We live in a super-specialised world and the world of travel and travellers is no different. It’s not enough to just say that “I like to travel” or that “I am a traveller”. One has to qualify what kind of travel you like or what kind of traveller you are. You’d be considered boring otherwise !
Don’t believe me? Well then, just see some of the words I picked up from the Twitter and Facebook bios of travel bloggers on my TL, which describes the kind of travel they do or the type of travellers they are.
Solo. Couple. Family. LGBT. Gay. Luxury. Heritage. Road. Backpacker (you can add variations in spelling here like backpakker, bacpacker, bakpakker). Nomadic. Wandering. Itinerant. International. Different. Newly wed (I kid you not!). Budget. Flashback. Mountain. Himalayan. Beach. Food. Frugal. Happy-Go-Lucky. Culture. Nature. Environmental. Rural. Eco. Weekend. Slow. Lazy. Grumpy. Happy. Lost. Spiritual. Religious. Ethical. Independent (really wonder what this means). Immersive. Adventure. Long-term…
One would think that the “variety” in travel / travellers would have automatically translated into variety in travel writing or blogging as well. Surprisingly, I have found that this is not the case. Sure, a lot of destinations get written about, but they are usually in the form of listicles, guides, travel tips, sponsored articles or articles espousing the cause of a particular type of travel (read the above para for examples). First-person accounts of travel experiences — which in my opinion is what any travel writing/blogging should be about — are comparatively few.
And therein lies my problem with travel blogging. As someone who blogs about travel (among other things), I know how important it is to read well in order to write well. The operative word here is ‘to read well’. Unfortunately, more often that not, whenever I read a travel blog post, I’m left with a feeling of “this is not about travel / this is not what I want to read in a post on travel”.
Let me elaborate with some examples the reason I’m peeved with the state of travel writing / blogging today.
Do you ever have a song, an idea, a storyline, or an image stuck in your head? And it just refuses to go away? For some time at least? I have this with music — it could be a song, an instrumental piece, a jingle, a background score, etc. That particular piece of music becomes my “now’” song, and the “nowness” (pardon my English here) could be for any length of time.
I watched Piku the other day. Like most people who’ve seen the film, I loved it. However, unlike most people who’ve seen the film, I thought the real star of the movie was its background score. Composed by Anupam Roy and also played on the sarod by him, Piku’s background score is my “now” song.
The score is first heard in the film when the opening credits appear on the screen — white lettering on a black background with the tittle on the ‘i’ appearing in red. Simple and beautiful. (In retrospect, I thought it was the perfect way to listen to the score and not get distracted by any visuals or graphics on-screen.) The background score appears several times in the film sometimes as an interlude, sometimes to underscore a particular emotion, and sometimes as the background score it is meant to be.
Last Thursday, as I left home for work, I reminded Amma that I would not be home for dinner as it was a Restaurant Review evening.
“I remember,” Amma said. “Which restaurant are you going to this evening?”
“Masala Table at Sanpada.”
“And what kind of food will you be having there?”
“Really? I thought you don’t like to eat Indian food in restaurants !”
Amma’s statement is not exactly right. It would be more correct to say that I prefer to eat Indian food at home, and try other cuisines when I eat out. It doesn’t always work though, especially when I’m eating out with colleagues or friends and the cuisine is decided by consensus. In the case of Masala Table, the invitation to review the restaurant decided the cuisine. 🙂
Masala Table is one of the three restaurants of Global Culture, which opened in Navi Mumbai a few months back. [I had visited their 80 Days restaurant in March and had liked it very much.] Besides the 3 restaurants, it also has a bar.
Masala Table offers Indian cuisine through an a-la-carte menu and a buffet as well. The Global Culture website, which claimed to treat food as an art form, had this to say of Masala Table: “Rediscover the good old Indian aromas, Peshawari, Awadhi, Kashmiri, Hyderabadi…”
We don’t always have to travel to seek stories; they are right there in our homes too. In “Stories From My Home“, I examine the many objects surrounding me at home and attempt to document and share the memories associated with them, one story at a time.
I immediately handed him the set of Information Brochures I had purchased at the Museum and launched into an excited account of my visit there. My brother listened to me, went through the brochures and then said:
“You know, I just remembered. There used to be this box of coins at home, though I can’t recall the last time I saw them. With all the moving around we have done, it probably got lost somewhere.”
Amma, who was listening to our conversation, suddenly piped in and said, “No, it has not. The box is in one of the cartons in the kitchen loft.” This statement was enough to make us search for the box in the loft immediately. It took us a while to sort through the stuff there, but eventually we found what we were looking for — the box of coins.
A short distance away from the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) buildings in South Mumbai is its Monetary Museum. The museum, which is the first (and perhaps the only one) of its kind is all about something that is an intrinsic part of our daily life — money. The Monetary Museum is not very well-known, but having visited it I can say that is one of Mumbai’s, and perhaps India’s, best curated museums.
Though I had been aware of the Monetary Museum’s existence for some years now, I had never gotten around to actually visiting it. Which is kind of strange as the Museum is located in an area that I visit quite often. And when I did actually visit it earlier this year, it was a spur-of-the-moment decision that led me there!
A 10-15 minute walk from CST or Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, the RBI Monetary Museum is a high security museum, with no photography and no bags inside. Entry is free and after depositing my bag and cell phone in the locker provided, and a security check later, I was inside the first of the 6 galleries of the Museum.
It was almost 9 pm that day in April when the taxi turned into the lane leading to my house. It had been a long day at work and I was tired and hungry with the beginnings of a headache. All I could think of was dinner, a long cold shower, and sleep.
The lane is not very well-lit, and I was surprised to see it blazing with light. There was a large van parked in the lane and some kind of display on the road. Curious, I got off the cab at the entrance to the lane, paid the driver and walked towards the light, or rather the van and the display. To my surprise and delight, it was a display of books and the van was a mobile bookshop. And to over see all this was a man sitting at one end of the display and reading a book.