An evening with Paras – The Traveler


Sitting in his balcony and sipping hot tea, Paras, a businessman dealing in medicines gives a gentle smile to his newly wedded wife.  I, an old friend decided to have a tete e tete with him on his first love – travelling.

Raised in hustling bustling Ghaziabad (adjacent to Delhi), Paras knew that he would not spend his entire life in simply managing medicines. There was more to life than just paying bills, taxes, liabilities and scores of other responsibilities. My objective of writing this interview is to encourage young and old towards their dreams, and passion. Here, it goes:

When did the travel bug bit you?paras

I guess I was born with the bug itself (gently laughs). Till I grew up, I only went around with my family and in a protected environment, I explored places. It was 2008, when I went to Mysore to meet my friend and check out the city. It was then when I had this inclination to travel, travel and travel. After that, I decided and started making plans for my travels. To be honest, there was no looking back since then.

Which all places have you been till now? And which one was the most memorable one?

I have explored entire Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, West Bnegal and other few. I checked out all temples and historical places like 7 Jyotirlinga, 4 Dhams etc. I have had the privilege to take holy dip (Shahi snaan) at Maha Kumbh Mela and I travel to Kolkata every year for Durga puja. Outside India, I have been to places like Bali, Singapore, Jakarta, Corsica and Paris. I did road trip that was like Ghaziabad-Varanasi-Kolkata-Bhutan-Gorakhpur-Ghaziabad. Another road trip of mine was Ghaziabad-Ladakh-Srinagar-Ghaziabad. In Corsica, I explored via a self driven car. They are all memorable but my stint at Everest Base Camp and Nepal has been the most vivid one.

Wohooo! Your experience gives me goosebumps. I can sniff a blend of adventure in you.  Tell me about the experience at Everest.

I wonder, if I have the adjectives to express! I still remember, I was standing at the Advance Base Camp of the world’s highest mountain. What else could I ask for? I was almost in tears and never imagined that I could be this daring. How many of us think being at such a point, at such a height and live a dream like that? While trekking, I was almost one with nature especially mountains. I walked on frozen river and climbed diagonally on frozen waterfall. I trekked from 9000 ft to 17000 ft with consistently decreasing Oxygen level. When you physically exert to this level, you are too tired but the charm of living away from city life in camps is worth it. I was able to know about the Sherpa culture that is the common habitat there and it is worth experiencing.

paras 1I can very well feel the ultimate experience you had. But why adventure of all?

Adventurous trips and travels build up the strength in me. I get to tackle life threatening scenarios in such situations, and with this, I only get stronger to meet other hazards in life. When I am close to nature, I feel I get a little more mature.

And why religious traveling? It is rare to find a young man these days who loves to visit religious places.

(Gentle laugh) I explore religious places because it makes me believe in me being a human. It’s an essence. On the other hand, I love knowing about the background of a certain religious place or a shrine, anything. If you start digging out, you will get to know interesting stories of each place, trust me. I am amused that there are certain beliefs and myths absolutely unbelievable but our countrymen believe in them.

No wonder! Ok, tell me about your family’s take on your adventure and religious trips?

Supportive in one word! As a matter of fact, when I was about to start my Everest Base Camp, I had second thoughts. But, my parents inculcated courage in me and said that I should cast away fear. They claimed that I will overcome all hassles and come out like a winner. And I did. When I returned, not only did I receive a grand reception from family but also from some senior and distinctive people in the city. Accolades came flooding via news papers, social media and phone calls. Let me tell you, my newly wedded wife is also my partner in crime rather travel.

Is it possible to make a career in traveling?

If one is wanderlust then why not? Anybody who travels can tie up with local tour operators and trekking companies. Also, one can make connections and bring up guides from villages or inhabitant areas for travelers. Anybody who loves traveling can develop connections and understand where he can earn his brownie points. This calls for lot of research as well.

What should a traveler keep in mind while going on any adventure trip?

Let me brief that in points:

  1. Handy cash as virtual money and cards may not work in all places
  2. Listen and follow the guide on a mandatory basis
  3. Carry dry fruits for cooler regions (for energy and warmth) and Camphor for high altitude places (they help in smooth breathing)
  4. Comfortable clothes as per the location
  5. Passion, and determination

What kind of adventure activities would you recommend?

  1. Bungee jumping
  2. Skydiving
  3. Paragliding
  4. Everest Base Camp
  5. Scuba diving
  6. Cave hunting
  7. Road trips

What would you suggest to the generation coming that loves to travel?

LIVE YOUR DREAMS! Be a traveler and never a tourist. Try to go out of your comfort zone and explore this planet before it succumbs to human beings. It is beautiful and amazing. Cheers!

In case you want to reach out to Paras, take the following details:

Phone no. 9811414159

Email ID: parassaluja86@gmail.com

Paras is also taking care of Travel and Treks (you can find it on Facebook) where he assists in bookings and other activities.

Email ID: travelandtreks@gmail.com

 

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10 things you should follow during Rishikesh rafting


mountains rishikesh

Fresh breathe of air, mountains that know no bounds, Ganges that flows to faraway lands and spirituality that beckons every morsel of mankind, that’s Rishikesh for you.  Recently, I had this opportunity to go on an adventure trip – Rishikesh River Rafting. Rowing the boat to another destination is a challenge because the voice of the water rapids is equal to the blood curdling voice of a roaring tiger.

No matter, how much I exaggerate about the trip, it will be less. It was one of a kind excursion especially for a tadpole like me.

Our guide
Our pissed off guide with whom we clicked a picture right at the very start of ride

We, a group of six started our trip on 6th May evening and ended it on 8th May night. Since, the objective was only to raft the boat through life rolling water rapids; we didn’t have the luxury to savor other things in the city. I am putting down ten things that you should keep in mind while you decide to go for rafting. There they go:

 

  1. Follow the guide strictly – Just when we started the ride, our guide alerted us on the dangers of rafting and that it gives no guarantee of anything. All rafters are supposed to follow what the guide says line by line. At the start of the ride, he explains how to sit, row, and use the equipment. He also explains what to do when he says ‘forward’, ‘lock your feet’ ‘stop’ etc.  Slight carelessness in following the guidelines can cost your life. Row with care!
  2. Avoid clicking pictures – Though, at the start itself the guide takes away your belongings and puts them in a waterproof bag. Many a times, it has been learnt that people do not pay heed to the guide and take selfies in the middle of rafting. On a strict basis, avoid taking pictures. Accidents have been recorded where someone tried to take a selfie and unfortunately got swept away by the water.
  3. Embrace life jacket like an asset – Whosoever named the jacket as ‘life jacket’ definitely knew the purpose to the core. It’s a thick jacket tightly knotted to one’s jacket. In fact, it is so tight that often people find it difficult to breathe. But, it is calculatingly worn that way as the water is so strong that only a heavily built and tightly knotted jacket can save one during adversity. Never ever, loosen your jacket during the ride. Our group member who sat at the first place got one jolt of rapid and BAM! she was out of the boat. Kudos to the guide who used some trick to get back the lady. Now, she is known as ‘the girl who almost drowned’.
  4. Lock your feet – By this, it means, you are supposed to lock your feet underneath the sections inside the raft. The guide explains which foot to lock forward and backward respectively. Every time, your guide mentions to ‘lock’, understand a rapid is round the corner and you should get ready. They moment he instructs to unlock, you can relax. But, follow these instructions on a mandatory basis, as only locked feet can keep you protected from sweeping away in water.
  5. Keep a track on health issues – It is extremely important to understand if you are healthy and strong enough to go for river rafting in Rishikesh. People with weak heart, back ache, shoulder issues, cervical etc. should avoid this activity as it calls for lot of physical exertion. Our guide shared a horrendous experience where a lady got a heart attack upon seeing the rapid approaching and died on the spot.
  6. Know your capacity – Never try to blindly follow your friends. Always, understand your own probability and accordingly take the leap. Among young people, it’s a strange trend to ape peers and pursue something their heart is not ready with. If you are not mentally and physically prepared for an adventure like this, do not go for it. It is not a competition to prove oneself. Several unfortunate accidents are recorded every year in Rishikesh where young people die a tragic death. Remember, your mother is waiting for at home. I do not wish to discourage you, but I simply want to ring a bell in mind of the consequences of such a daunting activity. If you are ready, nothing can stop you but just remember to follow the guide. Rest is going to be a win win story.
  7. Wear light clothes – Always wear light clothes for rafting such as t-shirts, Bermudas, loose pants etc. Avoid saree, salwar kameez, kurta, and thick clothes. Light apparels shall help you to easily wear the jacket and not feel overburdened. Our guide during his initial years in career lost his pants in water and couldn’t come out of water till ‘HELP’ arrived. Thank heavens!
  8. Cliff jumping – your call – After a certain distance, the guide takes you to the Maggie point where not only can you slurp hot Maggie but also try your hands on cliff jumping. There is a certain way of jumping which mostly experts know. Do not jump just because every Tom, Dick and Harry is doing so. Ask your guide or someone who sounds profound in the field. Learn the way of jumping before doing it, should one lean forward or backward? take a high breath or low? Ask all questions. Go for it only if your heart allows to. One can see multitudes of people all gearing up to jump from the cliff, expert and amateur both. My friend who persuaded me to do the jump himself got hurt in his lips and balls (the struggle was real). Remember, it is not your nearby pool but the iconic Ganges – fast, powerful and sharp. The water has the capacity to hurt you in all the wrong places. Just be careful and jump only if you are ready.
  9. Only young people to take the ride – While doing the ride, I did see a few elderly (above middle aged) people doing the sport with full vigor. I appreciate it whole heartedly but considering that elderly people have more heart issues and related, I do not feel too comfortable about their rafting activity. People between 20 to 40 years of age are ideal for the adventure trip doing the rafting under surveillance.
  10. Do not drink and Raft – I was exasperated at the fact that people had the audacity to do rafting in drunken state. It was our own experience where three of our co-passengers in the raft were inebriated and were continuously commenting on us, our guide and the other fellow rafters. We heard from the guide that how just two days before our trip; a young man died during rafting as he was drunk and decided to loosen his jacket. Life is yours, treat it with respect and love.

P.S. – Our guide fell down in river when one of the rapids hit our raft. Just sharing.

 

Karma Vs Dharma


In a brief conversation with a priest, I came to know that devotees visiting the temple 5dd409_101fc5f7ac4949728dc556627354c960(nearby my house) often steal things like vessels, Hanuman Gada, etc. I found it funny! Scores people throng at the temple with umpteenth amount of prayers and aspirations. Wondered what was more important here? Karma or Dharma?

What makes people practice such activities?

  • Unawareness
  • Lack of belief
  • Ignorance
  • Lack of humanity

The other day, I went to an ancient temple in Ghaziabad.  The shrine is usually thronged by people in large number and guarded by a number of police officers. I noticed, a police constable spit at the entry gate from where the queue starts and people stand bare feet.  Wondered what was more important here? Karma or Dharma?

Each year 2 lakh liters of milk is wasted across 10 temples in the cities every year. With lakhs and lakhs of people going to sleep without food, the milk is definitely stands as a piece of irony. In the similar order, immense goods, water and other edible products are wasted in the name of spirituality. The question – what is more important Karma or Dharma?

We all are living in this planet with a purpose to live harmoniously. Cinema, culture, food and people, everything depicts a certain story. Story of hard work, learning, research and much more! I wonder how people do not learn from all these things and ape the crowd. DO NOT FOLLOW THE WORLD. RATHER SERVE THE WORLD.

The happiness you will reap upon feeding a poor could be way more monumental than poring liters of milk on Shiva linga.

 

Pic courtesy – Google