Sunday, May 20, 2018

3 Incredible Days in the Heart of India-Madhya Pradesh | Day 2: White Tigers of Rewa

(Continued from where I left off in the previous post about Day 1 in Madhya Pradesh) 

It was early morning. I was fast asleep in a log hut somewhere in the middle of a vast tropical forest. My alarm was set for 7.30, though I should have known I wouldn't be needing an alarm clock. I woke up at 7, all on my own, to the lively chatter of birds and the rustle of the wind in the trees outside my hut.

I was in Bandhavgarh National Park - one of the world's foremost tiger reserves - and another exciting day of wildlife experiences lay ahead of me.

Day 2 in the Heart of India

If I wake up early on any given day, I snuggle right back into the covers and sleep for at least another half an hour (usually more) before finally forcing my still-asleep body out of the bed and into the bathroom. On this particular morning, however, I was wide awake within a minute and out of the door in 10, wide-eyed with wonder and camera in hand. The jungle was awake and buzzing with activity.

It took me a minute to tune in to the sounds of the forest. Stepping out of the shade of my hut, I looked around to figure out where all the birds were - and lo and behold, there it was! My first sighting of one of the most magnificent birds of India - and not a common sighting in Madhya Pradesh - the Asian Paradise Flycatcher (now called Indian Paradise Flycatcher), with its never-ending white tail and black head, perched atop the tree right behind my hut. It was quite sensitive to sound too, because it sensed my presence within seconds and flew away to a taller, farther tree. I managed to take a few snaps before it disappeared into the foliage, its majestic tail trailing behind it in the most beautiful flight I have ever seen any bird take.

Encouraged by the lucky sighting, I set out to find more winged ones, though in a hurry now because it was getting sunny and I was expected at breakfast soon. I ended up spotting a bunch of Coppersmith Barbets in a fig tree and a pair of Spotted Doves that looked like they were batting eyes at each other like a romantic couple (believe me).

Wildlife spotting in Bandhavgarh National Park Madhya Pradesh
The Asian (or Indian) Paradise Flycatcher. They are called so because they feed on insects that they catch mid-air (fancy that!) The males are beautiful white and long-tailed, while the females are shorter-tailed with dark wings.

Friday, May 4, 2018

3 Incredible Days in the Heart of India-Madhya Pradesh | Day 1: Tigers of Bandhavgarh


Remember the Madhya Pradesh tourism ad in which a captivating voice used to sing "Hindustan ka dil dekho" to a catchy tune? That was way back in 2007 (feel old already?) I had been to Gwalior and around with family before, but this ad convinced me that I hadn't yet seen the real MP. I was eager to go see everything the voice sang about in the ad and to make a video of my own just like it.

Of course, I was just a teenager with ideas. Life went on over the years, and my fascination with Madhya Pradesh got overshadowed by my growing love for the Himalayas. That was, until last week, when I finally set foot in the heart of Incredible India.

The reason that finally brought me to Madhya Pradesh was a work tour to Jabalpur, which we conveniently scheduled on Friday so as to give us the extended weekend to explore the less frequented east-central region of Madhya Pradesh. And by God, one hell of a 'work' trip it turned out to be!

After wrapping up work early on Friday evening, we set out to explore what little part of Jabalpur we could in an evening. We first drove down to 'Balancing Rock' to witness the famous volcanic rock that has remained balanced on its base rock for hundreds (or thousands?) of years despite very little surface contact between the two. I had heard about this rock, and even though it is an attraction you can hardly spend 10-15 minutes at, I think it holds a sense of wonder and is well worth the trip.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Book Review: From Quetta to Delhi - Reena Nanda


"The lilting rhythms of Punjabi folk songs, the Siapewalli, and Naani wailing about her bad kismet caused by the chudail and dain. Partition changed the old traditions of Punjabiyat but in the pages of this book they come alive..."

Punjabiyat.

Have you heard this word before?

Is the modern tandoori-chicken-eating, whiskey-guzzling, perpetually jovial sardar your idea of Punjabi culture, Punjabiyat? Do you know the deep cultural history and the set of ethos and traditions that underlie this 21st century forever-happy, forever-loud community that is spread out not only across the country but the world?

There is much more to Punjabis than the casual hedonists they are portrayed as across media. Even if to know that alone - and to get a little peek into the beliefs and mores of this beautiful and diverse culture - you must read Reena Nanda's memoir, From Quetta to Delhi (A Partition Story).



Sunday, March 25, 2018

I said yes to a challenge and my world changed forever

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Have you ever found yourself wondering how Edmund Hillary or Tenzing Norgay might have felt a few seconds before they conquered Everest?

I don't claim to have done anything remotely as momentous as they did. Of course. But I said yes to a challenge - I volunteered to do something totally uncharacteristic of me, something I always thought I wasn't cut out for - and I saw magic unfold. It changed my world, it changed the way I look at travel, and it changed my worldview forever. Most important, it changed the way I look at myself.

I have been travelling for some years now, and have experienced many a new culture, met many a stranger, and dealt with many a challenge on the move. But I recently came to the uncomfortable realisation that I've stayed within my comfort zone most of this time. I was strutting through new places, wonderful new experiences, and the company of fascinating strangers, wearing the thick coat of a hundred limitations and boundaries wrapped tightly around me.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

5 ways to deal with everyday stress like a boss


You live a life full of stress. It's time you admitted it (if you don't know it already).

Irrespective of whether you're a student, a professional in a corporate job, a stay-at-home parent, or a freelancer or full-time travel blogger. Where there is responsibility of any kind, where there is money to be made or bills to be paid, there is bound to be some kind of stress.

5 ways to deal with everyday stress like a boss

Personally, I never thought I worry. I always thought of myself as tension-free, carefree, a zen sort of a person. I always take life as it comes (mostly), I prefer not to think too far ahead (because it isn’t going to pan out right anyway), and I love my peace of mind too much to riddle it with worry.

But guess what? Lately I’ve discovered I’m a house of stress.