Pack your bags and head to Kasauli!

The thing about solo travel is, you can never feel 100% ready.

There will always be a tiny voice at the back of your head asking, “Are you crazy?”

It is true in the literal sense of the term that travelling opens new gates and horizons for us. The world becomes a platter and small hamlets, cities become our dishes to cherish. Last year, I decided to just pack my bags and head towards one of the most beautiful places in Himachal Pradesh – Kasauli. It is one such place where homestay owners run their own Instagram business and localities run a marathon.

This place is not just a delight for sight but also for religious and spiritual awakening! Read on why Kasauli should be your next travel destination!

  1. Monkey Point

I started my journey of exploring Kasauli with Monkey Point. Monkey point is the highest peak viewpoint where a lot of travellers especially cover on their journey. Monkey Point is a peaceful peak area where one can get a view of the entire Chandigarh plain view and river Satluj flowing through the Himalayas. Its name is Monkey Point because of the famous Hanuman Temple located at a height.

Monkey Point.jpg

  1. Mall Road

Unlike Shimla and Manali, Kasauli’s Mall Road is typically smaller in demographic range. This is a much-loved exception to the otherwise quiet Kasauli. While most areas in Kasauli are off-beat, one must not miss this colourful hustle bustle of the town. The market is at its vibrant best during early evenings and I would personally recommend an evening stroll at the market.

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  1. Baptist Church

The Baptist Church located near the entrance of Mall Road is one amazing attraction of this small town. This church was built by Britishers in 1923, and it is highly influenced by a blend of Indian and Victorian patterns of architectural designs. A must visit for history lovers.

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  1. Sunset/Lover’s Point

The sunset point lies near the army cantonment area and it is a breathtaking place to be. The lane through which I passed the area is also known as Gilbert trail or Lover’s Lane which is a quiet lane to watch and click good photographs of the Himalayan sceneries.

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  1. Tibetan Food

One just should not miss the mouth-watering Tibetan cuisines Kasauli has to offer when one is on a stay. One can try the incredibly tasty momos and ginger green tea at the cafes located on the mall road. Narinder Sweet House on NH22 is particularly popular for the same.

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Packing Ready?

 

24 Lessons Turning 24 will teach you!

24 is an awkward yet wise age. This number sounds heavy and more so, the baggage it gives from the society makes it plausible. You start to look back on the times you’ve spent with people who were literally there for you. There are those who stab you in the back, those who stand for you miraculously and those who never return back.

At 24, you realize that maybe you haven’t stopped loving people but more so, you have lost trust in them and you begin to learn if you can really love someone just for a moment, without trusting them, believing that you can even take a bullet for them.

Sometimes at 24, you retreat yourself into a cocoon again and refuse to come out of it because you are so done with those who constantly are out there to drain your energy and bring you no good.

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Perhaps at 24, you will avoid the people you love and hurt yourself by hurting them and don’t know the reasons behind your actions. You escape. You start doing things you never thought you would do. Your cocoon becomes ever so stronger and maybe you become weaker than ever from inside.

And sometimes tragically at 24, your 20’s begin afresh for the new challenges and curve balls. Avoid, Do, Read, Learn, Accept, Move On and look out for a fresh change at 24.

  • Pleasing people account for your own failure.
  • Watch out for those who don’t applaud your achievements.
  • Ignore the constant pulling you down remarks. They are not worth it.
  • Ignoring negativity is no sign of an optimist.
  • Stay away from those who always want to have ‘the last word’.
  • If you feel they drain your energy, learn to ignore them.
  • Seek what is seeking you.
  • Recall back your day every night.
  • Keep a journal.
  • Travel as far as you can, as much as you can.
  • Ignorance is truly a bliss!
  • Respect everyone’s individuality.
  • Judge but don’t hate! There’s a difference!
  • There will be great days.
  • There will be awful days too.
  • Respect yours and others choices.
  • Lend an ear to a person in need.
  • Meet people Face To Face.
  • Write every day. You need not publish it.
  • The world you see is a reflection of you.
  • Even your closest friends will hurt you at some point in time.
  • Don’t stay in the past. It will not bring any good.
  • Invest in genuine friendships.
  • You can always go on a long walk after a bad day!

 

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I may never know…

I started studying Psychology a few months ago. I went to a couple of interviews too for my new prospects in life and I guess I mastered them. I guess. (Just Kidding. It’s only a start. There’s always much more to learn.)

A lot many times I ask myself what I will do next and what have my past learnings done for me. If I will start with a job real soon, switch career, freelance, learn a course, go alone to travel for another month. Full disclosure — I don’t know yet. I don’t know what I’m doing next and it stresses me out and I understand that nobody means to scare me more but it’s a very confusing time for me.

I’ve been very much occupied from the past one and a half year, so far, and now I’m suddenly not. First of all I went to Goa and had a ball of a time with my newly found gang of friends. I met with an accident and was bedridden for like 10 days. Post that I had a cousin’s wedding to attend and then I started with my new job in a school. I was mostly occupied till April 2018 before I decided to pursue a course in Digital Marketing and earn alongside. Phew… I have always had my hands full. Constantly working, learning, improving and exploring. And, I believe this is the only thing that has given me much vigor, exposure and a life to live.

I was offered a job that combined my passion for writing and marketing and I fully devoted myself to it – working in corporate communications. I worked for about a year with the company until I shifted to Gurgaon to live all alone by myself and began with another exciting job with an e-commerce giant. I have enjoyed my time there, so much that I have discovered that I can write the best of my words to paper and digital.

In the middle of this, my sister got married and I was constantly traveling to explore some cities – Kasauli, Goa, Pune, Mumbai, Shimla, Udaipur, Manali and Darjeeling,  some by my own and some with friends. The only art that I have mastered professionally is writing brilliant copies for Content Marketing and Public Relations and I believe I can continue doing that. Or just, maybe not.

Later this year, I started with a new job after much much thinking and realized that the struggle every day to reach there wasn’t for me. I waited till the time I traveled to North East and then to North India on a bike trip after which I will have nothing to do in life for the next couple of days.

You needed all of that potentially useless information above in order to understand that this is basically the first time I’m getting a chance to sit back, take a breath and figure out my immediate future. The only thing I can promise you right now is that whatever I choose to do next is not going to be permanent. I like to think and plan for the near future, set short-term goals for myself and basically take it one step at a time and figure out what to do next once I’m a little older and a little wiser, hopefully.

6 years ago, when I started my Bachelor’s in Literature, I didn’t choose it for life. 3 years ago, amidst graduating from college I took a little time for myself to explore writing, it wasn’t for life. 2 years ago, when I started with real work in publishing/magazines/colleges and live by myself for the first time in my life, it wasn’t permanent. 1 year ago, when I moved to London to learn to be a better reader and writer, I guess it was for life in a way, but then I graduated, worked and learned — I am free now. I’ll have all these experiences for life, but as a part of my past.

I would like to think that I’m always open to new experiences, no matter how frightening the uncertainty feels. I moved to Noida and Gurgaon and had 2 very eventful years there — always working 2-3 jobs and having a ton of freelance work and my own writing to do. Right now, there’s this huge void where I have no course or jobs and I’m living alone with my thoughts, trying to figure out what to do next. I might move to a different city, state or even country. I might work in a different field. Or I might continue living in Delhi and work in the writing arena — because I love the city so much and the people I meet every day.

Point is, I don’t know and I love not knowing just as much as I hate not knowing. I have the entire September to figure it out — a month filled with lots of reading and writing. I started working on the next book. Stupid cover—done. First chapter—started. Story ahead—no clue. There’s fun in uncertainty!!  hanging out with friends, working on myself, changing the way I look, possibly finding some exciting part-time work and learning something new, Netflix and chilling (I mean, coz, Breaking Bad rocks!) and doing autumn things in the City!

I’ll update you if/when I make a major life decision. Till then, here’s a picture of me having just as much control of my hair as I have of my life right now.

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Peace.

Why I write?

It’s been four years since my father died. I have written three books, in these four years. In each of my books, if you read the acknowledgements (and in some of the dedications) you will find I mention my father.

My father was a rule breaker, a trend-setter, a pioneer in many things he did. He believed in questioning everything. He would be single-minded and work around the problems in his path. He was a leader. People who knew him will tell you he was undoubtedly the most positive person they knew. He was deeply interested in people–and he could hold a conversation with equal elan whether he was talking to a security guard or a Chief Minister of state, with an aged woman or even a rag picker.

I wonder what he would have said if he read my books. I am sure he would have been proud. He would have probably bought tonnes of copies and gifted them away to everyone he knew, his heart swelling with pride, seeing his daughter’s name. He would have probably mentioned me to everyone who spoke to him.

I owe a lot to my father.

Above all, I owe my never-say-die attitude.

Like I said in my blog posts, When those who we love die, they live on inside us.

But that doesn’t stop the pain. Whoever said it gets easier with time, lied.

To whoever said ‘He is watching you from Heaven’, I can say with certainty, that those words bring no comfort.

I miss him every single day.

I hurt and bleed inside every single day.

So I write.

Italian Cuisine Lover? These Delhi Restaurants are your paradise!

Mangiare per vivere e non vivere per mangiare – (Eat to Live, Don’t live to Eat!)

Here’s some Italian wisdom to get your taste buds already tickling! While we English-speaking folks tend to say something along the lines of “work to live, don’t live to work” – showing our work-centric approach to life, Italians have, shown us a better way to love food and life!

‘Mamma Mia’ is the word that comes to my mind when I think of a freshly made penne arrabiata! Delhi has no dearth of amazing food joints and outlets and over these years what has kept me hooked on this city is the amazing food options that it offers to the natives and unlike!

The essence of pan-pizzas, spaghetti and what not is already lingering on my mind. I am sure you’ve been to one or two places I am about to mention and if you have not got that lucky then consider your food experience attain sheer salvation!

The essence of pan-pizzas, spaghetti and what not is already lingering on my mind. I am sure you’ve been to one or two places I am about to mention and if you have not got that lucky then consider your food experience attain sheer salvation!

Big Chill Café, Khan Market, MGF Metropolitan

Who hasn’t heard of Big Chill! It is the universe of amazing pasta and pizza delights. The minute you’ll have that first bite of their red-sauce pasta it is going to be a Bon’ Appetite Moment! But I am pretty sure it’s the Audrey Hepburn staring down at me from her Breakfast at Tiffany’s poster. Here, surrounded by pretty posters of artists long gone, in the warm ambient light, the buzz of conversations floating about, you can hardly brush off the good feeling that engulfs you.

big chill

QD’s, Satya Niketan/GTB Nagar 

I was introduced to QD’s in my first year of graduation and not because of its heavenly pasta. But, because of the steamed momos, it offers to its visitors. I’ll make a confession here – I am not a fan of momos, in fact as much as I like the sound of this dish’s name the same amount of hatred is for this dish. A few of my friends even call me an outsider aka not a Delhite. But, who is generalizing? Right! If you are ever craving for those perfect bites of mouth-watering pasta then QD’s is surely the place to be! Leave the chicken tandoori momos aside for your non-vegetarian friends.

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Tipsy Elephant Café, Connaught Place 

I started my graduation in the year 2012, back then CP was a place for lazy office-goers and metro regulars, and now whenever I am in and around CP I have seen a phenomenal change in its aura! It has become the-place-to-be on a Saturday night! With this fresh and sensational change, there is also a sea of same interior style imitated on cafes around each block. Defying all these “me-too” blocks is Tipsy Elephant Café that offers you a balcony on a spring night with your people to enjoy the best of 80’s music. Coming back to Italy, You have to try their veggie delight pizza that is a sight to behold and savour for the time you’re there at this place.

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Billu’s Hut, Netaji Subhash Place

If you are that one spendthrift person alike me and on a lonely Friday night your only escape is food then take out that vehicle or hail the Red-Line metro to experience the wonders of Billu’s Hut. Billu’s Hut is an extremely popular food joint for mixed sauce, red-sauce and penne Alfredo. How can I forget? Their kit Kat and traffic jam shake are to die for! These two amazing eateries will only cost you 200 bucks and then you can’t call it a Friday night! It is truly death by chocolate and of course, by the spices of Italy in their dishes on the menu!

Billus-hut

Billus-hut

Vault Café, Connaught Place

I have been to Vault Café to many times to count and every time the chef’s culinary skills do not fail to impress me. Vault Café is that one place where you can just enjoy those good, old, nice, bored, sad whatever talks with your girlfriends and relish the taste of their spaghetti. You can count on me for this one! I don’t know if they’re those wall like vaults that attract me to the place and give me a sense of being in one of those harry potter movies or the outdoor seating or the Italian food! Vault Café is a must visit for all things too good to be really true!

vault-cafe

Break-Up Blues…

In the very early days of my college years, I had a friend who was coping with a breakup. I couldn’t help but wonder at times that what is so attention seeking and captivating in her man that she just cannot get herself together? After a few years, by destiny’s play, I had to step into her shoes because I was contemplating severe acts against my depressive chain of thoughts.

Then I had a thought, I cannot do this to myself. I just cannot retreat myself into a cool, dark place of a cocoon, I couldn’t get much dumber. I was in a deep, dark pit of shallow and mundane thoughts where my happiness laid in the hands of a person who had abandoned me. I had completely forgotten my self-worth and my grounds shook beneath my feet. But, then again there is always light at the end of the tunnel! I met a friend who consoled me in and out, empathized with my suffering and handed over a rope to me to get that out the pit.

If you too, know someone whose behaviour unlike the normal days, their social media presence is off-putting and any other signs that you feel might be a cause of worry. Then you should definitely lend an ear to that friend going through a breakup.

1)    Empathy is the key

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Gautama Buddha said it right, “Resolve to be tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant with the weak and wrong. Sometime in your life, you will have been all of these.” When you know that your friend is not able to get over the depressing thoughts of his lover’s departure it is best to climb into her/his skin and think out loud from their viewpoint. Only then, you’ll be able to come to the best conclusion.

2)    Don’t be judgmental too early

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Hear me loud, there is a huge difference between listening and understanding. It happens every day, people fall apart, some of them get back together and some of them don’t! In those times the best you can do tour friend is not try to be hard on them. Most of the people behave bizarre and odd when they face challenging times, this simply does not imply that you have to reciprocate the feeling. Don’t! Give them time!

3)    Introduce them to a hobby

This is perhaps the best thing you can help them with. Whenever a person focuses on her/his hobby he is bound to give more than 50% of his attention to the said task. You can ask them what brings out the best in them so that they can switch off their negativities and re-boot!

4)    TALK

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It’s nice to important but it’s more important to be nice. Why do I say that? There is no greater loan than a sympathetic ear! Talk to them when they feel alone at night or they ignore everyone else around them. Take a walk. It helps!

5)    Ask them to travel

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Last but not the least, travelling unties all the knots that we bind, be it the knots of pessimism or residues of over-thinking. After you lose someone special, you gain a lot of lessons and some of the best lessons we learn are from travelling!

 

 

Six Years without you!

There is bravery in loving, even after the pain. Even from afar. Even with nothing in return.

Hey Utkarsh,

It’s been really, really long when you and I sat with each other and spoke through written words. It’s been really long that I wrote to you, it’s been really long that I touched to you. This longing is happening for six years. Six Years. Six Years is a really long time. Six years mean 2,190 days, Six years mean 52,560 hours, and Six years mean 3,153,600 minutes, and Six years mean 189, 219, 600 seconds.

They say, “When you lose someone special, you gain a God”. They say, it right! You have been there by my side with each passing year, month, weeks, days, minutes and seconds. I know it, I feel it. You know, I could have never ever mustered up the courage to communicate with you through these words of mine. I combine 26 letters of the vocabulary every day and make a living out of it. Thank You, Utkarsh. Thank You, for leaving me with a power, I would have never found on my own.

I started penning down the breathings of my heart when you left for your humble abode six years ago. Six years mean a lot. There will be sixteen, sixty and perhaps many more years where you will not be there by my side. I, or for that matter anyone in this universe does have the power to bring you back physically in this world. But, I can make you live for eternity through these voices that pinch my ears and tell me, ‘Talk to Utkarsh’, he is listening. You do listen. I know. You have always lent an ear when I feel alone, vulnerable and lost.

There have been days when I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs and beg for your existence. But, you’re adamant and so is the Almighty’s choice. My love, I just want to let you know today, that you are not missed. You are fondly cherished and I know that you will always be there with me, through thick and thin. I have stopped missing you. I have stopped calling out your name when a new face asks me about you.

Utkarsh, you left this world and me with a void that can never ever be filled. I still look back on the day, when I saw you for the first time just after I had missed a basketball goal at my school’s court. I remember you telling me, “You’re an amateur at playing basketball” and how I faked a laugh right brushing away the dust of the game. I still am, an amateur, haven’t graduated to a pro! My God, time is such a funny thing.

I have passed that school, passed a college, started with jobs and look where we are today! I know, you are somewhere resting in peace, where there is no commotion of the daily mundane routines. Where people live in peace, where there are no worries and only smiles. I wish, I could be there with you. I just wish, sometimes… Where, I won’t have to prove my existence with each passing day. Where there is no running no coming back.

I published a few books, some of them are silly, and some have them have a mention of you. I hope you are proud. I cross that street often where you and I used to meet. I see a faded image of you and me talking here, where I tell you how much life has changed after you. I have emerged stronger, but there is a constant heat in my stomach. I have met new people after you said goodbye, you’d be glad to meet some of them.

A few are funny girls and stupid boys exactly like the company you wanted me to have. I wish we could share a drink together, all of us. Can’t, right? I have fell down a lot many times after we last exchanged glances. I have met with a few physical injuries here and there, been rejected and two of the boys broke my heart too. I know, you would punch them on the face. Don’t worry, we won’t seek revenge, we won’t punch them on the face! Stop smiling, I am talking, here! My family has advanced on so many levels and so has my living.

There are alone nights when I wake up panting my breath, because I dream about you – that you’re alive and this is all a joke, the universe is playing with me. I get back to normalcy towards the dawn and carry on with another day. I go to that park at times, where I went six years ago when I heard the news of you! I have a special place in my heart for those stars that saw what I’ve been through. I long for a terrace as such, so that I could just feel your hand on my head.

Six years is a long time, Utkarsh. I do not cry anymore. I laugh at odd moments and I still never cease to believe in true love. Crucial moments in my life demand your thoughts, your guidance and support. I think about you and go with what my heart says. You’d be happy to know that I make you and everyone else around me proud. This is the least I can do.

I am furious with this law of nature, to separate a special one through death. They just go, they never breathe again, their heart never beats, and they sleep. Like, forever. Did you meet Dad at your residence? He might be somewhere around, look for him and say my ‘hey’! I don’t miss the both of you, I miss the happy times and laugh at the memories. Those memories are a treasure. Your passing away has made me what I never thought of becoming. Thank You, Utkarsh that’s all I have to say.

Saumya Kaushik

Just, don’t ever take that guardian angel away from me. A friend of mine, Shweta, helped me a lot to forget about you, right after I didn’t know how to even cross those narrow roads, she did her best. I can’t thank her enough. I so wish you two could meet.

Well, there are others too… One of them is exactly like me, one of them is a saviour, one of them is like a baby to me and one of them is a 4 am friend. There was a time when darkness was my friend and I couldn’t get much dumber by staying in that cocoon of mine. I had to open up. It was high time. I am happy, alive and kicking! 🙂 Just that I am getting old, while you are in some cradle enjoying new glances of your new parents and siblings. Do me a favour, return back in my life as a reader, please!

Will we ever meet again? I don’t know. Are you out there alive, somewhere? I don’t know. Six Years have changed a lot. Rest in Peace, my dear Utkarsh, I tell you every day.

16th June 2018

Saumya Kaushik

New Book – Life Beyond Expectations

Hey!

I have a news for all my readers – I am coming up with my new novel, “Life Beyond Expectations”. If you have landed up here by any mysterious games by Google then you can check out my other books here.

Here’s what the blurb of the book’s cover say!

Life beyond Expectations narrates the story of Tanya, a young girl with millions of ambiguous yearnings. A shattering departure without an announcement happens to Tanya at a tender age. From then on, she finds the true love of her life in the writings of Browning and Fitzgerald. Yet, she longs for a shoulder to cry on to simplify the suddenly turned down upside life. Tanya drifts further away from her family when she disposes of herself with politics and a charming politician. Eventually, she faces bloodshed with a terrible separation – leaving Tanya in an utterly depressed state.
A job at an inclusion school brings her face-to-face with reality where she discovers a direful secret about her upbringing. Unlike the times, Tanya chooses to follow her family shedding away the burns of the past. Tanya’s percipience comes to light when her mother and a friend opens up to her about the agony she has faced all her life.

Life Beyond Expectations explores a vivid picture of exceptional children born in upscale families. The story invites the readers to confront their own rebuttal with their families.

And, below is the jacket of the book which I have designed myself 😀
More details will be very soon up in this post.

Love,

Saumya

LBE