[John de Ipsum] – Epic-Premise

Here I attempt to detail out the epic-premise of the tale. Preamble here.

The mighty city of Agretalarsenitapoli. The city of a thousand ages was past its prime. The grand old empire was decaying. The Emperor was a right wing fundamentalist, excellent at propaganda and oratory. The plebeians were docile and stupid. The bureaucracy was self-serving at best otherwise largely spineless. Thus, the Emperor hoarded enormous wealth and power and she had no one to oppose. It was an autocratic utopia rapidly transitioning into a state cult of theocracy.

The regime rewrote history in its favour. Colonial powers never existed. Democracy was vaguely defined in the bitterest terms. Any other religion except Tinda, the state religion, was viciously shamed and derided. The most outspoken liberals, especially those who could possibly have talked some sense into the nation, were summarily branded as anti-nationalists and executed. As the state grew in power they met with exemplary executions.

In ordered to curb the already insignificant logical voice of the liberals, an Imperial bull mandated compulsory registration for all liberals. A religious force, espousing the Imperial interpretation of Tinda dictums, came into existence. It’s hot pink ( the sacred Tinda color) clad cadets struck terror in the heart of non-believers. The junglefowl, once pretty commonly consumed and often celebrated, based on religious dictums was declared sacred and as the emperor’s fowl. Loose, ultra-violent militia sporadically sprung up in various parts of the empire. They had the alleged support of the state machinery and styled themselves as fowl guardians. Random killing of non-Tindas in the name of rumored fowl consumption was starting to become commonplace.

The situation turned so bad that all the liberals and innovators convened a meeting and came to a general consensus that ‘kuch ni ho sakta abhi’. This lead to mass exodus of all liberals, freethinkers etc. out of the country ( allegedly partly supported by the state). They made their way into the ocean and built undersea cities, genetically enhanced nearby dolphins to sentience and lived happily ever after.

In this brutal and often unfair world, in the middle-class, unambitious house of Joseph and Mary Doe was born a healthy baby boy. They named him John Doe. You would say that the name itself depicts indifference and mediocrity. You can’t even begin to imagine how wrong you are right now.

The Jord of Ipsidom – A tale of heroic mediocrity.

I am attempting, for the umpteenth time to write a story. I don’t knows how this will go. Going by the past record. I will just drop it. However, if it does turn out to be something nice (although the chances are highly unlikely) I promise to work hard on it and get it published ( Note to myself – roflmao, looser ).

My Name is Wah’reek’Achwak. I am a nondescript records keeper in a nondescript town in the Empire of Dor. I have an extraordinary story to share with you. However, unlike most authors out there, my intention is not to sell the book well and live off the royalty. So, I am to share with you the gist of it all before I dive into details.


It starts with a the most unfortunate tale of a hero, who didn’t know he was the heir to the empire he lived in. This was before the time Unfortunately, his parents couldn’t afford to bring him up (raising up princes is a costly affair), so they had to abandoned him. He was taken in by a kindly Rheasus Macaque who took him up ‘The grand tree’. There he was happy for time being until a lumberjack found him. He was swinging his great axe on ‘the grand tree’, and the lake spirit had just decided to pretend screwing him over by hustling his axe-head and playing her dirty little game…

Oh well, I am rambling. Anyways, the gist of it – a lot of things happen. The hero fell in love with a passably good looking and rather exotic elf princess’s scullery mail. But it all doesn’t matter since in the end everything is destroyed ( which I will describe in graphic details with illustrations ). Then Heimdall raises the Gjallarhorn into the air and blows deeply into it.

Guwahati Express – The Boarding and the Settling Down. 

Before, in discussions with my sister, she was particular about the Guwahati being a bad train. Her in laws had ‘suffered’ when they took it once, a few years ago. Like every couple, anything said to my sister inexorably travelled to my brother-in-law. It wasn’t until, through my sister, my brother-in-law’s opinion was conveyed that it has turned superfast since and is now a very nice train. What a relief!

The train was reasonably comfortable, that was pretty clear as soon as I entered it. I had upper berth. Which meant I am to spend most of my trip sleeping. There was a nice army man, hailing either from Karnataka itself or Andhra. He was going to Guwahati. The pretty girl who I do wished to be in my division was in the next division. The throng of indeterminate no. of people and indeterminate no. of children were in the same section as the pretty girl. There was an oriya hollering in the next division, then he was hollering in hindi and then in telegu. Mother tongue proficiency in all. 

I realised that I sucked at travelling. I didn’t have slippers. I didn’t have a fucking clue where all have I kept my stuff. I realised I need to get organised so much more. After fishing for a good amount of time, I was able to get my power bank. My charging brick followed. I was somehow able to get my wits about and started to set up my stuff. 

The indeterminate throng was in the next berth. They had 4 reservations. The pretty girl was in the next berth too. Someone pointed to the indeterminate throng that their ticket says B7 instead of B3 and they slowly moved out. More than a few people heaved a sigh of relief. I noticed the pretty girl talking to someone over phone and crying. 

I decided to turn in. But later that night, a group of three women came. A girl my age, and two middle aged ladies. The girl was very talkative, cute only as the talkative can be. She asked me, rather directed me with full moral conviction to ask the army guy to exchange seats with her mother who had the upper berth. I said I would help, tried. No good came of it. 

Her mother, calmly talked to a guy in the next section into exchanging berths. They were happy. Everything was settled. I was said goodnight to, by the talkative girl. I turned in for the night.  Later, I half noticed a couple entering and taking the two berths below me.

Guwahati Express – The Wait

I was supposed to take the train for BNC – Banglore Cantonment Railway Station. I was instead travelling to the Majestic. The grand central railway station at Bangalore. Somehow I noticed the discrepancy, mostly thanks to a SMS notification that I got from IRCTC and was able to alter my course to the right destination. 

The Bangalore Cantonment Station stank. It has a pathetic few shanties. It seemed that all the people were here for the Guwahati Express. The train was scheduled to depart at 11:40 Pm and everybody was here by 8.

I explored the platform, and the outside of the station. I noticed a big black rat with a silver neck. Reminded me of silverbacked gorillas. I noticed a very pretty girl sitting on the platform along with her baggage. I did a couple of rounds just to steal glances at her. She didn’t see me. 

On the outside, I found an age old cafe. There was a set menu, maybe 10 items at maximum, written in English and Kannada. The prices were upgraded by pasting a paper with the New rate over the earlier one. It was cheap. I got a coffee and a ‘masala dosa’. Nondescript. In Bangaluru, nondescript means great tasting when it comes to food. The dosa was nondescript ingly great, I was denied onions in it. The coffee… Well I burned my hand trying to manage it, and spilled some of it in counter. The staff were kind, and they cleaned it up and gave me an extra cup to handle it. God it tasted divine! But my opinion might be partly guilt ridden.  Bill – 30 Rupees. 

I enquired around where the enquiry were to be. I couldn’t find it. Then I spied two middle aged gentlemen with red ID straps. I guessed they were railway employees. I politely approached them and enquired about my train. To my surprise, they let me know that the train was already here. 

I made my way to the train. It was a long walk. And the train was long. It’s a long, long train. I got to, in due course, to my compartment, almost at the very end. And stood there in front of the gates, waiting for admission. 

There was a man with his teen daughter, who let me know upon inquiry that the train opens at 10 Pm. It was 9:30 PM. Probably a student with his backpack, a trolley and a packed cardboard case. A Buddhist monk, who I am quite sure was a woman. I didnt know there were female Buddhist monks. 

We were joined after some time by a throng of rather not so well to do men, women and an indeterminate number of children. All presumably a family. They had this habit of sitting rather than standing, anywhere. The children were loud and very coarse with their language.  To be very honest I couldn’t have imagined sharing my compartment with them for two days. 

It was quite past 10. Maybe 10:30 or More. When the train  showed signs if admitting. I espied a rather pretty girl boarding into my compartment. I was hoping that she and I share the same division. We were soon allowed to board in. 

Planning travel to Sikkim

I am in between jobs for almost a month, in May, 2017. This allowed me to plan travelling at leisure. After looking into my options, I decided to explore well-trodden paths to Sikkim and Darjeeling over a period of around three weeks. Since, I had to book tickets well in advance, I decided to do everything via trains and AirBnb, so that  I will be able to recover most of my money in case there is unforeseeable cancellation. So, in the end. My itinerary involves taking all modes of transport except waterways, a total of 5 days journeying by train. 4 major and two minor destinations and lots of exploration via AirBnb, Oyo, Couchsurfing etc.

I checked out a lot of tour packages, starting from the government sponsored ones to some of the hugely popular and lonely planet recommended offbeat itineraries provided by some. A combination of reasons around cost, destinations, experiences etc. predominately being cost, made me decide not to go for those. i found the flexibility of planning my own trip and the underlying uncertainty of it all exciting and rather appealing.

I have ended up with  plan that involves 4 days at Darjeeling, 3 days at Pelling, 5 days at Gangtok and more than a day at Kolkata. Things that I hope to do, at a high level –

  1. Mountain biking at Darjeeling
  2. Try out most of the local cuisine and popular joints
  3. Visit important monuments and monasteries.
  4. Explore a lot of woods, coutryside
  5. Drink locally brewed beer.

My total budget for this entire trip is around 40k. Although, I have had set aside a total of 50k including contingencies.

My total expenses so far –

  1. Travel from Bangalore to Siliguri – 2195
  2. Stay the night at Siliguri – 1050
  3. Book Stay at Darjeeling – 4000
  4. Book Stay at Pelling – 3500
  5. Book Stay at Gangtok – 7500
  6. Another Night at Siliguri – 1050
  7. Travel from Siliguri to Kolkata – 2900
  8. Night at Kolkata – 1200
  9. Travel from Kolkata to Pune – 6000

Total – 29,395

The Classic Ruskin Bond – Volume 1

The very abused classic Ruskin Bond volume 1. Great stories!

A post shared by Swayam Siddha (@siddhaswayam) on


I had to change my routine because of I was able to reschedule my violin classes to morning 7-8 AM. That required me to get up at around 5 AM, get ready and cycle to classes.  For somebody who used to sleep at 2-3 in the night after binge watching for 4-5 hours, it was a very difficult proposition.

So, since I had to go to sleep by 10 the day before, I made a point to keep my cell aside and read a book until I fell asleep. It always helps, but there is one very important rule –

Never go for a thriller for your bedtime book.

I think classics work the best, or books like Malgudi Days, Ruskin Bond’s. Anything that’s comforting, unhurried and takes you to a places far far away, be it the idyllic Malgudi, the forested hillsides of Mussorie or for that matter, the deserted home of the poor, miserable Robinson Crusoe.