Thursday, November 28, 2013

A Bit More Around the World... in 14 days

A winter sunset captured as I land back in Stockholm after a 5 country, 3 continent, 2 week trip!
I give in. To writing about my travels. It is kinda hard to resist when that is all that seems to be happening in my life right now. I know I said that I abhor all those people who just travel around the world and then sit and write about it, almost as if to make other people jealous. But think about the fact that if that is all that is going on in their lives, they can either not write at all, or write about their travels.

To be honest I never feel like writing about the experiences, because words, in whatever permutations you put them in a sentence, will still fail to capture the wonders that you experience when traveling. I want to write about the people. And me being the talkative me that I am, I meet and interact with a lot of people when I travel.

This year, and to an extent this job, has made me travel a bit. London in the beginning of the year, India in Spring, Riga in summer, Nice and Monaco towards the end of this summer, Vienna in Autumn, and Brazil and India again now. Throw in the small stops made during transit, Qatar, Dubai, Istanbul. It provides for quite an interesting mix for one year. Compared to my resolution that I should travel to at least one new country every year, I managed 3 new countries, and a total of 7 countries traveled to, not counting the transits! 

But considering there was more business than leisure in these travels, for me it has been more about the people I met than the sightseeing. The environmentalist who was in São Paulo for a global environment seminar and talked about environmental norms in India and showed me pictures of birds and animals in Brazil, the professional brazilian kayaker (is that a word?) Pedro whose profession was to travel to different countries around the world to kayak down rivers, record videos, and send them back to the local Brazilian equivalent of Discovery channel (makes me feel "what kind of a boring profession am I in?). Or the old couple who looked 70+ and were traveling back from somewhere in Africa, struggling with switching on their mobile camera, whose independence at their age inspired me.. will I be independent, healthy and enthusiastic enough to travel to Africa after 70?

The person who made the most impact on me was the lady who was returning from Uganda with her newly adopted son. Travel is all about seeing new places, meeting new people and experiencing new cultures, but it is also about questioning your own beliefs about life. She made me wonder if I really believe in the purpose of my life. What I have spent my entire life trying to move away from... poverty, instability, slums, lack of safety... she has spent her life moving towards. She is a Pharmaceutical Sales Manager and a Yoga teacher, who dropped her regular life for a while to volunteer in Uganda where she got attached to an orphan 5 year old who lived amidst severe poverty, and decided to adopt him. And they seemed so perfectly happy with each other. Not to mention that it was sooo interesting to watch Kisule (the Ugandan-now-American boy) see ice for the first time in his Cola glass, and watch him see a plane land for the first time. Thinking about it, ice IS quite an interesting thing, it is transparent, slippery and tasteless, and numbs your hand if you hold it too long. And disappears and melts into water, I completely understand Kisule's amusement with the ice cubes.

For the rest, let me just give you some glimpses and narrate some things through the pictures:

The Brazil Hotel, if you stay in 5 hotels in 2 weeks, all the hotel rooms will be more of a blur...

... in case you need tips on where to stay for your Brazilian World Cup trip, you know whom to contact!

The exotic Brazilian food. After a point you stop asking what kind of meat it is. And if you are a vegetarian... well..

Caprihani and Cachaça are Brazil's gifts to the world. If you have not tried it, you have not lived

For a seasoned traveler, Wi-fi on board is not news. But being able to use your mobile phone for calls/texts IS news. Makes me think a lot of what happens if the exec next to me decides to go on a heated conference call during my peaceful flight.

The arid Sahara desert on my flight from Sao Paulo to Dubai. Cannot help but compare it with the picture of the Alps I took on my way to Cannes

A view of the snow-capped Alps on the way to Nice/Cannes. Needed to see this when I took the Sahara pic

Dubai in all it's splendor

Istanbul wares at the "Old Bazaar". And yes, that is authentic gold, in case you wondered

Bird's eye view of Istanbul

Some Istanbul collectables

A sunrise in India as I get off to an early start for work