2015. Now since it’s gone by, my conscience forces me to write something. And since I’d not written much throughout last year, I thought of summarizing it here – on my blog. I will probably always remember 2015 because it was the year I jumped out of my comfort zone and fell into the lap of a new city. A city that posed multiple challenges even before stepping into it. I left Bombay for Delhi. I traded the overnight trips to Goa (home, not party) for a journey that took over 24 hours instead to get home. I moved away from everything I was familiar with and decided to start with a clean slate. New place, new people, new learnings.
After moving to Delhi, I continued to visit Mumbai once in three months, and went back home for Christmas. Apart from these places, I also ventured into new terrain. Turf that was still unexplored. Ever since I visited Manali in 2014, I’ve fallen deeply in love with Himachal Pradesh. So when I realised I was so close to the state, I didn’t waste too much time and took off to Dharamsala with my flatmate Bhavna.
Dharamsala, Kangra district, Himachal Pradesh
Bhavna and I didn’t want to do the regular sight-seeing in Dharamsala. So we decided to visit a few places, and we decided to trek. We stayed with a family in Ramnagar, watched kids play cricket and other outdoor games in the village – Ramnagar, climbed up nearby hills, stopped and admired the landscape, ate ordinary food, stepped in and out of mandirs. We also visited the Namgyal Monastery in McLeodganj, walked to Dharamkot and Bhagsu Nag, climbed up a hill (some five kilometers) to reach Indrunag, from where we could see the whole of Dharamsala. And on our last day, we visited Norbulingka – an institute dedicated to preserve Tibetan art and culture. This was a trip taken in June 2015, and over a weekend.
Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh
Bhopal is where Bhavna hails from. So when she was heading home for Raksha Bandhan, I tagged along. It was during monsoon. Bhopal reminded me a lot of Goa during the rainy season. I mostly stayed at home enjoying the delicious food her mother cooked, watching movies with her sister – together we watched the trilogy Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight. When we stepped out, we took a boat ride at the lake, visited the dargah that’s in the middle of the upper lake, visited temples and ate at a Marwari restaurant. All in all, it was a very relaxing break.
Kasauli and Dagshai, Solan district, Himachal Pradesh
I’ve already mentioned my love for Himachal Pradesh. So when my sister said she was visiting Delhi, I took the chance of taking another trip to the state, but this time, another district. We reached Kasauli before 7am and kept hunting for a place to put up. Finally we found one, settled in and left to walked around the hill. We walked to the church, through the market, ate at a lovely restaurant (I cannot recollect the name though). We also climbed down the hill to see the Mohan Meakin Brewery. Unfortunately, we had to soak our eyes with the exterior view only. Visitors weren’t allowed inside.
Post lunch we thought of going to Dagshai, one of the oldest cantonment towns in Solan. My sister had read about St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church, and since we were not too far away, she wanted to visit the church. I must admit, it was one of the most beautiful churches I’ve seen till date. The church was undergoing renovation, but it shined nevertheless. We left for Delhi the same evening. In a day we covered both these places.
What I loved the most about Kasauli was its people. We talked to so many people during our bus rides and each of them remimded me of a world that’s not cruel at all.
Agra, Uttar Pradesh
Now since Siera was here, she also wished to see the Taj Mahal and the Red Fort. So I took a day off work and we left for Agra early morning. We walked around like tourists, reading and taking photographs. Before we left that evening, we ate lunch at a tiny restaurant and loved the way the chicken was cooked.
Mangalore and Udupi, Karnataka
The final trip of the year was because of a friend’s wedding. My girlfriends and I went to Mangalore for the wedding. We ate fish like we were eating pani puri or momos because it was readily available at every corner. My favourites – The chapel of St Aloysius college and St Mary’s Island. I couldn’t take my eyes off the walls, arcs or the ceiling of the chapel. That’s because this is a beautiful, hand painted chapel that narrates the life of Jesus on the walls and the life of St Aloysius on the ceiling. Apart from this, Jesus’ disciples feature on the arcs.
St Mary’s Island is beautiful too. It’s a two-hour drive from Mangalore and you need to take the ferry to reach the island. My girlfriends and I played in the water like kids and collected sea shells. I’ll let you see the photographs.