Home Away from Home 😊… Travelogue

Home Away from Home

I wake up in a new city.

With the excitement of traveling alone comes the attendent hours of solitude. No maids to instruct, no door bells to attend to, no one to ask for advice or permission, no dogs to walk, just you, on your own, in a strange place.

I make small forays into the neighbourhood. Observing flora and fauna and humans too. On this round earth, from one side to another, so much variety and colour exists. Differences are apparent but daily issues seem similar.

Multi-tasking, rushing, finding quiet time to read under the shade of a tree, these seem familiar, universal tasks.

The window seat becomes my favorite spot. From here I observe life, without being in it.

The kids playing soccer after school hours are a delight to watch. So much energy and joy!

When a sudden shower takes them by surprise there is a collective whoop of joy and the game becomes even more boisterous, I smile from my perch, kids! I tell you 😊

I make my own bed when I travel. It gives me a sense of home. It helps to keep me grounded and focused… It tells me no matter how disconnected my day might be, I have a place to rest and to connect with myself. It is here that I read late into the night and sleep with the side lamp still on, it is here that I fill my journal, and crawl back into, with my morning cup of tea. It’s an important space, almost as important as the temporary work station I create by pushing furniture around (much to the horror of the staff😬)!

“Home is where one wakes up.”
A song once stated…Even if it isn’t, there is a strong urge to make the journey a more meaningful one 🌸😊

#travelogues #thoughts #AVagabondinWashington

On the Rhododendron Trail❤️

From a forest
Of Rhododendron
I pick
A blossom or two… ❤️

Travelling around the Uttrakhand Himalayas during the month of April can result in a different experience.

This is the season when theforest trees are aflame with the gorgeous Rhododendron flower.

These trees have crooked, dark brown trunks and the blossoms are bunched I. A size larger than a man’s fist….and they are in the millions!

It’s a sight worth seeing and it will be unforgettable for life 😊❤️

A Little Cafe in Dehradun

Nestled amongst trees and flowering pots is a cute Cafe in #Dehradun, a small hill town on the foothills of the Himalayas. It’s called Cafe de Piccolo.

There is something about white, reclining garden chairs on a semi-winter morning that beg a person to stop whatever they are doing and take a coffee break, or in my case, a hot chocolate one 🍵😊.

The Cafe boasts of an interesting homemade menu, that is at once healthy and delicious.

People stop here from all parts of this small town and also travellers on their way to or from Mussoorie, a neighboring hill station popular with people living in the plains.

If quaint, clean, places attract you then this could be on your itinerary when I. Dehradun and on Rajpur Road 😊❤️

Book Shopping… Shop Hopping 

This is the Kids Corner at Wentworth and Leggett bookstore in Durham, North Carolina, where I am visiting and doing the rounds of all the bookstores I can.

I loved the ancient whole tree trunk pillars. The texture is smooth and stunning to look at. The whorls and waves are as interesting as the unusual variety of books they stock!

You can sit down and lean against the trunk of a tree surrounded by books! I bet that is the stuff most of our book dreams are made of😁!

I touched a trunk and held my ear to it and it was like holding a seashell to the ear… There were tales it was longing to tell. Stories it had heard over the years and absorbed into its very grain, like every good listener does…. 😊

Most of the bookstores I visited are spread out and luxurious with interiors redolent with old book fragrance. There is seating that is soft and welcoming, music that makes you want to tap your feet as you browse.

It’s a beautiful experience to see bookshops thriving and shelves loaded with so much that one has never seen before!

#durhamdiaries #travel #travelogues #bookedandhooked

Run in Haste, Repent at Leisure… 😊 Travelogue 

Run in Haste, Repent at Leisure

I overslept.

As I came to my senses, the first thing that crossed my mind was, “Breakfast!!!”

Those who choose ‘Breakfast Complimentary’ while booking a hotel, know what I mean 😊.

With the threat of a deadline looming large and the vivid images of empty buffet tables, I rushed to the food zone, grabbing only my room key, a shawl and slippers. I could bring my tray up and then become presentable, I reasoned. How wrong was I!

As the lift opened into the lobby, every chair was taken by neatly turned out senior citizens, waiting to check out.

All eyes turned to the elevator by way of entertainment… And boy… Did they get some! There they sat, in their Khaki and Blues, moccasins and berets, a casual jacket hanging on the chair…. And here I was, PJ’s and Kholapuris, checkered shawl and odd shirt, hair tied into a hasty Bun, that was still crackling with an odd static that had energised it since my landing. All stray hair were defying gravity and pointing heavenward. 😁

Quizzical looks were being shared between cool pastel eyes, aquamarine looked at sea green and hazel at powder blue. They must have wondered if an ‘Emergency Evacuation’ button had been pressed that their hearing-aids had failed to detect.

I mustered the courage and stepped out, a bright smile plastered on my face. I picked up the last remaining tray, placed the last remaining banana on it. I made a gooey oatmeal concoction and a cocktail of all remaining cereals. I also picked up two yogurts instead of one, just to show them!

As I turned to wait for the lift, that obviously took forever to come, I could again feel my back being pierced by sundry pastel eyes. I took a deep breath and relaxed my shoulders whilst tightening my grip on the tray, after all, having it fall here would be the final nail on my proverbial, ‘dignity coffin’!

The elevator pinged. I readied myself to step in with as much grace as possible …but couldn’t.

There was a lift load more, waiting to disembark 🙄. I moved to the side and was once again the recipient of some amused appraisal.

Finally, I reached my room with my breakfast safe and wholesome and my dignity in tatters!

I peeped from my window to see their coach arrive. As they waddled out in single file, a line crossed my mind…

“What you think is your greatest embarrassment is but a momentary entertainment for another… “

That gave me some hope and a new resolve…

To never sleep in mismatched clothes again! 😀😂

Travel Tango 😊

My room overlooks a parking lot. It fills up gradually during the day and empties out in the evening. At both times, if I am in my room, I have a mug of tea in my hands.

My room also overlooks a half-way home for people recovering from addiction. When I cross this home during my evening walk, I see a face peering out sometimes. A stranger fighting battles, scarred and scared. When our eyes meet he lets the curtain fall back slowly and disappears.

I walk along my way, treading on strange streets with names like Elf, Elba and Erwin. A far cry from Khel Gaon, Balbir Saxena or Mandi Gaon. Yet walk, I do. In walking I realise just how much the body craves routine. So I start my day with some yoga. The gentle stretching seems to soothe the tired muscles and makes me more aware of what’s happening inside my body. The ankles seem strained, the neck could do with a gentle massage. The hair is crying out for a good wash with its favourite shampoo, the nostrils want a whiff of elaichi and ginger chai, even if its premixed.

Outside my shut door, I hear a family walk down the aisle. Little children scampering, chatting in foreign accents. A mother with a patient voice, a tone that is universally understood.

Travelling pushes me into unfamiliar situations and I am always curious about my reactions to them. Missed flights, lost baggage, endless queues for immigration when one only wants to move on…. Ending up with Uber drivers who tell their amazing stories of leaving behind wars and families, of starting over in alien nations with no way to communicate, no familiar face, no welcoming hugs. Total isolation, yet a strange will to never give in and never give up. In front of these stories I have nothing to say or add.

My last Uber driver was from Sudan. 

He asked me about how many colours Indians came in! Having observed a great variety of them. I told him that we came in all the colors that coffee can be made in 😊. We chatted about his time in the US and he spoke about his dream of clearing his citizenship exam so that he could go back home and marry the girl his father had selected for him. He said by Sudanese standards he was already quite old. At which point I asked him his age. ‘Thirty-Eight,’ he replied. 

‘Whats yours?’ I pretended to look shocked and told him one never asks a woman her age. We both laughed and he told me that I was being very clever in not answering 😁

Then he asked me my name, which I gave him promptly and when I asked him his, he refused, saying that now we were equal! 

Oh, how we laughed! Two strangers in a cab, connected by peals of laughter. Before I left, he yelled out, ‘Mohammed!’ 

And I waved back at him and said, ‘I feel eighteen!!’

#travel #travelogues #durhamdiaries