Wadi Rum and the Bedouin way of life

From the minute you reach the visitors center in Wadi Rum village, you will feel like you have time travelled back to the past when life wasn’t in such a hurry. The Bedouins are laid back to an extent where you with your crazy sense of time and punctuality (which comes from the machine-like existence that city life enforces) might think they don’t seem to be eager enough to extend an enthusiastic welcome. What you might not realize is that your hosts are just being themselves. It’s time for you to relax.

The Bedouin way of life has changed over a period of time with Wadi Rum becoming a major tourist attraction but at the very core, things haven’t changed that much. Though he makes more than what his family needs by catering to a constant stream of guests from around the world visiting his property nestled in the shadow of one of the many sandstone hills that dot Wadi Rum, my host Zedane spent time tending his sheep every morning after making sure the guests had had their tea and breakfast. He, like all the other locals, had managed to hang on to a life that was all that he had known when he was a little boy.

This photo was shot after I had climbed up and settled atop one of the hills to soak in the warmth of the morning sun and I saw Zedane with his sheep. The frame seemed to capture everything that Wadi Rum was about. I could see the sandstone mountains in the horizon, the red desert sand laid out in front of me and the simple Bedouin way of life, all in one shot.Wadi Rum and a Bedouin tending sheep

 

*During my time at Wadi Rum, I stayed at the Bedouin Meditation Camp for 2 nights. I would highly recommend this camp to everyone who plans on travelling to Wadi Rum especially for the great hospitality and warmth that Zedane (the owner) and his sons extended to me. I booked my stay through the Booking.com website but you can also contact the camp site through their website – www.wadirumbedouinmeditationcamp.com

Fort Kochi, Street Art & A New Dimension.

A city, like the people who call it home, needs to develop, evolve and grow with changing times. Now, if you have been following the Indian political soap opera (leading to the 2014 Mahabharata/Elections) and believe that the only meaning of ‘development’ would be to have beautifully tarred pothole free roads for miles and glass matchbox buildings lining them, this post might end up disappointing you!

Kerala has been progressive for ages now in its own way and the most enriching aspect of this was that the state acknowledged the importance of its rich heritage, both natural and man-made, and made protecting it a part of its developmental plan. A state that has been a forerunner in making the most of its resources and teaching the rest of India a lesson or two in tourism management, Kerala is known for its dense forests, pristine beaches and a unique cultural heritage. Every tourist who has had the opportunity to visit God’s Own Country (a moniker that most would agree is apt), has been lured by the promise of experiencing nature and cultural vibrancy at its best.

One of the trump cards that helps draw tourists to Kerala by the droves is Fort Kochi, a beautiful heritage hub in the city of Kochi. The St. Francis Church, the Paradesi Synagogue, the Chinese fishing nets and the quaint little spice shops have made sure that a visitor always returns home with great memories.

But 12/12/12 changed the city and how the world would see it in the future. The Kochi-Muziris Biennale, launched on the aforementioned date, brought about a dynamic shift; one that would be reflected in every travelogue about the city that has been written about the region ever since. The introduction of graffiti into the cityscape was a well thought out move on the part of the Kerala State Government and Kerala Tourism. Fort Kochi is now on the way to becoming a certain destination for the art hungry traveller. You may think that this is a premature statement but with the massive success of the first Kochi-Muziris Biennale and the second one approaching soon, the region and it’s graffiti scene is bound to grow.

Pepper House, the Aspinwall House, the walls on Burger Street and some other locations became canvases for the vivid expressions of artists like Anpu Varkey, Amitabh Kumar and Daniel Connolly amongst others. The sometimes contentious art of graffiti has not only gained the approval of the visiting tourists but also the admiration of locals who realize the importance of this brilliant new addition to their area’s fabric.

Okay, so it may not be a Berlin or a London yet but it is getting there.
‘A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step’ – Lao Tzu

Here are a few photographs of the first steps that Fort Kochi has taken. These were captured when I visited the region as part of the Kerala Blog Express (another fantastic initiative by Kerala Tourism) team of travel bloggers.

The Dragon Fish by Anpur Varkey at Pepper House. Street Art

The Dragon Fish by Anpu Varkey at Pepper House.

At Pepper House, Swiss couple Maya Hottarek and Louis Werder created the Brain Monster as a critique of capitalism and the waste it creates.

At Pepper House, Swiss couple Maya Hottarek and Louis Werder created the Brain Monster as a critique of capitalism and the waste it creates.

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Political pamphlets disfiguring a wall adorned with a graffiti... For those who don't know what vandalism means, here's a great example!

Political pamphlets disfiguring a wall adorned with graffiti… for those who don’t know what vandalism means, here’s a great example!

If you knew you would be disappointed by Kerala’s idea of development but still managed to stay with this post right till the end, I have some good news for you. KERALA DOES HAVE SOME OF THE BEST ROADS IN THE COUNTRY! 😉

5 Reasons Why I Love the Outdoors

Well, I’m sorry if you thought this post would have an interesting list of reasons to make the outdoors more enticing. In a way, I wasn’t lying when I said that I would share my reasons for loving the outdoors (now be patient and read till the end!). And if you have been outdoors, in the wild, you would know that it would be weird if one had only five reasons to feel that way!

Bangalore night photo

Bangalore at night… this is the way I love the city! 🙂

A constant complain that a lot of my friends have about me is that I’m not an early morning person. I agree. Partially. I am not an early morning person in the ‘big city’. That tiny amendment makes a huge difference. I don’t really see the point of waking up to the smog, the rush, the chaos that defines big city life. At least not every day. I mostly love Bangalore in the night, when the party animals have traced their steps back to their dens and the hard working ‘factory’ workers have retired after ticking off another successful day of pointless routine. I do enjoy the charms of smaller towns but when in a metro, I’d like to believe that I am all alone! 🙂

Its not just the traffic or the mad rush. The city seems to sap the energy out of me. You may call me an escapist but I’d rather be that than be sucked into the vortex of finding success. Running around in circles believing that all of the stress is worth it cause it does make someone happy, the next act of ‘defiance’ brings everything back to square one. Its not my life that I live in the city, its one that was gifted to me by everyone else!

When outdoors, life itself seems to morph into something more alluring, much simpler! The mornings seem to wake you up with a smile with birds singing the most beautiful morning songs inviting you to experience the day the way nature wanted you to. The sun seems to be sharing just the right amount of feel-good warmth for you to take a walk along that seldom explored trail. You somehow start believing that everything that envelops you at that moment was meant to make you feel ALIVE!

On a morning like that in Bandipur, a couple of years back, I decided to take a walk at the break of dawn. It was the 1st of January and this had to be the best way I had ever welcomed a new year!

Bandipur Dawn

REASON 1

Bandipur Dawn

REASON 2

Bandipur Dawn

REASON 3

Bandipur Dawn

REASON 4

Bandipur Dawn

REASON 5

You might now believe me when I say that I would love to wake up to a morning like this every day and if that was not the case, I’d rather sleep it out! 🙂