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Posts Tagged ‘travelogue’

I was scrolling through the pictures I’d taken over the past few months, and I was struck by the beauty, grace and sheer possibility that’s out there in the world.

The world that we took utterly for granted until mere weeks ago.

This post is my love letter to the beautiful world: yes, we’re apart right now, but we will be together again one day.

That day, I hope I’m gentler, and more mindful, conscientious and appreciative of all the simple and not-so-simple marvels out there, waiting for me to experience.

That’s the least I can do to thank the unsung heroes at the frontlines who are carrying the world forward one selfless act of courage and compassion at a time. #AloneTogether

 

These collages are of places and times that bring me hope, comfort and great joy. I hope they cheer you up, too, dear readers.

 

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I took a trip to the Grand Canyon with family recently—it was one of the best things I’d done for myself in all of 2018.

As I stood at the rim at Guano Point, gaping at the sheer drop into the seemingly bottomless canyon, something locked into place; a small shift that leads to a major adjustment in how you perceive everything.

It was one of those “a butterfly flaps its wings somewhere in the universe, and the ground beneath you reverberates” moments. These don’t come by often, so I hugged mine tight.

The deceptively-unassuming Colorado river flows on serenely, making nary a ripple. Yet, it has patiently and consistently worn down huge mountains over the millennia. There’s definitely a lesson in there somewhere 😊.

 

 

 

 

The Hualapai, who share a long-standing cultural link both with the river and the canyon, call this expanse of a natural wonder The Living Landscape. They regard it a living entity with a conscious spirit deserving of respect. (And, boy, do they know what they’re talking about! The canyon seems to be breathing, watching—I imagine, with an indulgent twinkle in its age-old eye—as another busload of humans takes in its awe-inspiring majesty and falls head over heels.)

The Hualapai talk to the landscape, offer prayers and consider everything in the landscape as part of their family. This takes me back to my own childhood and upbringing in India, where natural and historic monuments are never cordoned off; we’re taught to be gentle and respectful of their living spirits as we assimilate them into our daily lives. As generations before us have done for centuries and generations after us will continue to.

As I took in the imposing gorges and remarkably-shaped boulders in the Grand Canyon, I realized that the placid river and the majestic walls dressed in multi-colored flamenco skirts with their many ruffles and multiple layers will be here long after I’m gone. And that consciousness was curiously liberating.

 

 

 

 

Returning from a trip to the Grand Canyon to the Sin City, aka Las Vegas, with its glitz and glamour was a perfect flip of the coin. It was as though I’d gotten a fresh reminder to hang loose and appreciate all the enchantments out there, both natural and man-made.

Happy New Year, my dear readers! Here’s to hoping this year brings to you plenty of wisdom and serenity.

Photo Credits: Assorted members of my family 😊.

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Each time I re-visit Philadelphia, I fall deeper in love with the city. It’s because the city does something very right, something I wish more cities in the US did: Philadelphia celebrates its past with an almost reverent abandon while it has its feet firmly planted in its present, all the while focusing a steady gaze at its future.

Here’s a brief chronicle of the impressions and memories I gathered the few times I’ve been in the city.

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If you want to explore the different facets and histories of a city, there’s no better way than to go directly to its honest (and unvarnished) roots. And how do you do that?

  • By seeking out the varied and mouth-watering local produce and homemade goodies in its farmers’ market(s)
  • Or walking through the hallways of its long-standing monuments or along the well-worn cobbled streets in its residents’ shoes (or in their ancestors’ attire, as the case may be 😊)
  • Or adding your own colors (not literally, of course) to the murals of its walls that bear a silent and detached testimony to the changing times and mores
  • Or delighting in the hidden gardens you happen upon, which you didn’t know existed
  • Or…the best avenue yet: losing yourself in its quaint independent bookstores bursting at their seams with treasured books. I’ve lost my heart to these rare gems of bookstores at first sight and will definitely re-visit them whenever I’m in their neighborhoods

I look forward to adding more pages to my continued discovery of this wonderful city.

How do you make friends with a new city? Please share!

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The southern tip of India is a peninsula, and the whole east side of Andhra Pradesh (which is on the south-east slice of India) is a coast, overlooking the Bay of Bengal. I’d left Hyderabad — a completely landlocked city — and clicketty-clacked over in a train to my grandparents’ town, which is a little over 10 miles from the bay.

This town is famous, among other things, for a centuries-old temple that sits smack dab in the middle of town. Its 125 ft gopuram (the tall

This picture honestly does injustice to the temple and its grandeur. It was a festival day when I took this picture and I couldn't get any closer to it because of the mad rush of devotees visiting the temple. Also, the crisscrossing electric wires make a nasty backdrop, unfortunately

cone-shaped tower made of stone) looms over everything else in sight.

The temple was built by Chalukyas in the 1400s. (Chalukyas were one of the most powerful and enduring dynasties to rule over parts of southern and central India.)

Every inch of the tower’s surface is sculpted with gorgeous figures depicting stories from the Hindu mythology.

Growing up, when we went about our daily lives, spending time with cousins or visiting friends, we always passed by the gopuram. It was like the moon: it followed us like a shadow everywhere we went, watching over us.

Picture taken from: manasasancharare.wordpress.com

When I think about it now, never once did I stop then and reflect upon its past and history. I was definitely not apathetic to it: I always wondered at its height (craning my neck to catch the glimpse of the very tip of it) and the beauty of the engravings; it’s just that I took it for granted that it has always been a part of the town and always will be.

Simply put, in India, history is a way of life. That also explains why even ancient structures are not cordoned off from the public and protected.

They have existed, as part of people’s lives, bearing silent testimony to the passage of time for centuries and will continue to do so in the future.

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I had a grand time sharing memories of my vacation with you all in bits and pieces for the past few months in this blog . Thank you for taking this trip with me!

I’ll leave you all with pictures I took as I went about different towns and cities trying to gather together memories of my childhood…

If you look closely, you can see a few monkeys on a couple of the rooftops. It is common for troops of monkeys to descend upon the town suddenly during the day. They sit on top of the roofs or trees with stoic expressions on their faces, observing the activities of their cousins the humans, before moving on as silently as they had appeared

 

Notice the little huts in the back? Isn't that a lovely way to live, so close to nature? Thoreau would probably have loved the seclusion of this spot

 

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