Sunday, December 09, 2007

Another Trip

My rants about traveling aside, I still love traveling. More than the destination, I have always loved the joy of movement from one place to the other. I love the changing scenery, the local people, the colours, the smells, the sounds and the feel of being elsewhere.

A couple of days ago, I was in Pune on work and got to stay the night in a resort in Lonavla overlooking the Grand Canyon-like Khandala valley. The trip was nothing to write home about. Waking up early the next day, I ran to open the curtains and was again amazed at how beautiful Earth is. Honestly speaking, coming from a hill station myself, I would not recommend a visit to Khandala. You can see all there is to see just driving down the amazing express way from Pune to Mumbai. But that morning, it was not misty, not cold at all (must for me if I have to convince myself I am at a hill station) but the flat topped mountains did present a pretty picture. I clicked a dozen pictures on my new phone (its amazing). After a while, we went sightseeing and came upon Shooting Point in Lonavla where the wind was so strong that even the heftiest among us struggled to keep his balance. That was the only thing I will probably remember about the place, the very strong winds, stronger than I have ever known.

The Tiger Valley of Khandala was ok too, made for some good pictures. But the place failed to impress me much, contrary to all expectations. The weather was barely ok, the resort was tolerable, though I found the staff, including a man I so thought had to be gay, very nice. The trip to Mumbai was good, beautiful road and amazing speed. I feel the need for speed, by the way. Mumbai was dirty and crowded as usual (never liked that city, except the kulfi you get there). The flight was good, very smooth and a spectacular view. I managed to sneak and take some pictures to show my best friend. :-)
It was not the much needed break for my mind that I hoped it would be. But all in all, was not too bad. I can now tolerate Bangalore for a few more weeks before I start getting claustrophobic again and begin to itch to travel again. Is some travel magazine listening? :-)

PS: The flight from Mumbai to Bangalore with overly made up flight attendants (aren’t they all?) took 1 ½ hours. The drive from the airport to Press Club, a distance of less than 10 kms, took nearly two hours. How I LOVE this city! L Am I ready to move out, you ask? Hell no! Not yet, this place has that effect on you.

The above pic is of the view I had from my room at the resort. The second is taken from the plane, amazing na? I love this one, so amazing is the Earth and everything in the universe.


As I begin to write this, several quotes about traveling come to my mind. Travel is all that and more to me. It is a therapy at times, the pull of that open road in front of me is too strong to resist, despite the pitfalls. Being a journalist gives me all the more reason to travel, though I must admit, the chances are not often as I would like them to be.

Traveling on work has lost its charm though, not that the next time it comes up, I will pass. In the nearly one year that I have been working as a business correspondent, I have traveled to several cities, some that I had never been too, some familiar haunts. One thing I have realized is that all the metros look the same, another reason why I hate globalization. All the cities have the branded stores, the Baristas, Coffee Days, the beggars, the swanky offices, the squares, the malls. The result, MG Road in Pune looks like Commercial Street in Bangalore that reminds you of Banjara Hills in Hyderabad that could pass off for Connaught Place that is quite similar to whatever is the equivalent in Mumbai and Chennai. If you ask me, cities have lost their charm altogether, there is absolutely nothing that distinguishes one from the other. Not even the language these days, no thanks to IT and the rest of all that is not too right with the world.

I sound cynical. I am. I hate the way cities are losing their character. Just for arguments sake you could say that Mumbai has its dabba-wallahs and Dharavi, Delhi its Parliament House, cheap clothes and Dilli Haat and Bangalore its weather and all that. But if you were to be taken, blind folded, to some city, deposited in the middle of the teeming traffic or taken to the hip area and asked to identify it, chances are that you would only be able to try guessing. I hate the way you get lac bangles at every souvenir store, the way you can buy Karachi biscuits everywhere. I loathe to realise that I can not take back any souvenir from any city, I might as well buy them at convenience in another city, maybe for a slightly higher place.

I like tradition and nostalgia, I do not think they are in any way a hindrance to development. I have a list of things that I wish had not changed with the world, they include writing letters, meeting friends physically and other simple things. I have just added the lack of joy in traveling to a city to that list.