Sunday, April 27, 2014

Rajasthan travelogue

Last week I went for a mini vacation to Rajasthan. It was the first trip I had single handedly planned, right from the dates, to cities to travel to accommodation. I enjoy the planning and preparation of the trip as much as the travelling itself. In a span of four hectic days, we covered four cities- Chittorgarh, Udaipur, Jodhpur and Jaisalmer. Udaipur and Jaisalmer were the main destinations. Chittorgarh and Jodhpur were more like getaways and transits (respectively).

We took trains and buses, and stayed in heritage guest houses. It was a beautiful earthy experience. I travelled in a train after very long time. The sound of the train rushing by and view of the various lush farms filled me with nostalgia. Everyone in the train was talking about elections, about Modi and politics. It was fun to see how everyone has an opinion and arguments are endless in such train journeys, with a sheet spread in the center and playing cards.

The day we reached Udaipur, the first destination, election polls were taking place. We were afraid that we'll have trouble travelling around the city, but surprisingly everything was normal. But I had already checked out details of Chittorgarh and wanted to explore that if Udaipur was closed. So the first day, as soon as we reached Udaipur, we freshened up and decided to go to Chittorgarh. Chittorgarh fort is apparently the largest fort in India. It is on top of a hill, and there are a lot of palaces and temples inside the fort. It was very very hot. Considering we went in the month of April, I am sure it was relatively better. We kept ourselves hydrated with Shikanji and ice-cream. My mom said my face had turned red like a Monkey. Oh there were a lot of monkeys there. When I was about five years old, I was bitten by one. Since then I am a little cautious of monkeys around me. They are fun to watch but so unpredictable.

We came back from Chittorgarh by evening and then we explored Udaipur. There is a vintage collection of cars driven by rajas and maharajas in Udaipur. It is not a tourist attraction, but I had read about it somewhere randomly. I love everything vintage! So we went to see that. Some of the cars were really nice, the kinds you see in old movies and then there were chariots and old school buses and carts. Then we did some other touristy stuff, visiting museums and gardens. We finished the day with a nice candle light dinner at the rooftop of the hotel we were living at, just next to Lake Pichola. The wind and the light and the privacy were great. If only they played good music :-|

Next day we explored some more of Udaipur, saw the beautiful Udaipur palace, bought some ethnic Rajasthani curios and boarded the bus to Jodhpur. It was a looooooong, tiring bus ride. Google said it would take four and half hours, at the bus station they said it would take six hours...ultimately it took us EIGHT hours. We had taken a Volvo bus from Udaipur to Chittorgarh and it was wonderful. But for Udaipur to Jodhpur, Volvo bus timing was not convenient for us. And we had to take the regular roadways bus. Thankfully, we had got good seats. By the time we reached Jodhpur it was pretty late and we just managed to crash on our bed after dinner. The heritage guesthouse that I had booked was right in front of the fort. Early in the morning, we climbed up to the fort and enjoyed the view of the blue city. I bought a pretty pair of puppets and a mashaal like candle stand from there.

Then we took the bus from Jodhpur to Jaisalmer which was also long, but comfortable. Long journeys give way to long conversations which is the best part of travelling. Eat, drink, talk and nap once in a while. I enjoyed the bus rides as much as everything else. By the way, the ‘we’ I have been referring to is me and my mom. I went to this trip with my mom. She had her apprehensions in the beginning which she confided in me later on, about two women traveling alone. I come from a fairly conservative family background. My parents are one of the very few ‘progressive’ people in our clan. And while they try to keep pace with our changing world, with me, they gasp from time to time. Especially when I make sweeping statements like I don’t want to get married or what is the big deal about alcohol or I need to start smoking. Sometimes I say things just to see their reaction :) cheap thrills..haha.

Coming back to the trip...Jaisalmer was a lot of fun because of the sand dunes that we visited. Sam sand dunes. The tour agency from where we booked the cab for the dunes, said how Satyajit Ray was the God who discovered Jaisalmer and put it on the map (with his movie Sonar Kella). “Nahi toh pehle Jaisalmer kaun aana chaahta tha. Jab kisi ko punishment deni hoti thi, tab use bhejte  the yahan- ‘ja-sala-mar’” And everyone laughed. I smiled thinking how many tourists he must have said that practiced joke to.

We did a Camel safari around the sand dunes – one of the most memorable moments of the trip. We stayed at the sand dunes over night and came back in the morning. We did some more touristy stuff in Jaisalmer the whole day, and took the train to Delhi in the evening. My mom was extremely happy to find a Bengali restaurant in the middle of Jaisalmer, and we gorged on some “home-like” food at the end of the trip.

It was a very short trip but we managed to squeeze in a lot of things. Not a minute was wasted. Next I want to go to Jaipur and Pushkar. With that my Rajasthan odyssey will be complete. 

Here are some pictures from the trip.
From the Vintage collection of cars in Udaipur

In a temple at Chittorgarh Fort

View from the hotel in Sam sand dunes, Jaisalmer

The Bengali restaurant in Jaisalmer

Typical Rajasthani moooch :)

One of the many beautiful doors in Rajasthan.
I have a whole series of such doors captured in my camera

View from the hotel in Jodhpur
Our caravan in Jaisalmer
Camel ride in the Thar

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Shut up, Confucius!

Confucius said- “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” Three months into my first job - for which I had studied for 5 years eagerly waiting for the day when I will finally do what I love doing - I understood that Confucius was wrong.

What I realized was – if you make what you love doing, a ‘job’ - you will start hating it! Let me explain. So. I love writing. Let’s see what are the career options for a writer – journalism, copy writing, novel / book writing, script writing (TV / movie / theatre). . . I write when I feel like, when words come to me, overwhelm me, touch me and I feel compelled to put my pen to paper. It comes from my heart. Cut to scene – I have a deadline. Client has feedback. Others think they know better than me about the subject (they may!). I don’t care about what I am asked to write. I need to keep changing what I have written to get it ‘approved’. I cannot be attached to what I have written. I may have spent days and nights, redbulls and espressos on something, and then it never sees the light of the day. All this is professional, nothing personal against anyone, really! Most of the times the first draft which you felt a connection with, is completely mutated in the final version when it is finally approved. It doesn’t feel like it was yours. It becomes the Ship of Theseus.

Thank god, I did not take up writing as a career. Now the position where I am in, I can happily say that I absolutely love what I do. I don’t mind working over some weekends (unless I have plans!) because it is so interesting that I want to do it. But it is a job after all. When you absolutely love something, you are so attached to it, it is very difficult to keep a distant stance and view it pragmatically. My love could be my life but my job is not my life. I am working so that I can live the life that I would love to.

It becomes especially difficult when you love your job, the work that you do, but the people you work with are not as excited or passionate about it. In the short span of my work life, I have realized that I should not be attached to my work. So what if I have spent days and nights working on an idea, creating hundreds of slides, wringing my brain, forgetting to eat (you know it is a big deal for me!). Just because so much time, effort and energy is spent on something does not mean it will be accepted by everyone and you will get applauded (there will be those days too). You should be ready to start from scratch if required. That is how good ideas germinate. There is a thin line between attachment and detachment which I think I have come to learn. I get bogged down, yes. But there is only one way after that – getting up.

I don’t think I could use my attachment – detachment funda with something I truly love. That is why I don’t think I could be a ‘professional’ writer (though writing is a big part of what I do, it is not exactly what I do – it is a golden mean which I thoroughly enjoy).

P.S: A dialogue poster from one of my favourite movies :) Annie Hall.