Thursday, May 21, 2009

list: travel memories

Spectacular view of the mountains around Mussoorie in the morning.

Some of my oldest memories go back to travel and trips and they are the ones I cherish with all of my heart. Travel has always evoked happiness in my life, whether the travel was short day trips or picnics or longer and more adventurous trips. Some are of places that I traveled to just once, but have stayed with me, others are of well-loved places that are re-visited often.

In our list feature this month, Lakshmi at Celebrations of Life, Kanchan at Elan and I decided to feature the 5 places that we love, that we cherish, the 5 places that are entwined in our travel memories.

1) Kulu Valley: We used to live part of the year here or rather spend the season there in the summer when we were kids. I clearly remember how pristine and beautiful the landscape was, how few people there were, how there was just one Punjab Roadways bus that used to drive by each day, how there were so few tourists, no litter, barely any graffiti and most of all, the feeling that everyday was an adventure. We used to go for picnics regularly, to Fagu, to Koti, to Tillasharni, to a forest across the river, which we crossed on a little rickety wooden bridge, with the Beas roaring below us.

Looking down from our room towards Camel's Back Road in Mussoorie.

2) Mussoorie: A short trip last year in September, which was a wonderful time to be there, after the main monsoon was over and before the puja holidays started. The town was quiet and calm, which is what we wanted. We walked everywhere, a new route everyday, taking in the fresh mountain air, the stillness, the perfection and the feeling of wonderment at nature's bounty.

3) Dagshai: This quiet little cantonment town in Himachal is always overlooked by tourists, and rightly so, there is nothing to do here. And that's exactly why I love it so much. We spent several weekend trips from boarding school here and had a wonderful routine of walking around the town. As with most old cantonment towns, there are two roads that circle the hilltop, one going over the top and one circling lower down, so one always had a choice on what type of walk one wanted. Being able to see the lights of Chandigarh so clearly from the front bedroom was a beautiful sight.

Traditional planters chair outside our room at the Birds Lagoon Village Resort, near the Thattekadu Bird Sanctuary.

4) Kerala: A family vacation, with 11 of us plus driver and attendant, driving from Bangalore to Kochi via Wayanad and Thrissur. From there to the Thattekadu Bird Sanctuary, then Thekkady and finally to the houseboats at Kumarakom. A hectic trip, but a fantastic one. We stayed at small resorts and one home stay, which we all preferred to hotels, since the atmosphere is much nicer and more appropriate for family travel. We wanted to spend time together, rather than just meeting up for meals in the restaurant.

Outside Old Courtyard Hotel in Fort Kochi, where we ate a sumptuous lunch on Boxing Day.

Gathering for morning tea at all the places was one of my favorite memories from the trip, and they all happened impromptu, with all of us exploring the resorts, walking around and ultimately heading for tea at a common area.

St Michael's Manor bed and breakfast in Scotland, Maryland. I took this shot from the hammock where I lazed in the afternoon :-)

5) Maryland to Maine: Another family trip in the summer of 2006, when we decided to drive from the DC area up along the east coast, exploring the area, visiting old family, friends and old haunts. We drove from DC to Long Island, from where we visited NYC on the Jitney, took the ferry across Long Island Sound to Connecticut, stayed in Providence, RI for a while, visiting our old haunts in Bristol and Newport. We then drove further north to Boston, exploring nearby states of New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine. On our way back south, we stopped in New Jersey and then headed to a little town called Scotland, in rural Maryland, where we stayed at a charming bed and breakfast called St Michael's Manor. All in all a great trip, with lots of fun, great food and fantastic memories.

search for anything at all

When it comes to the Internet, everything seems possible, whether it is finding the right kind of binoculars to take on that birding trip or pressure washers for your boss. Interestingly, each search makes one as curious about the next. I'm a huge believer in books and their longevity, but when it comes to searching for words and spellings, I automatically go to the Internet to search and bypass the physical dictionary and thesaurus. So, while it's good for many things, it has also led to such a different way of life and turned the emphasis on searching.

traveling with insurance

As any frequent traveler knows, the key to have a trouble free vacation is to have some dependable travel health insurance that can take care of any kind of health issues while you're away. There is nothing worse than being sick when you're away from home, and not having a plan just makes it worse. Besides health insurance, I think having a basic travel insurance is a good idea too...to take care of lost baggage, delayed flights and so on. A lot of providers offer a comprehensive package, while some offer it free with credit cards etc, so be sure to check up on all this information before heading out on a trip.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

photo: after a short rainy spell.


Everything becomes washed clean, everything smells fresh, everything looks new and everything seems possible.

I took this shot outside our home in Dubai....living in desert, means lots of sand everywhere, which is why paving stones like these are very popular, to cover part of the garden and instead turn it into a mini-grove of date palm trees.

vacation movie watching

When on vacation, I usually like to catch up with movies and TV watching, but this time with the IPL going on, there hasn't been much time for that. We've been thinking of getting a new tv mount of some kind to change the angle, but haven't got around to that as yet. This time around, with the standoff between movie producers and the multiplexes, there are no new releases, so the emphasis has just been on old classics at home, whenever the IPL match is on only at night. Last week, we watched Casablanca, Cleopatra and Sound of Music. On the list are Ben Hur, Gone with the Wind, The Ten Commandments and some of the old Shakespearean plays.

Fashion for recessionary times

They say fashion follows the economy, or is it the other way around? There have been reams written about how if you dress too well on the job, you're not likely to get a promotion, since it looks like you already have enough money. They say thick and plush ties are out, and a very streamlined narrow tie is in, along with slimmer cuts of jackets and pants, which supposedly makes you look better, and more lean and mean, I suppose.

It's a bit of a catch-22 situation, as to get a job and nowadays, to keep one as well, one has to dress well, but without a job, how does one invest in clothing? And that's where wholesale clothing companies come into play. With inventories going ballistic at most retailers, they are turning to liquidation companies to clear older stock, some of which is high-end merchandise. While you're sure to find some really odd ball merchandise, consumers are quite happy at finding quality merchandise for less.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Overheard: at a book launch

Says the lady behind me, who looked like an older version of Bachi Karkaria, as we slowly made our way through the narrow balcony passageway to the wine and cheese counters, "This seems to be a two-way street of continuous displacement."

Heard at the book launch of Keki Daruwala's For Pepper and Christ at India Habitat Centre on 8th May, 2009. More on the book launch in another post.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

The simple power of nature



Although human subtlety makes a variety of inventions by different means to the same end, it will never devise an invention more beautiful, more simple, or more direct than does nature, because in her inventions nothing is lacking, and nothing is superfluous.

Leonardo DaVinci

writing about what you know

Being a blogger, one gets to write about all sorts of things, since it's one's own platform, a place to air one's opinions, a place to vent and so on, and also a place to talk about what's going on in the consumer market, since I am in the retail field. While I might not be the right person to tell you where to buy nuphedra, I'm quite sure you will be able to find the information, there is a lot of stuff that I can write quite knowledgeably about. Of course, people will disagree, that's the thing about blogging, it's so open for everyone to share their opinions, so it has to be like that.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Patterns in architecture

A decorative piece above a doorway in Bastakiya in Dubai

Since moving to Dubai in summer of 2007, I have really started noticing and enjoying patterns in architecture. I've always liked a very streamlined and Scandinavian kind of decor but with lots of warmth....modern country, I believe it was called when I took one of the online quizzes.

Pattern is everywhere in the Dubai....on buildings, on signboards, in the pattern of the flower beds, above doors and windows, on gates and lots of other places as well. What is so interesting to note here, is how traditional patterns are used on modern buildings, creating such an interesting combination, completely beautiful and memorable.

Close up of a jaali at the masjid in Bastakiya arts quarter in Dubai

View of the Burj Dubai, whose curved exterior is inspired by the Arabic script, from Souk Al Bahar, a shopping complex made on the lines of an old souk.

A tiny courtyard in Bastakiya. The sunlight creates interesting patterns and shadows.

A decorative piece above a window.....no two pieces are the same...the variety is astounding.