Lavanya Opines


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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. 

 

 

 

 


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Freedom of Speech & Protest

I am very much disturbed at what has happened at Ramjas College. I was very disturbed when Rohit Vemulla killed himself and issue was politicized. Yet I stayed quite. I was very disturbed when Kanhaiya Kumar was arrested for sedition and news reports emerged that anti-national slogans were shouted in JNU campus. Yet I stayed quite. But this time, things have gone too far.

What is wrong is asking JNU student Umar Khalid in airing his views on ‘Culture of Protest’? Present students are the ones who will be shaping the future of this country. They will become politicians, policy makers, bureaucrats, administrators, and so many other types of professional who will have influence of economic and political situations of the country. Whats wrong then that they want to understand different view points from the same people who were condemned for having different view-point?

Freedom of speech is a constitutionally guaranteed right. Why does it had to be wrapped under ‘nationalism’ and ‘united India’ sentiments? Just because I have some negative opinion about what is currently happening in the country, am I anti-national? Just because I see problems in what you are doing and I express my views about the same, am I anti-national? Just because I have different political view and follow different political ideology, am I anti-national? Just because I want to protest against something, am I anti-national?

Freedom of speech is not only right to express one owns thoughts but also duty to listen to others expressing themselves. Then why Umar Khalid wasn’t even given a chance to say his piece before the students. What would have happened after hearing him? A student, who was condemned as ‘anti-national’ for holding protest, wasn’t allowed to put forth his views before students about ‘protests’; and further protests followed to ‘protest’ this outcome. Is anyone seeing the irony over here.

I am totally upset and disappointed with Randeep Hooda, Virendra Sehwag, and Yogendra Yadav. They seem to have forgotten that entire generations got involved in freedom movement only because of these so-called ‘anti-national’ view points. Our forefathers went to jail for being ‘anti-nationals’ so that we could have ‘freedom of speech’. I am disappointed because in your so called ‘knowledge’ you have forgotten what is a ‘freedom of speech’ after all. Or should I say, we will be soon seeing you endorsing some political parties and therefore these jibes are your way of earning brownie points.

DU, JNU, and Jamia are places where knowledge is gained, where the knowledge is tested and validated against present times by discussions, where views are exchanged to create opinions, break them, and again create new opinions. Unless we speak what is in our minds, how will we know what is right and what is wrong? Unless we discuss different opinions, view points, ideologies, how will we become a democracy?