Seclusion is bliss

Pic credits: Rithika Shetty

Pic credits: Rithika Shetty

My recent trip to the Mandangad Forest Camp surprised me.

For one, I didn’t think I would ever go there since it was so far away.

For another, I didn’t think I would ever enjoy it as much as I did.

On both counts, I was proven wrong.

Not only did I end up going there without making a big fuss about the distance, but I also ended up enjoying it to the fullest. It was one of those once in a lifetime trips with strangers that would serve as a turning point in my adult life.

No, nothing majorly creative happened there. So why was it a turning point?

Because one small thing did happen – I ended up making friends, I bonded with my colleagues on a whole different level and I thoroughly experienced the seclusion from society.

I always loved games like Minecraft and TV shows like Lost, which were all about survival. It was about being secluded on an island or in a forest, without any contact with the outside world, trying to survive. You were pushed into a situation that an introvert like me would find extremely uncomfortable. You had to talk to this huge group of strangers, some of whom you liked, some of whom you disliked and some of whom  disliked you. My trip to Mandangad was something like that. I got to live in a forest camp! And it was awesome!!

While there was nobody I disliked – and hopefully, there wasn’t anyone there who disliked me! – there were a ton of people I had never spoken to. There were so many connections to be made, and the shy guy inside of me always screamed ‘No!’ when I had to actually face these people. This was in office. This was in a highly competitive, depressing environment of a Multinational I.T. Company. But there, in Mandangad, there were no I.T. cubicles. There was just nature. There were no strangers. They were just people. And finally, there was no shy, introvert blogger who usually doesn’t fit in anywhere. There was just me.

The thing that was the single differentiating factor between this trip and the others in my past with a similar set up (like the Vadgaon trip with my childhood friends, or the Pawana trip with my office friends) was that this one did not have a cellphone range.

We were completely cut off from phone calls, internet, Whatsapp and all the other social media. If online social life was junk food, then at that camp, we were forced to eat salads!

At first, I found it strange. And unsafe.

What if somebody tried to kill me and take all my money? What if somebody locked me inside a shady room with a Gorilla? What if I was the sole witness to a murder and cellphone coverage was the only thing stopping me from reporting or preventing it?

That is when several things hit me. First, I have no money. And my family isn’t particularly rich. So, killing me would be a waste of the murderer’s time. Why bother? Ha.

Secondly, the only part of ‘Gorillas’ and other animals we would get to see the entire trip was their shit. Yes, there was a load of animal poo everywhere we went!

And lastly, I was a creative fellow. As if I would be that lucky to witness such creative incidents, pfft! If there had to be a murder to witness at that camp, it would be the neighboring tent’s resident’s diet. I mean, I overheard her in the morning, claiming she would only eat beans and fruits on the whole trip as a part of her luxurious diet; the same night, I saw her thoosofying* an entire chicken curry katori and some Gulab Jamuns. If that isn’t murder, I don’t what is!

On the safety front – If you must know, there actually was internet and cellphone coverage, but only at the reception, which was few kilometers away. So in order to make a call, or post your beautiful selfie online, you had to walk a few ways away from your cozy tent! And you know how lazy we millennials are!

Anyway, back to the point of this post.

I realized how much I didn’t miss it.

I never used to get many phone calls anyways. I am more of a ‘Whatsapp texts’ kind of guy. And as for Instagram and Facebook posts, I would have preferred posting them after my trip. I was in no hurry to show off the camp. That could wait!

And Whatsapp was also not on top of my lists. Not many “friends” wanted to text me anyways. Again, I was more of a face-to-face guy.

It was: Calls < Whatsapp Texts < Face-to-Face.

And besides, I had new friends to make. I had new stories to listen to. And for once, I wasn’t the talkative one!

It was the perfect mixture and balance of craziness.

I had the good fortune of listening to vibrant stories of break-ups, make-ups and office drama. I got to hear about funny stories, horror stories and embarrassing stories. I got to tell some of my own. I got to hear about experiences and life lessons. And it was exhilarating.

All because there was no internet coverage.

Pic credits: Rithika Shetty

Nobody was in a hurry to post their selfies or chat with their friends. It was the power of our laziness that forced us to actually talk with each other. And the soothing, calm tranquility of the forest only added to a melodious backdrop of Sanam Puri songs. Not to mention the cold night wind that kept lashing at our tents threateningly, as if to say ‘If you leave your tents to go to the reception so that you can use internet, I will freeze your socks off!‘…

I mean, the problem was never with me. I can last a few days without phone calls and Whatsapp. But others’ can’t. They always seem to have something better to do on their phones than to talk to each other.

Except, this time they couldn’t. And so, we ended up having a gala time.

It was an epiphany. All the time that I didn’t spend in the office in front of the computer, I would spend on my phone or laptop, chatting with people online or watching TV shows (and porn). My eyes would scream death. My head would spin at the end of the day when I closed my eyes, because it wasn’t used to calm, quiet peace. It wasn’t used to darkness. It wasn’t used to resting for so long.

That made me think; I obviously couldn’t just stop using my phone. And TV shows and (MOMS AND DADS PLEASE IGNORE THIS PART) porn were a healthy part of my lifestyle. But, I also could ensure that I contributed time to nature, to real people and to myself! I could definitely make sure that I didn’t have chats to reply to all the time on the weekends, or waste away my hours of bliss in front of Netflix, watching ‘Bird Box’! I need to live. I needed to be secluded from virtuality. I need to make new words. (Hey! Look at that, one task down!) I needed to talk to my family and friends, and strangers alike and see what they were doing. And above all, I needed to take my time off from the screen.

So that is my plan. It is, in all honesty, a lousy plan. And I am sure right after posting this, I will be back to Whatsapp-ing my life away.

But, like my dad says, never let the fear of failure stop you from trying something new! So I am going to do exactly that. I am going to, at least on weekends, uninstall Whatsapp and focus on life.

Because you know what, those who want to talk to you will find other ways of talking to you. And those who want to share the real beauties of their lives will do so without resorting to Instagram and Snapchat. And you will find your peace, your tranquility and a new charm to life by doing this.

Let’s see how it goes, eh? Let us see where this rocky road takes us. While social media – and cellphones by extension –  are an addiction, and this new mission of mine a seemingly lost cause… seclusion is bliss. dav And I could do with some bliss right now in life.


*thoosofying – the art of hogging food at the speed of a hungry Indian

Hey Bleedsters,
It has been a long time. This post originally was aimed towards me talking about seclusion from social media. But I knew that was a typical topic. I knew it was a cliche at this point. And I also knew I had to write a post about my trip to Mandangad.
So I thought, why not combine both! If Karan Johar could meld two different storylines to create Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, so could I. Although, not as well as him.
Please leave comments down below and let me know what you guys think!

As always, if any of it made you smile, laugh, frown or giggle like a little baby, comment share and like! To be up-to-date with my other posts, give a like to my Facebook page and follow on Twitter if you use it! Any images used are either taken from Google Images, from my own personal collection or some other sources (which will be mentioned if and when, unless stated otherwise). Contact me if you want it removed.




Swimming pool of chai

Imagine this scene: you are on your comfy bed, wrapped up in layers and layers of blankets and in their warmth. Your worries are nowhere to be found. Next to your bed is a tall, ornate frame of window, separating you from the outside. It has been left a crack open for you to enjoy the snug atmosphere. Lashing against the window, making therapeutic sounds of melody is the rain. You are oblivious to the rhythmic chaos outside that the sound precedes.

In your hand is your favourite book, a book that creates an aura of safety and comfort around you. A small reading light brings clarity to the words on the pages in your hand, even as darkness engulfs the pedestrians outside. You sigh in bliss; there is no way you can get more relaxed than this… unless… someone brings in a hot bowl of Maggi for you. That someone happens to be your mom. Piping hot, the bowl warms your hand, while the steam wafting from the bowl mingles with the cold breeze that the torrential downpour outside has created. The aroma of the masalas lifts your spirit, it satisfies your soul… and stomach.

And now, finally, you are in heaven.

Loving it?

Now imagine you are on the other side of the window.

Your shoes are wet and your socks are soggy, soaked with muddy water. They are making a distinctively irritating pachak-pachak sound with every step you take. Your umbrella is inside-out because of the strong winds. Your hair is a mess; sticky and moist, it sticks on your face and smells awful. You have something in your left hand, something else in the other, and your shoulder balances the umbrella that is doing a poor job of keeping you dry. The one thing it is supposed to do, and it can’t even do that properly.

There is no way to cover your arms. They are exposed to the chilly drafts of air that graze you, tickle you and make your nipples pointy and sensitive. You might be getting sick as well, and the hunger that is starting to build in your stomach only adds to the shitty-ness of it all. You have to reach your destination, a few kilometres away, and the only way to get there is wading through brown, lumpy water that reminds you of roadside chai.

And of course, the rain has put a stop to all kinds of public transport. So you have no choice but to walk – oh sorry – swim through the swimming pool of chai (but we all know it’s not really chai…) trying to go where you want to. And then you happen to drop your deliciously sexy phone you were desperately clinging on to, from your right hand. Of all places, it happens to fall with a dull plonk into the muddy puddle. Yay you!

Dreading it?

Good. So you are just like me.

Because today, in a span of a couple of hours, I happen to experience both… while I was sick, tired, hungry and sleepy!

But more on that later…

Heya Bleedsters!
A short post for you guys. If there are any regular readers left, that is. Those in Mumbai, stay safe from the rains!

The Urban Hill

Clicked by me!

Sometimes in life, and I know this might sound very typical, you get lost. You look around, and everything seems different.

Its weird in a way because things look familiar, they sound familiar, they even taste familiar. And yet, they don’t feel the same.

Friends do not feel like friends. You start seeing them in a different light. All the things you relied on for support seem to not work anymore. You feel confused and overwhelmed. And you say to yourself, something has changed.

You look around, and desperately try to find the reason behind this change. You analyse your life, you analyse the people you interact with, you wonder whether you have done something wrong…

You introspect your personality, you doubt yourself, you try to find someone to blame for your problems. You look for comfort in the comfort zone. You look for some kind of familiarity. You try to find some hope to desperately cling on to.

And it doesn’t work.

And then, you find yourself wandering through the streets of Pune, alone and deep in thought, thinking – why has everybody changed?

And then it hits you harder than a punch in the face: you are the one who has changed.

Of course, by now, you must know that this is all about me. Not you, not him, not her. Not the reader. But about the writer. This writer, in particular.

It wasn’t all that bad, but it was something new. The feeling of being lost, truly lost, was something I had never faced. I had faced feelings similar to this, but not completely like this. And recently, I had the pleasure to finally do so.

And as a result, I found myself on the Urban Hill.

It was a cute little hill, carved out of a sea of mountains. At the edge of Pune’s urban boundaries, it lay quietly and delightedly. Poised at the perfect location, it stood welcoming and tall, yet comforting short.

Bhakti Shakti, it was called. They had turned the hill into a park. A beautiful, clean, nice and simple park. From afar, it seemed like any of the hills and mountains you see while passing Lonavala. But as I came closer, I saw the fine, intricate pathway woven into its grassy skin, the tall statue of Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and Sant Tukaram and the tall flag pole. I sat there, in my own thoughts, oblivious to the beauty around me, at the start. I was so lost in my own thought that I did not notice the bronze sculpture.

Behind me was one of the greatest Kings of all time. Behind me was also one of the most popular saints in India. Behind me was Bhakti and Shakti. And all it took was a selfie flash of some school going girl, to make me turn and marvel in its beauty.

Now, I could lie and say that the statue is what made me realise the true nature of life. I could claim that somehow, the towering frame of Chatrapati Shivaji bathing in the glory of the melodious Sant Tukaram was what brought me back to my senses. And made me realise why I felt lost.

But it wasn’t.

All the statue made me feel is more lost! Because by looking at the statue, the real complexity of life hit me. I sat there in the cool breeze, with the pointy grass making my ass itchy, just staring. And only when I turned away did I finally realise what was going on.

That one feels lost in a strange new world. But one has to carve out a new way in this new and unknown world. One has to change, one has to adapt and one has to grow to survive in this new world. Thinking about past, stewing in your own thoughts or thinking on and on about why, how or when, will not help. You need to focus on the what. On what you are going to do about it.

You need to accept the fact that while everything and everyone around you feels brand new, it is only because you have changed. And you get to decide if this change is for the better or for the worse.