2017 has been a strange year for me as a travel blogger.
Perched on a mountain overlooking Tbilisi, Georgia’s capital city, is a prominent statue of the ‘Mother of Georgia’. In one hand, she holds a cup of wine, and in the other, a sword. The wine is to welcome friends; the sword is to deter enemies. Four years ago, when I first travelled there on my humble navy blue Indian passport, I immediately felt welcomed like a friend. When cabbies heard I was from India, they would sing me Raj Kapoor songs from old Bollywood movies. In Racha, I drank whiskey shots with my host family for breakfast, in celebration of being their first ever Indian guest. Deep in the Caucasus Mountains, despite no common language between us, I made soul connections with local priests on a vow of silence. Then something happened. Easier Georgia visa for Indian citizens Four years ago, in order to get a visa to enter Georgia on my Indian passport, I had to spend a few frustrating hours outside the small compound of the Georgian embassy in Delhi. Sweating in the …
I often wonder what makes a travel experience truly unforgettable. Take my recent trip to Georgia (the country) for instance. When our plans to travel to the remote Tusheti region got snowed on, we decided to visit a forgotten protected reserve near Georgia’s border with Azerbaijan and the Dagestan province of Russia. I was recovering from a flu, and even on a sunny day, wrapped up in layers and a warm hat. “Cold?” Otto, our potbellied, jolly Georgian host asked me. I solemnly nodded. He turned to search for something in the shelves of his outdoor kitchen shed. I tried to tell him I had already taken medicine, but he wouldn’t stop. He finally found what he was looking for. A bottle of homemade chacha – a strong plum liquor ubiquitous in Georgian households. “Chacha very good,” he said, even as I resisted it at first. Then we cheered to India, Georgia, family, religion (even if mine is atheism) and good health, and downed shot after shot. I guess the flu, hiking to the waterfalls …
These countries make me feel like even though I don’t belong anywhere in particular, I belong everywhere.
“We caught them in a net and twisted their necks.”
I ate way TOO many potatoes on the Austrian countryside.
That night, I decided to give up living at a permanent address.
My favorite experiential Airbnbs across Europe – many under 100€ a night.
It is estimated that 3,00,000+ plastic bottles are dumped in Spiti every season.
Lately, there’s been a lot of debate around whether travelling really has the power to change you.