Time For Another Adventure Through Space And Time

I’ve exhausted all my money on “budget-friendly” holidays this summer but have still not a made a dent on the colossus that is my Wanderlust. The time is ripe for another N-N-1, an opportunity to see various parts of the world for FREE!

For the uninitiated, N-N-1 is the brainchild of one of my best friends Norm Houseman who blogs over at Classical Gasbag. The genius idea (some would say I only think that cause he’s one of my favourite people, but those people would be wrong #hatersgonnahate) is an attempt to see through the lens of the blogosphere where they are at that moment, whatever they are doing.

Simply put, bloggers from all over the world take a photo on a select date and time, whatever timezone they are in. The result is a magnificent online kaleidoscope of postcards that I am quite frankly addicted to.

You can find some of our older N-N-1 masterpieces by clicking on the link.

If you want to participate, please take a photo on SEPTEMBER 1st 2018 at 5:00pm YOUR LOCAL TIME. Send me the photo along with a 100 -200 word ‘caption’ to labyrinthiroam at gmail dot com within a week and I will publish it.

Feel free to ask me any questions you may have about it, and to also invite any of your friends who you think might be interested!

Good luck! Bonne Chance! Viel Glück! Sterkte! Buona fortuna! Selamat Maju Jaya! Bahati njema! Buena suerte! And so on!

 

Books on Trains – The Bangkok BTS!

I have been used to spending a minimum of 3 hours on the road from my university days. And this is not in the good ‘stare out in a melancholic stupor while the rain makes pretty patterns on the window’ sort of commute. It was hell on the road, breathing in carbon fumes,cigarette smoke and the stench of sewage mixed with sweat and breathing out the most innovative curse words known to man. Riding the scooter is not as fun as the Italian movies make it out to be.

Scootering
Damn you Vespas!

Sometimes the nightmare scenes would have music playing through earphones. This was cut short because of how unpredictable traffic was in Bangalore and how quickly people move from the right of the “lane” on to the footpaths. That’s not to say that all of my life’s commuting was nightmarish. There have been moments of great enlightenment. Still, you can imagine that traffic in Bangalore is the 7th level of hell! It really is!

Traffic on the BTS
The only kind of traffic I have to deal with in Bangkok

Since moving to Bangkok though, I’ve rediscovered a love of letting someone else do the driving. They have an elaborate Sky Train and Metro service that connects you to almost all of Bangkok. The BTS is the skytrain system and the MRT is the underground metro system and they teach you a thing of two about life. Having travelled extensively on the London Underground, I find the Bangkok Mass Transit system to be more … laid back.

BTS ChidLom
With views like this, who can resist!

You don’t have men in suits cursing at you if you accidentally stood on the left instead of the right (OH MY GOD IT IS THE END OF THE WORLD) and everyone seems to walk at their own pace so that the heat doesn’t smudge their makeup. I’m all for leisurely strolling and zen like stances so this is a big plus in my book (except when you’re in a rush and are likely to knock down 25 petite women on your way). And while you get crushed in due to the morning rush, you are taller than most people and so can read your book at leisure.

YES, I CAN READ WHILE TRAVELLING. FWORD YEAH!

Doing the dance non-stop!
Doing the dance non-stop!

I cannot understate how amazing it is to be able to carry a book into an air-conditioned carriage and zone out for 20 minutes while you get pulled in to a spectacular story. In London, sight seeing (aka subtly watching Hot Dudes Reading on Trains) was my pastime. Here, the sights are so few (if you count out all the sexy legs strutting around) that you can actually get into reading. I have read more books in the two months I’ve been here than I have in the months coming up to my move!

The Inheritors, William Golding
Current BTS read

I am winning at life!

Okay, enough showing off. What have you been reading lately?

Also, if you have time, check out The Girl Who Wasn’t There and Other Poems on Amazon and give a shout out to my friend Kevin Morris from New Author Online.

Budget Travel – Parks

I went from travelling to England at Rs. 80 to a Pound in 2013 and Rs. 105 to a pound in 2015 so you can imagine just how quickly my savings wiped out and just why currency rates are so important to me. I am not high maintenance and I went to Tanzania with $1000 and made it work for a year (I didn’t earn a single buck when I was there). Luckily for me, I earn quite the good wage now so I’m no longer worried about the Rupee vs the World. However, till the boy gets his first pay-check, we’re living off 1 wage and this causes similar budget constraints that feel way too familiar for me.

Instead of letting that ruin our weekend fun, I remembered a trick I picked up while in the land they call Great. The sheer delight of lying in parks and doing nothing, it’s under-rated. I never realised the value of parks, having so few of them in Bangalore within easy reach. It took me the shock of seeing  shirtless old men (they come out in hoardes when the sun is out) to realise the joy of having grass under your feet. The only difference between them and me, apart from the obvious reasons, was that I enjoyed sitting under the shade of the tree while they basked proudly under the sun.

Here, everyone was in the shade so I didn’t feel like a total weirdo. A couple of cold drinks and we were set for a nice, relaxing evening in the park. And rather than wax on about how peaceful it was and how the breeze just blew the right away, I will let these photos do the talking. After the park, we went to the water garden at Em Quartier (the poshest mall in the world!). We had spectacular views of the Bangkok Skyline as well. Ladies and Gentlemen, the Benchasiri Park of Bangkok (Directions: Get off at the Phrom Phong BTS station et voila!) and The Water Garden at Em Quartier (Directions: Right opposite the park) Budget – 35 Baht for two drinks.

P.S. There are turtles and moustachioed fish in the murky water. They, apparently, like bread and corn puffs.

Turtles in Benchasiri Park, Bangkok
See? Turtles
Benchasiri Park Bangkok
The aforementioned park
Em Quartier
A giant dog terrorizing puny humans! (Art Installation at Em Quartier)
Em Quartier Bangkok
Sheep Seats (Art Installation at Em Quartier)
Em Quartier Bangkok
Side profile of Giant Dog 🙂
Em Quartier Bangkol
Inside the World’s Poshest Mall, Em Quartier!
Benchasiri Park, Bangkok
Benchasiri Park and the view of Em Quartier from the park!
Water Garden, Em Quartier
View of the Park from Em Quartier
Bangkok BTS
Bangkok Skyline and BTS
Em Quartier
The Water Garden
Bangkok
Bangkok Skyline
Em Quartier
Art Installation at Em Quartier
Benchasiri Park
Selfie Time!

We spent the rest of the evening in the pool – which, if you’re renting a condo in Bangkok is part of the deal = FREE! YAY! Hope you’ve had a great weekend as well!

Wisdom in a Traffic Jam

I often get caught in instalments of traffic jams. I pass through relatively free areas but there are pockets in between work and home that I’m stuck in for ages. I don’t often mind, I have my music to keep going. And when I’ve had enough of that, there are funny bumper stickers to read. Sometimes there are art installations that just magically appear around random street corners.

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Roman Soldier with missing bust carrying a blackboard saying “No Fuck” on the Outer Ring Road

Last evening, while in one of these Bangalore traffic stops, I heard an auto-guy saying “What do we need money for?” in perfect English. Taking it as a sign that I was meant to listen, I turned off my music and peered into what turned out to be very eloquently spoken wisdom. I got a glimpse into my very own TED Talks on the street.

A very well spoken auto guy was giving life advice to his passenger –

“We go through all our lives hoarding and hoarding and hoarding. What for? You see that dog across the street? He has 6 children. To take care of them, he needs Rs. 3000 per child and this is just for the first litter. That’s a total of Rs. 18000 a month. He doesn’t earn that much and yet he is able to nurture them, take care of them, feed them and keep them safe. So why are we, as a species, such greedy creatures? Isn’t spending time with your family more important than cooking up ways to evade income tax? Isn’t doing something you feel passionately about more important than your market value? Happiness is more important than hoarding cash we don’t even use. Buying the latest phone is more important than creating memories with the people we love. When life throws problems at us, we sell out. We are afraid to take any leaps. Forget adventure, use your common sense they say. If common sense meant I should follow societies idea of what success means, then I wouldn’t be sitting here, driving an auto, travelling through Bangalore with a smile on my face. Sometimes I wonder how we screwed up our priorities so bad and how we continue to be blind and just go on living life following the same routines that we followed last year”

It amazes me how you can learn more in the 2 minutes you’re stuck in a jam than you could do in your 3 year degree course!

Highway to Hell and Back

I always seem to have convenient excuses for not writing. So before I get on to it, let me list the great things that have happened to me over the past month.

1. I got a new phone – the elusive MI3.

An Indian company, Flipkart, bought up limited stock and then created around it some of sort of virtual Black Friday sort of scheme where the phones would only be on sale on Tuesdays, at 2pm and if you didn’t register and didn’t click ‘buy’ at the opportune moment, all the phones would be sold out in 2.5 seconds. A colleague of mine was one of the lucky guys who bought the phone. When we were all out for a team dinner, I jokingly said that the next time the sale was on, he should buy me one. Next thing I know, I’m the proud owner of the fanciest phone that has graced my inner circle. What do I do first? I get on Instagram (something I vowed I would never do!). But now I have a WordPress app as well so I can do small posts when they come to me. Too ambitious?

2.  I got a huge pay hike!

Explains why I could afford that phone in the first place! This also means I have to grow up and deal with the dreaded income tax department.

3. The boy is moving HERE!

He said I should allow him to experience my culture and my city the way I immersed myself in his. Don’t tell him I said this but something about that was so romantic, I couldn’t say no. Every other decision we make after this, we will do together and that is what truly excites me. Apart from the obvious societal annoyances of – “how can you live together pre marriage” and “oh he’s a white boy, let me charge him a billion rupees for something that costs 10”, of course!

Now on to the big news of how I got hit by a drunk driver on my way back from work. I ride a moped and this jackass took a U-turn on a huge road without any indication that he was about to turn. I saw him coming from the corner of my eye and so I swerved to avoid him therefore surviving and un-survivable accident. But my bike was completely totalled.

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I think what annoyed me most about it was that I had to pick myself up. Then the guy walks up to me, steals my keys and threatens to hit me. He didn’t expect that I knew the language and would lash out back at him. He threatened to take me to the cops (pointing in the opposite direction of where the station was). I told him my station was in the other direction and that we should go immediately. He changed the topic and said I was on the phone while riding. He smelt like cheap liquor.

There were a tonne of auto drivers on the road who snatched the keys back from him and told me to drive away as fast as I could. I didn’t want to leave but in that state, I did. The minute I got home, I told my parents and brother (who were at home for once). We wrote down our complaint, drove to the station, filed an FIR. It was the eve of our Independence Day and despite it being busy, the cops were really helpful.

Anyway, long story short they caught the car (the driver is absconding) and they have paid in part to fix my bike. I will spare you photos of my injury but everything is okay now and my bike runs smoothly and looks better than it has ever looked before.

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In other news, the Ganesha (Elephant God) festival has been going on in full swing. Loads of statues lighting up the whole place, happy people dancing – festival season in India is always such a treat. I went to a friends house and while standing on his 5th floor balcony, saw a Ganesha Statue rising in the dark as if to bless his devotees. It was a surreal experience.

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And if you haven’t made plans to visit Bangalore yet, here’s a good reason – it looks SO pretty in the rain!

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Hope you have all been well!