Heavenly Falls – Havasu

5 03 2017

It’s only a few months ago that I came to know about the amazingly beautiful Havasu falls close to Grand Canyon. My love for waterfalls meant that I had to visit these for sure. The catch though is that since it’s part of Indian reservation area, one needs to apply for and get a permit. This process itself isn’t very easy, usually requiring one to contact the office through phone, which would be too busy to be reached at, requiring one to try at least for a few days to succeed.  I heard that, given the popularity of the falls, the permits for the whole season would be finished with days of opening the reservations for the year (Feb 1st).   It’s a 10 mile hike to the falls, which is not bad. However, day hiking is absolutely not permitted and you have to either camp in the campground, just beside the falls or stay at the lodge in the Supai village, two miles from the falls. When I gathered all this information, I decided that I wouldn’t want to do it alone, uncomfortable with dealing with all the hassle myself. Luckily, some of the people I met through a meetup planned for backpacking to Havasupai this year and I was super delighted. After several members of the group calling the office for a couple of days, it was discovered that they have opened up online applications for the permits this year. Hurray! The permit was obtained and we were all set to go. The timing too was perfect for me.  It was as if the entire universe conspired to make me go.

Since rain was forecasted during that time, I tried to prepare my backpack for rain and wetness. I thought 25lb is a good weight. I’m a newbie to the backpacking world, having done only a couple of short weekend backpacking trips earlier.  But I don’t know why, the hike down was challenging. Maybe the backpack wasn’t fit properly or maybe the last few extra pounds were too heavy for me. The 10 miles seemed to stretch forever. Especially the last 2-3 miles.

We started on the hilltop at around 10 am. It was cold and windy at the top. The first 2 miles was downhill, not as steep as I have imagined. The rest of the hike was all flat, with only minor elevation changes. Given the forecast of rain, I dressed myself in weird suit and poncho for the hike. I’m sure I looked hilarious, like someone from a science-fiction movie. 😉 The weather was pleasant for the hike notwithstanding the rain and showers on and off along the way.

We reached the village after about 8 miles  where we got our wrist bands at the registration office. These we had to wear throughout our stay. The campground is a little over two miles from the village.

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Entering the Supai village

We came across Little Navajo Falls and Fifty Foot Falls along the way beyond the village. We went back the next morning to savor the beauty of these falls in leisure. They are truly spectacular.

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Little Navajo Falls in the front; Fifty Foot Falls at the back

But of course  the true stars of the show are Havasu Falls and Mooney Falls.  When I first glimpsed Havasu Falls, just before reaching the campground, my reaction was one of unbelievability.  They were totally ethereal.

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Havasu Falls

It was dusk by the time we setup our tents in the campground. Despite the fatigue, we couldn’t resist a quick trip to the falls. We relished the cool aquamarine looking water to our heart’s content. I especially cherish the moments when a few of us visited the falls in the dark. It’s just the cloudless dark sky, falls and absolute silence except the roaring water. Bliss.

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To be continued in the next post.

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Indian education

8 05 2013

As Indians, we all know the pros and cons of Indian education. We are especially aware of the “non-learning” that happens in the name of the competitiveness and anxiety to score more or stand first in the race. We learn the basics the hard way – rigorous by-hearting and impositions (at least, I did). Usually, we learn the techniques rather than the subject. When it comes to higher education, we are painfully aware of the lack of real learning. (Well, this applies to most of the institutes. I was not, like many others, fortunate enough to get into the few premier institutes, where education and learning is supposed to be quite different and on a totally different level.) It is quite possible that we may not even be aware of what a real education is, unless we expereince it, which typically means a course or program from developed areas (like US, Europe etc.).

And we accept it, like we do a lot of things that happen in India.

I read an article in The Hindu’s Education Plus supplement this Monday by a foreign student who attended a reputed institute in India as part of a study abroad programme. It speaks about his immense disappointment from the whole experience. The author emphasizes that false nationalism, which is actually narcissism, is causing Indians not look at the issue. And he calls for action from the Indian students – strong one at that. I agree with him when he says, “in life you should not expect others to fight your battles for you”.

Here is the complete article: An Indian education?

Irrespective of whether it’s highlighted by a foreign national, the scenario is something we should be ashamed of. Indians are deemed intelligent over the world, but how much of it is shaped by our education system? We crave for foreign degrees – both for real learning and for the value, awe, and respect they command.

The need for action is of course undeniable. But does the years of complacency on part of the education system give way to radical change so easily? And whenever we talk about a system, lots of complications are involved. Nevertheless, change should happen one step at a time. A beginning should be made.

Speaking about the quality and passion of teachers, do we have our best people to teach us? By no means I imply that there are no great or even good teachers in India. However, from the general perspective and looking at the big picture, do the “best” people choose to teach?

R. Prasannan (an academic, an author and a columnist in The Week), in his latest article highlights the difference between the way the army and the police are trained. While the army sends its best men (who considers the duty as an honour and are highly regarded) to groom the junior members, the police force sends its worst men to train the constables into inspectors. He says that this explains the unpardonable and insensitive behavior of certain un-FIR constables and girl-slapping ACPs.

Well, the reason I am reminded of this is that I feel that it can be broadened to include other domains as well. Teachers shape the future generation and so the system has to make sure that the best people of a generation teach if it ever wants the future generation to be better. And this has to happen in a big way.





Life is What You Make It

10 06 2011

This bestseller by Preethi Shenoy makes a good read and is different from many other recent popular Indian fiction in that it deals with an acute mental affliction – Bipolar disorder. The novel is about Ankita Sharma and what her life has brought to her since her graduation period.

While I definitely appreciate the sentiment that “Life is What You Make It”, I also like to stress on the significance of family’s and friends’ support to a person who is psychologically and/or psychiatrically affected because without help from outside, it’s almost impossible to handle oneself on one’s own. Some degree of understanding, empathy, support and kind words are highly critical. After all, the problem itself is with one’s mind/brain; it would be unwise to assume that one can snap out of it, if only one tries enough. However, no treatment or words will be effective if the person doesn’t desire enough to get cured. Life indeed is what you make it but you need help from others.

I can relate to the protagonist’s sinking feeling,  of being in a vacuum, of wanting desperately to get out of it but feeling helpless to do anything about it. I’m sure it’s a nightmare. While bipolar disorder may be an extreme case, I feel that mild and intermittent forms of clinical depression are way too common in today’s world. In our society there is still a lot of stigma against it but the need for more awareness and empathy cannot be overemphasized.

Preethi’s prose is eloquent and makes the book an easy read. One thing that amused me is her, kind of, obsession with Philip Kotler, the Marketing Management guru. She must have mentioned him at least 10 times. But doesn’t Management include many other courses other than Marketing Management? She could have at least mentioned Peter Drucker, even in passing. A mention of one or two other courses would also have seemed appropriate. 🙂

I liked the following thoughts from the book:

  • Life is too precious not to do what you want to do. 
  • If you do not laugh for a day, if you have not made someone’s day happier, if you have not appreciated something good that has happened to you and if you have not felt thankful to be alive, then you have wasted that day of your life on earth.




K K Krazy About Khan

5 06 2011

I always felt that it’s an amazing privilege offered by big bookstores, especially in malls, where people are allowed to read books in the store as long as they like. For some inexplicable reason, it always excited me. But not until this afternoon did I get the opportunity to avail it when my husband decided to dump me in a mall while he rushes off to his office to attend to some urgent business. I failed miserably in my attempt at feigning distaste towards the idea as I couldn’t help being overjoyed by the thought of spending in Crosswords of Shopper’s Stop for a few undisturbed hours.

So, that’s how I started reading “K K Krazy About Khan” by Sonali Ghosh Sen today. It’s not an impulsive pick but in fact had it in my “To Be Read” list for quite a while. It’s pure chick-lit in which the protagonist is an ardent fan (well of course, that would be an understatement of the century) of the King Khan. I just came across this title somewhere on the Net and being an earnest fan of the star myself, the question of whether to pick this book up or not didn’t even come up for me. Friends from college know how crazy I was about Shah Rukh Khan then. Those memories always amuse me. I guess it’s one of the blissful features of teenage that one can be so passionate about such things.

Now, coming to the book, as I said earlier it’s a chick-lit. Though I always profess myself to be someone who dislikes chick-lit in general, I must admit that there are certain exceptions. I occasionally enjoy a well-written, no-nonsense chick-lit but I can’t endure “Chasing Harry Winston”, “P.S. I Love You” types. And here comes a confession: I go ga-ga over the inherent romance in the story and savor the moments whenever Price Charming sweeps the girl off her feet and finally, much to her surprise, happiness and contentment, declares his undying love for her. Also it doesn’t hurt to note that that girl is usually not the most beautiful nor the most popular female creature, in the sense that she is neither a perfect doll nor a typical ideal woman, featured in the book.

I totally loved “K K Krazy About Khan” once I got over my initial inhibitions and stereotype against the genre and got synched with the attitude of the characters. I chuckled to myself numerous times and it’s quite possible that I might have even laughed out loud  at times. I wonder what the shoppers around thought of me! The humor was so enjoyable that it was hard to put down the book. Didn’t even notice how the hours rolled by. But I guess, one needs to be a fan of SRK, at least to some degree, in order to be able to relate to or at least empathize with Kriti Kapoor (the protagonist) and enjoy the book as much as I did, or even more.

One other thought that crossed my mind while drinking in the book was that there may be people, especially guys,  who don’t quite like this book and think that the characters are just being plain stupid or silly and quite understandably so. Well, one can’t relate to everyone and everything. The sudden dawn of this realization reminded me of my reaction to a typical guy fiction (in broad sense, light fiction written by a man) – My Friend Sancho by Amit Varma that I read recently. Only now am I able to perceive it with more tolerance. I shouldn’t have been too hard on Amit and his hero Abir.





Absolute Khushwant

21 05 2011

This latest non-fiction by Khushwant Singh is a very delightful and quick read. He shared his opinions and views on various events, subjects and persons like 1984 communal riots, 26/11 attack, Indira Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, religion, Pakistan and many more. He also included a few chapters on his personal life. All through the book, one cannot help being awestruck by his honesty, straight-forwardness and frankness.

He openly declared that he hates Advani and announced that he had done irreparable damage to the country. He praised the present Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh as a man of integrity. He had both good things and bad things to say about various people. I was pleased to note that Mahatma Gandhi is his role model. I’m impressed by Khushwant ‘s energy and drive to work even at the age of 95. He is a truly inspiring person, especially with regard to his philosophy of time and work.

A few months ago, I read another of his non-fiction books – We Indians. It’s a short book about the idiosyncrasies of Indians. It’s comical, satirical and above all true.

I regret discovering this amazing personality so late. Even though I have heard about him for quite a long time, I haven’t really read anything by him expect his first novel, Train to Pakistan, which failed to make a lasting impression on me at that time. It is “We Indians” that evoked my interest in his works, particularly non-fiction.

I’m keen to read more about him and his take on various things.