All posts tagged: review

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Innsbruck: Capital of The Alps.

Innsbruck, one of Austria‘s oldest cities, is probably every woman’s dream of old age; the only thing that gives away its 900 years is its charm. Right out of the train station, I’m awed by the towering presence of the Alps. People are going about their daily affairs – eating, strolling, chatting, catching a bus, cycling – as though the Alps are invisible, as though they’ve discovered how to look away from the gripping beauty of their snow covered peaks, as though there’s nothing extraordinary about living in a city surrounded by one of the most endearing mountain ranges in the world.

nikoi island, bintan, indonesia, southeast asia, offbeat, ecotourism, jetty

Nikoi Island: Ecotourism, Beauty, Magic.

I’ve often wondered how explorers must have felt chancing upon seemingly magical islands in their travels. Nikoi Island, off Bintan in Indonesia, is perhaps the closest I’ve come to experiencing that kind of travel ecstasy in Southeast Asia. The journey to the island is a perfect prelude to the island experience. After the regular ferry ride to Bintan from Singapore, you are fast-forwarded through a special immigration to a one hour drive through the winding road and greens of Tanjung Pinang, to Nikoi’s personal jetty, to a one-hour speed boat ride on rough and breezy seas. If I understate it, arriving at Nikoi Island feels like you’ve entered a whole other world. Think beauty. Think isolation. Think perfection. Nature is the recurrent theme on the island. The chalets are purely made of wood, with not an inch of concrete, and some original tree-barks used as pillars & foundation. The openness of the rooms to nature is immediately striking, and in some way, leads to an openness of thoughts too.  You can let your doors remain open at night, …

Bunaken: Of Blue Seas & Anonymity.

My first memory of Bunaken is that of sitting on the roof of a speedboat, riding the waves of a turquoise blue sea, and gazing at the most beautiful sky I’ve ever seen. why Bunaken: We chose to travel to North Sulawesi in Indonesia to get past the touristy temptation of Bintan & Bali, and were pleasantly greeted by a world yet to be discovered and commercialized. Our base was Manado, a city-town in North Sulawesi, and the closest airport to Bunaken – which lay a boat journey away, untouched. getting there: The public boat from Manado, used mostly by locals and extremely cheap, dropped us at the jetty at Bunaken Island. We were immediately greeted by the locals, who we first thought to be touts but soon realized were genuinely helpful and extremely friendly. That warmth of the people saved us the disappointment of realizing that this part of the island was more of a wet swamp than a beach. Panorama Resort, where we intended to stay, was fortunately on the other side, and we managed to arrange …

Ben Lac, Mai Chau, North West Vietnam, Vietnam, mountains, mist

The Untouched Gems of Northwest Vietnam.

For many travelers, Vietnam is the cities of Ho Chi Minh & Hanoi, and the tours that take you around the area. While some of these are pretty and tourist-friendly, most of these are fabricated versions of Vietnam’s real beauty and people. We managed to ditch most of these must-tick boxes in our Vietnam itinerary to explore the less-treaded North Western highlands of the country. Mai Chau No Lonely Planet overview can prepare you for the gorgeous, mist-covered mountains that greet you as you enter the village of Ben Lac, nor for the hospitality of its White Thai folks. There are organized tours from Hanoi that take you there, but if you want to experience the untouched, go on your own. We took a local bus from Hanoi to Mai Chau via Hoa Binh, with locals who spoke no English beyond “Where are you from?” but who were friendly enough to call their friends in Ben Lac and arrange a village homestay for us! We stayed with a couple in a traditional stilt house, and …

The Tempest – Singapore Act

Kudos to Sam Mendes & the traveling cast of The Bridge Project. Singapore is one of the 7 cities to be stricken by The Tempest. If you are or were ever into Shakespeare, watch it! Watch it for creative, insightful direction by Sam Mendes (of the American Beauty fame). Watch it for a mind-blowing performance by Ron Cephas Jones as Caliban. Watch it for Prospero’s ardor, Miranda’s innocence, Ariel’s fragility, Trinculo’s humor, Gonzalo’s frailness. Watch it for the love of theatre. In exploring the Shakespearean themes of betrayal, love, power, wisdom, sacrifice, forgiveness & magic, The Bridge Project team did every bit of justice (and more) to the written version of the play. The actors breathe life into the characters with oodles of imagination & emotions, backed by stunning sets, and an apt selection of sounds & music. “These our actors, As I foretold you, were all spirits, and Are melted into air, into thin air, And, like the baseless fabric of vision, The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, The solemn temples, the great globe …

Of this & that

This is not a comeback post. Pledge: I have decided to stop blaming my work-life imbalance, fleeting weekends, social obligations, and deadened-by-work-thought flow for my persistent inactivity in the blogosphere. I hereby pledge to revive my blogging life. Awards: This one is long due. Thanks to Aadil for awarding me The Lemonade Blog award, and to Valerine & Varun for the International Bloggers Community award. I hereby pass these awards to Thethoughtfultrain, Manchitra & Jayesh for their comforting presence in the blogosphere. Corporate  woes: I dedicate this to all my fellow-mates in the corporate jungle. Cheers to survival! Mini book review: Tin Fish, a book about an adolescent’s boarding school life, post the emergency period in India. It’s a walk down memory lane, a back-to-the-basics lesson in friendship, and a breezy read to momentarily transport you from the complexities of adulthood. (Author – Sudeep Chakravarty) Advice: I have been aching to learn something new, something radically different. Any advice, besides a language, an instrument & a sport? Lately, I have also been fantasizing about freelance writing. …

Poetry at its finest

While reading The Motorycle Diaries, I came across this hauntingly beautiful poem written by Otero Silva, a Venezuelan poet and novelist born in 1908: I heard splashing on the boat her bare feet And sensed in our faces the hungry dusk My heart swaying between her and the street, the road I don’t know where I found the strength to free myself from her eyes to slip from her arms She stayed, crying through rain and glass clouded with grief and tears She stayed, unable to cry Wait! I will come walking with you.

Keep Off The grass

I finally found, read and loved a book that hasn’t been extensively reviewed (yet) on the blogosphere! If you aren’t already enticed by the title, get a load of this: an Indian investment banker on Wall Street, born and brought up in the US, decides to quit his million dollar job to go to India to find his roots. He enrolls himself at IIM (Indian Institute of Management) Bangalore, and what ensues is a hillarious chase of answers, grades and weed.  Obviously, the IIM turns out to be completely different from typical B-schools in the US and elsewhere. Samrat Ratan, the protagonist, once a Yale valedictorian and a big-shot banker, is pitted against the super-brained IITians from the country, only to discover that mediocrity has its own virtues. His constant struggle between his American upbringing and Indian roots initially finds no solace in the rat-race of grades and jobs, until he realizes that relationships are what really matter.  In his quest for happiness, Samrat meets Sarkar and Vinod, the former an incredibly smart guy with …