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Showing posts from 2015

Vivian and Francesca: The invisible artists

I write this piece on photography with much trepidation because honestly, I don’t know much about photography nor photographers. But on this World Photography Day, as I come across the name and fame of a dozen iconic photographers, my favourite two women has been amiss. Vivian Maier and Francesca Woodman, the invisible artists.

Jaisalmer: In the realms of a grand mirage

“First there is a mountain, then there is no mountain, then there is”
- The Donovan

This is one post I have begun a dozen times, only to end in the first line. And then I remembered this old whimsical Donovan number and I thought, Ah well! I don’t think I can do better than that.
Jaisalmer was an obvious destination of choice on my trip across Rajasthan. I had heard distantly from friends and family of its eccentric populace and landscape. But I must admit amongst all the wonderous tales, Jaisalmer is undoubtedly at the core of Rajasthan’s commercial cesspool. Hundreds of tourists throng within the gates of the living fort. Unlike other forts of Rajasthan, it is said that the erstwhile king of Jaisalmer preferred to live among his subjects making the fortress grounds the abode of royals and commoners alike. The city flourished sitting on the ancient trading super-highway between the east and th…

10 Applications for Leave to take that holiday you’ve been putting off

Let’s get a few things straight first. While most of these excuses might sound a tad insane, once you package it with a slightly out-of-breath nasally voice that borders on an emotional breakdown, a wide-eyed look with a puzzled frown (akin to reading a 400 page report on a gorilla’s bowel movements) and an unkempt look (superbly managed after a ride in the Mumbai local). Needless to say, your employer will grant you the leave (most likely for his own good).

Udvada: A strange mix of divinity and dhansak

There are many reasons why you should not visit Udvada (Udwada) and a few handful ones why you should. It is only when the positives outnumber the negatives should you plan to make that trip to the mecca (or the Vatican, if you please) of the Parsis.

Udvada is a small seaboard town tucked away in a corner of Gujarat, a mere fifteen kilometres from Daman. Renowned for its Zoroastrian heritage, Udvada houses the Atash Behram temple where the holy Iran Shah fire has been burning bright for the past thousand years or so. Legend has it that during the Muslim conquest of the Greater Iran, a group of Zoroastrians fled into the Indian sub-continent to preserve their quickly diminishing culture and populace. Initially finding refuge in Sanjan the minority tribe made the final transit into Udvada where the fire temple was consecrated in the 17th century. Today thousands of Parsi pilgrims visit every year for a glimpse of the ancient residence of the holy fire.

Unfortunately, I am not a Parsi an…

Slumming it alone in India's most romantic city: Udaipur

When I put Udaipur under my roster of sights and sounds through Rajasthan, it wasn’t with the intention to explore a romantic city, per se. To be truthful, I was quite sceptical about delegating my quickly depleting funds for a city that was clearly high on the list of tourist vacations, especially the honeymooners. The idea of being surrounded by coochy-cooing newly-marrieds was enough to put me off. But its strategic location between the historically rich Chittorgarh and Kumbhalgarh made Udaipur the most ideal city to base my day-trips from. Never did it cross my mind that I too would have my very own private love affair with Udaipur.

The city finds its significance in history as the strategic capital of the Mewar dynasty. Surrounded by the Aravallies and dotted with man-made water bodies, the capital proved to be a tough battleground for infiltrators. Today, war is a distant thought. Instead its mystical lakes, royal palaces (one for every season) and a salubrious climate come toget…

My love-hate relationship with Calcutta

You might have already figured this out from my last name, that I’m a Bengali. While I no longer live in Calcutta (yes, I come from a time when it still used to be Calcutta or Cal, not Kolkata), I can’t seem to stay away from it either. It has a strange inexplicable way of pulling me back.

Hoode Beach: My picture perfect memory of college

I did my undergraduate studies from Manipal. It’s a different story how I landed up in advertising after studying engineering. But in those four years that I spent tucked away in a corner of Karnataka surrounded by beautiful unending Arabian coastlines, we did our fair share of day trips. And the closest and the most popular amongst my group of friends was a quick ride down to the Hoode beach.

Travelling solo and safe: An Indian woman's perspective

Even as I started this blog, I knew I’d have to approach this subject sooner than later. The question becomes why now? Because now more than ever at the wake of of what happened to Nirbhaya in Delhi this year, the narrative behind what it means to be a woman in India is a sore discussion point for the country. While everyone is quick to point the dangers surrounding a lone woman these days - few lend any hope or help to assuage the fears. If we were to believe the people and what media says about these times - we are doomed to live in a perpetual victimhood.

Scores of traveller-bloggers have tried to present a fresh perspective for women travelling solo in India; I have yet to meet a fellow Indian woman on the road. Maybe there are too few, too far apart to make each other’s acquaintance. Implying that the subject is still at its nascent stages of discussion. Having said that, I have indeed met countless foreigners (women) travelling alone.

Getting used to the idea

I was then living …