A few days back I was reading a beach scene somewhere (don’t ask me where or I may get beaten or ridiculed or maybe both) which left me wondering, why don’t I think like that, I mean ever? It was a sun kissed beach with sparkling blue waters, verdant shade and idyllic beauty. Or some such thing, a step just short of paradise. I too have been to a lot of beaches (much less than I would actually like to go to, though) but the word sun kissed never even passed through my brain. What to do? There are no whispering winds for me either!

whispering-winds

Whispering Winds? #canon550D

The wind was whispering among the trees: Now I must be deaf, stone deaf for I never heard the whispering wind among the trees. If there is a storm and a loud crash, I can hear it alright. But what is this whispering business that completely refuses to reveal itself to me and yet it is heard by so many? Rustling of leaves, I still understand, cool breeze I have felt on particularly hot days but this whispering bit is completely beyond me. Maybe they whisper in Spanish, hence I don’t understand!

narrow bylanes

Narrow Lanes #lumia1020

The narrow lanes that took us back in time: Well, the narrow lanes look like narrow lanes to me. If I peer even harder they still look like narrow lanes to me and nothing else. I like them, don’t get me wrong, particularly, if they are the type where motor vehicles are prohibited, because then it is a pleasure to walk there. But not sure about back in time stuff! Back in time I actually lived in a big spacious house, and I now live on a narrow street. Maybe that is why they don’t take me back in time. And what is the point if they remind me of the present, no one likes living in the present anyway!

waves

Soft Crash of Waves? #lumia1020

Soft crash of waves against the sands: Really, when you go to a beach, do you listen to the soft crash of waves against the sand? Once again for me this goes back to the first category, I must be deaf. When I go to the beach I see lot of water, blue water, unless it is Maldives. There one can actually see many shades of blue. I like walking on the sand when the waves are mild (or softly crashing if you prefer) as it only gets my feet wet and not my camera! They can crash anyway only against the sand as usually there is nothing else to crash against! They can crash against the rocks too but rocks are not conducive to walking. And if you can’t walk along the beach, well what is the point of being on a beach?

Everest-Base-Camp-Nepal

Tear Inducing Scenery! #canon550D

The scenery moved me to tears: I have to admit I was once almost moved to tears. It was when I reached the Everest Base Camp. But I suspect that it had much more to do with the exhaustion of walking for a few hours at 5000 meters and above than with the scenery. I was in awe of the place for sure as what was the end point for me, was the starting point for the Everest climbers. Real climbers start their trip from where city dwellers like me walk back! But it was moving me ‘almost’ to tears for all the wrong reasons, chiefly because I was not too fit and it was a royal pain to reach there!

art

Art #lumia1020

The painting was a symbol of happiness/agony: But more than anything else it is the museums and art that confuses me the most. I can see people standing in front of a painting with a look of rapture all over their face. The same painting would like a crumbly bunch of flowers to me! But if they say it was a symbol of happiness then it must be. Even more confusing are those random black dots that are a symbol of agony, to me they look like, well random black dots.

Now I am sure there is something wrong with me and not with the whispering winds and softly crashing waves and the like. But then if the winds don’t whisper to me, they don’t whisper to me. Yet it does not diminish my love for travel in any way. They can go and do their whispering someplace else. Now if only I would know what it was that kept me hooked to traveling, I would be able to express it so much better! Till then you have to suffer posts like these.

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I am so very fond of bird photography. It is just that I am not fond of getting up in the morning. And the birds like to give ‘darshan’ (audience) in the morning or the evening. This time at Srinagar I did manage to wake up early morning on one day, to visit the floating vegetable market at Dal Lake and that day I managed to click some birds too. So, for this lazy Sunday I bring you a sparrow at Dal Lake playing among the lotus leafs.

A Sparrow at Dal Lake

A Sparrow at Dal Lake

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Did you notice that half an year has quietly slipped by. Before I scream where did the time go, I know some of it went into traveling. This is an account of the journey so far in 2014. I did an update in April for the first quarter, so I will pick up from where I left. Trip no 6 this was to unforgettable Maldives.

maafushi-island-maldives

Maafushi Island, Maldives

Maldives is incredibly beautiful, I had a gala time with my younger nephew. This was a personal trip that we enjoyed to the hilt. I have to find a way or an excuse to go there again.

Deer at Ranthambore

Deer at Ranthambore #canon550D

Then came a trip to Ranthambore with Aircel’s Save the Tiger campaign. I did manage to get a fleeting glimpse of a tiger once again so my tiger jinx really seems to have broken.

Pratap Palace, Ajmer

Pratap Palace, Ajmer #canon550D

Trip number 8 was a one night trip to Pratap Palace, Ajmer. Thanks to this trip I managed to visit both Ajmer and Pushkar once again. I was quite apprehensive about a one night trip but in the end it was actually quite alright.

Pope Francis at Amman, Jordan

Pope Francis at Amman, Jordan #canon550D

Trip number 9 is up there in the trip of a lifetime category. I was invited by Jordan Tourism Board to cover the Pope’s Mass at Amman Stadium, Jordan. Now, even in my dreams I never thought I would ever get such an opportunity in my life!

Bangkok by Night

Bangkok by Night #canon550D

Trip 10 was an unexpected trip to Thailand which materialized with a short notice and went perfectly. My father was not too thrilled about me going there post ‘military coup’ but then as one of our group members remarked, we have seen more police in Mumbai and Delhi than I saw on this trip to Thailand!

Shikaras at Dal Lake, Srinagar

Shikaras at Dal Lake, Srinagar #canon550D

Then came another invitation at a short notice, this time to Kashmir. I was really happy to revisit the valley and enjoy its splendor. This trip was organized by J&K Tourism Board and this was my first invitation from an Indian state tourism board.

Pragpur, Himachal Pradesh

Pragpur, Himachal Pradesh #lumia1020

The most recent trip, n0. 12 has been to Judge’s Court, Pragpur with WelcomeHeritage. 12 trips of various duration in 6 months is not bad at all. The next trip starting about in a week’s time is a personal vacation in Himachal Pradesh, I am so looking forward to it. And I sincerely hope that the journey continues.

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Last week I did a one night trip to Pragpur in Himachal Pradesh which was on invitation from WelcomeHeritage Judge’s Court. And it was not them who wanted me to stay there for one night. The time constraint was from my side, a fact which I am already regretting. We went sightseeing around Pragpur on both the days, the day I arrived and the next day when we left. It was a hot day when we arrived. While visiting the temples at Chanaur and Dadasiba out cab driver and owner Mr Atul pointed out the Beas river to us as well. Along with Pragpur and Garli both Chanaur and Dadasiba are a delight for people interested in heritage, architecture and paintings. But that is a story for another day. This story is about the giant pipal tree near Dadasiba.

After the temple visits Atul stopped at a crossing and asked a villager how could we go closer to the river. He pointed out a narrow road, and there we were, close to the Beas river. The giant Pipal tree was an added bonus for me. I was willing to look at the hot sky only through its cool shade!

Dadasiba, Himachal Pradesh

A Giant Pipal Tree by the Beas River near Dadasiba, Himachal Pradesh #canon550D

Try as I might, I could not capture the whole tree in one frame. It had a small chabutra (platform) around it. I too decided to sit in its shade while Pooja (from WelcomeHeritage) decided to take a walk up to the river. Everyone removed their footwear before going on the chabutra and I did the same. One of the menfolks asked me if we were locals? When I said no, he said hardly anyone else comes to this place. They came because it was a hot day and it was cooler under the tree close to the river.

Bear River, Dadasiba, Himachal Pradesh

Bear River, Dadasiba, Himachal Pradesh #Lumia1020

I too would have walked by the river but the sun was way too hot. Also at that time of the day I did not see what would I gain photography wise by going close to the river. But in the end it was the sun that the magnificent tree that made me stay put.

Sun Rays on the Pipal Tree!

Sun Rays on the Pipal Tree! #canon550D

Guess what? I was very tempted to write ‘sun rays were playing with the pipal leaves’. But was it the sun rays that were playing or was it I who was playing with my camera with aperture set at f22 so that I could capture this effect! I may have said it at least three times before in this short post by now, but let me say it once more, I was quite awestruck with this majestic pipal tree.

children playing cards

Playing Cards #Lumia1020

The kids were certainly curious about my camera but they were too shy to ask me anything about it. It was only when their elders talked to me that they timidly asked if I would take a picture of them! I was ever happy to oblige!

PS. This post is part of Skywatch Friday the super community of sky watchers.

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When I saw the litchi fruits on the tree at the Welcomeheritage Judge’s Court, Pragpur it so reminded me of my childhood home. Of course, our home was not set in 12 acres nor was it double storied but that too had mango and litchi trees among other fruits. All my childhood and college days I could pluck fruits from the trees and eat them. It was almost after a decade and a half later that I picked up a few litches from the tree and ate them at Judges Court, Pragpur! Some parts of this manor are 300 year old. You can read more about its history here.

judges-court-pragpur

Judge’s Court, Pragpur, Himachal Pradesh

The Judge’s Court is a WelcomeHeritage hotel, an ideal destination where you go to do nothing. There are many ways in which you could achieve that. You could sit in the lawns and enjoy the silence, lie down in your well appointed room and do nothing, go for an aimless walk, doze off on the second floor veranda (my favorite corner in the entire place) , take a dip in the pool and in many more such ways. That would be the best way to spend the holiday there. You could refer to this page for the tariff.

veranda-judges-court-pragpur

The Second Floor Veranda, Judge’s Court, Pragpur

I had a one night stay at the Judge’s Court, Pragpur and it was my fault. I had to come back in a hurry and I hardly ever say no to a trip when I am invited! Even in that short stay I would run off to this huge veranda on the second floor and sit in the easy chair. I thought I would read a book but I just daydreamed lying down and looking at the open courtyard below!

The Kipling Room, Judge's Court, Pragpur

The Kipling Room, Judge’s Court, Pragpur

Judge’s Court has 20 rooms in all 10 in the main building, 7 in the new wing and 3 heritage rooms in the Pragpur village. They give you a feel of the bygone era. I had a comfortable room with twin beds all to myself. The bathroom was modern and functional with a shower.

mango-crush

Mango Crush, Judge’s Manor, Pragpur

The hotel grows a lot of its own supplies like fruits, vegetables and has a dairy farm too. The food hence tastes fresh and good. I had both Indian and continental food and enjoyed both equally. The mango crush of course was quite delightful.

wall-clock

An Ancient Wall Clock

The whole place is full of interesting curious and if you are a person who really likes them, you could spend days looking at each individual item. There was an old hamam  that caught my eye as well, the mirrors on the wall reminded me of a time when people may actually had time to observe themselves in one!

Jack fruits at Judge's Court, Pragpur

Jack fruits at Judge’s Court, Pragpur

But what I enjoyed most was the trees at the country manor. There were clove, almond, camphor, plums and many more such exotic trees. The feeling of space and peace that I got there is unmatched. How I wish, I had some more time to stay. And this is just about the property, wait till I talk about the nearby places. Also, even though Pragpur is a heritage village, it is not touristy at all, at least for the time being.

PS. I was invited by the property to spend some time with them.

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I love to travel, be it with extended family, solo or on sponsored trips. However there are three constant companions that go on every trip with me, my camera, my cell phone and my laptop. I like my camera and my cell phone quite a lot. But I could not say the same for the laptop because it would make my cabin bag a pain to lug around. My cabin baggage always has the SLR and a few lenses, they in itself weigh quite a lot. When I would add my laptop to it as well, it would become quite miserable particularly in those situations where I had to walk a lot.

Then I got an email from the folks at Intel/Sony that they could offer me the use of their Sony  Ultrabook (Duo) and I could keep it too. They were shipping it from Australia. After a few hiccups at the Indian customs I got the Sony Ultrabook. The first trip we did together was Jordan. After that it went with me to Thailand, Kashmir and Pragpur as well. In short, it is my newest traveling companion. And I am quite happy with it. Here are some of the reasons why!

Sony Vaio Duo, Powered by Intel

Sony Vaio Duo, Powered by Intel

It Talks to Other Devices: I owned (actually I won it in a blogging competition) a fancy tab, but after a few days I gave it away to my younger nephew. For me it is vital that the device talks to other devices like my camera and the cell phone. The fancy device that I won refused to talk to my camera and my cell phone. Its own camera was not that great, so it was of no use for me when it came to  my travel needs.

When I travel I like to post pictures and blog. To do this I need devices that are willing to communicate to each-other. With the new Sony Vaio Duo I can download the pictures from my camera and the cell phone easily to the machine. So there we go, it perfectly lets me share pictures from whichever device I want.

It is a Tab + a Laptop: I do not like typing on a touch screen with the Intel powered Vaio I can flip open the machine and out comes the keyboard. So typing out those blog posts that cannot wait till I reach back home is easier too. When I just wish to browse the machine becomes a tab! Now that is convenience!

Working at Pragpur

Working at Pragpur

I can Lug it Around: There was a time in Srinagar when I did not feel safe about leaving my Ultrabook in the hotel room. It went with me on the walks and then to the bar in my backpack and I hardly ever noticed the weight. I am sure if I lugged my old laptop around I would not say so at all.

Battery Life that Others will Envy: Also the Ultrabook has amazing battery life. If I charge it completely I do not need to charge it for about 9 hours. So I am free to sit anywhere in an airport, I am not bound to the charging points.

sony-vaio-ultrabook

Now it is a Tab!

Overall I am mighty impressed with the Intel powered Sony Vaio Duo Ultrabook. It is going to be my permanent traveling companion for a long long time. Here is to many more trips together!

PS. I hope you noticed at the beginning as well that I got the machine from Intel for review and it is mine to keep as well.

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