{K} is for Kitschy Trip to Kasauli : #AtoZChallenge

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K is for Kitschy Trip to Kasauli

March 2015

Imagine you are undertaking a meandering journey to the mountains; all excited, hopeful and with that sparkle of anticipation in your eyes. Away from the busyness and monotony of life in the plains. As your MPV starts making that climb uphill, you literally clutch your heart in excitement, in prescience (apparently) of what the climb ahead holds. Life will be peaking with joy during the next 5 days of your holiday in Kasauli. But little do you know that there’s more to it than meets the eye.

You realise your travel agent has booked you in a dilapidated, non- scenic place, right in the middle of a bustling market. You didn’t leave the plains to land yourself in another crowded place, did you? Fortunately, you have a very kind, helpful classmate from school who generously helps book you in her family resort which is gorgeous, but the food doesn’t go well with your teenager’s tummy.
Then, there is not much to do in this sleepy, little township. You are happy with the nothingness, but the family wants some adventure, some good food-to assuage the stomach bug, some places to explore and some more. But a peak will not always translate to a peak. What might peak for you might not peak for others.

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You return to you hearth in the plains. A flurry of activities over powers your being. It’s time to spring clean, move the woollens inside, donate the old clothes and tidy up the cupboards with summer wear. It’s suddenly a lot of work, after having put your feet up and having done nothing for a few days. The vacation is over (did it really start?) and reality has bitten you. Hard.

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You speak to some wise friends and family.They dispense some nuggets of wisdom.
Your friend says it’s pertinent to find the work and play balance every day. It’s different when you are on vacation. It’s all play, then (as if I didn’t know!). I translate this in my head as “When in the plains; keep a mind that is plain, simple and balanced. Focus on things, chores and work that need to be done, after all there is no escaping from the rigours of a routine. And yes, take that time out for “play” as well.
The family member tells you, “Derive satisfaction from within. Do things that will nurture you as a person. Also do things that will nurture you as a family unit.” Quite bang on indeed.
And I have followed the advice now for a while now.

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These days more and more of us are seeking out for external sources to make us happy. Be it friends, partying, dining out, technology, social media, the mall visits or holidays and so on so forth. In the process we forget to cherish the simple pleasures that can be derived from our every day life. A steaming cup of coffee in the balcony or garden, a walk in the park, watching movies on the DVD on a lazy weekend, reading a gratifying book, having a soulful conversation, gardening, listening to music, playing with our pets, a board game with the family, rustling up that meal, baking; all this can uplift us beyond imagination.
You don’t always need to get away; you need to find your inner peace right here where you are;  within yourself.

Note to Self: It’s uncanny this piece was scheduled for today, as I can’t wait to get away this Good Friday weekend, for a little break to a valley nearby. Yes, it’s something to look forward to, but I need to remember that when I return I will have no choice but to return to my schedule and a big job list awaiting me.  A holiday might not always translate into happiness. Or even if it does, that happiness might be short-lived. Happiness is a state of mind. It finally boils down to being content with what we have, where we are and how we make the most of the situations or circumstances that life throws upon us.

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My theme for this year’s Blogging from A-Z Challenge is Travel Epiphanies that are my very own tales of adventure and revelation. I will be writing 26 posts throughout the month of April. You can read my theme here.

{J} is for Jaunt to Fairyland?: #AtoZChallenge

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J is for Jaunt to Fairyland?

March 2017,Gurugram, North India

By now you all must know that my A to Z posts are about Travel Epiphanies. What does travel mean to you? Is it about making a journey to a distant land, of exploring the unexplored, or revisiting places away from home?

For me travelling does not just translate to leaving town and going on a break. I believe that each day we travel in our own little ways through time, place and space. That morning jog, the little walk to the market nearby, driving down to the green grocers for fresh veggies, or a trip on the tube rail to the other side of the town to meet and greet old friends and new alike, or maybe that commute to work. Each one of them qualify for travel of a unique kind, a journey that leaves us with memories that are indelible, yet non-reclaimable.

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{I} is for Intimidating – Yes; Imaginary – No: #AtoZChallenge

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I is for Intimidating, Yes; Imaginary, No

2006, Manila, The Philippines

2006 was about new beginnings, an exciting start to a new life, of chasing adventures and dreams. We had moved to Manila. My now 18 year old was all of 8. The DH had already shifted to Manila from work. He had painstakingly searched and found a beautiful condominium called Spanish Bay, in the lovely Bonifacio Ridge that we rented out. We took to Manila like fish to water. We would love jumping into the pool most evenings, as the sun went down. The three of us spent the evenings taking long walks around the wide open roads of Bonifacio Ridge, hanging out at Jollibee for Palabok (a local dish made of rice noodles that I love, love, love). On many weekend mornings we would go for idyllic breakfasts at Pancake House, around the neighbourhood.

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{H} is for Happy Birthday to You: #AtoZChallenge

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H is for Happy Birthday to You
June 2013, Vivanta by Taj, Madikeri, Coorg, Karnataka, India

Day 2, 5:30 IST: In the wee hours of a misty, rain drenched morning in stunning Coorg (where we were on a holiday), my lucid dreams were broken by somebody whistling. A shrill, happy whistle, the pattern of notes going up and down the scale, a whistle that stood out amidst the pitter-patter of the rain. One that sounded like a melodious, “Happy Birthday to you.” I assumed it was one of the locals, or a  visitor at the resort, on a morning walk. I pulled myself out of the cosy comforts of my soft, warm blanket, wrapped myself with a light shawl, and peered out of the massive window in our suite that overlooked the hills and the thicket of green. It was mostly misty and all I could see was the silhouettes of the huge rain kissed tress and the lush hills. The whistling continued. It did stop for a few minutes, to re-start agin. “Happy Birthday to You.” “Happy Birthday to You”. I pictured a cheery person; on his morning walk, as the light drizzle continued to fall upon his umbrella and brush against him, whistling a melodious tune. A tune that portended the start of a fresh new day. Listening to him was soothing to say the least, and I felt wisps of happiness falling upon my being; like confetti in slo-mo.

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{G} is for Gobsmacked in Glorious Goa: #AtoZChallenge

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 G is for Gobsmacked in Glorious Goa

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…)

{F} is for Far Far Away #AtoZChallenge

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F is for Far Far Away

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…)

{E} is for Entranced by my Enigmatic Roots: #AtoZ Challenge

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E is for Entranced by My Enigmatic Roots

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 #AtoZChallenge

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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.

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{C} is for Captivating Jungle Run #AtoZChallenge

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C is for Captivating Jungle Run

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…)

{B} is for Boisterous Fruit Bats: #AtoZChallenge

B is for Boisterous Fruit Bats

April 2016, Kumarakom, Kottayam District, Kerela, India

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Vembanad Lake
(Credits: The 18 year old)

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…)

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