I came to Lisbon for some work meetups. And everyone in this work team had to vote for one fun group activity. This is how I landed up at the Lisbon Oceanarium 🙂
If you are wondering about the difference between Oceanarium and Aquarium (I was *geek alert*) – any aquarium that provides an ocean habitat for its marine life can be considered an Oceanarium. And this is exactly what we get at Oceanario de Lisboa, Europe’s largest indoor aquarium.Continue reading
Are you wondering what’s Vikram Samvat and Vir Samvat? They are the traditional Indian calendars. You can read more about them here. I have shifted my year-end posts to this calendar. It is because the traditional year-end that happens after the Diwali celebrations and then wishing all friends and family alongwith some religious activities make for a lot more meaningful new year beginnings (and year ending). I haven’t found any meaningful connection with the gregorian New Year activity on 31st – 1st Jan.
Moreover, I was recently going through ancient timelines… when many ancient events happened and so on… and I realized that this calendar of BC and AD is oriented around Jesus Christ. So this makes it a Christian calendar. And not majorly relevant for me. Compared to that having a calendar which is oriented around Mahavir Swami (Jain tirthankar) or Vikramaditya, an impactful Indian king makes more sense. And resonates more with my culture and ancestral understanding.
So, traveling in the year 2073 (& 2543)…Continue reading
This Himalayan trip was easily one of my best – a week in the astounding desert of Spiti and then over a month in Jibhi – a beautiful, lush green mountain town at 7,000 ft. The idea was simple, leave the metropolis madness called Mumbai behind and be closer to nature. And so it happened.
The Offbeat Shimla Manali Route via Seraj Valley and Jibhi
There are three Shimla to Manali routes – 1) the offbeat one via Seraj Valley, on which lies Jibhi, 2) the popular one via Mandi and 3) the longer one via Spiti valley.
There may also be a fourth route with a longer westwards circuit near Mandi.
Jibhi is off the usual Indian tourist route. But surprisingly it is very much on the Israeli tourist route. I found it surprising but probably the proximity to the popular Kasol valley is the reason. I chatted with three Israeli travellers in the Kshatra cafe of Jibhi and it was an eye opener. They told me that Israel has alway considered India a close ally and they love the culture not because it is cheap (inexpensive), but because it deeply resonates with them. Oh and two of them had come to spend their honeymoon in India – that shows how much they love this country! And both did Yoga. The third guy had done multiple vipassana programs. So… wow! Far cry from the stereotyped image of Israelis holed up in cheap room of an Indian town basically for the opium.
This trip to Jibhi was filled with interesting conversations and revelations. I made friendships that have lasted beyond the place and time. Still in touch with many of them, met a few later on elsewhere and looking forward to meeting them again!Continue reading
Macro photography: producing photographs of small items in larger-than-life size.
I don’t have professional macro photography setup, but here are some interesting photographs from the Australian bush, macro-style. 🙂
But before you take a look at those, a quick note on – what is the Australian Bush?
The ‘Australian bush’ loosely means any area outside the metropolitan cities of Australia. Almost 89% of the Australian population lives in the major metropolitan cities. Outside these cities, the towns are small amidst huge expanses of land. And usually, any wilderness in these areas is considered bush. Even the small towns may be referred to as ‘bush towns’. I suspect the term has come up due to the bush-y nature of the wilderness. While there are a lot of eucalyptus tree forests in Australia, they are significantly sparser than the forests of the tropical regions. And apart from these Eucalyptus trees, the greens are usually stunted. Wattle bushes, grass, a lot of mushrooms, fungus, tiny flowering plants and the like.Continue reading
What is it about ‘a month’ of time, that makes it really exciting to spend ‘a month’ in a place? Wandering in the Himalayas for a month had been on my mind since a long time. Now that it has happened, I am thinking of spending a few more months next time around. 😀 I think a year seems more of consequence as it allows us to see the place in all its seasons and festivals.
Lesser Known Places in the Himachal
This June – July 2017, I spent over a month and half in the Himalayas. I covered a lovely, fairly offbeat route in the mountains. And there are many of you out there who are looking to move outside of the tourist circuit. Well, kudos on looking around for different places to explore. It simply doesn’t make sense to keep to tourist hot spots, especially with the problems of high prices, ecological sustainability, crowds, noise and so on. But keeping these problems of the tourist hot spots in mind, it becomes our responsibility that when we move off the tourist track, we ensure that we don’t become a cause of these problems ourselves. We will definitely impact the places we land up in as travellers. But the question is how will we impact them?Continue reading
Small friendly gestures, quick laughs, a fleeting romance in the heart or a simple, resonating conversation on the road. Cherished by travellers, these interactions are unexpected and what makes them more special is that they are between complete strangers. You may not know the person’s name, background or any details at all. And yet those moments of camaraderie, love, respect are usually a part and parcel of our travel life. Something we look forward to, expect and love. They often get us through doubts. Re-instill our faith in the world. And sometimes even help us out in sticky situations.
But how little we know about these people. Being on the road we keep moving on, lots of questions but only the moving terrain around us answers them.
Being here in the Himachali mountain town for a month, I had time to find some answers about the people, the culture, economic situation and other random bits like making tea with jaggery (yumm!). And yet, a month is hardly a long time especially for an introvert like me. So I find myself only more curious with more questions. But also some insight about village life and these people.Continue reading
The above image is during my solo trek to Serolsar Lake, Himachal.
Conversations about the pros and cons of solo travel keeps happening around me. Naturally because I travel solo. And all sorts of random places I land up solo – religious events, cycling in the countryside and recently trekking the himalayas. A lot of people look at me curiously and some of them make some comments (some surprised exclamation) and even fewer start a conversation.
It usually starts with ‘Why are you solo?’ or ‘You are solo :O?’ and then moves to other aspects.
Especially in India, it almost always touches upon the safety aspect.
Note that I don’t mean safety from sexual violence perspective. Because I have spent a lot of time in parts of India which are safe in that regards. I mean as safe as it gets (it’s never totally safe anywhere IMHO). I don’t have to worry about my fundamental safety here. In fact I have even been in places (for example Himalayas and Coorg) where people have told, “arey, yahaan aisa sab nahin hota. Jahaan jaana hain jaao” (here such stuff doesn’t happen, go where ever you want).
So, one of the recurrent themes in this conversation,
“While travelling solo, anything might happen – like you may fall sick or slip or get stranded, wouldn’t it be better to have someone with you?”Continue reading
योगीश्वराय महादेवाय त्रयंबकाय त्रिपुरान्तकाय
त्रिकाग्नि कालाय कालाग्नि रुद्राय नीलकण्ठाय मृत्युञ्जयाय सर्वेश्वराय सदाशिवाय
महादेवाय नमः महादेवाय नमः महादेवाय नमः
I have explored various parts of the Himalayas in India. The chardham in Uttarakhand, gardens and lakes of Kashmir, Buddhist ambience of Sikkim, amazing hospitality of Himachalis – the diversity and mountain environment make a rich experience. I have also been to high altitude places a few times but it was only in Spiti that I truly got acquainted with the ‘high’ Himalayas.
This was a trip where I spent 4 days completely in over 10000 ft. Snow clad peaks became common sight. To the extent that after 3 days, we even stopped clicking pics all the time, because every where we looked was a picture worthy, totally fantastic view.Continue reading
I had jotted down this post after my first solo cycling and camping trip from Berlin to Copenhagen. This was after many months of that trip – so I am not talking about the euphoria right after the trip. In fact right after the trip, I was heartbroken because I didn’t want to stop the cycle touring or camping at all. And I felt bleak because in India I don’t have adequate infrastructure or social situation to go on such trips.
I am publishing this post now, because I have a whole second level post that jumps a whole new level. But that post is still in making. I need to articulate first, then write and then publish. The changes that happened after my second cycling trip to Australia, Taiwan and Tamil Nadu were a whole different gear.
But for now….. this…. 🙂Continue reading
In India, regional languages have taken second place to English wherever people have the option. This helps us tremendously in work fields and makes our working force internationally viable. But it does put us behind in retaining culture especially in urban areas, compared to a lot of these societies like Taiwan, Japan, China and even many of the European countries like Germany and France.
When I visited Taiwan in Oct, 2016 I looked at the lack of English language as a very good thing, as this allows true global diversity. But it of course creates challenges for us travellers. And I was solo-cycling for a few days, so that led to some specific difficulties too. Here are some fun ideas on how we travellers can learn a language. Continue reading