Scotland: The Land of Rainbows

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The plan. Or the lack of it.

In 2016, a friend invited me to go to Scotland on a holiday. It was so casually mentioned that it seemed like nothing more than tea-time conversation. Unknown to this friend, however, my ears went all pointy like a mastiff’s at the mention of the country. Many fantasies had been played out in my head in the past – men in kilts playing lilting music atop cliffs with steep drops into blue-green waters… the incredible moors and velvety moss covering it… the food… the near-musical Scottish accent… remembering Skyfall sort of sealed the deal for me. The catch? I only had two and a half weeks to put the plan in motion.

And so came the last-minute rush for the visa. My friend and I decided to leave the stays and places to visit for when I would get my visa – I didn’t know if I would make it, till the last minute. (Big mistake, this lack of planning. An impromptu holiday in Europe is the worst thing that can happen to your savings, especially if you’re Indian, because everything is expensive when you don’t book in advance.)

I waited in anticipation for my visa. Packed my bags. Had multiple conversations with people about where to go and what to do. Kept looking at travel websites for cheaper return flights. Bit my nails till my fingers were tiny stubs. Kept telling myself to not get overly excited because I’d be super-disappointed if the visa fell through. Until finally, my Dad called me at work two days before I was scheduled to leave: “There’s a VFS parcel that’s arrived for you.”

Later that evening, I went home and tore open the package even before saying hello to my parents, preparing my mind for the worst as I did so. I removed my passport with shaky hands and turned the pages one by one, searching, squinting, dreading… where was the darn vi…

There it was, my permission to enter the country, alongside my goony-looking mug shot. I was going to Scotland!_DSC4311

First impressions

Dreamy, like the setting for Wuthering Heights, minus the intense, deeply messed-up characters. A bitter-sweet gloominess, with grey clouds overshadowing a bright blue sky in patches.

Drizzly. It’s not the hard-hitting kind of rain, but just a constant murmur from the sky in the background; you grow oblivious to it pretty quickly.

Nippy. Wonderfully, exhilaratingly nippy. Some would call it cold and chilly, but I was so excited to just be there that the cold didn’t affect me.

It was around 5:45 a.m. when I stepped out of Edinburgh airport. I couldn’t be happier with the early start – I had 10 days in Scotland and was okay with early mornings. Well, some of the time! Question was, with so much to see and do, how could I make the most of its beauty? So here’s the list of places I went to.

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A view of the city from the Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh

Edinburgh, the hilly capital of Scotland, is one of the oldest cities in the world – and it shows. Everywhere you turn, there are beautiful buildings and monuments that have stood steady over time. The Royal Mile is full of mesmerising churches, offices, hotels and towers. By-lanes are full of restaurants serving everything from Scottish specialties to Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, French, Italian and Indian cuisine. If you do go, don’t forget to visit the Camera Obscura close to the Edinburgh Castle. It’s full of quaint little optical illusions, art pieces and souvenirs to take home.

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The Royal Mile, Edinburgh

The Edinburgh Castle itself will take you an entire day to explore. We didn’t reach it in time to view the crown jewels, which are supposed to be magnificent, but we pretty much covered everything else. The view of the city from the castle walls is simply stunning. You’ll see modern structures sprinkled between ancient architecture; the densely populated areas start thinning towards the edge of the water and merge into the sea. The sight, quite frankly, is magnificent. Pick a guided audio tour and explore at your own pace.

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The chapel inside Edinburgh Castle.

Street performances abound. We caught a fire show, musicians and living statues performing. Towards the evening, my friend decided to head to Arthur’s Seat – a viewpoint atop a hill – and I decided to sit in a park close to the castle and soak in the vibe of the city. A squirrel apprehensively approached a group of teenage hipsters who chased it around. Pigeons pecked, gurgling away. Sea gulls ventured into the park as well. Shops started winding down their shutters. One by one, the lights in the Balmoral Hotel came on. The Scottish monument lit up and like moths drawn to light, people started clumping on benches around it, deep in conversation, cuddling, enjoying a smoke after a long day, eating or just sitting and watching the world go by. Like me.

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Gothic.

As the sun sets, though, Edinburgh takes on a slightly spooky air. You hardly see people milling about after hours (which would be 6:30 p.m. their time). Most move towards the pubs and eateries, but even those places get quite deserted by 9:30 p.m. on weekdays. Friday nights are when the city comes alive, with a rampant and diverse party scene. And those times, it’s like everyone’s oblivious to the chill – there are shorts and fishnet stockings and teensy weensy skirts and spaghetti tops and leather jackets and slit jeans everywhere you look. Edinburgh maybe one of the oldest living cities in the world, but it’s pretty young at heart.

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Inverness through the tour bus window.

Inverness and Loch Ness

If you’re a nature baby, head to Inverness and Loch Ness. The drive to both places is soul-soothing. I mean, what person wouldn’t be moved by massive rolling mountains generously dusted with rich brown and green wilderness, all set against a backdrop of a crystal blue sky and cotton candy clouds? It’s like being in a fairy tale, I tell you.

It kept drizzling as we drove through the highlands. At one point, the road snaked into nothingness between two parallel mountains; as we took a turn, a huge rainbow greeted us – one of the biggest I have ever seen. It was like an archway in the sky connecting the two mountains, and we were crossing under it. Think of the first magic trick you ever saw as a little kid and how it blew you away, mouth agog, eyes wide, completely enthralled and pulled in by the feeling of witnessing something so marvellous. When I saw that rainbow, that’s how I felt. It was the most magical moment I had ever witnessed. Words failed me. They still do, because it’s impossible to describe. And the magic just didn’t stop. There were rainbows everywhere we looked. To me, they’re now just synonymous with Scotland.

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On the way to Loch Ness.

We stopped at the Achnambeithach cottage in Glencoe and caught a glimpse of the three sisters. The cottage is protected by giant mountains on three sides, with a small loch flowing past it in the front and a red bridge connecting it to the highway. This part of Scotland is exactly how you see parts of the Scottish moors in Skyfall, sans the snow. (It was September when we went.) If you’re into trekking/walking, this trail is probably going to take your breath away. (The mere idea of walking/trekking takes my breath away, so you would be accurate in your assumption that no, I didn’t trek through the trail.)

And the hairy coos just add to the whole setting! These massive highland cows with intimidating horns and shaggy hair that give it a wild, unkempt look can only be described by one word: adorable. Personally speaking, their cuteness quotient comes pretty close to cat videos.

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Hairy coos!

Loch Ness, however, is the complete opposite. The loch is so deep (700 feet, I believe) that the water’s the darkest, blackest blue you can imagine. And the surface shines like a mirror. Contrasting this is the sky – at the time we went, it was a crisp blue, with clouds travelling across it. Everywhere else, you would probably see the sky reflected on the surface of the water, but not at Loch Ness. It was almost as if the water swallowed up anything that came close to its surface, despite its mirror-like glaze. I wouldn’t want to fall into the water, for sure.

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Welcome to Loch Ness.

Take the Loch Ness cruise – you’re not likely to spot the monster unless you’re very, very lucky, but you’ll see the glorious ruins of Urquhart Castle and the fields on either side in all their beauty. And don’t forget to pick up souvenirs of Nessie!

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McCaig’s Tower, Oban.

Oban

Because we didn’t plan in advance, doing a whiskey tour and stay on one of the Isles was almost impossible. So we decided on Oban – it was by the sea and not too far from the isles, in case we decided to go over for a day trip. Being a sea-side town, Oban was wet and rainy from the moment we landed there, with McCaig’s Tower, a tower that resembles the Roman Colosseum, overlooking the town.

The winds are mighty in Oban and the seafood is divine. I overdosed on Fish and Chips everywhere I went, so much so that my friend got sick of it by the end. The view of the sea is mesmerising, with the blackness of the waters evident here as well.

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On the floor at Oban Distillery.

Oban is also home to one of the oldest whiskey distilleries in Scotland, circa 18th century. In fact, it pre-dates Oban town and is most likely what gave rise to the settlement around it. The distillery is not too big, but it is quite impressive. Every time I go on a whiskey/wine making tour, my respect for the process and ingenuity of man grows. Oban was no different; the tour began with a quick history of the distillery and then we were taken into the heart of the place. We were requested to switch off our mobile phones because the alcohol content in the atmosphere insane. And boy oh boy, was it! One whiff of the place and you’re high – that’s how potent the smell was. They use recycled oak casks from other distilleries to age their whiskey and once done, pass it along to other distilleries for reuse. So the taste of whiskey, we were told, was quite unique. My friend concurred after taking a sip of the tasters. The barrels aren’t thrown away when they’re done serving their purpose as casks; they’re used as garden planters instead.

We walked around town for a bit and went for dinner by the quay at Eeusk, a highly recommended restaurant serving local seafood. The catch of the day is what’s served as food and because it was fresh, it was one of the best meals ever. Quite expensive, but worth it.

Oban didn’t quite give us the weather we were looking forward to, so we spent just a day there and moved on to Lake District, an hour and a half’s drive out of Scotland and into North West England.

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Lake District in the day.

Lake District

Also known as Lakeland, Lake District is a national park area full of breath-taking sunsets and scenic mountain views. Staying at the YHA in Ambleside, we had the advantage of being close to picturesque walking routes, local restaurants (the.best.chicken.wings.in.the.world) and, most importantly, the church where William Wordsworth worshipped. In fact, he lived in Grasmere and then Rydal for a significant amount of time, which is why Rydal is prominent in English romantic literature. So of course, our first day at Lake District started with a visit to this church. On the way, we encountered plenty of fluffy, woolly sheep (no hairy coos here!) and black and white cows (really!). As luck would have it, the church was closed, so we just took pictures from the outside, walked around and headed towards the mountains at Rydal.

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The church where Wordsworth worshipped.

I hated the climb up the mountain. Not because it was hard, but because one, I was tired after all the walking around; two, it was almost evening and I hate being out in the open in the dark, more so if it’s a place I’m not familiar with; three, I hadn’t exerted myself so much in a while and I was irritated with how unfit I was and how each step drove that home harder. Anyway, once on top, the climb felt totally worth it. I could understand why Wordsworth made Rydal his home and how many hours he must have spent finding inspiration in the views before him. If he ever climbed and didn’t crib like me, that is.

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Walking up the mountains of Rydal.

The next day, we walked through the forest. It was a very long, very cool walk, literally. Delicate-looking wild mushrooms grew in the shelter of tall, giant pine and fir trees. The forest was absolutely quiet, except for a heaving walker/cyclist here and there. Of course I cribbed with all the walking again, but this time, I was better prepared. So I focused on things that matter to me the most in the outdoors – trees, flowers, leaves, ducks, country life… and I ambled along just fine across the forest and later, around Ambleside.

That’s the one thing I envy the most every time I travel abroad: the cities are so pedestrian-friendly. Everybody, absolutely everybody, walks to everywhere. That’s how people go from one point to the other, most times. And it’s really satisfying to watch, because that means lesser traffic on the road and drivers respecting pedestrians, giving them the right of way, because walking is such an inherent part of their lifestyle. Of course, they have the motivation to walk as well. With every other building an architectural delight and every view a scenic one, who wouldn’t want to?

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Lakes, mountains and a lonely cabin.

Winding up

Ambleside was the last leg of our holiday. The next day, we would take the train to London for our flight back. It was bittersweet, that last night at Lake District. The experiences, the food, the walking, the sea, the environment, everything came together in a sea of emotions. I felt… overwhelmed. And grateful. And irritated. And exhausted. And exhilarated. After years and years of desiring to go to Scotland, imagining what it would be like to walk among the moors and feel the biting sea winds and be in this state of perpetual high spirits, I had finally made it. It was an epic holiday in many ways.

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Tried to make friendsheep with this guy, but he didn’t baa-y into the concept. Oh well.

As we journeyed back to London by train, I didn’t take my eyes off the scenery outside my window. In my mind’s eye, every passing tree, every passing cottage, every mountain, stream and lake had a magical rainbow arching over it in a half-sphere. I carried it with me around Piccadilly Circus. Around Trafalgar Square. Around The National Gallery. I carried it with me on my flight back to Bangalore.

That magic rainbow may have bridged the gap between mountains in Glencoe for a brief moment but now, it connected me to Scotland. Forever.

Getting there: Bangalore has no direct flights to Edinburgh, unfortunately. You can choose a stopover at London or one of the Middle Eastern countries. I flew Bangalore-Abu Dhabi-Edinburgh on my way there and London-Kuwait-Bangalore on the way back. The flight times were approximately 14 hours, layovers included.

Go if: You love trekking. And the mountains. And the sea. And seafood. And people. And Scottish accents. And history. And of course, if you love rainbows. :)

Meet the Traveller: Gina Joseph

*Meet the Traveller is a series on Potli Baba, of conversations with people who have been inspired by travel.*

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Potli Baba’s note: First off, this post has been a year in the making, because I was preoccupied with less important things like life and work. Since my first interview with her, I’ve reconnected with Gina to understand how her year has been so far; from exhibitions at Kala Ghoda and Singapore, to being one of the 25 chosen for the Milestone Makers Programme – a collaboration between Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center and Startup India – she’s had a busy, enriching year.

Dear Gina, thank you for your patience. A year is a long time to wait for a conversation with you to be published! 

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The word ‘Stories’, inked just below her wrist, plays hide and seek with the clinking silver bangles as she scribbles her answers in my notebook. Head bent in concentration, she pauses from time to time to tuck her hair behind her ear and think of the various stories she has gathered over the years travelling to different parts of India, working with remote tribal communities to create beautiful pieces of quintessential Indian jewellery. Meet Gina Joseph, Founder and Creator of Zola. Much like the pieces she creates, Gina’s evolution as an entrepreneur challenges convention. From the craft of advertising to the craft of creating stories through beads, metal and fabric, what a journey it’s been.

“It just happened by chance”, she says. Zola started off as a piece for her design project and quickly grew to become a name familiar to women who want to make a statement with simple, elegant accessories. Combining her new-found love for creating magic through fabric, metal, leather and colours with her wanderlust was an unplanned dream come true. There were hurdles along the way – the initial struggle, finding investors and yes, brands plagiarising her designs – but she’s only emerged all the stronger for it. Recently, she got herself inked a second time, inspired by The Great Wave off Kanagawa created by Japanese ukiyo-e artist Hokusai, with a mountain and a red full moon-like dot over it. “When an immovable object meets an insurmountable force… the wave and the mountain. So, however tough life gets and pushes you, you have to stand strong. That’s my learning in my years of existence.”

Travel is how Gina unwinds, recharges and discovers local art forms as well as artisans. She loves planning for trips that she will take one day and wills the universe to make them happen. Here she is, sharing her story.

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Picture Courtesy: Gina Joseph.

Describe yourself in one word. Story-Collector.

Where do you live? Chennai.

Where have you travelled to till date? USA, Kenya, Sweden, Oslo and Singapore. In India, Kashmir, the heartland of Orissa, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu for Zola workshops. I’ve travelled most of North India too, but am yet to explore North East and hope to do this at the earliest.

Travel to you is: A form of meditation. I can’t sit still and meditate for long, so travel is my escape that enriches me at every step.

Five things your travel bag will always have: Phone, power bank, medicines, money and Vaseline. 

Wanderer or tourist? Wanderer.

Mountains, beaches, deserts, jungles, nature or adventure sports? Beaches, jungles and nature.

Plan your own travel or get someone to do it for you? I plan it all.

What’s your favourite journey to date? Your travel memory? Every journey lets me discover something new about myself, so can’t name just one.  

If you were a city/town/country/place, which would you be and why? India. For the vibrant colours, different cultures, history, food and stories. 

How has travel inspired you? Travel has been the best teacher and inspiration to me. It’s made me stronger emotionally, mentally and also a lot more open to things in life.

Complete this sentence: If the world could fit into your palm, you would Well, I wouldn’t want to fit the world in my palm. Just the fact that I am such a small part of this world is exciting and humbling at the same time… so let me explore it one day at a time.

From the Journals: A Stranger to Travel.

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On the Hanuman Temple Hill, Hosur.

Many, many feet above sea level, the wind whipped my hair. Was it angry that I was cloistered in a closed space all this while, shutting out the world, face buried in a laptop? Or was it just a friendly whack to the back of my head that said it was glad I was finally out in the open? Questions, always so many questions. This need to find an answer to everything – to know for sure – when did it start taking over?

I shook my head and focused on the moment, the here and now. Massive rocks overlooking a sparsely populated landscape hundreds of feet below with patches of glittering green and brown fields… and I was standing on top of the highest one. I was high metaphorically as well – I had just climbed a mountain stacked with sharp, gigantic boulders just to prove to myself that I could. I breathed heavily, but it was a welcome sensation as the invisible chains around my soul came off. Travelling anchors me, but these days, I don’t travel as much. And I feel uncertain, unanchored. A piece of driftwood in a world that constantly pushes one to prove one’s abilities and work more, play more, live more. Live? Really?

The wind whirled around me again. While my cousins were busy taking selfies and swinging from trees, I took a moment to gather my senses. To see if I could reach out and find myself. “Get away from the edge! Don’t be a fool, sit back a little!”, my aunt said, looking at me. “I won’t fall”, I assured her, the wind still whipping my hair. I won’t fall. Into this rigmarole. This pattern of waking up, working, coming home, passing out, managing family expectations, social expectations, not finding time to reorient myself. Not finding the time to travel. To be me. About time I broke this pattern. I need to. I cannot live without hitting the road, driving past paddy fields and waterfalls and fishing boats and islands and processions and waving to strangers on the road guilelessly. I cannot live without driving through lonely forest roads in dark nights on the way to Goa or wondering how I’m going to trek to a monastery two mountains away from the starting point. Without feeling the sand tickle my toes and the water terrifying me. I cannot not travel.

So, I made up my mind and shut out my everyday existence. Took two days off – days that seemed like a lifetime – and went away with the family. I walked, ran, slipped and slid, climbed rocks, sang, bathed in moonlight, got kissed by the sun, lived in the fear of a close encounter with some wild animal, slept like a log, laughed hard, talked, sang, danced… I lived.

And in that moment, as I stood there on that magnificent rock, revelling in the pleasure of feeling anchored again, the wind changed course and made its way through my hair and into the curves of my ear. “Welcome back, stranger”, it whooshed.

I smiled in reply.

Ramadan Specials: A night in the Old City of Hyderabad.

Pink was the colour of the night.
Red was the colour of the night.

It was 3:30 a.m. on a Ramadan morning in Bangalore when my phone buzzed next to my ear, announcing the arrival of a message. Whatsapp, I assumed, knowing fully well that the cousins would be up talking youngster nonsense till Seher time – the appointed hour when Muslims around the world wake up to eat, pray and fall back into a sleepy stupor. I had forgotten to put my phone on Silent mode when I passed out for the night and reached out blindly to amend my mistake before more buzzing could stir me awake.

It was a message from my mother. Just got back after a night of shopping at Charminar, finished Seher at Shadab, it read. She was in Hyderabad, yes, but Charminar at 3:30 in the morning? Impossible. I thought she was pulling a fast one – I fall for her pranks all the time. When I spoke to her the next day, she couldn’t stop gushing about the night – and all the other nights that she went gallivanting around Old City at bizarre hours. Why would you do that? Is it safe?, I asked. The whole world is out shopping till Seher!, she countered. I didn’t believe her.

Now I do, because I ventured out to the Old City three days before Eid and witnessed the mayhem for myself.

Space was at a premium that night.
Space comes at a premium on Ramadan nights around Charminar – you can see it stand silently in the background.

Let’s just say that I’m a parasite in human form, feeding off of the collective energy of excited, supercharged crowds. The Old City – more specifically, the stretch from Madina building to Charminar and beyond – was a hive, with a sea of black engulfing it, buzzing about haphazardly from one roadside shop to another. Open vendor stalls screamed slogans of encouragement for people to buy from them – “Aaiye, aaiye!” – music blared from the other end of the road and the crowd came in waves and carried one along with it. That frenzy! That madness! That salesmanship! That food! That night! So. Much. Fun.

Not your ordinary stroll in the night, this. The shoppers are in a tearing hurry to get the best bargains out of everything.
Not your ordinary stroll in the night, this. The shoppers are in a tearing hurry to get the best bargains out of everything.

Everything was selling at dirt cheap prices. I bought myself a gorgeously embroidered Georgette saree (against my better judgement) for a measly sum of 1800 bucks. Had I chosen to buy it from a showroom, it would have cost me an arm and half a leg. “The demand for store stuff is a lot lesser now, because everybody buys online these days”, one shopkeeper told my Dad, “So we have to make the most of times like these.” Fair enough, I thought, as I looked around and couldn’t stop smiling at the sales pitches being screamed all around me: “Hello Aunty! Only 120!”, “Hyderabad ki shaan, Paidaan!” (Hyderabad’s pride, a doormat – it sounds much funnier in Hyderabadi, believe me), “Loot lo, chaat lo, ghar jaake baat lo!” (Loot it, savour it, go home and share it! Basically meaning that it’s a steal at the price, so you can buy lots and then distribute it amongst the family.) One man – I’ll call him the Harsha Bhogle of Shopping – even had a microphone and conveyed a running commentary of his shoppers’ activities to the entire market. “Yes, yes, that is an absolutely fantastic piece of cloth you have in your hand! Close your eyes and go for it! Look at that lady eyeing your shopping! Quick, pick it up before it’s too late! Oh no, too late!” It was a sensory overload, but the kind I thoroughly enjoy. My parents couldn’t keep up and left by around 12:30 a.m. The cousins and I continued enthusiastically, but exhaustion washed over us by 2:30 in the morning. It was time to replenish ourselves with some food and water.

Men standing around on elevated platforms, trying out Burqas and screaming, "100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100..." is a common sight. To the loudest salesman go the spoils.
Men standing around on elevated platforms, trying out Burqas and screaming, “100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100…” is a common sight. To the loudest salesman go the spoils.

Even the eateries were crowded. The stalls that we managed to locate were tucked away in a corner and surrounded – again – by droves of people. My camera bag came pretty handy in making some space for us, so we could belt Mysore Bajjis, Boti Shorba, Sheermal and Gosh ke kabab. Delicious and thoroughly enjoyable, especially if you ignored how the plates were washed or the food was made. (None of us fell sick, so not so bad after all.) As we feasted, an ominous voice blared authoritatively over the loud speakers: ‘Please close your stalls by 3 a.m. The area needs to be washed and cleaned for Friday prayers.” The announcement only served to put the crowd on Charlie Chaplin movie mode. That was our cue to exit.

Boti Shorba - a curry made out of spare parts of goats. And by that, I mean things like intestines and stomach and other disgusting things. Boti is considered to be a delicacy among most non-vegetarians.
Boti Shorba – a curry made out of spare parts of goats. And by that, I mean things like intestines and stomach and other disgusting things. Boti is considered to be a delicacy among most non-vegetarians.

Our next hurdle was finding an auto. There was barely space for people to move – autos didn’t stand an atom of a chance. We had to walk to Qilwath, the clock tower near Charminar. The route took us through Laad Bazaar, the infamous bangle shopping lane. Everywhere my eyes rested, they encountered shimmering surfaces and glazed reflections that were occasionally blocked by a bunch of moving, bargaining Burqas.

Who knew even combs could be made to look attractive?
Who knew even hair combs could be made to look attractive?

It wasn’t all glitter and happiness, though. A keychain maker by the roadside, who made etchings on two inch-long glass bottles and sold them at the base of Charminar, counted his night’s earnings as closing time approached. “So much hard work and only 60 rupees to show for it”, he sighed. There was despair and bone-deep exhaustion in his voice. Maybe he would drink it all up. Maybe he would fast and pray for more. There’s no way of knowing.

Waiting for customers to come along minutes before closing time.
Waiting for customers to come along and help him earn some more money minutes before closing time, just like the keychain maker.

What I did know was this, as an auto finally agreed to whisk us home: the sea of living, breathing eagerness and anticipation and excitement for new clothes and hairclips and shoes and bangles and Sherwanis and kurtas and Chadaavi jootas would eventually snap the keychain maker out of his reality. Tomorrow, he would come back. Tomorrow, he would work the same way and wish for more. Tomorrow, he would feel alive and live to celebrate another day of Ramadan in one of the oldest parts of Hyderabad. The crowd’s joy would be his. Their excitement about Eid would be his own – and hopefully, their money too.

Proof that the Old City was a parallel universe - the roads just outside of the radius of Charminar were deserted while the chaos was all around it.
Proof that the Old City was a parallel universe – the roads just outside of the radius of Charminar were deserted while the chaos was all around it.

Getting there: Old City is easily accessible by road up to Madina Building. Be prepared for a massive traffic jam if you’re going during Ramadan.

Go if: You love crowds, bling, bargains, street food and don’t mind staying up all night to see a phenomenon that comes around once a year.

P.S: Another sporadic break of more than three months in blogging – but all for good reason, I assure you. A fair amount of travelling has happened, so be prepared for a string of posts on the blog. Until then, thank you for sticking around and waiting for Potli Baba’s next adventure.

Down the Rabbit Hole: Utah’s barren-land blooms.

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Badland Blooms, Utah. Image via BoredPanda.

Blistering heat, parched throats, Fata Morganas – the cliches of a desert are quite familiar to everyone. Utah’s desert life, however, shatters the stereotype one short-lived colourful bloom at a time.

During Spring, the arid, magnificent landscape bursts into a blanket of colour as sprigs break out of the dry soil to drink in the moisture, come to life, breed through a quickie and wilt away.

The whole process is pretty short-lived, apparently, and a lot like lasting love – the conditions have to be just right for the phenomena to happen, and everyone may not have the good fortune of experiencing it in a lifetime. The lucky few (thank goodness they were photographers) have captured it for the vicarious pleasures of us less-fortunate – if we can’t see it, we can at least live it through the images.

Via Bored Panda. Read the full article here.

Picture via Bored Panda, who curated it with help from LostatEMinor.

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What is Down the Rabbit Hole?

Remember Alice? And how she went slip-sliding down an innocent-looking burrow? And how she emerged into this fantastic, unbelievable world on the other side – one she never thought existed? Well, Potli Baba will go down a special rabbit hole from time to time and stumble upon strange, fascinating worlds that have been recorded for posterity by those brave enough to venture into them. Simply put, Potli Baba is going to curate interesting and marvellous articles, stories and photo essays from the Internet and bring them to you as a series (complete with gift-wrap and ribbon) on the blog. Just for your reading pleasure.