Monthly Archives: July 2012

Destination: Hong Kong

Categories: Asia | Tags: | Leave a comment

The art of solo travel

Traveling solo is an art. It cannot be taught.  It just comes to you.  Like all things art it involves letting go of the fear of being wrong and willingly allowing yourself to be lost.

A lot of people shy away from the thought of going away to a new place all by themselves. My best response to them to date as been ” If you cannot put up with yourself how can you expect others to do so?”

Jokes apart, here a few reasons why you should take a solo trip at least once in your lifetime.

In no particular order:

#1.  Discover yourself again :-  Change happens all around us. It happens from within and without. You change.  Every now and then you need to meet the all new You.

#2. Discover your strengths:- I have always had trust issues  or so I thought. But guess what, I was wrong. I packed a bag and hopped on a plane  trusting someone I had never met and who had no reason to be nice to me.

#3. Make new friends:-  Every other person is a potential friend when you are alone.

#4. Increased awareness:- When you are alone you are more aware of everything around you.  You learn to take care of yourself.

#5. Do everything you want :- Although a bit selfish, a plus point of traveling solo is that you do not have to think twice about anything. Want to sleep in? Sure. Want to trek up the hill? Why not! You are the captain of your desires.

#5. No one sees it! :- This is my favorite one. I am always getting into trouble and hence the best part of solo travel for me is the satisfaction of knowing that there is no one around to keep track of my messes and  narrate them to my friends and family once I get back. You have no idea just how important this is.

Companionship is great. No argument there. But once in a while  travel with yourself.

Categories: Travel | Tags: , | 4 Comments

Hyderabad Heritage – Part 1


In a previous post  I mentioned that Hyderabad was a city abounding in ‘Heritage richness’. The  series titled Hyderabad Heritage is dedicated to showcasing the Heritage buildings in and around Hyderabad that we otherwise pass by without a second glance.

This post is mainly focussed on heritage buildings that are neglected, encroached or simply not considered worth preserving( when they really should be).



Categories: Heritage, India | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Notes on studying abroad – Part 2

I had just got my licence. But then that did not really mean that I could drive, let alone maintain my car.

The things I could do was brake ( oh yeah!) and indicate that I was turning ( even if I was  moving slightly to the right on a straight road). The things I could not do involved changing lanes on the freeway ( without someone in the car looking back and telling me “Now, Now, Now!”, reverse and parallel park.  Reverse and parallel park were  part of the ten year plan ( still is!).

I was still figuring out how to drive without being honked at all the time when I had to move from Atlanta to Scottsdale for an internship. Needless to say the drive from the airport to my apartment took twice as long ( read distance and time) and vexed every single commuter who had the good/misfortune of sharing the  deviation riddled freeway with me.

I soon got better at changing lanes; every time I did only a couple of cars honked and not the entire ‘freeway’! Some of them honked even when I was not in the process of changing lanes. During my second week I realized that it was because slower moving traffic normally kept to the right side of the freeway. “Freeway etiquette”  said an article on the internet. But that was not very easy to comply with for every time I kept to the right I landed up taking an exit I did not intend to.

One  night I had just turned into the street a few miles short of where I lived when I was pulled over. Dutifully following procedure  as I was taught in the driving school, I rolled down my window and kept both my hands on the steering wheel. A middle-aged officer walked over and stood beside my car unsmiling.

“Do you know why you are pulled over?”

“No Sir. But I know I was not speeding.”

” Oh no. That you were not. Unfortunately I cannot do anything about you going too slow.  Switch on your engine please.”

” Can I take my hands off the wheel?”   – I did not want him pulling out a gun on me!

Struggling to curb a smile he answered ” Is there any other way you can switch on your engine?”

“No Sir.”

” Then please take your hands off the wheel”.

I switched  on my engine and my dashboard lit up.

” You see that blue icon? You know what that is?”


“I know lights, but what light?”  Exasperated.

“My car lights….?” — Where the hell is this guy from?

The officer did not  know whether to laugh or not. He looked at me a whole minute and then decided I was innocent, probably retarded!

“They are bright lights. You do not use high beam in the city. Do you understand?”

 If only he knew the effort it took me to find out how to switch on the lights! 

There were other blinking lights on my dashboard.  He pointed to the another one ( which I later learnt  indicated low tire pressure) and asked

” Do you know what that means?”

” Oil Change…?”

Categories: North America | Tags: | 7 Comments

Outside an open door

[ The Matador University has revamped its course content and I just could not pass up on an opportunity to do the MatU assignments again. Those of you in the know are aware that I have already graduated the course, the others should  check out the Matador University site.
The following assignment is about everyday details. In this I have captured  the sights, scents and smells outside my front door one morning.]

The door opens  to let in the low hum of the diesel generator. A pitch above is the chirping of the birds  drowned at intervals by puja bells from my neighbor’s apartment. The road in front is wet from last night’s rain. My watchman walks out barefoot to the black gates of our apartment. He stands leaning against it for a while before turning and walking back to the shelter of the parking lot.  From the balcony of one of the apartments on the building on the opposite side of the road a lady in blue pajamas is reading the morning paper.

A yellow school bus passes by. There is a little girl with blue pinafore peering out of the window. In the distance I can hear a truck splashing water as it passes the junction near my house. A pair of red vented Bulbuls fly from across the street and perch on the black telephone lines loosely running semi-parallel to the road. They  turn their  heads at right angles while tweeting enthusiastically. They are frightened away by a pale green scooter passing on the street.  The leaves on the trees near the black gate are bright green. They rustle with a ‘swoosh swoosh’ sound as a gust of wind blows.

The lady with the blue pajamas is joined by an elderly lady who is eating biscuits dipped in  a hot beverage in a tea cup. Outside the gates of the opposite building a child with pigtails tied with red ribbons is talking to no one in particular. There is a freshly drawn kollam on the ground.

A man on  a bicycle enters the street yelling,”Apple Apple!”. He has a brown basket attached to the back of his cycle. The contents of the basket are covered by a brown sack cloth. A black sedan leaving the parking lot of the opposite building splashes water on the vendor.

The two ladies on the balcony are joined now by a man with a ‘Deccan Chargers’  tee. They are all looking towards my apartment.  They are looking at me – with book and pen, early in the morning. They must be surprised since the door to my apartment is rarely opened before 9 am most days.

Categories: MatadorU Assignments, Writing | Tags: , | 2 Comments

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