Tag Archives: Female Photographer

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Inspiro India Official

Best of January’18 | #inspiroindia

Greetings,

We’d like you to know that Inspiro India is receiving immense love and support from you ‘Creative Heads’ out there.

In the wake of the phenomenal usage of the ‘Inspiro India’ hashtag, we have a created a new section, ‘Best Pictures of the Month’.

Here are the Best Pictures from the month of January!

(The pictures are not in any supposed order. To get featured in the next month, use hashtag #inspiroindia)

~ Follow us on Instagram @inspiroindia and use hashtag #inspiroindia or write to us at info@inspiroindia.com ~

 

©Mihir Thakkar

 

 

©Joshi Daniel

 

©Harshit Doshi
©APrampar
©Namrata Vedi

 

 

©Shivam
©Piyush Tanpure

 

 

©Fazil
©Sunny Gala

 

 

©Anshul Mehta
©Manpreet Kaur

 

 

©Upasana
©Shevanee

 

 

©Shivam
©Sachin Chauhan

 

©Anunay Sood
©Mayuresh M. Warang

 

 

©Somia Mallick
©Shardul Umesh Kadam

 

©Manjima
©Rupesh Dev

 

 

©Ankit
©Sakshi Parikh

 

 

©Arfan Abdulazeez
©Harshal

 

 

©Shagun Chawla
©Aryan

 

 

©Manish Deo
©Anshuman

 

 

©Swapnanil Roy

 

Check out our previous series of inspiring images here – iidailyinspiration#149

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Inspiro India Official

Blog | Photography

9 February 2018

Creative Head of the Week: Ishani Das

There are people who always witness something and realise that it could have been a stunning frame. And that’s how Ishani always felt – like her eyes were attached to secretive camera somewhere. She is a fashion communication student. First, she is an artist and always will be. She started the art of photography 8 years back with her little Sony digital point and shoot. She was very timid to take her camera out in the public and just start shooting. So, she resorted to closed rooms and the only subject she knew well there was herself.

 

A process just happens in her mind so fast. First a very random inspiration hits. Next thing for her is to visualise herself cutting that light, or how should the shadows overlay her etc. After that is just a matter of setting up her camera on self-timer. With time she has understood, at which angle her body will look good and where should light fall exactly so the photograph comes out great.

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Ishani Das

 

Ishani is not very vocal with words, her portraits are her only source of artistic expression. It’s just the determination in her that drives her.

She is her own inspiration. She looks up to many photographers but she has never tried to recreate anyone’s work or even take inspiration from them. She doesn’t edit much. It’s just a little VSCO here and a little Pixlr there. All phone apps though.

 She uses a Canon 600D .Apart from that, she has a 18-55mm lens. Also, she uses Photoshop and Lightroom but only rarely. Mostly she uses VSCO, Pixlr and Filterloop.

Her favourite subject is’ people’. Even when she meets people, she is more attentive to their eyes, hands, how they tuck a strand behind their ear or adjust their spectacles or laugh. She just admires how beautiful a person can be. She is not fussy about locations. She loves plain white walls. What she is fussy about is the light. Photography is all about the light.

 

 

 

The master-advice,

DON’T STOP. If you are trying something, it’s unique. Also, pay attention to details. It’s the details of a photograph, a painting, or anything that can really make it even more beautiful. ”

Words by Harpreet

 

Mogra Series

Mogra Series

Mogra Series

Images by ©Ishani Das

Follow IshaniInstagram

 

Check out latest edition of Inspiro India magazine – here

 

 

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Inspiro India Official

Blog | Travel

5 February 2018

Explore and live through travelling says this week’s | Traveller of the Week: Garima Manocha

Garima Manocha is a 24-year-old storyteller based in Delhi. She divides her time between her love for Photography and is currently pursuing Chartered Accountancy.  She has pursued a certified course in Advanced Photography under Dr O.P Sharma at Triveni Kala Sangam, New Delhi. Her oeuvre of work is composed of Travel and Street Photography. “I firmly believe that every photograph you take is a masterpiece if it gives the viewer questions to think upon”, she says.

 

Garima Manocha

 

Her motivation to travel is her fascination with the rich heritage and culture our country has in abundance. It is a diverse land, to begin with. Every few kilometres, one is exposed to a different culture, custom, language and lifestyle. Her journey began with the vibrant city of Delhi and she has been travelling since. Her first trip was to the Golden Temple in Amritsar, Punjab. She was overwhelmed with serenity she felt in the abode of God. For that moment, she let go of the photographer in her and absorbed every ounce of positive aura around.

 

She has no particular preference when it comes to choosing between travelling solo or with a group. Owing to her full-time job as a CA, it is not possible for her to become a full-time traveller. However, she makes sure to manage ample amount of time to travel and click to her satisfaction. Her family has been very supportive and they have contributed immensely to her journey of following her passion for photography.

 

She is a well-planned traveller. She is keen to chart down all the available options and explores through books before she sets her foot for a journey. It’s always appropriate to be prepared for the journey so that you are thorough with all the aspects to be noted. Rajasthan, Kerala, Pondicherry, Amritsar, Leh and Ladakh are 5 must-visit places according to Garima!

 

As an ardent and experienced traveller, she believes the five must-haves when one is travelling are a first aid kit, a camera with spare batteries and memory cards for additional data storage, a sturdy backpack, physical fitness and a mobile network connection.

 

She loves travelling because it helps her break the monotony of life and liberates her soul. Travelling makes her experience the essence of the place she visits, the people she meets there and the stories she gets to hear from them.

 

She has covered 10 states of the country by now and feels a lot is left to explore and live through travelling! All her expeditions have taught her the most important lesson of life, which is to live life to the fullest while it lasts!

Words by Laveena Behl
Images by ©Garima Manocha

 

Follow Garima:  Instagram

Check out latest edition of Inspiro India magazine – here

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Inspiro India Official

Art | Blog | Photography

26 January 2018

Creative Head of the Week: Chandni Dua

Chandni Dua started out by enrolling in an art college for animation but later discovered her love for photography through a couple of teachers who were photographers themselves.

She was drawn to the idea of requiring no books for the task, editing her personal pictures and ultimately trying to learn how to click a better photograph in the first try!

 

Chandni initially used to have fun and was obsessed with her camera, carrying out both paid and unpaid jobs and never really giving it a serious thought!

Once out of college, Dua started taking photography earnestly by taking her own pictures, communicating through self-portraits!

 

With composition and technicalities in mind, Dua feels it’s the emotions that matter the most. She makes sure her snaps breathe the emotion even though they’re badly composed or even at the worst location or scenario.

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Chandni Dua

 

A huge attention is given to the lighting, angles and highlighting the object she wants to show. Natural light loves Chandni’s attention and she refuses not to experiment with it!

 

Currently inspired by Nirrimi and since many years, Chandni does 3-4 edits according to how the mood for the picture was initially planned!

 

Dua remembers to be once addicted to Adobe Photoshop. She started with editing before photography, her advancing editing skills got her to love and get into photography.

 

Her recent venture into wedding photography has seen about 90% use of Adobe Lightroom and the rest in Adobe Photoshop. She also captures photographs from her phone and makes the use of VSCO app regularly.

 

Photographing and executing her ideas on her sister and friends, basically everyone when she’s travelling is what she loves doing the most. Endless hours of shooting in the hills or places with huge trees and vastness are what makes her happy!

Other than that, a person with an interesting face and bold expressions never fails to impress Chandni Dua.

 

A typical day in the photographer’s life consists of researching and executing ideas every week by collaborating with various artists in the city! If not that, her evenings are spent by exploring new places with food!

 

In her opinion, anyone who is into photography shall keep experimenting on something they took inspiration from.

She never replicates anyone and advises the same!

She feels it’ll never satisfy the inner artist which also happens to be her long kept secret!

Words by Harpreet

 

Images by ©Chandni Dua

Follow Chandni: Instagram | Website

 

Check out latest edition of Inspiro India magazine – here

 

 

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Inspiro India Official

Blog | Interviews | Photography

18 January 2018

Interview with Photographer: Moushumee K Jha

Meet Moushumee K Jha, beating all odds being a woman photographer. 

Moushumee K Jha

 

Inspiro India: Tell us something about yourself and how did you start creating?

Moushumee K Jha: Photography happened to me suddenly. I did not plan to be a photographer. In one of my corporate trips to Corbett, I bumped into a wildlife photographer and my 5-minute interaction with him changed my life. The irony is that I don’t even know his name or remember him. But once I picked up my first DSLR, there was no looking back.

 

 

Inspiro India: How did you develop an interest in this field?

MKJ: I have had the opportunity to have been a theatre, stage, TV artist and have even worked in a few feature films (Assamese language). As such, the structure and the narration of black and white films, the directors’ instructions to “hold the light” and the nuances of using the play of light and shadow while planning a scene became part of my vocabulary. When I took up photography this language became my main tool. In some sense, my images are my stage, my subjects are the artists and I try to find/tell their stories using light to create a show through my pictures. This would explain my preference for black and white, use of light and shadows, patterns and reflections in my photography. Of course, I had to take a break after my marriage, but once my boys had grown up, with encouragement from my family & friends, I started photography as a hobby to pass time creatively. Soon, my hobby became a full-time profession and I gained confidence as my frames were appreciated by all. The larger push happened as I discovered social media and the ability to share my work with professionals and to hold my own. It’s been 17 fulfilling years since then.

 

Inspiro India: Did you face any problem while while pursuing this field?

MKJ: Yes, there are some unique challenges for a woman in photography. Firstly there are fewer women, though changing, the infrastructure – accommodations, toilets, transportation may not be women-friendly. Thankfully, in the last 2 decades as more women have joined the work-force across all sectors, this is changing and changing fast. There are areas whereas a woman photographer I can attract unwanted attention; or where I would consider the Security risks carefully.

At times, when I am shooting at odd hours on the street, if the area is troubled or
disturbed, I get told – “ghar jao”, go home. This is not safe for you. But then there are other areas where I may have an advantage being a woman. Street photography is definitely one such – being a woman gives me better access than a man. I can get close to a subject than a man can.

 

Inspiro India: What is it about Street photography that interests you the most? What are your top three favourite photography locations? and Why?

MKJ: Street celebrates moments, the infinitesimal if you please. I find this pure and unlike any choreographed or art directed setting. It’s the drama of life itself that unfolds in only that fraction of a second. And it is unique, never to be truly repeated. This very trait makes even mundane moments extraordinary. I have spent a fair bit of time shooting in Delhi 6 (Old Delhi), South Of India, Ladakh – especially the Batalik region and most obviously my home region, the glorious north-east of India.

 

Inspiro India: If not this, What would have Moushumee K Jha been doing?

MKJ: A painter most likely. I have always enjoyed painting since my childhood and I still do once in a while. And of course being a mother, cooking for my boys, which I enjoy immensely.

 

Inspiro India: Were you formally educated in photography, or are you self-taught?

MKJ: I was not formally educated in photography but I had a great teacher & mentor, in late Rakesh Sahai. He helped to shape my sense of composition, understanding of light and taught me the nuances of this art form. His role in my development is huge.

 

Inspiro India: Could you tell our readers how to reach such excellent results in Street photography? What are you looking forward to purchasing next?

MKJ: Like any other art form, it takes patience, passion and perseverance. And a bit of luck, sense of timing, Some talent does not hurt either.
Purchase? Hmm… A ticket to Benaras!

 

Inspiro India: Describe your post-processing workflow? Which camera do you shoot with?

MKJ: There is very minimal post-processing involved in street photography. But for all
other commercial assignments, I use CS 6 for my editing. I use an iMac at my studio and MacBook Pro while on the move. I am a Nikon user.

Photos by ©Moushumee K Jha

 

Inspiro India: What advice would the artist inside you like to pass on to our readers?

MKJ: Artists are in love with their art-forms. They are trying to tell us a story, their story. Readers must find their own story in them and with the grammar/language they choose.

 

Follow Moushumee: Instagram | Facebook | Website

 

Check out latest edition of Inspiro India magazine – here

 

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Inspiro India Official

Blog

17 January 2018

Blogger of the Week: Shivangi Lahoty

Shivangi Lahoty is a full-time fashion designer, fashion blogger and off-lately a Youtuber as well. An award-winning graduate from NIFT Mumbai and FIT New York, her blog “With Love Inaaya” is a personal styling space where she articulates what does and doesn’t work for her in fashion. It is centred around fashion along with a little bit of everything else that comes with it. Through her reach, time and again, she attempts to address some important issues most millennials face.

 

The unique feature of her blog, she believes is in creating content that she herself would like to read and the products she would find comfortable to use, hence putting herself in the shoes of her followers. Unlike most blogs featuring everything that comes their way, she prefers personal screening before publishing anything. Each outfit or look is created with the utmost detail, keeping in mind that her audience includes working women who won’t doll-up to work every day but need daily fashion ideas to use their existing wardrobe as a resource, mixing and matching it to up their fashion game.

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Shivangi Lahoty

 

She has been using her blog to address some bigger issues in the last few years, namely depression, self-doubt, self-love and body image issues. These are the issues all of us fight inside our heads but accepting them is tough. When you have someone you follow or like discusses these issues in an open space, you realise everyone is vulnerable and hence you can find a recluse in the other person, she says. This makes you shed your inhibitions and talk. Being a NIFT alumni, she has recently started a segment called “Weekend Fashion Classes with Shivangi” where she addresses students’ queries about NIFT and fashion education. This adds a touch of educational and professional aid to her blog as well.

 

Her style statement is largely inspired by her Maa, as she has grown up watching the way she dresses up in a starched cotton saree worn in a prim and proper way daily. She’d sometimes tie a scarf around her hair when they went out, or put on a pair of Mommy jeans and team it with a button-down shirt if vacationing. Over the years she has realised her knack for all things vintage and retro, a style influenced by her mom, nothing maker her happier! She likes to dress gracefully, a saree or a skirt, she gives it a retro twist!

 

She loves Jenny Cipoletti when it comes to blogging, for effortless style and Tara Milk Tea for her beautiful Instagram feed. In her life, it is her mother who is her biggest inspiration. A major encouraging and driving force is the need to create and innovate various styles.

She began with creating content in 2011, but her full-fledged fashion blog came into existence in 2015. She was then involved in a research on the ‘Rise of Fashion Bloggers’ for her college and she interviewed Bryan Boy, Tavi Gevinson, Aayushi Bangur, Gia as well as some other fashion influencers. Two months of research and she knew she wanted to do this. It may sound unbelievable but Shivangi had a lot of body image issues and she had built herself over the years to the persona she is today. Once unsure about putting herself out there for the world to criticize, in 2015 she began her journey of blogging.

 

For Lahoty, blogging is a beautiful way to meet new people and reach out to a larger audience with your style and more. She runs a full-time fashion label: Inaaya & Co. It gets exhausting at times: managing all the bills, the tailors, the embroiderers etc. “Honestly, blogging is my escapade”, she mentions. It is therapeutic. Creating different style looks and answering questions for teenagers who want to pursue a career in designing or women who want recipes of dishes she posts pictures of online makes her happy!

 

Her blog name ‘Inaaya’ is her pseudonym. As she mentioned earlier, she was quite sceptical about putting herself out in the world of social media in the past hence she used ‘Inaaya’ as her disguise, which made her feel secured yet confident. She believes there’s an ‘Inaaya’ in all of us, a side which we are hesitant to show to the world. With her blog, the idea was to basically embrace her other side. She has myriad of age-range in her audience, but mostly, she has a generous number of working women looking at someone making their lives easier by helping them decode wearable looks. A huge number of young followers who follow her due to her academic background from NIFT and FIT and also thanks to all the sessions at Fashion Colleges in the past year and her YouTube channel. She also has a section of women in her audience who follow her for her Indian aesthetic towards fashion – a more sustainable approach.

She is admirable of how ‘Inaaya’ has grown in the last couple of years and the small community she has built along with her followers. In her future, she wishes to focus more on the fashion educational segment.

 

For vlogging, she uses a Canon G7X Mark II and for blogging her photographer has a Canon Mark D IV. For pictures on her Instagram feed, she puts her iPhone 7 to use.

As a blogger, she wants the audience to know that ‘the picture perfect 9×9 grid’ is not a reality so one must not feel pressurized to maintain a socially acceptable persona. One should love oneself, embrace their body for what it is and not let apparent ‘social media standards of beauty’ pull them down.

She asks the aspiring bloggers to do what makes them happy and do not let other people’s work affect their growth.

Words by Laveena Behl
©Shivangi Lahoty

Follow Shivangi: Instagram | Website

 

“Inspiro India will be featuring bloggers every week irrespective of what they blog. To get featured on Inspiro India simply use ‘#iiblogger’ on Instagram ”

Check out latest edition of Inspiro India magazine – here

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Art | Blog | Interviews

11 January 2018

Interview with Artist: Shweta Malhotra

Meet Shweta, a visual artist/photographer based in Delhi who is also passionate about baking.

Shweta Malhotra

 

Inspiro India:  How did you get started? What first got you into Painting? Tell us a bit about yourself.

Shweta Malhotra: I’ve always been interested in art. I first dabbled with paints as a little girl but my career as a professional artist began much later in my life. I painted for pleasure, to keep myself busy and to pass the time away. As a student, I was always attracted to art, and in high school, I won several painting competitions as well but never thought about making a career in art.

4 years ago I felt the desire of picking up my paintbrush again. I went and got a bunch of acrylic paints, brushes and started doing it, and it’s really been a therapeutic thing for me.

 

Inspiro India: How would you best describe your style of Visual Art? And the challenges you faced as an artist?

SM: I’m a self-taught painter, who loves to colour the abstract beauty on canvas and enliven its gleam in the viewers’ eyes. For me, art is like being on a roller coaster, ups and downs, highs and lows, twists and turns. My paintings splash the eternal meaning of all the highs and lows of one’s life into a depth of emotions. My painted canvases are colourful, I cherish old traditions, new ideas, style and knowledge.

 

 

Inspiro India: What are the tools you couldn’t live without? Can you please explain your work process of Paintings?

SM: I work with several tools and try to bring out something new in every new series. But the process is sometimes easy and at times cruel as well. Some pieces take either hours or months to complete. I never set a target for completing my work. One of my paintings in my last show took the longest. I always let my work rest for a day or two and come back to it. This gives me time to think about what I am going to do next in a completely different way.

When I start something new, I have a set direction usually few sketches but when I paint, I let my creativity and mind play on the canvas. That way my work stays varied and fresh. I do not stick with a style and replicate it over and over for a long time. When I start feeling comfortable, that is not a good sign so I change things up.

 

Inspiro India: Is studying Art in college worth the cost or do you recommend an alternative?

SM: It is a loaded question but honestly it depends mostly whether you choose the right college or not.

I have never attended any art college and always feel you don’t really get much out of it financially after paying a good amount of fees. There is an overwhelming chance you will not make money in art. You will find a lot of people who will truly appreciate your art but there are very few who will buy it.

From the skill point of you, I will recommend going to small art schools or institutes. Find a mentor instead of looking for an art college. Most of the skills you can gain yourself by intense self-work, but it’s helpful to have a mentor who can guide you out of the ruts you will fall into.

 

Inspiro India: Who/What has been the biggest influence on your way of thinking?

SM: I’m a person who is influenced by love the most. Fortunately, that is what I got in abundance from my family. They are my most valuable support system. My relationship with God and my family form the foundation of who I am. Everything else is built on top of this.

 

Inspiro India: What did you want to become as a child?

SM: To be honest with you, I never quite knew what exactly I wanted to become. One day I wanted to be a chef and another day a teacher. I always felt a bit insecure about the future and couldn’t imagine myself as someone.

Soon I realised, It doesn’t matter what you always wanted to be. It’s just a fantasy. What matters is this moment, now.

 

Inspiro India: How would you define beauty in less than 140 characters?

SM: True beauty comes from a person’s internal attributes, the unfading beauty of being a gentle and quiet soul. It’s a state of mind, it’s a quality. Nothing in this world is perfect and I always believe that the beauty lies in someone’s eye.  If you see something with a vision of beauty it will definitely become beautiful. Else try it in any form or way that thing or person will never turn beautiful. Beauty is infinite, everyone and everything is beautiful in its own way.

 

Inspiro India: What are you passionate about besides your work?

SM: Apart from painting, I’m passionate about baking. I love the process of researching new recipes and testing them. I can bake delicious cake and make some scrumptious chocolates and desserts.

 

Paintings by ©Shweta Malhotra

 

Inspiro India: What advice would you as an artist give to other creative heads out there? Some creative tips you’d like to share?

SM: The only advice I can give is, do not wait around for some miracle to happen. All the best ideas come out of the process, the hard work. Just follow your instinct and work on it, things will happen. Definitely!!!

 

Follow Shweta: Instagram | Website

 

Check out latest edition of Inspiro India magazine – here

 

Submit your work for upcoming issue of Inspiro India Magazine
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Inspiro India Official

Blog

3 January 2018

Blogger of the Week: Samee Taskin

Hailing from North-East India, Samee Taskin feels that fashion and style have always been in her living roots. She mentions a memory of her mother making her wear a “skort” (skirt+shorts) for her uncle’s wedding when she was 5 years old. Her style has evolved through years along with influences from various fashion trends. Her primary education was done in Assam and she graduated in B.Tech in Manipal, Sikkim. She shares her love for cooking through her social handle dedicated to food (@themidmess).

 

Apart from that, her other likes are photography and books. She is a tea-holic and a minimalist at heart. Her blog “Sassy and Classy” is about fashion and Lifestyle. She doesn’t wish to limit herself to a single genre. She likes to blog about anything that grabs her interest, for example, she did a blog post on how to plan your Instagram handle, because she feels it is an important task if we wish to present it as our portfolio. Samee thinks that being unique in a crowded niche is not easy. She mentions, “While there may be a lot of other blogs that cover similar topics as my blog, I try to take advantage of my strength and experiences to help make my blog stand out. I try not to publish all the same types of content. Minimalism is my forte! Be it in fashion or lifestyle.” She also documents post-travel diaries and food recipes along with my other blogs.
Since she is fond of minimalism, it is her definitive style. She shares
 “I like anything and everything minimal and simple. I believe less is more and that’s what I go about when I do any styling or buy any home décor. I am fond of earthy tones because of the warm vibes. As for colour palette, I like coral colours and the hue ‘Fall’ is my latest favourite. Casual, Basic and Minimal is what I would describe my style as.”

 

She draws inspiration from current situations, mood or colour palette. The mundane life is where she drives her interest from. Social Media, according to her, is a great platform to get many inspirations from. Her blog came into being on one quiet evening of May 2016. She shares the anxiety she felt at that moment, “Everything about blogging seemed so daunting to me, uploading pictures, being consistent, having a catchy name etc. I have been really interested in blogging since the time I discovered the blogging community back in 2010 where I use to see my sister blogging. I thought I would create a little corner for myself in the world of Internet and share my interests.”

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Samee Taskin

 

The significance of Blogging varies from person to person. It has been a year of blogging for her and yet she feels she’s naive at it. Blogging is not a piece of cake, it needs consistent work and a lot of patience. Blogging does not mean mere posting articles online. The main motive of blogging is sharing. For Samee, it does not matter how you share your knowledge and content with people, but the presentation is attractive and comprehensible.  She shares her anecdote about her blog’s name, “I have a penchant for classic as well as quirky. I think every person has both these sides, hence I chose ‘Sassy and Classy’ as the blog title.”  Her audience comprises mostly of youth from all across the globe. She aims to reach out to everyone. Her future plans include various collaborations and paid sponsors as an influencer and creator. Social Media plays an important role in this. She would love to create a YouTube channel, but that plan is still in pipeline.  She uses Canon 500D for her digital pictures but iPhone does a very good job, especially in portrait mode. She does a major chunk of iPhone photography as well. Yashica is reserved for print photography. She feels “Camera is just a tool, it doesn’t actually matter what camera we use to click amazing photos”.

 

One advice the blogger inside her would like to pass on to the readers is if someone wants to start blogging, just go for it. There will be lots of ifs and buts, which will be there always, so instead of speculating, jump into the sphere and experience it yourself. Her tip for other bloggers is “make mistakes if you can and then learn from them. Experience is the best teacher.”

Words by Laveena Behl
Images by ©Samee Taskin

Follow Samee: Instagram | Website

 

“Inspiro India will be featuring bloggers every week irrespective of what they blog. To get featured on Inspiro India simply use ‘#iiblogger’ on Instagram ”

Check out latest edition of Inspiro India magazine – here

Submit your work for upcoming issue of Inspiro India Magazine
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Inspiro India Official

Blog | Travel

1 January 2018

A local weekend traveller on a mission to explore Himachal. | Traveller of the Week: Neha Ralli

Neha Ralli is a weekend traveller and a hobby photographer. She was born and brought up in Kullu (Himachal Pradesh) and loves star gazing, talking about extra-terrestrial lives and its possibilities. She likes to write poetry when she is in the right mood.

Neha feels that curiosity to see something new, meet new people and know more about fellow human beings and this wonderful creation called Earth is what led her to choose this path. She says, “My first trip was my school trip to a place called ‘Dyar’ in Kullu. We trekked a little and reached this beautiful place surrounded by Deodar Trees’, she was awestruck. At the young age, she had no words to describe what she felt. Now when she thinks of it, it makes her calm and happy.

Neha Ralli

 

She likes to travel with her family and friends but believes that solo travelling is also a unique experience. However, mostly she prefers company while travelling. Being a working woman, Neha manages to take out time for her hobbies as she works in Himachal Pradesh itself. Time had become an issue while she was working in Chandigarh and this prompted her to shift back and live close to nature for mental peace and to be closer to her family.

She loves to go on spontaneous trips and rarely plans her trips as she feels that spontaneous trips have always been the best for her. Currently located in Himachal, she is trying to see it extensively. The idea of not being well versed in her own land has bothered her for a long time and therefore she usually travels in Himachal itself. According to her, a person should visit these 5 places for a unique experience, Kareri Lake (Dharamshala), Kaisdhar (Kullu),  Lahaul, Bhrigu Lake (Kullu) and  Prashar Rishi (Mandi).

Ralli also lists down 5 essentials for travelling and staying outdoors:

  1. One should be acclimated to the high altitudes
  2. Weather on mountains changes drastically, so one should always keep warmers and raincoats in the bag pack in case there’s a plan to camp.
  3. It’s very dry on the mountaintop and therefore one must keep moisturizer or Chap Stick as skin gets dry in the extreme weather conditions.
  4. Keep a swiss knife for multipurpose use and a lighter to start a bonfire.
  5. Always wear sunscreen to avoid skin burn. Try and keep the bag as light as possible. Do not take things you will not use on your trek. Always remember “Keep it Light”.

In addition to this, she talks about things that one should not do when in outdoors:

  1. One should always carry a litter bag along and not throw wrappers and bottles on mountains.
  2. Noise or use of loudspeakers while camping should be avoided because it attracts wild animals and disturbs the environment.
  3. One should not do anything that hurts the sentiments of the locals.
  4. It is important to put out the fire before you leave or sleep.

 

According to her, the best thing about trekking is that one can forget all the worldly chaos which has been left behind. One keeps climbing because there’s simply more to see in life. The curiosity to see what’s next after a turn, the feeling of knowing that the mind is finally at halt of random thoughts bothering you is something that drives her. She aims to visit various places in Himachal and learn everything she can about the divine land know as Himachal Pradesh.

 

Dharamshala

Palampur

Pong Dam, Kangra

Tattapani, Shimla

Triund, Dharamshala

Gulaba, Manali

Kasol

Triund, Dharamshala

 

Travelling has taught her that humans are quite vulnerable. “We keep fighting on trivial things and issues. We keep grudges against each other. We keep focusing on things that make us less human. We won’t get many chances to live. So why not make the most of it. I got my second chance, and I’m living it in the best way possible,” she said. Sharing a personal experience, she said, “Once I reached on top of a mountain and saw the vast city land, so small and nonexistent human life. No noise, not even birds chirping. At that time, I realized that the issues we all are fighting for, why are they even there? We are all humans in the end. We all have to die one day. I am sure we can all get along if we keep in mind that we all have to live together like a big family in our home called Earth.”

Words by Laveena Behl
Images by ©Neha Ralli

 

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Blog | Inspiration | Travel

16 December 2017

Cancer survivor takes on an unprecedented pilgrimage to Mount Everest

The Unprecedented Pilgrimage to Mt Everest

 

Why do humans climb mountains, I have often questioned myself and have always struggled to find a reason for why one would romanticize mountains, why climb again and again and why have one on one with ‘Death Gods’?

 

It’s because the mountains never question or beg for answers.

You don’t need to prove yourself nor do you need any validation.

They are always there, standing mighty! Breathing, protecting and killing, accepting and what not!

And in ways, most of us can’t comprehend…

 

‘Listening’

 

Some would say passion takes you there, some say it’s their dream, some take it as an adventure sport.

 

Any reason is a reason valid enough for you to want to climb the tallest mountain in the world. I get asked the same question when I tell people about my journey. I still think I don’t have an answer to that. Everything just happened so fast that I still haven’t figured it out.

 

 

So let’s start from the very beginning!

A normal doctor, working in a private hospital in Delhi.

What made her climb a mountain?

 

It all started with my love for mountains when I got work in Shimla. Having survived blood cancer and chemotherapy for one year, I was completely lagging behind in my career. I had it all planned to go and work in the US and then cancer struck.

It was the worst phase of my life, bedridden for months, total loss of control and of course the brunt of treatment.

I survived it because my family was there. It’s was our fight.

And today I say it proudly, I survived what would have killed others.

 

 

I was an avid biker. Classic 350cc, the love of my life, independent brat, a rebellious kid I was all through, but soon after cancer treatment I met with a near-death accident due to my bones being weak. I almost fractured all the major bones of my body and today I carry three titanium rods from that event.

After two back to back life-changing events, what does one do to get back on track?

 

I was clueless, no plan worked out.

Shimla was the first place where I fell for the hills. Just pastime trekking helped me heal myself mentally.

Then came Leh and the opportunity to climb Mt Everest. I said ‘no’ at first go because I knew I was not physically fit to climb mountains.

Discussing over and over with colleagues they convinced me to go for the expedition to Mt Stok Kangri which is considered as the easiest peak to scale.

I was not trained in mountaineering at all and went stupidly for this. During the course, I fell sick and had to come back. But later, I was determined to climb and experience how it feels to be on the top of a mountain and to this day it’s one feeling I have not forgotten even after climbing Everest.

People usually say that how can you describe a feeling or a moment to anyone who is not there. I say you cannot describe it by words but by sharing the passion.

After this, the love affair with mountains became more strong. It’s like an addiction now.

I trained at HIM for the basics and did the advance from AMI.

After that, we went for Mt Mamostong Kangri in the Ladakh region, 6153 m. That peak was such a beauty that it just lets you go into a trance while climbing.

Next was Mt Saser Kangri 7672m and Mt Nun 7135m, both extremely challenging peaks. During these expeditions, I realised that I am a very slow CLIMBER and slow acclimatizer. I got to know how my body behaved with height and low temperatures. But is this enough for Everest I asked myself?

Being a doctor I was also responsible for the team, and being a climber I have to be responsible for myself too.

 

Until January 2017, I was not convinced with my physical fitness at all. Over a period of two months, I pushed my body, running 10 to 12 km in Leh in the winter mornings. Let me tell you not easy at all, but that was the only thing that kept me fit.  Of course a healthy high protein diet too.

Finally, the day came whence we flew to Kathmandu and that city was full of climbers from all parts of the world. And then the flight to Lukla, the most exciting flight ever. The plane actually nosedives. And then you get to see the first view of the mighty Goddess, what a feeling to see her!

 

From Lukla, it’s a 9-day trek to the base camp situated at a height of 17700 ft. 42 km of upslope and a little bit of down slope, adventurous suspension bridges, a crowd of fellow climbers, the hustle and bustle, the yaks and sherpas doing load ferrying is still fresh in my mind. Gradually you gain height and acclimatise which is getting very important. Plus you carry your own load of 20 kg all through the trek. By the time we reached Tengbouche my legs had already given up and I was seriously contemplating on quitting, but my team motivated me so much that today I am thankful to them for I wouldn’t have done the summit without them.

On reaching base camp one would find so many colourful canopies of tents that it doesn’t feel like that you are on an expedition. You interact with so many teams and climbers that they become your family for the next two months. It was an honour to meet the famous Swiss climber Ueli Stack who attained his peaceful end in the work he loved to do.

Then over next two weeks, we went for height gaining exercises to Kala Patthar and Pumori base camp, taking three steps at that height was a pain indeed.  I used to get breathless at night while sleeping and get up at 3 am to go out of the tent. One night I just saw a trail of lights in Khumbu icefall and it was just so mesmerizing that I forgot I am actually out in cold.

So first time when you cross the notorious Khumbu icefall it’s like an endless maze of walls of ice, I literally took 12 hours to cross that monster but I knew I have to cross it again and again. So there is a team called ‘Icefall Doctors’ who fix the rope and ladders across Khumbu and they are the reason one crosses Khumbu safely.

 

Base Camp, Mt. Everest

Crossing snake bend on Khumbu icefall

Climbing icefall to camp 1

Climbing Lhotse face

Camp 2, Mt. Everest

Camp 2 to Camp 3, Mt. Everest

Camp 3, Mt. Everest

Climbing Lhotse face en route Camp 3 to Camp 4, Mt. Everest

From Camp 3 to Camp 4, Mt. Everest

Camp 4, Mt. Everest

Enroute Summit, Mount Everest

So you do two to three cycles of height gain till camp 4 to adjust your body to the height and rarefied atmosphere. The cycle where I spent a night at Camp 2 at 21000 ft, I realised how hard it’s going to be. Camp 2 is like an advance base camp and in a flat space that it’s called a football ground or the silent valley.  After that, you ascend to camp 3 to 24000 ft facing a 75-degree climb and strong winds of almost 60 to 100 mph. The night at Camp 3 was sleepless. The swishing sound of oxygen cylinders the wind and the height, restlessness is all you feel. It’s painful to be at that height where you can’t even pee without being killed.

 

Camp 4 at 26000 ft is known as the death zone, it was creepy.  We faced the mighty Lhotse incline, I was facing health problems already and was sitting down at every three step using more of my oxygen. Then suddenly out of nowhere, an oxygen cylinder comes rolling down and hits one of our Sherpas in the leg and we had to bring him down with a broken leg. Such mistakes which cost you. Once you reach camp 4 and realize why it’s called death zone, you can actually feel death in the air. Bodies all black and blue with climbing gear are lying behind rocks, no one cares like it’s a common sight to see. No humanity no emotion and no respect for them. Climbers crossing over them and then leaving behind the ones dying is something haunts you for long and scares you to the core.

After coming back to base camp there was a moment I thought for what if something happens to me, will I also be a reference point for others in future just lying out there.  But then I thought I will die doing something I liked and wanted to. So why regret?

After this we did two more cycles and before final summit window had a total rest and recoup. Prayers were done to evoke the ‘Sagarmatha Goddess’ for her blessings before the climb. It was all getting surreal now.

But the weather Gods were merciless and it was the worst climbing season ever. No ropes were fixed till summit and all were getting anxious over a failed season this time. Our team left in wee hours of May 17 morning halting at Camp 2 directly. Next day we left for camp 3 and the weather got bad, 100 mph blizzard and we were stuck, but after the blizzard died out we moved on to the next camp. Ideally, camp 4 is a stopover for 6 hrs and then you leave for the summit, but again the blizzard started and we were stuck there for two days without food and depleting oxygen. Few cylinders were stolen and then half of our team had to go down and it was decided only the strongest will climb. I was a weak member but then I went against team leaders’ decision to go for it for I knew I came so far and either I die here or go back after summoning. I was foolish I think now, such impulsive decisions can cost your team members lives too, that is what I learnt. So on the night of 20th May, a team of 8 left and it was one of the hardest things I have done till now. I felt jumping off planes is easier.

 

Then after crossing the famous Hilary step, the dangerous rocky patch where an inch here or there and you freefall to darkness. I started hallucinating I thought a fellow climber wants to cross over and I let off my safety anchor and suddenly my sherpa holds my backpack and shakes me asking what the hell am I doing? I was like oh my gosh! that was so real and a slight wind would have grown me into Nepal or Tibet dead. At t50 m from the summit, I could see what I was training for all this while. It’s just there now in front of you and it took me 50 minutes to reach on top and I was blank when I got on top. There was no thought, no chattering in my brain. Complete emptiness. Then I felt the wind saying you did it and am not making it up, it really did. Then I dropped to my knees and knelt before the Goddess,  thanking her for considering me worthy of this view. Tears roll down my cheeks and freeze. I asked myself is this what you wanted? I sit there for 20 minutes looking at the 360 view and vast expanse of clouds and other peaks. It was a sight imprinted. I make a call to the base camp at 8 am exactly 13 hrs later that we have done it, feeling a relief!

A few minutes later after clicking necessary proof pictures, we start descending. The most difficult part.

 

As the descent starts, we reach camp 4 and two of my team members became snow blind and one started having frostbite in his fingers. We hardly managed to reach camp 3 as everyone was so tired that we could hardly walk. I being the leader had to make them reach safely even though I did not have one percent energy left. 72 hrs without food crushed your body, it was like walking in the desert but of snow and during daytime it’s as hit as 40 degrees. Somehow we dragged ourselves to camp 3 and had to spend another night without food. Next morning we made our slow descent to camp 2, the condition of patients was worsening and I was worried that one might lose all his fingers. I also started having frostbite in both my feet and when I took off the shoes the whole skin peeled off. Finally, a call was made to evacuate three patients and me from camp 2 to base camp by chopper. It cost me 8000 USD to sort and if it’s from camp 3 then 24000 USD which is more than the whole expedition cost for a 5 member team. Meanwhile, we heard the sad news of Indian climber passing away. All through expedition we saw dead people dying and sherpas leaving them back. So now all these bodies have become reference points. Camp 3 and camp 4 are full of human shit and pee. We have to take care of this peak before it becomes a tourist centre. I mean we are climbing to worship a Goddess but this is what we humans do there.

 

Reaching base camp was the time I realised that I am back alive with the whole team safe and no major medical problems. The three patients were sent to Delhi and rest of the team trekked back and finally, we flew to our home country.

As soon as I landed in India there was this sudden withdrawal or sadness that what now?

Even though I was busy with presentations, I was sad. I felt like I left a part of me there.

 

Understanding that it is a mountain withdrawal, I was diagnosed with anxiety and that my cancer was back in stage 1. But I was not sad about it because I felt that I did something which I would have never even dreamt of.

People often ask me how was your experience? What did you feel? How was it like on top of the world?

I am often left speechless because of that, I was at the top.

What is the point of sharing my story? Even though you have been through hell in your life you should never think that you can’t do it, it’s not about Everest, it is about your ‘mind’.

Whatever adventure you do, find a connection to it, don’t do it just because you have the time and money for it. Relate to it. Feel connected to it. I see a lot of youngsters who go for trekking without training just to get good pictures. Get educated and train well before you go for it. Any mountain can turn on you!

Summit, Mount Everest

Photos by drmkaur_

 

What did I learn from climbing?

Mountains have the magical power to heal you. I have had chronic depression and climbing mountains have been of great help. If you go into mountains and don’t come back changed then you never connected to that mountain. They are a form of God on earth and always respect them. Don’t have any ego while climbing. Respect the traditions of culture followed there.

After recovering from cancer I got addicted to adventure, I jump out of planes, I climb mountains but still am scared of water. After my accident till now, I have not ridden a bike or a car. We all have our fears to conquer. We all have the guts to do it and that’s what I do and want everyone to do it.

 

That nothing is impossible. To make your dreams reality you have to take that first step out of your comfort zone. Nothing comes easy, but then you alone have to take that step and you alone have to make that journey to live your dream. There will be many hiccups. But there will always be a way out for that.

Take chances, make mistakes, let go of the pain, that’s how you grow. Be not scared of failures. You have to fail in order to practice being brave. It’s your journey, you might get lost in the way, but you will reach your destination if you have the will. There will be the hell lot of problems in your life, how you handle them and come out alive makes you your own superhero. Climb your own Everest. Be your own Superhero!

 

As my favourite quote says, ‘A valliant coeur, rien d’impossible!’ which means, ‘For a brave heart, nothing is impossible!’

Excerpts by team member.

 

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By

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Blog | Travel

11 December 2017

Traveller of the Week: Tanya Khanijow

Tanya Khanijow started travelling and learning photography in 2016, she started off by expressing herself through her content on social media one frame at a time.

A traveller, blogger, vlogger and content creator, she loves to travel and find her self in different places every now and then. ‘What really drives me and encourages me to keep going is a never-ending need to explore and see the world’, says Tanya.

Tanya Khanijow

 

Tanya has always liked travelling from early childhood from the time her dad got posted to a new location, courtesy Indian Army.

Through the Indian Army, she has had the opportunity to stay at some of the most pristine locations in India. ‘I’ve changed as many as nine schools. And to be honest, I loved it. It provided me with a new perspective on a place, and people when I was as young as 3-4 years. I learned early on in life, the value of travelling and change’, she says.

 

During her college days, Tanya would find herself making plans on the spur of the moment to travel to different places. She would save her monthly allowance and hustle to travel. She has travelled in local trains, public buses, rickety mountain vehicles,  the list is endless.

 

Tanya has always loved the natural environment more than the comfort and education imbibed in a classroom. With that started her tryst with travel.

Not a full-time traveller yet, she spent 2017 working as well as travelling, intending to travel full time from next year.

Also a spontaneous traveller, she doesn’t plan the destination or things to do in advance. If she sees there is free time available on her calendar, she takes seconds to decide the best place for the time and plans economically by booking cheap flight tickets, she then skims through blogs and web resources for a brief basic idea of the culture, geography and differentiating factors of the place.

5 must-visit locations according to Tanya would be, Alappuzha in Kerala. The backwaters of Kerala are beyond beautiful and one must experience village life and a little by the water lanes. ‘Try living with locals and riding on a slow-paced boat instead of a motorboat. And don’t opt for a houseboat. Houseboats are large and can only traverse in broad canals. You’ll miss out on the village life experience’, stresses the travel junkie! Her next pick would be ‘The Himalayas’, right from North to West to the East, the entire stretch of the Himalayas is beautiful and unique, she personally feels, people who have not experienced it have missed out on something so far. Right from Uttrakhand to Valley of Flowers, Roopkund Trek, treks like Kareri lake, Bhrigu lake, Parashar lake in Himachal and recently the eastern side of Himalayas in Sikkim, it has always left her awe-inspired. Next is the white salt desert of Runn of Kutch – ‘One word, WOW! It’s beautiful, unlike anything. Especially the sight of a full moon during the night against the white sand’, she says.

 

Jaisalmer, Rajasthan

enroute Udiapur

Pondicherry

Alleppey, Kerala

Manali, Himachal Pradesh

Bhrigu Lake, Himachal Pradesh

Udaipur, Rajasthan

Vashisht, Himachal Pradesh

 

Khanijow travels with a lot of camera equipment and instils everyone to have a dedicated space or compartment for everything whilst travelling. Sunscreen, mosquito repellent, paper soap, sanitizer and tissue paper are must-haves.

Battery pack, tripod, selfie stick – very useful commodities for travelling solo, especially if one is worried about running out of battery without a source of power for hours.

 

A big fan of chasing after sunrises and sunsets, she really enjoys waking up early and catching the morning action. It goes without saying, she loves travel photography and also her new found love for making videos.

 

A pretty impressive figure, 18 states have been covered by Khanijow along with a few international trips to countries such as China, USA, London, Aruba and Bhutan.

 

‘I think every lesson that I’ve learnt while travelling has been life-changing. But if I’ve to pinpoint one if you travel, you will change your life forever, for good’, is one life lesson she has learnt whilst travelling.

Words by Harpreet
Images by ©Tanya Khanijow

 

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