Month: June 2015

Photo by FaceMePLS.

Travel Contest: Win a Dream Trip to Amsterdam with Lufthansa!

I remember being blissfully lost amid the canals and cobblestoned streets of Amsterdam. Locals cycled along leisurely, quaint cafes with good-looking baristas tempted me in, charming houses adorned by vibrant spring colors lined the cobbled walkways. Time seemed to move backward. Even hours after the effects of the (happy) cakes had worn off, Amsterdam felt like a bubble I never wanted to burst! The year was 2011 and I was just another corporate dweller in need of a break. I didn’t know then that winning a flight ticket to Paris on Facebook and taking a month-long Euro trip would change so much for me. It was my first nudge in the direction of travel blogging. So when Lufthansa notified me of their latest contest, giving away a dream trip to Amsterdam, I couldn’t help feeling excited about the endless possibilities it could hold for my readers! What do you win? A return flight ticket on Lufthansa’s new premium economy from Bangalore / Delhi to Amsterdam (or on economy class from any other city in India). 4 night …

things to do in durban, hayani, playhouse theatre durban

Discover Durban, the Hipster Soul of South Africa.

If Cape Town is the pretty face of South Africa, Durban is its hipster soul.  The infectious spirit of the locals, the alternative curry culinary experiences, and the artistic bent of the city blew me away. I fell in love the moment I saw its long white coastline, caressed by the deep blue Indian Ocean; it’s Zulu name eThekwini encapsulates this perfect confluence of water and earth. Here are some quirky ways to experience Durban: Delve into the local art scene My friend Andrea Rees (who runs The Heart of a Woman project near Cape Town) stumbled on a tweet about Hayani while we were in Durban. We landed at the local Playhouse Theatre that night, the only outsiders to catch this phenomenal two-man play that traced the stories of two young boys and how their lives have changed over the last two decades in South Africa. Even though part of it was in the native Xhosa language, the incredible depiction of the characters and the raw emotions of the audience gave me some much-needed perspective into this complex country. Refer …

tsermang camp ladakh, ladakh where to stay

Simple Ways to Travel More Responsibly in Ladakh.

Exactly one year ago, I was lost amid the dramatic, barren, snow-capped Himalayas of Ladakh. I acclimatized myself to the high altitude at an eco-luxury camp on the shores of the mighty Indus, hitch-hiked along remote villages in western Ladakh, introspected at a nunnery, witnessed a grand traditional welcome for His Holiness the Dalai Lama, hiked through surreal landscapes, met a tight work deadline on the steps of a monastery (the only place I could find 2G internet!), rode in rickety buses, and partook in the wisdom of Buddhist monks. So much has happened since – from discovering the secret lives of chocolate farmers in Costa Rica to hitch-hiking through soulful villages in northern Romania – that I almost forgot why traveling in Ladakh broke my heart. On a rainy day, I lay channel surfing in my Goan abode, when a glimpse of Pangong Lake on the Fox Life show Life Mein Ek Baar caught my eye. Watching the show’s hosts bike along the highest motorable roads in Ladakh and bond with the semi-nomadic Changpa tribe brought back many memories. I could suddenly hear the call …

south africa culture, mamelodi south africa

Bittersweet Feelings in South Africa’s Mamelodi Township.

On a lazy Sunday afternoon, the whiff of gently spiced curries floats through the streets of Mamelodi. Men from the township chat jovially under a wooden shelter, drinking beer, taking turns to stir the large metal pots on the open fire. Cow heads, they tell me as I look curiously, reminded of open-air communal cooking in India, though you seldom find men taking charge here. From a narrow street ahead, reggae music pours out, calling me towards it, towards women chilling in the outdoors over beer and gossip, dancing, playing pool! This is no party, just their only day off work. And so what if most of them are domestic workers with meagre wages, they sure know how to have a good time. I awkwardly smile at first, wondering if I am intruding. But the awkwardness melts away quickly in their jokes, and turns to hugs when they hear I’m from India. Take a picture of us, they urge me, so you can show your people how we live here; I oblige, for we can sure learn a thing or two …