Category Archives: General Thoughts

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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.

 

Dawki

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.

Taking a new step in life

I have always wondered how people are able to succeed and what is it that really drives them up to do better.

Being a parent blogger, a writer and now in the shoes of creating a publishing platform for mums to share their innate stories with me makes me feel I can do this even better.

To pull it off successfully will take me a long tedious route but I do know I am passionate about this platform and really hoping that it will connect and engage mums across the world.

Do check out Mums and stories on facebook.

 

Women unsafe in my city-bangalore

Bangalore has number of pros and pitfalls like any other city.

But increasingly, I have begun to feel and worry on how unsafe the city is becoming at any time, especially post 9pm.

I have been brought up in an environment where I was used to see my father raise his voice over any kind of wrongdoing by anybody.

Even though for most of my teenage years and much later, I continued being an introvert, work life made me see everything and everyone in equality. This applied to me as well where I started raising concerns over any inequality when it came to me or those around me in an organization. Of course it didn’t help me in my career graph but I chose to be a person who wanted equality.

Over the years I have got into several arguments at public spaces, traffic junctions and several other places when I have felt someone is misbehaving or breaking the law or even basic human manners.

Slowly, I have received threats from auto rickshaw drivers, bus drivers, motorists, car drivers (men and women) that they would abuse me or manhandle me.

I have learnt to calm down and now my freedom of moving around has become limited as I am not very sure, i will be back home safe after a watching a play or movie alone or with my child post 8pm. So I tend to travel in crowded spaces or closer home and try to avoid arguments with anyone.

Like many others. I have started silencing my conscience even when there is something wrong going on in a public space. Unless it is too huge a problem for me to be silent.

Reading this morning, just after a festival of good over evil, I felt sad that it is in my bangalore another rape has occurred. This one, the third in a month’s time.

I do hope collectively as Bengaluru citizens we will help each other in being good and avoid crimes.

I do not want to pinpoint to any community or religion but its time to take a stance for women to be safe and happy. This I mean within homes and outside homes.

 

 

 

Why you need to blog?

If you have a skill over a language or  good at expressing yourself through an art form, along with primary writing skills,  then it’s time you start your own blog.

Bloggers are present in all industries and now we have food bloggers, travel bloggers, parenting bloggers, tech bloggers, career advice bloggers and so many more.

Well if you are one of those who wants to add,  ” But I am not good at anything specific, so what do I blog about”? Then its time you find something that interests you.

Even if you are not a good writer but an entrepreneur, then do consider joining a crash course in writing or hire a blogger who can update a blog for you. Blogging has over a period of time become an important marketing tool in the internet and mobile age.

There are many spaces where you can contribute your content besides your own blog. It may initially not pay you well financially but it definitely helps in personal branding.

Writers may not be bloggers. Some professional writers may even consider bloggers to be of lesser strata in talent but if you are a professional blogger, you will be soon credited for good work by corporates or your own readers who value your opinion.

What does a good blog on any topic do for a reader? It actually makes the reader feel that someone here understands his or her position over a dilemma on a particular topic. Blogging should help readers to solve their anxiety to a certain extent at least after reading a blog. This often doesn’t happen in every article in a publication as the writer is expected to take a stance of a third person. But a blog is like a friend talking to you so there is higher scope of a personal connect.

Its absolutely fantastic if one develops into a niche blog to find and build a targeted audience.

On a personal level I am able to identify myself as a blogger who loves to write on women and parenting. If there is something known as short story blogging then would like to credit myself to that title as well.

Reading a review of a movie or a  product or service is great by a publication or online media. But a regular and talented blogger will also find her or his audience who would love to believe in the blog as an honest opinion.

With blogging becoming serious business, its time people hone their writing skills.

Good bloggers are valued in today’s content driven digital world. So good luck in becoming a blogger or finding the right one for your business.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blogger’s party by women’s web & Jean-Claude Biguine

Yesterday it was a meet, an invitation for a few bloggers in Bangalore to catch up, have a bit of pampering done at an upmarket salon . I am just glad that blogging in the women’s world is getting recognized with some fun element.

Unlike earlier where only fashion bloggers or technology ones were recognized; thankfully now there are so many niche segments in the blogging world that it’s hard to ignore true bloggers. Can say that happy to be in this space right now.

It was good fun having a brief interaction with author Milan Vohra, the dilemma to blog or write a book to connect with the audience and more. I was present too at the meet and was happy that blogging is serious business.

The meet was organised by content provider women’s web in association with the french salon brand.

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