Wednesday, February 22, 2017

You don’t always need a plan in life

I have always been a person with a well decided plan- Be it what's tomorrow's agenda or what I will be doing in the coming months. While heading for a trip, I would have each and every day's itinerary chalked out- where to stay, options of things to do, the possible commute and so on. Because of how much it worries me, I can never be without a plan, or so I thought until recently.

This past month saw me traveling and going on trips I never planned for. I have been on the road for almost the entire month. All the trips were impulsive and were decided at the spur of the moment. There was never enough time to book confirmed tickets and return tickets were not even given the slightest thought. But the month that has gone by has been crazily memorable.

Kayaking at Dandeli. A few minutes after this my friends thought it would be fun to throw me into the water when I was not even wearing the life jacket (and I don't know swimming). It was fun!

Running on the highway to catch my bus in Mumbai, climbing boulders in historic Hampi, getting dunked in the waters at Dandeli Sanctuary, witnessing the pristine beaches and sunset at Gokarna, conversations till the wee morning hours at the Thalassa beach in Goa and then returning to Mumbai only to start another unplanned trip in less than a week. Clicking photos in front of random colourful buildings in Pondicherry and then sitting by the sea under the full moon, staying over for 3 days in Chennai to see the city and spending all the time talking, playing and at the end bidding emotional goodbyes to people who also decided to stay back. Finally visiting Bangalore, travelling in the upper expensive city bus after figuring out the coding of the bus numbers and staying with friends without informing my relatives in the city until the very last day when it was their anniversary and I arrived at the doors with a cake in hand. The month has seen me witness innumerable goodbyes and emotional farewells at various railway stations and airports…

Friday, February 10, 2017

Scuba Diving in Lakshadweep’s Coral Islands- When I Walked on the Seabed

Scuba diving was perhaps the most difficult to accomplish adventure I always had in mind before it became a reality few months back. It actually turned out to be pretty easy when I got to do it. And you can do it too without even knowing how to swim.

Scuba diving was perhaps the one experience I was looking forward to most, after the ‘travelling on a cruise’ bit, during our LakshadweepTrip. There was as much anxiety as there was excitement. I have never been a very water friendly person, but my interest in everything adventurous starting from rafting in Rishikesh back in May 2011, made sure experiencing scuba diving went into my adventure travel bucket list. I didn’t really care where I did it, as long as I did it.

After having missed scuba on Kavaratti Island, thanks to apprehension, I was first in line at Kadmat Island the next day to enquire about the dive. Kadmat, as per what I had read online, is one of the best dive locations in India. Sadly, there was no dive happening that day due to low visibility. I did snorkel in the beach there, and I would realise the next day that this was going to be of huge help.

Am I on camera under water? Scuba diving in Lakshadweep Islands
The next day on Kalpeni Island, I enrolled myself at the dive centre and filled out the mandatory form that I love calling ‘death warrant’. We were a total of 10-12 people going for the dive.

The instruction session began at the dive centre by PADI certified divers. This was not a certificate programme and we were to follow complete instructions of our guides. They were going to be the ones who control the pressure in the cylinder and take us around underwater. We simply had to follow their instructions, indicate in case there was a worry, and enjoy the views.

Monday, February 06, 2017

Hampi-Dandeli-Gokarna (and Goa): The Tale of a Crazy Roadtrip with Strangers

Indian Bloggers

Two months ago I had gone to Bhutan with This Guy’s On His Own Trip’s Neeraj Narayanan. The trip had been a crazy beginning of things and probably will remain etched in my memories forever. This time three of us- Jyoti, Lavanya and I- from the Bhutan and Darjeeling gang were joining him for the Republic Day long weekend’s Hampi-Dandeli-Gokarna group trip. 18 people, 4 days, 3 destinations, a roadtrip and a lot of crazy adventures.

Running in the middle of the highway

My bus for Hampi was scheduled to leave at 5.40 PM from Goregaon on the eve of Republic Day. Having taken a lot of outstation buses in the last one year, I was standing at the exact spot where the buses stop on the highway. Tracking the bus the entire time on GPS, a few minutes after the scheduled time I saw the bus approaching. Instead of stopping, it continued its journey over the Aarey flyover, unfazed, without caring that it was increasing my heartbeat with every moment and bringing in anxious ‘I missed my bus’ thoughts. I stood dazed wondering how this could be happening for real.

The group at the ruins of Hampi. Photo: Ishpreet

In the next 30 seconds, the emergency helpline calmly informed me over phone that the bus would stop on the other end of the flyover and I should hurry to catch it. As the afternoon sun blared in all its glory and one after the other auto-rickshaws turned down my request citing the just one-kilometre distance, I helplessly ran in the middle of the highway amidst the traffic, my suitcase in tow, sweating profusely and telling the conductor to wait for me. As I neared the bus a grin spread across my face- Not because I wasn’t missing the bus after all, but because I knew a crazy trip had just begun. It was a sign of things yet to come.

Friday, February 03, 2017

A Dreamy Sail aboard MV Kavaratti- Cruise to Lakshadweep

In just about 4 hours of being on board MV Kavaratti, I had gone around exploring the entire ship even before it could start sailing. I was already in love with the experience. Read here.

Around 3 PM, the ship finally started its journey from the port. The entire process of getting undocked and into the main waters took a long time. A smaller vessel first pulled the ship away from the dock and then turned it 180 degrees around so that the nose of the ship faced the open waters. Then slowly the cruise moved away from Willingdon Island and towards the Arabian Sea. Almost all the tourists seemed to be up here on the top deck to see the entire procedure. The blazing heat of the sun was disregarded as fascination took over.

MV Kavaratti stands in the middle of the Arabian Sea at Lakshadweep

We crossed many ships standing at the huge port. None of them were bigger than ours for sure, although some looked classier. I had never seen so many cruise ships so close before this day.
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