Being a travel photographer, lush green nature and hills have always attracted me. I find peace in the lap of nature, walking across flower blooms while enjoying the gigantic fresh smell filling my nostrils giving me a sensation of another world. A 3 days trip to Kodaikanal was a much needed getaway to take a break from work and relax.
Kodaikanal is a city of hills located at a distance of 462 kms (8 hours bus distance) from Bangalore, India. It is called as the Queens of Hills.
This trip was all about witnessing the cool weather, seeing nature through a different perspective and clicking photographs.
March 30 – April 1, 2017
We booked a hut through Airbnb in Misty Mountains. The location and the hut were eye popping and situated at the highest altitude in the city.
Day 1, March 30
We arrived Kodaikanal at 6 in the morning and booked a taxi to our stay. It was 2.5 kms away from bus station, Naidupuram. The view was so amazing and refreshing that I kept wondering why did I not visit this place before.
Our stay in Kodaikanal:
We planned to cover Kodaikanal lake, Bryat park and Coaker’s walk on first day as they were 3 kms away from Misty Mountains.
Every evening on the roof top of my hostel in Delhi, I used to see the shining airplanes going off into the thin air and wondered when I would get a chance to fly in one of these with my own capability. While that dream was fulfilled the moment I joined Microsoft, I started wondering to fly to United States in the best of airlines to feel how is it like to be in the most powerful country in the world..You can say that my dreams always get upgraded.
Being at Microsoft has its own benefits
I owned an important piece of project in Microsoft. There was a talk going on to fasten the velocity of work we were doing. Given the complexity of the project, its architecture was written in many layers few of which was coded by team at Redmond. Due to time zone difference and the critical timing, we had to act on it quickly to enhance quality of product. They decided to send me over to interact with people, understand different layers and their communication.
A sudden plan
I hardly remember traveling somewhere in such a big rush. It was 4 O’ clock in the evening when I was checking flight tickets and changing date in the calendar on the online portal to finalize which day to travel. 6 O’ clock, my friends found a flight that was to take off the next morning to Seattle and I spent next hour mentally preparing myself to fly so unprepared. It was just hard to believe that I would be traveling to US, one of my dream destinations without any preparation. My parents were asking me every other day if I bought winter apparels. I usually prefer to plan everything in advance and this time, without have a flight ticket in hand, I didn’t want. With support from my friends at Microsoft, I finally decided to give it a chance. There are few things in world for which you need not to be prepared. After all, traveling somewhere without much thinking has its own share of fun. And this was not somewhere. This was what I dreamed of long enough.
It all started with a joke. I was worried I was not getting any ticket in good airlines next week. I was tired, exhausted not a clue on what to do. “There is a flight next day at 4 in the morning. You can catch that.”
“Holy cow! This would be too early. How on earth would I be able to catch that?”
I knew they were serious when my manager said. “Actually, I think you can go.”
“But I haven’t done any shopping”, my forehead was shining with worry lines.
“It’s alright. What are the things you need? You can borrow them from me.”
My friends helped to prepare an itinerary. I literally got only 2 hours to dine and pack my bags. I usually never take more than 30 minutes to pack, but since this was my first trip to US, I didn’t want to take any chances.
It’s Emirates, baby
The moment I stepped into the flight, I got the answer why it has been coined as the best airlines in the world. The service, the infra and the experience was just amazing. It is very unlikely that you would be left unhappy after an Emirates travel. It was a 22 hours long journey with a 3 hours layover in Dubai. Being a movie buff and their huge collection of movies, I didn’t find it difficult to spend time.
Hello from Redmond!
The flight was just on time. You might find it funny but the first thing I missed at Seattle airport was no taxi driver asking me where would I want to go. I didn’t have US Sim Card and it was freezing cold to stay for long in the open weather. There are two Marriott hotels in Redmond and I missed to mention which one I wanted to go to the local taxi. Even with a 50% chance of landing at the correct hotel didn’t work for me. Redmond is kinda a developed village. It’s hard to find anyone on the road. It was near difficult to ask someone for navigation. Luckily, the second Marriott was just a few blocks away.
Few of the pictures of the hotel:
I learned that labor is costly in US. The gorgeous lady at the business center handed me over a map which had directions to follow my room. It’s very unlike in India that you would have to carry luggage to your room on your own in a decent hotel.
My first status update from Facebook on the arrival night.
It’s been only 11:00 PM here and I am done with sleep. It’s quite chilly outside and the roads are empty. A grave silence is there in the winds. Next couple of nights, I am gonna spend as a night crawler. I wonder if the new government would encourage vigilante. All of a sudden, I feel like I have all the time in the world and I have very less to do.
If I was not able to respond to your chats due to my busy schedule, Let’s catch up now
Being a hobby photographer, I found everything very interesting and screaming at me to be clicked.
The view outside my hotel room. As you can see, cars are parked in the open air. In the morning, the car windows are covered with a thick layer of ice.
Just by the first look, I can say that discipline and patience flow in veins here. I never saw anyone rushing, everyone (well almost) greets you with a wide smile, cute children laughing on pavements and the most important thing – punctuality. People prefer to be on time. They dine by 8, sleep by 11 and wake up at 6.
Good morning Redmond
It is said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. You don’t realize it until you skip dinner and have a heavy breakfast in Indian style dinner.Good morning Redmond!
I was under impression that I won’t be getting sleep at usual time because of all the jet lag stories I heard. To my surprise, jet lag did magic to my schedule which I couldn’t follow even after trying for 10 years and many apps claiming to help you do so. I slept at 10, wake up at 6 and rushed to office by 8. It was just an amazing feeling. It was refreshing. I was way more productive. I never knew a good schedule can do miracles in your day to day life.
I wanna explore the world. I wanna go on a road trip someday with that beautiful girl I love. I wanna capture a lot of pictures, of her, of us, to cherish those happy moments when I will be sad. Listen to my favorite songs in the long drive.
I wanna stop in between just to enjoy the view and to see the cute smile on her face. I wanna get lost with her. Wake up, step out, wander in any direction with her on my arm while enjoying the mesmerizing views, keep walking until we feel so terribly weak on our knees that we are left with no choice but to rush to the nearest cafe, order some exotic food and a glass of wine. And then get back, wake up tomorrow and do it all over again.
I wanna see sunrise. And a lot of sunsets. Listen her all night while lying under starry sky. Sit on the brink of waterfall for hours and feel the charm of water droplets on the face. Run through a lush green forest. Feel the wind rushing in ears. Get lost in gentle breeze filling my nostrils with crazy fragrance of flowers. Pen down the experience while sitting in the colorful garden. Spend hours admiring the beauty of nature. Meet people on the way. Make memories. Purchase memorabilia. I wanna get surprised. I wanna feel alive. I wanna live my life.
I hear people shouting outside. I hear bursting firecrackers. I hear them celebrating. Many of my friends already planned this night in advance. But to me, it’s just another year, another night. For the first time in life, I wish to pass this night quietly staying alone, no WhatsApp and phone calls. I don’t feel excited or find any kind of adrenaline rush in my veins. Have I grown too old for celebrations? Or is it a sign of maturity? Is that how mature people feel, life with no excitement? Is it because they have witnessed many of such moments that this is just another old, rugged hour?
2016 was the year of learning and exploring the meaning of life. None of us can make through life without suffering some pain. Having lived my fair share, I can tell you that most difficult to endure is loneliness. We must find someone or something to invest our time into. Last year was all about self-realization and finding peace in myself. It was about discovering that it’s not all about career and love. There is a whole big world out there screaming at you to be explored.
In a nutshell, I can sum up my life in 2016 in three points:
1. Visited 8 Indian states and one foreign land
2. Tried my hands on Photography, Piano and Poetry
3. Witnessed that life is a blessing and every moment is priceless after going through the toughest, darkest phase of my life
There are many unforgettable moments I had in 2016, and mentioning only one would be doing injustice to others:
Being inspired from movie Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (You won’t get life again), I experienced sky diving, scuba diving, para sailing and sea walking. You can have a glimpse here:
Flying like a bird
A moment before scuba diving:
A walk on the sea-bed
Met an accident and spent 72 days of my life lying in bed devastated, traumatized, broke cursing fate and finding meaning of life. Funny part was I and my dad both lost 8 kgs of weight, I worrying about me and he worrying about me.
Diving into artistic world
Channelized my energy in positive direction and tried my hands in artistic world – Photography, Piano and Poetry
What to say about wonders of travel,
Never ending mysteries are there to unravel,
No matter how much I wander around,
Something new renders me spellbound,
Varieties of culture and exotic food,
Millions of reasons to uplift my mood,
A thirst which never seems to be quenched,
That is why, it’s called wanderlust my friend,
I wish I could travel forever and ever,
Far from the materialistic world, in the lap of nature.