Monthly Archives: September 2011

Come October

Physical map of Africa

Image via Wikipedia


Everybody goes home in October‘, wrote John Kerouac  in ‘On the Road‘.

Everybody but me.

This October for the first time in my life, I am headed south of the Equator to volunteer teach. This upcoming trip has been by far the boldest step in my comfortably sheltered life.

When people hear of my trip there is a look about them and ‘yes’ I answer them , ‘yes, there are a million other things one can do in Africa than spend the entire time teaching kids’. But how can I make them understand that this is  something I feel  destined to do; something I have always wanted to do.

With every day that brings the journey closer, a storm is brewing within me. I am petrified. What if I get lost? What if I fall dangerously ill? What if out of the million things that could go wrong a hundred do go wrong?

I even have voices in my head letting me know that it is not too late to pull out of this.

Through all the turmoil E. E Cummings reminds me that it takes courage to grow up and become who I truly am. I may not change the world while I am there. But I may touch a little soul, mend a broken toy, wipe a tear from sad eyes, be the reason for another’s smile.

I may never change the world while I am on it, but that does not mean I am not going to try.



Categories: Africa | Tags: , , | 5 Comments

Ticket to your dreams

World Passport Cover

Image via Wikipedia

The United States celebrates ‘National Passport Day’ on September 17th. In lieu of this, Phil Keoghan wrote an article for the Lonely Planet on the importance of owning and using a passport. Here he calls the passport the ticket to your dreams.

I got my passport pretty late in life, only when I was out of college, just in time for Grad school.In my ignorance I mistook my passport as my ticket to Grad school , to advanced engineering studies ,to a good job; I could not have been more wrong.

My passport was a ticket to an education that did not deal with currency as we know it, where the classroom was the world and the teachers just about anybody and everybody I met along the way.

All the learning I have done in my entire life multiplied by a hundred does not match up to the learning I have done outside the classroom. Inside the classroom  I learnt to calculate distance, time and optimal route; but outside in the world, I learnt that the shortest distance between two  people is a “Hello”, that it is not the time taken to reach the destination that matters so much as the journey itself,I have also learnt that the same route offers a different lesson every time you take it.

My passport  has indeed opened up a world of possibilities to me , ones I had never even dreamed of. My life has never been the same again.

So if you do not have a passport or have not used yours in a while, what are you waiting for? Inspiration? Reason? Do not wait any longer go, get out there and let the journey inspire you, the road give you reason.

In Phil Keoghan’s words,”Travel is about immersing yourself in something new, allowing yourself to be a fish out of water and just trusting that things will work out. It may not be like home, but so what? It doesn’t have to be. It’s time to get lost. The world is waiting for you!”

So now what are you waiting for ?

Categories: Everything Else | Tags: , | 3 Comments

Top 10 in my ‘to-see’ India list

It recently hit me that what I have seen of India can be compared to a tiny drop of the ocean.  A lifetime may be too short to explore my motherland.

But here are the top 10 in my yet to  see India list, ( in ascending order of the states they are in).

#1. Kaziranga National Park, Assam :

One of the things the British did for our benefit is this park. When the wife of Lord Curzon visited the area and failed to see a single Rhino she urged her husband to pass laws protecting the area and as a result today we have the oldest national park of Assam, the home of the one horned Indian Rhino.

#2. Nalanda University, Bihar

Long before any Oxford, Harvard and the like Nalanda university was one of the five greatest centers of learning . It housed a library so big that it is said that it took three months to burn when  set ablaze by the Turkish Invaders.

#3. Rann of Kutch, Gujarat

Rann translates into ‘salt marsh’.  The water that fills up during the monsoons dries a few months later to reveal a layer of white crystalized salt. Also the terrain changes from dry and parched to lush green, a bird watcher’s delight.

#4. Chandra tal, Himachal Pradesh

This lake of the moon is situated in the Lahaul and Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh. Acres of wildflowers surrounding a crescent shaped clear blue lake, this place is frequented by campers and avid trekkers.

#5. Khajurao, Madhya Pradesh

A UNESCO heritage site, this group of Jain and Hindu temples is famous for  their erotic sculptures. It boasts of a time when art or any other form of expression was not constrained by taboos or social barriers.

#6. Konark sun temple, Orissa

In tamil Kona means ‘Lord’ and Arka means ‘Sun’. True to its translation this temple dedicated to the Lords of the sun is carved  from sandstone and is adorned with the Chariot of the gods.

#7.Golden temple, Punjab

Lesser known by its real name Harmandir Sahib is a prominent Sikh gurdwara.  This temple of god was once a site of frequent fighting between the Sikhs and the Mughals. Maharaja Ranjit Singh covered the upper floor with gold giving it a golden appearance and its english name.

#8.Taj Mahal, Uttar Pradesh

This monument of love needs no introduction. However I am told that no picture or written word can can prevent one from being mesmerized by its sight.

#9.Varnasi, Uttar Pradesh

Hailed by many names, this city of lights, this city of learning, this holy city has continually fascinated me. The confluence of religions, the inspiration to many poets, writers and musicians, Varanasi is located on the banks of the all holy river Ganges.

#10, Sunderbans, West Bengal

This is where the land greets the sea. This stretch of impenetrable mangrove trees is home of the largest tiger reserve in India. Criss crossed by many creeks and tributaries the Sunderbans is the largest estuarine forest in the world . Another feather to its cap is  that the mighty rivers Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna drain out into the sea making the  Sunderbans the largest delta in the world.

Categories: India, Travel | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

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