September 2016, Betalbatim beach, South Goa, India
Gobsmacked in glorious Goa!! Oh yes, we so were. The DH and I were making our first, long trip together; minus the girls. It was amazing to spend time with each other minus the distractions of, “Mamma can I sleep next to you? Mamma can we go shopping for my shampoo and face wash?” “The feeling”; well as though we were dating all over again!!! South Goa is stunning, I tell you. If you are looking for a quiet time minus the North Goa buzz that’s the place to go and unwind. Our perfect idea of a getaway. I’m guessing when you hit your forties, you have bare minimum bandwidth for constant partying. Right? Or is it just us?! Well, we’ve been there, done it all and on a break we’d rather be in a tranquil place leaving the hustle bustle of the city behind. But I would be lying if I didn’t tell you we went for some lip smacking batter fried squid, pork and tandoori crabs to Martins Corner. And the icing on the cake – the live band. Well you see we had the best of both worlds. (more…)
1988-1990, G.B Pant University, Pantnagar, District Nainital, Current: G.B. Pant University, Pantnagar, District Udham Singh Nagar, Uttar Pradesh, India
Far far away, in the late 80’s, there lived a teenager in a small, lush green, well-knit community, called the GB Pant University, Pantnagar that lay nestled in the foothills of the majestic Himalayas and was the teenager’s birthplace. She spent most of her growing up years in this beautiful campus that had meandering landscapes of foliage and a multitude of trees. These included the fruiting varieties like mango, guava, banana, papaya, litchi, and gooseberry, to name just a few. These grew in almost everybody’s backyard. People also cultivated their fresh food produce of organic vegetables and harvested their own rice and wheat. (more…)
November 2015, Katwa, District: Burdwan, West Bengal, India
The river Ganga lay lazily sprawled by the banks of the little township, Katwa that bustled with wonder and activity. The drums reverberated with booming splendor, at every by nook and corner. The drums had made a grand comeback with the arrival of Goddess Kali’s puja, which was celebrated each year with enthusiastic fanfare a day before Diwali (the Indian festival of lights). Almost every by-lane would boast of the Goddesses idols in various shapes, sizes and styles, their images characterised by her jet black face and protruding tongue. Popular legends say that Kali, drunk on the blood of the demons, is about to destroy the whole universe when, urged by all the Gods, Shiva, her husband, lies in her way to stop her. She steps on his chest and recognizing Lord Shiva beneath her feet, she calms herself. It is believed Kali was ashamed of keeping her feet on her husband and stuck her tongue out in regret. (more…)
D is for Died and Went to Heaven January 2007, Anilao, Philippines
The New Year’s day of 2006 will remain etched in my mind for as long as I live. A day I actually did die and discover heaven; a heaven that lay beyond my imagination. We were then a family of three. The 18-year-old was about 8; as old as my 8-year-old now. Those who have read my blog probably know I have two girls. Currently 8 and 18. Well, now you may be wondering why on earth did I die and go to heaven? Well add a V to the DIE and it becomes a DIVE. So on the 1st January, 2007 we went on our first ever dive. All 3 of us. DH, the little girl and I.
Easter Weekend 2014, Corbett National Park, Uttarakhand, India
Running is not what comes to me naturally. I run because, I think it’s a pretty good fitness option. It helps knock off those extra kilos and the intensive cardio tones you up. It works as a more viable option than yoga, or cycling as you burn a lot more calories. When prefer running or cycling, in the open air, away from the stuffy confines of a gym. In 2014 I decided to run 10k at the annual Corbett marathon. The Corbett trail is a captivating one, shrouded by dense and mysterious forests. I had already attempted two 5 km runs at the same venue two preceding years in a row, accompanying the DH, a sincere and avid runner who mostly runs half and full marathons. I hadn’t trained for the run at all and was out of touch. So I had my apprehensions, but coaxed by my running buddies, I decided to go ahead and take the plunge. My running buddies from Runbugs, the motley crew I used to run with, and I undertook an 8 hour bumpy ride from Gurgaon,(Near New Delhi) peppered with oodles of laughter, madness and gluttony, to arrive at our destination. (more…)
April 2016, Kumarakom, Kottayam District, Kerela, India
It was a balmy evening in God’s Own Country (Kerela), as I sat by the banks of Vembanad lake gazing at the cerulean sky, gradually turning into a shade of grey and then charcoal. The girls, DH & I had walked to the Vembanad lake that languorously kissed the banks of our getaway. We were excited to catch a glimpse of the amorous setting sun. But as luck would have it, the skies were suddenly blurred by grey petulant clouds, and the setting sun disappeared into their haze. We dug into some vada-chutney and piping hot masala chai (tea). The DH and I had returned from a relaxing Ayurvedic spa and the girls were engrossed in getting their hands adorned with henna. (more…)
Ahoy Amigos! Welcome to my Travel Epiphanies for A-Z Challenge 2017.
**Drum Rolls** please :-))
Woaah! The curtains have finally been drawn open to the much awaited A to Z challenge 2017. March 2017, has been a month of working on the theme, learning the processes with the help of my rock solid co-bloggers, downloading the badges, stumbling upon new fellow bloggers, a very grand opening with the theme reveal wherein so many bloggers from across the globe stopped by to read and graciously comment. I received one of the best views on my blog and about 45 + comments, since I started off in December 2016. Spending innumerable days wracking my brains and taking a trip down memory lane and writing the posts got me all nostalgic and boo-hoo-hoo at times. Sigh! And how can I forget the immeasurable task of finding the pictures and pre-scheduling the posts. And the d’day is upon us, finally.
The next 26 days I will take you on a journey that will be surreal, bizarre, refreshing, memorable, magical and nail-biting; as I dig into my treasure trove of Travel Epiphanies. These epiphanies are my intuitive perceptions and revelation on life, some spiritual and some surprising in their simplicity; epiphanies that struck me during the course of my travels. Come join me today as I take you on an Alluring Forest walk.
A is for Alluring Forest Walks
June, 2013, Madikeri, Coorg District, Karnataka State, India
Madikeri is a quaint little, charming town, nestled amongst the wild Western ghats; known for its lush coffee plantations, dense rainforests, the meandering Kabeni river and the cascading Abbey falls surrounded by spice plantations. We made an intensely memorable trip to Madikeri, in the summer of 2013. Madikeri is not the atypical tourist destination and that’s on our key agendas when we are travel. Who wants to take a break from the bustling city life to land up in an over crowded, touristy hub! We usually love travelling as a family, the DH and the two girls, now 8 and 18; in tow. We mostly like to skip the usual touristy and sight seeking activities, and savour the quiet, and the all-encompassing mysticism of nature.
The Taj Vivanta where we spent five blissful days, is a lush, sprawling 180 acre hilly estate in Madikeri with a rich and diverse populace of fascinating flora and fauna, thereby making it a truly enchanting getaway. Each misty, wet morning we were greeted by our new alarm clock; The Whistling Thrush that would nudge us awake with its melodious singing. I will talk about this symphonic, winged wonder in another of the A to Z posts.
One morning, after a delicious spread of local breakfast and copious cups of the local filter coffee, we armoured ourselves for a hike to Nishani Beta (beta in the local language translates to Heights) up the Nilgiri hills. I say armoured, as we donned leech socks and galoshes to avoid the unrelenting, blood sucking leeches. As we trudged down the forest tracks, we were greeted by a band of tree frogs, hornbills, parakeets and cicada that played a medley of mellifluous music. And the leeches, well they drew Oooohhhss and Ahhhhs from all the hikers, as they stealthily kept slithering up our galoshes.
Our forest walk was turning out to be more alluring than I had anticipated. The gorgeous bicoloured frog sat huddled among a bushy shrub, flaunting its beautiful colours. This brave guy, despite being in the wild was not averse to human touch. My younger one & I gently petted him and then we proceeded to walk through the misty hills. The breeze became stronger and stronger and a gust of wind blew, unabashedly flirting with us, and almost trying to topple us over. Head over heels yes! There were innumerable wild blue berries that we plucked and bit into; the juicy, tangy flavours merging with our taste buds. The Nilgiri Hills which literally mean Blue mountains get their name from the Kurunji shrubs that flower purplish blue flowers once in twelve years These shrubs lay scattered across the entire hilly terrain. The strikingly blue colour of the hills is attributed to this mass flowering species ‘Strobilanthes kunthiana” called Neela Kuruji locally. The pink and white varieties of kurunji shrubs that flower once is 3 or 8 years also cover the hill.
As we walked through the dense foliage we sighted a deadly bunch of Kodopokki ants that build nests that resemble bee hives. We were told they feed off dead snakes, insects and other fauna, and are completely disinterested in anything sweet or sugary. The forest fauna also included enchanting cobra lilies, orchids, cinnamon trees, pepper bushes etc. The Rufus woodpecker was busy gathering it’s lunch as it furiously pecked on the Kodopokkis nest. Since it was monsoon we did not sight any deer, bison, hog or leopard, but we were told that a pair of eyes were always watching us from behind the bushes. And chose to be afraid or not, those belonged to the leopard!
By the end of this alluring, tropical forest walk, through the awe-inspiring Nilgiris our hair was soaked by the mist and the intermittent showers. The thick lichens and moss, that looked more like a hippies dreadlocks, seemed to stare back at us, amused.
We made our way to the restaurant. I was ravenous and craving some lamb shanks, but totally satiated in spirit and mind.
Later in the evening as I sipped on my strawberry martini, watching the light drizzle, I began to ponder on the sheer brilliance with which the forests and it’s inhabitants co-exist. Blossoming on their own and sometimes symbiotically, never letting the other down and simply celebrating each others beauty and differences.That is a feat in itself. Nature always fills us with a sense of rapture and make this world a stunning place to live in. If all of us humans armed with an abundance of intelligence co-exist despite our differences, the world would be a better place. It’s our differences that make us unique. Nature doesn’t compare, or put the other down. It just flourishes on it’s own and sometimes with the help of other natural beings. Just like the Koronji shrubs and lichens, or the Kodopokki ants and the trees. Mankind can flourish too if we love and support each other inspite of our differences. That’s the message the alluring forest walk impressed upon me.
Disclaimer: A short account of this awe-inspiring experience was written by me way back in 2013, on my Facebook Notes, but this post captures my experience in a different format altogether.
So, it’s that time of the year when a whole lot of bloggers are whipping up their pens, or polishing their keyboards, and gearing up with bated breath for the much awaited AtoZ Challenge 2017. I’m a complete newbie to this but I’m so very excited. I’ve written for as long as I can remember; way back in school, then re-starting after years of hibernation and then again falling back and re-starting. I recently chose to take a sabbatical from my professional career as a Communication Consultant and seriously pursue my calling and passion for writing. I must confess that I have never taken any challenge of this sort, ever, and I’m super, super excited.
I’m a travel bug who has had some remarkable epiphanies during the course of my journeys on foot, on the cycle, in the air and on water. A few journeys have been life altering, some lesson imparting and some a sheer delight to behold and savour. Each place that I travelled to, left me not only with its sweet and savoury memories but also brought with it a certain awakening of sorts. Sometimes spiritual, sometimes ephemeral yet surreal. I guess the credit goes to the people, the beings of the universe, the meandering rivers, the indomitable hills and at times just the plain rolling mist. They’ve all left me bewildered, bewitched and thirsting for more.
So this A to Z 2017, come, let’s embark together on this journey of my travel epiphanies, as I spin 26 tales of adventure and realisation and revelation.