Thursday, October 25, 2018

I am not a traveller

Note: It's just a rant post.

I don’t call myself a traveller. I like to travel. And I travel a bit more than a normal person. But a lot less than a full time traveller. I am quite happy, content and slightly proud of the places I have been to. Over the years, I have come to realise one thing.

I don't remember destinations on the basis of popular places there. For eg, I don't remember a hillstation for that popular waterfall, or a city for some monument. To me, most of the memories are associated with either food or some random places I happened to discover.

Or even a random memory I associate myself with, or some mindless bargaining to buy something really small. When I see people going to places I have already visited, I so badly want to recommend them places to eat at, dishes to try in that particular restaurant/thela.

Or buy that small piece of souvenir item outside a touristy destination, or go for a drive around that place and try to find some breathtaking landscapes. My association of any place is connected with these small small memories and experiences. 

I don't remember the popular monastery of Coorg, but I do remember making up stories about Tipu Sultan's loo since we were bored of hearing his stories everywhere we went. I don't remember Burj Khalifa or Dubai mall or aquarium. but I do remember staring at that fresh bun at Papparoti they made right in front of me and served me in the same tray. Or that thai meal at Benjarong. I don't remember many attractions of China or Hong Kong. But I remember going to a public swimming pool and sitting at the stand, staring at all those swimmers - oldies and kids - for hours. And I remember not being the only one to do so. That's the pastime of many people there. They come. Sit in the stand. Watch. Leave.

I don't remember how I felt when I saw the Eiffel tower at night for the first time, but I remember bargaining for those Eiffel tower keychains and magnets. I remember meeting an Indian guy selling them. 15 keychains for 2 Euros was a kickass deal. 

I don't remember what I did in Shimla. But I remember where I had chhole kulcha. Or that awesome meal in a very cool cafe in Kaza. Or wai wai in Sikkim while missing Maggi. Or using landline in Nubra Valley where there is no other network working. Yes, I do remember watching Northern lights. But what's more clearly etched in my mind is, in the middle of Iceland - the most unlikely place to have someone speak in village gujarati. Or meeting an Icelandic lady on the flight that was delayed and have us dropped just in time for our lights chasing tour. 

No, I am not a traveller. I am not even an explorer. I am just a curious soul that happens to find right things at the right time. Well, not everything is right, or pleasant. But they are still there. Reminding me of little moments of happiness every time I hear the name of that place. 

I want to go back to all those places. But only if I could relive all those memories all over again..

Monday, September 10, 2018

New beginnings

Life has been good to me overall. Especially from this side of the fence. If you asked me about how my life was 15 years ago, I would have cribbed about a lot of things. Be it dating or falling in love with wrong guys, or making wrong choices. Rather, choices that seemed wrong then are right now. 

I have had a not so rosy life. From starting to earn and finance my studies after 12thexams, to choosing wrong partners all my life – I struggled. I fell down. Failed miserably. And got up again. Broken, but not undefeated. I never really gave up on life. People came into my life. Walked all over me. Tried to break my spirit. But my spirit is a tough bitch. Tougher than I expected it to be. It got up every time and joined the fight.

After all this, I realized that there is no point in sulking about anything. You cannot let people defeat you every time. You cannot let them break you. You cannot let them win. And for that you don’t have to defeat them either. You just have to win your own battle. You have to stand up for yourself. Respect your own self. And that will make all the difference.

It all started very late for me. I took hasty decisions at the time when people are busy studying or shaping up their careers. I was living in a fantasy world then. And I continued doing so for years. By the time I decided to make amends, my friends were already making a six-figure salary. I felt like a loser back then. Did I regret my past? No I didn’t. And that was my first victory. I did not let that past affect me. 

I started everything from the scratch. I started building my life from the beginning. Brick by brick. Pillar by pillar. Wall by wall. I would see my friends travel to Europe and think if I would ever visit those countries. I started fulfilling my dream of travelling by going for short trips. Within one state. With a budget under 10k – something that I could afford. At times, I would think about leaving my business and start working somewhere. That comfort of fixed salary was too tempting. Those Eiffel Tower pictures would make me crave for that life. 

But I didn’t give in to the temptation. I did not give up. Yet again. The inner bitch won yet again. From under 10k budget to longer and better trips started taking place. Slowly it grew from India to other countries. I started ticking off things from my bucketlist one by one. I was damn nervous when I applied for Schengen Visa. I never believed or expected that I would ever get a visa to any country. But here it was. A small thing for many, a huge deal for me. For what I was and what I had become. I had travelled far. And it was no small feat. When I witnessed northern lights on my birthday last year, I realized how good life has been to me. 

From there, to today when I have moved to my own apartment. No, I didn’t buy it. You cannot afford a house in Bombay anymore unless you take a hugeass loan and are ready to stay indebted for most of your life. I cannot live under the burden of loans. But having my own space means a lot to me. I fought against all odds and reached here. Again something I never thought I could achieve. People and experiences killed my belief in myself. I was foolish enough to let that happen. But I was also wise enough to come out of it and changed it.

Only you can decide your life and what you want to do with it. Listen to others. But don’t be blinded. Don’t ever lose faith in yourself. You are the good and the bad in your own life. The day you give this power to someone else, you start losing your battles. But remember, even that’s not the end of your life. Every point can be a new beginning if you want it to be. Every point can be the end of everything if you let that happen.

I am writing after almost a year. It feels good to be able to write what is going on in my head. I feel powerful again. And I am still melodramatic about these things. Some things don’t change. Thank god!

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Hampi - A Dream Destination That's Actually A Nightmare




No, don't get me wrong. The place is beautiful. It's full of history, culture (both ancient and current) and traditions. Probably the only city full of temples where most of the atheists pay a visit. Okay, it's a lame line. But I cannot help it. I am writing after almost a year.

Let's concentrate on Hampi for now. A city of ruins, they call it. And it is indeed one. As soon as you enter the place, you get very calm vibes. Something that you feel in a temple. Something that you you feel at a holy place. And yet something just does not feel right. Let's come to that later.

The place welcomes you with greens (thanks to ongoing monsoon even in October damnit!) and rocks and structures. Every damn corner has some unfinished structure made from stone. And mountains are a collection of rocks. They seem to be leaning on one another. Like you move one and the entire lot will fall down and create another mountain? Yes, that's how they are. Naturally organised. Systematic. 



Hampi is vastly divided in two parts - temple side of the river and the other side of the river. Temples or ruins offer you a historically rich and ancient experience, while the other side is called the hippie island. Temples. At least 10+. The ruins. Built in 14th century. 15th century. Weathering. Yet standing tall. And strong. You fall in love with them as soon as you set a foot inside. You marvel the art and the artist. You want to capture everything. You want to absorb every corner. You want to know and see more. You enter the temple. 

And that's when things start going crazy. Batshit crazy. Like, literally. As soon as you enter the temple, you are greeted with bat shit and piss odour. That smell is so strong that you just cannot stand inside for more than 10 seconds. In some of the temples, you are even greeted with human shit. I could not enter a single temple because of this sole reason. It broke my heart. Something that's so precious, so ancient, and we don't even value it.

So yes, Hampi is all about appreciating the outer beauty. Appreciating those ancient stone structures crumbling. And people harping on them to get clicked. And it's not a pretty sight. As much as I had waited for years to visit these ruins, I was more eager to leave from there at the earliest.

If you ask me whether or not you should visit Hampi? Hell yes, you should. It's a wonder. The overall beauty is mesmerising. Coracle ride is an experience to remember. Rivers and greens and stones and mountains and roads - everything together makes Hampi a beautiful painting.




Tip - Try to take shortcuts and walk as much as you can to go from one temple to another if the path is passing by the river. You will come across some beautiful trails. Like the one we came across to go to the most popular viththala temple. The rocks that you see, you walk on them. You climb and cross small hills. You come across some more ruins. Abandoned temples. This entire experience is something else.

Now let's move to the other side of the river. The Hippie island. Now, this place came as a shock to me. I was expecting it to be a normal area with a few hotels and guesthouses here and there and a cafe or two serving regular food. But Hippie island lives upto its name. Cool and laid back cafes, bakeries, awesome food, easy to score nooks and corners and everything else that you would like on a holiday.

I had my fair share of good and bad food experiences. The most popular laughing buddha cafe was one of the most overrated places there. While the view is awesome, you will get the same chilled out vibes at other places, with far better food and services. By services I mean that if other cafes take 40 minutes to get you a sandwich, Laughing Buddha will take over an hour for the same. But it's the most popular place among Foreigners.

My favourite place was German Bakery. Awesome food, happy people and mattresses you can lie down on after a hectic day of roaming around the town. The evening when I went there, every table had a beer bottle and every second table had weed. The guy there was pleasantly shocked when I ordered for a hot chocolate (which was bloody brilliant) instead of beer. Advantage? He remembered me and would joke around every time he passed by our table. Yet we didn't get our order fast enough. No complaints though.

Another good place was Chilled out cafe. So, here's the thing. You get non-vegetarian food and alcohol only on the other side of the river, ie Hippie island side. Temple side serves only pure vegetarian food and no beverages. Chilled out was an exception. It served eggs, if no meat. And you are still allowed to smoke pot there.

Before I sign off, when you plan to visit Hampi, go with an open mind, don't expect too much from the ruins, carry mosquito repellant and brush up your bargaining skills. It's a safe place for women solo travellers. Food is so good that you don't have to carry thepla there. They will go wasted. And have hot chocolate at German Bakery! 

Here are few more pictures of the place. I am not a dslr photographer. I click on my phone and yet they are bloody brilliant pictures. Yes, I take the full credit.






Only this picture is not clicked by me. But well, it has me!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Bahubali 2 and the political drama surrounding it



I loved Bahubali 2. It's a grand movie. Indian cinema finally took chances, spent money without thinking about all the risks and produced a movie which was a great feat to say the least. The movie truly deserves all the success and attention it is getting. But things are going out of hand. I am also a supporter of BJP and a supporter of right wing ideology. Now that we are clear about my political stand, let's talk about some logic.

Whatever happens in the country these days, gets automatically linked to politics. If Arvind Kejriwal sneezes, he goes, "Modiji ne mere ghar me dhool mitti daal di kyun ki unko pata hai mujhe dust se allergy hai." If not him, it is his supporters. Or "Republic channel bas right wing agenda peddler hai. Neutral media naam ki cheez bachi hi nai hai." And "Hey bro, how many RTs to get killed in a riot? 2002. LMAO".

The movie Bahubali is experiencing something similar. All of a sudden, I see a lot of people calling it a right wing movie. Now wait. Which part did I miss of the movie that mentioned anything about right wing ideology? I am sure about not missing anything as I sat through even the 45 minutes of ads playing even during interval. (PVR you horrible shit! Nor am I a fan of Prabhas. I wrote Prajas first and then Googled his name. See!).

The movie promotes Hinduism. There is one song dedicated to Krishna. And there is umm well (No mind, don't think about animal sacrifices and human tortures. That was in part one okay?) yeah, another song in such a grand movie about just Hindu beliefs.

Okay, let's explore another angle, that Of the leading ladies of the movie and their characters. Devsena and her fierce side. Shivgami and the natural leader that she was. Hindu names. Not only names, even see glimpses of Mahabharata backdrop in the movie. Wait, what? Where did that come from? Politics? Brothers fighting? That makes it a right wing movie?

Cool. Let's buy that logic. Have you watched Rajneeti? The movie is based on Mahabharata story too. Characters played by lead and supporting actors reflect traits of Mahabharata characters. You see glimpses of Karna in Ajay Devgan, Duryodhana in Manoj Bajpayee, Arjuna in Ranbeer, Krishna in Nana Patekar and Kunti in (I don't know her name) lady who played Ajay Devgan's mother. But wait, isn't it a political drama? But Mahabharata backdrop is there too. Ah! right wing movie.

But but, didn't Katrina play the role of Sonia Gandhi in the movie? Isn't the parallel story based on Gandhi family? Didn't you see similarities between Ajay Devgan and Mulayam Singh Yadav (Wrestler, natural leader etc etc.)? Not that he played his role, but he did take some inspiration from him for sure.

Shit. A right wing movie about a left party? How is that even possible? What to do now? Call Mahabharata left wing? What is Bahubali then? Something created to repair the damage of Rajneeti? 

Ugh. It's suffocating to have everything around you being bifurcated on the basis of political inclination. You can't appreciate a movie if it's about some political ideology. And the internet makes sure that you hate it if you are in the opposition. 

No I don't think that Bahubali is a right wing movie. There are thousands of movies just based on a particular religion. They are about religious beliefs. And that doesn't make them political. The funny thing is, there are some right wing websites that are posting one article each day to prove how it is a Hindu movie. Wake up people. Mahishmati is a fictional backdrop for God's sake! It has got nothing to do with Narendra Modi or Bharatiya Janata Party. Or any other wing for that matter. It is just a story with war backdrop. There is a good king and there is a bad king. And they are cousins. Good king doesn't have five brothers. Bad king is very much like Duryodhana, but that's that. It's just an inspiration taken from one character just to make him that evil brother. Just to make the character more believable. And that's about it.

Things have come to a point where my libtard brothers are scared to admit that they liked Bahubali. I feel ashamed to claim that my ideology people are adamant to prove that this movie belongs to our clan. 

Dear idiots, please stop making a fool of yourself by coming up with such logics. Let entertainment be free of agendas. Life is anyway fucked up because of politics even in the kind of transportation you take. Spare something for the sake of sanity.

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Change is such a strong word for humans!

Backspace makes us good writers. Or maybe lousy ones. The words erased were probably the best we had written. But they no longer exist. Or the ones that replaced them become our best work. Who knows.

This post almost seems like a comeback. Almost because I have been writing elsewhere. And reading a lot too. Now some other place is home. More than a home you can say. So much happened over last two years. People left, new ones came in too. Some made me a better person, while for some, I became the bad one. Things change. Situations change. Circumstances change. People change. 

On a second thought, is change the right word? No. I think change is a very strong word one uses for humans. It's like taking away the right to be what you want to be. Let's replace it with a more positive and slightly accurate word to define the so called change - shift.

I am still the same person that I used to be. I adapted new things. I discarded the old ones. But in the essence, I am still the same old person I know and can relate to. Yes change is a strong word for improving one's self. Change is a strong word for standing up for yourself.

Then there are emotions. Emotions you thought never existed in you. Emotions you never thought you could feel or fight. People you never thought you could live without. And today you are doing just fine without them. And there are new people you think you cannot live without.

We live in phases. We be with different people in different phases. Close friends are not in touch anymore. The person you loved has blocked you everywhere. The person you once admired and was out of your league is now there for you unconditionally. Your happiness is everything to someone. To an extent that they buy something for you first when they go for shopping for themselves. You understand them so well that what they desire, you already have it for them. Small materialistic needs are taken care of even before they are demanded. Don't we all want and dream of such a life?

We invest in our relationships emotionally. It's the degree of that investment that makes all the difference. That's why some things always hurt you even after you claim that you have moved on. And some people hurt you in spite of not being in your life anymore. The hurt is worse if you are holding anger against them. Sadness is easy to deal with, anger is not.

It's funny how we feel so many things at the same time. It's funny how I end up writing such stuff every time I decide to write. I don't even know how I start and where I end. I think I should go back to my break phase.