Posts tagged traveler

Why You Can Do Better Than The Apple Village of Fagu, Himachal Pradesh

Fagu Himachal Pradesh — A Misty Apple Village Where Homestays Are More Commercial Than Hotels

 

Fagu wasn’t an underwhelming experience due to its location. I didn’t enjoy my stay in Fagu because of the extremely commercial attitude of the homestays in Fagu Himachal Pradesh.

Like in many small villages of Himachal, a traveler has to stick to homestays in a tiny place like Fagu. And I love staying in Indian homestays (and abroad too). For most of my travel life, I have been more than happy to know a host family and understand their way of life. Sometimes staying in a homestay could imply you have to talk and smile when you want to write quietly in a little corner. But everything comes at a price, and well, families function in their peculiar way. Isn’t travel all about embracing the unknown?

So far so good. But in this 2450-meter high apple village Fagu, homestays function at a breakneck speed.

Let me take you through my Fagu journey as it happened.

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Amazing Karnataka – From Ten Years of Travel

Timeless (And Best) Places to Visit in Karnataka India And All About the State — From a Local

I have spent six years (if not more) in Karnataka, spanning over a decade. And finally I’ve moved out (for the unempteenth time) to have a life on the road.

It seems yesterday when I had gone to Bangalore to work at a software company. Ten years ago, I wasn’t going to Karnataka. I was moving to Bangalore, the capital of the state and the software hub of India. This crowded city of Bangalore seemed like a state of its own. My local Kannada friends told me the city wasn’t so jammed and hotch-potched in their young days. They grew up cycling under the canopy of trees, taking the local bus, and spending time in parks. 

Since Bengaluru became the Silicon Valley of India, millions of employees and employers came to the city with their families. As the city wasn’t planned by any civic planner, it expanded in every direction in an unruly manner. Concomitantly, the infrastructure got so bad that everyone living in Bangalore wanted to go out to the places to visit in Karnataka rather than staying within the busy city.

But today I’m not here for Bangalore. Today I want to tell the story of Karnataka — the state of the jungles, so let me get to that quickly.

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Relishing Crunchy and Soft South Indian Dosas

A Colorful Introduction to South Indian Dosas

 

I love South Indian dosas, and I enjoy talking about these crispy crepes even more. You have to bear with me as this article on dosas in India will be long. Like my piece on some of the best visiting places in Karnataka.

 

What’s a Dosa?

Dosa is a thin crispy or soft savory crepe, sometimes it is even thick and soft like a pancake. Dosa could be rolled and stuffed or it might be plain and open — with all other variations not out of the scene. It is served with sambhar (a curry), chutneys, garlic-chilli powder (podi, also known as gunpowder among the uninitiated), and other paraphernalia. Though now dosas are eaten throughout India, and the world, they are still a staple only in South India.

 

masala dosa in chikmagalur town karnataka
A simple stuffed dosa with coconut chutney and sambhar served on banana leaf. Eaten somewhere in Karnataka.

 

plain dosa in bangalore karnataka
Plain crispy dosa served with coconut chutney and sambhar in Bangalore on a small roadside dosa joint. Filter coffee is a must with dosa.

 

Where Did Dosa Originate?

No one knows where the dosa — known as dosai in Tamil Nadu, dose (dough-sey) in Karnataka, and dosha in Kerala — originated. But the ancient Sangam literature of the Tamil area mentions dosa as early as the 1st century AD. As per Wikipedia, a dosa recipe is said to be found in Manasollasa, a 12th-century Sanskrit encyclopedia compiled by the Chalukya king Someshvara III of Karnataka. Originally the South Indian dosa is said to be of a softer and thicker form. But later in Karnataka, dose took a much crispier and thinner avatar.

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Hiking Down to the Leopard-Infested Gorge in Mehli Shimla

Memoirs of walking down to the ravine from the Mehli village in Shimla, Himachal Pradesh

 

I’m charged right now. As charged as I can be. I’m seated on dry pine needles and grass. A group of mosquitoes buzz in front of me. But I don’t care. For I’m listening to the sweetest sounds of chirping birds and the rhythmic music of freshwater falling on stones. We have driven to a jungle spot to work and write. There has been no power since morning in our remote stay in the mountains near Mashobra village of Shimla. Our village is probably called Gagal and it is near Mohanpur, that’s all I know about our whereabouts. Our host told us the electricians are fixing the cables and we would only get power by 5, maybe a bit before

It was only 2 pm. My Mac was at 18% and my husband’s Mac was discharged. He has a big release today so he needed electricity immediately. You know what he has done to ensure he never gets out of power? He has purchased a car charger that loads up electronics from the car battery. We are perfectly remote and nomadic in every sense.

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Loitering Around Shakrala (Mehli) Village, Shimla – In Photos

Memoirs of a Three-Week Stay in Mehli, Shimla

 

Himachal feels like home. 

Here I run with little children in their parents’ green fields. I almost join the lithe girls in their hop-scotch game. I explore every obscure path that can be (or cannot be) stepped on. Every tiny dhaba seems like a food stop. I never shake off the red-black curious beetles that embezzle my white-green Kashmiri kurta. Whistling thrush is my new loud neighbor (I won’t say friend for she hardly seems to care). I click and research the birds I see from the balcony of my one-bedroom guesthouse.

We are in the village of Mehli Shimla. (Later when we would tell the locals where all we had stayed in Himachal, they didn’t understand Mehli but recognized Shakrala, a village of rural Shimla under which Mehli falls, I guess). Mehli is our first stop on this indefinite Himachal Pradesh trip. 

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Can You Believe This Is Bangalore? (In Photos)

Unseen Bangalore Photos From a Plethora of Day Outings in Bangalore city.

 

These are not your usual Instagram Bangalore pictures.

My motive behind this piece on Bangalore images — which is really nothing but a collection of day outings in Bangalore — is to show real Bangalore. Not the cosmopolitan Bangalore city of the Manyata Tech Park, Cubbon Park, Forum Mall, and Koshy’s that every outsider like me knows. I wish to bring forward the old city, the city dense with flower shops, colorful food, coconut stalls, cycle hawkers, chaotic streets, and ubiquitous hot chips corners. Bangalore would be incomplete if we don’t mention its giant trees jutting out of buildings and breaking out of concrete roads, multicolored Hindu temples with a cornucopia of deity sculptures towering above, the most random stuff being sold in bazaar shops, old-style South Indian dosa joints authentic to their practices even 100 years later, and the feeling of the night during the day when thick Bangalore clouds threaten the residents way more than they would like.

In this essay of Bangalore photos, I share moments that have sparsely studded almost ten years of my life. Starting in 2010, I arrived in and left Bangalore so many times I won’t dare to count my shift outs. Irrespective of how much I wanted to let go of the city, Bangalore (and karnataka state) didn’t leave me, not so soon.

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Homestays in India – Pros and Cons, Tips, and Tried Homes

Finding Cozy, Green, and Affordable Indian Homestays With Amicable Hosts For Short and Long Stays

 

I wrote in detail on homestays in India in this recent piece on accommodations in India. I won’t repeat all I said there about Indian homestays, but I would share my experience of traveling in India and staying in different places. 

I’ve been living in India for more than thirty years(I’m an Indian), but I’ve also been traveling in India for about 18 years. My journey started with living in paying guest houses across Rajasthan when I was 15. Then I spent four years in a girls hostel in Delhi, followed by a short stay in a shared Mumbai apartment. Finally I shifted to living full-time in Bangalore, Pune, and Delhi homes. 

Those were my engineering and corporate years. In between, I traveled within India and experimented with various kinds of stays(both with friends and alone). Now I travel full-time. After putting up at hotels, resorts, hostels, paying guests, serviced apartments, I often choose Indian home stays over other guesthouses. 

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My Journey With Street Food of Malaysia – A Photo Essay

A narrative photo essay on street food in Malaysia

 

Eating Street Food of Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur

My experience with the street food of Malaysia began in Kuala Lumpur(KL). I arrived late at night in KL. I had chosen a hostel close to Chinatown to eat there as often as I can. I checked in the Travel Hub guesthouse and took a bed in a female dorm. 

A long transit from Bali to Malaysia had left me famished. Overeating has been my die-hard habit. Now I try to eat less for a healthy and sustained living. But then, I gorged on traditional Malaysian food without a thought. I don’t like to overthink calories when I travel. Who would?

From being baffled by the cornucopia of Malaysian cuisines, restaurants, and dishes to knowing where and what exactly I wanted to eat, I had a long rendezvous with the Malaysian food. This food memoir is my attempt to recreate my month-long food journey in Malaysia.

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Accommodations in India – Lodging Tips From a Local

Indian Lodging Tips: How to find good, affordable, and clean guest houses in India

 

Finding good guest houses in India could be as chance-based as cracking a lottery. Amongst the many variables that might work for against you finding a comfortable Indian lodging are location, pricing, facilities, cleanliness, linen and towels, water taps, mosquitoes, cockroaches, (noisy) fans, parking, host and the service staff, their culture, relationship between the guests, and the geography.

In this guide to finding good accommodations in India, I also take you through the history of travel and lodging in India. Because without knowing the evolution of travel in India we can’t understand the current Indian hospitality industry.

Pro Tip: Also read my guide to finding Indian homestays. The article has in-depth information on Indian homestay culture.

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Dee Doke Waterfall – Turquoise Journeys in Burma

From Mandalay to Dee Doke Waterfall

 

Should I share or hide? While deciding whether I should write about the Dee Doke waterfall, I’ve become more conscious of my responsibilities as a travel blogger.

Dee Doke is a remote and uncrowded waterfall because most people don’t know about it. But if I talk about the Dee Doke falls, more travelers will go there. But would all those visitors keep the place clean and serene, as it is now?

I can only request and rest is upto the people, up to you guys. If I show you some pictures of these turquoise falls, tell you they are about an hour and a half scenic drive away from Mandalay, and the waterfalls are mostly empty, you would want to rush to Dee Doke or Dee Dote, as locals call it. It’s a fair request.

I also went to Dee Doke because I discovered Myanmar travel blogs that suggested me to visit this stunning waterfall. I had an amazing day driving from Mandalay and then swimming in the Dee Dote blue lagoons. So I’m thankful to those travel writers.

I’m just returning the favor now. I only ask for not playing music on speakers there or leaving garbage behind. That’s all. I know you would be good and respectful.

Let’s go then.

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A Stunning Sunset at Mandalay’s Irrawaddy River

A Myanmar Sunset on the banks of the Irrawaddy River, Mandalay

I saw one of the most ethereal sunsets of my life on the banks of the Irrawaddy River in Mandalay. That Myanmar sunset was enough to convince me to wake up before 5 every morning for my twenty day trip in Burma.

It was the last day of 2019. My friend and I had just spent the day roaming around Mandalay ruins, discovering pagodas and ancient temples in the historic town of Innwa, and strolling around Innwa villages. There was a hot pot lunch in between at a place called the Little Panda Hotpot and BBQ Buffet. It wasn’t one of my brightest ideas to stop for a hot pot when we had hired an auto-rickshaw to show us around Mandalay. But the kind driver waited patiently for an hour. Also, I could not be blamed for the do-it-yourself hotpot for I didn’t know the restaurant would ask us to grill and cook everything ourselves without even helping us light the fire under our wok. Let us blame everything on the language barrier.

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Blunders I Made as a Novice Traveler – Backpacking Tips Included

My Backpacking Journey: Mistakes, Learnings, and Tips for New Travelers

 

Dreaming About Backpacking: A Wannabe Beginner Backpacker

 

My first solo international travel was a two-week trip around France and the UK in 2012. 

I don’t know why, but I had this urge to be a backpacker on that short journey. India was not high on the backpacking lifestyle then, and not so much even now. So I assume I had been influenced by the foreign backpackers roaming around Connaught Place and the Janpath market in New Delhi. Refusing the advances of the beggars and the hagglers, the travelers strode on. In that ten-minute walk from the Rajiv Gandhi metro station to my office on Janpath, I was transported from the billowing metro crowd to the cosmopolitan Janpath life to my corporate day enclosed within 500 square meters. The free travelers swaying along with their red and blue backpacks mesmerized me.

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