Category Archives: Travel

Gone Fishing, Tirthan

IMG_9626Prejudice alert. Any place I can wake up to a dog curled up close at hand has an everlasting hold over my heart.  I make no bones about it. Nor am I averse to gushing about it. And should that place be set in one of the prettiest valleys of Himachal Pradesh, well then I’m a complete and unabashed goner.

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NEW YORK INDIAN FILM FESTIVAL (NYIFF 2016)

infinity-sThis post goes out especially for followers in the United States of America. Some of whom have, over the past few years, unfailingly pinged Cutting Loose for fashioning their travels around India. In turn, nothing has given me greater pleasure than showcasing to them an India beyond the obvious. If testimonials are to be believed, they’re clearly not missing the tried-and-tested.

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Inside A Rainbow

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Banni beauty

This was a first – signing up for structured travel to play catch-up with Kutch’s capabilities. It, Breakaway’s Textile Trail, had seemed like an enormously exciting way to acquaint myself with an Indian extremity hitherto unvisited. That it was going to unravel itself through brilliantly hued warps and wefts accorded it that much more of the proverbial colour.  As also the knowledge that our intimate group would be accompanied by an expert for edifying effects.

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Goa The Muse

IMG_8788The sea has its moments, yes, but I don’t much care for Goa’s beaches. Nevertheless I gladly wash ashore ever so often for a change of scene and cuisine. Of which the latter, in my mind, remains her irrefutable raison d’être. Languor permitting I have successfully indulged in a spot of exploration in between meals. This is how I ended up making the acquaintance of three enormously ardent men when there a couple of months ago.

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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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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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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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