ceremonious day for a Spitian in winters. Along with water bio-fuel also needs to be carried from different areas arround the village, this includes Yak dung and dessert shrubs.

The most interesting phenomena about living in the Sub-Tibetan plateau (Ladakh, Mustang Valley and Tibet) is the dry toilet system. The dry toilet system is a two storey mechanism with a thick mud plank dividing the two floors and a hole is created on the plank. All the human waste goes through the plank to the floor at the bottom and the top floor is used as the toilet. In order for human waste not to leave a smell, yak/cow dung is thrown over the human waste day and again along with dry hay. This waste is collected for the whole season and right before winters before the snow sets in, the waste is taken down and thrown on agricultural fields for the soil to become fertile for agriculture. Come April the fields are ready to be ploughed.

IMG_7395The Hike Up to Spot the Snow Leopard

Spiti can grow almost anything, there is no original native crop barring Sea Buckthorn which is a fruit. Lower altitude villages in Spiti grow apples as a cash crop and higher one’s grow peas and potatoes. Native medicinal herbs are common in Spiti which is an area that can be explored in herb and medicinal plants rich Spiti. Cash crops are more commonly grown than native crops for livelihood. Spitians have had a very hard life because of limited connectivity and being written off as a tribal settlement, have now began to see prosperity due to rise in tourism.

Rise is tourism is certainly doing good in many ways, however one always seems to concentrate less on its adverse effects. Dry toilets are rapidly being replaced by modern western flush toilets like in Ladakh. Water is a scarce resource in Spiti and the traditional dry toilet system is an efficient and sustainable model for the landscape. Hence, its necessary to be preserved.

Tourism is also increasing plastic waste in the valley. One can find patches of dumped garbage which is not a very pleasing sight. The trade of daily edibles like grains and vegetables is one thing. However, the trade of neo-consumer items is purely profit based, how does one stop that. Will the future be a resilient model of community based tourism from food to shelter to income distribution point of view or will it turn into another commercial destination completely ruining its true charm.

Since we were in Spiti in winters, we had to go for the mythical Snow Leopard spotting. Hence headed towards Kibber Village after spending a couple of days at Dhankar. The sight I saw there was rather disappointing. There is always something about wildlife photography that bothered me. One can love clicking the animal, with an expensive equipment for only those can afford to buy do, but how many of us do really care for animal or think that may be we are disturbing them and that it is us who is invading their private home or spaces without their permission. How many of us think that way?

IMG_7396Tourist and Photographers waiting to get a site of the mythical Snow Leopard

 

We did spot a snow leopard. Neither did I have the equipment nor the interest of capturing it. I was happy spotting one, no glory to be claimed here. You are just spotting an animal.

All in all staying there was quite tough. Surviving without a Tandoor was impossible. Stepping out for a bio break into a dry toilet usually constructed outside of home needed immense bravery not that I had much of a choice there. But it was all worth it because being in Spiti in winters is like you are on another planet, a parallel universe. Magical and surreal.

 

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Local Spitian woman – She invited us over for butter tea and gave us some Yak cheese and local herbs

Spiti being sustainable pretty much already, all a traveler can do is ensure to choose what is sustainable, a homestay, a dry toilet and local meals, it isn’t that hard after all.

Now go back to the top and read the quote 🙂

Happy Eco-Traveling !

 

Soul Search

In Between Real Dreams and Inconvenient Truths

January 23, 2017
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“It takes immense bravery. You have to be willing to be ripped to pieces for the sake if the inherent freedom of self expression. The secret is, its always worth it. It is worth the scraps and bruises to the ego to set your soul free”

 

Here is a story, a story of a girl. She was born blessed with angels guarding her all the time, may be she knew that and may be that was the source of a her courage. Everything she touched changed into Gold. She was blessed to be born with a mind and body that could communicate well with each other, that was the the true source of her worldly achievements, she was a player. Not just that, she was a fighter too! she didn’t care of her wounds and may be denying her wounds came her power (Ref – Wild). Illnesses and injuries didn’t stop her from playing or from putting up a tough competition.

As she grew older, she started to fade off, the reasons were many. She started feeling the world further and further, she went from place to place not out of choice, often she started feeling she wasn’t accepted, not sure off why. She wasn’t physically strong any further because she suffered asthma, but her mind didn’t know how to give up. Since everything she touched turned into Gold, she didn’t know what was it that saw her like may be she is Gold. She kept fighting, she kept playing the game called life, in search of something which at that time even she wasn’t sure of.

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Turning at adult at 18 and there on, she kept moving from place to place, she only found her self  ill-fitting everywhere she went. She was a believer, she believed in soul mates, she believed in eternal friendships, but found neither, rather all she found was being ridiculed, judged and heartbreaks one after another. She was losing herself, even she wasn’t aware of it, she kept trying to please the world still trying to put up a fight and being a player, but she felt like it wasn’t her battlefield, she tried and she tried, switching professions one after another, she never felt like it was her, or it was were she belonged. There was one place that she felt she belonged, and that was the mountains.

Completely losing herself to the world, forgetting what she was made of, wounded and heart broken, she began to grieve and to grieve she would run, run for her life to this one place where she felt safe and at peace, the mountains. She grieved to the mountains for years together and every time she felt like the mountains were trying to tell her something, there was a secret. That became a pull, it was almost like the mountains fell in love with her and couldn’t live without her, they would conspire to call her back to tell her a story that she could listen to all the time, and when back in the real world, she felt like her soul was still there, only her body was back.

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From there on she started unlocking the secrets one after another, she still didn’t give up trusting and loving, but this time she knew who she was, she was a wild soul, she couldn’t be tamed, even by herself, so even when she tried to tame herself to the proceedings of the world, she failed, miserably. She finally started getting back in touch with herself, whom she had lost years back, she finally realized who she was and accepted and loved herself for being the way she was and once she came through her pain and healed herself, she knew, she knew exactly were she wanted to go.

Today the sufferings of the world pain her, a wise soul once told her she could be an Earth Angel. Her only pain now is when she sees people far away from their own realities but she also believes this journey can only be taken by oneself, some healing souls can help you show light, but one needs to follow the light themselves. Her only goal in life is not to play, not to fight any longer, but to inspire, to heal the world from suffering and to make people believe in love, not the love between two partners, but a love beyond that, a love that you feel that makes the universe revolve and that love is enough to survive, happily, over money, over success, over greed and over destruction. She wants to live a real life, a life in the mountains, away from everything of neo-consumer nature and inspire the people of the world to learn to live in harmony and not greed, with the nature.

This is a summary of a book which is hopefully on its way soon!

PS: 2016 was the year, that brought me back to me, and brought me here.

Eco-Tourism

Meanwhile in Manali – Visible Effects of Climate Change

December 8, 2016
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This is my first write up on visible impacts on Climate Change in the part of Himalayas that I call home.

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I first visited Manali when I was in school, I must have been around 12-13 years old. I had visited many other hill stations but Manali stole my heart as a kid. Once I started traveling independently Manali was one of the first places I explored and somewhere in 2010, when I visited old Manali for the first time and I fell in love with the place, the culture and people. Since then it was my dream to make Manali my home. Year after year my visits to Manali kept growing, for travel for treks and so did my love for the places. 2016 after a lot of deliberation, ups and downs and crooked paths I finally managed to find home in Manali, it was a dream come true.

 

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We all know that year by year the temperatures are rising, glaciers and polar ice is melting, rainfall is getting more and more irregular and erratic. We all know why is this happening? The primary reason behind this is the rise in Co2 in the atmosphere. The winter of 2015-2016 didn’t see winters and lack of snow fall across the globe. This has lead to water problems in several mountain topographies. Spiti Valley, the valley closest to my heart saw water problems. On one hand tourism is growing like no one’s business on the other hand water problems are increasing. The future predicts that water problems will only increase, pure because temperatures are rising and rain fall is erratic.

 

I have been struggling to breathe in Delhi with the air  becoming hazardous. Educated citizens are more concerned about political issues rather than being concerned about the air they are taking in. If you think cities are going to be unlivable in the next 20 years, here is a reality check, they are already inhabitable, you are not breathing in oxygen, you are breathing in toxic already, it is inside your immune system and as you are hear you are only killing yourself.

 

Just when I think may be I should head back to my home – Manali, I get a news that few locals are intentionally setting forests on fire, why? to have rainfall. I am not sure if this was an accident or this was intentionally done due to lack of awareness. But here is what is happening: Age old traditions are being followed, earlier the level of oxygen was higher than the level of carbon di oxide and the atmosphere had a way of balancing this. How was the level of oxygen higher? Because the forests were dense, forests also hold ground water.

As the climate warms, moisture and precipitation levels are changing, with wet areas becoming wetter and dry areas becoming drier. Higher spring and summer temperatures and earlier spring snow-melt typically cause soils to be drier for longer, increasing the likelihood of drought and a longer wildfire. So putting your forests on fire is not going to bring in rainfall, it is further going to increase the atmospheric temperature, increase the chances of drought and reduce the level of ground water. This will cause depletion in the soil quality and as a result in the agricultural produce both in terms of quality of soil, atmospheric implications and availability of water.

If any one of you who hasn’t yet watched the film “Before the Flood” please do, it clearly states that Western, Central and North India is going to see drought in the coming years and it is already visible that it will, here is the link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8v1kU7Rc9c4

If there is something that I can go on and on about is the necessity to drop everything and focus on conservation and sustainable development. My heart bleeds right now to see Manali in this state and knowing its only going to get worst and I alone cant do much. I insist on who ever can make the slightest difference, please do at a policy level or at the ground level.

Also read : https://wanderthehimalayas.com/2016/05/08/uttarakhand-forest-fire/

In summary here are the dont’s and dos’

  • Stop deforestation and usage for forest would as fuel wood, burning dead wood is not very harmful, but burning/chopping trees for wood is killing your own home
  • Use biomass as a fuel for tandoors
  • Stop turning complete agricultural land for cash crops and maintain a balance between native crops and cash crops.
  • Find cash crops that are native to the soil and find products out of those cash crops eg: Hemp
  • The educated and aware people should participate more in raising awareness among villagers and educate them on climate change and ill effects of deforestation
  • Create a better structure around all commercial businesses at local panchayat levels that is fair and sustainable
  • Create rain water and other water harvesting and preservation systems for agriculture
  • Do not wait for the forest department or govt. to take action, decentralization is the key to sustainable development

Killing forests is like burning our lungs, we will not survive if the forests don’t!

Hoping for a better tomorrow!

 

Eco-Tourism Soul Search

The Blessing of Rhododendron – A Trek Through Great Himalayan National Park

September 7, 2016
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“The woods are lovely dark and deep, but I have got promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep” – Robert Frost

IMG_0805Rhododendron, a flower that grows in Himalayan Forests with many blessings for you mind and body 🙂

 

A very known saying, a quote that each one of us can associate ourselves with.

I have been trying to write this piece for a long time, waiting for the right frame of mind or the right mountain top and finally I am going to put this down in the right frame of mind and on the right mountain top 🙂

Probably one of the reasons I couldn’t pen it down is because of the spell-bounding beauty of the Great Himalayan National Park, one is bound to fall short of words to explain the absolutely out of the world Himalayan Forest experience one gets to experience in there. The National Park is a Pandora’s box which I could only manage to touch with this three day trekking experience.

It was a dream for me to live in the mountains. I see fellow travelers wanting to travel to as many places which I would love to as well, but living in the mountains was a thought which kept me day dreaming through most of my corporate life. So, there I was with all my bags packed, quit my job, starting a travel venture and landed straight right up in Manali, the town I always wanted to live in, something about this place always pulled me back here.

It wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be, I went through hardships of the kinds I couldn’t imagine, from finding a place to stay to finding people to work with to finding home, I ended up in situations worse than my nightmares and I was all alone. It was after having two very tough in Manali, desperately wanting to get away I decided to run towards the Jungle, and I wanted to explore this time.

Did a bit of a research and spoke to a very dear friend in Jibhi, with the amount of time I had in my hand, boiled down to the Shilt Hut Trek in the Great Himalayan National Park. Obviously it has to be an Eco-Trek.

Reached Gurshiani, the last town before the National Park, sorted a guide, tents and other essentials and started trekking towards the National Park. The walk until the gate of the National Park is a long, fairly flat and a completely green walk through the forests, as we go further ahead, the forest would get deeper, city like sounds would diminish and I could hear different birds and insects. The sound got louder and it was like a peaceful symphony to the ears. We stopped at a village after a while, we were blessed to drink fresh Rhododendron Juice which was locally brewed, and as usual I told myself, why do people drink Coke and Pepsi packed in plastic bottles, why?

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A pool like formation in the stream while entering the gate of the National Park

 

As we came closer to the gate, we came closer to the stream, all I could see was blue water and green all around me, and the kind of landscape I had never seen before in the Himalayas. We crossed the gate and went till our campsite Rola. The moment we reached the camp and pitched our tents, it started to rain. I could just see the trees dancing in the rainfall, it was like the trees were so so happy and were welcoming the rain with open arms.

Next morning we had to trek upto Shilt Hut. It wasn’t as easy I thought it would be, it was a 6kms and a 45 degree ascend until the top. A more fascinating thing about the hike was the Forests getting deeper, we were able to spot birds and listen to their sound. The trees were dense and I could see numerous numbers of different plant species.

OH I was very conveniently trying to skip what was going on in my head. What was going on in my head? complete chaos and confusion, I felt like a headless chicken running in random directions and heading absolutely nowhere. I ran to the forest so that it could teach me something.

I quite surprisingly made it to the top in about 90 minutes, it wasn’t fast enough considering I was also treating this like a practice for the Annapurna Base Camp. Once we reached the top, Shilt Hut was like this dream come true little home on the mountain top which I would read in fairly tales with mountains and flowers surrounding me from all directions, I didn’t want to leave, I could live there, forever!

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The Shilt Hut

 

It was a day hike, we got to Rola by the evening, the river was right by the campsite, I would go wash my face there and fill my bottle with the fresh sweet water. It was time to head back the next morning, unfortunately. On my hike back I collected whatever trash I could and decided to take it with me to Delhi.

Finding home is all each of us want in life, and finding home is the hardest thing to do. Finding home is different from buying home. You can buy houses but you might never find one. We go through bad times only so that we know the worth of good times, following your dreams might sound exciting but it is definitely not easy in a world full of conformists and patriarchy. It could turn into your worse nightmare ever or it could be better than your dreams. It always gets harder than it gets easier. Yes! it always gets harder first. The forests taught me exactly what I preach, all that you need for a happy mind and happy life lies in the arms of nature, the greatest gift of god. You need oxygen to breath, water to drink, food to eat and a shelter to sleep. That’s all you truly need!

Trust your journey and be fearless! Always 🙂

Solo Journeys

Dwell in Fearlessness – My Solo and Unsupported Trek to Annapurna Base Camp

June 7, 2016
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” And all she knew was exactly how to look at the brighter side of life”

IMG_0258The Map to ABC

I am not a mountaineer, I have not done the mountaineering course, neither do I belong to the mountains. I am city girl who was born in plains, who had no extra ordinary fitness, infact I suffered Asthma as a kid and I also have a backbone with no cartilage between my spine and my tail bone, I had to quit Food and Beverage and Kitchen while I was working for the Hospitality sector because I couldn’t carry heavy weights. I love the mountains and that’s all I knew – a kind of love that I never felt before and will never feel again, mountains drive me to be me, mountains drive me to go above my nerve, every time!

My life is not a bed of roses, nothing has been served to me on a platter, I have worked hard for every piece of happiness I own today, I have had dark times, we all do, and they never end, and sometimes you have to go through them alone. Mountains thought me one thing, and that is to keep going no matter what. Two months down starting my dream project – a travel company of my own, I was in loses, and its my baby, yes I can’t fail. Everything started going wrong and people who I thought would stand by me were the first one’s to back off. But I was alive with strength in my mind and my legs, and every time someone turns their back to you, few angels show up to save your grace, and that’s exactly what happens, we just need to learn how to count our blessings, the day we learn that, our lives will change, we will be happier and nothing else matters more in life, but to be happy!

The Annapurna Base Camp Trek was on my mind since long, and after a lot of thought and discussion I decided to take it in-spite of the fact I was running loses. I wanted to do it solo and unsupported. I knew I was going to really really have it hard, but I guess that’s what I liked, to survive through hardship, there is some sort of a pleasure in it.

Arrived at Kathmandu, spend a day there, prepared for the trek, and left the next day morning for Pokhara. The bus ride to Pokhara is almost 6-7 hour ride from Kathmandu. Reached Pokhara and decided to start the trek the same day. So here goes my day wise story to my journey to the ABC.

Day 1: Australian Base Camp
“Be open to new people and new experiences, without fear”

IMG_0249Me at the Australian Base Camp

This was the beginning of the much awaited trek, and I knew I was going to walk for the next 8 days at-least and that thought was really scary, however I decided to take each day and not count the no. of days. This was the first time I trekked in the dark, this was something new I was doing, and surprisingly I wasn’t feeling scared at all, infact I was quite fascinated observing the species in the forests which were very different from my experience of trekking in India. Since they trek began from a low altitude, it seemed more like a tropical rain forest. In an hour and a half I reached the Australian Base Camp – My first pit-stop. Found a pretty nice lodge and good food.

Day 2: Landruk
“Hope for the best, be prepared for the worst”

IMG_0264Lodge at Landruk

The morning was quite cloudy as the Australian Base Camp, with no one going further up. Clearly it was going to rain, however I was high on energy and I had to keep going, so I did. The walk was a mix of ups and downs at a comparatively low altitude region. Just and hour short of Landruk, it started to rain and the rain was not rain it was a thunderstorm and everything I had including my shoes got completely drenched in the rain. I walked in them with water pumping out every time I took a step. When I reached Landruk I found all my clothes in my backpack were wet too, I usually pack them in a plastic, but this time I didn’t, I was cursing my self for not doing so, took out everything and put to it dry, the sun showed up for a bit, rest was luck.Prayed while I was sleeping for the weather to be good, I had to make it to the ABC, I just had to!

Day 3: Chhomrong
“You are stronger than you think you are”

IMG_0279Sunrise at Landruk

I woke up at 5:30 am and my prayers were answered, saw the first view of Annapurna Main and I couldn’t have been happier. This was a longer and harder day, I was in good spirits, but my shoes were still wet. So I decided to hike in my floaters, didn’t have a choice. The altitude started increasing and the terrain started getting demanding. The never ending climbs started to begin and then the descends and then the climb again. Reached Jhinu by lunch and it was a clear uphill climb to Chhomrong, Which I was scared of, but I did it like it was a cake walk. It wasn’t that hard or may be I was stronger. I had my backpack all this while. My confidence got a real boost, I started to believe I am going to make it.

Day 4: Himalaya
“A champion is someone who gets up and moves, when she can’t”

IMG_0350Morning view from Chhomrong of Annapurna and Machcha Puchhre

Woke up to clouds, another rainy day. The Annapurna Main and Machcha Puchchre did show up for a while and then disappeared. It rained through the day and true to God, this was the hardest day. The rain made the trail slippery, it was a constant climb and I was not in my best shape for some reason, the altitude kept increase, it was cold and damp, the moisture levels were high, everything wet would not dry, my shoes were still wet, and there did come a point were I thought I just couldn’t go any further. I was breaking down, I started feeling the weight, but did I have a choice, no! I had to keep going, so I just kept going, thinking that a miracle would happen and I would feel more energy. Made it to Himalaya, extremely tired and everything wet, it was cold. I immediately changed all my clothes which also seemed like an effort and just crashed. I was really unsure as the next day was the day I reach The ABC, I was hoping for good weather and a stronger me.

 

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Himalaya from a distance

Day 5: Annapurna Base Camp
” Sometimes you just have to take the leap of faith, jump and trust yourself, because you are all that you got”

IMG_0421On the way to Deurali
IMG_0446The Himchuli Straight up

Woke up to a bright sunny day, and I decided I will take it easy and slow as the altitudes where increasing. So began walking quite early and made it to Deurali in 2 hours. The next stop was MBC( Machcha Pucchre Base Camp). As I kept walking the view started getting so so breath taking that it completely kept me distracted from everything else, it didn’t matter any more which part of my body was hurting, or the weight or anything else, I was coming closer to my love – the mountains and that is all that mattered. Stopped for lunch at MBC with a straight view of the Annapurna South, it was breath taking. Post lunch I started my trek to ABC, the last leg, a dream that was coming true, and within less than 2 hours, I was there! I had tears in my eyes, I made it! in one piece, inspite of all odds, these moments of life are what you love for. I forgot how tired I was, I dropped my bag and picked my camera and just left to click, It was magic! The night sky was clear and I saw the moon rise, It was a miracle!

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IMG_0477Machcha Pucchre from MBC
IMG_0525Annapurna Base Camp
IMG_0598Annapurna Main (8091 mts) at Dusk, the 10th highest mountain in the world

Day 6: Dovan
” You are on your own soul journey, not competing or racing with anything or anyone”

IMG_0457Hiking to Dovan

Sadly I had to leave The ABC next morning, I was happy I survived the night there as many couldn’t, they decided to go down due to altitude sickness, which I didn’t suffer from, I am a slow walker and thats what saved my life. The morning was bright and sunny, but as we crossed Deurali it started to rain again, and I had to stop before. It rained heavily and continuously, taking a stop was a good idea and I also decided to take some much needed rest, so all I did was sleep!

Day 7: Jhinu
” Energies make you or break you, choose wisely”

IMG_0670Maccha Purchre from Sinuwa

Since walking back is not so much fun I decided to break some trekking rules and plug in my ear phones. It was also a walk the talk with myself, on my life reflecting upon my personal and professional goals and decisions. We all want friendship and love, we all thrive for it, break down in it and yet never give up. Because love makes this planet a better place to live, but trust you me, no relationship is as important as your relationship with yourself, because no one is ever going to respect you or value you like the way you would. And please start loving yourself first, you are all that you got. When you are in the worse times, yes there are few who help, but its you who pulls yourself out every-time out of that dark and bring yourself back on your feet. While I was lost in thoughts I happened to peep back just to get an amazing sight of the Maccha Puchhre ( Fish Tail literally). Love yourself enough to be happy, and choose happiness, everyday! On that thought and with music, I had happily made it to Chhomrong, I was quite fast. Jhinu was an hour away and so were the hot water springs 🙂

I made a friend, and we traveled together, those times are my favorite, strangers who become friends 🙂

Day 8: Siwai

“Be the best version of yourself, wherever you go, heal and spread the love”

IMG_0257On the way to Siwai

It was the last leg, and it was harder than I thought, may be I knew in my head it was the last leg. I just wanted to get done now. Reached Siwai in a few hours and I was done. Finally! I made it to THE ABC and was back in one piece. I had decided to get to Pokhara and shower first, then just treat myself and celebrate my little victory.

Why do I trek solo? because it gives me a feeling of freedom that nothing else does, I feel stronger and more of a survivor. We live in a country with women living under various conditions and societal pressures and I don’t ever want to be bonded, because I always have a choice, and thats the choice I make for myself, because I am all that I have.

Fear is nothing but a state of mind, being brave pays off, everything in life comes for a price and that price of often painful. Its the pain you choose to take, the pain of being conditioned and living a life dictated by others and yet never being appreciated for it or choosing freedom, which brings uncertainty and loneliness, but you live the life you choose, and you deal with the consequence. It is always the choice you make, pain in inevitable and pain is good 🙂

Soul Search

Awaken your spirit and find yourself – Dear Girls, Start Traveling Solo

May 9, 2016
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“The real you is not a puppet, which life pushes around. You are something the whole universe is doing. The same way a wave is something the whole ocean is doing”

IMG_2558“ Darling, your world will be forever full of hollow heroes until you learn to sort it yourself”

 

At the very outset, I will be very frank, many might find this write up feminist to the core, and also this is not for any debate, this is what I have learnt and seen, and survived through, and I can strongly advise.

I’d like to give credit to very renowned blogger – Sanjukta Basu, for putting across feminism and why the term exists so beautifully, deeply and accurately. She opened my eyes to many things that I never thought of.

Why am I beginning this with feminism, because the term is considered a not so positive term, its considered like an opposition political party or something. There are men who truly believe in empowering women, and there are women who think calling yourself a feminist is degrading your personality. Women, this is to you and for you, wake up.

By asking you to wake up, I am not asking you to fight all the men and patriarchy in your life, frankly that requires a whole lot of courage. I am just asking you to find yourself, find out who you are, before you became someone’s daughter, someone’s sister or someone’s mother. It is not a sin to focus on yourself.

We live in a society where a free women is questioned, judged, gossiped about and you know why? Because many cannot handle it when women live a life of their choice, because a woman is supposed be a certain way, she is supposed to do responsibilities to the best of her ability it whatever role she is playing, and trust you me, and she is not allowed to fault or fail! And when she does fault or fail she becomes wrong, because she could not deliver. How many times are men under such pressure? There was a time when men needed to be more career conscious, but those days are gone. We are brought up in a society where boys are allowed and girls need permission, even to breathe. It’s really not about men or women here, it’s the construct of the society and the construct of the society is not breaking because a lot of women are still sleeping, they are not awake. Even if they are awake, they choose to give up without realizing that life is anyway a fight being born as a women, it depends on the battle you wish to choose for yourself. Let’s face it, you have to face patriarchy wherever you go, in different forms from different people but you do, why deny that?

We live in fear, constantly, because we are the weaker sex physically and sexually. We need to stop thinking that way. We are weak as long as we think we are weak, we hold immense capacity to handle pain, physically and emotionally and that’s why mentally we are the stronger sex, we have the capability to think and act at a multi-dimensional level, and our minds if opened can create wonder and bring eternal peace. We hold the power to love and to heal and create beautiful energies.

To untapp that we need to find what feeds our soul, yes passions, we all have our set passions that some of us manage time to indulge into it, however with feeding our passions we also need to learn to let go of fear, this comes from solo traveling. I urge each one of you reading this to travel solo to anywhere you feel like, any destination that you have been wanting to go to. Traveling solo gives you a bunch of experiences and trust me it’s not all rosy, you do come across all sorts of people, and you need to face them all fearlessly and keep your eyes on the beauty and not the rough roads.

You have one life, live it by your soul and by your rules and you will only spread good vibes and positive energy around you and by that you will only create more good energy for yourself. That is ow happiness multiplies, first keep yourself happy, not through material belongings but through going to places, knowing different people and cultures, stretching your own limits and horizons, getting out of your comfort zone. Travel, travel and travel to places.

Your death is not in your hands, you have to choose happiness every day till you’re alive, count your blessings and trust and value yourself. All this comes through solo travel.

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Here are few tips to travel solo for beginners:

  • Let go of the fear, don’t think you will be molested just because you are alone, there are good people out there, but be aware of your surroundings and be alert.
  • Build your self-confidence, tell yourself you are a whole and you can tackle any situation that you will come across
  • Meet other solo travelers and travel with them to ensure you don’t stretch your budget, and also make new friends along way
  • Research well on where you are heading, from the internet, read blogs and talk to travelers who have traveled to these places
  • Stay connected and stay safe
  • Don’t stress and enjoy your trip, learn to say no, you need to be sweet to everyone unless you are comfortable

 

So what are you waiting for? Need suggestions on where you should travel according to your taste…feel free to write to be and I’ll be happy to share my energy with you 🙂

Soul Search

20 Places You Miss if You Don’t Take the Manali – Leh OFF-Roadtrip

April 26, 2016
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” Fortune Favors the Brave”

 

I was lucky to have done the complete Manali – Leh – Srinagar Roadtrip in July 2010 in an all boys group, Back then I was sort of afraid of being judged, I was younger and less surer of myself. Gender steorotypes need to change and it is high time. Traveling has got nothing to do with gender or the no. of boys and girls in a group. I end up traveling either solo or mostly in an all boys group and all we all care about is the place and the culture, trust me, no body cares about the gender ratio in a travel group.

I know with direct flight routes opening from all Major cities, flying into Leh is an easier option, however you end up giving all your money to large scale airline companies, and don’t even get to see the best of the journey. Won’t you much rather take the road trip, ensure the money goes to local taxi drivers and enjoy fully rather than half. Here are a few places you miss if you don’t take the road trip 🙂

 

Manali:

Manali needs no introduction, a hub for travelers and backpackers around the world, a vibe you cannot forget. This is were it all begins.1

Rohtang Pass:

The first high altitude pass you cross the the high to Leh and trust me the view changes every 15 mins after crossing Rohtang Pass. Rohtang Pass in itself is majestic and extreme.

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Gramphu and Koksar

The next hault soon after Rohtang, here the road cuts for Spiti Valley incase you didn’t know 🙂IMG_0482r

Keylong:

The last fuel station, the HQ of Dist. Lahual and the last hault to fix all your problems, there is nothing after this until Leh

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Jispa,

A perfect hault incase you are tired, you still see greenery

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Darcha,

Here is where you start feeling the altitude 🙂

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Zingzingbar

Getting higher and higher and you start feeling lighter and easier.

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Baralachla Pass,

The second high altitude pass you cross after Rohtang Pass, there is not a single soul who is not hit by AMS here, I don’t mean to scare you 🙂

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Suraj Tal

Yes, you cross this beautiful high altitude lake after Baralachla, and the sight is magnificient 🙂

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Sarchu,

The border between Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir, one of the most peaceful and beautiful borders you will ever come across

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Gata Loops,

And suddenly you will notice the landscape changing, you are at a constant height of 15000ft and above from here

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Lachungla

The next high altitude pass, which is at a height of 17000 ft plus,

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Pang

I stayed here and it was surreal and unreal

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More plains,

How does a high altitude plain looks like? it looks like this 🙂

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Taglangla, the second highest recorded pass of the world.IMG_0631

Last but definitely not the least Upshi

Upshi gives you a feel like Kashmir valley, pink mountains

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Hope I have been able to ignite the wanderlust in you,

please feel free to touchbase with me if you wish to know more, I’ll be happy to guide.

 

Solo Journeys Soul Search

Last Year This Time – 12 Months – 12 Soul Journeys

April 23, 2016
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“The best feeling is when you go beyond your fears and survive, happily”

This is a long pending blog that I have been waiting to compile. 2015 was a year of ends and beginnings, 2015 gave me alot and took away some real friendships. Traveling solo into my soul has always been my savior in life. Some people call it escapism, I call it loving yourself, because you are all that you got.

So here goes my travel journal for 2015:

January 2015:

Rann of Kachchh, Gujrat

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Reaching Rann of Kachchh is hardly a 6 hour drive from Ahmedabad and 1.5 hours from Bhuj. There are direct trains to Bhuj from all major cities. The best time to visit is Nov-Feb, for people who would like to explore the culture could visit during the Kachchh festival from December to February. It is a very safe place for women to travel. Kachchh has village homestays that only allow women travelers since they do not disturb the village culture and the women in the rural.

 

February 2015:

Sula Festival, Nashik, Maharashtra

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I didn’t even know something like this happens, thanks to a friend who booked this for me, who ultimately fell sick with dengue and I ended up going. I never had wine until Sula festival happened to me. A must must must experience, totally safe of solo women since its far away from Haryana 🙂 a crazy musical and wine experience.

March 2015

Tarkarli, Malvan, Maharashtra

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India is beautiful and unexplored, not many people know of Tarkarli exactly 95 kms before Goa on the Mumbai – Goa highway. For lovers of food, sea and peace, one can relish exquisite Konkan Cuisine for prices you cannot imagine. Tarkali also has beautifully beach homestays that are very affordable and offers beginner level scuba diving. If you are lucky you get to spot dolphins too.

April 2015

Kareri Lake Trek, Kangra,Himachal Pradesh

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Kareri lake is a beautiful Alpine lake trek in the Kangra dist. of Himachal Pardesh. This trek gave me the lesson of my life and made me realise that no matter what never challenge nature. Inspite of heavy rainfall predictions I still went head and got stuck, to our luck we found shelter, couldn’t complete the trek but soon again:)

 

May 2015

Chaderkhani Pass Trek, Kullu, Himachal Pardesh

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Did this trek with a group, a fairly easy trek ideal for first timers that follow a fitness regime. I went on my menstrual cycle on this trek, which was certainly effecting my stamina, drinking alot of hot liquids on a trek is the key to survive through when you start on your period. It might sound horrifying, it is not, you will survive. However, do not ever dispose used tampons in the mountains, carry them back, I did that.

 

June 2015

Beas Kund Trek, Manali, Himachal Pradesh

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This was the first time I was taking a group, as a trial. It was an experience, this is one of the most beautiful and recommended treks for all trekkers, the beauty of the valley just keeps getting better. Very doable by everyone, go for it!

July 2015

Deoriatal, Sari, Uttarakhand

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I always ended up going to Himachal and never Uttarakhand, so I decided to. Uttarakhand takes you to beauties with less physical effort in most treks. The beauty of the valley is raw and untouched. This was a solo trek, didn’t have a very good experience in terms of people but in terms of landscape, mind blowing!

 

August 2015

My Mini Tibet

Spiti Valley, Dist. Lahual Spiti, Himachal Pradeesh

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I would want you to read my blog – Lost trails are Beautiful, as this trip is very very close to my heart

 

September, 2015

Chandratal, Spiti Valley

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I missed chandratal in my first round in August, so I went back again, just to trek to the Moon Lake.

 

October 2015

Bhrigu Lake, Manali, Himachal Pradesh

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A not so easy trek with steep ascends, ideal for people who like to challenge themselves, the weather went bad again, so we couldn’t finish.

November, 2015

Puskar Festival, Rajasthan

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Read my blog on Pushkar here

 

December, 2015

Har Ki Dun Trek, Uttarakhand

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I wanted to do one multi-day trek unsupported and eco-friendly before the year ended, so I did 🙂 read my blog on Har-Ki-Dun.

 

Eco-Tourism Solo Journeys

A Walk the Talk with Myself – A No Footprint Trek To Har-Ki-Dun

April 21, 2016
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“Life is Either a Daring Adventure, Or Nothing”

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For some odd reason, I cannot get over the quote I mentioned above. It is hard to practice it, very very hard as we always feel insecure, about so many things in life. But letting go, is a really good space to be in.

It was the end of 2015, Har-ki-Dun had been on my list since long. Since it is a tea house trek, I could think of doing it unsupported, without a guide, so I did. But what was the challenge here? There was two actually – One I had to carry all my stuff myself, and second it was December end and that was the scary, challenging and exciting part.

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I was working full time, and had a very hard time to get my leaves approved. I realised that a boss probably doesn’t’ deserve to know the truth when an employee asks for a leave, my friend, a lie always gets you through better. I did manage to get away, as the Himalayas were calling me, and nothing comes in between me and the Himalayas 🙂

 

Left on the eve of Christmas for Dehradun, arrived there early morning and I cannot describe the cold I felt. Changed 4 local transports and finally made it to Sankri, the hot-spot for several treks in Uttarakhand. Taluka is from where the trek to Har Ki Dun begins, and I had also booked accommodation with dorms of Garwal Mandal Vikas Nigam at Taluka, these accommodations were cheap but questionable on hygiene. I knew I wasn’t going to bathe for the next 5 days so it didn’t bother me. Taluka, a very quite village with limited population. I decided I will not eat anything that is packaged, I only ate eggs and freshly cooked local food. I also was carrying nuts and dry fruits. Not to mention I was carrying my own water bottle and filling natural water.

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Day 1: Taluka to Seema:
Next day early morning, I began walking towards Seema- 16kms from Taluka, I had my rucksack on and as I kept walking the view kept getting better, the first half I survived happily, but the second half, the weight started to get to my back, I had to go on. As I kept walking I finally sight Osla on the other side, a sigh of relief, I knew Seema was almost there and made it to Seema after walking for 9-10 hours. By then it was evening and was getting cold. Snow was prevalent and I had crossed patches of frozen ice without crampons. As I reach there I met a few professors and a student from IIT Roorkee, they had decided not to go further and warned me too, I did get shaken for a while, I thought I’ll take a call next morning, again crashed in the GMVN post a locally cooked dinner by the local Chowkidar.

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Day 2: Seema to Har-Ki-Dun:

Woke up next morning, and yes I decided to move ahead, had fresh aloo paranthas and took off. I started with great energy and speed, and was lucky to meet a good friend and Founder – Himalayan Shelter – Mr. Bachan Rana. Bachan is a true delight, full of positive energy, he had a group of few people and honestly what amazed me the most about him is the way he was handling first time trekker. There was a girl in his group who had a sprained leg, Bachan did not let her give up, he walked the whole trail with her at her speed ensuring she completes the trek and goes back with a feeling of accomplishment. Looking at that I thought I am not a first time trekker, hence I should certainly not even think of quitting. I moved on, and once I started gaining altitude I started feeling uneasy, there was something in my head that was not letting me breathe, I didn’t know what it was. I kept walking slower, took breaks and had a break down too. Yes! I did. I want to tell people that even strong people break down emotionally, but what makes them strong is that they face their fears and emotions, they break down, they cry but they get up again, and I did exactly that.

In no time, I had reached Har-ki-Dun and I cannot explain the beauty that was in front of my eyes. I kept looking and looking the white mountains so close to me. I felt like I was in the arms of my lover which I didn’t wish to leave, ever! I had made it there, completely Eco-Friendly and unsupported.
The temperatures at night went to negative 6-7, it was freezing cold.

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Day 3 Har-Ki-Dun to Osla:
Woke up next morning to a mesmerizing sunrise, I swear I didnt want to leave, but it was too cold! Started walking towards Osla, this was the easiest 15 kms of the trek, made it there before time and decided to stay in a villagers house. Olsa has no electricity and most people there are poverty struck. I thought this will be an excellent Eco-tourism project and I wish someday I can change the course of life for people in Osla.

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Day 4: Osla to Taluka:
And so, with that thought of doing something for Osla, I slept and when I woke up I found my Iphone missing, someone had stolen it, and people there were getting offended for me blaming them. Thats when I felt that for some strange reason I am way more comfortable traveling in Himachal, I had never had any sort of strange experiences there. I was sad, upset on not finding my phone and I left Osla, this was the last leg too. This is when I came back to thinking what was bothering me, I broke down my emotions to myself and I realised that being tied was bothering me, professionally and personally. It was time I quit and start working towards my dream, I had decided I wont let anything tie me anymore, my freedom was my most priced possession, I wanted professional freedom and personal freedom. Professional freedom was a clear, struggle-sum and no looking back path, which I have taken on now and every day is a new day! personal freedom was to stop expecting and stopping attaching to people, no matter how close they are to you, and this is the harder part of life, to detach. We can never detach ourselves from fellow humans, but we can always do our bit, give them love and move on.

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Today, 5 months post the trek, I am on the path that I decided to take while hiking Har-Ki-Dun. I urge who ever reads this blog, to if not anything decide on what path you want to be on and stick to it, life is not waiting, life is happening, right now! as long as you are alive, live it with all your heart and give as much love you can, and trust me the Universe will always love you back, even if fellow humans don’t 🙂

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Not to forget, this was an Eco-Trek, I left no plastic footprint, and gave all the money I had along with an Iphone to the locals 🙂

 

Soul Search

I am Free! not “Free”

March 9, 2016
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“But all the magic I have ever know, has been created by me”

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Pic: My friend Gunjan, the world lost, a fierce free spirited woman who fought for love, lost her life, and is finally free.

 

Women, a truly beautiful creation by almighty! Women spread love and peace. One cannot even imagine the amount of pain that women take and yet stand up, most men are surely to have a break down if they ever come to dealing with the amount that a regular woman deals with. Men in history have only created violence, war and massacre. For all these years and years to come patriarchy will continue to prevail for one very simple reason, because of the biological and emotional construct of a woman. Patriarchy has turned a woman’s strength into her weakness, and that is her ability to reproduce and to endure enormous amount of physical and mental pain.

Free Women:

Who is a free woman? A woman who refuses to follow what is, a woman with a purpose, with a mind and heart of her own. A woman who has the courage to stand up for what she believes in even if the world stands against her. A woman who believes in good, doing good and spreading love and energy. She is free in her soul, she sees everyone as equal, she has the capability to look beyond gender and physical appearance of a person and identify the soul. She has the ability to look beyond society, materialism and judgement.

But what happens to free woman in this world? Some just quit and decide to carry on with a domesticated life weather or not they wanted it, but they still convince themselves that yes this is how it is supposed to be because this is how the society decided a woman should lead her life, dedicating it to her family, spouse and her children, yes and that is the definition of an ideal woman, the one who forgets about her existence, kills all her desires and puts herself to the service of others for the rest of her life. How much she receives in return, is something truly questionable.

Life is harder for the strong headed one’s, the free woman who can let go of anything but their freedom. Freedom of living the life they choose and they make and are constantly at every stage in their lives are charged guilty for it. Since their horizons are stretched through their upbringing, education, discovering their talent and of course through traveling, it is impossible for them to go back into the box the society expects them to. Even if they believe they can create the life that they dream of, the world ensures that she is beaten and broken until she dies or she goes into exile. This patriarchal and sexists world cannot handle free woman. They are a threat to masculinity, because these free women are probably more masculine then men itself. And please note, they are free! not “free”. They believe in love more than anything else, they do not believe in small talk, and cannot deal with disrespect of any form and they are open, it doesn’t mean they are easy. Know why? because they have been fighting as long as their thought can go back, and they have made their own life with their own hands, no man has gifted it to them ever on a platter, and no man or no woman holds the right to judge her or demean her. She is fearless, which is both a blessing and curse.

Why is it that I am writing this? Because I truly feel that women have a sort of a power that even they fail to identify. They live in dark and in under confidence. They do not realize that they are the one’s who hold the fort, they are the one’s who run the show.

What can you do if you are a woman?

If you are a woman reading this piece, the one and only thing that you can do to be loyal to your gender is never judge, disrespect or pull down another woman. Entering into a new era where more and more women are rising up against all odds, its time you help a few more. If you are not one and couldn’t be one, help someone fulfill their dreams, you might just find your calling along way.

And, redefine your comfort zone. You might think the life that you are living is an ideal life and you know it all too well. Its not that you know it all too well, its what has been told to you for years. We all have a beautiful gift from nature called the mind, and the mind is meant to think and to create, not to follow what is and definitely not to destroy.

Your soul has a purpose on this planet, find out what that purpose is, let curiosity lead the course of your life and let your mind be free, free from oppression, free from fear, free from people who don’t know how to treat you right.

Happy Woman’s World 🙂