Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring I

sweet spring is your
time is my time is our
time for springtime is lovetime
and viva sweet love

(all the merry little birds are
flying in the floating in the
very spirits singing in
are winging in the blossoming)

lovers go and lovers come
awandering awondering
but any two are perfectly
alone there's nobody else alive

(such a sky and such a sun
i never knew and neither did you
and everybody never breathed
quite so many kinds of yes)

not a tree can count his leaves
each herself by opening
but shining who by thousands mean
only one amazing thing

(secretly adoring shyly
tiny winging darting floating
merry in the blossoming
always joyful selves are singing)

sweet spring is your
time is my time is our
time for springtime is lovetime
and viva sweet love

- e.e.cummings

Monday, January 10, 2011

Winter II: My my my it's a beautiful world

there was a time, when south america existed in my mind as one big block - to be travelled in one go over a  period of six months or a year somehow. i mean, how often are you going to fly all the way from asia and that too if your grand plan in life is to work for non profit organizations till such time that you can join the ranks of the farming kind? and so, despite my all my complaining about how far the US is from the rest of the world, and how different from what i imagined i'd be doing with my life right now and how i have (almost) no friends close by - dear boy, i am ever so thankful that this is where we live for now.

and so Colombia: a land where coffee legends are created and the whimsical coexists quite naturally with the rest of the world. the once upon a time land of pablo escobar and gabriel garcia marqeuz. a land where time stands still and history is being lived everyday. 

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Winter I: Yet Another Every (woman) Backpacker's Essential Guide to Packing

usually i'm not the sort to even think about packing three whole weeks before the holiday. but then again, this trip's given me butterflies like almost never before. the last time i had this kind of a feeling was right before i left for a whole year of travelling around the mother land. and i was as clueless then about what to take and what to leave behind. no wait, i was worse because as S will happily tell you i actually considered packing ten rolls of toilet paper "just in case." and this when space was a precious precious commodity - my little rucksack was to be equipped for a whole year. 

now i'm a little wiser because for one, i'm not gone for a whole year this time and for another i've done this before - i've learnt the hard way... been stuck without something, overloaded with something else and everything in between. this time, i did some research. i opened a google page, typed in what to pack blah blah blah and sifted through tonnes of useless tips and dos and don't before deciding to screw it all and put my own list down - after all, nothing can substitute experience. so if ever you find yourself with a backpack that needs packing and decide you need help, here is yet another list every seeker of adventure might consult.


1. a single pair of jeans. no matter how tempted you get to pack more remember they're heavy to lug around and take forever to dry so in a nutshell they're high maintenance. but every traveller needs one. they're easy to dress up and can take a lot of wear and tear if you tend to find yourself in situations that need a lot of wear and tear.

2. khakis. they're comfy, easy to clean and dry fast and are good for both warmer weather and colder climes. avoid white. it won't stay that way long. beige, blue or olive green are good colours to go for. 

3. an extra pair of light, quick drying travel pants. most outdoor companies like Northface and Lowe Alpine make these. They're a little more expensive but worth the investment - they'll last you forever and they'll handle almost every traveller situation you'll throw at them. i've travelled a lot without these and now i wonder why.

4. four t-shirts, two nice blouses, a couple of camis and a couple of vests. its easier to carry things that you can dress up and dress down. that way you'll carry fewer things and have more room for whatever you might decide to pick up along the way.

5. always always carry one cardigan or sweater with you. even if you're going somewhere where you think you won't need it. there'll be buses and airplanes with airconditioning and chilly nights have a way of showing up. sometimes, i prefer to carry a hoodie. check the weather before deciding.

6. a good all weather, water-proof, wind-cheater jacket. again, this can be an expensive investment but its money well spent. it'll be a big big help for everything from hiking to late night strolls and if you live somewhere that has horrid winters you'll need this without a vacation too. again i recommend Northface or Lowe Alpine.

7. two dresses and two skirts. dresses are good for unexpected invitations and skirts are comfy, easy and light to pack. its always safer to choose a knee-length for both even if you're used to something else at home. only because you never know all the customs of where you're going to be and in many cities women aren't allowed on religious sites if they aren't dressed appropriately. (i almost missed out on the vatican because of this).

8. Undies. sure you can always wash them. a lot of travel sites advice to pack fewer and wash more often. but the worst thing is being stuck in a land far far away without clean underwear. trust me.  i've been there. pack enough. of course if you're going on a longer trip you'll have to wash them regularly too but pack more than less. and i recommend more good ol' cotton ones and a couple of your whatever makes you feel sexy. 

9. socks. pack a few different types - a few usual thin cotton ones and a few thicker good-for-long-walks ones.

10. Shoes. the eternal dilemma for the backpacker. how many? what kind? i usually tend to take 3 pairs. (a) A good pair of all weather, water proof hiking boots. You might not need a pair of hiking boots if you're not planning on packing in some hiking (i usually tend to). if you're not the hiking type, invest in a good pair of multi-sport shoes. if they're goretex treated nothing like it, if not i definitely recommend making sure they're water-proof. you never know when you'll be thankful they are. merrell usually has a good range to choose from. (b) a pair of flip flops (specially if you're going to be staying at hostels with shared bathrooms) and (c) a comfy to walk in but cute pair of black ballerina flats. they match everything and you can wear them with a dress on a night out or with your jeans. or you can wear them on a day of sight seeing too.

11. a swim suit. i always prefer to be on the safer side and pack a one piece unless i know for sure what the beach culture is where i'm going. and unless of course you're heading solely for beach holiday. 

12. a scarf. simple, easy, multi-purpose and hardly takes up any space. 

other knick knacks i like to take along

1. a camera. i love photography so i tend to pack a film camera with plenty of film. but from now on, i plan to carry a simple point and shoot digital camera as well. 

2. an mp3 player. with the charger. i always always always forget to take the charger along. also since cameras and mp3 players need chargers, a global adapter is quite handy too.

3. a swiss army knife. the boy swears by leatherman. but i disagree. i'm told its a battle as old as the stars. 

4. hand sanitizer and wet wipes.

5. the preferred guidebook for your destination. and another book to read along the way.

6. a notebook and pen. i used to carry a moleskin until i admitted to myself that i actually like bigger journals.

7. a torch.

(all of these i tend to keep in my day pack).

8. a medical kit. with the basics - a small bottle of antiseptic (dettol or the like), cotton swabs, band-aids, something for a headache, cold and fever, an anti-allergic (allegra or something like it), something for a blister, and if you take any special medication be sure to include it. for the past few years i've made on my own first-aid kit. but now living in new york, it's easy to get a first aid kit for travellers from EMS or a regular pharmacy. i just make my own additions. 

9. a pair of spectacles (if you wear any). i also carry two pairs of lenes (monthly disposable ones) and my subscription just in case. 

10. sunglasses (also in the day pack)

11. a water bottle you can keep refilling. its more environmentally friendly and hardly takes up any space

12. sanitary napkins or tampons and liners. you can find these easily in bigger cities anywhere but i feel more comfortable just having some on me. if you need anything additionally, you can always get more. remember to stock up if you're travelling away from cities in to more rural areas at any time.

13. toiletries. the usual suspects shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, face wash, body cream and face cream. you can either just buy the travel sized ones or if you prefer, buy the bottles and pour in whatever you usually use. chapstick, sunblock, tweezers and nail clippers are good to have too. i also tend to carry a small tube of lip gloss, eye liner and mascara. not too much make up but enough if you need a touch. if you prefer to carry more make up, make sure you pick travel friendly sizes.

14. mosquito repellent. i love my desi odomos. it works wonders and even smells good now a days. if you're stuck without odomos and need a substitute try and pick something that has smaller quantities of deet.

15. and last but not the least i always keep some chocolate and/or fruit on me. which you don't have to buy at home of course. but i've been stuck on buses and trains for 12 hours longer than the subscribed time and you never know when you need food.

i like to keep it easy - so apart from my rucksack i take an additional day pack. also i prefer to roll the clothes up and pack them in to ziplock backs before throwing them in. it helps to keep things together, not crushed and makes it easier to find them in the bottomless pit.

phew. that's some list. and of course you'll have your own additions. i know it sounds like a lot of work right now.. but in the end, the packing is only the beginning...

Have you gazed on naked grandeur where there's nothing else to gaze on,
Set pieces and drop-curtain scenes galore,
Big mountains heaved to heaven, which the blinding sunsets blazon,
Black canyons where the rapids rip and roar?
Have you swept the visioned valley with the green stream streaking
through it,
Searched the Vastness for a something you have lost?
Have you strung your soul to silence?
Jack London, The Call of the Wild.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Autumn IV: Let the Games Begin

i need a project. i've got all the time in the world and no particular commitment except an attempted commitment to the gym, which seems to fail at every given chance. so, here's an idea. 26 books, 15 months. not your everyday new york times best selling list, or booker prize nominees. not that i have anything against those.. but usually i find that such books can be read on the side while the rest of life happens. the books i'm talking about are the ones we hear about as the classics, the ones everyone knows are the greats and we all use for some reference or the other and some point or the other, the ones that some people pretend to have read, few actually have and most people (comme moi) aspire to read. and so, here's the list...

1.  Living to Tell the Tale - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
2.  Don Quixote - Miguel de Cervantes
3.  Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
4.  War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
5.  The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald
6.  Slaughterhouse Five - Kurt Vonnegut
7.  Into the Wild - Jon Krakauer
8.  Ulysses - James Joyce
9.  Hamlet - William Shakespeare
10. King Solomon's Mines - Sir H. Rider Haggard
11. Kafka on the Shore - Haruki Murakami
12. Tess of the d'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13. Gone With the Wind - Margaret Mitchell
14. Midnights's Children - Salman Rushdie
15. Lolita - Vladamir Nabokov
16. The Hunchback of Notre Dame - Victor Hugo
17. Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
18. The Sound and the Fury - William Faulkner
19. The Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
20. On the Road - Jack Kerouac
21. Moby Dick - Herman Melville
22. East of Eden - John Steinback
23. The Divine Comedy (all three parts) - Dante Alighieri
24. Another Roadside Attraction - Tom Robbins
25. Walden - Henry David Thoreau
26. Dharma Bums - Jack Kerouac

its quite a mixed bag this list. but here it is... and so... let the games begin.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Autumn III

I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;

And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.

When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire a-flame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And some one called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.

Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Autumn II

dear boy,

you're fast asleep next to me right now in a land far far away... snoring a little bit. (yes, we've had this discussion many times and yes tis true, you do snore).

as i glance at you from the corner of my eye every now and then, i remember all the things that fade away with sunlight. i remember a time when i didn't believe in moments like this. i remember when i snickered at friends who claimed to be in love. i remember how i scoffed at the idea of sharing my bed. i remember comments coated with sarcasm so that they'd make everyone laugh and think me witty instead of letting them see that the cynicism i felt was absolute and ran deep. i remember a carelessness that wore me easily. i remember loneliness, i remember despair, i remember a parched mouth and i remember the taste of cigarettes. 

its getting cold outside now. as we sleep with our window open, we hear the sounds of the world passing us by. and we move in just a little bit closer. and your smell takes hold of me... your perfume left over from the day mixed with a cool september breeze and the first traces of what might become morning breath. and i remember the first night we saw each other. you walk down the cobbled street towards me, i'm smoking my fifth cigarette, a little nervous (but you'll never know that). we recognize each other even though we've never met and as we smile, both a little shy, you give me chocolates. i should have known then how this would end... this moment now was inevitable. but if i had known that then, what would i have done? 

dear boy,

you met me on a brink i didn't even know i was on. you stood there with me and opened a bottle of wine. we sat on the edge of the cliff and let our legs dangle above the whole of the world... oblivious to everything but us. and how wonderful it felt. 

dear boy,

how far we've come since then... so far that moments like this make me catch my breath and open my eyes in wonder. they tickle my toes and make me warm inside. they make me snuggle deeper in to bed, and deeper in to you. through your dream weary landscapes, you turn your body and mould it in to mine... your arms across my stomach and your breath on my ear... gentle lullabies that bring me the promise of sleep at the end of tumultuous thoughts.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Autumn I

i'm recently unemployed, eight kilos heavier than i'd like to be and currently in the process of trying to quit smoking. a regular bridget jones but without the hugh grant boss and the little skirt that could start some steamy not entirely unwanted office romance.(Bridget Jones 2 K 0). 

i feel more and more like a stereotype with every passing day. and this, right here, is my attempt to reverse the process. besides, jumping in the deep end always gives me a kick. problem is, i'm not entirely sure what happens once i jump in... i guess there's only one way to find out eh?