Summer Vacation, Short Story!

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I grew up in a typical middle-class family in Kerala where parents had to toil and work hard to make ends meet. My father was then teaching in a school and my mother was a housewife. Teachers never ended up earning much monetarily – then and even now.  When I write about ‘making ends meet’ mind you, I am from Kerala which means ‘making ends meet’ included sending your kids to the best school in the locality. Education for children and coconut oil for hair was never compromised on. But yeah, unlike the general misconception, we did use shampoo and conditioner after applying coconut oil.

Coming back to my story, expensive education and reasonable standard of living meant no money for vacations. This also meant, I never understood what is meant to go on a vacation as a kid. In my small little world, vacation meant going over to my  maternal- grandmother’s house or playing with the neighbour’s children. So, after one of these two months of summer vacation, the class teacher of upper kindergarten asked all of us about a vacation trip we took during summers. She explained that it can be any trip taken by you with your parents wherein you saw new places, ate chocolates, ice-creams and had lots of fun. The little me immediately ruled out going to neighbour’s house as a vacation since parents never accompanied me. I usually ran across, or my mother passed me over to my friend’s mother over the boundary wall. I contemplated the trip to maternal grandmother’s house. But that was not a new place. I was going there since I was born. In fact, that’s the first house I lived in for 3 months after my mother popped me out. Just when I was about to ask for further clarification, the teacher proudly called out my name for starting the narration. Though confused deep inside, the confident little me swung my ponytail in the air and began my vacation trip with my father to buy nails and a hammer!

The mention of the trip made my teacher and the little smarty pants of the class giggle. Completely ignoring them, I described in detail the ride on my father’s rickety old Bajaj scooter to the town nearby, the beautiful sweaty summer morning, the stop on the way to buy ice-cream, a minor breakdown of the scooter which led to a detour through  a park till the mechanic arrived, our stop at the shop to buy the nails and hammer and of course the final stop to buy some chocolates for the sister. Afterall, she missed out on the trip. The teacher was, I think, in retrospect amazed at my ability to tick all the  boxes as per her definition of a vacation and patted my back!

Once the other kids started narrating their trips to nearby hill stations (Munnar, Ooty), longer trips to North India (Delhi, Jaipur) did I realize that I may have made a fool of myself.

All said and done, I can bet that the 4-year-old little me who went to buy nails and hammer had a lot more fun  in those few hours than what I had during the numerous trips I took around the world during the pre-covid era.

Getting married and travelling the world – amongst other things!

A lot has happened between the last post and this one. Finding the man, getting to know him, dating  and finally getting married to him took up considerable amount of time. Hence the blog was completely ignored. Getting married was a fun affair. I will definitely post a few pictures and also write about some fun moments during the wedding some time later. The man, who is now the husband was very clear about the first travel destination as husband and wife. So even before deciding the wedding dates or venue we had zeroed on the destination – South America. Had the choice been left to me, I would have clearly chosen some place closer and less hectic. Thanks to him, I had the best trip of my life.

South America, being a huge continent (the map of which I know better than Asia now), we had to choose the places we could cover in 3 weeks. Since two of husband’s friends were getting married to each other in Uruguay around the same time we were very clear that Uruguay is going to be one of the destinations. To be fair, the fact that we were invited to their wedding is one reason we went ahead and actually made the trio happen! We had decided that we could do 2 more countries within the time we had. My husband (Rony) was very keen on going to Brazil and I wanted to go to Machu Picchu. So the initial idea was to go to Peru, Brazil and Uruguay. However the ticket prices to and from Brazil were too expensive and we would go  over budget. We explored other options like Argentina and Chile. Chile looked like a good option since we would get to visit some of the best vineyards in the world and also visit thee Patagonia. So considering the budget within which we were working and the places of interest we zeroed down on Peru, Chile and Uruguay.


We were very clear from the beginning that we shall not use any travel agencies for making our itinerary. Hence it really got down to the two of us having endless conversations over phone and messenger in order to decide the trip. Another decision we had made is not to over shoot our budget. Though I am a great fan of air bnb and Rony is a fan of hostels we decided to stick to hotels for this trip, which increased the budget. But thumb rule was to book only hotels less than USD 100 dollars a day.

When we started planning, we understood that it was not as easy as it looks! So, firstly I studied the map of South America quite closely. Rony is relatively better at geography and had already done a trip in Central America so he knew the map well! The first challenge was obviously to get a cheap yet comfortable air travel to and from South America. Travelling 25 hours at one go is something either of us have never done. To and fro from any of these countries was way more expensive than flying into Peru and flying out of Montevideo. This was very surprising for us since it’s usually costlier as compared to flying in and out from the same country. Having found this out, the next hurdle was to find a route through a country which didn’t not require a transit visa for Indians. We found the answer in KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. The overall experience was excellent!



imageFlight Details

Having booked the tickets the next step was to apply for visas. An Indian passport does not give you a visa on arrival on any of these countries. Hence we had to individually apply for visas for each of these countries. It was relatively easier for me since I was working in Qatar, holding a Qatari Work Permit. Rony had to engage an agent and submit hundreds of documents. Our visa application stories calls for a different post. We had the opportunity to come in contact with some amazing people as well as some not so amazing people in the course of visa application. Let me leave that for another post.


Visa for Peru – Check!


Visa for Chile – Check!


Visa for Uruguay  – Check!

For any visa application we had to show bookings for stay and flights for internal travel. Bookings for stay were all done through Booking. Com. We picked those hotels with Zero cancellation charges. We made some changes prior to the trip but retained some. All flights for internal travel within South America were done in local airlines based on the number of days we wanted to spend in each country. Some of the pointers we kept in mind while booking the flights were:

(i) Not take an early morning flight since I love to wake up late;

(ii) Try not to reach a new city late at night;

(iii) Ensure that we have a minimum of 23 kg baggage allowance in all flights ;

(iv) Check the distance between the hotel and the airport ;

(v) Try to do overnight travel in order to save time;

(vi) Travel light! We didn’t manage to travel as light as we wanted to. But at the end of the day we didn’t pay excess baggage in any flights even with our shopping.

At the end of the trip, like every other trip we did feel that we could have done a lot better, seen more, shopped more, travelled lighter, spend lesser, spend more time in one place rather than the other. But I guess, everyone feels that at the end of any trip. The good bit is we realized that we can indeed travel together as a couple, our interests are similar in many things, we were able to accommodate the interests that differ and enjoy it too, we were able to bring back a lot of great memories and memorabilia for our new home. And most importantly we are looking forward to our next trip.

Wait for the next post about the county that we loved the most –Peru!


A True Mumbaite!

I believe that no one becomes a true Mumbaite unless you travel by the local trains. To reach my new office, I take the local train to office every day. The comforting part is that I travel against the traffic and hence do not face the huge crowd.

The first day of my local train travel, I was sceptical and scared –worried about getting lost in the crowd, not being able to find the platform, getting into the wrong train etc. Within a month of travel my perspective towards the train journey has changed completely.

I know the route, the train, the platform, the timing, the seat and just about everything related to the travel and more importantly I love the time that I spent in the train!

Because of the travel, my mornings begin early. That in itself makes one fresh for the entire day!

Some interesting incidents!

Today I happened to get into a train from the platform that I usually use at Dadar. As soon as the train reached Ghatkophar which is one station away from Vikhroli (my destination) – I saw a huge crowd getting into the train – which was quite unusual. Not paying attention I continued sitting on my seat only to realise that that particular train was scheduled only till that station and would take off on its journey back to Dadar and onward to CST. Luckily realised it just before the train started!

Daily commuters are very particular on the seat they occupy. I have been glared at by many for occupying the seats they usually sit on. I gracefully ignore them and continue sitting where I was.

I board the train from Dadar which is one of the largest stations in Mumbai. Sometime you get caught in the crowd that you are forced to travel in the direction that you don’t intent to go! I have been subject to such maddening crowd many a times!

I do now realise the real meaning of the ‘fast paced’ life in Mumbai. Everything second here is important. Being late for 30 seconds may end up in missing your connecting train, preferred seat, availability of cabs and many others.

You get to observe people coming from various backgrounds, lifestyles, temperaments, age groups travelling together in a box compartment. Some listen to music, some read, some sleep, some play games on the mobile, the regular crowd update each other of news/gossip. If interested in observing people this is the best place to be!

As a part of the journey some people become a part of your daily routine. The guy at the stall in train station from where I take my stock of ‘bourbon biscuits’, the couple just outside my office from where I buy a ‘kadak chai’ on my way to office are some. Beyond a few days you don’t need to even tell them. The couple at the tea stalls pack the tea for me as soon as they get an indication that I am walking towards them! Oh they give me a little more than they usually give – the benefit of being a regular customer!

Shall keep posting the interesting incidents of being a Mumbaite!

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