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<-- Pass your mouse over this photo to see Amritha and I with Krishnamurthy and his wife in Vaduz, Leichtenstein in 1999.
Thanks for accompanying me on my life's journey. I have travelled widely in India due to my tranfers and also since I like travelling. Here I shall give you a feel of many interesting places in India and abroad that I have seen.
Since I feel that Question/Answer format is easier to read than narration, I propose to cover my travels also in the same way as My Early Years and My Railway Years.
1. How widely travelled are you?
You have seen earlier that I have been posted in 7 states of India. I have visited most of the other states also in the last 35 years of my career. I have gone abroad five times to Europe on training (apart from a personal visit to Nepal). I may be the most widely travelled person in our family within India. Prasad, my nephew and Raghu, my brother-in-law have travelled abroad much more than me.
2. If you are asked to recommend one place in India and one in Europe, what would they be and why?
Though it is difficult to choose one place, Namdapha in Arunachal Pradesh in India and Mount Titlis in Switzerland spring to my mind.
Namdapha is easily the most beautiful place closest to nature that I have stayed. The stay in the beautiful Forest Lodge, the early morning walk into the forest and collecting colourful stones from the river bed are all unforgettable experiences and the words of Robert Frost 'the woods are lovely, dark and deep' mean a lot to me after visiting Namdapha.
The whole of Switzerland is beautiful. But Mount Titlis was heaven and was worth all the money that we spent on the trip. The cable-car ride, the rot-air ( rotating cable car ) ride, the snow all round us, the slide in the snow on the tyre, the ice cave (constructed by railwaymen), the special swiss coffee and the vegetarian soup and lasagna for lunch, the light snow fall and of course the fact that Amritha was with me all combined to make it a magical experience.
3. How many times have you gone abroad?
My first visit abroad was to U.K. in 1983, when I was in Vadodara, under the Colombo Plan. It was a training course at Derby for 12 weeks followed by 4 weeks of 'Training for Trainers'. We had a First class pass of British Rail and travelled extensively within U.K. and outside. At that time, 'Sealink' was a part of British Rail, which meant that with our free pass, we just had to pay a couple of pounds on the channel crossing. So during the training, I visited Amsterdam and Madurodam once, Paris once and Dublin once. At the end of the training, I went on an Europe tour by train covering Belgium, Germany,Denmark, Austria, Italy, Switzerland and France.
The second visit was in 1989 when I was in BARC. This was also to U.K. for a 12-week training in Public Enterprises Management at Ilkley in Yorkshire (near Leeds). It was an excellent course, with a lot of field visits.
The third visit was in 1994, when I was in KVIC, to U.K. again (University of Sussex) for a 2-week seminar on Rural Management.
The fourth visit was a personal one to Nepal in 1994 (though many do not consider Nepal as abroad).
The fourth visit to Europe was in 1999 to a 2-week training with Ad-Tranz in Zurich and Berlin. Amritha accompanied me and we spent two days on our onward and four days on our return journeys in Paris. I had made a travelogue on this trip, which can be viewed by clicking here. My last visit to Europe was in September 2004 to Berlin as the leader of a multi-disciplinary team from Indian Railways to InnoTrans Trade Fair. The visit was for four days and was very good. But on the last day of my stay there, Gopalan, my eldest brother passed away due to a sudden heart attack.
4. Can you name some other interesting places in India that you have seen?
Let me list some places that have remained in my memory.
Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, Rishikesh and Hardwar in Uttaranchal
Kaziranga, Digboy, Gauhati and Sibsagar in Assam
Shillong and Cheerapunji in Meghalaya
Kanha, Khajuraho, Orchcha, Gwalior, Jabalpur and Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh
Srinagar, Gulmarg, Jammu and Vaishno Devi in Jammu & Kashmir
Kodaikanal, Kanyakumari, Ooty, Tiruchendur, Hogenakal Falls, Yelagiri, Yercaud, Madurai, Kanchipuram and Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu
Udaipur, Ranathambore Wildlife Sanctuary, Ghana bird sanctuary (Bharatpur), Jaipur (Choki Dani should not be missed), Jodhpur, Bikaner, Barmer, Jaisalmer and Ajmer in Rajasthan
Mysore, Bangalore, Belur, Halebid, Bijapur (Gol Gumbaz), Chamundi Hills and Jog Falls (seen by me when I was in college) in Karnataka
Matheran, Pune, Mahabhaleshwar, Nasik, Tarapur, Dahanu Beach, Jalgaon, Panchagani and Nagpur in Maharashtra
Bomdila, Parashuramkund, Fungsau Pass (Indo-Burma border) and Mayadiya in Arunachal Pradesh
Tirupathi, Nagarjun Sagar, Rajahmundhry (Godavari Bridge was under construction) and Vizag in Andhra Pradesh
Thekkady, Guruvayoor, Tiruvananthapuram and Kochi in Kerala
Gaya, Bodh Gaya and Baidynath Dham in Bihar
Bhuvaneswar, Chilka lake, Puri and Pipli in Orissa
Calcutta and Maithan Dam in West Bengal
Allahabad (Kumbh Mela), Varanasi, Agra, Fatehpur Sikri and Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh
Ahmedabad, Dakor, Rajkot, Dwaraka, Porbandar and Somnath in Gujarat
Pondichery, Goa and Chandigarh
I have just listed the places. If I write about them, it will run into a few megabytes. But I'd just say that these are all places which have special memories for me and are all worth-visiting. There are many more, including the places where I have been posted. I have written two travelogues in Tamil on our visit to Bangalore, Ussoor and Yelagiri in August 2001 and to Jaipur in September 2001. This is in the form of a letter from Amritha to her mother. If you can read Tamil, you can go through them by clicking here.
5. Can you name some other interesting places abroad that you have seen?
Pokhra and Kathmandu in Nepal
Berlin and Potsdam (which were real surprises as normally you do not find Berlin in any tourist operator's list), Hamburg and Munich in Germany
London, York (Rail museum), Edinburgh, Stratford-on-Avon, Cambridge, Oxford and Windsor in United Kingdom
Vienna (easily the best city I have seen) in Austria
Zurich and Lucerne in Switzerland
Copenhagen in Denmark
Madurodam and Amsterdam in Holland
Venice and Rome in Italy
Paris and Versailles in France
Dublin (Irish pub) in Ireland
6. Any advice to first time visitors abroad ?
I have a lot of advice, but would restrict myself to ten critical items.
-- Take three copies of your passports aftter obtaining visas, foreign exchange etc. Keep one copy at your home, one copy in your suit-case and the third in another bag. This advice is based on Krishnamurthys' (my colleague and his wife) awful experience of losing their passports as Mrs. Krishnamurthy's handbag was stolen and they didn't even have the number of the passport and had to make frantic calls to India .
-- PACK LIGHT and then HALVE IT AGAIN. Youu should only carry what you yourself can easily handle - a small suitcase and an airbag. Paris Metro does not have escalators in many stations and we had problems lugging our baggage, which was really moderate. In summer, all clothes can be washed and dried easily. So in summer better take clothes required for THREE DAYS irrespective of the number of days you will be away. In winter you may take clothes required for FIVE DAYS irrespective of the number of days you will be away.
-- TAKE a VERY comfortable pair of walkingg shoes/sneakers as well as spare shoelaces. Also take a compact umbrella ( it can rain anytime in Europe) , needle, thread, buttons, safety pins, spare pair of spectacles. And a few passport size photos.
-- Before you leave India, make sure you hhave and know how to implement your Medical Insurance in case of emergency. Pack the minimum requirement of band-aid, gauze, pain-relieving balms etc as well as aspirin, medicines for stomach trouble, constipation etc.
-- Don't forget to take a camera and checkk it before leaving. I wasted a roll of film , because my camera was defective. Also buy spare films in India as they are expensive in Paris. And resist initial "camera finger"- every sight will look like a post card at first. But later, at home they will be "another mysterious building picture".
-- Do get material from the net or guides from others. BUT READ THEM BEFORE you go, as you wouldn't find any time later.
-- Convert the estimated foreign exchange of each country in India itself. Take US dollars only for the surplus. While estimating your requirements, provide for the equivalent of at least 15 $ per day for food and do not mentally convert what you spend on food to Rupees. DON'T ever take a drink, food, etc. at any cafe facing a monument or with a spectacular view. The bill will be equally spectacular. The best bet is McDonalds. Its French fries, milkshake and hot chocolate supplemented by chocolates, cakes, ice-cream, yoghurt etc. from a food shop is healthy and cheap. REMEMBER to carry some pickles which will come very handy with bread.
In Paris you can go to the street , Rue Fauborg St. Denis , which is very near Gare du Nord and is full of Tamil shops. ( You can reach this street by walking left on leaving the main entrance of Gare du Nord. This street is the first turning to the left. You also go through this street if you walk from Gare du Nord to La Chapelle ). On our return, we spent four days in Paris and had good, moderately priced vegetarian meals , dosa, vada, bonda etc. in Santhini Unavagam ( restaurant in Tamil ) or Pondicheri Unavagam or Woodlands Restaurant , all in this street. There are a large number of sari shops , jewellers , music shops etc. We also bought two Tamil CDs. Even the latest release at that time, 'Padayappa' of Rajinikant was available. We were happy to hear old and new Tamil songs in many shops there.
Room rents are also expensive in Europe and you won't get a double room for less than 50 $. Even if you are not planning to stay in youth hostel, take its annual membership in India at 50 Rupees as it can be used for stay as the last resort.
-- To avoid Jet Lag start adjusting your ssleep schedule (leave tired -sleep on the plane) before you leave India. Drink a LOT of water on the plane and limited quantity of ALCOHOL ( even if it is free ).
-- If you want to make phone calls in Pariis, go to any Tobacco shop or post office and buy a 50 or 100FF plastic electronic phone debit card for the pay phones. There are no longer many pay phones in France that accept coins.
-- Avoid shopping in Europe except for choocolates and small souvenirs. We bought Italian cut glasses in Mumbai after our return from Europe. At least we didn't have to carry them ourselves or constantly worry whether they would break.
Hope you continue your journey with me.
Thanks & Regards,
Limits - An inspirational poem
For most people,
They're taken much too seriously.
People who let limits define them,
Who don't realize that limits are meant to be stretched,
Broken, explored. Even ignored.
Which, of course is just what you've got planned.
You've got trails to blaze mountains to conquer.
Three or four Nobel Prizes to win.
But it won't all get done if you sit on the sidelines.
So you don't.
Because the thing is,
Once you start setting limits,
Pretty soon you're just sitting still.
Copyright © 2003 S.Parthasarathy. All rights reserved.
First created in October 1998 which is available at www.geocities.com/spmumbai.geo.
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