10 Unusual Sights in Bali

Ten on Tuesdays

Work trips are bittersweet. There’s this excitement of going to a new place with plans of exploring the city buzzing in your head. But usually, these plans stay just that way, plans that is, after all, you are at work!!

When I got to know about my 3-day work trip to Bali, Indonesia, I was thrilled. Despite knowing the schedule, there was this small glimmer of hope that I might be able to squeeze in some time to check out a bit of the city.

While the days were spent working, I got the opportunity to see a bit of Bali in the evenings. Though I couldn’t go hiking Mount Merapi, one of the most active volcanoes on earth, or walk through the rainforest Canopy in Kalimantan, or chase the blue flames at sulfuric lake Ijen, or drink from the fountain of youth at Goa Gajah, or watch the sunrise from the top of Mount Batur, or let monkeys climb all over you at Ubud Monkey Forest, I did roam around on the streets of Bali.

Here are some of the unusual and interesting sights and experiences from my recent Bali Trip…

1. Malindo Air needs better translators.

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2. Offerings on the roads!! Small squarish open baskets made of palm or banana leaves with flowers, fruits, rice, cookies, money, oil, incense sticks etc, known as canag sari, are seen everywhere, on the sidewalks, streets, stairwells, ledges, temples, in front of shops, homes, hotels etc. These are the offerings for the Gods and the demons, to ask the good for assistance and appease the evil respectively. So one has to walk carefully without stepping on them. These are swept or thrown away to be replaced the next day.

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3. Udeng : I saw the hotel staff and some taxi drivers wear Udeng. It is headband for a Balinese man. Udeng is used by the Balinese, during traditional and religious ceremonies and gatherings and can be worn every day too.

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This is the ever smiling Steven from The Stones – Legian Bali, Marriott’s Autograph Collection Hotel, wearing Udeng.

4. The currency that makes you feel super rich: When our driver asked us for 2 lakhs for the drive from the airport to the hotel, we were pleasantly shocked cum surprised.

The Indonesian Rupiah is available in the denominations of Rp. 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000 and 100,000 as bills. Rp.100 and 100 are in the form of coins, Rp. 500 and 1,000 are in either coins or bills. For the first time ever, I had Rp. 4 lakhs in my wallet.

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That’s another story that Rp 400,000 is equal to Rs 2148 only!!

5. Amazing food at beachside and roadside cafes. Had heard and seen on TV about the Indonesian cuisine which is vibrant, colourful, rich in spices and full of intense flavours. Since, our package had only Indian food (yeah that’s simply ridiculous!), I couldn’t explore much from the Indonesian cuisine. But I tried Nasi Goreng, a staple dish, comprising of fried rice with a fried egg on top and tons of other ingredients like prawns, chicken, vegetables, chilies and more at just about any local eatery. This can be had at breakfast, lunch and even dinner.

Seafood is pretty popular in Bali and we had seafood cascade consisting of tuna, snapper, lobster, squid and prawn which can be enjoyed with local beer.

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6. What’s that in Absolut Bottles? No, it’s not what you are thinking. In Bali petrol is sold in Absolut bottles along the roadsides. They say that the petrol pumps are far in the city so bikers can buy petrol from these roadside stalls. Why only Absolut bottles, I asked the vendor. ‘Absolut holds exactly one litre of petrol, other bottles hold a little more or a little less’, he said in halting English.

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7. Art on the streets. There’s something special on the walls of Bali. Yes, it’s the Balinese street art and graffiti which can be seen everywhere, even on the shutters of the closed shops.

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8. Beauty, beauty everywhere. As we drove from the airport to our hotel, I felt I was at a place which is an amalgamation of Kerala and Goa. The Legian and Kuta beach near our hotel was clean and so welcoming. And the aerial view from the aircraft is simply beautiful.

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9. Shop till you drop… if you are looking for cheap and mostly fake products. T-shirts, shorts, beach wear, sarongs, wrap-arounds, sunglasses, bags, shoes, slippers, hats etc can be bought at throwaway prices. What caught my attention were exclusive shops of dream-catchers!! And there were exclusive showrooms for just slippers!!

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10. Souvenirs galore. Bali also has a great tradition of woodcraft. Wood carved items like masks, artifacts, toys, figurines can be seen all around. It is probably rude, but I cant help but share these phallic souvenirs which are hung in huge bunches like grapes everywhere.

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How do you make the most of a work trip?

Have you been to Bali? How has been your experience and what would you recommend if one goes for a vacation at Bali?

Best Time to Book for Indian Travellers Favourite Summer Destinations

Leading global travel search engine, Skyscanner has analysed two years’ worth ofclip_image001 travel search data from over 60 million monthly users to answer the one questions that always puzzles travellers: when is the best time to book flights?

A recent survey of Indian travellers revealed 72% do not know when is the best time to book flights. Skyscanner’s survey further unveiled 69% of travellers incorrectly estimate the best air fares can be found less than 12 weeks before departure, when in fact the best deals are snapped up by travellers who plan in advance. Traveller’s eyeing up Bali for their summer trip can save up to 51% on flight tickets by booking 25 weeks in advance or risk paying 27% more than the average fare when they leave booking to the last minute.

The same trend appears for air fares to Indian traveller’s favourite summer destinations, traveller’s looking to vacation in Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok can grab flights for 35% and 33% less than the average fare, respectively, when booking 24 weeks prior to departure.

Skyscanner recommends booking 24 weeks in advance for travellers venturing to Europe or the USA for their summer vacations for savings of 22% and 18%, respectively.

Skyscanner also reveals the most inexpensive months to travel to visit some of Indian travellers’ favourite locations. November is the cheapest month to travel to Bangkok when flights 10% cheaper than the average fare, while visa-friendly Bali can be best enjoyed in April with a 10% saving on the average fare.

Commenting on the findings, Reshmi Roy, Senior Growth Manager, Skyscanner India said, “We hope Skyscanner’s data can provide travellers with clarity on how and when to get the best deal on flights and what to expect if booking is left to the last minute. After reviewing flight prices from the last two years, we can clearly see that it pays to plan. Booking at the right time can make a huge difference to one’s expenditure on their trip, up to 51% in some cases.”

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About Skyscanner

  • Skyscanner is a leading global travel search company, providing free search of flights, hotels and car hire around the world
  • Founded in 2003, Skyscanner helps over 60 million people each month to find their travel options
  • Skyscanner is available in 30 languages
  • Skyscanner’s highly-rated free mobile app has been downloaded over 60 million times
  • Skyscanner employs over 800 staff and has 10 offices across the world: Barcelona, Beijing, Budapest, Edinburgh, Glasgow, London, Miami, Shenzhen, Singapore and Sofia
  • Skyscanner is part of the Ctrip Group

For more information, please visit https://www.skyscanner.co.in/bttb/best-time-to-book-in

7 Reasons to Travel Solo

Although, it is exciting and rewarding to travel to newer places with family and friends, but there’s something incredible about traveling alone. And that’s also because some journeys in life can only be traveled alone.  Don’t believe this? Well here are some compelling reasons to travel solo…

Reason #1 : It IS Empowering – There was a time, when I would feel extremely uncomfortable to eat alone at a restaurant. And then, I got over it. Traveling alone pushes you to move outside your comfort zones as you come across so many unfamiliar situations. Since, there’s nobody to handle these situations for you, you overcome all your fears and inhibitions and just plunge into them. And believe me, that’s truly empowering.

Reason #2 : It Recharges You – When you are traveling with family, (for a woman especially), it is not vacation, but just a change of location. You have to look after your family’s needs just like the way you do at home. Traveling alone will give you the all that is needed to rest, relax and recharge you. You don’t have to follow timetables, if you don’t want to and can enjoy a place totally at your own pace.

Reason #3 : You Discover Yourself – Solo travel gives you an opportunity to break-free from the regular routine and spend significant time alone. And this time gives you an opportunity to reflect on your thoughts, dreams and life as well as develop self awareness and you learn to be more comfortable in your own skin. I think one travels more usefully when they travel alone, because they reflect more.” — Thomas Jefferson

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Reason #4 : It Builds Confidence : A friend who has traveled the world with her family, had to travel alone some time back. She was a nervous wreck by the time she boarded the flight. It was because, her husband took care of all things, always. And today, she is a pro. When you travel solo, independence isn’t something that you need to achieve; it comes naturally to you. You have to take care of your own luggage and find your way too. Facing all the challenges, makes you a problem solver and that makes you independent and certainly boosts your confidence.

Reason #5 :  It Makes You Richer – Solo travel is a life changing experience. It makes you rich in terms of adventures, memories, experiences, knowledge and insights. These experiences when traveling alone, tend to be more meaningful and profound.

Reason #6 : You Learn Skills – I had a poor sense of direction and believed in traveling with luggage which would last me for two trips. Some mishaps made me learn to travel light and become a better traveler.

Reason #7 : It Makes You Appreciative of Your Loved Ones –  Days and weeks away from your family would make you realize how important they are in your life. Traveling solo certainly makes you appreciate your family and friends more.

Solo Travel can appear to be intimidating initially. But it is going to be one of the best experiences of your life. Go for it at least once a year and going for it once in your lifetime is MANDATORY!

Have you traveled solo? How has been your experience. If you haven’t, will you give it a try?

Linking this to the second edition of  BAR-A-THON by Blog-A-Rhythm

Theme – Seven

Day 2

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Quirky Observations

Busy doesn’t adequately describe my schedule of last fortnight. There was work related travel, general engagements at home and some more travel. During all this adventure, stress, crazy days, fun, excitement and exhaustion, I packed in lots of reading and of course my favorite, observing the buzz of life around me.

Yes, because of too much reading, there’s overdose of book reviews and my blog is looking like a book review blog. I am not too happy with that, because, I like varied stuff on my blog. But, the book reviews had to be done, after all a commitment is a commitment. Thought I faltered on some deadlines, I consoled myself with ‘better late than never’. Have you realized, giving such excuses/ explanations to self, are so comforting as they simply take away the pressure or guilt! Do you agree with that?

I am sure, we all have seen people keeping the transparent plastic sheet covering the seats of their brand new cars intact for quite some time. And the same goes for office chairs and even TV remotes.

But have you seen something like this…

WP_20160818_11_41_52_Pro This sight was a first for me. Have never seen anybody keeping the straps of a bag wrapped in a plastic covering.  What about you?

Do brand names matter? The brand manager in me firmly believes so, after all a brand helps customers know what to expect. A brand is the way the customers perceives the brand, the company and its ethos…

So what would you think when you come across this….

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I saw this hotel in Abu Road, Rajasthan. I don’t know who coined the name for this hotel or what were they thinking? What do you think about this hotel’s brand name? What would be the owner’s thoughts while thinking of this as his hotel’s name? Let your quirky or logical reasoning flow in the comment section!

Travel Tales

After having woken up at an unearthly hour to catch the first flight of the day, I am now sitting in the airport lounge. With the breakfast done and out of the way, I am awaiting the departure of my second flight which is a few hours away. And I am doing what I love doing the most. Yes, observing the buzz of life around me.

Actually, it all started as soon as I made myself comfortable in my assigned seat in the aircraft. WP_20160528_00_13_14_ProI was looking out of the window and drinking in the beauty of the early morning when a strong aroma hit me. I looked around and saw a passenger in front of my seat opening her lunch box.

The lady was eating stuffed karela (bitter gourd) with parantha. The stuffing inside was secured with a thread, just as my mom does it and this made me smile and crave for food made by mom. Seeing her having breakfast at 6 am and that too before the flight taking off got me thinking. I think she must be a 6 am breakfast lover or must be believing in eating early in order to keep insulin and blood sugar levels regulated while kick-starting the metabolism. Wonder what would be her actual reason to do so though!

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A couple with a 2 year old kid are sitting next to me in the lounge.  As I was chatting with the parents, I observed the kid’s hand. He was wearing a gold ring. I saw a kid wearing a gold ring with his name engraved on it for the first time. I mean, have seen kids made to wear gold chains, bangles, earrings from a young age. But seeing a kid with a ring was a first for me.

 

 

Saw the promotion of Rajinikath starrer Kabali on the Air Asia aircraft.  Air Asia is the official airline partner of one of the most awaited movies of the year, Kabali, and several of its planes will also feature in the film. It seems that in Kabali , Rajinikanth plays the role of a Malaysia-based don, and this seemed like a right brand boosting strategy for the Malaysian carrier, Air Asia to partner with this movie. Interesting!

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Last week, during my travel by the Jaipur-Delhi Double Decker train, I came across yet another interesting sight. The cracked glass window of the train had this sticker…

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I saw such a sticker for the first time, though I have seen innumerable damaged things in the trains.

This train journey reminds me of the scene I witnessed at the railway station before boarding the train. A family of 4 who were standing next to me were chatting and having a good time together. As soon as the train arrived on the platform, young man of the family began saying good-byes to his parents and sister. And suddenly, their laughter ceased as they saw him leave them. I watched them some more from my window seat in the train. Seeing the mother’s silent tears, made me teary eyed too. It’s always harder to be left behind than to be the one to go…

Hope they all meet soon again and have lots of reasons to smile and laugh again.  And I am thinking of me reaching back home too after five days on the road.

Linking this to Day 3 – Write Tribe Festival of Words #5

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Padharo Mhare Des

We all need a timeout from time to time, to get away from pressures of work and mundane life at  home. From time to time, we all need to step away to recharge, relax and rejuvenate from the stresses of life.  And a vacation provides just that. The mere thought of exploring unknown places, trying out different dishes and cuisines, meeting new people, spending quality time with family and friends, gives a boost to the weary soul and mind!

Over the years, I have seen that visiting Jaipur is on the wish list of almost all the people I have met. As soon as somebody gets to know that we stay in the pink city of India, their eyes sparkle with excitement and animation which is followed by a barrage of questions and queries. I can so understand and relate to their fascination and admiration for Jaipur.

Jaipur, without a doubt is a perfect holiday destination. It has timeless appeal in its rich cultural heritage with majestic palaces and massive forts; vibrant colours and streets bustling with life; lip smacking food and colourful bazaars to shop till you drop. Friends and acquaintances ask me all the time about how, when and what to visit and do in Jaipur.  Let me plan a perfect vacation for you in Jaipur. Padharo Mhare Des…

How to Reach Jaipur

Jaipur, a tourist’s paradise is connected to major cities of the country with domestic flights from all Airlines operating on a regular basis. Jet Airways , SpiceJet, Air India, IndiGo, GoAir have daily flights to and from Jaipur. You may travel comfortably by numerous bus and train options too. And if you plan to self drive then the roads leading to Jaipur are well-connected by National Highways 8, 11 and 12. The Delhi-Jaipur National Highway offers a smooth ride (260 kilometres) with plenty of restaurants and amenities on the way.

Places to Visit in Jaipur

The major irresistible attractions of Jaipur are its palaces and forts which are resplendent of their royal heritage. City Palace with its the regal architecture, offers a stunning view of the Pink City while the Hawa Mahal and  Jal Mahal reflect the scientific bent of mind of the Kings and the craftsmanship of the artists.

Located on top of hills are the three forts, Amber Fort, Jaigarh Fort and NaharGarh Fort give the bird’s eye view of Jaipur city. They have extensive walls, watch towers, several temples and many citadels.

Photo: Christophe Biosvieux/Age Fotostock/Dinodia

Amer Fort : Image Source

Other historical places that must be visited are the Jantar Mantar Observatory, Isarlat (Swargasuli), Albert Hall Museum and the entire Walled city of Jaipur. Sight seeing of all these forts and palaces may take 2 entire days. Yes, there is so much to soak in and admire these rich historical heritage.

Temples like Govind Devji and Moti Doongari are pretty famous and auspicious. The deities here are  worshipped by the erstwhile royal family.

Dig into Authentic Rajasthani Food
Kachori

Kachori : Image Source

A trip to Jaipur (or anywhere in Rajasthan) is not complete without digging into traditionalghewar.photo by cherian thomas and authentic Rajasthani food. Churned from the royal kitchens, Rajasthani cuisine reflect indigenous traditions.  So,  dal bati churma, laal maas, kachoris or ghevar are a must must eat at Jaipur.  And so are the pyaz ki kachouri from Rawat Mishthan Bandhar, Sahu ki Kachori at Chaura Rasta, Gulab Ji Ki Chai at Ganpati Plaza, Sharma Chaat at Johri Bazaar, Ramchandra ki Kulfi, Murli Paan Shop. Laxmi Mishthan Bhandar at Johri Bazaar offers some excellent local sweets and food.

Chokhi Dhani is an ethnic village resort that captures the vibrant spirit of Rajasthan and ensures a perfect Rajasthani experience.

Shop till You Drop

A paradise for shopaholics, the old bazaars of Jaipur offers some of the best shopping experiences. Jaipur is home to India’s largest and the most fabulous collection of jewellery of all types – precious stones and gems, semi-precious and handmade jewellery and you can find them at Johari Bazaar. Tripolia Bazaar is known for its lac jewellery, bangles, Bandini tie and dye fabrics with rich embroideries and designer carpets, brass ware and other traditional wares. Bapu Bazaar and Nehru Bazaar for colourful Rajasthani dresses and jootis and general street shopping. Shops at MI Road are known for antiques, blue pottery, gems and jewellery. Badi and Choti Chaupad and  Chandpole Bazaar offer some unique and traditional items to shop too.

Best Time to Visit

October to March is the best season to visit Jaipur. It’s the winter season and perfect time to spend outdoors. July to September is the monsoon period and is a good time if you wish to avoid the peak tourist season. April to June are particularly harsh with temperatures rising up to 48°C during the day but the mornings and evenings are pleasant.

A trip of 3-6 days is an ideal one to soak in the beauty and grandeur of Jaipur.

If you have some more time, then you can explore some weekend getaways near Jaipur too.

Padharo Mhare Des! Come, explore the wonders and sites and take a peek into into Jaipur’s royal history and heritage. So are you ready, with the packed bags!?!

Kuwait Travel Diary

How does it feel to see the stamps in your passport or hear a different language as you deplane from the aircraft or see people from a different culture milling around you as you pass through the immigration lines at the airport?

It seems like a beginning of an exciting adventure from the start. Right!

That’s how it happened for me, when I came to Kuwait one and a half day ago.

It’s my first visit to this country  and I am all set to soak anything and everything the place has to offer.

It is an official visit, but I will get plenty of time to explore the city… fingers crossed. I am so looking forward to it.  Here are a few things that I plan to do while in Kuwait.

Eat Local Food : Kuwait is non veg eater’s paradise. I am not a big fan of non-veg actually. Given a choice between veg and non-veg food, I’d pick veg, always. And here I am in this new country and meat has been on my plate for all the four meals up till now. And guess what, I am loving it. Yesterday we went to an Arabic joint and thanks to Fatayer Lahme  along with Fatayer Jibna and Fatayer Zaatar, I never knew that I had an adventurous palate. And I am looking forward to more such tempting and tasty adventures.

Fatayer Lahme and Fatayer Jibna

Fatayer Lahme and Fatayer Jibna

Fatayer Zaatar

Fatayer Zaatar

Soak in the Sights : Of course, wherever I look, a new things are coming in my line of vision.  City roads like our expressways, fast moving traffic, left side driving, virtually no two wheelers, beautiful buildings and houses, men is long thwabs and women in abayas (and I must add here that they all are so beautiful and fashionable!) are simply fascinating.

Pristine Blue Arabian Sea

Pristine Blue Arabian Sea

Learn : Though most people speak English and we have met quite a few Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis in and around our hotel who are so happy to speak in Hindi with us, I am however keen to learn a few sentences and phrases in Arabic.

Like yesterday, we were in this market and I met this friendly old man. 

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He asked me something in Arabic and I drew a blank. Another person translated it for me and we got chatting. And it was fun talking to him and in the process picked up a few Arabic words. It’s interesting that it is similar to Urdu which I am familiar with. For instance, a thank you is Shukriya in Urdu and Shukraan in Arabic. 

I can see that the customs and traditions of the people in Kuwait are truly unique. I don’t want to just observe these customs, I wish I could participate and be one of them as they follow them. I hope that gets ticked off from my wish list.

As I prepare for the unexpected and go with the flow in Kuwait, you have a great week ahead and keep watching this space for more updates and pictures from this sojourn of mine!

#MondayMusings

10 Tips for Traveling Solo

Solo Travel is a life changing experience. And it is on the rise, these days. More and more people are backpacking to explore and enjoy a destination on their own terms – without any distraction and without matching their schedule with others. Solo travel not only gives you the time to reflect but also is a rewarding and a liberating experience.

Solo Travel

For some, venturing out completely on their own can be intimidating. Worry not, with research and planning, you can have an experience like none other. Here’s how to make the most of your solo trip…

  • Plan in advance : Do some advance planning. You don’t need a detailed plan but you should know, for the first night at least, where you’re going to stay. Book your hotel before you leave. Carry the essentials with you when you head out for the day. Have the name of the place you’re staying on a piece of paper in the local language. Have a copy of your emergency contacts and your documents on you.
  • Pack light : Pack light so that you can manage your luggage by yourself with ease. One carry-on, a suitcase or backpack, should suffice whether you’re out for one week or three. Also keep your most important items like ID proof/passport, wallet, camera and phone in the same place.
  • Watch the world around you : Take the time to observe how people interact, and how things work. While sitting at a sidewalk cafe, on a park bench, or just killing time you can learn how to use public transit, whether to pay your bill at your table or at the counter, how to tip or how to hail a cab and much more.
  • Open up! : Learn how to talk to strangers. Smile and start a conversation. Be curious and ask open-ended questions and follow-up questions. Connect with other travelers. The common rooms and lounges of hostels / hotels are great places to meet short-term friends as well as pick up excellent travel advice.
  • Go out and enjoy yourself : Enjoy dining alone. Ask a local to order for you. Go out in the evenings. Go to concerts and the theatre. It’s all possible solo.street-381227_1280
  • Get off the beaten track : If you want to meet other travelers, go off the beaten path. Travelers who find each other where there are few tourists are more inclined to talk to each other. Plus, you will likely have something in common.
  • Go on organised tours : Break up long trips with organized tours. You’ll enjoy the company and a chance to let someone else take care of all the details.
  • Take your own photos : Learn to take your own photo. Your friends will be far more interested in your photos when you return if there are pictures of you amongst them.
  • Take advantage of useful apps on your phone : Download useful apps to your phone such as a GPS, a translator, a currency converter, some travel guides, online recharge and bill payment apps
  • Trust your instinct : Be aware of your surroundings and listen to your gut. If something doesn’t seem right, leave.

Go on and empower yourself to travel solo with confidence to discover yourself as you discover the world!

Adapted from The Solo Traveler’s Handbook by Janice Waugh

Images Courtesy : Pixabay

One Night @ The Airport

*Long Post Alert*

“What will you do for so many hours, alone?”
“Why did you pick this set of flights?”

These questions made me go Aww and Argghh at the same time. 

These questions were asked by KG and my parents for I was taking a connecting flight from Pune to Jaipur via Delhi. They were overly concerned as I was landing at Delhi airport at 1 am and taking the next flight at 5.15 am. So, that would mean, being at the airport for about 4 hours which are certainly unearthly hours. While they worried and fretted, I was cool. I had 2 paperbacks in my back, 3 ebooks on my phone, a laptop with datacard to keep me busy during the night and a warm stole in case tiredness and sleep engulfed me.

Having slept during the 2 hour flight from Pune to Delhi, I was fresh and alert as I walked on the long travellator at the swanky Indira Gandhi International Airport T3 Terminal. It was 1.30 am.

A ‘Aha’ escaped my lips and some invisible strings pulled me in its direction. I ditched the travellator and walked with a purpose. There were big brands all around! (What were you thinking?) When I see shopping stores, there’s no stopping me. No, I don’t buy anything and everything in sight, I like to call myself a sensible shopper. But what I enjoy the most about shopping is the looking at the display at the stores, checking out new items and chatting with sales people. Of course, this I can do only when I am alone. KG has no patience for all this admiring stuff and not buying it. Aah! But I digressed.

I checked out some dresses and tops at Marks & Spencer, looked at the phone and laptop accessories and grilled a sales guy about Windows phones at Chroma. I also browsed through the various books and products of The Art of Living- The Divine Shop. Was not aware of their ayurvedic cosmetics, food and wellness products and walked past a lot of eateries and bar lounges, prayer room and other shops.

The next stop was Costa Coffee. Handling coffee in one hand and a plate of date and fig cake on another, a big bag on one shoulder and a heavy laptop bag on another, I was a sight. I looked around and saw plush chairs outside Starbucks counter. I cursed myself for not seeing Starbucks a few minutes earlier. Would have loved to see how they’d misspell my name and would they write my name on the cup even if I was the only customer then? Anyways, as I was digging into my cake, the guy at the Starbucks counter told me, “Outside food is not allowed!”. I smiled and told him, just this time and he agreed.

I looked around and wondered about the sales guys and girls working during the night shift. Some were busy on phones, some working on the PCs, may be making sales or stock reports, some were sitting and chatting in groups of twos or threes and some were simply dozing off.

Sufficiently charged with a good dose of caffeine, I moved further ahead and yet another wonderful sight came in front of me. It was Relay, the book store. With a spring in my step, I walked towards this store. And my grey cells reminded me of a long pending dream.

I love doing book spine poetry, you must have seen a few of them on this blog. For the uninitiated, a book spine poetry is arranging book titles to make a poem or a story. Since I started doing the book spine poetry, I wished I could create one in a book store as the book titles there simply outnumber the ones in my library cupboard. (Oh, I do have a pretty decent collection of books, though!) But, this dream never materialized for (1) I usually go to a book store for buying a last minute gift for someone (2) It is a time consuming process and in a busy store during the day time, if I went about looking at the titles in all sections and made piles of books, I am sure the store guys would call the security to throw me out. Ok, that’s an exaggeration, but I am sure, they’d not appreciate it.

An empty book store with a sleepy sales guy was a perfect opportunity to make my dream come true. As I gathered books and arranged them in a pile, added or removed a book, the sales guy at the counter woke up from his slumber and looked at me curiously. I explained and he liked the idea and read my incomplete story with book spines aloud. He looked around to add his inputs but gave up after a minute and went back to fiddling with his phone.

After craning my neck at a weird angle to read the book titles for half an hour or so, I came up with this book spine poetry.

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Did you like it?

With a dream fulfilled, it was time to buy a book from the store.  After shopping online with decent discounts, buying a book at its MRP gave me heartburn. But had to buy something. So, I bought Mrs Funnybones by Twinkle Khanna.

It was 3.30 am! I had window shopped for about 2 hours! The boarding gates for my flight would have opened at 4. 30 am, so I thought of writing a blog post. But everything can’t go right, so neither the free wi-fi at the airport worked nor did my datacard. I had no other option but to read. Mrs Funnybones joined me and her company was  fun and funny.

As she regaled me with her stories, the travellator near me came to life. And with it came the clear, soft and smooth voice on the IVRS, which instructed repeatedly one and all to “Please hold the hand brake and mind your step. Kripya hand brake ko pakade hue savdhani se pair rakhiye.” This monologue played on a loop without a break and when it did stop after a while, seemed like an eternity though, I was chanting the same message in my head. Gosh!

But hey! Repeating things repeatedly though annoying but do register. So, I must carry on with my instructions to the 2 boys at home, “Wash your hands. Close the drawer. Don’t keep the wet towel on bed…”. Someday, it will register in their heads… yes, someday…

Soon, it was time to board the plane. And needless to say that I dozed off immediately after buckling my seat belt and woke up only when the aircraft landed with a thud at Jaipur airport.

That was indeed an eventful, exciting and an enjoyable experience of one night @ the airport!

Flying with a Cry-baby #MondayMusings

Last week, I took an early morning flight from Bangalore to Delhi for which I had to reach the airport at an unearthly hour. Sleep deprived and tired from the hectic work schedule, I reached the airport on time and requested the lady at the counter to give me a window seat. Thinking of catching up on my missed sleep during the two hour flight, I boarded the aircraft, only to see a young mother with a child occupying my seat. Sitting next to her was her old father (or father-in-law). Without a word I occupied the vacant aisle seat. Yes, it seemed silly to ask her to vacate the window seat for me.

I settled in my aisle seat and dozed off even before the flight took off from the ground, only to be jolted awake from sleep a few minutes later by the loud screams of my little co-passenger. The face of the lil baby was all red and his eyes all scrunched up but no tears trickled down his cheeks. The mother held him close, rocked him back and forth, and softly repeated some words in his ear, but the child refused to calm down and showed us all his super power of screaming really loudly. And as if one uncomfortable child on the flight was not enough, another one wailed from the back seats. By this time, I gave up on my plan to sleep during the flight.

I smiled at the mother and she smiled back with gratitude. I looked around and saw the other passengers having expressions ranging from disdain and irritation to anger and exasperation. And memories of a flight taken some 13 years ago flashed in front of me when a 45 day old baby shrieked and howled in my arms. There was absolutely no difference in the reactions of the passengers between these two incidents which spanned more than a decade.

We all know that babies do what they do when they want to do it. The babies don’t know how to deal with air pressure and the pain it causes or any uneasiness that they might be experiencing. The only way they know to express their pain is by crying. What’s new or different in that? I am sure every single person and their children have cried like that in a public space whether in a plane or a train or a store or a cinema hall or at a restaurant.

While at a restaurant or a store, one can still go out and distract the crying child in some way, but how does one do that while sitting in a aircraft when seat-belt sign is still on? The parents have limited ways  to manage the cranky child.

Oh, I know it can be very frustrating for the co-passengers, after all it is not their child, but show some empathy to the parent who is all stressed and even more frustrated. She is trying her level best to calm and soothe the baby.  

Imagine, how unnerving it would be to hear the exaggerated sighs and sense the irritation and stares from co-passengers while your baby is howling, wailing and shrieking his guts out in your arms. How guilt ridden you would be when you know that you and your child are annoying other passengers and some are even judging you for it.

I wish people know that they can’t have library-silent, no-wails-allowed flight. It should not be difficult to understand that a child being a child is not the parents’ fault, and to realize that making someone else feel bad will not make you feel better or improve your flight. So, instead of giving a death-stare to the mother and the child, show empathy, practice patience and put on your noise-cancelling headphones and simply deal with it minus the negative drama from your end. Deal?

Linking this to Write Tribe’s #MondayMusings

MondayMusings

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