“It will be a long day”, said Vinod, who was accompanying me to visit SHGs (Self help groups) in rural Karnataka. I was eager to know how similar or different they would be, from the SHGs I had met in Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Goa on my earlier work-trips. Several activities were lined up in different villages. We had a heavy breakfast at Mysore and drove towards our first village, Doora, through green and yellow Paddy fields with patches of Sugarcane in between.
We had braved the morning queue to got ourselves Kachoris and Samosas at a snack shop with a tea stall. To those of you who haven’t been to Mathura or Vrindavan, it’s an extremely congested city with narrow roads where not many people like to follow the rules. I’ve been visiting since several years to meet some of my extended family members who live there. After the first few trips, I had stopped stepping out of their home to avoid the noise and clutter. But this time was different because I was on a special journey to explore this part
Doors of India. A journey unlike any other. A journey I could never imagine being a part of. A journey that changed the way I’ll look at doors, history and camera 😉 Doors had always fascinated me. The older, the better. But often, it was the architecture and colors, sometimes the history and life around it. Never did I try to find a story behind them. “Why open something when it looks perfect as closed?” I used to think. Or was it the hesitation to intrude into lives behind it? A mix of both, probably.
Amidst traffic congestion, honking of Auto-rickshaws, vendor calls of “Madam”, traditional havelis co-existing with old chai-samosa stalls alongside quirky coffee-shops of Udaipur hotels, impatient bikers making their way through mirror studded dupattas hanging on both sides of shops and all the sounds turning into noise, I fell in love with the streets of Udaipur. It was my second trip to the city, for a new beginning. I was getting out of a few comfort zones yet again.
Backpacking trip can mean different things to different people. For me it’s a combination of budget (not dirt-cheap) stays, semi-planned itineraries, occasional adrenaline rush, breathtaking landscapes, ancient architecture, long walks and of course, a backpack. The first time I traveled with just a pack on my back, it was a Himalayan trek in Uttarakhand, with 9 strangers who became friends by the end of coming down the mountains. While most things went well, a few smaller ones did go wrong.
Indore for me is LOVE. A part of it is because of city’s obsession with food. But, a larger part of that affection comes from a fact that I never expected Indore to be amazing. When you continue to stay in metro cities for a long time, you tend to underestimate second tier towns. That’s exactly what I also did, something that I’m not proud of.
June 2014. I visited Ladakh for the first time. It was a family road-trip and my mother was more excited than me. We spent a week in the region doing everything touristy like day trips to Pangong & Nubra Valley, visiting famous monasteries and eating Momos. The trip ended, Facebook pictures got updated, everyone got back to work but since then, a part of me continued to live in those mountains.
Where the air had something that makes me think I’ll go back. For more… More of what metro cities don’t have. Neither do the villages. Cheap Uber rides, malls and markets to choose from, street food stalls as well as affordable cafés, un-crowded yet relatively safe neighborhoods to go on long walks, folks who are neither too interfering nor too indifferent.
As much as the mainstream Bollywood movies are known to be far from reality, let’s just accept all of us have at least one favorite. Be it a young girl living on the streets trying to copy Anushka Sharma or a business tycoon hopping from one luxury hotel in India to another, we all have that filmy keeda we group up with.
If you’ve read my last post, you must be aware how I’ve committed to spend next one year in rural India. Maybe, more! It’s easy to say drinking water isn’t a problem when you’re sitting in that apartment on 11th floor where the guy delivering 30 liter mineral water bottle earns more than double of a farmer family in rural parts of the country. But, visit this side and you’ll meet the challenge right in its face.