are you a wannabe, could be, or should be travel blogger?

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Ever wonder how you fare as a travel blogger?

Recently I designed an online assessment tool on travel blogging for one of the organisations I partner with. It is a simple quiz. 11 questions. But it helps one figure out where one stands. Are you a wannabe, could be, or should be travel blogger?

Please click here to start the quiz.

And if you wish, do feel free to share your scores in this post’s comments section. 🙂

about me: in a bit more detail

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Compliments of the New Year! 🙂

It is already the 7th of January, and it seems just yesterday that I was contemplating the closure of yet another year and what all it had meant for me even as it paved the way for a sequel. There was a sense of déjà vu in the air.

Except for one thing—a chunk of my holidays was taken up in finalizing my personal site. Tweaking it and polishing it to ensure it was perfect, for me at least. You could call the site my fancy online business card, for a better word. But why a personal site, you may ask? Is a blog not enough? Continue reading

praha, the royal bohemian city of 500 spires—photo essay

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One of my wanderings in Central and Eastern Europe was through Prague—or Praha in Czech—the economic, political, and cultural centre of Central Europe for most of its 1,100 years of existence. Generally acclaimed as one of the most beautiful cities in the world, it is after London, Paris, Istanbul, and Rome, the fifth most visited European city.

An overnight train from Budapest in a dark, panelled, velvet-clad train compartment took me to the “City of a Hundred Spires” [based on the count of a 19th Century mathematician]; a statistic which has now increased to 500 spires piercing its ethereal skyline. Praha was left largely untouched by the second World War unlike other European cities since Hitler made it a Nazi Germany protectorate in 1939. The result is a precinct pulled straight from the pages of a mythical past: Those that are romanticized and reminiscenced about, and are a treasure trove of art and architectural styles. Continue reading

36 hours in krakow

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Krakow is my last stop as I travel through Central Eastern Europe.

The royal capital of Poland, the city is unlike any other I have visited. And yes, this may well sound clichéd, but its past justifies the claim. The Old Town with its Jewish Quarter and Auschwitz II-Birkenau were one of the first to go on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

Pronounced “Krakuf” in Polish, the medieval city of Krakow is straight from a mythical tale replete with dragons and princes. According to legend the 1,000-year-old city was founded by Krakus, a Polish prince who slayed the evil Wawel Dragon, and went on to build his castle and city over its lair on Wawel Hill by the banks of the River Vistula.

A set of bones of a pleistocene creature hangs over the Wawel Cathedral entrance. I am told they belong to the dragon and “The world will come to its end when the bones will fall on the ground.” Continue reading

global travel shot: remembering german nazi auschwitz, 70 years on

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When the bus dropped me off at Auschwitz II–Birkenau—a former German Nazi concentration and extermination camp on the outskirts of Krakow in Poland—on a summer day in 2012, I was not sure what to expect.

I was no stranger to scenes of debased humanity, having wandered through the Killing Fields in Cambodia, and explored the corridors of Robben Island in South Africa. I knew I would see pain, suffering, and the manifestation of an absolute ruthless version of humankind. But to what extent and how it was mourned 70 years on in Auschwitz II–Birkenau gave me both the jitters and hope. It still does. Continue reading

thimphu, the unusual capital city—a photo essay

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[My below post was published in the November–December 2016 edition of Druk Air’s in-flight magazine Tashi Delek. All proceeds from my fees went to support the Ability Bhutan Society, a charity supported by Her Majesty the Gyaltsuen in aid of persons living with moderate to severe diverse abilities.]

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Imagine. Imagine a city, a functioning capital city, with all its chores of running a nation perched high up in the Himalayas, bereft of any street lights, and one which made its debut in international tourism and on the “world stage” as recently as 1974. Before that, you and I would not even have been able to cross its borders.

Imagine a city with multinationals and media houses, where architecture, culture and everyday life wear the mantle of Tantric Buddhism. By law, buildings are mandated to be modelled on traditional lines, replete with symbolic paintings. Bhutanese have to dress in local attire.

Imagine a city where there are national tournaments in archery at the national stadium coz, yes, archery is the national sport. Monks are not allowed to take part in archery. They play another sport in its place—daygo which involves throwing flat circular discs.

Till the 1960s schooling was limited to religious studies in monasteries. Bhutan lifted its ban on the Internet in 1999. It was the last country in the world to do so. Mobile telephones were introduced in 2003. The only way to reach Thimphu is by road [it does not have an airport].

For all the above reasons, and many more, Thimphu is worth that extra set of miles. It was, definitely, worth mine. Continue reading