It’s a beautiful feeling. To get out of your comfort zone, experience something new, feel hurt as you figure it out, recover from it, and go back to where you began.
Fitness blogs, fitness posts, insta videos are all a thing these days. It has become a digital swag. But there is more to these than just the swag factor that meets the eye. As part of W in this challenge, I am going to write about “Workout”. Fitness should never be underestimated. I used to be a give-up person. Flexing yourself despite all of that pain, dint make sense to me. I mean, why should you suffer, really! All of this was happening until I realized what came after pain.
As a result of consistent, sincere efforts, you develop endurance. Your body starts to enjoy the regime and sets itself into a rhythm. Workout is the music of your muscles. Now, what had dramatically happened to change my view to get back at it? It was the whole process! It also emphasizes the importance of a Guru. I joined a yoga class a few years back and the instructor was amazing.
Apart from encouraging us to push our limits(read limitations), she would voice-out for our body. To explain this in simple words, for every asana or movement we did, she’d count in the beginning and let us continue the count for ourselves. She’d fill this gap with lots of information about the benefits of doing that particular exercise. In our minds, we’d be enduring so hard to get it right, and stay oblivious of the pain, and right in the middle of the climax of this stretch, the veins would thank us, in her voice. She’d explain how the lazy muscles get enthralled and oblige to keep us strong and healthy, lest we showed our due diligence and perseverance.
It used to create a lot of pressure in the beginning. But all of the endurance paid off! In real, it was eye-opening. It’s all within us, until we choose to see and understand them, and put them to much-needed work! Watching pregnant women, just delivered (also include complicated birth surgeries and conditions) mommies, and accident victims stretch at ease, gives me immense positivity, apart from the respect I have for such spirited people. And the best part of it all, is the process of healing.
You’d just heard your body begging you for rest, and attention. Listen to it. Give it what it asks for. But be a responsible owner, and gear up the next day for your workout, yet again! Growing pain will gradually subside and with every workout, you will start to feel fresher and stronger. They key lies in challenging yourself better than yesterday. Once you get a hang of this cycle, you will start to appreciate the healing process. And why am I writing all of this? Because writing is the workout I give my mind.
It’s a beautiful feeling. To get out of your comfort zone, experience something new, feel hurt as you figure it out, recover from it, and go back to where you began.
Here comes the third and my last post on the Oregon travelogue series. You can read Part 1 and Part 2 if you haven’t. The third part is Triangle Lake. Google provides this image which is a bird’s-eye view of the Triangle Lake.
Now, people don’t normally visit or bookmark this place as a part of their travel. It lies in the middle of nowhere, and is on the way to Siuslaw National Forest. That’s how we “bumped” into this beauty. From high up the hills of Siuslaw’s peaks, this forms a nice pretty view of the “valley” like all usual hikes. But what struck the chord for us, was the time of the day. It was dawning and the sun had not risen yet when we hit this road. We were mostly sleepy except to peek at the alertness of one who was driving. It was too early to be hungry but the outside air was fresh nevertheless. I was the passenger in the front and tried to keep myself awake to keep the driver awake, for the safety of the vehicle. Yes, there was no doubt I was trying to rant and ramble despite the calm morning. That kinda reminded me how difficult it could actually get, to talk when you don’t want to. Talking is also difficult man. I mean how do the RJs do it so well at 6am? They also take it upon themselves to wake people up to rise and shine. Talent indeed! My friend totally got my vibes and played along because all the rambling helped putting off the sleepiness and sluggishness.
As the darkness to the right of the car was strongly endorsed by the tall trees, the driver’s side of the car slowly started opening up to some light. The day was beginning to light up, but nothing seemed to exist beyond scanty trees to our left. There was nothing. From nowhere, we saw trees and hills continuing out of invisibility. My rant stopped. So did my friend’s. For a second, I was wondering if I were awake or asleep and dreaming. It did look dreamy. I was fighting off those early morning blurs but holy, my vision was super clear like 3 minutes back! I dint want to distract my friend on the wheels, but I could not contain the excitement. With the speedometer wondering why we were not on par with the designated speed limit, we were covering the road but the invisibility had worsened. Thankfully, the road was not obstructed. If you think I am exaggerating, take a look at this pic that was captured before it got fully blown into white silence of invisibility.
That was the limit. We needed to put the pieces together and solve the puzzle. The other two sleepy-heads in the backseat also woke up to our loud curiosity. Obviously, they couldn’t sleep after. The element of fog, mist and mystery is the underrated Triangle Lake. We drove ahead into the parking lot and pulled up the car facing east. No no, my sense of direction is not sound. The sun was coming out, and that is how I was sure. All the dew drops in the leaves, and the birds in the trees had braced up for their morning work out of leaning down and flying high. Untouched beauty danced in front of our eyes like this . . .
What might have otherwise been an ordinary lake on our way to a destination in our road trip, turned out be a show-stopper! Perhaps, all of us needed to revisit the chapter of perspectives and aesthetics in life. Never undermine anything in life just because something dint seem glamorous or attractive on the outside. Maybe the sun and the stars had not aligned to give you the best view. More so, maybe you were at the wrong place at the wrong time. That does not make the place any less pristine. That doesn’t make the actual view any less beautiful. When you visit a place, get into its soul and understand its character. And it will offer you more than you can imagine. Apart from surreal views and calm, the Triangle lake obliged to give us some amazing pictures like the ones below. There is so much symmetry in there. If you observe closely, you would not know if the subjects are looking at the camera or away from it. I guess the sun and the mist did the magic on this beautiful day! It was magically intuitive . . .
More often than not, photographers plan their mind, and plan trips to capture the beauty of this planet. I guess places offer you, what they wish to show on the very day you are present there. They are characterized by terrific mood swings. Until we understand that, we will remain the most ignorant species on Earth. One more on the perspectives . . .
I am going to spice this up with some pictures for Oregon is a photographers’ paradise. Of course I can’t do justice to the 3 GB card of images, but my favorite few that would show the place well, is posted here. This blog post is the next part of my Oregon travelogue series. Refer to the first post here if you haven’t read it yet.
Part 2 of the three-part Oregon series is Siuslaw National Forest, a treasure in the bustling rainy state. Located on the midpoint of the northwest capital Portland and Eugene, Siuslaw stretches across with its sand dunes and vegetation,backed by the water-bed of the Pacific. En route to the forest, we halted at a small dock area that had a lot of recreational boats and other water sport activities. It was meant for private boats and jet boats and thus people seemed to rush to the area right in the morning to secure a space for their boats. The day dint feel too hot, probably because it was not even 9 am, and the fact that we were so close to the waters, chilled the air. We were the only car looking for a petite parking lot surrounded by thumping RVs. Every time I spot an RV on the road, my bucket list pops up in my head to add the same old unfulfilled item. RVs trailing the boats on the road are a scary scene, that leaves the smaller cars speeding past them as though they are trembling in fear of the RVs size. Here is a picture that summarizes the first leg of the day, where I am already lost into the morning scene.
After a trailer of the coast’s beauty, we got back on the road heading towards the actual national forest. We dint quite know what was up ahead the curves but isn’t that the intention? Get on the road. Turn and twist as it bends. Enjoy the views. Explore what it offers. Road trips are similar to life philosophies. You can’t always plan until the last psi of your tire. It is best enjoyed when you take it as it comes. Guarded by tall conifer-like trees, we were clueless as to why the roads were narrowing up the hill. But the kaleidoscope views that the bridges and the tunnels offered us, was beyond description. Here’s your sample.
One by one, the scenery on our two sides, started to withdraw themselves, as though the curtain was raising to the actual show. Few trees stole the view and I wouldn’t blame them. City planners have tried to come up with legible boards like the one that reads ‘CONGESTION’ in the picture below. Trust me, it is an irony. You feel more liberated and freed of the city’s congestion here.
By now, out seats had pushed us to the front, and we were holding ourselves from falling off to maintain the car’s balance on the road. World’s calmest ocean had readied to show herself to us, the minuscule fellow species, and the grand opening of the coast muted our senses, unlike a conventional stage show. Here is the spectacular moment for you, that took our breaths away.
Sand Dunes –
As we breathed loud to get our stamina back, we saw a bunch of sign-boards alerting us of the sand dunes ahead. For a moment we thought we were going to drive amidst the dunes, and we were thrilled that we would get some fun views like the ocean roads. Little did our minds work at that time. Sand dunes are heaps of loose sand that gather in hoards and hoards across a vegetation. The sign boards were advertisements of the ATV companies that would allow us to rent or take a ride with licensed ATV drivers. We drove to the farthest one in the stretch and finally decided to shed our laziness to get off and see what it was all about. After some splendid views, no one was ready to move, awaiting more such views. But this laziness did not last long as our group’s name was called to board the vehicle. What we enjoyed for the next 30 minutes was sheer fun driving in the highs and lows of the dunes, racing against other vehicles and motorcycles. Contrary to our intuition, it was freaking cold in there, with sun-god shining yellows and whites on our heads. After spitting the last of the sand granule out, we decked up to the treasure of this northwestern national forest – Cape Perpetua! But before we head there, here is a glimpse of the mossy sand dunes for you!
Cape Perpetua –
Cape Perpetua, according to the geographical definition, remains the hub of tides and erosion. The park ranger at the visitor center, had told us that the timing and the day was perfect for high tides at the Thor’s well. If we reached the Thor’s well in the next 4 hours, cinematic high tide splashes would be welcoming us. It is funny how exotic locations are considered cinematic. Creators use cinema as a window to the world, and show landscapes from life. To the viewers, dreamy locations come from the celluloid.
Anyway, the short trail to the rocks of erosion, were covered with fresh berries, and thick leaved plants and herbs. The affluence of rain water and moisture were extended up to the last lamina in every leaf. Another tunnel in the middle of the forest, made us wonder if Oregon is all about hibernation and fighting open to sunshine. The tiny berries seemed to fight the thorns, one ovule at a time before blooming into rich fullness in red and green. The camera loved the location, and started to act like a human, capturing the nuances of nature like an ordinary human eye. A yellow flower, focused out in the picture is a classic example.
The diverse landscape and all of the vastness that Oregon offered me, made me think that anyone who visited this place, would learn to appreciate life, nature and all of the bliss around. I don’t think it spared the engineers who built the roads to the coast. The first view from the flat roads is that of the lofty mountains. As you keep driving, the road elevates and the sea becomes visible. I had never seen the coast from an elevation like that, ever before. On top of it, mountains on one side, with ocean on the other, just visit Oregon I say! And the engineering marvel of the road smoothly tilts the farther side of the traffic for a seamless view. So your scenic view does not get obstructed or overshadowed by vehicles on the opposite lane. Did the engineer’s aesthetic sense just get refined in this heaven? Or was it the mountains that asked for a better view of their wavering neighbor?
After having waited for every other wave, like a seashore, we still wanted to stay there and never go back. It would have been at least an hour since we had talked to each other. Nature silenced us. Rather humbled us. We gave each other a hesitant look after the pop up of google flight reminder. We wanted to undo that act and continue not talking to each other. We hated each other for an unknown reason at that moment. Maybe it was the splashing waves, or the towering mountains. Nobody stopped us though. But we had to go back! To our lives, to the routine and the challenges. To face them better this time. To live life!
But Siuslaw let us take one last look as we parted the forest, trust me we remained silent for longer . . .
Out of the 26 options available in the English language, at least one ought to be a food post right? This is the one. Did you ever experience a food coma after some cheesy oily pizza and pasta? All you parent mommies out there, I am sure you would have had morning sickness during your first trimester (at least). Did you feel the need to have something that would give you instant relief from your gastric and bloating? Travel bugs, senior citizens, pregnant women, indigestion cramps, who else and what not? There is an angel out there who answers everyone’s calls and that’s Naarthangaai aka the citron. It is a mandatory item in South Indian shelves, and is considered a dead lift agent in every household.
The aroma is medicinal and inviting. It looks and tastes very similar to lemon, but the citron has a unique flavor that works on call for all of the troubles thrown by the stomach. Greenish skin that peels off in ease, dry epidermis, and a juicy interior flaunts its flavor upon cutting it open, citron is our dear mitron (if you do not know the significance of this word mitron, I urge you to – Mitron ). Yes Citron is a favorite friend. Ironically, we don’t want to hang around Citron all that often because Citron’s continued demand means there is an ongoing trouble in the system. Now that we have an idea about it, let us look at some lip smacking citron recipes.
Naarthangai saadham [Citron Rice]
Very similar to the traditional lemon rice, wash and rinse the rice pellets before pressure cooking. Upon release, temper the rice with mustard seeds, lentils, curry leaves, Asian Indian green chili, hing powder, turmeric and salt. Once the rice cools to lukewarm, squeeze the citron cuts on the rice and mix it to homogeneity. Those who have tasted this recipe should have already conquered the mild citron sweetness in addition to a lemon rice’s sour that haunts them right now.
Uppu Naarthangai [Salted Citron]
This is a go to snack for the in-digested souls. Yes. You read it right. Upset stomachs can afford snacks? Remember citron is our mitron, so the answer is an undisputed yes. The beauty of this recipe is its simplicity. Citron balls are cut to pieces, and sun-dried after adding turmeric and salt to the juicy flesh. That’s about it. No oil, no tempering, flavoring or detailing. All the flavors get imbibed in its tissues, on exposure to sunlight. It is dried to an arid outer skin and is believed to stay edible for several years when it is maintained cold. Ceramic pots are known to be the signature citron containers in traditional households. Be sure to always have a back up at home. It can cure diarrhea and constipation alike. Pregnant keep smelling this magic ingredient to relieve themselves of the morning sickness. With yogurt rice, this is typically a go to medicine without side effects.
Naarthangai Oorugai [Citron pickle]
Now this is a luxurious version of the previous recipe. There is room for some glamor in the name of gingelly oil and spices. With glamor, comes a price and that is the preparation. Fenugreek and hing are dry roasted and powdered to finesse. Aroma is waiting to be added. Meanwhile, salt and spice blinks at the citron from inside the jars. So take them both and grind them to fine powder [dry red chilli and sea salt]. Mix the aroma and the spices together and set the stage for some absorption. Similar to the previous recipe, cut the citron to pieces, and add the prepared powder. Make sure to mix them well for an unbiased mixture. Warm the gingelly oil to mild heat, and pour it over the flavored citron. Of course watch the delightful seeping of the hot oil into the crevices and cracks of the citron forest. Allow it to settle down for 3-4 days, or more if you like it well immersed in the bath. Some people add more heated oil just as a preference. More oil preserves it longer. Relish the pickle with snow-white yogurt rice or piping hot plain rice. Citron redefines heaven.
Naarthangaai Pachadi [Citron side]
There are two variations to this dish. A spicy and a sweet version. In the spicy version, tamarind water bath filled with citron pieces, is brought to boil on the stove. The full becomes half, by thickening of the tamarind pool, and injecting the flavors into the citron flesh. Oil tempered mustard seeds, urad dal, curry leaves, and hing are added to the reduced mixture and salted to taste. For the sweet version, jaggery could be dissolved in the tamarind bath and brought to boil. Without jaggery, the sour n spicy version tricks the taste buds into eating until the finish line. A perfect side to any bland main, a healthy option not to be missed.
A husband’s sister is a naathanaar to his lady. As a gesture to honor sister-in-laws’ relationship, this name, similar to naarthangai, is a metaphorical reference to a medicine like bond that needs to preserved and savored eternally. Apparently, Google requested a dessert’s name for Android last OS, and naarthangai was a favorite among the Asian Indian options. A bunch of other interesting recipes and memories can be savored, for citron is always a mitron.
On the second year of the world menstrual hygiene day on May 28th, I write this blog. I write it as I read articles, posters and materials dismissing cultural practices around menstruation, calling them Menstrual Taboos. I write it as I read about organizations deciding for Indian women based on what they think is superstitious beliefs which need to be uprooted. I write, for all the women across India, who follow menstrual rituals and have asked me what these practices signify. I write for the men who have never known what to make of menstrual practices – to support them or to dismiss it. I write because I feel responsible for reviving what has been lost. I write with the learning and the realization that none of these practices were originally meant to suppress women.
Over the last one year, my team has traveled to 8 States across India to…
Blog. A blog is considered very informal and conversational in nature. For all those introverts and tight-lipped observers, blog comes as a breather. Not all bloggers are introverts. Not all introverts are bloggers. But the two make a handsome pair – A match made in heaven. There are extreme introverts who don’t share their blog. Then there are those who don’t blog because their thoughts might slip out. And then there are those who don’t utter this word. We are a mixed race. Moving on to the other side of the world, bloggers express in all forms – pensive posts, travel and leisure experiences, crush and love adrenaline rushes, moral anger, life experiences and anything and everything that slithers into their everyday life and leaves a mango of difference – big, bright, sweet and delicious! Oh, and how did I miss the food bloggers? I am just going to try and blog about different bloggers who have been captivating me for a while now.
Foods & Foodesses – Not not fools. Foods. Foods are the male counterparts of female foodies. First things first. Only after you feed yourself, can you do anything else. Food bloggers are a recent growing catch – I guess people started out picture blogging their recipes. Today, we have a plethora of food bloggers that promote a specific lifestyle such as veganism, vegetarianism, pregnancy foods, toddler foods, pet foods and classic restaurant recipes. Food is emotionally connected to, by these foodies. Food is one roof that comes in all colors and cultures. From planting their favorite herbs in their kitchen, to garnishing their flaming efforts with all their love and care, seeing their loved ones close their eyes in relish, pulls down the foodies’ excitement levels to coma, as a side effect of a fine delicacy. It is an instant answer to most fights in our households. Long life Foodesses!
Travelbugs– Now that we had food, lets travel a bit. ‘Wanderlusts’ as they call themselves, are travel bloggers who have a passion for new lands and neo-waters. Borders can’t stop them. Nor can VISA denying leaders (winks). Outdoor remains their calling and craving. They breathe the places they travel to. To them, the definition of a traveler is very important. They are known for keeping their head held high when identifying themselves from a tourist who takes a picture of themselves in a place while a traveler takes the picture of just the place in its pristine view or most other times, be content gulping the scenery down their throat to be safely unedited and framed in their hearts. A huge chunk of this imagery is retained in their memory that impregnates their soul and breath to conceive a colorful blog. This is the climax of their travelgasm. They travel places to discover themselves and document their journey into the divine inner self. Their notes become a handy guide to most first time travelers and cross-country passionistas. Had it not been for these wonderful souls, how would we travel to exotic locations within the walls of our room? You go wandras!
Pennists – Travel taught, food for thought! (Trust me I am not hungry! Just that my food has reached my brain now. Ok!) Pensive bloggers cover a broad spectrum of topics from relationships, love, bonding, nostalgia to life experiences, small bigs, rants and ramblings. The birth of words from their emotions quakes the hardest rock in the deepest of oceans. Pensive bloggers easily discover the shortest route to a successful writer in my opinion. Emotions are a natural instinct that could connect with people across cultures and countries to unite in a jiffy. And that, remains the crowning glory of pensive bloggers. Three cheers to the future pentratures!
With a lot more vlogs, photoblogs, instablogs, quoradditions, genres and niches getting a taste of blogs, I think the possibilities are blogless. Yes. I just tried to add that word to my dictionary. To me, blog means no limit. Sky could be the limit for scientists. But remember ‘Blog’ only begins with B.
Every experience in life begins from self and ends in self. Count it from fighting your way as a tiny egg to making it out through a world of thwarts and thoughts. Life is a journey and every journey filled with life is a world in itself. Right from being a pampered little kid on a trip to managing my move out of homeland, trips have taught me a plethora of things. Backpacking is one of its kinds in real. I am going to share the top 5 that backpacking trips could teach us. And many more than 5 that we could learn from them.
Keep your bag light.
I have seen a lot of people travel very heavy. Take only the essentials and not anything that might be an option. This is easier said than done. In my first trip, I had a bag full of change clothes (and all the what-ifs that lead to this). I am paranoid about wearing the same clothes for more than 6-8hrs. So I always over-packed clothes even if it were a two-day trip. This went on until in one fine hiking trip, I realized what a burden they caused to my back as I went uphill. To get over my paranoia, I started working around with wet napkins, wet towels and frequent freshening up despite the warm/cold water in a new place. Dress to the occasion, season and the place. Don’t stick to fashion while traveling since you are out there to find and try out newer additions to your wardrobe.
Keep your purse(s) lighter.
This is one underrated point. Women generally tend to carry a heavy purse or wallet and if you ever had a chance to peek into your mom’s purse, you would know that you could potentially find a baby rabbit in there – alive and healthy! On a serious note, I started to avoid loose change, metal accessories and jewels, heavy key bunches and anything potentially metallic including the make of the purse. Using a cloth purse with minimal necessary cards (CC, insurance card, and maybe a debit card with an ID card) should suffice. As you get closer to the town that you are about to explore, get cash denominations from local stores or ATM if you find any.
If you are a small or a big group, try to carry one camera for the group and enough memory cards to click as many shots as you please. This significantly reduces the load on all of your bags. Take turns and assign roles to be watchful of things. This way, when one person is tired, there is another who can keep a watch on speed/milestones/interesting spots to stop/food stops, etc. If you are traveling alone, carry a lighter camera and socialize with people in groups who have better resolution cameras. It is not a bad idea to share good pictures of the places taken by them during the trip, and you can keep your camera for your personal pictures. Life is all about sharing so why spare travel?
Be completely aware of the place you are backpacking to. Educate yourself on the weather risks, expected temperature and delays. I have had bummer trips like the ones when I traveled to a national park during full snow and had a difficult time on the road. After all of the arduous journey, the park was closed down due to weather. I had pushed my research to be done during the drive and was at a disadvantage when my phone signal was out then. It was a letdown in terms of my first ever 12-hr drive that I had dreamed of, months in advance. Always carry a set of active wear even if you don’t plan to jump into water or get into water activities. Another huge takeaway is to use a dedicated GPS so that you are not bogged down by your poor phone signal for navigation.
Here we come to the most important part of the trip. Forgot your GPS? It’s okay. Find a local guide and get a paper map the classic way. Camera broke? Never mind. Nature has given us the best pair of lenses to see the world. Let go of the damage and count your blessings. Did the weather throw some suspense? Divert a bit and visit a nearby treasure. This home planet is vast as our minds. No matter what goes wrong, work around, put up with it and paint the trip with memories. Remember that your smile is the paintbrush and your life is the canvas here! Enjoy. Relax. To your full. Eat, breathe and sleep the place. Dream! Find new answers. Find newer questions to solve. Get out of your frames and expand your horizon. Break free of your comfort zone. Try newer things that you never dared to, or thought you would. There is not a single spot on this planet that can or cannot be fully explored, for this world is full of beauty and mystery just as life is full of surprises.
So what are you still thinking about? Your crunched paycheck? Oh come on, plan a budget trip, at least plan! And go!