This week I want to share with you a little gem in my neighbourhood in Mumbai. I live in Bandra on a hillock called Mount Mary. Around me, literally, are an abundance of historical churches. Across…
Though an avid proponent for guided walks, I love self-guided walks just that tad bit more. They are like a treasure hunt filled with the thrill of discovery! Don’t you agree? As one decodes a rout…
On a sweltering hot summer day, I stood on the street outside the Embassy of Georgia in Delhi. Beads of sweat lined my forehead and anger boiled my blood. I had been waiting for almost two hours past my appointment time, outside the gate of the Georgian Ambassador’s residence in India – which doubled as their embassy. It would be another hour of cursing my Indian passport, melting in the hot sun, pleading with the guard to let me in, chatting with the Punjabi family who had waited even longer than me… before I’d score a short-term tourist visa to enter the country of Georgia.
But if you ask me now about Georgia, that’s not the part I remember. My mind only conjures up images of hiking to a dreamy 700-year-old church in the dramatic snow-capped backdrop of Mount Kazbeg, cycling to the Russian border, and soul-searching amid the surreal Caucasus Mountains. I remember local cabbies in Tbilisi singing ‘ichak dana-beechak dana’…
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Bhistis of Calcutta (Kolkata)
~ A Vanishing Tribe ~
“The finest man I knew
Was our regimental Bhisti, Gunga Din.”
Gunga Din (1892) poem by Rudward Kipling
Once an indispensable part of Calcutta’s (Kolkata’s) water supply of both domestic and public purposes today the bhistis are fast vanishing tribe.
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It was two minutes past midnight, as I reclined on the comfortable couch of a luxurious expedition ship, somewhere on the high seas that surrounded the largest island in the world – Greenland. Miles of crystal icebergs stretched as far as the eye could see, scintillating in the soft glow of the Midnight Sun. A cup of hot chocolate in hand, I gazed out dreamily. It was difficult to believe that it was twelve days already since the time we set sail from Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik.
The sailing route, the remote lands we visited, the friendly Innuits I met had been nothing short of extraordinary.
From Reykjavik, the ship had taken us to the unpronounceable Grundafjord in the Snaefellsnes peninsula in Iceland. Known as ‘Iceland in a nutshell’, massive snow covered hills, gurgling streams and waterfalls greeted us. Here the population of sheep and horses easily outnumbered the number of…
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There lies a fairy tale land in the bosom of Himachal Pradesh blushing red in autumn with the allure of the ‘forbidden fruit’.
Sangla Valley in Kinnaur was the starting point of my exploration of Himachal’s Apple Trail. Set in the midst of a sprawling apple orchard with plump, red apples glistening like rubies while the milky white Baspa River gushed through the backdrop hastily, my abode at the Banjara Camp was literally the Garden of Eden.
Since there was no tempting Adam or conniving Satan for company, I sat enjoying my solitude on a white boulder on a silver beach overlooking the Baspa, pairing hot aloo parathas with delicious apple preserves from my picnic hamper.
Later, during an evening trek to the Batseri village, I was invited by a local ‘Pahadi’ lady in a long, checkered tunic called ‘Reshta’ to her hut for a cup of hot ‘chai’. While…
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“There are depths of thousands of miles that are hidden from our inquiry. The only tidings we have from those unfathomable regions are by means of volcanoes, those burning mountains that seem to discharge their material from the lowest abyss of the earth,” said the Anglo-Irish writer and playwright, Oliver Goldsmith.
By the time you learn to pronounce names of Iceland’s notorious volcanoes like the Eyjafjallajökull and the Theistareykjarbunga, somewhere on the island another volcano would have erupted. Located on the mid Atlantic ridge between the tectonic plates of North America and Eurasia, which are moving apart, Iceland has an extraterrestrial looking landscape, making it a favourite playground of astronauts like Armstrong and Aldrin, who trained here before venturing to the moon. It also allures lovers of geology, Hollywood sci-fi film makers and those into spirituality!
Flight over Fire
Take a helicopter tour over a spectacular lunar landscape teeming with volcanoes, vast lava fields and rocky coastlines. One can fly over the infamous Eyjafjallajökull that caused havoc in Europe’s…
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