Solitary Meanderer

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Why did you cry?

You cried over someone's demise
You never talked to that someone
You never met that someone
You did not even know that someone
Why did you cry?

Did you cry because others cried

Because you wanted to be seen crying
Because you were asked to cry
Because you just wanted to
Why did you cry?

Did you cry because that someone was a constant presence in your world
And now that constant had vanished
Because now you felt small and weak and helpless
Because now there was no one to worship
Why did you cry?

Did you cry because that someone was revered by all
Who did great things for your country
Who uplifted you out of your misery
Who gave you hope when all seemed lost
Who ruled over you from since you were born
Why did you cry?

Would you have cried if that someone was just a someone

Doing things any reasonable someone would have done
Writing history as the circumstances demanded
Pandering to a mass paranoia as was advised
Ruling over you because it was the only thing this someone knew
Why did you cry?

Would you have cried if that someone was just a mirage

Hiding behind a veil of propaganda
Putting up a grand show to make you feel important
Thinking about anything but your welfare
Trying to prolong the dynasty
Why did you cry?

Would you have cried if that someone was just another someone

Who also did great things for your country
Who also fought for your freedom
Who also strived for your prosperity
But someone who was not born in royalty
Someone who you just didn't know
Why did you cry?

You cried but 
you don't know why
You just cried

Au Revoir

Monday, October 17, 2016

The Confusion!

Orange is what I like
Blue is what I want
Black is what I yearn
White is what I get

Moving steady is good
Going slower is better
Standing still is best
But forced to run

Dreams want this
Ambitions demand that
Between this and that
Confusion is such
Oscillating I am

What is important
What is not
What I can
What I can't
The answer is elusive
But the struggle is real

Au Revoir

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Will you dream?

To live is to dream,
to dream is to live
For I live in the past,
yet crave for a future
Wish this dream never ends,
for reality is a stranger, I'm afraid to befriend

Every waking minute is a torture,
sweating with helplessness
Face the mirror I can't,
for what a veil of hope can the truth can't
Wish this dream never ends,
for reality is a stranger, I'm afraid to befriend

Slipping into a reverie,
the adventure beckons
Juggling with possibilities,
peering into this world is fun
Wish this dream never ends,
for reality is a stranger, I'm afraid to befriend

Going back is easy,
for everything is etched in memory
Edging forth is easier still
to just imagine what could be
Wish this dream never ends,
for reality is a stranger, I'm afraid to befriend

Au Revoir

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Million Dollar Story - End of an Adventure!

I am updating my blog after a very long time – 7 months 5 days to be precise.

And the news is that I did not go to LSE this year nor will I ever. The reasons were many; the pressing financial need being the foremost one. To iron out this very reason, I created the blog Million Dollar Story. The idea was to write one short story everyday for six months, and earn money through online advertisements displayed on the blog. Some of the ad serving clients I used were Google AdSense, AdBrite and WidgetBucks. So, the more popular the blog became or the more viewed it was, the better was the possibility of earning more. This was one big reason that I was writing a new story everyday - to create and sustain the viewers’ interest.

I was working on two stories in parallel. The first one was about Vichitra Kumar and his relentless efforts in wooing a girl, Chanchal. The second story revolved around the misadventures of two funny characters, Willie Cash and Rick Shaw. While Willie ends up on a planet Fusterlok, where all that people do is talk and talk, Rick ends up on a planet where people do not speak at all.

The first story appeared on the blog on the eve of 30th Nov’07. That same eve, another story appeared on another blog, Youthcurry. This blog is run by Rashmi Bansal, and I am really indebted to her for coming out with A Million Dollar Dream article on her blog. As Youthcurry is a very popular blog and is visited by who’s who of the blogoshpere, my blog got instant mileage and overnight earned the celebrity status. I received emails from all corners of the world encouraging me to continue with my endeavor. At the same time, the blog drew flak also with some people labeling it as waste of time and a mere publicity stunt.

The popularity of the blog soared with an article in on 09th Dec’07, and catapulted with a front page article in the Delhi edition of The Indian Express on 17th Dec’07. It further multiplied with my appearances on BBC Radio, and on some news channels such as NDTV and CNN-IBN. A critical fallout of this was that a majority of visitors to the blog would randomly click on all the advertisements, and simply leave the blog – this clearly violated the Google AdSense policy. No wonder, a little more than a month after, Google discontinued my AdSense account, which was contributing more than 90% to my revenues.

Left in the wilderness, I sought out to do something more ambitious. A few days before starting the blog, I had happened to read a paper, ‘The Biggest Auction Ever: the Sale of the British 3G Telecom Licenses’ by Ken Binmore and Paul Klemperer. The paper was about the auction model used to sell the 3G Telecom spectrum by the British government in April 2000. The auction fetched the government $ 34 billion or 2-1/2% of GNP, way beyond their initial estimate of $ 3-6 billion. I decided to emulate the model with the only difference that I was selling the real estate on my blog (advertisement blocks) - And built a model around that.

Though this blog could not reach anywhere near its goal of generating money to pay for college tuition, nonetheless this was an enormously enriching experience in every other sense. I did not only learn so much about online advertising, the auction models, writing stories, but also made friends from all over the world.

I am deeply thankful to all the bloggers who promoted the blog and kept the momentum going. I am also thankful to some of my colleagues at work who form time-to-time gave me invaluable suggestions on improving the blog.

Million Dollar Story is a closed chapter now. As the old adage goes, ‘Everything happens for our own good and one gotta move ahead’. With this spirit I have already charted out new plans for myself. As for my unfinished stories, I will definitely continue them and hopefully will come out with a book some years later.

This is not the end of my 'dream', rather the germinating ground of my other ‘dream(s),’ dreams I have seen through the lens of this ‘experience.’

Au Revoir

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I want to attend LSE in July 2008!

I have a started a six-month project to fund my studies at LSE (London School of Economics and Political Science). I have created another blog Wake Up and Smell the Million Dollar Story, where I will be writing a short story every day for these six months. The medium of generating funds is online advertising streaming on my blog, and so, the more popular my blog becomes the more my blog will earn for me.

I will be publishing my first short story on the eve of 30th Nov 2007 and accordingly, the last one would be published on the eve of 30th May 2008. For this reason, my primary blog i.e. Solitary Meanderer is going to be dormant for the next six months.

Do visit
Wake Up and Smell the Million Dollar Story

Happy reading!

Au Revoir

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Urgent Funding for LSE

I have finally decided that no matter what I am going to LSE.

I want MONEY to study at LSE!

And one more thing, I am going to erase the LINE however thin it is (refer to
The Thin Line).

Au Revoir

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Life at Crossroads

A few years from now if I’d have to pick the most horrific one-year of my life, without any hesitation I’d say 2007 or the year when I was 25. I am going crazy with every passing day and the anxiety is just killing me. Before this I never knew that I could ever have a headache also and that too a throbbing please-shut-your-brain-or-go-kill-yourself headache.

The foremost reason is of course my inability to decide a certain career path for myself and believe me I’d rather go solve a problem of relativity than ponder over this. Well, let me list down all the possible options for me.

GoMAD option 1

I have an admission offer from
LSE (London School of Economics and Political Science) for its two-year program MSc in Economics. I had this admission offer for the session starting in September 2007. Due to insufficient or rather absolute lack of funding I have gotten it deferred for the next session i.e. September 2008. This is a super expensive program and for someone like me it’s outright unthinkable to attend LSE. I am doing all I can to secure scholarships/grants but again even that seems not to be in my favor. 90% of scholarships are for one-year taught masters only and the remaining ones will announce the selected candidates only in July/August. This is again problematic as I am required to attend the summer school at LSE for introductory courses in Economics owing to my non-economics background, and the summer school starts on 1st July. Another thing which could deter any scholarship agency to consider my application is that I have a conditional offer i.e. I need to get at least B+ in the two courses taught at the summer school. So, any scholarship agency would bet its money on someone who holds an unconditional offer of admission than on me, no matter even I am 110% confident of getting straight A’s.

GoMAD option 2

I have an experience of 2 years and 4 months in the Analytics industry. As such, I am capable of getting a very good paying job any time I decide to. And this is again killing me for I don’t know if this is really what I want. Of course I want the money but I want a break from the corporate world. I want to be a student for sometime now.

GoMAD option 3

MSc (Economics or any related field) vs. MBA – Now, this is crucial as known everywhere that the earning power of an MBA is much more than an MSc or for that matter an MSc would take 3-4 years to reach where an MBA gets to right from the start. To add to this confusion, I have no valid reasons why would I want to pursue an MBA, say, in a year or two, apart from the obvious monetary reasons. Again, to go for GoMAD option 3 would require me to opt for GoMAD option 2.

So, if any potential employer or member of the scholarship granting committee happens to be reading this let me take this opportunity to welcome you all in sponsoring/hiring me.

The win-win situation would be: Hire me – I will work for 6 months – Sponsor me – After 2 years, I will come back from LSE and work exclusively for you for at least 5 years.

By the way, I am an engineer specializing in Electronics & Communication, having been graduated from Delhi College of Engineering (Delhi University) in 2005. I have been working since then in the Analytics industry. I can be contacted through email at and I would be fun to speak with at +91 9810 111 418.

Au Revoir

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Thin Line

In my office, we have a large LCD TV in the cafeteria which keeps on showing some useless pre-fed programs. Intermittently it also keeps on flashing two-three lines of advice for your would-be week/month on the basis of your sun sign. I never pay attention to these but yesterday I happened to notice one such advice for people who are Capricorn, which is my sun-sign also. The two-liner was,

Concentrate on your career. There is a thin line between friendship and romance.

I don’t believe in astrology nor do I care about horoscope, but this was just too much.


Au Revoir

Thursday, October 18, 2007

New Round of Book Ratings

Well it’s time to rate the last four books I have read.

Chronicle of a Death Foretold – SMBR: 3.5
Author: Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Category: Fiction

The Undercover Economist – SMBR: 5
Author: Tim Harford
Category: Non-fiction

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – SMBR: 5
Author: Douglas Adams
Category: Fiction

The Great Gatsby – SMBR: 4
Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald
Category: Fiction

Chronicle of a Death Foretold

This is the story of Santiago Nasar who gets murdered by two brothers, Pablo Vicario and Pedro Vicario. It is narrated in the form of reconstructed events that must have taken place 27 years ago on the fateful day of the murder. The basis of the plot is that Angela Vicario is found not be a virgin on her wedding night, and after much interrogation by her brothers names Santiago Nasar to be her violator. So, to save the family honor the Vicario brothers decide to kill Santiago the next morning. The whole story is a sequence of events building up to the final murder and is narrated in a journalistic tone, and until the end of the book it is still unclear as to who took Angela’s virginity.

This was my fourth novel by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, after
One Hundred Years of Solitude, Living to Tell the Tale, and Love in the Time of Cholera, and now I am convinced that one can find events happened in one book mentioned in any of the other three also. For example, Colonel Aureliano Buendia, a character in One Hundred Years of Solitude, is mentioned in Chronicle of a Death Foretold, and the very plot of Chronicle of a Death Foretold is mentioned as just one of many events in One Hundred Years of Solitude. Similarly, the source of many events in One Hundred Years of Solitude has actually come from the author’s own life, which you come to know by reading his autobiography, Living to Tell the Tale.

Another thing which I have noticed in all these four books is the way the protagonist has been portrayed and to a certain extent all the characters as well. First of all, the protagonist would always lead an un-normal or a very eventful life, which would sometimes border on eccentricity, and this very eccentricity is what would add an air of solitariness about him. He would be some kind of an idealistic living in a world of his own though promiscuous yet vulnerable, and this vulnerability being most prominent than ever when he would die in the end.

Chronicle of a Death Foretold did not turn out to be as good a read as his other novels did but anyways, I still enjoyed reading it.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is a five book series with the first book having the same name and the next four are:

The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
Life, the Universe and Everything
So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish
Mostly Harmless

The entire book revolves around basically five characters: Arthur Dent, an Englishman; Ford Prefect, an alien from a small planet somewhere in the vicinity of Betelgeuse, who is the roving researcher for the book ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’, and who escapes with Arthur the demolition of Earth by the Vogons; Zaphod Beeblebrox, the president of the Galaxy, who unknowingly saves Ford and Arthur from certain death by taking them aboard his stolen spaceship, the Heart of Gold; Trillan, Zaphod’s partner on the spaceship; and Marvin, the one-man crew of the spaceship, and who is always in a depression thinking that his great and unmatched mental powers are never put to the right use.

This is a science-fiction comedy about the adventures of these five characters all through the galaxy in and out of time and space.

In short, a thoroughly enjoyable and a refreshing read.

Au Revoir

P.S. For more information on SMBR, visit

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Traveling Tips for Valley of Flowers

Here is some useful information which you will need to plan your trip to Valley of Flowers.

Traveling around in Uttaranchal
The first 24 hrs of your trip are going to be spent in just traveling, and at the end you will have just reached either Joshimath or Govindghat. Now, there are two ways to reach Joshimath.

Route 1: New Delhi - Haridwar - Joshimath

New Delhi to Haridwar is a 5 hrs bus journey and around 4/4.5 hrs train journey. Plan to reach Haridwar early in the morning around 0400/0500 hrs. From here, you can decide to travel either in a shared taxi or by bus. You can get a shared taxi from as early as 0400 hrs until anytime of the day, and it will move as soon as there are at least 9 paid-for passengers in it, and it takes only 8-9 hrs to reach Joshimath. The flip side is that if there are less than 9 paid-for passengers it will not move even if that meant not moving at all the entire day, and secondly, there are direct taxis only until Karnaprayag or Chamoli. From there you will have to look for another shared taxi.

If you decide to travel by bus, get to the bus station. It is only 2 kms from the Haridwar railway station, and any rickshaw waala would take you there for just Rs 10. The first bus for Joshimath leaves at 0330 hrs, the second one at 0600 hrs and there is no bus after 0900 hrs. It’s a 10-11 hrs journey and the ticket would cost you Rs 220.

The important towns and distances en route Joshimath are given as below:

Haridwar – Rishikesh: 24 kms
Rishikesh – Devprayag – Srinagar: 103 kms
Srinagar – Rudraprayag – Karnaprayag: 69 kms
Karnaprayag – Nandaprayag – Chamoli – Pipalkoti: 59 kms
Pipalkoti – Joshimath: 34 kms

Route 2: New Delhi - Ramnagar - Joshimath

The best way to reach Ramnagar is by train.

Ranikhet Express: Delhi (Dep @ 2240 hrs) – Ramnagar (Arr @ 0500 hrs)

From Ramnagar, travel in a bus to Karnaprayag, and from there board another bus to Joshimath.

The important towns and distances en route Joshimath are given as below:

Ramnagar – Ranikhet: 105 kms
Ranikhet – Dwarahat – Chaukhutia – Karnaprayag: 111 kms
Karnaprayag – Nandaprayag – Chamoli – Pipalkoti: 59 kms
Pipalkoti – Joshimath: 34 kms

When to visit?
Both Valley of Flowers and Hemkunt Sahib are open to tourists for just 4 months in a year from 5th June to 5th October. Due to monsoons in July/August, the valley is in full bloom from mid-August to mid-September and this is also the best time to visit Valley of Flowers.

However, the optimum window to go there is 2nd week of September. Land slides are a common phenomenon during monsoons and sometimes also block sections of highway, which is very irritating especially if you are hard pressed for time. Moreover, since Hemkunt Sahib is a pilgrimage spot for sardars, the first three months witness a very high volume of tourists. So, if you want to avoid land slides and also the rush of pilgrims, plan your trip sometime around 2nd or 3rd week of September.

As September is also the lean season, you will be able to negotiate cheaper deals for hotel accommodation.

You will spend considerable time in Ghangharia (10,000 ft) which is a very small town and also the base camp for both Valley of Flowers and Hemkunt Sahib. The only place worth eating at is Himalaya Restaurant.

Suggested Itinerary
The following is the suggested itinerary:

Day 1: Reach Haridwar early morning. Get on to a bus or a shared taxi for Joshimath. Reach Joshimath in the evening. Stay overnight at Joshimath.
Day 2: Take the first bus out of Joshimath for Govindghat at 0630 hrs. It will take an hour to reach Govindghat. Start the 13 km trek to Ghangharia. Reach Ghangharia sometime in the afternoon and spend the rest of the day relaxing.
Day 3: Start the 6 km trek to Hemkunt Sahib early morning around 0530/0600 hrs. Come back to Ghangharia sometime in the afternoon and again spend the rest of the day relaxing.
Day 4: Visit Valley of Flowers. Again start early around 0600 hrs and come back to Ghangharia sometime in the afternoon/late afternoon. Pack your bags, settle your hotel bill and start the return 13 km trek to Govindghat. Stay overnight at Govindghat.
Day 5: Get on to a bus or a shared taxi for Haridwar at around 0700/0730 hrs. Reach Haridwar in the evening. Board a bus or a train for New Delhi. Reach New Delhi early morning around 0300/0400 hrs.

If you have a day more at your disposal, you can squeeze in a visit to Badrinath also as it is only an hour’s ride away from Govindghat.

I went to Valley of Flowers and Hemkunt Sahib in the second week of August 2007. You can read the travelogue
here and take a look at the pics here.

Note: This post has been written for a budget traveler. All the necessary care has been taken in reporting the figures used in this post but still any deviation from them is possible and readers are advised to check those before planning their trip.

Au Revoir

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Unless otherwise expressly stated, all original material of whatever nature created by Ankur Shanker, and included in the Solitary Meanderer weblog and any related pages, including the weblog's archives, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.