Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category


November 18, 2011 3 comments

Finished reading ‘Eat pray love’ by Elizbeth Glibert

First two parts are fine but in the third one the charm goes way for some reason … almost as if the author herself lost interest while writing and so the text does not touch you at all (in retrospect … maybe the pray part is so strong that it outshines everything else!)

The first part concentrates on the eating and just being … the entire experience can be summed up in Bel Far Niente – ‘the art of doing nothing’. The art of just being and not doing anything at all … it’s an interesting concept – and would be fun if one can do it and has the resources for the same.

 The second part is the one which impresses me the most. It is all about praying and really praying not just doing some religious mumbo jumbo. I liked the way she tries to connect with GOD and how she actually comes by GOD. The description of various techniques of meditation – breathing, vipasana, silence etc is the ‘real’ thing in the book … her experiences with meditating and all that happened as a result is worth reading the whole lot of elaborated thoughts.

My personal favorite is the instance when she decides that she will be the silent and sober person rather she thought she will like to act like that and then ironically is given the job to be for meeting all new guests. She is asked to be the key contact person for the new lot to ensure that everyone is taken care of. This brings an abrupt end to her idea of being the silent and sober one but nevertheless she enjoys the experience and realizes her true calling is not being silent but being the catalyst to connect people through her friendly demeanor and multi cultural exposure. This makes her realize that sometimes even we do not know what we are capable of but there is always a bigger scheme of things and there every person has a fixed role.

The fact that sometimes we are bent on doing things just because we think we are made for that and then suddenly things change and we are thrown in to a totally different track and we realize we can only fool ourselves and that supreme power above somewhere knows when we are way off the track and when the course needs to be corrected.

I identify with it completely. No mater how wise we think we are … sometimes we are totally on a tangent and then something or some one just kicks us back in to the right orbit.

Also I realized that the author herself changes during this time … her ramblings which were at the extreme in the first part slow down … she is more focused. Where in the first part she was all over in this part there are strong lines in her thought and writing and thus more clarity for herself and for the reader.

The third part is completely lost I can’t remember much of it … it’s like the open ended thing, where there are no lines and no emotions. For some reasons it just dose not touch or make you want to read anything. It’s almost as if she lost interest and wanted to finish the book somehow. The abrupt end testifies just that.

All in all the book is good and has given me the following

– Made me meditate again … after many years altogether

– Once again ignited the need to seeRome… and travel once more

But it also made me question … for all my independence do I have it in me to travel alone … go out and be on my own … duno have no answers right now

Categories: Books, Spirituality, Travel

MY TRAVELS – Indian ‘World Heritage Sites’

June 24, 2010 Leave a comment

India is a culturally and historically rich country. We have a total of 27 UNESCO World Heritage Sites!

Out of these 27, I have seen Seven in totality and Two partially. Partially because though I saw these two from a distance but couldn’t check them out for some reasons!

So my list of World Heritage Sites, as of now, stands as following …

  1. Agra Fort, Agra, Uttar Pradesh
  2. Fatehpur Sikri, Uttar Pradesh 
  3. Taj Mahal, Agra, Uttar Pradesh 
  4. Churches and Convents of Goa, Goa
  5. Group of Monuments at Pattadakal, Karnataka 
  6. Red Fort, Delhi
  7. Qutub Minar and its monuments, Delhi

The following two I have seen from outside …

  1. Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Mumbai, Maharashtra  – Couldn’t see as I was running out of time &
  2. Elephanta Caves, Mumbai, Maharashtra –  was unfortunately closed that day because of Guddi Padwa! 

Nevertheless, CT gave me the magnificent view of an old aristocratic building standing tall against the time and still holding its charm, strength and usage. And Elephanta caves gave me an oppurtunity to become a lone traveler, enjoy the boat ride from Gateway of India to the caves, chitchat with other tourists from Gujarat!

And following are on my wish list

  1. Humayun’s Tomb, Delhi
  2. Great Living Chola Temples,Tanjore/Thanjavur Tamil Nadu
  3. Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu
  4. Group of Monuments at Hampi, Karnataka

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India

June 24, 2010 1 comment

Netting again, came across the list of World Heritage Sites in India … didn’t know we had more then two dozen of them in our country!

Now ‘A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place (such as a forest, mountain, lake, desert, monument, building, complex, or city) that is listed by UNESCO as of special cultural or physical significance. The list is maintained by the international World Heritage Programme administered by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, composed of 21 state parties which are elected by their General Assembly for a four-year term.’ As per the wikipedia. 

India currently has 27 World Heritage Sites –  

  1. Agra Fort, Agra, Uttar Pradesh (1983)
  2. Ajanta Caves, Maharashtra (1983)
  3. Fatehpur Sikri, Uttar Pradesh (1986)
  4. Taj Mahal, Agra, Uttar Pradesh (1983)
  5. Churches and Convents of Goa, Goa (1986)
  6. Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi, Madhya Pradesh (1989)
  7. Khajuraho Group of Monuments, Madhya Pradesh (1986)
  8. Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka, Madhya Pradesh (2003)
  9. Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park, Gujarat (2004)
  10. Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Mumbai, Maharashtra (2004)
  11. Elephanta Caves, Mumbai, Maharashtra (1987)
  12. Ellora Caves, Maharashtra (1983)
  13. Humayun’s Tomb, Delhi (1993)
  14. Great Living Chola Temples,Tanjore/Thanjavur Tamil Nadu (1987)
  15. Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu (1984)
  16. Group of Monuments at Hampi, Karnataka (1986)
  17. Group of Monuments at Pattadakal, Karnataka (1987)
  18. Kaziranga National Park, Assam (1985)
  19. Manas Wildlife Sanctuary, Assam (1985)
  20. Keoladeo National Park, Rajasthan (1985)
  21. Konark Sun Temple, Konark, Orissa (1984)
  22. Mahabodhi Temple Complex, Bodh Gaya, Bihar (2002)
  23. Mountain Railways of India, including Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, Kalka-Shimla Railway, and Nilgiri Mountain Railway (1999)
  24. Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Park, Uttaranchal (1988)
  25. Red Fort, Delhi (2007)
  26. Sundarbans National Park, West Bengal (1987)
  27. Qutub Minar and its monuments, Delhi (1993)

 Out of the 27, I have seen Seven in totality and Two partially. Partially because though I saw these two from a distance but couldn’t check them out for some reasons!

Coming back to the list, we have 27 such sites in our country! This sounds good … but for a country of our size, with our historical and cultural background … we should be topping the list. The reason I guess is that we have been very unsuccessful in identifying such sites, getting them notified and finally in preserving them. Almost every few month’s, local newspaper carries the tale of some monument which is getting dusted and busted simply because there is no one to take care of it or someone has been callous or ignorant. If only we would take care of our heritage and understand the importance of history, India can be one of the richest heritage countries, along with generating huge foreign exchange in tourism!

In search of spicy Indian snacks!

June 21, 2010 2 comments

To continue with my Cab saga … as mentioned in my last post My First Ride In An Office Cab … that my office has shifted from Delhi to Gurgaon and letting go of my liberty of driving I have succumbed to travel in office cab.

My fellow passengers seem to be nice and finally giving in to their niceness I let go off my arrogant face and finally broke ice with them on Friday evening while returning back from office.

At my favourite vocation … of thinking … I was like I am being stubborn and its no one’s fault that I have been transferred to Gurgaon and so letting my ego (or is that ID!) seep away through the closed windows of my AC Cab I gave in … and here was a cause for celebration! And the best way to celebrate for us Indians is to break bread… in other words indulge in ‘food’… no matter what the occasion is it has to end at food! And so we did the same … I suddenly said aloud that I want to have Aloo (potato) Chaat … to which to my surprise these guys came up with a quick and prompt solution and mentioned an apparently very famous chaatwala and yet again to my surprise I had no clue about it!?!?

Any ways so we maneuvered our cab driver and took him to this famous roadside food vendor next to UPSC building –  to be precise between Kota House and UPSC building not very far from Khan Market and India Gate at the Shahjahan Road … the famous chaatwala … ‘PRABHU CHAATWALA’.

We got into this small side lane in between two big buildings (the lane reminded me of one of the scores of lanes of the Aligarh Exhibition … where one can eat all sorts of chaat and spicy stuff and buy interesting things at throwaway prices!)

Coming back to the lane …There were more than 5-6 vendors there … standing with colorful, small stalls all decked up … with fruits and various versions of Potato recipes from aloo fry to aloo tikki ! It was a delight to see that at least here there is no demarcation between a diet and a healthy diet … With potato perched right in centre of healthy fruits and no one bothering to care about it.

Anyways making way from in between all the vendors we finally reached the ‘Prabhu Chaatwala’ – though it was like any other vendor but the difference showed in many ways! The setup was bigger them any other vendors … There were more than 5 people working on various things, a separate counter for making payments and modernized token system and a waiting time of at least 10 – 15 mins! Another thing that made it special or rather reminds you of its fame is a certificate hanging on the wall probably from one of the Times Food Guide participation or may be an award!

The chaatwaala had many things – the menu was elaborate with all possible versions of our desi Indian Chaat.

So while I took this all in and chatted away with my fellow passengers, our aloo fry became ready and taking it we got into our cab and resumed our journey back to home.

The chaat was good – leaving a burning sensation with every bite! That was not the only effect… I could feel smoke steaming out of my ears and tears swelling in my eyes and could see it was same for others also. But on the whole it was enjoyable and worth the wait.

I can also call it refreshing as anything that burns, opens up all your senses and makes you active and more aware of everything around. Infact I do remember that I use to munch on something spicy while studying as it helped in concentrating and also ward off the sleepy feeling!

Now for the Indian tradition of linking everything with food… well … breaking bread might just be a saying but it does help … it helps in breaking silence, breaking barriers, breaking away from the routine tasks, breaking away (distracting) from problems, breaking (bridging) distance … making new friends, new relationships … giving an oppurtunity to share with people … connect with people … laugh with people … developing patience, compassion, empathy for others and in general making a person more human!

It was the same for me … must say the aloo fry did wonders for me … made me feel connected to new people and added the address of another tongue watering, lip smacking vendor to my list!

P.S – This place is worth a try if Spice is your idea of life!

P.S – Aloo Chaat is similar to finger chips just that it is of a different shape and is served with indian spices and sometimes with mint dip!

My First Ride in an Office Cab

June 17, 2010 1 comment

Yes it does sounds like one of those essays which you dreaded in schools… at least I did!

Since then lots of things have changed … including my understanding of why write essay and also that essay need not be an over comprising, lengthy, full of examples and quotes (though all these do make it interesting !) thing but could just be a small paragraph with actual heart felt feelings – where the basic idea is to feel, express and communicate!

Anyways …

So my first ride in office cab … to give a little background … I have been shifted back to Gurgaon office and as it is a total of 40 kms from my home I was suggested and requested to let go of my car (by family, friends and office colleagues) and instead hail the office cab. The left part of my brain – the evergreen traitor – sided with the idea – with all its favourite tools – reasoning, logical, economical, safe, comfortable etc etc…and I was left with no option but to give in.

Back to present – And hence with misgivings (not knowing exactly where I will get cab) and irritation (of having to get up early) and still in the sleep mode, I got on to this uncalled for, unwanted new journey. I took an auto from my home and reached the spot where I thought and understood I had to reach … promptly before the decided time.

The ‘cab coordinator’ – a patient and easy to talk person – which I judged only through talking … called and confirmed if I am coming and know the place. With a couple of calls … I did manage to hop in the cab.

The ‘cab’ – a Qualis, with 4 other fellow passengers and a driver, was a decent vehicle – thankfully with an a/c and even a music player. Thereby invoking my deep sigh of relief! 

I got into the backseat, which had enough room for me to spread and sit or even to sleep if I could, as I was the only one sitting there. Satisfied with the ‘Cab’ I plugged in my head phones, hoping to cut my mind off from myriad thoughts that keep floating in and out @ speed of light, after being duly introduced to my journey mates.

Now the day seemed to be good, with cloudy weather and light drizzling, manageable traffic … all together letting the distance melt away and making the time just a space on watch and before realizing we reached office … just in time to swipe cards.

Na … I didn’t like that … so let me put it this way…   

Now for the ‘cab journey’ … To begin with the first half of the journey went into accepting the fact that I was no longer the free bird and have to adjust to the back seat and back seat driving … notwithstanding the facts that I had to get up early, had to go brush up the old skill of getting an auto, negotiating with the auto driver, standing at the road side waiting for the cab and then walking some more before getting in the cab. (Some old memories of having traveled similar distances in charter bus came galloping back!) Next few minutes went into understanding the dynamics of the fellow passengers and thus it was only in the last 15-20 minutes that I could give in to the luxury of being driven without driving and this thought together with unfinished sleep did lull me into a power nap of few minutes before reaching our destination.

Now on to my favourite pass time … thinking … Just like that … with a minor shift I became a part of the larger group of people who travel large distances to earn their living. For years I had been seeing people traveling in mornings and evenings on the office cabs – usually the BPO crowd – and I always wondered as to how they managed this day in day out. And now I myself have joined this fraternity … I do not have any answers yet … but I guess by the end of it I will figure out what is it that keeps them going. What is the motivation – is it the job – the quality of work – the scarcity of opportunities – peer pressure – higher salaries – comfort of travel or is it that proverbial circle of trials which one has to go through before emerging as a survivor… an achiever!

Dunno which one is it for me … at the moment all I feel is discomfort … Waste of precious time/effort, loss of physical freedom … and above all loss of the liberty to be able to decide my day on my own!

Still my first office cab ride was not as bad as  I thought/imagined/presumed it would be. Infact on a more realistic note it’s not the journey that I was apprehensive about rather distraught with the fact that this has been imposed on me!