Author Archives: Cutting Loose

Walk On The Wild Side

“How about a quickie?” a friend had grinned cheekily, emboldened by Dutch courage brought about by more than a few sun-downers. “Why not!” I’d breezed back similarly high-spirited. “Pick a place then!” came his excited riposte. That was all the encouragement I needed. It’d been a while, and I had really begun to miss that fun factor called spontaneity.  Time you summoned it, woman, I spurred myself. Next thing, we’re dashing for his car.

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Surat’s Sepulchral Splendour

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Looking down from Van Rheede’s parapet

For the longest time I had been unable to fathom the fascination a dear friend, nay two of them, have long displayed for the dead. They’re both doctorates–I have often wondered if that’s grounds–and avid travellers, though many decades apart in age. He, formerly a bureaucrat, currently a graver, plans nearly all his trots across India and the globe around beautiful cemeteries, writes about them even.  She, when not teaching English Literature to college-goers, plays tombstone tourist wherever she goes. While I have continually accused them of being macabre for their interest in the interred, they’ve always blamed my immunity to taphophillia on dread of death.

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In Goa, Must Mustard

IMG_9278Seldom do I recommend an experience sans encounters of the empirical kind; much less if it involves unsuspecting taste-buds. But I had been hearing such wonderful things about this one the past year, I made a rider-hitched–the messenger requests that she please not be shot–exception for it. Then I sat back many months to await unbiased reviews from knowledgeable palates (not to mention the perfect season for a Goa visit) before I eventually showed up at the charming teal-and-white balcao of the century-old Portuguese villa that houses Mustard.

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Notes on the Road

IMG_9288In this age of new-fangled travel apps and notebooks which require power chargers, styli and pinches to get them going, those that employ real paper, ink pens/pencils, and a spit-moist forefinger as page-turner are seen as somewhat of an anachronism. Mostly by all those cool people. In that sense, as an entrenched adherent of old-school ways, I’m quite…well…hot.

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Cobra In The Bath

img236Cobra in the Bath – Adventures in Less Travelled Lands, readers will find, is many things but what it is not however is your everyday travelogue.  Au contraire, this here is an engaging chronicle of a near-seven decade expedition–one that has an uncanny knack of catapulting headlong into history-shaping geographies across several continents. It revs up in an India on the cusp of her freedom, and then yaws along to Mossadegh-era Iran after hovering momentarily over an exhausted post-war England. It is found idling on pristine Greek beaches–celebrating surviving that most terrifying of British institutions, boarding school, and Oxford–before eventually parking itself firmly in financial adventuring.

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Coffee Museum, Dubai

IMG_6366The refurbished Bastakiya quarter–settled by Persian traders at the turn of the 20th century, now rechristened as Al Fahidi Historic District–is pretty much all that Dubai can pass off as structural heritage. Neighbouring Shindagha where the ruling Al Makhtoum family once lived along the shores of the Dubai Creek is still in the process of receiving its makeover.

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Varanasi Vignettes

IMG_5901Last week, I attended a glitzy Travel Writers’ Conclave in Lucknow powered by a resurgent Uttar Pradesh Tourism. This was preceded by a visit to one of three nodal cities that comprise the newly-introduced Heritage Arc. In what appears to be an earnest bid to swell tourist footfalls to the state, the powers-that-be in the governing dispensation conjured up this concept to better the weather-beaten Golden Triangle. So shared a greatly chuffed Chief Minister during his inaugural address at the conclave. Translating the boss’ excitement into real-time tangibles falls now to the Tourism Promotion Board as well as the current Director-General Tourism, an uncharacteristically creative bureaucrat credited with mooting the idea itself. Regardless of good intentions, they clearly have their jobs cut out for them.

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Ayodhya: Before And After

IMG_5128Before and after my visit, that is. Up until then, Ayodhya for the most part was cloaked in indifferent obscurity. Cross referenced every now and then with childhood reminiscences of Amar Chitra Katha comics. They were an early introduction to our cultural heritage, their colour-infused pages peopled with historical and mythological figures.Well-researched storylines, costumes, architectural and factual details that overshadowed the pedagogy of school textbooks helped us ace many a general knowledge test.

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@ Home – A Complete Guide To Homestays In India

This one has been long in the making. One of my earlier assignments for Times Group Books, it took over two years to see fruition. In a way, I’m glad for that. Because the discerning demographic that endorses more relaxed encounters on the road has shaped itself into a force to reckon with since. For one, that translates into great sales. But more importantly, @Home brings together some of the best home stay options dotting Indian states.

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