When a Traveller Comes Home…

As travellers, we pack our bags and set out to explore places far and wide. But most of us come back to a place we call “home”… a place where we bring back our memories… recharge the batteries of our system… and plot our next quest! It is with the aim of reflecting on our own spaces, our homes, our green-rooms (that help us prepare for our performances in the world), that I write this post today.

Where do you dream?

Where do you dream?

A globe by my night table – to help me dream of unseen places

Pictures of my hosts strung on a wall – to remind me of their faces

Soft cushions to rest my tired limbs that’ll hike up a hundred hills

Fluffy blankets to dig my fingers into before they play again with quills

My bedroom is where I dream after I’m done with my dose of reality for the day. It is very important for a travel blogger to dream if she wants to bring her dreams to life the next morning. Last Saturday, I met one such dreamer who had succeeded in making his dreams come true. I was in the company of Sonu Sood, the Bollywood heartthrob, whose aspirations took him from Chandigarh to Mumbai.

Sonu has recently gotten his home in Punjab transformed by Godrej Interio. He was at the Interio showroom to share his experience with the world (before he agreed for some private time with your favourite travel blogger 🙂 ).

Sonu Sood talks about the transformation of his home

Sonu Sood talks about the transformation of his home

He took us through the video of the transformation process. He has a beautiful, spacious home in Chandigarh where his father lives. After Sonu lost his mother, he decided to give their home a makeover because his mum had always wanted one. The Godrej Interio team of interior decorators had several meetings with Sonu and his family to understand their personalities and choices before they worked on a plan to transform the house.

Sonu prefers simplicity. He likes minimalism, straight lines and light colours. The entire project took about 25 days when the Interio team redid every room, brought in new furniture (some shipped all the way from Mumbai) and painted the walls in soothing colours. Sonu’s room was given a tint of green to match his lively character. Their living room is where Sonu spends most of his time – relaxing and reading a book. The transformation gave this Bollywood star a much needed break and brought his family together – even his sister flew down from the States.

You too can be lucky and have your home transformed by interior decor specialists! All you have to do is enter Godrej Interio’s Upload & Transform Season 3 contest. Here’s what you could win:-

Living Room

Your drawing room is what your guests see first thing when they enter your abode. Is it not wise then to ensure this room reflects your personality accurately? Your taste in sofa, wall unit or even rug can reveal whether you prefer the good life or crave simplicity. The size and organization of your seating space can tell if you love company or like to be on your own.

Kitchen

If you have managed to “draw” people into your “drawing” room, you must share your dining and cooking space next. A modular kitchen tells visitors that you love fine dining and exquisite cuisines. If you have a small bar table in your living room with bar-stools to match, you project that you like to pour some drinks and have a good time every so often.

Bedroom

Bedrooms are not for everyone to see. Only a close friend or somebody who will stay over is privy to your most intimate living-space. And this is why your deepest thoughts should emanate from this room. A comfortable bed helps you sleep and dream better. That translates to better executed plans. Your bedroom is your private place where you let all our thoughts loose and think about deep questions (like the meaning of life, perhaps?). This is why the furniture should keep you in your element.

Does your room "sport" your character?

Does your room “sport” your character?

If you are an active person like I, your room will show that. Many have their gyms (or at least treadmills) built into their bedrooms. Does your room betray your loyalty to your favourite football club? Do you have bedsheets and pillowcases screaming who you support? Your space tells people if you wish to be a painter or a cricketer! Use your furniture with care – it reveals more about your soul than you’d imagine.

Kid’s Room

For those of us who have or live with little children, we must be considerate towards their tastes and preferences. Most kids love vibrant colours and elements that have a theme or tell a story. Make sure your kid’s furniture is safe and easy for her/him to use. Their rooms are where your kids will grow and spend their “me” time.

Safe to keep your stuff safe

Safe to keep your stuff safe

Safe

All the furniture ideas I presented here are thanks to the creativity of the Godrej Interio team. They design one other gadget that every home must install – a safe. Travellers like us are often away from home. Most of us don’t have an extra pair of eyes to watch over our precious things. This is where a safe comes in to put your minds to rest – so you can enjoy your vacation without having to think about thieves partying at your place. 😉

Goodies to mark this good day

Goodies to mark this good day

I’d like to thank the Godrej team for inviting me to cover their meet-and-greet event and gifting me this beautiful goodie-basket (full of my favourite things from Godrej Nature’s Basket 🙂 ).

This post is part of the Godrej Interio activity at Blogadda.com.

Sonu Sood’s Travel Secrets

Dear readers, because you have been such wonderful followers of my travel blog, I have a surprise for you! After a bit of lobbying, I finally got hold of one of the hunkiest men in Bollywood – Sonu Sood!!! 🙂

Sonu Sood agrees to share his secrets with me

Sonu Sood agrees to share his secrets with me

Despite his fame and prosperity, Sonu has kept his feet firmly on the ground. His disarming, warm demeanor told me I was going to have a great afternoon with him. Before I give you details of our tete-a-tete, let me tell how far he has come from his peaceful existence in Chandigarh to the big city life of Mumbai.

Sonu had  a simple upbringing and was very close to his mother. He studied Engineering, but realized early on that his real passion lay in acting. He was a successful model for a few years before he turned into an actor. His journey was not easy. He did not have a godfather in the film industry. He made his way through the labyrinthine paths of Bollywood solely through his hard work and perseverance.

When he first told his mum that he wanted to leave his home city of Chandigarh to build his acting career in Mumbai, he was pleased to have her support. She told him to keep trying and have patience as he went along. For an entire year that he was in Mumbai, he got no work, and Bollywood seemed like a distant dream. But he did not lose his spirit. He went down South and acted in several Tamil and Telugu movies before breaking into Bollywood.

Sonu in Dabangg (Pic courtesy: movies.ndtv.com)

Sonu in Dabangg (Pic courtesy: movies.ndtv.com)

Fascinated by his journey, I asked Sonu if he likes to travel. And he does! Unfortunately, he does not get much time for sightseeing, but he thoroughly enjoys shooting for his movies in new locales. As he spoke, my eyes drifted to his impressive biceps. I couldn’t stop myself from asking how he keeps fit during his travels and with his busy schedules.

Sonu revealed his top fitness secret to me – he keeps aside 2 hours every day for workouts. His normal day consists of 22 hours. He does not let anything eat into those 2 precious fitness-hours. He keeps all excuses at bay and even after a hectic day, trains at 2:00 or 3:00 in the night! His trainer, who had accompanied him, nodded when I looked at his direction.

I was curious to know when Sonu started building his body. He told me that he was into six-packs right from his college days. He would exercise regularly while juggling with his strenuous Engineering curriculum. He also revealed that he does not make muscles only for special movie sequences. Fitness is part of his lifestyle. This means, you will never catch him in bad shape!

The Bollywood heartthrob opens up to me

The Bollywood heartthrob opens up to me

They say, the quickest way to judge a man is by his shoes. Sonu’s shoes speak volumes of his active way of living and love for travel. Only a man who loves the outdoors would wear tough shoes with good grip!

New places take you closer to new cuisines… We got talking about food. Sonu’s favourite dish is the Punjabi aloo-paratha. He was born in Ludhiana, brought up in Chandigarh, and has been living in Mumbai ever since. But the Punjabi taste has remained with him. He confided in me how in his younger days he would eat loaves of bread and a brick of butter! Nobody told him back then that fats and carbs cannot be eaten beyond a certain percentage if you wish to have washboard abs.

Interestingly, Sonu is vegetarian. And he gets brownie points from me for being one! 🙂 He has never tasted non-veg in his entire life. He is not against eating meat though. He agrees that non-veg is a great source of proteins. But veg food is no less of a protein-provider! Sonu Sood’s awe-inspiring body is enough to silence all naysayers.

Sonu in Happy New Year (Pic courtesy: bollywoodhaberleri.com)

Sonu in Happy New Year (Pic courtesy: bollywoodhaberleri.com)

Sonu plays another attractive character – Jag in Happy New Year. He did a lot of travelling across the world to shoot for this movie. He does his own packing for his trips and kind of hates it. But he loves the excitement of going to a new place. I asked him how he sticks to his diet when he’s up in the air. Because of his stature, he has access to food exclusively prepared for him. He always asks the airhostesses to get him salads. But there are times when he cannot be strict with his food-intake.

Especially when you have co-stars like Shah Rukh and Deepika egging you to eat more! Both Deepika and Shah Rukh love to eat, and when you’re travelling with them, you are bound to be mollycoddled into stuffing yourself! Sonu gives in to rich food once in a while, but he makes sure he never eats junk food.

‘Only dieting and working out can’t give you energy’, I wondered. I asked Sonu how he relaxed so he could give his best performance every day. He has to have some trick for resting if he gyms in the dead of the night! I was in for a surprise. This active actor gets barely 4 to 6 hours of sleep a day! He unwinds by taking some time off from work to talk to people like me. 🙂

The beautiful afternoon comes to an end

The beautiful afternoon comes to an end

I had the best afternoon all month yesterday. Sonu was very generous with his time and words, and even told me I have a beautiful smile. (I gripped my armrest to stop myself from fainting at the compliment.) I wish Sonu a lovely career and life ahead. May he visit newer shores and entertain more people!

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If you are a celebrity (or PR Manager for one) who likes to travel, get in touch with me for an exclusive interview and full-post feature on my blog.

My First Liebster Award!

Earlier this week, Surya from Perpetually Peripatetic turned my drab Wednesday morning into a remarkable one! One of my favourite travel bloggers, she nominated me for the Liebster Award!! 🙂 Thank you so much, Surya, for recognizing my baby-blog which is just over a year old!

 

‘Liebster’ is a German word that loosely translates to ‘favourite’, and this award is given by blogging-veterans to new kids on the block. The goal is to discover new bloggers and their interesting blogs in 3 easy steps:-

  1. In a blog-post, tell the world you’ve been nominated, express your gratitude to the blogger who nominated you and insert a back-link to her/his blog.
  2. Answer the 11 questions that you were asked in the nomination-blog-post.
  3. Spread the cheer by nominating other blogs with <500 followers & ask them 11 new questions.

Now, presenting… Surya’s 11 questions and my answers:-

1. Who or what inspired you to start blogging?

I owe my start to a number of incidents and people. I created my first blog inspired by my school-friend, Vayshnavi, a gifted writer who blogs at vayshnavi-obscureyetvivid. My posts, however, were few and far between. Then came Suman, an angelic office-friend who urged me to start blogging again. He would blog regularly and tell me it’s ok to not have perfect posts, but it’s important to write.

But what really got me to create a travel blog was my interview experience at one of India’s premier business schools. I faced a panel of 3 middle aged professors who asked me about my alternate career plans. I told them I wanted to be a travel blogger because of my immense love for travel and writing. I had been traveling out of my city every month that year! The lady in the panel looked interested and asked me (with a big smile) if I blogged about my travels. My face fell when I heard that question. I cannot recall what I mumbled through the rest of the interview, and I (obviously) did not make it to that school. But that question changed me forever. When my dad drove me back home, I couldn’t help but wonder why I had never written about my trips to the various wonderful places I had been to. If I indeed loved to write and travel so much, why had I not done anything about it? What had I been waiting for? Blogging doesn’t cost a Rupee (unless you count internet charges 😛 )! I started a new blog (this very one! 🙂 ) that night, and have reserved it exclusively for travel-posts and everything related to travel. I realize this blog is not helping me get an MBA, but it brings me plentiful joy and makes me fall in love with writing and travel over and over again.  

Also, Shivya deserves a special mention here, as in my initial days of travel blogging, I ran into her blog and discovered how beautifully she paints (through her words) the images of places she writes about. Knowing that there are more girls like me who share my passion for tripping and scribbling, has made me aware of a sort of sisterhood that makes me feel I’m never alone even in my solo journeys.

2. Which, do you think, is your most under-appreciated post? Link  to it while answering so we all can see it!

A Day in Mysore remains the most under-appreciated post on my blog. Perhaps my writing hasn’t done justice to the countless wonders once can witness and experience in this quaint city.

3. Do you travel solo or with people? Who’s your favourite travel companion?

I travel both solo and with others. My ex has been my favourite travel companion for most of my trips. But now that he’s a part of my past, my spirit and inquisitiveness have been keeping me company (…till I have a new favourite on board, I guess 😉 )

4. Which experience was terrifying at the time, but now is a great story that you wouldn’t trade for anything?

The experience of ignoring the “No tourists beyond this point” signboard at a fort in Nashik (a blog post coming soon!! 😀 ) and trekking up a steep, scary hill in the winter with a heavy backpack was mortifying! But when I came back to the foot of the hill with my heart still pounding in my ribcage, I felt the kind of adrenaline rush only a trekker can feel.

The joy of being alive!

The joy of being alive!

5. How long do you think you’ll keep blogging? 😛

I shall blog as long as I live! Amen.

6. What’s the best and worst thing about having an Indian passport?

Best thing: We can visit a few countries without a Visa, or at best, with a Visa on arrival.

Worst thing: ^ Such countries constitute a VERY small percentage of the world :’-( 

7. Other than India, where would you like to live?

I would like to spend some time in every country I can. And I hope we get closer to world peace and cooperation so I can make this dream come true.

8. Do you tend to gain or lose weight while traveling?

It depends, really. I had gained 10 pounds gorging on Gujarati delicacies in the winter of 2010 when I was interning in Ahmedabad. But in the summer of 2011, when I went on my first international internship to Lleida, I lost several inches walking all across Spain & Italy, despite being sold to the mediterranian cuisine!

9. What is that one exotic food you would love to eat, but are still wary of trying?

I’d love to try ‘kumis‘ (mare’s milk) which is sweeter than the regular cow/buffalo/goat-milk and has some amount of alcohol.

10. When you’re in a scary situation, what do you tell yourself to be less scared?

When in danger, I always tell myself I’m not the only or the first person to be in such a situation. Several people have faced the unknown and come out victorious. If they can, so can I! And if the situation is so scary that I don’t think anybody’s been there before, I tell myself to suck it up and tackle it head-on! If I fail, I fail. But if I survive, I’ll be an inspiration to other people in similar situations! 🙂

11. Where did you find the best coffee you’ve ever had? (This question is important to me!!)

Hmm… I’m not really a coffee-aficionado, but I can tell you that I’ve tasted the best coffee not in Coorg (the coffee-paradise) but right here in my backyard! And no, not at Starbucks, but at Costa Coffee in Powai! They have this rich, creamy coconut coffee that comes in a HUGE cup and smells just as good as it tastes! A word of caution here – if you are not a fan of coconut, you might just end up hating this coffee (and as a consequence, me 😛 )

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Time for the Liebster nominations

  1. Triparna Kar for Crazy Charming Reality
  2. Ramya Kuruganti for Ramya’s Reasons 2b Happy
  3. Suman Barua for The ShOemon Chronicles

And here are my 11 questions for you:-

1.  Is there a story behind your blog and why you started it?

2. What time of the day/night do you find conducive for blogging?

3. Who do you write for? Your readers? Somebody special? Or yourself?

4. Which of your blog-posts is your all-time favourite?

5. Do you enjoy traveling or is it a chore for you?

6. If you had to explain ‘the meaning of life’ to a 6-year-old, how would you do it?

7. Do you write better when you are happy or sad?

8. Have you ever bunked school/college/office to do some writing? (I have 😉 )

9. What is your favourite thing to eat when you blog? Before you answer, DO you eat while you blog?

10. Send me a picture of what your room looks like as you type out your Liebster-post. (Caution: No cleaning up! Keep it candid! 🙂 )

11. If I paid for your travel, food and accommodation, would you leave your job and travel with me?

You 3 are terrific bloggers and have your own, unique style, Triparna, Ramya & Suman! 🙂 Give me a shout when you have answered all of my 11!