Radhika's Diaries

I see humor in the mundane.

Ibn Battuta, Christopher Columbus, Marco Polo – to name a few – all brave, adventurous men who not only explored the world but also chronicled their travels. One cannot but admire the spirit of such people who set out all those years ago when travelling was not easy. And that is an understatement!! They ventured out from the comforts of the familiar into strange far-off unknown lands in search of mystery, adventure, romance, excitement and the experience of charting new paths and discovering new places. All without GPS mind you!! 🙂

Quite unlike my style of travelling I must say. I like my trip to be a carefully planned one. When on a trip, more than anything, I need to know where and what my next meal will be!! Being a vegetarian that is quite the challenge in strange places believe me! And one cannot really enjoy an adventure on an empty rumbling stomach, me thinks!! 🙂

Sharing this sentiment with me is our small group of like-minded friends with whom I’ve gone on many a trip through the years. Our very first trip together as a group will remain the most unforgettable the most adventurous and by far the best trip.

Just like Christopher Columbus set out to discover a direct water route from Europe to Asia but he never did – instead he stumbled upon the Americas! 

Quite like him, we set out to explore  Jaipur the enthralling historical city in India’s most flamboyant State of Rajasthan, but we never did – instead we landed up in new places which we hitherto had never even thought about visiting.

It was a very carefully planned and well organised trip from Udupi in Karnataka to Jaipur in Rajasthan. Train bookings, hotel bookings, sightseeing bookings all neatly arranged almost a month before the trip. We could hardly wait to check out the hugely popular Pink City and all it promised to offer us – Hawa Mahal, Amer Fort, Jantar Mantar and the famous shopping streets of Bapu Bazar.

However fate had other ideas for us. Our well thought-out and well-planned trip turned overnight into a BlindDate!!

We were to leave by the Udupi-Delhi Shatabdhi departing at night from Udupi Station. Four days before our travel date, it began to rain and how!!  Heavy, incessant and unrelentless, the rains caused landslides which in turn led to delayed or cancelled train services on the Konkan railway line. We were not sure what we ought to do. With small children with us, we didn’t want to take unnecessary risks. But we had so looked forward to this trip – our very first one together as a group! The news that our train would be running as scheduled helped us decide at the last minute and we set off with advices and injunctions from relatives and friends ringing in our ears.

All was well for the 1st two hours of the journey. Then the train started halting after every half-hour or so. We chugged along in sporadic fits and bursts. Early the next morning news filtered down through the coaches that more landslides had occurred on the route further and things looked pretty doubtful. So the men in our group went into a huddle and came up with the decision to alight at the next big station the train would halt at.

Turned out to be GOA!!! Unscheduled, unexpected and unplanned. The beaches, the natural greenery, the quaint villages and the people enthralled us and we had 3 fun-filled days taking in the sun, sand and the sights of Goa.

Once we’d been there and done that, next what? None of us was wanted to return home. We were in the mood for more. So the men put their heads together once more and we found ourselves on a night bus trundling towards places we had never even dreamed of visiting. Bagalkot and Bijapur in the north of Karnataka. 

Once again unexpected, unplanned and unscheduled! The 2 days we spent there visiting the Badami caves, the Jain Temples,the Gol Gumbaz were an eye-opener for us. It was an excellent opportunity to discover the striking differences in food, language and way of living from North Karnataka to South  Karnataka. The spirit of the place got to us so much that on the last night of our stay there we dropped in at a rustic kitchen serving up authentic fresh-from-the-tava jowar rotis with the typical brinjal curry and garlic chutney. I’m glad we did that. The smell of butter melting on hot rotis and the taste of those feathery-soft rotis still lingers!

The same night saw us inside a bus back to Udupi, back to our homes. Half-an-hour into the journey, we made yet another not-so-surprising  discovery – it appeared that none of us were too keen on getting back just then. So once again the men got together – a few maps were consulted, a few phone calls made. The result – a request was sent up-front to the driver to put us down at Murudeshwar near the town of Bhatkal, about 100 kms from Udupi. Our mood must have been infectious because the driver very obligingly made an unscheduled stop right in front of a decent hotel just for us, at precisely 2.00 in the morning! And the conductor and co-passengers helped to pass on the luggage and our sleeping children down too!!  🙂

And once again there we were – unexpected and unplanned – at a place we least thought we would be! After a day of taking in the huge statue of Siva and the beach at Murudeshwar, we hopped into a mini van and made a day-trip to the impressive Jog Falls in Simoga; or as it is called locally – The Gerusoppe falls, the 2nd highest plunge waterfall in India. The Falls, playing hide-and-seek with the clouds, the froth and the foam, gave us a feel of Heaven on earth! Enchanting, hypnotic, mesmerising we couldn’t take our eyes off them. We left that place with happy hearts, relaxed minds and a feeling that ‘All’s right with the world!!’

Finally urged on by our respective families back home, we packed our stuff one last time and headed back to Udupi – the place from were it all started!!!

Since then, we’ve been on many other trips to places around the world, but needless to say, this trip of ours is the most unforgettable and enriching. We were destined to explore and discover new sights, smells and tastes right in our backyard so to say!!

We are still thankful that we had the courage that rainy night years ago to say yes to the unknown and to set off on our Blind Date with the World!!

Thank you Lufthansa for this opportunity to pen down the wonderful memories of the thrill of an unplanned trip and of discovering amazing new experiences at every turn.

#TheBlindList

#SayYesToTheWorld Lufthansa’s exciting new campaign

 

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I remembered Julius Caesar when I opened our Gulf newspaper recently, and read a report about how scores  of people were duped by a time-sharing company, into parting with several thousands of their hard-earned dirhams.

How did Caesar come into the picture? Well he didn’t (bless his soul), his words did. “Et tu Brute?” I thought to myself as I read about those hapless people. Why?

Because we (the husband and I, i.e. ) had been in a similar situation with the same company some months ago!! So, while wholeheartedly sympathizing with those people it’s nice to know there are others like us!

It all started when the husband got a congratulatory phone call one fine morning. We  had apparently won a prize – a holiday package and a free dinner voucher!

Tracing it back still further, we can pinpoint the beginning of this saga to when we filled up a couple of forms at a concert we attended. The chap outside the entrance of the auditorium was pretty persistent as he shoved paper and pen beneath our nose and assured us it was for some survey. Just to get rid of him we duly filled in our name, Tel no. and mail id.

Many Full moons later (when we’d forgotten all about it) came the above mentioned phone call. And the guy followed that up with 3 more calls through the day, to remind us to claim our prize that evening!

So we went in our Sunday best. For the prize and for a free dinner!

At the venue it was the Meet & Greet session first where a guy at the counter took down our details – just to confirm, he said, murmuring darkly about imposters and false claimants and all.

We were then escorted to a small Hall for the Presentation Ceremony. But first there would be a brief Counselling session they said. Just a formality they assured us and we followed meekly, innocently, like sheep to a slaughter-house.

Once we entered, as our eyes got adjusted to the scene inside, we noticed there were several other couples seated at small round tables with staff members scouting around like sentinels.

I muttered to the husband that I didn’t have a good feel about the whole thing but the well trained sentinels had already shepherded us to a table and put us in the care of a Deputy Manager and his stooge.

The scheme it turned out was to get people to sign up for time-share contracts which would then award members access to selected hotels worldwide, besides a plethora of other benefits including health insurance, discount vouchers, Gym membership…. for a fee. A hefty one. Of course!

The duo at our table began proceedings with a question/answer session, ostensibly aimed at putting us at our ease and catching us off guard, to sign on the dotted line. The session lasted good and long, in the course of which, the chap shared a lot of his personal stories and asked us a lot of ours; admonished us twice for turning and looking around and once (believe it or not) for not sitting properly with our legs tucked beneath the table! It seemed like it would go on and on! I finally took it upon myself to end it when the conversation moved in this direction…..

He – “So what does Uncle do?”
Uncle (I mean the husband) – “I work in a bank.”
He (turning to me) – “And what about ma’am…. What do you do?”
At this juncture, I could have very well told him the truth like –
“I cook 3 wholesome meals a day – sometimes 4. I wash and clean and keep the house spick and span. Without a maid. I raised a pair of boisterous twin sons. Singlehandedly.”
And more ……..
But instead I said “I’m a house wife.”
And you know what that nincompoop tells me, “Oh I see. Uncle works hard the whole day while you relax at home!”

Well really!!! Grrr…..

If you’ve never seen a dragon before, then that moment you would have right there! I was breathing fire and there was smoke coming out of my ears but …..all of it was wasted on that utter idiot!

To cut a long story short, the more we tried to get up and leave the more they tried to sell us their schemes, none of which convinced nor impressed us.

Finally I got out of the room citing a desperate need to visit the wash room and then flatly refused to get back in again.

And that was how we came out of the whole thing, thanking God that we’d lost nothing more than our time that day and resolving not to be tempted by such offers next time.

And the dinner voucher? Apparently we misunderstood.

So we returned home and we ate dinner – cooked by the house wife. The one who relaxes at home remember!!

:/

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is no other species in the world as contradictory and confused as humans!

I’ll tell you why I think so and by the end of this blog I’ll have you nodding your heads – wait a minute – I said nodding in agreement; not nodding off to sleep!!! 😉

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Ask people what they think is the greatest invention of all times.

Most men would say its the wheel. Duh. They would. Men will be men!!

Most women would probably say it’s the dishwasher or the Blender or something equally unimaginative. No comments!!

Ask me and I’ll tell you – the most important invention in recent times has got to be the WhatsApp.  It is, for us Indians anyway!

Nothing else seems to have revolutionized the country and the way the average Indian eats, sleeps, thinks, feels, acts, prays and plays…… as this App.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but ever since I downloaded the little bugger, my  life has changed drastically and dramatically.

  • For starters – I don’t recall how my mornings were before WhatsApp (BW), but certainly after WhatsApp (AW), every single morning is turning out to be an awesome one thanks to the Good Morning wishes flooding my WA Feed. I am overwhelmed by the fact that so many people seem to want me to have a good morning and therefore flood my phone with GM images complete with flowers, butterflies, lisping babies and the works. The sun is not yet up when I  start to hear the pings of Good Morning, every single morning. Yaawn!!

Reliable sources report that Indians rank among the highest  “GM wishers” through WhatsApp!!! Proud to be an Indian!!! 😉

  • I am a much much better person AW – the 2 dozen and more motivational, inspirational, philosophical quotes and messages forwarded to me every day ensure that! I am calm, meditative, patient, relaxed, contented and at peace – for all of the 2 minutes it takes to read or listen to these messages before I revert to my usual nasty grouchy self.

I am sure I’ll get to that permanent elusive state of bliss and inner peace eventually – when I have time to look up from my messages that is!! :/

  • I am, and everybody else is too I imagine, slimmer, fitter and healthier with all the health tips and cautionary diet injunctions going around the WhatsApp world. And happily for us indolent folks, once a message is sent out, it then rotates around for eternity in the WA realm making periodic appearances in some group at some time  like the Comet – thus ensuring that I do not just read it, shut it and forget it!
  • I notice that I am more alert and aware than ever before; I have to be with the deluge of audios and videos warning me of this and that and the other. The days of ‘Ignorance is bliss’ are gone with the wind and now we all know that our tomato ketchup is made of pig blood, our rice is made of plastic and that juicy red watermelon is actually injected with red ink!! And that the Indian National Anthem has just been declared the best in the world by none other than the UN. Proud to be an Indian all over again!!! 😉
  • I am pleased to note that, although my brain has become numb and dumb due to non-usage, my fingers are nimble and agile with all the frantic commenting and forwarding and thumbs up-ing that I do!!! I have to be quick you see, if not, someone else will do it before me. And we can’t have that can we!!

And for those of you who’ve been trying hard to counter the downpour of fake news and hoaxes on WhatsApp, I have some Breaking News for you : The WA company is planning to come up with “educational videos in Hindi and English aimed at helping people identify the hoaxes”. 

They needn’t bother if you ask me. Nothing is going to stop us from hitting that ‘share and forward’ button. We Indians can do it with our eyes shut and hands tied behind!

So, one last time: Proud to be an Indian!! 

And while we’re about it, I’ll be even prouder if you Like, Share and/or Forward this! 😉

  

 

 

 

On popular request (all of 2 actually, from both my sons!! 🙂 ) I’m posting my article which was published in The City Times, the Saturday Magazine section of The Khaleej Times, the National newspaper of The UAE.

The people over at Khaleej Times very kindly gave it a beautiful backdrop as you can see below. 🙂

 

You can read the article by clicking here.

🙂

 

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