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Gokarna ->This way (Ab Bus!)

I boarded the bus

Sitting gladly on my single sleeper, in my presumed personal compartment, I felt the world was mine behind the curtains. That was until, one of the passengers, passed by and pulled the curtain with him, mistakenly. It was a feeling of sudden exposure that made me sit up and draw the curtains again, not knowing that I would have to do that throughout the entire night. So next time, please don’t choose Seabird Tourists, the buses are BAD!

The world was different outside the window and kept changing faces. We passed Mantri Square mall, Bangalore actually stopped there for what seemed like an eternity. I didn’t waste my time and quickly turned nostalgic, remembering my first visit to the mall, with my college friends. Experiencing the elite, the stage-like-lit-up showrooms, the dramatic lights, the crowd, the coffee and bakery shops only to be viewed from far, all this with my friends who seemed equally lost in focus, looking onto new attractions with every blink of an eye. Trying out new fashionable outfits, beyond our pocket budgets, and clicking pictures, especially for posting on facebook, was a taboo back then. Those days weren’t that old but definitely, things have changed now.

While I was among my deepest thoughts, the landscape outside changed to wider views, with silhouettes of trees, passing swiftly in the dark; We were on the highway. Sleep came in installments and interested me with some peace of mind until the curtains shifted again.

The bus stopped in between adhering to the law of giving in to the nature calls, in the interest of passengers. The dark marooned place had no clue of washrooms, until I found some people moving out of another bus, parked adjacent to us, towards two small concrete blocks. Filth and stench haunted the toilets like ghosts. No door handles! We asked our fellow females to hold the door for us and they obliged. The counter gender took to bushes instead; no wonder there was too much greenery around.

When I woke up next, it was morning but something was strange. We were crossing lush green hills, through snake roads, but hey! Wasn’t I heading to a beach?!

The Western Ghats tricked me out of sleep.

 

Gokarna Within

A village welcomed me in broad daylight, along with a group of auto-walas, eager to take an outsider for a costly ride. Kudle beach was a kilometer or two away. I was supposed to meet my friend. As soon as we met we instinctively decided to walk all the way to the beach.

Here are some tips before you trip to Kudle

The small town of Gokarna, is strangely a town of contrasts. It is a temple town as well as a peaceful holiday destination. It gave me vivid thoughts when I searched on the internet and found that Gokarna means “Cow’s Ear” and Lord Shiva is said to have emerged from the ear of a cow. The famous ‘Om Beach’ in Gokarna, gives adds a mystic touch to the place.  Find some more about Gokarna Here..

The Chariot Temple

Through the narrow streets and bazaars, that was set up with small shops selling items right from bangles to bandannas, the place was trying hard to attract the firangis that came from all over the world to experience India. Some eyes were stuck at the ethnic wear while others checked out the pure leather bags that stood out well but pitifully as their smell caught my nostrils. Here is the guide to good and cheap shopping when you are in Gokarna.

We took a turn from one lane leading to another and found a huge chariot, standing tall ahead of us. It was adorned with flags of red yellow and white colors, bright marigold flowers, the auspicious banana leaves and carried images of Gods and Goddesses on its sides. Though the chariot stood still, it seemed its big round wooden wheels had traveled quite a bit through the crowded streets and was now resting and overlooking the place.

Patli gali se khisak lo.. :P

Patli gali se khisak lo.. 😛

Moving forward, we had to pass via a tiny passage to reach the beach. Some auto-walas braved through the narrow way, by just fitting between the two walls on either side. Once we had to stick ourselves so close to the walls, thinking that the auto might crush us. The walls though gave us a tough time, had so much to speak of. That was because in that small village, within that narrow lane, on those cracked and chipped walls, we found some cute graffiti probably by a person who had had a blissful experience at the place.

Comprehend Some Cool Graffiti!

Comprehend Some Cool Graffiti!

We are almost there, that’s what we thought, while climbing up a hilly road and then another and another. It was tiring, but we never gave up our hopes to the passing autowalas Oh Yeah! Though in between I wished I was a backpack so that somebody would carry me. Tears trickled down my forehead, while walking on the road to Kudle?! Guys if you get a little trek freak in Gokarna, opting for walk to Kudle beach, is one among few ways to get the feel of it, but only in early morning or times nearing sunset.

Mini-Trek to Kudle Beach

Mini-Trek to Kudle Beach

There was a ‘sigh-t’ of relief when we saw, what you can see in the below picture and were left wondering! There was no way we could tell were the sky ended and the sea began. The Arabian Sea settled majestically under the vast blue sky.

where the sea meets the sky

    where the sea meets the sky

 

There is no picture more beautiful than what is being captured by our own eyes.

I treated my vision with the view and walked ahead, with vigor to meet the sea.

In case you want to know how my journey began Find the surprising details of the Night of my travel here

 

 

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Gokarna ->This way

Never Sit in the Backseat

It was supposed to be a solo trip. Few days before leaving, I felt like an overheated CPU, in dire need of cooling. Summer had just taken over Bengaluru and instead I was experiencing heating issues, mentally and emotionally. A beach was the necessity! A trip to Goa had already been a successful undertaking before, so the next never-visited destination that flashed in my mind was Gokarna.

All excuses and no company, hence ho! Girl on solo trip! Though I must admit I was much apprehensive about it. The new destination, the search for peace but then Indian men have always been surprising women. So I got a company of a good friend. Bus tickets were booked and one good evening I excitedly boarded the pick-up bus to Seabird Tourists . My excitement turned to embarrassment when a newly wedded couple got hold of the last seat, at the far end of the window, opposite to where I sat. Not long after the pick-up bus began moving that the kissi-pissi started and all sorts of nasty sounds made it really the most uncomfortable 45 minutes for me, until the main bus stand. Oh God, Their co-passengers are going to have a tough time, I thought.

The main bus stand was lined up with crowded Travel Agencies, that had set up their small offices in the most cramped and spooky places, so much so that all the Goras (foreign travelers) waiting for their buses, thought and discussed repeatedly among themselves, whether to go in, at that time of night, for an enquiry or not.

I was there for an hour and a half, sitting in a cramped path; waiting for my bus, while the other passengers walked passed me, often brushing themselves against moss-filled, chipping-walls to the enquiry office. I strangely felt good to be among strangers, who, as if encapsulated in a time along with me, were waiting for their vehicles to take them ahead. There was an aura of impatience but a hint of eagerness for the coming time, in that WAIT.

 

The Places that should be left Undiscovered

By this time, two girls came to sit beside me on either side, waiting for their bus, trapped in the wait-time capsule, like me. Something triggered a conversation and they asked me where I was travelling to. While we were getting acquainted, I felt a sudden urge to go to the toilet. I asked the people there for directions and they directed me to the most filthy travel agency toilets. Just when I was about to enter, a MAN came out, of a Ladies’ Toilet?! When few people told me go further in and that there was a ladies toilet inside, I was left wondering with a blank mind and a question mark on my face. With my nostrils all shut to the pungent smell, I made a face of sheer disgust and entered.

The door to the ladies washroom was inside the men’s loo! WTF!

With no other way out, I relieved myself and just as I was about to open the door, guess what? I heard the presence of a man, outside, through means that you might have probably guessed by now. The most disgusting feeling that crept inside me, told me to get the hell out of there!

In the most gentle and polite tone out of my heightened endurance, I spoke to ‘the Man’ through the door, ‘Bhaiya, aap bahar jaa sakte hai (Brother, can you go out?)’

Though I didn’t get a reply, I heard the other door open and shut. I slowly opened the door and thankfully there was nobody standing and peeing just outside the women’s toilet.

I rushed out, and went straight to my new acquaintances, to tell them what just happened. My conscience was pacified with wide-eyed responses and curses to the travel agencies. To be careful next time, Don’t opt for Seabird Tourists, the reasons I will share later.

 

Happy Journey!

Post that, we chatted for a couple of more minutes and it was great to know their purpose of travel, out of all excuses, was to escape from life. We discussed our lives and it felt great to know those two complete strangers for that brief period. When the Wait was over and their buses arrived, I bade them goodbye and merrily wished them a happy journey. Though we discussed so much about our daily life in such short span, that bounty of time was refreshing and welcoming.

For the next half hour, before my bus arrived, I sat there, alone but not lonely because my mind was already buzzing with the coming of an excitement that had already started.

gokarna

A Vast, Wide Escape

Image Source

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District of Daydreams – Jaipur to Ajmer

vWhen I got down from the plane I looked around to find a deserted piece of land.

 Where is every one?  Where are the people of Jaipur?

When the craft crew bade us, into the escort buses, I was still thinking if I was in a game mode or our aircraft was, genuinely, the only one on airport. While I was thinking that I had a view of a pipe being forcefully stuck, at the bottom of the nozzle of another aircraft, by around five people.

Thankfully I saw another plane, even more thankful that it wasn’t, by any chance, my next flight.

A minute into the bus and then at airport, I encountered complete silence welcoming me to the pink city. Glass doors opened to dry air and before I could take my luggage from the conveyor, I directed my pace to the restroom for a relief. Sobs and cries of an airhostess, in the bathroom, similar to ones we have at railway stations, kind of turned off my excitement of visiting a new place. Diverting my face with nasty expression, towards the exit, I lifted my luggage and carried myself off to the open.

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Padharo Maare Des”, Ah! The tune lingered in my head, exactly how it is sung in the authentic saas bahu sitcoms like Balika Wadhu, on Indian Televisions, I thought, looking at the sign of the airport wall that separated me from the roads.

I hit the roads, on a local bus, well yes, after being bugged by local autoriksha-walas who asked me, constantly where I wanted to go, Haa, Madam kaha jaana hai, aiye’.  I did reply back in a mocked tone, that I am going via bus then why are you asking me, to which they replied

Hmari apni gaadi hai, We have our auto that is why we are asking.

Don’t know what that meant but here I was, in a bus, with scarcely occupied seats, even lesser people. Attracting few glances, I sat nearest to the front door, reserved for the women and asked the conductor and driver to let me know when the Sindhi Bus Stand arrives. Roads were good but empty. I wondered if Sunday was so quiet at Bangalore, people would have definitely migrated somewhere else.

An aunty sat beside me, and finally I got to see how, people dress up here in West. Nothing much, a sari, with the pallu(veil), draped over the head, basic makeup which included a dark shade of maroon lipstick and kajal, bunch of colorful bangles in each hand, dangling earrings and a impeccably glinting nose pin. I asked her if she knew when my stop would come. She replied it was far ahead and exclaimed that it must be difficult with luggage and that I should ask the driver/conductor to inform me when the stop arrives. The bus was packed and there were curious glances that found me a bit intimidated, one among them, staring at me continuously. I was relieved when he got down some time later. The bus ran through few empty and wide stretches of roads and after one hour of hurling against traffic lights and the traffic, I finally reached Sindhi camp bus stand.

The bus dropped me about 50 meters away, from where I asked the way to the bus stand. People helped me out of courtesy. But I showed no signs of

Oh my God, I should have recharged my net pack for GPS in this unknown place’

and carried myself with confidence, as I had read in one of the travel tips, on travelling alone. An over cautious uncle, on being asked the way, told me to take care, as there was a heightened rate of abductions and murders in Jaipur, after telling me the way. Sure I was aware how far he walked along until he disappeared in the crowd. Through the corner of my eye, I kept a glance at him, just in case he turned out to be the burglar he was talking about. You know, like sarcastic villains in movies.. 😛

The place smelled pathetic until I finished my walking and headed straight to the Government bus, besides which the conductor constantly cried out my destination, Ajmer.

They charged 150 rupees, less than any other online ticketing sites, though the bus stopped in between for quite some time, charging more to the people, who got onboard from successor stops after me. The journey of two hours was comfortable; the seats weren’t all that bad. Sufficiently sufficing my journey needs, I took water bottle and some snacks from local vendors who would get on and off the bus, at the various bus stops it passed by. Network would puff off on the way, as the bus traversed through the arid lands. Villages, shrubs and fewer trees covered most of my view. Soon the mild winter wind drove me to sleep, amongst the sound of the engine that seemed to clear its throat after every change of gear.

I didn’t realize, I arrived in the tiny district, covering a total of 135km from the pink city. Oh and by the way, the pink city isn’t that pink except for few building made of red sand stone, straight out of the Aravali hills of Western Ghats. I was surprised to find that the Ajmer bus stand held more crowd than Jaipur airport. The journey didn’t end here though.

I was happy to see my friends who had come to receive me. We all got into the car and plunged into the merry yet seemingly old place, that somehow took me back in time. Houses and shops, showing off, not more than the purpose they served, stood not so tall. Luckily, I had the free view in a populated place, even from the car window, the one in which you look up to see the whole stretch of sky, even the horizon sometimes. No concrete forest, no skyscrapers, no honks, no traffic, no dust, emissions. With Ajmer, it was love at first sight.

~’~

This journey through Rajasthan was to encounter a cultural twist with a Bengali wedding that I was going to attend.

Check out this space to know how Rajasthani and Bengali culture and traditions blended to create some of the most memorable moments and why I promised myself that I am going to come back to the district once more.

 

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Amidst the Noise of World

Few days back I was travelling to K R Puram in a local BMTC bus. With its grandpa engines coughing in full thrusts with every shift of the gear stick, it was slugging through the tight traffic near the criss-cross of highways and merging traffics at petite roads. The surrounding noise from the honks and engines around could have mercilessly crushed the solace of any serene place and sanity of every peaceful mind. But here, everyone in my vicinity was swaying with the bus on every pit and hole on the road and hoping that the rumbling engine does more than just making the bus turn into a cacophonous big beast.

Sitting in the front, near the door, I was ruminating over my blankness of my thoughtless brain, when something caught my attention. A moment that seemed quite unusual from the corner of my eye until I turned and noticed a woman smiling and gesturing at another, who stood against my seat. Continuing to make a happy face she made signs with her fingers in fast repeated motions, communicating and conversing and laughing without a sound coming from her mouth. Her eyeballs were at a display of excitement, surprise and vivaciousness. Sometimes she opened her mouth to let out an air of exasperation other times simply to rest her transparent talk. The woman on the other side of the conversation, even moved her head, into a sudden long nod, time and again in response to her friend’s serious conversation. They expressed via swift moments of their hands that were clean and surprisingly I found myself comparing them to mudras of certain Bharatnatayam step. There was an elegance in the way they talked but without a sound.

Nobody knew because nobody heard, others including me just stared at the never-bothered ladies who I am sure must of spoken of the whole world by then. Yet that silence appealed to me in the greater noise of the world. It touched me not because I pitied their disability, but that I envied their ability to convey their selves effortlessly and retain their peacefulness in the disturbance that was everywhere and by default for everyone except them.

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