Category: Travel

Monday Reads – 26/07

Today’s articles reflect the diversity and appeal of India.

Photo by Aditya Rao on Unsplash

How a village in Maharashtra is helping vultures make a big comeback – What’s the big deal, one might ask? Well, some of you might not know that, over the past few decades, India’s vulture population has declined from 40 million to 19,000! This prompted the development of a National Vulture Conservation Action Plan, to increase the number of vultures by 2025. This article is one rare success story in the recent history of India’s vultures.

India gets its 39th World Heritage Site – Telangana’s 13th century Ramappa temple has been inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage list. Read more about this site, located near Warangal. And make a plan to visit when the time is right!

How One Man’s Conviction Put Jibhi Valley on the World Tourism Map – Jibhi, in Himachal Pradesh, is nowadays well-known on the traveler circuit. But this is a recent phenomenon, thanks in no small measure to the pioneering efforts of an ex-army man.

The Giu Mummy: Unsolved Mystery of a 14th Century Monk – Another fascinating article from Himachal Pradesh. This is truly Incredible India!

A 600-Year-Old Celebration on the Shores of Pangong Lake – Moving further north to another breath-takingly beautiful part of our country – Ladakh. We (my wife) were fortunate to have visited Pangong Tso, before it shot to prominence after the release of ‘3 Idiots’. The whole experience was one of a kind with the long drive from Ladakh through some desolate and difficult terrain, standing on the shores of the lake with its stunning blue waters and barely any one else around, to eating Maggi (what else) in possibly the only stall still open at that time. Ladakh is one of those placces that everyone should try to visit at least once in their lifetime.

Monday Reads – 12/04

Photo by Unexplored Northeast on Unsplash

This is the season of summer holidays in India. Here are a few interesting articles on travel that I cam across over the past week.

‘You must come to our Friday night lime!’ Community cricket in Trinidad – The West Indies is a group of nations in the Caribbean that come together to play cricket. Traveling to these tropical isles and watching a game is a dream for all cricket lovers. If you are one such dreamer, or even if you are not, this is a wonderful article.

Life Aboard the Longest Train Ride Through India – I recently heard about the Dibrugarh – Kanyakumari Vivek Express, the longest train journey in India. I have loved train journeys since the days we used to travel 36 hours in one from Mumbai to Kerala. Read this article to learn more about what trains mean to India.

A Visual Journey Into the Burra Bungalows of Tea Estates of North Bengal – Combining my interests of travel and architecture is this article on the colonial bungalows located in tea estates around the Darjeeling region.

Of Reh, Rituals and Rice Beer – Keen readers might have observed a theme emerging from this list. Yes, most of the articles in this list talk about the North East of India. This is a unique part of our diverse country that I have never been to (not even been close). Well, I do hope to be able to do something about it when it’s safe to travel again.

This Man Searched for the Yeti for 60 Years—and Found It – Moving slightly (but not much) from North East India to a country on India’s northern border is this article on a search for the mysterious Yeti. Does it exist? Read on to find out!

My time in the UK – Part 3

Stonehenge

Spring turned to summer soon after we moved into our rented flat in North London. If memory serves me right, it was, by and large, a warm, sunny summer. We decided to see some of the sights around London on a short road-trip.

I hired a car from close to our flat in North Finchley. Our first destination was Stonehenge. We reached Stonehenge in the late afternoon and were able to enjoy the place in the late afternoon sunshine, with hardly any tourists around. We did not spend too much time there, but there was something special about the place. We also visited Avebury, site of the largest megalithic stone circle in the world.

I do not recollect where we stayed that first night, but I do remember that it was the night that Amy Winehouse sadly died. The place was a lovely English cottage bed and breakfast. We enjoyed a relaxing stay at this place before making our way to Bath.

Roman baths, Bath

Bath was the highlight of our trip. The Roman ruins were stunning and atmospheric. In addition, the small size of the town and it’s architecture made it a beautiful town to just walk around in. We would have loved to spend an additional day there, but unfortunately, we had already made reservations at our next halt.

We then headed to the Cotswolds region where we halted at the charming village of Chipping Campden. The place was quiet and relaxed, but we were missing Bath, which took away some of the charm of the stay.

We were headed back to London the next day. The drive took us through Oxford, but we did not stop to see the place. I always thought I would be back to visit it one day, but that has not happened (so far!).

My time in the UK – Part 2

We moved into our rented flat in North Finchley in May of 2011. The flat was a medium-sized two-bedroom unit within a low-rise brick unit of flats. It was located on the ground floor and had a separate entrance through the kitchen. The place was tastefully done and perfect for a small family.

The place was about a 7 minute walk from the local high street which had pretty much all the shops one would need to frequent. The public bus terminus was a 12 minute walk while the metro stop was about 15 minutes away (it was on the other side of the high street from where we were located). It was a bit of a commute to my office (around 45 minutes) but that was an improvement over my previous commutes in Sydney and Mumbai, so I was not complaining!

May was a great time of the year to begin our new innings in London. The trees were by now all green, the weather was steadily getting warmer and the days longer. Work was also very busy, and after a couple of months, we decided to take a small road trip which I will write about later.

Finally, a note on the shops that we used to visit. For groceries and other essentials, our primary port of call was Sainsbury’s. We also had options at either end nearby – Aldi when we wanted to be more budget conscious and Waitrose for the occasional splurge! A special note for the ready-to-eat pizzas and other items we found at Waitrose – these were delicious, and far better than any we had seen elsewhere. There was a fashion store with good quality reasonably prized clothes for the entire family, Argos for domestic products as well as charity shops from where I added to my CD collection. There was an Indian store manned by people of Indian (Gujarati) origin where we could find delicious Indian and Gujarati food items. With a few cafes and restaurants nearby, the place was pretty much self-sufficient.

My time in the UK – Part 1

I was recently talking with some people in the UK, and it suddenly struck me that it was almost exactly a decade ago when we (my wife and I) had moved to the UK. It was an interesting phase of our lives. I had never written about my time in the UK before, so I thought of jotting down some of my thoughts from our time there before they become an even more distant memory.

We had been living in Sydney, Australia for over 2 years before we decided to make the move to the UK. I was keen to live and work in Europe (and UK was very much part of Europe then, before Brexit). As it happened, my application for a work-visa was approved and we decided to move. After leaving Australia, we took a 3 week driving holiday in New Zealand and then spent a few weeks in our hometown of Mumbai. So it was quite a shock to the system when we finally arrived in grey, cold and wet England towards the end of winter.

We were met at the airport by a close friend of my wife with whom we were to spend the first few weeks of our time in the UK while I found a job and we found a place to stay. Their place was in Essex, near Southend-on-Sea. It was great staying with friends as it definitely eased the transition into a new country.

Some of the memories from our time at Essex included visiting Southend-on-Sea as well as visiting some of the parks in the area and seeing the first shoots of daffodil poke out from the earth, heralding spring. Soon, the days started getting longer, brighter and warmer; it was fascinating to see the seasons change.

Shortly after landing in the UK, I landed a job in Central London. It was a long commute from Essex, but a pleasant one. By then, we had started looking for our own place to stay, and we found a place that we liked in North Finchley, London and moved in a few days later.