Tuesday, July 29, 2014

24 Hours In The Little Rann Of Kutch

The Little Rann of Kutch, 5000 sq.m of expansive flat land is spread as far as the eye can see and is an explorer’s paradise. Home to the last of the Indian Wild Ass and other fauna like foxes, nilgau's and a variety of birds, it makes an ideal weekend getaway from the busy city of Ahmedabad.

Monsoons are not the best season to visit but since I am in India currently, we decided to drive down and explore this strange terrain. 

 Here is a recount of our 24 hours at the TheLittle Rann of Kutch that might just inspire you to make a weekend trip soon!

We leave bright and early for Dasada that borders The Little Rann. It is raining so it takes us around 2 hours to reach the resort. The roads are surprisingly clean and smooth. Other than a few animal induced traffic jams on the way, it is a pleasant drive.

Just a usual walk on the road! 
We finally reach the little village of Dasada. The RannRiders Resort is around twenty-five kilometres from The Little Rann. The resort is green and widespread. It reminds me of a little village. Our rooms are tiny mud huts. The hut verandah and its swing make an ideal place to snooze or read a book. The interiors are modern and air-conditioned. There are no TV’s so you are forced to explore the outside!

The Resort Entrance 
Home for the night
The gardens 
The resort is home to a variety of animals and birds. Surrounded by a lake on one side and endless farms on the other, it houses around ten well-bred horses, chickens, turkeys, emus, cows, peacocks and lots of lazy dogs.

We walk around the resort to build a good appetite for lunch. The staff is friendly and always smiling. They are happy to answer questions regarding the animals and the village. The stable caretaker will let you ride the horses if you know how to ride.

Hungry from our long walk, we settle in the open communal dinning room where we are served an extensive spread vegetarian and non-vegetarian Indian dishes made with local produce. The food is hearty and is served with love making it one of the best meals I have eaten in a while.

Look who came for lunch?
After an hour-long siesta, we are ready for our safari. The rain gods have heard our prayers and the sun is out!

It takes around forty minutes to reach The Little Rann. I am hoping to see the usual cracked, dry surface but monsoons have played a trick and though the land it flat, the cracks are filled and have sprouted lush, green grass!
Driving through ancient villages 
We spot herds of Nilgau’s on the exterior of The Little Rann. As we drive further into the land, we finally find the endangered Indian Wild Asses. A cross between horses and donkeys, these beautiful creatures have the strength of the donkey and are as swift as horses. They can run at around 50 kilometers per hour. Our guide and driver Ayub attempts quite a few races with them that are thrilling and fun.

The protected and endangered Indian Wild Asses 

We stop at the marshland in the middle of The Little Rann for a quick photo break and to watch hundreds of flamingos crowd the waters.

Bird watching can be a lot of fun! 
Salt pans

Ayub somehow finds his way back from this flatland that looks endless. We are back in time for a swim and ready to hog on some more food!

A little patch of cracked earth 

 The resorts pool makes an ideal setting among pink and red bougainvillea trees. The water is clean, fresh and just what we need after the thrilling safari.

Back at the dinning hall, we are served excellent barbecue and an array of North Indian fare.

The next day, we are awakened with hundreds of chirping birds and a bright blue sky. Piping hot breakfast of eggs made to order and fresh juice is served stuffing us enough for our journey back home.

An impromptu dance by one of the peacocks makes a fitting end to our twenty-four hours at The Rann Riders Resort.

The perfect goodbye! 

If the city has tired you and you want to take some time off to introspect, reflect and be amidst nature, get down to this rustic, simple place that reminds you all you have been missing in the daily city buzz. That is what it did for me!

The lowdown

How to get there – 90 km From Ahmedabad, the best way is to drive. The closest railway stations are Dharangadra and Viramgam

Service – 5 stars! The staff is friendly, attentive and caring

Rooms – If you are looking for 5 star comforts amidst nature then this is not the place to go. Nevertheless, the rooms are clean, spacious and air-conditioned. (But who is spending time indoors?)

Best time to visit – Just after the monsoons, September to November

The damage – the 24 hours package including lodging for 2 people, 3 meals (water and soft drinks are unlimited), resort facilities (riding, swimming) and a safari will burn a 7500 INR hole in the pocket

Extras – Apart from the usual safaris and horse riding, the resort arranges visits to the village to see local artisans at work

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

How Long Will You Run?

If you faced a mirror that reflected everything you have become, what would you do?

Would you buckle up and sprint in the other direction or would you stare deeply until your reflection would dissolve into nothingness.. Leaving behind mere fragments of someone you used to know.

Running is easy, convenient and simple. But every once in a while you need to slow down, face this mirror, look ahead at the road and back at what you have left and ask yourself, “How long can I run?”

Then you stay put and build the fragments again.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Love Something? Set It Free.

Back when I was growing up, circa 1996, the really cool trend of ‘friendship day’ emerged in India.
The guys at Archies Gallery rejoiced and we got a reason to look forward to the month of August.

Friendship day was all about figuring out who your real friends were. We spent hours after school trying to pick the right cards and gifts. Extra allowances were begged for and our poor parents gave in.

The 9 Gems - KISSRAPS, as we called ourselves, would have a little celebration at the coolest joint in the city - Little Chef. We would order cheese pizza, hakka noodles and cold drinks. The evening consisted of a lot of giggling, talking about boys and the exchange of gifts.

One friendship day, my friend S gave me this –

‘It’s a nice quote’, I thought and chucked it somewhere in my room.
Back in those days we were all trying to be pseudo intellectuals. Writing emotional quotes on cards and swearing lifelong friendships was the norm. I therefore didn’t pay much heed to understand what it really meant.

But for some strange reason, of all the gifts I got during those years in school, this one accompanied me from city to city.

Nineteen years later, I finally understand what S was trying to say. Perhaps it stayed with me all these years to exactly tell me what I need to hear right now.

“If you love something, set it free. If it comes back, it’s yours, if it doesn’t, it never was.”

We carry little things in our hearts that make us who we are. Snippets, memories, images, a whole lot of love and some hope.
I will always remember S for a few things – her singing, her loud laugh but most importantly for this little gift that is so cheeky but makes sense. 

Freeing something from your control is tough. Holding it back, tougher.

Looking at this gift today, I can’t help but think of my friend S and the 9 Gems.
I don’t know when, how and at what moment the 9 Gems disintegrated.
I wonder if we will ever meet again – all of us. Will we still share some giggles, a pizza and hot chocolate at Little Chef?

Somehow this gift gives me hope.
It gives me strength. It makes me brave.

Perhaps I will bump into one of them on the street someday. We will scream like crazy schoolgirls, share a bottle of wine, giggle and recite the story of our lives.

When we truly love something, it is a part of our home - our heart. 
And in the end, after all the wandering, 
One day, everyone comes back home. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Why You Are No Longer My Facebook Friend.

In one of my whimsical spring-cleaning sprees, I deleted more than fifty people from my Facebook friend list. It was liberating.

When it comes to friends, I miss the time when a few friends were enough to validate relationships and provide security. These were people we made conversations with. We picked up the phone and spoke for hours, made an effort to meet up every evening, talk of the same illogical stuff, but had a real connection.

I want to tell those who are no longer defined by the social networking standards of friendship that I have nothing against you. I am not being a social recluse and it doesn’t mean I dislike you. I will never ignore you if I see you at a coffee shop or will stop wishing you on your birthday.
You are amazing. You just don't fit in my life and here's why - 

1) You are an ex.

Anyone in your life, who is defined by a prefix EX, doesn’t need attention in the present. Memories are good enough.
Ex friends, Ex boyfriends … are they really needed in the now?

I cherish you and I thank you for everything you have given me. The love, the hurt, the good times. All of these have played a part to make me the person I am today and for that I am forever grateful. 

But at this point, I don’t need to see your amazing new life and wife on my newsfeed and you don’t need to see mine.

2) You sat three desks away from me in high school.

Did we ever speak in between classes or during lunchtime? I might have borrowed a pencil once. That’s about it. We didn’t connect then and we certainly don’t connect now.

You remind me of a time gone by. You are a hazy spec in an already fading background of my life.

Other than 30 common friends that Facebook claims we have – I don’t have anything else to share with you.

3) I have nothing to say to you.

This is my typical FB conversation with you every few months -  

You: Hey, whats up?
Me: Nothing much. What about you?
You: Hows work?
Me: Works going on man. How about you?
You: Yeah, same old.
Me: Must catch up soon, it’s been so long.
You: Ya, should do.

Lets not waste our time. Life is too short for small talk.

4) You were the third cubicle on the right.

This is an extension of the high school Facebook friend. I didn’t share my lunch with you, I didn’t gossip with you, I didn’t share my career plans with you.

You added me for reasons best known to you. I was too polite to decline.

Do I know where you work today?
The answer is NO

Good enough reason for me to let you go.

5) You are a friend’s friend

I met you at a friends wedding, we sat on the same table, had a few drinks and shared a meal.
You were excited and announced to the entire table, let me add you all on FB.
like the other five on the table, I smiled and accepted.
We never spoke after that.

I don’t think we will ever meet, or speak again.

Spring-cleaning of your wardrobe is simple. Toss clothes into two piles -
1) Clothes I love and fit into
2) Clothes I haven’t worn for a year and need to be tossed

This is exactly how every once in a while we need to evaluate our social friendships

Make an effort with the ones you love. Just don’t like their posts and photographs. Speak, converse and connect. Pick up the phone, buy that plane ticket. Life is too short. 
After the deletion spree, I emailed the people I really love and haven’t spoken with in a long time. It was hard to pen down my thoughts and write of things other than work. It took time, but soon I had replies, phone calls and hours of chats.

The People you haven’t spoken with in the longest time, the ones, who if were to call today there would be nothing you could say to them, are like the clothes you haven’t worn for a year. 
Let go. Delete. Move on.

It takes a tough gut to unfriend someone.
They will hate you.
They will think you are a snooty bitch.

But do you need five friends you can really connect with or five hundred acquaintances you can randomly stalk profiles of.

It’s a call you need to take sooner or later.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

A Spanish Tale

Sleepy white washed towns,
Silent, as if night has fallen in the day
A yawn here and a stretch there.

Towering mountains over a deep blue sea,
Glistening sunlight on stark white waves,
Inviting black sand stretching it's arms, calling me to sink deep.

Lazy afternoons and long siestas,
Loud conversations that never end.
Mosaics on a blue sky, 
As I look up
Opening my eyes from a deep slumber,
Smiling at the sun for playing hide and seek. 

Not a care in the world, not a worry in sight.
If this is life
I wonder, where was I all this while? 

Nerja, Spain 
June 2,2014


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