Tag Archives: India

Face to face with a Tiger

So, this trip of mine was very internally focussed on looking after myself and hence, I planned a few mini-trips out of Delhi so I wasn’t always surrounded by the cloud of cancer! The first one being to a place called Bandhavgarh.

The journey to the centre of the country is certainly not easy- the closest train station is a 45 km drive away (Umaria), the 2nd 2 hours (Katni), 3rd 3 hours (Satna) and 4th 4 hours (Jabalpur). Sadly there is not much to do in some of those places… so the focus needs to be very clear and the roads aren’t always great. And oh0 definitely forget the idea of trying to get food en route- even a packet of Uncle Chipps were difficult to come by!

Near Umaria: There is a huge mining district here and if one is keen, coal mines can be visited- we didn’t do this. There is also a single temple closeby with similar architecture as that portrayed in Khajuraho- we stopped here for a very quick visit as the sun was too strong and I have been to Khajuraho and my sister is planning a trip there in the future.

En route from Umaria towards Jabalpur: There is a “stopping” point called Shahpura- this is where the taxis like to take a tea break- horrible spot- we didn’t eat anything that was not packed due to the flies and unhygienic conditions! About 15kms from here is a Fossil Park that I wish I had known about so I could have explored it. This seems to be something the locals never really talk about but from my understanding a volcano erupted and everything has been preserved as is from the many years ago, including dinosaur eggs (myth or reality- am not sure!)

Katni: Since we never went there, I can’t say about all that is there but I believe there are some amazing pre-historic caves and dwellings (near the DC’s house is the landmark) that are worth checking out.

Satna: Nothing at all!

Jabalpur: The awesomely pretty marble waterfalls. The falls have marble on either side and they are just absolutely stunning, I would imagine even more so during the monsoon seasons when they are absolutely massive. I went expecting Iguazzu and was a wee bit disappointed but nevertheless, they had their own charm. Even though we went on a random Wednesday afternoon, it was brimming with tourists and people, so that certainly takes away some of the pleasure…

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During our journey, we had some interesting conversations, met some fascinating characters and basically savoured the Indian railway experience that is unique in its own way!

I have figured there are some characters that can be found easily:

#1: The phone talker: These guys will spend all their time on the phone, talking to other people, loudly and will ensure everyone knows how prominent they are in the society, who their family members are, what they do etc etc etc.
#2: The sweet boy: This will usually be a college student who is still trying to find his feet and will offer to do errands, offer you their food (a big no no in trains to share, btw, for safety reasons) and will spend his time trying to look cool with earphones.
#3: The religious fanatic: Sometimes will try to get people involved in ‘kirtans’ and discussions regarding the Gita- poor lad should be prepared for the atheists who have extensive knowledge of the Gita though- I suspect he will not forget his encounter and argument with me anytime soon.
#4: The oldie: They will invariably have the top berth and want to swap it for a lower one. They expect you to do it ‘cos they are old and often consider it their birthright and forget politeness in the process!
#5: The amused: Me- there are always a few who are too busy having a good time observing it all, taking it all in and enjoying the ride!

So we finally did get to Bandhavgarh and were lucky to be staying in a beautiful place– great hospitality, clean rooms, wholesome food (not very hotelly, not very homey), well priced. I highly recommend this place and if I ever go back, I will stay here again. The owner there is a massive tiger buff and loves to talk about his experiences with them and gets exceptionally excited about every tiger he spots- which are not as uncommon as one would imagine!

We did a total of 3 safaris- there are 3 safari options: Tala- always booked out months in advance so plan well and considered the best place to spot tigers. Also the driest so with few watering holes! The most restricted area as it is too tough to go from one path to another and it is very closely monitored, Maghdi- the second best option and the one we spent our time in- small area but exceptionally dense with 2/3 big watering areas allowing for some good spotting, Khitauli- the newest one coming up now. We had a driver who was a goldmine of information and very good to us on day 1- after that he seemed to lose his enthusiasm but either which way, a fountain of knowledge and available independently- his name is Bhammud and he can be reached on +919425344221.

There is the option of climbing to the fort and though we had the option of being 1 of the 2 cars, we had to decline the option due to the heat- it’s a good 2-2.5 km hike which would normally not be an issue but for the heat so I recommend doing this in the winter months only. There are ruins there with not too many other options but the 16 reservoirs for water are meant to be intact, as are some of the religious statues dotted around. Apparently, some of the rare birds can be spotted here.

All in all, not much to do but go for safairs, eat, sleep and enjoy a good break! For those keen to see a tiger, I highly recommend Bandhavgarh but do be aware, it is overcrowded with tourists and not the spot for a serious naturalist etc!

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Almost Impulsive!

So I have been saying for the past few weeks that I would love a break, would love some time at home, would love to get away… well, I have finally decided on an almost impulsive trip- if all the things fall in place, it is going to be EPIC!!

I am considering going on 3 mini holidays in the next 3 weeks! Now how’s that for making my wishes come true? The idea is to go to India via Turkey:

Holiday #1:

Something like this: in Istanbul

– Topkapi Palace
– Blue Mosque
– Spice Bazaar
– Hammam
– Hagia Sophia
– Archaeological Museum
– Bosphorus Tour
– Based on price, Cappadocia

Holiday #2:

A few days with my mum and her boyfriend, out of town, getting some sun, getting some exercise, exploring a new spot, having a few cocktails and kinda just going somewhere off the beaten path.

Holiday #3:

Winnie and I plan to head to a spa in Pushkar in Rajasthan- apparently this is a good spot to rejuvenate, rest and get pampered.

And how cool would it be to catch up with my mates?! Between Calvin, Salfa, ChiseledCheeks, Winnie I am looking forward to some good laughs, some fabulous memories and some fun time.

With a few days away from Delhi being pampered, I am looking forward to getting my energy back.

With a few days with my family, I am looking forward to having a good time yet being absolutely exasperated!

Fingers crossed, all goes to plan now. Pray, pray, pray!

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What identifies us?!

At the end of the day, doing something ‘cos you wanna do it is the ONLY way forward. How life works out is a combination of luck, hardwork, grabbing opportunities and more hardwork.

For those of you who read my blog regularly, you know I am always questioning my identity- my beliefs, my values, my expectations etc. I am beginning to wonder is this an Indian girl thing, as our society changes and we trail blaze it for the others or is it a me thing going through my own version of ABCD (American Born Confused Desi- the difference being I am Indian Born Confused Leprechaun) but here’s thought from another amazing Indian lady and how she feels free to be herself. (In true small world fashion, turns out she is the sister of a friend’s friend! Go figure!!)

I suppose this is even more relevant to me today because I was at a meeting the other day and constantly being introduced as “X’s daughter” or “Y’s niece” and NOT just for me- I stepped away from the cushy life of a family business to establish myself and my identity- I have obviously done a decent enough job of being recognised in my own right, in India and Ireland. Every so often, I do doubt myself- oh yes I do-
the things I lost out on while building up my identity and career- have they been worth it?,
the distance between a hug from my mother as often as I would like- has it been worth it?,
the contempt Ryan has for me at times (completely irrationally)- what’s it worth?,
the life of luxury I could have lived- am I glad I walked away?

You know what, in the end, nothing else matters because I know it was all MY choice and the freedom to do things MY way, lead MY life MY way and make MY own decisions is worth everything- every sleepless night, every stressful doubt, every trip to a new country, every obstacle on the journey and you know what- it is still going on.

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Holidays! Holidays!! Holidays!!!

Yay!

I love holidays. To me, holidays mean

  • a chance to recoup
  • regroup my thoughts
  • explore some new places
  • learn about a new culture or two
  • meet new people
  • party
  • sleep-in
  • get some exercise
  • treat myself for all the hard work
  • and just have an absolute blast!

This year it’s extra special

  • I am hopefully traveling 2/3 of my best friends. I will certainly miss having some of the other ones around but hey- better than nothing
  • After a very long time, I am traveling in my part of the world, on my continent and not in my own country
  • I desperately need time out after the insanity of the year of studying
  • I am so close to burn out after the extended stress of the project I was working on
  • I am going to 4 different countries
  • I am going to a very close friend’s wedding

And the itinerary ROCKS!!

We start off in Vietnam: Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi for 5 days.

Heading on to Laos: Vientiane and Luang Prabang for 5 days. Spending Christmas at the waterfalls or in the caves- what a way to celebrate a festival!

Heading to Cambodia: Siem Reap and Phnom Penh for 4 days. Meeting a friend after 10 years here to party and ring in the new year.

And then to India- Mumbai, Pune and Delhi for weddings, family time, friends. Lots of laughter.

Life rocks when you have such amazing plans to look forward to. There are few things in life that bring me unadulterated joy as the joy of traveling does. I cannot wait.

P.S. Did I mention I am excited?!

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Happy Diwali!

There are few things in life that are as beautiful as a festival that brings everyone together, makes them laugh, smile, make memories and be merry- Christmas, Eid, Hannukah etc- they all do that- bring people together and make people share their love for each other… but for obvious reasons, my favourite is Diwali. Holi is the one I enjoy the most but there is something magical about Diwali.

Every year, my celebrations start off at Dusshera which marks the beginning of the financial year in my community- it implies new shoes, new financial budgets and a day with the family. As kids we used to always end up going to see the Ravana burning but as we grew older, that charm became lesser but it is still a great day- especially as it signals the start of teen-patti, our version of poker.

The 3 weeks leading to Diwali from Dusshera are full of parties, card games, family catch up, celebrations, candles, nuts, crackers, beauty and though the roads are crazy busy, one gets no sleep, everyone is tired, the mood is almost always very uplifting and everyone is joyous- no one cares of religions, no one cares of caste differences, no one cares of anything but wanting to have a good time… it has been 2 years since I was at home, with my mother, with my family for Diwali and I really miss it.

So this year, even though I don’t manage a game of teen-patti, I can’t give my mum a hug, I have no space to make a rangoli of flowers, I am lucky enough to have a few friends coming to spend the evening with me- so far only one, but it could be more.

While doing the weekly grocery shop today, I bought the house knives to mark Dhanteras tomorrow. On Thursday, to mark the occasion I am going to see Alpha & Omega 3D- what better way of doing something than seeing the fruits of the labour by my aunt, brother and the rest of their team before coming home to light a few diyas to mark Chotti Diwali. I have even convinced Ryan that on Saturday, we should go to the office for Goverdhan puja– now I will not be going the whole hog but an agarbatti or two, some dhoop and a teeka on the till should atleast get us blessed by Lakshmiji! But sadly, nothing can replace the hugs from my brothers, the kheer with the family, the jokes, the madness that makes Bhaidooj the festival it is- the only upside to it is that I don’t need to starve myself till I feed my brothers!

In this global world, one has to be thankful for the love of friends, the joys of the internet (to get me images of Laxmi and Ganesh), the telecommunication possible and for all the tiny blessings one has.

Happy Diwali to you. Here’s wishing you a very prosperous year.

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Homegrown

As an Indian in Ireland, I do stand out- even now. And as one of the party circuit, having a good one, not shy, enjoying my drink, laughing and being bold, I am usually always considered “exotic” and so getting chatted up int he bar is pretty much the norm for me, not being cheeky or smart or anything.

However this was a new one: “Wow! Are those breasts homegrown?”

I mean, he was cute and all, if jock is your look but really thick and I judge people by who they are with and I didn’t like the look of them either and I know I am being superficial but a vibe is important ok?!

Anyhow, he didn’t get far using that on me- a smile and I continued on my way so not sure if it’s really effective… still, amusing.

And today is the Indian Independence Day, which means Facebook and Twitter will have ALOT of comments wishing one Happy Independence Day, people will have the Indian flag as their photos, they will talk about being free, kicking British a$$es, there will be many speeches and promises, many kites will be flown, but sadly come August 16- all will be forgotten 😦 Sigh.I’d make a promise to try and change all that but that’s pointless right because what happens today gets forgotten about tomorrow. Saying that, there must be something to India that despite all the corruption and negativity, there is a smile on our faces!

आखिर में , हम पूछते नहीं ना|

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An outsider looking in…

Came across an interesting post on India today and it made me realise how cool my countryfolk really are- they (we) ALWAYS find a way of making things work. The writer has done a good job of trying to capture the spirit from an outside perspective, I mean, जुगाड़ (jugaar) is no magic- it’s just making do with what we have, best we can but there is no real translation to it- it’s something we know and feel so intricately- it’s something that flows in our blood. I am so proud to have that blood flow through my veins.

Anyhow, didn’t manage to get online (for long) yesterday so 3 blessings for last week:

  • Making a friend of mine who is really stressed at the moment smile
  • Finding humour in situations and getting amused by my friends
  • Having the most amazing set of family & friends possible

It’s all about friends- maybe that’s another bit of Indian blood in me- however much I try and resist the Hallmark “Friendship Day”, I feel the need to acknowledge their presence in my life!

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Dating woes!

I am supposed to be pretty decent at being rational right, well, I am still a girl and a romantic (shhh, don’t let that cat out of the bag- it’s a secret) at heart!

So, I went out with the cute engineer, let’s call him TS- short for The Scientist, on Friday- had a fabulous night! Everything was amazing- dinner, wine, restaurants, pubs, the city, the conversation, the smiles, the laughs and I am so attracted to his brain- I like the way he thinks. We ended up at his- slept nicely, woke up to a beautiful kiss (and maybe more- I am not telling that bit though- somethings are too sacred to share).

He dropped me home, like a perfect gentleman, and then he went off to his family for the weekend. And when I say family, I don’t mean wife and kids but parents, siblings, grandparents and all that sort of jazz, you crazy minded folks 😛

I sent him a text thanking him for everything and then later on it the day, another one just slagging him about one of our conversations but it’s been over 24 hours and I have had no reply!!!!! I know sending him more will just be stupid- and pointless.

But now I am wracked with numerous doubts:

– Does he like me as much as I like him?

– Did I snore that night (after alchohol, I can tend to) and did that scare him away?

– Is he just in a place without coverage?

– Is he just shy? He is an introvert after all.

– Will I see him again?

So… my options are

a) I do nothing- potentially the most sensible. So if he never contacts, I just write it off?! Really?

b) I text him tomorrow evening suggesting something for Tuesday- we had kinda discussed this possibility but if he really liked me, he would be in touch, right- especially since he was more sober than me!

c) I drop him an email with a link to this song I really wanted him to listen to on Friday but it was too noisy in the pub and then we forgot…

Oh TS, please take me out of my misery!

P.S. It has been SOOOOO long since I felt this way- there is a part of me that’s really enjoying it. Shhh.

And on a completely different wavelength, woke up to this picture on my desktop and it brought back so many memories: the trip, the friendships, the animals, India. I love travels and the joy of traveling 🙂

And on the same note of what I’m loving at the moment- the World Cup Coke ad! Such a catchy song. I am almost reminded of my time at a traditional South African wedding many moons ago with lots of drums, beats, music and celebrations! I repeat, I love travels and the joy of traveling 🙂 And even thought I am supporting Spain (officially), I am for Netherlands now- they seem to be the underdogs! C’mon ORANJE!!!!! Woohoo.

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While I am amused in my own bubble, Indians across the globe are upset!

So Joel Stein tried to do a humourous article in TIME magazine about his perception of how Indian culture had impacted his town- Edison in New Jersey, USA but somewhere along the line, the humour was lost!

The anger it has caused though is somewhat shocking in my opinion. However, I am just a bystander who is surprisingly able to see both sides of the coin but unable to comprehend either. I don’t see the humour (it’s his personal opinion!) but I don’t see the need for the outburst from the Indians either.

On that note, snooze, here, I come.

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“No one can starve in India”

This comment deserves a post in itself in my opinion!

How this ain’t the most ironic comment ever is beyond me… considering India has some approx. a third of the poorest people in the world and about 40% are below the international poverty line, and those are the official facts- we all know the reality is worse.

In fairness, the context was as a guest visiting an Indian family- the Indians are worse than the Irish when it comes to hosting- they ply so much food into the guest that one can’t move. Not that it’s a bad thing usually…

So combine this discussion with giggles about snuggie-sutra, I have had my share of amused moments and its only 5 hours since I got out of bed… can’t wait to see what lies ahead.

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