A Solivagant’s Friend: Books

My backpack always has a book whenever and wherever I travel. A book is so important for a solivagant. Most of my trips didn’t end up with meeting new people, also the long trips in trains and buses long for a talk or a company or a story if not for gossip. At these moment books make a good friend and company.

I love books! I love books so much that I stopped being in touch with a friend who I trusted my book and never returned it back. He never even try to give an apology. Never lend your books to everyone😑. People don’t understand how much you cherish your books. I always find people who read books attractive. Not just the one who reads, but the ones who enjoy and recommend others. A part of society thinks people who read and love to read books are nerds. This is a misconception and it is hard to accept for many who don’t read books. Trust me. People who love to read are the coolest people ever(not all are nerds).

I am always glad my parents nurtured me with the interest of reading books. I have seen people who are so proud that they don’t read books. Thankfully my parents gave me storybooks to read by my 1st grade. We have lots and lots of books in our house and as we grow it became a part of us.

2 Years back, I went for a trip to the Northern part of India (Darjeeling, Sikkim & Calcutta). Like always I took my Kindle. I was reading Jules Verne’s Journey to the center of Earth. Trust me that story became an important memory of that trip we had. I never felt bored during my entire train journey because of it. Cause people around me were sleeping during the 3days train journey. But, I was taken into the center of the earth thanks to Verne. That man’s words takes you to any part of the world. You almost believe you are at the center of the Earth.

I love classics more. Many of the contemporary stories revolve around sensual content more these days to last long on the shelf. But, those days didn’t need triggering words. Those books take us through times and places. They are more relevant to the time they are written. They take us to adventures and sometimes unveil the life and gets us into the minds of people. Those were their focus. People told us stories for the sake of sharing for the sake of understanding. Now stories are made not to share but to attract and for commercialize. I’m not generalizing. But only 2 in 10 books are exceptionally well written. It’s completely from my experience.

Now it’s the “Pongal” festival season. For me, the Pongal holiday holds a direct connection to the Chennai Book Fair. It’s like a ritual. Right from my 2nd grade, my parents used to take us to the Chennai Bookfair held during Pongal holidays. We spend thousands on books with the money we saved in the previous year. There are people who laughed at my parents for bringing us up like this and for spending money on books which they should have invested in gold ornaments. I am so thankful, my parents are clear-headed people.

I have grown up to be a better person because of all those books that I have read and what they had taught me. To tell the truth, for me, my books, cartoons, cycling, and my dogs taught me to be a good and responsible person. Only a few people taught me how to be a better human such as my parents and teachers. Apart from that, I have met more negative people. Nevermind. Even now people who cross my life makes me feel like I do not fit in this timeline. Lots of them just showed me how worse can humans go and do. When we travel a lot, experience a lot and read a lot we know how to behave, how to respond to a situation and how to use our words. Having control over us is something hard for many of us. We easily give in to other’s words and peer pressure. Many of us finds it to be easier to be a demon than an angel. After all, we are humans and we are here by mimicking our peers. I am just a beginner in this course of controlling myself but, this also has negative impacts too. It becomes hard to fit in the ignorance of the world.

Even when I was bedridden, when I thought I am going to die and not going to go back to being normal. I started to believe in recovery while reading “Secret Garden” by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Books can turn you into anything you want and can turn you into anyone you want. So does experiences. Once you have seen how death feels like at a young age, it’s hard for you to get back to the time you weren’t. You think differently, you look differently at world and your preferences change. Not everyone can understand you. Things that used to be important for you is not important to you anymore. Things change a lot. You can’t understand people around you and people around you think you are heavy headed and selfish. But, then when you travel and read stories and novels, you get to know you are not alone. You will find someone just like you, not so close to you but he or she is somewhere far away. But exist.

Reading can’t be as fun as watching a movie to many but it can be the best companion when you travel alone or if you are around a group of unproductive people or if you are left alone. Just like a solivagant needs shoes, she/he also needs a book.

“So, you have Chennai Bookfair happening from February 24th -March 9th, in Nandhanam YMCA. The Fair will be from 11am to 8pm. If you are in and around Chennai. Take your family and friends. Go there visit all the bookstalls, grab all the books that you like without regrets. Even if it’s one book, that’s going to make you a little better than today. Most importantly they will be following Covid-19 Safety protocols so make sure to wear your masks, bring your sanitizers, stay safe and be conscious of your surrounding.

There are lots of mediocre food stalls put up. In 2019 they had Krishna Sweets catering. That was so good. This time I am still not sure, but will update you through my Instagram page.


The Start

This is me. A Solivagant.

“You must go on adventures to find out where you belong.”

— Sue Fitzmaurice

I’ve been thinking to start a blog right from the day I’ve stepped into my class during my Undergraduate program – English literature. But, I wasn’t responsible enough to spend time for something I am not passionate enough. It took me 4years to be passionate. After so many life experiences and after experiencing life close to death, I have found out something worth my effort and time which brought me back to life. It is Travelling. Travelling brings different emotions and memories for different people. For me, it’s rejuvenation and healing. When I was bedridden I have regretted so much for not doing what I want. And this blog is the beginning of the change and opportunity I have given from life itself.

When I was a kid, I didn’t have kids of my age to play with, so I always take my bicycle, roam around the streets, found new ways, and found new places. Even after stepping into my twenties, whenever I am upset or angry all I do is to travel to find my balance. And then, by the time to chose my post-graduate stream, I decided to take my career through this line. And this blog is like the first step I have taken for my love for Travel and Tourism.

I am glad to let you into my mind through my blog. Welcome to my blog!! Let me make sure that I give you the infinite doors to the roads I travel.

A Solivagant’s shoe is going to be a flip into the experience and one step closer to the mind of a solivagant.

5 Reasons why you should visit Tuticorin

I have visited Tuticorin many times since I was a kid. It is my parent’s native place also most of our relatives reside there. Back in those days, I haven’t observed much. So, I haven’t found how precious it could be for a newcomer. Recently, after almost seven years, I visited again and travelled around. This time I looked and observed more than what I could see. I just realized it is a destination with so much opportunity and a place which has so much to offer for travellers. There are many reasons why you have to visit Tuticorin. But, I’ll stick with five reasons based on what I liked about visiting Tuticorin.

1. A Land With So Much History:
When you visit Tuticorin, you have so much to see that you don’t get bored easily. Whether you are good in history or a person who doesn’t even remember what you did in your history class, Tuticorin will let you submerge and let you travel through time. Tuticorin holds the memory of the freedom fighters such as Subramaniya Bharathiyar and VOC and memory of the events merging as we walk through Maniyatchi.

Beyond religion, every locality has and speaks its own story by the art and architecture still existing. All the artistic structures such as Churches and Cathedrals left as a trace by foreigners brighten up during festivals where the entire community gathers without prejudice. As you casually stroll around the roads, you could notice lots of temple and traditional houses revealing olden architectural style standing still beautifully, surviving test of time. You can also notice abandoned houses among the contemporary houses which slowly overtake and project people’s economical growth. On the whole, a treat for architecture and street photographers is this Pearl of Southern Districts.

2. Land which loves and respect Nature:

Whether you fly from Chennai or travel in Train, you can see the transition of colour and view as you look through the window before you land at Tuticorin. It is the lush green that is surviving amidst the slow urbanization. The most important thing I have noticed here is that you can see so much of birds species. Tuticorin is indeed the best spot for birdwatching. I fell in love with this place more because all these birds trust humans or should I say almost all the humans gained trust of birds. These birds roam so freely even while people are around. I have experienced house sparrows sitting right next to me without any fear. I have never experienced this in Chennai. Wait! I have never seen house sparrow in Chennai for years. Also, you will get to see Peacocks roam in the streets so casually. You will eventually get used to it.

Tuticorin is filled with rural community despite many people move out to the city for survival. Many villages exist there with their unique beauty. All the rural villages have so many stories and indigenous knowledge to offer. You can take a walk by local flowers, farmlands, ponds(Kamma), fields and gardens to look around.

People in these rural villages live and grow up with all the domesticated animals. Even though it is considered an income, that doesn’t stop them from giving any less love or care to these animals. You can see houses with more Indian breed dogs like Chippiparai and Kanni, which seem a little intimidating but lovely when you get to know them. In my case goats, bulls and roosters are way more intimidating than dogs.

Nature doesn’t end with village life there, as it reaches through the sea that stretches afar. It has always been one of the sources for Tuticorin people. The beach is always crowded in the evening as families and friends gather to enjoy the sunsets. But, the entire crowd disperse once the darkness set in. My favourite spot is Hare island which has more than just a crisp view and blooming colour. They let you immerse in peace that you don’t even realize how much time has passed.

3. A Place for Food Lovers:

Tuticorin always reminds me of Parotta, Poori, Coconut chutney and Macaroons. Tuticorin is famous for Parotta, even though fact says it is Virudhunagar that’s famous for parotta. Whenever we visit Tuticorin, we never, not even once missed eating Parotta. At least during departure, my father would buy some. I have a weak and sensitive digestive system. Surprisingly, even if I try foods from local street shops at Tuticorin, it hasn’t messed with my tummy. The reason is their cleanliness.

Whatever it is, a tea shop, cafe, hotel, restaurant or street-side shop, people are so clean. Just by seeing the people, you can tell they have bathed, cleaned the shop and diligently finished their prayers and lit the incense stick that welcomes you with a fresh aroma. That always assured me and let me try their cuisine without hesitation.

I also love that food isn’t as expensive and doesn’t compromise with quantity or quality. I have never once suspicious about the food over there or less satisfied. I have always been happy with my food experience at Tuticorin. I still remember the taste of Parotta and Kaadai gravy I had there. Whether the flavour or aroma or texture, everything is on point. Don’t just stick with just parotta the entire time though. Visit villages during festivals, you can experience the typical gramathu samayal with Rice and Kari Kulambu, Fish Kulambu, Biryani and what not. If you find the right spot, you can experience a feast beyond your expectation. I also love the poori and coconut chutney combo, the avials and porials and variety of vathals sourced from fresh local vegetables. The vegetarian restaurants over there always do justice to the taste and don’t go short in competition.
Food experience doesn’t end just there. Tuticorin is also expert in Bakery. It has an authenticity which can’t be imitated so easily. While Macaroon is the King of all, there are a variety of cakes and buns that stole many peoples hearts testing the taste palette of people.

4. A Place with Hospitable People:

The most loveable thing about people in Tuticorin is they are equally kind and hotheads. They are so kind to strangers and guests. We usually do not easily let ourselves trust people and communicate with strangers in a new place. But, once you step into Tuticorin, everything will eventually change. They make you so comfortable. Wherever you go. Shop? Restaurant? Village?. People don’t care, they would just talk from their mind while showing kindness. When you go there as a guest, you will always be treated with kindness. For me, I find it so warm the way people, especially strangers talked with me. I went to Hotel Kani where the in-charge was so engaging, funny and hospitable that made us experience something more than just-food. The strong impact Tuticorin people had on me is that people there don’t require training to be hospitable. They are so natural in this.
Growing in Chennai, I have seen auto drivers going mad when we bargain. I was surprised by a bargain my dad had with an auto driver in Tuticorin. Never have I ever seen a smooth bargain like that in my life. When I think about it now, it doesn’t even felt like a bargain. Maybe it is just that one person. But this happened more than once.
So, if you visit Tuticorin, I am not saying you can blindly trust everyone. What I am trying to say is, even a person who doesn’t want to engage will be dragged into a conversation

5. Land at the Center:

From Tuticorin, you can go anywhere. You are at the center of so many destinations around. Being there doesn’t end your journey. You can start the next by going to different places connected through the roadways of Tuticorin. Whether its Thiruchendur temple or Manapad or Tirunelveli or Madurai or Kanyakumari or Kayalpattinam or Tenkasi. The roads of Tuticorin will take you wherever you want to go. It gives you that vibe by telling you even if you get bored, it has so much to offer around. That’s one of the best things about visiting Tuticorin for explorers and travellers who want to go beyond plans.

Make sure to visit Tuticorin at least once and experience the warmth. Also, be mindful of the time you visit. During the rainy season, there will be so much water stagnation issue similar to life in Chennai. Also, during Summer, you will have the feel of visiting the desert. Villages won’t be so green like I have shown in pictures. Check the forecast before making plans. And share your experience if you have already been there.

Stay Safe Everyone! I know its little late but: Wishing you all a safe 2021 and lets hope for a year where we all would travel everywhere we want without fear!

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Museum: Where time merges!

Museums are the best getaway when you want to try to go somewhere new and look at something different while you step into each door. My first museum experience was when I was doing my 7th grade. Back then it was too late for me, comparatively. I saw kids smaller than me at that time were taken to a museum from their school. Well, my school always took us to an amusement park(I loved em) and factories(so-so). I compelled and dragged my dad to take me there even though I knew that’s the only day he can rest and he was reluctant to leave.

New Ticket Office

Eventually, I forgot that visit, most of them, as time passed. I visited that Museum Complex often to go to the oldest library (Connemara Public Library) in the town which stays inside the complex but didn’t have the leisure to visit Museum. After completing my Undergraduate, I went there with one of my friends and had a great time even though we didn’t get to see the Museum entirely. It was under serious renovation back then. Now it is almost closer to completion so, I decided to visit with my brother. He has never been there.

The official front entrance of the Museum. Make sure not to get stung by the scorpio, cause whenever I mess with it, it did stung.
Connemara Public Library. Source: Me!

Egmore Government Museum! I bet most of you haven’t been there. It is quite accessible through roadways. Being in the “almost center of Chennai”, it has vast collection of arts and artefacts and also various fun elements for you to see and enjoy. It is the 2nd oldest Museum in India. If this didn’t attract you, it is also the 10th oldest Museum in the WORLD, and, you still haven’t visited it? Not cool guys. You don’t have to be a kid to enjoy everything it holds inside.

Its the house of culture and heritage which you have to visit at least once. From statues, sculptures, animal remains, moving dinosaurs(check out the instagram for the video) to the most beautiful showcase of arts and coolest old age weapons, pots and musical instruments in the anthropological section. There are a total of 6 buildings inside the complex, most of them are pretty old and artistic revealing with so much to see in the architectural style than just the museum collection. I have enjoyed looking at the architecture more closely as it is my third time. Every time, you get to observe something new, its not just with books but also with these heritage buildings. Its architectural aspects such as the widows, the ceiling, the doors and the staircases. You can get to notice more if you observe more than just seeing.

The most beautiful room with full of classic weapons such as daggers and swords. Source: Me!

The pavements you take to visit each building are still unattractive, yet you can have some good time as you step inside the buildings. Nowadays they have staffed more people inside the buildings than before and trying to bring a system which is sloppy at present but expected to be good. At some places, you will be watched by the staffs so that you aren’t taking photos. I have been warned by almost three staff asking me to stop photographing the cute tortoise and beautiful ceilings. Sigh. But I did take photographs. I rebel twice a month outside the home.

Victoria hall. Currently closed. But best place to take Photos. Check out my Instagram to see the best angle. Source: Me! Me!

This Museum Complex is also known as a venue for many theatrical shows, conferences, workshops and art exhibitions. Especially the Museum theatre which is well known for revealing its Italian style architecture of the 1800s. Its main hall can hold more than 500 people comfortably. Currently not accessible due to renovation work. You can sense the trace of British era around the premises at various places. Most importantly make sure to get the glimpse of the exterior of Victoria Hall which is not opened for visitors yet, but the artistic exterior speaks all, the window and the balcony are quiet luxurious even to look at them. You can also see towels and clothes of workers drying up here and there… ignore them. I am telling this beforehand so that your expectations don’t get shattered.

Museum Theatre. Source: Me again!

My most favourite aspect of the museum, on the whole, is the Zoological and Natural history collection. But the Anthropological collection is my top most favourite with wonderfully crafted weapons of past which are quite cool! Very Cool! and Contemporary Art Gallery with renowned artists from the British era and few Ravi Varma’s work. Hope you also able to identify a famous meme-worthy painting among them which was quite popular. And also make sure to visit the Bronze Statue Gallery with perfect lighting which gives you a futuristic feel. On the whole, make sure to experience every single aspect of the museum where past and present merges beautifully. The most booing aspect of the visit is Rs.200 for photographs and Rs400 for videography?! Seriously! Also, one staff can’t get rid of her suspicion of me that she keep on stalking me. Also, it’s not just me, if you know the Youtube Channel Paridhabangal, the team members were also there. They were also not allowed to take photographs and got warned. So I felt a little satisfied.

It takes about 2hrs to see all the section of the museum and its collection, plus a lot of energy. Make sure not to spend lots of time in the beginning in the archaeological sculpture section as it eventually makes you miss lots more good things to come, because you’ll get tired. Especially, when you have kids in the family. Back then, even though it is true that I am the one who dragged my dad in with excitement, its also fact that I am the one who dragged him out as my legs started to hurt and I got hungry. Carry lots of snacks, eat it in the outdoor dining space next to the children’s park. There used to be an aavin kiosk, but it is currently closed, quite sad. Try to wear good shoes, you will be walking more than expected.

I also noticed that they have wheelchair accessibility and also accessibility for people who have difficulty in climbing up stairs. Apart from these at present they are bringing in more digital boards and digital interpretation options. They also have a separate application to learn about the collections. You have lots of benches inside the Museum Gallery to take some break in-between, very thoughtful.

So, Why not a Museum? Why the Museum wasn’t your option to go when you are bored. These days, I notice many parents having time to take their children for shopping malls and show the branded goods behind the glasses instead of history and time staying inside the Museum behind glasses. Our Government Museum isn’t perfect, not well maintained at various level and not as attractive as the museums you see it in Hollywood movies. I agree with this. I also agree with the fact that there is a fault in the management and the Government. And let me also remind you that you are at fault too. I have always believed that walls and buildings have a life too. Its lifeline is humans and their activity. If we people start visiting a place which lost its light which burnt brighter through the laughter and the voice of people, it automatically regains its effervescence through your presence. Or else it is branded as useless with no improvement made when people’s activity pause.

So make sure to visit the museum and give it more life so that it stands the test of time. Before appreciating things that are out of reach, learn to appreciate that are closer to you.

You can visit any time of the week except Friday. You are allowed from 9:30 AM-5:00 PM. If you like to watch among lesser crowd start from 11:00 AM. Its the best time. Once you finished spending time at the museum, there are many restaurants close by such as Palmshore and Rawthar. There are many other restaurants apart from these in the surroundings. The closest metro railway station is AG-DMS. The closest railway station is Egmore Railway Station. Share autos are also available. And you also have a bus stop at a walkable distance. I’ll be sharing the direction link below. Don’t forget the mask. Your safety comes first.

Source: Government Museum, Egmore Official Websitehttp://www.govtmuseumchennai.org/museum/

If you have any other queries, make sure to DM through my Instagram page. You can access it through the icon below the menu button above. Since I can’t share videos and many more best photos here I’ll be sharing them on my Instagram page. Check them out.

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8 Ways To Bring Out The Responsible Traveller Inside You

Have you ever thought about how to be a responsible traveller? Or how do you find if you are a responsible traveller?

First, let us get to know who are all the responsible travellers… Responsible travellers are also known as a conscious travellers, who thinks about their actions while travelling, by understanding the impact they create on the environment and its communities. Apart from that, they are mindful about the choices they make while travelling so that they extend the lifeline of the destination without causing a negative impact and create a positive influence among peers.

Photo by Kaique Rocha on Pexels.com

Responsible travellers are an immense requirement in the future. Covid-19 have put forth how important it is to protect any destination and its community so that it withstands time. With pandemic impact soaring high, various tourist destination and the people depending on travellers and tourists for their livelihood are in a state of unpredictability. Right now and in future you are needed to help your country and your locality back to form economically.

Being a responsible traveller is not as easy as it sounds to be. Even though you decided to become one, you will have various distractions and end up losing your determination as a result of psychological distractions. 

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Many travellers who wanted to be a responsible and mindful at many occasion, but when situation arise they give up by making unsustainable choices and behaviours. Especially while travelling in groups as mob mentality has more pressure and they subconsciously give in to the unsustainable practices. So, rather than going in full fledge, you can slowly take a step by step to try to become a Responsible traveller by enjoying and at the same time being thoughtful.

1. Choose your transportation wisely by minding carbon emission:

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When you travel to any place which is not far away or places which can be accessed quite easily think about choosing transport which creates lesser pollution and impact on the environment.

Try to avoid riding a bike to a walkable or cycling distance. If you are travelling solo try to use public transport or share a vehicle instead of taking a car or bike. If you are not in an urgent situation and also the place has a railway line, try to opt the railway instead of the airway.

While choosing airlines try to learn about its carbon emission and chose the one with reduced carbon emission despite its increasing ticket expense if you are not a frequent traveller.

2. Support anything that’s locally sourced

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When you travel to any destination try to eat and buy things which are locally sourced, instead of getting anything you can get even in your city, which is highly accessible or branded.

Trying local foods which are locally sourced contribute combinedly to the livelihood of the local community, economy and environment and your health. Local foods have strong uniqueness than the restaurants with multiple branches at multiple destinations without diversified options. Through local foods, you enter into another dimension of culture. Its experience is often un-regretable. Your contribution through this way is more also it is going to cost less, while you save more.

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Find the local shops, talk with local people and learn as much as you can from them so that you have an add-on experience. Look for more handicrafts and souvenir shops which are run by local & tribal efforts.

Think before bargaining. Understand with who you are bargaining. When it comes to locals they provide products which are mostly handmade and worthy of the price. Even while bargaining know your extent to which you can go.

Try to be a promoter and supporter of the local communities of the destination and be an influencer who can make local products and souvenirs worth more.

3. Try to leave your footprints not your waste

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Where ever you go, be mindful of your environment. Even if you see multiple trashes being thrown around, stay careful and throw your wastes in trashcans instead of getting inspired by the others who are too lazy to throw inside the trashcan. If there is no trashcan around take it back with you and throw when you find one.

Always carry a bottle of your own so that you don’t have to buy plastic water bottles often and utilize waters from RO points and water purifiers.

Carry your own containers and utilities such as spoons and forks, a stainless steel straw (available in market and amazon online shopping store currently) to reduce the plastic usage.

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Try to carry reusable cloth bags or jute bags with you so that you can carry things and get the foods in them instead of plastic bags.

Try your best in avoiding packed snacks and foods.

While camping, leave no trace behind. This practice is also known as In and Out practice, where whenever you go camping, whatever you take out and use there, make sure to bring them back in without leaving a trace.

Always be aware of the fact that you are visiting a place where people and animals are living. The waste you make is a problem you create to the entire being.

4. Place Proximity Destinations As Priority

Travel to more local places and destinations that are worthy of more to learn, observe and entertain. To improve domestic tourism, look around your community. Visit various local museums, heritage sites, religious places and ecological places such as lakes, ponds, rivers and hills. Participate in local and cultural events and exhibitions. Exhibitions conducted by Chennai Photo Biennale 2019 utilized various local heritage sites and destinations such as Madras Literary Society, Egmore Government Museum and Madras University etc. With more arrival of visitors to these places eventually makes it more popular among locals and students in and around the city.

Doing this will extend its presence and stop them from disappearing by giving back it’s life. Promoting destinations like this will enable more local activity and increase the local economy.

Egmore Government Museum! Source: From my Gallery 🙂

Promoting proximity tourism activity will create a new track and decrease over-tourism in the destinations which have been dealing more with mass tourism activities. But be mindful, creating new pathways in the ecological sites are not advisable.

5. Look for sustainable tour operators:

When you decide to travel for a long distance and decided to reach out a tour operator be mindful of the one you choose. Try to opt for the most responsible one instead of profit-oriented operators for a change.

Photo by Quang Nguyen Vinh on Pexels.com

Various responsible tour operators create sustainable and eco-tourism related packages such as tea tourism in Assam by Purvi Discovery and Shangai Moonlight Camping in Manipur. Tour operators such as Spiti Ecosphere, Wander Womaniya, The Blue Yonder, Wander On etc. are encouraging and promoting heritage walks, camping and trekking among tourist as a part of developing responsible tourism practices.(At present most of them are temporarily closed, make sure to check)

It is one of the tough decision to make, but the one who is ready to act on will eventually able to become responsible traveller faster than you think.

6. Look out for an eco-conscious or sustainable accommodation:

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Accommodation is one of the significant aspects of the travel and tourism sector and has more to do with sustainability. Making a smart and responsible choice might be tiring for many, but it has a major impact on the environment.

Various star hotels, resorts and homestays are currently involving in sustainable development and practices. Look for accommodations which are eco-friendly and certified. Some of the Eco Certifications and Labels are Global Sustainable Travel Council(GSTC) certification, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design(LEED) certification, EU Eco-label, Green Globe certification, Ecotel certification, Green Key Eco Ratings etc.

When you travel to any eco-tourism destination, try to look out for cottages, eco-resorts and homestays which utilizes the help of locals and their production in order to contribute to the locals, environment and energy-saving practices.

7. Be careful and respectful towards local culture:

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When you travel to a new place, never separate the people living there and their culture as a different entity. 

Try to learn more about the places, people and their culture before, during and after the visit.

Be careful of your behaviour and actions so that you don’t offend their lifestyle or cause disturbance to their livelihood. On the general term, tourist activities impact the life of the locals more than you think. So try to be friendly and polite at your best and worst when it comes to locals.

Always learn, stick to instructions if you are taking a guided trip, try to learn their languages and vocabularies. Make sure to show respect in the form of practising their greetings, etiquette, dress code and avoid creating inconvenience in places where they have restrictions. Especially, in various Pacific Asian countries, where it is highly expected. Keep in mind that all your actions and reactions have different connotation and intonations in different countries.

In the current situation, as a responsible traveller it is also important to avoid travelling to places where you are not welcome. Many places are not happy with travellers due to the fear of spread of Covid-19 virus. So make sure to be understanding even when you are away. When you are welcome, adhere to the medical checkups and procedures following by that place.

8. Be an Influencer by Sharing and Inspiring

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Being a Responsible traveller or a tourist doesn’t end with your actions and practices, it branches out in the form of sharing, educating and inspiring. Use social media forums to proudly present your activities and priorities you made as a responsible traveller. Communicate the challenges and achievements also callout your friends to be a responsible traveller and help them to be one.

A small change can become a chain of actions and lead to massive growth and opportunity. It’s not easy as people sometimes tend to think about only what they lose, especially the convenience they are missing out than the positive changes that they are creating. Making these sustainable actions is not a one-time activity, it is sequential and focused on growth over time.

Try to start one step at a time if you are not confident to give a full blow, but never stop trying. Start your research and bring out the responsible traveller and tourist inside you for your next trip which you already started planning out. Bring out the responsible traveller in you for better and safer travel and tourism practice.

Stay Safe!

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Life Of A Hill

Living in a suburb surrounded by 5 small hills-the Panjapandava hills(that how we named it when we were kids), it’s the only happiest thing at that point with no shops close by, no schools close by or parks. Somehow out of everything we slowly realised the worth of it as we grew up. I am so excited to talk about the most accessible hill which turns out to be our energy pill by its existence.

Hilltop view

When we were kids, we used to have a fight while we go to school in the van, its basically a debate on whether we should call her- Pallavaram hill or Tirusulam hill. You can choose anything you want. I go with Tirusulam hill even though I used to take the side of Pallavaram Hill during those debates. Tirusulam hill is one of the tallest around Chennai and home to various local species of flora and fauna mostly deciduous. You can spot distinctive and colourful flowers, trees, shrubs, birds and reptiles and a lonely palm tree along the way when you take a walk. Apart from these, be ready to get awestruck by the view which I can interpret in 2 ways. First, you can see the way nature and human merge when you are a first-timer there. Second, you can see the way slowly humanity engulfing the extraordinary landscape by placing man-made boxes replacing trees, lakes and ponds.

This comparatively large hill is a perfect spot to recharge your mind, body and soul amongst the bustling life. Since we were kids, our days and nights run looking at her solemnly. Previously, there were no restrictions at the same time there are no roads and no steps. So, it’s like you have to walk through the forest among the woods through beaten tracks. Back then, in our street, all our parents used to take us to the hill often. It’s an expenseless picnic. We pack foods and snacks in the container and go to the hilltop where there used to be a huge banyan tree under which we all spent more time staring at the view in awe, playing and talking. I still remember how our dad took my brother and me so often, where we go and see the sunset and watch the flights taking off and landing. We search for all the places we knew out of the cluster of buildings from that height. Sometimes we leave when the darkness reveals the stars in the sky and the land. Our legs hurt while climbing the hill back then and it feels like its the tiresome thing to do in the world, somehow we have developed a sense of respect and love towards her.

Airport view from the hill
Panoramic view from the Hill

The hill is quite famous, many can’t easily recognise it. It is a movie shooting hub. A lot of Tamil movie and television shows are taken there, like Shree, Bose, Vyabari, Gentlemen giving us a chance to see celebrities back then. You see, information reached us so faster than you expect. My brother and I got to see actor Manobala once, of course, we were so proud seeing celebrities.

Road towards the hill top

The hill also has a combination of religious structures such as temple, mosques and churches resulting with festivities which happen now and then. In the past, there will be bustling shops set up at the top of the hill for Milad-i-Nabi. Little down, there is a Murugan Temple, so far Thaipusam and Panguni Uthram are when a large number of the local community celebrate it. Slowly as time went, there were many restrictions put forth for the security reasons of the Airport. Also, people started to misuse the place for the crime of their own. So, as the Railway office and signal tower are at the hilltop, its employees are allowed without restrictions for a long time. Certain areas require permission to visit. So for years, most of us enjoy its beauty from our home and visit twice a year during festivals.

The Tirusulam/Pallavaram Hill

After a few years, again hill becomes well known among many athletes and sports club. During the weekends a large number of people started coming there for training, like runners, cyclists and skaters. As the steps were laid down on the way to the temple route, many people also started using the steps for their fitness. Old and middle-aged people also visit to meditate and relax during the early morning. My brother and I always take steps in the past as the road used to be chaotic. Also, I take only steps whenever I go alone for festivals which happens during summertime staring at people and families like a loner. Luckily I often get to meet people who I haven’t encountered for years.

If you wanted to seek relaxation and peace, summer is not the right time. I don’t encourage people to go there like I already mentioned being a deciduous forest all the plants turn dry, it is like a desert. The festivals are fun you also get free food but make sure to carry more water as you will lose your energy faster. Take some rest(look before sitting) as some of you might need to catch some breath as it’s not like walking in the roadway and the gravity pulls you so hard. Whether you take steps or the road, the hot soaring summer heat feels like peeling your skin off. Even though I go wearing a cap to the temple, I come back home like a dry cucumber.

The steps towards the Balamurugan Temple during Summer

Apart from this, things are a little mess too. There is a problem with humans. They take everything for granted, whether its nature, animals and their fellow humans and their relationship. They don’t care ruining the beauty and set an ultimate example for others to throw litters and trash in the home of endless numbers of species residing there. There are also some thoughtless locals who just, you know, use it for unimaginable things (pooping&drinking) which is sad and disgusting. So, I recommend you’ll to take the steps only during festivals(as the steps will be pretty clean). Or else on a pleasant day when all you wanted is to recharge but ends up ruining your eyes and nose and hate the place for the rest of your life. We can’t expect everything to be perfect every time. On a final note, while selecting the route, roads are the best option mostly.

The town view from the Hill

Taking roads after summer will be the most beautiful experience. As the rainy season begins, the plants suit themselves in fresh leaves and shimmering flowers. As you go for a walk in the morning in the roads, with birds chirping and the chorus of insects such as grasshoppers, katydids, crickets and cicadas, welcomes you along the way. You can enjoy this if you are with a gang who prefers to enjoy nature rather than yelling and screaming and ending up in trouble. Also, don’t freak out at pigs which bathed in the red sand, thinking its a hedgehog and runaway for your life, just like I did. There will be some snakes, pigs and goats around which definitely will be bothered by your presence.

Apart from everything, it is the best spot for your spiritual regeneration with pure oxygen for free. The view is massive, extraordinarily splendid when it is sunny than when it is cloudy. You can see the faded smoggy horizon, the water glistening in the ponds and lakes which are encroached by the colourful houses and multistory building. It will be enchanting and overwhelming with lots of details which looks like the hills are rising with so many frozen green waves around. Despite all, it would be really nice if you be patient and sit and enjoy the view. You can’t stay a long time during the rainy season as the weather is unpredictable. It looks like sunny and then suddenly it starts to rain out of nowhere without giving you any signs. So again take some water and umbrella at some points also be aware that the network is not accessible. Also try to avoid visiting during the foggy season, because the entire hill will be completely unfindable amidst the fogs.

The sleek road on the Hill

We all always wanted to go to a place where we can have fun and enjoy the moment. There are also times when we wanted a place where we can go to relax, think alone and declutter the burden of our hurry burry lifestyle. Taking a walk in a place like this and taking a view from a tall place like this is the best way to retrace your spiritual connection and get back your balance. Grab a bag, wear a durable shoe, take some water and wander through the roads and immerse in the views. It is also appreciable if you try to be a responsible traveller who doesn’t litter the precious nature with your snacks cover. Leave all your worries here but take all your trash back without littering.

A Solivagant’s Shoes which got its sole torn after today’s visit

Check out my instagram page for videos of this visit and also if you like the post like it and share with your friends with whom you want to visit this place. Don’t hesitate to comment. Also, if you have any feedback or difficulties in liking commenting or subscribing DM in my insta page. You can access the page through the icon below the menu.

Stay Safe!

Location: Pallavaram Hill, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India.

A Walk Around The Hill On Full Moon Days

The title might sound like I am about to write some witchcraft story. But no. The following travel experience is not going to be religious or witchcraft but you can get to see a little bit of spiritual side. Some people might judge this. But, I can understand it. As many of us tend to look at things either black or white, cause looking at shades and colors seems to be complicated because of what society taught us. You can either be religious or atheist, no in-between, that’s how many says. “I am neither a religious person nor an atheist, but highly spiritual”. Many of the adults disapprove me when I make this statement. Thankfully, my family didn’t. Though they are very religious, they saw the transition I had over the years and let me be how I see the world. Some times they get intimidated and they often get goosebumps by looking at the way I feel towards nature and the universe.

When you arise in the morning think of what a privilege it is to be alive, to think, to enjoy, to love. 

Marcus Aurelius
Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on Pexels.com

I always admire the way people belonging to every religion travel by foot to their holy destination to show their unfathomable love for their god, all around the world. Whether it is in Spain i.e. “Way of St James”, where the pilgrims end their walk at Santiago de Compostela or people who take a spiritual journey for Sabari Mala or they way people who have Haji as their destination of a lifetime. Travelling with a group of people or should I say a group of strangers with similar thoughts or with a similar destination. What a beautiful thing it is?! As I was thinking about it I remembered Tiruvannamalai. A place where thousands and thousands of people takes a 4hr walk around the hill, under the light of the full moon.

Way to St James Image by guillermo gavilla from Pixabay 

My father has been travelling for years to Tiruvannamalai every full moon day. We call those times as Pournami, where people from all the cities, towns and villages gather to walk around that hill(Girivalam). I have been there not as often as my father. But 3 important moment of my life. The first is when I was a kid who knows nothing about religion or spirituality. The second time is when I was trying to figure out the difference between religion and spirituality. The last time when I went there, I knew what it is to be spiritual.

The last time I went there was during April 2019. The journey usually starts with bus stop it’s either from Perungalathur or CMBT bus stop. My first time is from Perungalathur, there wasn’t much brawl while getting on the bus. During the second time, it’s the day before my 12th result(2014) we went in a Car with my dad’s friends.

Last time, it was my dad, brother and I. We went to the metro, got down on CMBT bus stand and waited for the bus. It was a pain. People ran like they were in the Olympics, pushed each other like they were playing Rugby and it was almost like a war.  For what? To get on the bus. And it was Chitra Pournami (That’s one special type of Pournami). I really hate to get into a fight. But sadly, I did. We were beaten to a pulp, every one of us, when we were trying to get on the bus. I got a huge blow in my stomach while squirming through the crowd. There is nothing to be relieved about it even after sitting. The bus driver and conductor wasn’t back for an hour. There was a huge cuss. People were blabbering and cursing whenever the bus which came after ours left before ours. It was unfair. I was silently cursing too. But once the bus started, it didn’t stop anywhere so we reached there earlier than we thought. It takes 3hr 30min approx from CMBT.

I really love travelling to Tiruvannamalai in Bus. We buy lots of snacks before leaving. Milkshakes, oranges, grapes, nuts and chips. We munch along the way. Whether we travel in car or bus, my dad and bro doze off until we reach. Whereas I, sit comfortably at the window seat, stare at the people, places and houses. Sometimes listen to all the conversation people have around me. Not deliberately… but, you know. The road to Tiruvannamalai takes you along the places with beautiful greenery, scenery and villages. There is this one village I can’t forget, with houses all so similar. The designs… you immediately knew that village has only one architect who manages the construction of all the houses. At one village there will be houses painted in only blue or pink. Whereas in another village there are houses filled with all indigenous flowers in the front yard. That makes the tiny hut type houses look so grandeur. I enjoyed those views as I was finishing all the milkshakes quietly.

Tiruvannamalai hill

During the first time we went there I didn’t get a chance to observe these. I had a company. I was made to sit with a lady since I have nowhere else to sit. I was a little kid, still she talked with me many things. I still remember that she said she was working in SRM college, as a girls’ hostel warden. This is one of the most important things I like about travelling, you won’t get judged most often and also its so comfortable to talk with strangers. Even though I am quiet and shy, I like to talk with people I meet while travelling and I like to visit crowded place too, once in a while, to watch people and observe them. FYI, I won’t stalk or pickpocket people. I just stop with the observing part.

From the bus stop, we had a walk for few minutes and went to a small South Indian restaurant. I had some tea and some delicious Parotta and Kurma. I used to be quite picky in the past, for what reason only my subconscious mind knows. These days I do hesitate to eat, but only hesitate when it comes to unhealthy stuff. Since I have some health conditions I think twice before eating anything, especially junk foods. The reason I bring in about food during a talk about a walk is that the best thing about this walk is food too. As the moon starts to rise, the walk begins. It feels like only a few are walking at the beginning… it turn out to be thousands of people as time goes on. Along the side of the streets, you get to eat delicious fruits with the sprinkle of salt and pepper powder. Oh! that variety of refreshing sodas, so refreshing. I got hold of it’s charms during my second time there. I still cannot get over it, lime goli soda is my favorite. God bless them. Thanks to those people who sell them at various points during the 14 km walk. There were steamed corns and herbal teas and much more savory that taste like heaven. Usually, I end the walk with an ice cream. I love this part of the journey.

Goli soda. Source: Wiki commons

Let’s get to the next side of this travel chapter. When thousands of individuals and families walked around the hill praising their lord, singing songs and chanting praises, I felt humble by the presence of the hills. Even little kids have fun and are more energetic. I take frequent breaks sometimes. But, I have improved thousand times compared to my first walk I had there. Even if you feel like your battery is down, people around you spread sufficient energy and also the incense aroma lift your mood up. There were all variety of people over there. Happy families, religious families, group of fitness freaks, couples, newly married, old people and uncle club vs aunty club. You can see a lot of people from abroad. So many other state people will be there with their families too.

If human minds give power to something, I can sense the powerful embodiment in the center of our walk- mother nature in the form of a hill. Especially as she glistens through the moonlight, as the breeze that passes through the gap of the hills let the sweats disappear once in a while. You can feel the energy of people and nature entering into your mind, body and soul. When I was a kid, reaching the end of the 14Km was a struggle. I regretted a little during my first time as my weak legs become unmovable and started to have blisters and the pain was immense. I made chaos by the end, my dad got fed up by me. I have grew up alot looking back those days.

This pic taken by my dad, during Karthigai deepam. You can’t see this happening again. As social distancing as only way of survival now.

Just when I realize now, after Covid-19, events like these will take a while to happen. We can’t even predict. The people filled streets and many journeys and festivities around the world which are halted and with no near chances to reopen. I wonder how those local peoples who survive by putting stalls at the corner of the streets are managing these times. And how the peoples who spent happy times with their families once in a full moon are spending their time.

Photo by Samuel Silitonga on Pexels.com

I admire how all the sides of religions which finally converges at at one point- spirituality. Apart from everything, nature is one thing that gave the comfort and became my sole priority, a typical pantheist I am. I won’t say I am an atheist, but I had that phase too, where I denied everything, I had a very bad existential crisis at that point. Later I had a turning phase where even though doctors and tablets and treatments saved me… I wouldn’t have survived because of all the prayers, because of all the strong beliefs that people had over their god. I am a person who has a strong belief in the humans who prays for others and the belief & love people has over their god. Whereas I developed these senses over nature and universe while I was rejuvenating. My healing process was so painful but I owe nature for backing me up. Those were unexplainable moments.

“Our task must be to free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty.”

~ Albert Einstein

What favourite events or festivals which you often travel to but you miss this year because of Covid-19?

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CMRL: The bridge that connects me and my thirst for local travel

What type of public transport person are you? Train person or a bus person?

I am always comfortable with the train. If you have read the previous posts I have already mentioned it before. Travelling in the suburban train, especially the one that runs from Tambaram to Beach station, always healed me whenever I feel down. I have laughed, cried and learnt so much through those rides ever since I was a kid. 

I have also felt that suburban train routes don’t really link to most part of the city, where I can explore only through a bus(Bus travel is something I am trying hard to get used to).

So, for me, a part of the city was always left unexplored and felt too distant. And I always felt like travelling to my hometown(Tuticorin) by train is much closer than Vadapalani, as I felt travelling here by bus is a pain. Slowly things started to change for me and also for many, as Chennai Metro Rail Limited became the most important part of Chennai’s travel route. By linking almost all of the places which weren’t connected or accessed through by suburban train. But, it’s not as cheap as suburban trains or buses.

CMRL came 5 years back and became so popular that people all around Chennai came to enjoy it as an amusement rather than frequent transportation as its quite pricey. It was so trendy back then. I saw it all over Instagram status and Facebook accounts. It took a year for me to travel in it. As I was sick back then, I was too tired to enjoy my first ride. It’s just too hazy in my memory, except that I remember my first ride was during Jallikattu protest.

Random day at Airport Metro Station

From the end of 2018, the Chennai Metro train became my most frequent ride, when I started to go for my Spanish class. One day I got so disappointed with my Spanish teacher and decided to bunk my class. That’s when everything started. I just travelled without a destination. Without my knowledge, I got off on Shenoy Nagar station. I decided to roam around for a while at first. Instead, I asked the staff near the ticket booking point if there is any place to hangout. She said “SkyWalk” shopping mall was nearby. So immediately I put my google map, took a 10 min walk. After spending an hour at the mall and finally I went back home at evening.

Days when CMRL decorates the trains for festive season

After this, whenever I feel like, I just go to Airport Metro station, I ride on it until I get exhausted or get down on random stops and wander. I have explored most of the city after the metro train became accessible. I put my hoodies on, tie my lace, grab my travel backpack and bottle and some money and metro card, hop on the train. So far, I have been to Forum Vijaya Mall at Vadapalani, where I usually spend hours eating and roaming alone. I have also gone to VR mall first time from Thirumangalam metro and to Washermanpet, Egmore, Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium and to random stops and streets. I usually walk from the Metro station to any place where I want to go even though it’s far. If you search for or travel to any places by walk, I believe there are 75% chances that you remember the route on the first go.

The most frequent view I get at Airport Metro Station

CMRL(Chennai Metro Rail Limited) stations are the most well-managed places compared to many of the local transportation around our city. This is purely from my experience with both technology and service. Whether its security or staffs, they are always reliable and polite. There will be some naggers around, but I have met a lot of sweet ones equally. I have so many memories over there in the past few years. I have witnessed beautiful moments and interacted with interesting people. That’s the perk of travelling alone, you get a chance to do more than just seeing- Observe.

I am a clumsy person. During my school days, I often forget my lunch bag in school or in the railway station and many times in train. I always have only one backpack whenever I ride the metro. One day while I was returning from a travel fair, I had another big shopper bag in which I had some of the brochures which I got from the travel fair. I have to get down a few stops before so that I help my friends to get them on their train. Habitually, I took only my backpack and forgot the other one. Only after a few minutes, I realised. I decided to forget about it and made my friends get on their train.

As I was coming down, I thought of trying once. So, I went to one of the staff and informed about my situation. I was taken to control room, which is usually located in the middle of the metro station ground floor. I spoke with another staff who was in-charge over there, gave all the details about the lost bag. And immediately they took action. They contacted the in-charge in the Airport station for the bag. As the train went earlier, it was already left from the Airport station. She immediately asked another in-charge to go and get the bag from the train(the one where I left my bag) which was about to arrive in a few minutes. They politely asked me to wait for few more minutes. And voila, I got my bag. I was happy, I felt so proud of learning something new. I had some procedures like signing documents and showing identification proofs etc… and I was also given some lecture😂. So, if you ever come across such kind of situations, never hesitate to reach out to them. (Note: My bag has only papers that’s why it survived😅).. There might be many unfortunate incidents prone to happen too. But, I find they are trying their best to manage compared to other transportation facilities. You have lots of food stalls in most of the metro station where you can grab something and relax for a while.

It wasn’t easy as it sounds. Travelling around, alone, being a girl, I get uncomfortable and scared too. I have met many creeps, so does I have met kind ones, rarely.

Photo by Fabrizio Verrecchia on Pexels.com

When you travel alone:

  1. Make sure you have enough money in your pocket.
  2. Make sure your phone is fully charged and have balance.
  3. Make sure you informed someone that you are travelling. Especially when you are new to travelling alone in a new place.
  4. Make sure you are always alert of your surrounding.
  5. Make sure you don’t care about people who look at you pathetically.

If you think I started to travel alone because I prefer it. There is a partial truth in it. But in reality, most of my friends’ parents don’t allow them to go travel around as I do. And also, I am too tired listening to my family’s excuse whenever I want them to tag along with me. That’s why I often travel alone. Being independent is not as easy as it sounds to be. Solivagants rise out of pressure which eventually turns out to be comforting.

CMRL has somehow have a part by making things easier for me, especially with local travel.

Do you like to ride the metro trains too? Tell me about any incident you remember so well or anything you always reminded about Metro rides.

If you like this post like, comment and share. Have a great day, people!

Travelling Virtually Around Pacific Asia Like…(Dream To Travel Virtual Event)

Its been 3 months already, staying inside the home which sometimes makes me feels like it’s a cave and sometimes a cocoon. I am trying hard to entertain myself through whatever I can so that my brain nerves won’t turn lethargic and at some point it becomes exhausting. No matter what I do my brain feels so numb as it doesn’t feel the rush when it feel while travelling when I observe and process lots of images.

Bangkok (Source: Pixabay )

Recently I am into LinkedIn and Webinars. I mean, because of LinkedIn I have been coming across lots of interesting webinars. I just sign up and register for all sort of webinars. It kind of making me occupied and I have been learning quite a few new things.

So, let me come to the point, one of the most interesting events I have come across is organised by PATA(The Pacific Asia Travel Association),their virtual travel festival, “Dream To Travel”. This is organised especially as part of B2B promotion. But they have wonderfully created events so that even non-members and travel enthusiasts to participate and watch the webinars.

Being sitting inside the home all day and feeling bored has become a little exciting after getting to know this event. I have missed quite interesting sessions, thanks to the mail notification from PATA, so far I have attended two sessions. I have signed up for many session, but because of a misunderstanding, I missed two of the most improvising sessions as I failed to notice the timing which is according to Bangkok, that is 1hr 30min earlier than Indian timings.

Screenshot from Girls Getaway session(This is not Mint)

During yesterday’s webinar on the topic “Girls Getaway- A Day In Bangkok”, I got an opportunity to learn quite interesting things about Thai life even if it’s for an hour. Travel Vlogger Mint’s aka @iroamalone(Instagram) session is so amazing and I found an inspiring travel influencer to learn from. From the Grand Palace to the restaurants around Bangkok, it was quite engaging thanks to Mint and her friendly conversation with us, her virtual travellers. I fell hard for Thailand just in an hour of session because of their food, their clothing and their lifestyle and the way of adapting to the change.

Screenshot of Bhutan Live Experience

Today morning’s 1hr live session is an amazing experience in Bhutan. So lively, colourful and fascinating performance of the dancers just made my morning so happy. I have also fallen in love with Bhutan’s Butter tea which made its appearance for a few seconds in the session.

Bhutan (Source: Flickr)

Tourism is slowly opening around the world. According to UNWTO(United Nation’s World Tourism Organization), 22% of all destination started to ease travel restrictions. The main purpose of PATA in conducting these events is to attract more prospects to invest and to pave a way for tourism to unwind and to flourish.

Source: from PATA Dream to Travel Page

PATA officially began this extraordinary and well-organized event on 22nd June and it will be ended on July 17. So, make sure you register(I will be sharing the link at the end.) and get your free pass. Apart from the free pass for every event, if you are interested, register separately for each webinar and also note that you keep track of the Bangkok timing. If your webinar is on 10:00 am according to Bangkok time, then in IST, its 8:30am. Also, it requires the Zoom App to watch the webinar. Most of the webinars are accessible to everyone who got the free pass, make sure you enjoy and get back to me if you have any doubts.

  • 22 June- 26 June —> Thailand and Bhutan Experience
  • 29 June- 03 July —> Tourism Malaysia
  • 06 July- 10 July —> Nepal Tourism
  • 13 July- 17 July —> Macao

When I saw those dancers dancing the live session, without any tourist around to admire, it hit me so hard on how every tourism-dependent people around the world must be suffering. People such as shop keepers selling tourist products, artists and entertainers, who depend on their daily income and livelihood on the incoming of tourists and visitors must be struggling at this very moment for their necessities. Covid-19 has a serious impact on all aspect of the life of people, agreed, but as a student of Tourism management, after participating in these webinars, it was heartbreaking to realise how hard it must be for millions of people working and depending on tourism sectors and tourist destinations around the world.

So, when things become better and life turns out little ease or if we are forced to survive through this “new-normal” where we have to live a social distancing life and wearing masks wherever we go and sanitize our hands before entering any places, please make sure you remember to contribute towards tourism sector. As it’s considered to be the last sector to be recovered.

Rather than spending your time, money and energy in materialistic things, spend them in experiencing new thing through tourism. For a while it’s going to be more of a focus over Domestic tourism, so make your contribution in buying tourism products and help the family whose daily food depends on the money you spend in tourism sites, street foods and products.

Thank you and Stay Safe!

PATA Dream to Travel Link: https://dreamtotravel.pata.org/

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A place where fishes flew above my head

There are so many creatures, places, and things around us which we are introduced to the right from our childhood days which is only through pictures in the books and through televisions, computers, and smartphones. In the past, people started to quench their thirst for knowledge and curiosity through traveling. They encountered and introduced to every new thing directly. But we were gifted in many people’s perspectives and cursed in some people’s perspective as we were able to sit in the same place and look around every single aspect, even the entire world.

In spite of everything, I am sure that every one of you must have astonished, fell more in love or sometimes shocked, when you directly see or witness those places and the things you admired all along by looking at photos and videos. It must have felt like a dream all along but when we see a lion for the first time and when we see and felt anything for the first time, it feels like validation and assurance.

VGP Marine Kingdom gave me the same feeling for me when I have been there. “If any of you have an urge to ask me haven’t you seen a fish before?”. Yes. I have. But no, not all. Never experienced so much as I felt there. And never seen 90% of those creatures in reality in front of me swimming “alive”. Its the most lively experience to get during a mid-summer.

A Tiny Interesting Fact

Antalya Aquarium in Turkey is the worlds largest Tunnel Aquarium. This is considered to be the most attractive tourist spot in the center of the city. It has a length of 131 meter and width of 3 meters.

Last year(2019), VGP marine kingdom was the most buzz-worthy place around Chennai, for being India’s first Tunnel Aquarium, which is really really cool. Think about it, how nice it is to have a buzz-worthy and attractive place, which you have heard about and seen on the Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, news or in movies so close to you. Let me tell you how I felt, I was having an urge, an uncontrollable urge to witness something beautiful which I have thought all along would be able to witness only if I travel abroad.

And my dad & I went there on May 1, 2019- the best way to start a month. We went there so early, which is a really good thing and paid Rs. 500 for each. There wasn’t much crowd compared to the crowd we saw while returning. The interior is done so well. Right from the beginning till the end you can witness the blue which symbolizes the ocean wherever you go.

You begin with fish tanks as you walk along the themed pathway where you can meet fascinating creatures which born out of the artistic power of Earth. I have met lots of interesting and photogenic fishes. When you go there and if it’s not too much crowded and if you are not a fish bully, you will definitely connect with some fishes. I made a really good connection, that I really missed them for a while and made me so eager to go back to visit them again.

This is the first fish I have made a good connection with. This guy really made me so proud by posing only to me.
The most favorite out of all the fishes I have met with. So playful and I felt like a fish whisperer when I was with her. I loved it so much that after completing my entire secession and spent more time coming back to her tank.
This fella is so curious that he kept on staring at me like this for a while. So curious and I was curious what was going in his head.

There are four interesting things you can see there apart from all the unbelievable variety of fishes you witness. The first is photographic spots made in the middle of the tanks where you can take photos which makes you look like you are peeping your head inside the tank from under. My dad hated me for not trying it and I am regretting it now. You need to fight to get your spot with many kids, aunts, and uncles. Good luck!

The second is the Stingray tank. They do lots of stunts. Its fun and interesting to watch their moves, it literally looks like they are flying, and sometimes they do fly above their spacious tank and splash some drops of water over you.

Stingray fishes flying in water like…

The third is the Tunnel! The most extraordinary experience. Read that again. It is EXTRAORDINARY. Having fishes swimming over your head in schools and looking them so close, it’s going to be really hard to forget an experience as such. If you walk so fast it’s going to give a feel as it ended so soon. So take really slow steps never rush, nobody is going chase you, except when it’s crowded you will be dragged out. I saw people being so happy around. I felt like adults are so excited than children/kids who got fed up so easily.

family looking at fishtank
An excited family with their overly excited son looking at the fish tank

Once we finished it, my dad can’t get enough so we went inside the tunnel again. We did a really good job going again. Because something nice happened which we didn’t notice before or neither the staff activated it. Its the moving walkway. I was staring at the sharks swimming over my head and suddenly it started to move. That is the third most interesting thing over there, that’s something my tired legs needed at that moment.

Finally, the large aquarium window where you can see the different schools of fish swimming here and there and be fed by the guy in oxygen fitted swimsuits waving at us. Of course, I waved back. You guys can do Scuba Diving there if you are interested. I am planning to try once, trying ain’t that bad if you don’t want to have regrets of not trying. Once you are done you can take a seat on the couches placed before the tank and relax.

The VGP Marine Kingdom is not ending is just an exciting place for learning or experience, from my point of view and experience it is the best place to remove your burden, relax, and a place that will brighten up your mood. Because I was feeling so low before going there and it was a therapeutic experience for me.

So, I hope you guys go and visit the VGP Marine Kingdom and experience something new. Check the website(https://www.vgpmarinekingdom.in/) for the price before going. They are very responsive to queries and calls. You can also adopt fishes for some amount which is so cool. So until then stay safe!!!

Darjeeling: The memories which haunts

I have decided to write about the trip to Darjeeling today cause I am so desperate. I am so desperate that I don’t want to forget those memories. And I also want you guys to go make memories in that paradise at least once.

When you are going with a group of people, under supervision with a fixed schedule you can’t enjoy much. I have felt it during my travel to Calcutta, Sikkim & Darjeeling trip. But, thankfully out of all the places, we were able to spend at least 2 days in Darjeeling.

Darjeeling is a place that made me feel this connection which I never ever had anywhere before. Its the place that haunts me every single day. Whenever it passes through my mind I feel overwhelmed, there are days I have cried at night longing to go back. This is an absolutely strange feeling. If you ask what so special about it. I still can’t figure out.

Taking the road from Sikkim to Darjeeling is the most beautiful thing, your eyes can’t hold on to everything and even your mind fails to process all those mind-blowing views.

Being in South India, Northern part, it makes everything magical, it’s like being in the top of the world. I have been to Kullu & Manali before, but this journey is different, without our parents were so heavy to deal with, but I ended up craving for the independent journey after this trip which hit me differently.

I felt a strong bond with Darjeeling compared to Sikkim, it is that… We went there during May 2nd week, 2 years back… And Sikkim is so cold for me. Because it was my 1st long trip after I was back into form from my illness. Sikkim just left me frozen from the skin to bone. But, Darjeeling is completely like me… it’s, the weather is like my mood swings.

On the 1st day, all we did was shopping and I still remember the smell of Darjeeling and how it feels. The bustling nights with people full of happiness. You can get to meet and hear Tamil tourists here and there… You have an endless number of street foods. It’s just a friendly neighborhood. At night, it’s so cold.. so cold that when you step on the floor barefoot, you are dead.😂

On the 2nd day, we were made to wake up so early to see the sunrise. It’s the day I fell in love.. the entire day is like a magic for me.

Through the thick pine forest along the side of the roads and too many different trees whose name which I don’t know, we went behind cars that already got before us. And we finally reached the spot, Tiger hill. A crowd with people who are there to witness the magic. To tell the truth, I was like, what’s so special about Sunrise. And you know people of all ages and even people who never wake up that early were waiting there, so it’s special.

Darjeeling sunrise from tiger hills
The beautiful sunrise which I witnessed in Darjeeling from Tiger Hills

It was too cloudy and everyone concluded that it’s a bad day to watch a sunrise. And then it happened. I have never seen a sky that turned complete yellow, glistening like gold. It’s just like… Everyone was so happy, we were shouting with happiness. Strangers passed their happiness through smiles. I still remember that really old couple, whom I get to take a photo along with the rising golden ball. But then suddenly it started to rain. Who would have thought? It started with drizzling and the red sand gets wetter and everyone rushed. This is the reason I said Darjeeling weather is equal to my mood swings, it feels sunny, and then it starts to rain without giving a moment to predict.

On the way, we went to this old Buddhist temple with the big Buddha sitting erect whereas the really cute little monks and gentle old monks are singing to him with so much love and respect. I was freezing as it became so cold. Thanks to the drunken taxi driver who put on the heater I became warm while getting back to our room.

Then, it was a busy day. After bath and breakfast, we are off to the trip. And it began with the extraordinary sight of my life where even my eyes let shine when I talk about it. The view of Mt. Everest from the White Buddha temple. After climbing those steep steps over there I sat and I was staring at the white clouds, it felt weird, those clouds and then my eyes became broad to realize it wasn’t just cloud it’s was a range of snowy peaks. I started to call out to my brother and then we get to know that it was Mt Everest. I can’t believe my eyes. I called my mom and dad and I cried out of happiness. It was a grateful moment. And for the first time in my life I felt so small and humble realizing how big and powerful nature is and will be.

Japanese Buddhist temple
View of Mt Everest from Japanese Buddhist Temple

Darjeeling has this warmth in the air, unlike Sikkim where you can feel the warmth among the host and people wherever you go.

Next is Darjeeling Zoological park, where I got to see the Red Panda, an endangered species which I have been wanting to see it for a lifetime. They are so lazy and cozy. 😂 We get to see all sorts of the beautiful creation of Nature, sadly caged. The peasant bird -a bird full of life and color which I have never encountered before.

A wild goat in Darjeeling Zoological Park

Now, I should definitely talk about this…..You should never miss Darjeeling tea. I just drank 3 cups of sample teas watching the lush green tea estate and the hanging houses at the cliffs… I literally made puppy dog eyes to get that tea from my guardians. It’s pretty obvious why it’s so special. It smell like spices and tasted so sweet with a tint of spice. After tasting that I hated every other tea wherever I drink. Darjeeling tea, left me with great expectations.

We roamed around the market too many times those 2days. I remember the roads I strolled around so clearly. I remember those soft shawls hanging on the shops and the vegetable shops with rushing nomads. And the rasmalai in the mud pots and the variety of mushrooms that sold so fast. I remember those vibrant flower shops and the flee shoe shops. I remember the huge dogs sitting in such a carefree way and the blooming creepers in the walls around the slopes. I still remember the huge dog who I petted and hugged while the two men who tagged with me were busy buying vegetables and I remember the antique shop which had the most pretty ornaments and bags.

There are a few regrets I still hold on to. I failed to look at the night sky instead gazed only at the bustling ground life. And, I regret not riding on the steam train, which Darjeeling is so famous for due to our tight pre-planned schedule.

I remember them so much and I want to remember them until next time that I decided to write it and I want everyone who reads this to visit and see more than what I saw and feel what I felt. I will be definitely going back there once everything gets better. Sure we will…

(Make sure to comment the places which made you feel this way)

Ways to use your time when you are “Grounded” for unexpected number of days

We have been running around all these days. Whether you are a school student or college student or working professional, at one point in time you are desperate for a break. I don’t know about you all, but I personally got really exhausted and needed a break.

We have got a break, but unfortunately, this is not the break we expected. We are literally grounded in order to protect ourselves and others from this so-called pandemic virus “covid-19” aka corona.

When a break starts to extend eventually almost many of us started to lose purpose. It’s not like we are expected to do nothing but we are asked to stay inside and do something. But, abruptly shutting us from doing what we have done so far making us a little clueless.

But, there are things you can do to make yourself comfortable at home without getting too much bored or exhausted. Well, first of all, be thankful that we are grounded with access to the internet. Which is a really good thing for many of us including me? Apart from that, I’m going to give you guys some basic suggestions to spend your time.

1. If you have a garden…

If you have a garden.. large, medium or small.. even a little space with soil, get some seeds, not a plant but seeds. Order some online. Amazon gives you a wide range of seeds to be purchased. Kraft seeds are one wonderful agricultural brand which offers a variety of seeds from vegetable to flowering plant seeds. Buy some, just dig in put the seeds, water every day, wait.. wait.. and wait. If you have read Ikigai, one of the most popular books which explain why Japanese live longer, it explains how they find purpose in gardening. Some stereotypical men out there, don’t think gardening is just for women. It is really fun and you have no idea how it drives time. By the end of the day, it will also teach you patience. I’ll share you the link for Kraftseeds below, for those who are interested.https://www.amazon.in/stores/page/C76EC67E-3299-4473-BC65-3042C8D87F40?ingress=2&visitId=9ffd4dce-8257-4757-9179-3be66c7ff7fe&ref_=bl_dp_s_web_18923661031

2.If you like reading…..

Stop right there.. if you are not fond of reading. And, also if you laugh at people who like to read. This is not for you. Your interests are following up.

But, if you are someone who is interested to read. But you are not sure.. its time for you to pick up something. I’m definitely sure, people who love to read are already taking action. They know this break is just that exact time to eat all up. Rather than picking up any book, take a book which helps you to travel through time and place. A book that lets you imagine a place is what you need right now, they definitely let your soul travel through the boundless journey. The following authors can help you with that… you don’t need to walk and they let you travel.

  1. Jules Verne (Journey to the center of the earth, Journey to the mysterious island, Around the world in 80 days)
  2. Charles Dickens(Christmas Carol, A tale of two cities)
  3. Arthur Conan Doyle(Sherlock Holmes, The Lost World)
  4. H.G. Wells(Time Machine)
  5. Robert Louis Stevenson(Treasure Island)
  6. Lewis Carroll(Alice in Wonderland)
  7. Rudyard Kipling (The Jungle Book)
  8. Stephen King(It, The Girl who loved Tom Gordan)

I know its hectic out there to go to a library and pick them up. Instead, download a pdf of any of these writer’s works or download kindle app and purchase ebooks from your amazon account, if you are convenient reading in gadgets.

If it’s too boring for you to deal with using your imagination. You can read comics and manga online. There are really funny comics available online out there which you can check them out.

3. If you are okay with virtual….

British museum. copied from wikipedia

One of my friends sent me a link, I am so thankful she sent it and I am going to share it with you all too. Many international museums came up together and letting us check out their museum virtually. I have opened every single of them and checked them up before talking about to you guys here. I just want to make sure what I am talking about here. You guys. It’s so cool and you really need to check them out. From the British Museum to many famous museums are letting you take a look at their marvelous collection. It’s not going to be realistic. But its not as bad either. You can watch them only on your laptops or desktops.https://www.travelandleisure.com/attractions/museums-galleries/museums-with-virtual-tours

4.If you are up to outgrow yourself….

If you feel like learning something new. This is the best time to do it. You have endless possibilities thanks to online courses from Coursera, Udemy or Shawacadamy where you can develop your skills for the time being. Online courses like these can help you open up an endless number of skills you want to gain for your studies, entertainment or for your personal hobbies.

You can also start to learn new languages. Google play store has a long list of language learning apps from Babbel, Drops, and Hellotalk, etc.

5. If you really don’t want to put weight…

Rather than doing things that make you feel good.. do some things also to make your body good. You have lots of time in your hand now. So declutter your wardrobe which you don’t want to clean or organize for a long time. Clean your room or your shelves. Shake yourself up.. play any song and just become a dancing cleaning machine. Do some workouts rather than being idle. Walk inside your home, I just saw in online some guy counting up number of tiles in his house which is insane… let’s give some break to our mother and share some work.

6. If you really want to put some weight….

Start cooking. Start experimenting. Well… it’s for those who don’t cook often just like me.

7. If you miss your friends alot…

Game. Do some gaming online. Start playing Co-op games, there are many Xbox games, not just PubG😝, where you can team up with your friends and spend some bonding time. Cause it the most important thing we need right now. I also heard from one of my friends that doing a conference call every day makes you stop missing your friends who are miles away.

8. If you are completely hit boredom…

Netflix, Amazon, eat sleep repeat. Watch some American, British or Korean series, hit with marathon mode if you don’t care about your eyes. Just chill, you have Stranger Things, Brooklyn 99 and The Good Place. Or re-watch some old cartoons for some nostalgic experience.

So, yes. These are some of the suggestions that I wanted to make. If you have many more suggestions drop in the comment section so that it’s going to help stopping lots of people from going insane and do C-section for oranges.

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