Travel isn’t just about places

I believe that one of the greatest things about travel is the chance to meet new people. While that is definitely true and I have had great interactions while on the road, recently, I had a new experience of sorts. Traveling to California led me to re-discover an old friendship from seventeen years ago. It was one of the best trips I’ve had in years. My musing about the same has been featured in the Huffington Post today.


‘We drank ourselves silly that night. Starting with tequila shots, we polished off two bottles of wine between the two of us. We cracked dirty jokes, fell off our chairs laughing and fought over a bowl of peanuts. We made plans to go backpacking around Australia together. She made me promise that I would take her when I went.’

Travel isn’t just about places- Huffington Post- 30th July 2012

You can read the entire piece here. Comments and feedback are welcome.

The other face of India

The image of India as a country is plagued with cliches. I’d be damned if I don’t admit that a lot of times, these stereotypes are fueled and perpetuated by travelers who visit the country.

For a very long time, I have felt the need to speak about this issue. As someone who has grown up in India, I have wanted to raise this question and also offer another perspective.

My article about the same titled- The other face of India, went live on The Expeditioner Magazine today. Here an excerpt from the same:

“Every country has elements associated with it that represent and symbolize it — something new that it has to offer. In the case of India, the novelty element manifests itself in the form of the elephants on the road, the beggars on the traffic light signals, the sadhu on the ghats and the villagers carrying pots of water in sweltering summer heat.

The exoticism of India lies in the picture of the old, emaciated rickshaw-puller or the eunuchs dancing on the streets. This is the picture of India that sells.”

-The other face of India- The Expeditioner Magazine- 23rd July 2012

Please click here to view this entire article and offer your comments.

How to stuff your face in Delhi, India

English: India Gate, Delhi

English: India Gate, Delhi (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I love food. I grew up in Delhi and was spoilt for choice when it came to lip-smacking fare.

Since Delhi is home to food from almost every state in India, the choice is mind-boggling. What I would really love to do however is to go back home just for a day and stuff my face with as many dishes as I can.

In lieu of this, I wrote an article titled How to stuff your face in Delhi, India, that has been published on Matador Nights today.

Go and check it out but here a small tip- Don’t do it while you’re hungry.

Music and Sport- The legacy of Punjab, India

(Tip: Watch video first.)

Music. Sport. Energy. Agriculture: the essence of rural Punjab in India.

This video, recently composed by musician Sneha Khanwalkar for Sound Trippin, a music show on MTV India, captures all these elements powerfully.

Sneha and her team traveled to Qila Raipur, a village located six kilometers away from the city of Ludhiana in Punjab, to record sounds and visuals at the Qila Raipur Rural Olympics. The Rural Olympics are an annual event hosted by the village since 1932. Along with regular events like foot races, gymnastics and jumps, there are special events and races by various animals such as bullocks, camels, horses and mules amongst others.

The most anticipated race of the Olympics is the bullock-cart race. The event is popular amongst Indian and International Sports enthusiasts.

Sneha spent three days at the event recording real ambient sounds including those of the commentator and then fused them together to create this song using DubStep technology.

The State of Punjab in India is the largest agricultural state and is well known for its robust culture and high-energy. It is also the state popular in India for producing a large percentage of sportsmen especially in the heavy weight category sports.

The song, sung by two sisters who are folk singers from the village, was composed over a day at their house. Sneha had met the sisters four years ago, when she spent time in Punjab composing music for a film. The sisters who had learnt music from their father growing up in the village, had impressed her even back then, and this time she went out looking for them.

The different sounds recorded and used in the video complete from the siren, the tractor, hand pump along with traditional Punjabi instruments such as the DhadhTumbi and the Algoza are culturally ingrained in Punjab.

The music, the smiles, the people, the atmosphere offers insights into the life of rural Punjab, something even I as a city-bred Indian was not aware of.

Now that I am, I know for a fact that it’s worth sharing with the world.

Rethinking Muslim stereotypes

A Muslim woman wearing hijab

A Muslim woman wearing hijab (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I had pre-concieved notions about Muslim women, lots of them. All of those and some more were challenged recently when I met a young Muslim girl from Saudi Arabia at JFK airport in the middle of the night.

This was an encounter that left me touched and provoked in innumerable ways. My article about the same went live on Matador Brave New Traveler today. Titled- Rethinking Muslim stereotypes, it raises the question of how we perceive Muslim women but more than that it also is an attempt to unravel how these women perceive themselves.

I’d love to hear what you have to say, here or on Matador.