Paris – Moments that matter

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Paris – history, beauty, art, culture & fashion combined!

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Just off the flight. We were a group of 5 girls on a 2 week Euro trip.

 

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We spent 3 days in the city and were walking along some of the beautiful pedestrian ways.

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The scenic bridges connecting the iconic places. We could always see a ferry long the river at ANY point of time ūüôā

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We were staying in “Plug-inn” youth hostel in a peaceful neighborhood in one corner of the city.

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This place is very close to “Moulin Rouge”, some happening pubs, and has the BEST street food.¬†I had the BEST mashed potato here.

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Our Paris stay was heavily focused on history. On the first day, we went to see the famous Bastille Revolution place that marked France’s independence. When we asked a couple of locals about the story, they were very passionate and proud about this incident.

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We then went on to see museum of modern art which..well…looked like this. The area in front of this is the place for some amazing street performances by various musicians, dancers & street artists.

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A sample street art – “Life without art is stupid” (True that)

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Inside Modern Art Museum: I am not a great “modern art” appreciator but I found this piece amusing. (It’s supposed to be a ship if you are wondering).

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We were doing some aimless strolling on the streets and found this amazingly cute version of Gandhiji’s 3 monkeys (and cows too in the background :P)

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Another discovery on the street. Isn’t the dog adorable? (I have no clue what it’s called though)

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A few more for the sheer appreciation of beauty!

I was really curious to see what the fuss was all about about this piece. But a. when I saw the city view with river Siene from the top and b. I saw the changing lights of the Eiffel, I was a super happy kid!

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See that for yourself. We could also see all the places of significance of Paris from this point. Oh, and if you are a Dan Brown fan, you can connect so many points from the books from this place here.

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Near Eiffel tower

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And the evening walks across some super cool stores.

IMG_0249But I could not enough the place in 3 days (obviously)!

Travel tips for Paris:

  • Buy the metro pass (cost us 50$ for 3 days), it’s much easier to move around the city, saves lot of time & money.
  • Don’t go heavy on all touristy places to see. Take some out for some impromptu experience.
  • Seine river cruise id over-rated.
  • For those museums/churches you plan to visit, do your research before travel.

Andaman – Culture, History & Nature

Andaman gave me more than expected. Seeing ¬†local¬†tribals, some of the prettiest beaches and above all, so much of our national history during freedom struggle, heroic and heart-breaking stories of freedom fighters which definitely deserve much more visibility. Here I begin…

During one of my term breaks at b-school, my parents and I went on a family holiday to Andaman for 6 days. This being a cluster of islands, I pictured this place as serene and disconnected from the world where I could lie back on the beach and take a  break from the frenzy life at college. Within one day, we confirmed the plan and made all the bookings. My first view of the islands from plane was mesmerizing.

Aerial view of the islands

Aerial view of the islands

I thought Andaman was another pretty island. I vaguely knew that this has been served as one of the main prisons during freedom movement. When we went to Viper Island  which served as open jail during freedom movement, I had goosebumps listening to the punishment meted out to the freedom fighters there.

Viper Island - The open jail

Viper Island – The open jail

 

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Depicting the prison life @ Andaman Jail

The guide there told us that the prisoners were tied to chains with their hands or feet tied to each other. This island is known for plenty of vipers (snakes), hence the name. Those prisoners were left on the island in open (there were no prison cells) awaiting fatal bite by vipers. If they managed to escape, there were dengue causing mosquitos in the island and man-eaters in the adjacent if the prisoners managed to escape. Some tough ones who managed to survive all these were hanged on the island.

Life at Andaman jail in Port Blair was even worse. The punishment here was called Kala Pani punishment. Once they were sent here, there was no going back for them. Unable to bear the punishment, many prisoners have died, or gone insane. Some of them died even due to force feeding.

After¬†hearing these stories, I was moved. This still on my mind, on the way back to¬†the island to Port Blair, I saw this sign of India map with the words “I love India” above it. I never felt more patriotic.

"I Love India"

“I Love India”

Then we went to Ross Island. I was fascinated by two reasons mainly Р1. It served as British administrative centre in those days and also a famous picnic spot, thanks to the beautiful beaches, presence of  diverse flora & fauna. 2. During world war II, Japanese invaded this island and built an underground tunnel around the island. My dad & I walked the entire island and explored the path through the whole length of this tunnel. It was a major eureka moment!

In Port Blair, we stayed at Rose Valley, a peaceful resort. We got it a good deal as we went in September, which is off-season. Now this place has the best food ever, especially the fish biryani! I was perpetually eating when I was in the resort.

Rose Valley

Rose Valley

But the best part was  Havelock Island. We stayed in a resort with a private access to the beach. In the early morning, my dad & I went to the beach to collect pebbles. In the evening, my mom, dad & I  used to hangout there. This beach has a swing tied from a tree branch & facing the ocean. Do I need to say more?

Havelock Beach

Havelock Beach

We covered a couple more beaches, did scuba-diving, saw the tribals – we did not know that so many surprises were in store.

Radhanagar beach on Havelock Island is rated as 7th best beach in the world. With this water colour & view, wouldn’t you agree?

Radhanagar Beach, Havelock Island

Radhanagar Beach, Havelock Island

The people we met there are simple & sincere Рour cab drivers, hotel staff, boat staff & a few locals. In Port Blair, they do not have movie theatres, happening hangout places or high-speed internet. They watch movies on their TV channels, play with friends in-person & do some work at home or outside to pass their time. They are blissfully unaware of what they do not have compared to the urban main lands of India (except for Chennai, where they get almost all of their supplies from) & enjoy their life!

I want to go to this place and spend some time there, eating all the food and enjoying those heavenly beaches.

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 Р15 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.

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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 ūüôā

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…..