Sunday, April 30, 2017

Top Location Independent Jobs To Manage Travel Finance

Many professional poker players around the world call April 15, 2011 as “Black Friday” when the U.S federal government had charged some of the largest online poker sites with fraud and money laundering. You may think what is the relation between poker and travel? Just wait a bit; good things are usually slowly unfolding. Anyway, so, when the U.S government brought indictment charges against the founders of world largest online poker websites, many professional pokers – some of them earn five digits earning, moved to Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica and some other far flung places to salvage their accounts and keep playing. They soon built a poker community and worked during the day and met up at night and on weekends to party. Life suddenly turned into a location independent work with money flowing in with perks of varied experiences.

Location independent work – is it real?

Now, probably you have got it why I have started the story with poker. Become location independent employee is a non-negotiable part of managing finance. I don’t buy all those false narratives – “travel without money”, “travel free” etc. Those are extremely misleading stories and impossible, at least for a decent guy like I and you (I hope you are a decent guy like me). For long I fulfilled my travel objectives by doing freelance content writing, but not everybody has the required skill set to do high-paid content writing. For those who wish for long-term travel (a few months to a year), a steady income is unavoidable unless he or she is rich. However, the path to get a location independent work is stressful, frustrating and sometimes scary.

What options you have?

Options on paper are plenty, but practically there are a few things you can actually do. There are principally three common ways you can work without being present physically in a particular locale. 

Create a passive income stream

My Workplace in Pondicherry (at Auro Beach)
It is the most important part of your process of earning while traveling. The planning should be started very early – from the very beginning of your job when you start making money out of some sort of passive income such as freelance work, share trading, online selling, affiliate marketing in your website or blog, translation or language related jobs, teaching online lessons, doing market research for companies, selling photographs and so on. Remember these are all one way or other passive source of income unless you do it full-time. It is also advisable to take these jobs as passive income source because you need to build a steady client base for your fulfill your future travel goal.

Convince your company/boss to allow you to work remotely

10 years back it was an impossible proposition, but now it is quite feasible option to negotiate with your company or boss to let you work remotely. As my personal experience I worked with a company for a year or so as ‘Work from Home’ option and traveled different parts of the country and South East Asia. Of course I was good at job and created a good impression. Also, I negotiated on money part so that the company had more profit keeping me for the work with less pay than recruiting another person. The most important thing is to stay in a company for a few years and create a proposal that will clearly benefit the company.

Work remotely as a freelancer

That’s the most common method to work without any fixed location. Freelance means you are hired for particular job for different companies for different projects. For example, freelance developers or freelance graphic designers. However, you need to develop a skill and know how to sell the skill. Top freelance websites to look for are Upwork, Toptal, Freelancer, Cloudpeeps etc. 

Some Unconventional Methods To Work Location Independently

From my balcony @ Dharamkot (Himachal Pradesh)
No matter how much it sounds exciting, creating a base for a location independent work requires time, and therefore people who have succeeded in this domain prepared themselves for years before they completely left the job. Even if you have an idea, significant fund and lots of enthusiasm, the correct measure is to create your base while continuing your regular job. Almost everything you plan, even freelance writing, you need to create a solid base first, which requires time.

Start your own business

It will take time and a labor of love to doing it successfully. There are numerous ideas to start an online business and work it remotely. It is a hell of a job to earn money from the business initially but if you start it early, you might succeed in the business.

Drop Shipping

Dropshipping means you are a retailer without having an inventory. Instead it purchases the product from a third party and has it shipped directly to the customer. So, you will never see or handle the product. The difference between dropshipping and retail model is that selling merchant doesn’t stock or own inventory, so you will be location independent. You buy it from a wholesaler or manufacturer and sell it to the buyer through the inventory from a third party. 


Less fund is required to open an ecommerce store without having to invest lots of money. It is also easy to get started because you don’t have to manage or paying your warehouse or packing and shipping your orders. You also don’t have to do the complex process of tracking inventory for accounting reasons. 


Low margins are the biggest drawback of this business. There are inventory issues emerge because you don’t manage your own inventory and source from multiple warehouses so inventory changes on a daily basis. 

There are many companies providing a platform for your own online retail store. For example, Hothaat, Seasonsway, Bagsvags, Snazzyway, and other some others.

Working @ some Thai Restaurant
Day Trading

Trading is a wonderful way to be location independent and earn lots of money. Although it sounds exciting, it is quite tough to start as a day trader if you don’t have any experience or knowledge about equities and market. I work on day trading and it’s been now a steady passive income source for quite number of years. Unfortunately, I lost lots of money also in day trading, but since it is my passive income source, I consider those lose as my sunk cost. 

Playing Poker

If you are good in poker or card games, you can try online poker playing in variety of websites. Poker is lucrative and you can earn lots of money, even after giving 30% of government tax. Every day there are hundreds of tournaments going on in multiple poker sites, and you can start it from Rs. 100 to unlimited amount. Needless to say, you must first go through free roll for months to understand the game, and develop an interest in it. Poker is a skill based game, so don’t think it is a pure gambling. There are lots of strategies involved, game plans etc.

Productivity v/s Procrastination

My personal room @ Sohra (Meghalaya)

Believe me, traveling on road is a tough job. It is frustrating when you see other travelers enjoy, drinking, chatting and you are in the middle of finishing a project. The pressure is probably more than office because you are a sort of mercenary and people who pay you never listen to your excuses. It is very important to maintain a routine on the road so that you never miss the work. Every new place brings some unique challenges to work, so you need an impeccable discipline. It sounds glamorous working from road, but realty is far from fantasy. 
  • Assess your strength how much your can work, and how much money you need daily for sustenance and save. Don’t forget to save money because freelance or passive income sources have no security.
  • Don’t run after money because it will rob happiness from your journey.
  • As mentioned repeatedly first create a solid base of whatever you want to do. Proper planning is important for freelance work. Gaining trust from clients is important, so even if you take a few days leave, they will understand it.
  • Make a strict schedule. For example, early morning work is better if you complete everything or at least 80% of work.
  • Do not procrastinate on work. Remember all friends or travelers you meet in the journey are temporary. You have to manage yourself. If you have committed yourself to a certain freelancing style, don’t just leave it.
  • Limit your browsing time on internet. Open your computer only for work. Block all those sites that are potentially time wasting such as Youtube, Facebook etc. if you work demands those websites then it’s okay but limit yourself to your professional work only.
  • Try to finish your work first then go for exploring the place. There is no joy in traveling if you keep thinking about your work. After all you are traveling for your own peace, and not to pretend that you are enjoying your life. 
Important Tips for Working on Road
  • Carry multiple SIM cards
  • First figure out when and how you work best
  • Create a productive playlist
  • Buy an international outlet adapter
  • Have a back-up plan for internet failure (particularly in India)
In my life I worked and traveled at the same time plenty of times. I worked at roadside restaurants in India, in minus degree temperature Himalayan regions, and also working in the middle of happy go lucky hostel mates, all were enjoying and I was working. In all my experiences, I never regretted my decision but I confess it’s really a tough job. I want to give you a true picture, and try to help people who live in a fantasy that traveling and working together is a wonderful concept. 

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Sunday, April 23, 2017

Munsiyari Travel Chronicle – Panchuli Aura & My Solo Camping

panchuli range from munsiyari

(I couldn't reach Khalia Top because of excessive snowfall, so I am not able to describe how beautiful Panchuli range of Himalayas would be watched from the top, though I could understand the feeling of Panchuli magic where I spent my days in the mountain.)

“Don't you scare of living off the land alone?”

“What you do alone the forest?”

There are some questions randomly shoot at me ( I say randomly because most of the people do not think while asking) whenever I return from my camping trips. When I show my pictures of camping or tell them my (brief) stories about my experiences, there is an air of disbelief, a sort of mixed feeling of amazement and disgust. If I remember correctly, I never felt any type of trepidation so far. It is also a fact that I do not feel any extraordinary feeling in those places as people may imagine seeing my pictures.

Winding roads in Kumaon
A peculiar sense of emptiness grasps my whole being, a power that is inconceivable by reasons and logical gymnastics. Every place has its own energy and when you place yourself with a little quietness, the place reveals itself slowly the secrets. Perhaps, that is the outcome of my travel or living off-the-land for sometimes. It cuts down from my usual self, usual thoughts, but attached with something that heightens my perception, can feel things from a different level of life.

I like Himalayas, more than anything else, because the energy is so wholesome, too complete. If I have to strictly tell what part of the Indian Himalayas I prefer, I would say Garhwal. This is the land where great souls buried, not essentially in a sense of last rite or incinerate, but the energy buried here for hundreds of thousands of years. After so many years have been passed, even today you can sense the subtle energy if you are sensitive enough to feel to that. The silence is exquisite, but many people can't contain it because they aren't accustomed to it. The tranquility of the region may bring a familiar sense of sadness and remorse. Nevertheless, within this peculiar sense of sadness, one can find a direction.

Travel journey to Munsiyari

Munsiyari in March
I noted down most of things during my journey, lest things I can't recall. Sometimes, small things can turn out be a crucial part of the journey. For example, my night bus journey was unmentionable but became a part of my note because of an incident.

A girl was sitting beside me. She was quite noticeable for two things – her continuous hard efforts to sleep in the bus, and her strong scent and hard-bitten good looks. The more she moved position, more she created disturbance, not essentially irritation but a peculiar attractive disturbance. At one point of time, she literally rolled down to my shoulders with her hair slightly touched my body. I had this experience before when I was coming back from Dharamsala and a Tibetan girl fell asleep over my shoulder with her hair all over my face.

Anyway, this miniature love story ended soon when she dropped at Rudrapur and my ordeal thankfully concluded with a sweet sleep for 40 minutes. When I reached Haldwani, I was utterly disappointed with the fact that I came at the wrong time. Because of Holi, a few buses and shared taxis (with double fare) were only plying to distant places. I had been warned by a fellow in the bus about this possibility. This bright young fellow, working with Indian Oil Corporation was patiently listening to me while we were waiting at Dominoes. We had a long or rather one-way conversation about travel where I was speaking about travelling and he was patiently listening to me.

I was standing at the bus stand, thinking what to do. I wanted to go to a new place but there was not a single vehicle going to Munsiyari or any elevated mountain range. Once again absence of cohesive thoughts had fallen for a gentle yet forceful invitation from a taxi driver who was supposed to go to Pithoragarh.

I and two soldiers

From Munsiyari
I was travelling in a small hatchback with five people, two were soldiers returning to their homes in Didihat. It was again a long journey and quite painfully sandwiched between big sized soldiers. I was reading and sometimes talking to one of the soldiers who was quite friendly. They were returning from Siachen and looked like totally jaded. I was contemplating why for a small piece of land two governments spending lots of money. The average temperature of Siachen is 2 degree and in the winter months, temperatures can dip to -50 degree.

We reached Pithoragarh around 4pm. I already realized that it was nearly impossible to find any commutation to Munsiyari because the market was desolated and only one jeep was there to Dharchula. At one time I though I must take a ride to Dharachula and then decide what could be done. However, after taking suggestions from the soldiers, I had decided to stay in Pithoragarh for the night.

Final journey to Munsiyari and failed Khalia Top trek

Next day early morning and my travel mate who I met in Pithoragarh started the journey. He is 16-18-year old guy with unbending intent to go to Munsiyari to find a job. He was carrying 300 rupees, out of which I lent him 150 rupees of his bus journey. I also paid tea and breakfast without any problem because I liked the attitude and nerve of that teenager. He already talked to some hotel in Munsiyari and told twice that he would pay me when he reached the destination. So, I had to pay the taxi fare from Thal. I already knew that and had no issue in paying.

We had reached Munsiyari in the afternoon, and he dropped in some hotel. I didn’t have to pay the fare as he borrowed it from the hotel manager. I took a picture of him and he left. I spent the whole evening, night and half of the day with this guy, and probably will never meet him again, but this small incident, selfless friendship remains very valuable to me.

pithoragarh town
Desolate Pithoragarh town
I had my lunch in a small restaurant and with some guidance from locals took the journey to Khalia Top. Well, I took the shortcut and soon I realized that I did a mistake. At one point of time, I simply lost in the forest, thinking to camp and next day started again. However, it was quite dense and there was a source of water very nearby. I don’t camp near the source of water because animals generally come in the night to drink water.

Finally after a long and tiring hike, I ultimately came to the main road. At that point of time I couldn't walk anymore, so I preferred to wait for any transportation. Fortunately, I didn't wait too long and got a shared car, which dropped me to my destination. 

Evening looming large and I had to climb at least 2 hours to reach the top. It seemed impossible because of snowfall, so I decided to climb till I got sufficient sunlight. Finally, I found a nice place to pitch my tent, which was in a good height and mountains were nicely captured on my camera.

My journey stopped there. I didn't feel anything more, no tiredness, no hurry to reach the destination, not a single thought came to my mind, except to stay in that special moment for at least some hours.

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Saturday, April 8, 2017

An evening well-spent in Abhinavagupta Research Library in Varanasi

I have frequently seen myself a scholar withdrawn, having enjoyed the most valuable part of my life in those crusty, otherwise inanimate words written by writers of all ages, putting their hearts and souls and made such wonderful objects called books.  I was spending my days in Varanasi abandoned my time in the streets of this ancient city, sitting on ghats all day long, sometimes quite restlessly. I kept lots of books with me during my journey, though I looked at them only now and then. I didn’t wish to practice resignation in Varanasi but to observe how people were living in this oldest city with zest.

More and more I was feeling that why we would box everything into advantages and disadvantages. I was engaged in thinking why we were so involved in starving ourselves before we were hungry? It came to me that I was not an exception in this living, probably because I was also a part of this tasteless urban life. So, I desperately wanted to get rid of this futile thinking, at least not in my travel.

Read More about Varanasi

Two days spend in some good and bad experiences. I had already spent a few days in Varanasi, and one fine morning I got a call from my friend Yann who lived in the city. He had a very beautiful house in the heart of the city, with a terrace, nice garden and absolute silence in all of his rooms. We spent some good time with French tea and handmade cookies.  He told me about Abhinava Gupta’s library and Bettina Baumer. A well-known indologist and one of the scholars of Kashmir Saivism, she had lived in India for more than four decades. 

A brief tryst with Abhinavagupta Library (संविदालय ) and Kashmir Shaivism

Abhinavagupta Research Library
In the afternoon I went to the library. I met Bettina 'Sharada' Bäumer, an Austrian born scholar who dedicates her life in abstruse philosophy and in the field of inter-religious dialogues. I found her very gentle and humble. She showed me the library though not much talked about the philosophy. She gave me three books to study and showed me the study room. Surprisingly, there was no conventional study table in the room. There were four bookshelves and one tanpura (a classical string musical instrument). I felt very relaxed in the room and studied those books for straight two hours. When I came out of the study, she already left the library.

Kashmir or Kashmiri Saivism 

It is a system of philosophy known as the Trika System. The Sanskrit work Trika means ‘threefold’. In Kashmir Saivism, also scholars wrote it Kashimiri Saivism, trika is used to refer to threefold signs of humankind and their world. These three signs are Shiva, Shakti and the bound individuals (nara), and the three energies of Shiva. These three energies are Para Shakti – the supreme energy, parapara Shakti (medium energy), and apara Shakti (inferior energy).

Trika philosophy explains that the realm of apara Shakti, the lowest energy is found in states of wakefulness (jagrat), and dreaming (swapna). The domain of medium energy, is established in the state of sound sleep (susupti). The province of para Shakti, the supreme energy is found in Turiya state. Turiya state transcends the three common states of consciousness – waking consciousness, dreaming and dreamless sleep.

Kashmir Shaivism is a nondualist Tantric practice that is one of the oldest forms of spiritual practice in India. There are still many yogis and practitioners follow the teachings including some of the proponents in 20th century. One such name is Swami Lakshman Joo, who was a Kashmiri Brahmin, revived the tradition and made a great contribution to this legitimate field of spiritual inquiry.

Information on Abhinavagupta Research Library

The research library has been established by the Trika Interreligious Trust at Varanasi, as a place for study and research on Indian spiritual and religious traditions with special emphasize on Saivagama/Tantra and Kashmir Saivism. The library has a vast collection of books including Veda, Agama/Tantra, Kashmir Saivism, Indian philosophy, Traditions of Banaras, Indian Art and Aesthetics/Musicology, Hinduism and Buddhism.

The research library is in collaboration with scholars and institutions like Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, Central University for Higher Tibetan Studies (Sarnath), Institute for Religious Studies, University of Vienna (Austria), centre for Intercultural Theology, University of Salzburg (Austria).

Opening Timing: Daily from 2 to 6 p.m. (except Sunday).

Activities: Occasional seminars are organized on topics related to the special focus of the library, as well as text study (Sanskrit), individually or in a group, with a scholar or pandit. Also, music programmes are occasionally organized. 

There is also a space for meditation in the library.

Address: B-2/114, Bhaidaini (near Ma Anandamayi Hospital), second floor, Varanasi – 221001
Director: Dr. Bettina Baumer ‘Sharada’

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Saturday, March 25, 2017

Why does door and window photography fascinate me?

Old buildings always fascinate me, particularly doors and windows. While walking on a sidewalk, or walking in the streets, and even in midst of busiest traffic in roads, my eyes always look for doors and windows. Doors and windows aren't just there to be opened and closed. These doors and windows speak history, a certain sense of nostalgia and earn admiration. From a historical standpoint, we can understand culture, social structure and antiquity of society. My personal favorite is always old doors and windows, but from a photography point of view, contemporary architecture also invites much passion among photographers. 

There are many angles of photography. The subject can be on the outside or inside. The windows in particular create a disjunction between the viewer and the world outside. In window photography, subject has a role to play in the imagination of the photographer. There may be many interpretative approaches to it. Through your photograph, you may show the subject being inside the window is weak, doesn’t want to face the outside world. It is all a symbolic interpretation that a photographer wants to capture through his or her lenses. 

Some suggestions on doors and windows photography

There is no best time as such because in this age of advanced manipulation of image by Lightroom and Photoshop, you can do almost whatever you want to do with the photographs. However, for genuine photographers best time is early morning and late afternoon because most of the porches, awnings, doorways are out of the light path and no shadows are present.

Tripods are good to capture the details of images since you are in slow shutter speed. Generally natural light is enough in these hours but if you are too sensitive about the light, you can use a flash to fill in. 

When a door or window captures your attention, first thing is to remember about your first impression. What’s the first thing that catches your attention? How colors will affect on the overall scene? How about the wall surrounding it, or doors itself? If you put these questions before capturing your image, you will add more detail to it.

Another important aspect is to focus on your primary focal point and eliminate all distractions. Keep everything that you want to capture in focus and sharp. This way you can maximize the depth of the field.

( All photographs here were captured by my cell phone camera)

Picture Gallery

Kolkata, 2016 

Kolkata, 2015

Varanasi, 2017

New Delhi, 2014

West Bengal, 2016

Kolkata, 2013

Bangkok, 2015

Varanasi, 2016

Kolkata, 2014

Kolkata, 2015

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Friday, March 3, 2017

Following the religious cult of Dasha-Mahavidya Chhinnamasta at Rajrappa (Jharkhand)

chhinnamasta temple rajrappa jharkhand india

Chhinnamasta, a fierce goddess, a form of Sati, consort of Lord Shiva, symbolizes the unique nature of women. She is a life-giver. She was merciful to such an extent to behead her head and fed her blood to satisfy the hunger of her two attendees. She symbolizes sexual self-control and embodiment of sexual energy. As far as Tantric tradition in India, Chhinnamasta is an embodiment of Kundalini Energy (spiritual energy). 

Rajrappa, a small place in Jharkhand, surrounded by forest and beautiful landscape, is the only place in India where Devi Chhinnamasta is worshipped. The place is located on a hillock at the confluence two rivers – Damodar and Bhairavi (locally known as Bhera). There is also a small Rajrappa falls, a sort of tourists’ attraction.  The history of this temple is cryptic because it is not documented anywhere. Curiously, the temple’s name is mentioned in ancient Hindu texts such as Vedas, and Puranas. The temple architecture, surroundings and almost everything in that area transpires a subtle energy. Because of its tantric cult and ancient tradition, the temple is also considered parallel to Kamakhya Temple in Assam. 

Historically, once the Mughal once attacked the temple but Santals, a major tribe of that region resisted it with guts and gumption, and saved the respect of their deity. Till date, the temple is a very important pilgrimage of the Santals and other tribal who come to perform the last rites of their parents in the Damodar. 

Road journey to Rajarappa

NH 20, Hazaribagh to Ranchi Road
Riding through the meandering road, verdant forest on both sides, it was a bit surreal experience. I would say, it was probably the best motorcycle riding experience in my whole trip. When I first entered in Jharkhand, I was a bit surprised to see such smooth roads. Jharkhand Highways are fantastic; it was truly a great riding experience. 

Read More on Motorcycle Riding Tips

On the way from Etawah to Barhi, I suddenly decided to take a turn and came to Hazaribagh. Rajrappa Chhinnamasta Temple provoked my mind when I first read about in a Bengali weekly magazine. I went o Hazaribagh purely based on my instinct, and later on I thanked my instinct that I would have missed a great experience if I didn’t came to this place. That's not unusual, a peculiar part of my desultory roving.

I like small towns; Hazaribagh perfectly fits my imagination. Although a small town, it boasts of some good hospitals, excellent roads, convent schools, and easy life. The road from Hazaribagh to Rajarappa is approximately 75 Km. National Highway 20 was smooth and in excellent condition. At certain stretches called Ghaati were surrounded by deep forests on both sides. Sometimes the road had steep curves, almost semi-circular curve that was a bit dangerous in high speed, but traffic was light, so riding was altogether safe.

Rajrappa Temple Architecture & Dasha-Mahavidya

Chhinnamasta Temple Complex
The temple architecture is similar to temple Kamakhya. The red, blue and yellow colored temple is similar to temples of other tantric importance. The deity is headless statue of Chhinnamasta stands upon the bodies of Kamdeo and Rati in a lotus bed. It symbolises the Goddess’s power to control sexual energy. The main temple complex is small, but adjacent other temples have come up around it. The other temple complex is larger than the original or the primary one. It represents other nine Mahavidya forms of goddess Sati.

The story goes on like this Sati’s father king Daksha was performing a big ceremony, he didn’t invite his daughter and son-in-law because he didn’t approve the marriage of his daughter with Shiva. Shiva though a Lord, was very insolent and carefree, which was not approved by the society. Sati felt his father did a great insult not inviting them to the ceremony, so she asked her husband to accompany her to Kankhal (Haridwar) where her father was performing the ceremony. 

Shiva Linga at Temple Complex
Shiva tried hard to convince Sati that it was not a good idea to go to place uninvited, but she was adamant. After some futile attempt to earn consent, Sati had a feeling that Shiva would have forgotten the fact she was a goddess. To convince her husband, she then showed her ten different forms of Parashakti. Her ten Shakti forms is collectively known as Dasha-Mahavidya that includes Kali, Tara, Shoroshi, Bhubaneshwari, Bhairavi, Dhumavati, Bagala, Matangi, Kamala and Chhinnamasta.

There are many legends on Chinnamasta origin and the creation of all Mahavidyas. According to Hindu esoteric tradition of Tantar, goddess Chinnamasta is often cited as the fifth or sixth Mahavidya. There were hymns identifying the goddess with fierce aspect of Shakti (Devi). Most of the forms of Mahavidya do not have independent existence outside the group. According to 9th century’s Guhyatiguhya Tantric tradition, Mahavidya likens it Lord Vishnu’s ten avatars (Dashavataras). It is said the man-lion avatar Narasimha was originated from Chhinnamasta. In the late 16th century, Mundamala Tantric tradition equates avatar Parshurama with Chinnamasta.

Temple Complex & Surrounding Area

Like any other temple complex in India, there are fruit, sweet and flower shops at the surrounding area. The temple is flooded with pilgrim during special occasions like full moon day, Saturday and Tuesday. Every year on Makar Sankranti (vernal equinox, the temple witnesses a large fair where pilgrims from various parts of the country come to pay their reverence. Animal sacrifice is a significant part of the Tantric tradition, so every Tuesday and Saturday, and on the occasion of Kali puja it is practiced in the temple.

The surrounding area is quite eerie after sunset. There are a few small ashrams opposite to the temple where some sadhus live. The rock formations on both sides of the river are photogenic, and also attract tourists. On a quiet day, you can sit and see tribals are fishing with the nets in the Damodar river. There are a few country boats available for tourists for river cruising.

The area is surrounded by cluster of hills and forests of Simul, Babla, Akashmani and Mohua trees. There are also wild animals, which sometimes can be caught on the riverbank. 

How to reach Rajarappa

You can either go from Hazaribagh or Ranchi. From Ranchi, bus starts at about 9:30 am from Khadgarh. Ranchi to Rajarappa is around 70 km, and the road is excellent. You can also hire a private taxi to enjoy the road journey. A small stretch that goes in the middle of village is bumpy, otherwise everything is just fine.  You have to go to Ramgarh (on the Ranchi-Hazaribagh Road via NH 20_ and then take the right turn to Bokaro.

From Hazaribagh to Rajrappa is approximately 75 km, will take 2 hours if you ride gently, riding while enjoying the scenery. You can find couple of tourist buses from Hazaribagh New Bus Stand. Buses going to Bokaro are also going through that road, though  you need to travel at least 10 km on your own. 

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Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Art Of Traveling On Two Wheels

I am a traveller, not a rider. I met riders who went to a place, spent the night and again travelled for 400 km on their motorcycles. I am not like that. I find pleasure in staying at one place for a long time. I ride because it gives me mobility, and also undeniably there is a joy in riding.

Traveling on a motorcycle is different in a way from cars. In a car you are in an enclosed space, it always feels like a compartment, you are in a frame and passively observe things. Motorcycle is different however. If your purpose is traveling, and not riding, traveling on a motorcycle is indeed a good thing. On a two wheeler, the frame is gone. If you’re a sensitive person, you can feel you are in the scene. In my riding often I felt a strange sensation of pleasure, especially when I was riding on highways surrounded by rural landscapes.

I had planned for a long ride on my newly purchased motorcycle, just 2900 km clocked in odometer and 3 months old. I had started my journey in the middle of December, winters suits me well and the tarmac roads are cool and less harsh on tyres. From Kolkata to Delhi, roughly it’s 1600 km. My plan was deliberately indefinite, more to travel than to arrive anywhere. When I came back home (Kolkata) after 37 days of traveling/riding, my odometer measured 8900 km, so I rode exactly 5000 km in 37 days.

I maintained a journal where I put things in a diary fashion. Those are my kind of field notes. I changed engine oil thrice, and when I returned home, I changed it once again. I had an accident once, I did one full servicing once in Delhi, and one partial after the accident.

I don’t like Highways though. It is because of the simple fact that it robs the joy of seeing things. On highways you can’t help but to run fast. State Highways are better, especially I found Rajasthan State Highways extremely good. Due to my inexperience in twisty hilly roads, I found it difficult initially to manoeuvre the machine but after some time those twist and turns turned out to be extremely enjoyable. I liked paved rural roads; slow speed was very enjoyable on those roads, and gave me an amazing sense of joy.

To me, it was somehow a feeling of liberation when I was moving slowly on a road, fresh air and lots of greenery on both sides of the road. Roads free of trucks were enjoyable, though in the daylight trucks were far better than speeding cars. Roads where trees, green fields, meadows, lawns came almost to the shoulder, where people looked at me with curious eyes, I found it very exciting. I seldom used Google Map because I found it more enjoyable to stop to ask directions or information, and the answer tended to be longer than expected.

Long distance motorcycle riding is tough, and often rough, especially in Indian Highways. There are many things you need to understand or at least study first before you go for the first time. Most important things come with experience; still I am giving here some essential facts, tips and suggestions for beginner motorcycle riders who wish to travel in Indian Highways.

Motorcycle Technical Tips

First thing is to understand your motorcycle. It is important that you go with the familiar machine, not a new one or borrowed one.

Needless to say, before riding a long tour you need to go for a full servicing. I didn’t go for it but I checked all my parts and changed my engine oil. I double checked my brakes and understood very basic motorcycle mechanism.

You should at least know the very basic of motorcycle repairing stuff. For example, how to change a flat tyre, or change your own engine oil because you can get engine oils in petrol pumps but most of them don’t change it. Also, carry basic tool box. That being said, do not overdo it. You don’t need to be an expert, and it is not possible also. You can accidently damage your machine.

No matter how strong your motorcycle is, always take rest after two hours. It is better if you run 100 km/hr constantly for an hour, take rest for 15 minutes.

For long tours, always rely on heavy engine motorcycles.

Personal and Safety Tips

DO NOT ride in the dark. No matter how good rider you are, vow not to ride in the dark. If you start in the early morning, say 6 a.m and till 6 p.m, you have enough time and distance you can cover. So, there is no need to ride in the dark. Particularly in Indian Highways or in India you find ample accommodation options, so just take a shelter.

Always tie your luggage tight. Carry extra pair of bungee cords with you. Do not carry heavy load on your back, perhaps a small backpack with not more than 2kg of load. Carry ample amount of water even it is important.

Whenever I stopped for a night, I immediately opened my laptop and started working. You don’t need to do that. The first shower after 10 hours of riding feels like heaven, so first take a proper shower, eat good food but light and hydrate yourself. It is better not to drink alcoholic beverage if you are riding back to back days.

I always wear a money belt where I put all my cards, IDs and cash. Some cash I put it in my wallet. Before turn on my ignition key, I checked my wallet, phone and money belt, and this became a habit. Carry enough cash with you. I know it’s dangerous but most of the places in India don’t accept Paytm or online transactions, even in some petrol pumps they denied me card payments.

Wear ear plugs. Trust me it is great. Or at least you can purchase a good balaclava, especially in winters when wind is cold and you ride fast, things are getting exhausting fast if you do not protect your ears.

Wear full helmet, although for riders with specs full helmets are very uncomfortable. You can wear a half helmet but always careful to buy helmet that fully fits your head. Wear a decent helmet, a good riding jacket, knee guard and don’t forget to wear boots.

It’s very important to make yourself visible while riding on highways. Make your bike on the path of the road that is visible to other road users. For example, if you are following a truck or van, don’t go right behind it. Get it the side of it, looking at the rear mirror, if you can see the driver’s face, he can definitely see you.

Don’t follow other riders, and try to overtake or compete. Highway riding  is very dangerous. A little mistake and you fall, and if you fall, you will hurt.

Always take photographs on your road and send it your friends in WhatsApp. Always inform your friends where you are, where you reach even if you don’t like to do it. If you stay at a motel, send the photo of the motel with name and address.

Finally, always expect the unexpected.

Tips on Riding on Indian Highways

Indian Highways have this big advantage. You will always find dhabas (local roadside restaurants), petrol pumps after 5-10 km and people around. So, even if you unfortunately experience some problems with your bike or an accident, you will find people to help you out. That comes with riding in dark point. In the night, you won’t find around, and if anything bad happens, nobody will there to help you out.

Indian Highways there is always a risk for riders who ride fast. There is always a possibility when you see people cross the road, not just people but cows, dogs, sheep, chickens etc., so be vigilant and careful about your speed.

Even there are always petrol pumps after every 10 km or so, don’t let the fuel meter to reach the red line. Always fill up the tank before it reaches the reserve.

Create space around you. Use your indicator when you change lanes. Keeping space is often forgotten, especially when you are passing a truck or a big van. Maintain a safe distance between your motorcycle and other vehicle until the point that you can accelerate to pass.

Tips for Solo Motorcycle Touring

File a daily plan with friends and relatives is the most important thing when you ride solo. Don’t discount the concerns of others.

As I said before start early and finish early before dark. It is advisable to settle somewhere before sunset because changing light makes it difficult for other drivers to see you.

Carry a small diary where you note down all your information for example, important numbers, addresses, emergency contacts, where you have stayed, which places you ate on the road, distance covered etc.

I don’t use GPS but I am an oddball. So, carry GPS and use it often to track the road.

If you are traveling alone, it is always advisable to eat smart, hydrate yourself well and sleep early. Remember there are no one near and dear one to look after if you fall sick. So, keep your health well, at least the best you can.

Finally, in case of an accident when your motorcycle is totally damaged or partially damaged, but you are alive with perhaps a few scratches or a hairline fractures, don’t fret about your broken machine. Don’t curse yourself or mourn about your motorcycle. Thanks to God that you are alive, and learn what the lesson you have got. It is very important!

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