London: Where Your Judgements Don’t Matter

London: Where Your Judgements Don’t Matter
I had read 500 blogs about London before coming to the United Kingdom:
  • How to dress in London?
  • How friendly are British people?
  • Where to shop for clothes/shoes/jackets in London?
  • Free things to do in London.
  • How to live on a budget in London?
  • Things to know about the London Tube.
  • Top Five Things About British Etiquette
One of the Biggest and Oldest Stations
It’s been around two months now and I have learnt that London doesn’t give a damn. At any given point in time, you are your worst judge. Other people don’t care half as much. Before I left India, I anyway told myself that this year I will keep my judgements aside (even if they seem right). And I realize that not making strong conclusions/stereotypes makes life a bit more interesting. It gives a chance for life to surprise you.

Continue reading “London: Where Your Judgements Don’t Matter”

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The London Reader: Part 1

The London Reader: Part 1
I have been a reader for years and London seems to be full of readers. Reading, for me, is both, a refuge and a battlefield. It’s been over a month since I have shifted to the United Kingdom for my Masters. It takes me 30 minutes to reach London and a total of 1.5 hours to reach to my university. In that sense, I thought it would be interesting to write this note, sharing my experience here as a reader. This one is not about the libraries and bookshops of London because that deserves a separate blog. This one is more about reading while commuting.
In my first few days in London, I was pleasantly surprised by looking at the number of diverse readers I would see everywhere around me- people reading physical books, kindle, newspapers, magazines- what not. In the train/tube, on the roads, in restaurants, everywhere. On the other hand, I wasn’t very comfortable yet. When you are new to a place, you are constantly vigilant. I didn’t want to miss a turn or miss a stop or being taken advantage of. There was so much to see, so much to observe. Now, after a month, I see myself reading everywhere! I carry two bags, coffee mug in one hand and my book/kindle in another. And that too in the most uncomfortable seating or standing position.
The underground tube in London makes itself more conducive to reading because there is no network or wifi down there. Also, listening to music or watching videos is inadvisable (in London, headphones in someone’s ears has a special meaning. It means don’t talk to me.) because the tube is too loud already. In such a situation, you can choose to stare at some spare space (because you can’t stare at people, that’s too rude) or you can choose to read.
Reading in the London Underground Tube

Continue reading “The London Reader: Part 1”

The Enigma of Solo Travel

The Enigma of Solo Travel

Although the world has seen revolutionaries travel alone and discover places, I don’t think it’s been more than 10 years that the idea of solo travel has become a popular trend. Before you think, “oh, I have done it!”, be sure to check off from your list, those kinds of travels which are done to a familiar/comfortable place, even traveling for work (majorly going into an office setting) doesn’t count unless you take time out to travel and explore the place. So yes, I mean traveling alone, outside your comfort zone and exploring a place.

In a close-knit society such as ours, the first thought of solo travel makes a person appear as selfish. “O my god, you’ll go alone? What is the purpose of that anyway? It sounds so weird.” Continue reading “The Enigma of Solo Travel”

Why Parents Don’t Let Their Daughters Travel

Why Parents Don’t Let Their Daughters Travel

In 2015-16, I travelled once a month for an entire year. To begin with, it was just a carefree vow. But it took a great amount of effort, from all fronts, while executing it. There are some things you learn only through travel. You get to see a lot of beauty, learn so much about new cultures, make friends for life and you learn to co-exist. Most importantly, when you outside the safety net of your parents, you have a chance to be more responsible and take your own decisions. Budget travelling on your own money- is that beautiful feeling that is essential in growing up and making of a confident personality.

In our society, travelling can be a comment on a girl’s character. It extends to our homes too. What you say no to, says a lot. For a lot of my friends, it is unthinkable to even propose to their parents to let them travel with friends, forget solo trips. You either think that your daughter is not mature enough to handle herself or you don’t trust her enough. And it adds up to your daughter’s low self-esteem. Wanting your daughter’s safety is not your fault. The world is becoming an ugly place, yes. But if you think your daughter is not fit/mature/strong/smart enough to make these decisions, it is not really her fault either. It is perhaps you who failed to make her strong, smart or confident enough.

Serial Entrepreneur and Founder of Freecharge, Kunal Shah wrote something about the prevalence of arranged marriages in India, which strangely holds true for travelling too:

Prevalence of arranged marriages in India can mean one of the two things for parents:

1. Not trust the judgement of kids if they choose someone and have “love marriage”. But then why not train them all of young life to take good decisions?

2. Not like kids to have the power to choose for themselves and stay obedient or kids are incompetent to find someone?

Some of us love to have birds at our homes. They are colourful, look beautiful in the cage and keep your house lively. You feed them on time and give them love. It is said that birds once caged for a long time, can’t survive outside the cage for too long. That’s true too. And then we like to believe that we are keeping the bird safe by not setting them free. Most of it is same for the daughters too. They should be freed before it is too late.

Low Budget Getaway: Jodhpur

Low Budget Getaway: Jodhpur

In our sincere attempts to grow up, which is largely a conscious decision after being pointed out quite a few times by our elders we forget to cater to the child within us. We tell as many people as possible about how mature we are, and slowly we start believing our own lies.

We are not happy and there’s no way we are meant to live and die in the same place where we were born. The truth is that we are meant to travel, just as much we are bound to have a career and marry someone and have babies. But this truth is conveniently taken away from us.

In 2015, on my 24th birthday, I made a resolution to myself that I will travel once every month, low budget and on weekends. I pretty much did. And you can too. If not now, sometime soon. This travelogue might help you dream.

July 2015: Jodhpur

Basics:

  1. Why Jodhpur: Small city perks: beautiful fort and a unique Blue City, people have painted their houses blue to maintain some coolness in an otherwise hot atmosphere.
  2. Distance from Ahmedabad:
  3. Preferable AC Sleeper Bus (Night journey)
  4. Stay: Cosy Guest House
  5. Trip Duration: 2 days (Weekend)
  6. Budget: Rs. 4500-5000 (per person)
  7. Ideal Season: Monsoon (It doesn’t rain there but it will be cooler), Winter (Avoid Summers)

What People say you must do

  1. Visit Mehrangarh Fort
  2. Jaysar Mahal (Opposite Fort)
  3. Clock Tower
  4. Raja’s Palace
  5. Museum
  6. Mandore Gardens
  7. Shopping from Rajasthan Handloom

Continue reading “Low Budget Getaway: Jodhpur”

Low Budget Travel to Kaas Plateau

Low Budget Travel to Kaas Plateau

There was so much fog, we could hardly see the road; and we drove the car through it, absolutely point blank with the fog light on. But there was no choice. We had to keep moving. If someone was coming from behind, they would hit us. It was getting dark and we were wet and cold but the kid within us was happy because it had won. Today, the kid had literally walked on clouds!

About Kass Plateau

Kaas plateau is a plateau in the Western Ghats in Maharashtra, 22 kms from Satara city and 136 kms from Pune, declared as one of the United Nations World Heritage Site for its historic volcanic formations on its terrain and huge water bodies- beautiful lakes mesmerised with the mountainous and the greenery reflecting on them. In monsoon, Kaas blooms with more than 150 types of grasses, shrubs and flowers.

One Mesmerizing spot we found on the way

How to Reach

We took a late night Duronto from Ahmedabad to Pune, so as to reach Pune by 8 AM. We had booked a Zoom Car (a startup that rents good self-drive cars at effective cost) for our journey to Kaas. There are two ways to reach Kaas. You can either go through Tapoli via Mahableswar or through Satara. The former way is longer if you just have a weekend in hand, while Satara is just 118Kms from Pune so you’d reach pretty much in 2 hours (maximum 2.5 hours if you take excessive pee-chai breaks) through NH4 with roads that look like they have cut mountains and made way for themselves. Our aim was to reach Satara by 11:30-12, so we had the rest of the day to our journey. Continue reading “Low Budget Travel to Kaas Plateau”

The Traveller’s Discourse: Tourists vs Locals

Being dumb is the birthright of a traveller. And why not- you land up in a totally new place with specific expectations, knowing not much (or worse is knowing nothing), and then you try to figure out one thing at a time. For example, it is a heated afternoon, empty road and you can either look at the google maps or the signal while the traffic cop doesn’t know that it is very normal in your own city to skip signals in the afternoon. We like to ask for directions as many times as possible. It’s the tourist’s right to stand right in front of Red Fort and ask where is Red Fort. It can get tricky to be dumb in Mumbai or Pune because you’ll get one back:
“Bandra kis taraf hai, bhaiya?”
“Har taraf Bandra hi hai madam ab toh. Aap Bandra mein hi khade ho. Ab aage kaha jaana hai wo socho.”

Continue reading “The Traveller’s Discourse: Tourists vs Locals”