Reflections From Grad Trip

My grad trip was a bitter sweet journey. There is this happiness of traveling with friends and  immediately you realize it is transitory because you will not have these friends around you after this trip. I was the reality of life that was waiting to give its initial flavors- which made me both excited & scared.

In this state of mind, we went to Kerala first – 15 of us. We saw traditional Kerala dance & sword fights, Munnar tea estates, stayed in boat-house for a couple of days, had awesome sea food. I went on long walks with my best friend when the boat stopped. Like they say in F.R.I.E.N.D.S, it felt like end of an era.

10687936_705808579467177_3091867308312150466_o

 

Then we went to Goa. We planned to go to a beach to see sunset – we were still on top of hill. I ran down the hill in all that wildnerness to catch the sunset in time. One of my concerned friends – he still is – ran down along with me. We watched sunset with water lapping near our feet – the reds, oranges & yellows of sky, and its reflection in water. That was the moment of this trip.

The other day, all of us went on a banana ride in the beach. I was busy giving morale support to my scared friends, didn’t think much about what’s about to come. We went on the ride – the driver flipped the boat. I thought I was dead. I saw water everywhere – I did not know swimming then. Thankfully, someone pulled me up to the boat again. That was closest to believing I was dead, this time literally.

On the way back, the rush of memories from last 2 years was an emotional juggernaut. In the 2 years at IIM Bangalore, we functioned on deadlines. Our lives depended on schedules, assignments, exams, GPA to score, resume points to make & internships to crack. But in between all those, I made memories. Going out for impromptu dinners, throwing a birthday surprise which moves your friend to tears, reunions after long exchange terms, laughing at your own sloppy work, cheering your friends, enjoying those little breathers between hectic schedules….my achievements for which I toiled day and night did not matter – but those moments did! And I did not even realize then that they were happening to me 🙂

Advertisements

OZ Experience

Australia – no man’s land.

I visited Sydney on business in August. I was there for 2 weeks. It was not my type of place but that will not stop from sharing my experiences there.

I landed in Sydney at around 9.30 pm and it was my first time of solo international travel. I was both nervous & excited on the way from airport to hotel. As soon as I reached the hotel, I was just excited when I look at the view from my room – Darling Harbour view (Novotel).

People there are pretty chilled out. On my first day, I was surprised to see people running around during afternoon. Apparently, they take an hour off – run, shower & go back to work. I know a lady in our office who runs to office from her home everyday. There are running trails along the beaches and I saw kids to elderly running all possible times of day. One more image that stick is a man in a dock sitting in a yoga pose, eyes closed, undisturbed by the chaos around him.

During my stay, I tried Malay, Korean, Thai & Indian cuisines – Sydney has really good Asian cuisines. And visited the common fast food joints – Hungry Jacks, Opporto & Ben & Jerry’s. There is a place called Zumbo in The Star, just opposite our office. It is owned by one of the judges of Master Chef Australia. It has the world’s best macaroons! I went there for 6/14 days of my stay.

11891180_859966554051378_3704460625861499569_n

Zumbo! (Yummm)

The most memorable dinner I had was in a place called Opera Kitchen. I was an outside sitting right on the shore where birds are flying right on top of your head and the wind is right in your face. On your left, you can see the Sydney Harbour bridge and immediately on our right is Opera house – both well lit up.  We went to Baxter’s Inn which did not match upto the hype.

11953081_859968644051169_7998913595201469102_n

Dinner at opera’s kitchen

This post cannot be complete without mentioning the amazing beach walking trails. I did Manly to Spit & Bondi to Coogee trails, which were super fantastic. On the second trail, we can see the houses having infinity pools extended into the sea. People surfing on the beaches is a common sight. My favorite beach was Wollongong in New South Wales. It was very lively. I went there on a Sunday morning. People were sprawled on the grass, leisurely reading books. Parents walking around with their kids in strollers, taking their pets on walks, kids as young as 2 trying to ride on scooters, dogs as big as buffaloes and the restaurants with a beach view & awesome pastries are the reasons for my former statement.

11889423_859964750718225_2781781999284132197_n

Bondi to Coogee trail

In Taronga zoo, I saw Kangaroos and Koala bear, dolphin shows, penguins, Komodo dragons, platypus & the most beautiful, colorful coral reef.  The aquarium was walk-through and I saw huge scary sharks that come right at your face when you are staring into the aquarium. In the Taronga zoo, I saw really cute monkey soft toy for my friend in office. He named that monkey after me and made it do silly feats just to annoy me. Apart from learning my lesson of not gifting people animal soft-toys, I had so much fun by knowing so many interesting species.

I did skydiving in Wollongong beach & climbed the famous Sydney harbour bridge. The bridge was a 4 hour climb – ascent & descent. If you look at the bridge climbers from a ferry on the sea, they look just like ants. I saw my first live proposal when a guy proposed a girl for marriage on top of the bridge. It was also the most beautiful sunset that I have ever seen in my life!

11947495_859965447384822_1085876209113190081_n

A hot of cup of coffee with a beautiful view after Skydiving (Wollongong)

11887976_859965710718129_3228697867170311733_n

Top of Sydney Harbour Bridge – Awesome sunset in the background

Having gone there after my Ireland trip, the lack of strong cultural identity was a constant reminder, especially when I was walking through the central business district. The trees have been compressed from 3D to 2D, all you see are creepers on the wall. The buildings are so high that I could not even see the sun, except for the reflection on glass windows. Everything was so robotic, except for the wedding shoot of the Asian couple who just got married.

That was my whirlwind tour of Sydney. When I look back at my Sydney trip, though I visited all the places, I never really felt the connect. But you know what the saving grace was?

10896890_859974320717268_6815486349339225757_n (1)

When your desk at Sydney office has THIS view 🙂

My love for travel

My sister once asked me this question – “why do you like to travel so much?” The world is so big & I am one of 6 billion+ people, staying in a home in one of the 23 districts of one of the 29 states of one of the 196 countries in the world! There is so much to experience – so many places to see, people to meet & cultures to explore.

If I had to pick any super-power, then I would love to be a warg. I will be a lazy sheep grazing on Ireland’s country side one day & I will be a paragliding instructor in Switzerland the next. I will be a farmer in Africa, surf & stroll on the beach in Wollongong in Australia, a red-Indian tribe in Amazon rain forest. I have always felt limited by smallness of my perspective & understanding of the world.

I could not summarize this in one word or sentence for a long time. One day, while going through one of the endless listicles on my Facebook wall, I came across this word that I thought nailed the meaning – “Sonder“. Sonder is the realization that each passerby has a life as vivid and complex as your own. Yes, this is the word I was looking for! When I meet people in my travels, it teaches me a thing or two, makes me question my beliefs & ideas sometimes and questions the smallness of my perspective.

The second reason is that traveling always puts me on my toes. I get bored easily , routine in everyday life puts me off. When I travel, every moment is worth cherishing. I am always planning or seeing/experiencing my surroundings or involved in a conversation with fellow travelers & locals. I live in the moment, there is that adrenaline rush!

Thirdly, Traveling gives me peace, especially when I go to mountains or country sides. I have never experienced a pin-drop silence expect for the gushing wind in my face and no human being in the radius of one mile until the Hampta pass trek in North India. It was scary & liberating at the same time. Traveling is liberating in more than one ways – financially & mentally to say the least.

My biggest fear is that I may die without seeing all this world has to offer by confining myself to a remote part of the world. This is a main driving factor for me. Since I started working from last year, I have been traveling at my own will & pace. I have been to 12 states in India and 11 countries since the last year, some solo and some with friends. This blog is a way to pen down my experiences & memories from my travel.

To all the awesomeness that is waiting to be explored…..