Of Creativity, Arts, Passion and Dance

abdc

ABDC 5th Annual Showcase

Creativity, power-packed performances and a joyous vibe was what defined the 5th Annual Showcase of Arts Beats Dance Center (ABDC) in Pimpri. It was impossible to not feel the pulsating energy that charged the entire atmosphere of the auditorium. The show included an impressive variety of styles like- Jamaican dance form, belly dance, kathak, a riveting Charlie Chaplin final speech dance, a spectacular visual treat in the form of a special UV performance, among others- which kept the audiences thoroughly enthralled right from start.  The kids were a delight to watch dancing away in joy to songs like Bapu sehat ke liye haanikarek hai; being expressive to the fullest.

The Charlie Chaplin performance especially had such depth and character rendered solely through the artist’s dance and expressions; that one could sense the pain and joy that juxtaposes in an artist’s life. A powerful quote which was shown at the end of the performance- ‘My heart is sad but my lips don’t know that…they just smile’- tugged at heartstrings. Another highlight was the performance of a male belly dancer along with his troupe. It’s really inspiring when you see an artist rise above conventions, norms, and regulations, and truly embrace an art form for what it truly represents and inspire others to do the same. Abhishek Rana, who is an instructor at ABDC, has fought against all odds and stereotypes for his passion for belly dancing and is now living his dream. There also was a 55- years old lady who charmed the audience with her energy and grace on stage. The UV ray performance was about artists of different kinds and how they create their best works to touch people’s lives and in return have a simple expectation- to get appreciated for their efforts and talent they so lovingly nurture. All these performances reinforced the idea that art is not confined by any superficial boundaries of age, gender, nationality or religion. It transcends all barriers and exhorts us to be better beings.

The man behind this creative endeavor, Akshay Bhosale, founder of ABDC, shared his journey with the audience. Despite having faced innumerable hardships along the way while trying to gain a foothold in this profession, he never gave up on his dream. He was met with judgments and was scoffed at for ditching the ‘conventional’ career route and that did disappoint him to some extent; however, he never allowed it to become a major deterrent because the overwhelming love and support he got from his family and well-wishers always overshadowed every kind of negativity. By sharing his personal story, he urged parents and students to follow their passions and do what they love and also support each other to live a life that makes them truly happy. He concluded with a beautiful message that with love, passion, dedication, and support, we can overcome any hurdle life throws at us.

The 5th Annual showcase overall was a tremendous success as a result of concerted efforts of the team, the conceptual creativeness, the terrific performances of participants of all age-groups and of course the encouraging audience.
You can check out a glimpse here! 🙂 Amazing video by Canfuse.

(PS- Being backstage, it was even more interesting as I could feel the anticipation as well as the nervous excitement of participants as they prepared themselves for their performance; and the adept team of organizers and volunteers who hustled to ensure smooth functioning of the event. When we sit ahead as an audience, we do get to enjoy all the performances but what we remain oblivious to is the tremendous amount of planning and management that happens backstage, especially when there are tiny restless kids as participants involved along with other age group people. While most of us won’t really be concerned with that, it is the backstage management that determines how the show will turn out to be. The crew perfectly coordinated with each other to ensure the delivery of a flawless show. Kudos to the team for excellent management! :))

Advertisements

Waterfall Rappelling- A Beginner’s Account

Lush green fields, pristine streams, swathes of dark clouds hovering over the mountains and the view of the stunning waterfalls- a quintessential monsoon day in a scenic place. I was there for my first adventure sports experience, thrilled to the bone- my thrill heightened by the weather and the beautiful surroundings. It only kept building up as I trekked with a lovely bunch towards our destination- The Dodhani Waterfall, Panvel.

IMG-20170717-WA0013IMG-20170717-WA0014

PSX_20170718_011029
Green as far as our eyes could see. Magic of monsoons. 🙂

I had read and seen some pictures of waterfall rappelling before I set out, but nothing prepared me to what I experienced.

The moment I laid my eyes on that ferocious waterfall, excitement tinged with anticipation madly soared inside me. But what also crept up along with that was nervousness. The waterfall was undoubtedly stunning, but at the same time it was quite formidable. Having poured torrentially the last two days, the flow had increased a lot. Nervous questions arose. Will I really be able to do this? What if I fall off and am swept away by the fierce flow of the water? What if I hit myself on the rock? What if the ropes can’t take my weight? Maybe, I shouldn’t do this. But thankfully for me, and also the rest of us, all our doubts and fears were laid to rest by the professionals there who answered all of our questions and also relayed information about the equipments used. What, above everything else, worked to assuage the fear was when one of them joked, ‘Worry only if you weigh over 1 tonn,’ further quipping, ‘Even if you want to commit suicide, you can’t.’ Well, that worked. On a serious note, they also informed that they would stop the event if it starts raining heavily as even 5 minutes of rain can increase the water flow; safety being paramount to us. When you play in nature’s lap, you got to respect its whims, right?

PSX_20170718_011516

IMG-20170717-WA0007
The gorgeous waterfall view from top

After the instructions, the rappelling started.  My heart was fluttering throughout the wait. Perhaps having sensed my nervousness, my co-rappeller asked, ‘Are you nervous or excited?’ I couldn’t tell myself. But then when my turn came; and as the professional checked my harness one last time and set up the ropes, the thrill somehow bounced back and the fear receded. I felt a feverish high as I slowly stepped back to descend down. My form was right as I could guess from the encouraging cheering from Devendra (the organizer) and the professional who readied me. ‘Why was I even nervous in first place?’ I thought as I grew confident with every backward step. But just as I reached the edge and was about to go down, I lost balance and slipped. There was this split second terror that seized me when I felt I’m going fall down. But I didn’t because that just isn’t possible. It was after this slip that my confidence roared back triumphantly and I resumed my rappelling with renewed energy. From this point onward, it was only thrill that I experienced. Take my word for this- the waterfall lashing on you from above as you pace down a rope is nothing short of exhilarating. Even though I slipped many more times, I got back to my position and continued.

IMG_20170716_121035431

IMG_20170716_121120718(1)
Yep. That’s me.

After it ended, I was flooded with an indescribably joyous feeling. I did it! Despite my fears and self-doubt, I did it. And isn’t that the whole point? You do it to feel such exuberant highs, intensified more by the fear and self-doubt that precedes it. When you don’t let even your own self stop you, that’s when you make yourself mighty proud.

So if you made through this long post, I want to say to you- Do try waterfall rappelling at least once- even if you are a beginner; in fact more so if you are a beginner! It’s absolutely safe. (As they’ll tell you as well, how it has 3 layers of safety.) Even if you slip multiple times (like I did), you won’t be majorly hurt. I only have some sore muscles, which also strangely feels good. Ask the professionals every question that comes to your mind. Ask them about the equipments and the safety standards. Most importantly, follow every instruction and don’t venture out alone near the waterfall without a professional with you. Follow safety guidelines and instructions to the hilt, and you are good to go. 🙂

Our trip ended with delicious meal served by a local family satiating our rumbling stomachs and happy spirits. 😀

Thanks Mapping Journeys for my terrific first adventure sports experience. 😀 Truly unforgettable. :’)

Picture Courtesy- Devendra Mestry

Busting Travel Myths- A Reality Check

‘If travelling was free, you’d never see me again.’ ‘Let me go escape in the mountains.’ ‘I’m young, wild and free.’

Quotes like these, amassing enviable likes and tags, pop up with almost every second scroll on our social media.

Why is my life so boring? How am I stuck here, in the confines of my dull office, while my social media friends are travelling to exotic places and living life as it’s supposed to be? And here I am, ordinary, insignificant, without a life, stuck with the mundane.

 How many of y’all have had such thoughts plague your mind at least at some point? I’m sure there’d be a massive majority nodding yes. If you say no, either you are too awesome or squarely lying.

So here’s the deal. I feel somehow, social media today is perpetuating an escapist attitude in us. While travel is wonderful and we all love it, not all of us can make it our life’s calling. Every time you get a thought of quitting everything and setting out to travel the globe, take it as a sign to contemplate your life. Is your job unsatisfying and you feel the urge to run away? Are you feeling a need to get away from certain people in your life? Are you thinking of travelling only to escape things you are afraid to address? Or is it simply out of fear of missing out among friends? Review your life and prioritise what needs your attention first.

The truth is, we all have responsibilities that we can’t escape. And we got to rise up to that maturity level to not just accept but also do our best to earnestly discharge those. An easy way out is always tempting. ‘Let me drop this shit and get on that plane.’ I can’t even count the number of times I’ve felt this way. But then, rather unwillingly, my heart began to accept the truth it always secretly was aware of. We have bills to pay. We have work to do. We have families to support. Even though travel can be cheap and spontaneous, a certain amount of planning, time commitment and expenditure is still required. With this in mind, you’ll probably see that taking a trip every now and then isn’t as feasible option as it might seem at first thought.

Having said that, you always can travel (and you must in fact) when you feel you deserve a break. When you do it, it shouldn’t be to escape but to explore and learn things outside your professional and personal realm. Don’t let travel snobbery of social media world misguide you into taking rash decisions or give you a sense of regret for not jumping on the bandwagon.

Finding beauty in ordinary

Also, there’s something we must always remember. Living life to the fullest doesn’t equate to traveling to your heart’s content. It’s taking one ordinary moment at a time and making it extraordinary in your own way. Desirous of soothing sunsets? Go to your terrace or some point with a view. Soak in that beauty. It’s the same sun after all, right? Need some alone time to relax and calm your nerves? Take a walk or read a book in that park close-by that you happen to cross every day but never got to visit. Saunter in local areas around you and explore by foot. Smile and wave at that chaiwala hard at work since dawn. Strike a conversation with a stranger on local bus/train ride on the way back home. Marvel at that peculiar tree without leaves at the corner of the road in your colony. You’ll be surprised how oddly striking the otherwise unremarkable thing would seem. Feed and pat that cute little furry thing, lazily lying on streets, incongruous with the bustling pace around. Look up at the night sky and gaze at the beautiful moon, a silent observer, luminous and calm, perhaps like you? Then before you close your eyes, review all the good and hard work you’ve done through the day. Make plans for the next. But most importantly, smile because you sought happiness in places and moments and beautifully made it your own.

img_20160831_185344
Sunset from my office:)

Live your everyday to the fullest, work hard and grow and then when you’ve been honest to your routine and everyday life, reward yourself with a trip somewhere far or around. You can definitely find time on either weekends or public holidays, or save up your leaves and take a trip you want to. Balance is the key and balance is what you should strive to find. 🙂

The incredible New Year’s Eve ’16

Seeing your mother become a child again, playing games with careless abandon, singing songs and dancing cheerfully; can there be anything sweeter than this? This new year’s eve was way more special than I’d imagined it to be, more so because I welcomed it with two of my closest people by my side in a serene surrounding away from the chaotic city with countless stars in the sky. It was also mom’s first camping experience and seeing her as excited as she was, brought about a surge of indescribable joy in me.

I don’t remember the last time I too played simple games with such kiddish zeal. There was a mad dash of nostalgia as my mind wandered in those glorious days where simple joys existed and innocence prevailed. Nothing else mattered as we shed all inhibitions and enjoyed like there’s no tomorrow. As the night progressed, I didn’t feel as if we were stepping into a new year. Rather it was like a time warp, a rewind into childhood days. The bemusing aspect was, it happened unexpectedly yet I was aware and unaware at the same time. Even as my mind unawarely slid down the gentle corridors of memory, my heart silently pined for the days lost in past, aware of the changing seasons, aware of the relentless march of time into future, aware of the bittersweet feeling of growing up too fast. The confusing collision of emotions was only allayed by the sight of my mother having the time of her life and that, solely that, made peace descend over every bewildering thought and feeling I was having. What followed was a bone-deep happiness, pure and limitless. 🙂

picsart_01-03-01-33-58

The artistically done campsite was a perfect backdrop for all the fun, frolic and contemplation. Fairy lights charmed every corner. The sitting area had a shelf stacked with interesting books perched at the corner and an unmissable center wall that had ‘CARPE DIEM’ boldly painted over it. On the wall opposite this one, there was a heart-warming surprise they had planned for us. Hung on three threads, were pictures of all the attendees of the camp fair lit and adorned by cupcake fairy string lights. It was a sweet gesture by the team to make every person there feel warmly welcomed. The floor between these two walls had a giant snake and ladders game. Paper lanterns hung overhead. Happy people milled around the campsite absorbed in their own spheres of merriment. For all the games that we played, we won coupons and the next morning we redeemed those coupons for fun, quirky gifts. Redeemed how? By auction. Quite exciting. The next awesome thing for me personally was a folk dance performance by local artists depicting the culture of Maharashtra. (more on that later).
All in all, it was a happy place to be at for New Years Eve with your beloved ones. New friends were also made. Endless conversations followed.

img_1137img_0997
img_1223img_1016
img_1226

Night for me was beautiful beyond measure. Sitting with my best person, talking about nothing in particular, looking up at the sky full of stars, twinkling and shining, it was magical. I’ve had such nights before, sleeping beneath an open sky, admiring the breathtaking beauty and experiencing a calm being settled over my heart. But this time, the atmosphere was tinged with exhilaration along with peace, the contentment of soul with a flaming hope of my heart, becalming solitude with the comfort of my perfect company. There’s something about shared silences too, right? Without any intoxication involved, I got my high- now etched in my memory forever.
I’m looking forward to a beautiful 2017 filled with adventures, opportunities and challenges to overcome. With a start as wonderful as this, the year hopefully will follow the course. 🙂

PS- Special thanks to Mapping Journeys for putting across a wonderful event and giving us memories of lifetime. 🙂

 

Mountains are calling me

img_9697

Mountains bring about a sort of paradoxical state of mind. The majestic beauty leaves you speechless and at the same time, you feel like you have a million things to say. The hypnotic beauty puts a spell on you which make you feel an emotional high, where feelings thoughts and words all transcend beyond comprehension.

When I stared at the snow capped mountains, feeling them close yet so far, I felt them calling to me. And then in those moments all that I’d read about the mountains and their spellbinding effect deeply sunk in my consciousness. There was a nuanced awareness of everything- of the sound of quietude around, of the breathtaking sight, of my rhythmic heartbeat and more than anything else of living. I felt more alive than I’d ever felt before. No amount of pictures, videos, reading can do justice to that feel when you are there, looking at the mountains, transfixed, overwhelmed. And it does feel like they are communicating with you. They do call out to you. And despite yourself, you answer to them, heeding some ancient bond that your mind can’t make sense of but your soul knows and smiles at. And once your mind becomes aware of that bond, it can’t return to its former state. You’ve changed in some ways. You’ve connected to parts of your soul you didn’t know existed. Mind makes a promise to your heart to come again and unravel more. Layer by layer, with each sunrise and sunset, with more interactions, introspection and time, your soul is revealed to you, like some ancient scripture of wisdom.

I await my next trip. Mountains are calling me. #mountains

Beckoning the sea call- 2nd visit to Adgaon and Sarve

Sitting under the stars, with absolute strangers about whom you know nothing, singing songs together and bonding with only the vibe, with nothing else being the common factor; there’s something incredulously liberating about that. There’s only an energy around that you all unanimously feel, making you so much aware about the present, about now, about you and the happy vibe that you are sharing with the other stranger souls around. And for those brief moments you know you are happy. Happy for the moment, happy for the attuned nature, happy for the stars smiling from above, happy for the wind, happy for the shared goodness, happy for your existence. Those moments give no life solutions, but it subliminally give something even more deep and powerful which you may not realize at the moment- And that is an acute awareness of existence and a renewed appreciation and understanding for life. Life issues can be sorted later. But at that point of time, you only feel- intensely, a nuanced feel of happiness unlike anything else! And when you sense that in everyone around, the happiness doubles. You perhaps understand what living in the moment is. And that is all that matters, right? There are no judgments, no scrutiny, no guilt for what you are and what you’ve been and what you want to be. You are together, distinct souls each with its own set of insecurities, doubts, worries, wounds, obscured from each other, yet being strangely nursed by a common hope and dream. That inherent element that binds us despite our differences- a hope and dream for a happy life. And we do feel happy- in the waves kissing the shore, in the wind whispering to us, in the soft sand, in the multitude sparkling stars and the velvety sky above. You are one with the awe-inspiring universe.

This was my experience in my second trip to Adgaon, a quaint coastal village in Konkan. While the first trip was with a friend, this time it was with a random group of travelers, bloggers and social workers led by an incredibly zealous lady, Mugdha Yelkar. Representative of the Grassroutes foundation, she had organized this meet for all travel enthusiasts to come together, socialize and unwind in the backdrop of two serene coastal villages, Adgaon and Sarve under the initiative of Rayri Kinara. She had also invited a wheel-chair bound lady, Anjali Shinde. And in order to make her comfortable, she’d made the place as wheel chair friendly as possible. The purpose was to discuss the possibilities of making travel more accessible to differently abled people and make prior arrangements so they don’t face any sort of inconveniences. Imagine few shortcomings not letting you travel and explore, how unfair would that be? We as a community, need to be more thoughtful and tourism industry needs to become more considerate to the needs of physically challenged. All prior arrangements were made and Anjali sure did have a good time!

IMG-20160404-WA0022[1]
Hey girl power. 😉
We interacted, went on a ferry ride, dug our feet into the soft sand and lay down on the beach, drove through the gorgeous coastline road, sang songs together, did barbeque, ate the delicious locally cooked food, walked on the private beach at night, had conversations under the star lit sky and finally passed out on the beach- all accompanied by banter, laugh and moments of solitude amidst beautiful nature. The host family was as hospitable as always. They were so happy to see me again, it almost felt like my own family I’m returning to after a long while. The host family at Sarve was welcoming too. One of the village boys sang Powade to us after dinner. For those who don’t know, Powade are a kind of ballad written in an exciting style and narrate historical events.

11242692_10153679605768315_628699412670952065_n
Strangers became friends:’)

IMG-20160404-WA0027[1]
Chilling the rural way.
The coastal villages are so beautiful, you would want to return again and again. That serenity, those clean and almost empty beaches, the white sand, the comfortable homestay, the hospitality of the host family, the becalming air, the view from the plateau after a little trek- it’ll leave such an indelible mark on your mind that you’ll not want to return to your concrete jungle. And when you do, the yearn to go back again will prod you. This is one place you must not definitely miss!

What to do at Adgaon and Sarve?

  • Hand fishing at night (I couldn’t do during my visit because the weather didn’t permit!)
  • Try your hand at organic farming
  • Interested in cooking? Learn the Konkani cuisines from the locals there
  • Acquaint yourself with the farmers/fishermen culture
  • Explore the folklore and music of Konkan
  • Visit morning fish market

Do read my blogpost on my previous visit to Adgaon. 🙂

PS- Rayri Kinara is an initiative by Swades Foundation for promoting rural tourism. To go there, you may contact-

Sudesh More (Adgaon)- +91 8308701237
Subhash (Sarve)- +91 7588344157

Adgaon- A quaint coastal beauty

When you think about travel, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Do you picture airplanes and flight tickets, or a phenomenal view from the sky as you fly across gigantic ocean? Or a picture of a swanky hotel room? Or an exotic country in some far off location that you’ve fancied for the longest time? Even as you day-dream of your dream travel, somewhere in your heart, the constraints of reality keep jabbing you over the dim chances of the grand travel plans ever panning out. For some it’s the round-the-clock work schedule and others money crunch, that keeps them from setting out to explore. But the saying goes, where there is a will there is way- and that accurately applies to almost everything including travel.

You do not have to set your eyes too far. Nor do you need to splurge or have extra holidays. Take a look around. Well, at least on the google first. I can bet you on this, what you discover would pleasantly surprise you. There’s so much to explore within the country, and around cities, the lesser known places that you perhaps have never heard off, hidden in obscurity due to absence of commercialization. What they have to offer is something a real traveler would be far more interested in than checking-in in an opulent hotel room- a blend of local culture, scenic beauty coupled with fascinating and warm people. A kind of experience that can change you, you know?

Recently, I experienced this on a weekend trip with a friend, to a quaint village called Adgaon, situated in Raigad district, about 183 km from Panvel. A chanced encounter with an NGO, called Grassroutes, took us to this incredibly beautiful village where we spent an unforgettable time. Honestly, we were completely clueless about what to expect because we hadn’t seen much of the place in pictures. Nor could we find enough details when we googled. This however added to our sense of adventure that became our calling. Also, we knew that we’d be hosted by a local family. This was enough to get us on the road.

The moment we entered the village we knew we’d made the best decision. Adgaon is located right across the beach. When you are on the road towards it, on your left is the beach and on the right are the houses. Being a beach person, this got me excited like a kid. My eyes couldn’t get enough of the beauty that the place was. When we reached we were greeted by an extremely warm and genial family. Sudhesh More, who runs the homestay, was our affable host who right from the moment we arrived till the moment we left was constantly on the move to ensure that we were comfortable and at ease. He kept sharing interesting trivia about the place and experiences of his life. His wife and kid were wonderfully sweet too. We bonded incredibly well. The way they were taking care of us, it felt like home. For any guests who come, aunty herself prepares food. And trust me, you can’t have enough of her meal! It was outstanding. If not for anything else, we’d suggest you to go for only her sumptuous food. The trip will still be worth it.

IMG_0738

After lunch we went to the beach and saw the most spectacular sunset that we’ve ever seen. There wasn’t a single soul apart from us there. I soaked in as much as I could of the solitude and the breathtaking milieu. It felt like life had slowed down a bit, for me to catch up.

IMG_0450IMG_0533IMG_0366We stayed in a beach facing room which was so close to the sea that we could hear the crashing of the waves and the howling of wind. At night, it seemed even more dramatic with the pitch darkness and absolute quite adding to the effect. We went to the beach post mid night, having being assured by Sudesh uncle that it would be safe. When we crossed the road and entered the beach, the theatricality of the view was so surreal, we felt we were casted in an adventure movie. The sky was lit up with countless stars, there wasn’t a single other sound apart from the waves and the wind and we lay there, basking in the best kind of luxury that there is- a rest in the lap of nature.

IMG_0656

IMG_0653Next day we went to a market where bidding of fishes happen every morning. This was the most interesting part. The bidding generally starts from 500 and can even go till 20k, depending on the fish that’s being sold. It was quite amusing to watch the villagers bid. The bidding fluctuates with even 10 rupees.

Staying with locals is the best way to experience the rural culture. The warmth and kindness, the simplicity, the hospitality of the people is so endearing that you develop bonds and create memories of lifetime. You get to understand how different people are culturally- their beliefs, their lifestyle, their food, and how affectionately they open their arms for you. Also, most importantly, it supports rural tourism. It becomes a source of income for these families who aren’t clutched by the money spinning avenues of the city life. An understanding is flourished, knowledge and experiences are exchanged and in the process beautiful memories and lifelong relationships are cemented. You come back home a happy, wiser, humbler person. What more does a traveler need?

The homestay at Mr. Sudesh’s house is extremely affordable. But anyway for the kind of experience that you will get, expense would not really matter. People in Mumbai and Pune can easily plan a weekend trip, go to this little peaceful gorgeous place and rejuvenate.

IMG_0315IMG_0345

So pack your bags, step out of the house and go exploring.

IMG_20160130_175112IMG_20160130_161607