Travelling

How Travelling Solo Has Made Me A Better Person

I was 21 the first time I set out on my own. I did it again when I was 22. And a third time when I was 23. I am a self-confessed airport crier, last-minute packer, document misplacer and chronic over-thinker who finds leaving anyone and anywhere a huge deal. Yet I have never once regretted going. I have missed things (people, birthdays, my graduation, home cooked meals, etc) but I have never once thought “I should never have gotten on that plane.”

Travelling solo is the best thing I have ever done. It is when I feel that I am more than just alive; I am living. It makes me feel present and proactive and strong. It provides a unique combination of control and freedom that I have yet to find anywhere else. Every time I arrive in a new place I surrender myself to it. There’s no way of knowing what adventures will be had, what people I will meet, what ideas will be shaped or what discoveries will be made there. Yet I have decided to go there and I will decide when I leave. I always have the power to stay and go, stop and start. It’s a power I lack in many other aspects of my life and that’s what makes it so special.

Going it alone has, somewhat ironically, also made me more sociable. I’ve always been the kid with two or three very close friends rather than a gaggle of bff’s and tend to find big groups of people intimidating. After a few awkward experiences I learnt that it’s much easier to pull up a chair and nod along until someone asks you your name than lay on your shaky bunk bed and contemplate a night of listening to fellow guests having a great time right outside your door. On the whole travellers are friendly folk and you have the perfect conversation starter in “So where are you from?” Talk will inevitably turn to where you’ve been and where you’re heading next so you already have at least one thing in common. I’ve found that I tend to form quick and intense bonds with people when travelling, some which last long after we’ve gone our separate ways and others which end when the bus leaves. Both are perfect in their own way and completely unique to the time and place. Sometimes, when I think of cities I have visited, the faces of the people I met there are the first things to pop into my head.

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Having said that travelling on my own has also given me what is perhaps one of the greatest gifts of all; the knowledge that not only can I survive on my own but I can feel comfortable and secure in my own company. When I look back on my solo trips, two of my biggest achievements are learning how to dine alone in restaurants and go to the cinema by myself. I know many people, older and more self-assured than myself, who still struggle with being alone in public settings. I also find that when travelling I like to think about things. Not talk about them, just think and maybe jot a few ideas down on some napkins. Travelling is my time to figure out how I feel about things without the input or influence of anyone else.

So to summarize, travelling alone has made me more aware, more conscious, more accepting, more welcoming and more likely to say yes. Because of it I am more interesting and interested. I am braver than I was and I trust myself so much more. But most importantly it has given me stories. So many stories that will make me smile and keep me warm when I am old and taking off with just a backpack for company is no longer an option. Leaving is always harder than staying and people will undoubtedly tell you a horror story about a backpacker who got shot/murdered in a freak attack that would never had happened if they just stayed home and been an office temp, but the experiences you will have will serve you well for the rest of your life. The act of going might just be the most liberating thing you will ever do, after all men have been doing it for years

Travel Memories 2013

Travel photos are a wonderful way to treasure memories and remind yourself of your brave, fun-loving side. They are a great pick-me-up if you ever feel blue or bored; a snapshot of a time when you pushed yourself, discovered or experienced wonder at something new.

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Day 2 Amber Fort @ Jaipur

The old city in Jaipur is a bustling shoppers paradise. It doesn’t cater to tourists outside of the small area at the City Palace gate, so its a great opportunity to see how the locals live in the tight streets of Old Jaipur. Its a change from the norm that all of the streets are in a perfect grid, however the side streets which run in a straight line, are still quite tight, with only room for two scooters side by side (or one tuk tuk).

Amber Fort Jaipur

After I had my breakfast i visited Amber Fort. It’s located on top of the hill, therefore in order to get up there you have to ride an elephant or by jeep. Personally recommend those who are visiting the fort to go buy elephant. You will see India in a different view. Although, i’m quite against elephant ride, as it is not good for their backbone you see, but as far as i know, the authorities there only allow the elephants work till noon. So i guess it is alright ?

Its an amazing structure on the side of the ridge. Its huge walls are extremely tall and impressive. From a distance the fort glows a beautiful red in the late-afternoon sun. We’re left to wander the long hallways and giant public spaces within the palace. 

Its a bit disappointing on the interior, which has been allowed to age rather poorly. Most of the interior is blackened by air pollution, acid rain and thousands of tourist’s hands. The interior rooms are full of graffiti and crumbling floors, instead of the impressive frescoes and carvings at other palaces of equal magnitude. Its too bad a few people need to wreck such lovely things by carving their names into 100’s of year old hand painted murals…

As i mentioned, the elephants only work till noon, when we reach the queue for the ride is already very long. When i say long it isn’t like those you get when you visit a theme park. 

 
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 I didn’t really get to hold the camera. It was too shaky, and i was a little scared. Haha. I thought i was going to fall off. Can’t really use words to describe that feeling, but i didn’t regret overall.

India’s painted elephants.Here’s a pic of the elephant I rode to amber fort

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Strangers posing at my camera

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Along the way i encountered this.  Thought it was for punishment, you know.. those really cruel punishment for prisoners…

But this ? No worries. I was wrong. My tour guide told me that it’s used as a cooking pot. Yes, for the people in the palace. It’s really huge! Maybe it’s not so obvious in here.

 

 

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By the way, photographers should take note of this. Can you see the guy in orange in the picture above? Well think twice before taking pictures in India. Most of them work as “models” for you to photograph? And of course you will have to pay them. After taking this picture the guy in orange was asking me for money, i was so scared that i nearly run away. But there were 2 photographers beside me who did the same thing, but braver, in a sense that they stood really near to photograph him, and they almost ended up fighting. Saw one of the tourist encountered the same thing as well at Amber Fort, the lady he shot was asking him for money, and kept following the tourist but the tourist didn’t give her any.

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I don’t know whether they are allowed to do that to us or not, but if they really ask for it just either give them or stop shooting and walk away. Don’t end up in a fight! or quarrel! Plus it’s our fault in the first place, we shouldn’t be shooting them like that.

Few More Pics of Amber Fort

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And this is how i ended my day at Amber fort.

It’s getting late now i should go.

Nights!

Day 1 Hawa Mahal @ Jaipur

You just can’t be in the Pink City and not pass by this imposing and charming structure of yore.

This is the Hawa Mahal or the ‘Palace of the winds’. It was built in 1799 by the poet-king Sawai Pratap Singh for the royal ladies to enjoy the various processions or day to day activities from the cool confines of this splendid structure. That was the era when women were not allowed outside and used to maintain ghunghat (purdah system). Built in exquisite Rajputana architecture, this 5 storied semi-octagonal and honeycombed structure comprises of 953 niches and 152 windows.

There is crazy traffic all around; still tourists stop by to relive the opulence of the bygone era. No wonder then, it has become the hallmark of Jaipur and also the most recognizable and photographed monument of this city.

Jaipur City: Capital of Rajasthan in India

Anyone can be mesmerized by the ancient sculpturing that reflects Rajputana culture too. It is meant for royal ladies so that they could have a view of the city. Hawa Mahal was built by Lal Chand Usta with pink sand stones. Many tourists can find it similar to Fatehpur Sikri because it has the floral patterns used by then Mughals.

One can make an entrance into the building through the Giant door which also connects City Palace. Tourist used to visit Hawa Mahal to enjoy viewing Jaipur from the Jharokas which is indeed great fun. Thus to enjoy the real beauty of Hawa Mahal, plan a trip to Jaipur now! Apart from this you can see many other tourist attractions also.

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I travel…

I travel to be in the unknown.
I travel to discover the depths of my psyche.
I travel to connect with my human family.
I travel to leave materialism.
I travel for humbleness.
I travel for enlightenment.
I travel for purpose.
I travel for tears.
I travel for laughter.
I travel for love.
I travel to find home. Home in me.you.we.
I travel for space.
 
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“Travel, go far away! And never look behind”
 
 
I travel for silence.
I travel in solitude.
I travel in loneliness.
I travel to find strength.
I travel in hopes of trials.
I travel to be alive.
I travel in the name of my father and mother.
I travel to heaven.
I travel to hell.
I travel for the journey, for the journey travels in me.
 

Made it to kolkata,craziest city on earth

I have never seen a city like Kolkata. It is the wildest, most crazy place I have ever been. Engulfed by poverty it is still vibrant and full of life. After the flight from Hyderabad I landed in Kolkata. I was staying with an extremely nice Indian couple that live in the heart of Kolkata.

On Day 1 I explored all the local roads,malls,food courts near by,where i am staying.With the help of my Smart Android I can travel/explore any place.

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Kolkata is like a piece of shit on the face of this earth”, wrote the famous writer Günter Grass.

Like there is some who would agree with this bad notion, there are many many more who loves the city of joy and would disapprove of one such statement. A person who is not associated with or is ignorant of the Indian culture and tradition will probably generate one such idea and never understand the true spirit of the city. It could also be our shortfall that we had been unable to show many like Grass the brighter side of things that are here.

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I have heard many of my friends calling Kolkata to be chaotic, cluttered and dirty. True, some parts of Kolkata is dirty, is chaotic. Yet Kolkata is the City of Joy. Kolkata is the city of tradition and culture. Kolkata is the city of football and cricket. Kolkata is the city of Tagore, Netaji, Mother Teresa. Kolkata is the city of lavish shopping malls. Kolkata is the city of booming IT industry. It’s the city we all love.

On day 2nd and 3rd day

I and Mytri planned to explore Kumartuli, one of the cultural precincts of Kolkata. It was a Saturday morning that we headed towards Kumartuli. From Shobhabazar- we took a car to Kumartuli, where clay sculptors were busy in making idols. Bright sunshine on my shoulders and the deep blue sky above were telling that autumn  is on the threshold and with only one month left for the Pujas idol making would be in full swing.

It was my long cherished desire to visit Kumartuli, the alley of the potters, where gods and goddesses are born (read created) in the skilled hands of mud sculptors who are in the profession of clay idol making for several generations

Well, coming back to where we started our journey. As we moved on down the lanes the brick walls and structures were like closing in on us. I have never seen such narrow lanes and by-lanes in my life. Much to my astonishment, artisans live in there, with their families and have set up their studios for pottery and idol making! Well… studio, not in its literal sense.

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On 3rd day I  had to take a hand-pulled rickshaw. As soon as I boarded the rickshaw childhood memories thronged my mind. Such rickshaws were aplenty on the roads of Hyderabad those days.  We used to ride rickshaws often, especially in the evenings while returning home after a shopping or a visit to some relative’s place. The rickshaw puller is almost running pulling the rickshaw, and the sound of the bells hanging in his hand … ting ling ting ling (this bell worked like horns) and a small lantern hanging at the back of the rickshaw, just like the rear light of a car – the images are still so vivid in my mind!

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I sat stiff and terrified, thinking all the time, what if the rickshaw puller loosens his grip and we’ll land up up-side down (LOL!). Finally, I reached my destination and I was relieved to get down from the rickshaw.

Trams are rare to see on the roads of Kolkata.The thought that Kolkata will be losing its heritage one day pains a lot. The metro has transformed a lot with a number of lavish shopping plazas, bustling multiplexes, flyovers and BMW, Skoda and Chevrolet plying the city roads.

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Slowly the tram reached the terminal at Bagbazar. From there we caught the bus to Kalikapur. As the bus was passing through Shyambazar crossing I caught a glimpse of the statue of ‘Netaji’,

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basking in the sun, amidst a number of enormous hoardings and signboards trying to cover up the skyline, the bamboo structures for pandals on the roadside, posters of political rallies and the same zeal and enthusiasm for the Pujas reminded me, ‘Kolkata ache Kolkatatei” (The spirit of Kolkata still remains the same)!

Mother Teresa:

Truly memorable and moving; be sure to go up the stairs to see the room where she slept and lived and ran this tremendous Sisters of Charity worldwide. The Orphanage which is also worth a visit is nearby!! Do not miss seeing both!! Try to visit in the morning or late afternoon when the children are not sleeping.

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Howrah Bridge:

Never imagined that something as big as that bridge is hanging on its own. The British were famous for their civil engineering and they proved this by constructing such a long Howrah bridge. The bridge is never short of traffic, very busy indeed.Walk across this bridge and you will feel the awesome magnificence of the bridge. Be careful of the crowd though.

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Victoria Memorial :

Majestic entrance to a beautiful monument in the heart of city of joy Kolkata  nice greenery on both sides once entered, beautiful stone walkway, mesmerism you. Once you enter the main hall you are thrilled with the construction of the hall, marble edifice and the whole hall gives you a picture of dominance of British in India. There are plenty of collection time taking to browse around but worth watching. There are very detailed eye catching glimpses display of history of Calcutta (Kolkata) which gives an idea of British period’s Kolkata  Overall it is worth watching and one should always visit this place once if they visiting Kolkata.

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 Kumartuli:

What is amazing is that they have still have kept a lot of old traditions alive. The idol makers still use water from Hoogly to mix the clay and make the models. It is not the easiest things to do since the have to hire water carriers, but most of the artists still folow this tradition.Kumartuli streets are narrow and there are lanes and bylanes and that is what lends Kumartuli a character.It not not a typical studio where potters do their clay modeling, these streets are as old as Kolkata and is a historic place. I am posting a few photos of goddess Saraswathi, there was also a very interesting and beautiful old building, no one lives theres, must have been grand at some point. I walked through two three lanes and then headed straight for Hoogly. It was a nice and peaceful evening.

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Birla Temple:

This white marble temple, resembling the famous Lingaraja temple of Bhubaneswar, is a marvel of architecture and adobe of peace. The main temple houses statues of Radha-Krishna. The left side of temple houses goddess Durga and the right side of the temple houses Shiva. There is no nuisance that could disturb the devotees and the place is well maintained and clean.

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Netaji Bhavan:

Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, known popularly as Netaji (meaning leader in Hindi), was one of the most prominent reformists in the Indian Independence Movement. The building that is known as Netaji Bhavan today was once the residence of the reformist. Managed by the Netaji Research Bureau, the old bungalow-style structure houses a museum and the bureau’s archives and library. The museum is divided into various rooms, each detailing certain phases in the leader’s life. The top-most floor has photographs and documents from the life and works of Subhash Chandra Bose, arranged in chronological order. The library and archives include comprehensive collections detailing the Indian Independence Movement. Netaji Bhavan also has an auditorium called the Sarat Bose Hall which is used for events like lectures and seminars. Located on Elgin Road, opposite, Forum Mall this is the place to visit if you’re interested in learning about India’s Freedom Struggle.

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Few of my clicks

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For more clicks you can find in my Kolkata album in Photography menu