The Joy Ride In Toy Train

A quaint little station, nestled in the heart of Nilgiris, surrounded by lush greenery and architecture right out of the British era – this is how one aptly describes the Wellington Railway Station. It is a tiny station that reminds you of the old world charm. Usually quiet and draped in nonentity the station fails to attract much attention. But all that changes as the train whistle is heard coming closer and closer. The gentle rumbling sound of the train is an omen for the station to leave behind its lethargy and come to life. The excitement in one and all present at the station, be it old or young is equally eminent and contagious.

The Blue colored toy train graces the Wellington Railway Station with just one minute of stoppage. But the entire staff on board is extremely helpful and will get you seated before the train moves forth. The train itself is a reminder of the fact that journey in hills is best enjoyed through wide eyes and open windows.

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As the train chugs onward from the Wellington Railway Station, a little cheer goes up from the crowd as the true journey into the Nilgiris actually begins now. Between Wellington and Ooty the train stops at Aravankadu, Ketti and Lovedale respectively. The spread of nature that is presented before eyes is breathtaking and awe inspiring. Small hamlets, green tea gardens, tall trees and dense foliage presents an interesting collage of different shades of green with a splatter of colors thrown here and there. The rolling landscape is not only pleasing to the eye but refreshes the soul as well with its abundance of beauty. At every curve and bend, the entire length of the train can be seen easily. This makes for many little heads popping out of the windows.

Before reaching Ooty the train passes through two tunnels. The sudden darkness encountered is evaded by the twinkling yellow lights in the interior of the toy train. For kids especially, this aspect of the journey is most beguiling. The slow climb uphill is hardly felt barring the dropping temperatures.

 

When the journey is exciting, adventure is bound to happen. Our adventure commenced at the Wellington Railway Station itself where we (me, my mother-in-law, my friend and our four kids) came to know that the train was coming full and we might not get tickets. The children were upset and disheartened to hear that. But thankfully, our guardian angels were doing overtime and hence saved the day for us. To top it all, the children managed to find window seats where there were none available. The moment we reached Ooty, we saw a never ending line of people already waiting to board the train. Alas by now our angels were also tired and decided to call it a day.

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The next order of business was to find transport back to Wellington. Stepping out of the Ooty Railway Station we saw the bus stop just across the road. Armed with the knowledge of English we identified a nearly empty bus leaving for Coonoor. Our ride back in the local state transport bus was much quicker. At Coonoor we hailed an auto rickshaw to take us till Wellington. Once there we retrieved our parked car and went home with lighter bags ( since the children had managed to make extensive headway into the stash of snacks) and tired children.

 

Our joy ride in the toy train had become a lesson for our kids in the different kinds of transport on wheels. We started from the train and moved to a bus, an auto rickshaw and finally a car. But come what may, the excitement in children for the toy train remains unfazed. They want to go travel in it one more time (although not necessarily the last one). Through their never ending enthusiasm and eagerness, we too shall live our childhood once again.

 

Give me some sunshine,

Give me some rain,

Give me another chance,

I want to grow up once again.

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An Adventurous Drive

The first opportunity to take a breather came in the form of the first RE-break. It was a time for the mere “Student Owls”, to poke their heads out from their nests and spread their wings, to get a glimpse into the real world. Three days presented a chance to pack in as much adventure, fun, and enjoyment as possible. Following the mob mentality, we too decided it was time to explore and venture out. Our choice of destination was Mysore or Mysuru as it is now called.

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Thanks to friends and good company my husband was not the designated driver this time and hence could enjoy the sights throughout the drive. But he still had the obligation of being the responsible navigator. So with the help of a data pack he set course on the Google Maps. The drive began on an uneventful note. As we left Wellington, the weather was cloudy yet cool, with a little breeze. Lots of conversations and jokes being exchanged mile after mile made for an enjoyable journey. Things started looking up after we reached Ooty. The so-called breeze had picked up in intensity and the clouds had started showering their blessings.

On the outskirts of Ooty the GPS pointed us to go straight ahead but an uninformed passerby, along with some prior knowledge of the navigator, we decided to take the alternate route. This route was full of dense foliage and huge trees. The breeze had developed into strong winds accompanied with mild showers. A few more miles ahead and we came across our first fallen tree. It was a huge one and must have fallen minutes earlier as we were the second car in waiting to go across. Also, the mayhem of a traffic jam had yet not developed. After a few minutes of consultation with the others stranded, we decided to go under the tree. The underpass was a close call fraught with anxiety but no damages.

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After that trees fallen across the road was a normal occurrence. But thanks to the invention of power saws the road was getting cleared quickly.

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Once we hit the plains, a mutual consensus was that the drive would now be routine without any interruptions. Again nature took its own course. Our first forced halt was at “Mudumalai Reserve Forest” when we saw an elephant and that too a ‘Tusker’, chomping on green leaves. Such a close encounter with a mighty animal left us feeling quite awed. The children were ecstatic and we were speechless.

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Proceeding forward we entered the “Bandipur Reserve Forest”.Obviously, there was no Veerappan to meet and greet us but how could our adventure just fizzle out. So we now had our second encounter at close range with a mighty elephant and its baby.

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When nature conspires to present such incredible sights one just has to stop to admire and make memories. Needless to say our cameras worked overtime.

The journey onwards was a sight of blooming sunflower fields and vendors selling tons of watermelons. Mysore in itself was a beautiful, clean and open city. It’s heritage buildings were a sight to behold and offered a glimpse into our rich history. The first RE-break was indeed a holiday well spent and marks the beginnings of newer adventures yet to come.

 

 

 

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Murdering Love & Relationships

                           

Fact of the matter is that life is all about gathering more and more money and measuring happiness in direct relation to it. As a consequence, quality time spent with any loved one, be it a friend, parent or spouse, is inconsequential and inadequate. Gone are the days when the whole family would sit down together to watch a movie or share a meal. Somewhere in the midst of misplaced priorities we have lost the true focus of life. Now a days, the equivalent of sharing a meal with family is clicking away to glory on your tablet or smartphone. “What’s App” is the new family and “Facebook” and “Twitter” etc., the new friends. For all purposes, you did sit down with your actual family but landed up spending zilch quality time with them. And so is the story on all other fronts. When such is the vicious circle of life affinity is sure to die.

We are a victim of our own creations that have misled us into becoming what we are – Spoiled and Selfish. Circumstances do not dictate ignoring those who are important, it is our selfish motives that drive us away from them. Divorce rates are high not because love died a natural death but because we did not take out time to build on what we had. Love and respect have to be nurtured so that relationships grow stronger. But instead, we blame the other persons shortcomings and overlook our own. The long and short of the matter is that love and respect do not disappear suddenly but wither away over a period of time. These feelings fade gradually as we fail to give them their due importance in actual life.

A lot more can be said on the matter and enough excuses can be made to justify our blatant ignorance. But the plain and simple truth, which is hard to deny, is that relationships are murdered with our own hands by denying love from growing.

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Stronger With Each Tear

Every teardrop that I have spent is a lifetime of feelings that I could not control. My tears don’t make me weak, they make me stronger. They give me strength to start anew – a new beginning, a fresh hope. As a child, time and again, I was told that tears are a sign of weakness, but what they forgot to mention was that tears are also cleansing.Not that I cry at every twist and turn of life but sometimes my expressions are best conveyed through them. My tears are not always sad, they are happy too. They are my lifeline for I am a diehard optimist.

Women are inherently thought of as the weaker sex, their strength of character is seldom admired and their emotional nature is always taken for granted. From these assumptions stems the need to guard our feelings closely and when the banks break, tears flow unheeded. Once they have cleansed the soul we again rise like the mythical Phoenix – ready to begin all over again. Similarly, men also feel the need to cry. But they have to live up to their reputation of being hard and manly. So what we can do freely they have to do behind tightly shut doors.

Life is not always about just smiling, what adds lustre to it is some anger, frustration and tears. In the end, it’s all about how you let your emotions guide your being. You can either let yourself be destroyed with how you feel or you can yield it as a weapon to become a stronger person. You are no less compared to your counterparts, just because you are a little emotional gives nobody the right to ride roughshod over you. Your opinion still matters and your life still has meaning.

Ultimately, tears are a healthy way of maintaining your emotional balance. They teach you the value of happiness and that nothing in life should ever be taken for granted. Your tears don’t define you, they just make you more compassionate and that much more stronger.

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Scraps Of Paper

 

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They were just scraps of paper – torn, irrelevant stained and crumpled. Their mere existence was of no value and so they found their way into the dumpster. But the story that was about to unfold began from these scraps of paper.

The first time I noticed this girl was when, accidentally, she bumped into me on the road. A few scraps of paper that she was holding in her hands scattered. Bending down to pick them up, very politely she said, “sorry didi, I did not see you coming”. I was stumped to hear her speak so clearly and fluently in English and she completely floored me with her good manners. Her worn out clothes mended in places could fool a person into believing that she was a poor girl with no education. In order to satisfy my curiosity about her, I invited her to my home.

Sitting down on the floor in my living room she told me about herself. “My name is Megha. I am 14 years old. My mother works as a maid and my father is a laborer. I have four other siblings and I am the youngest amongst them all. I went to school till the middle of class three but then had to drop out due to financial constraints. None of my brothers are educated, in fact, they work odd jobs to earn their livelihood.”

I could not contain my curiosity any further and asked her who taught her to speak such fluent English. Very calmly she replied, “Scraps of paper, thrown away by people just like you who found them of no value”. Adding to it, she said, “I collect all such torn pieces of papers and thrown away books, then I read them, what I don’t understand, I ask the aunty for whom my mother works. I have been teaching myself to read and write like this for the past five years. I really wanted to study and make a future for myself, but because we have no money, a school was out of the question.”

Hearing her story I was determined to help. So, I got second-hand school books for her from class three onwards and made her appear for exams privately. I would help her study whenever I could. Her diligence and passion for studying were exemplary. She would study at all odd hours, all the while cooking and cleaning for her own family, but would never complain.

Today she has a major in “Business Studies” and holds a very good job. Her days of poverty are well behind and her parents are proud of her achievements. Her only regret is that she failed to inspire her brothers to complete their studies.

Whatever said and done, today I value every scrap of paper. Instead of throwing away a book or copy, I donate it to schools and NGO’s who work towards promoting education amongst the poor. After all, scraps of paper can change a life – therefore something of so much value can never be useless.

P.S. This is a work of fiction but the lesson is really important. Please don’t throw away any books ever instead donate them. They can bring a big change in somebody’s life.

 

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The Chauvinist!

Times have changed and so has the definition of a “Chauvinist Pig”. No longer is it a word that can just be associated with men. Women also show their chauvinistic colors once in a while. Although predominantly it is still a man who gets called a “Male Chauvinist Pig”.

You Male Chauvinist!

Chauvinist by definition is a man who has blind faith in his superiority and considers women as beings who can be dominated due to their gender difference. Although surprisingly the term Chauvinist was originally used to define blind patriotism.

The word found its origin from the exaggerated and single-minded patriotism of the French soldier Nicolas Chauvin. The legend has it that Nicolas Chauvin was badly injured in the Napoleonic wars and received a very meager pension in return. He was a fanatic who was absolutely devoted towards Napoleon Bonaparte and his beliefs. Despite being neglected by his group his faith never wavered and hence was termed the word “Chauvinist”.

Male Chauvinist Pig!!

MCP

“Pig” was a word of ridicule and mockery that was used during the 1960’s. This term was mostly used by protesters to refer to police officers and other related men of influence. During the same time, women were becoming more and more aware of their position in society and how they were being relegated to a place of no importance. As such feminism was on the rise and saw the coining of the term “Male Chauvinist Pig”.

Female Chauvinism

FCP

Changing times have brought about radical changes in ideologies and thinking patterns. Nowadays women are no less than their male counterparts. They are no more just homemakers and relegated to the kitchen, but they are now bread earners and people of importance. This fundamental and radical change has given rise to a breed of female chauvinists who belittle and disparage the belief of men’s superiority.

So if the superiority complex in men makes them “Male Chauvinist Pigs”, then does that mean that female chauvinist’s are “Female Chauvinist Sows”? Hope not because the original word has been misconstrued and misquoted to suit the thinking of some minds. Now that there are no differences amongst men and women, other than their physical attributes, it is time for the term to take a silent backseat.

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Human Robots – A Way of Life

A few days back, I saw a series on Artificially Enhanced Humans or as they preferred to call themselves the Human Robots, on television. This program opened my eyes as to how much we humans are ready to experiment with ourselves in order to amplify our capabilities, at the cost of our well being.

Who Are Human Robots?

Human Robots are those people who have willingly got devices implanted in their bodies in order to overcome the limitations of a human body. Mostly, these Artificially Enhanced Humans would have gotten implants not for treating some illness, but for making their bodies more superior, to other fellow beings, by increasing their dormant or untapped capabilities.

Is It Easy To Become A Human Robot?

Technology is a necessary evil, wherein ethics and legality play hide-and-seek with human principles and scruples. As a result, people who want to become Human Robots find it difficult to find willing doctors to perform the necessary operation for implanting any device. Not only that, heavy pain killers, to give respite from pain, are also not available without prescription.

Aspirants of becoming Human Robots or Artificially Enhanced Humans have to depend on either quacks and unqualified doctors or tattoo artists to perform the requisite surgical process. In these situations, there is always the risk of contracting infection due to use of tools that have not been sterilized as per medical norms.

The Need To Become Human Robots

Human nature is such that we want to be better than the rest. At the same time we want to simplify our life, have technology at our beck and call and even experience what others are normally unable to. For example, due to the use of electronic devices we have electro-magnetic fields all around us, but the limitation of the human body is that we are unable to experience it. Now imagine inserting a device in your body that will not only allow you to experience, but also make use of this electro-magnetic field in your day to day life. Similarly, imagine a device which, when implanted in your body will transfer all your body’s functional readings to any external device that can be used to monitor your health.

These are just a few hypothetical situations, but not a compulsory requirement for any human body. So, the call or need to become a Human Robot lies with the person themselves.

Ethics

As of now, anything that is considered to be in the realm of extraordinary, is unethical and hence uncalled for. But the fact is that technology is so integrated in our lives that in the near future we all would want to be Artificially Enhanced Humans so that we can experience and live with the bizarre.

 

To conclude, even now there are many takers for Human Robots who not only propagate, but also support becoming artificially enhanced. Something that is considered unethical today will soon become the reality of lives. Very soon our survival too would depend on this. So, there is no use denying living with Human Robots.

 

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