People at work

Earning honest money is important than not doing anything for living, all these people in the photos below have my utmost respect –

Flying Dahi-Vada, Indore, MP, January 2021

If you are Indore, visit Sarafa Market at night and try various street food over there and must try Flying Dahi-Vada of Joshi Ji,
Indore, MP,
January 2021

Preparation of Samosa

Samosas are mostly sold in the evening but preparation starts early morning.
Prayag, UP
January 2021

A footpath barbar shop at Prayag, UP January 2021

A footpath barbershop at Prayag, UP
January 2021

A shoemaker shop at Prayag, UP January 2021

A shoemaker shop at Prayag, UP
January 2021

A cotton candy vendor at Sangam, Prayag January 2021

A cotton candy vendor at Sangam, Prayag
January 2021

A local musician sighted at Sangam, Prayag, January 2021

A local musician sighted at Sangam, Prayag,
January 2021

A snacks seller at Sangam, Prayag, January 2021

A snacks seller at Sangam, Prayag,
January 2021

A tea seller filtering tea surrounded by customers. Prayag, January 2021

A tea seller filtering tea surrounded by customers.
Prayag,
January 2021

For me, it’s important to live a happy life with happy people rather than acquiring all the wealth in this world, I must not regret at the end that I did not live the life.

Religion

While driving an uninhibited stretch of MP we found a tea seller to our surprise. The place was so uninhibited that even a single mobile network was not there in that area. The milk used in the tea was so pure that we were able to get a flavor of herbs grazed by cattle.

The tea stall in uninhibited stretch

The tea stall in uninhibited stretchbelief

While enjoying our tea, met a group of 4 men, coming all the way from Sagar, and were going to Allahabad (now Prayagraj) on foot for a holy dip in Ganga. They were using a bicycle to carry their belongings. A 400+ KM distance which they were planning to cover in 20 days by foot.

4 Men going to Prayag from Sagar by foot

4 Men going to Prayag from Sagar by foot

Despite so much advancement in technology, religious belief in humans is still strong. Many religious philosophies are not relevant in today’s world or there is a great disconnect between how those were created and what they have become over time, but people are still so attached to them. After observing human life for so many years, I think we all are living identical life. A farmer is a farmer whether he is in an Indian village or Cambodia or England, and the same applies to the middle class doing 9 to 6 jobs. Though we say that we follow a particular religion but most of the time we don’t follow what is written in our religious books. This may be because those teachings do not fit in today’s world or too difficult to follow, but we still claim to belongs to a certain religion.

Thinking, do we need to update the religious texts as per today’s society or scientific advancements? if it is updated will it still be the same religion? Will we still follow the religion religiously after the update? Will the word religiously be still relevant?

Freedom Trip 2021

It’s like hormonal change starts to happen at the beginning of every winter, which triggers a natural urge to go on a road trip. This road trip is only limited to Madhya Pradesh so far. This year, due to the board exams of our kids, it was near impossible to maintain that tradition which we were following for the last 11 years. Thanks to the delays caused by lockdown exams were postponed and our trip plan switched on.

We have decided to touch an ancient but important city Mandu in MP and visit the nearby holy city of Ujjain. As it was a long trip from Allahabad, we took a halt at Vidisha while going and Sagar while returning back.

Our route was

Prayag (Allahabad) -> Vidisha -> Mandu -> Indore -> Ujjain -> Sagar -> Prayag  (Allahabad) (Dates 24-29 Jan 2021)

Due to fog on plains, we have decided to remain in Vindyachal while going and returning back, else we could have taken the national highway.

A couple sighted at Vidisha

A couple sighted at Vidisha

Baoli: People of MP and many other parts of the country where groundwater is very low rely mainly on rainwater. Collecting and conserving is a practice being followed in these places since long time.

Baoli: People of MP and many other parts of the country where groundwater is very low rely mainly on rainwater. Collecting and conserving is a practice being followed in these places for a long time.

A women filling her bucket from a water storage

A woman filling her bucket from water storage. Mandu

A tribal women selling berries and carrying slingshot in Mandu, MP. She had tattoed face, like many other tribes have tradition of tattooing face.

A tribal woman selling berries and carrying slingshot in Mandu, MP. She had tattoed face like many other tribes have a tradition of tattooing face.

The tree on right is known as the Baobab tree (Adansonia) also known as Khorasani Imli found only in Mandu within India. Other than India it can be only found in 3 other countries in the world including Madagascar where it is a national tree.

The tree in this picture is known as the Baobab tree (Adansonia) also known as Khorasani Imli found only in Mandu within India. Other than India it can be only found in 3 other countries in the world including Madagascar where it is a national tree.

Baobab tree

Baobab tree with ruins. Mandu

State of MP is known for it's low population density and this is what fascinates travellers. One can travel miles without seeing anyone or been seen, there is nothing other than nature around. Mostly based on Vindhyachal plateau and have very rocky terrain. Not much suitable for growing crops, so mainly cattle farming being done here. If you are sick of chaos around you this is the place where you want to be. It has it's own magic in every season.

The state of MP is known for its low population density and this is what fascinates travelers. One can travel miles without seeing anyone or been seen, there is nothing other than nature around. Mostly based on the Vindhyachal plateau and have very rocky terrain. Not much suitable for growing crops, so mainly cattle farming being done here. If you are sick of chaos around you this is the place where you want to be. It has its own magic in every season.

Vindyachal range is a plateau, which predates the even Himalayas by a huge margin. Fossils of many prehistoric bacteria and even dinosaurs are found on this.

Vindyachal range is a plateau, which predates the even Himalayas by a huge margin. Fossils of many prehistoric bacteria and even dinosaurs are found on this. Sunset Point, Mandu

Met a couple from Ujjain in Mandu, made friends :)

Met a couple from Ujjain in Mandu, made friends :). Sunset Point, Mandu

My big bro BK, I like his royal look

My big bro BK, I like his royal look

Rani Roopmati Pavilion

Rani Roopmati Pavilion, Mandu

Baz Bahadur Palace

Baz Bahadur Palace, Mandu

Dr Sharad At Baz Bahadur Palace, Mandu

Dr Sharad At Baz Bahadur Palace, Mandu

A soft drink stall near Rani Roopmati Pavilion, Mandu

A soft drink stall near Rani Roopmati Pavilion, Mandu

A boy selling sugar-apple or sweetsop along with tamarind near Baz Bahadur Palace, Mandu

A boy selling sugar-apple or sweetsop along with tamarind near Baz Bahadur Palace, Mandu

House of head maid, Mandu MP (apporx 1500 AD). They were so respected and got high rank in society that kings use to provide them big houses and servent. Their main job was to groom kids of royal family.

House of the head maid, Mandu MP (approx 1500 AD). They were so respected and got a high rank in society that kings use to provide them big houses and servent. Their main job was to groom kids of the royal family.

Mandu has a turbulent history, especially between 1300-1500. This is reflected in its architecture as well. Same buildings that were built with Hindu architecture been modified many times over the years. One needs to look closely to figure out layers of history in these buildings.

Mandu has a turbulent history, especially between 1300-1500. This is reflected in its architecture as well. Same buildings that were built with Hindu architecture been modified many times over the years. One needs to look closely to figure out layers of history in these buildings.

A Sadhu with a puppy sighted near Mahakaal temple at Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh.

A Sadhu with a puppy sighted near Mahakaal temple at Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh.

A flower seller sighted at Sangam, Prayag

A flower seller sighted at Sangam, Prayag

Another way of travel 

A couple of years back I met a group of sadhus and got a chance to talk to them. I was thinking of writing that experience in a blog post but went busy with work and forgot over time, also I never had that expertise of writing in English words and sentences precisely what I have experienced. 

While exploring old photos I found a photo of one of the sadhus, this refreshed my discussion with him and I thought of an attempt to write that experience.

It was the end of July of 2018 and I was returning from a hill station in Uttarakhand after a short family vacation. We took a stop in Rishikesh for a tea break, while talking to the restaurant owner noticed a bus which was also coming from Uttrakhand stopped near the restaurant and 4 sadhus alighted. The bus moved on while sadhus came to the restaurant and took place on a free bench. 

Belonging from Prayag, I have seen Sadhus since childhood and was taught by parents to treat them well and give them something (money, rice, flour, or lentils). This group was not very different so I ordered my tea and started walking towards the car. One of the sadhus waved his hand towards me like he wanted to talk. I walked towards him and asked what I could do for him. He asked if I could pay for their tea and a few snacks. I said ok and looked towards the restaurant owner, he understood what I was going to say and assured me that he will serve them with tea and snacks, the owner mentioned that it is a common thing for him and happens often when travelers passing by pay for sadhus food. “If they don’t have a few hundred rupees to pay for tea and snacks then how are they traveling? Don’t know where they are coming from and where they will be going to? how will they be able to afford the travel?” These were a few questions that struck my mind. When I plan for a vacation, the first thing I look for is budget, while they are traveling with no money to pay for tea even. I felt we both belong to 2 different dimensions. This thought triggered me to start a conversation with them, talk about their way of travel. 

While the restaurant owner was preparing our tea, I decided to sit with them and know more about them. “Where are you coming from?”I asked the first question, he replied that they are coming from Kedarnath and were heading to Ujjain. Before Kedarnath, they were in Amarnath. I did a quick googling and figured out they will be traveling more than 2,000 KMs. “How do you plan your trip and bare expanses of these trip?” he replied it’s almighty who takes care of everything, we just need to think where we want to go and start our journey, rest things get arranged on the way and problems get resolved by itself. I checked their belongings, they hardly had anything, on the contrary, my car boot was full of bags of clothing, water bottles, food items, and even a hot air blower. We had a long conversation after that, I asked everything from the beginning till that day. 

They were 4 childhood friends belonging to a small city of Mirzapur near Varanasi. They got married early and had children early as well, once their children grew up and took the job, they decided to become sadhus and left home. It’s been 20 years since they were traveling in different holy places across India like that. They just board on a train or bus and no one asks for money or if anyone asks they take the next bus or train. They stay in temples, Dharamshalas, or under the sky, people feed them or give them money sometimes. They just carry a blanket, a Kamandall (a pot), a stick, and a bag with a few basic stuff for survival. They do not have any sense of ownership. They rely totally on the almighty and it has worked for the last 20 years without fail. 

I belong to a world where budget, planning, and management skills are required for weekend trips and on the other hand, there are those people who don’t care about anything and just travel. We post pics, tag location, and go live while in travel they don’t have a phone even. They travel, learn, and teach, spread words of wisdom to people, talk about love, peace, humanity, and harmony in society, while I go back to the rat race and show-off business after the trip. Felt pity…

Learned something that day, the first trust in God, second people are kind, third and most important thing I learned is to start the journey, problems will be resolved and the path will be discovered on the way. Posting a pic of that wise godman here – 

A Sadhu

A Sadhu

15th Wedding Anniversary

It was our 15th wedding anniversary on the 5th of December. Planned a lot of things, but failed to do anything. Low budget, corona, and bad condition of the car were the culprits. Anyways date of our marriage written on the invitation cards was 4th December, but the actual marriage happened in the early morning of the 5th. So all guests came on the 4th evening, enjoyed the party and returned. Our marriage took place in presence of our families only. Friends and family wish us on the 4th but we celebrate it on the 5th.

Asked the kids and wife to plan something for The Day, but nothing came up (As expected). Finally we all agreed to go out for a family dinner, nothing fancy. Went to a BBQ restaurant nearby. Food was okay-ish but kids got what they wanted, so not a bad deal.

15th Anniversary dinner with family

15th Anniversary dinner with family

We will get long weekends in December and January will plan to take them out then. As kids are growing up, I am finding it difficult to decide a place to visit, my interest is to visit a place with some historical importance and having good food, on the other hand, kids want to go to where they can buy everything of their choice and have zero interest in historical places, forests or wildlife. Well, it will be their choice which will always take precedence over mine, and this was the history as well. So I am now used to playing the role of a tour operator, a drive, a manger, a collie, and a friendly photographer.

I have mentioned it earlier as well, I will be probably going solo in January and have to fulfill their demand for an outing before that. Let’s see!

Memories of Winters (India)

Winters have started, unlike most Europeans, Americans, or anyone from the northern hemisphere, Indians in general welcome winters. I also enjoyed winter more than summer or monsoon. In summer it’s a dry heat and in monsoon, it is hot and unbearably humid. Wearing a light jacket, going out in the sun, road trips, bonfires, or drinking hot coffee, life thrives in winters. You will find most people outdoors and mostly happy. I feel charged in winters, eager to go out with friends and family to some known or unknown places, meet people, and live a few moments of life. 

I spent most of my childhood in Allahabad (now known as Prayagraj) and have fond memories of winters. Our house is not far from the river Ganga. Ganga has a nature of changing path and in monsoon, its width increases to kilometers. Our house is at the edge of this expansion. In winter when the water is not that much, farmers sow mustard and peas in this sandy expansion. I used to go there often with friends for the entire day, eating peas and laying on the banks of Ganga was our favorite pastime. This distance from our house to the bank of Ganga was approximately 5 kilometers and there is nothing but mustard and peas fields. Just before the actual stream of Ganga, there are many narrow and shallow streams of Ganga. Depth is not more than our knees, water so clean that you can see small fishes swimming. It used to look like heaven. A place with complete silence, cold breeze, warm sunlight, clear water stream, white sandy river banks, and fields of mustard and pea till the horizon, I can not imagine a better place than this to relax. Tried locating the same place again in recent years, but was unable to find it. Sometimes it’s better to let something in memory rather than trying to relive it. 

Another fond memory of my days in Allahabad is the bonfire. My father built a very big house, very much like a mansion, it has an open space in the center. We call it Angan (Courtyard, a quadrangle open space in the center of the house). I personally loved having a bonfire in that area, and then everyone who is shivering from winter used to come around and we used to chat for a very long time. We often use to cook (roast or BBQ) Bhauri (wheat flour dish, like chapati but thick, roasted directly on fire) in that fire and roast Eggplant and potato in that to prepare Bharta (a mash of roasted potatoes, eggplant with tomato, mustard oil, green chili, garlic, ginger, green coriander, and salt). It tastes awesome when it’s warm. Sitting around the fire and chatting with family members is something I have always cherished. I still fancy that. My 2 uncles house is adjacent as well, so we always had a lot of nephews and nieces, talking to them, pulling each other’s legs, and cracking jokes are what I always missed. 

Winter is the time of the world-famous Maagh Mela as well, it’s happening every year at the riverbank of Ganga and Yamuna for ages. Every 6 years it’s called Ardh Kumbh and every 12 years it’s called Maha Kumbh Mela. Maagh Mela starts from Makar Sankranti (14th of January, the day when the Sun enters into the zodiac sign of Capricorn) and remains there for 1 lunar month. My father’s uncle used to go there with his wife and stay there for a month in camp. This is called Kalpvaas, It is mostly done by elderly people to get rid of their sins. One has to follow some rules to complete it, like staying in makeshift camps, taking a holy dip in river Ganga every morning before dawn, eat only once a day, sleep on paddy straw and spend the day listening to the preaching of Godmen (Sadhus) or praying to the Gods. It’s very cold in the month of January, some too elderly people die there as well, it is said that those who died there during this time will get Moksha. We used to visit grandfather and take a holy dip in the Sangam (merger of holy rivers Ganga and Yamuna). Sometimes we used to stay with them for a night. Eating homemade snacks and mostly boiled food and roaming around the area, It was like a camping and picnic trip to us. Luckily the vibe of this Mela is still very much the same, and I visit Ganga in every visit to my hometown. Maybe once I retire I will follow my forefathers and go there to spend a month praying to the Gods and get rid of all my sins (there aren’t many though). 

It was a Christian village Muirabad where I was grown up, this was founded by Sir William Muir of Scotland in 1880-90. It was obvious that we had good exposure to this religion of India. Enjoyed Christmas with Christian friends and had great food with them. 

Even after moving to Singapore in 2006, we used to plan a trip to India in winters until our final return in 2013. My European friends in Singapore used to ask me why in winters? They all used to curse winters and look for warmer places like Thailand, Malaysia, or Indonesia. It was difficult to explain to them so I used to tell them air-tickets are cheaper in winters. 

One eye-opening dialog between father and me happened once. During a conversation I told him how much I like winters, wrap yourself in warm clothing, eat warm food and roam around, there is nothing better than that, he replied, “Yes indeed, if you have enough warm clothing and warm food to eat”. Growing up in a middle-class family and in the time when buying clothes is no big deal, I never realized that there was a time when people get scared of winters due to lack of proper food, clothing, and shelter, he has seen all those hardships which we take for granted. There were many incidences of my father’s life which I came across later, each added a lot of love and respect to him. He is still very healthy and strong because of the life he has lived earlier. Hardship in life makes one stronger.

Seeking answers on history

Sometime back I have written a mail to a great historian of India, who is a renowned writer and professor of history in a reputed university. I was seeking answers to my queries to quench my thirst for historical events. Mainly related to Indian history since the time of Indus valley civilization. I was directed by that great historian to read books, I wish I had enough time and years to read and build understanding.

Rephrasing and rewriting those queries here in a hope that someday some will open this debate or write answers to me on my queries. 

I have been traveling to places from the stone age site of Bhimbetka, pre-Harrapan civilization Kalibangan to Jaliawala Bagh. Locations like Angkor, Bali to Sarnath, and Khajuraho. All these places have a history that is related to India, Indian culture, or religions.

Over the past 18 years of traveling to various places, I have realized that there is one form of history which we have studied in books and there is another history which is in folklore, my own thoughts which I have developed over time is that historian written what their kings wanted to be remembered while rest goes in folklore, not sure how right am I in my perception but this triggers a quest in me to find answers behind all those folklore and validate it. Few questions which I wish to find answers to are – were Dravidians settled in Indus valley and pushed to the south due to the invasion of Aryans, how many dynasties were present in the Indian subcontinent in different centuries and how was their relations, how was India at the time different invasions (Aryans, Mughals and British), what was there at the place of Kutub Minar before that, what was there at old fort of Delhi before that, how was the proceedings of a king Darbar used to be, etc. My quest is to find answers on specific events or individuals than focusing on the era of history.

While doing research on Bet Dwarka I have found that artifacts excavated from there when sent to different labs for carbon dating, everyone has given different timelines, some labs did not even consider that artifact belongs to the Mahabharat era. Wondering why we are not having our own lab setup and do all our research without relying on different labs. It’s being popularised that Mahabharat happened in approx 9-10 centuries BCE, and few historians even claim that Mahabharata is a myth. What we have left of our history is defaced by different waves of invasion and loot, bringing any fact out is very difficult, and we still rely on those to give us facts who do not want to prove that our history is greater than theirs. 

One of the most baffling questions I had is that known human history is only 25-30 thousand years, while the evolution of life on earth is happening for the past few million years. How the human popped up on this earth all of sudden. The complete evolutionary line between an ape and human is still not straightened up. Not sure if even exists or not. 

Well, I personally think the history of India or any country is an asset of humanity, it should be preserved before we lost it completely. 

Covid 19 and Lockdown

Life is returning back to normal (chaotic as it was earlier), but winters are going to be difficult as it is predicted that the pandemic will return.

Nature has healed itself since March, at the same time mankind has witnessed the worst time in recent history. My grandma used to tell stories of pandemics. Pandemic so bad that it used to wipe the entire village. Earlier, war and pandemics were the main killers. Luckily this pandemic is not localized, but still took its toll and killed many people across the world.

We all have witnessed it as it spreads from China to Europe, then America, and then entered into India. Thanks to the Indian Govt for proactive measures and thanks to the immune system of Indian people, our deaths (per 100) were very less as compare to other countries of the world. Note that India is one of the densely populated countries as well.

I personally witnessed people’s exodus as soon as the lockdown was implemented and continued for a very long time. This was apparent as the number was very big and of mostly those who work on daily wage, they do not enough backup to support themselves. But exodus is still on, an exodus of people who lost jobs, lost businesses are still moving back to their ancestral home or some other place for another opportunity. Restaurants were badly hit, but other businesses like automobile were also impacted. So far I have managed to survive, not sure for how long though.

I saw people coming out to help each other in this difficult time, regardless of all differences of religion, caste, or language, people help with an open heart and help accepted gratefully.

Unlock started a couple of months back and life is coming back to normal. In between, I have traveled to Jammu 2 times for work. Learned the importance of $aving a hard way, I think everyone makes mistakes and learns lessons from them but few who remember mistakes and do not repeat succeeds in life.

Posting a few photos taken during this pandemic and my travel as well. All these photos are taken from mobile, so excuses for poor quality 😀

My WFH Desktop, March 2020

Empty street due to lockdown

Empty street due to lockdown, March 2020

Exodus

Daily wage workers exodus, March 2020

Exodus - Met this group of pulley rickshaw pullers going all the way to a district of Bihar from Delhi (more than 1300 KM)

Exodus – Met this group of pulley rickshaw drivers going all the way to Bihar from Delhi more than 1300 KMs. March 2020

Migrant workers waiting for the turn for test, Govt quarantine center Jammu, July 2020

Migrant workers waiting for the turn for sample collection. Govt quarantine center Jammu, July 2020

Sample collection for Covid-19 test. Govt quarantine center Jammu

Sample collection for Covid-19 test. Govt quarantine center Jammu, July 2020

Queue at a grocery store, following social distancing. April 2020

Queue at a grocery store, following social distancing. April 2020

Me in safety gear on a flight to Jammu, Oct 2020

Me in safety gear on a flight to Jammu, Oct 2020

Also thinking to compile all photos of this year and post in a blog, there will not be much but still worth it. Will do this towards the end of the year.

At the end will request you to please sanitize your hand regularly and follow social distancing. May God bless us all!

8 pro tips for traveling with family

After traveling for so many years I thought to jot down my experiences and share with you, let’s start with tips (Gyan) for traveling with family. Traveling solo, and with friends will come later. I am assuming you will be driving your own car –

  1. Research about place
    • Do not plan to travel to more than 2 destinations if you have young kids or your partner can not match your energy level. Short trips are not more than 3 days long, you can not cover many places and get exhausted rather than enjoying the trip if you are thinking to cover so many places. There is plenty of tourist and offbeat places around Delhi, where you can go and return back during weekends or long weekends.
    • Do good research about the place (refer https://wikitravel.org, highly recommended) and find out all good tourist spots around, you can also refer https://tripadviser.com for your destination and find out nearby places, read reviews. Take a printout of places or write all details of places in a notebook, hardcopies are a good backup. These sites will give you a fair idea of spots as per your taste (site-seeing, natural beauty or historical monuments, etc.).
    • Other than the study of place you also need to study about good restaurants, lodging with parking space and other amenities which you want.
    • Some places have opening and closing times, keep a note of that as well.
  2. Itinerary (planning route)
    • Avoid visiting a touristic place on weekends or public holidays, they will be hugely overpriced and over-crowded.
    • If you are planning for just one place, then it will be easy but in any case, make sure you have enough buffer time in hand. Delays are very common when you are traveling with family.
    • Also do not calculate your ETA based on google maps, their ETA is based on continuous driving, add 10-15 minutes every 150 KMs, you will have to stop often for someone’s natures call or tea-coffee breaks or kids chocolate or chips demands along with breakfast and lunch breaks.
    • Start with sunrise (in winters), calculate ETA, and make sure you either reach your destination before sunset or you have a night halt.
    • Normally we just focus on the destination and do not consider interesting spots on the way, where we can stop by and spend some time with family, this can be a small historical monument or riverside, etc. Consider these points of interest, while plotting your route.
    • Use google maps to plot the route, it’s very good, then search for point of interest on the route.
    • Points of interest on the way will make your return journey interesting as well, else towards the end of the trip, you will just focus on reaching home and will not enjoy that drive at all, neither your family, they will just sit, get bored and wait to reach the home.
    • Sometimes fuel stations are far from the place where you are going, make sure to fill your car tank on the way to avoid any hassle.
  3. Hotel booking
    • Most tricky bits! while traveling with family you can not afford to go without booking hotels in advance.
    • Try to locate a hotel in the middle of all points of interest in the destination, so that you can cut down local travel time and return back to the hotel whenever you want to.
    • Use https://www.tripadviser.com and read reviews and ratings of hotels at your destination. Book from MMT, Agoda, booking.com, etc, or the hotel website directly.
    • My personal preference is the govt. hotels or rest-houses. They are located at the best spot, maintain a good standard of accommodation and food is also hygienic. For Uttarakhand search for KMVN or GMVN hotels, Rajasthan RTDC hotels, Himachal HPTDC, for MP look for MPSTDC hotels.
    • Once you book the hotel, call the hotel in advance and tell them when you are arriving, call them again on the day you start your travel, keep updating them if you are late, trust me shit happens!
    • Sometimes confirmed booking gets canceled due to overbooking, it’s very common in tourist places. I went to Shimla once with the family, and after considering rating, reviews, parking space, Wi-Fi, hot water supply, and what not I booked a 4-star hotel in advance. Half-way on the way the hotel manager called me and said that they can not accommodate us as the hotel was over-booked due to a software glitch. In the end, they have accommodated us in a very smelly room and the car was parked 1 KM away.
  4. Packing
    1. No matter how much you think and plan, once you cross 50 KM from your home, you will start recollecting what you have forgotten to bring along. This is a very common problem, do not worry much about that, you have everything using which you can enjoy your trip.
    2. Always keep thin clothing, thin towel in your list of items to pack. Open your drawer and visit the bathroom a few times, and check if you will need anything from there. I find it a good practice that if you see something then you can decide if you need that or not. Power bank, mobile chargers, toothpaste, slippers are a few things I often forget while packing, but with this review process, chances of missing something will be greatly reduced.
    3. Try to keep the number of bags minimal, keep those things handy which you may need during travel, for example, snacks for kids or camera, jacket or other warm clothing, rest you can pack in one or two bags and dump in the boot. These will be things which you only need at the destination or next days. You can not negate the truth that extra baggage will be with you if you are traveling with family.
  5. Fooding (what and where to eat)
    1. When stopping for breakfast or lunch, make sure the place is neither too crowded nor totally empty. If the crowd is more, then you may not get the taste of food which you wanted and if no one wants to stop at a restaurant, then its service is not up to mark. A restaurant with a moderate crowd will be best where you can direct the cook about salt and chili ratio or quantity of ginger for your masala tea. After traveling for so many years, my menu is almost fixed now, Aalu paratha+butter with masala tea for breakfast and daal-tadka with butter roti for lunch. I prefer not to experiment with food during travel. I hardly had dinner on the way, as most of the time we reach to destination or place of night halt before dinner time.
    2. Quickly consumed items like paratha or daal are fresh, you can find others by looking on to other people’s plates. Avoid sweets if you are driving as they may trigger sleep, also you do not know how long back those were prepared.
    3. It’s funny but normally I do not order food for myself whenever traveling with family, as I know they will order extra and I can feed myself on the leftover. I hate food wastage. But if you see that food wastage is inevitable, better feed cows or dogs around rather than leaving on the plate.
  6. Shopping
    1. You would want to take your family to a local market where they can buy few souvenirs or gift items, always remember to buy few gift items for friends and family back home, they will love it and remember you whenever they see or use it. Personally, I did not follow this practice of buying gifts for a very long time though 😛 (which is bad).
  7. Roaming around
    1. Keep light while traveling in local, keep one small backpack per person, doesn’t matter if it empty in the beginning, it will get filled with stuff in your local travel for sure. For me, I have to carry 2 lenses which are bulky and heavy, along with a camera body, so a backpack is a must for me. I do not carry a tripod while traveling local, flash I do not have. You really need not worry about carrying food or water bottles, as you can get packaged water bottles, biscuits or chocolates everywhere.
    2. Always remember that traveling in local places is the core part of this trip, this is the reason why you are here, so do not rush or give timelines to your family or friends, let them take their own time, enjoy and experience the place. If you are tired and do not want to roam around, you may sit someplace and tell them to catch you when they are done.
    3. Match the pace with the slowest person in the group, they will bless you 😀
    4. Allocate a certain budget for kids or other family members for local shopping.
    5. Respect the privacy of other people. Being a tourist do not take everything for granted if you want to take a photo of something ask the owner if you want to take a photo of someone take their consent. The best trick to get permission is to befriend them, talk to them for sometime before taking your camera out and asking for photos. 
  8. Return journey
    1. Give more time to your return journey, spend some time to those point of interests which you have identified during planning.

Add if I have missed anything or you think needed, comments are open 🙂

MY PHOTOGRAPHY JOURNEY

Two blogs back to back, that too with just text content, it’s rarely happened to me, happens only when I am traveling for a long time.

So, this blog will try to summarise my photography journey. It has all started back in Singapore. While working for a company I saw few photos click by a colleague and I was drawn to that for a very long time, I thought if I could also take such beautiful photos, this triggered me to get my first camera, which was an entry-level DSLR, this was the year 2008. I had already started blogging before that but after buying the camera my blogging has taken a twist towards photography and travel.

Had a life-changing experience back in 2008, when I came out from the death bed. I have started thinking all over again about my life, what I have and what can I pass to my kids, my loved ones, or society. Most boys (in India) when they start earning, family and society expect them to live the rest of their life for the family, get married, have kids, and then groom them and take care of them. They are not supposed to live their own life, this is what my father did and his father too. Is it the right way of living? I have asked this question to me, whatever I am going to leave behind will be easily forgotten in a few years and my loved ones will move on in their own lives. I have to live for myself and leave something behind for my loved ones or others to cherish along with carrying all responsibilities. So all my travel experiences are for me and all my photos for my loved ones (including you). That is why I am not writing much in my blogs these days but posting all (good) photos so that readers can get a sense of the place where I have been and see the place through my eyes. Those who wish to know about my experiences of travel, trust me the entire human race is the same and living almost identical life, all places are great, you just need to match with the pace of life and you will have a great time. I see no difference in the people of my village with people of a village in Cambodia or Kent or the urban life of Singapore, Delhi, or London.

Let me confess to you honestly, when I started taking photos from DSLR, I wanted to look into the life of other people and present it to viewers, more like documentary photography, but it needs a lot of study and time which I never had as most of my travel were short (2-3 days max). But it did not prevent me to capture some beautiful landscapes or candid moments. Also, photography is not my profession so I never tried to learn everything in one go, it’s a slow process which is still on for the past 12 years, learning it bit by bit and enjoying it. 🙂

For those who wish to learn photography, I have few tips, try to understand your equipment first, then come understanding lights, composition, storytelling, and post-processing. If I have missed anything means I still have not learned that :D. A small suggestion as well, always ask a question if your photo can explain by itself, if yes then bingo, if not then try again.

Given a chance I wish to document the authentic Indian lifestyle which is getting lost now. This documentation is needed as I fear in times to come we will lose everything which our forefathers have invented with the research of thousands of years. I fear we all will be eating burgers and pizza and wearing denim and speaking English. Our regional languages, food, festivals, clothing, housing, family values, and learnings of generations have to be documented in all possible forms (text, photos, and videos). We live in a country which is so diverse for which it’s said that the taste of water gets changed every 1 Kos (1 Kos = 3 KM as per wiki) and language every 4 Kos. It requires a massive effort to preserve that. I am sure there will be a time not far when people will realize wearing cotton is better than synthetic clothing for the kind of weather we have or our digestive track is more adopted to eating roti+gud than a pizza.

Before I end this blog I have a small suggestion to readers, even if you are carrying the responsibility of family try to take some time for yourself, if not daily then at least 1 or half day in a week, just revisit your memories and dream for future. I am sure you will do better than before in your life.

In the next blog, will post photos of my kids that I took during this Diwali, I still have to process it.