February Ramblings : 19 – Journaling

I have quite a few acquaintances who are religious diary writers. They jot down the happenings of their day at the end of their day, and their thoughts on them, if any. I have not snooped into any of their accounts, so I wouldn’t know exactly what goes into the content; but I guess this would be a fairly accurate guess.

Journaling differs from diary writing. It is intermittent, and has a theme to it. A diary can be used as a base for a journal.

I had taken a course on Writer’s Village, which had Leaving a Trace as a course material. It is a comprehensive book on different types of journaling. I love how the author gives examples of people who wrote to document a particular phase of their life, or to log casual happenings and their ‘works’ were found by unsuspecting descendants who were transported to the time of their ancestors.

Anne Frank’s diary remains one of my favorite reads in memoirs. Memoirs are a collection of interesting accounts taken from a diary and rewritten to form a chronological journal.

Often times, the candidness of autobiographical writing has bothered me.

While Frank would never see the reactions her work amassed, she did have an idea that she would someday want to publish it. Mahatma Gandhi’s autobiography on the other hand, was published during his lifetime, and in it he has delved into such personal details! I wonder how he would have prepared for the reception. And if he would have felt the need to prepare, at all.

Coming back to journaling, it can be for one’s own ‘personal’ purpose or to publish. A journal written for the former, and then turned into a finished work for the latter purpose would be more candid, I suppose.

That brings me a thought which has loomed large in my subconscious. (And that I forgot *just* now! Yikes! Let me jog my memory a bit… aah yes… read on read on!)

What use do ordinary people living uneventful lives have for a journal?

I might attract a volley of disapproving *SMH* kind of murmurs and even shouts from some of you. To that I say, hang on…let me finish…

We, as a society, are quick to judge. I belong to the foremost ranks of those who do so. And hence, till this day I do hold the belief that a life full of mundanes is not a full life.

That those who stress on adhering to a routine set in stone do lead uneventful lives OR those who do not have frequent events that would evoke a more than casual interest from the listeners of ‘how was their day’ OR simply those who wish to live a ‘normal’ life would not have anything to document daily. (Okay, I might have exaggerated a bit there. I am by no means condescending nor do I feel so deeply. Perhaps what I mean to say is – unless someone sees ‘magic’ in the ‘mundane’, he or she would not be motivated to write about it.)

It heartens me to say that I have found that ordinary people in fact, have the most use for a journal and their journals make for the most interesting of discoveries about human nature. How?

  1. They give one an idea of what life in the day of a citizen was (or is), in that period.
  2. The popular general notions about political inclinations and societal norms are disclosed.
  3. Their journals are proof of the depth of thought that one spends (however philosophically inclined or not) on a given subject – be it on world politics or the list of grocery to be purchased for the next week.
  4. Humans have immense inner strength. While it may go unnoticed by the exterior appearance they put up in difficult times, the written word gives us a glimpse of how the individual citizen deals with the vagaries of his everyday subsistence that keeps him from delving deeper into the hows and whys of existence.
  5. Anecdotal narration comes naturally to most of us. Journals are treasure troves of stories that would mean the world to their immediate family, thus building a sense of belonging to a larger scheme of things in the future generations.

Let me know if the above reasons to write a journal make sense to you.

I’ll leave you with this parting thought – my great-grandmother (a woman of strong character, who loved reading and would always stress upon me the value of education) and Ayn Rand (the author, of course) were both born in 1905. How different their journals would be!

Journaling thus serves to enrich the world with collective experiences of an entire generation belonging to a particular time frame – because they vary in nature beyond our wildest dreams. And however ordinary they may seem to us, our lives are worth leaving a trace! 🙂


Why Everest Base Camp Trek should be on your travel wishlist in 2017!

I have the soul of an adventurer. The sea beckons me and mountains allure me.

As I am not a swimmer yet, mountains interest me more. I come alive on treks. I know basic rock climbing and rappeling.

In routine life, I may come across as apprehensive – doubting my skills, decisions, and efforts that I put in a particular field. Not in mountaineering.

In my negligible experience, I have found myself to be the most agile and fearless in the group.

My mountaineering Coach asked me if I was afraid when I was getting ready for the first ‘real’ rappelling experience off a cliff in Nainital. A 16-year old me looked into his eyes and answered, “Sir, humaari dictionary me darr shabd hi nahi hai.” (My dictionary does not have the word fear.)

While the other girls cried, some bailed out, I was calm as a cucumber – having full faith in my harness and the wall training that we did the day before. There was a flicker of apprehension when I fixed myself in the 45-degree position at the start, but it vanished as I took my first leap. I still remember the adrenaline rush I felt.

Rappelling at Nainital (2002). Click to enlarge.


My mountaineering ambitions did not come to fruition. However, then onwards I tried to climb any creviced wall or rocks that came in my way. I still do 🙂

Last year, we went to Manali in May. Our guide took us to a place called Gulaba to see the remains of the meager snow that the valley had seen in 2016. I and the better half trekked for 10000 foot-steps vertically and back (so my iPhone says), exploring the trickling glacier streams, the stray ice patches and marveling at the distant snow covered peaks.

The husband caught on my mountaineering vibe and strode ahead decisively up the rocky track that a very few people were taking. I had no option, but to follow him and delicately stop him in his tracks. There, we shot my first attempt at video blogging :

Caution : If you are not experienced with snow, do not wander alone on snow covered mountains. Snow is extremely slippery and it will take you no time to tumble down the same ‘un-snow covered’ slope that you spent hours climbing! We learned this when we abandoned our trek just after the video, and went back to a small ice patch along the road shown in the video.

In case you were wondering if we found snow, this is what we found…



In any activity that you take up, your efforts are always towards the highest goal that you can achieve in the field. In case of mountaineering, taming the Mt.Everest is the dream culmination of every mountain climber’s aspirations.

The Everest Base Camp prepares you just for that. Even if you are not as serious as a professional mountain climber, at 17,950 Ft. the Everest Base Camp gives you a measurable high (no pun intended).

What is the Everest Base Camp?

In the beautiful land of Nepal, stands the highest mountain in the world – The Mount Everest. (I will not mention that the Chinese share the border across its summit.) Named after the Welsh Surveyor General of India, Sir George Everest, the mountain has several local names; the most prominent being – Sagarmatha (Nepal) and Chomolungma (China/Tibet).

You can climb the gigantic girth from either China occupied Tibet or Nepal. The most popular approach is from South-East Nepal – which I am going to talk about.

The whole trip takes anywhere from 13-17 days, detailed packages for which are available on Mojhi.com.

The rough itinerary provided by every trip vendors looks like this

      1. Land at Kathmandu
      2. Travel to Lukla
      3. Walk to Phakding
        4. Trek to Namche Bazaar (Enter the Sagarmatha National Park)
        5. Begin the actual leg of trekking towards the

Everest Base Camp

        6. Reach the

Everest Base Camp

       and begin downwards trek towards Lukla.
      7. Lukla to Kathmandu

Each travel operator takes different times for stay at each of these places, according to the needs of the travelers to explore the local culture, get acclimatized to the weather and pressure, and their stamina to trek at a stretch.

Things to look out for when choosing a trip operator (vendor) 

        1. Nepal Government Certified Guides (Sherpas)
        2. Number of porters per client
        3. Is food included in the package?
        4. Does the tour operator take care of all the necessary permits required?

Generally, the group size of 2-15 is taken at a time, with the average group size being 5. It is advisable to ask for group discounts while booking.

If you do not want to go through the hassle of finding the right tour operator for your Everest Base Camp Trek, you can take help of Mojhi.com. For the first time traveler and even experienced ones, Mojhi.com offers a plethora of tried and tested tour operators, whose itineraries you can check, contact them and even get feedback from an experienced traveler community which is an integral part of the website.

What’s more? You can even become a member and share your own experiences about a place or tour operator.

Not only for the Everest Base Camp, for other adventure and leisure travels too, Mojhi.com is the place to find the most sound travel advice.

I have started saving for my Everest Base Camp trek. I hope my thrilling accounts of trekking and what awaits you at the Everest Base Camp have motivated you enough to take on the ‘quest’ too in 2017!

Please let me know what your travel plans are for this year, in the comments.

Resolutions 2017

2017 will be the year of achievements and learning.

I am quitting my side job to focus on shooting. It will also give me time to look after my blog, and learn coding again.

Here are the resolutions :

  1. Win a medal.
  2. Earn money blogging.
  3. Code using SWIFT and also develop an end-to-end iOS app with cloud hosting and web services.
  4. Write a tech blog.
  5. Write a shooting blog.
  6. Write actively on thedamsel.in.
  7. Read 100 books.
  8. Write short stories and creative pieces.
  9. Complete April A-Z Challenge and February Ramblings.
  10. Eat right, exercise and get a fit body. Participate in at least one marathon.

I am going easy on me this year, and setting fairly achievable goals.


A photo posted by Ruchi Moré (@thedamselin) on

Most of my resolutions this year are related to writing. This is conscious, because I feel writing has taken a backseat since I left my day job in 2015. I had taken a break to write and I took up shooting instead. It has been close to 6 years that I have a blog and 4 years since I have this domain.

The initial settling in has been done. Now I need to go to the next level and start implementing SEO and monetisation. (For that I need to write too 😛 )

So here’s to the second innings of blogging!

2017 – The year of achievable goals!


DAY 21 : What three lessons do you want your children to learn from you?

It is difficult to pick only 3 lessons from the truck loads that occur to me every minute of the day. I shall prioritise though :

  1. Do not be bogged by the habit of procrastination. It can be overcome.
    Dear children, if you ever read this, you’ll know that this post was supposed to be written on 21 July 2015. Instead, it comes on 23 September 2016. Reason? Procrastination.
    I procrastinate for one or more of these reasons :

    1. Often, procrastination is a result of a deep desire for perfection. If you are old enough, you will understand what I am saying.
    2. I put off things which are important to me, but may seem unimportant to the family. I do this to accommodate the demands of the mundane. Postpone that painting I so want to finish, for the dishes that need to be done. This is my example, you will have yours.
    3. I am afraid of gratification. You may have heard of people who are too afraid to acknowledge that they are happy, fearing they will be plunged into deep sadness soon. This leads me to delay doing things I love to do. An equally possible reason I procrastinate is – I try to do the thing I want to do so earnestly, at the last – like a dessert.
    4. What about the things I don’t want to do but have to do? You’d think I procrastinate the most on them. Nope. Think hard and you’ll notice I put off things I love to do rather than have to do. One exception is workout. I know I have to workout, but put if off every morning and then every evening.

      Have I overcome all this? Well, not all at the moment that I am writing this. But I have overcome parts of it. I have let go of the heavy expectations of perfection from myself. I have realised that I can find time pockets if not hours on end to do things which I love to do – I read while waiting for the cab to arrive, I read while travelling in the cab. I am not afraid to be happy doing what I love to do – it doesn’t matter if my activity is termed useful or a waste of time by the family. I have learned to enjoy things I don’t want to do but have to do. If you do anything, even an unwanted chore with concentration, it gives you a peace of mind which will be useful when you do things you want to do. You will find that if you do the dishes well, you will enjoy your reading break more. Otherwise the reading will be harried.
      So yes, voluntary or involuntary procrastination is curable.

  2. Bullies will be there in every walk of life. Learn when to ignore and when to confront them.
    The first bullies come disguised in the form of friends. The second walk up to you in the form of authority. They can be people you can avoid and they can be people you cannot avoid at any cost. They may be temporary fixtures or permanent relations in your life. The worst bullies are those who pretend to be your well-wishers. The more tolerable are the ones who openly impose restrictions on you in schools, colleges, workplaces and your social circles.
    In my case, I am brought up to be sensible to the feelings of others, I unknowingly get bullied emotionally and confirm to others’ notions of life just to avoid confrontation. Physical bullying probably ends at school level and can be dealt with if you talk to your parents. However, emotional bullying is a bit complex. I have found a way to deal with it by shielding myself against the hurt expressed by the bully, at the risk of appearing cold and rude. This has to be done in moderation and you need to remember not to turn into an island by meting out the same treatment to your real well-wishers. The other kind of bullies – the authorities – believe you me – you just have to complain to the higher authority and/or stand your ground, look them in the eye and say, ‘Hey, dude, Sir/Madam, this ain’t gonna work on me. You will have to do the right thing, and by the book. And if you think of threatening me with consequences, well, I am ready to face them. At least I won’t have to submit to your bullying.’
    Now the best part of my advice – a very few bullies fall into ‘the ones to be taken seriously’ category. You can easily deal with the rest by just ignoring them. Learn that from me, I am perhaps the most skilled confrontation avoider you’ll ever meet.
  3. Be friends with nature and animals.
    You know children, as you grow up, you’d think the world becomes simpler, the exams stop, the pressure to do well in studies and sports is lessened, the money is easy and you are at liberty to stay up well past your bed-time and get up whenever you want to. This doesn’t happen. At least not in the way you might picture it. I longed to grow up so that I’d be taken seriously by others. Even that doesn’t happen. If it happens in your case, well and good. If not, you will be stressed more often than not and will need an outlet to vent out and calm down. The best place for this is anywhere close to nature. Even your balcony garden counts. You also need to understand and form bonds with animals around you (not only the humans) – so that you can retreat to them, talk to them and learn the art of life from them. Mark my words, when happy or sad, when elated or depressed, when rich or bankrupt – go close to nature and animals – your spirits will be grounded or uplifted – as per need. Great balancers, these.

This was all my advice for now. And I am positive you’ll find I do follow my own advice, when you will be reading this.

Day 12 : Write about 5 blessings in your life

1. My Grandparents

My parents have always lived with my grandparents and hence, I was raised mostly in their tender care.

My Grandpa took me out every evening at the Railway Station where we watched trains go by, while I ate the chivda in my tiffin. He inculcated the habit of reading in me, as I always mimicked him reading the newspaper or the novels (from the town library, which was established by my great Grandfather). He used to pickup and drop me to school on our Kinetic Honda, even in his 70s. During our short trips to the school, he used to tell me interesting stories, facts about the WWI & WWII (which he had witnessed) and other such trivia. Till this day, when I go home, he asks about who I am reading and discusses the ongoing news stories. He even knows what Twitter is, at the age of 92!

My Grandma fed me the most healthiest meals, while diverting my attention to the moon – as I was a very fussy eater. She told me all the stories of our Puranas – The Ramayana, The Mahabharata and even the Bhagwat. She is the epitome of contentment and has taught me to be happy under any circumstances. She has even been strict to me, when Mummy could not. On the other hand, she always rescued me from Mummy’s reprimands. She is a friend to me now that I am grown up. We watched movies together…old and new, Hindi and English. She has been my silent guiding light all these years.

My maternal Grandpa and Grandma were a decade and a half older than my paternal grandparents. But even they have left a lasting impression on my personality as a whole. I do not remember my Grandma much, but she was a living repository of old folk songs. She had a song for every small occasion. She was ever smiling. Her English was impeccable. Grandpa was a doctor and the most gregarious personality I have ever come across. He absorbed the most unpleasant shocks with grace and lived each day to the fullest. We were spoilt bad with the season’s best mangoes when we went to Nanihal. They taught me that life is a celebration.

I am blessed to have Grandparents hale and hearty throughout my childhood.

And a special mention to my paternal great Grandmother – she used to tell me – ” Don’t give up on education because you are a girl. Become a doctor, or an engineer.” Born in 1905, she was a progressive lady and had an outlook far wider than her times. I was 10 when she passed away, but not before she shaped my tiny mind.

2. Supportive and understanding parents

With 3 elders around to care for me, you’d figure they didn’t have to do much to raise me. But that did not keep them from lending their unique touches to my personality.

My Mom has always been in the background – taking my daily homework and keeping me focussed enough on my studies. She is the rock of our family. I have never given her enough credit, but she is the one who has taught me to keep my cool when the world is falling apart.

My Dad has always encouraged me in the quirkiest things I wanted to do – like planning to watch a ’99 solar eclipse in ’93 and actually doing so when the day came! You might think it’s not a big deal, but it is. Particularly because it wasn’t the Internet age yet and being in a small town, it was quite difficult to get the glasses to watch it. He went all the way to get a tinted glass cut from a large sheet at the local furniture shop, to keep an off-hand promise he had made 6 years back.

They let me paint my room, they let me and my friends DJ party at home in junior college, they let me keep pets. I could discuss anything under the sun with them.

And they knew when to let go!

After I went to college, they have never tried to keep excessive tabs on me.

3. Wonderful childhood

I had the best school ever and the best teachers ever and the best playmates ever. Our school went from a 2 room Kindergarten, to a former law court and finally to an owned building. Out batch has seen our school building being built. When we were in Senior Kg., we would be taken from the current building (law court) to the new building when it was just a skeleton. We’d be allowed to play for an hour or so and then head back. We moved to the new building in 1st Std. If I have my basics clear in languages, maths, science, history and other stuff, I have my teachers to thank for it.

They raised us like their own children and knew what each of us was up to!

I never felt that I was anything less than the city kids, thanks to my teachers.

It so happens sometimes that school time was so good, nothing extraordinary that happens now measures up to the magical days that were.

A big part of my childhood is the time spent with the younger sibling. When he was a baby, I watched out for him and he was in awe of his big sister. (At least that’s what I think.) Later,we fought, we hated each other and then made up for our fights. We had each other’s back when it mattered. I may have been sort of a bully to him in the those years, but that hopefully did not impact our sibling bond. He graciously included me in his gully cricket matches and humours me still, when I ask him to play a few overs with me.

He’s taught me to share and to be responsible.

If not for him, my childhood would not have been as wonderful as it was.

4. My husband

He’s the biggest surprise of my life. We were class-mates, who connected half-a-decade after school and the rest is history. I am the most ‘me’ when I am around him. He’s a dreamer like me and unlike me, he works on them. He keeps me grounded when I get over-confident and motivates me when I feel I have under-achieved.

The smile in his eyes is all I need, to know that life is beautiful.

5. My brain

Don’t look at me like that! If not for my brain, which has been shaped and nurtured by such insightful, loving, and knowledgeable people, how would I have enjoyed life? I am thankful that I am sane enough and that my dear brain makes my own company enjoyable to me. I am never bored when alone. I can just think of an interesting subject (day dream) and my loneliness vanishes. I am not schizophrenic, in case you are wondering. It aches to learn new things, grasps new concepts easily and goes into zero when I want it to. I hope my brain lasts till the lifetime and I don’t catch Alzheimer’s anytime soon.