Category Archives: Travelogues, Stories and Life

Short Stories from my Travelogues…

13 reasons, travelers give you to ditch the Valentine’s Day this year…

Feet on the map

japanThe world is always your Valentine! (Picture source: Google Images)

It’s that time of the year again, when the couples are busy expressing their love for each other with strikingly packaged, over-priced red roses, heart shaped boxes of chocolates, tucking gooey Valentine notes in their better half’s lockers or deciding what sized teddy bear would make their better half happy! And the second half of the world, comprising of singles are either cribbing or scowling over “how useless and annoying these couples are!” while secretly walling away in their beds over romantic mushy comedies.

For me, personally it is an awkward day, because I am not single, but I don’t buy the Valentine hype either. As an introvert, it makes me cringe and I wonder if it is too sentimental or just a big fat scam for the commercial world to profit from! While I have nothing against the couples…

View original post 1,171 more words

Traversing the Mountains!

One of the most enchanting things in today’s age is the ability to seek unto a divine freedom of the soul!

Many men and women, dream of the clarity that they pursue time after time, especially because they don’t get it in their daily lives. While others, mostly travelers find this aspect of life to be an endless journey. One that is full of clairvoyance, meaning and clarity that others can only imagine.

And what better than the traversing of the mountains, wandering across the horizon to find serenity in nature and introspect, take a peak in your pondering mind. Traveling across the mountains without a clue, without a reason and without connectivity, especially to the rat race that we all take part in on a daily basis. That’s a true reason why I always enjoy hiking, especially in the Himalayas, but even if I’m not in the Himalayas, walking across any mountain range gives me immense pleasure.

One that you can only find when you surrender yourself to the unknown trails, paths, like your destiny that lead you to a mesmerising sunrise, or an enchanting sunset! Traveling across the beauty of organic and natural surroundings without any worldly worries. That’s something that I yearn for, especially when I want to detox, unwind and just completely disappear into the wilderness.

Sometimes I even feel there is a dire need for me to go back into complete dissonance of technology. One that’ll help me attain a nirvana of sorts. I wonder how beautiful every single day would be, with just the nature, a few books, okay maybe a Radio at best to give me company. Imagine the joy of visualising your dreams, settling down and farming on a hilltop, viewing and experiencing the pleasure of sunrise and sunset without having to run for a meeting and or thinking about deadlines!

Someday, that day will arrive soon! Until then, I keep meandering across the world finding the sweet spot, the balance of life between my travels and my work. And it is these mountains that always help me rejuvenate and revive my spirit within, to get back to the grind that will eventually help me get to that ‘Someday’ I’m looking for.

A glimpse of paradise through the Verandah by the Valley

Mumbai is always on the move! Isn’t it?

At least 90% of Mumbaikars hate the hectic nature of the city!

And most of them certainly admit that if they could, they’d get out of the city at the first chance they’d get.

Every weekend, for folks who want ‘Out’ of the hustle and bustle, are always trying to make a choice on where to go to?

Most places are either filled up with the same crowd, or are far off to do a weekend / long weekend. And have been visited to. That’s when I believe one of the top picks for them and even for folks in Pune for that matter, is Mahabaleshwar, Matheran and Panchgani!

For a change, I decided to take a #midweek break and travel to Panchgani when I was invited to stay over at this beautiful villa, Saffron Stays Verandah By The Valley

Considering it was a midweek break, the travel wasn’t that hectic. To add to that, it was receding monsoon, so the weather up there in Panchgani, was most definitely one to cherish!

Took the early morning bus from Mumbai, and reached Panchgani around noon! That’s how long it’d take for you to travel to this place. That’s the beauty of it!

One of the reasons why I’d decided to visit this place was because of it being a little off beat, surrounded by greenery, vintage yet contemporary and most importantly, the magnificent view that this place had to offer!

 

p_20160914_150953

The garden with a view!

It’s really delightful especially for a family weekend getaway, or a bunch of friends. I mean, who wouldn’t want to wake up in a  beautiful 2 and a half bedroom villa on the edge of a valley! The first rays of sun  if you’re lucky and don’t have any clouds. Or be it the beauty of the sky to fill your day with brightness.

It’s a quiet location with a rustic yet modern feel to it, especially with the surrounding greenery, the swing to sit on while enjoying a breathtaking view and listening to the sound of the wind whizz past you across the mountains into the valley. A magical experience, certainly helps a city dweller like me to keep my sanity! A must do once every while for sure.

Apart from that the  wooden staircase ascends to a charming mezzanine of dark shiny wood that contrasts with the all white interior. The simplistic interiors speak exude elegance. The colourful throw pillows, bedsheets and flower pots add just the required dash of colour making this villa a very welcoming place.

p_20160915_120105_hdr

Cozy and Comfortable. Just like a second home.

p_20160915_093504_hdr

Perfect place to set your morning cuppa

p_20160914_161844

Or if you’re sitting with friends/family, this is good too!

The best place to have breakfast in the morning. With the weather that was during the time I stayed there, even if it was a midweek and I had a few things that I had to work on, who wouldn’t want to work out a place like this, sipping on a hot cup of coffee!

A perfect view and a relaxed mind! Nothing more that I could ask for!

Apart from this, the most amazing experience I had at this place was a bonus for me. Especially since I’ve recently took upon the love for organic farming! The local caretaker, Santosh, gave me a tour of the plants/crops he’s already planted in the backyard. But apart from that, he also let me experience farming first hand, much to my delight.

p_20160915_101819

Caretaker and Farmer Santosh

 

organic-chillies

Some organic red and green chillies already growing in the backyard.

farm-planted-at-saffron-stays-verandah-by-the-valley

The farm in the backyard with a drip irrigation set up

The place on it’s own has a magic to it. The garden, the backyard, the experential organic farming bit, the location with a view and most importantly the quiet and peaceful stay! Quite the experience indeed!

Special Note: I was hosted at the Saffron Stays Verandah by the Valley thanks to the guys at Saffron Stays! Apart from the magical experience and the delightful stay, I’ve not got anything in return! In case you want to book the place, you could do it by getting in touch with Saffron Stays. They also have an AirBnB listing, incase you are comfortable booking via AirBnB. 

No one here gets out alive…

“Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free.” – Jim Morrison

That said, one cannot truly explore horizons of life without a dream larger than that horizon itself.

I’d always been a huge fan of James Douglas Morrison, and when I started following him, listening to his songs, and read the book by the same title as this blog, I had never imagined, I’d have the opportunity to explore what is possibly the mecca for all the fans of , ‘The Legend,’ Jim Morrison!

Jim Morrison, Pere Lachaise Cemetery, Paris, France, Europe, Srinivas, Travel Blogger

Here lies the Legend!

For most travellers and tourists, Paris has it’s own charm and yes the Eiffel tower adds to a semblance of nostalgia and the rest of the city carries a feeling of being remarkable in it’s own way. It certainly is an epitome of historical greatness and has a fine taste for food, fashion, flawless culture  and a desire towards perfection of it’s own kind. No wonder it’s the most sought after destination by traveler’s across the world!

I’ve read many a times,

“Paris is always a good idea!”

Yes it is, especially if you can visit a place like the Père Lachaise Cemetery, and experience the aura of the souls of the departed, with a sense of purpose that you never had.

The destination was definitely on my list and I was saving the best for last, after having explored most of the city, spending more than a few days in Paris, @FeetonTheMap and I decided to explore the artisan life on our final day, by spending some time walking across the streets of Paris, visiting the Shakespeare and Company, reading a few lines, many a quotes, playing the Piano and being in the same location which once upon a time (1920’s) was a gathering place for many then-aspiring young writers such as Ernest Hemingway!

IMG_20151004_113521592_HDR

The experience of exploring the almost century old bookstore, which still stands as part of modern art, culture and of course a business that has a repertoire that many would consider beyond what even traditional  sight-seeing locations in Paris would stand for. The quaint little bookshop was the beginning of a path to explore the greatness that we hoped would help end our trip on a high, a spiritual as well as that of self-discovery having, tread the path of the legends in a way, like never before.

While getting to the cemetery isn’t such a big deal, considering the easy access of metro the bigger challenge is to find your way around the cemetery to reach the grave. An ordeal that is truly worth the long walk and the wait, especially if you take the main gate from Gambetta side. Thankfully, I had the presence of mind to take a picture of the cemetery map to navigate grave after grave while we tread the paths of the fall, leaves trailing across our feet, quite literally giving us a feeling of explorers of the dead!

IMG_20151004_131537782_HDR

Walking round and round, around in circles, walking down steps and trying to find your route section by section, getting to ‘Area 48’ is an enjoyment of it’s own kind for sure. It took us probably a good 30-40 minutes, considering we were enjoying the experience, stopping by a few graves as we passed by. The wait was worth it, for I knew, when we got there, the sense of awe was something I’d cherish forever, not just to think of it as a check or a tick mark in my bucket list, but a lot more than that.

And I most certainly wasn’t disappointed! How could I be… I just stood there, for about 15-20 minutes and admired the beauty and the significant and enchanting view, with a sense of nostalgia… It felt like I was thrown back in time, in an alternate world! And that’s when I realized, I knew, it was time for me to leave…

And that’s when I had a smile, a smile on my face, cause in my head I could hear the words of his beautiful ballad, “This is the End.” A song that had a sense of severing ties, ones that left him heartbroken after his break up with his girlfriend, Mary Werbelow!

This is the end, beautiful friend
This is the end, my only friend, the end
Of our elaborate plans, the end
Of everything that stands, the end
No safety or surprise, the end
I’ll never look into your eyes, again

Until we meet again… Au Revoir

Indonesia, Uluwatu, Bali, Paradise, Beach, Uluwatu temple

Wherever the path takes me…

He called out to the lone ranger walking across the horizon without a sense of time. In a beautiful, yet unknown sense of belonging he felt that there was no need to believe in what he was doing, because he felt completely all right. That is something that they usually call a rhetoric that pleases not only the mind, body but also your soul. A sense of feeling that speaks of the divinity you seek within yourself.

“What are you doing here? Are you lost?” He asked the lone traveler…

“On the contrary, I have found myself, he whispered,” as he spoke with a hint of fatigue in his voice. A voice that spoke of a thousand miles, traversed across a journey that he took with sheer determination albeit without any surmise.

“Great, welcome. Hope you had a great journey…”

“Most certainly, I did. But what’s more important is that it doesn’t stop here…” He had a spark in his eyes, and a belief that spoke of the Grand Voyage, a voyage that he had in mind to embark upon without any qualms, without any fear, only to speak of a reprise of his journey so far.

“So where to now?”

“Wherever the path takes me..” He smiled as he walked away.

Himalayas, India, Travel Blogger, Indian Mountains, Mountaineer, India

To Infinity and Beyond…

I’ve been a mountain lover for the last 6 years and Himalayas have been a yearly thing for me in those past six years. Being an avid lover of mountains and trekking, having hiked miles and miles across North Western, Eastern Himalayas and a bit of Nepal as well, I think I’ve found a yearning for the Himalayas that I believe isn’t something that’ll ever just fade away…

To me, being close to the mountains is being close to reality. For me, ‘Being discovered’ in my truest sense is when there is utmost clarity in my peak senses of not just my mind, body and soul but an inner conscience that sends me on a deep and exploring journey in a space which gives me clarity towards not just what I am doing, what should I be doing, but who I am and who I really want to be.

To me, being close to the mountains probably helps hone the thinking of a wandering thinker and a pondering writer that I truly want to be, unlike the occasional tourist that I am to the divine beauty that lies across the mountain terrain. The huge peaks, the humongous canvas of an all-encompassing ranges of the Himalayas truly admonish me to forget my comfortable and meaningless life that I’m leading to do something, make something, create something more out of the potentially huge aspiration that always drives me to evolve into someone who’ll not just leave a legacy, but also force myself to drive a passion, a purpose that is beyond just regular needs of life.

I don’t yet, know when and how this escapade will start, but I have a strong feeling that it’ll be very soon. And when that happens, my first thought would be to share that with everyone and forever disappear to the love I seek forever and be closer to not just the mountains of Himalayas but a numbing belief that I have within myself, that occasionally has a voice like in the Star Trek series… only saying… ‘To Infinity and Beyond!’

Travel Bloggers India, India Travel, Travel India, Travel Blogs India

To be well traveled is to be well read…

Or is it the other way around? Well, doesn’t matter, they both add up to making you a person of great learning and knowledge. I started traveling hardcore about eight years ago. I’ve traveled extensively for months, and there have been times when for months, I’ve been busy with either work or pursuing other passions in life. No matter what, after such a great journey I’ve had in these past years, I’ve always felt the thirst, the hunger to seek more knowledge. Meet new people, think and talk about places, destinations that make for the best memories throughout.

So, apart from the fact that travel makes me a well read person, because I am able to do all of those things, I believe one thing that I always carry on all my travels, especially in the mountains, is a book! A book to keep me company and to give me time to unclog especially if I’m on one of those unplugged trips where I want to get away, off the grid from this melancholy of life that we lead on a daily basis.

While, my choice of books is varied, across genres of travel, sci-fi, modern classics, technology I always feel the need to pack more than one book, in case I want the choice to read another if I get stuck somewhere on one of them. Guess, what, being a backpacker, my first motto is always to travel light. And if I have to travel light, there have been times that I’ve probably traded an extra book, to an extra pair of jeans or even a jacket for that matter. That’s how perplexed I am after I’ve stuffed my backpack. I keep wondering, let me choose a few thinner books rather than one large size monster, cause what if I don’t like that book and want to read the other ones. Then I wonder, what if I finish all my books and I don’t have anything to read or have to buy one on the move… And yes, that’s why I always have my iPod, where I carry an additional audio book just in case, but mostly end up listening to music if I’m on longer trips.

Anyways, that dilemma has been solved, now that I’ve got the new Amazon Kindle Paperwhite. I’ve always had it in mind to get one of those, especially for my mountain trips, treks. I remember trekking the Sandakphu in West Bengal, and that was the time I had pre-ordered a mammoth Steve Jobs book, which was released around that very time. Sadly, I couldn’t carry the huge book atop, and had to leave it at the base camp. I did have an e-book version of it, on the Kindle App on my phone, but the battery wouldn’t last long enough to survive the entire trek. So I can actually remember reading bits, savoring the battery life I had and somehow manage to skim through some chapters before I could actually come back to the base camp and continue a better reading experience on my return journey back from Darjeeling to Mumbai. Add to that, despite having a 4″ screen, the reading experience is not the best and I admit, having a Kindle, would have been a great experience.

Cut to 2015: I was on another trek in the Himalayas, (Har-ki-Dun) This has to be one of the most magnanimous journeys I’ve taken in the Himalayas, especially because of it’s amazing view of the mountains, the landscape and the journey across a serene landscape of solitude of sorts! I could probably just stay there for years and years, if I have over a thousand books with me. One of those surreal dreams of being a sage, a relic in the mountains surviving on learning through the wisdom of books!

Har Ki Dun India Travel Blog srinistuff srinivas kulkarni

Thanks to the Kindle, now I can. I think as a traveler, this is the best gadget to carry especially if you are one of those who travel solo or travel with few people and don’t mind the company of a few good reads along with the conversations, imaginations and view of the landscape around you. I’ve been using it for over a month now.

IMG_20150815_103004976

IMG_20150713_185527471

One of my biggest problems of choosing how many books to carry, or which one, is kaput! To add to that, I don’t have to worry about space in my backpack or my book getting wet as well, cause you can actually be worry free especially if you buy the Kindle cover that’s available separately on the Amazon store. The fact that it’s battery lasts for about 2 weeks would easily mean that you are sorted for about 15 days, which is mostly the length of most of my trips, and either ways, you have the ability to charge it with any USB / Mobile charger nowadays. While the earlier version I’ve heard lasts for more than 3 weeks, the ability to download / buy via 3G and probably the better user screen experience, could be the reason, why the battery life could use some more juice, it’s still a great advantage for a traveler like me.

For most travelers, the user experience of flipping through books, being able to read without straining your eyes, especially if you go for a mobile device to replace the actual books, then I think this Kindle is perfect for you. Probably one day, if my dream of becoming a Modern Day Relic, would come true, then I’d probably disappear in the mountains with nothing but a thousand books on this device and probably an iPod. That’s all that I need to survive in the realm of my imagination!

Disclaimer: While I mostly write about travel on this blog, I’m also an avid reader of books, especially e-books and audio books. The Kindle device was given to me by Amazon for my views on how it’s a great tool for a traveler like me. I’ve written this blog for my audience, fellow travelers as I felt this recommendation makes sense for you readers and I recommend this device on my own accord and makes a lot of sense especially for backpackers like me to carry a Kindle as opposed to many books. The views on this blog are personal and neither Amazon India or their stakeholders have any influence on my thoughts.