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free dissertation proposal sample

November 15, 2017

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Travel Junket

SOLITARY REJUVENATION: 4 DAYS IN RANTHAMBORE NATIONAL PARK

July 12, 2017

Ranthambore used to be the hunting ground for Maharajas of Jaipur. It was in the early 1980s that the Project Tiger Reserve was brought into an act to protect the depleting number of tigers. Located in the district of Sawai Madhopur, Ranthambore NP is spread across approximately 1335 sq. km. and is categorized as the Temperate Deciduous Forest.

Rajasthan’s Ranthambore National Park is widely renowned for its Bengal Tigers. It is also home to many other wild species such as Leopards, Striped Hyenas, Hanuman Langurs, Gharial Crocodile, Sambar Deer, Nilgai, Black Bucks, Jungle Cats, Macaques and more.

Apart from attracting wildlife lovers, it is also a place to explore the history of the pictorial ruins. The famous landmarks around Sawai Madhopur are Jogi Mahal, the Ranthambore Fort, the Pali Ghat and the Museum of Natural History.

DAY 1: WILDLIFE SAFARI

When in Ranthambore National Park, take the Tiger trail of course. Get up at 5 in the morning to take the first safari at 6 am.

I prefer going to the RTDC or ticket center to get my jeep/canter safari than being picked up at the hotel. This way you get to choose your seat. For me, it is always the front seat with the driver as I get to hear about stories the guide would tell about his job and wildlife.

Safari:

Our first day was rather lucky and we spotted a tiger as soon as we entered the forest area. We were taken to zone 1 that adjoined the entrance where Ustad; (also known as T24) who weighed 250 kgs was taking a nap. According to Ved Vyas, a very experienced guide, T4 had just taken his meal and was going to sleep for many hours at the very place it was then.

He was not wrong. We clicked pictures for almost an hour and Ustad had not moved. There was a long queue of canters behind us and yet the very carefree T24 slept near the lake. In the meantime, Ved Vyas told me more about Ustad; like how he became a man-eater and how he had become an aggressive tiger in the past few months.

We moved on. We went past the jungle and spotted an eagle and a tiny baby alligator. Ved Vyas told me more about the flora and fauna of the jungle. And our safari was done there.

Next, we waited for our afternoon safari.

TIP: Take as many safaris as you could during all the time you are there. There is a lot to spot in the forest that you have not seen before; like the various species of birds, animals and the biodiverse flora.

DAY 2: WILDLIFE SAFARI AND MUSEUM

 This park is divided into 10 zones of which Zone 1 – Zone 6 is open for public and zone 7- zone 10 are only open during peak season. There are no best zones or Tiger favorable zones. So, do not travel with the intention to spot a tiger; if it is meant to be you will see one.

Safari:

Next day, I had the chance to take the route 4 and we roamed in the jungle for few minutes. After spotting few birds, deer, and a nilgai, we took a stop amidst the jungle. The driver heard calls.

It was the monkeys. I was talking to my guide and he heard it too, informing me about it. While we were talking, the guide saw a leopard and he quickly showed me the spot.

It was too fast. Before I could take in the moment, the leopard had long gone in the grass region. I could only see it for 5-6 seconds though it was all worth it.

Ranthambore also home to migratory birds and other species like Graylag Goose, Indian Gray Hornbills, Asian Palm Swift, Owls, Bee-eaters, Nightjars and much more. I got to know this from my guide and he insisted I must go to the museum for more information.

Rajiv Gandhi Museum of Natural History:

After the morning safari, I headed to the Rajiv Gandhi Regional Museum of Natural History. It is one of the finest museums that depicts awareness in wildlife and the diverse life on earth. It has a library with 10,000 books on wildlife and nature. One is free to read the book for as long as one wants.

Most people coming here are the students and teachers of Rajasthan and around for educational trips. When I visited this museum, it was half done. But the information that it held was very informative.

Interesting facts like the difference between a national park, a sanctuary, and a forest reserve; the total number of national parks in India, the number of endangered/extinct animals/birds and the anatomy of mammals like hyenas, leopards, tigers, lions and other animals was my favorite part.

DAY 3: WILDLIFE SAFARI AND CHAMBAL RIVER

Safari:

This morning I did my last safari opting for zone 2. It was darker compared to rest of my morning safaris. We entered the gate and we roamed in the forest for almost 40 minutes before we stopped at Jogi Mahal. Absolutely nothing was spotted. Though I don’t give up hope until the time we are out of the gate.

Not all days are same. The last safari didn’t show us anything. It was November and the winters had not hit the city already. But today, the weather was cold and dark. It was so difficult to concentrate on spotting anything at all. My next destination was the Chambal River where one can spot the Gharial, also known as the Gavial; the fish-eating crocodile.

Chambal River:

I made a friend on the safari. Turned out we were together in school but never spoke. So, this friend of mine was a wildlife enthusiast and he recommended a river safari to Chambal river. He was planning to do it anyway, so he asked me and I could not even think twice.

So as soon as we finished our safari, we went to our hotels and got ready for our next leg. The Chambal river we were visiting was called Pali Ghat and was a part of the Chambal Sanctuary which is popular for gharial safari. The Chambal river connects two states of India; Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.

It was about 90 minutes’ drive to this spot. The way from Sawai Madhopur to Chambal river was very promising. Thanks to the wintery weather the drive were full of fun. And my friend had a plethora of wildlife information.

We reached around noon. This spot didn’t look like it hosted river safaris. Though there was a small cabin that was labeled “Office”. A man stood there waiting for us to go to him. We enquired; he was the guide who was apparently going to take us on the safari.

The safari cost around INR 3000 and we were only two people. Though INR 3000 is not a big amount we tried to bargain. Finally, we settled on INR 600 for two people. He put us in a motorboat and we sailed for almost 20 minutes when we spotted six Gharials in a row. Our guide was quite knowledgeable and he informed us about the various migratory birds that visit the Pali Ghat. He also showed us a pod of dolphins playing in the river. It was unbelievable to watch dolphins in a river that look like just a waterbody passing through some villages.

We returned after 2 hours and this has been an incredible safari. There was so much to talk on our way back and we ended up having the best time of life.

DAY 4: WILDLIFE SAFARI, FORTS & TEMPLES

 Safari:

Last day was saved for morning and noon safaris. I planned to stay indoors as it got blazing unlike the day before. But after our morning safari, I changed my mind.

Ranthambore Fort And Ganesh Temple:

Amongst one of the six forts included in the World Heritage Site from Rajasthan, Ranthambore Fort falls right inside the jungle. It is well known for the bravery of the then king Hammir Dev of the Chauhan Dynasty. Most of the time, guides are available to show you around.

It stands up high on a hill. One must climb 200 steps to reach. It is mostly in ruins but if you observe closely there is a lot you will see. It will take up your whole noon if you have a guide and if you fancy knowing the history. It is spread across seven to eight kilometers with incredible vistas and landscape.

The Ganesh Temple is right inside the fort. It is believed that there were 25 temples and 1 mosque inside the fort. This is an ancient temple and attracts a lot of devotees during festivals. It is best to witness this impregnable architecture with your own eyes and be awed.

Travel Junket

Jungle Jaunt: Trip to Jim Corbett

April 3, 2015

I was in Delhi, bidding farewell to my best friends before leaving for the US of A. Due to fog conditions, my flight had been canceled (not delayed) and I had 72 hours to spend before I leave. So without thinking twice, we were on a trip to Jim Corbett National Park. (Was dying to go there for years but no luck.)

Dumping all my bags, convincing aunty, making train reservations and ordering a quick cab; we hurried to Old Delhi Railway station. Me and my besties. Catching the running train, we took our seats. And as we settled down, we mocked ourselves and laughed at this impromptu plan of ours.

The train started catching speed, I melted down in the tranquil expanse of my thoughts. I was imagining fresh forest views, many shades of green, tiger spotting and an unexpected meet with my fav big cat, leopard.  It was 20.00 hours when we reached Ramnagar railway station and the temperature was 12 degrees. Freaking cold for people from Mumbai. It was pitch black outside. A queue of auto-wallahs crowded us to check where we were put up. After making a call to the hotel and inquiring on the auto fares, we settled down for INR 120.

We were headed to Corbett Jungle Treasure which was located in Dhikuli village; approx 30 minutes from the station. I was already mesmerized by the bucolic beauty that surrounded the whole of Ramnagar. The road was enveloped with thin and thick layers of trees on both sides. The beautiful cacophony of cricket/grasshopper/frog sounds at night and the vrooming auto was music to my ears that enraptured the ride. And the frenzied cold breeze hit my face with an unusual satisfaction. The satisfaction of being in a jungle with the best people I know.

We reached the hotel in exact thirty minutes and completed the check-in formalities. Famished as we were, the food that had been served to us was devoured in minutes. We were up the whole night discussing our upcoming venture that started at 06.30 hours sharp. When the time was, we were ready for the safari pick up.

Out of nowhere, we heard a sound. A thrilling laughing sound. It was coming closer. I quickly ran to the door and opened it. My friends joined me. Suddenly there was a howl. When we looked in the direction, we saw a pair of eyes. Then we saw two more pairs. That was our first spotting. We did not know what it was but I was super excited already. My friends thought I was crazy. Though they knew how badly I was in love with the wildlife.

Our pick up jeep arrived 15 minutes earlier. It was 06.15.  The driver (forgot the name) got us girls on the back seat and my guy friend on the front seat. The gypsy cover was getting on our heads and I was irritated because I did not want to miss the countrified road that led us to the park gate. The chacha made me understand that it was one hour from the hotel and that we could catch a cold. But it pissed me off; the cover that closed my morning view of this beautiful village. We reached the gate at 07.05. And chacha opened up the cover. It WAS cold. After taking the vehicle permit, we were ready to enter the gate.

I started looking for spots. The only thing that didn’t click with me was the fog. We could not see what was 10 yards away from us. Well, after getting in the deep, there was a plain land, where we spotted tuskers. It seemed like they were real hungry as they bashed the stacks of hay on the ground and again picking it up on their trunk. Going two minutes ahead, there was an elephant right in the bushes. That was the closest encounter. After driving in the deep for 30 minutes, we saw a fish eagle, an owlet, hog deer and two sambars.  Venturing ahead chacha spotted a fresh pugmark. We followed the direction; though the fog screwed everything for us.

We were aware there was nothing we could spot so we stuck to our idea of exploring the jungle for nature’s sake. And it was too cold for us to concentrate on anything else. We climbed the watch tower. We took a break at a river spot (which was fogged too) and it was time for us to be out. On the way, I described the sound/howl we had heard to chacha. He confidently claimed it to be a wolf. While telling us, and exiting the gate, the guide who had joined later spotted a pack of wolves sleeping on a large rock on the right. It was very difficult to spot at first as most of them were asleep. Though I got to see one of them when it moved. We exited.

On the way, chacha stopped by a village for some chai (tea) and it was then when we discussed more information on safari rides and spotting animals with chacha. He was very informative. I made up my mind to re-visit the park once I am back. I shared my previous pictures of wildlife with chacha and he strongly insisted me to drop by in summer when the wildlife is more active.

We returned to the hotel.  It was in the morning that we realized we had a room with a view. A clear blue river running past the rocks and mountains sitting in the background. It was serene. We followed the path and went straight down. I loaded my camera and took the instructed pictures of the river and mountains and us. The sight of a generous dollop of butter melting away on steaming brown hot parathas delights my palate like no burger or pizza can. We ate a hearty breakfast and some more tea.

It was decided at breakfast to either take an elephant safari and skip the museum or vice versa. My wildlife impaired friends dislike the idea of the museum and I was keen on visiting it as I knew the fog would kill our enthusiasm one more time. Finally, we took a shared cab for Jim Corbett Museum and the same cab dropped us at the Ramnagar bus depot. We inquired the timing and the first bus was leaving in twenty minutes. We took our seats. Each of us silent and lost in thoughts. I don’t know about my friends but I was thinking of returning back with more time on hand.

  The engine started and the bus drove us. Breathing in the rustic flavor of rural India and the serenity stirred my soul. We took the road to Delhi via Moradabad. The road had a single lane and was claimed as a state highway; though it was a fabulous ride. It took routes through many villages and towns. We were hungry again. The bus took a halt at Moradabad bus depot where we gorged in delicious hot boiled eggs with green chutney. This was a delicacy in Moradabad. Sohil bought us some ‘gajar ka halwa’ out of nowhere and we were delighted to have it. This was our best trip till date.

We reached back home at 2200 hours. It took us 10 hours. So the conclusion is visiting Jim Corbett is a must once in a lifetime. And make sure you let the winter pass to avoid fog. But if you have to visit during winters, you can always opt for afternoon rides or elephant rides. Both are equally promising.

PS – The safari is INR 500/gypsy only. (Our safari cost was included in the hotel bill.)

 

Travel Junket

Streak of Luck: Sasan at Sunrise!!

November 11, 2014

This trip came out to be the one that will go down in history as our “absolute favorite” to date! As many wildlife weekends as we have spent in the car, this proved to be the most dramatic. It was not the 1st time we had ventured out in a National Park or a campsite without any plans, reservations or the fun we were about to have! Man, they were right when they said – “you must head out with only wildlife on your mind”!

Gir National Park is one of the clinquant jewels in the crowns of India’s other popular National Parks. This is the only place in India where one can witness the beauty of the simplistic yet glorious jungle cat of the “Leo Panthera Persica” genus; the Asiatic Lion. Enriched with an impressive number of birds and mammals, Gir forest is also an important biological research area that provides 5 million kgs of green grass in annual harvesting.

So we hit the road around 20.00 hours to start our journey of approximate 390 km and our aim was to reach before sunrise. We were well fed and so was the vehicle. Our decision of taking a quick halt at “Velavadar Blackbuck Sanctuary” was perfectly timed. When we reach there, we heard a voice that, at first, we did not know was playing with us. We drove about a kilometer towards the sanctuary and parked the car. The voice still continued. Finally, I took my torch out to check what it was. It was a tiny creature running to the left as soon as we caught it in the torchlight.

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We could only see the eyes but it kept caterwauling. From our past experiences, we decided it was a civet or a wild cat as these animals are tiny and only come out in the cover of darkness. The darkness, silence and sudden spotting of a pair of eyes tempted us to follow the road deep inside. We tried getting in there; however, we changed our mind and took a u-turn, only to thank ourselves later. As we were taking a u-turn to carry forward the journey, we saw three men coming from nowhere with sticks. The problem with these men was not that they might harm us but was that they might have seen us throwing lights in the field, which is illicit. So we quickly got inside the car and started driving away. They were so close, though we made it and left the place.

The darkness, silence and sudden spotting of a pair of eyes tempted us to follow the road deep inside. We tried getting in there; however, we changed our mind and took a u-turn, only to thank ourselves later. As we were taking a u-turn to carry forward the journey, we saw three men coming from nowhere with sticks. The problem with these men was not that they might harm us but was that they might have seen us throwing lights in the field, which is illicit. So we quickly got inside the car and started driving away. They were so close, though we made it and left the place.

We were heading to Dhari via Shihor, Samadhiyala, Gariyadhar and Sawarkundla. To our surprise, the entire route was enveloped with thin forest. We were on a consistent look-out for CNG pumps and our last fill was located at a very unusual yet bright place near Shihor. Following the Palitana-Gariyadhar highway, we were getting close to our destination.

Unanticipatedly, we again spotted a pair of eyes right in the middle of the road. It was seated and started moving in the fields as soon as the car headlights fell on it. We quickly found the torch and threw lights, followed the luminous eyes and discovered that it was a baby fox, a very handsome  baby fox. It was looking right at us, going deep in the fields, stopping in intervals, looking behind at us and finally vanishing in the darkness. This was an unexpected moment of excitement. Happy as we were, we followed the path. (Below are some pics, not very clear)

sasanAs we moved ahead, a notably awakened village welcomed us at 03.00 hours. As we took turns to again move on to the main road, we saw a tea-shop. It was brightly lit with three freshly bathed men who were worshipping their deities. We asked for directions and tea. We got both. The tea was strong yet toasty in the right amount, the one we need to stay awake. (pic- above)

Following the directions, we kept driving on the same highway, passing sparse forest passage every now and then and it was 06.00 hours when we were almost there. We were at the Dhari-Amreli highway. By 07.30 we reached the Dhari gate. The watchman seemingly stopped us as the gate entry started at 08.00 hours.

We were aware of that fact. We parked the car on the side, freshened up and tried to make rapport with the watchman. He was a medium size guy in his late 40s or early 50s. There was a roar, which I missed. My friend drew me close and I shuuushed. The roar ended in few seconds but it was worth all the hours we spent driving that night. Our hopes rose. We eagerly were waiting for the time to tick off 08.00.

collageIt was 07.50 when the watchman told us that we can get inside. We ran to the car all in anticipation. The roar had come from the left side in a kilometers range. The sun was right in our head and all we could see were the rays and rolling terrains of fully grown dried grass. 10 minutes inside the jungle and nothing seen. Just ahead of us, on the left was a man on a bike at a standstill.

Before we could ask him why he stood there my friend spotted a lioness that came from the right. She waited for two seconds and continued going in the deep to its left. Thrilled as we were, we didn’t speak a word for a minute. And as we started going ahead, yet another lion was spotted. This time it was at 10 yards away, walking in the middle of the road, straight towards us. Even before we could embrace this, I spotted yet another lioness.

FotorCreatedThe lioness that came out from the deep walked towards our car, waited, watched us and started walking towards the lion. The approaching lion sat in the middle of the road. And in another second the lioness sat too. Few minutes passed and once more there was a roar. Both the lions glanced in that direction, then towards each other, stood up and finally walked away in the deep.

It was a real breathtaking moment and we were overwhelmed. I was in the middle of nature’s spectacular creations feeling alive like never before; the feeling no one can take away from me.

photo (1)

Travel Junket

A DAY IN MELBOURNE: MY DREAMSTORY

September 11, 2012

There I was, sitting in a café at 0900 hrs. A beautiful morning arrayed with contentment that prevailed from the soul. This place in Balaclava (just outside the station) was called Las Chicas. Breathing in the fresh air and drinking in the urban morning vistas, I decided to order the Australian breakfast.

My earlier experience with cafés has been restricted to Mocha-chillos and Cappuccinos. This café was unaccustomed. The happy and friendly staff came to take my order. I sojourned. Without looking at the menu, I ordered an omelet with shallots and a double Espresso to go with. This pretty girl (taking my order) stood by me and smiled. I smiled in return. She sibilated something in my ears. I smiled – this time widely. She let the “carte du jour” lay on the table and left. I later noticed the breakfast section of this menu was really long (4 pages).

I always fancied sitting at a street café, with my own company, and writing an article on the place I was exploring. Well, I hardly had a week to enjoy my vacation in Melbourne, so writing was not on the to-do lists for this week. Lonely Planets Melbourne guide was properly placed in my 2-compartment duffle bag. I had bought it when I had my tickets to Melbourne in my hand.

I now said to myself in mind – “Yes, it’s time to visit Melbourne NOW!” I took the book out and started planning my next destination. I hadn’t exactly planned the day. I had a friend coming from Caulfield Suburb to meet me. She was clearly late but coming from India, I was not as much surprised.

Here she was. Aaliah was a Model coordinator and I knew her since my first day in Mumbai. When she smiled her eyes lit up and the dimples in her cheek went deep inside. The devilish smile had made many heads turned during our college time. Straightway hugging me she started apologizing for being late.

I was just too content to get this cozy and warm hug in a foreign land. We took the Sandringham line and headed to Flinders Street Station. I had requested to travel by public transport and hence the train travel took place.Getting down at Flinders street, we quickly rushed to Platform 2. A train already stood there. We boarded it. Our next destination was Lilydale.

Aaliah announced that she had planned a Hot-Balloon ride in the Yarra valley. She described her first experience of the hot balloon ride and I knew I had to take up this adventure. We chatted about the times we traveled by Mumbai locals and the difference in the Melbourne trains. Our journey did not after getting down at Lilydale station. Coming up was a bus ride to Healesville. Bus no. 685 came after 30 minutes of waiting. I was exhausted already. We got down at Yarra glen.

 

A six-minute drive and I were in this huge landscape that created a deck of splendid colors. The physical beauty of this place was priceless and the drive of one hour 20 minutes was already forgotten. The climate in the valley was cool. No wonder, special wines are produced here. We waited at the Yarra Glen café where many other people waited for their turn to get on the hot air balloon.

Aaliah had arranged a package of hot air ballooning and wine testing with some travel company. I was still absorbing the fact that all this was really happening. It was our turn to get on the hot air balloon. It took the flight and there I was – breathing the freshness of beauty with contentment. We traveled over the greens and the curves. The view was as rural as it was urbane.

Everybody started clicking. So did we. We floated for exact 56 minutes. A view of Melbourne city and the Yarra River from above was what really made me go weak. I loved this place. I felt a connection. The words of the pretty lady at Las Chicas café suddenly struck my mind – “Welcome to Australia”, she had said. And once again I had a wide smile.

We got down the balloon and a cute guy came to pick us up for a winery drive. He was our guide for the day. We ate some snacks and continued the tour. Starting from the Cellar door to Balgownie Estate, Yering Farm, and Domaine Chandon, we emerged from the tasting room to the ecstatic views. After a wholesome lunch and a glass of Chardonnay at De Bortoli winery, we headed back home.

Aaliah had to fill up some exam forms and had to go to her university. And I decided to go with her. The University Of Melbourne was next. We took a train from Lilydale via Ringwood to reach UOM. It took us one hour.

The university was located in Parkville. And its campus was vast. From far away, it looked like I was entering a chapter from Harry Potter’s School Hogwarts. I was intoxicated with the beauty and the number of international students studying there. Asians were seen everywhere. There were cafes, shops, cd stores, libraries, clothing stores and much more. I already felt like taking up some course for studying at the University of Melbourne. The staff was very welcoming and responded to all my queries with interest. I was aware of the campus tour that UOM provided but I was too late to take the tour. It was 6 in the evening when Aaliah was done with her work and we were now starving.

 

I was put up in a beachfront serviced apartment in St.Kilda. (Aaliah stayed with her roomies). She came to drop me at St Kilda. I had seen a food-truck named Baba Louey in the morning and enquired about it. Aaliah took me there. We ordered some stir-fried seafood, chicken curry and sticky rice with beer. All under $50 for two. Half of my dream had come true today. Aaliah had to leave now. She was taking a tram to Caulfield Suburb.

I was tired however I still had loads to explore. I walked around the colorful and painted small lanes. I was clearly lost. I had reached some “Elephant and Wheelbarrow pub”. It was a pretty attractive name and I saw myself heading straight in. Sitting at the counter I went through the entire menu and ordered a sparkling wine; Yellow Piccolos (lemon serbet with clean refreshing palate).

In my entire life, I hadn’t eaten alone. Melbourne lifted me out of my pigeon-hole. And today I was drinking in my own company; all delighted. Next was the Spy Valley Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc that was recommended by Oscar – the bartender. He gave out the recipe, ingredients, and history of this white wine. He also flamed and juggled the wine bottles for me.

I took a cab and rode to my rented apartment. I lay down on the bed. My eyes soaked in drinks and dreams. My legs hurt but I was too happy to be in Melbourne. I was taking away unforgettable memories filled with serenity.

Travel Junket

Sun, Sand, Surf & Solace : Langkawi

June 5, 2012

A whiff of fresh air and a dazzling sunny day greeted me warmly as soon as we came out of the Langkawi Airport. Although the temperature announced by the pilot said 32 degrees, it felt really hot after being congealed by Vadodara’s winters. We wondered if it would remain this hot throughout our journey.

On my way to the hotel, almost an hour’s drive, I enjoyed the lovely sight and scenic boulevards along the way. By the time I reached my hotel Holiday villa beach resorts, I knew that Langkawi would be like relaxing on the beaches, loads of water sports and yummy seafood to try.

 

My tour began with an awesome room being allocated to me. We were totally jet- lagged after waiting 4 hours at KL airport early morning to catch our next flight. We knew the moment we entered the room that we were gonna fall asleep fast. We slept. We were up in 4 hours and felt fresh already. Too excited to explore, we hit the beach. The way to the beach was simply awesome. Green lush trees, pebbles, swimming pool, bar and lovely weather made it perfect. I witnessed, absorbed and captured everything that this beautiful island Langkawi had to offer.

 

On the Beach:

Yes, the best part of visiting any island is obviously hitting the beach. Our hotel had a private beach which meant we could have the entire bay to ourselves. Fewer travelers in Langkawi came as a lil surprise but it only made up for an awesome beach experience.  Trailing bare toes on the beach; I and my friends planned the day.  As we walked down the bay, our footprints trailed in the warm sand. It was the most beautiful locale; the tranquil sea, the private beach, the wet sand, the warm sun and eagles fluttering above us.

People were jet-skiing and parasailing. And we didn’t want to be left out. So we first went jet-skiing. Mine was not the first time. Yamaha jet-skis floated on the water. A friend took a test ride and we settled on it. 3 jet-skis and 5 friends; we went past the rough waters to the small island that we had seen from the beach. We raced and we skied. After 10 minutes of riding, I took the front seat to ride the jet-ski and it was indeed a thrilling experience. We rode for 30 full minutes. Fewer people and offseason had made us happier. It was getting dark and para-sailing had to wait until the next day.

Wooden benches lay on the shore with huge umbrellas fitted. We settled down and ordered some beer. Sipping cold beer we sat staring at the beach. I felt as if the waves knew what I was thinking and was responding musically. My thoughts enveloped by the serenity of nature.

We walked back to the hotel. On the way to the swimming pool was also a Jacuzzi. We all jumped in with excitement, ordered some more beers and vodka shots. We lay lazily in the hot tub chit chatting and letting the darkness take over us.

We got out. Changed clothes. And hit the beachside bar and restaurant. We had some tiger prawns and grilled fish. First day had ended soon. I lay down on the beach gazing at the stars thinking of this quote that perfectly described my mind right now –

“For whatever you lose (like a you or a me) it’s always ourselves we find in the sea”.

At the Spa:

Last day’s beach fun had left us all tired and lousy. Coming up next was Spa. Traditional Hair Cream Bath spa was my selection which was 1 hour long. It was a traditional deep conditioning treatment to moisturize hair including hand and neck massage to sooth and relieve stress.

I closed my eyes, stopped thinking and just felt. The light movement of the masseuse’s hands on the neck relaxed the hell outta me. The dripping cream in the head was soothing cool. Each sense of my body was falling asleep. Her hands smoothly slid on my neck and shoulders, kneading my toughened muscles and rubbing away the strain off. The sound of the island waves thrumming in the background chimed clearly in my ears. I lay there winding down self in a pampering luxury for a long-term fix for muscle pain. I was all rejuvenated and the spa was my rehab. My massage ended and as I headed for a shower, a splash of happiness intoxicated my face. I was about to leave when the masseuse offered me a glass of wine. I hesitated first; however, she told me a glass of wine maketh a beautiful day end well. I accepted and sat at the beachfront, sipping wine, waiting for others to finish.

 

 

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Travel Junket

Mumbai city – The Queen of India.

May 18, 2012

Mumbai – the bewitching queen of India still offers true seekers the chance to unravel their mysteries. In the local language Hindi; Mumbai is also known as Mayanagari meaning the mystical city.

Sitting on the parapet, wind blowing on my face, wide-open space and enjoying the beautiful sea-calmness; this was Marine Drive at 0200 hours (also known as, Queen’s Necklace.) I thought I finally understood why people over the decades had exaggerated the intoxicated appeal of Mumbai. I heart Mumbai. This ain’t just a sentence. This is one emotion that envelopes on you when you walk down the roads of Mumbai, saunter around at the Linking Road or brush past the sweat in Locals.

 I still remember the day I first stepped in Mumbai. I hated the fact that I had left my friends and hometown only to shift to other city – and hence I hated Mumbai too. After an over-night journey from Vadodara, me and my family reached Mumbai. At 0500 hours, this city looked fresh to my eyes. People travelling in the Locals of Mumbai at this hour came as surprise to me. They were office-goers, fisher women, college students and most of them, people like me, who had travelled from a different city/state to come to Mumbai. We got down from the train and hired a taxi.

Commuting on the streets of Mumbai, I was absorbed in its serenity. Up till now, there are no words to describe the morning picture of Mumbai. Magnificent buildings rose high. The leaves on the trees lay still in silence. The newspaper vendors in a group distributed their work. People waited on the bus-stops. The aura of freshness and a new feeling. Yes, a new feeling – the feeling that attracted me instantly to like this place – Mumbai.

Today was my last day. Leaving Mumbai was as difficult as nailing jelly to a tree. A flashback of Life played in my mind piece by piece. I could vision all the years I spent here like a rolling film. There was ME walking alone on the streets of Lokhandwala in happy pride. There was ME with my building friends playing in the compound, remembering those friends whom I now missed very much and were not in touch. There was ME with my first day at College and how happy I had felt making new friends. The attendance, the bunking, the birthday parties, the college fest. It all came in line. There was ME getting my first job with a MNC. A sense of achievement at a younger age. Life had suddenly changed after my first job. There was entry of my Best Friends. How I had met them and never thought to be so close to them. They were here; besides me and today I still felt lonely. Tear rolling down my right eye; I hold my friends tight and told them – NO, I can’t go. Everything was changing. But the smell of Mumbai is still the same like my first day here.

 

 

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Travel Junket

Wilderness Visited – Bandhavgarh

May 3, 2012

There was a sound. Babble of waterway or breeze passing the trees? Maybe a little of both. I lay in the Government rest house room wondering when the eagle’s call woke me up. With the wilderness just few meters away, I was pretty excited to start my first ride towards the wildlife. The morning safari was full and so I awaited the noon safari.

It was a chilly December noon. I took a close look at the surroundings. Bandhavgarh was dense. I called for help when I saw a huge bird with many colors. The caretaker (Chatur) came rushing and whispered – Kya hua madam?? (What happened madam?). I pointed my finger up without saying anything. He laughed – Vo to haanbil hai. My friend came and explained me that it was a Hornbill. It was my first time. This bird was really huge. It had a beautiful beak and many colors over it.

An open gypsy was hired. After passing through few lakes and spotting few elephants, we decided to move towards the top of the hill. The driver (Gulab) stopped unexpectedly. He asked us to keep pin-drop silence while pointing one finger on his lips and the other down the hill. A silky brown creature was moving in the bushes. It was fast. Even before I could recognize, it was gone. Gulab spoke – dekha aapne, lomdi thi! (Did you see? It was a Fox!) I had not seen it. I wanted to see it. I was thwarted. He added – Badi mushkil se dikhta hai, aapko kaise nai dikha! (It’s not easily spotted, how couldn’t you see?)

  

We moved on. No one spoke anything. In another five minutes, the gypsy again came to halt. Here he was. The tiger! Looking chivalric and walking regally in the woods. It sat down for few minutes; as if it knew it was my first time. I enjoyed the sight. Few minutes passed and he was gone. We didn’t bother to start clicking yet as we knew Bandhavgarh was well-known for tigers. After visiting all the spots, we drove back to the rest house. Chatur told us stories about the tigers, their behavior and also showed us some awesome pictures clicked by foreigners. He had framed one picture that he had clicked with the Discovery team. He said he was very fond of it. And I thought in my mind – who wouldn’t be?

We were ready for our next walk tour. Chatur gave us the snack packets to be eaten at the Central Point area. We were 6 people now. I was lucky enough in the noon to have the leisure of enjoying the walk with my friend and Gulab. We moved on. {Sadly people didn’t know that they were supposed to keep quiet when waking in the forest. They talked and giggled}. We stopped at a lake. It was a place where the tigers and other animals came for water. Two hours passed. And we only saw vultures flying. By now there were another 4 jeeps in line. We all waited. There was a sound of the dry grass crackling. We all went silent. It was a snake, black and fast. Gulab told us that it was a pregnant snake and wouldn’t hurt anybody. And before he completed his sentence, the snake was gone far from sight. In another one hour we started moving to other place. A driver from another jeep informed us that they had seen a tiger near the watch tower. I requested Gulab to take us there but he denied saying that it was the main zone where tigers have actually attacked people. It was late too according to him. We went back to the room. Night was fun. Some locals danced for us. Food was good and alcohol was served too.

By 2200 hours it gets really dark. While talking to Chatur, we got to know that he had walked in the woods and spotted a big tiger. He didn’t know to climb trees either. He dramatically described his experience of the luckiest escape of his life. I simply asked him one question knowing that the reply would be a denial – would you take us there? He started laughing and didn’t say anything for another minute. He started nodding his head and I couldn’t believe it. My friend was pretty skeptical of going there but it didn’t take much to convince him. 

Bandhavgarh Part II coming soon!!

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Travel Junket

über me

April 4, 2012

Thinking out-of-the-box and writing out-of-the-suitcase??? No way!! I’m a total lucid thinker. I love writing diaries, letters, notes, paper-napkin—notes, paper reminders and just about everything that is a synonym of “memories” in tangible form. I enjoy; watching English romance, outdoors travels, food photography, burying myself in books and of course listening to A R Rahman music.

I cherish traveling solo for intercultural connection. Being brought up in Mumbai, I have my right hand on the fast-paced life. The place fostered me to be happy in small things and resist the bad times with ultimate spirit. That’s my love for Mumbai. This place is my true love and will always stay as my favorite place in the world. My blog is all about places, food, my love for exploring and stories of my unwise decisions of traveling to places no one else does.

Bucket List: South African Safari, Amalfi Coast, Crossing the Danube River by road, Sicily to experience my favorite author Mario Puzo’s favorite town and Whale watching in New Zealand.

I have this super attachment with Wildlife of India. And I want to contribute a lot to it. So guys, do read my blogs. My blog will be dedicated to my wildlife tales and stories. I wish all of you to once visit a part of wild India and get thrilled!

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