I called home before boarding my flight at Dehradoon. It was July 28, 2016. My husband said there has been a heavy shower in Gurgaon and the likelihood was strong that I would get stuck in a traffic jam. At least my flight was on time. Little did I know that the massive Gurgaon Traffic Jam would be waiting for me!
When the aircraft was about to land at T3, I clicked the picture of NH 8 and it didn’t look good at all. After I got my baggage from the belt, I clicked the OLA App and to my surprise there was not a single taxi of any category available at T3. That was a first! Normally there is hardly a one minute wait and you get all kinds of taxis easily. When I came out the Meru and Mega taxi queues were going back into the terminal.
Now I had two options- to stand in the loooooooooooong Meru Cab line or to take the metro. However if I took the metro to Gurgaon, someone would have to pick me up from the metro station because it was getting late at night. Once again I called home and told them there were no taxis at T3.
Then the debate started- whether I should try to come to Gurgaon or should I go to my sister’s place in Ghaziabad? I was confused for about a span of five minutes. When I called my sisters she happily said that she would pick me up from the metro station if I decided to head her way. The minute my nephew (also known as Brat 2) told me it took him 3 hours to come home from work, I decided I would go to my sister’s place.
I took the airport metro line to Dwarka Sector 21 and then the blue line to my sister’s place. The metro was not crowded at all. Only at Rajiv Chowk the ladies’ coach got full. It emptied out again much before my stop.
I had started from Landour, and on top of that I have to take avomine because I have motion sickness on the mountain roads. After I sat beside my sister in her car, I was happy, I could finally relax and leave the thinking to her.
We reached home quickly and I was good to be at home. It was only after I started looking at the Facebook updates of friends who stay in Gurgaon, I realized what a massive traffic jam it was! I was lucky I escaped it by taking the metro and giving Gurgaon a miss altogether.
How I wish we would improve our infrastructure. How I wish we were not prone to such massive water logging. In fact while I was working I never enjoyed the rainy season, it is only after quitting my job I have started enjoying the rains. Earlier rains were synonymous with traffic jams. Now at least I have an option of giving them a miss!
I will say the most relevant thing first, the best advice is the one that works for you, period. I will take this even further and say the best advice is that you figured out on your own and then went ahead to make it work for you.
If success was ‘N step linear formula’ all the problems of the world would get solved in a jiffy. A lot of advice would go something like this- Follow step A, then do B and C should be the result. And yet in the real world that is hardly the case.
Chances are that the end of the free advice posts there would be a link to a paid course which would give you all the deep knowledge required for your success! And yet hardly any of the successful people ever admit to taking a course in order to become successful!
People who care for me know that I write a blog, which is moderately successful. They also know that I have quit my job recently. They sometimes forward me links to articles that give advice on how to write well. I recently read an article which collected advice from many great travel writes. It was refreshing to read because a lot of it was contradictory! And that is the key. What worked for someone and got them a lot of success, the opposite worked for someone else and got them a lot of success too!
Most of the advice fall into ‘one size fit all’ category. I am sure the people giving out the advice are sincere and yet they are a product of their unique environments too! What worked for them may not work for me! That brings me to the travel advice articles! While I read a large number of them, in just one I found someone saying their advice was age specific, targeted at 20 somethings. And then the points made some sense. The free bit was, as is the norm, followed by the opportunity to buy the paid course.
I am also a member of many Facebook travel groups. And sometimes I get scared. We so firmly believe in the correctness of our own ideas that we refuse to acknowledge the possibility that for someone else the opposite might be true! And travel is said to broaden our horizons and leave us more open to other people’s ideas! I will stick out my neck and say I have met all kind of travelers- generous, stupid, mean, dishonest, kind, caring, delightful, arrogant, idiots, fun and the list goes on. The same is true for people from any other walk of life.
I will of course keep reading advices, they are fun to read. In fact I have pick up a new hobby too, now that I have quit my job! I am browsing travel coupons and deals as the cash flow has reduced after quitting! Now did anyone mention that as a side effect of quitting their jobs this bluntly? I took my kids to Disneyland last year when I was working, there is no chance in hell I can do the same this year! Or wait the year is not over yet!
In the end I would say read as much as you want about best practices, but figure out for yourself what it is that works for you. And build up on it. But that would require some genuine reflection. And we are just too busy running the race! I would say stop running after ‘advice’ and start investing in what works for you! No one else can figure it out for you!
I actually have a very close association with the Indian Railways. My father used to work and retired from Indian Railways as a Chief Signal Engineer! So, my childhood was spent in a huge railway house in a small town in UP. It was full of mango, litchi and guava trees. And it goes without saying I traveled a lot in trains. In fact all the major journeys were train journeys as low cost airlines were not even conceptualized during my growing up years in India!
Train journeys used to be fun. Even then I used to like window seats. I would gaze outside for hours sitting by the window. In fact it is while passing through a small town in a train at sunset made me understand the word ‘gaudhuli.’ Otherwise in the cities it is petrol fumes more than anything. Those were the days when people used to pack their own food on train journeys.
I now take more flights than trains. I prefer flights for longer journeys as it saves time. I still love taking a Shatabdi, more so if I am going to the hills. The hours of travel are reasonable, it takes you away from crowded Delhi and I still find the landscape fascinating. I also don’t mind taking an overnight train but anything longer and I want to take a flight!
Over the years the maintenance of trains has gone down. I wish they could keep it cleaner. I was once traveling from Jodhpur to Delhi and the AC coach had rats. It put me off the train like anything.
And even though I still like traveling in a Shatabdi, I completely grew out of the food in train they serve. It has been years since I started skipping on the main course. It is bland, has no taste and the quality is highly suspect. I now see that Chhavi, my daughter, does the same. My family knows this, so they keep something ready for us however late we are in reaching home.
And it is because of this I am eagerly waiting to experience food service from third party food delivery in trains with vendors like TravelKhana. Being able to order food in train online sounds exciting at this point of time.
After all, I do not like going hungry on trains and I hate it even more that my daughter refuses meals in train as well. It would be a great relief to get food in train which is good from TravelKhana. Otherwise it would be back to packing food from home for me soon!
Before I bought a 75-300 zoom lens (and that was a long time ago) I was blissfully unaware of birds! I was of the opinion that there were no birds in Gurgaon. I could probably identify a sparrow even then but all that is a thing of past now. One day I was saying something softly to Chhavi and she turned around and whispered, “why are you speaking softly, is there a bird around?” That is the current state. I have such a love hate relationship with bird photography. I love it when I am able to capture a decent picture, but that happens so very rarely.
Before I discovered the Burst/Sports, mode bird photography used to be literally painful. I distinctly remember trying to photograph a green bee eater at a close range. Freezing anything with a single shot for a bird was almost impossible. And yet I tried till I got a crick in the neck. And then I saw (or rather heard the continuous click of the camera) someone at Bharatpur shooting in burst mode, and it dawned on me that the mode existed for a purpose!
That leads to my next favorite subject. As I have only a puny 75-300 zoom to use for my bird photography, I need to creep closer to the bird. So my modus operandi is something like this, which I have perfected after many trials and errors. I start clicking as soon as I spot a bird. I now shoot birds in continuous modes only. Then I try to inch closer to the spot as quietly as I can. If Chhavi is with me, it is well impossible to do so. She is capable of scaring a bird away from a mile when she tries to keep quiet. Otherwise she can scare them away from 5 miles at least.
There have been times when I am happily shooting landscapes, god bless them, they never fly away. I will have a wide angle lens on my camera and right next to me, I am sure they do it on purpose, an exotic bird will come and plonk itself. Now I get all in tizzy. I creep softly to where my zoom lens is lying, I try to change it at a breakneck speed. and as soon as I turn back, the bird has but of course flown away.
Then I have tried tracking birds in flight. The less said about it the better. If it is difficult to click them when they are sitting, it is outright torture to try the flight bit. I can never locate them in my viewfinder to begin with. If by some miracle I do locate them, it is even a bigger miracle if I can track them as well. And when I see the shots, they are all blurred.
And yet when on a rare moment I am able to take a half way decent shot, it is sheer magic!