One year ago, on this day, I packed my life in Singapore and boarded a flight back home to India. Like a hopeless romantic finally uniting with her first love, my head filled with starry-eyed dreams. I dreamt about magical places I could travel to within my own country. I thought about the many causes I could make a difference to. I imagined proving the notions of most Indians who choose not to live in India, wrong. I swore by John F. Kennedy’s words, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country. Read more
Posts from the ‘India’ Category
Thoughts of Kerala often evoke images of dome-shaped houseboats traversing the backwaters, and neatly manicured tea estates covered in mist on the slopes of the Western Ghats. The lush green beauty of God’s Own Country has stolen many a heart, the result of which was 10 million tourist arrivals in 2011, a large majority of who flocked to the familiar tourist trail in the south of the state, along the backwaters of Alleppey & Kumarakom and the hill station of Munnar. The statistic became my cue to journey along the coast of North Kerala, of which Google could tell me little. Read more
This is the 2nd post of my Travel Secrets series.
Of the dozen emails I receive each week from fellow travel enthusiasts aspiring to build a life around travel, a pertinent question seems to revolve around convincing parents to accept traveling as a hobby, as a way of experiencing the world, and gradually as a way of life. Particularly in our Indian upbringing, travel is often looked upon as just a holiday to visit relatives or places of worship, making it a notch harder to change perspectives, and the challenge even more thrilling. Read more
I walk out of the room, letting the door creak behind me and reveal its age yet again. The sun has finally gone into hiding behind the clouds, and I’m hopeful it won’t appear again to snatch the relief from the heat. Lost in my thoughts, I find myself at the entrance to the tea gardens and staring at the very white hair of a lady in a wheelchair, with her back towards me. It takes me a minute to recollect myself, and another to realize that she must be the heiress of this massive 150-year-old tea estate. Read more
We Indians have a strange way of showing our respect to the things (places) we worship. In the name of religion, we build cemented structures in our rivers to install large idols of gods & goddesses. In the name of devotion, we clean our feet, dispose off ashes and run mechanized boats in the same water that we regard as the purest to drink. Such is our relationship with the River Ganga in Rishikesh, and while the river continues to be a timeless beauty, it’s hard to say how long it can sustain our ‘religious’ offerings. From an evening spent in the land that I remember to be almost magical 12 years ago, a photo essay on how our prayers show both love & hate for this magnanimous river. Read more
Loud Hindi music blares through the silence of the valley, carrying the wind with it. Women dressed in their most pink and jazzy attires walk down the path to a village hut below, big smiles pasted on their faces, their eyes fixed on their toddlers who keep running faster than their fancy heels can take them. This is not your usual day in Peora, a small village quietly tucked away in the forests of Kumaon in Uttarakhand. It’s the day before a wedding, and the entire village seems to be rejoicing, dressing up, laughing, singing, dancing, feasting and celebrating. Read more
Sleeping Spotlight is a weekly review of unique & offbeat places to stay.
My first (impulsive) trip to the fruit farms & cotton fields on the countryside of Punjab had me itching to go back and discover, experience & savour more of my Punjabi roots. I remember smiling from ear to ear when I first read about Prakriti Farms. Not only did it sound like a true-blue Punjabi experience, but also its location in the Shivaliks, whose very lap I’ve grown up in, made it a double win. Admittedly, I was in love even before I got there. Read more
My choice of travel accommodation has slowly transformed from anything-cheap-goes in my student days, to pampering value-for-money hotels / resorts during my short-lived corporate life, to anything offbeat that offers a chance to interact with the local people since India Untravelled happened i.e. now. With several of the latter under my belt since I moved back to India almost 9 months ago, I’ve decided to highlight, review & convince you to experiment with such off-the-beaten-track living in this weekly Sleeping Spotlight. Read more
I remember the first time I took a train by myself from my small hometown to the big bad city of Delhi. While dropping me off, my mother announced to everyone sitting around me that I’d be alone for the journey, in the hope that some good soul would look out for me. I felt like a fresh wound exposed to the elements of nature. All stares & smiles I received on that train ride felt sinister. I wasn’t half as mortified to be journeying alone as I was in realizing that everyone around me knew it. Not much has changed for solo trips that start at home (and that’s a story for another day), but I’ve come a long way, stuffing my pockets with solo adventures. Read more
I rotate the wheel towards the right, giving it several turns at one go. Joseph chuckles at my effort to maneuver between an approaching houseboat on the left and a long canoe on the right. I succeed, and a carpet of bright green leaves greets us as though to applaud me. The backwaters of Alleppey (Alappuzha) are as picture perfect as I remember them to be from the last time I was here. Only this time, Joseph, our boat driver, happily hands over the wheel to me. Read more