My failed visit to Paris in 2016 and Schengen VISA

Today I started re-reading Ms Pallavi Aiyer’s book on Europe “Punjabi Parmesan”. She starts by sharing her anxiety and feeling of being treated second-class as she waits with a blue passport (Indian) in the queue at immigration in Brussels while her Spanish husband and baby boy sailing through the area with their maroon (Spain) passports. This reminded me of one of the many incidents I have had with applying for VISA or the experiences I have faced at the immigration counters in a foreign airport. The below incident happened to…

The art of slow travel

This year-end many of us have cancelled our vacation travels. Let me help you. Join me in this 30-minute talk on “SLOW TRAVEL”. I believe, when you (are finally able to) travel it is important to be comfortable, observe the places, stop and smell the roses on the way. Then take a few good pictures for memory and to enjoy the local food and culture. I call this as “Lazy Travel”. It is about not hurrying to finish the items in your checklist, certainly not about camping or long stays,…

Trip to Ooty in 1995

Going through my photo albums, I found old pictures of a trip I went in 1995, during my college days with classmates. It was a 4-day trip to Ooty and Bangalore, we went by train from Chennai to Mettupalayam and from there we took the famous Nilgiri Mountain Railway, which in 2005 was awarded as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. On return, we went to Coonor, then went by a private bus to Bangalore from where we caught another train to Chennai. Going through the 1995 photos, I recollected my…

Trip to Rajasthan in 1992

It was 1992, I had written my senior secondary school (12th Standard) exams and was interested to do Engineering for my under-graduation. I was an average student, so the IITs and Government colleges were out of reach for me. Anyways, I wrote a few of the competitive exams for the peer-pressure and to tell my parents and teachers that I did try, but I was unlucky to get through. One such entrance exam I wrote was for “Delhi College of Engineering”. The real reason was that me and a friend…

Free Virtual Tour of Egyptian Heritage Sites

Like many others, I wish to travel to Egypt to see the great pyramids and the tombs. Egypt Tourism has created 3D virtual walkthroughs (Smithsonian Magazine article) of a few of their historic sites. Today, I visited (virtually) two: the tombs of Meresankh III and elite Egyptian official Menna. It was a fantastic experience. The drawings and the carvings, which are over 4000 years old are still bright and colourful, are simply breathtaking. It takes a few minutes to understand how to navigate them the virtual space with the mouse,…