Sleeper/Seater/DiscoDancer?

I was in the [V] office today. And as is ritual, the first thing I did was barge into Sheetal’s room. There were other people there… she was having a ‘meeting’. Sure. I could come back later. So I went and met a whole bunch of peeps, ate some grapes and then sauntered back into her office.
“So are we doing this trip in summer or what?”

Now every summer I make plans with her to go somewhere.
And so far we’ve gone nowhere.

“Lets go to Corsica” – She always has these fancy sounding places she visits. Corsica, Viaques & some such.
Yeah. Corsica sounded good. Sure.
But I really wanted to go somewhere with her because I want to write about our trip. (Yes, I’m obsessed with writing these days. Everything revolves around it. I give it 3 more weeks.)
So I told her that and she said – What about that Goa trip we did, for Mike’s birthday?
– Oh please Sheets. I’ll never write about a Goa trip. Ever.

And so, I’m going to write about this little 3 day trip we made for Mike’s birthday.

I don’t know whose idea it was but we were all just slothing it out at Sheetal’s & someone had a brainwave about going to Goa for Mike’s birthday. I think there was some alcohol involved because it was a very loud plan.
“DUDE THAT’S THE BEST PLAN EVER.”
“WE SHOULD TOTALLY DO THIS.”
“LET’S NOT TELL ANYONE.”
“YEAH!!!!! JUST THE FIVE OF US.”
“THIS IS THE BEST PLAN IN THE WORLD.”

Well, it was set in stone. And we figured we might as well.
Plus Sabelo was in town (Sheets’ best friend from New York) & there’s general merriment when Sabelo’s around.
Now, during the screaming match I remember being the asshole who mentioned taking a train. And everyone thought that that was a novel idea. And Mike said he’d take care of it & figure reservation etc.

Everybody had a busy couple of weeks & I was traveling, but closer to our ‘train trip’ I remember asking if we’d got our tickets. And someone mentioned about not getting tickets for the train because it was full up and something about us taking a ‘bus.’
You know when every part of your body becomes cold and you feel woozy… yeah, that happened.

Now don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against buses. I have traveled heaps in them. To Goa, even. I just have a problem with sleeper buses.
So I remember speaking really fast into the phone “Bus? what kind of bus? Sleeper bus? We can’t take a sleeper bus? Has he booked tickets already? Did it say sleeper or seater? Is it half reclining or sleeper? You don’t know anything about sleeper buses? Are you there? Hullo?”

No one seemed to notice my panic. No one. They just thought I was being prissy. “Sleeper is more comfortable than going sitting up Juhi. Stop freaking out.”

So I gave up. I decided I wouldn’t worry. I had done this before. I had experience.
They didn’t.

So, the day came. 10 p.m bus from Sion.
We took a cab from Bandra.
Sheetal, Sabelo, Mike, Malini & me.

We got to Sion & bought enough food and water to last a nuclear winter. Someone even bought a nailclipper (just incase zombies attacked.)
Our bus was late and the bus people told us that we had to go somewhere else to catch it and it was a bit of a walk.
4 girls, 1 boy & 37 pieces of luggage. OH GOD.

We got to the real bus stop finally and after about 10 minutes our Volvo bus pulled in. It looked so shiny & clean from outside. These guys gave me the ‘you’re so paranoid, Juhi’ look.

Mike was the first to go in.
But he came right out.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

See, a sleeper bus has beds. Ok, well, they’re are planks which we will call beds. About two & a half feet wide and about 6 feet in length. And its a bunk bed kinda deal. So – aisle – bed on either side – and bed on top of bed. And TWO PEOPLE PER BED.
Now we were five of us. 4 girls. One boy.
Which meant Mike had to share his bed.
One look at his ‘bed partner’ and Michael knew it was going to be an uncomfortable night.

Malini & I decided to take the upper bunk & Sheets & Sabelo, the opposite upper bunk.
We split the luggage between us.
15 minutes into the ride, Mike decided he was not gonna travel with FatUncleWithB.O and leapt onto the upper bunk.
So now, its Mike, Sabelo, Sheetal & bags on one bunk (refer to dimensions again to realize the actual discomfort level) & Malini & me on the other bunk. That’s until they gave us all the luggage to even things out.

I have never been that uncomfortable in my entire life. I kid you not.

But we figured 8 hours of this couldn’t be all that bad, right?
We had uno. We had headphones. We had books.
How bad could it be?

Well, for one, it was actually a 15 hour journey.
Don’t ask me how and why.
It just was.

And secondly there were limbs & backpacks everywhere. And after about 2 hours of this, everyone’s sense of adventure started to wear thin. So there was a layer of doom shrouding all of us. Uno got boring, couldn’t read the stupid books cos of the shaky bus, music made everyone nauseous. We figured we *had* to sleep if we had to survive this ride.

I think I got a couple of hours of sleep right before dawn and I was sleeping near the window & almost got my nose frostbitten. Does anyone know how cold it can get around Goa at dawn in February? Malini & I do.

So, anyway, to cut a long story short, after 15 hours we hit Goa, looking like train wrecks.
And we knew, that no matter what we did after that ride, it would seem like absolute luxury.
“Sir there is no taxi, you have to travel by moped.” – “Yaaaaaaaaaaaaay!”
“Sir, no food, you have to eat furniture.” – “Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!”
“Sir, no accommodation, you have to roast in sun” – “yaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!”
“Sir, *slap*” – “Yaaaaaaaaaaaay!”

The rest of the trip was super. Mike’s birthday was stellar. We ate, we drank, we swam….. and like good kids, took a flight back to Bombay.
And since, have never taken a ‘sleeper bus’ to Goa.

P.s – I want to talk about my awesomeness now – Not once did I say ‘I told you so’ to these guys.

In a galaxy far, far away…

It was in the summer of 2009 that I become Yudi’s follower.

I remember I bumped into him at a coffee house & generally got chatting. He told me his summer plans. He was going to this place in Pondicherry called Adishakti to do a ten-day theater course & post that he planned to take swimming lessons. I suddenly realized that I wanted to do both those things.

I am swayed easily.

Yudi told me it was the last day to apply so I rushed home & applied to Adishakti. I gave a one-line reason as to why I wanted to attend this course (and later got told that that was stupid. “How will anyone take you seriously if you give them a one-line reason?”)
I got in.

Two weeks later I found myself at Chennai airport. Yudi had reached a little before me & had waited up. Figured we’d take the same taxi to Auroville.
“Hi Yudi!”
“Hi Juhi!”
Taxi.
Slam. Doors shut.

Now, we weren’t the best of friends till this taxi ride. But Pondicherry changed all of that.
We reached post midnight and were met by Fizz & Arvind.
They helped us with our bags and showed us to our room. Told us class started at 6:30 the next morning (What?) and left.

So somehow we hauled ourselves to the dining area at 6 for some tea and headed to our first class which was 20 minutes of breathing exercises with Nimmi & then 2 hours of Kalaripayattu (WHAT?!?) (WHY?!?!)
That first class was brutal. It became easier by day 5. But that first day…. that first day….
I actually thought that I might have a congenital heart defect by the end of that first session of Kalari.

Everybody else in the course had come a day earlier & sort of knew each other. Yet again, I was the new kid in class. But this time around, it was fine because it was quite a merry lot. People from all over. Didn’t really have much time to talk during our ‘Let’s kill these unfit city people’ class but right after that was breakfast.
Man, food never tasted that good. Honest. Idli and Sambar. Best fuckin’ idli & sambar in the world.

So we met everyone, hung out a bit & then in half an hour were seated at our first class with Vinay.
Vinay was a force to reckon with. He knew everything. And he was ace at it. Also, there was tons to learn from him so everyone listened to every word that came out of his mouth. Now this is the part where I tell you about Yudi’s super-powers.

Yudi can do one thing and concentrate on another. And he can act like he’s not listening to someone (say, instructor) and talk to you, but he’s actually listening to someone (say, instructor) while talking to you. And I didn’t know about any of this till day 3.

On day 3, when everyone else was earnestly listening to Vinay talk (and Vinay is one hellava interesting man with a crazy sense of humour), Yudi decided it was time. And so he started to make me laugh. I don’t remember what he said and did but it had something to do with Rekha & Stardust Magazine. Remember that uncontrollable laughter in school when there was a really strict teacher around? Yeah. That’s what happened. So, of course, Vinay looked up, asked me whats up & threw some questions at me & I just garbled some rubbish, but Yudi… Yudi knew exactly what was going on and spat out some answers, which were on point. I don’t know how he did it, but he did. And it was always me getting caught.

This happened once, then it happened again, then it happened again… and by the 4th or 5th time, people didn’t really want to sit next to us all that much. There was an entire class of very serious people and then there were the two idiots who were always grinning. I remember this one class when I was actually paying attention, Yudi started to slither towards Vinay, shooting imaginary spider webs from his wrists. … and then slither back (Vinay was aware of all of this and never once kicked us out. He did make us sit separately once or twice)
We also had percussion class at 4 in the evening. Of course we were extremely enthused the first day. We were charged. First Kalari, then an awesome theory class, then a stellar lunch… and then Percussion class? How awesome is that?! So we beat the drums with all our might. Tiny little drummer boys & girls not knowing the wrath of leather on wood.

It was that night at around 3 am, when I woke up to some seriously loud sounds of angst/pain. It was Yudi, on the next bed, asleep and in anguish. Thank God for Brufen 500 mg. We popped those for 3 days straight. Day 4 we were made of steel.

And that’s when we decided that we were going to be called The Sexy Ninja’s. We were invincible, we felt no pain, we moved like Cheetahs. It was us against the world. We were – Yudhishter Urs, Juhi Pande, Ashavari Majumdar, Vivek S. Punjabi & Fizz (our Kalari instructor, who actually was all these things)
Now Fizz, who was the first to meet us, is a resident at Adishakti, had Yudi & me as his fans. I remember looking at him and saying “Oh my God, you look exactly like…” “Jean Reno” He completed.
He does.
Spitting image.

Fizz liked his guitar and he didn’t like talking too much. But he took us around Auroville, made us buy awesome home-made jam and squash, took us to the beach, took us to Hotel Qualithe, we rented scooties, went for dinner. It was fun. And before we knew it ten days were up.

So, ok, maybe Yudi & I weren’t ideal students. Maybe we should have paid more attention. Maybe we shouldn’t have called our batch in Kalari class ‘The Sexy Ninja’s.’
But we did.
And it was the best fun I ever had in any class.
And Like all my trips, I’d do this over in a heartbeat.

:)

I just noticed this little smiley on the top right hand corner of my homepage.
I have no idea when he got here …or how.
But he’s here.
And he’s not leaving.
Destination – 0

I’m going to give him a name. He’s Jacques. And he’s a ninja. The smile is just to fool you.
So …. take it easy. And don’t try any stunts. He’s gonna watch my back while I write… furiously.

I seem to have a lot of time on my hands today

♫ Stars – Your ex lover is dead

Trust me, it’s paradise.

I had a brutal shoot yesterday. Good brutal. Probably the funnest day I’ve had at work in a while. But it was long. I had to wake up at 3 am and we worked all day, all over Delhi and then wrapped at 11 pm.

I had to head to the airport fairly early in the morning back to Bombay. And I had had about six good hours of sleep. Now, I know a lot of people who say they wake up happy. But I’m not one of them. Usually its my sinuses or the weight of the world….. something’s always amiss but usually in an hour or two I reach higher ground and I’m good to go.

Today….was different. I didn’t really know I woke up happy. But I did.

I packed, showered, listened to a long overdue track (Adele’s Rolling in the deep) and headed out. My main man, Dilip, who is more MacGyver than driver, was driving me to the airport. And we chatted each other up, sifted through radio channels, spoke about Delhi & Bombay & the people we work with. It was nice & sunny outside… and that’s when it hit me…. that in that moment, I was happy…. I was good. And I had no complaints with anyone or anything. I wanted to take that feeling, put it in a jar, seal it & carry it with me forever.

So I reached the airport, got myself some tea & I’m writing this down while I watch aircrafts take off & land. This is my version of a jar.

I don’t know if I am happy because yesterday was so stellar or because I’m going back home for 4 days or because things just feel right with the world. I’ve come to the conclusion that its all about the moments. Life lies in the nano-seconds. And all I  know is that right here, this moment, in transit, I feel good.

♫ There is a track by Orbital called beached. Give it a listen & pay attention to the lyrics. There is a line there made of gold. I take it with me wherever I go. As does Dhruv.

 

South Button

I don’t like marine life.
I mean, its ok from a distance but I don’t want it to touch me. At all.
It’s sad, really and I do wish I could change this about myself, but I can’t. So, I continue to not like marine life. This in turn makes me a fraud traveler. Because a real traveler is afraid of nothing. Starfish don’t skeev her out. Seaslugs don’t terrorize her dreams, hermit crabs don’t suddenly become 10 times their size and attack cities.

Last year in January Chola, Hasib & I decided to go to the Andamans.

Chola & Hasib weren’t privy to my all-consuming phobia (And neither was I, obviously, because I hatched this fantastic plan with them. Great!)
These guys left before me and I was to meet them on Havelock Island a couple of days later. I landed in Port Blair and had to take a ferry to Havelock. And I have to say that there is very little in this world as arresting and stunning as the Andamans. The islands make you want to love this Earth with all your soul and they make you realize how truly blessed we are to have this planet to call our own.

Cho & Hass came to the port to fetch me. Our ride was an autorickshaw, but that changed the next day when we got ourselves scooties cos we’re badass like that.

We were staying at this sweet little resort by the sea and decided to just chill for the first two days, which we did with much ease. On day 3 our plan was to go to this tiny island off Havelock called South Button. Everyone we spoke with said that it was great for snorkeling (Which I was seemingly excited about, which in hindsight seems absolutely absurd.) It was a 4 hour boat ride away, we could have lunch there, snorkel a bit (what?!) and come back by evening.  We asked around for boat rates and everyone was in the category of 2400-2600 bucks for a round trip. And it seemed fine until we got chatting with our autorickshaw driver who said that his cousin had a great boat and he would take us to and fro for only 1200 rupees! How Fantastic! Could we be so lucky?!  (We would save 400 rupees each, which we would then use to buy Vicodin to numb our pain the next day)

So, we sealed the deal.

Spit. Shake. Done bro.

We woke up nice & early the next day, gathered all our gear, had some lunch packed & met our rick driver who took us to the beach, we had to walk a little till we saw it. …. The boat.
And it was just that. A boat. Like the one’s you drew when you were 4.
It had nothing. Which would have been fine had he not described a luxury yacht to us. In front of us was a plank of wood shaped like a gravy pot.
We didn’t have a choice. It was 8 a.m. South Button was our plan. South Button it would be. We got into it and said ‘chalo bhaiyya’ and then he started the ‘engine’.

……………………………… … . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Death.

How do I describe that noise to you? Words fail me.
To begin with, it was loud, like a few sledgehammers together. And it hit our brain with a thunk with each beat. But it wasn’t a beat. It was a punch. And it was constant. I remember our faces when he started the engine. Our mouths were open for a few seconds and there was horror in our eyes. 4 hours of this. Well done crafty travelers!

But lets face it; everyone makes mistakes when traveling impromptu. But we would be above everyone because we would continue to make mistakes and prove to everybody how much we like pain. It became 11 o clock. And there was no South Button in sight. I was sitting under a sarong hiding from the sun & Chola was under a crevice in the ‘boat’. Hiding from the sun. Hassib on the other hand had taken off his shirt & was sunbathing.
Starting from the next day, no one was allowed to touch him for a week because his epidermis was toast and he looked like he’d rolled in mud.

After an hour we saw a clump of rocks jutting out of the sea and our ‘motorboat’ driver told us ‘Yeh lo – South Button.’ The laughter that ensued was manic. Where were we supposed to eat our lunch? Where were we supposed to frolic & chase butterflies & discuss astronomy? According to motorboat man it was on the boat.
Since we’d reached that far & had gone through extreme agony we figured that we might as well snorkel a bit. And that’ when it hit me. I didn’t like snorkeling, that I was a poor swimmer, that if a fish swam close to me I would lose consciousness. Chola laughed at me for a while. I didn’t make any eye contact. Then she put on her snorkeling gear & swam away like a little guppy.
She needed a rope to get her back on the boat 10 minutes later.
We decided to head to another island which wasn’t made of sharp kryptonite to eat lunch & found a lovely place an hour away. It looked so pretty. These guys leapt out like ponies and walked in waist deep water towards the ivory sand. And I was about to do the same when I happened to look below at the water. Seaslugs! Everywhere. EVERYWHERE. The size of cats. I swear.

I couldn’t get into the water. I would die. So I asked the boat guy to take the boat closer to the shore. He said no. The hull might get damaged. (The hull?!?). So while Chola & Hass frolicked on the beach, chased butterflies and talked about stars, I sat in the boat & ate my lunch like a refugee. I don’t want to talk about this any further.

But Karma is a bitch. Don’t diss the Seaslug.

We made our way back home and in 3 hours we could see Havelock. We had newly acquired migraines ……but we could see the shore. Whoop!
But it was low tide. So we had to walk about 50 yards towards the shore in shallow water. And the Seaslug cartel was there to greet me. I remember being close to tears. I offered to pay the ‘bhaiyya’ as much as the entire boat ride to just carry me to shore. He refused. Cho & Hass were now hysterical with laughter (it was the heat) & so, I stepped into the infested water and held their hands and walked to the shore with my slippers on. Then my slippers broke. And that’s all I have to say about that.
The moral of this story is that facing your fear is for pansies. Lie. Lie to the world and to yourself.
The next time I got to South Button, I will have a little dinghy, for low tides and damaged hulls.

♫ Massive Attack – Angel

Unicorns & Slushies

I went through a phase where I thought psychedelia was the answer to everything. Probably one of the best phases of my life. Also around that time, I met Mehma Tibb.
Memz and I were born 8 days apart. But we only met when we were 26. She seemed alright. Didn’t talk much. And I didn’t make much of an effort. Whatever. But then August came along and I really wanted to go for the Boom festival in Portugal. 7 days of pure, unadulterated trance (with some faeries & pixies thrown in for good measure). But no one seemed to want to come along… So, I asked Memz. “Hey, I’m going to Portugal for the Boom, you wanna?”  “Sure.”
And that was that!
We exchanged numbers and I spoke to her once before leaving, giving her my travel deets and when I’d be in Lisbon & she said she’d take a train from Paris and call me.
So, I reached Lisbon and I seriously started to doubt Mehma coming with me & I wondered if I should feel bad for myself, but then I met up with a friend from Bombay and we bumped into some more people who were going to the festival so it was all happy and merry. We roamed the streets of Lisboa, drank a lot of beer, posed with random architecture, drank leftover beer left by strangers on the road (I know, I know), and then called it a night. I woke up in the morning and Bam! I get a phonecall from Mehma Tibb! All the way from Bombay via Paris! She had made it! And she brought a friend along, Chris Espinosa, who she met on the train & got along because he was ‘so cute’. (She later found out he was 17. She turned green for a while but resumed composure soon after)
And so we had an entire day & night to kill before heading to the festival. So what do we do? We drank buckets of sangria, got more beer, hung out at the city center, debated going to see something cultural/historical but this didn’t seem like it was that kind of holiday. After dinner we got back to our hotel & all the people we’d met the previous day had decided to stay at our hotel and catch the same bus as us. Great! Party! Yay!
But in two hours everyone was asleep and Chris had finished all the beer and had locked himself in the cupboard. He didn’t want to come out….. Ever.
At some point it became morning, and we all trooped out to catch the bus, which would take us to Idana Nova. The only things that mattered to us were our backpacks and all the cheap wine we had bought (youth is wasted on the young). 4 hours into the bus ride we were all ridiculously happy and could barely walk.
And then the bus stopped.
The driver told us that that was the last stop and we would now have to walk 6 kilometers to the festival site. (This is what happens when you book last minute). So, armed with 16-kilo backpacks, 42 degrees of afternoon sun and mammoth hangovers, suddenly life wasn’t all that peachy.
And so we started to trudge and we met other sad people like us…. trudging. Everyone had a blinding headache and there were no aspirins in sight.  At one point everything seemed yellow and I thought I couldn’t hear too well, but I figured I was being a bit of a drama queen about it all and manned up to the situation. And its only when we realized that it wasn’t going to get better, that a flying unicorn wasn’t going to come and rescue us and drop us at our tent site with orange slushies in our hands, did we actually start to make the most of it. Those hours flew by (ok, not really, only in retrospect, but whatever, just go with the story) We made heaps of friends, got to hitch a ride for a few hundred meters in a car, were handed out water and beer by people who were stuck in cars (Now that queue was about 2 kilometers long and it immediately made us feel better)  and somewhere around sundown we made it! We were alive, a little out of breath, mildly sunstroked, very tired but so fuckin’ happy!  We were there!
Memz & I managed to pitch our tent with a little help from Saurabh, but we slept outside it, under a tree under the stars. And in 4 hours morning peeked at us with the most magnificent sunrise I have ever seen.
I’m not even going to try writing about the next 7 days because I won’t do them any justice.
Best. Time. Ever.

 

It seemed so surreal.  And it was definitely a trip of a lifetime …and I had found a friend I could keep forever.

P.S – Mehma talks a lot
P.P.S – She brought meflowers. Which means she loves me too ☺

 

Hardeep

The monsoon of 2006 was pretty life altering.
I had to do a travel show called Freedom Express. It was all about traveling around India on a very tight budget. I remember being pretty stoked about it, as was my team.
My team had Sakshi (Producer), Manjunath (ManjuMan – camera). Raja (sound), Pawan (Production), Niraj (Producer) & Hardeep (our paranoid schizophrenic driver).
So we had a 22-day trip ahead of us with very little money. But all of us were gung ho and ready to take on the world… or at least Himachal Pradesh if we came up short.
We decided to take a train from Bombay to Delhi and I clearly remember Sakshi and me insisting on general compartment travel. We figured we might as well save as much money as we could at the beginning so that it’s easier later on.
Big mistake.
Huge, even.
See, it was pouring in Bombay when we left and our ‘general compartment’ had a leak… from the ceiling. So the six of us kicked off our little journey sitting like idiots, getting drenched. It got better after a while, the rain stopped and it started to get warm. Really warm. But then we reached Delhi and realized that getting drenched in a dirty, sardine packed train was far better than the heat we were being pelted with. We were all hypoglycemic by the time we reached the taxi stand and met Hardeep. Now when I say Hardeep, I want trumpets to play and elephants to march across the screen. Because Hardeep was a force to reckon with. He was sent back in time from outer space to destroy us all. One kilometer at a time. He seemed like a meek little sardar when we first introduced ourselves. But, then he got into the car and said “pata hai isse pehle main Tihar jail mein thha. Maine khoon kiya hai.” I remember we just stared at him for a bit and then Sakshi started to laugh uncontrollably and I really wanted to as well but I was afraid.
We had a long and winding route ahead of us, which I’m really proud of so I’m going to type it out:-
Delhi-Haridwar-Mussourie-Dhanaulti-Dehradun-SomeplaceNearChandigarh-McLeod Ganj-Malana-Manali-Leh-Kullu-Shimla-Delhi
And we had to be with Hardeep all through.
Everything was fine for the first couple of days, no problems, no nothing. I think it was on day 4, when we were driving through Punjab, Sakshi corrected Hardeep’s driving. He was swerving a little and going faster than usual. So she told him to take it easy. Hardeep stopped the car in the middle of the highway, opened the door and started walking away. We didn’t really know what to make of this, but chasing him made sense. So we all got out, ran to him, apologized (I have no idea for what), and he got back in the car. This happened quite frequently after that. And in time we learnt not to check him… at all… ever… even if he was going head on towards a truck.
A couple of days later he got a little too cocky or maybe it was just his bipolarity kickin’ in, but he insisted that we go to this one village (his village, of course) for breakfast at a Gurudwara. This particular village was way off our route and we were pressed for time, but hey, none of us was strong enough to say no to “Meri baat suno, langar hai, free hai, chal lo”. So like mice, we sat in the car and reached this Gurudwara for the langar. And we lost 4 hours of our day, but we got free food. I remember being scared throughout.
Now I could go on and on about this trip, but I think I’m going to keep it coming in snippets. Only because I don’t have the will-power to write that much and large amounts of text make me nauseous. I’m going to let this one be about Hardeep. And I will also let you know that as neurotic as he was, he did our entire trip  without killing anybody and even smiled once. So, here’s to Hardeep, wherever he is!

P.s – I don’t have any pictures of Hardeep because my hard-drive crashed and I hadn’t backed up some photographs. Sakshi, this is your cue.

My music in blur.

Travel and music go hand in hand. How can they not? It’s pretty much one and the same thing for me. Every trip has an album or a song that becomes more the trip than the trip itself. When I went rafting, it was Jamiroquai, when I was shooting a promo in Goa it was Isobel by Bjork, when I was in Spain for the first time it was Frou Frou. I thought I was pretty ace at figuring music for a trip till Steve came along to steal my thunder.
He takes it to a neurotic, obsessive, professional level. And I actually say this with a lot of pride. If Steve was shot with a superblastingcrumble gun, the little Steve pieces would actually be musical notes.
Here’s an example: My parents have a beautiful cottage in Kashid and it’s a stunning drive. Steve and I had a weekend off so we figured we’d drive out for the weekend and laze it out in Kashid. I get into the car and find a playlist, which has been made with utter care and precision for the entire 3-hour drive. And you know what’s cool? The last song came on the moment we reached our destination. If I sound like a fangirl right now, it’s probably because I am one.
Since these past two years, there’s been a lot of travel, together and separately, for work and for fun. And for every trip there has been a fantastic playlist. I’m never without music. And now it’s all because of Steve. The roadtrips seem to have increased because we just want to listen to music when we’re a blur to the world. So whether it’s Cake on the way to Panchgini or Baba O’Reilly in Goa or The Strokes in Hamburg, it’s the movement outside and the stillness within that I love the most.

When Dhruv and I never traveled

I’ve been shooting in some bizarre Delhi heat since 8 am today. Which is fine. But every time it gets really hot, it takes me back to April 2006. When my brother and I decided to take a week off and go to Thailand. Just. To explore… and maybe have a beer. And we assumed that the weather would be awesome. Because all the pictures on the internet seemed so….cool. So anyway, we land in Bangkok and shop for two days and marvel at all things Bangkokian. Ooo look! Tuktuk! Ooo look! Beer! Ooo look! Street food. Oooo look! scheming tuktuk driver who will rip us off. It was fun. I got shooting stars tattooed on my ankle; Dhruv sulked because I didn’t want to drink constantly.  Then we decided to go to Koh-Samui for a couple of days. It was very last minute so trains and flights were out of the question. So I suggested “Hey! Why not take a double decker bus and then take a ferry. Its only 6 billion degrees but we don’t know that yet. Lets also run out of food & wait by the side of the road for 4 hours. And also, while we’re at it lets take the worst seats on the boat so that we sit directly under the sun and get skin cancer. It will be fun.” I’m glad Dhruv is my brother. That way he can’t run away. We are still related and on talking terms. And at some point I feel he might forgive me. I think.
But the story didn’t end there. And much as I’d like to talk about it, I feel that I need to concentrate only on the good parts of every trip. Which I have….. already. Though I must mention that on the very cramped double decker bus we took, we met a circus troupe from England. Satya had red hair, she was a trapeze artist and her younger brother, Charlie the clown (no, really!) washed down many a valium with buckets of whiskey and was kind enough to share. Good times!
In the course of the trip we perfected the art of sulking and ignoring each other, not listening to the other person, arguing, shouting publicly, learning how to say ‘moron’ in different tones, getting lost on an island the size of a shoe, using each other as a human cushion on aircrafts, buses, boats, trains & tuktuks and laughing a lot, together.
If I had to do this entire treacherous trip all over again, I would. In a heartbeat. And I have a feeling Dhruv would too.
Oh and hey Dhruv! If you’re reading this, I have one word for you – Haddas. It means ‘flower’ in Hebrew. Ring a bell?

Bom-Del-Bom-Del-Blr-Del-Bom-Del

I don’t think I’ve traveled to Delhi these many times in such a compressed period of time. Work beckons, hence the ‘lets look important and fly lots’. Which is fun, in bits. Mostly because I have an awesome travel partner in Manish. And when I say awesome, I mean that he has the patience of a saint. I usually leave a trail of things from home to airport and then from airport to home. Earphones, chapstick, boarding pass, book, hairbrush, inflatable pillow, belt. And he just picks it all up, and hands it to me . I used to look sheepish before, but I have realized that he doesnt judge me. So now I take the entire process for granted. I don’t have to go to the counter and get the ticket, I don’t need to check my email for the PNR number, I don’t have to show my I.D to the seccurity guy. I just walk behind Manish like an incapable child. Either he’s an awesome friend who really does care about me or he’s going to take a bat to my head sooner than later. Only time will tell. But until then…. I’m just going to enjoy these Bombay-Delhi flights and continue being absolutely incapable.