Month: February 2012

How Volunteering in Spiti Led Me to an Unexpected Friendship.

Curious about what volunteering in Spiti Valley is like? My stint with Spiti Ecosphere led me to some pretty unexpected friendships. My summer of volunteering in Spiti Valley leads me to a nunnery in Morang village. In the backdrop of snow-hooded Himalayas and on the shore of the Spiti River. To conceptualize a new volunteer program for Spiti Ecosphere, the organization I’m volunteering with, I’m spending an evening with a nun to learn about her life. I’m a little anxious. The closest I’ve been to a nunnery is in the wanderings of my curious mind. The last thing I want to do is cross the thin line into insensitivity. The head of the nunnery asks a young nun to be the victim of my questions and she heartily abides. Dressed in a traditional red and orange robe, with a pretty blue headscarf, I guess her age almost accurately as 22. We walk to the kitchen, making small talk about the weather, and warm up over tea. She tells me she came to the nunnery 6 years …

5 Offbeat Romantic Weekends in India.

As much as I’m repelled by the Hallmark holiday that is Valentine’s Day, it seems like an opportune time to collect a list of romantic weekend getaways near Delhi. These aren’t your run-of-the-mill getaways with a million and one other couples, nor do they offer a luxurious stay in a fancy hotel that’ll burn a deep hole in your pocket. These trip ideas are romantic in the artistic sense of the word, ones that make you realize how beautiful life is, and often transport you back in time.

Raison: Kullu Manali’s Well-Kept Secret.

Away from the hill station crowds, Raison Kullu (or Raison Manali) is a secret Bollywood haunt waiting to be discovered! As the bus jerks to a stop on the Manali highway and the driver yells Raison Kullu, I pick up my sleepy self and alight. On my left, a pebbly path winds uphill, away from the paved highway. The absence of a road is a sign that there won’t be many visitors here.  I climb past small village clusters, with red, purple and blue flowers intermittently dotting the edge of the path. The River Beas babbles harmoniously in the silence of the mountains. On a plateau in the middle of this wilderness in Raison Kullu, I am welcomed into an 83-year-old bungalow built during the British era. Surrounding me are apple orchards and kiwi plantations. The trees have shed all their leaves in the cold December weather, but their bare branches lend a rustic charm. The apple barons of the region have opened up this precious inheritance to travellers seeking a taste of royalty without …