Finding lost Treasures: The Summer of Rediscovery

I knew I could not cope with the future unless I was able to rediscover the past.
– Gene Tierney

It has been a while, hasn’t it? My words never did go silent – they just went from being digital to dusty cursive choosing to live in physical notebooks for some time. I wrote, I was prolific. Perhaps the reason why it was more literally pen to paper is because so many of these thoughts were deeply personal. That’s how this summer of travel affected me – the sights that I saw, the people I met – almost gave rise to emotions and aspects that I thought I had lost in the buzzing world of Business school.

These post-MBA travels before restarting my career after a two-year hiatus serve as a perfect bookend to my pre-MBA exploits around Southeast Asia. Back then, in 2011, I had set out to discover new worlds and push myself in directions that I didn’t know. These past 2013 travels were almost like shaking hands with a familiar friend – a best friend – who one doesn’t get to see that often. A friend who I had forgotten in my pursuit of a higher education. Ah – well – I am glad that I have found her again. She’s alive and thriving!

The Arno

The Arno, Florence

In Croatia, I confirmed the strength of beautiful friendships that I had cultivated over the last 2 years.

In Vienna and Budapest, I felt my inner history-loving fire come to life, waltzing around the Schönbrunn, pumping my fists up in Jewish Ruin pubs, singing “Quizas, Quizas, Quizas” with an eclectic, musical trio.

In Italy – ah Italy – I met Bernini. I came face-to-face with his majesty – finally. I rediscovered my Art. Dancing on the streets of Venice, Prancing through cobbled stones of Florence, Hiding in the caves of Cinque Terre’s Ligurian Sea, Playing with fountains in Rome. Running across a friend from primary school days after 10 years of separation.

In Paris, I unearthed my love for Absolute Immersion. Living in the heart of Montmarte, traversing the City of Lights with friends who had defined me in my days in Boston, relishing on pan au chocolat and a café from a corner bakery every morning.

In Freiburg, I again understood the joy of Living Simply and the Art of Conversation. Picnics, munching on berries, swimming in green lakes, debates of society and politics under stars. And yet again, this time too, with friends who had shaped an amazing few months for me back in Boston.

In Peru, I found all of the things above in a wonderful package juxtaposed with some of the most astounding scenery that I have ever seen. And, saw my Macchu Picchu – a site that I have been chasing for about 10 years to get to. What was the most wondrous? While Europe rekindled with my old self in beautiful backdrops, Peru unveiled an entirely new dimension of me.

My travelogues eventually will follow. I wanted to write this piece to join together jumbled thoughts.

Heart of the Andes, Peru

Heart of the Andes, Peru

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My Anthem

Baawara mann dekhne chala ek sapna
Crazy heart set out to see a dream

~

Reflect upon life and ensure that you capitalize on living every moment. It is only when you do this that you know that you have lived. Never have regrets and be free of fears. Pursue the dreams that your heart wishes. Pursue growth. Pursue happiness. Pursue freedom.

Have an optimism, have an equal sparkle for both the simple and complex things. An enthusiasm about life – your life – will inspire visions and thoughts even in the dullest of places.

Be an Individual. Be courageous enough to break from the Circle and explore outside your comfort zones. It is only then that you will experience a life that is so preciously colorful and amazingly vibrant. You will meet people from all walks – persons you would have never met. You would envision things from all layers of society, from multiple angles. Experiences would be drastic, dramatic even. Living will suddenly have a new meaning. You will have lived. You would have given rise to dormant aspects of yourself.

To achieve this – it is not so much  about Travel as it is about Interacting with the tactile, wonderful elements about you. One can see the world and still not have grown, lived if all one did was just see the world.

Do it early – do it practically. But Live.

Ever since I was introduced to the Latin phrase that added a meaning to my thoughts, it has become a heartbeat to my very being:

Carpe Diem

~*~

Finding a Gem in your own backyard

When I used to live in India, I used to dream of Venetian palaces, French chateaus, Chinese summer homes. It took 24 years to open my eyes and see the history surrounding the place where I spent my childhood summers, the city of my birth. Often we passed by the Laxmi Villas Palace in Vadorara in rickshaws but never did I have the curiosity or the fascination to go visit it. Vadodara back then was associated just with long, lazy summers lounging in Grandma’s apartment and going shopping for pretty Gujarati dresses on R.C.Dutt road.

Laxmi Villas Palace, Vadodara

That dusty, boring Vadodara too could have its own fascinating history, beautiful architecture, and an on-site royal family never struck me.

Darbar Hall, Laxmi Villas Palace, Vadodara

It was the permanence of the backyard that strongly hindered my exploratory spirit when it came to this palace. It took a physical, permanent removal from India to get me dreaming about one day visiting the sprawling construction in the heart of the city.

Laxmi Villas Palace, build circa 1890, is gorgeous. One of the seven wonders of India, the palace is a fusion of styles – going from Italian stained glass window (the most in any private residence) to Islamic arabesque carvings. Yet, it retains within itself that charm that makes it a true Gujarati construction – that airy feeling, those open aangans (courtyards), those sculpted wooden arches.

Amusing call-back to America: The palace tour is conducted via an audio guide (in English!), reminding me of my Fall ’09 visit to the gilded mansions in Rhode Island.

Travelogue – Rediscovery – India + Emirates

Dear Readers,

I am setting off on a short 3 week trip to the Exotic East (Gujarat, Mumbai, Dubai). I plan to write a travelogue for this period of time. I am visiting areas where I grew up after five years and the pace with which they have changed are probably going to shock and surprise me. I wish to capture this rediscovery.

I will try to be as frequent as sporadic internet access allows me to be.

Here’s to a journey into my past and towards understanding the current progress and future development of India.

~I