57 Carlos Celdran Tour of Intramuros, Manila

Carlos Celdran’s 3-hour Intramuros Tour is one of the few things that I can recommend heartily in the almost-negligible ‘to-do’ section of Manila. It’s not five star, but it is definitely something one must do when in the city.
Before visiting this tour, I had been to Fort Santiago in my earlier trips, and had read some amount of history of the place. But there is a difference between reading and seeing it unfurl in front of you in the form of a performance, howsoever poignant the story is.
And Carlos has a way to make the story come alive. He and his troop of 4 locals, who carry his bags and costumes and paraphernalia around the tour, and collect money, and look after the guests. But the star of the show is only Carlos.

And what a star. Carlos has a way of telling you stories, like an older friend confiding in you and telling you some naughty secrets, all the time turning around looking to see if the teacher is at earshot. Like how the Spanish genes that the people from Manila have,…

56 Dulhousie

Dulhousie, Himachal Pradesh 600km from Gurgaon, 10-hour pleasant drive
Day 1 – Gurgaon to Dulhousie
There are weekends and then there are weekends. This one is, thankfully, the second type. After a long gap which saw time effervesce and get reduced to ashes like camphor does, we find this longish weekend, where all dependant variables are within respectable limits – the kids have finished their homework / projects, the adults have no problem deprioritizing their work assignments, the weather is moderate, the world is marginally stable, and so on. So, we pack a limited set of supplies and needs, and at the crack of dawn hit the road, at 5:30am – which, by itself, is a domestic achievement.
Crossing the city is a breeze at this time, and we are at the other end of Delhi before half the group is barely even awake. It is always interesting to pass through Azadpur Mandi – the wholesale fruits and vegetable market of North Delhi – at this time of the day, when the traffic is sporadic, barring a…


Of all the things I miss losing, I miss my 'ability to get amazed' the most - to paraphrase a popular adage. You might think this is silly, but I assure you that it is not so. As I continue with my wanderings, both for work and for pleasure, the number of things that generate a sense of awe keep diminishing each year. Things start becoming mundane, more of the same, or how do they say - 'dull'. And yes, yes, I know that the great poets keep saying each day is special, and all places are different and beautiful, which is part true too. But it is only when I visit something so extraordinary and incredible as the Valley of Kashmir, that this phrase comes alive again, and the sense of excitement gets rekindled. For that one thing, I would say that the price of the 'admission ticket' is completely worth it.

And it is a steep price, no doubt. Even with some bag-packing tricks thrown in from our pre-"family & kids" stage of life, a family vacation from …

Delhi Mumbai Road Trip in less than one and half days

Gurgaon - Dharuheda - Breakfast
Jaipur - Udaipur - Kishangarh - Bhilwada
Chittodgarh - Udaipur - Shyamalji - Ahmedabad - Early Dinner - Baroda - total 1002 km

Baroda - Bharuch - Surat
Vapi - Bhajanlal dairy - Dahisar - Andheri - total 410km

These are interesting times. The world is getting smaller and smaller, yet more polarized. It seems to me we are always at election polls or at war in some part of the world or the other. Inspiration and decadence are neighbors, and no one has time to lift their heads up from their 'smart' phones to know which is which. The world view is getting constantly changed, challenged and defined at the same time, so much that we are now blissfully unaware of things that pass through the ubiquitous membrane of art and culture and language in an orgiastic osmosis of sorts.

(I did manage to use all these big new w…