Travel Diaries: Pennsylvania

             "The best combination a person can have is to be educated and being a wanderlust. Education gives you the ability to comprehend and traveling opens up your mind to new possibilities and perspectives". ~AR

                While COVID-19 is seeing its last leg(I wish to believe so or pray for it to be true) , I decided to start exploring my own state in the US. By far I have been traveling to different US states but never took the time to stop and think as too what is present in my own backyard. The gruesome time with self in the house(thanks for CoV-19) probably lead to this thought. While I had two trips in the recent time in Penn, I would like to focus on the most recent one i.e. to Penn's Cave and the Rothrock State forest.

                It is said the best plans are made in the last minute without extensive planning, especially when you go solo, it is a fun experience to get up one day and think of traveling to an unknown place. This is what happened on Saturday June 12,2021; that morning I got up and was determined to break the monotony of Work From Home. A quick search of places to visit yielded these two beautiful & picturesque places.I booked tickets for the Penn's cave boat ride plus wild life tour and quickly a stay for one night in State College, PA.


Jo hays Vista Point, Rothrock state forest

With great excitement, I left for my first destination,RothRock state forest.This is located in Centre, Huntingdon, and Mifflin Counties. Blame it on my laziness and the time constraint, I chose a Point which did not require any Hiking/Trekking. Wonderful experience out there, to get a overlook or a drone-view of State College in-person. I did nothing but sit there for around 20 minutes for this view Have you seen low flying planes at the level of your eyes? Well, this is the place (talking about enriching perspectives) - at your vision(eye's) level these planes seemed like 'flying cars'.After this first date with nature, I left for my stay for day 1. After resting for 2 Hours, I then explored the pennsylvania State University Campus in State College, PA. It was refreshing to see some students and cherish my own student life in the United States not-so-long-ago(3 years). This was followed by a relaxed stay and a sound sleep. I was just enjoying the new environment.

Penn's Cave

                     The second day was something I was looking forward to even more - a boat tour of America's only all-water cavern(Penn's Cave) and a wildlife tour. Talking about the Penn's cave first, this is completely inundated with water i.e. we cannot walk in the cave. A natural spring sources around 11 million gallons of water on a daily basis into the cave(filling up 3 bathtubs of water every second). Interesting fact is that this cave and the surrounding forest land is privately owned and is not state property. They have been giving boat tours for almost a whooping 136 years!(fact check). The beauty of the cave is how structures such as Garden of Gods(Colorado,USA), Leaning Tower of Pisa(Italy) as natural imitation in the caves, also featuring are carvings with a semblance to animals such as doves and elephants.  The most fascinating part there is a 'natural heart' craving where many guys have proposed to their girlfriends and also get married there. This is definitely innovative way to impress your other half(if you are looking for ideas).

                    Next was the wildlife tour(after a satiating lunch)where I got to see some 
Penn's cave wildlife tour

exquisite animals such as mountain lions, Bobcats, Silver Fox, white tailed deer(state animal of Pennsylvania) and Texas Longhorn. The tour guide was well versed with her facts and gave us a ton of information at each stop.

So, at the end of your life, what matters? million dollars in your bank or million memories touching your soul?      

Good times don't last, but neither do the bad times

                We often get so immersed into the present at times, that we forget that with a tick of a clock it becomes a past and is not eternal. In that very moment, whether we do any good or bad determines a great deal in our lives and can have far reaching consequences.  We do not think so deeply when we do good because we set the path in a good way but we end up not being thoughtful equally when things turn south with a life lasting impact. Both, I would say need a stop and a thought. We forget, how fragile life is in this delusion of anything lasting for eternity.  I believe that each experience in life has some lesson to teach provided you are a good person with a clean conscience. Certain events are just a way to set the record straight.

           Next, who decides if your conscience is clean, certainly not you or your actions alone, but it's the goodwill of everyone surrounding you and related to you. Each one of them sends a wave into the universe praying for your goodwill and well-being and the reverse could be true if you hurt them for some reason. In good times and tough times alike, they count. One of the major areas where we go wrong is to believe we are in control of all the good happening to us and are the first ones to blame others for all the bad happening. This lopsided thought process leads to a sense of bloated satisfaction and  extreme dissatisfaction in the reverse case. When you just prevent yourself from getting into a lot of trouble, its because the universe wanted you to be safe and conversely if you don't get happy its an indication to keep working to get there.

        Life isn't a bed of roses they say and I certainly believe this statement because also in the bed of roses are the thorns. As we decide to sleep on the bed which is intended to take us to la-la-land, we realize how hard those thorns hit us, having not anticipated them. This can be very well related to our day-to-day lives, lets say in the event of us getting a new job as an example. While we are ecstatic at the prospect of joining a new job, which to us means a higher pay, an illusion of better people around and a new environment(bed of roses). Once we get in and the reality sets in, we observe that people are the same everywhere, environment might or might not be as good. Who controls these undetermined factors and makes you think things are so good?

      Coming back to the original topic,  acknowledging the two-dimensional karma-universe matrix is crucial. Your karma determines what you might face and the universe decides the extent of it. Whether it be good or bad times, it is worth noting that they won't last; bask in them; learn from them and move on as everything in life is meant to be an experience in itself. Signing off on the following thought:

"Be Tough during tough times and humble during the good times"


     "How can one explain the rarity of finding love in  7+ billion people, and then the pain of it being unrequited"

               Pam was 40, well settled in her career . She was a flamboyant personality who would excel at her job. She made her way to her current job in one of the top firms in US through extreme hardship; burning the midnight oil; formerly working in super-marts just so that her wages would be sufficient for her personal expenses. Being a brilliant student, paying college fees was quite easy owing to scholarships which US universities bestowed on intelligence like hers. She was a woman of her own choice and if  there was something she disliked, it would be  settling or accepting someone else's choices forced upon her. At work, her boss would completely trust her with the deliverables, knowing not to interfere much once assigned tasks. She had her own way to achieve those but at the end of the day, her deliverables would be of top notch quality. She came across as a very determined, strong and a goal oriented woman who would cross milestone after milestone, with an undaunting spirit to knock down the roadblocks on her path. For a goal-oriented woman like her, feelings of love and marriage remained a remote concept; or wait, had she found the one yet?

             Ronit(34), who just graduated with a Phd.(Computer Science) from the top grad school in the, struggled no less being an immigrant, to complete his strenuous coursework and was among the very few who made it to Pam's team post graduation. Such were his communication skills that Pam was instantly convinced on having him in their team. He would excel at his tasks, completing each of his deliverable a day before his deadline. The quality which differentiated him from others was his drive to work was not for himself but driven by empathy. He believed that its not always about the work, it is about the people whom you work for/with which gives you a greater satisfaction. He would try to fill in where Pam would not fit well; a person who brought a fresh skillset and mind to tackle problems innovatively .Ronit not only outperformed his role but also ensured he got his leader's(Pam's) work done, without her intervention.He had a structured thought process to each problem ensuring that the solution is all rounded and work-wise he was impressive overall.

pic credits:
         As days passed, Pam began to see lines blurring between her professional and personal life when it came to Ronit. A woman who would never blink an eye at men was suddenly awestruck. She liked being around Ronit, observe him work and experience the flair with which he lived life overall. This went on to a point of no return and she began exhibiting these feelings for him in ways he couldn't fathom. Sometimes just a blank look while he spoke, sometimes not answering IM
messages on purpose(so that he took note) and followed up, sometimes its just a few questions on how personal life was going.Sometimes, they would fight over the solutions to a problem which perplexed Ronit further. One day Ronit decided to have a conversation with her on these issues to understand the rationale. Did Ronit understand her feelings or did her feelings go unrequited? What do you think, let the writer in you speak....

Unclarity: the root cause of stress

                 We all are stressed these days, some on the professional front and some on the personal one.  The causes of stress can either be intrinsic or extrinsic. I firmly believe that intrinsic factors can be handled and corrected as it is in our hands. What most of us suffer, for a prolonged period of time  is stress through extrinsic factors. To add to the complication, these factors are not in our control and there is hardly any action we could take on this. Despite knowing this fact, we let ourselves into the hole so deep that it affects our mind and ultimately our spiritual and mental well being.
                  The paramount factor of stress is due to unclear thought process or presence of undefined/misplaced entities/objects in our life.  Yes, you heard it right, even inanimate objects can be a cause of stress. In my case I have observed, things which do not actually add value or unorganized/scattered things often create unclarity in thoughts and lead to stress. This is like placing a ketchup bottle in your bedroom while it should actually be placed in your kitchen. Another example is furnishing the house to such an extent that the sole purpose of having adequate free space to live is defeated. I find it stressful when I have very little room to move around in a house. Although nothing grave but it hits the subconscious. Our mind functions best when things are organized which helps prevent unnecessary depletion of energy deciphering the unusual.

pic credits: pintrest
                  Another extrinsic factor causing stress are people with unclear thoughts. This is one of the prime factors in our day-to-day life, especially if we spend most of our time with them either at home or workplace. Clarity is not an attribute of many; most people either do not find it necessary to be clear, leading to stressing not only others but even themselves in this process. One of the examples I could think of is about people in a committed relationship(in the personal sphere). It is not uncommon for two emotionally invested people to regularly quarrel over issues. In retrospection, most of these quarrels are over petty issues but only occur as emotions and sometimes ego shroud one's thinking.  For an example, if one of the individuals had a bad day at office, he/she would vent out this frustration on the other for trivial issues such criticize the food cooked or be adamant on a choice. A better and clear approach would be to be honest and direct with the other person on what they felt about a day. Such fights occur because the communication between two individuals was unclear. Most of the times, it becomes difficult to decipher the exact causes of this stress or which events were linked to it. Life is not ideal after-all, is it?

               For any human being, it is an utopian situation to be stress-free. Everybody of us have varying degrees of stress; all we can do is find our individual coping mechanisms. For me reading, writing,yoga and socializing are outlets of stress. Let me know your thoughts and ways to handle stress to.
Good day on that note.

Ideal Life?

                   Scathing summers followed by torrential rains, this is something which Rick did not appreciate. Left alone, high and dry in the heat, each day would count as he struggled to earn few bucks just so that he could feed his family. His days were successful if he could feed his entire family a satiating meal.  He would often look at the huge glass buildings and wonder what happened in these edifices. One thing he could not think of at his stage is getting into one such building and fending for his life there; for his lack of education. For him, this was an ideal life, he felt people wearing suits/blazers were living a life which any person would desire.
                     Rachael on the other hand, worked in the edifice which Rick admired. She would get down from her Mercedes at 9 AM and her day would begin with a few salutes by her subordinates and a cup of tea. She was a star performer at office and folks respect her for what she is. 10 hours a day, Rachael would have a time of her life but one thing she did not look forward to is going home and spending time with self.  She was 31 and a successful professional at work but one thing she could never achieve is having a company of a loved one with whom she can share her joys and sorrows. Rachael's Father passed away when she was 20 years old and she huddled her way up by hard work. Her typical day at home would be swallow a few pills to curb diabetes, cook food which does not add to her health issues and eventually get done with the day. She had a negligible social life and weekends would be just as unkempt because she would have nothing to do and wait for a Monday.
                   Who lived an ideal life? Is it Rachael or Rick? Rick had a family to look forward to but his struggles were to feed them. He imagined that people like Rachael lived an ideal life, getting down from an expensive car, getting respect from her subordinates and being successful professionally. Little did Rick know the costs Rachael had to pay to get there, it came at a cost of not having a loved one, having lost her parents and currently, having none to look forward to.
               This reminds me of the adage: -  'The grass is greener on the other side of the fence'. We might objectively see one aspect of a person and feel he/she has achieved it holistically and is living a very good life. What is a good life after-all? Again it depends, for some, it is money, for some it is satisfaction through different forms which money might not bring and for others, it is as simple as having a family to look forward to. One of the greatest flaws in a human being is to look at one aspect of someone else's life, without understanding the kind of sacrifices involved. Although I would concur that Rick's basic necessities were under threat but his perspective of Rachael's life was far from reality. Nobody lives an ideal life, and everything they have currently is accounted by tremendous amount of sacrifices in various forms. As I end this article, I remember the success iceberg:


Eternal Bond

 " My grandfather once told me that there were two kinds of people: those who do the work and those who take the credit. He told me to try to be in the first group; there was much less competition."
                                                                -Indira Gandhi
 UT, a young, flamboyant person is always by surrounded by people. His aura is such that people love to be with him. The inspiration behind UT's aura is his grandfather. His grandfather was a man of virtues, who would not let a mouse pass through a hole if it did not belong to it.UT would often mull about the shambolic conditions around and greatly respect his grandad for all the values imbibed in him. He realised that virtues such as honesty, integrity were  more precious and valued than a diamond today.
      His college, a reputed institution in India for graduate education was situated away from Indore, the place his granddad resided. Not that he did not enjoy the company around in college, but for him, talks with his grandpa made him forget the passage of time. To keep up with the loss, he would come home after his semester got over."Keep your studies above anything.You know son, you will surely stand out of all the people around you not by doing anything special but by diligently following the basic principles which I taught because that is going to be valued a lot; it is something which I see fading away from this world."
     When he came back for his vacations, the first thing he would do is enter his grandfathers room, with his bag still on his shoulders. They would sit together and many a times have a tangible discussion. Irrespective of the nature of their discussion, there would always be something to take out of it. They would finally play a game of chess each time before UT left the house to attend his college. In a jovial mood, his grandpa would often say, "If you win, your semester would pass really well. For me, you winning this game matters more than the marks you score there. Maybe because I think chess is still a yardstick to judge one's smartness and intelligence.Education quality seems to be degrading with time and no longer seems to be a gauge for intelligence anymore." UT would be amazed and try his best to get a pat from his grandfather by winning.
        In the summer of 2013, he had won the vacation-concluding chess match with his grandfather and left for college to attend his last semester. He was happy that the vacation had ended on a good note and had complete faith in his grandfather's words of his semester passing well. Seldom did his innocence know that the pat he got on his back was probably the last one. When he heard of his grandfather's demise just after a month, his consternation knew no bounds. He cried for long that day, as each memory came back to him like a flash. It was like through his memories, he was re-living each and every moment spent with his grandfather with greater glory. His grandfather's demise was a prime motivator to follow the principles of diligence and living life on his own terms. Having said this, he also had the realization that his motives were about to meet a huge resistance from the unfair world but he knew right from the start, this goal is not for the faint-hearted.
 As Bill Cosby rightly said,
"In order to succeed, the desire for success must be greater than the fear of failure". He has been sticking to his stand till date and only does what he feels is correct. Following his grandpa's advise, he tries to diligently do his work and ensures he meets his own set expectations, in a world where every employee's expectation is set by his/her supervisor. The path to a content life he says, in words of the so-called 'employees', "be your own supervisor, exceed your expectations and take charge of your life". Through his principles, he shares an eternal bond with his grandfather.

Music: A passage of time

                    I have often re-iterated my thoughts about music on other social media platforms such as facebook, twitter; but today is a bit different. I was listening to music across a few decades and could re-live my life in those times.  Time-travel for me I would say happens through good music.

                   Listening to songs was exactly like re-living the entire experience of those times. There is no need to stress my brain to recollect olden memories as these melodies do the needful. I am a Bollywood song aficionado and these songs are indeed soothing. Though the songs these days are not that appealing(not all though), I cherish those golden era of pre-1990's, 1990s and early 2000s era which truly produced some romantic hits.

Diye Jalte hain - a song featuring Mr. Amitabh Bachchan and Rajesh Khanna on the importance of friendship. Where is such simplicity these days or have we redefined and reduced the scope of the concept of friendship to produce such a song today? I remember singing this song for one of my friends in my engineering days. I feel people who understand the meaning of this song will truly value friendship over everything else because ultimately everything else is temporary in life.

Na tum jaanu na hum : This was from Hritik's first movie, Kaho na Pyar hai and this makes me reminisce my early school days when romance was a distant concept. I loved this song for its melody and story back then.

Yeh jo Des hai tera: One of those songs I heard when I was in seventh Grade. Too early to feel the song but it has a lot of memories associated. Now that I am in the US, the bond and understanding of this song is only getting stronger.

Chand Tare  : A song from Yess Boss which portrayed an ambitious Shah Rukh who dreams big but trivializes those dreams. This song inspired to never be overly serious about things and just act to achieve them, shredding worries.

Humdum Soniyo: This was, one of my favorites from Saathiya makes me go back to my pre-secondary school times. For the good, I recollect listening to these songs once back from school and just living the moment. No worries or strings attached. I also recollect the fresh sips of coffee I used to take; coffee remains even today but I doubt the freshness of the day.

Yuhi Chala Chal Rahi : This one, again from Swades, features Shah Rukh Khan and for all the seriousness he had in this movie, makes him live in the moment and enjoy the path as it unfolds. Again, a wonderful song asking to enjoy moments as they pass by and seconding the thought " The path is more beautiful than the journey".

Coming to some of the recent ones.

Soch na sake : Such a melody. This one's really near to my heart and soul and makes me recollect my travel days from Mumbai to Pune. Throughout the journey, I would replay this song owing to the deep meaning and melody. Those journey's used to be in the late evenings making it an ideal time to listen to a slow song and relaxing thereafter. Though this song makes me think if such pure love exists in an age where temporary feelings and aspirations have taken over. Nevertheless, comforting song.

Afreen Afreen : This one's the cheery on the cake. I could never imagine the way a woman's beauty and face can be adjectivized. Something so pure woven into such a captivating melody will make you listen more and more of this. I recollect my past 3 years where this song will eternally accompany me during my work, relieving much of worries and stress on account of its meaning and music. Such a masterpiece I say!

...well, the list can get longer and longer, so many songs but less pages to write. The more I express, the lesser I feel satisfied. Perhaps, writing also doesn't suffice at times? Let me know of any memories you have associated with songs. I would be glad to hear them.

Lastly, thank you
and coke studio for producing such wonderful songs and adding lives to moments which otherwise wouldnt have been as memorable and meaningful.

Good day to all!


            "Overrated", "Ultimate-goal", "Bliss", "Money" are some of the contrasting words which adjectivizes success. Success has been in a positive or negative limelight depending upon how one got there or how one is viewed by the people who judge. Let us not focus on these aspects though and lets 'try' defining it. I say 'try' because it is really not possible to generalize perspectives and probably I would project my thoughts on this topic.

         Often in our journey of life, we are all left alone emotionally and feel hapless to have been trapped in that situation. During such times, will you being a accomplished entrepreneur/CEO help you get out of it? Quite simple to answer that right? We cannot use these positions to absolve ourselves of the emotional turmoil. What do you need then?who will get you out of it? The answer is quite simple, loved ones will always stand by you come what may. While what I stated was obvious, I was making up a background of my definition of success. Success, according to me is having a few people around who make your life memorable. What is the use of the professional endeavors when you have no person to share it with, to be expressive about and make yourself feel really good and confident.

         The professional journey of a person might be a success on account of his own work but it never really a sinks in until he/she doesn't feel about this achievement touching another person's life. The feeling of seeing your hard-work bringing smile on yours and someone else's face doesn't have a lexical expression, it can only be felt. Success is having people who help you get where you deserve to be and make you feel valued. Behind every man who is successful, there are many people who help him mold himself/herself into the person that he/she has become. Let me give you an example, the PM or the President of a country is in the chair not only because he deserves and worked hard to get there but also because many other people had confidence in him/her and wanted to see that person in the chair.

     To sum up, I would say success is all about people and for people. As we move along the journey of time, reducing the time-to-live on earth, we should more focus on increasing the count of quality people in life and less on materialistic things. Materialistic things will come and go by with time. Finally, Ask yourself this question:-
"What would you remember while breathing last, the most expensive flat you bought or the person with whom you spent the most important moments of life?"

Present: A treasure

It is a gift for which breathing is the tax. It is a surprise for our senses. It brings about new experiences each time and believe it or not, it is a treat for those who know the value of it. Yes, I am talking about the treasure which is the most non-monetary expensive yet undervalued thing to possess, the present time.
Theoretically, everyone is aware of this but how many of us practically treasure the present? Some people either live in the past or the future. Unforgettable memories, planning for the future, anticipating the future events are some of the activities a man does in the present.
There is nothing wrong in such behavior because that is how we are, treasuring the past as if it were present today and building a future which is till date virtual.  While its not wrong to plan things, doing it excessively and forgetting that you are an entity with life meant to experience things in the present is flawed.
 All being said, the value of the present doesn't really seep in until you meet an experience which potentially limits your future plans or makes your past invalid.  These experiences are once in a lifetime and get etched in your memory. Lasting for seconds at times, they teach you some invaluable lessons which sets the yardstick straight for your future life. Such experiences are in numerous forms and they, for one, make you equally refreshing as the sluggishness induced by your past. This maybe in the form of entry of a new person in one's life who changes everything drastically, with whom you can connect and erase the marks which your past shamelessly left on you. This person is all what your past wasn't and gradually without much damage, the person manages to take you away from the scars which once shone in you. It also maybe in the form of an accident which you encountered unexpectedly but fortunately managed to survive against all odds. This makes you realize your own worth and how being alert in the present can do wonders. Such shocks, I must say gets you out of the rut of circular thinking which leads nowhere. It breaks the circumference of your thoughts and lets you explore the innumerable opportunities present in the 'present'(:p).

I am very well aware about the perplexities of human mind; until one doesn't experience certain things, it will never really seep in. However, the above blog is my attempt to convince my readers of the beauty of the present and how getting out of the circular thought process is of prime importance to enjoy life to the fullest.

Yours half'ly'..

    I am sharing a Half relationship story at BlogAdda in association with #HalfGirlfriend

                     How does it feel to be half committed? It seems strange and absurd at the same time. Such was the story of Rakesh and Priya who were neither into a relationship nor could remain friends. It all started when they met in a camp in Kashmir trapped by their captivators. They had been told that they have limited time till the government met their demands and would later be slaughtered mercilessly. Priya was a happy go-lucky type while Rakesh was a serious guy. Their hands were tied around the same pillar in that area. As Priya was blabbering some words, Rakesh grew curious and heard this, "I have so many unfulfilled wishes to travel around the world, to meet new people and enjoy life". This caught Rakesh's attention and he asked facing the other side, "What is your name, you seem to be more worried about fulfilling your wishes than about an instant death that awaits us". Rakesh was unable to see her face but he fell in love with the girl's attitude and voice.             
             Fortunately, the government and the captivators reached an agreement and they were released. Rakesh, being an enthusiastic person decided to take the conversation forward and asked her phone number, residence and broached up a casual conversation. To Rakesh's pleasure, Priya and he lived in the same locality just a few kilometers away. They started talking and Priya too started liking Rakesh for some of qualities like immense caring, respect for women and they had a common interest; travelling. 
                 Their conversations would endlessly continue crossing barriers of time and it seemed like this relationship was to be shaped like no other. Not that Priya did not know that Rakesh was to ask her out one day; it only struck her mind that her family would never accept Rakesh because he belonged to a different caste. Priya knew that her family would be unaccepting to Rakesh's proposal. Keeping this in mind, after intense talks for about 2 months, Priya one day showed the red flag to Rakesh. Rakesh was stumped and was curious to know about the reason. Priya simply started ignoring him thinking that this will absolve her of hurting his expectations. Little did she know that this was killing her from inside too.         
                Finally one fine day, after desperate attempts by Rakesh to get in touch with her, she picked up the call much to Rakesh's surprise. There was a surge of emotions for Rakesh who was left in the dark about her sudden ignorance of his presence. The first lines he asked were, "What do I mean to you? Tell me if you can live peacefully in my absence? Why are you ignoring me?" His sincere attempts solicited some sincere response from her too. She replied, "Look Rakesh, I too feel for you and these days have been very difficult for me. I never have felt so vulnerable in life from anyone. But you should know that my folks at home here wont accept our relationship. Its not just a bond between you and me but also between families and I, for one, cannot afford to go against their wishes completely. I think we should call it off." Rakesh said, " What is this unnamed relationship we shared, we were never committed nor just friends, i think it was more than that". Priya replied, " I was yours at one point of time, only restricted by societal norms and an urge to not hurt my parents. We are breaking off a relationship in which I was your half girlfriend, you can say."

           What happened later on is a different story altogether. Priya got married to a boy of her caste and Rakesh to another girl of his choice. Their conversations would continue though and this unnamed relationship made its presence felt later on too. Although not bound by any formal relationship in the past, Priya and Rakesh had something in their heart for each other, a brewing unrealized relationship started complicating each other's life. Finally, they mutually decided to stop talking too for the betterment of their lives with respective spouses. Their half-girlfriend-half-boyfriend relationship was definitely troubling them constantly but they learnt to suppress it and live in their present life. It remained an unrealized dream for both; perhaps to be realised in the next life?