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Finding a Home in a Village in Wayanad (Kerala): Day 1, Episode 1

a brick-tiled roof home in wayanad village with betel nuts plants and coffee drying (1)

Sitting on this makeshift work desk (that’s actually a couch) on the ground floor of a home in Chitragiri village in Wayanad is a blessing. Maybe the Christian family who owns the place might say that Christ has bestowed this blessing upon us. A big white church stands on the opposite side of the road. It is called Saint George Church Chitragiri, if I am not wrong. Its large but narrow white facade bolts upright while the rest of the church sprawls behind. A tea plantation lies next door to the church. 

a couch with laptop and pillows and covers, my makeshift work desk in a guesthouse in Wayanad village kerala
my makeshift work desk, Wayanad village, Kerala

In our house, this house, or I must say, this building, the owner’s family stays upstairs. I guess they have more guest rooms on the second floor. Behind our house, which has two rooms, a hall, a kitchen, two bathrooms, more common area, is the dormitory which is unoccupied at the moment. The coffee and betel nut estate of the family is behind the building. Our porch leads onto the cement driveway which fronts the green estate. 

Here downstairs we are, our doors open to the lushness of this coffee district.

We have spent three nights in this home. Today is our fourth day. 

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Writing, Wild Dogs, and Whiskey in Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary

a mother and baby elephant crossing the calicut bangalore highway near muthanga wildlife sanctuary

Jungle Bliss in the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary, Kerala I’m in the forest guesthouse of Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary in the Wayanad district of Kerala, and I don’t want to leave here ever. There are many things for which I want to stay. The tranquility of the forest: the clear sky with a few clouds. The green …

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3 Years on the Road: Behind the Scenes

on the road 1 drying clothes on rolling mountains near a road himachal pradesh

36 Months as an Itinerant Writer: What It Means to Live On The Go Table of Content [TOC] Introduction January 5′ 2024 Bangalore Here I’m in a hotel in Bangalore, writing this narrative and wondering why I feel so cold and why am I so uninterested and unenthusiastic about everything. I have stayed in hotel rooms …

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A Serendipitous Stop in Karnataka Near Nandi Hills

feature oriental darter preening and sunbathing in a pond near nandi hills karnataka

Keeping Our Eyes Open to the Wonders of the World At times, we look around us, and everything moving or even inanimate strikes us as beautiful. Travel, for sure, helps me appreciate the new and the old. But it also opens my eyes to things I might have ignored otherwise. Though I lived for years …

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A Green Affair in Siliguri–Picking Tomatoes and Turnips

mobile tandoor for peanuts in siliguri city west bengal

Though I stayed in Siliguri, a city in West Bengal, for more than two months, I have not written a blog post on it, yet. The reason could be that I was busy with a creative writing project that took all my time. I was not venturing out a lot either. With my head down …

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Hardworking Indian Women: Stories From, Literally, The Road

an indian grocery seller woman looking for money in her purse by the roadside in pondicherry

Are Indian Women home-making or home-running? Let’s figure out.

Highway Fruit Seller, Maharashtra

Somewhere between Satpura National Park and Goa, the highway is fringed by women sitting on the pavement amidst baskets of fruits. It is a yellow afternoon. As my partner and I drive by, the vendors wave and call while wiping the rainbow of fruits with a cloth. Plump round guavas, large custard apples, sparkling oranges, red apples, pointy jujube, tight sapodillas, big pineapples—they have them all. Because they call, we don’t stop. But near a woman who is quietly wiping the pomegranates, I ask my partner to stop the car. 

“We could buy some,” I say.

He nods. “Sure.” What do you think we should get, is his question next. 

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The Sizzling Taj Mahal, Sweet Petha, and Sahir Ludhianvi [Episode 5]

admiring the taj mahal in bright daylight in agra

Please note: This narrative is the fifth in the series of travel essays on my Sikkim to Himachal highway journey. The rest are available on the blog. Staring at the Symmetrical Taj Mahal, Soaking in Sun, and Scuttering Away from Petha Sellers After the Lucknow food tour, we drove on to Agra (Uttar Pradesh). My …

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Lucknow Food Trail: Childhood Memories and a Miss and Hit of Expectations [Episode 4] 

the quint essential Uttar Pradesh tiki on a plate

Please note: This narrative is fourth in the series of travel essays on my Sikkim to Himachal highway journey. Read the First: Leaving Sikkim for Himachal, Second: The 500-km Drive Through Bihar — Corn Harvests, Marriage Certificate at Hotels, and Truck Slogans, and Third Episode: Arriving in UP at Midnight — an Eerie Expressway, a Suspicious Hotel Attendant, and a Missing Wheel-Cover, too.  

Also note: If I was a bit calmer — and perhaps had an ice cooler sticking to my head — I would have photographed it all. But for now, we would have to do with this photo-less food tour of Lucknow. I have added some photos downloaded from Google though.

The featured image is of a plate of tiki, taken at my parent’s home but purchased from a street food shop in the town. It is a quintessential UP photo, showing the tiki (though without chutneys) along with the Hindi Punjab Kesari, the everyman’s newspaper of my state.

My Home State Uttar Pradesh (UP) Has Moved On, But I Have Not

We were going to pass Lucknow on our way to Himachal (from Sikkim). So for that afternoon, we had planned a Lucknow food trail: not any guide, but we ourselves were taking us on an impromptu food tour through Lucknow. Neither had I been to the capital before nor did my partner S, and skipping the city’s quintessential delicacies to make it quickly to Himachal sounded like a lame excuse. 

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Arriving in UP at Midnight: An Eerie Expressway, A Suspicious Hotel Attendant, and a Missing Wheel-Cover [Episode 3]

driving through haryana sunflower fields used as feature image in driving through UP article

Please note: This narrative is the third in the series of travel essays on my Sikkim to Himachal highway journey. Read the First Episode: Leaving Sikkim for Himachal – Serendipity or Choice? and the Second: The 500-km Drive Through Bihar: Corn Harvests, Marriage Certificate at Hotels, and Truck Slogans, too. Can We Ever Feel Safe in Uttar Pradesh? …

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The 500-km Drive Through Bihar: Corn Harvests, Marriage Certificate at Hotels, and Truck Slogans [Episode 2]

two women farmers carrying loads on heads

Please note: This narrative is the second in the series of travel essays on my Sikkim to Himachal highway journey. Read the beginning of the journey here and the onwards drive to Uttar Pradesh here.

Driving Through Bihar: a Test of Our Unrelenting Spirit

Driving through the field-fringed Bihar highway — of which so much was under construction that we were mostly taking diversions — I sat with the car window open, feeling the wind on my face. Eighty’s English Rock played on the car stereo, and the promise of open hours on the road seemed as fertile as the green-yellow country extending to the horizon. 

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Leaving Sikkim for Himachal – Serendipity or Choice? [Episode 1]

our-village-home-in-sikkim-countryside-and-the-jungle-beyond

The Beginning of a 2000-km Road Journey

Please note: This narrative is the first in the series of travel essays on my Sikkim to Himachal highway journey.

After a night of bonfire in a Sikkim country homestay, in the morning, my partner S and I lay in bed, our legs tired from the past three days of aimless hiking with the family’s two dogs. We were deciding if we should do the three-hour trek we had thought of and, after it, drive Northeastward to Yuksom, a mountain town with multiple trails going around it. My mind was relinquishing Sikkim (before the countryside, we had lived in Gangtok for almost three months) and hinting at going to Himachal Pradesh, where we traveled for four months last to last year and would be more familiar with the surroundings and could work and be happy. We even had a Himachal home from our previous visit on our minds: it had two rooms, homemade food, and enough seclusion on a hill; work quietly or saunter in the mountains when you like. And I needed a place to bunker down to finish a large travel writing project; everything else was secondary (Recommended Read: how to achieve your goals).  

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Two Himalayan Girls Reminded Me of My Hard-Earned Freedom

a photo of me working in pine forests in chindi village in himachal pradesh himalayas

With the Village Girls of Himachal Pradesh, Contemplating Independence and Patriarchy

The government guesthouse in Chindi village in Himachal Pradesh was located on the brow of a hill. Below the guesthouse and further ahead and behind it, the village sprawled. 

After being checked in by dour caretakers who reluctantly left the shade of the sycamore tree, I went out the back gate into the forest. My partner S was in meetings. Descending a glade surrounded by pines, I crossed a dirty watering hole and came onto a trail. At the end of the track lay the narrow village mud path. Cows could be seen through the pine and cedars ahead. Pine needles had been swept into piles perhaps to be burned. Further down must be houses. 

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