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.

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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.

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.

Writing and I

Writing

Writing (Photo credit: jjpacres)

Writing and I were old acquaintances.

We first met years ago, spent some time together, enjoyed each other’s company, kept in touch for a while. Then, we drifted apart. I believe it was my doing. I liked writing, not enough though. My effort towards our relationship was half-hearted and inconsistent. Inevitably, we lost touch and did not meet again for a long time.

Six months ago, writing re-entered my life.

It happened by chance one fall morning while I was sitting alone having a cup of coffee in my small apartment. I must have been lonely. I had been flipping through old pictures on my laptop for nearly an hour, stopping at nothing. And then I did, to read something I’d written two years ago. It was the last time writing and I had seen each other.

We spent the morning together.

This was the first of many such meetings. We started slowly, every other day for a start, few stolen hours in the day. I had commitments and responsibilities. I had to choose at most times. Writing lost out on more occasions than one. This time however, it lingered.

Our relationship was growing slowly and I was more aware of it than I had ever been.

Writing

Writing (Photo credit: Pascal Maramis)

I’d think about writing often. I’d think about what I’d say the next time we’d see each other. I’d think about how I would approach our conversations. More than that I’d think about how I felt when we were together. The answer was always the same.

Writing made me feel one with myself.

I felt guilty, more with each passing day. I knew I wasn’t giving writing the place it deserved in my life. There was always something else to be taken care of, something else that needed my attention. I was scared.

I wasn’t prepared to lose again.

And then it changed. Not in a moment, not in a day or in a week. Somewhere, somehow the realization came- the fate of our relationship lay nowhere else but in my hands. It always had been me and this time was no different. Writing had always been there, silent, undemanding and giving. I was the one who had failed it in the past.

Finally, I made another commitment, for the love of writing, for the love of me.

I have been reaping the rewards of our friendship ever since.