Sunday, February 17, 2019

Magical Monday

Mondays are full of madness! Mondays for most people brings out the colour blue (Monday Blues). But like so many things, is it just a figment of our imagination? So if we change our attitute, is it possible to change Manic Monday into Magic Monday? What if we feed it into our system that Monday will be a grand day? It will be a day when our energy levels will be the higest because we will be refreshed after a break and that we will start a new week with zest and high spirits! What if we tell ourselves at the start of the week that this week we will be unstoppable, be a powerhouse and race ahead,  could it change things? I believe it could :)

And believing is the first step towards changing things for good !! :)

This is another  post in the Magical Monday series of inspirational stories aimed at motivating us to bring out our best on the first day of the week! 

Today the story is of a brave officer of the Indian army, Colonel M N Rai, who died fighting militants in  Jammu and Kashmir, a militancy-hit region of India 

Rai, a commanding officer of 42 Rashtriya Rifles,  was killed during an encounter in Tral in Pulawama district  while fighting militants. He was just 39.

 Colonel M N Rai

Rai along with being a brave soldier was a good leader and a motivator. He had taken a number of initiatives for the positive engagement of youth  (like organising cricket and football tournaments) in Tral, the distubed area where he was posted. He organized these matches to keep the youth positively and proactively engaged ensuring that the youth do not stray into the ranks of militancy.

Under his leadership, the narrative in Tral was changing. He earned the admiration of all the administration for his meticulous planning

Unfortunately Rai died a day after he was conferred a bravery award, the Yudh Seva medal, for outstanding contribution in planning and conduct of operations including a gun battle with militants in south Kashmir last year.

Even though he was at the rank of a commanding officer, very senior rank, he chose to fight from the front with their men at all times.

His status on a social media site stated his mindset clearly: "Play your role in life with such passion, that even after the curtains come down, the applause doesn't stop."

Another unfortunate incident has taken place in Kashmir. A young mislead kashmiri youth, a suicide bomber rammed his explosives laden car into a CRPF bus killing all 44 young aspiring soldiers in it. 

As the families grieve and the nation burns at the cruel act of savegery by which such brave youth of our country were lost, our heart and soul goes out to these soldiers who fight for us day and night .

This motivational post is for our brave soldiers fighting in Kashmir and to these 44 CRPF jawans. ..the applause will never stop for you.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Great Ocean Road Trip , Australia

On my Australia trip, I was satisfied to the core having seen the Great Barrier Reef in Cairns. However, another wonderful adventure awaited me on the trip as we headed to complete a road trip on the Great Ocean road.  The great ocean road has a lot of historical importance and is replete with interesting stops to be made throughout the stretch of the road.

The road is 243 kms long and stretches between the southeastern towns of Torquay and Allansford in the Australian state of Victoria. True to its name, most of the road has been built along the shore allowing a beautiful view of the Australian oceanside as you drive along this road.

Today it is a favourite route for Bikers in pursuit of long rides
Bikers on the Great Ocean road 

Bikers on great ocean road

Memorial Arch 

Memorial Arch , great ocean road. Starting point.

Historically the importance of the road lies in the fact that it was built by soldiers of the Australian army who hado fought the first world war and on returning back to their country were entrusted with the humongous task of constructing this road along the coast in state of Victoria. The road was built by about 3000 returned servicemen who built it as a memorial to their fellowmen who died in the first world war. 

Construction was done by hand by these ex servicemen using pick and shovels, explosives, wheel barrows  and small machinery at the time.Detonators were carried by these men on their knees as this was the softest ride possible for detonators at that time.

Driving along the great ocean road

Lorne,  Apollo bay and Port Campbell are the interesting stops along the way.

Making a pit stop along the Great Ocean road to soak in the beauty of the coast

Can't get enough of the shore

Lounging along the beachside

One of the main tourist attractions along the great ocean road are the 12 apostles. These are limestone stacks which are place close to one another off the Port Campbell National park off shore. Only 8 of these limestone stacks remain today as many have been eroded by the harsh southern ocean. These were formed as a result of constant erosion of the cliffs lining the ocean shore resulting in formation of caves initially and later these stacks.

12 Apostels

At 12 apostels

At the 12 Apostle site
It is possible to take a helicopter ride at the 12 Apostle site to get a birds eye view of the limestone stacks.
Beach sand 

The road is 2 way and the permissible speed limit varies between 50 kms per hour to 100 kms per hour along the way.

Beach side

Towards the end of the trip, the road meanders into rainforests leaving the shore behind. It is indeed a trip of a lifetime to be on this road and experience all the gorgeous stops first hand.

This trip was also special as I realised that this road is a haven for cyclists. It's smooth as butter, very scenic and thus loved by Bikers. I got to see many cyclist cycling with enthusiasm as we drove along the great ocean road. As a passionate cyclist, I myself take up long rides as far as possible in a week. As weekdays are a bit hectic as work responsibilities and every day chores need to be completed, I mostly try and do a 50-70 km ride on weekends. It is great exercise and a good time to bond with friends.

Update on my ride today: 30 kms , completed in 2 hours. The weather was great and supported the good average we achieved. Four of us rode together and made only one pit stop on the way.
Photos being clicked mid way during the ride.

With my gang

The 4 of us together

Happy riding and happy traveling people! Make your life meaningful! 

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Dragons of Slovenia

Slovenia might be a tiny country in the European continent but its rich in folklore and local legends. The confirmation of that can be seen in the fact that the dragon statue can be found atop a number of buildings,bridges ,coats of arms in the capital city of Slovenia i.e., Ljubljana. 

The local legend has that ,Slovenia was terrorised by a Dragon ,who had made the place inhabitable because of its  atrocities. A brave man from Greece,Jason, who was passing thru Slovenia killed this dragon by stuffing his nostrils with bones of people the dragon had killed and chaining his mouth so that he could not blow out his hot breath. The dragon was in a drowsy state when Jason did this to him and on awakening he was distraught on feeling suffocated  and not being able to blow out the his breath.

He then flew up in the sky and the hot fire inside of him made him blow up. This is supposed to be the first show of fireworks witnessed by people of Slovenia.

At the dragon bridge

The landmark point of Slovenia is the dragon bridge. Which has dragon statues on either side of the bridge. The legend goes that when a virgin crosses the bridge,the dragons wag their tails.

The beauty of European cities are the legends that are a part of the history. It is indeed a pleasure to dig deep and find out more about these interesting tales of valour and courage.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Day 3 in Australia : Cairns

After spending the first 2 days in Australia in the beautiful city of Sydney, we took a flight to a pretty small little tropical town called Cairns. We got to Cairns after a 2 hour flight from Sydney and moved into our beautiful seaside Holiday Inn resort.
In front of our hotel in Cairns 

Cairns is small seaside town, gets abundant rain throughout the year and is surrounded by tropical forrests.

Walking on the beautiful streets of Cairns lined by Gulmohar trees

The fact that the tropical forrests can be viewed in all their glory from a ropeway that starts from Cairns and goes all the way up to a town called Kuranda which rests on top of a surrounding mountain and also the fact that the Great Barrier reef can be reached by a 2 hour boat trip from Cairns, makes it a big tourist attraction.

Another spot of tourist attraction at Cairns is the Aborigine center called TJapukai. Here the aborigines hold shows to depict their history and lifestyle. 

We had all this on the itinerary for the trip to Cairns. 

Beautiful mountains in the backdrop our seaside hotel

The first evening at Cairns was spent at Tjapukai. The aborigines dressed up in theor traditional attire put up a great show that evening showing us the origins of all thier rituals and culture. The insides of the complex had multiple halls and an amphitheatre.  In the amphitheatre,   the aborigines depicted their Ancient rituals, hunting practices, dances etc  and encouraged the audience to join in with them in a show.

Dancing with the aborigines on stage

Aborigines in their traditional costumes

Next morning we took a cable car to mountain top town called Kuranda . Highlight of the cable car trip was the birds eulye view of the tropical forrests down below. Some of the trees in the forrests are hundreds of years old.

Cable car to Kuranda
View from the cable car

We made a few stops during the cable car journey and finally reached Kuranda 

Kuranda has a bearticulate buterfly park , Koala park and various restraunts , cafes and shopping center.

On our way back we took the train back to Cairns.

On a train back to Cairns
That evening we went around the central shopping center of Cairns called the Esplanade. It was buzzing with life and had a number of options for shopping and eating.

We then headed to a night club called Gilligans. Luckily they had a special ladies night at the club that day and free champagne was being offered to all the ladies in the club.

Next day was the highlight of the trip for me as we headed to the Great Barrier reef. We took a boat cruise to the reef. The boat docked at the reef and all passengers were allowed to snorkel or scuba dive in the pacific sea to see the beautiful corals in the  reef.

The great barrier reef is only living thing which is visible from space. It is one of the top 10 natural wonders ofor the world and it was a pleasure to be there.

Getting on the boat cruise to get to Great Barrier reef 
Getting ready to snorkel in the barrier reef

Snorkeling in the reef

On the boat


Day 2 at Sydney : Featherdale Wildlife Park, Blue Mountains and Pitt street

After spending a fulfilling day sightseeing around Sydney, the next day we headed a little towards the outskirts of the city to this wild life park called Featherdale Wildlife Park. The park has a number of animals and birds indigenous to Australia especially Koala bears and Paddymelons. I was very hopeful to see Kangaroos in the park however i was disapointed to know that the park does not have any.

After a one hour ride from the Sydney central business district, we arrived at the park. After collecting the entry tickets, we went around observing and feeding the animals.

At the Featherdale park with a smaller version of a Kangaroo : Paddymelon 
My wishlist for Australia included cuddling a Koala and it partially came true on visiting the park. I was allowed to feel the soft fur of a Koala called Monty and get a photograph clicked with it.

Some interesting facts about Koala bears are that they are indigenous to Australia,  they remain awake during the night and sleep in day time. They love eating eucalyptus leaves. Also, they have very weak hearts, so one has to be very careful around them.

With a Koala named Monty

After a satisfying morning spent in Featherdale Wildlife Park,  we headed a little more farther from the city to range of mountains called the Blue Mountains.
The mountains are called Blue Mountains as blue mist envelopes this area and if these mountains are viewed from far they give a blue hue.

On driving up into the mountains, it started to pour and it became foggy and misty giving a real hills action eel to the area.

Resort in blue mountains

At a resort in blue mountains

After spending a few hours in the mountains exploring quaint lanes of the quiet hilly town, we headed back to Sydney city.

On arriving back, we decided to explore the plush market Street of Sydney called the Pitts Street. 
The street is replete with big brands and offers a great shopping experience to every shopping junkie.

I especially indulged in silver shopping from the famous Pandora store, getting myself a beautiful bracket with a Sydney Opera house pendant and friendship charms. 

After an exhausting day of beautiful experiences , it was time to relax and enjoy a fun evening.

With that intent, we headed to towards Sydney Opera house. On reaching the area, we chose a nice riverside restaurant to sip a little wine and enjoy the evening view of the harbour.

Sydney Opera house: Harbour Bridge in the backdrop 

Music from a concert which was ongoing in the Sydney Opera house engulfed the evening around the harbour and the whole place was buzzing with life. It was indeed the perfect end to yet another day weLloyd spent in Australia.