Hidden from the world until the 1800s, Japanese culture and traditions are an enigma for curious travellers.
Although Japan still doesn’t offer visa on arrival for Indians, it is now possible to get a Japan visa on an Indian passport without a sponsor.
After dreaming of Japan for years, I’m finally heading there… in search of Murakami’s Japan, but also my own.
My mind flooded with questions as I sat there, among the orange-robed monks of Wat Suan Dok in Chiang Mai.
One chilly evening, I remember walking amid the stone graves of the charming cemetery at Lauterbrunnen.
Life doesn’t care that you plan to follow your dreams in a couple of years.
I stood on a parapet watching in awe, surrounded by people as they cheered and counted down to the New Year. Almost everyone had lit their paper lanterns by now, and as the clock ticked to midnight and firecrackers went off in the sky, we released our lanterns with a feeling of joy that’s difficult to put into words. As the lanterns drifted away into the sky, creating the illusion of a thousand twinkling stars, I felt like parts of my past, and all the fears and challenges of 2017, had drifted away too. A surreal feeling. Behold, a glimpse of the magic of celebrating New Year’s Eve in Chiang Mai, Thailand: In the past three years, I’ve rung in the New Year in the strangest of ways – in 2016, laying out alone under a canopy of trees in rural Maharashtra, trying to see the stars from the gaps in between; in 2015, falling asleep before midnight in Sri Lanka; in 2014, in the visa-on-arrival queue in Bangkok after my Dubai plans fell through! …
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 …