The Time of Our (My) Lives & Some Cuss Words!

Oh my, 2014 was awesome! Much more than 2013.

Went tripping around 7 Indian states (one of them thrice) and 27 cities where I’ve never been to (two of them twice), tried a lot of interesting cuisines (including mutton momos, which was my unintentional first bite of non-vegetarian food), became friends with strangers, spent more time in reading maps than reading books, did my first solo trek, volunteered at Mcleodganj (the Dalai Lama’s Indian home) and most importantly, fell in love with India.

Other than these, the biggest high of year 2014 is another journey, my venture Nomad Scribblings Tours, for which I’ve laid the foundation this week. So yeah, I’m waiting for 2015 to begin with, for I’ve the fireworks to make it begin with a bang! This equals more journeys, friends, road trips, trails and adventure in 2015. Here’s sharing some of the most awesome moments of my nomadic life for the year. Cuss words will follow.

Boating across the “no photoshop yet stunning” backwaters of Kerala!

One touch and this might smudge like a wet painting.

And mind you, I wasn’t just sitting in the boat, I was steering it too. Apart from some lurches and turns that I had no intention to take, I was pretty good with the directions. So much so that the boatman gave me a thumbs up by the time we ended our voyage. Voyage, yes, as I like to keep things grand and pirate-like.

Sitting over a breathing roof at Tabo, Spiti Valley, and wondering how pretty sunsets can be.

This is the roof that breathes!

For those who don’t know what a breathing roof is, here I simplify the concept – “It’s a roof that sinks and rises with every step that you take!” So, there’s one such roof of one of the caves at Tabo, where I sat one evening. This terrace overlooked the whole of Tabo that seemed bathed in the gold of the diving Sun. One of the most gorgeous sunsets I’ve ever seen. Come 2015 and I’ll continue my hunt for such sunsets.

Landing at Dzongu, Sikkim, and concluding that the place is India’s Forks.

India’s answer to Twilight’s Forks!

Forks, the same town, where the movie series Twilight is largely set. Towering pines, roaring waterfalls, thundering river, hanging bridges, gorgeous Himalayas, slopes and slopes of pines and the charming Lepcha tribe people, this is one place that can make you fall in love with travelling if you already haven’t. To compensate for the werewolves and vampires, you have Red Pandas and Himalayan Bears at Dzongu.

Volunteering with the Tibetan community at Mcleodganj.

Simple life, simpler rituals. Photo by – Yasunori Koide

Apart from the realisation that I’m not good at either meditation or crowd control (when it’s a class full of kids), I figured that I can teach photography and writing (a tough nut this). So, while I bunked up in this sleepy Himalayan town with a bunch of Tibetan kids for company, I had the time of my life. Loneliness took its hit every 10 days or so, but then I was in the Himalayas, surrounded by monasteries, trails, waterfalls, charming kids and loads of good food. Loneliness accepted.

Rediscovered my love for driving!

Driving, not literally!

For a good time of 2014, I was wandering across India, right from Kerala in the south to Spiti in the north, from the Rann of Kutch in the west to Sikkim in the east. And most of these times, I was navigating through some pretty interesting terrains for around 6-7 hours a day. Guess I rediscovered my love for driving. This goes to the huge photo album of cars and bikes that I kept as a kid. 500cc, somebody just murmured.

Cycling isn’t bad either!

I guess I’ll have to go back to Diu and do this again!

The credit for this one goes to Diu. This cute tiny town with some of the most solitary beaches in India is just 14 sq km in area. Surrounded by the blues of the Arabian Sea from three sides, Diu is a postcard place. I took a bicycle for INR 50 a day and did some pretty good pedaling across the town. Forts, beaches, lighthouses, museums all covered.  And though I ended up taking a scooter for two days, Diu made me go back to cycling.

Since the world is full of good people, Nostradamus is not coming true anytime soon.

Happy kids, happy places!

Right from the homestay owner at Kutch to the charming families I stayed with in Gangtok, Kochi, Munnar, Dzongu and Spiti to the people I volunteered with and the strangers who became friends, I discovered that we are still way too far from Noah’s Ark. Great people, for me, are simple people who carry on with their lives with a smile, zero pretensions and aim at making this world a happier place. As long as such folks are around, I can let go of the grudges I harbour for the other kind. Sorry Nostradamus.

This is what the sea taught me…

Late night wandering at Varkala, Kerala.

I’m known for my love of mountains. Google it to make sure. There is perhaps nothing that comes close to my love for the mountains. So, a few months back, as I was sitting by the sea in Varkala, quite late into night, something changed. It was a dark night, thunder rolling somewhere nearby, and the sea very turbulent. Every other second, a bolt of lightning would light up the dark waters. I’ve never seen the sea in such rage; it took quite a turn from the merry-looking, inviting picnic spot of the day. It felt like it was replying to the thunder in thunder’s language, only to become its calmer self the next morning. So, I guess I’ve to learn retaliation. Talk to somebody in their language and things become so much calmer, just like they did for the sea on the next morning. Thus, thank you sea.

As for the cuss words, I’ll stick to what I learnt from the sea. I’ve talked in the same language and now is the calm phase.

Peace out.

And yeah, a happy 2015!

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