Road to Raigad Fort

The Idea of Going to Raigad Fort

Have you ever wondered why people choose to do different life-threatening activities like rock climbing, big wave surfing, bull riding, etc.? Does not the risk of death or severe bodily injury seem too dreadful to those who venture into performing those adventures? I have seen people try to get out of their everyday state by doing something as simple as throwing their cycles in the river from a bridge, and if that doesn’t seem to get them out of their blues, they throw themselves from the bridge. 

The risk of death for the people who pursue such daredevil acts (or tomfooleries, if one would call that), I think, is comparatively lower than the risk of death by boredom. When exposed to an uncharted territory, the body and mind adjust to the new environment, which brings some excitement, some setbacks, some unknown to be known, some fear to be conquered.

When life, including mine and that of others, becomes a series of mundane actions, one has to do something and spice it up a little. So, it was quite interesting to hear my colleague Paven suggest a rather adventurous trip to his hometown where a famous fort of great significance was located, namely the Raigad Fort. His suggestion, his excited narration of life in the village and the picture he painted of some mouth-watering food, popti, for instance, intrigued me.

Popti. Courtesy: Pavan

Popti is a special dish made in a pot by adding some well-chosen spices, fresh vegetables, country eggs, chicken, beans, etc. Pavan was going to add fish in it because I don’t eat chicken but relish well-cooked fishes.

Most people who come to Maharashtra primarily live in Mumbai (or Pune) and its suburbs, while they hardly have any idea or seem keen to know about life in the village of Maharashtra. That is an area where I, as much as the people I put the blame on, have to reconsider and improve upon. What also intrigued me was the idea of going up the Raigad Fort, about which I have heard a great deal, and to which politicians and the general mass of Maharashtra (and people interested in the Maratha culture and history) make a point of going.

The Original Plan

Pavan had already put forward the plan of going to his hometown to a few more colleagues (Onkar, Ankit, Siddesh, and Rahul), all of whom seemed equally enthusiastic about the visit. Siddesh’s native, Dapoli, a town by the seaside, happens to be close by. The water around Dapoli beach, I have heard, is pretty clear and clean. So, we made a few alterations and added Dapoli in our itinerary. 

Dapoli Beach
Beachfront at Dapoli. Image courtesy: Siddesh

The plan now was to spend the first day in Raigad, and the next day from morning to late afternoon at Dapoli. On the first day we planned on seeing the Raigad Fort, Pavan’s old house in the village called Shivthar, and in the evening we would go to a cottage (for staying the night), and enjoy relishing popti with whiskey. The plan was thus ready, and we booked the tickets online. 

The Modified Plan

As the day of the visit approached, like all things, the plan seemed to be falling apart. Siddesh had mentioned that he won’t be able to make it (and he had his valid reason for it, so it would be unwise to pick fault with him). Onkar had stated that he had some presentation to do in his college, therefore he won’t be staying for the second day at Dapoli. Seeing this change of plan, I suddenly remembered that I had my own plan on the second day and I decided to drop the plan for the second day to Dapoli, but the plan for the first day (about visiting Pavan’s hometown and the fort) was still on. Pavan added another member (a cousin of his) to the plan.

The Day before Going to Raigad

A few days before the actual day of traveling to a particular place, one’s thoughts often revolve around what essential stuff one has to carry to make the journey a smooth one. 

  • No sunburns, no heartburns: If you have to travel during the daytime and if the day happens to be hot, you should carry something like a packet of sunscreen, a cap, a hat or an umbrella. My wife lent me her sunscreen. She said that if I look any worse than I was, I should be ready for heartburns. Aside from the sunscreen, I took out a cap that was lying cold in some corner of my wardrobe. 
  • Keep the energy high: To keep yourself hydrated and your energy high,  energy drinks can help, and in my case I got a can of Budweiser that was actually an energy drink and had no alcohol. There is a funny incident related to this, and it will be revealed as we progress further in this post. 
  • Eye for eye: If you think you will be helpless without your spectacles, as I think I will be, it is worth carrying an extra pair of spectacles, who knows when the one you are wearing will fall as you suddenly skid, stumble or fall. 
  • The only bank you can own: If you are like me, who clicks 10 photos in five seconds with the phone, consider carrying a power bank to ensure your phone is juiced up, because the chance is high that the phone’s battery would exhaust fast. You can think of some other knickknacks that would be essential in your journey. 
  • Scarf: Covid taught us the importance of wearing masks, but before the popularity of masks, people used their scarves for various purposes. Now the danger of Covid is waning, and so is the usage of masks. But the old scarf is back in action. Scarves can be a lifesaver. On our journey, scarves helped us to block the dust from the road and smoke from the vehicles that crossed us by.

A Brief History of Raigad Fort?

Raigad Fort, also called Rajgad Fort (Royal Fort) lies in the Raigad district of Maharashtra and forms a part of the Western Ghats. 

Raigad Fort

Before being called Raigad Fort, it was known as Rairi Fort, situated in the jungle of Jawali. Chandrarao More ruled the jungle of Jawali. When Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, the founder of the Maratha empire, first saw the fort of Rairi, he was greatly impressed by its formidable height. One way to keep the enemy at bay is to ensure that you have as much advanced ammunition that will last till the enemy has exhausted his own ammunition and surrendered; another way is to choose a strategic location that would naturally hinder the enemy from reaching you. The fort of Rairi provided one such natural advantage.

Shivaji Maharaj tried to form an alliance with the then king of Jawali and expressed his thoughts through correspondence, but the king refused to be a part of Shivaji Maharaj’s notion of a Hindavi Swaraj, and instead offered him insults. Shivaji Maharaj was left with no option but to usurp power from Chandrarao More. After winning the battle with Chandrarao More and taking control of the mountains, Shivaji Maharaj changed the name Rairi to Raigad.

Shivaji Maharaj’s Rajyabhisek (coronation) took place at the Raigad Fort, upon which the suffix Chhatrapati (king of kings) was added to his name. 

As one of the tallest forts in Maharashtra, Raigad Fort offers one a panoramic view of the landscape in the Konkan region. In fact, it is said that many other forts that were under the possession of Shivaji Maharaj could be seen and kept a watch on from the Raigad Fort. Shivaji Maharaj further expanded and fortified the fort with his chief architect, Hiroji Indulkar, and made it one of the strongest forts in the Deccan plateau. During this time, Shivaji Maharaj oversaw the making of numerous ponds and over 300 stone houses. This fort, unlike many other forts in India, has very difficult terrains, and it’s a wonder how the gifted architect Hiroji Indulkar made such magnificent temples, marketplaces, lakes, palaces here.

Shivaji Maharaj made this fort the capital of the Maratha empire in 1674 and the fort remained a stronghold of the Marathas until 1689. Thereafter, the Mughals overpowered the Marathas, captured the fort and changed the name to Islamgad. But it could not be with the Mughals for too long, and came into the possession of the Marathas again. In 1818, the fort became a target of the British East India company who had come to India, and the British mostly destroyed the fort by bombardment. The structure of the fort was made from stone and wood. While wood has gone due to being burnt from bombardment by the British, the stone remains. 

Besides being a great administrator, one can assume, from the way he acquired one after another forts, that Shivaji Maharaj had great fondness for forts. He was born in a fort called Shivnari. At the age of 16, while others could not make up their minds as to what they wanted to do for the day, Shivaji Maharaj had captured his first fort. During his lifetime, over 365 forts came under his possession. At the Raigad Fort, he lived from 1670 to his last breath on 3rd April, 1680. 

The Raigad Fort served as a safe and secure base for the Maratha army, and today it stands as a symbol of Maratha pride, and reminds one of how visionary and great Shivaji Maharaj was.

How Do You Go to Raigad Fort?

Raigad does not have an airport or a railway station, which leaves only one option for the traveler: the road. It is equally convenient to go to Raigad either from Mumbai or Pune. The cheapest mode of going there would be to get in the State Transport (ST) Bus. You can take your own vehicle if you like, but if you are a tourist, you can hire or rent one. 

How Did We Travel?

We followed the following route: Thane, Belapur, Birwadi (Mahad), Raigad Fort.

We went by bus. The colleagues got on the bus at Thane, while I waited for them (and for the bus) at Belapur bus stop, because the bus had to go through Belapur, where I live. 

The time was 12:54 AM. While I stood in the bus depot, I saw other passengers get on the bus and go to their destinations, such as Kolhapur and Satara. The buses for Bangalore, and further down south, have to pass through the same route.

The temperature was 24 degrees Celsius, which was relatively hot for a winter night and during midnight at that. I was sweating and yet had my jacket on, which was in anticipation of the bus that was to come soon and the prospect of the cool air one would be subjected to in the bus in the Konkan region.

Bus Stop at Belapur
Bus Stop at Belapur

After a few minutes, Pavan rings me up and says that the bus is reaching my location now. A bus arrives and I see some of my colleagues’ hands waving at me from the window. It was a surprise to see that the bus was not the infamous ‘lal dabba’, but a rather comfortable one. From what I have heard, traveling in the lal dabba was akin to getting on a roller coaster. On the bus, I met my colleagues and Pavan’s cousin called Amar. Whatever uneasiness I had about the addition of a new person melted away when we actually met Amar, who, I should say, made the journey all the more interesting and lively with his humor and easygoing attitude.

Bus to Mahad, Raigad

From Belapur, the bus leaves around 1:30 AM. The bus makes a few stops for refreshment and bio breaks. The vehicle makes many turns, which makes it impossible for one to sleep. However, when I saw how peacefully my colleague Rahul was sleeping (and for a while Onkar also did) I questioned myself and thought I was not making enough efforts to get some sleep. But everyone is not Rahul, and no matter how hard I tried, I got no sleep at all.

At 5 AM, we got off the bus at a place called Birwadi, which is a small town in Mahad. We walked for a few minutes to Pavan’s house. The moon was still up, and the air was cold. It’s a good thing we got our warm clothes. Some dogs were barking at us, and Amar shouted back at them. As we reached Pavan’s house, we found his cousin and uncle waiting for us.

Morning view at Mahad
Morning view at Mahad

We decided to catch some sleep and a few mattresses and chadars were arranged for us. Sleep came to the others almost as soon as they laid down, while I could not get even a wink of sleep. I could have gotten some sleep, but the collective snoring of the colleagues kept me from doing so. I would have snored as well had I but slept.

A Sunny Morning

Without a wink of sleep in the night,

Surrendering to human snore and mosquito bite,

The time was finally ripe to get the morning view,

And the view was so sunny and the day so new
Pavan’s native house

Upon getting up, I took a small walk to look in and around Pavan’s house. Next to his house was a rather lavish and imposing house, which, Pavan told me, belonged to the son-in-law of the MLA of Mahad. 

MLA’s son-in-law’s house

The sun was up in its glory, which is what I needed in the morning’s coldness (vitamin D was an unintentional bonus, of course).

Pavan’s aunt arranged the water for our usage in the morning. Each of the colleagues took a quick bath. The bath was necessary because on top of the Raigad Fort (to which we were heading in a few minutes) was a temple of lord Shiva and we were going to pay a visit there. They looked at me and seemed surprised that I was not taking a bath. The morning was cold, which discouraged me from bathing. Moreover, I had taken a bath last night before leaving the house. The colleagues sighed and called me an impure person. I was not bothered.

Fresh selfie

We Hit the Road

After having refreshing cups of tea and bowls of poha, prepared by Pavan’s aunt, we move out of the house. Two bikes were arranged while heading out from the house, and then another one was added on our way out. Pavan arranged the bikes well in advance by speaking to his cousin and, I think, a friend. Apart from the fuel charges, we did not have to pay any extra charges for the bikes.

The roads in Mahad are pretty good. The surroundings, as far as I could see, were quite clean. The region is buttressed by the Sahyadri mountain ranges. Two rivers flow through the region, called Savatri and Kal. Savatri is the larger river and Kal meets with Savatri at a certain point. Pavan narrated how most of the portion of his town came under water due to flood water from Savatri.

Savitri River
Savitri River

Metalled, Stony and Dusty

Although the highway at Mahad is good, as you take a turn on the road towards the Fort, most of the road is under construction.

Road to Raigad Fort
Road to Raigad Fort
Road to Raigad Fort
Road to Raigad Fort
Dust rises as the bus passes through us

If anyone intends to travel anywhere, it is advisable that one get the proper gear for the body such as legs and arm guards, helmets. We did not wear helmets, but wearing helmets is important. An untrained rider will have some difficulty in traveling through the roads. As most of the road is under construction, every time another vehicle, in particular when the four wheelers pass through, a great layer of dust rises and fully covers the rider (and the pillion) who comes from the opposite side. It is similar to how one’s situation would have been if one were to participate in a battle of sand and gravel; the enemy has an advantage over you as the enemy is fully armed, and the moment you go anywhere near the enemy, you are fired upon. Taken by surprise, all you see is dust and smoke. We had our handkerchiefs (an important accessory that one should carry while traveling) and we covered our mouth and nose with that. I saw some riders on their Royal Enfield Himalayan bikes (good choice for such roads) and had the proper gear for their bodies.

For the convenience of the homo sapiens, the roads were being broadened, and it was the trees that had to suffer. The mountains of the Konkan region are rugged and stony and seem unshakeable. Making roads in these regions must be very difficult. But humans are ingenious beings and can always find a way, and humans have found a way by inventing heavy machineries. So, here we are, paving our way with the human operated machines, jolting, jerking the peacefully sleeping boulders.

Boulders are pushed aside, making room for the vehicles

The road snakes around the mountain and the vehicle can go considerably up, and the best part: the road around the mountain is in excellent condition, offering one a sigh of relief. As I looked at myself using the phone’s selfie camera, I saw that the color of my hair, which was supposed to be pure black, turned golden, which was a result of dust accumulation from the dusty road. 

Getting down from the bike, I further observed that it was not only the hair, but even the clothes, the spectacles, had a good layer of dust (Amar’s clothes seemed to have attracted the most amount of dust). We moved ahead, shrugging the dust.

Many schools in Maharashtra arrange a tour of the Raigad Fort for their students, and we saw some buses carrying the students. As we went further up, several vehicles lined up, and several people marched to the base of the fort. The fort is a good spot for a one day picnic. Those who are tired of the hustle and bustle of the city can find some solace in the Raigad Fort.

The Base of the Fort

As we reached the base of the fort and got down from the bike, layers of dust had to be wiped from the spectacles. Our body had to be shaken, and the hair dusted.

Once a person reaches the base of the fort, one can find two options to go to the top of the fort: one that is super easy, and one that is very taxing. The easy option is getting to the top of the mountain through the ropeway in less than five minutes, and the difficult option is going by the steps, which, for the untrained legs, could take over two to three hours. The base of the steps and the base of the ropeway are in different locations, about 20 to 25 minutes away. The ticket price of the ropeway per person to and from the fort is Rs. 310, while a single way ticket (either to or from the fort) costs Rs. 190. The timing of the ropeway is from 8 am to 5 pm. 

Ropeway or Steps?

We spent a considerable amount of time discussing whether we should go by the ropeway or by the steps before going to Raigad Fort, but could not come to a final decision. 

When we reached the base of the fort, we were still unsure. Pavan, Rahul, and I walk every day to the office, and on Saturdays and Sundays, I tend to walk about 15000 to 20000 steps. But the fort was a different matter; it was all uphill. We were not very sure of Ankit and Onkar. And, what’s funny, they were not sure of themselves. 

The base of Raigad Fort
The base of Raigad Fort

There were a few small eateries near the base of the fort, which seemed rather tempting, so we decided to go in and eat, for that’s more important than prolonging our discussion on an empty stomach. “While we eat,” we said unanimously, “we can discuss and come to a conclusion”. We ordered vada pav and tea. The vada pav was really delicious, so we ordered one more plate. Then another plate was proposed, but this time, except for two people, most of our stomachs were full, so only the two of them, who still had some appetite, ordered.

Vada Pav and chilies

Food does good not only to the stomach but, it seems, also to the brain, because we were finally clear about going by the steps, which will be a tiring, time-consuming affair, but surely more adventurous than going by the ropeway.

On the Way, Up the Fort

I heard a guide state that there are 2300 steps that lead one from the base to the top of the fort. While many travel bloggers and travel portals state that there are about 1700 steps. The best way to verify this information would be for oneself to count the number of steps as one goes up the fort. I tried doing that, but after counting some steps, I lost count of the number, which gave me a chance to focus on the scenic view instead. 

The climb up the fort is a truly arduous activity, in particular when your normal physical activity is limited to walking from one room to another or just taking a stroll. The ordeal became evident from the faces of Onkar and Ankit, who now, from their body language, seemed unsure if they had it in them to go up further. It seemed they were going to suggest that it was better to choose the ropeway, but we had already come to about 250 steps, and now going by the steps means undoing the effort of going up so many steps. With the will to do, and some encouragement from others, humans can surprise themselves with what they can do. Every time Onkar and Ankit went up a little, their efforts were appreciated, and they were encouraged. With every word of encouragement, they found a reason to move their way up.

Difficulty of going up increases

On the way up, one can find small shops where one can take a little rest under the shade of the shops, have something to drink such as cold lemon juice (which we did) and keep yourself hydrated. 

Shops on the way
Lemon juice

We made a mistake by going to the fort in the afternoon when the sun was blazing, so there was more sweating, more need to quench our trust than would have been if we had made the move to the fort early in the morning.

Some portions of the way are plain surfaces, walking on which is easier. Instead of walls, one can see iron railings in that portion.

Plain path

Some steps are smaller than the rest and are highly elevated, which makes one tired easily.

While on the way, some portions of giant rocks protrude out.

The higher up we went, the better the view became.

View from Raigad Fort
Photo courtesy: Ankit

What to See at Raigad Fort?

The question should not be so much about what you can see at Raigad Fort, but it should be about what you can see from Raigad Fort. While what you can see at Raigad is surely historical and important, what you can see from Raigad will be one of a kind of experience that you will always remember. Nonetheless, here are a few things we saw while we were going up to the top of the fort. 

Maha Darwaja

One would not know that in the middle of the steps leading to the top of the fort, there is a Maha Darwaja or Great Door. It has two bastions and serves as the main entrance point of the fort. The Maha Darwaja seems solid and imposing, and seems as robust as it always was. In the past, guards were always present to keep a check on who was entering the fort and who was going out. Today as well, guards are present, but they are unarmed and their main job is collecting entrance fees from the tourist.

Maha Darwaja at Raigad Fort
We pose for a photo in front of the Maha Darwaja

The Maha Darwaja has a smaller door within the larger door, which was made to let individuals pass through. While the large door was opened only when the going and coming involved riding on horsebacks or when the royal ladies had to be brought on the palanquin.

A small door within the large door
A small door within the large door

Affixed to the door are many pointed spearlike rods which kept elephants from damaging the door. In the past, elephants were used to break into big doors which proved too much for the humans. 

If, by any chance, the enemy manages to get past the Maha Darwaja, the puzzling curve in the steps and walls would have made it difficult for the enemies to move ahead, because while the enemies could not have seen what was above them, but who were above could see the enemies, and they could easily drop boiling hot oils on the enemies, forcing them to step back.

While we sat for a while on the steps in front of the Maha Darwaja, posing for photos, Amar spoke to almost every tourist and everyone seemed to entertain him. Amar approached one person and asked him what he did for a living. The person said that he was an English teacher. Amar suddenly pointed his finger at me and said to the men, “He is Ramu Das, from north-east, and only understands English and no other language. Let’s have some English sessions.” I smiled. The English teacher smiled. Amar laughed.

Hatti Talav
Hatti Talav

Hatti Talav

As we kept walking, we came across a pond called Hatti Talav (elephant tank), which had very little water. A description board near the talav states that the talav has suffered from water leakage issues and work was going on to make it leakage proof. This talav was used for elephants’ bathing. How did elephants come to such an elevated hilltop where humans had such difficulty getting to? You might wonder. This question puzzled others as well. The answer is that Shivaji Maharaj had brought baby elephants when the elephants had puny physiques.

Shirkai Devi Temple

As we move further up, we come across a small temple called Shirkai Devi Temple. Shirkai Devi is a village deity and a fierce form of goddess Shakti.

Shirkai Devi Temple
Shirkai Devi Temple

We Reach the Top

While coming up to the fort, and seeing what an arduous thing it was to do, I wondered who in their right minds would ever think of invading this hill. Yet several powers and empires made repeated attempts to capture it. The British, who were frustrated by the might of the Marathas, resorted to bombarding it, leaving ruins behind them.

The fatigue and physical discomfort on the way up suddenly vanished a few minutes after reaching the top. The challenge of getting up the stairs finally borne fruit. The fort is one of a kind and provides a panoramic view of the picturesque landscape, and this, and the material treasure that was in the fort, was the reason many powers and empires made their attempts to take the fort.

Holi Cha Mal

This is a spacious site where the annual Holi festival used to take place. I have heard that the burning of Holika used to be an occasion of fun activity in which a coconut would be thrown on fire, and as it burnt, it had to be pulled out by the bare hands. Whoever pulled the coconut out of the fire was rewarded with a gold ring.

Near Holi Cha Mal is a statue of Shivaji Maharaj sitting on his throne on a pedestal.

Holi Cha Mal
Holi Cha Mal

Bazar Peth

Next to Holi Cha Mal, opposite the statue, is the Bazar Peth (market place). The Bazar Peth is a long line of raised concrete blocks in two columns. There are 22 shops on each side. The shops were made on high plinths and had inward steps which enabled the soldiers on horses and the women on the palanquin to shop without getting down. The inward steps allowed more space for the horses to move. However, some refute the claim that these were actually shops; they say that these were resting places for the soldiers.

Bazar Peth
Bazar Peth
Shops of the Maratha empire
Shops of the Maratha empire

Jagdishwara Temple

As we keep moving from the Bazar Peth towards the Jagdishwara Temple, to the left at some distance, we see a spot called Takmak Tok (more about this in a while) where many people were heading to. We decided we will go to Takmak Tak while coming back from the Jagdishwara Temple and the Samadhi of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, an adherent of the Hindu faith, ordered the construction of the temple and it is said that he visited the temple every day. The temple, like the markets, lakes, pillars, and the palaces, among many other things, was built by Hiroji Indulkar.

Jagdishwara Temple
Jagdishwara Temple

The exterior of the temple resembles a mosque and has six minarets. Some say that the resemblance to a mosque was a deliberate attempt to protect it from Aurangzeb and his force or similar forces who intended to wipe out the Hindu culture, overthrow the Maratha empire and dominate the length and breadth of the Deccan Plateau, and that of Hindustan. The appearance of a mosque would have halted such people from attacking the temple. Some, on the other hand, say that Shivaji Maharaj was influenced by the Islamic scholars and the temple was constructed to look like a mosque to depict the unity between the Hindus and the Muslims.  

In front of the temple is a statue of a mouthless Nandi (the bull of lord Shiva).


As we entered the temple, we saw a group of people chanting ‘Om’ and doing yoga. Without disturbing them, we silently went inside the sanctum, knelled down before the Shiv linga.

Shiv linga
Shiv linga

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Samadhi

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Samadhi
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Samadhi

The Samadhi (memorial) is situated on a high platform opposite the Jagdishwara Temple. The site is considered to be sacred and is visited by thousands of people every year to pay their respects to the great warrior king. This is the area where the Maharaj’s last rites were performed. There were many people here, and it was difficult to get a proper picture of the Samadhi because of the flow of people.

Statue of Waghya

Statue of Waghya
Statue of Waghya

If you know me, you would know how much I love animals, especially dogs, so when I heard about the story of Waghya, my sentiment for dogs got an added booster. It is said that the dog was a constant companion of Shivaji Maharaj in his military campaigns and was known for his bravery and loyalty. Legend has it that the dog proved its loyalty to the last breath, and when the Maharaj’s pyre was burning, the dog jumped to the fire and sacrificed itself, following his master into the afterlife.

Takmak Tok

 Takmak Tok
Takmak Tok

After seeing the temple, the Samadhi and the statue of Waghya, we make a return towards the Bazar Peth, but on the way we had to go to a very infamous site called Takmak Tok (I just love the sound of those two words, and find myself repeating them). Takmak Tok (punishing point) is a cliff, and it was used for throwing traitors and criminals down to thier death. “Takmak”, a Marathi friend told me, means “blood-stained”.

Before going to Takmak Tok, we took a short rest under the shade of a shop. Pavan, Rahul and I were done resting, but Onkar, Ankit, and Amar took some more rest. While the three of them were resting, Pavan, Rahul and I went up to a small hill to locate Takmak Tok. When we saw it, we tried to go closer to find the way that leads to it, but as we went ahead, we lost sight of it. We went several steps away from the trio, and they could not see us, nor could we see them as the view was blocked by some rocks and some wild plants.

“Where is it?” asked Pavan.

“You would know better,” I said. Pavan and Rahul had already been to the fort a few times before.

We were unsuccessful in locating Takmak Tok. It seemed to be just here, but now it was gone. We went back to where Onkar, Ankit, and Amar were sitting, but they were gone from there. Now, our task had increased, as we not only had to locate the way to Takmak Tok but also find the colleagues who were gone missing. Rahul began calling out, ‘Ankit, Ankit!’

Finally, as we were still unsure of the way to Takmak Tok, we asked a shopkeeper, and she showed us the direction. We stood on a hill and saw Ankit, Amar and Onkar almost reaching the cliff.

They have found what we were looking for, so it was us who were lost, and not them. Amar was speaking aloud from a good distance (about 700 to 800 feet away) and we heard him clearly. He was telling us: “Not this direction, come from the other direction.” We did, and we reached Takmak Tok. While at one point, people would have dreaded the name Takmak Tok, and it would have painted a gory picture, but today it is a wonderful tourist spot that offers a breathtaking view of the landscape.

Nagarkhana Darwaja

The Nagarkhana Darwaja looks somewhat similar to the Gate of India (but the Nagarkhana Darwaja came much before the gateway of India did, so, if there is any connection, then it has to be said that the architect of the Gateway of India took inspiration from the Nagarkhana Darwaja, and not the other way round).

Nagarkhana Darwaj
Nagarkhana Darwaj

The Nagarkhana Darwaja is the entrance to the King’s Court or Raj Durbar. As one goes straight about 200 feet from the Nagarkhana Darwaja, one sees the throne of Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj, which is a replica of the original. The original golden throne, which was studded with precious stones, is lost, but to whom, where, when, remains a mystery.

Throne of Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj
Throne of Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj
Throne of Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj
Throne of Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj

One very interesting feature of the King’s Court is that when one makes a small sound, like a whisper, the sound can be heard from the throne. A demonstration of this was given to the tourist. A guide whispered “Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj ki” from the Nagarkhana Darwaja, and over 200 feet away near the throne, the tourist, among whom we were included, answered back with a loud “Jay”. Then the guide said that he was going to tear a paper and if we could hear the tearing of the paper, we should clap our hands for Hiroji Indulkar, the one because of whom the magnificent durbar had this acoustic sound quality. We heard the tearing sound, and we clapped our hands.

Nagarkhana Darwaja, and over 200 feet away, throne

Nearby, we come across a rectangular plinth, and to the right of that is where Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj is believed to have taken his last breath.

Queen’s Palace (Bed Room)

The Queen’s Palace has six rooms for the six queens of Shivaji Maharaj (he had married 8 women in total, the reason for which was more than just love for the women; it was love for his kingdom which he wanted to strengthen and extend, to curtail any rebellion against his kingdom, and to get support of the people from different regions). Designed to provide the queen with privacy and comfort, the rooms are very large and have attached toilets.

Queen's Palace
Queen’s Palace
Bedroom in one of the chambers for the Queens

The Watch Tower

The Watch Tower, most of which is in ruins today, was an important part of the fort’s defense system and played a crucial role in warning the fort’s occupants of any approaching enemy attacks. It was also used to send signals to other watchtowers in the region and to communicate with other forts in the Maratha Empire.

Watch Tower

Granaries: These are three underground chambers used to store large quantities of food and other supplies to support the fort’s inhabitants during times of war or famine. I have heard that the granaries were used by the Peshwas, after the death of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, to jail the traitors and criminals for 7 days. On the eighth day, if the traitor/criminal did not confess to the crime, he/she used to be thrown down from Takmak Tok.

Other Attractions We Missed Seeing

There were a few more attractions at the Raigad Fort which we missed seeing because of the shortage of time. The places we missed are equally interesting and have thier own stories. For instance, there is a chamber for secret discussion, which is eleven steps underground. Many confidential discussions used to happen there.

There was a Mint room that was used for manufacturing coins which were used as currency in the empire and facilitated trade and commerce.

The story of Hirkani Buruj is in awe-inspiring. Hirkani was a milkmaid and lived in a village at the foothills of Raigad Fort. One day, Hirkani found herself trapped on top of the fort as the gates of the fort were closed after sunset. She had gone to the fort to sell milk and had lost track of time. She had an infant child that had to be taken care of, and she imagined the worst might happen to her infant if she did not get home. She then climbed down the steep cliff of the fort using a rope and made it back to her village safely. Her bravery and determination earned her the respect and admiration of Shivaji Maharaj, who built a tower in her honor called Hirkani Buruj. The tower stands at the spot where Hirkani is believed to have descended from the cliff.

As we were going down by a door, which I think was the Mena Darwaja, I saw a few boys desperately asking a celebrity to click some photographs with them. The celebrity happened to be someone who came with us: Amar.

Some by Ropeway Car, Some by the Steps

Some of my colleagues had become more tired than the others, and they decided to go by the ropeway. Aside from tiredness, the prospect of experiencing the ropeway was enticing. As far as I was concerned, I considered coming up to the fort through the steps was a difficult and time-consuming task, which is when the need for the ropeway is higher; while going down, the downward slope would not be very difficult and would not take as long as it took to come upwards. For that reason, I decided to go by the steps. We went along to the ropeway station to drop some of the colleagues off. We saw a huge number of people sitting there, waiting for their turn to get in the ropeway cable car. It looked very crowded and would have taken more than half an hour when the colleague’s turn would come to get in the cable car. We had to be on time to board the bus that was leaving from Mahad for Thane. I tried telling Onkar that we might miss the bus if he waits for the ropeway car. He had enough of walking for the day, and he was okay to miss the bus if that was the case, but he won’t walk anymore. Thus Onkar, Ankit and Amar went down by the ropeway car, while Pavan, Rahul and I went down by the steps.

While getting down the steps we had to increase our pace (to reach on time and board the bus), and with one stride we moved two to three steps forward (but such a thing is not recommended to others, for if you lose control and trip, you will roll down several steps and cause grave injury to yourself). Many a time, we simply had to jump a few steps ahead because of the pulling effect of the downward slope of the hill.

We grew tired. Suddenly, Pavan remembered that I had a can of energy drink, which I had completely forgotten. I unzipped my bag, opened the can and was about to drink when I saw Pavan made his eyes wide open and seemed to be shocked.

“Any problem?” I asked.

“How can you bring such a thing here?”

“What thing?” I ask, confused.

“This beer,” he says, and seems disappointed. I explained that it was a non-alcoholic drink meant to provide instant energy like Redbull. He was sceptical.

“Well,” I said, “go ahead, try some.”

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He drank a little, kept quiet, and passed the can to Rahul. Rahul drank. They both claimed that it tasted very much like Budweiser beer. That is true; the taste is quite similar. Some energy drinks like Monster, Hurricane, taste like some cough syrup, but the energy drink from Budweiser tastes like the beer they sell.

Pavan gave me a lecture on how people would not know the difference between a Budweiser alcoholic can and a Budweiser non-alcoholic can, as there was hardly any difference in the way both the cans looked. Before the people can understand the difference, Pavan said, they will first raise their hands, and later try to know if there is any real difference between the alcoholic and non-alcoholic cans. But I have paid for it, so brushing his warnings aside, I finished the content of the can.

We finally reach the foothills of the fort (and we did that in just 40 minutes) and met the colleagues who had come by the ropeway car. Once again we had to hit the road, move past the metalled, dusty road. I hop on to the bike that Rahul rides, and for a small man (in terms of physique), he managed the bike very well and rode fast (almost like a professional rider). We reached the Mahad bus depot, from which Onkar and I were leaving for home, almost half an hour ahead of the scheduled time. The bus was late by half an hour. This time the bus, an AC one with more legroom, was even better than the bus by which we came to Mahad. 

Although I haven’t had the chance to visit exactly where my friend wanted me to go, considering the paucity of time. We made a few miscalculations and thought it would be possible to cover the places that we had intended to. But part of the blame for this miscalculation also lies in the fact that the Raigad Fort is so vast that it will hardly be possible to visit it as well as the other places in the short time we had given ourselves. An individual who hails from that area mentioned that one would require at least two days to explore the fort properly and appreciate all that was at the Raigad Fort, and I concur.

If you have come this far, you may also find the following interesting:

Copyright © 2023 RAMU DAS

From Heaven Lake: Travels through Sinkiang and Tibet by Vikram Seth

How different was the China in the 1980s and the China of today? A lot, you may think, and that will be true in terms of the country’s technological advancements, but is it a lot different in terms of how the country treats its citizens (the minority and the majority), in terms of restrictions that the officialdom imposes on a variety of matters? The difference may not be so much. But what do I even know of the China of today apart from what I have read in the news (and from the news I have learned that it is very difficult to get some real news of China, being a secretive country that it is).

How worthy are the accounts of people who only seem to criticize China? I would have never known how good the people of China are without reading the travel book From Heaven Lake: Travels through Sinkiang and Tibet by Vikram Seth.

Vikram Seth is an Indian writer who lives in the United Kingdom. He has written a number of books and his most famous being the humongous novel published in 1993 called A Suitable Boy, which runs over 1000 pages. There seems to be a touch of poetry in the prose writing of Vikram Seth (be that the biography he has written or the present travel writing book we are reviewing or other works, and that could be because he is also a poet apart from being a very fine Indian novelist).

So, what’s the book about? The book From Heaven Lake: Travels through Sinkiang and Tibet is based on the journal that Vikram Seth maintained while undertaking a hitch-hiking journey to Delhi (his hometown) from China via Tibet and Nepal. The book is a mix of travelogue, memoir, and cultural commentary.

Seth was a student at Nanjing University in China from 1980 to 1982. In the Summer of 1981, the university organized a three-week tour for its foreign students. Although the trip was well organised and everything seemed smooth, but Seth had two problems with this tour: first was about discipline and punctuality: every time one participant was late (in the case of Vikram, he often was), the whole group had to suffer, but by following the time-table set by the supervisor of the school, Vikram could hardly savour and appreciate what he looked at; the second problem Seth mentions is that ‘The movement of foreigner is tightly controlled in China’, therefore, he knew that this group travel was restricted to the famous scenic spots (that the officials had no problem in showing the foreigners), but many other areas (the whole of rural China and more) were out of bounds. Furthermore, a foreign student could only see what the guide wanted them to see.

In his own words (which I find quite humorous), Seth states:

The status of a ‘foreign friend’ or ‘foreign guest’ in China is an interesting if unnatural one. Officialdom treats the foreigner as one would a valuable panda given to fits of mischief. On no account must any harm come to the animal. On the other hand, it must be closely watched at all times so that it does not see too much, do too much on its own, or influence the behaviour of the local inhabitants.

These limitations were too much for Seth to tolerate, and he wanted to leave them for a few days, to which the teachers agreed.

The book starts with the group’s visit to Turfan, after which they go to Urumqi and visit Tian Chi or Heaven Lake, which is what has become the title of the book. Seth states the following about the lake:

Heaven Lake is long, sardine-shaped and fed by snowmelt from a stream at its head. The lake is an intense blue, surrounded on all sides by green mountain walls, dotted with distant sheep. At the head of the lake, beyond the delta of the in-flowing stream, is a massive snow-capped peak which dominates the vista; it is part of a series of peaks that culminate, a little out of view, in Mount Bogda itself.

While doing the trip, he makes up his mind to come back through the same route and see more of what China had to offer while going home for the summer holidays to Delhi. Most importantly, he had to get Lhasa stamped (capital of Tibet) on his travel pass. After crossing Tibet, it would be easy to get to India from Nepal, he thought. Thus, he starts his arduous journey through many scenic, muddy, flooded, hot and cold spots.

His family was expecting him to come home by a flight from Hong Kong, so to give them a hint about his plan, he wrote a cryptic note stating that he was going to return ‘by a more interesting route.’ He could not say more, since it was (and perhaps still is) an open secret that foreigners’ mail is read in China.

Through his unique journey, Vikram Seth offers us a captivating glimpse of the tough landscape and the beautiful Asian culture. The travelogue shows the difficulty of traveling to many parts of China due to bureaucratic interference and suspicion of the foreigners and also due to natural obstacles. When I read the following lines ‘The Chinese officialdom is easily disturbed by too much contact between Chinese and non-Chinese. They are horrified by affairs between Chinese and foreigners, especially if the woman is Chinese.’ I felt, from my experience in the north-eastern parts of India (Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram), the same statement can hold true for those places.

Vikram Seth writes about the challenges of travel in many parts of China. For instance, travel passes are required by foreigners and often officials abruptly begin questioning the foreigners. However, he also talks about the kindness and hospitality of the people he meets. Almost everyone in his journey helped him; the help was in the form of showing directions, giving advice, meals or simple encouragement. He was touched by the warmth and goodwill of the drivers of the trucks (in which he hitchhiked), by the people in the mosque, by the Tibetans, by the Nepali Consul-General in Lhasa. No matter how strict the Chinese officials were, they were also keen to help him, and for that Seth writes:

What is ironic is that the same obstructive bureaucrat who drove you to tears of frustration about an obscure regulation or a minor detail on a form may in his private life be so hospitable and generous as to bring you to tears of gratitude.

The book is filled with vivid descriptions, insightful observations about the people and their culture. It is a testament to the power of travel to broaden our understanding of the world and of ourselves and it will captivate readers from start to finish. Apart from the beautiful prose, the book also contains nineteen photos of various people and places, and‌ one can relish some beautiful poems as well.

The travel book From Heaven Lake won the Thomas Cook Travel Award in 1983.

Vikram Seth’s next novel A Suitable Girl, which is a sequel to the monumental novel A Suitable Boy is due to be published in the future (which is behind schedule), and I look forward to reading that as soon as it comes out.

Copyright © 2023 RAMU DAS

Dealing with Covid-19

At 2 in the morning on the 28th of December last year, I had the urge to vomit. I was not sure if it was a dream or a reality. I was feeling uneasy. My throat was dry and there was some amount of phlegm in my mouth that I wanted to get rid of. I had no sooner started spitting than I realized that I was still in the bed. Being lazy and needing more sleep, I was nasty enough to swallow the phlegm, but not nasty enough to throw it on the bed.

The next night at around 3 o’clock, I woke up because of the touch of some wet substance on my face and neck. Some fluid was dripping rapidly from my nose. I thought when I was asleep I had banged my nose against my bed or the wall, and, as a result, the nose was bleeding. “I am bleeding from the nose,” I told my wife, who was sleeping beside me. There was no response. “Bleeding from the nose… bleeding from the nose,” I repeated a few times, and when my wife heard the word ‘bleeding’, she sprang up from the bed and switched on the light, only to see that I had some water around my mustache and neck, which meant I had a runny nose.

The next day my body’s temperature was on the higher side (I was hot!). It kept increasing, and I had a headache. On the 31st of December, the headache was severe. I was down with fever, cold, and body pain.

I have read that fever is a good thing, but fever, when accompanied by cold and body pain, becomes a matter of concern because it could be what I thought it was, but being fully vaccinated, I hoped it was not what I thought it was. Yet to be sure, I decided I go for the Covid (also known as the Wuhan virus or the China virus) test.

The next day, which was a new year (1st Jan. 2022), I was feeling much better, so I thought I would not do the test and save the money. However, because of the insistence (or should I say persistence) of my family, I did it anyway. The report came in some hours; and it turned all my positive energy negative because I was Covid-19 positive.

I tried, upon the suggestion of some family members and friends, some Ayurvedic concoctions and drank plenty of water. I got a strip of FabiFlu, though I think I could have done without it, which contains Favipiravir that is said to stop the growth of the virus.

Second January went well. Fever, headache, cold were all gone. However, on the third of January, the pangs in the joints of the hands and legs were too much to bear. If someone had wanted my hands from the elbow and my legs from the knee, I would have just given them away. There was some pain in the calf muscles as well. The next day went in a similar fashion. But all the pain had vanished after that day.

On the sixth of January, I had strangely lost my sense of smell and taste. Losing smell and taste should have happened at the beginning of the problem with Covid-19; those were among the few symptoms leading to Covid-19. But whatever it was, I had to live with it. In two days, I got back my sense of smell and taste.

Covid-19 makes the body weak, but by eating well and drinking juices and plenty of water, I have gained back my energy. At this moment, I may not be as strong and healthy as I was before getting infected by the Wuhan virus, but in a few days’ time, I hope to be. The Covid-19 active cases in Mumbai, where I live, and elsewhere in India and the world, are burgeoning and destabilising the world, which was just recovering from the earlier blows. Staying home, if it is not necessary to go out and mix with people, is one way by which one can reduce the chances of coming in Covid-19’s way. However, ‘staying home’ and ‘not mixing with people’ is easier said than done. As soon as one variant of the deadly virus is gone, or reduces its effect, another emerges. This will go on, I suppose. But, we will find a way, as we have always found a way, to overcome all obstacles and to live.

Copyright © 2022 RAMU DAS

Tomorrow is Today

We are now at the beginning of a new year. Every new year brings a fresh level of energy and new confidence. We are mostly progressive thinkers and make every attempt to improve our lives.

A new year is a reason people suddenly become so full of life, so confident, so ambitious, and find themselves swayed by the age-old tradition of keeping new year’s resolutions. Although at some point new year’s resolutions may seem futile for most people, those who can stick to their resolutions deserve full praise.

I, for one, would let the first few days of the new year pass just trying to figure out how things need to be done. There does not seem to be an urgency, thus I am always postponing doing what I intend to do because there is still a tomorrow, and the tomorrow, I always hope, would be brighter, more in keeping with my health and mood.

If that tomorrow is not the first of January, so what? It can be the first of February, right? Or, perhaps, if February is not to your liking, the tomorrow that you had been waiting for can start from your coming birthday. Diwali also seems to be a fine day to be considered your tomorrow.

The truth, I have realized, is that, if you hesitate to do it now, you might hesitate to do it forever. Momentum brings us closer to our goal. The tomorrow that we have been waiting for is today. I am taking the actions that I have to, and I have you do as well.

Wish you a happy new year.

What Made Me Happy Today

Happiness is a very subjective feeling, and while some people can be happy after accomplishing something that, to them, means a great deal, others can find the reason for happiness in something that, to many, seem very trivial. I found one such reason for happiness today.

I had to move out of the office real quick to ensure that I could board the local train and commute to my destination. I seem to have drunk plenty of water in the evening today (making up for lost time) and my bladder was almost full, while the water bottle was empty. 

Time was running out, and I had to make a choice between going to the cafeteria and filling the water bottle from the water purifier or going to the washroom to empty the bladder. One part of my brain suggested that it was more important for me to have a pee to feel comfortable during the commute; I won’t have the urge to drink water in the one-and-half hours’ journey from office to home, and upon reaching home I could restock the bladder. The other part of the brain suggested that nothing should be left to chance; many things can happen when one commutes, for instance, someone might suddenly throw up upon you, or you might just touch something greasy and dirty the hands and need a small splashing of water, or some people might fight, scream and shout, and, as a result, someone or the other would become extremely thirsty. Weighing the importance of both, I made a quick decision which was to fill the water bottle.

I went to the railway station, got on the train, took a novel out of the bag, and began reading, turning to the page I last read in the morning. Opposite to me sat a young man holding his head in his hands. He started rubbing his head and his eyes as one does when one suffers from headaches.

Dada (brother),” he said to me, “Do you have water?” I took the bottle out of the side pocket of my bag. “Here,” I said, looking at him and handing the bottle.

His eyes were bloodshot, which I thought was a result of too much work, too much stress, too much looking at the laptop, all of which have become a part of a person’s life in today’s professional world.

I am happy that my decision to go to the cafeteria and fill the water bottle, instead of not filling it and going to the washroom, yielded some fruitful results. 

Copyright © 2021 RAMU DAS

How to Travel in Mumbai Local During Covid-19

There are two ways you can choose to travel in Mumbai local trains at present (that is, in this pandemic which, I hope, is ending soon): The ethical way and the unethical way. The ethical way is to follow the protocol that the government of Maharashtra has laid down, and the unethical way is to do the opposite.

Let’s look at the ethical way: You need to take both the doses of the Covid-19 vaccine. After the second dose, allow 14 days to pass. Thereafter, you can get the monthly pass either through an offline or online method. As per the government’s order, one cannot buy a daily ticket, and has to get only the monthly pass.

How to Apply for Mumbai Local Train Pass Online

Follow the following steps to get your Mumbai local train monthly pass online:

  • Visit
  • From the right-hand side, click on the option called Universal Pass For Double Vaccinated Citizens.
  • Enter your mobile number, which should be the same that was used while registering for the Covid vaccine, and click on Send OTP
  • Enter the OTP that you have received on your phone
  • You can now have a look at the beneficiary details. Under the option called ‘Action’ click on ‘Generate Pass’
  • Download a copy of the Universal Pass or just take a screenshot
  • Visit a railway station near you in the Harbour, Central or Western Line, and go to the ticket counter. Show the Universal Pass on your phone and the hard copy of a government approved photo ID. Pay and get your monthly train pass.

How to get Mumbai Local Train Pass Offline

The government has arranged for various help desks at the railway stations in Harbour, Central and Western Lines. Follow the following steps to get your monthly train pass offline.

  • Get a coloured print copy of your Covid vaccine certificate and a government issued ID card like the Aadhar card
  • Carry the original copy of your Aadhar and the vaccine certificate
  • Go to the railway station and approach the officials at the help desk
  • Get your documents verified and coloured copies stamped from the officials
  • Go to the ticket counter, show the stamped certificate, pay and get your monthly pass.

The online process is simple and saves you time and money. The website loads fast and the OTP comes within seconds. But if you are not comfortable with the online process, you can try the other process.

Now, let’s discuss the unethical way of travelling in the Mumbai local trains at present. When I had gone to the station to get my pass, ahead of me in the queue was a man who had pronounced the name of a certain station and had asked for a ticket. He got the ticket, although the government’s protocol had stated that only monthly passes were to be issued. Also, whether the person had taken both the doses of the vaccine was not clear. But who was to be blamed there, the person who had asked for the ticket or the person at the counter who had given the ticket? Or perhaps both were right in what they were doing, one had to go somewhere, and the other understood the pain of the commuters who were deprived of the train service for so long.

Another way to execute the unethical practice of travelling in the Mumbai local trains is to travel without a ticket, which some of my colleagues have resorted to. They are not afraid anymore of the consequences of getting caught; at the most they will pay a fine of a certain amount. They are not yet aware that they can avail tickets from the ticket counter, so, why should they bother going to the railway station and asking for something that’s going to be denied? I had thought in a similar line till I went to the station for getting the monthly pass.

Copyright © 2021 RAMU DAS

Fight of the Year, Not Happening!

Sometimes things go awry, but we can do very little about the things that are not in our hands. And that’s what one can say about the fate of the fight between two boxers I like: Manny Pacquiao (PacMan) and Errol Spence. Having suffered from a retina tear in his left eye, Errol Spence had no option but to withdraw from the highly anticipated match; and that Errol had done on the basis of the doctors’ recommendation.

I strongly believe if the boxing match between PacMan and Errol Spence could happen, it would have become the Fight of the Year. Now, the Cuban boxer Yordenis Ugas, who is a great boxer, too, will step in and fight PacMan on the 21st of August. 

Errol had a successfully eye surgery, and is hoping to be back soon to fight the winner of the PacMan and Yordenis fight. Here is what he had to say through Instagram:

Manny has not shown any hard feelings but rather wished Spence a speedy recovery, which is what good sportspeople do. Hope Errol recovers fast.

Insider and Outsider

Who is the insider, and who is the outsider?
Why do you always seem so hyper?
What is the hatred for?
The hatred that excites you to wage war.
Why, when a brown man you see,
You simply tag him a Bangladeshi?

But even if one were a Bangladeshi, is being one so bad?
Are they some poison? Are they the world's scum?
Touching whom you fear you can become one?
Or is it your arrogance that makes you so mean, so mad?

‘Bangladeshi immigrants,’ you say,
Burn their houses, and drive them away,
Away from the plains and from the hills.
Only then your heart's desire fulfills.

You call them outsider,
And take pride in being the insider
But where did you come from?
The land where you freely roam,
Existed much before you did.
You, too, are an outsider indeed.

Copyright © 2021 RAMU DAS

The Burden of Earning Money

From the window of my flat I see some children playing cricket in the alleyway. It starts raining, but they don’t care. The game goes on. “Howzat!” the bowler screams. But there is no umpire, so the fielders double up as umpire, and “That’s out! That’s out!” they shout. The batsman utters some obscenity which surely doesn’t suit his age, and throws the bat in the air in exasperation.

These children enjoy their game. That’s life for them right now. And they are carefree. I, too, had a life like that when I was their age. There was no worrying about anything in the world. Life was good because there was someone who was providing for everything, there was someone to think about me. Now, however, life is difficult, extremely difficult, because now I have to think about how I am going to pay my EMIs, how I am going to make the credit card payment before the due date, how am I going to pay the rent, the electricity bill, and numerous other bills. I am constantly worried about what challenge the next day will bring.  

I wish I were a child again, in the care of my father. My father was the only earning member in the family. He never mouthed a word about all the difficulties he was facing in taking care of the family members. He just did what a father had to do.

It is difficult to be a father, so though you may have had an argument with your father, or for some reason you are not in good terms with your father, it’s time to forgive and mend the relationship. So, this Father’s Day, get some gift for your father; or just write a good Father’s Day message. And, henceforth, take care of your father like the way he took care of you when you were a kid.

While the focus of this post is on how a father takes care of the monetary needs of his family, but the love of a father extends much beyond that, and this love cannot be measured.

To all the fathers in the world, Happy Father’s Day!

Copyright © 2021 RAMU DAS

Resolutions for 2019

I have been telling myself since the last December that when January of 2019 comes (or when I go to January), I shall not think about what most men and women (I am not sure of other animals) would be thinking. And what would they be thinking? If I am not wrong in my thinking, I think they would be thinking about keeping some New Year’s resolution. Now, I was telling that to myself in December, and I have been reminding myself of that since the last four days, because I know from experience that most, if not all, of the resolutions are going to come to naught. Yet, now, my fingers are itching to write something, and my brain is telling me that that something has to be the New Year’s resolution. Well, then, I, because I am my brain and body, I must oblige.

This year I am going to write a great deal, but most of my writing would be out of public view, unless I wish to share. I will start writing my first book this year. I am not sure in which year I will finish writing it, because completing a book is a long process. But starting it is important. It is going to be a non-fiction work, though at first my intention was to write fiction (which, I suppose, can wait for a later time). I have too many interesting and painful and funny experiences to recount.

I will learn a new language. I wanted to learn two languages this year, but I want to be more realistic this time, and do what is, to the best of my ability, considering the available time and resources, more achievable. Bangla is my mother tongue but it does not seem to be so. This year I actually thought of making it seem so as well. However, there is another language which is known to majority of Indians and which I can speak but cannot write or read, and that would be the language I would focus on this year, because considering my present situation and place, and by looking at the growing mass of people who seem to know and talk a great deal in this language, I am sure I would be in trouble if I don’t go with the flow. Yes, I am talking about Hindi.

I will read at least 35 books (fiction and non-fiction) though my aim is to read 50. If I don’t reach the star, I will land on the moon.

A small device that fits in your pocket, seem to be consuming too much of my time, in fact, I would say, it is governing my life, and I must stop this from happening. Therefore, if you haven’t got what I mean, I am going to be smart and use my smartphone less often (or only when I have to).

I will learn to cook some new dishes.

I like to travel, but, this year, I suppose, I will focus on saving my money, and I would rather find out more about the places that is not too far from my dwelling.

I will match at least 200 movies and documentaries.

That’s all I can think of at this moment, and there are some more resolutions which are somewhat private in nature, which are best kept to oneself.

What are your New Year’s resolution?

Copyright © 2019 RAMU DAS

Don’t Come into My Life Again

Don’t come into my life again
For you’d come only to make me cry
Many a gullible man still live, give them a try.
I’m done; known and lived with the pain
And all that for this life is enough
A gentleman has been made rough.

To reach you once again
Never in my wildest dreams shall I try
My eyes are parched, no water
To shed in my eyes do I find
Neither any strength in my fingers to write a letter
Full of world-weary thoughts is my mind.
So, do me a favour, don’t come into my life again
For you’d come only to make me cry.

Copyright © 2018 RAMU DAS

Some Sympathy

The pain is more in the head
Than it is in the gum
Yet the pain in the head
Is a cause of the swollen gum.

Sleep evades tonight
I toss and turn, sigh and moan, but only in vain
For though the bed is all right, I remain in pain.
So, I switch on the light.

I call up my girlfriend and tell her I can’t sleep
And listen carefully to the modulation of her voice
And I long to hear her weep as I weep.
Alas, weeps she not but only makes some saintly noise.

I call up my mom and dad and tell them about my pain
They seem more considerate than my girlfriend
And they pray for the pain to have an immediate end
But the pain is mine own, with which some sympathy I gain.

Every now and then when I am lonely
I become ill, to gain some sympathy mainly.

Copyright © 2018 RAMU DAS

A Humble CEO

The Digital Content Team, of which I am a part, of the company (one of the Tata companies) where I have recently joined, decided to break for lunch at 1:30 in the afternoon. We went to the cafeteria which was clean and well lighted, and full of people (employees). Some members of the team bring their lunch from their homes, while the rest of us have our lunch in the cafeteria and help in increasing its revenue, for which the south India cafeteria manager, who, I assume, is also the owner, is ever happy (as in all trade, the more the buyer, the merrier the trader).

While I was in the queue placing my order for the food and getting the plate in my hand, my team members had already found a place to sit and, having done so, had begun eating. They were surrounded by members of some other teams. At a glance round the table I saw an empty chair and was ready to sit on it, but a lady said, in a very serious manner, that someone from her team was going to come and sit on it. I moved from there and began looking for an empty chair around the tables (three or four tables connected so as to form one line), near my team members. One chair to the corner had not found an occupier yet, and I could have gone and sat there, but the problem was that a man, middle-aged, wearing spectacles (that made him look rather studious) and whose trimmed beard and moustache could tell their own stories (some being young and, therefore, black; some aged and, therefore, white), sat in between my team members and the corner seat. Two more people (a woman and a man) on the opposite side of the table seemed to be with him, having launch together. On the opposite side there was a chair but the presence of someone’s helmet on it was an indication that it was already reserved.

My movement did not go unnoticed. The man who was between my team members and the corner chair said, “Come, please, you sit here, and I will move to the corner.” He moved. I sat on the relinquished chair and it became easier for me to chitchat and have food with my team. Very soon, the man, who offered me his seat, and the two people who were having launch with him, rose from their chairs, picked up their plates to be taken near the wash basin, but no sooner did the man take a step ahead than two workers of the cafeteria hurriedly came and took the man’s plate and carried it to the wash basin (though the man insisted he would do it). I wondered who the man was. After he was gone, I asked one of my team members who the person was. I was told that the person’s name was Avijit Mitra, the CEO and the MD of the company! (And, oh, to think, because of me, while he was lunching, he had to get up and take a different chair!).

I have seen many CEOs but never have I seen a CEO as humble as he. If he wanted he could have had food brought to him in his cabin, he could have had spent as much money as he wanted and eat the most expensive and the most exotic food every day, but there he was, one among the others, taking delight in having the same food. As he talks to people (which I have seen him doing), he talks with a great deal of respect, and his voice is always low (clearly audible though) and sweet. He is a product of the Tata culture, and it shows. Though I wasn’t aware of who he was, but my first encounter with him made me believe that humility can surely make you rich (rich in many senses) and worthy of respect, from one and all.

Copyright © 2018 RAMU DAS

Beware, My Friends

I am living in the land of nothingness
To the very bottom I have sunk
Happily have I all the poison drunk
For it came from my sweetheart, my princess.

When loving was convenient how madly she loved me
And such rosy pictures painted that at once made me happy
But, unknown to me, alas, the loving had an expiry date
For now in agony I sigh and curse my damnable fate.

Beware, then, my friends
And be careful of those soft little hands
That once would wipe your tears away
Next in your heart with a dagger make way.

Copyright © 2018 RAMU DAS

Keep Your Voice Down!

“Keep your voice down!” a woman in my neighbourhood shouted. She was telling this to some of her family members – husband, son, daughter, or whoever – in her flat.

Once again she cried: “I said lower your voice, stupid!”

But maybe that did not work, for in the next thirty seconds she exclaimed at the top of her voice: “You, I said lower your voice, don’t you understand it, you!”

This went on for a while.  The woman’s voice resounded in the whole building. It was nighttime, around 11:30. Most people were quite. Another neighbour was playing some mournful Hindi song in his/her phone. But, because of the woman’s shouting the sound from the phone died down. The only thing that could be heard for a full ten minute was the woman’s voice asking someone to keep that someone’s voice down. But not even a faint sound came from that someone. All one could hear was “lower your voice” or “keep your voice down” from the woman.

Copyright © 2018 RAMU DAS



I Am My Own God

Henceforth, I declare myself to be an agnostic.

Many a people claim to know God, and they say that religion is a medium which brings a person closer to God. I accept with open heart all the morality that religion propagates, which helps one love and respect the other, and so on and so forth. But I reject all the mumbo-jumbo ritualistic affairs of religion and prefer to be pragmatic. And yet I would say nothing against any religion as long as the practitioner and believers of those religions mind their own business and abstain from telling me what according to them is right (because they are trying to do something they themselves have no idea of, which is no doubt a way by which they earn their living). No doubt religion can teach us a great deal, but an individual can be a very good person and do much good for others without the interference of religion, too.

Since I do not possess the knowledge to ascertain the existence of God, I shall, therefore, be my own God (as I have been for quite some time), because I am absolutely certain that I exist and I have the power to shape and direct my life the way I want to shape it and direct it.

Copyright © 2018 RAMU DAS

Being On Time

Being late for this or for that occasion had been something I could not help for the last few years. It is not that I did not have the intention to be on time, it is just that somehow I could not make it. People often remarked that my art of lateness was commendable (no doubt, their words were full of sarcasm), and I told them (giving it back in a similar manner) that I had mastered this art with a lot of practice and patience.

No matter how worse things got, I could not abstain from being late. Many a warning had come and many had gone, sometimes the warnings were severe in nature, but I still remained a late comer, a late doer, a late thinker.

The Mexican proverb “How sweet it is to do nothing, and afterwards to rest!” seemed really sweet but impractical in a world I inhabit. Going by the proverb, I would not be worried about being on time at all. But, alas, the world is a busy place which gives nothing for free (no bread, no butter).  In this busy world one cannot simply be lazy and defy what one must do.

But, lately, I have become somewhat sensitive, and I can sense that people are not quite happy when I keep them waiting for something or the other and turn up at my own sweet time.

When you are not on time you become unreliable. People would (even as you express your interest to do something) doubt you or dismiss you as though you are a non-entity. Being late only devalues a person’s status, and the best thing one can do is to shrug off this habit and learn to be on time. Here are a few ways which would help you (which I am also following) to be on time:

  • Sleep a little early so that you get up a little early (a cliche, no doubt; a helpful one, nevertheless).
  • Do not snooze the alarm of your phone every few minutes. Once your hear the sound, wake up and stop it.
  • Be smart, that is to say, stop being lazy, which is again to say, if you have to do something, do not think over it for too long, just do it.
  • Have some buffer time in hand. You might be an optimist and you might think that you have enough time and you can easily catch up, but it does not happen so easily. You would not even know where or how the ‘enough time’ which you thought you had, had gone, and you would start panicking and get frustrated (and kick your dog). It is always good to have some buffer time (15 to 20 minutes), and you will be a little early, not a little late. If you happen to be too early, have a book handy, and your extra time would become productive.

I hope that you, as much as I, gain by being on time what you and I have lost by being late.

Copyright © 2018 RAMU DAS

A Thinking Man

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