Ao Nang – Why Do I Keep Coming Back?

What is it about this place that makes me return again and again and again? One could easily explain my decision by stating the usual reasons such as beaches, mountains, jungles, a fascinating culture and history, a delicious cuisine and so forth. Those are the things that appear on every “must-see” and “to-do” list. However to me, that merely covers the reasons why one should come here, but it doesn’t answer the question of why one should stay here. Thailand is not the only country that ticks off all the items on this list; there are plenty of others with perhaps even more pristine beaches or higher mountains. So, what is it then? Continue reading “Ao Nang – Why Do I Keep Coming Back?”

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My New Life As An Explorer: A Declaration

I had the most profound revelation during a long train ride from Goa up to Mumbai. It was late in the evening and all six berths in our section – three on each side – were already folded out and occupied by tired passengers. I, however, could not sleep as I was lying in the bottom bunk with my flashlight still on and the pages of Charles Allen’s book ‘A Mountain in Tibet’ still open. It’s a book that chronicles the exploration of the revered Mount Kailas and the discovery of the sources of the four great rivers – the Indus, the Ganges, the Brahmaputra, and the Sutlej. Every person depicted in this book had their own reasons for venturing into these uncharted and dangerous areas. It was either for the sake of spiritual enlightenment, geographical exploration, and discovery or for more selfish reasons such as fame, admiration, and recognition. Whatever it was, in the end, they all had one thing in common: they possessed the heart of an explorer. And on that fateful train ride to Mumbai, I realized that I, too, was in possession of it. Clear as day, then and there it dawned on me just as sudden, that I now had a purpose. Continue reading “My New Life As An Explorer: A Declaration”

Tales from Nepal #1: The Prayers of Kathmandu and The Veiled Mountains in the Distance

Prayer flags, much like humans, are not meant to remain still. They need to fly and flutter freely through the air and space spreading peace, compassion, and goodwill as the wind lets them dance in every direction and the colors – red, white, green, blue, yellow – fade in the sunlight. From pole to pole, house to house, the ground to the top of a stupa, I would go so far as to say that no other country is more closely associated with flags than Nepal. Continue reading “Tales from Nepal #1: The Prayers of Kathmandu and The Veiled Mountains in the Distance”

Tales from India #4: The Last Sunny Days in Goa

At last, the monsoon season was upon us as thick layers of grey clouds covered the sky and rain began to pour down relentlessly. It started of imperceptible with small showers during the evening, but it culminated in a thunderous storm, that left the entire town without electricity for the greater part of the night and the next day. It was the official announcement that “the times they are a-changin’”. Continue reading “Tales from India #4: The Last Sunny Days in Goa”

Tales from India #3: The Subtle Art of Making Chapatis

Recently, I have spent a lot of time thinking about the big question of what art is. Was there a universal answer to this question? Was there one undeniable truth? Some say that art is not about truth, it’s about expression and beauty. To others, it’s a “source of calm in a chaotic world“. There is no shortage of elaborate opinion pieces written by highly educated people. However, many seem to come to the same conclusion that art should evoke an emotional response.  Continue reading “Tales from India #3: The Subtle Art of Making Chapatis”

Tales from India #2: Food Poisoning in Kochi

The Indians on the beach in Goa didn’t care who was helping them as long as the person in question was capable of helping. Their motto, most likely, was “all hands on deck” as they asked me if I could help them push their tour boat safely on shore. A moment later my hands were gripped against one of the outriggers and with the rise and fall of the Arabian Sea, and the “Push!” signal by the captain we steadily gained inch by inch. It appears that I walked along the beach just at the right time, for the same thing happened twice more. Continue reading “Tales from India #2: Food Poisoning in Kochi”

Tales from India #1: Through The Western Ghats Towards Munnar

We were passing through the Western Ghats at a slow pace. The engine of our public bus has its limitations, which none of the passengers particularly minded. This part of the mountainous region was completely covered in lush trees, and cattle were grazing on a field at the foot of the mountain. Banana plantations were the only things that gave this area some structure, which ironically made them appear out of place. Continue reading “Tales from India #1: Through The Western Ghats Towards Munnar”