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Book Review: Goodness Gracious Gracie by Anya Wylde

Goodness Gracious Gracie by Anya Wylde
 

Goodness Gracious Gracie by Anya Wylde

Summary:

(Goodreads)

Grace Dixie, a young woman from a small town in Texas, has had her heart broken. She decides that the best way to deal with such a situation is to pack her bags and move to a new country. Luck is on her side, and she quickly gets a job as a runner on a documentary being filmed in India.

Thus, begins her roller-coaster ride filled with mad decisions, new friendships, curries, stomach aches and forbidden romance.
 

Goodness Gracious Gracie by Anya Wylde
Title: Goodness Gracious Gracie
Author: Anya Wylde
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Amazon CreateSpace (May 24th 2018)
Genre: Rom-Com, India
Read: ebook

Stars: ★★★★★
Buy On: Amazon US | Amazon India

 
 
 

My Review:

Note: I received a complimentary ARC copy of this book from the author and was not required to write a review. All opinions are mine.

Cover: Simple and nice but not just ‘it’.

Paper and font: Easy on the eyes.

Readability, language: Simple and Funny.

Why did I pick this book: I absolutely love Anya Wylde’s writing style with a touch of Wodehouse, RK Narayan, Heyer, and her very own sense of humour that has me rolling with laughter. Her books are the perfect ‘pick-me-up’. Now, on to Goodness Gracious Gracie.

Like Indian food, it’s like nothing else

Gracie, runs away from her family vacation to join the crew of a documentary film being shot on an Indian business tycoon. Her best friend is getting engaged; she had presumed they would have a happily ever after and now she’s heart broken. She’s running away from it all to India, only the tycoon youngest son is smoulderingly handsome and nothing goes according to Gracie’s plans.

An alliterative title, Goodness Gracious Gracie rolls of the tongue nicely and suits the heroine and theme perfectly. The cover though nice, didn’t please me over much. I’ve loved Wylde’s previous covers and this one I feel lacks the oomph.

Goodness Gracious Gracie is a cliched romance plot thrown into the pan with Indian spices and served with a tadka. From the moment the heroine meets the hero at the start of the book, I knew what was coming, the heated chemistry, the stolen moments, the denial, the resistance, the final submission… it’s all there, and yet like Indian food, it’s like nothing else.

An ‘Indianess’ not seen often

Like her previous book in the Monsoon Series, Love Muffin and Chai Latte, Goodness Gracious Gracie is also set in India, in Mumbai and Goa during the peak of the Monsoon. Anya Wylde uses Indian people, our culture, the climate & weather, the cities and all that’s Indian to further her story. Her grasp of India and it’s nuances has me impressed.

There is an ‘Indianess’ to her writing, an understanding of India not seen often in non-Indian writers and it shows in her Indian characters. Gracie Dixie is a Texan gal, and half the crew is a Irish but everyone else in Indian. The hero Veer is a tall, dark and handsome millionaire, kind, thoughtful and family oriented, the man of many an Indian girl’s dreams.

His family seems perfectly cut out of an Ekta Kapoor serial – Paramjeet, a patriarchal father who’ll do anything to further his business, Ranjeet, a good-for-nothing son who doles out profound wisdom, a second son Cuckoo, who’s happy with a simple life, Natasha, a rebellious self-made daughter fighting the patriarchy and Veer, the dutiful youngest son, poised to take over the empire.

A romantic comedy with a strong feminist streak

The heroine, Gracie Dixie, has all the aplomb and niceness of a Texan girl. She embraces and experiences India with a naivety that Anya Wylde uses to hilarious effect. I’m still laughing about her first experience of a Mumbai flood and her fear of drowning in knee-deep water.

Goodness Gracious Gracie is a romantic comedy with a strong feminist streak. All the women in the story have strong characters and issues they must battle. Paramjeet’s Irish second wife, Liz who will forever be a foreigner in the land she has adopted, ice queen Mia, who has little soft spots in her hard exterior, fiery Natasha, who’s rebellion on a matter of prickle may cost her everything and Smita, who loves Ranjeet but cannot tell him.

Parting thoughts

Anya Wylde has drawn out an engaging tale, a feel good romance with the right amount of steaminess, adventure, drama and excitement. I couldn’t put the book down once I started. The book sets a good pace until climax with relevant sub-plots and intrigues that add to the story.

Why are you still here? Go get Goodness Gracious Gracie and get started. And while your at it, buy Anya Wylde’s other books too, you’re not going to be stopping at one. 😀

Buy On: Amazon US | Amazon India

About the Author:

 
Anya Wylde lives in Ireland along with her husband and a fat French poodle (now on a diet). She can cook a mean curry, and her idea of exercise is occasionally stretching her toes. She holds a degree in English literature and adores reading and writing. She blogs at anyawylde.blogspot.in.

 
Author Links:
WebsiteGoodreadsTwitter
 
 

May 29, 2018   No Comments

Pakistan: From Nabia’s Point of View – (Part 3)

This series started out with my thoughts on Pakistan and it’s image propagated by media and Govt. I’ve been unhappy about how the country is depicted and the actual ‘true’ state.

Continuing on the question trail, of getting to know Pakistan and it’s people, this time I have Nabia joining me. Nabia fits the mould and yet she doesn’t, she a package of surprises. I’ve met Nabia just once in Chiang Mai but thanks to Facebook, I keep getting news of her. And things to do with her are fun, I tell you, every picture with her in it is packed with energy and joy.

Nabia Amin Lakhani

 

Nabia with her father in 2010

The only sister to three brothers, Nabia is the youngest in the family. She was born and brought up in Karachi but has lived in Islamabad for a couple of months and visits quite often too. She has also been to Balochistan, Murree, Lahore, and Quetta.
A graduate from Karachi university in arts, she has done the montessori course and has been working as a teacher for the last ten years. She is currently taking a break from teaching to concentrate on her upcoming wedding.

 

What do you think of Pakistan?

I love Pakistan Fatema. Yes there are issues here, but then these same issues are everywhere in the world. Only difference is that since everyone calls Pakistan a terrorist state and Muslims in Pakistan or anywhere else are known as terrorist, it gives the world a completely different look of this place.

I have lived here all my life, yes we are dealing with terrorism etc. but then who isn’t? I have family members living abroad and they only watch news about Pakistan, so for them to even come down to Pakistan and experience it themselves is not an option because media exaggerates everything. Yes, we have been mugged, robbed, harassed, but then so many others have gone through the same Thing in their country as well!

It breaks my heart that Pakistan is seen as a place that one would never want to go to because they are afraid that they would get killed! I mean, come on!!! I’m glad with the article that Humans Of NY shared because he actually highlighted the good parts of this place I call home. When I was younger, I wanted to go away from Here, but now that I’m older and have seen some places myself, with my own eyes, I realize that every place is alike. Pakistan is no different.
 

 
What is your life like?

My life here is amazing, I’m independent, I can go anywhere I like, I can do what I like.

 

Would you label the country as backward, extremist, terrorist?

Backward, extremist … No. I won’t ever label Pakistan that way, because Pakistan has not pushed me to sit at home behind closed doors because I am a woman.

There are some maulvis who want women in burqas but then that’s their view, and these people are usually the ones who give Islam a bad name.

I wish you would come down here once and experience it for yourself.

We wear what we want to, we do what we want to, we go and work wherever and however we want to. So how is this place backwards ?

An Old photo of Nabia’s Parents.

When my brother went to India around 2 years ago , he had to go to the police station every morning and inform them about his plans for the day otherwise they would follow him and his friends everywhere .. Only because he was a Muslim from Pakistan. It’s unfortunate that all this happens now, but believe me, I live here and I can tell you… Pakistan is not what the goras or anyone else portrays it to be.

Everyone should not be labelled the same just because of some lunatic who goes around killing people in the name of Islam. These people have given my country a bad name and I pray everyday for the betterment of this country.

It’s the best! Believe me.
Been to America and when I came back, I was the happiest person.

 

How do you define normal? What do you think is a normal life? Do you lead a normal life?

Normal for me is what I’ve seen growing up … Family, friends, home, work. And that’s exactly the kind of life we have here. My life’s very normal Shukar Alhumdolillah. We have the same kind of life here like anyone else has anywhere else in the world.
 

Badshahi Masjid in Lahore

 
Anything you’d like to add or say?

All I want to add is that everyone should come to Pakistan and see it with their own eyes and then make a judgement about this country.

And people should not restrict their visits to Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi only, they should go up north & any other places that that can visit and see how beautiful Pakistan really is. If you think Switzerland is beautiful :) then you really haven’t seen Pakistan. It’s gorgeous!

 

What is your image of India? What do you think of it and it’s people?

My image of India, hmm, the only thing that pops up in my head after reading your question is: ” my brother from another mother” :) :) :) :)

I honestly feel that India and Pakistan are the same and I pray that we can be civil to each other, make friends with people in India and vice versa and invite them here. I feel we have SO much in common that it’s not even funny.
When we watch Indian movies, we get an idea of what Indians are like or how things are in India, and it’s all the same as Pakistan.
 
You can also read – Pakistan: As Shajee Sees It

Photo Credits: All photos have been taken and belong to Nabia Amin Lakhani.

October 22, 2015   4 Comments

Pakistan: As Shajee Sees It — (Part 2)

Shajee with his niece on Eid

Part 1: Getting to Know The Real Pakistan

In search of answers, wanting to know more about Pakistan and the life of people like you or me, (someone who has to make a living, has a family, has friends, lives a middle class life, etc.) I reached out to friends and I received info packed long answers. I’m sharing them as I got them, with a little intro and formatting though. 😀

Ahmed Shajee Aijazi…

 

Shajee and his brothers when they were all in Pakistan for his wedding

I met Shajee some years ago in Chaing Mai where he was attending the Foundry Workshop. He came across as a soft-spoken quiet sort but hidden behind this demeanour was a strong passionate person. Shajee lives in Karachi with his family and is a photographer by profession.

 

What do you think of Pakistan?

Pakistan is a great place to live in some ways and not that great in others, as I would think is the case with every country. There are a lot of great people here who are working for the welfare of the country. People generally are very philanthropic and charitable. We have people like Abdul Sattar Edhi who’s running the biggest ambulance service in the world and is a simple person, then we have the likes of Dr. Abdul Bari who runs an entirely free top-of-the-line hospital here for people who cannot afford good medical health. So, we have these great inspirational figures amongst us who inspire us on a daily basis, but overall, the thing that I would say makes Pakistan great is that the family life and overall family system of people is still intact, which seems to be decaying at other places.

Abdul Sattar Edhi who founded Edhi Foundation, the largest non-profit social welfare organisation in world.

Then in terms of Islamic scholarship, we have top notch Islamic scholars here in Pakistan and recently I came across a fact that the most hafiz of Quran produced in the world are also from Pakistan. Although this is one aspect that is distorted by a small minority to be used for their own purposes and agendas. But, I would say that there are other factors such as illiteracy, poverty and frustration with the ruling class, that play a role in this distortion as well.

 

What is your life like?

My life is pretty good, Alhamdulillah. We go to our work every morning, we spend the weekends with our families, go for picnics and other recreations. We don’t really face all that many problems as one outside of Pakistan would think. And in the recent times, the situation has got much better with this new army chief who’s cleaning up crime and terrorist outfits in a very good way, so things are definitely getting better then their predecessors.

Recently a bus tour of Karachi has started that gives you tours in a local bus as if you were a tourist. On the Tour with Frere Hall which is a British time building in the background.

 

Would you label the country as backward, extremist, terrorist?

I think it would be unfair to term the entire country to be that. Sure, there are people and groups who are like that, but the general population is not like that, at least in the cities. We have a diverse range of people who come with different mindsets and bring that to the public sphere.

 

Kemari Boat Basin @ Karachi

 
Is it really stressed on a day to day basis because of extremists and terrorism? Are Pakistani’s living in fear constantly?

Not at all. Never have I left the house thinking I would be hit in a terrorist attack. And from previous years, its gotten much better now. These news are getting lesser and lesser every passing day.

Being in Karachi, we do fear muggings and thefts, but that’s not the extremism and terrorism that you’re talking about. This is simply street crimes, which happen to be a part of every big metropolitan city. But, that’s also gotten better in the past year, as I said, since this Army chief came to his position, he’s been taking bold steps to even remove these criminals. And this is only particular to Karachi. There isn’t much of that in Lahore or Islamabad which are other metropolitan cities of the country.

Shajee and his wife at Swat, the town of Malala.

 

Or is all this talk of extremists and terrorism exaggerated stuff media feeds to the world?

Well, I think as HONY had put it, if there’s only one spot in the newspaper to put for Pakistan, obviously the most violent one or the dreadful one is the one that’s going to get published. So, yea, the media does exploit our image in the world. But, it’s definitely not even close to what the media shows.

 

What is your image of India? What do you think of it and it’s people?

The image I have of India is a land of very diverse people with a rich history. Although the governments of both sides get tangled in politics that leave the two countries at each others’ throats, but I don’t think the common man on both sides is interested in this animosity. The common man when he comes together with similar Indians, connects with them and doesn’t see them as much different and understands that they are a part of a similar human everyday struggle, that they go through. I definitely want to visit India and see all the places first-hand which we have only studied in history or seen in movies and interact with every-day Indians in the hope to find them similar to the every-day Pakistani.
 

More to come… :)

Part 1: Getting to Know The Real Pakistan

 

Photo Credits: All Photos by Ahmed Shajee Aijazi except – “Abdul Sattar Edhi” by Hussain – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons and “Kemari Boat Basin @ Karachi” by Faisal Saeed – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Flickr Commons

October 15, 2015   No Comments

Getting to Know The Real Pakistan — (Part 1)

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve come across one too many posts about how bad a place Pakistan is. It’s never bothered me before, but this time, somehow it rankles. Writing off a country as backward, extremist, terrorist, and what not just doesn’t sit well.

And this isn’t the first time, jokes and posts putting down Pakistan abound and I remember them since being a child. From the age when I started to comprehend the concept of countries, I remember being told Pakistan is a bad place, the subtle message being that I must hate Pakistan, for in it lies the proof of my being Indian.

This messaging was everywhere, in papers, on the TV, in people talk. And yet I remember the fun I had had when my Grand-Dad’s childhood friend visited from Karachi. (The friend had chosen to move at partition.) He hadn’t seemed different from us, his description of life didn’t seem unreasonable, and he had the same cute cuddliness my Granddad had. I had really liked that Pakistani.

Then came the phase of college, when being a Muslim seemed tough with bullies repeatedly telling me to go back to Pakistan, calling me a Pakistan-lover, and other names. Stories and media reports didn’t help as they painted a tainted picture of Pakistan and I found myself slipping further on the anti-Pakistan route. My intensified hatred became proof of being a true Indian.

The anti-Pakistan sentiment by itself might have been fine but this isn’t a feeling that limits itself to a country or place, it transfers to people too. With time I found myself starting to believe that Pakistanis were awful people and that the country was a terrible place to live.

That belief lasted until a few years ago, when I met some Pakistanis and they shook up my beliefs, shook them up really well actually. They were a mixed bunch in gender, lifestyle, dressing,… They wore skirts, spoke impeccable English and didn’t hide behind the burkha or beard. They were just as normal as we were. They didn’t seem traumatised, deprived, or curtailed like I had been made to believe.

As I got to know them better, it got clearer that we were not different as people. Our lives, lifestyles, cultures, terrain, mindsets and more were so similar. I found that I really liked these Pakistanis.

Through them I also got to know Pakistan better and I realised that it wasn’t the inhospitable crazy country I believed it to be. Looking at one part of Pakistan and saying the whole country in unliveable and full of terrorists, is like looking at the Naxalite areas of India and saying all of India is a wasteland filled with Naxalites.

Media and the Government have been sending out filtered messages for years and years now. Slowly and subtlety playing with our minds until we now blindly believe that Pakistan and Pakistanis are terrorists, heathens, bad people and such. This nonsensical belief and our idiotic hatred of everything Pakistan works for the Government as they churn more money for their pockets out of our psychosis.

How do they make money? Ever wondered how much our defence budgets are? How much is spent on weapons and bombs? How much money is silently sidelined in each defence deal? If peace existed, this budget would not exist! And this is just one example.


When I first started thinking about writing this piece, I shared a post by HONY on Facebook. The responses confirmed that I wasn’t the only one who had been taken in by this bullshit about Pakistan. There were so many people out there, just like me – educated, well read, articulate and intelligent folk – who didn’t see beyond the propaganda being disseminated.

I reached out to friends in Pakistan, I wanted to hear their story. I wanted to know what they thought of Pakistan? What was their life like? Did they consider their country backward, extremist, terrorist, and such? What was their image of their country? And most importantly what was their image of ours?

Their response was unexpected, it overwhelmed me, and floored me. Like us they give ‘dil khol ke’. :) It was the responses that sparked the thought of sharing what they said and made this post a post in parts. After all a dialogue isn’t complete until, the both sides have spoken. 😀

Part 2 – Pakistan: As Shajee Sees It :)

 

Photo Credits: hswajid, AllauddinYousafzai, HONY

October 8, 2015   2 Comments

Ganesha – The One Who Is At The Start Of Everything

India is a country of Gods. From wealth to misfortune, knowledge to brute strength – we have Gods for just about everything. But in this gamut of Gods I have a favourite; I may bow before all or seek a special one based on need but one stands out for me. Ganesh the Lord of Beginnings and Remover of Obstacles.

Ganesh is known by many names – Ganesha, Vignaharta, Vigneshvara, Vinayaka, Pillaiyar, Ganapati,… He is a God common to all classes of people and even religions. He’s worshiped not only by Hindu’s but also by Jains, Buddhists and others across the world. He doesn’t have perfect proportions like most gods. With an elephant head, a pot belly and a mouse for a ride, he’s completely endearing. Not to forget his love for food. :)

There are a lot of stories about Ganesha but here are the two I love.

Parvati who is Shiva’s consort fashioned him out of clay and gave him life. She ofcourse made him in the image of a man – with a head. One day she asked him to stand guard while she bathed herself. Shiva happened to swing-by at this time and Ganesha being the dutiful son refused him entry. Shiva in anger knocked his head off.

Parvati was so upset about this that Shiva had to do something but he could not put back the head he had chopped off. So, he sent out his men to bring back the first animal they could find, which turned out to be an elephant. Shiva attached the elephant’s head to Ganesha’s body to complete him. This choice of head though upset Parvati and Ganesha who felt people would ridicule him. Shiva in a mood to pacify granted Ganesha a boon that he would be worshipped before all gods. So even today Ganesha is worshipped at the start of every ceremony.

Another time Kubera who was Ganesha’s brother was taunting him about how much he ate, his pot belly and his slowness. This led to an argument between the two and they decided to settle the matter through a race. It was decided that the first person to finish three rounds of the world would win. The race started and Kubera at top speed took off while Ganesha continued to sit back and eat his modaks.

Kubera finished his first round, smirked and started off on the second. On completing his second round of the world he laughed at Ganesha who was still eating. As he left to finish his final round Ganesha stood up and with his palms together he walked three times around Shiva and Parvathi. A jubilant Kubera returned to face Ganesha and be declared the winner. But Ganesha said he was already done with his three rounds. A bewildered Kubera asked him how that was possible. Ganesha replied “My world are my parents and I’ve completed the requirement.”

Ganpati Bappa Morya! Mangal-Murti Morya! Happy Ganesha Chaturti to all! Hope the Vignaharta removes all obstacles from your path in the coming year and gives you great beginnings :)

September 19, 2012   No Comments

Street Dogs in India – Is Culling the Answer?

Disclaimer: This piece may be all over the place as I’m a bit emotional. Dogs do that to me – always; humans – sometimes 😛

A friend shared a petition on my Facebook stream today and the title got me interested.

Mayor, BBMP: Stop considering culling of street dogs in Bangalore

So I went to take a look and here are my thoughts on street dogs and culling.

This topic came up in our last building meeting too. Residents wanted the dogs removed from the colony. Really! How in the world do you remove street dogs from the streets of India? You could but they’ll come back: always – others if not the same ones!

We have to understand how dogs work in our environment. They are territorial just like us. We have plots of land all demarcated and registered so we can claim it as OURS. Well, they do the same, just without all the paperwork. Removing them just opens up an unclaimed piece of land that then gets grabbed by someone else.

The dogs got here first. If you ask around you realize that the first guy to buy land in your area saw dogs there when he bought it. They were there first and we claim the land is ours and they need to be removed?

Ok apart from the emotional stuff. Culling isn’t the answer to the street dog menace. Please note I don’t see them as a menace at all. They are helpful in a lot of ways, but the most important – they keep the area they live in free of crime.

I don’t think culling will help at all. The numbers will drop for a bit and then just bounce back. It would be better for people to get more proactive and get the present dogs neutered. That way the numbers can be controlled and watched.

No point in constantly blaming the govt. either. We need to take action, if we don’t do anything how can we expect anything of the govt. It’s like blaming the govt. when you didn’t even take the time to vote.

I have neighbors who have unvaccinated pets at home. These are parents who vaccinated their kids but see no reason to do the same for their cats and dogs. Forget about how it will keep the dog/cat healthy, they don’t even understand the risk they are putting their own kids into by having unvaccinated pets.

I also have seen people in my building go out of their way to kick the dogs. Kids obviously emulate their parents and chase the dogs with sticks into a corner. Then the parents complain that the dogs are a potential threat to their kids. Really? Are the dogs the threat? And all because the poor cornered dog had no other option since there was nowhere to run. Its sad to see how people treat dogs who are really sweet and friendly.

Che and I have spent time getting to know the dogs in our street. With help from another resident we got them neutered. We were sick of seeing dead/dying puppies and are so glad now to see NO puppies and healthier dogs. The number of dogs is in control – to some extent.

Recently there has been some rearrangement of dogs in our street. The aforementioned residents have been beating and chasing the dogs. That has led the pack to move away and new dogs have started to come in. The old pack found more peaceful human neighbours further up the street. It means a new round of neutering soon and more risk until then to aforementioned residents 😛

Remember our constitution – by the people, for the people. BY comes first because WE can and should take action first. It isn’t difficult. Take responsibility. We feed and watch the dogs in our area. Street dogs are friendly by nature. They instinctually know that they need to co-exist with us (even if we don’t). I’m not saying go give them a big hug but you could start by treating them nicely and maybe feeding them regularly. Dogs that eat well tend to stay healthy and healthy dogs are less likely to pick up infections like mange, etc. When the dogs trust you it will be easier to catch them and neuter them. It costs about Rs.300 or less to vaccinate a dog for the year. It’s worth the investment.

Culling isn’t the answer but taking a little time to get to know the dogs in our area and taking care of them may just solve our problems.

If you feel strongly against culling street dogs please stop by and sign the petition. :) Leave your thoughts about my thought too please 😀

August 3, 2012   7 Comments

Becoming a FlipKart Affiliate in India

To complete my affiliate tie-ups for now I wanted to add FlipKart to my list. I live in India so Amazon is great for all who read my blog abroad but in India Amazon doesn’t work so well as it costs a lot to ship stuff. But FlipKart is the big book seller here so I thought it worth my while. This way I can give readers two options to buy the book.

The FlipKart Affilate Program is very easy to join. Just click on the ‘Join Now For Free’ button and follow the instructions to fill in your details. Once you signed up you’ll see the home screen.

I haven’t used the FlipKart links much yet but the layout seems super easy to figure out and report useful. I did go to ‘My Account’ though and add in all my information.

The process of creating links seems very simple compared to others I’ve seen until now who generate the link. But that said its early days. I’m just starting out with it, so I’ll keep you posted on how it comes along.

Update as of 26th December 2012 – Until now I had only used my affiliate id for books I’ve reviewed. I didn’t gets clicks in the initial months it seems but in November and December I got 76 clicks however none of them converted. Maybe people in India aren’t buying so many books after reading reviews :) I have to get more aggressive with my affiliate marketing I guess.

June 1, 2012   3 Comments

Holi Hai!

Holi is the festival of colour. Like almost all festivals in India it has a story – in Hindu mythology Prince Prahlada was resented by his father, the king Hiranyakashyapa. The demon king was a cruel man and forced his subjects to worship him and no other god. But his son defined him and continued to worship Lord Vishnu. The king attempted to kill his son in many ways but failed every time. He then asked his sister Holika who was immune to fire to sit with the boy in a huge fire. But the king was thwarted again when Prince Prahlada walked out of the fire unscathed while his sister burned to death. The day is thus celebrated as a victory of good over evil, a day to rejoice.

Holi also signifies the end of winter and the time of the spring harvest. As houses are refilled with grain after the winter it is a time to celebrate and make merry. Holi also brings in the first spring showers of the year and breaks the heat wave that is just starting to announce summer.

This Holi as I watched the kids play with colour and water guns I remembered the Holi’s of my childhood. I wish someone had told me then and I had been able to comprehend just how short those fun years would have been. I might have filled them with more memories and valued it a lot more.

The day before Holi was a day of terror for Mom I think; she hoped we’d get back home without getting into any colour trouble. Washing the colour out of our uniforms would have been a nightmare. So colour was banned when we were in uniform but then when has that stopped kids. We played Holi with plain water, filling water in our bottles and chasing each other while squirting. We came home drenched to hear words from Mom but they weren’t so bad, after all there was no colour to wash 😀

The day of Holi was something I looked forward to, it was the day to go out there and get as dirty as possible – every shade of the rainbow. The kids on our street would get together, each bringing colours and then it was a melee. You tried to colour others while avoiding the colours being thrown at you but secretly you wanted to be the most colourful too. We made little water balloons and had water fights, even hid on balcony’s and aimed at passersby 😀 I still remember the year I came home with silver colour in my hair; it took ages to wash away.

And then there was that Holi party we had in college. Our gang got together in a riot of colour but it didn’t end there. We followed it up with eggs and engine oil. Yuck, I know. You should have seen Mom wrinkle her nose at the smell in the bath after we cleaned up 😛

Those days were fun and yes, it still is fun to play Holi but what I wouldn’t give to be that child again chasing another kid down the street with a fistful of colour.

Photo Credit: rudresh_calls

March 8, 2012   1 Comment

Isolated and faraway Ladakh is no longer a final frontier

This week has been a bit crazy. There’s been a product launch in the BookBuzzr family. (Check out fReado to win books or even a Kindle while playing games) And we travelled Monday night to Kovilpatti. I’m skipping nostalgia this week for fresh experiences but I do have a guest – meet Santosh, an old friend and traveller who loves to explore the unknown and unseen.

The isolated and faraway Ladakh is no longer a final frontier for adventure travellers.

I remember when biker buddies Satya and Omi set out on a 45 day expedition from Bangalore to Leh in 1996(their second or third) – I went to the railway station to see them off. The sense of an adventure like that those days gave me goose bumps. It remained a dream in me until I set out to do the same in 2002. By then itself things had changed. Satya and Omi’s stories of riding out into the vast mountains, high roads and passes made no sense at all. There was black tarmac roads built, new passes were opened, signboards, guesthouses; home stays along the road, made this a very doable ride. One, no longer needed big bikes to conquer the road that was counted among the ‘Top 10 in the world’. Life had changed – there were more people riding/driving/flying into once forbidden land of Ladakh. But the sense of an adventure to Ladakh was still exotic when I made my first trip.

2010 – Today, I am sitting in Leh. I am annoyed at the way things have developed here. Facebook, Orkut, Mr. Aamir Khan and the various commercials, which includes a Maggi noodle ad in Ladakh, has changed the character of this faraway land. Four lane highways, a tunnel to tame the Rohtang pass, a proposed rail connection from Manali, road connections into Zanskar from all sides, will continue to make Leh, the Manali/Shimla of Ladakh. Hotels and guesthouses are built by the dozens every season, new restos crop up every season and newer businesses find their way into Leh – massage parlors, tattoo artists and many more.

Frooti tetrapacks are found in some of the remotest villages.

What remained a destination for the adventurous of travellers has been decimated to a destination for the package tourist – the kind who wants to carry their kitchen with them. Thanx to corporatized tour companies like Makemytrip. As I walked into my favorite guesthouse Oriental – I was surprised to see the change in genre of travellers. As I sat at the open area by the kitchen, I hear a tourist who yells out from the window of his room “areh there is no hot water in the room”. Staff replies “ it takes a while for the solar heater to warm up the water”. Our man says “then get me a bucket of hot water”. No thank you’s, no please’s in the whole conversation. Then another white shirt, Bermuda shorts clad tourist walks into the kitchen. Same question “hot water”. Followed by another who complains of not having EPABX (intercom) or he would have yelled from the intercom itself. What hell, I thought.

As I walk into the town – I was shocked to see the change in landscape of the town. New buildings, new shops, new restos, and many more new’s – I have not dared to walk back to town again. Leh has lost its charm.

There are other stories to be heard. Oriental owner rattles – it is difficult with all the high impact tourists coming this way. Leh runs on diesel generator power, the whole town I mean – all the geysers, lights, TV’s, water heaters, water pumps all of it. Some of them like Oriental have solar powered water heating systems and basic lighting running alternatively. The makemytrip types don’t see the point or value the scarcity of resources. They stand below hot showers emptying the overhead tanks, insist on keeping the generator ON all night, and turn a blind eye on conserving. I guess the problem is awareness.

Now there is a problem in a larger scale. So far Ladakh has been seeing independent travellers. These independent travellers have been scattering their monies into the many restos, guesthouses, taxis, and other local setups. There was a split and all involved locally were happy and earned their share. Then comes the corporate tour operators; charter flights arrive, hotels are mass booked with obscene discounts bringing in the ‘every minute packaged’ tourists. This ‘every minute packaged’ starts at the hotel and ends at the hotel. Every meal every snack is planned at the hotel. On local tours – packed food from the hotel is carried along. Instead of smaller vehicles big buses are used to ferry the packaged.

Now this is what might happen, serious travellers avoid the touristy places. We have seen what has become of the Ooty’s and the Manali’s of the world. So the smaller businesses who depend on tourism suffer cos the ‘every minute packaged’ cant afford to explore the offerings of the town. They are tied into their packages. The serious travellers who scattered their monies are no longer there. The taxis don’t have much business cos the ‘every minute packaged’ are ferried in big buses. Guesthouses, hotels, have to scale up to have TV, intercom, geysers, and god knows what to satisfy the high impact tourists, thereby they getting into a debt game. I have not even spoken about the trash and solid waste management.

Where does it stop or where does it begin?

When Ladakh opened to tourism – year 1974 – 500 travellers braved the journey to visit Ladakh. This season when the corporate tour operators floated their Ladakh packages – one single company got in 10000 tourists, they want to bring 50000 tourists next year. Where is it headed – no answer to the question, but we have seen what has happened to the popular hill stations of the India. Aren’t they in a mess?

Few tips to make ur trip in Ladakh low impact –

1. Pick a local Ladakhi operator or a conscious travel company
2. Make an effort to share ur money into local hands
3. Avoid an ‘every minute packaged’ tour. They are cheap but they don’t give a local experience, they just make the bigger hotels, operators and themselves richer and fleece the smaller fellows
4. Value and conserve the local resources – use buckets instead of showers – simple things like that
5. People in Ladakh are a wonderful lot – they are peaceful and welcoming – pls treat them well or we will loose the innocence of a breed of happy simple people
6. Pls don’t trash the place – avoid things like mineral water bottles. Carry ur own bottles which can be refilled at local places. There are spots in town where one can fill in filtered water. This is an effort to cut down trash by locals
7. Pls be more aware – I am sure u don’t want to be counted among the ‘every minute packaged’ tourists.


One doesn’t have to have a reason to travel – it’s as simple as getting out there to take it within! Propagating the same message for over a decade, Santosh has traversed turbulent rivers, worked with an NGO, built solar fences & initiated an outdoor gear store and meandered through most of India. For those who know him better, he’s just stirred something within them…
After leading inspiring ventures like
Getoffurass, Photographyonthemove & Getofftraveler, there’s only one nonchalant reaction from him- “It’s been an interesting journey so far”!

Photo Credit: Anukaran Singh

August 5, 2010   2 Comments