All posts filed under: Travel

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Losing a passport and why travel insurance proved useless

This post is all about “what happens when you lose a passport” and my personal experience with ICICI Lombard Travel Insurance. Yes. I did the “no 1” thing feared by most travellers. It features probably on the top of things NOT to do when on the road. Lose a passport; your most precious travel document. So how I lost it is not a very glamourous story. It has no masala or intrigue at all. I won’t get into the details. For the record, somewhere on the streets of Malaga (Spain), while on a sightseeing trip (on a cycle), I am quite sure the passport got lost (case of the open bag, carelessness of not closing it properly). But more importantly, what happens when you do happen to lose a passport? While it’s not something you hope will ever happen to you, there’s always a possibility. Having gone through this experience, here’s what I did and I hope will help anyone who lands up in this quandary. My second part details with travel insurance. In my …

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Ancient connections to come alive through “Ghadai”, an initiative by the Kumbhars (potters) of Kutch

The arts and crafts from the Kutch region are well known today. There is a lot of interest in the fabrics, the weaves, the prints, silver jewellery, copper artifacts and these products are in demand not only in India, but all over the world. Yet, one craft which is not getting the focus and appreciation it deserves is pottery. Reviving the ancient art of Kutch pottery The history of pottery in the Kutch region dates back 5000 years at least. Pottery products have been excavated from the archaelogical site of Dholavira, an ancient city belonging to the Indus Valley civilisation. Talking to Meera Goradia, the director of the Kutch-based NGO KHAMIR, I get to know a little more about the efforts being taken to bring alive the tradition of potters in the region. There are many who have stopped their craft, mainly due to a loss in livelihood. In some villages, the potter’s wheel now lies unturned. Yet in others, there is renewed interest as the craft has also started integrating aspects of newer and …

Scent of cardamom and taste of fresh honey: A visit to the Kalarickal Heritage Bungalow

There’s something about a bungalow that was constructed in the 1800s. It feels like stepping back in time. The way the doors close. The old style latches and windows. The feel of the cool red floor under your bare feet. But the TV and the WiFi suddenly brings you back to present tense also giving you a sense of modern comforts! A part of the bungalow which has been renovated for guests. Photo courtesy: KH Plantation A bit of history – “the current owner’s grandfather, K K Kurian Kalarickal, settled in this area (Idukki district) in the early 1900s when the hills were still thick with forests and wildlife. He was among a few pioneers to make his way into the mountains and begin cultivating them.” Luckily, this area is untouched and still verdant and retains much of it’s charm. K K Kurian built this original bungalow in 1918 and for many years it was a landmark in Idukki. It doubled up as a village office for planters and visitors who came for advise. The …

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Where cranes sing and flamingos dance: Into the Banni Grasslands Reserve

Thousands of birds call the Banni Grasslands Reserve in Kutch, Gujarat their home. An excursion into this dry but rich ecosystem, has delightful surprises unfold, as you turn every corner. “Leave nothing but footprints; and plant trees. Lots of trees.” Flamingos against a beautiful sunrise over the Banni Grasslands. Photo credit: Jugal Tiwari Only someone wise and passionate can utter these words. And they come from none other than Jugal Tiwari of the Center for Desert and Ocean (CEDO). Established in 2005, the organisation has been tireless working on ecology and conservation issues for the last 9 years. Tiwari, who is originally from Rajasthan, on a visit to Kutch, fell in love with this area. It’s not hard to imagine why. What appears at first sight to be dry scrub desert, has more surprises, twists and turns than a detective novel and you look forward with anticipation to the next sight! We enter the reserve in the early morning hours. The cranes are already up, and fly across the morning sky, just beginning to glow …

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Wanderings in Bhuj: a photo journey

Like any other small but burgeoning town in this country, Bhuj exhibits all the usual signs. Development on one side – good wide main roads, vehicles, ATMs, and everyone flashing smart phones. But on the other hand, the litter and garbage everywhere is an indication that no lessons in waste management have been implemented. Sadly, it’s just everywhere, including the water body in the middle of the city – the Hamirsar lake. Steeped in history, and scarred by a devastating earthquake in 2001, some parts of the old fort are still standing and visible as you move through the town. There are monuments that are crumbling, derelict, which give you a glimpse of those glory years. The small gallis through the town hold a quaint charm, albeit a little diminished by large amounts of garbage lying everywhere. Like any small but growing town, Bhuj has fallen prey to all the usual problems The narrow lanes are abuzz with activity As I touched down in the small Bhuj airport and made my way down the main …

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A Malaga moment

When I look back at my Europe trip, I have so many moments and sights that stand out. So many things to write about – just looking back is a bit daunting. But I’m trying to organise everything and share useful information in nuggets, along with tips and travel information. Hopefully, over the next few months I’ll get to share some of it. In the meanwhile, enjoy this lovely view of Malaga with me. It was a cloudy day to start with. My host was quite disappointed by the weather I was getting to witness (it’s never like this, she kept telling me). But I set off anyway on a bit of sightseeing. I borrowed her son’s cycle and decided to explore the city on two wheels. At the end of my gallivanting, the skies cleared quite a bit and I decided to climb to the Castle of Gibralfaro. Even though I wasn’t optimistic about the views that day, I started off. It was a good decision. As the evening set in, suddenly I got …