In the end…

It’s not a trip ending that bothers me so much as to what it entails.

When I go for a business trip, I book a cab to the airport. On my way back, I catch a cab from the airport. I’m alone most of the time, and though I hate the impersonal feel of the hotels, I’m used to it, it’s a part of my job.

But when I go on holiday, I’m never on my own. I always either go with friends, or I go visit friends or family. And my days are spent with people all around me. My last trip was to Cape Town, and there were 12 of us living under one roof, cooking breakfast, lounging around the pool or playing silly games around the fireplace. Even when I was just lying on the couch reading a book, I’d still have people chatting around me… some sorta amiable presence.

And then when I get back, I wave goodbye to my family of 10 days and walk away alone. I struggle with the luggage, lugging it to my house, and open the door to an emptiness that is all the more depressing cos of what I just left behind.

Being a part of a family, for even a brief time, a part of something uncomplicated, somewhere that you’re accepted for who you are, and they actually like you … I miss that the most.

Even after being pretty much on my own since the age of 18, I guess I still haven’t really gotten the hang of being alone.

I know of people who crave it, who are completely happy (or so they say) with not having a semblance of stability in their lives, and being completely alone.  I wish I could understand how to be that way. Cos I get the feeling that I’ll probably have to get used to it.

I am comfortable enough in my own skin, and I *know* how to be alone. I won’t go crazy. But I won’t be happy. And it all boils down to that doesn’t it?

Notes from a Foodie’s Diary

An omelette stuffed with sautéed onions, green peppers and tomatoes, thick sausages and cheese, with a side of chunky potato wedges served with sour cream. Wash that down with iced tea and then go for those delicious waffles with maple syrup. ~ Yas Island, UAE

Succulent pieces of calamari steak- tiny little rectangles that’s been seared just enough so it retains it’s tenderness but has nice and crispy edges, drizzled with pepper sauce. ~Cape Town, S Africa

Chicken kadai and hot tandoori roti  ( from a dhaba en route to Gurgaon from Delhi) after a cold bike ride in winter, with the heat of the tandoor keeping you warm against the cold night. Not to mention those surreptitious mouthfuls from the limca bottle spiked with vodka that heats you up from within. ;o)  ~Delhi, India

Paella, served in a plate as big as a shield, lined with mussels on the side and the deliciously flavoured rice mixed with succulent pieces of pork and seafood (rings of calamari, prawn and shellfish).  ~Mallorca, Spain

Teste kebab- fascinated by the people at the other table ordering this, but too late to order it myself, I didn’t get a chance to eat this until the night after we got back from The Walk. The pot is brought to us on a plate, surrounded by blue flames. The waiter carries a small axe with him. At the table, he takes the sealed clay pot out of the flames, cracks the top open with the axe, and pours the contents of the pot on to a waiting dish. The meat and veggies inside cook slowly and stew in the juices making it the most tender, and best kebab I’ve had in my life.  ~ Cappadocia, Turkey

Baingan ka bharta – It was a long weekend, and we decided to make a short trip of it and stay at the Sula Vineyard’s bungalow called The Beyond . The bungalow came with 3 servants and a cook that I would have gladly married, just to get him to dxb to cook for me everyday! (I decided against this cos I’d gained so much weight in the 3 days I was there that if he were to stay permanently with me, I’d soon have gotten so fat that I’d have gotten wedged in the doorway!). The best baingan bharta we ever had, we ordered it every single day! ~ Nasik, India

Red velvet cake from Magnolia’s. One word- orgasmic! ~ Dubai, UAE

I could go on, but I’m hungry! Veena’s invited me over for lunch and Subodh’s making mojitos for which I need to pick up mint!


Within Reach

I was in London and had the whole day to myself. I’d already done the touristy spots with my friends the previous day and they’d gone back to Dxb early that morning. I decided to stay back for a week to explore more of the country.

I opened my Lonely Planet and looked up The Monument.

I was somehow fascinated by it and wanted to check out the place. After following the directions written on the book and the Tube map , (which was a lot of fun, l love maps!)  I got there and started on my way up. Only, I hadn’t anticipated the steps getting narrower and narrower on the way to the top or me suddenly getting a case of acrophobia, not to mention claustrophobia!

On the verge of panic, I ended up just sitting there for a while, trying to get my bearings and figure out what the hell to do, while a few people passed me by on their way up and down.

I was too scared to climb any higher, and when I looked down and saw the steps winding down to the curious red circle at the bottom, I felt like I’d never be able to move again!

After several deep breaths to calm myself, I decided to push on and get to the end of it, and surprisingly, reached the top after about only 20 more steps! And to think I’d almost planned on turning back, having reached so close to the top!

Once I reached the top, I felt exhilarated! I had done it! I took a lot of pictures, and chatted animatedly with everyone else up there about how crazy the climb was and all. Climbing down was easier, cos I was still psyched from the climb up! They even gave me a certificate at the end of it for having climbed to the top!

Life is like that sometimes, isn’t it? You end up struggling for a while to get someplace and you work at it so long and so hard that you tire yourself out. And then, sometimes, you feel so dejected and get so fed up that you give up.

But maybe, it’s better to keep trying. Maybe, you’re only just 20 steps away.

By the Ticking of the Clock

So I almossst missed my flight to Oman. I got home only at 7pm for an 8:30 pm flight cos I was delayed at work. The cabbie was already waiting for me while I parked my car and ran up to my house, to pack! Yes. I’m kinda a last-minute packer. (esp cos I hate traveling for work, and packing for it depresses me further).

I rush out of the house with my trolley and laptop bag rolling along. As the disgruntled cabbie was loading the luggage into the car, I realized I’d forgotten my passport. So I rushed back again. When I finally reached the check-in counter at the airport it was a couple of minutes afterf 7:30pm. As the cut-off for check-in in Dubai is an hour before take-off, I was worried that they’d not let me through. But they were very nice about it and asked me to relax and there was “plenty of time” so ” breathe!” :o)

On the way back to dxb though, I was relaxed. My flight was at 8:45pm. I was back at my hotel after meetings by around 6pm. I was packed in 10 minutes and ready to leave. I desultorily flipped through TV channels, waiting for my colleague to return so I could check out with him. He got a  bit late, we checked out a little after 7pm… but we weren’t worried. In Oman, you only need to get to the airport a half-hour before take-off. We got to the check-in counter 45 mins before take-off.

“I’m sorry, but you cannot take this flight. You are too late.”

I stared in disbelief at the man behind the counter. “Nononononononononooooooo! This cannn‘t be happening! I neeeeeed to get back to Dxb!” We requested, we begged, we pleaded,  we spoke to the damn supervisor… but nothing came of it. They just wouldn’t let us through.

“There is another flight at 1:10am” they chipped in, not helping one bit!

Suddenly I missed everything in Dxb. And hated even more, everything about Oman. My colleague said he’d go and get the new tickets.

I stayed back in that horrid no-man’s land between the Security checks and Departures, waiting for him to return so we could grab some dinner. And waited. And waited some more. At about 10pm, I was on the verge of tears. My colleague had disappeared with my passport and I had no credit on my phone to call him. I was hungry and tired and my legs were accching. I’d missed my flight for the very first time in my life and I didn’t know what to do.

Finally, I walked up to a one of the security officers and found out where I could buy a top-up card. I called my colleague, went outside through the emergency exit and met him back at the Oman Air counter where he was waiting to get a confirmation for the ticket (that’s why he was gone for so long) and we went to dinner. I ordered everything I laid my eyes on at Costa- a bag of doritos, a caramel frappe (deeelicious!), and an arabbiata chicken panini sandwich. Oh, and I bought a couple of oatmeal-raisin cookies for later. This is what happens when you’re ravenous and buy food. I ended up making my colleague help me finish it all.

We caught the 1am flight and got to Dxb a little after 2am. I felt so relieved and happy to see the Burj Khalifa twinkling away unconcernedly. It bothers me sometimes, being so at home in a country that I’ve no right to. :|

Oh well, I’m here now… and won’t have to travel again till… next week.


When I hate traveling!

I’m gonna be in Oman for the next couple of days.

I’m going for work of course.

As much as I love traveling, I loathe traveling for work. Especially the kind of work I do. I end up going to someplace like Oman or Bahrain or other equally boring places where I don’t know anyone other than the people I do business with. And obviously I don’t want to socialize with those people!

So I spend most of my time cooped up in the hotel with my laptop in front of me, or spend my time surfing channels on TV.

This time though, I do have one friend from school who is in Oman and I plan to meet up with her for dinner. So I’m hoping to have a better time than usual.

Wish me luck!