Are you Travel ready?

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Hi to all who came across this blogpost and wondering what do i mean by Are you Travel ready? Everyone is travel ready then why this question? Well through this blogpost, I wanted to tell people what all things one should carry while travelling. If you are a travel enthusiast and have travelled alot, you can contribute to my post by adding things which I may have missed. If you are travelling for the first time and a little confused about the things you should carry then this post is for you.

Its always good to have a checklist before you start packing. Few things which I always carry are:

  1. Toiletries:
    • Toothbrush, tongue cleaner and toothpaste (smallest available pack)
    • Facewash (smallest available pack)
    • Showergel (smallest available pack)
    • Shampoo (smallest available pack)
    • Face towel
  2. Sanitary napkins (a must for female travellers)
  3. Make up and make up remover
  4. Thread and needle (i always have this in my bag)
  5. Scissor
  6. Eateries :
    • A bowl, spoon, fork, a coffee mugReady to eat packets (mostly cup noodles, cornflakes)Biscuits and some snacks
  7. Undergarments (quite obvious)
  8. Use and throw panties — incase the hotel does not have laundry (which is not possible now a days) or the laundry is too expensive
  9. Essential clothings
  10. Power bank
  11. Camera and its accessories (plus extra batteries and memory cards)
  12. Laptop (the most important)

Alma mater

When was the last time you visited college??

I visited my grad school after eight long years. You won’t believe how excited I was. All the memories were flashing in-front of my eyes. 

I don’t know from where to start. Let me start from the beginning 🙂 

After my 12th board, I wanted to go for engineering because 

  1. Bhaiya did engineering 
  2. I thought it was really cool to stay away from parents so I would be free to do anything at anytime and no one will say a word to me.
  3. I never had an insight of what I should do with my career so engineering was an easy option. The only thing I knew was I have to study something in order to get a job!

I took a year gap to prepare for engineering entrance exams. I could not clear IIT JEE and AIEEE obviously as I was never focused. Also, because I was preparing for the above stated (1, 2, 3) reasons and didn’t really want to do engineering. In that respect, I really admire darling sister. She was focused since 9th grade about her career, what she wanted to study, from which university and where would she like to start her career from (as in which company, what job etc.). Everything was clear to her. And she made sure she was always on right track towards her dream job. 

Coming back to me now, I got some rank in Orissa Jee and was called for counselling in August-September. Meanwhile, my parents decided I should not sit idle and waste another year in order to wait for the Orissa Jee result. They suggested me to apply in the colleges for basic science / arts / vocational courses. Well, even then I had my own tantrums. I didn’t want to study “Arts”. Seriously!!! Yes, I said that. Because, again, I was not sure what would I do by doing “Arts”. 

Other colleges would take admission on the basis of marks obtained in 12th board exam but St. Xavier’s College used to take entrance test for all the branches. I gave admission test for Mathematics and Physics. I wanted to take Maths, particularly, only because Papa was a masters in maths. I never liked Physics because of the teacher who taught physics in school and, chemistry was always so confusing that I really never understood. 

The physics teacher in school had once told me that I would never do anything in my life. I will sit at home and will spend my dad’s money. Yes! That’s what he said. He made that comment only because I did an experiment wrong during our practical sessions. In spite of encouraging students to excel, he was discouraging me. I was so disappointed with his comment that I started crying. That’s why I never liked physics! 

Unfortunately or fortunately, I cleared Physics entrance in St. Xavier’s college for Bachelors degree. My name was on the third list. I was really horrified with the fact that I will be studying physics. Will I be able to understand what they teach? What if the professors in college were like my school physics teacher? What if I flunk in exams? So many things were going in my head. But, then, I thought these classes/lectures are temporary because I was secretly waiting for the Orissa Jee counselling. It was first day of the college, and I reached college an hour before the lecture time. I am the kind of person who prefers to be on time or before time. 

College campus
College campus

For an hour I was just roaming around in the department, going through the noticeboard where there was the  admission list. I got a chance to look at it to know who all will be attending lectures with me. I got my eyes on the anti-raging notices saying ‘senior students are not allowed to rag the fresher, in case of any ragging complaints the student will be suspended for that semester’, the syllabus for first semester, attendance notice warning students if they fail to achieve 80% attendance then they wont be allowed to sit in the semester exams, and previous semester’s result list among other things. After doing time pass for one hour it was time for me to attend my first lecture. I was getting goosebumps and exactly the same feeling as Lucky gets in the movie Main Hoon Na, when he visits his college library first time ever.

The first lecture was taken by Prof Dipankar Dey (DDey sir we used to call him), head of Physics department. I really didn’t know at that time who he was until one of the students sitting next to me told that he’s the HOD. He took the lecture of Mathematical Physics. He made that session so interesting that my hatred for physics vanished in the very first lecture. 

After the first lecture, I thought there won’t be any more lectures. But we had all the scheduled lectures. I had an impression that normal colleges would not be regular in terms of classes and students would be more free to roam around. But I was wrong. St. Xavier’s college, being an autonomous institution, was very strict in terms of lectures and discipline. With each passing day, I started enjoying physics. I didn’t make much friends because I thought I was there for some time only. By the time my Orissa JEE counselling came, I had already attended two months of college and got busy with the assignments and practical stuffs. 

I went for my Orissa JEE counselling. My turn was in second half of the day, but there was a big screen where we could see the seats filled in different colleges. Till the time my turn came to fill the form for the desired college and branch, almost all the seats in good colleges were filled. I had two options: Engineering from some random college in a branch which i never thought of or Physics from St Xavier’s College. I was just thinking during the whole counselling process and was discussing with Papa about future plans. Then all of a sudden I stood up and asked Papa to come with me. He somehow sensed my decision. The only thing he said was lets wait for your turn but since I was not ready to sit, we came out in the middle of the counselling. The only thing Papa asked was whether I was sure about it? Would I not regret later? I confidently said I won’t regret. I came back to Ranchi with a happy heart. Next day I went to college and everything seemed so good. I sat with new girls and became friends with them (Ankita, Rafia and Spriha). For the next three years, these three girls and I were inseparable. We would come to the college together, sit together on first bench, would prepare for semester exams together. I made other friends also from my department as well as from other departments. But these girls were special. Mummy would pack lunch for me and she would ensure she packed something new for me everyday. After the lectures in college I would ensure I reach home on time and get back to study. No roaming around in college after lectures. Sometimes after college if we would want to spend time together then either they would come to my place or I would go to there place but no hanging around outside. No movie, no birthday treat in restaurants, no shopping, nothing. It was not that our parents would restrict us from all these things, it was just that I wanted to spend more of my time in figuring out what next. Three years passed in a blink without realizing when and how. It felt like yesterday I was there in the college as a fresher and today I was an alumni. But I was somehow happy that college got over and I got admission in NIT Rourkela for Masters in Physics. I was more happy because of the option 2 I stated in the beginning of the post. 

After a few days Mummy moved to Kolkata with Papa and after a few months of their stay there, they moved to Mumbai. After completing my masters, I came back to Mumbai. I got a job in Mumbai and then in Bangalore. I never went back to Ranchi after my graduation.Two years back Mummy Papa moved to Jamshedpur. Since we are now working professionals, our vacations depends upon manager’s yes/no and if there is any important deadline to meet. With all these things my frequency of visiting home has reduced to twice / thrice a year. For some it may be sufficient but I feel if I could visit home more often. 

There are two ways to go Jamshedpur from Bangalore: a) take flight to Ranchi and from Ranchi take bus/cab to Jamshedpur, b) take flight to Kolkata and from there they can catch a train to Jamshedpur. Till last year I was taking route b. Only this time I thought of going home via Ranchi. This is the less tiring route. I have decided that from now on I would take this route only. After spending a few days in Jamshedpur, it was time for me to be back to work. Since my flight was from Ranchi, I decided to go a little early and meet a very dear friend (Rishabh) who got engaged just a day before. Due to some function at my place I could not attend his engagement. Rishabh is an Art of Living student and Geologist by profession.

Rishabh and I
Rishabh and I

We decided to meet at college. I was really excited to go back to college and see how much the college has changed. I was also excited to be back in Ranchi after 8 long years. I got down from bus and took a cycle rickshaw to college. Every single thing took me back to the time spent during the year 2000 – 2010. It reminded me of so many things. Going to Papa’s office, shopping with Mummy Papa in church complex, spending summer vacation at Tripathi uncle’s place, eating ice cream at Firayalal, going to wool house or Kashmir vastralaya with Mummy during winters because she would knit sweaters for us, that New Lords tailor where Papa would give his shirt and pair of trousers to get stitched, Punjab sweets from where we would buy sweets, Hanuman Mandir where Mummy would take me to every Tuesday, Daily market where I used to go with Mummy on Sundays to buy fresh vegetables. I don’t remember when was the last time I had cycle rickshaw ride so I ensured I get on one of them. Later I realised I was smiling like an idiot. 

Church complex
Church complex

With all the memories flashing in front of me I reached college. I didn’t see much crowd in the college maybe because of exams or maybe because of summer vacation. The college has changed a lot but the scooty stand and Xerox counter is still the same. The very first change I noticed was the auditorium, they have named the auditorium in the loving memory of late Father C De Brouwer. He was an inspiration. The second change that I noticed was they have changed the library entrance. The college has expanded and new buildings were there. Construction is still going on. Now they have new building for Arts, Humanities and Mass Communication. The boundary wall between the old St John’s school and our college is no more as the college has taken that part of the school. Some departments have been shifted to St John’s school premises. The chapel has been renewed and shifted to a new place. Earlier the chapel used to be open for students also. In fact, darling sister has been to chapel. But the year I joined college they closed chapel for students as they found that students were missing the lectures and doing time pass in chapel. The old canteen has been renewed. And the new canteen has a playing area too. They have kept indoor games also. The owner of old canteen now sits near the St John’s school premise. After roaming around in the college for one hour we decided to sit in the canteen. It was then I realised that in my three years in college I never visited canteen. When I confessed this to Rishabh he said you missed the fun. He, then, started telling me about the time he spent in college canteen, about his elections and college fest. While he was telling me his stories of college canteen, the only thing that was coming to my mind was – can I just go back to my college days? In order to focus on studies and career I somehow missed enjoying the college life!! 

Me
Just outside the college canteen. Happy me!

It’s very important to enjoy every phase of life without getting stressed out for the future. Be focused towards your goal and dreams but don’t forget to enjoy the present. With this, Baba Nimisha Kashyap is signing off with a hope to write another blog post soon.

 

Kodaikanal

I had a chance to visit this beautiful place in Tamilnadu with my girlfriends. We were a group of five girls from Bangalore. Before going to Kodaikanal we planned our trip, as in how much budget do we have, where would we want to stay, how would we like to travel, etc. Since all five of us were busy in office we decided to split the planning so that everyone has an equal amount of job to be done and no one is overloaded with the planning.

Since I have been travelling a lot, I decided to travel cheap this time so that I can save some money for my upcoming trips. I have always travelled in an AC bus, never tried non-AC bus for such a long distance. This time we decided to travel in a non-AC bus for a different kind of experience. We booked a non-AC bus with KPN travels from redbus.in. My experience with KPN travels was not great so I would not suggest it to anyone. They had charging point but it was not working. They don’t provide blanket even for a long-distance journey. No water bottles as well.

On the way to Kodaikanal
On the way to Kodaikanal

We wanted to stay in a cottage in the mid of the hill station to get a feel of the place. After doing a lot of search online, we decided for Pink House. It is in Vattakanal, seven kms from Kodaikanal. We reached Pink House in the morning and I was so mesmerised with the view that I felt my two days’ stay would not be enough to absorb the beauty. It felt as if we were staying amidst the clouds. But one has to climb a few steps (actually a lot) to reach this cottage. There are other cottages also on the way to Pink House. It is located exactly opposite to Altaf’s Cafe. Dolphin’s Nose is quite close to the cottage. The cottages here provide breakfast and dinner on request. In case you want to enjoy bonfire, they will provide you woods for which they charge as well.

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Pink House (view from the entrance), Vattakanal

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Pink House, Vattakanal

The owner / care taker had a dog. The dog’s name is Luci and she had a cute baby too :-). Both the pets were very friendly. It was fun playing with them.

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Luci

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Luci’s baby

After getting fresh, we had our breakfast (which was prepared by the owner / care taker of the cottage), we headed towards Pine Tree forest. Our cab driver was also our tour guide.  After Pine Tree forest, we headed towards Pillar’s Rock. It was disappointing. When we went there the place was covered with fog and we were unable to see the Pillar’s Rock. They have entry fee also and we felt our money was wasted as we could not see anything. Maybe it was a bad day for us to visit the place. There is a small market outside Pillar’s Rock. One can explore the market. The shops had many handmade toys, chocolates, essential oils, coffee and tea powder and other decorative items. I bought homemade chocolates from there and it was yummy 🙂

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Pine Tree Forest

After exploring the market near Pillar’s rock, we went to Sheep farm. Well, even that was a disappointment. The place was stinking and i could only see rabbits in the cage. Sheeps were having fodders at a distant place where we were not allowed to go. From that farm, we could see one lake and my friends wanted to go there.

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View from Sheep’s farm

So from the farm we went to Mannavur lake (it’s exactly opposite to Sheep’s Farm). At first I was a little skeptical to go because I was tired and I could not see the lake at all. One has to walk a kilometer or two to reach the lake, the weather was sunny and above all we were hungry. My friends somehow convinced me to walk down to the lake.

After a good walk, we reached the lake. The location was beautiful, I forgot I was tired and hungry. I sat calmly on a bench and was absorbing the beauty of the place. It was serene, I just wanted to be there. I could see people boating, some people sitting quiet and enjoying the nature, some like my friends, who were busy taking selfies and photos. After a while I also joined them in taking photos and getting clicked.

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Boating in Mannavur Lake

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Mannavur Lake View

After spending an hour at Mannavur lake, we decided to take a break and grab some food. There was a small tea stall near Mannavur lake entrance but we wanted to have lunch so we didn’t stop there. Our cab driver took us to a small restaurant. By the time we reached there, the lunch was almost over. We had biryani (biryani is always a savior). All of us were tired and it was getting dark so we decided to go back to our cottage. The cab driver dropped us near Altaf’s Cafe and left for the day.

After taking rest for a while we decided to visit Altaf’s Cafe. This cafe is famous in Vattakanal. The cafe was full and we couldn’t find a seat for ourselves.

We went to a nearby cafe and had some snacks and coffee. The distant city lights from the cafe was looking like a sky full of stars. We asked the care taker / owner of the cottage to prepare dinner for us and asked them for woods for bonfire. We had dinner by the bonfire and after that we called it a day.

Next day we woke up with a beautiful sunrise. Trust me I have never seen such a beautiful sunrise in my life so far. We got ready for Dolphin’s Nose. I would suggest you to visit this place early in the morning when the sun is not that bright. Also, wear a pair of shoes as you would have to walk for some 20-30mins.

The view from Dolphin’s nose was beautiful, it was covered with trees full of greenery. There is a deep valley on the edge of the Dolphin’s Nose. It’s dangerous to go near the edge of the rock. Please avoid going near the edge if you are afraid of heights.

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That’s me trying to go near the edge of the rock while posing @Dolphin’s nose

On the way back to Dolphin’s Nose, there was one more view point – Mountain View. There were small stalls for breakfast, tea and coffee. We had lime juice there to buck up our energy.

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Mountain View

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Mountain View

Now was the time for Vattakanal waterfall. I had read tourist reviews about it and, therefore, kept it for the last place to be visited.

It was cold and knowing the water would also be chilled I was reluctant to go inside the water. But my friends dragged me in. The water was crystal clear and we went inside water till the rocks. The rocks are very slippery, I had a bad fall there. Fortunately, my friends held me back from falling in the water. Of all the waterfalls, we saw in Kodaikanal, Vattakanal waterfall was the best and it had more water than any other waterfalls. There is one more famous waterfall, known as “Liril waterfall”. Apparently, the liril ad was shot there but now this waterfall has very less water.

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Clear water of Vattakanal waterfall

After visiting some more waterfalls, we went to Coaker’s walk. As the name says, this place is more for a walk. This place would be ideal for morning walk or evening walk. They have an entry fee, and they charge for camera separately. Since we were running out of time as we had to catch our bus back to Bangalore, we took a quick walk. Nice scenic view could be seen. They have a small telescope room as well, in case one wants to have a telescopic view (it is NOT free). With coaker’s walk, we ended our trip to Kodaikanal.

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View from Coaker’s walk

Tips:

  1. Carry warm clothes even if you are travelling in summer season (we travelled in the month of May-June and the weather was cold)
  2. Do hotel/cottage and cab booking in advance in order to avoid last-minute rush and price hike.
  3. Make a list of places you would like to visit by doing some search on booking websites (the cab driver may say this place is not good or that place is good according to his convenience).
  4. Don’t forget to carry your camera if you want to capture the beauty of the place.
  5. Carry notebook and pen, in case you want to make a note of the places you visited. We have notepad in the mobile also in case one wants to use that. I would prefer notebook and pen though 🙂
  6. If you are travelling in a group, it’s better to maintain an expense report. Try Splitwise app to split the expenses.

Note: This was my experience. I would love to hear from you all about your experience. Do comment below your experience or leave a link of your story in the comment. 🙂