Please Do Not Judge!

When the second COVID wave hit, we saw multiple posts on social media admonishing travel bloggers (& other kinds of influencers) for blogging & posting while the country was going through a catastrophe. The blogging/ influencing/ vlogging community was called ‘heartless’ & ‘selfish’.

Now, we are not influencers by any stretch of imagination, nor do we blog/ post on an everyday basis. But we found it odd that people were quick to belittle & chide without even asking why the person was doing what s/ he was.

Judge less, love more…

  1. People have different coping mechanisms for crisis situations. A few find solace in getting support, a few try to solve the problem, a few take to physical activity amongst others. There are maladaptive coping mechanisms too, but we will not get into those.

Similarly, for a few people, a way to cope could be sticking to their routine. Doing the familiar is the hardest thing to do when the environment is so unfamiliar. If the influencers did not judge you on taking up meditation, why did you condemn them for following their routine?

  • Even in the middle of the COVID calamity, work went on. Those who could work logged in diligently at 9 AM, worked through the day & logged out when their work finished. We are not speaking about the healthcare & administrative sectors.

People worked because that is what brings their salaries. Similarly, bloggers/ influencers earn from their blogs/ social media. It is their WORK! Is it because it is in the public eye that it is deemed unimportant? Or is it because it appears frivolous?

Many of the content creators out there put in more hard work than we have seen office – goers put in. Fashion or photography or styling is anything but frivolous. So, if you did not rebuke the office – goers for continuing their work, why did you reprimand the bloggers/ influencers?

  • Travel was impossible during the second wave. So was going out to eat or party or shop. News added to the already depressing situation. People found respite from the negativity by reading travel blogs, looking at images of beautiful locales, and watching travel videos.

With your judgement, you robbed people of this brief relief.

“Be curious, not judgmental”

Walt Whitman

To the bloggers/ influencers/ vloggers, I hope this criticism & warning did not affect your mental health. In our case, while N swung into action providing relief, P coped by providing moral support to those affected. However, both benefited by sticking to their routine of WORK.

We thank the content creation community for continuing to create happy, meaningful content. Your content may not have changed the world, but it brought relief to at least one person. That is enough, is it not?

My Gangtok Chronicle – Chapter 3

Continuing from Chapter 2, a few kilometers before Nathu La, I switched to the other car. I was in for making new friends. A group of Rajasthani couples was on holiday to Guwahati, Shillong and Gangtok.

When I say Rajasthani, I mean ‘proper’ Rajasthani. The men wore dhoti – kurta with pagdis; the women were in ghoonghat. All middle-aged folks, they first assumed I did not know Hindi. I hastened to correct them, and we got chatting.

One of the gentlemen was an ex-farmer, now a linesman with the electricity board. He had educated his children who were now doctors and engineers. The pride was evident in his voice. And then, of course, my interview followed.

My Rajasthani friends
My Rajasthani friends

Indians are such a curious bunch. They wanted to know if I worked, if I was married, if I had children, why I had moved to their car etc. but, surprisingly, they did not seem astonished that I was traveling alone. I loved interacting with them. N calls me antisocial, but I am pretty social when not overshadowed by his incessant chatter!

The tourists from Rajasthan were also proud of the fact that they had traveled to Guwahati in a ‘plane’. It made me realize how badly we take for granted the things that are still luxuries for millions.

They asked me about the pollution in Delhi; I bared my heart to them – my wish of not returning to Delhi but of settling down in Gangtok itself. Maybe, take up organic farming. I wish it was as easy as talking about it…

Sikkim can be called Land of Colors too!
Sikkim can be called Land of Colors too!

Chatting and laughing, we were at Nathu La. From the drop-off point, the climb was not too much but the lack of oxygen made every step difficult. I am unsure where I found my courage from. I marched ahead of others and was soon at the top. And I was stunned!

A rope marks the international boundary. It is easy to crossover to China, except that the Chinese would dislike it. The building on the left belongs to India, the one on the right to China. Even neighbors in the posh colonies of Delhi have higher fences & boundaries.

A Chinese soldier walked out to click a photograph. He looked like a teenager in front of our tall and strong Dogra regiment jawaans. But, underestimating them would be suicidal.

Nathu La
The temperature was still a bearable 10 degrees at the pass but the winds would penetrate the strongest of defenses. The smaller building is India while the taller one is China…

Having contented my heart soaking in this piece of my personal history, and having saluted the Indian tricolor, I started my descent.

Let me not make you think the climb was easy. Everyone struggled. A few senior citizens abandoned their plan of going all the way to the top. Walk slowly, take deep breaths, and travel light. In any case, camera, mobile phones and handbags are prohibited. Sip frequently on water. If you feel faint, do not proceed.

A 15-minute visit causes such tribulation to us; imagine how our soldiers man their posts 365 days of the year, in any weather. They are definitely made of superhuman elements.

I see empty roads & want to move here.
I see empty roads & want to move here.

On my way down, I picked up a warrior certificate; one that says I was brave enough to visit Nathu La. Yay!

Once back down, I realized my co-passengers were still making their way down. I had some time to click photographs. While doing so, the cab driver paid me a rare compliment – that I was the first Dilliwala he had liked. He wanted me to stay back in Gangtok and was ready to lease his land to me for organic farming. I smile every time I think of this.

It is uncommon for the people of the plains to extend innocent friendships; anything remotely friendly seems creepy to us. This cabbie was not the last person to become friendly; I was to encounter this again and again in Gangtok. I realized that it was just openness towards a guest but the cynic in me questioned their motive, even if my demeanor remained friendly. It is sad that the people of the metropolitan cities have completely lost their goodness. For us, everything seems to have an underlying agenda.

Another Friendly Encounter
Another Friendly Encounter

Coming back, a last note on Nathu La – carry an identification card (any government – issued one except a PAN card).

We made our way to the Baba Mandir where my own cab awaited. I bid a hearty goodbye to the Rajasthani tourists but I was to bump into them again.

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