Browsing Category travel inspiration

A Peruvian Grandmother’s Act of Kindness

 

A gray-haired lady entered the restaurant and turned her eyes to me instantly. Her gaze didn’t surprise me. During the eight months I had been traveling in South America, I visited indigenous Andean villages and remote islands where the locals had never met someone from India before. My earthy complexion and kohled eyes always raised a plethora of questions about my origin.

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Travel Inspires Change and One Small Change Can Transform Our Life.

Everything begins with a story.

Let me recite a story from Charles Duhigg’s book The Power of Habits. This is a true story of a woman named Lisa(as per the records) who was the subject of a scientific study for understanding behavioral change and habits.

Please note: Though the story is the key to appreciate this article, I am summarizing the story for those readers who don’t want to read it. If you want to read the story, go to it here. Else continue reading the summary. 

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Te Quiero, Chiloé

The island of Chiloé in South Chile will be marked in my memories forever. When I applied to the English Open Doors program in Chile, I didn’t realize that the program would give me some of the best times of my life.

Run by the government of Chile and the United Nations, English Open Doors invites international volunteers to teach English to government school students in Chile. As a near-native English speaker, I could apply for the volunteer program.

Until I landed in Santiago, I didn’t know that I would be placed in Chiloé. When the program coordinator told me that I had to teach students in Castro, the capital of Chiloé, I ran back to my room and Googled Castro.

Rainbow-like stilt houses lined up against an azure shore. Velvety-green hills filled my screen. Stout lambs grazed over those hillocks in groups. Steam smoked out of a chimney in a hut-shaped roof.

Wooden churches were flaunted in abundance. Legendary and mythical were the keywords on-screen.

Azure rivers, dense national parks, fresh seafood brought a grin to my face.

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Highs and Lows of 2019 – A Year of Travel Blogging, Wandering in the Himalayas, and Personal Well-Being

2019 was a roller coaster ride. 

Waking up in my rooftop room that serves as my intermittent writing studio in Bengaluru, incorporating travel blogging with On My Canvas by writing throughout the year about my past and recent travels, connecting with other bloggers and travel writers, slow traveling in the Himalayas for four(4) months of summer while focusing on health and personal well-being and working remotely, writing thirty(30) long and super-researched articles in thirty(30) days in August, traveling in Karnataka on short and long trips, collaborating with both national and international travel organizations for the first time, getting my work and writing acknowledged over other media platforms, and then making my way to Myanmar via flight (after my plans to cross into Myanmar through Northeast got canceled because of the protests) and spending three weeks there — I never felt that the year was slow even though I slowed down quite a few time. 

Oh, On My Canvas also won three travel blogging awards within my first year of sincere travel blogging.

Let me tell you my favorite and not-so-favorite moments from this hap hazardous list of actions and achievements. Later I will also summarize the things that I feel I couldn’t do justice to and wish to focus on in 2020.

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My Chilean Host Mother Took Her Broken Heart and Said to Life Vamos (Let’s Go).

We were in September, and the sun had been hiding away for many days from Chiloé, a southern island of petite Chile. Rain thudded the brick-tiled roof unabashedly. I shivered after a shower on a cold evening in Castro. To avoid getting scolded by my host mother for not drying my hair well, I walked down to warm my head near the kitchen fire.

My host mother, who was already sitting at the round, wooden dining and sipping mate from her cup, called me to join her while patting the thick sofa cushion on her left. Perched on her right, the British volunteer, who was also teaching English to Chilean students with English Open Doors, rolled his eyes as he saw me accepting her invitation and approaching them. Respecting our usual friendly banter and rekindling the Indo-British feud, I threw some bad words in his direction. 

Then as the three of us huddled at the dining and sipped tea in the cozy kitchen of our uninsulated home, my host mother told us that her brother had just come home to request some wine, and then she warned us not to trust him as he was an alcoholic. 

Though I had seen her brother visit us every day, eat bread and cheese at the dining, drink wine, of which she kept a big bottle in her kitchen especially for him, I never realized that he was an alcoholic. Maybe I was focusing on cracking the heavy Spanish that darted to and fro between the siblings.

But his alcoholism was not the devastating part of the story. 

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Golden Highlights of 2018 – A Year of Writing, Love, and Nomadness.

The whistles of a black kite which is hovering above me in the light blue sky are the only sounds that break my attention now and then. In front of me, a green parrot just flew by; I see more of them in the morning, when one after another they go, searching for grains and guavas and water and, maybe, more parrots. The coffee cuckoo, similar to the one that used to visit me in my previous apartment, also flew from one tree to another in the park in front of my writing studio.

I have stationed myself in one corner of this studio on a chatayi or as we say a mat nowadays, and from here I write my heart out. In this nomadic life, you can find me on and off in Bangalore, for I always come here to be with my partner, and thus I pen down many pieces from his vicinity with a temporary feeling of home.

Having spent more than four months now as a nomad, I have realized that you don’t have to own or rent an apartment to be at home. Neither are you always on the go even if you are living a nomadic life.

At the end of the day when I think about getting back home, I imagine a quiet place, where the bathroom taps do not drip and where I cannot hear the screeching tires or intruding honks, but I can only tune into the crickets singing songs to each other. Where I can lay on a bed or in a sleeping bag in a tent, preferably tucked away in the midst of trees, with a warm cup of tea and a book to read. From where I can make a phone call to my parents and family for they worry if I disappear for even a day. I imagine a home that is a window into the world, or it has a window from where I can see the world, which I like to have at a distance. And that is all.

Such are my preferences these days. I started penning down this article to tell you about how my priorities shaped up the year 2018, and so on I go.

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100 Days of My Nomadic Life – Highs and Lows of Living While Traveling

I haven’t gone out of my friend’s home, where I sit and write here in Bangalore, for three days, apart from a small walk that I did to the grocery store because I wanted to eat something better than lifeless noodles with invisible vegetables. Ironically, today I am writing about my 100 days of nomadic life.

I thought that being nomadic means staying on the road 24×7, and maybe, you feel that way, too. I will get to that, but first, let us go back in time a little bit to understand how my digital nomad journey started.

I chose this life for I wanted to be location independent. I wanted to be able to travel whenever I yearned to see a new place or live in a jungle where I could only hear the crickets whistle and the leaves rustle instead of the incessant blasting traffic of Bangalore or any other metropolitan. But having a rented apartment was sort of becoming a hindrance to free movement and adding up costs without adding any value, apart from providing me with a quiet writing space with a balcony.

I thought that I better spend the money which I paid for the apartment where people shut doors on each other as if they were enemies on gorgeous Airbnb’s or friendly homestays or rustic hotels in the hidden corners of the world. At least I would explore, meet interesting people and have some meaningful conversations, and live life at my own pace.

So I gave up my room in the Bangalore flat and packed my bags to wander freely while working online. The whole idea was to move slowly; I have never found any joy in visiting a place for a weekend or two days and then leaving it, while I didn’t even know what lay in my backyard though I saw all the famous attractions of that destination. And while exploring the world one place at a time, I could afford the lifestyle of a digital nomad because of my writing portfolio.

But I have come to realize that not having a permanent location is not about traveling all the time. It is about moving with a choice.

This nomadic life has put up all sorts of choices in front of me and let me be honest with how I feel about them.

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When Spanish Hit Me – My Heartfelt Tale of Learning Spanish in South America

I went to Chile in July 2016 to teach English in a state school. All my friends, family, relatives, acquaintances, and social connections asked what made me go to Chile; I said I didn’t think much. They asked me if I could speak Spanish; I replied that I would learn Spanish in South America.

My family concluded that traveling to South America was an immature escape as in the end I would be alone and financially unstable. I was sucked down into a whirlpool of emotional hurdles that my close ones stirred in my career and personal life while being assertive that they cared.

I was fired. I had just ended a two-year relationship which I believed would turn into the long-lasting love of my life. The Titanic sank. I was going to be twenty-nine soon. Friends were getting married. Babies were being born. I did not know anyone in Chile. I did not speak Spanish.

Before I left, an uneasy feeling of forgetting something lingered. Like the one that makes you shuffle through your pockets every time you walk out of your home. I understood later that I was scared: of being alone, of unknowns, and of not knowing Spanish.

I did not know then that in a couple of months I would be able to speak the language fluently.

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I Am Going Nomadic.

I have given up my apartment, packed my bags, said my goodbyes, and off I go with my backpack, a pen and a notebook, and a one-way ticket to the world.

I have been in namma Bengaluru for a year now. Before that, I was in South America(SA), teaching, living, and traveling. After having been nagged by my family to return, I came back last year.

During my nine-months-long adventure in the passionate continent, I did more than I could have done in a few years. I hiked active volcanos, made friends from all over the world, learned Spanish, taught English in Chile and realized that I might have a few traits of a good teacher, stayed in a treehouse in a Bolivian village, stayed with local Quechua communities on the remote islands of Lake Titicaca in Peru, got mugged in Santiago, held monkeys and sloths in the Amazon, night trekked to stumble into the deadliest frogs and snakes, lost myself in the Machu Picchu Inca ruins, wandered in the fathomlessness of the Atacama desert, and struggled to get job interviews and tried to prolong my stay in South America.

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My Love and Hate Relationship With the Colorful India – A Story and Memory Postcards

As I move onto a new journey that takes me outside India for a couple of months, I couldn’t help but reminisce about the places that I have lived in and visited in the last one year I have been in India.

India — a country with distinct religions from the ancient Hindu to the declining Zoroastrianism, with a myriad of languages and dialects from Konkani to Jarawa, with a plethora of geographies from fathomless deserts to treacherous glaciers, with a vast network from modern sea links to old hanging bridges, with a wide assortment of food from homely dal roti to mouth-watering, overnight-cooked chicken biryanis, with a range of commutes from rusted Hero bicycles, serene camels, and obedient bullock carts to fancy Rolls Royces, from peaceful Tamil marriages that are held for two hours during daylight to exciting Punjabi wedding functions sprawled over many days in luxurious hotels spread across India; we have it all.

This large and miscellaneous congregation of people — that India is — sometimes makes me proud, but sometimes the restrictions of this collectivist society suffocate me.

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What Travel Has Taught Me – About the World and Myself

This is not one of those articles where I suggest you leave everything and travel and quote Robert Frost that the road less traveled is the one I took.

Why do so many people change their careers and lifestyles to travel? Sometimes even indefinitely?

Do they travel to see new places and eat different food? Or to fill their passports with stamps? Or to be able to say at their deathbed that they have seen the world?

Could be. But it is more than that.

Let me take you through what travel has taught me.

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How to Learn a Language By Yourself – 24 FailProof Tips

Are you wondering how to learn a language by yourself? Or finding the best way to learn a language?

Then you have come to the right place.

First, let me tell you my story about learning Spanish so that you know that you can learn a language on your own.

Before traveling to Chile, I couldn’t speak Spanish and wondered how I was going to survive in a predominantly Spanish continent. I assumed that Latin Americans would make my life easy by talking with me in English.

But neither the Latinos nor the foreigners living in Chile spoke English, at least not as much as I expected. That is when I realized that I had to learn Spanish. Reality hit me hard, and I prayed for survival.

Learning Spanish in Chile, a country notorious for bad Spanish, wasn’t easy. I struggled to make my way around Chile from morning until night. I couldn’t understand the conversations on the dining table and longed to participate. I missed cracking jokes. I wanted to cry.

Words fell on my ears, but my brain couldn’t comprehend them.

Rather than pitying myself, I decided that I had to learn enough Spanish so that I can understand the people around me and reply. And that is what I did. From speaking incorrect Spanish unabashedly to practicing Spanish grammar with workbooks, I tried all ways to learn a language.

Fast forwards a few weeks, I started speaking Spanish fluently. I was still a foreigner in Chile, but as I began to understand more Spanish, I became a part of the Chilean host family. We woke up, greeted each other by kissing both cheeks, ate toast with avocados and Nescafe coffee, and talked about life at supper or the evening Once.

I had a second home now just because I could converse in Spanish.

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