The Day’s Just Starting.

The alarms went off, not the physical ones which are ever so kind and ring only when they’re supposed to and stop at your command, the alarms in context here have no sense of respect, they will come at you with a vendetta solely meant to disturb you and your balance and ironically get stronger the more you try to stop them. Apparently labelling them as anxiety, intrusive thoughts or ‘stress’ makes you more aware of them, only acting as a paradox to pull you in more towards them. I was up, immediately, unlike the days where you feel like a cocoon just not ready to open itself up, this was one where the moment you open your eyes you know it is going to be an exhausting one from the minute you are awoken, not awake. 

I didn’t shower, the thought of water trickling down my face, my body while I just sat there stirring in my own thoughts, losing the grip on my reality, almost morphing into an immovable object didn’t seem so appealing to me. I put on what I wore last night, the clothes still smelled of hope, something I needed. To make this an entirely dismal morning, I topped it off with some espresso, and it was good to go through my day feeling like shit.

I did have something to drown myself in, a social gathering at my aunt’s place and the drive was over 30kms, though I cannot say I don’t love it. It is something that puts me at ease, it is dynamic, the experience is never the same, every time it is different. You can drive through the same route for over 30 years of your life, wearing the same attire as you step into your office every day, but the people you see on the road will always be different. It’s change, the one thing associated with fear, but the one thing true to life. The realisation of the moving nature of life is a respite, it is a safe haven because the passing nature of my feelings is now in front of my eyes, all i need to do is to be (and not move my eyes away), let them displace themselves while i observe the little guy knocking on my window. He probably doesn’t even know what anxiety is, for him his fears are only limited to his tongue tasting his own saliva throughout the day, or water if he can get lucky. 

I could hear his muffled voices through the window, their sounds drowning out the voices in my head which were overflowing with anger. I pulled down my window. The trembles in his speech now clear, ‘Sir, 20 rupees only, high quality tissue paper, please sir.  Kuch nahi khaya hai subah se. Please sir.’

He had the face of every beggar I’ve come across, they tilt their heads, frown, engaging more face muscles in that activity as opposed to smiling, which really does not help their cause. But his honest attempt at the pre-trained English has led me to giving him a crisp 20 rupee note. He smiles at me, the windows in his mouth give me a clearer look at his plaque ridden gums. I move away. He is now waiting for the next set of cars to arrive while I look at him through the mirror. 

Looking at him, that desolate child who was brought into this world by his parents only to suffer everyday made me think about last night and as I was moving through space and time here in front of the wheel, while I let my body steer, I permitted my mind to wander. The couch sinking in from the weight of my body, and a paperback leading me to a world of its own, the night seemed flawless. We keep the gate of our home open, laziness being the reason here. A family of three walked in, I put down my book, the couch returning back to its original shape as I greeted them. I didn’t know we were expecting guests. 

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The man was a distant relative, and had the marks of struggle all over his body, his beard probably around the third day of him not shaving, the eyes expressing nothing but exhaustion and drowsiness, and his smile gave a peek into his teeth being red, probably from him chewing paan, his anchor to his painful reality. He smelled of despair and his aura was contagious. You could see the same colours on his wife, her distinct forced smile as she greeted my mother hinting at the frayed relationship they had. What stood out amongst this humble family was their 4 year old child, who was supposed to tie them together but now was probably another reminder of their unhappiness, the intentional knot was now an obligation. 

He has the average height of a 4 year old, skinny, but had a mouth full of teeth and a black dot at the corner of his forehead, ironically to ward off evil energies. The father sat besides me and started making small talk while my mother and his wife went in the kitchen to let their woes out. I don’t enjoy involuntary conversations, but i felt pity for that man. Whenever reality gets too painful you shift towards imagined ones because they seem hopeful. I knew he would be excited about movies as I am no stranger to the pleasures of an escape to a fictional world. I ask him, ‘Did you see that new show on Bombay Mafia which was released recently?’ I could sense my speech imitating his.

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His eyes lit up and I knew what I needed to do next. 

Smiling through his decayed gums, he went on, ‘solid show hai yaar, jhakaas. I love the man’s acting. I finished the whole thing in one night. You need to download it right now. I love watching these series. It’s my favourite timepass. Bhaari hai ye sab. Ekdum best’

I wanted him to go on even though I had seen it, so I pose my next question, ‘Recommend me some? Tell me about your recent favourites.’

As he continued with his boring description of supposed cinematic masterpieces, I noticed the child. Since the time he entered the home, he hasn’t sat in one place, or had engaged in a particular activity completely. He was running from one room to the next, falling, curiously checking out the trophies which mother had displayed in the living room, running again, outside the home, coming back in, waving to his father whom i suppose he loves, taking a bite out of the chocolate i had offered him, then moving again. He was hyperactive. I paid attention for a few minutes and realised he probably had ADHD. 

I cut his father off while he is now absent from the living room, ‘Is he like this at home too?’

Seriousness now being the dominant emotion, he says, ‘All the time, he can never stay in one place man. It’s like there is a spring in him which makes him jump all the time. He tires me out yaar.’ I wanted to say something in that moment, but I knew my words wouldn’t have been received well. I continued to listen to him, I got the sense that’s something he needed, and didn’t have the privilege of, his day only permitting him tiny slivers of pleasure through his phone screen. I wondered whether the child will go through his whole life without being noticed, by the people that brought him here? The question is heavier than what I can take that night. I let go.

Conclusions regarding this memory allowed me to reach my aunt’s with a raging headache. I attribute it to the stress of forced conversations that were to follow. The ignition stops, but my mind’s still running. I stay there for a while and let myself breathe. The day’s just starting.

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13 Things I Learnt During COVID19 Lockdown

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1. Being a homemaker is tough and under appreciated

I’ve seen it everywhere around me, that homemakers don’t get close to as much appreciation as he/she should. That we as fellow family members should be more thankful and vocal about our gratitude towards them, but we simply fail to do so.

During the last 6 weeks, while the entire country was in lockdown and all sorts of services were put on a halt, one service that affected every other household in India was the unavailability of househelp, maids, etc.

These are the people who did all of the most basic chores of our household like cleaning, washing, etc. While everyone in my house shared these chores amongst ourselves, I realised how much work my mother put in despite all the help she got. It was only when I started helping her in her chores that I realised how exhausting it was.

I always knew a homemaker’s job was thankless, but I had no idea it was that difficult as well. We’ve got to do better than just be appreciative.

2. Cooking is the easy part

Let’s face it. Dicing vegetables and cooking with precise ingredients and recipes isn’t easy. However, if there is anything more taxing than cooking good food and enjoying it, it is to go back to your sink and clean your mess on a full stomach when you’re feeling the laziest you could ever feel during the day.

3. Thank god for modern technology and appliances

We simply don’t talk about these enough cause they’ve become such an organic part of our daily livelihood. The washing machines, steam irons, every kitchen appliance that exists, a hoover and even something as basic as a spinning mop. Imagine spending an hour to wash clothes by hand, requiring all the upper body strength that it does and then moving on to do all the other chores in the house.

Now I am privileged to the point where my family owns a dishwasher too, amongst all these appliances and I have to admit it, I am so thankful. Doing the dishes was a part of my chores and 4 days in, I already had my skin peeling off and other cuts.

A little ironic isn’t it?

These hands can lift a 100 kilos easily, but 4 days of doing dishes and its blister season!

4. Privileges of a big home

I as a member of this family, am extremely privileged to live in a home that is big enough to have a separate room for all the people living under it. We can easily walk into our rooms when we need our own space and enjoy each other’s company during other hours.

It was only after listening to a few other people and discussing this at length with my folks did it dawn on me that the average size of a house in India is 494 sq-ft. while it is close to 125 sq-ft in a slum area and these homes house an equivalent number or more members than living in my home. These people have nowhere to go except out of their houses which is impossible during this period.

5. You don’t need a gym to workout

I have always been a strong advocate of bodyweight exercises. They are more than sufficient for a person to get fitter and healthier and help avoid a great deal of risk and injury. You can find a list of benefits of a body weight workout on this page : Benefits of a body-weight workout .

More so, they don’t require you to spend any money on buying any sort of equipment or later finding space to store those equipments. They may not be enough if you want to beef up or become a professional body builder, but otherwise they’re as good as it gets. Calisthenics is a serious form of fitness that focuses simply on body weight workouts and is followed by thousands of individuals.

A simple and very effective body weight routine can be found here : Full Body Workout At Home – No Equipment .

6. Chores are a workout in itself

In its traditional form, sweeping and traditional forms of mopping or swabbing require a lot of physical effort and work almost every major muscle in your body. Take modern machines away and washing clothes by hand is also a great test of your shoulders and arm strength and overall a good test of your cardiovascular health.

Take something like a lift away and carrying your groceries to your home over a flight of stairs could be more taxing than you could’ve ever imagined.

7. Efficiency

With the unavailability of maids and other househelp, as well as the onus of working from home, it became increasingly important for us to plan our day. With the few hours I’d need for work, I also needed a few hours to carry out my share of chores and additionally, I’d decided to atleast spend an hour for my health. This made it very important for me to plan my day and be efficient, so as to not defer my tasks or be unproductive.

I could not have imagined I’d get lessons on efficiency within the 4 walls of my own home.

8. Decision making and planning

With the lockdown procedures in place as well as some other additional lockdown procedures in our apartment building, we only had 2 out of 7 days (Monday and Tuesday) to step out and get groceries or get done with other tasks. We couldn’t step out otherwise and neither did we wish to unless there were some extraordinary circumstances. Social distancing and safety will always be a bigger priority.

Hence it became imperative for us to list all the groceries and essentials that we’d need and plan our grocery runs accordingly and make a list of all of our tasks, so as to not get stuck or seek special permissions to get our tasks done.

9. What’s your excuse now?

I have always wanted to learn new skills, read more books, rehearse my guitar lessons, etc etc. For the longest time, I told myself it’s very difficult and I am not able to do it because I have a very busy schedule and work kept me occupied; that I was too tired after work to workout and too mentally exhausted to read something new.

What I’ve realized now is that work was just an excuse for me to get out of these things. I haven’t read for more than an hour a day during a time when I am sitting on a chair 12 hours a day, when I have nothing better to do than watch some television and do some chores. I could’ve also taken up online lessons, but I never got around to doing it either.

The lesson I learnt is, if I really wanted to do those things, I would’ve found a way to do them anyway. Maybe not dedicate a lot of time to it, but begin somewhere. This lockdown has given me a big reality check and has been a real eye opener.

10. Learning is Ageless

To be fair, it’s not just little children who pick up new hobbies and stumble onto previously undiscovered skills. Single, married, kids, no kids, whatever your age … learning is for all. Now, more than ever, we have time to watch webinars and pursue online classes, and take up fitness challenges or journaling.

My father has been the closest example of this. He’s now taking cooking lessons from my mother while also going through recipes online to mix things up and add some spice to a boring day.

11. Money matters and Financial Literacy

In these torrid times when there’s a global economic slowdown, huge conglomerates are filing for bankruptcy leading to job cuts going all around, it is very important that each person understands the importance of financial literacy, which means personal finance as well as family finances.

Calculating inflows and making subsequent budgets are the need of the hour. The importance of financial discipline can be highlighted now more than ever.

12. Relationships take more than love and communication is very important

COVID19 has forced almost the entire planet to be in quarantine for extended periods at some point or the other. Countries like Italy, Spain, India, etc. announced a mandatory complete lockdown for 6 weeks or longer to ensure safety of it’s citizens. In these circumstances, every relationship is practically thrown into being long-distance because you simply cannot see your partner for atleast this period if not more.

It is during this period that you begin to realize the little holes in your relationships. Things that got mitigated and overlooked during those coffee meets and movie dates and intimate moments.

13. Community sharing is the need of the hour

Be it sharing of knowledge, financial help or other intangibles; it is our duty as humans and participants of a community to help others who are not as fortunate and struggling in their fight for survival. Humanity right now demands nothing more than selflessness and empathy from us. Every person amongst us should find a way to contribute in whatever little way we can. That is the only way forward.

-The Travellothoner

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Summary : A grumpy yet loveable man who finds his world turned on its head when a young family moves in next door.

Synopsis : This book, as the title suggests, circles around every little detail that happens around Ove and his daily way of living.

This is a man who is very tightly bound between his principles and routines and doubts everything and everyone that don’t have a set of rules to live by. He is particularly opinionated about a person based on the car they drive and nothing is good enough unless it’s a ‘Saab’. In his opinion, everything happening outside his rules, is an agenda or a conspiracy against humanity. As the book progresses into more detail, it gives out an explanation for each one of Ove’s peculiar behaviours and enlightens the fact that this grumpy old man has a big heart (literally) and underneath this hardened exterior is a soul that’s purer than most people on this planet.

Review : In the beginning, this book seems like nothing more than about a grumpy old man who’s set in his way with no room for adaptation or change. To be honest, when I first began reading this it was difficult for me to hang on to it because I am not used to this kind of writing.

This book is divided into a total of 39 chapters and an epilogue, each chapter not more than a few pages and each chapter talking about something different initially and slowly picking up and continuing the story and pushing it forward a little.

It feels somewhat like a game of ‘Snakes and Ladders’. With each chapter you go a little further into the story and towards the end, but the next chapter pulls you all the way back to the past giving elaborate reasoning for Ove’s behaviour in the present.

What initially seems like a compilation of random chapters slowly pans into an elaborate love story of a man who simply existed but never lived until he met a woman and then goes back to just existing after she’s gone. It sends out a strong message of how powerful love is and how it could influence a person’s actions and  behaviour. Ove, a stubborn man without her by his side, is heavily influenced by his father’s teachings and strives for perfection because he believes that’s the only way to do things.

To conclude, this story will take you on a journey from just knowing about Ove to rooting for him in the end. Simply be patient cause it will give you every kind of closure that you need, tie each loose end and not leave you hanging in any way. It is a nice, elegant, simple and beautiful read!

-The Travellothoner

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A Letter To My Doctor – Bestfriend During The COVID19 Pandemic!

Dear bestfriend,

You know, it is already difficult that a person you feel so close to, lives a few thousand miles away from you on a totally different continent. But it is all the more difficult with your profession and these torrid times, that a man cannot help but worry even after all the assurances he’s given. But that is also not why I am writing to you.

I don’t know if I’ve said this before, but I do know I’ve not said it enough. So here goes:

Thank you so so much best friend. Thank you so much for the profession you chose and the job you do. I mean, I always knew it was not easy and I cannot fathom how you gather the courage to go through it everyday, knowing the fact that you’re putting yourself at risk but going through with it anyway.

It takes an incredibly huge hearted human being to be able to do that. The lives you better and the lives you save, I honestly don’t think there’s anything more Nobel on the planet. So I say it again, thank you!

A big big Thank you on my behalf, on my family’s behalf and every other human being out there. And an equally big thank you to all of your colleagues and fellow peers and people in this field of medicine. Y’all make this world a better place.

On a more personal note though, I love you. You’re a wonderful and an amazing human being and it is a privilege for me to have you as a friend and acquaintance. All I’d like to add is, while you’re out there taking care of the world, you will always have me in your corner. I’m always there if you wanna talk, vent or just stay silent across the phone for an hour cause you don’t wanna eat alone.

I had to say it out loud. But genuinely, thank you for your service. I may not have received them personally, but I am grateful that you do what you do anyway. You’re one very amazing human being. Take care.

Lots and lots of love,

The Travellothoner.

Becoming By Michelle Obama

I was really looking forward to reading this book because I thought I’d get an insight of what it was like living in the White House and what it was like to be the First Lady. But this book is so much more than that.

Celebrity memoirs are often like fondant-covered cakes, laboured to blemish-free visual perfection, but dry and claggy on the inside. In Becoming, ‘Michelle Obama’ can sometimes be accused of the same, but where she is ‘Michelle Robinson’, the young black girl growing up in the rough and tumble of Southside Chicago, she serves up an account so honest and raw, that the book can only be compared to a Christmas pudding — rich, deep and authentic. While the latter part of her life is fairly well known, the first third of the book honestly explains who she is, anchoring her to the role she will eventually play.

This book is Michelle Obama talking about her life right from when she was born in the South Side, Chicago all the way upto the end of President Obama’s second term. To begin with, this book talks heavily about how family, friends, her job, etc. have had an influence on the kind of values the author possesses. It is easy to notice how having loving, respectful and open minded parents contributed into her being the woman that she is.

She talks extensively about being a black woman being born in a black community and locality, the cultural changes she faced as she changed schools or jobs, her experience with racism, etc.

A woman who was driven by her thirst for knowledge and excellence and who wanted nothing from her folks except a hot meal and money to travel to school. Her grounded upbringing and responsible attitude are further highlighted when she sails through her career or takes up projects as the First Lady.

Further, the book talks about her first meeting with Barack Obama, her first impressions of him and how he was a human being. She talks (almost boasts) about his extraordinary wit, how he is as a partner and lawyer, and how he handled his way through political campaigns and presidency.

This book is nothing but an example of what happens when hard work, grit, determination and talent are channeled in the right direction. I personally cannot help but feel inspired and learn from the author, of how every big or small incident in her life encouraged her to learn and grow.

-The Travellothoner

Raavan : Enemy Of Aryavarta By Amish Tripathi

The third instalment in the Ram Chandra series, Raavan: Enemy of Aryavarta, follows Raavan’s life, set in 3400 BC. A fierce warrior, brilliant scholar, ruthless businessman, powerful king, artist, musician and statesman all rolled into one, Raavan is known in mythology as the villain who kidnapped Sita, wife of mythical god Ram, in the epic Ramayana.

Instead of a unidimensional villain as in Ramayana, Raavan is human  flawed, a genius and a strong personality capable of extreme devotion on one hand and horrifying cruelty on the other.

The series based on the 3 most important participants of the Ramayana,’Ram’, Sita’ and ‘Ravan’ run in parallel. It talks about their story from birth upto a certain event where they’re lined together. The fourth books takes the series forward. However, each is an independent story and does not necessarily require reading the previous books first.

It does seem like a daunting task, especially since the author has to make sure the 3 stories are factually aligned and don’t deviate from one another. Another aspect that I really like is that every books enriches the story of the previous books by providing a different perspective of the same plot.

Secondly, I don’t know if this is the author’s brilliance or lack thereof, but the book is written in a very nice, simple and straightforward way. There isn’t a use of heavy literature, and personally, that made the book more enjoyable for me to read.

One thing that is a little unsettling is the lack of explanation of a few terms. For anyone who has read the writer’s first Trilogy, “The Shiva Trilogy”, some of these terms are nothing but a part of vocabulary because of their lengthy explanation and repeated use. However, it is not the same case with this series. It seems as if the author expects the reader to know these terms, and proceeds with a one line explanation.

For example, “Somras” is an elixir that prolongs life, which is explained in detail in the first trilogy and not in the current one. Another example is “Nagas”, which also originates and is lengthily explained in the first trilogy. Personally, I am someone who tries to visualise and imagine Fiction, and hence reading the first trilogy beforehand helped me with this book. Having said that, it is still satisfactorily explanatory and not something the reader wouldn’t understand.

But at its heart, Raavan: The Enemy of Aryavarta is a love story. It’s moving in its simplicity and there are parts that are overwhelmingly grief-stricken, albeit the narrative isn’t nuanced nor layered and the emotional thread that runs through the book is straightforward, touching on cliches of love and loss. But it is in this plainness that readers will probably find the greatest resonance.

It is also about choices; the ones we make on a moment-­by-moment basis, which weave together the tangible and intangible webs of our lives, practical and spiritual. At every step, Raavan is presented with two options, and his choices determine the course of his life and shape the man he becomes – ruthless and a pawn in the hands of the gods.

All in all, I enjoy reading fiction every once in a while after reading a few biographies or some self-help book or philosophy. And this book was every bit as entertaining and fun.

-The Travellothoner

Gone Girl

To begin with, I made it a point to read the book first before I saw the movie, cause I personally prefer all the very minute details and emotions a book can cover, that a movie never could. It is impossible to cover a 400 page book into a 2 hour movie and not skip details. However, a picture does speak a thousand words and that makes me wonder if the movie does justice to the book.

I know what you’re thinking. It was a brilliant movie, critically acclaimed and surely did the book justice. And I wouldn’t question it if someone came up to me and said the exact same words. But what makes the difference for me is the effort that a writer takes. To use nothing but words, to paint a word picture of the characters, the scenes, the surroundings, the emotions is so much more difficult to do. Especially when it stems from nothing but the writers imagination.

Do that successfully and you’re a bestseller, fail at it or simply getting close to doing that and its a bust. Having said that, here is an opinion on how I find the book to be (bear in mind, that I haven’t seen the movie yet):

Published in 2012, the book takes you to the lead characters Amy and Nick’s college days of how they meet at a party, have an instant connection but cannot initiate a romantic affair for a long time, thanks to some unfortunate circumstances. And like in any story, it’s simply all sunshine and rainbows, with instant spark between the two, when they do end up together, until it all slowly goes downhill.

I am going to refrain from saying anything further, so as to avoid any spoilers (although most people have an idea of it by now) and because I am not sure where to draw the line.

The first half of the book is pretty slow (and at times boring), and I really feel like skipping a chapter or two to get to the good part. The first 200 pages are all about character development, setting up the plot, the relationship amongst the characters and about the events that eventually lead to the crux of the book, making it the thriller that its supposed to be. Honestly, had I not known about the critical acclaim for the book (and al the hype), I would’ve lost all interest, and read it simply to satisfy my OCD.

And believe me, I would’ve missed out on an amazing story (in parts). Manage to get through the first half of the book, and the second half will literally have all your attention. The once boring characters and plot will manage to grip on to you, in a way you’ll be so dissatisfied if you don’t finish it. All it takes is one tiny 10 page chapter for the book to shift gears from slow to overdrive.

And what a lovely way its written!

What I love the most about this book, is the role reversal from the supposed hero who becomes the villain and vice versa. And I have always had a thing for when I find myself rooting for the bad guy (Like Leonardo Dicaprio in “Catch Me If You Can” or “The Wolf Of Wall Street”).

I am living the entire book again as I write this, wanting to share my excitement with you, thanks to the way everything unfolds (although it’s only a small part of the second half of the book). It almost surprised me at how easily the author managed to get me on the edge of my seat, and I often found myself chewing my nails in nervous disbelief as I read one page after another. But I don’t know. For some reason, I am not the happiest guy when it comes to the ending. Call me a cliche, but I would’ve preferred it to end differently. This book doesn’t have an ending, but just an end.

Although an ardent reader, I always have a tough time getting hooked to a book for the first 50 pages or so. There have rarely been books that manage to get my undivided attention from the first page. And although this book takes significantly longer to get my attention, I march on like a gritty soldier and seem to understand the hype later on.

Would I recommend this book?

Yes. It is good writing and definitely better than a lot of books I’ve read.

Will it blow your mind?

Probably not. Especially if you’re a Sydney Sheldon or Agatha Christie fan and know your way around a thriller.

Tell me how you find this review, and please do share your views in the comments below. Thank you.

-The Travellothoner.

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

The story revolves around a guy (our lead) who goes by a few names ranging from Lindsay/Lin who later gets his Indian name ‘Shantaram’ while on one of his adventures in a village in India.

Shantaram is about a man who in one life was a robber/thief and who escapes a maximum security prison in Australia, somehow finds his way to New Zealand, forges his passport and flies to Bombay (now Mumbai), India. Leaving his past life behind, he starts afresh and somehow immediately falls in love with everything the city and its people have to offer.

As a man who is keen to start a new life and thanks to his unique sense of belongingness in the city and due to his limitations on travelling further, he starts living in the city more like a local than a foreigner. He finds a bestfriend/little brother in Prabakar who shows him the way through the city.

From entering the city as a fugitive to spending months in a village with Prabakar, moving from a cheap hotel to the slums due to financial constraints, falling in love with a woman who’s conflicted about it within herself, getting beaten to near death in jail to finding his way into the mafia, learning about their trades, making paternal and brotherly ties with people and finding himself in Afghanistan to keep his word, this man will do everything you ask him to.

One of the things that makes this book very different for me from others, is the number of characters it has and their presence. Normally, a book may have 2-3 lead characters and the rest supporting characters that occupy not more than a chapter at max barring a few. Shantaram differentiates itself from the rest in this aspect, thanks to the occurrence and reoccurrence of a varied number of characters with a strong presence and with their own stories.

Gregory David Roberts does an excellent job of pacing this book all through its 1000 pages. The book becomes extremely interesting and fast in a few chapters, whereas takes a turn when the characters talk about life and philosophy which makes a reader think and ponder about their own life and living. But this isn’t even what makes the book so interesting.

It isn’t about the journey of Lin’s life, neither about the philosophy that it discusses nor about love or family or any one particular aspect. The entire writing in itself is so simple and yet so extraordinary that it just manages to catch you. There is just something so special about the author using simple words to touch your heart. The way the book manages to take you on its journey and create a word picture is extraordinary.

Shantaram is for everyone. Whether you like fiction or non-fiction, whether you prefer a thriller or a mystery, whether you like self-learning books or whether you like books that make you think; Shantaram has it all. Amongst the 100 books I’ve read, I haven’t come across something like this and I am here to tell you, this is the best book I’ve read in 23 years of my existence, and a book I cannot recommend enough.

-The Travellothoner

A Reality Check

I was looking forward to seeing you all week,

Your presence was all my heart would seek.

And as soon as I saw you my heart skipped a beat,

“This girl is so special” I just wanted to tweet.

 

I sat across you and we got talking,

Your pleasant presence always so warming.

And slowly with time everyone else came along,

And you felt as distant to me as Hong Kong.

 

And with time only my insecurity grew,

When your attention was dividend amongst a select few.

In that moment I lost all my hope and belief,

And slowly I started sinking in my own grief.

 

It was too much for me and I wanted to leave,

The second I saw you touch his hand like you once did with me.

I know I’m overthinking and there was never anything between us,

But I simply cannot let it go without making a fuss.

 

Its pathetic to think this way and I know I am wrong,

And I know to me you don’t belong.

A part of me wished I hadn’t come all along,

Save myself the torture and try to be strong.

 

But who am I kidding its you we’re talking about,

A smile from you can simply wipe me out.

I don’t know what to do of all the things I am capable,

But I want to make sure I don’t make you uncomfortable.

 

This feeling is temporary and I know it won’t stay for long,

When I wake up tomorrow only you I’ll want.

I’ll keep fighting and I’ll always hope for a miracle,

But you probably won’t ever see my struggle.

 

The fight is going to be more within me,

Make sure this insecurity doesn’t get the better of me.

My impulses are raging and I want to act out,

Got to keep them in check to avoid a lashing out.

 

Writing about this I feel so stupid,

As stupid as when I got you those gifts.

So many questions I have inside me,

And someday I hope they just help make a “we”.

 

-The Travellothoner

A Day In Mumbai!

Recently, I took up the duty to show an acquaintance across my city and give them an idea of what Mumbai really is. I just had about 5-6 hours on hand and decided to make the most of it. The idea was to show them the raw energy the people of Mumbai possessed and it’s rich culture that included the iconic buildings the Britishers left us.

Kala-Ghoda-Cafe-frontOur trip began with having lunch at the renowned ‘Kala Ghoda Cafe’. A cafe that is listed in the city’s “Must Go To” cafes as well as a recommendation on Trip Advisor. It is a small, quaint cafe hidden amidst the narrow streets of the city. It took us a few minutes to find it, but it was totally worth the effort. A cafe that has a menu with vegan and gluten free options, richly cooked food and some amazing beverages.

Since we’d decided to see Mumbai in its true light, we conferred it was best if we walked through the streets than drive around everywhere. The closest and our first destination was The Asiatic Library.

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The Asiatic Society of Mumbai is a learned society in the field of Asian studies based in Mumbai, India. It can trace its origin to the Literary Society of Bombay which first met in Mumbai on 26 November 1804, and was founded by Sir James Mackintosh. It was formed with the intention of “promoting useful knowledge, particularly such as is now immediately connected with India”.

The library of the Society has over a hundred thousand books out of which 15,000 are classified as rare and valuable. It also has priceless artefacts and over 3,000 ancient manuscripts in Persian, Sanskrit and Prakrit, mostly on paper but some on palm leaf. The numismatic collection of 11,829 coins includes a gold coin of Kumaragupta I, a rare gold mohur of Akbar and coins issued by Shivaji. Its map collection comprises 1300 maps. This library holds 1 of the 2 copies of Dante’s Divine Comedy.

Right besides the Asiatic Library are the old abandoned buildings which are now taken over by The Indian Navy. You’ll find a finely painted mural on its walls which tells you about what exists beyond those walls. From here, we walked through the streets towards the famous Colaba Causeway.

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The Causeway has found it’s way into various books by some renowned writers who spent some time here in the city back in the 80’s and early 90’s. One of the most famous ones being in the book ‘Shantaram’ by Gregory David Roberts.

bombay-natural-history-society.jpgOn our way towards the causeway, we walked past the Bombay Natural History Society, Regal Cinemas and The Maharashtra Police Headquarters.

Since our guest had just recently seen “Hotel Mumbai” based on the terror attacks that took place on 26th November 2008, they also wanted to see the locations that were affected. Accordingly, the next location was The Gateway of India and The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel.

The Gateway of India is an arch-monument built in the early twentieth century in the city of Mumbai erected to commemorate the landing in December 1911 at Apollo Bunder, Mumbai (then Bombay) of King-Emperor George V and Queen-Empress Mary, the first British monarch to visit India.

The gateway was used as a symbolic ceremonial entrance to British India for important colonial personnel. It has been called a symbol of “conquest and colonisation” commemorating British colonial legacy. The gateway is also the monument from where the last British troops left India in 1948, following Indian independence. It is located on the waterfront at an angle, opposite the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel and overlooks the Arabian Sea. These are some of the most visited tourist spots in the city today.

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The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, is a heritage, five-star, luxury hotel built in the Saracenic Revival style in Colaba historically known as the “Taj Mahal Hotel” or the “Taj Palace Hotel” or simply “the Taj”.

Part of the Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces, this hotel with its 560 rooms and 44 suites is considered the flagship property of the group; it employs some 1,600 staff. The hotel is made up of two different buildings: the Taj Mahal Palace and the Tower, which are historically and architecturally distinct from each other (the Taj Mahal Palace was built at the start of the twentieth century; the Tower was opened in 1973). The hotel has a long and distinguished history, having received many notable guests, from presidents to captains of industry and stars of show business. The hotel is notorious as the most visible target of the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

From here, we headed to Leopold Cafe nearby. The cafe has been mentioned extensively in the novel Shantaram and its sequel The Mountain Shadow. Cafe Mondegar is another cafe just a 2 minute walk away from Leopold Cafe. 

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It was founded in 1871 by Iranis. It first started out as a wholesale cooking oil store and over the years has variously been a restaurant, store and pharmacy (hence the name “Leopold Cafe & Stores”). Prior to the terrorist attack, it was particularly known as a popular hangout for foreign tourists. After the attack, it is also now also popular with many Indians to commemorate the spirit of defiance. The Leopold Cafe has preserved some of the signs of the attack as a memorial, whereas at the Taj and Trident, the damage from the attacks has been repaired.

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We spent almost 2 hours heckling, negotiating and shopping at the street stalls right outside the cafe. One can score a huge bargain here and it’s quite fun. Moving further, we hit our last spot of the evening, which was The Trident Hotel and then spent time walking along Marine Lines and just sitting by the sea and listening to the water.

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One notable spot that we missed out on was The Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, which if you aren’t aware of too well, you’d mistake with the police headquarters.

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This was our entire afternoon and evening spent in Mumbai. An ideal trip and bunch of locations to cover if you have just 1 day to sightsee or explore.

Regards,

The Travellothoner.

 

I Remember You

I remember you smiling everyday,

A smile that took my breath away.

 

I remember your laugh so contagious,

Effortlessly lifting my mood so serious.

 

I remember your scent so beautiful,

The strings of my heart it’d pull.

 

I remember your hair so pretty,

It’d flip my day so shitty.

 

I remember the human being that you are,

Loving you has left me a forever scar.

 

I remember the night we said our goodbyes,

Lightening and rain pouring from those heavenly skies.

-The Travellothoner

5 Signs You’re Overtraining

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Disclaimer : I don’t own this article. It has been taken from the link below : https://www.bodybuilding.com/content/overtraining-signs-and-solutions.html

You’ve been going hard in the gym—working your legs, chest, arms, shoulders, and every other muscle to reach your goals. But are you going too hard? Working too much? Could you be overtraining yourself? Yeah, you might be.

The dictionary states, “Overtraining is a common problem in weight training, but it can also be experienced by runners and other athletes. It occurs when the volume and intensity of the exercise exceeds an individual’s recovery capacity. They cease making progress, and can even begin to lose strength and fitness.”

The Signs Of Overtraining:

  • Persistent muscle soreness
  • Elevated resting heart rate
  • Increased susceptibility to infections
  • Increased incidence of injuries
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Loss of motivation
  • Insomnia
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss

Rest Is Key

To see improvement in one’s strength and fitness they must rest. The rest period following hard training is a magical process which takes at least 36 hours to complete. By skimping on rest, complete regeneration cannot occur.

(You can check out our post on rest and recovery here : Health & Fitness 1.3 – Recovery )

If the amount of training continues to exceed the rest period, however, the individual’s performance will plateau and decline. If Jennifer continues to neglect the rest time her body needs, she will indeed get weaker and may experience injuries.

Solutions

1. Taking A Break

Taking a break from training to allow time for recovery. In knowing that you may be doing more harm than good at the gym, set aside today and tomorrow as a break. Some people allow one week away from fitness to revive their bodies and mind, and then when they return to training, they have more focus and are enjoying themselves again.

2. Reducing The Volume

Reducing the volume and/or the intensity of the training. If you always do five sets for each exercise, why not do just two or three, and lower the weight and focus solely on form? Strengthen your mind and muscle connection by tuning into the exercise at hand.

3. Deep-Tissue Massage

Deep-tissue or sports massage of the affected muscles. A skillfully applied massage is the most effective therapy for releasing muscle tension and restoring balance to the musculo-skeletal system. Receiving regular massages may help athletes prevent injuries, which might otherwise be caused by overuse. A constant build-up of tension in the muscles from regular activity may lead to stresses on joints, ligaments, tendons, as well as the muscles themselves.

4. Self-Massage

Self-massage of the affected muscles. Self-massage, with either with your hands or a system such as the Yamuna™ Body Rolling (BR) system featuring a specially designed 7″ ball will help with pain relief, and can be targeted to hamstrings, calves, knees, quads, shoulder and back; any muscle or joint.

People who are stiff and inflexible and have, or are prone to, injury will benefit from BR as it elongates and massages muscles and opens and flexs the joints.

5. Temperature Contrast Therapy

Temperature contrast therapy. (Ice baths, hot & cold showers, etc). This uses the body’s reaction to hot and cold stimuli. The nerves carry impulses felt at the skin deeper into the body, where they can stimulate the immune system, improve circulation and digestion, influence the production of stress hormones, encourage blood flow, and lessening pain sensitivity.

6. Proper Calorie Intake

Ensuring calorie intake matches (or possibly exceeds) caloric expenditure. When overtraining, the body may be depleted in various nutrients. To assist in the process of recovery, it’s important to ensure that a diet high in carbohydrates, lean proteins and healthy fats such as omega 3 oils is met. Carbohydrates will provide the brain with fuel, the oils help relieve depression and proteins will rebuild overtrained muscles.

7. Addressing Vitamin Deficiences

Addressing vitamin deficiencies with nutritional supplements. It is essential to get vitamins from food, however when overtraining is a concern supplementation is beneficial. Supplements should be taken in addition to meals and with meals for their essential and proper absorption.

8. Split Training

Splitting the training program so that different sets of muscles are worked on different days. Once you have rested enough for your body to recover from overtraining, be smart and plan your training split ahead of time.

“Allow at least 4 days between training a certain body part again, and always have at least one day of rest from training each week.”

This will help to prevent overtraining from occurring again. Allow at least 4 days between training a certain body part again, and always have at least one day of rest from training each week.

Conclusion

Training towards a goal can be very rewarding, and when seeing the results form, it’s hard to believe that one may ever go back to their old habits.

Allow yourself to take a break from time to time and listen to your body. It’s when we rest that the body has time to recover, rebuild, and come back stronger then before!

-The Travellothoner