A Two-wheeled Love Affair

My association with bikes began, as it often happens, with a hand-me-down. In this case, there were two – my dad’s Bajaj Chetak and my fauji uncle’s Jawa, lovingly maintained by the Madras Sappers’ MT pool. No prizes for guessing which one I rode the most. The scooter lasted longer, though. It got me through…

Axum: Finding the Lost Ark

There’s an old joke in Kerala that, when Vasco Da Gama landed in Calicut, he claimed the land in the name of the Catholic Church. The locals said “Fine, but why don’t you talk to the parish priest in the Marthoma Church first, and see what he thinks?” ====================================================================== Ethiopians would understand, because there’s possibly…

Laos: Morning Musings in Luang Prabang

The mist’s hanging chill and grey as the tuk-tuk deposits me in the middle of Luang Prabang. It sets the tone for me as far as the town’s concerned. Because, Luang Prabang’s a morning place. Somewhere that even a night owl (that’s me, taking a bow) has every incentive to be up before dawn shows…

Solo Through Laos: Vientiane – The In-And-Out City

Arriving in Vientiane, I get my first experience of Laos’ quirky transport system. You’d expect the capital city of any country to have a railway station but, in Vientiane, it’s in a tiny village called Thanaleng, miles from nowhere. The only reason I can think of is that it provides a livelihood to the tuk-tuk guys…

Solo through Laos: First Impressions

My head had become foggy and dull. My blog hadn’t been updated for months. A sense of ennui was firmly entrenched in my soul. What better time to take all the vacation time I had and hit the road? On my own, for a change? This time, it was Laos. It’s been on my travel…

Banning app-based cab services? Here’s the alternative.

So, Über’s got everybody’s goat. Much newsprint (and server space) has been spent condemning the rape of a woman in Gurgaon, and rightly so. All of a sudden, cabbies have turned into guys you should fear. Cries to ban them grow. But, if you’re in Bangalore and echo this outcry, here’s my take: When I…

Cambodia: The Mundane Mysteries of Angkor

Seeing Angkor for the first time was an awesome, jaw-dropping experience. I felt tiny, even insignificant, before such magnificence. That feeling has long passed, to be replaced by something more unpleasant. I have this trembling certainty that I’m going to tumble, unceremoniously and fatally, off the pinnacle of Angkor Wat. Bangkok’s Wat Arun had the…

The Loneliest Copywriter in the World

It’s the end of another day in the creative department of my ad agency. After I’ve cleared my table of pending jobs, an evening out beckons. Maybe I’ll catch a movie, knock back a beer, or just have a nice dinner in some chic restaurant, with (hopefully) a chic girl in tow. The hero of this…

This Weekend’s Special

Every Friday, once upon a time, Elango would call my buddy Gene or me. For those of you who don’t know him, Elango runs an establishment called Pecos on Rest House Road, Bangalore, renowned for its superb music and abysmally lousy beer. “Macha! Where the ^%$# is my poster?” he’d complain. “Dude, we have shitloads…

Vietnam: Breakfast Heaven

I’ve never been a morning person. Why, then, am I hauling my Saigon Bia-sodden self awake at 8 AM, when I’d only put my head to a pillow a few hours ago? Simply put, because a Vietnamese breakfast is right up there with its Udupi and Malayali counterparts, my gold standard. And totally worth cutting…

Cambodia: The Moving Crossroads Of Chong Khneas

Say you popped down the road to pick up the paper and a coffee, and found that the corner shop had moved overnight. So, in fact, had the post office, waterworks, school and…yikes!! …when did the cops set up shop next door to me??? Jumping off a tuk-tuk from Siem Riep at Cheong Khneas Jetty,…

On the Train to Angkor

When you’re splitting Bangkok at 5.55 in the morning, it’s better not to sleep at all. The reason for us fleeing the charms of Southeast Asia’s party central is waiting at a platform at Hualamphong, Bangkok’s imposing railway station. The three of us blearily stagger in, asking for the “Cambodia Express”. Only, there’s nothing remotely…