Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Many pals in Manipal…

Posted: April 9, 2012 in Events, Guruji, Travel

I had been to Manipal last week to conduct a YES!+ course. 54 Manipalites were SoHummed, my biggest course till date. All thanks to Tanu who could not make it ;).

“When you care for the society, nature itself bends down to serve you” these words by Guruji H.H.Sri Sri Ravishankar were echoing in my head throughout. Reason? I did not even have to move my little finger for anything. Everything I needed just landed in my lap. The best and cutest volunteers – Rimi, Shrey, Toyaj, Naman, Prachi and many more were just there for me. Rimi was our Annapoorneshwari for the whole week. They took care of my stay, food, travel and what not. Felt like Guruji ;). I have never laughed so much ever. The course ended on a super duper high!

One of the volunteers Harshpreeth has penned down a few words about it.

On Saturday, 42 people participated in the Yogathon in Manipal. 37 of them won the GOLD certificate. Some people who have not done any AOL course also participated and were able to complete 108 suryanamaskars!!! Pure grace in its fullest glory :).

Mookambika temple

Sunday marked the visit to Kollur to see Sri Mookambika devi. It is believed that Adi Shankaracharya had a vision of Sri Mookambika Devi and installed the deity here.

Sri Mookambika Devi

Just behind the sanctum sanctorum, is an idol of Shankaracharya where we meditated. Despite the sound and clamour inside the temple, the meditation was deep and still. We then had lunch served as prasad adjacent to the temple. The ultra hot, molten boiling rice(I mean every word of this…) with delicious sambar and rasam filled our starving stomachs. Everyone were licking their fingers clean :).

Udupi Krishna mutt

We then proceeded to Udupi to see Manamohana aka Krishna. The route from Kollur to Udupi was the bumpiest to say the least. The sun added to the effect. Almost wornout we went inside the mutt. As soon as I entered the mutt, a sense of freshness took over me. All tiredness just evaporated in his presence.

Shri Krishna

Witnessed a glowing Krishna within a dimly lit sanctum santorum. Felt so relaxed and calm. Something inside had settled down. The elephant in the temple looked so sattvic with its chandan and kumkum. The lake within the temple was refreshing. Feeling grateful we returned back to Manipal.




Key(s) of grace and the final ride!

Posted: October 26, 2011 in Travel

Story till now…

“What?? You are from Bangalore!”

“Yeah. What has Bangalore got to do…. anyways… you ride it.”

“Sir. I dont know how to ride!”


Me to myself, “GuruJi. I need strength. Let me do this. Keep me safe”

“Okay let’s go, but you sit behind me”

“What no way! On the highway? You say you have never driven a bike”

“Come on. My guru will take care of us. I show him the picture”

For known reasons it works! 🙂

“Okay lets go, lets stop at the petrol bunk to get some fuel”

“Yeah! Okay. Great Raja! That’s the spirit. See its not so hard… blah blah blah… so where is the gear?!!”

“#%$$% The one on the left. One up four down I think” And off we went.

“Ring Ring” “Ring Ring” It was my friend from Thiksey.

“Akhil what happened, where are you?”

“I am coming. Will be there soon. Talk to you later. No phone in the petrol bunk”

“No! tell me how are you coming”

“I am coming. Don’t worry. See you. Bye”


“How does it matter if I am coming by ship or airplane? I am coming relax”. I cut the call.

Petrol filled and off we ride at a gentle speed, with the phone constantly ringing in my pocket. I decide to ignore it.

After an hour’s journey, and the sun setting in the golden sky, we approach Thiksey.

My friend leaps out from the cold stone bench, “Did you get the key”?

“Yes I got the keys”

Key(s) of grace

“Keys? What do you mean”?

“I have two. Don’t know if they will work”.

We insert the first one. No response.

“Sh*t. That guy is crazy. All this way for a wrong key”, says my friend.

“Wait Wait. There is the other one”, say I.

And miraculously the other key works. I start the bike and smile at my friend. He returns the favor with a wry smile.

“Lets go”, said I.

“Wait a minute. How did you get here? Did you ride that yourself”?


“What?! You have never ridden a bike before!”

“I know. That’s how grace works. It makes people do things they have never done before. It makes keys open locks that it has never opened before”.

Silence ensued…… 🙂

“Lets go!”

And as we made the journey back, I swear I could see an unusually quieter version of my friend. We reached Leh at around 7:00 PM after sunset. A hot cup of tea awaited us. And as we scrambled to bed that night, my friend said,

“I behaved very badly today.”

“No No. You were tensed that’s all”

“I need to learn crisis management from you”

“Learn the kriya and yoga. I have been telling you since the last 10 years of our friendship”.

“You know Akhilesh. I was so tensed when you did not pick your phone that I decided to chant the Gayatri Mantra 108 times. And at the 108th mantra, I saw you”

“See. Grace works in miraculous ways”.

“I will do the Gayatri everyday from now on. I have learned a big lesson today”

“So have I, I broke my limitations, I did things I never imagined I would”

“Yes, but the difference is you were calm but I was not”

I smiled, switching off the lights and said, “Jai Goodnight”



P.S. Akhilesh writes an amazing blog. To read click here.

Raja comes to the rescue.

Posted: October 24, 2011 in Travel

Story till now…

Just as I thought this and picked my phone for one final try, a motorbike  chugs along the road and pulls up. A young man, raises his visor and gently says, “What’s up guys? All ok”?

“No! Help us! We are stuck”, cries my friend.

He tries to get the bike started without the ignition key but fails.

I asked him, “Where are you headed?”

“To Leh”.

“Great! Could you please give me a drop?”

“Yeah why not?”.

And so I rode with him to Leh to figure out a way to get the spare key.

I asked my friend to wait with the bike and not do anything silly. Half way my phone started to ring. Its my good old friend.

“Where are you?”

“On the bike. Where else?”

“When will you reach?”

“When the biker takes me to Leh, I will reach”.


Clearly my nonchalance had resulted in him hanging up the phone. I reached Leh and walked down to the bike rental agency. Shop closed. What to do? I ask around and most shops are closed because of Dussera. The only shop open is another bike rental agency who shoos me out because I did not hire the bike from him. I am stranded in Leh, sitting on the footpath, waiting for the shop to open, not knowing if it ever will.

Again, “GuruJi. I think enough play. Show some grace”.

The other rental agency owner walks up to me and by pure grace looks at me and says, “Here is the number. Call him”. I smile internally and wink at Guruji ;).

I call the rental agency chap. He shouts, “How can the key break? Were you trying to screw it?”.

“No Sir. I was only trying to check if there was enough fuel. But that’s not the point, what has happened has happened. Can you help us”?

“I don’t have a spare key. It is lost”.

“OK. Then shall we leave it there”?

“I will smash you if I don’t get the bike back by today. I know where you stay”. Hmmm.

I, with my most courteous expression I could muster to say, “You can smash me all you want, but you need to come here for that. So could you please come”?

“Give me 10 minutes”. Half an hour later, the guy shows up.

“I had to leave my family dinner half way for you. What happened”?

“See I can’t change the fact that the key is broken, nor can you. can you see if you have some key that might fit?”.

After another 15 minutes of scrambling around, he hands me two keys. “Try this OR this. One should work”.

“How do you know”?

“I don’t. I am guessing”.

“Okay. Lets go and get the bike”, said I.

“What do you mean let’s go”?

“Are you not coming with me to see if these keys work”?

“No. I cannot. You broke it. You fix it”, saying which he drove away.

I was stranded in the middle of a sleepy town, not knowing what to do or how to get back to Thiksey monastery. I decide to head back to my hotel room to get help. As I reach the hotel, the hotel boy comes out. “What’s up?”.

“Hey! I need your help. Do you have a bike?”.

“No I don’t why?”.

I explain the situation to him. He says, “It is very difficult to find a bike now. Half the village is closed”.

I want one!

“I know. But you have to help me”.

“Its hard sir… Now… this time…already getting dark…”.

I again turned inward and simply smiled showing my helplessness to him. He smiled back and said, “Wait here”. I decided to follow him.

He went up to one of the rooms and knocked.

“Who’s there”?

“It’s me Raja”.

“What is it. We are busy”?

“Oh, sorry sir, but I can I borrow your bike. I have to just go close by, 2 or 3 kilometers.”

“Okay but come back fast. Oh and there is no fuel in the bike”.

He comes back with the keys, proud as ever and tosses them into my hands. “Here you go sir! Don’t tell him anything”.

“Uhmmm Raja….. Thanks a lot… I really appreciate this.. but I don’t know how to ride a bike!!”

HaHaHa…Did the situation get better? Wait n watch…



Lost in Ladakh…

Posted: October 21, 2011 in Travel

One of my dearest friends Akhilesh had been to Leh and Ladakh recently. He had shared one experience, adventure actually. I had suggested him to blog about it. Usual me :). But he wanted it to be on my blog perhaps because mine is more famous than his :P. He is a very good writer and so here it is verbatim.


Akhileshau vacha…

Leh, Ladakh. The dream destination. Spiritual getaway. Solace for the souls. It was going to be a life changing experience. It was! Two boys (rather men, who consider themselves to be boys) set out to Ladakh. At a towering altitude of 13000 ft above mean sea level, it was going to be an exciting getaway. The airplane journey was beautiful and breathtaking. On landing there, breathtaking took quite a literal connotation. The lack of oxygen cramped our thoughts and upset our Idly, Vada stomachs of the south :).

We somehow managed to pull through the first 2 days, despite severe lack of sleep and very little food (not to mention the constant throwing-up of all food and liquids consumed). And on the last day, the heavens opened up, warmed the otherwise cold and barren landscape and brought mental relief to us. We were feeling better (perhaps because we were going home tomorrow?), energetic and finally acclimatized. Being men (or was it boys), our instincts kicked in and told us to hire a bike for a small road trip, or at least for a few photographs to prove to our well-wishers and not-so-well-wishers that “Yes! We biked in Ladakh!”. Bike hired and helmets on, we gently putted away on the Leh-Manali highway towards the Thiksey monastry.


An ancient 12th century monastery, steeped in mystic Buddhism  and tantra. After a quick snack at the not-so-ancient 21st century monastery’s cafe we decided to climb the steep steps to the Stupa for a breathtaking view of the Leh valley. Breathtaking indeed, we were exhausted. After a silent meditation in front of the large bust of the golden Buddha and mystic chants of “Om Mani Padme Hum” we decided to head back (it was getting dark and we were scared). Saying our last prayers (at Thiksey monastery that is) we start the bike. It was then that my friend noticed that the fuel level was unusually low.

I told him “Why don’t you check how much fuel there is in the tank”?

He agreed and in his excitement to be done with the task, put the key into the fuel cap lock AND “Snap!” The key breaks in the lock.

“Sh*t” says my friend. I start laughing. 😀

We are in the middle of nowhere, at least 100km from civilization, stuck with monks who only know about the wheel of Dharma and nothing about motorcycle wheels. Pity! My laughter does not bode well with my friend.

“This is not a joke! This is serious. You cannot be casual about everything in life”. He retorted.

I intentionally reduce my laugh to a smile (which thanks to my Guru I cannot erase). He is totally cheesed off and says  “Call up the bike rental agency and tell them to come immediately with the spare key”.

I call them. “No response” I said.

“Try again”.

“I just did. No one’s picking up”.

“Try again and again”.

I said, “Relax man. He will call back when he can. After all it’s his bike!”.

My friend flips out, not able to comprehend how someone can be this casual. A good half an hour passes, with us trying to jump-start the bike. Nothing seems to be working. I think to myself, “Enough of play. Guruji, time to put my friend out of misery”.

Just as I thought this and picked my phone for one final try…

Did he pick the phone? Did I get the key? In the coming post…




Posted: May 24, 2011 in Guruji, Travel

“I have told Guruji that we would be about 100+ people from YES!+ coming to Berlin”. I remember the day when Bawa told me these lines with a big bright smile on his face :). Berlin??!! Yes! Berlin in Germany! This was for the 30th year anniversary celebrations of the Art of Living and the World Culture Festival. The Olympic Stadium has been booked for this grand ensemble. Only GOD(Pun intended) knows why on all earth he has selected such a venue! I was like…Kyun yaar, India mein Jagah ki kami hai kya? (Is there lack of space in India?). Bawa had also mentioned about the month long Euro trip after the event which was too irresistible. I mean it. You can read it here. And what about the money, honey? Roughly about 2 lacs! plus some thousands…Come on…you go there so far and you just cant just return empty handed right? Would be so stupid!

Can you imagine, the moment I heard that number, my mind was already on its way doing all mathematics with the money I had in my RDs, FDs, shares etc but it would not sum up to it :(. In short if I squeeze every penny from what I have/saved, I will comfortably make it and probably a little surplus too.

The Olympic Stadium, Berlin

Saying YES to this trip took some time but once I did, arranging for the money was the biggest challenge! But as every salaried class person, there were many other hurdles listed below –

1. One month trip means 20 days leave! Have to inform my manager in advance. Will he agree?

2. Once back from the trip, all savings gone! Back to square one! The false security which money gives made me insecure.

3. There was all possibility of a home loan looming large over me.

4. I dont know where this came from but my parents have to say YES for the trip. I had done many things in the past with their partial/no agreement but this one was way beyond since it involved money, taking leave etc which pinches them.

The next few days…the song – Apna sapna…money money…was humming in my mind. Thoughts of taking different workshops, courses, gambling in share market, take a loan etc bombarded my head for quite a long time…and I mean days together. Speaking to people about my state of mind helped a little but basically I was not ready to risk anything. Wanted to play a safe bet. On one side it was a ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity and all too irresistible but on the other quite foolish too! The anxiety and confusion rose to such an extent that one fine day I decided to lay all this to rest!

What did I do? In the next post…



Who is this man?

Posted: November 25, 2010 in Guruji, Poems, Travel

Whenever i heard people write poetry for Guruji, wanted to do the same some day. But it never happened. But recently had been to Manipal to take a YES!+ course and the following lines randomly came up on the way.  ‘TRIED’ to put it in a poetic format 🙂 but didnt like it. So here it is however it came…

Who is this man?

Who seems to want nothing…

Whose smile opens everyones heart…

Every nook and corner of this world whose featherly feet trod…

Who is this man? Who is this man?


Who connects to every living being on this planet…

Whose presence makes you feel at home…

For whom nature is waiting to manifest his thoughts…

Who is this man? Who is this man?


Whose one wink changes many a lives…

Whose naughtiness surpasses that of a kid…

Whose style sets aflutter many a heart…

Whose words address the silent corner in our hearts…

Who is this man?  Who is this man?

In this quest I am going to discover myself. 🙂


🙂 Tightest Hugs! 🙂

🙂 Love you Guruji 🙂

Rishikesh in pictures

Posted: March 24, 2010 in Travel

Wanted to post them for about 2 weeks now. Here they are…

STATUTORY WARNING – Some pictures will make you feel very jealous! 🙂

Early in the morning…chilled weather…AH!

Divine Ganga. Brrr…The water is so damn cold. And i mean it! I was in a daze after coming out of it. 😉 But once you get used to it, you dont get the shock again. 🙂

On the way to Chopta alias Mini Switzerland. Snow was very less but still its so beautiful.

Jyotir Math is situated about 280kms from Rishikesh. The first ashram setup by Adi Sankaracharya. The sattva is so high there! My God! You cant but meditate.

Felt just so nice to be there…:)

Finally we also went to AULI @ ~3500m. We were on a high 🙂 literally. Did we do skiing? Ofcourse we did!!