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Kapu Beach in Coastal Karnataka that will not fail to mesmerize you

It was for a personal commitment that I had to travel to coastal Karnataka, a place that I have strong connections thanks to it being my birth place.

So in the month of April in sweltering heat I travelled to Udupi and Mangalore.

As the train was reaching the station I had already had a big smile on my face seeing the lush green coconut trees in abundance.

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(A common sight everywhere you would travel in Udupi and nearby towns). Picture by Reshma Krishnamurthy.

After visiting a few temples from the temple town it was time to catch up on Malpe beach as I had read on some new pathway being built that was good but not worth taking the effort to walk on a sunny afternoon. It is the seawalkway on the beach.

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Probably the evenings are better to go for a walk on this pathway but it has a more interesting tourism activity of taking a boat to St.Mary’s island that can be done. I had travelled in an earlier trip on the boat and that was truly enjoyable being on the boat and being on the St.Mary’s island.

Of course the month was October unlike now when it was April. Soon I had to decide to travel to another destination before i considered a halt at a relative’s house. So I went to Kapu beach (again..yes was travelling for the second time ) but it was beautiful yet again.

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(A picturesque scenery captured while travelling in the local transport in a state run bus-Picture by Reshma Krishnamurthy at Udupi).

On a solo trip I decided to take a bus if possible to kaup beach when an auto driver suggested he would take me from Malpe beach to Kapu all along at an agreeable fare. So as I opened up the google maps to be sure of the direction, the driver took me on a different route accompanying the waters all along the way. The journey was beautiful and we reached in about 40 minutes.

It was already around 5pm and I just wanted time to freeze.

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(Lighthouse at Kaup beach, Udupi, Karnataka. Photograph by Reshma Krishnamurthy-a travel lover, mum, stories curator, storyteller, blogger, writer and founder of Mums and Stories)

As I saw in awe the clean sands and the shore I was most excited that there was an option of climbing the light house.

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As I struggled with my backpack and going through a bit nervously in the circular steps and crowds, the entire effort was worth it when I saw the green lush carpet laid natural greenery and the ocean.

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(Sunset as seen from Kapu beach lighthouse tower. Picture by Reshma Krishnamurthy)

The best part of the beach was that it was almost litter free, no plastic and it is still untouched.

One cannot get into deep waters here but it is a perfect location for an ideal family evening outing, a space you can consider to visit if you want to experience unadulterated commercialization. The lush greenery and the positive vibe will take you to a different world.

After this the next day, I did visit Panambur beach too before closing on my quick visit to the coastal town but Kapu beach is spectacular and the visit to light house is worth your time. Do note the light house can be climbed only in the evenings. There are huge boulders to climb and every moment you spend on the beach gets you mesmerized.

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(View from lighthouse at Kapu beach, Photograph by reshma krishnamurthy)

If you are planning a visit to Mangalore and particularly to Udupi too, do not miss Kapu.

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Six hours in Delhi – Solo travel journey. Was there a reason to be scared as a woman traveller?

I have been working in various careers since the last 20 years, invariably all related to media or communication. Have been a radio jockey (that’s the fanciest titles of all the careers I have embraced). Others have been advertising professional, PR practitioner, freelance writer, blogger, communications manager; stay –at home-individual and now an entrepreneur for a mom and child segment. Yet for a work assignment when I told my parents that I will be travelling to Delhi alone and from there on will be joining a group to head to Uttarakhand, all hell broke lose.

I am a mum too and my experience of travelling alone from my city to Delhi and back taught me a lesson in parenting. ‘Don’t transfer your fear to your child’.

I meet several inspiring women for work, many who are solo travellers, some who run travel businesses, others who find solace in travelling to off beat destinations, a few really adventurous ones like yet the idea of travelling alone to the capital of the country didn’t go too well with my parents. Questions like “ Is it required? How will you ensure you will be safe? What if you don’t come back?

Frankly I knew there were concerns from a parent who adores me but it was enough to instill the fear of travelling within my own country.

We teach women to be so dependent on the other sex when it comes to travel. I seriously feel, if we want the next generation to change let’s travel more, alone. As I am writing this blog, I read another unpleasant incident that has happenned recently on the Mumbai local at 11pm, of a woman being molested.

The only way we can ensure safe environments is to demand better facilities, better tracking systems, monitoring devices and of course educating men and even film makers to show responsible content. After all women constitute a half towards working in the society. Believe you me, this doesn’t mean only work outside home, in terms of money but we have been working for betterment of families and in turn betterment of society. Travelling is as much our right as much as it is for men. Why should it surprise people when they see a young woman, old woman, middle aged, mum, mum with child travelling on their own? That will of course go to another debate.

So this is what I finally did when I landed in Delhi just a few days ago.

This was of course of four sleepless nights previous to my journey, thanks to all that I have read on women and the atrocities they face in India’s capital ( not that it doesn’t occur in other cities but New Delhi has notoriously attained the tag). It’s high time authorities ensure women travel safe across the country and also develop a system where people are taught what is NOT acceptable when it comes to treating women.

My flight was at 6 am in Bangalore Airport which means I have to leave at 3.45am from my home. Almost the time to reach Delhi by flight, thanks to an airport set literally at the outskirts of city limits.

So in the odd hours I step into the taxi, a driver whom as a family we have taken the service earlier but a woman travelling alone in odd hours, the timing and the quietness so early morning brought its set of anxiousness. I did try consciously try to shake off all my uncertainties by telling myself ” You will be fine.” “Learn to trust people, while being aware of your surroundings”.

I reached the airport much ahead and after sometime boarded the flight. No, it wasn’t the first time but everything seemed so new doing it alone. BTW, I have travelled alone to Pondicherry on a solo trip, yet this journey was new for me and close family members who were concerned. I have to say only my husband kept saying, ” You meet so many independent women, you are yourself so independent in your city, why should it bother so much for a travel?”

Anyways, at the airport, I thought of my child, and whispered a little prayer to God to take care of him. It seems dramatic now but at that point of time I didn’t know whether it was of course logical to take a work assignment like anyone else or I was getting into something not required. The fact that I was going to go ahead and spend my stay with a group whom I had not met earlier added to the anxieties.

Once I landed I had six hours with me before I would meet a group, new people for a work assignment at Uttarakhand.

Our train was scheduled at 4pm in the evening and I had good six hours with me.

I was excited to be alone and very nervous. I loitered around the Indira Gandhi Airport for sometime and decided I couldn’t waste six hours there.

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So I decided to explore Delhi as a tourist. I have always travelled with family and been to the usual places. This time I decided to go a tourist spot close to Old Delhi railway station, considering I had to travel further from there in the evening.

The easiest way was to travel by taxi, but thankfully I decided to use the metro.

 

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Much to my surprise Delhi Metro is clear with its signages declared everywhere and has a connectivity from the airport. So I followed the metro signs and went from Delhi Airport to New Delhi and from there to Chandni Chowk.

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On the way I sat alone at a Café Coffee Day space within the metro premises and was slowly beginning to feel normal and let go my anxiousness.

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Delhi Metro premises is huge and I was wondering why people were rushing with luggages. I understood it only on my way back –on my return journey from Delhi.

So with internet and technology at your fingertips, being aware and conscious is a plus point for any traveller. This is an encouraging factor especially for a woman traveller.

So coming back to my journey, I started walking from Chandni Chowk station and by now I was in a happy space. I was free, I was alone and was confident to handle myself. I stopped at an earrings store and gifted myself a pair of artificial jewellery earrings.

 

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Then I walked to Red Fort and had an interesting time there. I had to speak in Hindi to convince the individual at the ticket counter that I am an Indian and not French as she assumed. This was before I could remove my passport and convince her.

Then I hopped on to a rickshaw and was amused to see the by lanes of Old Delhi (Purani Delhi).

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It has its charm and gives a feel that it is stuck around 30 years ago. Lots of people, lots of wires dangling from streets and severe space crunch. I reached a ‘kulfi’ joint (as recommended on Trip advisor) to savour some delicacies. Even though there were enough people –my friends and others who knew I will be in Delhi, they advised me to have Indian chaats.

I decided against it as you are so unsure where you will find clean toilets in India, just in case I have a stomach upset. This is especially true if you are a woman traveller. I was surprised to find out how men thought this wasn’t a problem at all for a traveller.

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So after relishing pomegranate kulfis at this small space- Kuremal Mohanlal Kulfiwale. It was a tedious task to find this place and a lady who guessed I am new to the city, asked the rickshaw puller to go a few lanes back in typical Delhiwalla hindi.

I loved the desert I had opted even though the eatery doesn’t boast of a fancy ambience.

Soon it was time for me to head to the Old Delhi railway station. The sight at the railway station in the afternoon made me think of the number of people who perhaps sleep on roads. Here they were sleeping at the station without any bed, bed spread and I couldn’t believe it that in cities where I belong, me and others were so indifferent and unaware of people who can’t afford any comfort in life. So the next two hours at the station made me think of my blessings in life and soon it was time to take the train to Uttarakhand. I did have an amazing trip at Jim Corbett.

So after a lovely stay for two nights at Uttarakhand I was on my way back to Delhi. This time the train got delayed by 3.5 hours and I had a flight to catch in the evening.

After contemplating on whether I should get down at a station further away from Ghaziabad and take a taxi or hope for the train to reach at the earliest, I decided to stay in the train and take the risk. I was also advised by other women travellers who were with me to stick to the train journey and hope to catch the flight.

There were discussions of course by these bunch of boys who wanted to take a taxi and they even offered me to join in. But I wanted to be safe (not that they didn’t appear as safe company), but I wanted to go by the known route.

Thankfully, showing some mercy on travellers like me on that train (there were others too who had a neck to neck commute flight to other destinations that evening), the train finally reached Old Delhi railway station at 6.10pm. I had my flight at 8.00pm. The moment the train landed I was shocked to see the huge number of population at one railway station. To say that it was overwhelming and intimidating it will not be an understatement.

As I have used the public transport of metro (in Bangalore), I decided to run and try to reach airport. Huh..it wasn’t a cake walk. So there I was running across the stairs in the station, making my way amongst at least thousand people who were pushing me and then I started running on the road, at the exit ( which I found out after 10 minutes, the right exit to use to go to New Delhi metro) and then I was running like a marathon racer at the metro station. Somehow I assumed while running that there are good chances I would be pick-pocketed of my money or passport considering the sheer number of people around me

As I live in Bangalore, the best I have seen of huge metros is at Kolkata and in Mumbai but Delhi metro in the evening gave me the shock of getting into reality of dealing with huge crowds. I finally managed to go the front , in the line, requesting people and again took the train to Airport.

When I had assumed that I will surely make it on time after so much of running, I was told by the check in flight assistant that I have to further run past 41 gates in the airport. This was thankfully at Terminal 3 and I had saved time.

So I began running again and just two minutes before the counter closed, I reached the flight gate. I also wanted to make it on time to ensure my parents or others don’t have second thoughts on if I can take care of myself. However I kept telling myself , ” Even if you miss, you will still manage.”

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As I looked from the sky, from the flight, I realized that I had done fairly well for myself and it may be for a brief while that I stayed alone in Delhi, but the experience taught me to be aware of myself, celebrate my moments of happiness and learn to do everything myself.

The stay was memorable but the journey and the experience has been priceless and now waiting to take my next journey alone at the earliest, to another destination to embrace another travel memory.

 

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My travel to North East India particularly to Meghalaya

Writing today of a holiday that brought in so many rich experiences.  I visited Meghalaya in January end and I am glad I did when it wasn’t raining. For those who love rains, please do visit during monsoons but I am more of a person who doesn’t like holidays to be accompanied with wet shoes, wet clothes in the rooms etc.

So over eight months ago, it was just a simple browsing on my cellphone that it caught my interest of going to Cherrapunjee. A few pictures just made me wonder if I will ever reach this place. As I do browse a lot of travel destinations I thought to myself ‘ I will’ and left it at that.

After a few days I went on do a little more research and realised I could plan a holiday with family visiting Gauhati, Shillong and Cherrapunjee.

Gauhati is a city and I was surprised to see huge roads, flyovers, massive urban structures which I had presumed to be the property of only metros or cities like I live. The place has a distinct style that reminded me of many ways of Kolkata and is bit dusty too. Having said that it is a city with adequate infrastructure and people who are very polite.

After a long flight and stop over at Mumbai we finally reached the first destination -Gauhati only by night.

We stayed at Grand Bhabendra Alay that was chic and it was a wonderful overnight stay. It was much required after a long day of two flights and taking Zoom car near airport.

Yes our next four days were going to go with Zoom car and next morning we left for Shillong. We were going to return to Assam to Gauhati but our major travel destination was to explore Meghalaya with Shillong and Cherrapunjee.

We reached Umiam Lake after two hours of driving and the breathtaking scenes made us wonder at the marvel at the openness, calmness of the space. This is a must visit on your way to Shillong.

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(Umiam Lake-Shillong. Picture by Reshma Krishnamurthy)

As we reached Shillong we realized it wasn’t going to easy to tackle the weather with a child along. The weather was going too cold and soon after a quick late lunch we rushed to the local market to take stock of a few woollen clothes.

We stayed at Kaizan bed and breakfast and though it was highly recommended on many travel spaces and blogs, I would say it was good but a bit over hyped. The major plus point of Kaizan at Shillong was the warm room heater they had. That literally ensured we wouldn’t step out of the room. Thankfully we had visited Ward’s Lake, a place we happened to visit again the next morning too for its beautiful garden space, flowers and greenery.

Next day it was time to visit Cherrapunjee but as we were travelling by car, we decided not to check into hotel, instead visit a few tourist places and stop wherever we felt like and do a check in by 5.30pm. One has to remember that in destinations like Shillong and Cherrapunjee the sunlight is at minimal and it becomes night by 5pm.

We visited Nohkalikai falls that has one of the most breathtaking views.  Before we headed to this place it was time to capture a few scenes of amazing valleys near Sohra at Mawkdok Dympep Valley where even courageous souls were doing ziplining between the valleys. I was more than happy just seeing the beauty and somehow I couldn’t convince myself to go into the adventure opportunity.

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(Mawkdok Dympep Valley-Photograph by Reshma Krishnamurthy)

Later we had time to visit the Nohkalikai falls. The waterfall and the tourist destination has an unpleasant history attached to it but the views are simply marvelous.

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We just didn’t want to head out to another destination from here and I was in love completely with Meghalaya. There was much more for me to see and cherish the memories and I am glad it turned out in that direction.

After a quick meal we headed to Mawsmai caves which was fascinating for my child particularly though I found it heavily overcrowded with too many people trying to climb and maneuver narrow rockly paths. It is however a must -try if you can manage to climb and get down from uneven rocks.

Soon we headed to our hotel in Cherrapunjee at Kutmadan resort. This hotel had its own wow moments where we didn’t even realise we had booked the suite. So we had our own fireplace in the adjoining room and views to cherish.

The staff were exceptionally friendly and this place spoke in volumes on solitude. We were informed that the valley at the end has the Bangladesh border so it was kind of interesting for me to stay in a place that was so close to the border. The entire resort has only five cottages and it has the advantage of being at a place that has amazing viewpoints. The sunset too at Kutmadan is a time that needs to be cherished as one gets to marvel and wonder on nature’s gifts for Earth.

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(Kutmadan resort at Cherrapunjee -Photography by Reshma Krishnamurthy)

Next day, it was an occasion as a family to celebrate on this day and we were happy we were spending time together. We soon reluctantly left for Dawki, a place I had come across in one of the travel blogs. As predicted in the blog the travel route was adventurous and soon we came to the place -a river that divided India and Bangladesh as its borders. Dawki was crowded but thankfully we knew of Umngot river and we went further .

This was indeed a paradise. We were so glad we had made it to Umngot in Meghalaya. We went on a boat ride that just brought us to feel privileged to be in a mesmerizing place.  I can’t even forget that I asked a local lady if I can somehow use wash room somewhere, she smiled as though she understood my concern as a woman in a tourist spot and guided me to a tiny -fairly neat washroom. When I offered to pay later, she again smiled and said ” It’s fine, hope you like the place”.

Do not make the mistake of coming all the way to Cherrapunjee and ignoring Dawki or Umngot. It was so magical that we again didn’t want to leave even though we knew we had a long way back to Shillong. Yes we were going to return this time to Shillong before going to Gauhati as the final destination in this travel plan.

Umngot (Umngot River-A tourist spot near Dawki, Meghalaya) (Paradise in India-Photograph by Reshma krishnamurthy)

There are many interesting activities like ziplining, tents-camping, boating, trekking and even a hanging bridge that would accommodate only 20 people to walk at a time. After a long wait we did get an opportunity to walk on the bridge and this place was indeed the high point of Meghalaya trip.

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(Hanging bridge at Umngot river.

Cover photograph for this blog and this picture- Photograph by Reshma Krishnamurthy).

All I can say is that when looking for destinations within the country, do visit relatively lesser known places, hidden pockets that are indeed worth every bit of your time.

Hope you liked reading the blog.

Thanks

What’s new with my life as an entrepreneur?

It hasn’t been a journey without roadblocks for sure.

It surely seems like a long way before I can be completely proud of the brand created -Mums and Stories

However have to share that every milestone is a celebration by itself.  Right from working with biggest brands to chalking out our own novel ways to sustain and bring out cherished experiences for mums and kids, I do feel we are on track and about to do something really good.

Let’s hope for the best.

 

Beginning Video stories, Meet the expert and Pregnancy stories

I am busy with Mums and stories since the last one and half years and it has been an incredible journey.

At times I do feel I can manage another role and this one but there are so many things to do to grow Mums and stories as a platform that it is increasingly becoming difficult to take time for anything else.

Last few weeks have been busy with video stories that I wanted to begin for a particular campaign. My own myths and perceptions are getting busted thanks to the wonderful moms I am meeting and interviewing them.

A lot of people are connecting with me to express their interest of joining me to take the Mums and stories initiative ahead. But soon I find myself alone and I don’t think I should complain on that as long as it is giving me positive vibes and others too.

 

 

 

 

Events connecting mums, kids and dads too

It’s  been a year since Mums and stories has begun connecting with people, mums in particular.

However we have started doing events regularly and these are connecting with kids, mums and dads too.

Our events of Chai gup shup meets at cafes, bloggers event which was a huge success at Bhive, story book picnics for kids and many more are becoming a regular feature.

It is heartening to know niche events like listening to successful bloggers and mums, art of parenting for teenagers are resonating with our key audience of parents and kids.

Stories are being shared, being created and we are glad Mums and stories is building itself to be a community platform and responsible support group.

This Children’s day, we will be having two activities, Cook with Dad special and Hug a tree initiative.

Hoping we see a good response from parents and kids for both the events.

For interesting stories, log on to www.mumsandstories.com and keep a tab on our facebook page to know on the interesting events we line up every month.

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Meet Prema Ramappa Nadabatti, Bangalore’s Only Woman Bus Driver

Meet the only woman bus driver in Bangalore – Prema Ramappa Nadabatti, who works for the BMTC, the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation.

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She is in a very unconventional profession as a woman, and she knows that very well. As I sit in an official’s cabin waiting at the corporate office to meet Prema Ramappa Nadabatti, she walks in after finishing her morning shift duty.

Prema is a driver for BMTC buses for the last six years in Bangalore. I had tried reaching her the previous day at 6a.m. in the winter chill, at the bus depot number 3 in Bangalore. All the male bus drivers and conductors were talking about the fact that again someone had come to talk to Prema. I wasn’t allowed to talk to her at the time, and was asked to meet her at the corporate office.

At the office as Prema walked in, her gait, body language, and her tough rugged look despite her huge earrings made quite a contrasting impression. She gazed at me as the official said that I had come for an interview. She gave a hint of a smile as though she is so used to the limelight. I mentioned to her that the story will be seen in online media on the Internet and she grinned and asked, “That means no paper to hold or no TV to see my interview?” I assured her that I will be back to show where her interview has appeared and she nodded her head with a warm smile.

“I am from Gokak in Belgaum district,” she starts in an accent that is typical to the people who speak in North Karnataka.

“As I was growing up due to financial problems, I had to start working. I had got a job as an assistant in a small private hospital. I was more of a nurse there assisting the team. However because of my interest and ability to drive, authorities at the hospital would ask me to travel and drive four wheelers like vans to ferry medicinal stocks.”

“I realized I truly enjoyed driving. But the opportunities were limited. I also happened to finish my B.A in Kannada, though I can read and understand English to some extent.”

“Soon I was married and I had a baby earlier than I expected. But things were not smooth in my life. Due to some health reasons my husband died. I was very young, in my twenties and was left alone with no income and a baby to take care of.”

“My mother supported me and asked me to quickly pick the pieces of my scattered life and begin life anew. I went to the RTO in Gokak and wanted to get selected for a six-wheeler license. The officials in the RTO perhaps thought I was joking. Everyday I would try to approach them and one day, one of them asked me to drive a truck that was parked in the premises. I did manage, and he was surprised and baffled. He was a good gentleman, and he ensured that I got the training and my license.” she expresses with a deep sense of gratitude.

“My mother told me to apply for government jobs, and around the same time I came across an advertisement in a Kannada daily on the announcement of hiring of bus drivers and conductors in Bangalore.”

“It was the first time that I had ever stepped out from my town. I had never seen such a huge city. I applied for a driver’s post in BMTC. Thankfully, I was selected, and the official at that time said with great pride, “She has to be trained well and she will be a shining example for others.”

When I ask Prema how people treat her at her workplace, on roads, and where she resides, she responds, “I meet a lot of people and many want to talk to me even though it is not just for interviews. Perhaps they are surprised I drive a bus. My neighbours, now of course, are used to me but people on the roads tell me that they have seen me on television or read about me somewhere. It feels good but life is much more than the adulation received. There are a lot of hardships. I am ready to face them for my son who is studying in class seven. I want him to be a pilot and he aspires too of being one.”

Prema says she has got interviewed in documentaries and videos by people, foreigners and many on the road take out a camera or a phone and keep asking her to ‘smile, smile please.’ She laughs, saying she often wonders whether she should concentrate on roads or smile for people or the camera. She is however happy she has had a no-accident record.

“Most of the people including my colleagues treat me very well. I am well looked after by my company, and I am happy no one has ever misbehaved at work or elsewhere. But yes, I have become tougher. Perhaps the Bangalore roads and traffic makes you tough enough to face a lot of things,” she grins with a ear to ear smile.

“There are kids who give me chocolates when they get inside the bus and see that it’s a woman driving. There are other instances, like at places of worship like at temples I am given ‘prasadam.’ These gestures do make me very happy about my work. Maybe unknowingly I have become an inspiration but for me, I am just doing my job. It is surprising to see such few women who want to drive buses. I strongly feel they can take it up as a profession.”

“I dream of big opportunities for my son. I want him to be a pilot. Now I don’t know whether it is just a dream or whether it will be fulfilled. I am doing my best.”

As I leave after wrapping up this wonderful interaction with Prema, I realize that the glass ceilings in the corporate world seem so frivolous; somehow they seem much more achievable for women, as compared to this woman who is in a completely male dominated work atmosphere. But she has soaked into that atmosphere and happy in the space she has created for herself.

Published originally on women’s web as part of women series: By Reshma Krishnamurthy

http://www.womensweb.in/2016/01/prema-ramappa-nadabatti-the-only-woman-bus-driver-for-the-bmtc-in-bangalore-is-an-inspiration/

 

The Door – A short story of a holiday that went wrong

 

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Surabhi was ecstatic of her holiday at this beautiful destination. It was a long over due holiday after her baby was born. She had been coaxing her husband Veer to plan out a holiday to a hill station. She loved going to the hills and she wanted to spend some time just looking at the sunlight kissing the mountains or the misty weather and so it was when Veer planned out a 4 day holiday to one of the quietest hills stations in the country.

As soon as they got out of the car, Surabhi gave the baby to Veer that she was holding all along the journey. Veer along with Surabhi entered the room. Their baby all of seven months old was sleeping blissfully and wouldn’t even realize perhaps where she would be for the next few days.

But this holiday was going to be cherished by her mama, and that’s what she anticipated.

As the porter took the luggage to the room Surabhi suddenly felt an uneasiness to enter the room they were allotted. Yet diminishing any unnecessary thoughts she stepped inside the room when she felt someone was standing in front of her. There was no one there and the porter left the room shutting the door behind her.

Veer said, “What happened? Why do you look so dull? It was me driving all the way for 6 hours” laughingly.

“ I am not feeling too good. It was as though some one was here right in front of me a little too close but I could see nobody”, she replied.

Veer didn’t pay much attention and asked her to take some rest. Anyhow the next day they had a schedule of going to a couple of view points.

Late in the evening post dinner that they had ordered in the room, Surabhi went to the bathroom to take a long shower. Veer meanwhile was busy playing with the baby for sometime and he said, “Me and Dhaani are going to be in the garden for sometime. Come over there. We will enjoy the open sky for sometime.” She smiled and said she will be joining them soon.

She took a long time to be in the shower. She enjoyed her leisure bath. It was as though all the stress that she had accumulated as a young mother was getting washed away. Then she remembered of having to join Veer. She tried opening the door but it was locked from outside.

Veer wasn’t there in the room, so she wondered how would she reach out to him. This seemed funny and scary that she had got herself locked in the bathroom. She tried several times to open the door but wasn’t able to do so.

Now she started sweating in panic and began banging the door calling for Veer, she started screaming ‘help’ but no one came.

Veer was with his baby at the garden for a long time. He kept saying to the baby “ Your mama takes a long time to get ready. Then he turned around and was surprised to see from the garden bench that the lights of the room were off. He assumed she would be joining in soon from the first floor room.

But time passed and even after 20 minutes, Surabhi was not there to join him. He went towards the door of the room and saw it was locked from inside. He called out to Surabhi many times but there was no response. He kept telling himself that there was no need to panic yet he went to the reception desk and told them he needs help to get inside the room.

“My wife has got herself locked inside the room I think”. he said in a worried tone. The reception manager gave a stare at him strangely and said, “Where is your wife?”

“In the room.. she had gone to take a shower”. “Can we hurry up please?” said Veer who now had little Dhaani getting restless in his arms.

“Mr. Arora, I am here all evening since the time you came. I have seen only you and the baby said the manager.

“ I want to go to my room. I had left the keys inside as my wife was there. Now the door is not getting opened. Please give me the spare key of the room” said Veer. The manager removed the spare key releuctantly thinking this guest has left the keys inside the room. Nevertheless he walked towards the first floor room and and got Veer lead him the way. When they opened the room, the  room was dark and Veer was calling out for Surabhi frantically. Adding to the chaos was Dhaani crying consistently. Veer went to the bathroom and saw the lights were switched on but there was no one there.

The manager said, “Sir, I didn’t see anyone else the whole evening. I just checked with the porter and the waiter too who had dropped the luggage and for the dinner to be handed over here. There was just you and this baby they said on the phone.”

Veer couldn’t understand what was happening. Where was Surabhi? Was he dreaming?

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A Trip to the Zoo

Apoorva was quite excited of the note sent by her teacher to her parents in the class diary. Apoorva was in Class I and just around 6 years of age and could read the note slowly herself, to her mother. The note read, if interested to send your child for this year’s class trip. Do sign the form for ‘A VISIT TO THE ZOO’.

Date and other details are mentioned in the form.

The young girl’s mother while asking about the day in school told her that they would decide after discussing with her father. Apoorva waited every moment soon after her evening snack and milk to talk to her father.

Apoorva’s dad when he came back home late evening after work, reading the note surprisingly said “Yes”. He generally didn’t like Apoorva going on class trips for some reason, not very clear to Apoorva. But a trip to the Zoo got him to agree. Apoorva was ecstatic and hugged her father and mum for agreeing to this trip.

So came ‘the day’ of having to go the Zoo with classmates and teachers in the school bus. This was her first class trip and she was most excited to be in the school bus to see the animals. The teachers too seemed to be in that ‘extra fun’ mood. All were singing and playing antakshari and Apoorva and her best friends Ruchika and Shlok were too with her; happy and excited.

After some time they finally reached the zoo that was in the outskirts of the city. As the children were making a beeline to be guided by their teachers and school attendants Apoorva and her friends went inside and saw the very first cage that had peacocks including a white peacock who had spread her beautiful white feathers and was dancing.

All the kids were happy to see peacocks, peahens and then rabbits and birds. Soon after Apoorva went to her teacher and asked, “Madam, are the animals and birds happy to be in these cages or they are trapped here?”

Her madam answered that she will give the right information on this at the end of the visit and for now Apoorva could enjoy the zoo visit. She asked her not to worry about the animals as they were being taken care of by the Zoo keepers.

Once the class kids had seen various animals including Leopards, Elephants, tigers, snakes and hippopotamus, the kids were asked to have their lunch from the tiffin boxes they had got from home.

As biscuits and chocolates were distributed from the teachers to the students, Apoorva saw an uncle coming and standing next to the class teacher. He said turning to the kids, “Children, I hope you are happy being here as much as I am happy to have you all visit our zoo. I am the General Manager who supervises the Zoo’s daily activities. I think one of you have asked your teacher a very important question on whether these animals should be left in the wild woods and how we take care of them.

We are happy to say that the animals are kept here in the most hygiene conditions and surroundings that is similar to what they are used to in forests. Sometimes we get animals and birds who are injured and we need to take care of them.

So while I do agree living in the forests is much better for any animal, here too we are ensuring that their diet, skills in hunting and their surroundings are taken care of.”

All the kids were thrilled hearing this and Apoorva and her friends were clapping their hands in joy.

Now Apoorva was in much better state of mind to visit more animals who were in different enclosures and the day finally ended with a tiger safari which was the best part of visiting the zoo.

As it was getting late afternoon, the school teachers guided the children to the school bus and everyone came back home with lots of good memories.

Apoorva later in the evening in her home made a drawing of her visit to the zoo and stuck it to the bedroom door. Soon she went to sleep with good memories of the day; her trip to the zoo was going to be cherished by her.