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

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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

Making Memories 

One of the most precious earnings of life are the relationships that we nurture through the years. 

By accepting, complimenting, encouraging, forgiving, we choose to keep our focus on that which is relevant. By not paying attention to the petty and the temporary we sow seeds for something more lasting.

This photograph is an Ode to my brother and the precious bond he shares with my son. They are both sitting in the ramparts of the Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim, soaking in the chants coming from within and enjoying the atmosphere that only rains in the mountains can create!! 

India…. My storybook. 

From the most basic of kitchens come the most delicious of meals! 

On a recent visit to a small village in East Sikkim called Budan, we had a homestay at the simple abode of one of the villagers. Our presence was celebrated as a big occasion for the whole village and a lot of respect was accorded to us. From the traditional welcome, to the performance of local dances, we enjoyed everything. 

Absolute silence and abundant natural beauty just added to the whole experience. 

In such situations, when city people visit Eco villages and homestays,  the whole village rallies around the family that is the host, providing manpower and help when needed. The status of the family is also elevated. 

The more I travel into the interiors of my country the more clearly I recognise the beauty of the human spirit, it’s desire to please and give respect to other beings. They come from a place of dignity. It is a beautiful and symbiotic relationship…. 

The diversity of India never ceases to amaze. Every corner has stories, told and untold. I am blessed to have the opportunity to read these, one page at a time. 😊💕

Tulip Gardens of India 

Tucked away in a breathtaking location in the Northern regions of India, in Srinagar to be precise, lie our Tulip gardens. Their ephemeral beauty can be enjoyed for only the first two weeks of April. 

The space where they grow is visually intimate, the eyes are brought back constantly to the gardens after they reach the mountains that cradle them. 

Definitely worth a visit for anyone who loves nature and flowers!