The Perfect Road Trip

The Perfect Road Trip
Runners Up Award- Ambipur Contest

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Demonetization- Open Sesame

It feels like the good old days are back. I am talking of the time whilst still at school and college when minimalistic living was a done thing for most, my aged. There would be just enough money, to buy a samosa, tea or a masala dosa once in a while, besides the bus pass in the pocket. Thanks to the demonetization that I am reliving my childhood. For essential things, there is just about enough money in the pocket and for any luxuries like eating at restaurants, movies, and other indulgences there is just none.

On the next day of the momentous announcement, the search for old notes did not yield anything substantial but an old piggy bank that belonged to our daughter was spotted lying in a lonely corner in the cupboard. A search for the key proved futile as the box had not seen the day of the light for many years. It felt heavy so I took the box to a locksmith to get the duplicate keys made for opening the rusted cover on the rear. After 15 minutes of effort, the ‘Open Sesame ‘ moment turned into a damp squib. There were old coins and some crumpled notes. There were no Rupee Five hundred  or Rupee One thousand notes that I could proudly present to the bank to exchange. The locks smith demanded Rs Sixty for the effort and shamelessly collected from the box as he too was keen to keep some old notes and coins from the treasure.

 Like most others, I too have done rounds at the banks and ATM machines to be greeted by long queues. Most crib, about the long wait but not beyond a point. I tell the bank manager that I have traveled a long distance and unmoved he tells that there is no cash to disburse. For him, it is yet another sob story, which he hears every day now but shrugs his shoulders in his helplessness. The amusing and sad stories keep appearing in the media without fail. The squabble in the parliament and the debates on prime time television has become routine and weary.

The Rupee One hundred and smaller denomination notes and coins are now being bestowed the respect that they never earned in all these years. Also, a reluctant credit card and plastic money user like me are now driven to use them  more often. I have started cycling much more at least to the short distances which help in physical fitness besides keeping the expenditure low. Since last year for the first time, I felt that adding years has yielded the benefit of standing in a short queue at ATM machines  where people are kind to let me draw the princely Rs 2000/-

One thing that is heartening is the innovative spirit that is visible everywhere. The friendly chaiwalla’s , have gone digital and proudly demonstrate the logo display for cashless transaction with a mobile or digital e wallet option. Everyone has become tech-savvy in just a month’s time. The dust seems to be settling down as the country marches to a new digital era. 

PS- Image kind courtesy Google

Friday, November 18, 2016

Madhya Pradesh- Maheshwar, Mandu and More

The beauty of Madhya Pradesh is such that a lifetime is not enough to explore. The deep  ravines, sparkling streams, and history leaves one spell bound. A FAM trip organized by the MP  Tourism enabled to have a peek into some of these beauties. You can read more on Manjulika's blog

PS: A sincere thanks to Manjulika for giving me an opportunity to represent her blog at MPTM-2016, a unique event where I came back with rich experiences 

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Diwali in Singapore

Illuminations in Little India

Dear Zindagi,

After a long time, the Diwali at homeland was missed. Most of the Indians living in any part of the world head homewards but this time it was a little different for me.Having fun with family and friends, endless splurging and merry making are the hallmarks of this festival, which I was apprehensive of missing in a distant land. One time earlier, many years ago, I spent time alone in a Israel where very few Indians stay and none where I stayed. I still managed to make the best by exchanging sweets with friends. This time I will make it differnt, I said to myself , as life has given me so much to celebrate.
A Peacock stands in the middle of the road for festivities
I was here in Singapore, but with my family this time.  The radiance and glow of the festival was evident in Singapore in almost equal measure as at homeland, if not any less. Most parts of the city are still in a festive mood .For past many days the ‘Diwali sales’ promotions, decorations had sprung all over the city and the difference was difficult to tell, whether I was in India or on a foreign shore.

It was heartening to see the Diwali messages flashed all across on posters and even the SMRT buses had been wishing‘Happy Diwali” message in neon lights where the bus number and destination are marked. The best thing I noticed that everyone regardless of the nationality, religion or race  participated with fervor. One day a big group of Chinese school students were congregated at Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple, at the Little India. Their teacher was explaining about different deities while being taken around the premises. What better way to make children more knowledgeable about other religions while promoting tolerance. This phenomena is visible everywhere when one visits places of worship. How  I wish, Zindagi, that we could emulate this spirit in all parts of our beautiful country.

I chanced upon an old Colombian woman visiting the Gurudwara at Sophia Hills who very enthusiastically visited the place and also enjoyed the tea and snacks offered at the ‘Langar’( kitchen). She was struggling to converse in Spanish and in between a few words in English saved the day.This is the real beauty of the people who inhabit the world. We speak different languages but the basic goodness needs no other credentials.

A small country, Singapore, has nationalities from all over the world that live in complete harmony. The food stalls that had come up in Little India had more foreigners enjoying the Indian snacks and clicking away the pictures of beautiful decorations. The traffic was moving slowly but I never encountered a jam anywhere. Zindagi, if you could do me a favor of making cities in my country free from road congestions and pollution, it would perhaps be the best thing.

The’ Fire Walking’ at Sri Mariamman Temple at Chinatown was a big event and hundreds of people watched the event with complete awe. This feats by ordinary mortals are a portrayal of what can be achieved, as long as one is determined.

The fun and festivities have just concluded, though decorations will stay, till past New Year, but more parts of the city will wear a new look. No matter where one is , nothing to beat homecoming notwithstanding the shroud of smog that welcomed, on landing in Delhi. How I wish we could sensitize people to make this one life time as beautiful as many other parts of the world have achieved. Zindagi, I have a lot of hope to see my beautiful country move on a path, where everyone will fall in love with it instantly.We have people who respect women and not treat them as objects of desire. 

Thank You, Zindagi for giving me an opportunity to flavor some lovely moments that exist in our world.Let us all celebrates each festival regardless of our religion or cultural background.with gusto.

PS:“I am writing a letter to life for the #DearZindagi activity at BlogAdda”

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Of Human Bonding

Human bonding is a perfect way of building rapport and exchange ideas. The recently concluded MPTM 16 was a perfect setting for achieving business objectives while bonding with divergent cultures. Read more on
Manjulika an avid traveler and blogger with zest for good life gave me an opportunity to collaborate with her blog for which I thank her whole heartedly

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Madhya Pradesh – The Land of Many Possibilities

Opening address by he Chief Minister at MPTM 2016

The third edition of MPTM (Madhya Pradesh Tourist Mart) was flagged off on 15 Oct after the grand festivities at Jehan Numa Palace hotel on the previous evening. The event was attended by more than 500 delegates from 28 nations including the who’s who of the government, local travel and tourism industry. The Chief Minister of MP, Mr Shivraj Singh Chauhan gave a rousing address to the audience highlighting the unstinted support for promotion and boost to the travel industry. The audio visual presentations and short videos prior to the inaugural speech showcased the best of what the state can offer to the visiting tourists in the state.  Among the various endeavors, some promising ones are enumerated as follows
a)      Offer of world class 300 roadside facilities
b)      Homestays to promote the local culture
c)       Water tourism as there are large water bodies in the state
d)      Encouragement for  adventure destinations by increasing access to forest areas for treks and camping
e)      Heritage experience- Starting with conversion of Minto Hall built in 1909  as a Heritage Convention Center
He exhorted the audience by reminding them that they were present” in the right time at the right place”. The39 achievers in 22 categories were rewarded before inaugural of the mart formally. It was a unique experience for interaction of the buyers and sellers to interwork for mutually beneficial deals over two days.
Later in the evening a display of local culture of dance and music added to the glitter in the sprawling complex of Sayaji Hotel where the delegates were ferried to. It was a treat for audio visual senses and taste buds alike for the audience.

Handicrafts at Sajida Nagar

Heritage buildings at Upper Lake

An early morning heritage walk through the ‘Old City’ of Bhopal was organized by the MP Tourism for the participants to get a feel of the vibrant city of Bhopal the next morning at the onset of dawn. Starting from Kamlapati Mahal, at Chota Talab, it trudged through adjacent Bada Talaba , Shitaldas Mandir, and Gauhar Mahal onwards. The spellbinding stories and history came to life as the enthralled audience admired the Mehat e Shahi, Moti Mahal, Shaukat Mahal, Hira Masjid and Moti Mahal.
Taj Ul Masajid


The largest mosque in Asia  Taj Ul Masajid was next on the list but not before a bite of hot poha, mawa jalebi and superb tea at the famous Raju Tea Stall.
Deicious Poha and Mawa Jalebi- Raju Tea Stall


The tour ended at the Golghar known for a rare collection of paintings  and other artifacts on display. At one time in history it was also used as a bird house. Gold and silver threads were kept and the birds wove a nest out of these. The same was presented  by Shah Jehan Begum to Queen Victoria of England .
Mr Hari Ranjan Rao,addressing the media

The event( MPTM-16) culminated with a very lively interaction with Mr Hari Ranjan  Rao, IAS, the energetic Managing Director of MP Tourism and Tourism Development Corporation. A fitting finale was various FAMTours organised for the particiants to explore the hidden gems of the state..  The ambitious plans have set the course of the travel industry with  increased public participation to take tourism in the land of immense possibilities to a new height.

PS: Thanks to Manjulika of 'Pendown' for the opportunity to collaborate with her blog for MPTM-2016

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Bhopal-An Untold Love Story

Bhopal  the capital of Madhya Pradesh is a vibrant city of many hues. A travel buff like me got an opportunity to explore the lesser and some better known facets of the place during last weekend.The timing was just perfect,coinciding with the Travel Mart organised by the MP Tourism in this week. I would be covering the event on Manjulika's blog 'Pendown'. To learn more about the lovely city go over to

Friday, September 16, 2016

The Lemon Tree

There was a gentle nip in the air as I opened the door and stepped into the backyard garden. The delightful chirping of the birds and the gentle breeze were soothing against a backdrop of the azure 
sky slowly turning crimson. This has become a routine now for many years.

The sight of two lovely ripe lemons that lay on the gravel added to the happiness. The lemon tree had been planted many years ago and had grown older with passage of time. It is like a parent that has nurtured us .What better tribute to my father who was born this day and had loved nature perhaps more than I do. He would take immense pride in showing the garden to the visitors and heaping praise on the quality of yield just as if the progeny had topped an examination. The sight of lemons in the morning is also a reminder that these fruit are a result of hardship and pain that a parent endures. The request for trimming the branches by the neighbors in winter months is painful as the merciless chopping of the additional branches is difficult to endure. The plant never fails to yield the fruit most times of the year, regardless of the trauma we inflict on it. A gentle sprinkle of water on its leaves and branches deposit small droplets of pearls that shine to make each morning a special one that raises the spirits. It is difficult to pluck the fruit without bruising the hands by sharp needles of thorns that surround it. The beautiful song sung by Trini Lopez best describes the beauty of the Lemon Tree. 
The fruit was shared with relatives and neighbors who devoured it with equal glee. The endless flow of the fruit during the season helped in preparation of pickles, juice and chutney for the remaining months. One never feels lonely in such a pristine company.

The pleasure of tending to the plants and trees is unmatched.  It provides an instant connection with the divine. The swaying bushes and flowers with weight of pecking birds and bees are perfect stress busters. As the sun sets in the west the perfect calm returns except for occasional chirp of birds retiring with their families .The magic begins each day without fail with the break of dawn.

PS : Link and images kind courtesy You Tube and Google