The morning of June 26th dawned grey and bleak and wet in Mumbai. It was a Monday and normally, I would have had a touch of Monday morning blues. But on that day I woke up feeling very happy and I bounded out of bed for I would soon be on a flight heading out of Mumbai for a short holiday in the hills. It was a break that I was looking forward to after weeks of chasing deadlines and more deadlines at work.
The countdown to this holiday in the hills had begun in early May when I accepted an invitation from Rokeby Manor at Landour in Uttarakhand to stay with them and explore the area. I had the travel details all planned out — fly to New Delhi from Mumbai, take the overnight Nanda Devi Express from New Delhi to Dehradun, and then make the short road trip to Landour from there. On my return journey, I would spend a couple of days with my friends in Dehradun, before taking the Shatabdi to New Delhi and then a flight to Mumbai.
Yes, I had it all planned out. I applied for leave from work, booked the necessary air and rail tickets, and informed Rokeby Manor of my itinerary so that they could make the necessary arrangements of picking me up and dropping me to Dehradun. All I had to do now was to wait (rather impatiently like a kid) for the holiday to begin.
And the holiday began with the cab ride to the airport. It normally takes an hour and a half to the airport from my residence, but being particular about arriving early, I left home a full three hours before the check in counter closed at 12.15 pm for the flight at 1.00 pm. I didn’t know when I set out that morning that Murphy’s Law was at work for me, in the sense that “everything that can possibly go wrong, will go wrong”.
There I was minding my business in the blogging world. Writing posts regularly, replying to comments received on my posts, visiting other blogs, commenting on the ones I liked, promoting my posts on twitter, FB and whatnot. Mulling over site stats, etc. All waz well in my little blogging world.
Then one day, this self-made equilibrium in my blogging world shifted. I left a comment on a discussion thread in a blog forum. And got a response from a blogger I had been secretly admiring from afar. I responded. To which I got another response. And so on and so forth. Soon I de-lurked on her blog and, I guess, she on mine. We started exchanging the occasional mail. One day, this blogger wrote to me saying that it would be nice to meet up and asked me if there was a chance of my visiting her part of the world. And as coincidence would have it I was due to visit her part of the world in October 2011. I said yes, and we fixed a mutually convenient date to meet up.
But then apprehension set in. Did I really want to meet a fellow blogger offline? Weren’t bloggers supposed to interact only online? And so on and so forth. I had second thoughts, third thoughts, and then some more thoughts as well. But then, curiosity to meet this particular blogger prevailed and if you had been around Dilli Haat in New Delhi on 13 October 2011 around 11.30 am, you might have seen me waiting for this blogger.
I was excited and nervous at the same time, and wondering how on earth I would recognise her as I had no clue as to what she looked like. Even though I was familiar with her rather distinctive Gravatar of a belan-wielding woman, I doubted if she would actually come to meet me with one. 😀 Yes, I was meeting Zephyr, a.k.a. The Cyber Nag.
Another Republic Day has come and gone. India’s 62nd, to be precise. This one has been no different from its previous ones, at least the ones I have been observing for the last 25 years or so. For example,
The run-up to the Republic Day saw the print and electronic media competing with each other in reporting the achievements of the country.
There were interviews with key armed forces personnel, academicians, ministers, investors, NRIs, and other stakeholders for a “holistic” view of India.
There were interviews with the kin of freedom fighters (there aren’t any freedom fighters left now, I guess) in the media. A couple of interviews with retired armed forces personnel were also thrown in for a little variety.
The President’s speech (yawnnn…) was boring as usual and had nothing inspiring in it.
The Republic Day parade was beamed live on Doordarshan, the national television.
I think that even for those who did not watch the parade (either in New Delhi or the live telecast), like me, could imagine what it would have been like. This is because the parade has been following a set pattern year after year and does not deviate from it for even an inch.
So I knew that there would be an impressive display of India’s military might through its arms and ammunition, various regiments and divisions of the armed forces, the BSF camels, the CRPF, the Coast Guard, etc. Then there would be tableaux from the states and union territories of India, as well as performances by school children and folk dancers.
The evening news on TV and the Republic Day coverage on various news websites confirmed that my visualisation of India’s 62nd Republic Day celebrations was spot on. Some images from this year’s Republic Day parade at New Delhi are presented below (all images are courtesy of www.rediff.com).