Thursday, April 20, 2017

iRediscover | Khwairamband Bazar: Imphal's Women-run Market in Monochrome

There were very few things I knew with as much surety about my Manipur itinerary as I did about wanting to visit Imphal's women run market - Khwairamband Bazar; also known as Ima Keithel, meaning mother’s/women’s market.

Evidently, being an only women-run market - the oldest and perhaps the only one of its kind across the globe at that  - makes it an intriguing phenomenon. From the different sources I have been reading up since my return, no known date seems to emerge for when the market was established. Some records attribute its origin to the late 18th century.

This post is in continuation to my Micro Stories from Manipur where I've shared my experience of walking through the market, observing and being observed.

In this post, through the photographs taken, I'll show and won't tell without further ado!

"The earth laughs in flowers" ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
The entrance to the market is lined with women selling flowers - irrespective of the hour of the day one visits.

"Instead of saying “I don’t have time” try saying “it’s not a priority,” and see how that feels." 
Being a silent observer (mostly by virtue of not knowing Manipuri as a language) meant that I had many a fly-on-the-wall moments watching the women alternate between being attentive when there was a customer to resuming back to their own worlds when there were none. So many moods to capture through the lens of a camera! 

“The longing for sweets is really a yearning for love or "sweetness.”
Laddoos! What's not to love about them. And as for this photograph, let it be known that between artist and muse much effort was made to avoid eye-contact. Such an interesting experiment and an insight into human behaviour merely wielding a camera can turn out to be. Who would have thunk?

"Whether you think you can, or you think you can't -- you're right" ~ Henry Ford
Something about catching another person lost in thought feels intrusive as well as serves as a tiny reminder that we're wired the same

“Anyone who tells you size doesn't matter has been seeing too many small knives.” 
I don't know whether it was because of what she was selling but something about being a little more upfront and approaching this lady for a photograph just didn't seem that easy. 
"No one is ever satisfied where he is....Only the children know what they’re looking for....”  ~ The Little Prince
Lost in conversation with her fellow lady-vendor, my muse in this photograph is wearing the Manipuri phanek -- the wraparound/sarong with horizontal lines, that is typical to the Manipuris alone.

“Belief, hard work, love–you have those things, you can do anything.” ~ Mitch Albom
If there's anything I thought I saw the women consistently embody, in spite of my extremely short stint of about three hours at the market, it would be Albom's words. 

“The Times is a paper which is seldom found in any hands but those of the highly educated.” ~ Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
When a woman isn't running her own business and minding her own affairs, she makes it her business to catch up on those running the world, informing herself if they are making too much of a mess managing affairs they weren't cut out to deal with!

“You'll find that life is still worthwhile, if you just smile.” ~ Charlie Chaplin
I have a deeper sense of respect for anybody who is willing to allow me retakes when I'm struggling with lighting whilst capturing a portrait. And this lady tops that list! She was among those few people who was extremely at ease with a camera being pointed at her (even though she didn't need to)

“I think... if it is true that there are as many minds as there are heads, then there are as many kinds of love as there are hearts.” ~Leo Tolstoy
I don't know who she is. I never will. I just saw her sitting there with her back towards us, staring at something right in front of her and I got her in my frame -- while silently hoping she wouldn't turn and take away the sense of mystery away

"Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.” ~Confucius
I could see myself making my way out of the market and was left thinking, "Is there anything that I did not see these women sell?" and couldn't come up with an answer. My muse in this photograph did strike a pose with one of her products after she saw me hide my face behind the lens! Who doesn't like a subject who plays the good sport?

“Taking pictures is savoring life intensely, every hundredth of a second.” 
I have gone from despising the act of pointing the camera into anybody's face to gently getting comfortable with the idea that seeking permission makes the entire act less intrusive. And these women have been the perfect kind of validation - even after all this time. Because I still struggle. With portraits. As much as with being that-pest-with-a-camera!

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---
P.S.:
I have a tiny favour to ask...
You might be aware that I have been facilitating workshops on expressive communication under what I call -- Be You For You!

Can you help me bring this concept to your network? The post below describes the kind of support I am looking for. If you or anybody you know could help, that would be an incredible favour.




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Friday, April 14, 2017

iEncounter | Bloody Mary With A Boa Constrictor Called Anxiety

A couple of months ago, I very vaguely addressed what it's like for me to live with Anxiety.
Why vague?
I presumed that because I do not experience panic attacks and such, 'my anxiety' wasn't severe and therefore, did not merit anything more than a fleeting mention. Almost, blink-and-miss if you'd like. Which is what it was!

There's a story behind the image

But the anxiety even sans the panic attacks, is anything but blink-and-miss. 
May be it something as covert as high-functioning anxiety!

I've found that writing helps me out when I'm caught unawares, struggling to cope with this Boa Constrictor called Anxiety. So over a glass of Bloody Mary, not too long ago, we had a verbal duel of sorts. And here's what that looked like...

***

Me: Your behaviour has necessitated the need for this conversation.

Anxiety: My behaviour, eh? I am what I am. Your reaction towards me necessitates this conversation.

Me: What am I supposed to do if not react to your presence in my life! You’ve sneaked in on me and continue to leave me in the throes of nothing I can comprehend. You sure weren’t hoping for a red carpet welcome, I hope!

Anxiety: I wasn’t hoping for anything. Unlike you, hope is not what I thrive on. I thrive as long as you react to my presence. And you know that yourself enough already. And yet, you succumb. You make my job easy and my existence possible. HAHA.


Me: You’re disgusting. What pleasure does wreaking havoc and leaving me incapacitated to do anything leave you with?

Anxiety: Listen woman, you’re not special okay. I already told you I’m doing this for me. My survival rests on your reaction. I am a parasite, yes. And nothing you say is going to make me want to have a change of heart. Yes, you heard me right. I have it easy scavenging on your insecurities. Why, I am also able to fuel your insecurities. So that makes you a parasite too. And the more you feed off from me, the more I control you. And no, I am no angel; never claimed to be one. So, quit the pontification! 

Me: But why me? And why can’t you just let me be?

Anxiety: Look woman, you’re not special. Me and my hommies have nestled ourselves in the heads, hearts and lives of many like you. So, don’t take it personally either. And why should I be the one letting you be? You can very well do it yourself. I let the secret out to you already. I thrive on what you provide. You stop providing, I stop thriving. Easy as that.



Me: Piece of cake, eh? Right from waking up in the morning and that arresting sensation in my chest with my heart thudding its way out of my rib-cage (if it could) to my gut wanting to retch itself out (again, if it could) you have a stronghold over my physical and mental agility. How the hell am I supposed to stop providing when it’s me you’ve taken ransom? You make it seem like I am doing this of my own accord. Ugh! It’s like trying to explain your presence in my life to people around me all over again. It’s not my doing. You hover over like a shadow. No matter how much I try to let the light in – you keep blowing out the flame. I cannot control you or your influence over me. I did not make you happen. NO. You took over me when I was seeking acceptance and approval. You sneaked in under the guise of a well-wisher and never handed me back to myself. I didn’t stand a chance with you. And you’re making it seem like I am the provider. I never had a say and don’t have a choice!


Anxiety: Such a rant-er, you are. Yes, I make my own words and no, you cannot guilt-trip me out. That silly ploy of yours is just that, silly and weak. And explaining? You really think explaining my presence in your life to the ‘real’ people around you is going to make any difference? I already told you, you’re not the first of our finds! Why, me and my hommies have been lauded for being instrumental in birthing the concept of ‘the tortured genius’! So many excellent works of art and science have been brought into this world by these geniuses tortured because of what you claim are our misdeeds. Bah!

Me: You make the life of a tortured genius seem like such a coveted honour. The tortured genius is a misunderstood soul who lives a life of shame and guilt. Someone who is always afraid of falling short of what they can do and who out of that same fear, never live to their true potential; least of all, never live in peace. And yes, I’ll concede this much to you, I cannot and do not want you to plea bargain your way out of my life. That will be the death of you. And you know what else will be the death of you?
Self-care. 
It is the antithesis of the Stockholm syndrome. I’ll let you be the captor that you thrive on being but it won’t continue to be at the cost of my well-being. Not anymore. You’re right when you claim that explaining your presence to anyone around me won’t do me any good. Guess what? I am learning that I can grant myself the approval and acceptance I’ve always craved for. I can watch out for myself and as one of the most fundamental principles of writing goes, I’ll ‘show, not tell’ those around me how I would like to be taken care of.
I’ll be me for me.
You don’t have to snigger already. You’ve certainly won all the rounds so far. But a good place to start is to cut my losses. Enough of the telling, it’s show time!


PSSST!
This piece is NOT a work of fiction. I have borrowed from the concept of expressive writing to help myself cope with my anxieties and stressors! 


To know more about Be You For You - workshops I facilitate on expressive writing, lookie this link up 
For other related posts on expressive writing, click here


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Sunday, April 9, 2017

iRediscover | 3.25 Micro Stories of Hope from Manipur

“You can skip Manipur.”
“I would suggest avoid going to Manipur.”
“You’re going to have to be very careful if you go to Manipur.”

If there was any other permutation to the sentiment that implied ‘do not go to Manipur’, I would like to believe that I had heard it all. Even so, after Tripura, Manipur was the second state within the northeast that I planted my feet in.
With #29in29 at stake, stubbornness was a much required asset.

Imphal, Manipur, milestone, India, northeast
Destination: Imphal | Manipur, India -- January 2017

If you’re wondering why I was at the receiving end of so much caution and concern, then you have the national dailies to thank for conveniently muting out issues from the northeast. So here’s what you should know – Manipur has been in the throes of an economic blockade since October-November 2016. The consequence has been a state of curfew, shut roadways, and restricted access to utilities including food and fuel therefore making everything a lot more expensive that it otherwise.

My stubbornness, however, was not without taking steps towards risk-mitigation:
  • Cheap airfares helped nullify the risk of being held up en route due to a road block
  • Pre-booking accommodation helped finding a place that fit our budget
  • Speaking to friends and acquaintances helped establish new contacts in the state, should an emergency situation arise during the period of our stay

Repeating a hack
While stepping out of the airport at Imphal, we repeated a hack that served us well at Agartala; we reached out to the CRPF jawaans stationed at the exit to help us with the best mode of transport from the airport to our hotel. It’s easier getting fleeced when you walk right into the lair of rickshaws and taxis without an idea of what your alternatives are.
A shared-rickshaw outside the airport gate brought us to the Imphal market area at 1/10th the cost quoted inside the airport premises.

P.S. 1: Nothing had prepared me to walk out of the airport into heavy army presence though. I was quickly reminded of how much of my freedom I otherwise take for granted.
P.S. 2: What if I told you that was the beginning and the end of my brush with caution and concern in Manipur?


The micro-stories
Khwairamband Bazar
If there’s a positive story you’re bound to NOT miss about Manipur, it has to be about the Khwairamband Bazar! Also known as Ima Keithel which loosely also translates to mother’s/women’s market, this is perhaps the oldest and only market across the globe that has been run and managed only by women. In other words, men are not allowed to set shop and sell within its premises.
We explored this market the very afternoon we landed in Imphal.

Khwairamband Bazar, Imphal, Manipur, India, northeast, women, market, entrepreneur, female
Waiting as my senses took some time adjusting to the vivacious environs at Khwairamband Bazar | Manipur, India
-- January 2017

Armed with nothing but our cameras, my senses took some time adjusting to my vivacious environs! But why? After all, this was a market just like many others I had been to before. What about it being an only-women-run enterprise changed so much about its air that I could sense it the very moment I set foot inside?
I don’t have a clearly articulated answer.

But here’s what I can share with you.
We couldn’t be discreet even if we wanted to, thanks to our racial appearance. So between curious glances and pretend-like-we-cannot-see-them glances, I braved an awkward smile every time I found myself meeting the gaze of another woman at the market. Through aisles of women selling fish, earthen pots, vegetables, cane baskets, fruits, trinkets and everything in-between, I started to ease in one step at a time. Their mannerisms in going about with their business was anything but cut-throat; or so I thought. No howling over the other’s voice. No infighting of any kind.

Khwairamband Bazar, Manipur, Imphal, northeast, women, market, bazar
Capturing her smile during a retake  :) at Khwairamband Bazar | Manipur, India -- January 2017

Every now and then I would pull my camera out, make eye-contact with at least one of them and non-verbally ask if it was alright for me to take a photograph. Not once were we shooed off! But here’s the highlight of it all – every single time we showed each of them what we had managed to click - in spite of the low lighting - they would break into a wide-eyed smile. That broke the ice a little more and strangers who didn’t speak each other’s language, found a medium to communicate.
That and the unwitting off chance of being offered an apple by one of the lady vendors simply because she loved that we took her photograph!

Khwairamband Bazar , Imphal, Manipur, India, northeast, women, bazar, fruit, market, wholesale
The ima who gave us an apple at Khwairamband Bazar | Manipur, India -- January 2017


Moreh
Moreh – that town at the border of India and Myanmar - came as a recommendation from a friend who insisted that I make that trip. But undertaking that ~110 kilometre journey, at a time when fuel prices were pushing private taxi rates through the roof (and beyond) and public transport buses per se were tough to come by, was posing to be a challenge. But only until a local acquaintance helped us locate the starting point from where shared taxi services ply early in the morning.

Imphal, Moreh, Manipur, northeast, dawn, morning, sunrise, sun, moon, crescent
The crescent and the sun playing peek-a-boo one morning in Imphal | Manipur, India -- January 2017

Swaddled in possibly all of my cold wear for the first time since our entry into the northeast and hobbling through the quiet streets of Imphal while the crescent loomed overhead and the sun struggled to make an appearance through the fog and the mist, we were immediately being sought by two taxi drivers simultaneously. And after mentally flipping a coin, we decided to take the ride with Mr. Inaucha.
Our journey was mostly a silent one. We were five passengers and Mr. Inaucha – who would occasionally initiate a conversation that would quickly veer into a monologue while I would nod in acknowledgment – sometimes wondering whether I ought to be acknowledging everything he talked about.

Two hours into our journey without any halt en route owing to security concerns - even as my eyes saw sights that made my fingers tingle with desire to grab my camera and go clickety-click – we made our first stop – a security check stop. Our IDs were given more than the usual glance.
“Where are you from?”
“What brings you to Manipur?”
“Where are you headed to from here?”
…those were some of the questions posed to us individually by an army officer who had a no-nonsense vibe to him. And then somewhere the same stoic-looking gentleman asked me if I spoke Marathi. I seized my opportunity and asked him if he was from Maharashtra. This resulted in us having a mini exchange in Marathi! Kilometers away from home, I was conversing with another stranger in a language native to my home-state!

Imphal, Moreh, Manipur, India, mountains, clouds, hills
FINALLY! A photograph but only after we sought our permissions from the army officials | Manipur, India -- January 2017

At another check-post closer to Moreh, another duo from the army had some more questions for me:
“Why do you write and what do you write about?”
“What about this region do you like? And how is it different from the other places you have travelled to?”
“What do you think about its people?”
This round of questions concluded with us receiving two chocolates and being told, “It was really nice talking to you and hearing about the things you do. Hope you enjoy your time in Moreh. And do write about us as well.”
…Which left me thinking: For the oppressive ways of the army, they have a human side that peeps every now and then – a side that longs to engage in conversations and not merely inspect every single person entering and leaving the region with suspicion and caution!

Manipur, Imphal, Moreh, army, chocolate
Chocolates. Simply because they loved talking to us! | Manipur, India -- January 2017


Loktak
No journey to Manipur is complete without a visit to Loktak either. Not especially when your welcome into the state was with an aerial view of the ‘phumdis’. For the uninitiated, the Loktak Lake is the largest freshwater lake in the northeast and is renowned for its floating miniature islands.

Loktak, lake, freshwater, Imphal, Moirang, Manipur, aeroplane
A glimpse of Loktak Lake while being sky-borne | Manipur, India -- January 2017

Our journey from Imphal to Moirang was slightly eventful as we struggled with our language barrier and got off the public transport bus a lot earlier than we were supposed to.
We learned that it helps to ask for directions either to Moirang or to Sendra – not Loktak, which is actually the hydroelectric power station!

woman, lady, female, bus conductor, Imphal, Manipur, India
Did you know we had a lady conductor? She owned her job. Nobody messes with her | Manipur, India -- January 2017

Sendra Island offers visitors a somewhat elevated view of the lake. Parking ourselves on a bench at that manicured property, we spent a few hours watching the world passing us by. No, actually we were waiting for the haze to settle and allow us a clearer view of the landscape – which did not really happen. But it was an absolute delight watching fisher-folk and other locals rowing their way back and forth.

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On our return we made a halt at Moirang, where the INA Memorial Complex is located. This complex takes you through the journey of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose as well as pays homage to those who lost their lives during WWII. The gentleman who doubles as the caretaker and guide was very helpful in outlining for us the significance of the events, the artefacts and the people of that time.

In our attempt to make our return back to Imphal less dramatic than our morning’s journey, we sought help from the local traffic police who physically guided us to the bus-stop – which I thought was a kind gesture.
15 minutes in our wait at the stop, we spotted a bus approaching and at that exact same moment my gaze met with the gaze of a lady bystander. She smiled and asked us in Hindi if we were going to Imphal. We were more that ecstatic at hearing someone speak a language we were both comfortable with.
“Yes, we are. It seems like the bus is here too!”
“This bus takes over an hour longer to get to Imphal due to its many stops. Come along with me – we can hop into a shared rickshaw from a little ahead”

Moirang, Imphal, Manipur, Ima, lady, good samaritan, India, northeast
Ima to our rescue at Moirang | Manipur, India -- January 2017

And just like that we followed her. Once inside the rickshaw she enquired,
“So where are you’ll from? Oh! It’s just the two of you from Mumbai exploring Manipur, is it? How long have you’ll been here? What have you’ll seen so far? Where are you’ll currently staying? Why don’t you’ll come and stay with me? I can help you’ll in getting to the places around from here!”

When we mentioned to her that we were going to be around for just another day, she sighed. Truth be told I was taken aback with how quickly she had not only warmed up to us but also opened up to us.
I can hardly if ever guess somebody’s age but she did look like someone who would be in her 40s, at least. She was warm and concerned about how we were doing in a new city. I almost forgot she was no more than a stranger we had met only a couple of minutes ago! When we asked her about places we could eat an authentic Manipuri meal at in Imphal she offered to take us to the restaurant once we got to Imphal.
Through our conversations, I learnt of her daughter who moved to Bangalore to study and now works there as a nurse. In fact, she was making a trip to Imphal to meet with someone whom she would hand over a package to have delivered to her daughter. And perhaps that explained the reason why she extended herself so much for our sake as well. Perhaps.


Final thoughts...
On my flight out of Imphal four days later, I kept thinking to myself – What if I had heeded to the advice and avoided getting to Manipur entirely?


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PSST! I am facilitating workshops on expressive writing in Mumbai this April. To know more, click here


P.S.: I know you don't like annoying pop-ups. So if you like the posts you see on my blog, you could also Subscribe to HaveFeetWillTravel by Email and receive newer ones directly to your inbox! 

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Sunday, April 2, 2017

iRediscover | What My Trails In Tripura Led Me To

If you want to know how ignorant you are, travel. Especially if you, like me, do not have the patience to always sit through tomes.
Of course, I also recommend travel with this disclaimer: Leave your misguided sense of entitlement behind before you commence your journey.

And that is also how I began my journey into India’s northeast mid-Jan this year. I knew how little I knew about the region. If anything, that was what petrified me the most and kept me away from venturing into the northeast for a very long time.

But only until the stubbornness to accomplish #29in29 kicked in

Unakoti, Tripura, Agartala, rock, sculptures
The rock sculptures at Unakoti

Arriving in Kailashahar after flying into Agartala from Guwahati and then taking a train to Kumarghat was just the beginning of both, shedding light as well as dispelling that same ignorance! The pages of my northeast diary were beginning in the geographic state of Tripura and in a mental state of euphoria. I was going to learn by doing.

The good folks at ChaloHoppo were helping my friend and me to navigate our way during our four days in the state. We would explore Agartala, the capital of Tripura, after we had seen some of its interiors.
That got us to look up train tickets to Kumarghat (while making new friends at Agartala railway station)
That introduced us to Kailashahar or what seemed like life inside of a slo-mo video, as I’d like to call it. And that’s how we were introduced to our gregarious guide, Sujit and our demure driver, Arijit.

Kailashahar does not boast of too many hotels. Actually, it boasts of only two.
And for reasons best known to the Universe (or the white bearded old man in the sky, whichever of the two you believe in) ours was the one located in close proximity to a blaring loudspeaker during our two night stay.

Were we going to pass the first test of our sense of entitlement?




Explorations from in and around Kailashahar:
Kailashahar is located at the Indo-Bangladesh border. Except that you don’t really notice it – the border, that is. In fact, until Sujit pointed it out to us, we hadn’t even realised that the barbed wires we had been driving past were indicative of the Indo-Bangladesh border! 


Unakoti
At 10 kilometres from Kailashahar are the Unakoti rock carvings - a ‘Shaivite' pilgrimage centre within Hinduism dating back to 7th – 9th centuries. 'Unakoti' means one less than a crore and that is believed to be the number of rock cut carvings of Shiva as well as other gods and goddesses found there. These carvings are only of faces and are believed to be the largest in size in India. These carvings depict tribal features both in decoration and anatomy.
As per Hindu mythology, Lord Shiva was on his way to Kashi along with one crore gods and goddesses when he made a night halt at this location. He'd asked them to wake up before sun rise and proceed for Kashi. In the morning, except Shiva, no one else woke up so he set out for Kashi himself cursing the others to turn to stone. That's how there are one less than a crore stone images and carvings at Unakoti.

Standing before these monolith structures, I reflected back to how a couple of months ago I knew neither history nor myth about Unakoti! 

Unakoti, Tripura, India, Shaiva
Unakoti

Unakoti

rock carving, sculpture, Unakoti, Tripura, India, Hinduism
Rock carving with Brahma-Vishnu-Mahesh


Laxmi Narayan Mandir
There are quite a few temples in and around Kailashahar. And we visited almost all of them – more at Sujit’s insistence than our own devotion. Once inside a place of worship though, out of my innate curiosity, I’m drawn towards the devotees’ religious fervour! Which is what I found in a striking manner at the Laxmi Narayan Mandir. The temple is known for the tomaal tree within its premises on which devotees tie strips of red linen as a symbol of their invocations.

Elsewhere in the world, people clasp locks on to bridge while chucking the key in the water-body below. Interesting how similar both these practices seem in spite of the diversity in cultures!

tree, Tripura, Unakoti, Laxmi Narayan Mandir
The tomaal tree at Laxmi Narayan Mandir

temple, Hindu, Tripura
Laxmi Narayan Temple


Manipuri food in Tripura
If experiencing Tamil Nadu’s Pongal celebration in Bihar’s Patna two years ago had helped me experience India’s diversity in its full glory, then licking off Manipuri delicacies from my plantain leaf plate at Sujit’s home was an insight of its own kind. The Bishnupriyas are an ethnic group that belong to Manipur who fled oppression sometime during the 18th and 19th centuries and sought refuge in parts of Assam, Tripura as well as present day Bangladesh. 

Sometimes you encounter food through the cultures you learn about. And sometimes you learn a lot more about culture and history through the food you encounter!

Manipuri food, lunch, Indian, food, India, kitchen
Preparations for lunch underway

Manipuri food, lunch, Indian, food, India, kitchen, girl child, child, children,
The tiny human was most content getting us flowers as ingredients for salad were readied in the plate behind

Authentic Manipuri thaali


Jampui Hills and Vanghmun
On a less hazy day, this view of the Jampui Hills would have been spectacular. But on the day I got there, I almost had to pinch myself ...Sometimes reality is more than what you imagined; albeit in a good way.
The Jampui Hills are along the Tripura-Mizoram border and are inhabited by the Lushai as well as the Reang tribes. The Lushai follow Christianity (you start seeing crucifixes along the road, just like in Goa) and speak English quite fluently (we were asking for directions).
Incidentally, during the WWII, locals from the nearby Vaghmun village rescued two American air-force pilots... (*things my history books didn't tell me*)

I've had many more moments such as this one during my journey in the northeast where I hadn't known about certain places, let alone knowing that I'd ever be there.
But there I was
Exploring my country

Beyond what the newspapers were saying or my school syllabus had ever done any justice to!

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Neermahal
There are times on the road when you have to blink twice to acknowledge that what you're looking at, ain't a mirage. Meet Neermahal (which literally means ‘water palace’) on Rudrasagar located at the outskirts of Agartala. It is the only other water palace in India besides the Jal Mahal in Rajasthan.


Personally my highlight of the day was the journey -- hopping on to public transport (which BTW, is quite comfortable) to get from Agaratala to the palace. What made this 55 kilometre journey interesting was how everyone from the hotel reception to the stranger on the street kept advising us against public transport – not because of anything else, except that it was considered too far of a distance to be undertaken by two girls by themselves unless they were hiring a private cab!
Of course, we had pennies to save and local experiences to lap up and savour – and we were glad we took the bus!

water palace, Agartala, Tripura, India
Neer Mahal | Agartala

water palace, Agartala, Tripura, India
Neer Mahal | Agartala

water palace, Agartala, Tripura, India
Neer Mahal | Agartala


Streets of Agartala
It's not enough that I just see the recommended sights or live as locally as possible when I travel. Sometimes my curiosity gets the better of my otherwise reserved nature and pushes me to ask questions to strangers that I'm itching to get answered.


That's what I did while walking through the streets of Agartala after we returned from Neer Mahal. In the lead to Saraswati puja, the streets were lined with artisans working away at their statues. While my camera helped make an entry point to initiate a conversation, I, unfortunately, couldn't glean much about the process of statue making because of the language barrier; though I did get asked about the statue-making process in Mumbai!



statue, god, goddess, Agartala, Tripura, India
Goddess Saraswati statues being work-in-progress

statue, god, goddess, Agartala, Tripura, India


statue, god, goddess, Agartala, Tripura, India



street food, samosa, chaat, Agartala, Tripura, India
Street food - samosa chaat with a Chinese zing to it | Agartala

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PSST! I am facilitating workshops on expressive writing in Mumbai this April. To know more, click here


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P.P.S.: For opportunities to work with me, click here
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