Thursday, April 17, 2008

Maha Maza at Mahabaleshwar - Day 1 - Sight-seeing and fun games...

Magnificent Valley View Resort
The resort was magnificent. It looked very small and low risen at first, but on closer look we realized that we were actually at level 1 and there were 2 levels above it and 2 below it- that made it as tall as a short 5 storey building (if you actually get what i mean :P) We all waiting in the lobby for the other bus people to arrive.
As you enter the resort gate, a slope leads you to the lobby. The slope has plants on both sides and leads you to the parking area and the lobby. The lobby was warmly done up in dark wood. On the right side were the spiral marble stairs leading to the other floors, while in front was the reception and the seating area. Walking down the few stairs to the reception we could see the resort hall on the left, a souvenir shop on the right, a snacks bar, pool/snooker room and finally the dining hall!

Room Partner and room exploration
The names of room partners/room numbers were announced and we were handed the room keys and our identity cards. I was more than happy to have Pallavi as my room-mate. Most people were happy with their roomies, and even if they weren't, there was no choice! After a quick coffee-biscuit snack at the snack bar and a glance through the newspaper, we headed for our rooms.

Our room was room no. 211 which faced the valley and a whole lot of slums (but we learnt to ignore them!) The room was thoughtfully furnished with a double bed, a dresser, a cupboard, colour television, air conditioning, two chairs and a centre table, a foldable sofa cum low bed and the comfort of home. The first thing I did was to sink into the soft bed for my back was sore from the bus ride and a real bed felt, unreally amazing! To avoid dozing off in the comforts of the warmer, I and Pallavi explored the bathroom, got mesmerized by the key system wherein the door key needs to be lodged in a slot inside the room to enable he lights, fan, a/c and TV to operate, settled our luggage and booked the side we wanted to sleep in on the bed.

Breakfast & Chit-chats
Then we freshened up with a hot water bath and joined the other excited colleagues at the dining hall for a sumptuous breakfast. The breakfast was a grand spread with- juices, coffee, tea, bread, sandwiches, and three types of uttapams, cornflakes, fresh fruit and accompaniments like jam, spread, chutneys and pickles to choose from. Stuffed till our throats, we drowned in the exciting chatter until it was decided that we had until lunch to visit the Venna Lake.
In the beginning some non-enthusiasts refused to leave the resort and make good use of recreation facilities like table tennis, carom, billiards, swimming or just catching up on sleep. However with a little convincing, most agreed on the boating, and those who didn’t did what they pleased! The Lake was about an hours walk. We just had 3 hours in hand and decided to take our hired buses instead and save some time and physical strain of walking.
Sparkle and leg exercise at Venna lake

The Lake was like the sparkling diamond amidst the winding roads and masses of green vegetation. The wind was light and just the right temperate to tickle the skin. There was much to do- paddle boat, row boat, horse rides, sit and talk, walk around the lake-but so little time. Without wasting anytime, we all crowded around the lake booking office, trying to divide ourselves in groups of 6 or 8 depending upon the kind boat we were to hire.

I zeroed in on paddle boat for six and ganged up with Meghana Ma’am, Sweta, Shamal, Pooja Chedda and Mrunal! The funny thing was Mrunal was the only guy with 5 girls for company, but he’s known for it! *winks* I and Mrunal decided to paddle, and he wasn’t quite sure if I had the endurance to paddle for half an hour, but poor guy, he didn’t know about my past!

We paddled leisurely at first and then urgently to be able to push our legs and chase fellow colleagues and eventually dash into their boats or save our boat from being dashed. Funnily, Mrunal tired out way before I did and even admitted it despite the male ego; guess tiredness makes you forget everything else!

Aftermath of boating
After the workout of 30 minutes, we docked the boat and began posing for photos! The photos were clicked at the rate of thunder and lighting bolts on a stormy night. They stopped only when we had just enough time to make it back to the Resort for lunch. But, that was not to be.

On boarding the buses, one of them refused to budge! Then what, we all got off the bus and started pushing the bus, while singing, ‘Dum laga, dum laga, laga re dhakka re…’ Even that did not deter our fun and frolic mood. Once the bus started, we cheered and enjoyed the winding road back.

The lunch was another unbelievable spread! The cuisine was Indian, but the variety made it so appealing. We had about 1.5 hours of leisure time before our second course of touristy thing for today. In the leisure time I played TT to the fullest of my desire. The guys wanted to have a full-fledged cricket match, but they were forced to come to Table Mountain with the rest of us! We also had a mini-jam session in our room where me, Pallu, sangita, anuj, ballu, sweta, abhishek, karnav, litesh, kiran, meghana, rupali etc danced like crazy. The best part was Beedi Jalailey and Kajrare (Anuj rocked!). I assumed Anuj was classy, but i chnaged my opinion after the chavanni dance! (angdai steps etc.. :P)

Flat wonder
It took us about 30 minutes by bus and another 20 minutes hike-cum-walk to reach he glorious mountain. On the way we chit-chatted, played antakshari and bet each other at who climbs faster! The table mountain was gorgeous, to say the least! It spread across the sky with the majesty of Aladdin’s carpet, flat and beautiful! There was so much life up there, the flora and fauna, and people enjoying themselves at the rides, some game or just sitting leisurely.

We guys split into random groups and explored the table top at our own pace. I was practically walking alone and Ballu bhaiya noticed this. As a reply to his question, I said ‘I’m walking alone so that I can go where ever I want to and not bank upon someone else.’ After that he stuck with me, and I was glad!

We dodged the monkeys and reached the cave hotel. It was near dark in there and we were bumping into each other and tripping on rocks! We invaded the restaurant like a storm of bees but did not order a thing! After falling around for a while and finding that two caves actually met- Thanks to Ahemdabadi Abhishek Shah-we left the restaurant and headed for fresh air of the open blue skies!
Gaming zone

Back on the table top, we-like true blue photo crazies-clicked more photos. By the time the photo session died down, another frenzy of fun i.e. the game of dog and the bone had erupted! It was fantabulous! There was utter chaos and tons of laughter! Some of the moments worth framing as memories were the Rita-Rima confusion and Kaun si Sweta incident. Avinash even took the videos of these humorous moments, and I’m glad he did!

By the time we were done with the game, our stomachs and cheeks were hurting and it was time to head to the resort for dinner and an evening that promised total entertainment by way of games planned by Fort office articles- Mansi, Ankit, Sweta, and Sneha etc.

Felicitation and Dinner
Back at the resort, we freshened up and assembled in the resort hall. Each employee, article and partner graced the evening with his/her presence. We had a small introduction of all the partners and key employees. Then each of us present were given a huge binded book ‘study material’ and a Swiss knife with G.M. Kapadia engraved on it as a token. The guy from Chennai put up a humorous play, followed by a cake cutting ceremony. Then we were split up into 5 teams, each denoted by a colour viz. green, blue, red, yellow and gold.

After that we gorged on the dinner which unlike the lunch that was served by the resort kitchen staff was buffet. Needless to say, it was again a royal feast! By the time we were done, it was time for games, read 10:30 PM. Most of us were excited about this session, while others who weren’t too enthu, called it a day and departed to their respective rooms, and into sweet slumber!

Fun games
The hall was noisy with a hundred heart beats eager to battle it out for a podium finish! Put a bunch of good-friends in a competitive situation and they change colours! The first game was ‘dress up game’. The rules were simple. 8 members from each team would play. Specific distance was defined and 4 members from each team had to be on either side of it. The first member had to wear the shirt (fully buttoned), wrap round skirt, beads necklace, shades, cap and a bindi and run to the other side. Once there, member one had to undress and member two had to dress up and go to the other side. This goes on until the 8th member is dressed up and crosses over to the other side.

The game, as expected, was utter chaos and guys dressed as women were a hilarious sight! After much cheating, fighting and disagreements, team red won the game. My team, team green also came first, first from behind. The loss did not deter us and we were already planning to have a clean steal in the next game.

It was a rather easy sounding second game. Each team was allowed 8 participants, but the rule was that the team members who were excluded in game one had to be included in this one. The task was to light as many candles as can be and fix them on the glass slab in a time span of 30 seconds. My team made ambitious plans. But we lost, yet again! Not last, but a loss is a loss right?!

Even that did not deter us. The next game was blow the balloon game. 10 members from each team were allowed to participate. There were unlimited number of balloons that had to be tied with a thread and bloated to a size as long as or longer than the mike. The catch was, there was only one bail of thread. Most teams including mine decided to have two or three people cut the threads and rest of them blowing! We came second for a change and saved the grace of our team. One moment none of us can forget was the ratio of body and balloons blown by Ashwin sir and Rajan sir. Contrary to his giant size, Rajan sir’s balloon was tiny and contrary to Ashwin sir’s small framed body, his balloon was gigantic. We even captured this moment in a photo! What picture perfection of an irony!

Three games down, tiredness was catching up. But the competitive spirit remained. The last game tested physical endurance, mainly of the arms. 5 members from each team, including one girl participant were allowed. Bricks had been immersed over night in a bucket of water. The task was to hold this heavy brick with two fingers, keeping the arm extended and as the brick was spilling from the fingers, it had to be passed to the next team mate. The team that holds on to the brick as if it were their dear life wins!

I was gung-ho about the event. It suited my body structure and I was confident of my arm strength. Eventually we won, thanks to the slight confusion when other teams thought that I was the last person from green team, while in reality I was the fourth one and obviously the Marshall Arts background of Narayan Sir! We literally hugged him after the victory and dispersed the hall with head held high!

Calling it a day...
The next day’s events were announced and good-byes were said! But who wanted to sleep? We guys played TT and carom, cricket in corridor, cards in Kiran and Litesh’s room and had a dance party in one of the rooms too! It had been a fun-filled day and finally giving in to sleep; I and Pallavi called it a day at 4 am and set the alarm for 7 am tomorrow.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Write the PERFECT Travelogue: This is how...

It is essential to plan and make up your mind before writing the travelogue. The points to be considered are –

a. Travel Notes: Take down notes as you travel about the small details and nitty-gritty's of the places you visited. Eg: - Note down the height of the hill if you've visited one; note down the brief history, timings and fees a museum that you've visited, it's a tall task to recall such details when you sit down to write a travelogue.

b. Outline of places visited: Make a brief outline of places visited and in what order.

c. Purpose and how personal: Be clear what purpose the travelogue is for and subsequently decide how personal you want the travelogue to be. Eg: - say the travelogue is for a magazine. In such a case it does not make sense to include personal information like what souvenirs you bought for whom. It is more apt to mention that you shopped at so-and-so place and some of the things worth shopping for.

Follwing are the stages while writing the travelogue –

a. Introduction: A quote, photograph, postcard or a catchy line should be used to introduce the travelogue. It is this that sets the tone for the travelogue and can win the reader over or discourage them.
Eg: - 'it was a bright day and we decided to hit the beach' – this is passé and boring. 'The sun inspired the beach-bum in us and we hit the beach' – is more trendy and unique.

b. Body: Ideally the travelogue should be in paragraphs, with each new place/ experience talked about in a different paragraph. Keep the paras crisp and ensure that one para flows into the other.
Eg: - Ending a para with 'Our flight landed in Mumbai bang on time and being grounded and walking, rather than flying felt nice. Mumbai is a busy city…..which I discovered as my cab crawled out of the airport.' And beginning the next para with 'Whether it's the taxiwallas, buswallas or pedestrians, everyone is always a whirr of urgency around each of them.'

c. Close: Traditionally travelogues and ended with a promise to visit again, lessons learnt during the travel, emotions felt or the clichéd 'though the travel was fun, there's no place like home.' But it's best to do something different, maybe end with:

* praise for the residents of the area or city that you visited.
Eg: - Despite the modest means, the hospitality of Kashmiris shines through and they're not the one's to let the terrorism break them.??

* A one-liner.
Eg: - Whether you hate Mumbai crowds, or love them, one thing's certain, you just cannot ignore them!

* Refer to something that happened during the journey.
Eg: - I felt free-like the birds that the aviary authorities let free to which we were a proud spectator- when I glided down the hill-side of the marvelous Nashik(place you visited).

* Humorous line.
Nothing works like Humor, so use it to your advantage! J

KUTCH - Day 4 (to be continued...)

Day 4
13 November, 2007

Route: Bhuj (sight-seeing) – Siv paras-Koday-Mandvi-Bhuj

Exploring Bhuj

After the long and exciting yesterday, we decided to explore Bhuj. Funny we'd been in Bhuj for 2 days and hadn't yet toured it. One reason for that was the extended diwali holiday tahat I talked about previously.Our little research told us that it'd take us not more than half a day to enjoy what Bhuj hasto offer. So we headed out at 9:00 AM-the time when most touristy places open-for our first stop, Aina Mahal in Old Bhuj.
Aina Mahal remains open from 9:00AM-12:00 noon and 3:00AM-6:00PM on all days except Saturday. The entry ticket is Rs. 10/person and an extra charge for camera.It was built in the 18th century by Maharao Shri Madansinghji Saheb of Kutch who was the last king of the 18th century for this kingdom. Only one wing and one floor of the Aina Mahal is open to the public for the rest of it is under renovation or been closed down as the damage done by the 2001 quake is irrepairable.

Aina Mahal

Aina Mahal's first floor houses a museum. Some of the artifacts that caught m,y attention were-
· An 80 year old weighing machine,
· Gold painted chineses cupboards/jewellery cases,
· Paintings with robes and jewellery done up in real gold,
· Elephant tusk door,
· Glass in shades of green and violet made with Silica from Mandvi beach,
· Sinhasan made of marble,
· Ari work(embroidery) now found only in the museum for the art has died,
· Glass chandeliers etc.

History says that Earl Mountbatten of Burma, who wasthe last viceboy of India and a great friendof Maharaasri Madansinghji Saheb helped Madansinghji in making Kutch a part 'C' state at the time of integartion of Kutch state of India.

The museum has 3 main parts viz. Aina Mahal (mirror palace), Hira Mahal (diamond/precious stone palace) and Fuvara Mahal (fountain palace). Aina Mahal and Hira Mahal both host various artifacts, while Fuvara Mahal is under repair.

Aina Mahal is a 250 year wonder built by Maharoa Shri Lakhpat. It is a large two storey mansion built in 1750. The first floor is an audience hall which is a hall of mirrors whete guests were entertained. It cost near about Rs. 20 lakhs to built at that point of time. The Mahal floor has blue tiles which were made right here in Kutch. Today the mirros in the Aina Mahal are old and have lost their sheen, but juist imagining the grandeur made me feel like a princess in a mirror palace.

Hira Mahal

Hira Mahal which was the state bedroom and has a wooden ceiling with gold inlay work. It has mirrors all over too, so one candle was enough to light up the entire room. (we should use this trick to save electricity! :P) It holds Lakhpatji's bed whioch has gold legs. Also the silver hooka, gold mirrors, diamond studded talwar presented to him by Moughal empror, khadau(footwear) with a lotus placedwhere the thumb and the next toe is which opens and closes as you walk are all awesome!! By far, this wasmy favourite segment of the museum for the sheer grandeur which is so far and between in this Kutchi Kindgom. One piece of advise though, don't expect the grandeur of Rajasthan while visiting Kutch palaces cause then you sure will be disappointed!

Rani Vyas and Prag Mahal

Aina Mahal complex also houses the Rani Vyas as well as the Prag Mahal. Rani Vyas built 350 years ag, was-as the name suggests-the queen's palace. Here the windows are stone carved so that no one can glimpse insidethe palace, but those insidecan look out through the holes in the carving. Leaving asidesome windows, this palace is certainly in poor shape. Prag Mahal was built in 150 yearsago, quite recent considering it's got a place in the history. Afew song sequences of th movie Lagaan, like the ballroom dance sequence and when the firang gils sings the song 'my heart it sings a thousand words i feel eternal bliss...' in the balcony were shot here. The outer structure of the prag mahal is a beauty, while inside it's so poorly maintained that you can save your Rs. 12 entry fee and you won't miss out of anything, for that matter you'll be safe from the stench and pigeon shit! See, this is what I don't like, they collect entry fee from us and yet don't maintain it!

The slight disappointment at the Prag Mahal museum did not dampen our spirits and gulping down a big glass of sugar-cane juice, we drove to the Swami Narayan Temple which is merely 5 minutes from the Aina Mahal. The temple was almost empty and very peaceful despite of it's location at a junction of 2 roads. The complex was colourful- a characteristic of Kutch temples. We took a quick darshan and drove to The Sharad Bag Palace.

Breath of fresh air..Sharad Bag Palace

Sharad Bag palace is no bigger than a bunglow. But the garden surrounding the palace makes it so special! Sharad Bag palace/museum is open from 9:00AM-12Noon and from 3:00AM-6:00PM on all days except fridays. Sharad Bag belongs to Madan Singhji whose ancestors now live in Mumbai. The moment we walked into the palace complex and into the garden, the cool environment welcomed us and the breath of fresh air felt- fresh!

The garden is perfectly mowed, and the palace is small, but beautiful. The main palace is closed down for the quake shook its very foundation, however the dining area cum kitchen complex is open for public and is presently is a museum. Most artefacts in this museum are very recent and very well preserved. The one's that caught my eye were two huge elephants tusks, silver basin, dining table chairs, coffin etc. I think the authorities of Aina Mahal must lear something about preserving artefacts from those of the Sharad Baag one's!

Hunting for Lunch

By the time we were done with Bhuj sight-seeing it was 12:30 PM and the pefect time to shop! We roamed the streets of the old Bhuj area looking in particular for bandhej suits, knives and mud-art paintings. Of the three we bought only a suit-as the other too were out of our sight and we were in a sort-of a hurry to search the market in the FBI way-and proceeded to have lunch.

(day be continued....)

Friday, April 11, 2008

Shopping : Colaba vs. Bandra (Hill Road/Linking Road)


Some debates are never meant to end but are just meant to get more heated - and this is one of them! But it is always nice to analyse both the contentions and read a harmonic conclusion.

Ask any youngster In Mumbai about the hottest, cheapest and trendiest shopping jaunts and Bandra and Colaba always are spoken together, sometime one first and sometimes the other. But funnily when you ask them to pick one, they’d most likely hurl the f word and then more soberly say that its as hard to choose between the two just as a mother fins its hard to choose between two kids!


To begin with, both the shopping hot spots are placed an hour apart. Depending upon where one stays or is at that point of time, that area becomes more convenient to access. Thus, for me I’d rate Colaba a point higher than Bandra just because it is nearer to my house and also to most colleges/work places and hence convenient for students as well as those employed in the near-by work districts (unless you happen to be working in BKC). - 1 up for Colaba!


Comparing the branded showrooms, both are equally placed. Big sports brands, shoe brands and some designer boutiques are at both the jaunts, but Bandra is slightly ahead because it has Kink and other stores that sell MTV and TV merchandise and clothing that the hip- and happening VJ’s and TV anchors flaunt! – 1 up for Bandra! (It’s a tie)


Accessory shops are plenty at both the places ranging from jewellery, bags, belts, shoes etc in both rasta fair and brands. If you compare jewellery stores, Colaba edges ahead because it not only sells junk at throw away prices, but also vintage silver jewellery which goes well with western as well as Indian clothes. In terms of bag stores, Colaba has some nice designer stores, so does Bandra, but Bandra has more variety in the lower priced bags, so overall, Bandra wins in terms of bags. For belts and shoes, it’s again a victory for Bandra linking road. I mean can 10 shops compete with 50 shoe shops in the same proximity?! But for bags, belts and shoes Colaba is less choppy on the pocket! I cannot seem to reach a trade-off so if its style and variety go for Bandra, but if its money also, them Colaba isn’t so bad! (Tie again!)

Clothes horse

For clothes, it’s again a personal preference. If it is dresses, club wear and use and throw cheap clothes you’re looking for, Bandra is way ahead. But if it is lasting stuff, yet affordable stuff, Colaba is a teeny-meeny bit ahead. Colaba even offers Tees in bigger and extra small sizes unlike what I’ve seen in Bandra. Even the proper built up shops in Colaba are cheaper than the one’s in Bandra. Further, Colaba that are more wearable clothes in daily life, unlike Bandra which is more hip. Thus, Colaba inches slightly ahead! - 1 up for Colaba!


One thing Bandra cannot beat Colaba in is antiques. Colaba offers antiques at highly negotiable prices on the streets and in dedicated shops! You can buy anything from a record player, to vase, to elaborate carpets, to brass items and more at unbelievable prices. - 2 up for Colaba!


I am conveniently including eat out joints because isn’t that shopping for food?! Both places have the usual suspects like Mc Donald’s, Subway, Barista, Café Coffee Day, Baskin Robbins etc but both greatly differ in the other eat out joist in terms of cuisine offered. While Colaba is famous for Theobroma (everything sinfully chocolaty), Café Churchill (Italian), Kailash Parbat (Chat and all that), Kamath (South Indian treats), Piccadily/Falafels (Middle Eastern cuisine) etc, Bandra offers Cream Centre (Italian), Kentucky’s Fried Chicken (American heaven), Bamboo Shoot (Thai), Hotel Siddharth (Gujarati Thali) and much more. Plus, Bandra has the famous Elco chat wala and solely on that ground, it wins in this parameter! – 1 up for Bandra (Colaba still leads)

Surprise surprise!

Lastly a surprise parameter is the proximity to other tourist spots! And *drum rolls* Colaba wins without convincingly in this category!


On comparing the scores, Colaba wins by 2 whole points!! But Bandra isn’t far behind! I guess, I have contributed my bit to this debate and have reached a conclusion, can’t guarantee if it’s a harmonious, that’s for your readers to decide!


P.S:- The parameter of proximity to tourist sports has nothing to do with shopping experience, but I added it to show that my darling Colaba wins convincingly *winks* Teeny-meeny bias is acceptable, right?!

Charming South Mumbai


It’d be clichéd’ to say that no other part of Mumbai matches up to the charm of South Mumbai, but sometimes clichés are plain truth, and hence cannot be dumped as being passé!

Truth is hard to see right?! But when someone helps, it makes it easier…so let me help you see the plain truth, the plain bliss, the plain charm of South Mumbai in flat two days!

Architectural marvels

To begin with, South Mumbai has some of the architectural marvels that I’m thankful for to all the invaders, apart from teaching Indians some unity! It’s brilliant how life revolves around these colonial pillars. Every emotion of Mumbaikar unfolds before the eyes of these age old monuments - the early morning hustle bustle at the marvelous Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus are Churchgate station, to the sprint by the Mumbai University, High court and Flora Fountain to reach the famous work districts like Nariman point, Fort and Colaba, to the leisurely and romantic escapes at Gateway of India and David Sassoon Library and each of the myriad emotions of human complexity.

Romantic retreat

Chill out at the cafes’ in Colaba or on Marine drive as you get high on coffee and conversation until the sun scorches bright. Then sit in the arms of the Arabian Sea on Marine Drive eating peanuts and watching the orange sun turn red, crimson until it fades from the horizon. Next, head to the majestic Gateway of India where in the night time the lover sun has given way to the calm of the moon and the monument glows in the love of the celestial bodies and some help from electrical lights. Walk hand in hand with your lover or giggle with your friends as you take leisurely walks around Regal circle, Museum and Flora Fountain after the office noises have died down. Catch a late night movie at Regal Cinema, Eros, Sterling, Metro or Inox or perhaps the more culturally scented plays and performances at NCPA, Kala Ghoda, or Asiatic Society if that’s closer to your taste.

Squeeze in the shopping and adventure

Get a good night sleep and shop till you drop at throw away prices in Colaba, Crowford Market and Fashion Street. Or if you’re a brand freak, you can juggle in and out of stores until you hands are full and pockets run dry. If you enjoy the waves, hire a ferry at gateway and go cave hunting to Elephanta caves. If that isn’t adventurous enough, fuel the adventurous streak further by trying out the range of water sports at H2O on Chowpatty. Also, be an audience and check out the sporting facilities at Wankhede Stadium, Brabourne stadium, the cricket madness at Cross Maidan, races and handsome horses at Mahalaxmi Race course and some tennising action at MSLTA in Cuffe Parade!


After the adventure leaves you hungry, try the street food at Chowpatty or the richness of the food at Crowford, especially if its Ramzan time. If you care for a drink or beats to grove too, Colaba pubs and discs in South Mumbai are just perfect! Not only can you meet new like minded people, but can also make contacts from across the globe! If you still have energy for a little more adventure, try out the BEST buses at the peak hours, or better still the Local trains where hanging and sticking your noses into armpits of others is the first of the grossiest, but funny thing you’ll encounter.

Want more...?

If you still want to soak up more of South Mumbai, then gang up with random stranger and ask them to show you around! What’s a better way to see the best part of Mumbai than from the eyes of a true SOBO? And once you’ve done all that I talked about up there, you’ll know why South Mumbai Rock and sets my day rolling!

P.S - Having lived in South Mumbai, nothing else feels right!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

What to Pack on your visit to India?

First things first

The first thing you need to pack on any trip be it to India or anywhere in the world is enthusiasm. I mean, the world is a boring place without the dash of enthusiasm!

For starters, you can be assured that India isn’t the land of million myths. We do have snakes and spirituality, but that is just a tiny part of the grandeur and charm of India. What you pack and how you pack depends mainly upon the season, your budget and destinations.


Unless you’re not heading to the Himalayas or far flung North-eastern areas in winter season, you can pretty much do with the same kind of clothing. A pair of jeans/khakis teamed with t-shirts/light shirts, one off jacket/windcheater, swim wear for the occasional dip to cool your head off, flip-flops/running shoes, sun cap, shades and lots of sun-block would be the perfect attire!

If the list sounds like its going toad too much weight to your luggage, you can carry a near empty bag and fill it by satiating the shop-o-holic in you! Most big cities have cheap and trendy places for comfortable clothes. The best buys are off the streets where you can become the proud owner of jeans in just Rs. 200/- and T-shirts for as little as Rs. 70/-. Go in for this option only if you have the time, will to bargain and no-brand consciousness!
What to carry it in?

What you carry is important, but what you carry it in is equally important. You can choose from ruck-sacks, to hard covered or soft suitcases and air bags that can be folded. If you’re the luxury traveler you can flaunt the suitcases and have the porters lug them around for you in-and-out of cabs and hotel rooms. However, if you have a modest budget, a ruck-sack with water proofing would be just perfect! Either way, your bag must be sturdy and water proof. Also tag each of your luggage with your name, address and other contact details incase it gets misplaced. Further, it is very important to lock your bags, and be safe than sorry!

Apart from the major bag, you will need an accompanying backpack, purse or waist bag. The same can be used to hold the cash, calling cards, bank cards, copy of visas, copy of passport, copy of permits, train/airline tickets, camera, cell phone, torch light, travel guide, maps, pen knife, water, handy snacks, hand towels, wet tissues and a an extra pair of clothes. This will be not only convenience, but help you to segregate things you need everyday while traveling, from those you may need at some destinations.

Destination specific

Lastly, the destination you’re heading to also determine what to pack. You need to have a clear cut itinerary for ease of packing. But don’t let the structure bar you from the occasional detour even if you do not the right attire/gear for you, for you can easily buy it or better still rent it from the numerous rental shops!


As a precautionary measure, inform friends and family back home about your location, keep all the documents safe and create memories through pictures, videos and travel entries just incase you begin to forget how it feels to be in India, which is a very remote possibility, but hey a record will make it all the more special, won’t it?!

Reality check

And before you head off to pack as per the newly made to-pack list, add a few more items to pack like – your sense of humor, sense of adventure, curiosity, a little bit of tolerance – for you’ll need them to cherish India.

(9 April 2008)


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