Wandermates #2

Posted on

” A journey is measured in friends rather than miles” – Tim Cahill

This is an attempt to share all the interesting stories of people I’ve come across while on the road .

One at a time.

We often bump into  a lot of people everyday. Some interesting, some outright rude. Some cunning and some sweet as honey. Nevertheless, for a brief moment,  two lives intersect each other.

Generally while traveling we’re more receptive to strangers.

I like to chat with the locals and hear the tales of their  childhood. The fables of the land. The beliefs built by that human being over a lifetime.

Shri Dikshit Ratna ji

I had the fortune of meeting a Jain monk right in on the first day of our travel in Gujrat. We were staying at one of the many dharamshalas at Palitana, a major Jain pilgrimage. The fact that the monk was only slightly elder to me made restless with curiosity as to why would someone renounce worldly possessions at such a young/productive age.

It was memorable to discuss the workings of life with someone almost your age, and young at that. He was a qualified engineer living in Mumbai before renouncing worldly ways and delicate himself to search of spirituality. His family had been supportive of his off the beaten path decision. They themselves had been staunch followers on this school of spiritualism since generations.

Travel, at times exposes you to such people that you start questioning your own understanding of the world around you. They offer you new challenges, if the conversation is taken in the ride stride.

I wish all the very best to Ratna ji in his spiritual pursuits.

The Apatanis of Arunachal.

Posted on

Sometimes when I travel, I come across places far flung from the plague of industrialization and concrete shadows. At times, the philosophy of life imbibed in people living here makes me reconsider the meaning of progress, success, culture, values, tradition and civilization.


What do you do if you look so stunning that people of the other tribe want to steal you away? Tattoo your face and wear a nose ring, intentionally to look at ugly. Crazy.!

Meet the Apatani tribe.They are a non- nomadic tribe residing in the Ziro valley of Lower Subansiri district of Arunachal Pradesh, India. They worship sun and moon, Donyi-Polo. They cultivate rice and farm fish and frogs.

Social structure.

Hong is the second largest village in Asia, home to the Apatanis, I was told. Yet it felt uncluttered and peaceful to see. It got me curious about the working of the society and how did they maintain order in spite of being so spread out and populated. Speaking to the locals this is what I discovered. The Apaptani tribes are divided into small ‘titles’. Each title, from what I could understand, is like a big joint family. They have their own place of worship. People cannot marry withing the same title, but can freely do so from other titles.

Also, after the indoctrination of Christianity and Hindu ideas into their concept of worship, they have becmome more streamlined with the present day practices.

It is surprisingly forward compared to some communities popularized by mainstream media from mainland India in the light of enmity against inter caste marriages, love violence, etc.


Way of life.

Women hold  major stake in everyday life here. They work in farms along side men. Run businesses. Take decisions about property and household alike. It is in complete harmony with the men, unlike many modern societies we come across in cities often.

I was glad to hear that people from Ziro and north east in general feel as Indian as any of us. In fact, the anchor in Ziro Festival of Music, on many occasions would invite people from other states to come down and settle in Ziro, and marry Apaptani women. Way ahead of its time I say.




Tribal tattoos.

Amongst other things, tribes, world over are often known for their distinct tattoos. Apatanis are no different. The story goes that women of these tribes were/are so stunning that men form the the tribes would come to teal them. Hence, to intentionally look ugly, women would tattoo their face in T-shape to ward off unwanted attention. Of all the kinds of tattoos, facial tattoos are most intriguing to me. Your face is your identity, and to permanently modify it by tattooing is committing to a belief unconditionally. It means making the idea behind the tattoo a part of your identity.Its not only just tattoos, they also apply nose rings to enhance the ugliness.


Tattoos and nose rings.


Modern Apaptanis.

The present day generation swiftly switches between traditional and modern practices. They party with as much glamour as they dance to the folk songs. They believe in education. Hong village was full of schools and colleges and many book shops I saw. People are well aware of current affairs of not only their own region but rest of the country as well. They speak Hindi and English well and are able to communicate about their culture and feelings freely.And they love Bollywood and Apong, their local rice beer.


It was a pleasure hanging out with these folks..!


Sarpanch of Hong village, Mr. Tatungnada.


They showed me around the whole village and told me lots of what I have written above.Thanks for the ride guys.!


Wandermates #4 – Byron.

Posted on

“A journey is measured in friends rather than miles” – Tim Cahill

This is an attempt to share all the interesting stories of people I’ve come across while on the road .

One at a time.

We often bump into  a lot of people everyday. Some interesting, some outright rude. Some cunning and some sweet as honey. Nevertheless, for a brief moment,  two lives intersect each other.

Generally while traveling we’re more receptive to strangers.

I like to chat with the locals and hear the tales of their  childhood. The fables of the land. The beliefs built by that human being over a lifetime.img_20160921_111027shrink

This meek looking gentleman is way more than what meets the eye. He runs the most popular homestay deep in the jungle of Sohra or Cherapunji. He speaks fine english, his place is very clean and the food menu is an extensive palette. All these tings made me curious, so probed a little deeper.

So, Byron has wore many hats, including being a teacher of environmental science in Meghalaya, working for multi national corporations and so on. But it was his love for cooking and the emptiness of staying away from family while at work that bought him to give up city life, and make the forest of living root bridges his home.

It was fun staying at his place. Smoking hot tasty food while its raining like donkeys in the heart of forest make for memory of a lifetime.

Living root bridges.

Posted on


The living root bridges are one of its kind, wonders of nature. Found in the Indian state of Meghalya at many places. They are essentially rubber trees on both sides of a river or stream. The roots of trees on both the sides entangle among each other over the water and make a sketchy bridge over the river. Thats when the Khasi tribe folks come in. They tighten the structure and make them into usable bridges. These bridges can last for hundreds of years.

All said and done, they are a work of art created by man and nature. For city dwellers who are used to concrete jungle, this comes as a surprise. Its also astonishing to know that tree roots can be so strong and long lasting.

Their sight reminded me of scenes from Avatar the movie. The creatures of Pandora live amongst the trees and sleep on hammocks swinging between branches.

Of the many bridges scattered all over the jungles of the state, there’s one in particular deep in the heart of Sohra or Cherpunji. Its unique because there are two bridges one above the other, over crossing the stream. Aptly, the bridge is called a ‘Double Decker”living root  bridge.

The walk to the Double Decker root bridge is long and patience-testing. But to make it all worth wile, I would strongly suggest anyone to stay a night at the homestays in village near the bridge. Living deep in the jungle is a rejuvenating experience not to be missed. The homestays are neat and clean. Pocket friendly. Food is basic but tasty. There’s elcetricity most of the time. Also one gets a chance to interact with the locals.

There is also a wonderful waterfall further from the Double Decker root bridges that must not be missed. Just pray for clear sunlight and the Rainbow waterfalls will certainly be a memory of a lifetime.


Mawlynnong root bridge.




Way to the bridge, Mawlynnong.


Mawlynnong, Asias cleanest village.




Reward after the walk.!


Way to Double Decker root bridge.


Khasi tribe woman.


Cheers, from the bonfire night, Byron’s homestay, Double root bridges, Sohra.


Prisma gallery – Scapes.

Posted on

I hope this is the last installment and I find a new obsession soon. till then, enjoy some prisma-tic scapes.

other prsima blog post here .

01_prisma_scapes_vishal tomar_201602_prisma_scapes_vishal tomar_201603_prisma_scapes_vishal tomar_201604_prisma_scapes_vishal tomar_201605_prisma_scapes_vishal tomar_201606_prisma_scapes_vishal tomar_201607_prisma_scapes_vishal tomar_201608_prisma_scapes_vishal tomar_201609_prisma_scapes_vishal tomar_201610_prisma_scapes_vishal tomar_201611_prisma_scapes_vishal tomar_201612_prisma_scapes_vishal tomar_201613_prisma_scapes_vishal tomar_201614_prisma_scapes_vishal tomar_201615_prisma_scapes_vishal tomar_201616_prisma_scapes_vishal tomar_201618_prisma_scapes_vishal tomar_201619_prisma_scapes_vishal tomar_201620_prisma_scapes_vishal tomar_201621_prisma_scapes_vishal tomar_201622_prisma_scapes_vishal tomar_2016

Greater crater – LONAR lake.

Posted on

Pictures from Lonar crater day trip. Write up is here.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Prisma gallery – portraits.

Love it or hate it, you simply can’t ignore it. Mobile apps come and go. Some last couple of seconds in your phone and some get installed to stay. Some make your life easier, some just entertain, some make you healthier and so on.

As an amateur visual artist, I got excited about Prisma like a boy with a new toy. Initially I thought that its an infatuation with this app that’ll eventually pass, like many others have previously. So I thought I will give it some time to cool down and see if I still like it.

Lo and behold, this AI powered algorithm still keeps me guessing.

The best part is that it can add spice to otherwise old and forgotten pictures.

Yes I clearly realize that they require hardly any effort on my part to create them, other than clicking pictures which I love to do. But, with due respect to all the real artists out there, whose skill can never be matched by digital wizardry, I would love to put some “prisma-rised” pictures from the past.

09_Prisma portrai 2016_vishal tomar15_Prisma portrai 2016_vishal tomar10_Prisma portrai 2016_vishal tomar19_Prisma portrai 2016_vishal tomar18_Prisma portrai 2016_vishal tomar17_Prisma portrai 2016_vishal tomar08_Prisma portrai 2016_vishal tomar20_Prisma portrai 2016_vishal tomar11_Prisma portrai 2016_vishal tomar13_Prisma portrai 2016_vishal tomar14_Prisma portrai 2016_vishal tomar16_Prisma portrai 2016_vishal tomar07_Prisma portrai 2016_vishal tomar06_Prisma portrai 2016_vishal tomar05_Prisma portrai 2016_vishal tomar04_Prisma portrai 2016_vishal tomar03_Prisma portrai 2016_vishal tomar02_Prisma portrai 2016_vishal tomar01_Prisma portrai 2016_vishal tomar

%d bloggers like this: