A Travellerspoint blog

Empty Borders

I entered my room at Joshimath and found myself rooted at the entrance for about 5 minutes or so. It wasn’t actually as horrible as I am about to make it out to be, but after 12 hours of roads that turn at impossible angles and the accumulation of enough dust in my hair for it to resemble a rock in texture and characteristics (due to the plethora of particles that entered the open windows of the non-AC car), my coloured perception may have been justified. But the journey was also characterized by the awe-inspiring view of the mountains that I seemed to be engaged with for the entirety of the drive. It unfurled like a seamless, endless painting, one that can be viewed from every possible angle in increasing intricacy (due to the amount of varying angles that the roads winded in) and in perfect clarity due to the proximity to it and lack of windows.


Fog laces the silhouettes of colossal structures.
Rain decorates leaves in undying bloom.
Clouds trace the sun with elegant lust
as he watches his creation destroy all,
silently mourning.

-Ankit Damani


Cheerful groups.
Colour-coded, perfectly prepared.
children already being stuffed
into dormitories with identical caps and bags
(soon souls too)
making their way to obliviousness surprisingly fast.
Ceaseless smiles and pointless positivity surrounds them.
Fake plastic words decorate families, unchanging mouths trained to smile.
Their microcosmic lives seem delightful. How nice.

-Ankit Damani

Posted by ankitdamani 01:47 Comments (1)


An eye: the one part of our body that craves physical flawlessness at all times.
The slightest touch from intruders may lead to tears, irritation and pain.
An eyelash, the delicate protector of the perfectionist,
is too barred from entry, and if it does penetrate,
the eye does everything possible
to destroy it.
The wonderfully convoluted
mechanism of betrayal and selfishness
governs our body and characterizes our minds.
And we make the ultimate mistake of believing that
the two are unrelated. Then again, who can blame us?

We’re human, after all.

Posted by ankitdamani 01:45 Comments (0)


Picture a reality contest, one which is home to the greatest crowds of all time. You know the kind: people crammed in lines long enough to challenge marathon distances, intense desperation and the most extreme form of competition today. However, in this contest, contestants are not segregated by any criteria in particular, and anyone can enter. Forced participation has even been witnessed before. There has never, in the history of all time, been a winner of this contest, and there probably never will be. What you have just imagined is another day at the Tirupati temple, which may be the most commercially extravagant shrine in the world.
The entire town is built solely around the temple, and for the first time I managed to explore a museum based on a place of worship. But these trivialities stand no match for the one aspect that drives such an attraction and is in itself a most fascinating instance of irony: the people and their attitude towards such a structure.
We line up at about 8 p.m. I notice the other contestants, physically no different than the common human but mentally prepared for any extremity. I don’t know what to expect myself. How different can this be from any other ‘darshan’? The lines fill up in a few seconds, and it starts. The atmosphere is initially calm: cheerful families chuckling at antics of their 3 year-olds, relaxed couples with countless layers of skin and bones that resemble twigs that look like their visit may be a break from the old age home. The line splits, people separated by the most common factor today: money. I hurriedly make my way, disregarding others and breaking any social niceties that previously separated me from the rest. The transformation has begun.
After about 10 minutes of almost-jogging, we are packed into waiting rooms that have benches and televisions. This reminds me almost too distinctly of the waiting room at ICU’s in hospitals, where the concerned await with distress at the results; is their loved one going to make it? Strangely, this seemed very much like I was expecting such a verdict for God himself. The silent drone of voices and lack of movement spelled the calm before the storm, and anyone who hadn’t experienced this before could make out that something strange had filled the air, and the mood was in transition. Two men, wearing only white, expressionlessly walk toward the gate. So, the doctors have finally allowed us to visit the patient, I think. Then it begins: every one of the 100 ‘people’ around me mechanically makes their way through in such great force that nothing could have stopped them from reaching that gate. The locks open, bodies fly about, young ones are almost hurled in the air by parents who have retained a shred of emotion, but others don’t seem to care anymore. I look into one of their eyes expecting rage, and find happiness instead. This isn’t what lies in people’s eyes while they smile socially for a photograph. This is genuine joy, combined with barbaric physical actions. The very amalgamation of the two in authentic measure is enough to terrify. This mixture is the one that, when implemented, may point toward the final straw, the one that indicates the eventual lack of humanity in them.
As we finally make way to the main temple, chaos in its truest form ensues. I stand at the heart of worship, and in the duration of a single breath, I realize the agony of it all; the very followers of such a power trample his teachings on the way to attempting to reach out to him. I stand not at a source of joy, but one of destruction. We mourn our creator without realizing it in the slightest bit; he mourns his creation in complete knowledge of its pursuits. One doesn’t control everything it creates. Creation may also lead to annihilation.

Posted by ankitdamani 20:59 Comments (0)


13-18 June 2011

About the previous poetry: This set was primarily influenced by simplistic experiences that I had throughout the trip, that shaped my mindset towards various broader issues. 'Elegy' 's central ideas were taken from occurrences at both the Dwarkadeesh Temple in Dwarka and the temple at Rameshwaram. 'The Birthplace of Tranquility' described a beach close to Rameshwaram called Dhanush Kodi, which may possibly be the most stunning site I have ever witnessed (will upload pictures as well later on).


The massive structure of the cloud and its apparent movement accentuate the general gloominess and depression that I felt on the day. ('Elegy' was written a few hours after this was taken, so both moods can be interrelated)


The misspelling of 'abandon' actually reinforces this phrase in ways that its creator never would have imagined, as the structure of the word is abandoned itself :)


What I found striking about this one, more than the sun itself, was the stark contrast in the sun and the laid back, sleepy attitude evoked by the town as a whole.


I was something of a spontaneous image that I happened to catch a glimpse of at the Meenakshi temple, Madurai, where the steel bars surrounding the temple conveyed more than they might have wished to.

(I realize that these may be of a slightly worse quality than usual, as they were taken from my mobile. More coming up as soon as I manage to link the computer to my camera!)

Posted by ankitdamani 21:53 Tagged rain temple india sign sun weather photography cloud cage Comments (3)

Madurai, Rameshwaram: Mirrors

16-18 June 2011


I taste flecks of hope,
their loyalty astounds.

I trace flowing water,
unchanging yet mobile.

I carelessly grasp conviction,
then sink in apprehension.

I float above darkness,
before it engulfs all.

I touch my soul,
before crashing into oblivion.

I speak softly but firmly,
“Here lies God”.

-Ankit Damani


Is this it?
Death and hope
intertwine in a never-ending
tryst of absolution

Until actualization liquefies
the union and hits you
like a gush of water
running up your nose.

Then what?

-Ankit Damani

The Birthplace of Tranquility

Gentle strides take control as my body glides,
independent of thought.
The physical cannot be disturbed
by the mental

Colourless, sparkling, enchanting.
This is far from our daily dose.
This is divine.

Sand particles surround
my feet and before
I realize,
I am swept
into nirvana.


-Ankit Damani

Posted by ankitdamani 03:05 Tagged water end death tranquility god heaven finale poetry elegy Comments (1)

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