To do that ... I happen to write!

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

What song will you play?

I have "What a wonderful world" playing in loop.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Vietnam Diaries #10: Pass it forward

We crossed a rickety old wooden bridge that shook with every motobike, to leave the city of Ben Tre behind and wander off in a land criss-crossed by countless numbers of small rivulets branching off the Mekong river. My host took us to a trail which branched off from the stone path through a short muddy track... and we were at a home of a stranger: not just to me, but also to my host!

It hardly felt like he was a stranger; a war veteran (from the south Viet side!): he has a huge collection of antiques. Before going to his house I was wondering how interesting can that be! Well, it was interesting but that's wasn't all. We had coconut and fresh fruits from his farm, fed the fish, rowed his boat, tried climbing coconut trees (to utter failure), saw the wedding video of his son, saw pictures of his 4 generations; and wait: divided up work to cook food in his home. Plucking yellow chilly from its plant, chopping it to pieces and then casually rubbing my fingers on my face was the highlight of this cooking session! Nothing would help subside the extreme burning sensation for next 2 hours!

I ate one of the best meals of my life; washed the dishes and then slumped into one of the dozens of hamlock spread all across his house!

The experience is incomplete without a mention of how cheerful that stranger was! Laughing and cracking jokes by the minute. His personality put us at east within first few minutes of meeting him, and infused an extra sense of joy in everything...

When taking a leave, I asked my host: "how do I pay him back!". 
She said, "Pay it forward"...

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Vietnam Diaries #9: It's raining Cows!

When I say that this is the heaviest rainfall I have seen in my life, you better consider it with some merit as I have been to, and trekked during monsoon season in Augumbe - the place that receives 2nd highest rainfall in India, and have been during flash floods in Manali when on my way to Leh!

"But it's raining mad here in Vietnam, and the iJet intelligence system daily sends an email to my inbox around how the storm is going to hit me soon. And today was the d-day! Here's the latest:
Tropical Storm Gaemi is projected to make landfall in central Vietnam, south of Danang, late Oct. 6. From there, the storm will continue into Laos and Cambodia before eventually dissipating. 
Severe weather conditions are likely throughout central and southern Vietnam; officials predict heavy rain will fall in provinces from central Quang Binh to southern Ba Ria-Vung Tau. Authorities may suspend maritime services as the storm approaches. Flight disruptions cannot be ruled out during torrential downpours, though significant disruptions are unlikely. Expect localized road closures and mass transport disruptions. Power and telecommunications outages are likely...."

I tried and failed on the best way to capture it through my eyes, and failed even more miserably trying to capture it through my camera. Unfortunately (I am being sarcastic!), unlike India, despite heavy rainfall - several hours each days, for several days a week, for several week every month: there's no water log on the roads and traffic doesn't choke (even have experienced this first hand - towards the end of my bike trip in Vietnam)

Anyways, I went ahead and got drenched to my bones. I love rains here ...

... just that I miss having chai - pakora alongside ...

Friday, 21 September 2012

Failure is an option. Fear is not.

One of my favorite Ted talks - from the creator of Titanic and Avatar. A man who disappears for years between his movies - exploring! A man who has recently (after this speech) become one of the 3 men on the earth to have dived in the Marina Trench - the deepest places on the earth. 

Friday, 31 August 2012

Winning the IIT Journey

Having seen it first hand through my 4 years of education, I found this article profoundly true, well written and genuine. Do give it a read:

The candid blog talks about a journey of a guy through IIT Kanpur - taking one F (Fail) after another, with his final total stand at 11 Fs! And yet he resolutely kept moving forward with his life and always tried to make better of it. I take the liberty to quote from his blog, where he explains why he didn't commit suicide:
"The reality of it was an eye opener. Having been so near death, I was convinced for life that suicide is simply not an option for anyone and even those who do it must be terribly afraid in those last few moments of their life. But perhaps by that time it would have been too late for them. Regardless of my failures and whether or not I got the IIT degree, it was clear to me that I would never do anything to harm myself. My life wasn’t my own. I owed it to the people who brought me to this world, who trusted me and gave all they had so that I could have a better life and were counting on me to graduate and help them. I owed it to all those people who had enriched my life by just being there for me. I couldn’t die before I had fulfilled my duties to them, not even by accident, forget by suicide."
The pressure - not just academic, but social pressure to perform and conform to the standards is so high - that there have been an alarming increase in number of students giving it up. On their life. 

This has truly increased the respect for all the professors who are genuinely concerned about their students, all the classmates who reach out to help their peers, all student welfare clubs and the Psychiatrist department at IIT, and all the mentors who care about their mentees - in my eyes. 

Aside, it was great to find mention of Prof. H.C. Verma in the article. Brought back the fond memories of working through the books written by him, and attached another piece in my image of him.

Keeping aside the debate on how good are the IIT systems of education, the important thing to note for students is that there's nothing worse enough to throw away life, and for others is to realize that their genuine ethical help can be life changing for someone else.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Vietnam Diaries #8: Found! A McDonald free nation

A nation of around 90 million people, with 10% concentrated in a single city (Saigon), 5-7% GDP growth in recent years, PPP per capita almost close to India, and yet no McDonalds!

Actually, that's the first thing that struck me after landing in this country - no McDonalds, really, how?

While I am yet to find answer to this, I am wondering which consultant told them that the market entry scenario of Vietnam is not too great. The same consultant also must have told something similar to KFC, Burger King, Lotteria and Subway - who went ahead an set up a few shops anyways.

I have my own guess (without pouring numbers here) - the 'fast' food eating population is really low in Vietnam - and that's almost, how to say, inspirational! My translators just refuse to eat any biscuits, chocolates, chips or any such thing we bring to office. They don't even touch it, and prefer to eat their meals nicely or drink coffee!

Of course the other reason can be the famous supply chain issues of McDonalds: because it wants to procure just the right ingredients.

Any other conspiracy theories? 

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Vietnam Diaries #7: Crazy language; and the pineapple-coconut tale!

I was recently in Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam. I met a few Vietnamese people there and together we went to a cafe shop by the Lake Turtle. 

Trying to order for my own, I asked for some dừa tươi. But they didn't understand me. "Something wrong again with my tone, they never get me", I thought in my mind only to quickly realize that I was speaking the southern language where 'd' is pronounced as 'y', however in north 'd' is pronounced as 'z'.

Correcting my mistake I again said 'zua t-u-oi' (or fresh coconut that is to say). And voila - they understood; nodding in appreciation - "ah, zua, zua tuoi".

After 10 minutes of wait - I got a glass with some juice in it. It totally didn't look like coconut or any of its derivatives. Nevertheless, I took a sip and exclaimed - this totally is not like coconut. 

"Coconut!", my friends exclaimed, and broke into a laugh. I was later explained that while Coconut is dừa; Pineapple is dứa !

All that is different is the tone - so if you speak it in a sad manner; with your voice going down at 'u' - that's coconut; but if you speak excited, as I was, with the voice going sharply up at 'u': Ta Da - that's pineapple for you!!!

And in case you happenstance to be ambivalent about it: neither excited, nor sad; your voice a flat tone - you will speak du'a - and that's melon for you!

Crazy language.

p.s. I was surprised as to how I was not able to pin down that the juice tasted like Pineapple before I was told it was so; all I could tell was that it was citrus and not coconut-like :)

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Vietnam Diaries #6: The charms of a new airlines!

Charms of a new airlines!
I flew VietJet this time around, primarily because it was giving me the cheapest possible flying option; and I was up for a surprise.

The first thing that struck me about VietJet was its similarities to Virgin Airways, an then our own Kingfisher airlines when they first started: Preppy red color splashed on the plane, brand new planes (so brand new that seats were stiff a little stiff when you try to push them for recline); trim, enthusiastic, happy and sharp looking air hostesses, and a very interesting in flight dining menu!

Where else in the world do you find a fresh coconut served on board? And that too for $2. 

The tickets are quite cheap, almost 50% of the state owned Vietnam Airlines; however it is going down the path of delays right from the start, given that, and the state of airline industry in general all across the world, I would like to fly this aircraft as much as possible before the cash considerations come into picture! For instance, in the US, one of the biggest air travel hub, domestic airlines have made a total loss of $60 billion in last decade. That's a lot of money to lose! A very well written NY times article on it here. Though a quote sums it all up: 

“I’d say that the only harder thing to start up than an airline is a nuclear plant,” said Bill Diffenderffer, the former chief executive of Skybus.

Unfortunately, for my readers who really want to fly one of these brand new airlines, Vietjet flies only in Vietnam as of now!

Oh, and finally in case you have been reading the news lately - apparently the entire world has taken notice of this airlines, though only good 9 months after its launch - when the Vietnam government fined Vietjet for hosting a bikini show in the flight. I leave it to you to find more details!

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Vietnam Diaries #5: The Bus Journey!

Every day we have to commute almost 40 minutes to work, in the morning and in the evening! And to do so we use a van with 4 rows of seating! 

Every morning and we prod along, sometimes sleeping, sometimes chatting, sometimes lost in our thoughts, sometimes reading, sometimes busy in our iPads, and sometimes working away on our laptops (which is very bad!), I am always reminded of the times when I used to go to school like this.

There was no way that you would not pull hair of people sitting in front of you, and then fight with someone troubling you from back, throw paper balls, foil paper balls, air planes,   water, snatch food, mess up hair of people, pull their ties, dirty their shoes, remember to cut nails, and on rarely rare occasion - read about the class test due in the first period! 

Every day when I go in the morning I have inkling that one day, one good day the scene will return back to those childhood days of going to school! 

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Vietnam Diaries #4: A 200 KM bike trip, and being mini celebrities

All along the way we were treated to the beautiful countryside of Vietnam!

My friend was visiting from Singapore, and thus it was finally time to stay back in Saigon for the weekend and do the things around Saigon which I had never done! 

However, the work week, which allowed only a few hours of sleep everyday happened and it was 7:30 AM on the Saturday morning as we ran around from one Tourist company to other asking us to take to the Cu Chi Tunnels (one famous site of war) and Cao Dai Temple (a new religion blemished in Vietnam!). Well, o'course travel companies being extremely efficient had optimized everything and there was no room for us. 

After much deliberation we decided we will go to Cu Chi tunnels the next day, and will be a little adventurous today. We would rent motorbikes - the manual 50-70 cc Vietnamese one and will venture to Cao Dai Temple - a good 100 km away.

For those who don't know, driving in Vietnam is not for faint hearted; esp. driving a motorbike. It truly feels like being in a motorbike race with enormous number of participants. Well, I guess I will write separately on it.

Given I am from India, I can drive very easily in such mad traffic. Thus after taking elaborate directions and writing the Vietnamese phrase to ask for directions down on paper, and memorizing them, off we went (and none of our phones had GPS!)

The ride was great, though it was almost 35 degrees and the sun was beaming down on us. But well, again, both of us were from India and the weather in Delhi at the same time was 45 degrees. So we went on.

After driving almost continuously for 2 hours, and having covered only around 60 km - we decided to stop for iced coffee and something to eat on a giant roadside restaurant. Stepping in the restaurant, and on seeing huge glass jars with snakes and scorpions in them we immediately cancelled plans to eat and settled for a Coffee. (With my shaky Vietnamese I was able to convey that we are vegetarian and just want Coffee).

Deliberately a small picture, to minimize the effect!
It was almost 3 PM and we were another 20 km from the temple. We had been traveling for almost 4 hours and there was no way we were going to make it. I usually never turn back, and sometimes pushing yourself that extra bit is all it takes. But having recently read  'Into Thin Air' I was more appreciative how 'turning back' is a mature thing to do in itself. There was no way we wanted to be stuck far away in some countryside where not a single person spoke English. So, THAT close to the temple, and after having traveled so much we turned back!

The return journey was much more relaxed as we had ample time now on our hands to eat and chillax. Immediate priority after turning back was food - we hadn't had anything after breakfast! Being close to temple, we were in good luck - and we were able to find a veg place! 

It was a small place in middle of no where, and those people had apparently never seen foreigners. We created a mini-stir by stepping inside and conversing in half baked Vietnamese.We were quickly made to sit, given iced green tea to drink, followed by delicious bowls of vegetarian noodles soup. All this while the entire family gathered around us and tried to speak to us. I tried repeating multiple times 'toi khong hieu viet' to mean that I don't understand Vietnamese, but that did little to deter their enthusiasm. 

They repeated something several times of which I was only able to capture Xinh Dep meaning beautiful. Finally they pointed out the earrings on my friends ear and made signs to show that they really liked it. And then they tried asking her where's the nose ring? Apparently, they knew something about India afterall! We took off, but not before trying to speak to their daughter and giving our share of Kit Kat and Oreo to her. 

Smile Please! 
As we hit Saigon, it was already dark and was time for delayed 4'o clock rains. One of the heaviest downpour of my life hit me, but nevertheless we continued driving and covered another 15-20 km in that downpour hour with already mad city rush thrown into chaos! Our map became a lump by the time we reached.

What a day! I am sure my friend would be quite thankful to me, as little chances otherwise she would have got to experience all this in that short trip to Vietnam. I think I made her obnoxious Visa fees worth it.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Vietnam Diaries #3: Tipping the Em

At the airport, after having conversed back and forth in English and Vietnamese that I want something vegetarian (or an chay) to eat at the airport cafe; I decided on 2 items each for 27,000 Dong (~ 1.3 USD). I handed her a 100,000 Dong note and she returned 50K. 

However, when I gave her 5,000 dong (i.e. around 25 cents) back she refused to take it. 
Only when I really insisted she took it and thanked me smiling profusely. I was a little confused where all this was going because I was just paying the money for what I had bought and this WAS a fixed priced shop.

Anywho, I left the counter with a Cam On Em (which is how you say thank you to women) and totally caught Cam On Ahn (which is how you say thank you to men!) which she said back to me. Satisfied that my basic Vietnamese is quiet perfect now, I walked away.

Shuffling with the receipt a little later I noticed that the bill was only of 50K and not of 54K as I was thinking! I could not stop laughing thinking what the Em would have thought of me trying to tip 25 cents to her!

I want to go back and explain it to her, but obviously I can’t, and would have to live for a while with this unsettling stupid feeling!

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Vietnam Diaries #2: "This guys grows his own food"

L: "You know what, he grew this in his room"
J: "Haha. You are joking"
L: "NOOOooooo"
J: "Ohhhhh. Really?"
L: "Yessss"
J: "I hope it is not something illegal like Marijuana"

The guy who grows his own food is me, and this conversation happened between my team-mates - none of who belong to India, and were aware of this 'food'.

The first time I brought it to the office to eat, no one was ready to believe that I grew it myself. 

"Like, you GREW this in your ROOM?"
"You must be kidding"
"Man, you are like a farmer, growing his own food"

L was so intrigued that she took pictures and sent it to her friends saying that this crazy guys grows his own food and brings it to eat in the office. So cool!

Back came the responses saying

"You are kidding!"
"This guy belongs to like our grandparent's generation!"
"Are you serious?"
"What is this thing?"
"Can he also grow other vegetables also in his room?"

The American and Vietnamese in the team refused to even taste even a morsel, while other Asians acted bold and ventured to taste it (and found it pretty nice!)

To say the least I am VERY surprised. You too will be when I say that the food is just bean sprouts. I got the green beans (moong) from home - when in hotel, I soak moong in water to make it sprout. Voila. I am a farmer in eyes of my team mate.

A part of the confusion came from the fact that in this part of the world (South East Asia) the sprouts are eaten when fully grown, that is when the bean totally disappears and only the sprout remains. I never knew that the sprouts can be grown so long! And they never knew that it can be grown so short.

So much for diversity :D. Next time I think I will grow black gram as well.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Vietnam Diaries #1: Mysterious Death, of my virtual Pet

"It feels great to solve one of the mysteries you think you will never find an answer to…!!!"
     - Me, exclaiming after solving the mystery

Having a team at work with people from Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia (and India!), who have trotted around the world for studying or while working creates a fabulous environment. There is constant commotion, a buzz - as ideas are exchanged and anecdotes shared about things and places, facts and figures, religion and politics, and life of common people. This fine day the discussion was revolving around some pet one of my colleagues wanted to pet. I found it pretty funny because the pet was a Moss! But, well, it is a technically a pet as you have to feed it, take care of it, and it grows at some 20mm per year. Looking at my 'this is ridiculous' expression, L mentioned that this is at least better that Tamagotchi which was a rage during her childhood days. 

"Tama-whatta?", I had never heard of it. And what do you mean by virtual pet!

Everyone else in the room perked up - this famous virtual pet - originated in Japan, widely popular in China, South East Asia - apparently never reached in India. I couldn't believe my ears when I was told that a virtual pet was a simple gaming console with 3 buttons - it had to constantly fed, bathed, taken care of when it was sick bla bla through those 3 buttons, and if you don't take care of it - it died (and like in real life - no second chances!). People would compete on who's Tama lived for how long. And you can also marry 2 Tamas and have children and so on ... da da da.

I was still laughing at how funny this all sounds when I saw the picture of this Tama thing. It looks like this:

So far so good, and the topic moved on to me recounting the AOE days, and how today it is all DOTA when something suddenly clicked in my mind. I announced it aloud - 

"wow, that's it - I am sure this is it. Oh, man I can't believe it. Is it really it...", I couldn't believe this was happening. I couldn't believe that this mystery that I have been carrying around in neuron connection of my brain, this mystery is finally seeing the light of the day. That too without any conscious efforts. As if Waston had once thought about DNA's structure and then one day after several years - the right answer suddenly clicked him! 

Even though I never made a conscious effort to solve this in last 16 years, 16 years ago it had baffled me so much that I still have vivid memories of it.

"When was Jurassic Park released?"
"When was this Tama thing invented"
"Dude. I think I know now"

And I ran to my desk and started googling for images until I found this.

What odds that I found this picture because, this 1997 model is rare, and in around 400-500 pictures I browsed - there's just one picture of this Jurassic Park Tama (btw, this one is up for sale!)

All ends quickly tied in: It was a gift from a Japanese chap. Little did he know that I don't know what the heck this toy is, little did I know that he did not know that I did not know what the heck this toy is. I tried playing it with several times. I thought it was some game where some chap would run around jungle trying to get away from dinosaurs and all that, but nothing like that happened. After trying to endless use the keys, and failing to figure out what these keys do - I let the toy be, thinking I will return to it sometime later. I did try playing it after some time, but it wouldn't work. I asked everyone around why - no one knew - after its death I carried it around for some 5-6 years hoping for a miracle, which obviously didn't happen until today.

I was a kid then, I did not know that pets once dead can't be resurrected. Even though they are virtual pets.

Though I doubt I would have played with this after someone would have explained me what this game was! Though gaming is a peer effect I guess.

"Imagine how much time you saved during your childhood which you would have instead wasted on this", L pointed out. True that!

When I recounted this incident to a friend, prompt came the reply: "Oh, so Farmville replaced this toy. Wow!"

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Being Strawless

"So how did people drink coconut water when there were no straws?", quizzed the curious-as-usual N while sipping coconut water. 

"Nice. This question has struck me several times as well.", I jumped in. "I think people would have drunk directly from the coconut - but it looks difficult! Or they might have emptied this into a glass or something! That time, they must have had it only at home and not on roadsides." I eagerly emptied my wisdom.

We nevertheless decided to check the facts with the rustic man who was selling coconut water.

"Aise hi pite the" [people used to drink it directly from the coconut] he replied with a shy smile.

Given we were in a small coastal village in Maharashtra - we had little inhibition in trying out the straw less way; the next second both of us were enjoying our respective coconut water sans our straws.

To our amazement - not even a single drop spilled. And believe me - the water tasted even better. I think it was because we could not only smell the fresh coconut but also taste some bit of it while drinking the water. It was an amazing experience.

For the rest of the trip, whenever we drank coconut water we proudly told the vendor "Straw nahi cahiye" [No straw needed] and smiled widely as a little surprised spread over his face.

I am drinking coconut water the straw less from now on. Are you willing to give it a try?

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Which road do I travel on?

Led Zepp goes like

"Yes, there are 2 paths you can go by, but in the long run
There's still time to change the road you're on"

While dear Mr. Frost prods on

"TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,   
And sorry I could not travel both...

...Oh, I kept the first for another day!    s
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,   
I doubted if I should ever come back."

Reads both, sighs and says the traveler in me:

"I stood on a path
forking in several paths
Looked all equally green
holding promises of unfulfilled dreams
But none showed themselves for too long
And mysterious were their songs
I stood long, looked far and deep
and then I took the leap

I took the path
caring not for where its destination lay
for paths will cross and fork again
but for what felt more enjoyable to travel that day
and that's all the traveler in me cares for"

p.s. Led zep in his Stairway to Heaven; Robert Frost in his The Road not Taken

p.p.s The traveler in me doesn't get its hands on the steering all the time

p.p.p.s If your mind forces you to read the entire post with Jimmy Page guitar in the background, and makes you sing the poems as if they are a part of the song - you're not the only one!

--  Edit --

Someone pointed out to me that Rebecca Black is also suffering from the same dilemma. 

"Kickin’ in the front seat
Sittin’ in the back seat
Gotta make my mind up
Which seat can I take?"

I can see Robert Frost banging his head against the lovely, dark and deep woods. RIP

Thursday, 22 March 2012

There and back again!

"If anything had to be done, it would have to be done by Mr. Baggins, alone and unaided"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Hobbit

After you have racked up a decent collection of 20 odd books in your small shelf or library, whatever you might want to call it: it feels great to pick up a random book, at a random moment, say just before sleeping, flip pages, read some of the lines you had underlined when reading it for the first time, land at a perfect quote which mirrors your momentary thoughts or makes you remember something you were thinking about, brings a smile or the associated emotion on your face; after which you snuggle in the bed and sleep a night of peace...

"One day nosing and wandering about, Bilbo discovered a very interesting thing..."

And okay, the last one for the day

"No dragon can resist the fascination of riddling talk and of wasting time trying to understand it" :D

Monday, 5 March 2012

An Earthquake in Delhi...

One of the first live blogs - and I am sweating profusely as I write this since the temperature in Delhi has shot over 30 degree C and I decided to climb 14 floors to get back to office. I was wondering as I climbed up: Had the earthquake been higher on the Richter scale...

To be fair, the emergency exit in our office is named as 'fire exit' and not 'earthquake exit' and hence its inability to ensure quick and safe exit of around 3000 people who work in the building in case of earthquake is not guaranteed. It took me 12 mins to get down from 14th floor. Needless to think about the hopeless situation in case of a stampede.

As I reached the ground, score of people turned out from lifts. With such 'fire exits', lifts are not necessarily unsafe, I reflected.

However, all this all began hilariously. Speaking on phone, I kept my hand on a long table in the cafeteria. The table was shaking like anything. Irritated a little, I looked over as to who was the trouble maker. There was none. This happened for a few times, and then suddenly the realization dawned upon me. I hurriedly said, "It feels like there's an earthquake here. I will call you later", heading towards the exit.

p.s Richter scale of around 5.2, I am told! And thankfully, all buildings held on.

Friday, 2 March 2012

The Novel Theory

The principal of The Novel Theory: A simple theory, which simply states, in the exact words: "I would rather spend an hour reading a novel than speaking to some girl on the phone."

Friday, 17 February 2012

Getting over the Famous Fives!

I was recently listening to one of the TED talks titled "Danger of a single story" in which Chimanmanda starts with the fact that she grew up reading American novels and thus when she began writing, her stories set in Africa too had white girl with blue eyes as protagonist which clearly were not truly African stories!

The moment I listened to this - all the books I have read immediately flashed across my mind. Keeping aside the non-fiction books, the only works of fiction by an Indian author or about India I remember reading are The Guide by RK Narayan, Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts, The sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh, Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lehri and Glorious Gharwal by Ganesh Saili. Life of Pi by Yann Martel can too be loosely classified in this category given that a bit of it is based in India. Moreover, I am astonished with the fact that I can't recall much from either the Sea of Poppies or the Interpreter of Maladies.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

2011: Discovering the Incredible India

"Who travels widely needs his wits about him. 
The stupid should stay at home"

- Icelandic sayings advising travelers, Geography of Bliss

Quick Stats: 16 trips and over 60 days spent traveling: Airplane, train, bus, car, motor boat, chappu wali boat, bike, bi-cycle and foot - all modes of commutations used. Explored Uttrakhand, Karnataka, Kerela, Maharashtra, J&K, Rajasthan and Odisha; and Italy. 

I have no words to capture the combined experience. Except to say that India is a beautiful place, wanting to be discovered, waiting to be appreciated, and needing to be preserved. I hope dear reader, you too would go to all these places and several others, and discover your happiness. 

With that, here's a snapshot of my Discovery of India, and the amazing travel year 2011 has been. First, The Desh Mera Video Project (Credits: Jatin Pasrija) which captures it all. It's not on youtube and stupid blogger wouldn't allow to link a Vimeo Video!

Next, Jatin and I have also started a website to document our travels, though it's still under construction - you can pay a visit at Road No. 9-2-11

And finally - the tale in pictures, and a few words:

January 1st 2011, Back from Har ki Dun, Uttrakhand
Starting the new year in Bus - auspicious max!

Reaching back to Delhi after a straight 15-16 hours of bus journey in heavy rains. Back from an amazing all weather (sun, snow, hail and rains!) 9 day trekking trip to the Valley of God.