I decide to call it a night after an indulgent Creole dinner. Why didn’t you dance? a distant voice calls out to me. I turn to face the night’s live musician. I don’t know then that I’m confessing I have two left feet to one of Seychelles’ most famous artists! I hear him say, sometimes you should just close your eyes and let the music take you, and I know I shouldn’t call it a night just yet.
Dear Turkey, I left you with a heavy heart, etched with the magnanimity of your people. A kind lady in the small town of Safranbolu opened her doors to me on a late rainy afternoon, to feed my vegetarian self a special meal of Peruhi (Turkish pasta) and Pasta (cake in Turkish) prepared for a family gathering. An old man from a bakery in Ordu gave me a ride in his truck to the town’s chocolate factory, after I walked five kilometers and stumbled into his shop for directions for the remaining three. A family living in an isolated hut on Boztepe Hill invited me in for a meal of home grown aubergine. A blacksmith who found me admiring his creations invited me in for çay and proclaimed his eternal love for Hindistan even though he had never been there. A young otel (hotel) owner in Cide went out of her way to ensure that I boarded the right connecting buses to my next destination without losing money or time. A cafe owner in the small town of Ordu, where I impulsively got …
My first memory in the Seychelles is standing on the deck of a ferry, with the wind caressing my hair and the seagulls whispering my name, as I counted the shades of blue in the vast ocean before me. I slowly realized it was a pointless task. Over the last three days, I’ve rekindled my love affair with the Indian Ocean, spent lazy afternoons on a hammock, snorkeled into the underwater world, rediscovered the goodness of Creole curries, and settled into the susagade island life. These are my first impressions of the Seychelles: 1. The ocean is as blue as it’s been in my dreams! On a clear day, you can see at least four shades of blue in the water, and when you walk closer on the soft white sand, you can see the base of the sea; I snorkeled into the water right from the beach at Kempinski, and found myself amid schools of tiny fish, black sea urchins, and big colorful fish. The blues of the Indian Ocean can cure any other kind of …
By the time you’re reading this, I’ll be flying over the Indian Ocean to the exotic Seychelles islands. I haven’t stopped dreaming about the pristine beaches and turquoise waters since my trip to Mauritius last year (Read: What a Fisherman Taught Me About Paradise). I didn’t think the seagulls would call me back so soon. In fact, I didn’t think I’d be travelling internationally for a while. And there’s only one reason. I’m learning to walk away.
Over 2 years ago, when I quit my corporate job to follow my dream to travel the world, I didn’t imagine I would one day land up in a township dedicated to the same ideology. Auroville is it. A place where people come to live their dreams. I’ve come across countless stories; of a market researcher turned organic farmer; a policeman turned village school headmaster; a corporate honcho turned teacher; a teacher turned mechanic. It’s a place to ditch the life you’ve lived, and live the life you’ve always wanted, even if for a few days; here your conviction to follow your passion holds more value than your salary or title (Read: Auroville: Utopia or Something Like it).
Back in 2011, when I took my first trip to Europe, I wasn’t a travel blogger. I was just a girl with a dream to see the world. I was bound to a cubicle, with a 9 to 5 schedule that I couldn’t wait to break out of. And then it happened. I took part in a travel contest on Facebook, and unexpectedly won two return flights to Paris! I decided to make a full-blown Euro Trip out of it, started blogging about travel, and the rest as they say, is history (Read: The Story of How I Quit My Job to Travel).
I lie across a ledge on the open terrace of Auroville’s Solar Kitchen. Inspiring my words are the soothing melodies of an aged man’s flute. His music attracts chirping birds to the lotus pond below, from their hiding spaces in the surrounding forest. I feel a sense of déjà vu, like I’ve seen this place before, maybe in a story I once read. I come here on some evenings to read Thoreau in the fading light of dusk. And he to play his flute. We haven’t felt the need to exchange words yet. This is Auroville; a bit like entering a dream, and a bit like waking up from one.
There is a whole world out there, in the dense Sal forests of Kanha. A world far removed from you and me. Fascinating stories dwell here just like in the human world. Wildlife and nature peacefully co-exist, and mankind meddles. For better and for worse. These snippets attempt to look beyond what we witness on jungle safaris, and try to capture the essence of life in the wild.