Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Holiday Travails

A Desert Sunset

So I got back from Rajasthan the Sunday before last. Rajasthan was fabulous. Spent two lovely days in Jaisalmer and then headed out to a desert safari (also known as ride a camel in the desert for two days straight till your arse is sore; all for the glory of being called a traveller, rather than a tourist). Then a quick stop at Jodhpur to visit the Meherangarh Fort and the retiring rooms of the railway station, and onwards to Udaipur, with stops at the fantastic Ranakpur temples and the majestic Kumbalgarh Fort on the way.

Proof of Visit: Me at the Gadisar Lake in Jaisalmer
Udaipur was a lovely place, and after two leisurely days there, we headed off to Ranthambore to spot tigers. Alas and alack, the tigers refused to be spotted, despite me being up and about at 5am. I also learned in Ranthambore that it is not in trains and flights that one needs to fear children, but on safaris. No, no, no, I shall not speak more of that traumatic experience! Finally to Jaipur, where I morphed into crazy shopaholic buying up everything in sight, with Nike valiantly, but unsuccessfully, trying to bring in the element of moderation.

On the last day, Nike left early morning on the flight to Bangalore. I was flying to Hyderabad on work, and my flight wasn’t until later that day, so I wandered off to visit the Hawa Mahal and the Jantar Mantar. At the Jantar Mantar, a stout, moustachioed man comes across to me and asks ‘Are you local?’ I briefly consider responding “Non. Je suis Fran├žaise. Je ne comprends pas l’anglais’ but I’m no Kalki Koechlin so I just walked away instead. This man goes up to his companion (another stout but non-moustachioed man) and whispers to him while they both stare at me and then start following me around the Jantar Mantar, which was very distracting because one needed to really concentrate to understand what all those instruments were for, and one can’t concentrate very well when one is being followed around.

I was beginning to feel rather uncomfortable, though not worried (it was broad daylight, there were loads of people around, and police just a few feet away). Finally non-moustachioed man comes up to me and says “Can I snap with you?” Needless to say, I was taken aback, so I sternly said “No” and walked away. He followed me some more and repeated the question, and was rewarded with an exasperated “No”. At this point, I seriously considered showing him my phone and saying “I’ll ask my husband and see if it’s okay with him” – I’m sure that would have shut him up, but I didn’t want to use the bogeyman of a husband, and I was done with the Jantar Mantar anyway and it was time to head back for the airport, so I just left.

Thankfully, those two morons didn’t trouble me any further, beyond morosely staring at the auto. I was wondering if they would follow me to the hotel (which wouldn’t have mattered in these circumstances because I had checked out and was leaving, but which could have been dangerous if I was staying at that hotel for a few more days).  Thinking about it now, I hope he said ‘snap’ and not ‘sleep’, because if it was the latter, I would have been pissed off and would have been calling the police and complaining about harassment.

So that was my ‘Adventures in Rajasthan’ in a nutshell. I had a great two days in Hyderabad, and am finally home in Bangalore after what seems an eternity (five months actually). The weather is dreadful, and I just spent the last two days sleeping, eating, reading and watching two seasons of Full House because I’ve exhausted everything else on my hard disk and its taking forever to download Grey’s Anatomy.

That’s all for now, my dear, patient reader. Thank you for putting up with my nonsense. More shall follow soon.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Turning 27

One week ago I turned 27, and turning 27 isn't always a bad thing, I've come to realise. Now anyone who knows me well, and even those who don't, know that my birthday is a BIG DEAL for me. I start planning for my birthday from Jan 2nd itself, and all this hyper-ness leads to major expectations building up for the day, and major disappointment when such unreasonable expectations don't get fulfilled. It's a vicious cycle. Yet, despite the sky high expectations I have, my family and friends have time and again managed to exceed even those expectations, and for that, I am truly blessed. (Alas, the same cannot be said of Nike, but that's grist for another post)."?.p

This year I wanted to be home, in Vizag, for my birthday. The last time I was home on my birthday was exactly 10 years ago, so being home was a special way of celebrating my birthday. Somehow, I managed to have no expectations at all this year, made no plans, and as a consequence, I was rewarded with a very pleasant day that brought me much joy and love.

My parents and Samee were of course home. Nike came down to Vizag a week earlier, and Mahi (more my own brother than a first cousin) too joined us on the 25th. They blew balloons and put up streamers and invited a few friends over at midnight; I cut a yummy chocolate cake, which was ordered from Food-ex for old times sake.

My parents gifted me a lovely watch which I'd been craving for the last few months - its a white strap with a purple dial studded with white stones, and it's from Fossil, and I couldn't find it in any of the stores in India, Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore or Vietnam. (Okay, I couldn't find it in any of the stores I looked in; and yes, this is a digression to just show off about my recent holiday). So Amma actually ordered it from the US on Amazon, and my Mama got it along with him to India. Samee bought me a board game, and we've been playing that every night at home since. A dear friend sent me a bouquet with 27 roses. How sweet was that!

I spent the morning taking calls. All my family and friends called to wish, and their wishes left me feeling super kicked and happy all day. (And Sakku, if you're reading this, I did note that you did not call). Nike offered to cook my favourite chicken curry for lunch. Alas, it was a Saturday so despite roaming around for an hour, he couldn't find any open chicken shops so that plan had to be discarded. After lunch, Nike took me along to buy me my surprise gift - an iPad! Yes, I got an iPad for my birthday, and I'm super duper thrilled with it, and cant stop shouting about it from the rooftops. In fact, I'm typing this post from my iPad. I'm absolutely loving the iPad, and wondering how I've lived without it for so long. Oh, and Mahi is buying me the iPad case as a gift.

After we picked up the iPad, Nike dropped me off at my favourite spa for a pedicure. Later, Samee, Mahi, Nike and I went to the beach at Bheemli, where a few friends joined us. After a nice time at the beach, we headed home, changed, and then left for dinner with the parents. At the restaurant, I was given another surprise as more family friends joined us for dinner. Thus ended what was a very pleasant birthday.

And that, my dear readers, is how I turned 27!

P.S: Unfortunately, there are no pics of the day because Nike doesn't like taking out the SLR for 'casual' occasions, and I don't have a point-and-shoot. It's time I got myself one, or I'll forever remain without pictures of small but memorable occasions, thanks to that useless man's photography hangups!

P.P.S: I'm typing this on a train from Delhi to Jsisalmer; the start of a 9 day holiday in Rajasthan. Nike doesn't know it yet, but this is also his birthday gift to me - I'm simply going to refuse to pay for the trip expenses.