When was the last time you woke up with a definite purpose, knew exactly what to do as soon as you were up, and went to bed only and only because your body needed at least three to four hours of rest, and could repeat it all over again the next day and the day after?
That was me, 6 years ago when I started this blog. Every waking hours I was thinking about the blog, every other minute I am checking the bright orange notification on top right side of WordPress admin panel and making a new connection with yet another blogger, and every other day I was thinking of new blog post ideas.
That was my first year of blogging! In 2014.
And that was my best year of blogging. I made a lot of good friends during that time and some of them are still in touch. During the same time, I also started writing a book based on some of my travel memories. Exactly a year after starting the blog, on September 1st 2015, I self-published it. Now, that is 5 years of "Journey is My Path".
When I look back, it was a very productive year for the blog and for me personally. But while travelling in 2015, I was serendipitously offered a travel job. An active travel blog and a self-published book to my name, kind of became my resume. When I quit my job as a Junior Marine Engineer in 2013, I had decided that I wouldn't use a proper resume ever again in my life to find a job. So finally in 2015, I found a job without needing a resume!
If you are an active blogger, you'd probably know that serious blogging is as good as a full-time job. So balancing blogging and actual work is quite difficult. Even though I had a travel job which allowed me to travel quite a bit, I couldn't find enough time to write down my travel memories.
My attention from the blog was drifting away.
Since I didn't start this blog to earn money or to become a travel influencer ( though deep inside my head, I at times wish I could make this blog into an income stream) it wasn't very difficult for me to be less active and become regularly irregular.That intense, driving, or overmastering feeling that I used to wake up with started to disappear.
For a many weeks the only post I did was the Mundane Monday Challenge Series, which I was compelled to do because of the other people who were participating in that challenge. After a continuous 150 weeks of MMC, I decided to discontinue it as I couldn't focus enough on it. Thus number of posts per month trickled down to one or even none at times.
A Blog anniversary is a very important day for a blogger, I believe. For me, it is equivalent to the New Year day. As a blogger, this is the day I make my blogging resolutions! And just like most other New Year resolutions, it would be followed for a few weeks, if lucky for a few months at most.
I haven't missed any Blog anniversary posts so far. All blog anniversaries are well documented! Along with these posts, I usually come up with a new design or direction for the blog. So, over the years, I have changed the looks, the central theme of the blog and even its name!
In 2016, when Host My Blog offered a free self-hosted website to a selected bloggers, I was lucky enough be included in the list. From there another chapter started, www.trablogger.wordpress.com became www.trablogger.com! It gave me opportunities to have fun with the increased functionality of a website. So I experimented more with it.
The web design lessons I learned by doing these design changes over the years brought me random gigs on the road.
In 2018, I was on a solo motorbike trip to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the Hero Honda Hunk I am using. That unplanned trip from Kerala to Hampi finally extended till Mumbai.
While I was in Pune I met a friend who wanted some websites to be designed. With a live portfolio of my blog, it wasn't difficult to get that job. Since it was a friendly business, I didn't get paid much, but still it was good enough to sustain a few more weeks on the road.
On the same trip, while I was in Hubli, I met a couchsurfer. We were meeting for the first time in life. But the next day we were making plans to organise a motorbike trip to Bhutan for our future clients. This blog was the link to the official event.
The itinerary was published here and we somehow managed to get a few people for this trip. Thus I was able to organise my first tour package for others because of this blog!
So many good things happened because of this blog, over the years. So I have decided to experiment with my life to create a life full of travel and to document that journey here in this blog. It also means that my experiments will be reflected in the design and looks of this blog as well.
My experiment for 2020 was to start a Destination Management Company and to run a few handcrafted, carefully and thoughtfully designed tours. I had designed a few tours, operated one in Gokarna and then COVID-19 happened. So that experiment took a backseat and it is on hold as of now.
As the tour design and operation came to a stop, there was no point in keeping the above landing page. Still being a regularly irregular blogger, I didn't change the design for many months. But finally, September has come! The Blog anniversary is back! So it was the best time to make another change.
So in this 6 years of trablogger, I am, presenting you the 6th Year version of trablogger.com and giving you more promises like every other year, to be more active on blogsphere, to write more about travelling and to tell you more travel stories.
Hopefully this year it will be all different. This year might be the best year of blogging till date. I spend a few extra days and hours tweaking the design, making this image-heavy blog to load faster and arranging the blog in such a way that you can find interesting stories more easily.
Now, all I am asking from you is your support. I am sure, with your support and feedback, I am here to stay and to tell you more interesting things through this blog.
Now tell me, will you be with me on this 6th year of my blogging journey?!
Reading Time: 3 minutesAfter the previous list of movie suggestions, I have found a list of amazing Royal Enfield videos for the motorcyclist in you. Though you can find many moto-vloggers these days, Royal Enfield has some stunning professionally made motorcycling videos along with some cool inspirational texts to keep you motivated.
After watching this, all you can think of would be to get back on your motorcycle, once this lock-down is over.
Let’s get to the list without any delay.
Royal Enfield is incomplete if you don’t talk about Gordon May. The brand has released an exclusive interview with the legend himself. Watch the whole video here and surprise yourself with all the unknown facts about your favourite brand.
If you like off-roading and you are a fan of Royal Enfield Himalayan, like Dev Venkatesh in the above video, you should definitely check out the Himalayan video collection on Royal Enfield YouTube channel.
Till date, I never got a chance to ride in snow conditions. But after checking out this Royal Enfield Himalayan cruising through white snow, I think I want to do exactly the same at the earliest next possible opportunity!
If you love Royal Enfield, you would definitely love the Bullet. In that case, you should also check out the Bullet Trials videos. This one below particularly caught my attention.
The video starting from showing a footage from 70 years ago truly tells the most enduring tale in motorcycling. No wonder why so many people are huge fans of the Bullet!
All the fans of Bullets know about the legendary golden thick-and-thin pinstripes, also called Madras stripes which you can see on the fuel tank of Royal Enfield Bullet. You must also know that they are all hand-painted, just like the old days. Here is a short video from Royal Enfield collection that shows how it is done.
Isn't the craftsmanship of the artist just wonderful?! What a confident, simple, elegant and perfect two strokes!
If you want to get to know the relatively new boys in town, who are inspired by the iconic 60’s Interceptor, you should check out the video Royal Enfield Twins | Interceptor INT 650 Story. It gives you more idea about the character of this motorcycle and the story and the motorcycle culture behind it.
If riding in the mountains is what you are dreaming now, here is something to take your breath away- a Himalayan Adventure! Riding in Leh- Ladakh is amazing, but riding through various terrains of Nepal in the lap of Himalaya takes the riding game to another level. Check this adventure out.
I hope you have gotten enough inspiration to get you through the quarantine days. But I have something more for you, I guess.
When this lockdown is over, your motorcycle should be in great condition for all these adventures. So you have to take care of your machine. While I was going through the Royal Enfiled YouTube channel, I found some maintenance videos on their official channel. I never knew it existed. So I thought I will share it.
After not using the motorcycle for a long while, the most common problem would be with getting it started. I hope that doesn't happen to you. But if it does happen, here is one video from the Royal Enfield channel. Though it is specifically made for Twins, it will still be useful for your model.
I hope these videos will be helpful for the motorcyclist in you, especially the Royal Enfield fans, in keeping your spirits up during this lockdown time. Sometimes the wait is part of the journey.
More Royal Enfield stories..
Reading Time: 6 minutes
When I think about a motorcycle movie, only one name comes to my mind first and that is 'The motorcycle diaries'. The reason is obvious, but more than that it is a perfect movie to understand how a motorbike trip can change your perspective and how it can give a true picture of the society around. This trip influenced 23-year-old Ernesto Guevara to become the revolutionary that he turned out to be after experiencing the social injustice throughout the Latin American countries through this journey.
Watch this movie : to get to know the early life Ernesto Guevara and how a motorcycle trip influenced his perspective. Maybe this will make you set out on such a journey. Let the world change you, and you can change the world!
Ben Tyler was leading a very normal life and one day suddenly he got to know that he's got a terminal illness and he wouldn't live too long. On his way back home, he stumbled across an old guy who had an old 'Norton' to sell. As a man whose priorities had changed, Ben bought the motorbike and set out on an adventure across Canada. During this journey, he re-evaluates his relationship, job, and life. Ben's motorcycle journey takes you through the beauty of Canada, philosophies in life and perspective about time and purpose in life.
Watch this movie : to re-evaluate your priorities and to try to find your purpose in life.
We are deviating from the movies to docuseries. Anyone who is interested in any sorts of motor races might have heard about Dakar rally at least one. It is a multi-day, super long-distance endurance rally on various categories of vehicles. Obviously, Motorcycles are also one of the categories. Charley Boorman is an actor, motorcycle enthusiast, writer and more. He had a dream to participate in Dakar rally. With the help of his TV production friends he pitched the idea of making a documentary about his participation in this race. Race to Dakar is a documentary series following Charley Boorman's entry into the 2006 Dakar Rally from Lisbon to Dakar.
Watch this series : to get to know more about Dakar rally and maybe to prepare yourself for a future rally.
This one is also not exactly a motorcycle movie, but a TV Series. It is the 31,000 km journey of Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman- two friends and TV/Movie personalities. They rode from London to New York City on motorcycles. The route they followed was eastwards through Europe and Asia, flew to Alaska, and continued on by road to New York.
The journey passed through twelve countries, starting in the UK, then through France, Belgium, Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Canada, and the US, ending in New York City. Follow along this adventure to get an insight into long-distance motorcycling.
Watch this series : to get to know the difficulties in long-distance motorcycle riding and to experience the endurance of riders.
If you think you will enjoy Long Way Round, you will definitely enjoy 'Long Way Down' too. The same two friends along with their production crew, set out on another long-distance motorcycle journey. This time the journey started from Scotland through eighteen countries in Europe and Africa to Cape Town in South Africa. The realities of border crossing, the life in many of the African countries are very insightful. If you even fancied such an international motorcycling journey, this series is for you.
Watch this series : if you like Long way down and to get to know more about the difficulties in long-distance motorcycle riding and to experience the endurance of riders. Also get an insight into the realities of land border crossing, especially with a motorbikes.
If you have watched the above-mentioned series, you will probably understand the amount of planning, the number of crew members and support from the crew that goes behind making a movie on motorcycle trips. But then there is one man who ventured out to make a documentary of his solo motorcycle trip to the top of the world! Gaurav Jani
Gaurav Jani was a one-man camera crew unit who loaded his Royal Enfield Bullet 350CC Motorcycle with 300 kilograms of equipment and supplies and set off on a journey to one of the world's most difficult terrains.
He started his trip to one of the remotest parts of India, to the Changthang Plateau in Ladakh, bordering China from Delhi, though his actual travel started from Mumbai. This movie/documentary was released in 2006 which is way earlier when going to Leh-Ladhak on a solo trip was not so mainstream and way earlier when vlogging didn't really make it in the 'cool things to do' list. These points make his journey really very special to me, personally.
He showcases the difficulties he had to face in documenting the trip as a real 'solo traveler'. It also gives an idea about the difficulties the remote high altitude places inevitably brings to a motorcyclist. I believe more and more people should watch this movie.
Watch this Documentary film : to understand the grit and determination of a strong-willed solo motorcyclist and to understand the real meaning of 'Solo rider'. Watch this movie simply to get inspired to go on an impossible sounding trip all by yourself.
If you have already started liking Gaurav Jani and his movie, add this one too, One Crazy Ride. This is a modern-day expedition trip on a motorcycle. When everyone claims to be an explorer these days, only a bunch of real crazy explorers can embark on a trip like this.
Lesser-known parts of India are explored as five fellow bike riders from the 60KPH club set out on an expedition across the less traveled Indian northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh to chart a route that supposedly does not exist. The bikers chronicle their attempt to travel from Tawang in west Arunachal to Dong in the east without entering the state of Assam.
Watch this Documentary film : to infect yourself with contagious passion and determination put in by the explorers of this movie. Again with no camera crew and no support vehicles, on a low budget, a bunch of friends are going on a true expedition trip. If it doesn't inspire you to plan a trip, what else would?!
#8. Why we ride
They claim this is the number 1 motorcycle movie in America and I believe that is probably true. This movie definitely has a complete American point of view on motorcycling and the history of it. Nevertheless, this documentary will make you feel proud of being a motorcyclist if you consider yourself as one. It also gives a detailed insight into the American motorcycling culture and its history. It can also give chill through your spine when you associate yourself as a motorcyclist after seeing this documentary.
Watch this Documentary film : to understand why we ride from various perspectives. Ultimately this movie will make you want to get back on your motorcycle even if you are not an American.
#9. The world's fastest Indian
Burt Munro had only one dream. To set the fastest land speed record in the world. He worked for 20 years to highly modify the 1920 'Indian' motorcycle that he had bought that same year. Munro was 68 and was riding a 47-year-old machine and finally he set his last record. Sounds like a movie story. Right? And yes, it is a movie story, but inspired by true events. Now that is the world's fastest Indian. The story of the guy and his modified 'Indian' motorcycle.
Watch this film : to get inspired by the true events of a rider and his life and his dedication.
#10. Neelakasham Pachakadal Chuvanna Bhoomi
This is a road movie from Kerala( means this movie is in Malayalam language). Two friends are setting out on a motorcycle trip from Kerala to Nagaland on two Royal Enfields. One of the friends is going to find his girlfriend who lives in Nagaland. His friend joins him on this mission. They both travel through various parts of India to reach their destination. The journey, incidents on the road, the backstories make the movie interesting. It is a perfect motorbike movie for any Indian to watch.
Watch this film : to have a feel of a real motorcycle trip through India and to have a light-hearted movie watching time.
Hope you have enjoyed this list of motorcycle movies. I will be adding more inspiring motorcycling content to watch for your quarantine days. #motorcyclemovies
Tell me you favorites!
Reading Time: 7 minutesThe first season of Spiritual Gokarna has come to an end. Heartfelt thanks to all those who supported it.
When I was designing it, I wanted this trip to be special, I wanted this trip to be an insightful one, I wanted the participants to take some learnings back home once the trip was completed.
Here I am inviting you to behind the scenes of designing this trip
Design Process of Spiritual Gokarna
When most weekend travelers think about Gokarna, the first thing that comes to their mind would probably be a Chilling Beach Destination.
Indeed, the popularity of Gokarna as a chilling beach destination is increasing day by day, but while I was visiting Gokarna, I realized that there is more to Gokarna than being just another beach destination. So my first priority was to figure out what more Gokarna is offering other than being a weekend chillout spot and integrate that into a flowing, action-packed itinerary.
At the same time, I wanted a first-time visitor to Gokarna to get the best Gokarna has to offer as well. I didn't want anyone to feel that they haven't done the must-dos in Gokarna after signing up for a Gokarna trip.
Bringing in the Contrast
The best way to showcase the two different sides of Gokarna was to show the contrast it offered. The spiritual and materialistic side Gokarna offered was quite contradictory, I felt. But most of the time, a person who visits Gokarna for a short time gets to see only one side or rather the side he/she chooses to see.
That is how, different chapters in this trip was born. Instead of the day-wise itinerary, for the Spiritual Gokarna trip, you have a chapter wise itinerary.
Since the targeted audience for this trip was the weekend travelers from major cities, the chapters were designed around the life of a corporate employee.
Chapter 1: The Escape
The aim of weekend travel mostly is to have a relaxed time after long days of hard work and mindless routines. ( I also understand that there are so many people who enjoy their work-life)
In most cases, the weekend is the escape! When one starts to believe that life is about working during the weekdays, weekends definitely become the escape.
'Escape chapter' deals with the overnight bus ride from the city towards Gokarna. This is the beginning of an enlightening journey (at least in my wildest dreams).
The overnight bus from Bangalore to Gokarna is included in the trip.
Chapter 2: Unleashing Fun, the old life's way!
In order to compare how good something can get, one needs to know the other side of the story as well. Without failures, one will not understand the value of success. Just like that, to feel the contrast of Spiritual Gokarna, one has to experience the Not-so-spiritual side of Gokarna. So this chapter deals with experiencing the popular must-dos while in Gokarna.
'Chapter 2' Day Looks like this
- Arrive in Gokarna town early in the morning
- Check-in to your hotel and freshen up
- Breakfast time.
- Getting to their Rented scooters
- Beach hopping
- Trek to a beach
- Lunch at a beachside cafe
- More beach hopping
- Sunset at a beach and some photography tips
- Relax and dinner
- Stargazing/introduction to astrophotography
A detailed look into Chapter 2
The night bus usually reaches Gokarna by early morning. It can vary and at times you might reach Gokarna by 9am. So the first thing was to check-in at the hotel and freshen up.
Once everyone got fresh and had breakfast, the scooters were waiting for them. (The price of renting the scooters were included in the trip). Since Gokarna has a long shoreline and there are so many beaches to explore, the most convenient way to get around in Gokarna is to rent a scooter.
Off we went, from Gokarna Main beach to explore more beaches on the Southern side.
- Gokarna Main beach
- God's own beach
- Belekan beach
- Trek to Paradise beach
- Lady Buddha beach
- Small Hells beach
These were the beaches we had explored until the afternoon before lunch. We headed back and went to Middle beach for a relaxed lunch after the small hike from Paradise beach. After lunch, we rode towards the north side to find some very less crowded beaches.
- Middle beach - Lunch spot
- Kamal beach
- Patang beach
It was then almost time for the sunset and you don't want to miss the sunset when you're in Gokarna. So we went to Kudle beach to see the sunset and to chill out.
- Kudle beach for sunset and dinner
After dinner, it was time for some sky watching. Almost everyone knew about Orion, the hunter. Long exposure shots using the phones to try and capture the star trails were also tried out.
Since it was already a long day and the next day was going to be an early start, we said goodnights early.
Chapter 3: A New life Initiation
To me personally, this day is the main highlight of the trip. All the previous 2 chapters were kind of preparing the participants to receive this part in a better way.
This is the day one gets to see the contrast, this is the day one gets a chance to experience something close to enlightenment if something of that sort happens!
The day started quite early as 6.30 in the morning to start the beach trek. Yes, there was a beach trek part of the day. It was the trek from Om beach to Half Moon beach.
Early in the morning, we rode to Om beach.
After crossing Om beach, through the rocks, we started the early morning trek. Lack of sun and the view from the cliff made the trek a wonderful experience.
Only a bunch of people who camped the previous night were there on the beach at that time. It was a perfect setting to get introduced to a special spiritual practice. Falun Dafa!
Falun dafa is a Chinese religious practice that combines meditation and qigong exercises. Qigong, qi gong, chi kung, or chi gung is a centuries-old system of coordinated body-posture and movement, breathing, and meditation used for the purposes of health, spirituality, and martial-arts training.
After a brief introduction to Falun dafa and practising the moves in a very less populated beach, it was time for breakfast.
Social Media Abstinence
There were two question on the registration form which asks, if you can live without your phone for a day and if you can Not post on social media about the trip. Those questions were relevant for this day.
Travel has been romantisiced by social media. Travelers are thronging to certain destinations after seeing frequent posts on instagram.
A recent survey even found out that Indians travel to show off rather than to explore or learn something new from a place, which I believe is quite unfortunate. So staying away from phones and not posting a few parts of the trip are the small steps taken towards keeping travel away from social media stunts and bringing travel back to its better purposes.
Boat Ride and Dolphin Sighting
After a lovely breakfast from a beach shack, it was time to head back to Om beach. But this time we were not trekking, instead, we took a boat ride back. The boat ride took us through Paradise beach and Gokarna lighthouse and then a few moments later to the bay where dolphins are usually spotted.
Our batch was quite lucky to see a few dolphins that jumped from the water a few meters away from us. We then head back to Om beach and from there to Kudle beach. It was time to meet some interesting people of Kudle beach.
Meeting more people
One of the best parts of travel for me is to meet new people and get to know their interesting stories. So whenever designing a trip, I try to include some elements that allow meeting some interesting people.
In Kudle beach you can find plenty of interesting people. But usually, the weekend tourists never get access to them and they miss out big time on one of the most interesting aspects of Kudle.
There are many people from various parts of the world who come here, stay here and make India their second home for an extended period of time. Some of them had quit their attractive jobs and are simply living their life here. Some others are figuring out what they want in their life by trying out various things here.
There are musicians, fire juggles, spiritual dancers, water healers and many more. It is a pleasure to me that we got a chance to meet them and to interact with them and to learn something from them. During these activities, to get a deeper experience, the usage of the phone was restricted. With some music, dance, and healing, time went so quickly and it was time for late lunch.View this post on Instagram
There are a few beaches in Gokarna area. But I feel Kudle beach is different. Some say there is magic in Kudle beach. The regulars call it the Kudle bubble. I've been trying to observe the magic in close proximity. Did I find the magic?! Little by little it's been appearing. Of course, the main beauty is the diversity of people one can get to meet here once you an access inside the bubble. They simply keep on amaze you time and again. Join me on this valentine's day to get a small introduction into Kudle bubble. . . . . #KudleBeach #Gokarna #sunset #timelapse #gokarnadiaries #gokarnabeach #kudlebeachgokarna #karnataka_focus
Lunch, Sunset, Shopping, and Exploration
Late long lunch at the beach made its way to sunset. It was the last sunset of season 1 of this trip and we had to experience it. Pondering over the different lifestyles they got introduced to, the participants sat and watched the beautiful red orangish ball disappearing far away on the horizon.
It was time to head to the town to get to their overnight buses. But on the way, there were some more explorations to be done. It was time to explore the Gokarna town.
Gokarna is actually a very important pilgrimage destination for the people of Hindu faith. Before marketed as a beach destination, Gokarna was famous among the people only for this reason. So leaving Gokarna without checking out its many temples and interesting temple tanks such as Koti theertha would make this an incomplete trip.
Checking out the Gokarna town also offered the souvenir hunters and shopping addicts to be in their elements and thus helping the local economy which at present is thriving on tourism-related activities.
After some walking through the streets of Gokarna town and doing some shopping, and eating some banana buns, it was time to head back home and to begin the next chapter.
Check out the program videos on here
Chapter 4: Back to Reality
This trip shouldn't end once you leave from Gokarna. I hope the real journey begins here. It is said that there is a difference in studying about a philosophy and actually internalizing it.
If the participants have learned anything from the chapter 3 of this trip, that deals with new life initiation, after meeting people with alternative lifestyles, after getting introduced to energy practices and after understanding the importance of a bit of silence in their life, I am sure, or at least hope that they will have a long term effect from this spiritual Gokarna trip.
What do you think?
After going through this trip report, what do you think about Spiritual Gokarna trip? Will you be interested in being part of it the next time? Please let me know in the comments.Reading Time: 3 minutes
Valentine's day has been associated with romantic love since 14th century, if you decide to read upon the history of Valentine's day. Flowers, sweets and cards joined the party by 18th century. Probably from that point onwards, giving gifts to loved ones has become an integral part of Valentines day.
On this occasion of 2020's Valentine's day, I feel travelling is the best thing one can gift either to themselves or to their loved ones.
Single or not, traveling is the best Valentine's day gift one can possibly think and here is why.
Single? Why you should travel solo on this Valentine's day
Are you planning to post on your social media, "Yet another Valentine's day, still single" sort of post? Think again. You can do better posts this year!
- When you travel all by yourself, it teaches you more and more things about you. You understand what you are really capable of, what are the areas you can improve in yourself and so on. Travelling solo is one of the best way towards self improvement. So go ahead, travel solo and fall in love with yourself more!
- When you travel solo, you are opening yourself to the possibility of meeting and interacting with more people. If you are with a friend or a group of friends, most of your time will be spent with them only. But when you are solo, you have more probability of finding your future partner. After all it is valentine's day. Keep your hopes high!
Still Confused about that person? Set up a travel date this valentine's day
You both feel infatuated towards each other, but still a bit confused? Traveling has the answer to your confusions. You understand more about the other person while doing something together other than talking about dreams and plans for hours.
Certain situations that travel might bring up can really test the character of the person. If such situation arises, that will be a moment of truth. You will learn more about the other person. You might fall in love deeper with that person. Well, this is the Valentine's day time, lets be optimistic and keep our hopes high!
Recently in love? Travel to find the real compatibility
When you think you are in love, during those initial days, you might only see the rosy side of your partner. You can easily NOT see any bad side of the person. Everything looks great. Well that is how it is supposed to be.
Travelling can be the real compatibility test for the couples who are recently in love. If you pass the tests put forward by traveling, you have better chances getting along in the long run. This test can be much better than any numerology compatibility test you've secretly tried on the internet!
In Love/Married for long? Rekindle the spark
What is a better occasion than Valentine's day to rekindle the spark in your long standing relationship? Do you really need an occasion to do that? Not really. But since there is a world wide accepted day to do something for your loved ones, why not make it a bit special by going on a romantic trip?
If you don't really travel together much, this valentine's day will be a perfect occasion to gift your partner with a surprise trip. May this trip make your relationship super special.
Friends are everything? Travel with them!
For some people there can't be any stronger relationship than friendship. For such people, any given day they prefer to travel with their buddies. Well, why restrict valentine's day with romantic relationships alone? Make it an excuse to travel more!
Let's make travel our valentine this year!
Reading Time: 3 minutes
Streets of Kolkata through Pictures
It doesn't matter if it rains, if the water from the puddle get splashed onto you by occasional vehicles that passes by, life has to go on, no matter what!
People often talk about life and its struggles. But most of them have no idea how lucky they are in comparison with someone else's struggles. Picture from a country where reserving a train seat for an urgent journey itself is a struggle!
How much would it cost for a basket of grapes, you might wonder. The auction started at ₹300/- Picture from a huge fruit market of Kolkata.
What happens in the afterlife, you might ponder. Well, life goes on. So is the celebration of life, I guess. An image of a funeral procession from Kolkata, near the Kalighat temple.
When you have to meet your basic necessities of life such as food, water, shelter and clothing, would you even care where exactly you try to make a living? An image in front of Jorasanko Thakur Bari, the ancestral home of Rabindranath Tagore.
When life extends beyond the walls of your house, you open up to a whole new possibilities, though it might not be a decision out of creativity, rather one out of necessity. Here is one such street that has turned into a dining hall, cloth drying area, washing corner, laundry room and much more. Though the pictures of Gods on the wall doesn't make it into a prayer hall. Those pictures have a bigger purpose of keeping the area and the wall clean by preventing people from attempting to discharge their urgency!
Can you remember your life before YouTube and Netflix and cheap data charges? It was much simpler, just like the dog immersed in that moment in deep thoughts! This is not just only in the streets of Kolkata though; applies world wide.
Wouldn't you offer money to god thinking that you can buy some blessing off with your currency? But would you care to part with a fraction of the same amount to someone who ask for it in the name of god? May it have become an organized business, but isn't it interesting that we tend to give money to who is already abundant and discard the ones in need!
When many of the travelers first comes to India and hear the tour guide/an Indian speaks good English, they wonder! And if someone doesn't speak well, they appreciate their effort. Because India isn't an English speaking country. But then one day when you see a guy working in a busy market with his name tattooed in English, you wonder what his story might be! Then you notice the advertisement on the bag as well. Interesting country, isn't it?
They don't care about the prejudices of the society, they 'make up' their faces towards the ugly looks on the 'society' because all they care is living a life in the streets of Kolkata.
Behind every "glamour and glitz" story, there is a behind-the-scene-story of many people's hard work unseen,unnoticed and unappreciated.
“When I go from hence, let this be my parting word, that what I have seen is unsurpassable.
I have tasted of the hidden honey of this lotus that expands on the ocean of light, and thus I am blessed—let this be my parting word.
In this playhouse of infinite forms I have had my play and here have I caught sight of him who is formless.
My whole body and my limbs have thrilled with his touch who is beyond touch; and if the end comes here, let it come—let this be my parting word.”
Also check out more street photos from Kolkata.
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What do you think about these images? What are your first thought about them?
NB : All photos are taken on the phone camera. So if you find it not very sharp or blurry, you should check out one of my old posts called Blur is beautiful. Thank you for understanding.
Reading Time: 6 minutesOnce upon a time I was planning a trip to Kolkata from Kerala on a budget of ₹2000/- which never happened.
Its been years now and finally my plan to visit Kolkata materialized on November 2019. It indeed is an interesting Indian city. What captivated me the most was the colourful streets of Kolkata. I am on a journey to explore Kolkata. But then you need to move around in a new city to experience it. So here is my story of moving around in Kolkata.
This story takes place during Novemeber 2019, exactly during the time the cyclone bulbul decided to pass through West Bengal coast.
Moving Around in Kolkata : The Metro
- Kolkata Metro : India's first Underground metro service and only service operated by Indian Railway
Kolkata metro gave me the first surprise.
Before reaching Kolkata I had no idea about the metro system in Kolkata. I had only heard about the tram service. So on my first day when my Uber motorbike rider dropped me near a metro station, I had to ask him where exactly was the metro station. I was looking out for the elevated metro line just like in Delhi or Bangalore. But I was unaware that the whole Kolkata metro line is constructed underground!
- Kalighat Metro station. Not the exact picture one would get when they think of a metro station
Kolkata metro is the first metro service in India which started operations in 1984. It is also the first underground metro service in India. It is currently operated by Indian railways and it is the only metro operated by Indian railways. Compared to its counterparts, Kolkata metro is super economical. The minimum fare is ₹5/- and maximum is ₹30/-
Buses of Kolkata
Before finally decided to get an uber ride to the metro station, I was on a look out to find a bus which was suggested by Google maps. I could see plenty of buses crisscrossing the junction at any given point of time. Exactly according to Murphy's Universal Law, even after waiting for half an hour or more, I could find all the bus numbers except the I wanted to get in.
- Buses were colourful, mostly crowded and always appeared to be in a rush
Even though I couldn't get my bus, it was interesting to watch people getting on and off the buses, standing there in a busy junction. One word for that whole scene was 'Struggle'!
It was a T intersection or rather a big junction, where two streams of traffic -mainly consisting of buses, merging into a big three lanes of road. This chaotic movement is somewhat controlled by traffic lights on both sides of the 'T'. When the traffic light turns green on one side, the buses will pour into this bigger middle lane with the three lanes, one after the other.
The first bus which reaches there, stops closer to the designated bus stop to let people in and out. A pack of people goes in and another pack gets down, and this 'carefully choreographed' performance happens in a matter of 10 to 15 seconds. Those who still couldn't make it within that time period, runs along with the moving bus to get in. Those who couldn't make it even after running along with the bus - since bus had already picked up some speed- comes back and get ready for the same exercises in the next bus.
- Inside an empty looking bus which I boarded from its origin stop. Almost all trips costed me ₹7/-
Those buses -which couldn't get the designated spot as it came behind in the race to grab the first spot at the bus stop- overtakes the first place winner and goes and stops way ahead of the actual stop so that when it finishes unloading and loading of people, it can leave much before the first place winning bus or at least block its way and prevent it from going ahead and stealing other passengers on the way.
But in order to make it to this bus, the passengers have to make a sprint- from wherever they are standing to wherever the bus has finally decided to stop- before the driver decides to leave half of the passengers behind, so that he can probably get the whole pack of passengers in the next bus stop or at least win the race with the bus which is now right behind him.
- Bus driving in India is not about taking people from A to B. It is more complex than that. It involves the ego of the drivers, the instant street races they have signed up by themselves, the competition to get maximum business or sometime pure arrogance
The Yellow Hindustan Ambassadors of Calcutta
When I hear the name Calcutta, it reminds me of history lessons where I learned about steam ship Calcutta and the bright yellow taxis of Calcutta. Many of the history lessons, stories and other literature painted a picture of Kolkata in my mind. These Yellow Cabs are one of the brightest pictures in that collection.
- The famous yellow Hindustan Ambassador Taxis of Kolkata.
Voted as the World's best taxi by BBC's TopGear, Hindustan Ambassador is an icon of an era. This 'King of Indian roads' used to be the beloved vehicle of all politicians of India before they decided to upgrade themselves (even after Make In India campaign and such PR stunts) with more luxurious options. This is the very Ambassador that predominantly visible in most of the old Indian movies irrespective of the language.
Considered virtually non-destructible vehicle, it didn't take much time for "Amby" to be taxi driver's favorite due to its low maintenance, sturdiness and spaciousness. And to make things easier for the taxi drivers of Kolkata, there was an ambassador plant in Hooghly district of West Bengal, which is not too far from Kolkata. (Though the production of Ambassadors have stopped from 2014, but there are news that it is making a come back)
The line of people who wanted to procure a permit to run Yellow Ambassador taxi went long.
- With more competitors on the road, future of bright yellow taxi isn't really bright!
But that wasn't the case anymore! With more and more new players coming in the scene such as App based taxi services, driving a yellow cab isn't a great choice as it used to be.
The "No Refusal" signs on the taxi made me curious. Maybe they won't refuse anymore, since they aren't as powerful as they were used to be. Even now if they are refusing to turn on the meter or to go to a certain area in the city, the future really isn't bright for these Bright yellow taxi service when you compare the doorstep pickup service available on App based cabs.
Rickshaw Pullers of Calcutta
Just like the name Calcutta phased out, just like the yellow ambassadors are disappearing slowly, rickshaw pullers of Calcutta will also be no longer seen in the iconic visuals of this city. One can have debates on the topic if modern Kolkata needs such icons or want to be known for such visuals. But in a city like Kolkata, it will be very difficult to support one side of the story.
- Rickshaw puller of Kolkata, either takes time off from his work or waiting for work.
On a humanitarian point of view, a man belongs to a lower socioeconomic strata pulls another man or woman or a pair of them in a rickshaw who belongs to slightly higher strata is not considered appropriate anymore in this modern world . But if a government simply bans a human powered rickshaw altogether on these grounds as well as to maintain a modern and prosperous outlook of the city, that is also not right if proper steps haven't taken for their welfare.
The country where pulled rickshaw was invented - Japan has already banned it, so is China and many other countries. In fact these pulled rickshaws were banned in Kolkata too, many times. But they are still running.
- An empty rickshaw being pulled through the streets of Kolkata. Tram lines can be seen on the road.
Its a tricky situation for the rickshaw walaahs I guess. People who are compassionate wouldn't want to ride a human powered rickshaw. People who want to go far has other options. People who are in hurry have faster solutions. People who have money have their own transportation. Thus these rickshaw pullers are left with people who want to travel short distance by paying much less than other options. So at the end of the day, these rickshaw waalahs don't make much money for their backbreaking job!
Cycle Rickshaws of Kolkata
Unlike the pulled rickshaws, these cycle rickshaws don't have any special uniqueness to claim as it is widely used in many parts of the world. But still as a natural upgraded version of the pulled rickshaw, these mode of transportation is also an important one in the Kolkatan landscape.
- Cycle rickshaws of Kolkata
Then you have cycles, auto rickshaws, cars, jeep and trucks, like any other part of the world. But there is another very unique mode of transportation in Kolkata- The Trams.
Trams of Kolkata
It is the only tram system presently running in India. It is also the The oldest operating electric tram system in Asia. Right from 1902, it has been running. But it was quite unfortunate that I couldn't take a tram ride while I was in Kolkata. I waited, waited more, walked towards the main terminal looking at the map, following the tram line on the road, but as an elusive mythical creature the tram stayed away from my sight.
I asked one of those local people, while waiting near the tram stop as marked on the map, "Is this where the tram stop and What time will the tram come?".
He replied after taking a sip of cha from the typical clay cup, "Tram stops anywhere. Just flag it down. It is definitely going to come, but can't say when. But it will definitely come."
Realizing the condition of tram schedules and after looking at the dark sky ready to pour down anytime, I decided to make it my mission to find the tram during my next trip. Cyclone Bulbul hadn't really left the city. I joined the ever flowing crowd and headed back to my hostel.
More Street Photographs such as the one below coming in the next post.View this post on Instagram
Streets of Calcutta. . . . It was so much fun walking around in the streets of Kolkata and take pictures. Every corner of the street something or the other would be happening. Though it's the same almost everywhere in India. But so far i haven't seen a street magic happening all of a sudden out of nowhere, the way it happened in Kolkata. Then all of a sudden a tram would cut through all the traffic like a king. And in the whole scene, the background is lined with the grand looking, age showing Heritage buildings. Where else can you experience this in India?! . . #kolkata #Calcutta #kolkatadiaries #kolkataphotography #kolkatastreets @sokolkata @dd_kolkata @lbb.kolkata @calcuttatimes #tripotocommunity
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“Coming weekend when I get to the base, I will most probably be doing Stok Kangri,” he said.
“You are one lucky officer to get posted in such a cool place,” I commented.
It was during one of my mountain trips that I met this army officer. And the conversations that ensued were very engaging. He had been almost all over the country as part of his job description demands and as a fellow travel enthusiast we had a lot to exchange.
We talked about many lesser known places, touching upon a few world-famous sites as well.
While talking about travel destinations, the army officer mentioned how every destination is the same. Whole travel agencies are overenthusiastic about sending off people everywhere – they do not embark on responsibility of either educating tourists about better travel sojourns or using part of their revenues in development of sites.
I wholeheartedly agreed with him, almost every place I had recently motorcycled to – led me to piles of garbage. If you are aware, the most famous one you can encounter is “Bomb Guard".
Before you jump to conclusions, let me state Bomb Guard has nothing to do with military movements and especially with bombs and ammunition.
It is a very young, slowly growing mountain. An artificially created mountain, a mountain of garbage.
Bomb Guard is a landfill just outside of the beautiful mountain town of Leh. When the tourism boom arrived, when the local economy flourished, on the other side the pile of garbage also prospered!
With romantisation of Ladakh in pop culture – the advent of tourists brought in a range of good things – economy prospered, people gained employments and small businesses started thriving. But of course it came at the cost of garbage and environment impact.
But to be fair, who doesn’t get charmed by the beauty of Ladakh?! No one can blame the tourists who visit or want to visit Ladakh, because the beauty of the landscapes of Ladakh is mesmerizing and no one would have a different opinion about it. Whenever I see a video of someone riding an Royal Enfield Bullet through the surreal landscape of Ladakh, my mind craves for such a trip to happen.
Recently, while surfing the internet for more Royal Enfield videos, I stumbled upon their Leave Every Place Better drive, it warmed me. A brand which has become synonymous with everything travel and motorcycles, took the first step to give it back to the sites that make travelling worthwhile.
What is #LeaveEveryPlaceBetter?
Royal Enfield, in their attempt to reduce plastic waste has installed water filtration units at Camping sites and service stations – encouraging travellers to carry their own bottle and refill them with these clean and portable supply.
But the conversation around waste cannot be restricted to Ladakh alone. Move across the country to Taj Mahal, Elephanta caves, Char minar – in fact the very own Chennai’s Marina beach where thousands of plastic bottles covered the area is a rather upsetting sight.
What can we do?
All these famous tourist spots as well as other places have been suffering from the menace of plastic bottle explosion. And if we all come together, put in efforts to stop this menace, then maybe we can reclaim our travel sites from garbage and dirt in no time.
Remember, one responsible traveller gives way to many more such travellers. We can be the change we wish to see in our world.
We want to preserve India’s most visited places like our monuments, mountains and forests for our future generations as well. They also should experience the surreal nature of these landscapes. It doesn’t happen if we leave our trash wherever we visit.
We should ideally leave a place better than we’ve found it. This isn’t only for Ladakh or the mountains, but it should be for all the places that we visit to. #LeaveEveryPlaceBetter.
Swearing to keep this promise, now I can ask my new friend to show me around lesser known parts of Leh-Ladakh, maybe some places only a military officer can take you!