Sunday, 23 November 2014

Photos That I Was Not Supposed To Take

It has happened to me many times that I have tried taking a photo and someone has objected to it. If you are a passionate photographer like me, you will probably understand how it feels when you are so keen to take a photograph and you are not allowed to. It feels terrible.
'Why can't I take the picture' expression...

Anyway, I’d rather take it in my stride and be happy about what I could do rather than sulk about what I couldn’t do. Today, I’m sharing with you a few photos that I was not supposed to take, but I still did. So, you can call them ‘stolen’ photos. Yes, I choose to call them stolen, because I clicked these photos nervously with a fear of being caught red-handed.

Take a look –

Location: Ajit Bhavan Heritage Resort, Jodhpur
I snapped these quickly while walking out of the resort.

As usual, I was excited about clicking photos. So, as soon as I finished lunch, I went out in the lawn and started taking pictures. Within a moment I saw an authoritative personality coming towards me with objection plastered on his face. My heart sank, but I still tried convincing him that it was only for my travel blog and for no other commercial use. Then he made me speak to his senior about the same. But even that didn’t work out in my favour.

So, the photographs that you see here are clicked hurriedly without thinking much.

Location: City Palace, Udaipur
Photography prohibited area

Although I had already snapped lots of beautiful photographs of Lake Palace and Lake Pichola, I wanted to have a closer shot of the Lake Palace hotel. However, the guards posted in the vicinity did not let me. As soon as I got my camera ready, one of the guards whistled at me and beckoned me not to click. I argued with him for a while and then assured him that I was leaving. But, I could still manage to click a glimpse of Lake Palace, after which he whistled at me again (as he had caught me) and said, “Madam, aap nahi maani na (you didn’t listen to me).”

Location: The Taj Hotel, Mumbai
Could have clicked a better shot...

I was sauntering near the Taj hotel (in South Mumbai) and looking for a way to capture the intricate designs on its windows. Again, the guard whistled at me and warned me about doing so. But, I still managed to take one photo. I would have been happier had I got a chance to click a better shot.

Location: Hiranandani, Mumbai
Just a few 'warm-up' shots

Perhaps it was the worst case of photography prohibition. Hiranandani is a sophisticated neighbourhood in Mumbai, and of course, I wanted to take some gorgeous pictures of it. Seriously, it was totally unexpected. I had just warmed up after clicking a few photographs when I saw a couple of commandoes, dressed in black, appearing out of nowhere. They told me that photography was not allowed and if I wanted to take pictures I was supposed to take permission from a senior officer.

Location: Jantar Mantar, New Delhi
Do you see the guard standing there?

Well, it was a minor one. I just got on top of the Jantar Mantar site to take a picture from above, and I heard a whistle. I couldn’t plan my shot. I just clicked and came back quickly.

Location: Golden Fort, Jaisalmer
A reluctant click

I was refused a photograph by a painter, who was engrossed in his work at a shop. Of course, I respect his privacy. I didn’t force him to pose for me or anything like that. I politely requested him to get just one picture clicked and thankfully he agreed (though reluctantly), and that reflects in the picture too (I didn’t really compose the shot nicely).

What do you think? Is photography prohibition at sites an overrated rule? Do you have any funny incident to share?

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Friday, 21 November 2014

Travel Blogging Is Awesome – Hear These Travel Bloggers Out!

Well, this is my first collaborative post (I’m super nervous excited)! So, let me rub my hands as the spotlight rests on these 8 wonderful travel bloggers, who are also the friendliest people in the blogosphere. I’d like to acknowledge that these people have made my blogging journey so much easier and more fun by supporting me throughout in different ways.

So, today I invite these lovely travel bloggers for a chat over a cup of coffee. The topic is travel blogging! Let’s start the conversation - 

Agness Walewinder of Etramping (Poland)

When did you start blogging? What exactly tickled you to blog about your travels?
It was back in 2011 when Cez felt an urge to set up his own website and create a travel community where people could share their travel thoughts and experiences, and I wanted to start blogging about my life and work in China. One day, we came up with an idea of combining these two desires and start working together.
How has travel blogging made you a better traveler? Do you travel differently now?
Of course, the fact we are travel bloggers has changed the way we travel. We don’t forget our cameras when going somewhere, we write prices and names of places down in our diary and speak to locals a lot in order to share locals’ travel tips with our readers.
What do you love most about travel blogging?
Meeting fellow travel bloggers with who we can share our travel experience, stories from the road and eat a lot of delicious food!
What is that ONE valuable lesson that travel blogging has taught you?
As we have met a lot of fellow travel bloggers on the road, such as Sam of Nomadic Samuel, Audrey of That Backpacker, Sarah of The Further Adventures of Bennett or the Guy of Flights and Frustration, we have learnt that interactions with others are crucial if you want to be a successful blogger. Lessons learnt? It takes time to deliver a good quality content, we should never force ourselves to write if we feel like travelling and taking notes is important!

Follow them on  Facebook  Twitter  GooglePlus  Instagram  

Justine Lopez of Travel Lush (California, Expat in Indonesia)

When did you start blogging? What exactly tickled you to blog about your travels?
I started The Travel Lush in March 2014 – so my blog is only nine months old. I started my own blog is because I was inspired by all of those amazing travel bloggers out there.  As I was backpacking around Southeast Asia, travel blogs were my main source for travel information.  Not only did I come to depend on them for 90 percent of my information, but I found that I really loved reading about other people’s travels. After months of avidly reading travel blogs like Alex in Wanderland and Adventurous Kate, one day I just decided to start my own!
How has travel blogging made you a better traveler? Do you travel differently now?
Travel blogging has made me a better traveler in so many ways.  It has definitely opened up the world of solo travel for me. Before I started blogging I would have never considered traveling by myself – partially because I didn’t have a reason to, and partially because I was too scared.  But I’ve been so inspired by all the solo female travel bloggers out there (like Renuka!) that I’ve started taking side trips by myself. I move much slower now, I take the time to talk with complete strangers and learn new things, and I really embrace the opportunity to soak in the atmosphere of new places.
What do you love most about travel blogging? 
The community. I have made so many wonderful connections with like-minded people since I started blogging. It’s seriously amazing how nice and helpful people have been – whether it’s seeking technical help with my blog, or exchanging travel tips, or welcoming me into their homes when I travel to their home countries. 
What is that ONE valuable lesson that travel blogging has taught you?
I’ve learned to appreciate the path that I’m on and the semi-nomadic life I’ve chosen to live.  I’m originally from California, and I’m so grateful that I now have the opportunity to travel and live in Indonesia.  Blogging has made me realize that I’m not the only travel fiend out there!  There’s a whole community of amazing and like-minded people out there!

The Guy of Flights and Frustration (England)

When did you start blogging? What exactly tickled you to blog about your travels?
I began in late September 2012 so I've been doing this for just over 2 years. I've been travelling for so long now that so many of my experiences were just becoming forgotten memories. Places I'd been, experiences which really moved me were gradually fading in my mind. Without a documented record I'd struggle to remember the name or location of something if I ever returned. Now with a documented blog I would always have some written record to return to.
How has travel blogging made you a better traveler? Do you travel differently now?
I'm not too sure if I've become a better traveller. I think what has changed is that I'm more inquisitive now on my travels. I have more get up and go about discovering new places and things to write about it. I need to get out, explore and appreciate my surroundings more than ever – even if I've been there a dozen times before.
What do you love most about travel blogging?
Undoubtedly it is connecting with people with a similar interest and passion. Knowing that what I write, see and do is of interest to other people helps me feel a connection, a bond.
What is that ONE valuable lesson that travel blogging has taught you?
Wow, narrowing it to just ONE? Well for certain travel blogging is not easy. The commitment of time dedication, effort, emotion, administration and so on is immense. Yet having said that, if you have a passion for it, enjoy what you do then it is most definitely worth it.

Rachel Jones of Hippie In Heels (America, Expat in India)

When did you start blogging? What exactly tickled you to blog about your travels?
I started blogging one year ago (last October). After backpacking India the first time, I started to get all these Facebook messages from strangers saying, "My friend knows you and told me to message you. I'm going to India and don't know how to start planning. Can you help?" I realized then that a blog could be my new career, as at the time I knew I was moving to India and leaving nursing.
How has travel blogging made you a better traveler? Do you travel differently now?
I still mess up all the time (wrong terminal at the airport, showing up late for flights... ) so I don't think I'm the best traveler anyways. I have changed my travel style though from backpacking to just traveling. I used to take long trips on money I'd saved all year, so I was a cheap backpacker. Now, I go on more trips that are smaller and spend a bit more. I actually changed my tagline on my site from "glamourous travel on a backpacking budget" to "glamorous travel in India" as I realized I wasn't on a budget so much anymore.
What do you love most about travel blogging? 
For me, I love that people in the U.S. that wouldn't have had the guts to come to India, read my blog, then e-mail saying they feel safe now, or that they feel like after seeing my stories they think they can handle India and have booked their flight. I love that even Indians, especially girls, message me saying that they feel inspired to go see their own country and had been afraid before reading the stories on Hippie in Heels
What is that ONE valuable lesson that travel blogging has taught you?
To have thick skin. Between travel blogging and being a Thai yoga masseuse, I get a handful of pervy messages a day from men in India. Of course when I first started blogging it would make me cry (people accusing me of being an escort, trying to buy me for a night in Goa, or wanting a different type of massage), but now I just ignore these things because I know I can't change their mindset. Just yesterday, I put a photo of a beach on IG that I wasn't even in, and someone commented, "are you topless?", so I replied "grow up". Sometimes it's hard because I think I should quit so that I stop getting messaged like those, but then a girl will e-mail saying how much I helped her plan her trip and it makes it all worth it.

Francis Cassidy of The Stray Photographer (Ireland)

When did you start blogging? What exactly tickled you to blog about your travels?
I started back in March 2013 when this current journey, which is still yet to end, began! I'd never really written before, although I do remember one of the few things I enjoyed at school. So I think blogging was something I was destined to try at some point despite never being consciously aware of it and it just happened that I stumbled upon it as I set off for a stint of extended travel.
How has travel blogging made you a better traveler? Do you travel differently now?
I'd like to think so. I'm not much of a tourist really, so spending my time around the typical tourist attractions in a given place doesn't really do it for me. Having a blog gives me that extra motivation to seek out these experiences. I know I'll get something different, whether it be some good material for a story or a photo which shines a different light on a particular location.
What do you love most about travel blogging? 
Having a platform for those spontaneous moments of creativity that pop into my head from time to time. Sometimes I'll be on a bus, in a restaurant, or simply wandering the streets with a camera slung over my shoulder when some creative thoughts will spring to mind.
What is that ONE valuable lesson that travel blogging has taught you?
Humility. To get what you want, you have to deserve what you want. Not long after starting I had some big ideas about getting a ton of traffic, building a large following, and making some money online to support my travels. It was not to be however. It's difficult, and requires a huge amount of work in a variety of different disciplines. If anything it has taught me to become more inwardly humble, more willing to learn and more willing to listen to others.

Anu of Country Hopping Couple (India, Expats in Scotland)

When did you start blogging? What exactly tickled you to blog about your travels?
I had been blogging about our travels on my personal blog since 2007, and it always received good attention from the readers. As a couple, we had already been to a lot of countries and we wanted to document our travels as well as make it a source of inspiration for people like us - expats, couple travellers, and working full time. That's how our travel blog country hopping couple came into being.
How has travel blogging made you a better traveler? Do you travel differently now?
Simply put, it inspires us to travel more.  Travel blogging has certainly helped us put a certain structure to our travel, guided us to focus on what we enjoyed the most. Of course our travelling style has changed over the last 6 years. What hasn't changed is that we take things slow, hit a local bar or coffee shop, strike a conversation with locals, visit a flea market, spend hours in squares watching people, walk the quaint, quiet streets, and follow the heart and feet.
What do you love most about travel blogging?
The fact that it helps me connect with other awesome travellers across the world!! Nothing can beat that feeling of making friends with someone who share a common interest with you, someone you've never met, yet you can talk with them for hours if you get to meet them! 
What is that ONE valuable lesson that travel blogging has taught you?
Don't get addicted to the numbers and statistics. What's important is how genuine you are with your writing and experiences.  Do what you have to do, and the rest will follow.

Tim Blight of Urban Duniya (Australia, also visits Pakistan frequently)

When did you start blogging? What exactly tickled you to blog about your travels?
I started blogging in March 2013. I had been living in India for a year and a half, and when that ended I was in a bit of a rut - I didn't like what I was doing, and where I was going in life. After a couple of weeks of wondering, I decided to change everything, and take control of the journey! I applied for a job overseas, booked some flights and started my blog - and I haven't looked back!
How has travel blogging made you a better traveler? Do you travel differently now?
Hmmm... I don't know about a better traveller, but certainly a more aware traveller. I think much more about where I go now - what I can write about it, how others might perceive and experience it. I guess that's a good thing!
What do you love most about travel blogging?
I love all the great people that I've met, and I love the stories they have to share. And the photos - some of the pictures I see of beautiful places around the world remind me of how beautiful this world can be.
What is that ONE valuable lesson that travel blogging has taught you?
Travel blogging, as a whole, has allowed me to live the life that I want. The whole experience has taught me that if I throw caution to the wind, and do what I really want to do, things will be OK in the end. I can be anyone who I want to be :)

Follow him on  Facebook  Twitter  Google    

Niranjan Das of Tales Of A Nomad (India)

When did you start blogging? What exactly tickled you to blog about your travels?
I have completed 5 years of blogging at 'Tales of a Nomad'. When I decided to start a blog, I did not exactly have any topic/ genre in my mind. Travel was the only topic that popped up and I had a number of stories to share. It was an opportunity to share my travel experiences and also sharpen my writing skills. 
How has travel blogging made you a better traveler? Do you travel differently now? 
Travel blogging has opened the window to a plethora of things. It has introduced me to like minded travelers/ bloggers, opened before me various perspectives of travelling (backpacking, solo travelling, solo motorcycle rides etc), made me study interesting itineraries, made me learn new cultures and much more which were new to me before I started blogging. 
What do you love most about travel blogging? 
Blogging and travelling goes hand in hand. The more I travel, the more I blog as I love sharing my experiences and making my readers travel to all those wonderful places. The more I blog, the more I need to travel as I run short of stories for my blog. Hence travel blogging makes me travel for blogging and blog for travelling. 
What is that ONE valuable lesson that travel blogging has taught you? 
Travel blogging is definitely one of the first steps to becoming a professional travel writer. The more you write a better writer you become, and the more you travel, a better traveler you become.
Follow him on  Facebook  Twitter 

Do you think travel blogging has inspired more travel in your life?

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Top Two Cities Of India – Delhi vs Mumbai

There is an apparent rivalry between Delhi and Mumbai. People have strong opinions about these two cities in India. Either they are hated or loved. Perhaps this is the only common quality between Delhi and Mumbai that they both evoke strong emotions. They don’t leave you indifferent.

In my opinion, Delhi is like a classy lady, while Mumbai is a charming damsel. The former has heritage and old-world charisma, while the latter has the vivaciousness to chuckle through life. What do you say?

Okay, let these photographs speak – 

Delhi has beautiful gardens and lots of green spaces.
Mumbai has beaches.
Delhi is a heritage city.
Mumbai is known for its churches.
Delhi has secretive spots like Hauz Khas.
Hauz Khas
Mumbai has iconic film locales.
Taj Hotel, Mumbai
Cafes in Delhi have western influence.
L'Opéra is a French confectionery shop in Khan Market, Delhi.
Cafes in Mumbai have buzz and oodles of character.
Cafe Mondegar, South Mumbai
Delhi has sophisticated markets.
Mumbai has colorful and vibrant shopping streets.
Delhi has history as its essence.
Mumbai has cinema as its heart.
Delhi has broad roads, big bungalows and lots of posh neighborhoods.
Mumbai has stunning skyscrapers. Hiranandani is perhaps one of the few posh localities of Mumbai. 

Delhi or Mumbai? Which one do you love more?

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Sunday, 16 November 2014

My First Adult Moment In Life

It was long, long back… but it’s still not a blur. I remember everything vividly. The first time I ever felt like an adult was when I missed my train! It was perhaps the first moment in my life when I felt left in the lurch. There was nobody to help me out. I was all alone standing in despair at the New Delhi train station enquiring the policemen about my train.

Let me give you a bit of a background of my ‘first adult moment’ story - I was working in Gurgaon and I was going home to meet my family, who was in Lucknow at that time. The very kind admin staff of my office had arranged a cab for me that dropped me at the station. I knew I was late for my train. I was just hoping to catch the train out of sheer luck, but I managed to reach the station only after the train had departed.

Well, I was disappointed at the highest level, as I was so eager to go home. I didn’t want to waste even a single day out of the days off that were granted to me. I just wanted to go home by any means. I was at no cost ready to leave the station. I quickly enquired about the next available train to Lucknow. (By the way, I had missed an afternoon train)

Somebody at the station advised me to get the ‘missed’ train ticket cancelled before anything else. So I headed to the ticket counter. Now in the midst of all this, I discovered a very valuable quality in me – the spirit of not losing hope so easily. After this incident, I have seen the same quality emerge in me on many challenging occasions. I queued up at the counter with a blazing anticipation of getting reservation in the next train to Lucknow.

To my comfort, I got my ticket cancelled with ease and also got a certain amount of money back. After which I got a seat in one of the late night trains to Lucknow. I don’t remember the name or the exact time of that train, but it was an odd hour train and it was a chair car. So now after I had got my new ticket to Lucknow, I heaved a sigh of relief.

While I was undergoing this situation, I had a feeling of being an adult. Although it was unfortunate to miss a train and then wait for another train for hours, it made me feel good about myself that I could handle so much on my own.

But that was not all. There was something in store for me to help me kill time at the station. I met a somewhat middle-aged man or rather he bumped into me uninvited. I was sitting quietly on a bench just waiting for time to whisk by, and this man came and sat next to me. Well of course, he tried to befriend me. I was barely interested in talking to him, but I had to, because there was no escape. Besides, he was a harmless guy. He asked me all sorts of questions, from ‘whether I was a student or a working girl, where did my father work, where did I stay in Lucknow’ to possibly everything under the sun. Obviously, I didn’t tell him anything about me except my name. I gave him all fake answers. (I just wanted to run away from him)

But, for some people their politeness let them get away with anything. Then he told me that I was like his sister. He tried his level best to assure me that he was a man of good character, someone who had control over his senses. He also wanted to stay in touch with me. He even shared his phone number with me, but thankfully didn’t ask for mine. He very smartly said that once I call him, he would get my number too. I just thought to myself, “Why would I call you?”

Anyway, I couldn’t be happier when I saw my train arrive on the platform. I extended an obligatory goodbye to the old chap and quickly got into my coach. Phew!

What was your ‘first’ adult moment? I would love to hear you out!

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Friday, 14 November 2014

22 ‘Perky’ Photos Of Sydney

Sydney is like a whiff of fresh air. No wonder it’s one of the most liveable and holiday-worthy destinations in the world. I am not going to give you any story in this post, because I have already written quite a lot about Sydney in my earlier posts. Today, I just want to share some random photographs of Sydney that I haven’t shared before, or maybe I did (some of them), but they deserve a dekko again. And, it's also an excuse to sprinkle some inspiration on you!

So, here you go!

You can also check out the following old posts on Sydney -

Park Hyatt in Sydney - You can book a room with a view of Sydney Opera House. 
Sydney is your kind of city if you enjoy having coffee alfresco.
The stunning blue water is the essence of Sydney.
Yes, it's a city of love-birds too.
Some flowers don't hurt, right?
Sydney Opera House doesn't seem to lose its glory even on an overcast day.
I sojourned at Flemington: a locality of Homebush West, Sydney.
People suggest a helicopter ride over the Harbour Bridge, but I find it so cool from where I viewed it.
Bride spotting is quite common in Sydney. They appear out of nowhere and of course, they look gorgeous.
Rooftops of Stratfield Suburb
The sign-posting in Sydney has a lot of character.
Sun-soaking locals at the Manly beach.
Kids are always a delight to watch and photograph.
Circular Quay is a buzzing hub of great restaurants and cafes.
Just a random shot while the sky was blue.
Sydney has a comfy local transport system. Long distances are covered with no trace of tiredness.
I spotted these twins at Watson Bay. Aren't they cute?
The Harbour Bridge - Walking over it is an experience, a spectacular one!
One of the kids park near Darling Harbour. I think Sydney is a pretty kids-friendly destination too. What do you say?
Sydney Opera House in the mellow sunlight.
This is me allowing the 'perkiness' to brush off on me a bit!
Sydney beckons you for a free-spirited holiday!

Is Sydney on your radar anytime soon?

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