All posts tagged: Stories from the road

Why I Loved Phnom Penh

When after spending a few days in Siem Reap, I decided to move to Phnom Penh, it was FOR ONLY ONE NIGHT – before further moving to the coast. I had more than just a fortnight left in Cambodia, and islands were my priority. But as I arrived in Phnom Penh, one night became two, two became four, and four became almost a week. Every day, I woke up, thought to myself, I’ll get in the bus tomorrow, and wasted the entire day street hopping, eating, and drinking. That wasn’t me. But the city had cast its magic on me. Phnom Penh is a kind of city that stuck you in. It is laid back, cheap and easy-going. Everything here is accessible at a hand’s reach, and at a cost cheaper than affordable. The pace of life is seamless, and the many affable locals make the city enjoyable to a next level. In short, Phnom Penh is a perfect city to easily blend in, and you don’t need more than one day to realise that. What …

Travelling India – Where Every Step Is A New Learning

It has been more than an year now, since I’m travelling India – exploring its horizons and stretching through its boundaries – from days on end.  And during the stint I’ve come across, this repeated question, a predicament rather, that why am I busy travelling my own country, when there is so much to see in the world. “What is the reason behind this abiding fascination,” someone once asked. I give people different reasons – that start right from the obvious mentions of its cultural diversity to the warmth of the people. When you’re in India, not only you feel more alive, thanks to the country’s colourful ambience, but you also lean a lot – about yourself, and about the world around you. Not to mention all the ways it familiarises you with the many imperative spiritual truths. Here, some of the most important life lessons this country has taught me: People Are Not Bad, After All Before I started travelling, and during the days of my bustling life in New Delhi, I often heard people saying …

Why Mountains Attract The Traveler In Us

The air condition of the car felt like a whiff of cool air emerging right from a timeworn refrigerator, trying to choke my throat with every inhalation. And then, in just a matter of few long minutes, it gave a quick but restless comfort – something I was not much familiar to, at least not from the last few weeks. I found myself struggling with these boundless, wasteful thoughts as I grabbed myself riding my sister’s car, on my way to pick up my mother from the nearest metro station. In just 5-kilometer drive, I remember bothering about half a dozen drivers. And their indignation was quite visible through those irritated, disdained looks they willingly offered me, while overtaking. They seemed to be following some sort of cultural hurried routine, while I was still controlled by the periodic episodes of peaceful blackouts – something you get addicted to, after experiencing, for some time, the stillness in Himalayas. It’s crazy how man has developed technologies for a speedy comfort, yet at the same time, he knows they’re making his life harder …

9 Best Experiences I Had In South India

No matter how little or how deeply traveling interests you, the southern part of India is one of those places, that can’t be missed. From carefully watching locals getting hold of their lungis to discovering a culturally intriguing way of life, this is where you will never find yourself getting short of most expected, and a little stereotyped, Indian experiences. But to tell you the truth, I was a wee bit unsure about my survival here, given all the distinctions between the India I was familiar to, living in New Delhi. But when an invitation landed in my inbox (from a friend living in Kerala) I’d long known, I knew I had to go there and test the waters. Though I was only staying at his place for a couple of nights, but it came out as a security that I’d, at least, survive my arrival, and it seemed enough for the moment. Thanks to that friend and to many other I met on the way, here are some incredible moments I had: Tasting The …

Kerala: A Well-Behaved, Tranquil State; Truly A God’s Own Country

Kerala, the southernmost state of India, as I found, has some sort of warmth in its air.  Its people, despite walking fast – with their lungis, all tucked up –never seem to be in hurry. This place has some sort of force – full of magic, and if it is, it speaks for a magic that only knows the language of friendliness and peace. They say, people in Kerala are most educated, I say they are well learnt. And what makes them so qualified is the culture they follow and the kindness they preach. I always wondered what’s in this place (and perhaps in the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu) that it gave India so many great teachers of philosophy – from Shankracharya to Chinmayananda, and many others; and I found the answer only when, at last, I personally visited this part of my country. Almost every other person here – from the older, more religious to the younger, more practical – live in their own world of self-effacing originality. Their lifestyle is uncomplicated, simply …

Hampi: A Journey To The Unknown

The sun set; the dusk fell on the river, but no lights appeared along the shore. Hunters for treasure and the seekers of fame – it felt – this river has seen them all, back in time, when they came possessing whatever they found, within the greatness the of this land, until that greatness surrendered, and started losing itself into the oblivious mystery of unknown. I wonder how many times this town fell prey to human greed, generation after generation, as people submitted themselves to the insatiable thirst to acquire more and looted the place and took back with them, all they assumed was of any value. It reminded me of that computer game I used to play, where you take a big army of knights and swordsmen and bring down your neighbouring empire, something similar – or perhaps much uncomfortable and eerily painful – it feels, might have happened here, as you walk  about the empty ruins of Hampi. Beautiful, but missed monuments, lying wasted, losing their significance to the impenetrable gloom. Temples, either sealed …

A Wonderful Way To Navigate Through Places

The sun was scattering diamonds as we left our campsite – home to our few temporary nights – and started heading back to Bangalore. Driving through the wilderness and the many sleepy settlements around Coorg, we slowly turned onto the snarl of bigger roads that clog and clutter the modern city life. The final drive, back to where it all started, was rather strange. Everyone kept silent, despite much going in their head. I think it was the melancholy, kicking in hard, as no one, it seemed, had a perfect set of words to start a conversation. The silence felt awkward, creating a sense of discomfort, almost the way you feel the moment you first meet a group of unknown people. But this silence had some meaning to it, some memories, which kept reverberating in our head, with every passing minute. As I personally drew it out, everyone was, at least, quite satisfied with how this three-day trip went by. We were quite thrilled, in fact, with the experiences and the memories the journey had …

Varkala: The Dying ‘Benares’ Of South

Despite being an avid traveler myself, I often find myself writing a story, almost innocently, trying to discourage the idea of frenzied and mass tourism. I’ve seen local cultures turning into commodities when religious rituals and traditional ethnic tires reduce and sanitize, to conform to tourist expectations – as so was the case with Varkala, a coastal town in India’s southernmost state of Kerala. Once a destination is sold as a tourism product, it starts losing its originality – which, with time, brings about nothing but yet another modern tourist destination, providing us with perfectly staged, not so authentic, experiences. Varkala is a calm and quiet hamlet, having its presence on the outskirts of Thiruvananthapuram district. It has one of those ideal places, which has a perfect beach and a great crowd. The only thing, however, that differs Varkala among its other tropical Indian counterparts is its rich history. It was only about less than 20 years ago when Varkala, which today, has become an ideal spot to amble, for tanned westerners – was always found …

Kanyakumari: A Place Constantly Inviting Us For A Secular Sabbath

When you visit a place what is that one thing that you look out for, the most? The experience that makes that particular place unique. Sure you want to have a good time and follow your own way of travel. Those, who are all into leisure, for example, are always looking for a place to relax, which makes them hungry for beaches, when traveling around places like South India. When I came to Kanyakumari, I was expecting the same. Though I am not claiming that I travel for leisure and that I was expecting fancy beaches. But the picture I had crafted in my head was of a place, much tranquil, surrounded by sea, leaving almost no trace back to India’s much confused and muddled mainland. After all, this is where India concludes and finds itself gracefully surrounded by the mighty and the endless Arabian Sea, the Indian Ocean, and the Bay of Bengal – from almost all directions. But when you’re in Kanyakumari you don’t feel that tranquillity in its air. Nor do you get to …

Life In The Backwaters Of Alleppey, Kerala

Tourists in their fancy houseboats seemed high in spirit, with their impressive camera doing most of the work. But in the local ferry, the atmosphere was rather regular. Here, no one appeared to be in hurry or amazed by the arresting beauty of the backwaters in Alleppey – one of the prime highlights of tourism in Kerala. I heard a lot about the backwaters of Kerala. I heard that tourists here hire a floating houseboat and wander through its maze of interconnected lagoons, canals, lakes and inlets – home to a dazzling assortment of flora and fauna, and local villages. I heard that they spend days sitting on the deck, experiencing the tranquility of this place, with a book in their hand, while swiftly sailing through one village to the other. I wanted to explore this place too, but my own way. And here I was, in a government ferry, surrounded by a bunch of locals who were heading back from the mainland of Alleppey, with all the ration they needed, and a newspaper that they’d …