Fitness not a state of mind but a way of life!!!

“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.” – Jim Rohn

Physical activities have always been an integral part of my life since childhood. From being a sprinter to long distance runner to going for adventurous activities to challenging treks, I like to push my body and stamina to do its best. Though the forms of exercise change from time to time could be just running for some time to hitting the gym to yoga sessions or zumba classes, I make sure that I sweat a lot. I like to be the best version of me; and we would totally concur when I say that the happiness that we get from fitting into an old pair of jeans is beyond articulation. Life is full of stress these days, work is a strain and those flickering relationships are a trauma, the only addiction that kept me going even in not so pleasant situations of my life is the strong urge to be physically and mentally tough by following a stubborn routine in the gym.

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Sweating makes us happy and there is a science behind this. Any physical activity or exercise that makes you sweat releases endorphins, a kind of hormone, which apart from reducing the perception of pain triggers positive feelings in the body also called “happy hormones”. That’s the reason we feel euphoric after a run or a workout. Well am not going into the detailed biology of all this, but regular exercise helps in the following –

  • Reduces the level of stress – The situations may remain the same or worsen but we tend to learn that constant worrying or brooding won’t help. We learn to have a calm approach towards life in general. Remember endorphin hormone!!
  • Boosts self-esteem – when you are in a better shape and have a body you love, you automatically tend to build up a confidence which in turn boosts your self-esteem.
  • Improves sleep – exercise is a fuel to the body and experiencing exertion is quite common. After a rigorous routine at the gym one would definitely like to rest the body and mind, thus improved sleep and better digestion are some of the most immediate effects of exercising regularly.

My fitness regime these days involves a combination of Yoga and core strengthening exercises. My warm up starts with Surya Namaskar also called Sun Salutation; one cycle consists of 12 steps (asanas). Few of the most incredible benefits of Surya Namaskar are – strengthens the body, improves blood circulation and flexibility of the body, releases stiffness and helps in weight loss.

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Next set of exercise includes squat because it is deeper than any of your emotions. And then if you think a minute goes by really fast, you have never done the plank – the ultimate core strengthening exercise. Finally stretching to end my routine, it loosens tight muscles and relieves post workout soreness.

There are a number of workout videos and channels you can subscribe on YouTube, BeerBiceps being my favorite. It is very important to know your body type and then plan a well balanced system of exercise. Being a foodie comes with a big responsibility of taking care of the body so eat right and make some time to kill the fat.

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Weekend getaway to Samsara Resort

“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.” – Anonymous

Last week was super hectic!!! This is what life of a budding entrepreneur is all about, erratic personal and professional life. While most of the times we are ready for it, but unsolicited happenstances is what make life worth living and fighting for. There’s a constant battle to excel through perseverance and consistency, and be the best version of what you are no matter how unpleasant the situations and circumstances get. Things will not always be like the way we want them to be. People, feelings and situations change, after all change is the only constant (the world famous adage). Does that mean you can’t forgive and move on? Does forgiving someone makes you compromise on your self-respect? Is accepting failures and shortcomings difficult? For me, forgiving (self and others) is vital for mental peace, for rejuvenation. I don’t wish to squander my valuable time on insignificant people and trivial issues, thinking about what went wrong, why me and similar thoughts. For me, forgiving and accepting the state of affairs facilitate in taking a step back from the muck so that I can focus on self and life a little more.

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In order to acknowledge the craziness and fruitfulness of the previous week, I along with a few friends decided to take a break to unwind and relax. Spontaneous travels turn out to be the most memorable ones; having said that we hit the road to reach Samsara Resort located in Dechu – a small village in Jodhpur district of Indian state of Rajasthan. A haven located in the middle of the infinite dunes of the Thar Desert, Samsara Resort is 120 kms from Jodhpur city. A massive, lavish and beautifully landscaped property is where we reached in the noon. Intricate work of art and designs on the ceiling of reception grabbed my attention instantly when we checked-in, the property was mostly vacant but in season time (which is mostly going to start by mid this month), it is difficult to get reservations.

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The brilliantly maintained resort has vigilantly planned and designed moats and fountains which make it a visual delight. Amongst the eclectic mix of rustic yet contemporary room categories, we had booked Sand Dunes Villa for a night. However, during winters staying in Tents and enjoying your miniscule existence amidst the vastness of desert under the blanket of stars is a luxury. The prodigious swimming pool is yet another striking amenity of the resort and soon we found ourselves enjoying a dip in it. Great music (gladly I bought my Bose portable speakers), good food by the pool under the open sky, isn’t this just a perfect getaway from the topsy-turvydom of the city life!!!

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We did depart with happy memories but for me it was a bitter sweet realization that no matter what you feel… get up, dress up, never let that beautiful smile off your face and be grateful for what you have overcome.

Meeting an old friend in a new country

“Don’t listen to what they say. GO SEE.” – Chinese Proverb

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I fondly remember that message on Facebook one fine evening while I was in London; it was a message from an old friend asking me to meet him at the Heathrow Airport the very next day. I was sure as hell excited and totally looking forward to have a brief encounter. After all I was going to meet this brother from another mother after more than 3 years!! We picked up exactly from where we left last. That’s what I adore about friendships that there are no expectations; we respect each other’s space and an unwritten agreement to never ask questions. That’s when we grow from being acquaintances to friends for life. We felt it was too less a time to share the backlog of past few years and planned to meet in Cardiff again, where my friend was pursuing his masters. And with that promise Monica bid a goodbye to Ross (FRIENDS will always be our favourite show).

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I was all set to explore yet another country with my friend and his friends. I was welcomed by strange faces when I reached Cardiff, my friend introduced me to everyone and soon from strangers we became acquaintances. Generally I take time to get comfortable with new faces, but with them it was different. People from different cities of India and one from different country all together, they never failed to make me feel comfortable and wanted. After a quick sightseeing around the city, I opted to make a lavish dinner for everyone (have always been fond of cooking). It was a long weekend, and I had absolutely no idea what they had planned until the next day at the bus station I was told that we are going to Swansea. It is a beautiful beach at the coastal side of Wales. They made all the preparations and arrangements from volleyball at the beach to carrying marinated chicken for barbeque to booking BnB, everything was planned.

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What I got from my stay in Wales is something I can’t describe in words. I still am in contact with few of the faces I met there; I feel that speak volumes about the friends I made in really short span. Infact I even met one of them in Dubai (when I had gone there for a family Holiday) and others in different cities of India (Mumbai, Delhi and Ahmedabad). From late night walks to playing UNO to making dinner together to quick rounds at TESCO and above all seeing my friend turning into a responsible and humble human being, Wales was an experience of a lifetime. A beautiful and historic country with bizarre countryside and beautiful coast line, Wales is a must go when in UK.

Memorabilia From London

“Not all those who wander are lost” – J.R.R. Tolkien

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It has been more than three years since my unexpected and unplanned stay in London. I still fondly remember the good times I had with family, friends and colleagues there. Just yesterday I was organizing folders on my desktop (am such a mess at times) and my eyes got stuck to a folder named “London”. Going through it was indubitably a trip down the memory lane. Back in 2013 I had completed my post graduation in Marketing and I was placed in Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) for Pre-Sales of Telecom sector. I always wanted to have a “stable 9 to 5 job” and technically TCS should have been a dream career then. It is ironical how our preferences change with times. Within 6 months I realized I had traded for a wrong profession. I used to go to work reluctantly, used to find ways to avoid going to work and started working from home quite often. Until one day when I decided to quit this well paying job without a Plan B.

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While my friends were happily going on yet another family trip to Singapore or Bali, I was eagerly waiting for my first Passport stamp. The day I quit my job, I happened to speak to my first cousin in London. I just asked her if it will be okay with her and her family to have me there for a couple of months. And I still remember my otherwise mature and sane sister jumping out of joy and excitement to have me there. What started as a break from monotonous and messed up life, ended up on a productive decision of getting enrolled for a Spring Course in City University, London. I signed up for a course in Digital Marketing, applied for the Visa and then informed my parents about going to London for a couple of months (6 months to be precise). I am grateful to have parents who have always stood by me in all the decisions of my life. I think I have got this carefree streak from them….gracious me…

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I had butterflies in my stomach right before boarding the flight. It was a potpourri of emotions – excitement, nervousness, bewilderment, and joyfulness. And next moment I had tears rolling down my eyes. After all this was my first international travel all by myself!! Throughout the journey I was imagining getting into worst of the situations like – what if I get deported from Doha Airport (it was a connecting flight), what if I board the wrong plane at Doha, and a gazillion unreasonable thoughts and circumstances. I was desperately looking for a recognisable face by the time I landed and I hurried my way to immigration process, collected my baggage and ran out of the airport to see my sister.

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I was welcomed by a bright sunny day and surreal landscapes. After meeting a dozen of relatives, and a tiring journey I wanted to nap. The next couple of days were spent in getting acquainted to the routes (buses and tubes), British accent and food (I was a vegetarian before moving to England) and visiting the “major tourist attractions”. I even happened to meet a school mate one fine evening and it felt good to see a familiar face in a foreign land.

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In no way I can justify the emotions associated to my stay there. It was possibly the best time of my life and one of the finest decisions I have made so far. From enjoying the non-vegetarian food to exploring places all alone, from freezing cold to vibrant summers, from sunrise at 10 am to sunset at 3 pm, from talking to strangers to sudden alliances, London will always be close to my heart. I will be sharing my solo travel experience to Scotland and Wales in the coming blogs. Stay tuned!!!

Dear Zindagi, I Love You!!

“The world is not a wish granting factory.” – John Green (writer of The Fault In Our Stars)
But there’s always a silver lining…

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From past two days I have been thinking about what to write on Monday, yes it’s a weekly blog site. Hope it did not disappoint you. My first two blogs have been on travel. Give it a read, if you haven’t already!!! So, today I didn’t want to write about my stay in London, yet another travel story….told you am scared of monotony…blimey…

I am 27, and I have had an erratic professional life. Am pretty serious when I say that!! I have worked for 8 different firms so far and counting. I have a high regard for people who are clear about what they want and where they see themselves in next 5 years. And here I am having no idea about where am going to be in next 2 months (with respect to the companies I have changed in last 4 years). It is frustrating, it really is. But I have finally managed to part with this confusion. At least I don’t whine about my difficult boss or colleagues and boring work, well at times I do to be honest.

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the fragility of life is like this water reflecting the beautiful surrounding. A drop of (unwanted) water is enough to disturb the tranquillity…

This blog is in a way paying homage to all the confused souls who are dubious about their interests and passion and about the whole concept of working for someone else. Above all for those who don’t want to merely exist but live this beautiful life like a King/ Queen. Am not ambitious in life, I wish to lead a simple living where I can make just enough to manage my travel (in and outside India) and write stories about it. This life is fragile and I have seen the darkest sides, am sure we all have had such experience(s) at least once and what I learnt from those not so pleasant experiences is something I would like to share here. I have become humble and am always prepared for the worst, because there is always a way out. Am thankful for everything I have and hopeful for what I don’t have. However, there are also times where you have to fight (figuratively) for what you deserve because every living being on this planet deserves to be happy without making others unhappy (well that’s a precondition).

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Last week I picked up an interesting read and I began writing this blog with a quote, which has now become my favourite. You don’t always get what you wish for, be grateful anyway. 🙂

Sri Lanka Through My Lens

“Fill your life with adventures, not things. Have stories to tell not stuff to show.” – Unknown

The charm of unplanned trips is beyond articulation. You would definitely agree when I say ad hoc trips are one of the best trips we have in our lives. And it gets better with the right company. I happened to talk about it to one such friend and one thing led to another and BOOM we decided to explore Sri Lanka in November 2016!!! No hotel bookings made, no itinerary prepared, we just had our flight tickets and visas in hand. Let me tell you we had a tight budget to follow and we were all set for the journey.

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I made a profound statement about “the right company” in the preceding paragraph. For me it would be a person who likes to be a traveler and not a tourist. Someone who is ready to explore, give a different / new perspective to my travel story and finally someone who respects my way of travel (and vice versa). Am blessed to have one such friend and we have been interested to go on a trip together but couldn’t materialize it somehow. Until the day we decided to travel around Sri Lanka and the delay totally made sense. We had made a list of adventures we would like in Sri Lanka. Mine was Knuckles Mountain Range Trek in Kandy and my friend wanted to enjoy the beach life in coastal Lanka.

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We reached Colombo on 24th November 2016. Our first destination was Kandy, located in mid Sri Lanka and we booked our stay at Alex Home Stay for 2 nights. I absolutely love the idea of Home Stays for many reasons. Firstly, it feels like a home away from home. Secondly, a chance to experience the local culture (especially food). Thirdly, these are comfortable, safe and quite economical options. Our hosts were more than glad to understand our interest and suggest “must visit places” few of which we happily added to our spontaneous itinerary after doing a brief research. The very next day we left for Knuckles Mountain Range Trek with two young and enthusiastic local boys. They were kind enough to pack typical Sri Lankan lunch for us. The trek was beautiful and exhausting too (6 hour to and fro hike). However, in the end it was all worth it. Next 4 days were spent in going to The Tooth Temple, Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, Hikkaduwa, Galle and our final destination being Negombo. Our trip was quintessentially about being local. Using the local transport, local food and drinks, home stays and a lot more just to feel more linked to the foreign land. After all that’s exactly what we travel for in the end, to connect to the roots of different lands and cultures.

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This blog is in no way trying to suggest holiday destinations or helping you with an itinerary, we believe there are too many websites and travel companies who can guide you with that. The Whole Jingbang is trying to make extra-ordinary memories out of the ordinary experiences. As our trip was coming to its closing stage, I happened to realize how important it is to take some time off from the daily humdrum and for once do something that makes you not only happy from within but also makes you feel accomplished. Sri Lanka made me a little more benevolent, a bit more tolerant and a lot more grateful for what I have and where I am.

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Gihilla ennam Lanka!!! Thank you for being beautiful, pleasant and adventurous.

Chadar Trek – Experience of a Lifetime!!!

“The best view comes after the hardest climb.” – Unknown

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While my colleagues were planning their yearly trip to Goa, I badly wanted to tick off yet another escapade from my list of “Must Go Treks” in India. While checking my feed or rather stalking my friends and acquaintances on Facebook, I happened to see an event created by a friend and a fellow trekker about Chadar Trek. I didn’t think for even a second and picked up my phone to get details about the expedition. And I was super happy to learn that my friend has started his own venture – Canvas N Chrome , which focuses on Himalayan Tours, Adventure Travels, Bike Rides, Wildlife Trips, Treks and more. I somehow never fail to admire people who follow their passion.

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All this happened in August 2016 and I had promised myself that am not going to miss the chance this year and thus gave thumbs up when asked for my confirmed participation in the journey. For those of you who are not aware of the Trek, I would like to give a brief introduction about it. Chadar Trek also called Frozen River Trek is unique in many ways. Due to the extreme temperatures from November to March the routes to remote villages are inaccessible (between Chilling to Zanskar Region). The only convenient option left is a hike over the frozen Zanskar River in the Zanskar Valley. Isn’t just the thought beyond imagination!!! The best time to go for the trek is between mid January to mid February as the blanket of ice is thickest around then. The trek is challenging as walking on slippery ice in sub-zero temperatures is definitely not easy.

My tickets were booked and I was eagerly waiting for the day. My friend suggested me to reach Leh at least 3 days before we depart for the trek, to get acquainted to the drastically low temperatures. As suggested I reached Leh on 12th January 2017. The change was dramatic from 5 degrees (at Delhi) to -16 degrees (at Leh). There was a formal introduction of all the group members at breakfast the very next day. It was an enlightening experience to meet fellow trekkers belonging to different academic and professional backgrounds. That’s one of the reasons I look forward to treks. Apart from taking the much needed break, one gets to meet a gamut of  like minded people. Next 2 days were spent in getting to know each other a little more, site-seeing, relishing the local food and last moment shopping for our gears.

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We started the trek on 15th January 2017. After a 3 hour drive and an hour hike to the valley, we reached our first base camp. We had a local group as well. The leader guided our way and porters carried our bags, set-up our camps at different base camps and prepared delicious food for us. It took us 4 days to ascend and 3 days to descend. We visited Gurudwara Pathar Sahib on our way back to Leh to seek blessings of the mighty Guru Nanak and gorged on some delectable food in Langar Hall. Apart from the beautiful landscapes in the mornings and sky full of stars in the nights, what moved me was the spirit of the people living there. The ever enthusiastic, smiling and kind people who never hesitate to go out of their way to give us a memorable experience.

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From banters to cooking meals to slipping on the ice a gazillion times to sharing horror stories at night to playing Rammi and Antakshri to standing in queue to use toilet tents to silly arguments and fights to not bathing for over a week and above all surviving in -30, Chadar trek was a life changing experience and an event I am going to cherish forever. I highly recommend everyone to go for the trek before it becomes a history.