How to Photograph Songkran?

When I was invited by TAT New Delhi to attend the Thai New year celebrations my first concern was how to photograph to Songkran? I mean it is a water festival and my camera doesn’t mix well with it. It was totally not acceptable to me that I would attend the festival without clicking pictures.

So, I turned to the internet to figure out how others did it. Other people’s experiences quickly told me that using my SLR was out of question. I am very fond of it. I knew if I took it out, it would meet a watery grave. I am glad I came to this conclusion without even leaving home.

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A Girl Enjoying Songkran in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Now that I have attended the festival and photographed it here are some tips on how to photograph Songkran.

You Will Need Something Waterproof to Photograph Songkran

My personal experience says that people throw water with abandon and gusto during Songkran. So, having something waterproof is the only way to do photography during the festival. I had a waterproof cell phone, a Sony XperiaZ3. It stood me good throughout the festival.

I can now vouch personally that some people will actually aim for your gadget. I would usually laughed after someone aimed their water gun at my cell phone. They would be mystified for a while and then conclude correctly that it was indeed a waterproof cell phone. I would then ask my tormentors to pose for me which they would readily do.

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Cell Phone Pouches can be Bought Locally

However having a waterproof cell phone is not the only option. A cheap way to achieve the same effect is to put your cell phone in a waterproof pouch and click pictures. The experience might be a little limited but hey you will still have some pictures!

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Wrapping Plastic- Making the Camera Songkran Proof

If you have a waterproof casing for your camera then nothing like it. I saw someone using polythene to wrap their video camera. Be creative, think of ways to secure your camera from water and you can click pictures during Songkran.

Climb a Bridge/Elevated Point!

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Silom Road- Clicked from the Skytrain Bridge

One of the most popular spot for Songkran in Bangkok is the Silom Road. There is a skytrain bridge in the middle of the Silom Road. It is a good idea to climb it. Not only it gives a beautiful vantage point for photography, it keeps your camera relatively safe. Do note I say relatively. People do not splash water on the train premises but an odd spray could still come your way. So on a bridge, it is possible to take out a camera that is not waterproof out of the plastic pouch and quickly click a few pictures. But you still need to be careful, as we cannot rule out the possibility of an odd spray coming your way.

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Songkran- Clicked from the Car of the Ferris Wheel at Asiatique

Another vantage point that I found was the highest ferris wheel in Thailand at Asiatique called Asiatique Sky. A water festival was going on right next to it. I could safely photograph the festival sitting inside the car of the ferris wheel! So if you can’t find a way to waterproof your camera, finding a safe elevation point is your next bet. I cannot stress enough that in public spaces like a bridge you still have to be careful.

Find a Secluded Spot a Little Away from the Main Action

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Songkran- Away from the Main Action

For taking a few quick pictures you could stand in a spot away from the main path of the festival. Eventually you would be discovered but this strategy would be good enough for a few minutes. Before attention turns to you it would be prudent to stash away your camera safely.

In conclusion the only safe way to photograph Songkran is to have a waterproof device. Climbing a skytrain bridge or finding a secluded spot would give you a few shots but your equipment is still at risk. So it is prudent not to take out your expensive stuff out to experiment. If you have to take a chance, take it with cheap stuff.

Songkran in Amazing Thailand

People of Thailand celebrate Songkran to usher in the Thai New year.  It falls in the month of April. The traditional celebration is a family affair where the entire family gathers together to pay the respect to the elders. In doing so they would put a fragrant paste on their hands and sprinkle water. The symbolism was to ask for forgiveness from the elders at the start of the new year.

But there is a modern version of the festival now! And that is amazing fun. Entire streets in Thailand turn into fighting zones, only the fight is a water fight. The paste is now smeared over the faces. I was lucky to witness the festival at two places- Chiang Mai and Bangkok. The fun goes on for three days!

Songkran at Chiang Mai

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Songkran Selfie at Chiang Mai

The dress code for Songkran is colorful flower pattern shirts and shorts or anythign else that you would like to get drenched in! I was once again traveling with TAT New Delhi and this was our group- Gaurav from Times of India, Vaishali from TAT, Manjulika Promod a fellow blogger and Arpit from Hindustan Times. We were a fun group which got along fabulously!

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Foreigners Playing Songkran in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Alternatively men decide not to wear a shirt at all, after all everyone gets drenched, there is no exception to it, unless you are driving in a vehicle with windows rolled up. It is very easy to join in the fun, you just need to get out in the street and people will drench you! You can drench them too! Foreigners join in the fun as easily as the locals! I saw only one group of foreign women in Chiang Mai wo were on the road and yet didn;t wish to get drenched. Everyone else knew the score!

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Tuk Tuks are not Songkran Proof, Chiang Mai, Thailand

If you get out on streets during Songkran you are a fair game. A tuk tuk, the common mode of transport, offers no protection against getting drenched. People stand on the side of the roads with water tubs and throw it by the bucket too. Some use ice water which truly gives a jolt but for a second only!

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Pick Up Trucks are Common Songkran Vehicles, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Pick up trucks are used to store water and indulge in Songkran while on the move! There are a few main roads in every city where the festival is played. The traffic becomes very slow on these roads. We were in Chiang Mai a day before Songkran so, these pictures are of pre-songkran celebrations!

Songkran at Bangkok

The we moved to Bangkok and it was the time for the main festival! I was once again staying at Ramada Plaza Menam Riverside and that street itself was witness to the water fights. But the next day we went to Silom Road and what a fantastic celebration it was!

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Songkran at Silom Road, Bangkok

After walking on the Silom Road for a while we went to the Sky Station bridge as it was a better vantage point for taking pictures. We were totally soaked from our small walk itself. The covered tunnel had sprinklers on it, so you would automatically get drenched while walking under it!

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Water Hose for Songkran, Silom Road, Bangkok

And that was not all, there was an official with a water hose taking care that everyone got drenched properly! The sheer energy and the number of people who turned out to celebrate Songkran was amazing, quite like Thailand.

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The Crowd at Silom Road

I have to grant it to Thai people, they know how to behave in a crowd. Here we were, 4 women (including our tour guide) and two men walking in a jam packed area and there was no incident of inappropriate touching or any other harassment. It was such a joy to witness a public celebration at such a large scale where men and women participated equally. I went in to a water festival all alone at Asiatique and I felt entirely safe. I stayed there to click a few pictures and no one bothered me at all!

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Ice Ice baby

I caught this man on the camera as he was happily mixing ice in the bucket. I was clicking the picture of ice when his friends tilted his head for my camera! I happily obliged.

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Aiming at My Cell phone

I had given some thought to the issue of photography during Songkran. With water everywhere I knew I could not take out my SLR. Luckily I had my Sony XperiaZ3 to the rescue as it is water proof. I used it to click pictures throughout Songkran and it is Songkran proof as well. I have pictures and I have my camera intact too. If people see a camera/cell phone in your hand, some of them go straight for it! My phone did get some attention for being waterproof.

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Making the Cell Phone Songkran Proof

Otherwise you can buy these pouches and keep your cell phone inside it. They were sold for 50 Baht this season. People use it for keeping their money as well.

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Songkran Fun, Silom Road, bangkok

I would ask the people who drenched me to pose for me as well, they would happily obliged! After Silom Road we headed to the Khao San Road to join in the celebrations. But it was so jam packed that we gave up after 10 meters or so.

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Bus Driver Having Songkran Fun

But the funniest incident I witnessed was on the road. We were at a traffic light when the bus driver opened his window and poured water from a bottle over the two people sitting in the tuk tuk. By the time the people in the tuk tuk recovered he had closed the bus window. The boy in the tuk tuk kept pointing his water gun at the window now firmly shut! The bus driver would make funny faces at the couple and I died laughing at the scene! That is the spirit of Songkran in Amazing Thailand!

PS. I was invited by TAT New Delhi to visit Thailand during Songkran.

Thai Skies for Skywatch Friday

I present to you the Thai skies for this Skywatch Friday. I am writing this post in a hurry because later tonight I fly out to my favorite country again. I am going to Thailand to attend Songkran, the water festival associated with the Thai New Year. I am super excited. This is my 5th trip to Thailand and I am really grateful to TAT New Delhi for taking me out to Thailand so many times. So, in this post I present you the skies from my previous trips. Now my tally of highest visits to a country is a tie- 5 each for both UK and Thailand! And I hope Thailand soon becomes my most visited country.

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Sunet at Krabi, Thailand

As Songkran is a water festival I was wondering how to photograph it. I checked out the net for tips on photographing Songkran. I quickly realized that taking out my SLR was out of question. There is a very high probability that it would meet a watery grave. I so like clicking pictures that I could not dream of doing posts without pictures or using pictures from press release for Songkran. I was in a fix.

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Khao Yai, Thailand

And that is when I remembered my XperiaZ3. It is waterproof! So, it is time to check out whether it is Songkran proof or not. I had actually given the camera to my sister so it was easy to pinch it back from her. We swapped the sims. She struggles with a windows phone but the sweet person she is, she has assured me that if I ever need to swap phone again she would be game for it.

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Bangkok Skies

I am now armed with a waterproof phone, I am so looking forward to getting drenched this Songkran and get back some stories and pictures for my blog.

I should be getting up now and get ready to leave. See you all from Thailand tomorrow.

Women in Leadership- The Indian Travel Industry

I have met many outstanding women through my travels but two of them really stand out. They are Amrit Matharu and Sangita S. Mani. Amrit is an adventure instructor with the Camp Peach Valley, Rajgarh and Sangita is a naturalist with Taj Safari. Both hold jobs where not too many women have even ventured. I had the pleasure of interacting with them. They are so much fun. So when I think of women in leadership, particularly in the travel context, I think of their stellar work!

Amrit Matharu, Adventure Camp Instructor 

I met Amrit Matharu at an adventure camp in Himachal Pradesh. We started talking because we were the only women at the camp! She was so easy to talk to, we initially went into a chit chat about a small trek I did during the day. It was only after a while she told me that she was an adventure camp instructor.

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Amrith Matharu- An Adventure Camp Instructor

 

I asked her what prompted her to choose a career like that? It was only then she told me that she was a trained mountaineer. She had successfully completed basic and advance mountaineering courses! About climbing as a career she mentioned that the knack to raise sponsorships was crucial. She is so soft spoken that if she would have not told me, I would never have guessed that in reality she was a tough climber who could walk for miles carrying another person on her back! And I can take a bet that while looking at her picture neither can you guess about her toughness and her profession! I can only imagine how difficult it would be for her to live at a remote location for her job but then she is truly passionate about it.

Sangita S. Mani, Naturalist with Taj Safari

When you went on a jungle safari in India how many times your vehicle was driven by a woman? For me the number stands at zero. I have never had a woman guide as well. But I had the luck to meet Sangita S. Mani who is a naturalist with Taj Safari. I met her at Baghvan, Pench. She was not the one who took me to the jungle but I got to have a dinner with her one night. I asked her how she got into this profession to which she said she actually worked in the corporate sector for a long time. But she gradually grew dissatisfied with it and wanted to go to the jungle!

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Sangita S. Mani, A Naturalist with Taj Safari

She applied to Taj Safari but initially she did not hear back from them. In the meanwhile she connected with Ratna Singh another woman naturalist at Taj (whom I did not meet as she was at another camp) on Linkedin and that opened the door for her as well. She obviously loves her job and has no regrets leaving her corporate career. I saw her driving the jeep in Pench and she was so comfortable in her role!

As I said I have met many inspiring woman through my travels, some of them head hotels, some of them run their own PR agencies and do many other wonderful things but these two women choose careers that were so off the beaten track that I truly consider them leaders!

If you wish to write about women in leadership or #EveryWomanIsALeader Shethepeople.tv is holding a blogging contest where the winner gets an all expense trip paid to an exciting destination. Do check it out. You can find them on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram too.

The Story of Tublu by Jahid Akhtar

My love for books is older than my love for travel. But with Chhavi around reading has gone down. So when I got The Story of Tublu from Jahid Akhtar I was not sure how long I would take to finish it. I took it on my trip to Shivpuri and I could actually finish it pretty fast. So, The Story of Tublu is actually a quick read.

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The Story of Tublu by Jahid Akhtar

I have read Jahid’s blog quite regularly so I feel very happy for him that he has come out with a book. The Story of Tublu as the name suggests is the story of Tublu, but it is equally the story of Maina as well.

The Plot

Bipin and his small boy move to a bigger city because their village is devastated by floods. They find shelter at the house of the Sharmas. Bipin finds employment and Tublu starts school. Reminiscent of earlier days and small towns, the Sharma family sort of adopts the father and son from the village. Growing up, Tublu falls in love with Maina, the daughter of the household, but he remains silent about it. Will he ever be able to find his love? Read the book and find out.

The Narration

The narration is straightforward. The language of the book is easy to understand, you would not be running for a dictionary time and again! It is an easy to read book. The book deals with three phases- when the main characters are in school, when they go to college and when they start working. I think I enjoyed the college phase the most!

The Characters

Tublu comes across as a sweet, mature boy. I do not see any shades of grey in his nature. Maina is more complex. For her life was not so straightforward. She goes through serious ups and downs in her life. There is a long list of supporting cast in the book, Tublu’s friend’s, Maina’s family and Maina’s boyfriend. A lot of characters in the book are nice, sweet and straightforward.

Who Will Like It?

If you are looking for a romantic book which is not simply a love story, you would enjoy reading the book.

PS. I was given the review copy of the book by Jhaid Akhtar.

Another Delhi Metro Tale

However, much time I spend at my sister’s place, it always feels way too less. I was particularly tired today and I was not looking forward to the more than two hour Delhi Metro journey back home. As usual in my zombie mode, I crossed the barrier at the Vaishali Metro Station. I had a strolly and a handbag. Whenever I go to my sister’s place it is prudent to carry one because she always gives me way too many things to carry home!

I suddenly heard a mother calling out loud, “Hey come back, give me the card or else how would I get in?” The person she was calling out loud was this high, not more than my knee! She simply went under the barrier and walked off on the other side with the card! She was blissfully unaware that she was creating a ruskuss! She started running away towards the stairs, her mother looked on helplessly, still calling out loud and pleading.

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Delhi Metro Tales!

I decided to take the matters in my hand. I left my strolly for a short while and I scooped up the kid. She was as light as a feather! For a while she was surprised and kept quiet while I started walking back to her mother.

Then I remembered my strolly. I didn’t wish it to vanish while I was busy with the child as apart from a few new dresses it had my laptop and my camera as well! So, I had a child in one hand and now a strolly in another.

When I reached the barrier I took the card from the kid’s hand and gave it to the mother. That proved to be my undoing. The kid went into the ferocious mode. She reached out with her little hands and started pulling my hairs. Once again I would not even feel the tug, but I had to put in a mock protest! By this time her mother was on the right side of the barrier and I deposited the howling and hair pulling baby to her safely.  I cannot remember when I laughed so much while simply boarding a metro train! It is incidents like these that make the journey so much fun.

Country Counting- Part 2

In the last post I counted the first five countries I visited. It is time to count the next five countries out of the total 16 that I have visited till now. The countries I saw next are Malaysia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, South Africa and Thailand.

Malaysia (with Malaysia Tourism Board)

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Redang Island, Malaysia

Malaysia is always going to be very special to me because it was my first blogging invite from a foreign country. I was thrilled to bits. I always had a fascination to see the world but I never thought my blog would take me places.

It also helped that I visited Malaysia twice. The place I liked most was the Redang Island. In KL I visited Petrona’s Twin Towers but I cold not go to the top. However, there is a beautiful view of the city from the KL Minara Tower as well. I also enjoyed visiting the bird garden in KL. The second trip involved a 1000 kilometer road trip where I saw smaller places in Malaysia as well. We were 100 media people from all over Asia, moving in a 30 car convoy with police escort! Traffic would stop for us when we approached traffic lights!

Nepal (Personal Trips)

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Mount Everest as Seen from Kala Patthar, Nepal

If you love mountains you are bound to have an intense affair with Nepal. As I am originally from Gorakhpur, I had seen bits of Nepal when I was in school and college as well. But I truly fell head over heels for Nepal on my Everest Base Camp Trek in 2012. It has been an epic journey for me. I was never sure if I would be able to complete the trek or not. I was able to do it in the end but barely so.

I went back the next year to do the Annapurna Circuit trek but the weather gods had other ideas and I had to give up the trek at Letdar. I certainly wish to go back to Nepal.

Sri Lanka (Personal trip)

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My Nephew Sunil and I at Galle, Srilanka

The Sri Lanka trip was a hugely memorable trip as my younger nephew and I traveled together. He behaves like a piece of luggage, I have to manage everything. And he talks too much, non stop. Truth be told I enjoy it. We enjoyed the beaches of Unawatuna, Mirrisa and Galle. I enjoyed watching stilt fishing in Unawatuna. We enjoyed the food, we enjoyed the wine and beers. It was a fun trip.

South Africa (with South Africa Tourism Board)

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Durban, South Africa

South Africa is one of the most gorgeous countries I ever visited. It was never on my agenda. And if someone told me I would go there one day because I blog, I would have laughed. And yet it happened.

The wildlife in South Africa is undoubtedly grand. It is so scenic, I will always remember the drive through the Panorama Route. The South African sense of humor is loud and peculiar. I survived South Africa as a vegetarian. I am quite nostalgic about this trip even now.

Thailand (with Tourism Authority of Thailand)

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Khao Yai, Thailand

Thailand is one of my most favorite countries in the world. I have been to Thailand four times. I consider myself blessed. I particularly enjoyed Koh Lanta and Krabi. I have been on a speed boat ride where I had the whole boat to myself. I remember very fondly the road trip up to Cambodia from Bangkok. And I guess I am going back to Thailand soon!

That brings up the 10 countries I have visited. I will wrap up the last 6 countries soon.

Sky Watch Friday- The Travel Collection

For this sky watch I am presenting the travel collection of skies from my trips so far in 2015. I got a few nice shots in each trip. I hope on my next one (yes it is in the offing), I will get a bonanza of sky pictures!

Kareri Village, Himachal Pradesh

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Mustard Flowers at Karei Village

Kareri is a beautiful village tucked away in a corner in Himachal Pradesh. There is no hotel in the village, the only option is to do a homestay. I was out for a morning walk on a clear day when I stopped to click the mustard flowers. It was a clear day with blue skies, the kind you remember for months after the trip is over!

Sirpur, Chhattisgarh

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Sirpur, Chhattisgarh

I remember Sirpur most for is scintillating music and dance festival. But it was also a quiet place, away from the bustle of life. The town moved at a slow place. There were only dhabas in the the town, I like such places. There is only one hotel which belongs to the state tourism department. There was less construction and more open spaces. I love that too.

Surajkund, Haryana

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Surajkund, haryana

Cities are more about concrete, but the sky is still there. The rides at the craft mela at Surajkund were immensely popular. As I had left Chhavi at home, they were of foreground and background value to me. For once I was happy to leave my daughter behind because the mela was just too crowded.

Mumbai

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Mumbai

All my recent trips to Mumbai have been one night affairs. I have mostly been there to attend events and fly either to another destination or home. On my latest trip I was lucky to stay on the 28th floor of Palladium Hotel and to catch awesome views!

A Tree and Some Sky

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A Grand Old Tree at Shivpuri

There is something about grand old trees that just refuse to fit into my my camera frame. I found one such tree at Shivpuri. The evening sky with colors was a bonus.

Fagu, Himachal Pradesh

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Beautiful Fagu, Himachal Pradesh

When I go with Chhavi to places like Fagu, when I see her walking carefree in such surroundings I wonder if she realizes how beautiful it is ? On a whole I feel she is busy with some mischief but you never know with her. I actually need to ask her about it!

Camping by the Ganges

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Camping by the Ganges

Camping by the Ganges is a wonderful experience. Rafting is another incredible thing to do on the river. I could stay in this exact spot at least for a month before longing for civilization! And that brings me to the end of trips for 2015 till March. I hope you enjoyed my travel collection of skies.

This post is part of the awesome Skywatch Friday community.

A Chance Encounter

This long weekend I am staying at my sister’s place. The chance encounter I am referring to, happened in the Delhi Metro. I was boarding it from MG Road station. I hardly ever get into a scuffle for a seat but then I am also human. Today I got into one such scuffle and being more agile I captured the seat. I am not proud of the fact at all. The lady whom I edged out was naturally not pleased. She protested, “you pushed me” to which I truthfully replied that I did not. I had only put my luggage in her way. I repeat I am not proud of what I did. This is extremely unusual behavior on my part. I also scolded myself for indulging in it, but what was done was done.

While the two of us were at it, I heard a male voice saying, “I am sorry it is my fault. You tripped over my feet.” I was first quite taken aback as I was in the ladies coach. I took a sharp breath and looked at the voice, but in that instant I realized he was visually impaired.

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A Chance Encounter

The metro moved and we moved on. I started fiddling with my cell phone to get over my embarrassment. The person next to me started dozing off. The lady with whom I entered into a scuffle got down at a nearby station. After a while the gentleman next to me said, “I hope you were not hurt,” to which I said, “no I was not, not at all.”

Then we started chatting. I can’t remember what broke the ice but I told him that as my brother-in-law is wheelchair bound, I am used to people with disabilities. He said, “maybe that is why you were not too surprised by my presence.”

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Amrit, Alka and Vausdha

 

He then inquired, “Since when is your brother-in-law has been wheelchair bound?” I told him it was since birth. I added “it is a love marriage between him and my sister, they met online! They now have a daughter”, my bratty niece Vasudha.

He then mentioned that being visually impaired, his parents were initially quite protective about him. But gradually they told him, if he wanted to study more he would have to travel on his own. By now everyone in the vicinity was openly listening to our conversation. He then told me many times he has dozed off in a bus or metro and then turned back again to reach his destination. His parents were now used to the fact and if he was late they assumed that he would have slept!

I complimented him on his traveling alone, to which he said that he was in the ladies coach because it was easy to get assistance in that coach from the metro attendants at his destination. He works as an assistant manager in Dena Bank. I told him my brother-in-law runs his own content writing business.

I briefly told him that when I traveled abroad, particularly UK, I saw so many people in public life using wheelchairs. We talked about accessibility in India. He said, “I take buses frequently and if I have to cross the road, I have to literally shout and say to people passing by that I need help.” I told him that my brother-in-law uses a power wheelchair so no one needs to push the wheelchair for him. That itself attracts so much attention.”

Within no time, I reached my designated stop, Rajiv Chowk. I said bye to him and wished him luck. True to my form I did not ask his name! It was such a chance encounter, I can’t remember when I talked for so long with a total stranger.

PS. Note to self, do not get into a scuffle for a seat again, ever.

Bull’s Retreat, Shivpuri

If you would ask me I would stay in a camp any day over a retreat. But Chhavi had different ideas. She had a great time at the MHE Beach Camp but she didn’t like the nights as the camp has no electricity. I understand that as the camp is in the Rajaji National Park area but for Chhavi when it got dark she cribbed. Our original plan was to stay for 3 night at the MHE Beach Camp and 2 nights at the Bull’s Retreat but we reversed it. Bulls Retreat also has TV which was an added attraction for the kid!

Bull’s Retreat is a green, spacious and homely place. It is right by the road which goes to Kaudiyala and beyond, so it is easy to locate. Neeru ma’am who is the manager is friendly, caring and easy to talk to. Time went by pretty quickly and peacefully at the retreat. This is how a typical day would go by for us!

Waking up to the Birds

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A Noisy Myna at Bull’a Retreat, Shivpuri

As there is a dense tree cover around the Bull’s Retreat, the birds would go about their business early in the morning. It didn’t help that Chhavi is also an early riser. She would start stirring with the birds at about 6.00 am. She would drowsily stay in bed till about 7.00 am. After that she would use every trick in the book to wake me up! I on the other hand like to sleep like  log in the morning hours! But even a person like me found waking up to the sound of birds beautiful.

There was a bottle brush tree behind my room which was a magnet for birds. I am now thinking of planting a bottle brush tree around my home too.

Breakfast

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The Dining Area in the Far Distance

The meals both at the MHE beach Camp and Bull’s Retreat are good. I particularly liked the fact that the food was not too oily. Between 8.30 to 9.00 Chhavi and I would dutifully appear for breakfast. We had paratha, puri chole and sandwiches for breakfast on different days. Porridge and fruits were a constant feature. They also realized how much I liked tea and they would give me a flask full of it right in the morning.

Activities

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Chhavi Playing Basketball

Right after breakfast we would head out to play games. Bull’s retreat has a small basketball court meant for kids. This was Chhavi’s first try at the game. She was quite surprised to see that her mummy was good at the game! After all, kids take their mums completely for granted! We would then play badminton in the open air. Both of it was incredible fun for us! It would also tire out Chhavi and then she was less prone to mischiefs.

Retire to the Room

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In the Room, Bulls Retreat, Shivpuri

We would actually stay outside for such a long duration that it would be almost time for lunch when we went back to the room. Our room was quite comfortable. The bathroom has a solar heater so it takes a while to get hot water. I liked it that they provided a small bucket to collect the flow of the initial cold water so that it could be reused later. Due to some reason they do not provide shampoo in the bathroom. There was a tea kettle with tea bags and all in the room.

Lunch

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Where the Dining Halls is Called Karakoram!

Lunch used to be sumptuous affair with dal, two vegetables, curd, chapati, rice followed by fruits. They serve each roti hot off the tawa every time!

Quiet Time

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A Peaceful Ambience, Bull’s Retreat, Shivpuri

It used to be quiet time for us after lunch, which meant TV for Chhavi and a book for me. However, after playing for a long time in the morning, Chhavi would invariably doze off and I would go after birds and flowers with a camera in my hand.

Evening Tea

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I will Take Tea Anytime!

I would eagerly wait for my flask of evening tea with some snacks. Chhavi would have a glass of milk. We would once again roam around till dinner time.

Walking Around in the Evening

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Walks in the Evening

We would walk around in the evening within the premises. There were flowers in bloom in every corner. It was fun to go about the place or sit on the benches.

Dinner

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Dinner at Bull’s Retreat, Shivpuri

Dinner was on the same sumptuous lines as the lunch, the only difference being instead of fruits there would a sweet dish. As I have a big sweet tooth, desserts are always a high point for me!

It would be a repeat of something like this for us every day of our vacation. We decided not to venture out any place nearby. There were minor variations though. One day Chhavi played in the small sand pit near the climbing area as she was missing playing in sand.

Bon Fire

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The Bon Fire at the Bulls Retreat Shivpuri

We had a bon fire and snacks on one night. As of now Chhavi has no fascination for bon fire, but I am sure this will change.

Trampoline

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Chhavi and I on Trampoline

Chhavi and I had a gala time trying out the Trampoline at the Bull’s retreat. The operation’s manager Colonel Ahuja taught us how to go about it. Chhavi anyway was a natural at it. He advised us to rotate my arms anti clockwise and start jumping. I could do it easily as well. And it was so much fun! But the way my arms hurt the next day! But given another chance I will try it out once again.

Wifi

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The Wifi Area had Flowers too!

The resort has a wifi but in the common areas, including the lawns. Initially I was quite irritated that I had no connectivity in the room. But after a while I enjoyed the fact. I am sure if the room was wifi enabled I would have started working right from the retreat. As I had to get out to get the connectivity, I actually took my vacation the way it should be, working only on the essentials and minimally. Plus the lawns had a lot of flowers too!

I would highly recommend Bull’ Retreat at Shivpuri is you are looking to spend some quiet time in the lap of nature.

PS. I went to the Bull’s Retreat as part of their Blogger-in-Residence Program. Do check it out.