Posted in canada, Life Travel, North America, Toronto City

At twenty eight

It’s an icy-rainy day outside, my thoughts wander far and wide. Here I am sitting on my couch and looking out of the window of my apartment on the 17th floor. Everything has turned white, but the mind streams grey. My pen, paper and Chai are my companions for the day.


The age of twenty-seven lasted a bit longer than its expiry date. Twenty-eight struck to me a month later. To be precise, exactly one month after my 27th birthday. On the 7th of February, I took off from the motherland to the West. Towards Canada, my new homeward bound, I was flying high on altitude and expectations. Sitting clumsily by the window seat and pondering over this new chapter of life, it wasn’t the turbulence of air that was giving me jitters. It wasn’t even the sleepless never-ending journey from east to west. It was rather the turbulence of my thoughts that I heard loud and clear in my head.

At twenty-eight, my life had once again pressed the start button for me. I was at the footsteps of a new mountain. A place from where I knew the hike would be long & exhausting, the directions misleading and support unpredictable. A challenge that I had accepted only on the premise of my own will. The plane descended onto a white runway. The snow wrapped the city of Toronto and the sun rays reflected from snow making the sky brighter. With this view, my train of thoughts got interrupted and I immersed myself in the white landing, something that I had never experienced before.

There I was in a new city, by myself and for myself. As I looked outside the window of my room, I only saw dead trees and wet roads. A bus seldom passed by and the night arrived much earlier than I expected. I didn’t feel the excitement of traveling to a new country. With this one-way ticket, it was important to feel at home.

At twenty-eight, a lot was left behind. Friends, family, a professional career and all the comforts of home that I liked to call my own. In pursuit of finding all of them again, this time with a hope to create all of them on my own. At twenty-eight, I was all set to rediscover myself.

The feelings were mixed. There was fear along with faith. There were confusions along with conviction. There was a sense of anxiety but also a lot of joy. I did not know where to start. Finding a job or fish for a house, seek my passion to learn or strive on enhancing my survival skills, whatever it would be, it was necessary to set the priorities straight.

Figuring out the starting point demanded patience. At twenty-eight, I needed a fresh doze of hope and patience. I was meeting new people every day, making friends and acquaintances on the way. Some were newbies like me, some others were experienced enough to advise. All encounters counted. I was lucky, I made friends who I could call family in this new city. Once again, I was learning to trust my instincts. I realized it in no time, how they were my most genuine, most caring and most supportive set of people in my new abode. At twenty-eight, I was warm enough in a cold country.

With money being my immediate need of the hour, I started looking for work left, right and center. My first job arrived in less than a month. I felt happy I could use one of my existing skills that made it seem easy and yet it came with its own challenges. I was distributing flyers on the streets of downtown from house to house, for a small business owner of a window cleaning service. I gladly accepted the job because I have always loved walking. I felt it was also a good way to explore downtown through its streets. The only thing that I discounted was cold. The winters were not over yet and my nose and eyes were perennially running. It was almost like living a fantasy. To be poor, do odd jobs and make ends meet. And yet, nothing more than a fantasy. At twenty-eight, I was unearthing the value of my time, energy and efforts. I had a moment of gratitude thanking my stars for this experience. It brought me one step closer to understanding the struggles of my family who every time made ends meet with grace. I was happy, and they were proud. They were proud to see my attempts, my will to do more and my attitude to never give up. They believed in me and my strength roared because of them. As more odd jobs came my way, I looked at all of them as a necessary analysis of my potential. Only after spending a day at the call center, I knew it wasn’t my cup of tea. Making calls and asking people their opinion on politics made me feel horrible. I knew there were better ways out there to keep the money wheel moving. The next job took me to a warehouse where I was lifting boxes, scanning groceries and standing on my feet all day. I wasn’t complaining at all. There is something very attractive about big warehouse spaces. We listened to music, chatted while getting our work done and felt hungry most of the time. I made my first Caribbean friend at the warehouse. Our day out at Niagara Falls still remains my most favorite memory with him.

Thankfully, the period of odd jobs ended in about five months and I got my first corporate stint after some networking and getting rejected for a research job that I so badly wanted. I started working with Johnson and Johnson on a project that was new to me. To be fair, all the projects at this point were new to me. And there was another personal project that I was super excited about.

On the first of July, Canada day, I signed my first lease and moved into a new apartment. No more accommodating with friends, a big room to myself and a kitchen to take care of. At twenty-eight, I was more independent than ever. The whole of Canada celebrated these accomplishments, with fireworks. There were friends I stayed with, friends who helped me set up and friends who literally shared their lives with me. All of this felt awesome.

But the thing about happy moments is that they always come and go. While it was all flowing well, it was all very confusing too. In no time, I was struggling at my workplace. Not because there was an overflow of work, but because there was no work. Or maybe there was, but it didn’t feel like work. There were no directions, no goals and no mentoring. I was only doing what I was asked to do. Nothing more and nothing less. There was nobody to communicate and none at all to do any sort of hand-holding. At this point, I wasn’t sure, if it was a cultural shock or just a personal experience. But there was something I was gaining for sure. Canadian experience as they call it, they almost swear by it. As more and more people flow in this country every day, the workplaces are more complex and diverse. Each one brings their own thought process, their values and their work styles. It may not be the most pleasant experience of all, but it certainly is an essential one. So, at twenty-eight, I wasn’t satisfied at all with my professional graph, it was witnessing more troughs than crests, leaving me utterly unhappy and insecure.

Coincidentally, it was also the time when loneliness kicked in, home sickness stuck after six months and the strong and independent me was turning into a fragile and sensitive being. At twenty-eight, I was experiencing an unruliness in my emotions, losing my mind for no concrete reason and an uncalled shift in my behavior that didn’t seem to lift. Whether it was a phase of depression or an unstable state of mind, it was all a part of growing up. And while adulting is not fun for many of us, it is real for sure. Every day was a struggle, I was dealing with my thoughts of missing my family, keeping up with my daily chores that were so cyclic and never-ending, and stretched through hours of work that felt monotonous and lacked context. I wouldn’t deny that I doubted my decision of immigration and questioned myself if that was even required, but never did I have the urge to return. All of this was a cycle of many firsts that I was going through. At twenty-eight, it was hard to believe in myself, but it was harder to give up. To build this new life, I needed courage and determination, peace of my mind and an acceptance for all that I had no alternative for but to experience.

While most of it came from my friends and family who constantly reminded me of the huge shift in my life and that I was brave enough to handle it, I also owe a part of my sanity to my practice of yoga. I was back on my mat in irregular intervals and constantly looked for ways to go back to the community. There were moments of peace and happiness amidst all the chaos.

There were moments of Indian-ness every now and then. When I celebrated the Ganpati festival, hosted Egyptian, Caribbean, Chinese and diverse Indian audience opening the window of my culture to them or the Friday visits to the Gurudwara to enjoy a sumptuous langar with the community, a part of India never parted from me.

At twenty-eight, I also yearned for more travels. But there was hardly time for this luxury. But I did sneak out to Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec City for a guided tour on a long weekend. It was nothing like those slow long travels that I always enjoyed but it was certainly worth it to remind myself for all things that I love.

Although the first summer in Canada was a mixed feeling, the fall had a different impact altogether. For the first time, I was witnessing the beautiful shades of death. Leaves on trees exhibited a diaspora of colors that were a sheer pleasure to the eyes. The evergreen turned to yellow, orange, pink and then a darker pink before it gently fell on earth. The winds picked up pace and the sun went away earlier each day. Fall was beautiful. I felt it in my heart. My thoughts eased out too. I wasn’t stressed as much. It all felt like a God’s plan.

All this while, I never ceased my hunt for a job, eternally seeking contentment for my most potential eight hours that I dedicate to work. There were interviews, coffee chats, e-mails, networking and volunteering opportunities. There were innumerous versions of my work profile and an endless search on the internet. And yet there were no results shown. I was stretched in all possible directions. Nothing seemed to move. As they say, good things come to those who wait. And so, I waited. I believe, at twenty-eight, I was learning to accept things the way they were, and every time talk myself through it. It wasn’t yet the time to give up. It was time to fuel up. Fuel myself with a renewed energy of ultra-hope and crazy optimism.

For this very reason, I needed a trip home. To take a break and rejuvenate. And what better way than attending an Indian wedding. I was back to where I always belonged. Free and happy, I danced my heart out, took a few roads and hugged the Himalayas again. There was more food on my plate than I could ever eat. I echoed a new streak of confidence.

Sooner than I thought, with an overwhelming sense of experiences, I turned twenty-nine. Twenty-eight turned out to be a year of adulting. Serious, real-world adulting with no dreamy state of affairs. Instead of conveniently planning my next travel sitting on a couch, I was planning my days ahead. A steady flow of income, future investments to make, groceries to buy and other cyclic daily tasks filled up my mind space. At twenty-eight, I was proudly owning my life.

To live a life full of experiences is all I ever dreamt of and here I am living the dream. At twenty-eight, I am happy to know that life happened. There resided in me a little bit of everything, sadness and happiness, dilemmas and faith, insecurities and trust, rejections and acceptance. And many more emotions, that belong to me. At twenty-eight, I learnt to believe deeply in me.



Posted in Forests, Himalayan Getaways, Karnataka, Life Travel, mountains, road trips, south india, travel, Unforgettable Himachal

Lets’ Make a Plan

My travel timeline of 2017, as vibrant as my phone gallery. Travel that leaves you speechless and then turns you into a storyteller, 

A millennial kid, as they say, is spoilt for choices. There is always so much to look at. A lot of us appear to be confused too; so much media to consume, so many career choices to explore and so much of thoughts & feelings to deal with, all at the same time. There is so much of glocalization happening that the fear of missing out is only obvious to happen. But one thing that stands true for all of us; there are so many places that we want to travel to. I am a millennial too and I have been bitten by the travel bug too. Twenty seventeen proved to be the tipping point of my years of addiction with travel and I patted my back as I literally lived my Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.

Make a Plan, was my most often used expression in the last year. I pledged to travel at length, more than what I had already been doing. Make a plan, put it on top of the to-do list and see it happen. While I did not have a definite list of places I wanted to visit, I was sure that I wanted to do at least one new check-in every month on facebook and from as many different parts of the world. Seems like a fancy new-year resolution, seems so unlikely to keep up, but I believe I did it with just the right amount of grace and glow!

In #January, I took a train to Ajmer and Chittorgarh to celebrate one year of knowing my doppelganger, who I met at a lit fest in pink city of India. Though we are not sure, if we still manage to pull that look, we do end up doing similar things every now & then. And so, I boarded the Yoga Express to explore another heritage fort in Rajasthan.

#February arrived and took me to forests of Central India. A safari trip to Kanha National Park & a boat ride in between the white marble rocks of Bedaghat made the valentine month beautiful. The colossal white marble rocks shone under the sun and river Narmada kept the breeze cool as the oarsmen sang the tales of folklore to make this day one of its kind.

Soon #March made its way. I was starting to become the Yes Man of travel opportunities. I revisited my alma mater in Pune, throwback moment to the good old carefree days. Lesser wisdom but also lesser things to take care of, high on emotions but low on errands, I fondly think of that honeymoon period in life. I could sit by that window in my hostel room overlooking the golf course which had the best view of the rainbow during monsoon evenings or probably walk till the helipad and let my voice echo towards Pune city lights. Exploring my way further into Maharashtra, this year, I reached Baramati, a small town, only 100 kilometers away from Pune & walked through some green and growing vineyards. Ample farmland, good roads to ride the car and never ending supply of sugarcane juice on the way made it a perfect weekend getaway from the city. Rural India promises some exciting & authentic road trips.

Road trips continued in #April. Folks from Pune decided to accompany me to North and we were back to Delhi with a plan. The Golden Triangle, as it is popularly known, we took a road trip to Jaipur via Agra. What kicked off as a road experience on Taj Expressway, ended with a game of Uno with global citizens in Jaipur. Zostel took precedence in decision making & we were making plans on the way. Not what I usually do, because I plan my trip sitting on the couch at home, detour on the highway was a pleasant surprise for me as well. We booked our dormitory beds at the click of a button and zapped through the smooth roads of Rajasthan like the gypsies.

#May happened. While it’s the onset of monsoons in the south, it is also the peak of summers up in the North. The best month to trek in the Himalayas. Also the best month for indulging in mango savories. I found my way once again to a village in the mango capital of India, Uttar Pradesh. This time, it was for a research project. However, I made time to visit Lucknow and witness the combination of old world charm with the Nawabi grandeur. Bada Imambara and the rickshaw pullers encircling it, lucknowi chaat and lucknowi chicken and not to forget the tundey kababi, I experienced it all on one hot weekend of May.

By #June, I needed some chilly weather. The one where cotton like clouds are hanging in the backdrop a bright blue sky. A place where days are bright, and the nights are dark, but the air is always chilly. These places also usually have wooden cottages, roads that are not straight, birds chirping, rivers flowing, and flowers spreading out so wide that we can’t see the bed till the end. Basically, I was craving for some Himalayas. I found my spot to find all of it in a package by trekking to the Rupin Pass in Himachal Pradesh. I set myself at a new high by climbing 15,380 ft, I was overjoyed. With the trail, the view, the new bonds & the crew.

Half of the year was over, and it was only beginning to get exciting. I was able to keep up with my new year resolution till this far and I was hopeful for the rest. #July was different kind of travel. I moved cities. I got back to my corporate stint with new opportunities in Bangalore. Break was over. But nothing disrupted me from planning new trips. I looked forward to exploring south of India once again. The best thing about July was not just the independent living but the perennially pleasant weather that seemed unbelievable from a distance. I never felt the need of a fan or an AC and even the monsoon was for real. I was overwhelmed that Kerala is only at an overnight distance from me and that there were unexplored weekend getaways only at a stone’s throw distance from me. I was happy.

By #August, I was again irking for a hike. I took the forest route from Munnar to Kodaikanal on one of the long weekend. It was a 30 kilometers hike, first downward and then climbing upwards. On a sunny day, it did add to the level of difficulty. Thankfully, we had added two days of chilling in kodai, after the trek. Unfortunately, couldn’t get to try the infamous kodai shrooms. But we did enjoy the mist from a distance, whiling away an unusual Monday morning at the aptly named Cloud Street Café.

I had no plans to take an off in #September. There weren’t any long weekends either. I felt like I am not going to have any travel plan this month. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case. A research project at work took me to Indore on a Friday. I decided to use the weekend for my advantage. After finishing my work in Ujjain, I visited the old ruined town of Mandu, 95 kilometers from Indore. The local guide shared interesting romantic folklore from a long gone era and the day was spent in the rocky forts. The road from Indore to Mandu is a smooth ride that makes it a wholesome day trip. Speaking of day trips, the weekends of September were never short of it. I also took a self-drive trip to a sleepy quaint town in Karnataka, Agumbe. Only 350 kilometers away from Bangalore, I drove only to enjoy the road and the rains, something I used to miss a lot while in Delhi.

The onset of #October had set in the festive mood a bit sooner this time. Everyone was already eyeing on the Dussehra long weekend in the beginning of the month. I too was kicked about the Mysore Dussehra, its popularity had already begun to gain momentum. I made an early booking at the only hostel in Mysore city, The Mansion, 1907. An old house converted into a hostel, it was at a walkable distance from Mysore City palace. While I didn’t enjoy the procession because of the crowd, the lighting at the palace and the walking tour of the city did make it an eventful trip for me. The month of October gave me a lot more options to travel. My parents traveled down south during the Diwali break and we took a unique trip to Yercaud and Pondicherry. It was our only trip in which we experienced both, the hills & the sea. While it was still hot in Pondy, the cafes in White town and a day at Auroville made it quite a pleasant trip for us. But that is not where traveling in October ended. My brother, my Kerala buddy and I were still excited about the self-drive trip to Ooty. The Zostel experience at Lovedale was nothing short of romantic. The toy train ride from Lovedale to Coonoor, the location of the hostel amdist the tea gardens and the memories of our cycling trip, we made the most of the trip on the road.

#November was my last month in Bangalore. I was nearing the completion of my tenure in the South. There is never an enough time-period to be living in South India. I was feeling sad about still not visiting Kerala. In the last week of November, I took a solo trip to Fort Kochi. It was my personal yoga retreat with one of my teachers from the Ashram. I practiced yoga & meditation on a weekend, walked the streets of Mattancherry and enjoyed all the appam and fish that I could. From there on, the plan was to reach Goa via Konkan railways. The rail journey was green & gorgeous. The next few days were spent chilling & riding in Goa, in the true goan style. There was enough fish, beer & vitamin sea on the platter.

#December brought me back to Delhi. The winters were only beginning to set in. I was looking forward to my first winter trekking experience. This was also going to be the third trek of the year, something that I pulled off with not much effort. I went to Dayara Bugyal and spent sleepless nights in the yellow tents. Washing dishes at high altitude made me realize what negative temperatures would feel like, I expressed all my gratitude to the sun. The Zostel at Rishikesh was a perfect place to relax after week-long hardships.

The end of the year was a perfect time to reflect on my journeys. Its hard to say which one was my favorite, because all of them brought with them the feeling of Joy. They were all very different from one another and made my 2017 one of the best I could ever ask for. While the year was getting over, my plans were not.

January 2018 was my last month in India. I celebrated my birthday at the Golden Temple with friends, family and a lot of ritualistic phone calls. My last travel in India happened with my dad. A perfect one to bid goodbye to this country for a short while now, we went to Kolkata & Sunderbans; the home to the royal Bengal tigers and world’s largest delta. I have had the time of my life, striking off these before thirty goals and gladly adding new ones to my list.

On a sunny morning at a public library in Toronto, I sit back and recollect all these wonderful memories from back home, which only makes me miss my home.

But for some time now, Canada is home for this traveler.

Posted in canada, Life Travel, North America, Toronto City, travel, Yoga

My first February in Toronto

On Wednesday, 7th of March, I completed one month in this beautiful city of Toronto. It has been a journey overloaded with new thoughts, new tasks and new dimensions to look at the world.  Sharing a few observations that have kept me warm in this cold place.

I remember tales from back home that I used to hear about Canada; how it is also known as Mini Punjab. They say the sign boards in Canada are also in Punjabi. That you can easily locate a turbaned man in almost every place you go to. The kids have the option of selecting Punjabi language as a subject in school, the flights have a huge database of Punjabi movies, the local radio stations play Punjabi songs and you see people doing Bhangra on the road and that everyone you meet there have some family back home, either in Ludhiana or in Jalandhar.

All myths were busted when I landed a month ago in Canada. While I had come to believe that Canada would be more Punjabi than Punjab itself, I am glad that it isn’t. From the time I boarded the Air India flight to Toronto till today when I de-boarded the TTC Bus 134 outside Centennial College, I have seen an unimagined world of mixed cultures, variety of ethnicity and no right or wrong way of being human. And to this, Punjabis have made a significant contribution.

Back in India, Canada has always been synonymous with Punjabi, however, I have met more Gujratis, Tamilians and Lankans in the past one month. It is not a just Punjabi thing. I use public transit, visit public libraries and more often visit the newcomers’ services centers in my local region. I believe Canada has not branded itself as multi cultural out of no context. There are blacks and browns, orientals and Caucasians, short hair and extensions, bearded and bald, pierced and tattooed, with all their differences, they are all operating in the same air. The one thing that remains common across cultures is that they all wear snow boots and furry jackets. Yes, when the weather becomes harsh on Canadians, they say that the warmth within stays intact. The diversity of the city is also its pride that is seen loud & clear. Though I haven’t made many friends here, it looks like I have landed in the right place in my pursuit of becoming a true global citizen. It is a good way of knowing the world in one place.

By far, the public libraries have been one of the most exciting places to visit. There is access to new information, free wifi and free tourist passes. For each library card, on every Saturday, you can collect a free pass to visit the tourist attractions in the city like Toronto Zoo, Ontario Science Center, Bata Shoe Museum and many more places around the city. These places are also advisable to visit during the winter months as exploring outdoors is not an option for many.

It is true that technology has helped a great deal for me to maneuver around this new city. For the millennials, most of the information is also accessed by downloading an app for what is required. Weather Canada tops the list of must have apps in this city. Few Sunny days are mostly followed by a few flurry days, courtesy the lake effect. The TTC transit apps can help you to increase your mobility. TD bank incentivized me with 5$ to download their app and start using it. Kijiji has been useful in finding part time jobs and renting apartments. But the most interesting one so far has been Tinder. It truly reflects the multi cultural vibe of this city. However, for me, the most often used app is Meethi Mirchi, so I don’t miss Bollywood at all. I do miss the food delivery apps from time to time, the convenience of ordering warm Chinese food on a cold day was a bliss.

The past one month has been slow and steady and at the same time overwhelming with everything new and vibrant. My visit to Cliff-side with my Canadian cousins gave me a glimpse of the natural beauty around the place. My upcoming volunteering activities at YMCA as a Yoga Instructor look like a foundation step to my dream of owning a yoga studio one day. There is an excitement to learn the French language giving me hopes of new avenues.

But for now, it is a challenge to set myself up in this country and working towards building a career that I truly want. In a month, I have been able to fetch an interesting part time job for myself. I have to distribute flyers for a window cleaning guy in Downtown, who has agreed to pay me 15$ per hour. While I longed to become a waitress, this one will make me happy too; I get to see the city and get paid for it.  I guess a global citizen never says no to work.

I also played a ‘5 minutes’ quick Holi, visited Indian temples in foreign land and relished Kadi Chawal at the Scarborough Gurudwara.  While India still fills most of the spaces in my heart and probably always will, I can certainly say Toronto is that home away from home that doesn’t make me sick for my home.

Posted in Life Travel, travel

At Twenty Seven

Going back to my diary, to pen down down my gratitude for this time.

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Few days ago, facebook displayed the reel of year 2017 on my timeline. It was my whole of 2017 in the light of innumerous updates and uploads that I had done in this year. This memory reel however took me to an old piece, saved in my diary that I wrote at the beginning of 2017. At twenty six, as it is called, it took me back to time which doesn’t feel very far and yet feels like a lot has evolved since then. I now look back at my twenty seven, only to see how far I have made it this year.

New Year resolutions and growing a year older almost comes hand in hand for me. I am one of those who pledges unreasonably on birthdays only to feel guilty about not keeping it by the next. Thankfully, 2017 was different; perhaps, because of the unique resolution that I found for myself. But, in other words, it was not only the resolution but also many other variables of triumph and failures that kept me going this year.

At twenty seven, I succumbed to the pressure of registering with instagram community, not realizing whether I will consume social media or will the social media consume me. At twenty seven, I pledged to travel more than what I had already been doing. I resolved to do at least one facebook check in every month from a different part of the earth. And I did it. I took journeys that were sometimes long and boring, sometimes they were ugly too but then there were also some which were extraordinarily rewarding. There was none which was not an experience.

At twenty seven, I was determined & confused at the same time. Determined to take life as it comes & confused about where my life was heading. There were slow realizations about how money completes the circle of life. There was a constant search for stability in thoughts. Movement was making me realize it even more and gradually it was also the movement that was becoming a deterrent to it. Duality always kept haunting me but it also made me bold. Bold enough to take decisions. At twenty seven, I decided to go back to my corporate career, go back to doing what I was good at and still be doing what I enjoyed doing the most – yoga!

At twenty seven, I realized that if I don’t have enough money, my travel plans will suffocate and lead to a slow death. I wasn’t ready for that. But I wasn’t ready for materialism either. And so, at twenty seven, I was experiencing life first hand. Joblessness taught me the value of my work; traveling taught me the outreach of my desires and yoga taught me the state of my thoughts.

My practice of yoga tried its best to keep me sane & sober. At twenty seven, my fitness schedule was my only constant in life. I religiously built up my strength to chase my next Himalayan goal, climb to the next altitude. At twenty seven, I touched 15,380 ft at the Rupin Pass. I was traversing bridges that led from one state to another, passed three different districts and interacted with three unique cultures within these mountain ranges. I was meditating on this long journey in my Himalayan abode. I was breaking old friendships and making new friendships; discovering that these friendships are journeys too. They come & go, make us strong, agile & receptive beyond our capacity. At twenty seven, I was reassuring myself, while the old ones might not need me anymore; the new ones have so much to share and yet there were some bonds that were growing stronger than before.

Travel bloomed all those wonderful stories into conversations & let my energy flow like a river. At twenty seven, I was unfurling new playlists, reconnecting with the magic of stars in this universe, trying to understand some fantasy fiction writers and also revisiting the Osho philosophy. There were new stories being created with great momentum.

While my facebook timeline was brimming with marriage updates of my peers, I was still limiting it to my travel updates. At twenty seven, I wasn’t getting married. In fact, I was moving cities. I moved to Bangalore as new opportunities knocked and I found my way to rediscover the South. This new kind of freedom movement gave a huge kick to my OCD of planning trips. The one that took up a lot of my mind space, it was growing stronger than ever, more so like an addiction giving me a natural high, extracting so much of my mental energy and yet giving me pleasure. It reached its tipping point towards the end of the year, when I was planning multiple trips simultaneously, only in the hope that at least one will be executed. And guess what, it always did. With my thoughts about my resolution going stronger, I was ticking some serious ‘before 30’ goals off my bucket list. At twenty seven, my passion passport looked glorious.

While there were a lot of good energies, there were also failures. I wasn’t writing or reading enough. I didn’t attend any live music concert. I attempted a content writing job with a fitness start-up & failed to enjoy it. I was rejecting boys and boys were rejecting me. The commitment & discipline that I hoped for was rather overridden by new age distractions and a lot of noisy thinking. At twenty seven, confusion still prevailed.

I looked back at twenty six and felt strong about myself. I wasn’t anxious, rather I felt empowered. At twenty seven, my independence became my first love. My heart was full of gratitude towards everything that I accomplished. I was thankful for all the kind words that I heard for myself this year. I was learning to prioritize the good, recede the bad and drop off the ugly. At twenty seven, I was balancing the dreamy me with the realistic me. I was decoding my own secrets, talking more to myself and learning to smile when it was expected the least. At twenty seven, I remember, I was a very happy girl.


Posted in Life Travel, travel

At Twenty Six

Late post Alert. I wrote this piece towards the end of 2016, when I was about to turn twenty seven. I pulled it out of my diary a year later and reread it. 26 was a good year, I looked back, felt nostalgic and decided to share on my page. While some thoughts have evolved to a new stage, some of them remain fixed as it is.

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New Years are the most popular time for resolutions. In another way, introspections. Another year gone by and have I moved any further. How many items on my ‘to do’ list have I been able to tick mark this year, is the question we all answer silently to ourselves. During the retrospection, runs the reel of the past one year in our mind. For me, it is slightly more than just introspection. With each New Year I am gifted an epiphany of growing older. From an innocent teenager who had sleepless night before the birthday, I have turned into an analytical adult who is trying hard not to grow up so soon. But truth be told, we all are indeed growing old. Some of us are accepting it with grace, some of us are happily ignorant about it and there are a few who are managing to grow old with style.

While my twenty six had been very stylish, I wonder how my twenty seven would be. At twenty six, I did my first mountain biking expedition amidst the Nilgiris. I bumped into my doppelganger at a Literature Festival in the pink city of India. She is my most permanent humane love today, without a doubt. At twenty six, I happened to quit my well paying corporate job. At twenty six, I chopped off my hair. The major risks of life were already taken with these, and soon began the life of a hippie. I lived in an ashram for a month to become a certified Yoga Instructor. And with that I found yet another purpose, my thing; that I know I will stick to, for the rest of my life. Is that my calling? I still haven’t figured out, but that is my happy space, and it feels good to know that. Since then there have been long hours of sweating it out, breathing deeply and keeping calm. Oh! About the job and hair, people do ask me if I have any regrets and I answer with a smile, NO! At twenty six, I proved my hypothesis to be a theory — unless you do it, you don’t know it.

At twenty six, I ardently honed my travel planning skills by creating my very first Hop On Hop Off tour on the south western coast of India. In 20 days, I touched 10 new destinations. We call it the Epic South Trip of 2016. Its grandeur is etched within and will remain an inspiration forever. I brought back with me stories worth sharing. Stories of three friends who are now beyond the label of travel partners.

Half of 2016 had already passed by and I had still not visited my old folks in the Himalayas. My deodars and my pines. They were strong but I was craving for them. It is like cheating on myself not riding up north. After all it is a pact with self to spend at least 10 days every year with these old folks. At twenty six, I saved my pact. I walked over Guishaini and crossed the pass of Jalori, satiated my soul with the sight of serenity.

And then came along an unplanned twist; my first visit to Britain. I was flying over continents at twenty six. I love my life; grateful for every ounce of it. Old, undone dreams were fulfilled. I was exploring different cities and countries; not knowing what else would surprise me. Scotland happened. And then there was New Castle and Nottingham and London. I was all over the country, from North to South. I was biking in the country parks, meeting yogis and witnessing the Abbey Road studios. I was wondering and wandering. I was lost and found.

And at twenty six, I was also discovering how much I loved India. And how much I want to be here. The times when I saw Shankar Mahadevan perform live, or the humongous amount of street food that I consume to uplift my mood or the innumerous Indian Railways journeys that I took; happiness flows in my cells when I unfurl some Indian-ness within me. I was back to breathe in more of Indian air.

At twenty six, not everything was rosy and shiny. There were struggles of being jobless, challenges of a perfectly failed love story and the perpetual uncertainty of my vital position in the cosmos. Losing the mind was an easy bet, of course I did lose it many a times. Losing myself has been a constant fear. It would be unfair to call myself depressed but there I was, all anxious about everything. I wanted to write more, read more and discover more. But instead, my travel blog was not sizzling and my reading challenge was definitely not on the track. In short, I wasn’t soaring anywhere.

It wouldn’t be wrong to say that I was bereft, bedazzled and perennially confused. In fact, I still am. “Don’t know” is my most used expression. As I pen down all my thoughts here, I am trying to figure out what all this means. What is the real context of this tale! And this is where I say to myself; everything might not seem logical, but everything is an experience.

At twenty six, I haven’t discovered the whole bunch. There are people I don’t understand, there are goals I am unable to reach, and there are mistakes that I have committed. Many a times, I think a lot, it becomes very noisy inside my head and leaves me with no answer. Sometimes, I know it would be better to keep calm but I don’t because yelling is an instant help. Yet I shouldn’t. Learning to be patient and learning from my experiences have been the biggest lessons at twenty six.

The year has now come to an end, I have turned twenty seven. For one more time, I look back at my twenty six and I see there are unforgettable moments and lessons learnt that I must carry forward. Twenty Six has been my age of casting confusions and meaningful insights, my confidence building and shattering, that sense of achievement and yet that feeling of helplessness taking over from time to time, to be able to live my dreams and yet immerse in doubt.

There isn’t a consistent graph to life and thank goodness there isn’t because at twenty six, I am unraveling the secrets of my physical being, deep diving into my mental space and demystifying the truths of my spiritual presence and I guess I am doing just fine.


Posted in Forests, Rail Journeys, road trips, travel

Bedaghat, the phenomenal beauty of white marble rocks

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Nature around us is mostly about the mountains, seas and forests. We think of nature and most naturally one of these imageries is created. Their abundance around us makes it even more obvious. We think of the altitudes from where we atop the whole world, we think of the oceans and sink deep into an inner world and we think of forests and start forgetting about the rest of the world. There is a harmony that we recreate every time we get close to the nature.

But nature sometimes is different. It is more than its harmony and its beauty. It is astonishing, bewildering and charismatic. It is beyond the definition of uniqueness. It is some form of natural phenomenon whose existence widens our eyes and expands our horizon. We are simply left with an expression “Wow, does this exist in real? “

The white marble rocks of Bedaghat in the heart of India is one such natural phenomenon. Having extensively traveled in India, I have a fair idea of the topography of different regions, but Bedaghat was a lot more than a surprise. What is even more surprising is that despite the extraordinary beauty, it is still one of the unconventional and untouched tourist destinations. It may look like a picnic spot for the local tourists & it is yet not placed eminently on the global tourist map.

So what is Bedaghat really? What makes it a natural phenomenon worth visiting? And why should you be visiting this place at a particular time of the year?

Bedaghat is a tiny tourist destination, about an hour’s drive away from the city of Jabalpur in the state of Madhya Pradesh. Nauka Vihar, as they call it is on the banks of river Narmada which has the unique view of the river that manages to flow between the gorges formed between the giant white marble rocks that have been in this place since forever. The history of these rocks go beyond the history of mankind and the depth of the river here is yet unknown to mankind. What is amazingly unique about these rocks is that they are white and they shine bright on the moonlit nights.

These rocks are huge enough to be categorized into hills but they are essentially made out of marble and you can see the carvings in many places which now also have mythological attuning. The best and the only way to explore the grandeur of these rocks is to hop on one of the wooden & rustic rowing boats and take a ride with the local oarsman. What is more surprising than the view is the creativity of these guys who know all about these rocks. With their song and the view of these rocks, this one hour of boat ride will be an entertainer. They do the narration in Hindi, so you would enjoy only if you know the language. Else, the serenity of these rocks will keep you wonderstruck anyway.

There is also a display of bravery in this place. The local kids climb up the cliff and jump into the river fearlessly. What is risk for us is an adventure for them; a quick, unthoughtful and silly adventure done for a small amount of money. At times, this is what India is made up of – poverty and strength.

The breeze through the gorge caresses you even on the sunny days.  The water is still but the ripples keep coming as they row the boat. The sky is clear and bright blue, but now I am curious how it would be on a full moon night; pretty romantic and soulful. The foreplay of clouds and the moon is always more attractive than that with the sun. The darkness will disappear as these rocks would illuminate under the moonlight. The experience of nature in that setting would elate the soul, I can already imagine.

Though there is no visible end to this gorge, it finally meets the Dhuadhar waterfall which is a few kilometers away from Nauka Vihar. The tourists can access only a small part of this gorge, where many of the eighties Bollywood scenes have also been shot.

The trip to Jabalpur can be easily summoned in a day, where you should not forget to try the local street food of Jabalpur.

Posted in Rajasthan, travel

Zostel? – For a GenZ travel experience!

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I have been traveling around my country since 14 years now. I often find myself in places that would either be extra ordinary or out of the ordinary.  India is a beautiful country and the people here are all the more beautiful, anyone who has been here will vouch for that. We are the perfect example of hospitality and not just traditional but also blend it with a pinch of modernity. If there was one thing that I had to pick up about India from a travelers’ perspective, I’d say, we are naturally hippie!

We are the messengers of peace and brotherhood, propagators of love and warmth. We open our hearts and let everyone in. And we like it that way, we are proud of our hospitality, of all those small and big things that we not only care about but also share. I sometimes dream of another life where I am born in another world and I am drawn to this country and get amazed as I see these cultures like an outsider. Yet again I fall in love with this land.

Whether born as an Indian or not, the heart is forever Indian. And I witness how men and women from the west are attracted to the east. We welcome them, sometimes be one of them and let them be one of us. We celebrate being together, and spread the joy that comes from wandering.

It is during these wandering tours that I end up meeting people who love India. Whether it is tent pitched under the stars on a lonely hill, a chamber hall behind a popular temple where you can spend the night for free, a verandah of the only school in the village, a 150 year old traditional house in the forest or a bunk bed shared dormitory, I have tried them all. Life actually happens in all of these interesting and not so luxurious accommodations.

One such exhilarating experience came from a recent stay at a Hostel in Rajasthan. Though the state is known for its luxurious homecomings, there is space for the traveler on road. At Pushkar and Udaipur, I booked myself a shared dormitory bed at Zostel. An upcoming and expanding chain of hostels across India, this brand is catching up fast with its must have presence in must go places.

For me, it was the first time that I stayed at a traveler’s hostel and within no time I could see how it was adding value to my solo trip. First things first, it was very economical, commendably clean and a fantasy perk for the eyes. The moment you enter, you see those big cushions lined up across the wall with a low bedding, and all you want to do is jump on them. The hanging bulbs from the ceiling and the mythological graffiti on the walls were making it look very attractive. The house has the local aesthetics, the people have local warmth and the cuisine has local taste, all that a global traveler needs.

The rooftop restaurants besides the ‘cook your own food’ facility is also the chilling zone and the heart of these Zostels. Great food is accompanied by great music, a fantastic view and an amazing company. Friendships strike over everything here – be it your book, your collection of country music, a drag of your light or simply a lemonade. There is a breeze of stories, mild as well as wild, that gives a great vibe to this place. I spent a soothing afternoon at Zostel Pushkar and a chirpy talkative evening at Zostel Udaipur. When conversations get a view, they sound more intimate and the comfort zone builds up flawlessly at Zostel.

Apart from the relaxing and chilled out scenes at this traveler’s hostel, they also offer other travel related services like ticket booking, travel inquiries and nearby offbeat day trips. Another add on is the wifi service which enables a ‘work on the go!’ which is a booster for many who travel. If you are not looking for something formal and can adjust to the free spirit, then I am sure, Zostel is your hideout.

The next on my mind is Zostel @ Varanasi, it is a city that is said that every Hindu should visit once in their life.