Lavanya Opines

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Amor por Viajar – My Travel Story 2

Kasa Kai Mumbai…!! The land of dreams, the land of opportunities. I visited Mumbai during the Monsoon season – August. The monsoons were retreating so the rains were unpredictable. The hide and seek between sun and clouds was a bit fun and a bit confusing. Somethings are better experienced only as words cannot express them. It was a conscious decision on my part to visit Mumbai and Vapi (Gujarat) during the Monsoon season but was a very terrible idea as per my parents. When did parents agree with you anyway..?? !!

So the not so good parts first. Mumbai has no space being surrounded by hills and ocean. And so there is only one way to move in Mumbai and naturally from 8 AM to 10 PM one is caught in a minimum of 2 hours traffic jam every day. No space also means once cannot expand the city horizontally but only vertically. Therefore, all you can see are tall buildings and skyscrapers. One of the reasons, Mumbai has the moniker as “New York of India”. But these skyscrapers are without balconies!!. I love balconies. They are my space where I go to listen to myself or just to watch others; and for growing my lovely plants. New construction of buildings with balconies is going on. But until then I didn’t like current buildings. Construction of metro and other roads & repair works was also going on at that time and so was also one of the reasons for huge traffic jams. I couldn’t get the time to spend on all the beaches of the Mumbai but Juhu beach was really dirty. People really need to improve themselves and care about our oceans and environment.

And now for the good parts…!!! The famous necklace road and the sea link were really awesome both during day and night. It is really like they show in movies. But the experience in real is different. Winds and rains make you a bit afraid while on the sea link. The winds were so strong that it felt it the cab would just blow away. Colaba Causeway is just like Sarojini Nagar but very smaller in size. Nevertheless, Colaba Causeway holds the same amount of quirkiness for each and every one. The intricate artifacts and street styles were just a treat for the eyes. I think one should always try out local cuisine to really enjoy a city you are visiting. I didn’t get the time to enjoy the local cuisines but I really savored the Rava Cake, freshly baked. It was really yummy.

People are very friendly and non-interfering. Policemen were helpful. Metered taxis are amazing way of public transport. Even during night one doesn’t feel unsafe. Despite all this, I didn’t want to stay in Mumbai. It’s not that I love Delhi. May be I didn’t give time to the city to grow on me. They say once you like Mumbai, you can never want to come back from Mumbai.

I really want to experience the Mumbai which grows on you. I want to experience the feeling which says you are on your journey to realize your dreams. Something is different in Mumbai. But what?? I left Mumbai with all these questions.

They say travelling is more important than destination. They also say travel is experiencing life. They also say travelling makes you a storyteller. Mumbai is not my definitely my destination. But it falls somewhere on my journey called ‘my life’ and is part my next story. I hope to experience Mumbai again.



Amor por Viajar – My Travel Story 1

“A good traveller has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.’ – Lao Tzu

“It is better to travel well than to arrive.” – Buddha

I consider myself a traveler, and not a tourist. I am not a backpacker either. I am  wanderlust and hence the first part of the title of the blog. I travel to experience my myself and to truly understand what am I. Later on that part, which itself will become a blog post someday. As of now, I am starting this series to chronicle my travels. Good writing for me and hopefully happy reading for you.

I travel to various places including to my office. And my first story will be on ‘travelling to office’. I have come to a conclusion that the only thing I like about working is travelling to my office. My office is in Connaught Place (CP), Delhi. It is one of best places in the Delhi and one of the costliest places in world. It is built-in form of two concentric circles and houses buildings in old Georgian-style. From vintage to quirky to modern to contemporary, one can find anything and everything here. All information is available at various blogs and travel sites, and of course, at Wikipedia.

Now, CP is very well-connected by all modes of transport – metro, bus, cabs, & autos. But I like to travel by metro and especially, the Airport Express Metro. This airport metro route covers only 5 stations and is expensive than the normal metro routes. I spend close to INR 300 door-to-door while travelling to and fro between home and office. Yet I love to travel on this metro only. This metro route is unusually quieter than other metro routes. It is as if people want to ponder over their thoughts and feelings. As if this metro route gives the sacred peace that everyone craves for themselves. Some sleep, some read, some just think, some just look at others while travelling in the metro train. I do all of them, not necessarily in any order.

Unlike in trains on other metro routes, people on this metro route don’t like to waste time in getting into nasty fights for seat since travel time is very short. So when people are not pushed to survive, they are in touch with their mind, heart, and soul. Of course, the inner nature of being animal comes forth when one steps into his/her office. And yet, this metro route calms the most angered animal as well.

I see a lot of people who work at different government, public, and private firms. I see people dressed differently than each other. Not all of them wear business suits or going to business meets. But sometimes I feel the way they dress reflects the kind of emotional state they are in at their office. The dress is still appropriate for their office but yet somehow the emotional state makes them choose a different dress for same office. It is definitely hard to guess what’s their emotional state is since people are just quite. Sometimes I see same people at same time every day. Sometimes I see new faces. I always wonder where are the new faces going to?

I  get down at Shivaji Stadium metro station. This metro station is why I like my office location. There is music playing in the station. Everyday there is a different song, sometimes in different languages, or different instrumental music. Some times there are jingles or small radio skits about various government programs. Every one is in rush to get out of the station and reach office and still somehow the music is caught by the ears. I never asked about the music but I feel the music has been an intentional attempt at making the experience worthwhile,just like at airport.

The station has co-working space, eateries, and visa offices. Hence, the station is always sprawling with loads of people during mornings. I keep wondering where do these people go – which far off places are they travelling to or visiting to? are they going for business or meeting family & friends or just going on holiday? And I wish them luck. The station every day and every time reminds me of the airport, which I am so fond of, and to which the Airport Express Metro is connected with. The station itself and travelling to the station are my only two things that I am so happy about in my otherwise mundane office life.

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Travelling by Train..!!

I am plane person and not a train person. The reasons I like travelling by plane are very obvious: time is saved; airports and planes are neat and clean; no hawking; and people keep to themselves and don’t bother each other. Apart from this, I have always been travelling on planes as my father worked with the national air carrier. I am in love with airports, especially the Delhi International Airport, that truly reflect the feeling of a traveler that I am. The influx of tourists, business fliers, home goers, and others from different parts of the country and world and from different walks of life, at the airport makes me realize how I am a small part of this ever changing world and how there are so many unknown things I have to yet to see and explore and understand beyond my never ending work hours and before my death. Additionally, I like to call myself a humble-luxurious traveler (for the lack of better word), not the backpack types who can adjust anywhere. And so I love travelling by planes. 🙂

But lately I have started moving for my photography – wildlife, landscape, street, people, (not necessarily in any order) and I travel by train mostly within the country (India). The government has, over the period of time, invested in the railways to revamp the trains and the platforms. Apart from being neat, clean, and tidy, the government has initiated in providing digital services. The state of washrooms still being in question with people (read passengers), God only knows why, not understanding and respecting the phrase ‘cleanliness outside their homes is equally important as inside their homes’. And I only travel, read insist heavily on my friend, AC class only and for shorter distances (read a maximum of 8 hours with a ‘night’ in between) only (note the two ‘only’). Recently, I have traveled in trains for 2.5 hours (one way) from Mumbai to Vapi and back. One of the train being a double decker train.

Keeping the cleanliness apart, I haven’t realized any sense of happiness or thrill while travelling in trains, at least in India. I haven’t traveled in those European or American trains to comment on them. One of them being, the kind of comfort I expect after paying so much. AC coaches are expensive and yet they make feel like I am travelling in Sleeper class. Others include as below:

  1. What about some leg space and some neat interiors? I spend time in the coaches and I want to be away from a lot issues I face at my place. I want to be feel wanted. I pay taxes.
  2. What is with the big windows that make me feel like close the curtains and not look outside? I know the outside view is not European countryside but still.
  3. What is that cold smell of AC just like i am in some old branch of a bank that has just installed AC but has forgot to keep the doors closed?
  4. What is with not modernizing the coaches at the earliest. Its been 10 years since I traveled again and I fail to make any visible ‘awe’ difference.

Although, I find fellow passengers sweet and helpful and staff in AC coaches courteous and helpful, I do not want to travel in trains in India. Maharaja is my only travel companion.