Tuesday, March 20, 2007

All that jazz about travelling

So. I am sitting in my aunts living room, surrounded by my relatives who have just recently come from a trip to kaasi-varanasi- gaya-allahabad and I am in a state of revelation. I look around me, and see animated expressions, wild gestures. On one side my aunt is talking about the 'vaatta saatamana security, ana evaalo sehappu' or the fair complexioned, well built security men out there. Then my uncle mentions the 'malai' available or the milk which is constantly on the boil in huge urns and tastes delicious. And then about the "vibrations" of the place, and the devoutness of the saadus.

And about the triveni sangam ( the meeting point of yamuna, ganaga and saraswati) and how when they sacrificed a lock of hair at that point , it did not float away, but actually got sucked in by the hidden currents of saraswati. The yamuna apparently is black shaded while the ganges is in green. About the way the road side vendors make rotis. Apparently, these guys make a thin roti from a ball of dough just slapping in between their two hands without using the roti stick (not sure what the correct name is).

I am amazed. I mean the tales that my otherwise 'un-travle-types' relatives stunned me. They brought back more interesting stories than i probably have on mine, they have tried out their broken hindi, spoken to locals and swamiji's, found a few shastri's from tanjavur living in kaasi.

So what, if they dont call it "travel" and dont try and market their experience as an "experience of a lifetime" ( o - they actually do label it that way, but more for spiritual reasons :) ). And the thing is, I would have normally not even bothered to enquire about it except for mere courtesy maybe, and wow, i just got one of the most vivid and interesting accounts.

There was this thread on travellerspoint once about 'why travel and the jazz' and someone who mentioned that they cant understand how people are seemingly satisfied with their boring routine lives. And it seemed to me then as it does now, that maybe there is this race of people ( myself included?) who are becomming extremely snobbish about this 'travel' hobby.

I mean - isn't travelling as u see it? Shouldnt travel be more for understanding that there does exist people unlike us, but not tag them into a category? Ofcourse, there is always the difference between the passionate traveller and the casual traveller, but that doesnt make one better than the other right?

Sort of like the bunch of us who call ourselves 'cosmopolites' but turn out to be just as racist as the next man , except here the divide is between the 'cosmopolite' vs 'non-cosmopolite' as against 'north indians' vs 'south indians'...

Just a train of thought... or have I become just as judgemental of the judgemental with this post???

Unwinding at Cornucopia

So , yesterday I was in cornucopia with Uma... Its one of those restaurants I got to know because I travel by the road where it is located. A low profile sort of place , a bunglow converted to a restaurant. Dim lighting, a room to yourself, one of the sexiest pasta and slow classic rock unobtrusive in the background ... Its when you take a break from the conversation to take a moment to muse, you catch the strains in the background...Just as Bryan Adams finished telling me that when I was in his arms, he found 'Heaven', Rod Stewart floated in asking me 'Have I told you lately that I love you'... And I smiled.

Armchair travel

I have been doing that for a while now, and i found that no place better than www.nytimes.com/travel to start on my journeys. The articles are interestingly written, most of the times on a particular theme. For example, this article Making a pilgrimage to the cathedrals of commerce is an entire article just about a shopping arcade (the oldest of its kind) perfectly suited for a serendipity shopper!

I love the focus, the thematic flow and and ofcourse, the lovely pics!

Also, dont miss to see the 'Why we travel' slide show. I specifically love the para gliding guy's explanation : "The paraglider becomes an extension of yourself. You envision where you want to go: up, down, left, right, to that mountain, to that river..."

Now and then... senji

A family trip to Thiruvannamalai and on the way back we were able to halt at Senji fort. Didnt spend beyond an hour or so because of the timing, but this place is as neat as Hampi is except it lacks the "backpacker" atmos that hampi so beautifully built up!

While we are on the topic of Hampi, my mom told me that saint Ramana of the thiruvannamalai fame had in his writings mentioned Hampi. According to that book, Hampi is actually designed along the lines of the Sri chakra but with a slight fault. The sage Vidyaranya who desigend it belongs to the line of adi shankarar. Ramana also mentions that if ever a city is once again built along the sri chakra's line ( flawlessly ) by a descendant of the Adi shankarar, and if there is a country with that city as the capital, they will be the unrivalled rulers of the world! Interesting!!!