Memorable travel memories

If there is one thing that I find really difficult to resist, it is participating in travel writing contests—in the last 2 years I have participated in 3 of them. Though the possibility of winning is definitely a motivating factor, what really pushes me to participate is the challenge of writing a travel post based on a ‘prompt’ or a ‘structure’, quite unlike my usual travel rambles, er… posts.

So, when @raghavmodi asked me if I wanted to be part of a Blogger Relay Race, I immediately said yes. Organised by Lowcost Holidays on the theme of “Top 3 Travel Memories”, this competition involves members of 5 blogger teams (Red, Blue, Green, Yellow and Purple) writing blog posts on this theme. All members of a team do not post at the same time; instead one person writes a post on this theme and passes the “baton” to the next blogger on the team, who also writes a post on his/her top 3 travel memories, before passing the baton on to someone else in the team to continue with the Blogger Relay Race.

I am member of #TeamPurple and yesterday, I picked the baton from Ashley of Fun As We Go. As I sat down to race, er… write about my top 3 travel memories, I realised how difficult it was to narrow down my top 3 travel memories since all my travels have been special and memorable in one way or the other. But since this called for just the top 3 memories, I decided to go with the first 3 memories that popped up in my mind.

And they are… :-)

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The perfect Melbourne trip

Melbourne is on my mind these days. A lot.

You see, ever since Indiblogger announced its latest travel writing contest, I’ve been thrown into a bit of a tizzy because of the contest guidelines which say: “Tell us about the experiences you would love to bring back from Melbourne . . . . ” Normally, writing about my travels has never been a problem. But this time I’m stumped — how do I write about a place that I have never visited?

When I whined about told this to Neena, a friend, colleague and someone who’s been to Melbourne, she said, “So what if you have not been to Melbourne. Just use your imagination and let the anticipation of visiting a new travel destination shape your words; the rest will follow.” And that is just what I did. With some help from Google, Melbourne-specific websites, a couple of books, and chats with friends who have been to Melbourne.

This post is all about that perfect trip to Melbourne born out of my imagination and based on the activities I would love to do there keeping in mind my interests. Read on about what my trip to Melbourne will be like, the sights I will see, and the activities I will undertake to experience the history, heritage, art, architecture and contemporary culture that Melbourne has to offer, as well as its unique and famed natural history. So without further ado, presenting to you a no-holds barred account of how I want to experience Melbourne unhampered and unhindered by budgetary or tour itinerary constraints, but fuelled by my imagination ;-)

The Melbourne skyline as viewed from the Rialto Observatory on Collins St.
Source: Diliff, wikimedia.org

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Blue, green, yellow, red and white…

Recently, Anu Shankar of A Wandering Mind tagged me in the Capture the Colour contest organised by TravelSupermarket.com. The contest brief is, well, quite brief and simple:

… to publish a blog post with a photo that captures the following 5 colours – Blue, Green, Yellow, White and Red.

Hmmm… till about 4 years back I didn’t even give colours a second thought or glance. I took it for granted as growing up in India, they were always around me. But a year’s stay in London showed me how much colours mattered to me, and changed my very perception and understanding of colours.

I arrived in London at the onset of winter and its (in)famous winter weather. But the grey and damp weather didn’t bother me; neither did the sunless days affect me. But a monochromatic London of black and grey coats, hats, scarves, gloves and boots drove me crazy. That’s when I started noticing colours in the world around me, rather than only on people. Colourful shop fronts, buildings, pub exteriors, cars, tube stations, a stained glass window … took on a whole new meaning. I learnt to look at, appreciate and enjoy colours in a very different way.

It had to convince myself to participate in the contest as I don’t really consider myself as a photographer. But the idea of digging into my digital photo library was tempting and I had a great time choosing 5 of them—one for each contest colour. So presenting my blue, green, yellow, red and white photographs as well as my take on each of them. Continue reading

The nosy co-passenger

It was going to be a long journey to Mumbai, I told myself, as I surveyed my co-passengers in the train compartment. A family of four, comprising an elderly woman, a young man, a young woman, and a toddler (along with 4 large suitcases and 5 bags), were struggling to adjust their luggage under the seats and themselves on the seats. The elderly woman was the boss. No argument there. She decided how and where the luggage was to be placed, the seating and sleeping arrangements for her family, etc. She bullied the man (her son), was quite nasty to the woman (her daughter-in-law), and kept calling the child (her granddaughter) an idiot. She picked a fight with the coolie and shouted him down with the choicest abuse and sheer volume. She had a “Lalita Pawar” (for information on who she was, click here) kind of look about her with a screechy voice to match, and it didn’t take me long to name her that.

Yes, it was going to be a long journey to Mumbai in a Sleeper Class coach of the Mumbai-bound Madras Express. It was the year 1997 and a beautiful November morning in Chennai and a perfect day for travel. But somehow with the arrival of my Lalita Pawar,  the day just didn’t seem so beautiful any more.

Once settled, Lalita Pawar turned her attention to her co-passengers. And that was my cue to hastily bury my nose in a book. It was a look that I had seen many-a-times during my travels. It was a look that promised to dig out personal information from a co- passenger, particularly a young woman travelling alone. In fact, I could almost see Lalita Pawar rubbing her hands with gleeful anticipation when she saw me. Though I could feel her eyes boring into me, I did not look up from my book.

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From B&W to 3D colour

This post won an IndiSurprize at the HP Take Flight with Colour Contest

Source: Microsoft Cliparts

Imagination is such a wonderful thing isn’t it? We all use it in our own unique ways. I use most of mine to give colour, form and shape to characters, places, and scenes described in books.

I was very fortunate to be smothered surrounded by all sorts of books growing up (and I still am—that is, both growing up and surrounded by books ;-)), which gave ample scope for my imagination. Even today, whenever I read something—even something as dry as a research paper that I am copy-editing—the B&W words on the paper immediately transform into an image matching the description, but shaped my imagination. This whole process is so instinctive and automatic that all I have to do is to pick up something and start reading for the B&W words to coalesce in my mind to form 3D images in full colour. This image could be static or moving; as I continue reading, the images flicker, change, or transform keeping pace with the narrative.

I find it easier to conjure up images of some words and narratives than others. Predictably, familiar contexts and settings, particularly those that I have experienced, are easy to imagine and visualise, but unfamiliar ones present a challenge. But, hey, that’s what a colourful imagination is for, right?

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Two incidents and a lesson

I was 16 and in my last year of school when the first incident happened. School had finished for the day and I was waiting for a rickshaw outside my school to take me to the railway station, from where I would take a train home. Hearing a rickshaw approach behind me, I turned hoping that it would be empty. It wasn’t and as it sped by me, I saw a horrific sight. A man and a woman were struggling in the rickshaw and the man had a knife in his hand.

Photo Courtesy: Istock photos

I saw all this in a flash and for a moment I thought that I had imagined the whole thing. But then I reasoned that I couldn’t have imagined the glint of the knife, could I? Just then an empty rickshaw came and I saw to my relief that the driver was someone I knew, in the sense that I had travelled in his rickshaw many times.

I told the driver about what I had just seen and asked if we should give chase. The driver said that I must have imagined the knife and what I must have witnessed was some friendly “wrestling” between a couple. Besides, wouldn’t the rickshaw driver have done something if he sensed that there was something wrong going on? No, no, I must have had a stressful day, and it would not do for a girl like me to have such an active imagination. I should concentrate on my studies and try to get home as quickly as possible. With these words of advice, he dropped me off at the railway station.

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