Jul 28, 2011

Egg, the future lies within you

Been to Sikkim? This small state is so full of delights, and this Shaman and his predictions is probably just one of them.

Shamanism is "a range of beliefs and practices regarding communication with the spiritual world" and Shamans are believed to be intermediaries or messengers between the human world and the spirit worlds.

So we were trekking up a mountain in the quaint Pasingdong village in Dzongu, Sikkim. And on the mountain top, outside a monastery, this Shaman was making his predictions on the future of the village. He broke four eggs, and the way each broke was to tell him how the village would fare during the year. One egg for evils coming from the mountains, one from the plains, one from within the village, and the fourth from natural calamities. 

Just outside his periphery an offering was being made of chickens. Stripped of feathers, they were burnt in fire, parts taken out, poked into a pile on sticks and offered to him. Enthusiastic, screaming kids ripped apart the roasted chicken, ran around and had a good time. 

The prediction turned out that all is well except for some evil which is to come from within the village. Presumably the Shaman would have been asked to prescribe a remedy soon after.

We gaped wide-mouthed like curious kids. After half hour Gyatso, our host and guide, reminded us that we needed to trek on. 

Ah, the joy of new experiences in an unfamiliar land!

Jul 27, 2011

Planning Sikkim through Kipepeo

A trip to the far North-East of India had been on my wishlist for the longest time. And that Sikkim happened, was a dream come true!

We came across Piran Elavia and Kipepeo through Facebook, gave Piran our requirements and budget, and he came up with a plan for seven days in Sikkim. 

I would highly recommend Kipepeo for anyone looking to visit the North East with a keen interest in "alternative travel" and  "refreshing experiences". Do have a look at their FB page here. They are an environmentally responsible organization promoting a balance between tourism, conservation and livelihood of the local populace. 

The trip was well planned, suited our requirements and gave us more than what we imagined the experience would be.

Here's what we asked Piran for...
1) A budget trip for two backpackers with affordable accommodation (homestays)
2) A visit to the villages far removed from the crowds of Gangtok
3) Short, easy treks to experience the local culture and terrain

Here's the iterinary he planned...
Day 1: Bangalore - Bagdogra - Gangtok
Day 2: Gangtok - Mangan - Dzongu 
Day 5: Dzongu - Mangan - Lingee Payong 
Day 6: Lingee Payong - Singtam - Siliguri
Day 7: Siliguri - Bagdogra - Bangalore
(The two villages being Dzongu and Lingee Payong)

And here's what it gave us, more than just a regular holiday...
1) A lovely experience of local food, staying with villagers
2) Easy treks and village walks letting us take in local colors, flavors and hospitality
3) Tasting the local cuisines - Lepcha and Nepali in the two villages
4) Far from touristy locales - we were the only tourists in both the villages during our visit 
5) Long conversations with our hosts giving us an idea of life in the Himalayan mountain villages
6) A deep respect for people who live in these villages, cultivating their own food, and who love the village like nothing else
7) A feeling of insignificance in front of the mighty Himalayas 

And here's what's not for folks who are very particular about impeccable service, comforts and access to technology while travelling...
1) There was no TV, or any provision to watch it anywhere nearby in both the homes we stayed at
2) No attached bathrooms/loos ... you have to walk out of the comforts of your room and use common loos
3) Not much scope for privacy, the idea is to mingle and experience the local flavor... the hosts are more than willing to come to you and chit-chat all day
4) No city-comforts such as toilet paper rolls, soaps/toothpastes/towels in the loos
5) Small, basic, clean rooms
6) Medical aid being far, far away. You might get immediate aid from the nearby clinic, but for anything else, would have to go to Gangtok
7) Travel might take longer than expected, depending on the road condition, landslides, rains, availability of public transport 

We got it all just right, and here's what we took back from the trip...
Wonderful memories, and a long lasting experience etched in our minds for years to come.

Jul 21, 2011


No, not a wordy post ... but a few compiled inspirations.

Love these products ... they are simply lyrical.

"Vintage blue birds layered on a french journal page."
The Journal de Paris - Bluebird Cotton and Burlap Pillow Slip

Just an Ampers&nd
Ampersand Cushion

"French Beach Words"

On burlap


What do you think is so charming about words, poetry, lyrics on these cushions? 

The old world charm?
Memories of (grand)mom's bedtime stories?
The back-to-schooldays feeling?
Would they smell of old notebooks? :-)

[Click on the pictures to go to their sources]

Jul 8, 2011

Attitude for the weekend

Been awhile since I posted last... Be right back with a DIY or two! 
Until then, wish you windy skies, mango showers, recycled cloth bags, parrots in the tree-you-see-from-your-balcony and Gulmohar petals as you step on the street :-)

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