India and Covid-19: The Harsh Reality

Thanks to Australian blogger, Lloyd Marken, I have been following his reports about the pandemic all around the world.
https://backtothedrawingboardproductions.com/2021/06/26/covid-19-diary-one-in-three/

His latest post features a You Tube video clip from the news programme, ‘India Today’. This 4-minute clip shows the devastating effect of Covid-19 deaths in that country. Poverty is so severe that many cannot afford the wood to use to cremate the bodies of their loved ones. As a result, many corpses are simpy floated into the River Ganges instead.

On the sandy banks of the same river, thousands are being buried in shallow graves in the sand, covered by prices of cloth. Unknown, and unmarked, these graves are increasing daily, and when the river floods after expected heavy rains, most of the bodies will simply be washed away into the river.

This is not the sort of thing we see on nightly news bulletins in the west. But it is exactly what we should be seeing, when we still have so many people convinced that C-19 is a conspiracy, and are refusing to get innoculations. This is the reality of life in a poverty-stricken country, facing an explosion in numbers of deaths from the virus.

Guest Post: Mugdha Kulkarni

I am very happy to present this guest post from Indian blogger and writer, Mugdha.

Here is her short bio.

Hello!
My name is Mugdha, from India.
I own a small website, my haven, where I occasionally write on life and love, mind and heart, books and songs and not the least, you and me. Please do visit:)
Apart from writing, I find comfort in music, paints, rains, sunsets and chai.

This is her guest post.

THE STRONGEST PERSON I KNOW

You retire to your bedroom after a long day,
the bed still unmade with the sheets long gone cold,
a sad glaze in your eye and lie down,
curling uptight to realize that
there is no warmth to hold on to
and finally, as if long-held gates forced open, you cry.
Not sob but cry.
Till eyes go red and tears prickle down your throat.
Nose running and saliva dripping down the corner of your mouth
‘Why would you tell that?’
Oh, but it’s never meant to be heartbreaking in a beautiful, cursed way, love.
Why is being kind and gentle so painful, you ask nobody.
Why do I always bite back my words?
Why can’t I for just once, not overthink and speak my mind?
Why should I suppress all of my now-fading desires?
Why can’t I just run away and start anew?
You can’t hold in your painful sobs anymore
so you let the leash go.
You cry out, scream and howl and
pull your legs up deep till it hurts in your stomach and lay awake, a mess for time unknown.
To save any confrontation you run into the shower,
night silent as scalding hot water trickles noisily on the cold bathroom floor and your shoulders alike,
finally warming a bit of your soul.
How long has it been since someone hugged me,
not said anything at all but just held;
running calming strokes down my back?
You can’t remember for sure.
So you just hold yourself,
trying to breathe and keep your eyes open
till water finally turns cold.
Sometime during dawn, you return to your room,
too exhausted to dress properly and
finally sleep on the cold bed, too empty inside to care.
I know, you have since long, fought your battles alone.
You blame yourself at least once a day, call out yourself weak
Till every emotion dissolves and you submit yourself to resignment.
I am painfully aware that everything hurts, like hell.
I know I am in no position to speak on this
as no one knows you better than yourself
but what if I say that sometimes, I am so much like you ;
you will then hear me out, won’t you?

Yes, we break down into the most real and despicable version of ourselves,
almost wanting to die.
But I know you won’t completely deny that
you do finally wake up, burned out, yes, to the first glint of sun seeping into your room in the morning as birds chirp outside
blissfully unaware of all wrong happening in the world,
and sit on the bed, disoriented, for a long time, I agree,
but then brew that coffee, and even glance at the paper to read the headline of another disastrous news.
You manage to cook something for yourself, a little burnt, yes, but definitely edible,
get ready, slowly, agreed; but what’s more;
even dare to hum a tune and nod towards the old lady
staying in front of your house as she smiles sweetly,
and wait for your bus at the stand, when you could have run.
It rumbles in deeply where you stand as if excited to take you to the hellhole again,
but you somehow manage to not cry or break down
as the doors open, and you step in and not turn back again.
And if that isn’t being the strongest person in the world, love, then no such thing exists.

Please use this link to connect with Mugdha, welcome her to this community, and discover more of her writing.
https://wordsofmugdha.wordpress.com/

India Beats Britain!

No, I am not talking about test cricket, though we lost that series too.

Checking the stats today, I was surprised to discover that views of my blog from India are now in second place behind America.

Britain is now in third place for views.

Am I being deserted by my own country?

Anyway, thanks very much, India!

Featured blogger: Suzan Khoja

Suzan is a young blogger who lives in India. She is a confirmed book lover who also tackles serious subjects on her blog, like body-shaming.

https://magicalbooklush.blog/

Anyone who has ever visited her blog or has been lucky enough to have her as a follower will be aware that she is fully-engaged, lively, friendly, and very entertaining. Her book reviews range from childhood favourites like comics, to serious classic novels such as Orwell’s ‘1984’. There is definitely something for everyone on her blog.

This is what she has to say about herself.

Be Free!!
These days all I hear is people don’t have time to read or don’t know what to read. People feel shy reading in public because they get labelled as ‘Nerds’ and are often insulted. Athletes and social butterflies who love reading hide to avoid embarrassment. I am here rebelling against those human shaming people that force readers to hide their love. They actually forget that they read everything including text messages to time on their watch. It’s a rebellion against the racism created by the cool people for the love of BOOKS, for ourselves. Join me in this rebellion, help me spread my word, help me encourage readers, help me bring out their best and loveable side. Books are the imaginary world we all need. It solves half of our problems. Click on that tiny button and join me for not only book reviews but many more things like reviews on apps, fashion, technology and the situations that usually occur in our lives. Join me for a nice chat with a cup of coffee and all your problems on the table.

She has some regular features, like ‘Bookish Friday’.

BOOKISH FRIDAY || IT’S READING TIME!!! {10}.

And ‘Literary Monday’.

BOOKWORM IS BACK!!! || LITERARY MONDAY.

There are author interviews too.

LAILA BHAIDANI’S INTERVIEW || AUTHORS’ INTERVIEWS.

More about her.


Hey guys, if you are reading this, thank you for your precious time. I love books, they have been my life since childhood. As I am the only child, I don’t have anyone to share my views, opinions and discuss what I like and dislike. This blog is like my mirror image. I post all my opinions about books, society and everything that comes to my heart. So if you like my blog please share it with me. Discuss your opinions on my blog and tell me your suggestions, I would love to hear you all. Thank you once again for reading.

Suzan also posts about Indian culture and celebrations, as well as family life, and the day to day routine. During the time of the Covid-19 pandemic, she has also written about the impact of the virus on India, and her own city.

Please take a moment to read more of her blog, and get to know her better.

Two weddings and a funeral

I am reblogging this post from Peggy in my new series of ‘A Reblog Offer’

Where to next?

Indian bride

Indian groomHello, called out a male voice.

I looked up from hanging out laundry on the roof of our hostel in Bharatpur. There he was on the next-door roof only a metre away.

Hello, I replied. He motioned me to approach. I waved, smiled, helloed again and hung up one of Poor John’s shirts. Hello, he called, come, come, he insisted.

Turns out he wants to invite us to his sister’s wedding that night. But we are six people and these are the best clothes we have, I said, pointing to my camping pants and merino top. This news didn’t faze him in the slightest.

Fortunately, Anand appeared on the roof and chatted with the fellow in Hindi. Soon it was all settled—we were going to a wedding.

As the day progressed, the neighbour on the other side of the hostel invited us to his daughter’s…

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Guest Post: Rupa Jambholkar

Today I am featuring Indian blogger, Rupa. I am presenting a post from her own blog, a touching poem about her love for her husband.
Here is her own short bio.

“I am an engineer by degree. A home maker by choice and an artist by soul.

I live in Mumbai, India with my husband and two kids.”



Love needs no fancy flowers!

I pulled out the chair for you,
but forgot
you weren’t there.
I made your favourite chicken curry, spicy and hot, just the way you want.

I envisage, the way you relish it,
licking your fingers,
and asking for more.
You know and I know,
it’s too hot for you but you still love it.
And I wonder why?
I see the way you look at me ,
with your loving eyes.
Even though I look like a pallid soul.
And at that moment , I try to steal my glance away from you, but your eyes stay fixated on me.

And then you hum,
an old romantic song to compliment me,
but I pretend that I don’t blush nowadays
and I somehow manage to smile,
to hide the fact that, I still feel so shy.

I cannot elucidate to myself, how can you see beauty in me, especially now, when I fail to see it anymore.

AND HOW CAN YOU, AFTER SO MANY YEARS NOT BE BORED, OF AN INSIPID ME?

Yes I did hear the doorbell, my eyes have lit up, I know it’s you.
And you know that, I was thinking about you, waiting for you, so stop smiling and give me a hug.

The curry is still warm,
so is my heart and so are your arms,
And now I see what I saw, the same love to begin with.

You can read more of Rupa’s work on her own blog, Pans & Proses.
https://pansandproses.wordpress.com/

Please try to find some time to welcome Rupa into our wonderful blogging community.

Guest Post: Vaidehi

I am very pleased to bring you a guest post from Indian blogger, Vaidehi. She writes about travel and wildlife in India, and also posts short story fiction.
https://vvaidehi.wordpress.com/

Here is a short bio.

Brief introduction about myself

I am V Vaidehi(with Vaidehi as the first name), from New Delhi, India. Till two years back, I was working, at the middle management level, for the Indian Railways.

I love all aspects of travelling – the planning, the experience and the reminiscing. The last part led me to start my blog a few years back. Since hiking in the Himalayas occupies a special place in my heart, I started with a few posts, recounting my personal experiences on the Himalayan trails.

I write about other types of travel too and have just taken baby steps into the world of fiction writing.

And this is the unedited guest post, accompanied by some photos.

GAZE AT EVEREST INSTEAD OF CLIMBING IT

In May 2019, a picture of a traffic jam caused by climbers queuing up to summit the peak of Mount Everest had gone viral on the internet. I was aghast! Is it an easy stroll that so many were clamouring to summit, all at the same time? Not to mention the damage to the fragile ecology of the Himalayas and loss of so many lives.

It took me back to that evening when I had a ringside view of Everest and three other formidable peaks of the Himalayas from the comfort of the balcony of the lodge where we were staying.

Now, I am not a mountaineer by any reckoning. I am not an adventure freak either, though I have crossed Passes at 14000 feet, mouth dry, heart pounding and wondering why I got myself into such a situation. Also, I am not young nor do I enjoy excellent levels of fitness.

But I love hiking in the Himalayas, however contradictory this may sound. I am partial to the innumerable trails at the lower altitudes, below 10000 feet where the tree line ends, that take you through meadows, forests, streams and villages. The hike on which I am now going to take you along with me does not have many of these features, and has certain negative features instead. But then, what a glorious view it offers when you reach the ridge on the top!

It was a cold but clear December evening and we were at Sandakphu, a ridge in the Eastern Himalayas, at an altitude of 3600 metres. We stood there, mesmerized at the sight of Kanchenjunga – the third highest peak in the world at 8586 meters – come aglow with the rays of the setting sun. The vision of Kanchenjunga as seen from Sandakphu justifies the sobriquet it enjoys – “the sleeping Buddha”.

Much as the horizon at Sandakphu is dominated by Kanchenjunga, which is bang across – in your face, so to speak – our eyes kept darting to the awesome threesome far away at the extreme left – Makalu, Lhotse and Everest. It is only on a clear day that these can be seen and of the three, Everest seems to be the shortest as it is farther off and is distinguishable by its midriff and above perpetually swathed in clouds.

The trek to Sandakphu, which is at the crest of the Singalila ridge near Darjeeling in India, is one of the popular hikes in the Himalayas, as it is the only easily accessible place in India from where four of the five highest peaks in the world can all be seen together! Four out of five is a grand score indeed and that too, for people who are not into serious mountaineering. Singalila surely merits the title of “a ridge with a view”.

This trek can be attempted by first timers but is no less enjoyable for the seasoned trekker. It is a typical tea-house trek, with good lodgings available en route. So, no need to pitch tents or carry sleeping bags! Just hire a guide from Manebhanjan and hit the trail!

It is a short five day trek starting from Dhotrey, which can be reached from Darjeeling by road in an hour, via Manebhanjan. You climb for the first three days, halting at Tumling and Kalipokhri, to reach the ridge top at Sandakphu. The trail then descends on the other side of the ridge to Gurdum and finally reaches the road again at Rimbik. The distances to be covered each day range from 6km to 13 km but certain stretches are steep, like the final ascent to Sandakphu and the descent to Gurdum.

Let me get over the negative aspects right in the beginning. The trails on which you walk on the second and third day are not really hiking trails. The trails are paved with small sized boulders, some of them with sharp edges, to facilitate the movement of the British Land Rovers of vintage 1948 , which still run right up to Sandakphu. These ancient beasts (of beauty, some might say) look like they will fall apart any moment and the ride, I am told, is nerve-racking and rattles everything else too. Avoid it and labour on, on foot.

“Why could they not make at least a narrow mud trail alongside, for the hikers?”, was our perpetual lament during those two days. I believe a part of the trail is now paved with concrete, which again cannot be called a hiking trail but easier on the feet, I am sure. Also, those who choose the Land Rovers, have to return by the same route and will miss the beautiful forests on the other side of the ridge.

A fascinating aspect of this trek is that you go in and out of Nepal for the first two days as the border is quite porous in these areas. When we reached Tumling after the first day’s trek, we were amused to learn that the road belongs to India and the village on the side of the road is in Nepal!

At Tumling, we made sure to be up at the crack of dawn to catch the first rays of the sun on the peaks of Kanchenjunga. It was a magnificent moment for us and we were to experience it again at Sandakphu, at a much closer range.

Kalipokhri, where we halted after the second day’s trek, is also on the Nepal side of the border but being positioned below the ridge, offers no views of Kanchenjunga. After walking on that stony trail for five hours, we gave our weary feet some rest and had a great time playing with the kids of the Nepali owner of the lodge at Kalipokhri.

The trek also passes through Singalila National Park, which is a natural habitat for the red panda and himalayan bear. Both are elusive and cannot be sighted easily. The forests on the upward trail to the ridge top are somewhat sparsely wooded unlike those on the other side of the ridge. The trek from Kalipokri to Sandakphu is short but steep and suddenly, we were there on the ridge, with an unhindered and magnificent view of Kanchenjunga.

November and early December are the best times to go to Sandakphu for clear views of not only Everest, Makalu and Lhotse but even Kanchenjunga. April is also considered a fairly good time with rhododendron blooms all around but clouds and mist could act as the spoil sport. On a misty day, you could be standing at Sandakphu and not even have an inkling that the mighty Kanchenjunga is right across, let alone have any view of the Everest group.

We woke up to a very clear morning the next day and feasted our eyes on the changing colours of Kanchanjunga – a glowing orange at dawn to a blinding white by the time we left Sandakphu. And again, we were treated to a clear view of Everest, Makalu and Lhotse.

The trek for this day was downhill all the way and passed through lovely forests on the way to Gurdum, a picturesque hamlet. The trail on the last day of the trek is fairly level and passes through Srikhola, where we had lunch in a quaint lodge by the side of a mountain stream. At Srikhola, we left the wilderness behind and walked on to the road head Rimbik, where the jeeps were waiting to take us back to Darjeeling. One can also skip going up again to Darjeeling and instead, come down to Siliguri to take a train to any part of India.

If you are reasonably fit and yearn to walk in the Himalayas, a trek to Sandakphu to gaze at Everest and its cousins and be awed by the grandeur of Kanchenjunga, should certainly find a place in your list of things to do!

Thanks to Vaidehi for a great post. Please take time to visit her blog, and enjoy what else you find there.

Indian Bloggers.

A recent perusal of my blog stats has told me that my Indian readers are now the third most numerous, after the USA and Britain. This is undoubtedly helped by the fact that so many people in India speak English, and write their own blogs in English too.

As well as that, they represent a significant percentage of my blog followers, and many of them are fully-engaged bloggers who regularly comment on my posts. This pleases me a great deal, as we have hundreds of thousands of people from an Indian background living in the UK. When I lived in London, I met and worked with many, and was always interested in their culture. This not least because my dad spent a long time in India, serving there in WW2 from 1941-1946. He showed me numerous photos of his travels there, and regaled me with tales of that exotic land in my youth.

Sadly, I never got around to visiting any part of that country, and fear it may be too late for me to do that now. But through the wonder of blogging, I can see and hear the lives of people there, and appreciate the differences, good and bad.

I have featured some Indian bloggers and authors on this blog before, but I would like to do more.

So if you are one, and follow my blog, please think about sending me a guest post, telling me and all my readers about where you live, what you do, and what life is like for you in that vast country, with its huge population. If you are interested in doing that, then send me an email to petejohnson50@yahoo.com and I will let you know what is required.

Best wishes to you all, Pete.

The Quintessential Possession-my saree box

A wonderfully evocative post from Indian blogger Ritu Ramdev, about the importance of the Saree in her culture, and her own treasured Saree box.

MusingAmusing

A must have in every Indian woman’s wardrobe…saree.It not only symbolises femininity but also the great Indian traditions. The versatility stored in its weave and draping reflects the region from where it belongs. Though over the years it is losing its significance to the hassle free western dresses but still it occupies an indisputable place in each household. Every woman likes to boast of her heterogeneous collection from different parts of the country- Baluchari, Taant, Painthni,Chanderi, Kanjeevaram and the list is endless. An army wife for sure feels highly jubilant when she flaunts her collection by virtue of having been posted to such places where she gets an opportunity to pick an exclusive piece from the maiden source. Over the years, it definitely adds to her self glorification…but other than just being reflective of one’s indulgence there are innumerable stories associated with each and every saree in the box.

The…

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INDIA ON COVID-19 || COVID-19 UPDATE.

Another view of the effects of Covid-19, this time from Suzan, in India. Fascinating to hear about how the virus is affecting life in different countries around the world.

Magical BookLush

Good morning people. How are you all?? How’s corona?? Is it still traumatizing you?? Well, India has learnt how to fight it…actually India has learnt how to overlook it. I haven’t been writing or commenting on any Covid-19 posts basically trying to avoid anything related to it because I got my news reporting mom. To be honest she should be a journalist. Too much reporting of news. Well, I had thought of informing you all the state of India so here I am with today’s special post about Coronavirus. So without any further ado let me step by step take you to all the things going on in India. Let’s go, shall we??

So as we all know Coronavirus is spreading all around the world and killing many people. It’s hard to avoid the news when the only news you get is ‘coronavirus killed these many people in these many…

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