Category Archives: Incredible India


“The events, characters and firms depicted in this story are fictitious. They do not bear any sort or resemblance to actual persons or professions, living or dead.”


It’s a foggy morning. It’s September but the sun’s still not visible. Slowly the light rays make their way into the cramped room through the spaces between the iron rods, as rustic as the hues of the golden sun that splashes all its colors at once; dramatic, enchanting yet temporary, lasting till the night sets in and paves way for the uninterrupted darkness.

Razia stared at the ceiling, then her gaze fell at the man sleeping next to her. He was handsome, his fair skin contrasting with her dusky one. Soon, the heat inside gets unbearable, and the man gets up. He puts on his shirt, makes his hair, gets his cellphone and calls up his wife.

“Sorry sweetheart I was stuck up with some urgent work. You know how these IT industries operate. We have foreign clients. Sometimes we need to work overtime and stay back for night shifts. Yeah I’ll be back in an hour.”

“I know what you must have been thinking about me, Razia. A man must be dedicated to his wife. But you know what? I’m in love with you! You surely have something in your eyes that makes me come to you again and again! The comfort you provide is unmatchable! I mean, my wife can never live up to my expectations. You’ve set a benchmark. Will meet you soon!” He left with a wink and a smile.

Razia smiled back. She didn’t respond. How could she know about the relationship between a husband and a wife? Unperturbed, she got up and cleaned her face, smeared with kohl and lipstick, and put on her clothes. It had been a steamy night, like all other nights.

The phrase “I love you” was no more a melody to her ears. Everyday someone or the other used it on her, to soothe her burns, only to cut them up again, just for a few hundreds of rupees per hour. But she has learnt not to complain.

“Listen to what your customers say and don’t be a hassle. This is our business, and we must do it the right way. Sometimes settle down for a bargain. Business is slow- so do as the men say. Don’t let your ego get into your head. It can ruin your career. Utilize your youth before it is lost behind your age. And yes, sell your body, but not your heart. This isn’t a place for weak hearted individuals. Once you’re in, you’re out of the game. Understood?”



Mornings are filled with hustle and bustle in this part of the city. Sometimes Razia goes around the electronics shops, looking at newly ordered gadgets. Goods starting from televisions, microphones and cameras-all glitter through the glasses. She had managed to get enough money saved to buy a smartphone for herself. How she wished she could call her mother and talk to her, at least for once! She might be still alive and languishing somewhere, begging for a livelihood, or she might have died of a disease…who knows?

Budhwar Peth- a name synonymous with Lord Ganapati, houses three temples out of the five major Ganapati temples located across Pune. Every morning after she took her bath, Razia would go and stand outside one of the temple premises. She never dared to go inside, for the world had labelled her as impure; a creature who has no past and no future, a creature not even worthy of a penny, nothing. Just a creature whose existence was carved up long time ago inside the four walls, who was silenced forever. And God wouldn’t like to see His ill-fated lesser mortals. It would be a disgrace.

The ABC Chowk was the favorite destination of students. Every day she could see scores of children, teens and adults thronging the marketplace as if it were a sweetmeat shop. She could see so many girls carrying schoolbags with them, chatting loudly as they stop to eat Dabeli and Pani Puri. Small girls, with oiled hair neatly tied up into two long ponytails in their red and white Salwar Kameez, looked adorable.

She had the freedom to go into any bookstore she wanted. She could glance over the stories from the Panchatantra and the Aesop Fables. Diagrams from twelfth standard chemistry textbooks. Images of the Universe. She used to get astonished by the photographs of celebrities in glossy magazines. Some were identifiable, from the item songs that they perform; some were not. They looked so gorgeous!

She looked gorgeous too; her kohl rimmed eyes spoke of a feminine aggression; her ruby red lips gave her face a new dimension, already overloaded with powder. Jasmine flowers adorned her long hair and she wore strikingly bright colored saris. Her wrists grooved to the tune of her bangles.


“Why am I not rich and famous like them? Even I put make up and wear dazzling clothes”, she had asked her Madam one day.

“They work for the entertainment industry; you work to entertain men. They encash their beauty, you encash your build.”

She was infamous; for her identity belonged to the city’s biggest brothel. Never did a single day pass on the roads where she could walk with peace; the men catcalling and making jeers, the women throwing disdainful glances. Mothers could often be overheard warning their kids, “Never go near her, she’s a prostitute!”

Running away was not an option. This was her home, her only identity. She had tried running away a long time back. She doesn’t even remember the dates anymore. The stigma associated with the monotonous humdrum of her polluted life followed her like her shadow.


It had been a summer night. Razia was a teenager back then, barely 15 years old. She was sleeping beside her parents. Suddenly, she was woken up by a commotion outside. There was this loud sound of firing and gunshots, and before they could understand what was going on, she saw her father being shot in front of her own eyes. They dragged away her petite mother, who didn’t even get a moment to cry over her husband’s corpse.

Razia was confused. Her father’s lifeless body was before her; his calm eyes wide open. It seemed as if he wanted to say her something. The ethnic cleansing of their community was getting violent and deadlier with each passing day, but Razia had never ever thought in the wildest of her dreams that she’d have to lose her parents in such a horrific manner. She ran away to the village mosque nearby, and sat inside, clutching the Quran tightly in her fists. The mosque was a dilapidated structure now, which bore the signs of religious discrimination and hatred.

The next day, she could hear the screams of women and children who had lost their husbands and fathers last night. She was still scared to go out of the mosque, she felt secured inside. “Allah would stop all wrongdoings and punish the goons”. She had full faith on her God.

In the blink of an eye, she saw her Ammi Jaan.

Ammi Jaan looked no longer petite, it seemed as if she was in the possession of some djinn. She had disheveled hair and her clothing torn to pieces. Her face was swollen and her eyes were red. Her body was full of scratch marks and wounds.

“They’ve burnt our house. We have nothing left in this country. Let’s go.”

“Go where, Ammi Jaan?”


Soon they were busy walking amongst a sea of people who seemed to be knowing where they were going. It was bad, crossing jungles in those same set of clothes and barefoot. The thought of death scared them no more, they had already lost everything back home. The hopes of a new, dignified life at a distant motherland—-

“So is this your story, miss?”, the reporter sipped tea as she made notes.


“And what is your name again, pardon?”

“Razia. Razia Sultan.”

“Razia Sultan was the—’’

“Was the only female ruler to rule the Delhi Sultanate in your country”, came back the curt reply. “I don’t know why my parents christened me with this name, but I had read about her in school. She had been a brave lady, and had always tried to connect with her subjects. She had protected all kinds of ethnic minorities in her state. Unfortunately, she couldn’t reign for long and was killed. Three burial sites in India claim to hold her dead body remains.”

“You’re literate?”

“Yes. I had to leave my country the year I was in 10th standard.”

“Please continue with your story.”

“Where was I? Ah, yes. My mother was acting strange. She had this grave look on her face and wasn’t crying or talking. She just held my hand firmly and led me through the forest. After walking some miles, I realized that we were fleeing our country. Imagine, leaving your country in this condition—’’

It was a hot sultry afternoon, and the reporter was getting impatient.

“I meant your story. About how you landed up with this Madam here.”

Razia smiled. Her shadow followed her everywhere. Such a wretched luck that she had, the misgivings of her fortune had even robbed her of the status given to a refugee.

“Okay let’s stop it here. How many times do you reporters need to learn about the stories of these women? Do you think the police has the entire day to spend over both of you? Off you go now! I have to go through these official proceedings,” the Police Officer came in and took the chair next to her.

“How long you’ve been in this service?”

“Three years. Maybe four. I don’t remember exactly, Daroga Sahib. During the initial days, they used to hit me because I was always trying to escape from their clutches. I never cooperated with the clients. I used to cry and scream and kick my hands and legs in anger and disappointment. So, Madam and Ashfaq used to beat me hard. Very hard.”


“The guy who sold me to Madam.”

“We’ve issued a notice to look out for him. He is responsible for a lot of cases like yours. By the way, do you have any medical issues?”

“I don’t know, but I have had abortions quite for a few number of times. I wasn’t taken to any nursing home-Madam used to hit my stomach hard with the heavy sticks like you use.”

“Your medical reports suggest that you’re HIV positive.”

Raziya’s face went expressionless.

“Technically you’re not an Indian citizen, but you have a voter ID card. You are an orphan and you don’t have a family to go back to. Also, you’re infected. We don’t know what to do with you. You’ve to stay under detention for a few days till we find a reprimand home for you. As I said, there are lots of women and children being rescued every month, some have families while some don’t have, and mostly the families don’t want their daughters back. We don’t know where and how to accommodate you all. The NGOs are in constant collaboration with us. Let me see if I can register you with any.”

“Thank you very much, Sahib.”

“And while you’re here, you can keep on entertaining us.”

It’s late evening, and the sun has started to descend, throwing its golden hues for the one last time tonight, before paving way again for the victorious, uninterrupted darkness.


The red light area at Budhwar Peth in Pune is said to be very huge with 4000-plus commercial sex workers. Where is our world heading to?



Happy new year, my dear followers and my fellow bloggers!
We writers are fierce, brave and bold. We believe that the pen is mightier than the sword. Nothing deters us from exercising our freedom of expression. With Bangladeshi bloggers being killed, the Charlie Hebdo incident and Indian writers returning their awards, 2015 has been a tough year for the writer community. Nevertheless, we shall continue doing what we do the best: Writing. Let us promise to inspire people through our painstakingly handwritten texts. Let us bring out the brighter side of humanity. Let us spread happiness and awareness.
I have been reading your blogs religiously and I must say that everyone of you had something good to offer to the big World Wide Web. Well, here’s my share: my second travel journal.

Animals have always been associated with religion. Nature has inspired different faiths. Hence, my parents believed that there couldn’t be a better time than Durga Puja to visit Odisha’s very own biodiversity hotspot: Bhitarkanika. (thanks to my class mass bunk actually :p)
Bhitarkanika is a national park located at Rajnagar in Kendrapada district. What makes it special from other parks are its mangrove forests, spread across the Brahmani-Baitarini estuarial region. It is the second largest mangrove forest of India, just after the Sundarbans. Housing the saltwater crocodile, water monitor lizard, deer, migratory birds, turtles, and dozens of aquatic species, amongst others, Bhitarkanika is a treat for all the wildlife lovers.

We started our journey at about 11.30 a.m. by road and reached at about 5.30 p.m. The long journey had tired us out. Sitting in the car the whole day with my cousin on my lap was fun, but exhausting as well. The countryside scenery was excellent. We crossed small ponds, gardens, paddy fields, rivers and saw the lovely sunset. After entering Rajkanika, we noticed fisheries on either side of the road, along with small huts surrounded by vegetation: the homes and the businesses of the local fishermen. We saw aerators in the pond to supply oxygen to the prawns.

Our resort had a striking resemblance to that of a village: each cottage had been made in such a way so as to blend with the forest. Our rooms had all the basic facilities, though. There was a small pond, paddy cultivation, a small orchard and a flower garden inside our resort. No T.V, no internet. Most of the networks wouldn’t receive any signal except BSNL, so be ready to spend a day without social networking sites.

20151022_172423 - Copy
The food tasted great, with sea food being obtained fresh. Most of the other food stuff, including packaged drinking water, is procured from outside, from a nearby village which is accessible only through boat. Every day, the staff resort toil hard and take dangers to ensure the perfect vacation for you. You can dine on big fish, crabs and prawns. Other veg and non veg delicacies are also available at special request.
The next day, we were up by 6 a.m. After taking bath and breakfast, we were ready to plunge into the wilderness. Our fellow tourists were mostly Bengalis, a few Odia people and two ladies from the Netherlands!
We hired a motor boat from Khola. The one room office was just next to the entry gate of Bhitarkanika, hence was being guarded. We had to give all our personal details which was necessary for the officials to initiate a search if we don’t come back (well that sounds terrifying :p)

20151023_080216 - Copy (2)
We saw what we were craving for: the mangrove forests. During the morning time, the water from the Bay of Bengal had pushed itself into the rivers, hence resulting in a high tide. When we returned back, the excess of water had already resided back into the sea.

Our journey to see the crocodiles began. We had been warned not to dip our hands into the waters, as a hungry croc might be waiting inside to gobble you up. If your boat suddenly capsizes (not to worry as this usually never happens until and unless done on purpose), then you can see the heaven within minutes of touching the water surface. We had stretched our necks out in anticipation, to spot the oldest living reptiles on earth. I spotted a plastic water bottle as well. Trust the humans to dump plastic inside a national park!
And then, our motor boat suddenly stopped. As I was looking around in confusion, there it was! A saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus parosus) basking out! There was no turning back after that. We passed through various creeks and saw a lot of crocs: some big, some small. The scenery was pretty new, not of a regular kind. The mangrove forests are stretched across miles, with nothing but mud colored brackish water in between. The eerie silence of the vicinity can give you freaks, with occasional sounds of a bird or a croc diving underwater.

Our excitement reached at a whole new level when we spotted deer! There were lots of deer by the riverside. But they weren’t drinking water. Perhaps they knew about the presence and timing of the crocodiles hence were taking precaution and waiting for the right moment to quench their thirst. We also saw a water monitor lizard and a white crocodile.
The riverside was muddy. So we could see fresh foot and body prints of crocodiles and the monitors, sliding into the water, which indicated their recent presence.
We reached a stop called as the Heronry. Migratory birds from foreign countries come during winter to breed here. We took a short walk in the forest. We reached a high tower and climbed on it so see the unseen: thousands of herons perched atop the tree canopies. The canopies looked white, with the birds building their nests on them.
While getting down from our boat, we noticed some small strange looking fishes on land. They were feeding outside water! Later I came to know that they are called mudskippers a kind of amphibious fish which can live both on land as well as water. Some have been reported to climb onto the mangrove trees as well!

There was a board warning us to walk on the concrete path only, and not on bare land, as crocs might have sneaked into the small clearings present throughout the forest. Our walk was exhilarating, mostly mine as I spotted pneumatophores in large numbers, about which I had studied in Biology. They are also called as breathing roots and go deep into the soil before coming out of them and standing erect. Mangrove forests are present in brackish areas, which always have a lack of oxygen. Hence, to fulfil this need, the plants have devised this method of respiration. We also spotted tiny red crabs and eccentric looking insects on the mud.

20151023_093905 - Copy
Our next stop was at Dangamal. Here too, we had to take a walk in the forest. We saw large tracts of ponds filled with algal bloom, with cacti along the concrete paths. We spotted two more towers, which were in use by the King of Kanika, during the Zamindari period, for hunting purposes. After independence, the Zamindari system was abolished and the responsibility of the sanctuary fell on the shoulders of the Odisha Govt. The towers have been repaired for the benefit of the tourists. There are two small temples, dating back to the time during the reign of kingdoms, where the deities are still being worshipped by the villagers. Walking on the plain grass spread out on the clearings, just below the blue sky made our trip all more enchanting.


Our last stop was at the museum. Here, we saw fruit orchards and medicinal gardens being maintained by the forest officials. The collection of eggs, skin, embryos and skeletons of crocodiles, wild boar, deer, snake, turtles and other lizard species housed at the museum is fascinating. We saw the skeletons of 18-19 feet long crocodiles! Contrary to what I had seen in the zoo, I had thought that the length of the crocs must be about 10-12 feet at max, but this was shocking! Bhitarakanika has entered the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest crocodile spotted of length 23 feet! That’s scary. It gets more scary: according to the 2015 census, Bhitarkanika has 1665 crocodiles teeming underwater. Hence, it comes as no surprise that during rainy seasons these crocs often wander into paddy fields and drag unsuspecting farmers to death. Some temporarily reside in the village ponds, killing cattle and sometimes humans.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The singular attraction of this stop was:


Gori tere pyaar main :p

The mangrove forest cover has increased, so has the number of crocodiles due to adequate protection towards the species, thanks to the tireless efforts of the State govt. towards the conservation of wildlife. The population estimation of the crocs takes place every January. The work being done towards the preservation of the biodiversity is remarkable, but the plight of the nearby villagers during rainy season is depressing as well. We educated people always preach to save wildlife but end up in killing the most indirectly. But the villagers are the true heroes who share their lives with these frightening creatures, without complain. They are dependent on fishing, agriculture and tourism to eke out a living. For this reason, the govt. needs to enhance their security so that it is possible to live harmoniously with nature.
Where: Rajnagar, Kendrapada, Odisha
How: By road: Route: Bhubaneswar-Cuttack-Nischintkoili-Kendrapada-Salepur-a lot of the countryside-Kendrapada town area-Rajnagar. Can travel by bus/take help of Odisha Tourism
When: Can go starting from the month of Oct, but preferably during Dec-Feb to see the highest number of crocodiles and birds
What not to pack: Any kind of plastic/polythene which needs to be disposed off. There is no proper waste disposal unit out there, and the rules are even stricter as it is a national park. Therefore the waste is either dumped into the ground/burnt. So try to avoid polythene.
Travelling time: About five and a half hours by road, have lots of petrol saved up
Road condition: Fairly stable, some countryside roads need urgent government attention
Food: Local dhabas spread erratically across the region during travelling and resort buffets during the stay.
P.S. Kendrapada is famous for its sweets and if you are visiting during DP, do make a point to enjoy the Gajalakshmi Puja 🙂
People: Since you are a visitor and you are travelling by car(which is a luxury for most of the Indian people), some villagers might stop your vehicle from time to time, asking money on the occasion of the puja. Otherwise, the forest guards, the guides, the boat drivers and the staff at your resort are great folks, who shall make you feel at home with their warm hospitality.
Accommodation: Panthanivas, owned by the Odisha Govt. or private organizations offering cottages and food at expensive (read reasonable) prices, owing to the location of the park. Booking should be done in advance before 3-6 months, due to high demand of wildlife tourism.
Total cost of the trip (including stay, food, car travel and boat ride for 6 people for 24 hours): Nearly Rs 15000/-
During the trip: Do’s and don’ts
• Keep sufficient amount of drinking water
• The water might call you out to take a little feel of it, but you dare not to
• Stay close to people, specially your boatman and your guide
• Do not litter the forest
• Do not walk on bare mud
• Do not touch the trees as snakes and insects are abundant in that region

So this winter, come home to wilderness. Come home to nature!

P.S. For best results, do watch the Australian movie Black water :p

Debashrita 🙂



Climate change is a transformation in the distribution of weather patterns over long periods of time that range from decades to millions of years. Since the formation of the earth 4.54 billion years ago, the earth has undergone 5 major extinctions, mostly due to these climatic changes i.e. a cyclic pattern between the ice ages and the warmer ones. And we are heading on towards the current Holocene extinction event very fast. Most of us shoo off this topic as merely an exaggeration about global warming, but it is actually happening, and if we visualize the situation in the terms of a country like India, the situation is worsening with each passing day. It is indeed a shame for us that Chennai has overtaken Delhi as the most polluted city of the world.


India puts a great pressure on its existing natural resources, even more profoundly than its counterparts because it is a developing nation. The water table is depleting fast, the summers are getting longer and hotter, and the rain spells are getting erratic. The sea levels are rising due to the polar ice caps and glaciers melting at a pace like never before.


The biggest crisis of India is that its population is dwelling in ignorance. Most of the people have no idea about global warming, and even if they have, they are not bothered about it. And our nation has a plethora of other problems, which need greater attention than the climate. Illiteracy and lack of basic education and health facilities in many parts of rural India top the chart.


Most of the people in our country do not have the purchasing power for food and fuel. Immigration to the cities in the search for a better life adds to the pressure on the existing limited drinking water and electricity. However, the pollution contributed by the richer nations should not be compared with the pollution coming from the poorer ones; the former use it for the increasing lifestyle of luxury and comfort, while the latter utilize it for their survival. Today, necessity has become a luxury, due to the ever increasing greed of humans. And global warming is the perfect example of this phenomenon, disrupting  forests, lives and livelihoods.

Nearly 60% of the population is agrarian in nature, and our country has more than a billion mouths to feed. Agriculture takes up nearly 90% of the fresh water resources of our country, and with depletion of the water table and with the increase in the production of water demanding crops like rice and wheat, the situation is getting grim. We are facing the aftermath of the Green Revolution. Frequent drought spells are getting common mainly in the central and the eastern parts of the nation. Denganmal, a village in Maharashtra, where people keep more than one wives just to fetch water from long distances should be an eye opener for all of us. Latest statistics report that India will run out of drinking water by the year 2040.  Farmer suicides are a reminder for us that the provider of food has himself no food security.


The change in the sea levels is leading to powerful cyclones, hurricanes and tsunamis every year.  Salt water intrusion in low lying agricultural plains could lead to food insecurity , spread of water related diseases and lack of fresh water.

India houses 3 biodiversity hotspots from 32 present: the Indo-Burma region, the Western Ghats and the Himalayas. The endemic amphibian species of the Western Ghats are fast dying out. The rare and exotic plants of the Himalayas are fast disappearing even before we get to know about their astounding medicinal properties. India has now only 23.07% of its forests left. Illegal logging for agriculture, grazing lands, urbanization and commercial plantation are the major causes of deforestation.


Destruction of the wild habitats is leading to a more exposed interaction of humans and animals, and hence, strange and often incurable diseases are cropping up from the warmer parts of the planet. The maladies are spreading on to the colder regions too, due to the gradual increase in the average temperature of the earth, which has increased by 0.6 degrees in the last century.


Greater political and bureaucratic attention is needed to diversify the livelihoods of the poor people to reduce their vulnerability. We need to have a significant increase of targeted investments in crop production and management e.g. crop rotation, mixed crop production and organic farming and advanced irrigation systems like drip irrigation and water sprinkler approaches, which should be given to smaller farmers at a subsidised rate. We need to utilise the maximum amount of our existing agricultural lands by using genetically hybrid crops which are more tolerant to the environmental stresses like droughts and floods. There is an immediate need for placing water meters in every Indian home for checking the water usage.

Afforestation will not only help in conserving forests and decreasing desertification, it will also help restoring the water table, in tackling natural disasters and in regaining the livelihoods of the people who are dependent on forestry. Crop pollination needs mutual coordination between the plants and the pollinators like honey bees. Hence, this would ensure maximum food production naturally.

It takes about 10 kgs of grain to produce 1 kg of meat. This contributes to the global warming and our failing health. Hence, people need to shift from a non vegetarian to a vegetarian diet. Buying fresh produce would lead to the practice of rooftop hydroponics, which is cheap and easy to produce, and would definitely act as a combat towards excess plastic packaging layers. Use of plastic bags need to be banned immediately. People need to use cloth/jute bags for getting their groceries.


The good old 3Rs : Reduce, Reuse and Recycle still hold true. We need to reduce our usage of packaged materials. We need to buy less. We need to reuse old clothes, books, toys and stuff. And finally, newspapers, bottles and scrap should be recycled. Scrap materials from used automobiles and e wastes should be treated properly and can be re used. Instead of recycling, we can burn the waste materials in waste incinerators and can generate electricity.


The development of a country largely depends upon the growth of the small scale industries. Amount of carbon produced is the benchmark of development. The small scale industries cannot cope up with the Clean Development Mechanisms initiated by the international communities. Hence, the laws enforced for the national and the international giants in the markets should not be imposed on these units. Rather, the government should bring on some innovative solutions in collaboration with the national leading institutions at a subsidised rate so that they can both thrive and prosper under the new laws, without compromising their income.


More number of nuclear power plants need to be setup in our country. And most importantly, the myths associated with the nuclear effects need to be sorted out first. Solar based water pumps in certain areas of Sambalpur district in Odisha has led to the efficient utilisation of water with the demonstration of an excellent use of solar energy. The Canal Solar Power Project launched in Gujarat, uses 19,000 Kilometers long network of Narmada canals across the state for setting up solar panels to generate electricity. Energy efficient systems are the need of the hour. Our country is a fast growing economy, with a lot of business opportunities. Hence, alliances with powerhouses can serve as a blessing for those 400 million people who do not have a proper access to electricity. Biogas is being implemented by village people since long, and is a perfect example of utilisation of organic farming. Using natural products is only possible if sustainable development is undertaken hands on with technologically feasible solutions for the environment.


India, being an affordable holiday destination for many, can serve as a heaven for ecotourism.  It leads to the preservation of the nature as well as works towards the protection and enhancement of job opportunities for the forest loving communities.


When we consume less energy, we spend less on energy. Hence, it is cost effective. Thus, we need to create laws for automobile and aviation industries, furnaces and miscellaneous factories to keep a check on their emissions, as per the standard norms decided by the governing bodies. By purchasing energy efficient gadgets, we can reduce our carbon footprint.

Awareness is need to be created amongst people for safer practices for nutrition, hygiene and sanitation, so that people are alert towards their changing environmental conditions and get more health conscious. More number of nutrition programs and clinics need to be functional in the rural areas for the proper diagnosis and the treatment of the people in a short period of time. Telemedicine and Any Time Medicine technologies can bring radical changes in the history of treatment.


There is a need for more number of people who can enhance sustainability development like agricultural scientists, ecologists and biotechnologists. People need to be more aware of their opportunities as scientists and the role they have to play in the society. Extra amount of the country’s budget needs to be spent on the research and development sectors to bring on more innovative and challenging solutions for tackling the environmental issues.

Keeping the frequent natural disasters in view, there is an urgent need for advanced weather forecasting systems and their timely broadcasting in our country to ensure minimum damage to lives and property.

We need to promote cities with excellent public transport facilities and need to encourage them to use ethanol and CNG. We need to convince our farmers to grow bio fuel crops like jatropha, camelina, switch grass and willows; along with normal food crops. These grow well in poor soil and use up less fertilizers. These are high in cellulose, and produce low carbonic fuels.


The solutions to these challenges are definitely not simple, and are not at all possible if they are only implemented by the government. Participation of the common mass is equally important to make these projects a success. More awareness is needed to be created amongst the public about their role towards the environment and their future. There is so much of positivity around us. We just need to make them happen.



Sorry, folks! I kept you waiting for so many days…….actually I was really busy with my studies……..but now I won’t allow it to overcome my passion to write!
As usual, you need a lot of patience and time to go through this. [I write less, but still I write more. I have the biggest mouth in the whole world.]
Let me tell you about my recent trip to New Delhi. It’s not recent, really, as I had been to the place in the month of June, but the artistic impressions of the city still remain vivid in my mind.
The historic city of Delhi or New Delhi has seen many a great rise and fall of kings and queens, emperors and empires. Well now we stay in a democratic country, so we don’t have kings or kingdoms anymore; but they have left their monuments for us perhaps as their legacy. They may be dead, but their memories live on.
Some months back I used to watch a TV program on DD National titled as the Forts of India. I’d really like to thank to Indian Government for producing such an educational show. It used to show about all the Mughal as well as the Rajput forts. Some of the Rajput forts even have their descendants residing there. I had been really fired up by this show as I had been after seeing Maharana Pratap, so when Daddy announced that we were going to visit the glorious Indian capital, my excitement knew no bounds.
The day we reached the place, we were too tired to make any trips. So, as expected, we went to KFC for dinner :p [Quite thrilled about KFC as KFC Bhubaneswar hadn’t opened then] [Born to eat] ;] :p
The next day, we started at 7.30 a.m. The traffic laws had been made stricter because just a day back then Rural Minister Gopinath Munde had expired due to a car accident and doctors had written in his biopsy report that he could have been alive if he had his seat belt on. So we back seated passengers were obliged to put on the seat belts. We had completely left on our driver to guide us around the place. So he was doing all the directing part. I quite do not remember the dates and order of our visits, so I’m presenting here a random account.
We first halted near the famous Birla Temple. I wish we had clean temples back in Orissa here! It is a  beautiful temple and has a very peaceful atmosphere. It is large and has white marble flooring and has been maintained nicely even though it is so old. The sound of the temple bells would fill your hearts with a sense of tranquility.

Our next stop was at the National History Museum. They provide you a free guide. My God, the museum is huge! But we were rushing like a Superfast express. We missed out everything. The history museum showcases Indian history from the beginning of the Harrapan and Mohenjo Daro Civilisation. I do not know where it ends. For a history fanatic like me, it would require a week’s time to see all the items on display and take notes. We went through the civilizations, then the Mauryan, Gupta dynasties, birth and growth of Buddhism and Jainism………and then daddy was such in a hurry that we had to miss out the other things. I still managed to take a quick peek on the Mughal miniature paintings. If you are a CBSE student, then you must have studied history in 6th and 7th standard. All the pictures in the books have been taken from the Museum’s display only.


We need more Indian historians in our country. It is really a shame that Indian World Heritage sites have been mostly studied and deciphered by foreign historians. Well, what can I do. There isn’t any other job here except Engineering. All hail Science!
There was a female skeleton on display. Even turtle shell bangles were intact on her hands. Pottery, coins, paintings, idols, relics……..if any day the museum’s security is breached, then the thieves will be billionaires :p

Our guide, Mrs Neena Jain, was a sweet old lady and was explaining us like a professor. She had the light and the feelings in her eyes while speaking about our history. Since we were visiting from Odisha, she showed us the Sun God idol preserved carefully. The Konark Sun Temple does not house it. It was really a proud moment! She reminded me of my dearest Bio teacher Reena Madam.
Bidding a sad adieu to the place, we moved on our journey further and spent a short time at Jantar Mantar.


Then we stumbled across one of the oldest monument of Delhi, the Qutub Minar. It had been built in the year 1193 by Qutubuddin Aibak. He had built it for his daughter. Standing at a height of 72.5 meters, it is the second highest minar in the world. The minar has suffered a lot of damages due to natural calamities like earthquakes. An archway has already broken from the top. was repaired by Iltutmish and many other emperors who ruled next. The famous Iron pillar- the metallurgical marvel of India stands in front of the Qutub Minar. It belongs to the Gupta dynasty and it is always wrongly referred to as the Ashokan pillar due to architectural similarities between its style and that from the Ashokan era. When you enter the place, you can see the tombs of Qutubuddin Aibak and his successor Iltutmish on the right side. There is a marked difference between the tombs of Mughal Emperors and the Delhi Sultans. The tombs of the Delhi Sultans are not covered by arched forts like that of the Mughals. They are lying in a dilapidated state.

qutub minar
Now let us get a little bit of patriotic as well as historic. We had paid a visit to the Rashtrapati Bhavan, Amar Jawan Jyoti and the India Gate. Rashtrapati Bhavan is the home of the President of India. Amar Jyoti Jawan is a flame which is kept burning continuously in the memory of the soldiers who have died fighting for our motherland.   I salute to all those brave hearts who have died fighting for our country, and are still fighting for our betterment and want to give us justice.



I could not quite understand the importance of visiting Lotus temple. We went and sat inside. That’s it. It is a peaceful place where seats have been made up of marble. The room is so cool and it almost lulls you to sleep :p But I must admit that the place has been very well constructed. An architectural marvel indeed. Doesn’t it remind you of the famous Opera House at Sydney?


Our final destination at Delhi was the place from where the Prime Minister hoists our National Flag every Republic Day. You guessed it right…its Red Fort! Built by Shah Jahan, it is a real beauty. The fort has got a Meena Bazaar which is functional till today. We purchases some key rings and purses as materialistic memories, but they were too expensive :[ The fort even houses a small museum in it which we had to see in just two minutes, as it was already curfew time. The museum has a dress preserved carefully of that of a princess. Really, the craft work of that era remains unmatched with that of today’s time. Other stuff included swords, utensils and other things we couldn’t go through. A light and sound show is also being organized in front of the Diwan-e-aam[ironically!]
Here I would like to distinguish between Rajput forts and Mughal forts. During the Mughal reign, there were a lot of invaders who were thirsty for the royal blood, hence for extra protection, the forts have thick and large walls, which go missing in the forts at Madhya Pradesh. Take, for example, the Gwalior fort. The ruling Sindhiyas had made Gwalior a princely state during the British rule. Hence they had no requirement of such huge walls for security. The windows of both types of forts also show marked differences. But there are some similarities too. The minars are a mixture of both Islamic and Rajput architectures. I need to see some Rajput forts to give an extensive report on this.

Pooh! Enough of this Delhi talk…….now let’s move our eyes on to Agra!
Our first stoppage while visiting Agra was at a Gurudwara. I had never been to a Gurudwara before. It had been made up of white marble. [ Marble, marble everywhere, no another stone in the brink XD ] The persons there were preaching us not to eat meat and love all animals. How could I have ever explained to them that I love everyone but Chicken is my favorite? ;] I wished they had a langar :[

Then I met Sahenshah-e-Hind, Jalaluddin Mohammed Akbar…….not in person actually, but at his tomb. After seeing the movie and the ongoing show Jodhaa Akbar, I was delighted to meet the greatest emperor of the Mighal Empire, even though it was at his gravesite :p

The tomb is a real huge one. It had been built by Emperor Jahangir in the memory of his father. The tomb has no lighting system like that of the Taj Mahal hence it is very dark. But it is really cool inside. Just to think, we are alive and we are being troubled by the scorching heat, on the contrary Jalal is dead and he is sleeping in a permanent A/C room like condition. Now I’m real jealous of him.
The fort has a ground where some deer are residing. It is indeed a great way to utilize a place and save two diminishing things together: flora, fauna and history.

Agra Fort, here I am!

Agra Fort had been built by Emperor Akbar when he shifted his base from Delhi to Agra for security concerns. It is smaller than The Red Fort. You can see the Taj Mahal from here. Shah Jahan had been under home arrest at Agra Fort and he died seeing his creation from a distance. It has a small room where it is said that Shan Jahan offered his daily prayers. Most of the rooms were locked but I chanced to see one open. The rooms are small and the walls of the room have carvings where decorative items would have been put once, but now they are absolutely empty. The Britishers have taken away most of them, mostly from the Red Fort, where the British soldiers resided. They had remodeled the place, destroying the original designs.
Finally the time has come for me to introduce you to the Taj Mahal…even though the 7th wonder of the world needs no formal introduction. It was built by Emperor Shah Jahan in the memory of his youngest wife Arjumand Banu Begum or Mumtaz Mahal. Mumtaz Mahal had bore 14 children of Shah Jahan and had died during childbirth just at the age of 38. She had made him promise not to marry any other begum after her demise. People say the Empress Consort was prettier than the moon, and the Emperor could never resist her temptation.

The Taj has been completely been built out of pure white marble. It took 16 years to build it. I got goose bumps when I reached the scene. History can get on to your nerves at that place. You can almost feel the romance……..but not in the scorching heat.
We had been to Agra on the day it was 47 degree Celsius. Poor we :[
Wikipedia even tells you that Shah Jahan had cut the hands of his 22000 workers, who had come all the way from Persia to build this magnificent beauty; but it is not true. We had a guide with us from the Govt. Tourism Dept., who said that this is completely a hoax and no one knows why this has become widespread and strong. According to him, the workers were allowed to build rooms for them to stay. During the construction of the Taj, the workers felt that it was necessary to build a mosque nearby so that they could offer their daily prayers. Hence, a mosque was built. To maintain equilibrium for the structure, a guest house was made on the opposite side. It is difficult to distinguish between them, as both have been made as Xerox copies to each other. Shah Jahan gave the workers huge amount of money and gifts. Some of the descendants of the workers still stay in the neighboring areas and do the same work their forefathers did: crafting of stones.
We needed to wear a special kind of covering on our shoes so that the tomb would not get dirty. The central part of the tomb has got a mausoleum where both the bodies of Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan have been placed in separate coffins. Actually the one that we see is fake. The real bodies are below the fake ones, where once people were allowed to go, but now it has been closed.
Shah Jahan wanted to make his own tomb too. So he had started making the Black Taj, which overlooked the White Taj over the river Yamuna. But then Aurangazeb had already come into power, and he had ordered to put his father at house arrest. Hence, Shah Jahan’s dream could never be fulfilled. On the top of that, Aurangazeb had brutally killed Dara Shikoh, Shah Jahan’s eldest son who was worthy of the throne, and his family. Dara Shukoh was the emperor’s most beloved son. In this grief, Shah Jahan’s health had started to fail, and even under the intense care of his favorite daughter Princess Jahanara, he could not be saved. His last wish was to be buried near his beloved Mumtaz, who had died years ago, but their love has not died. It will exist as long as the Taj will, and I believe it is for ever. On full moon nights, when the moonlight falls on the Taj, you can see inside it from outside at a distance. In other words, the monument is translucent. Fees: Rs 500-/- to see this mystery being unrevealed.
When the construction of the Taj Mahal ended, Shah Jahan had distributed a kind of sweet called Panchi Petha, which is native to Agra to the whole public, to express his happiness. We were so much impressed by the musings of the guide that we purchased a packet from Bikanerwalas. I would like to give you a free piece of advice: Never ever eat a Panchi Petha. They are even made up of pumpkin. Gross!

The Taj mahal has been beautifully maintained, but the pollution from the refineries at Mathura has not spared it. This splendor has started turning yellow in color due to the reaction of Calcium Carbonate [white marble] with the oxides of nitrogen and sulphur. Acid rain also adds fire to it. We need to save our heritage. After all, its our legacy.

My visit to Delhi and Agra was not a piece of cake. In the middle of the summer season, the temperature varied from 45 to 47 degree Celsius. I had nearly fainted while walking back from the Taj Mahal. The climate of Delhi is quite dry. We were continuously making up for our lost body fluids by drinking water, lemon juice, cola, cucumber and ice creams. Life in Delhi is harsh. The traffic is so intense and the place is so heavily populated, that you feel like a lost grain of salt in a heap of sand. The expense on top of that is heart rendering. We could only manage to eat Thalis. Food consisted of only paneer, rice, dal, dahi and a salad. Back at home, we have so many veggies. I have always created a fuss when mummy cooks them. There I realized I have been so lucky to get proper food to eat. The result of AIPMT was declared the day before our return and my mood had become completely off.

I would like to extend my heartfelt greetings towards the Indian Government and UNESCO for the excellent work they have undertaken towards the protection of our glorious cultural heritage. Also, tourism is a booming industry and it provides employment for thousands of people. Foreign tourists love coming to India because for them it is a cheaper destination than other countries. I hope that this good work will always continue and will extend towards my state as well. Odisha has a plethora of temples, mostly belonging to the time of 9th-12th century. But they fail to get recognition due to the lack of government funds and they always remain unclean. I hope that my article sends a message to all the people of Odisha so that we all can work together to protect our Odia culture.
Good or bad memories…..memories are memories; and they lie in your brain but never clog it, when you think about the past time, they are magically revived instantly, placing a smile on your lips and tears in your eyes. I wish I could go back to Delhi again. I have missed out so many places of visit.
My dream list has expanded: now I want to go on a historical tour of India. I know that will cost me a lot, but I will. This dream has to be fulfilled.  And I hope that someday it will.

CONFESSION: All the theories which I have written are purely based upon my knowledge with due reference to my history textbooks, Wikipedia and Agra Tourism Department. No fact should be challenged publicly as it is just a travel memoir. However, I’ve tried to put my sincere efforts in collecting real details as far as possible. I have provided numerous links for further studies.


Debashrita ;]