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Nine basics that everyone should know about dog body language

If you think about it, a lot of human communication happens through body language; an arched eyebrow, a clenched jaw, crossed arms, or a squared chest can tell you a lot about what the other person is thinking. The same is true of dogs, only more so. Over my 30 years of living with them, I’ve learned that you can figure out a lot about a dog’s state of mind just by looking at them.
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Eight amazing things we learned in Ladakh, the highest desert in the world

It was 2008, and we were hankering for the mountains again. We had always wanted to visit Ladakh, in the foothills of the Indian Himalayas, and decided this was the time.

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Six amazing discoveries we made in the Seychelles

Towards the end of 2011, a friend of my wife’s proposed that we go on a combined vacation, just us two couples, and suggested the Seychelles as a destination. We were a little hesitant, because we had heard it was expensive, but its reputation as a tropical island paradise was tempting enough for us to start doing some research. A few weeks later, our friends backed out, much to our chagrin, so we decided we would go alone. Through our research, we found out that, even though our vacation would be expensive, we could save a bit if we didn’t do too much island-hopping, and stayed on Mahé island most of the time instead. So it happened that we split our eight-day vacation between Mahé and Bird Island (more on this one later), and made six amazing discoveries along the way.

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Five great dark rums to try while travelling the world

I’ve long thought that rum doesn’t get the respect it deserves. In India, especially, rum is considered the ‘poor man’s’ or ‘student’s’ liquor, something people start out with before moving on to whiskey. I suppose this is understandable, considering that most rums are cheap and relatively easy to produce. But just because rum is affordable doesn’t mean it doesn’t have flavour and complexity, and can’t be enjoyed as much as any other drink. Subtle variations in the production process—from what kind of sugarcane product is used as a base, to whether it’s spiced  or not, and how it is aged—can result in an incredibly sophisticated end product that would arguably not feel out of place among the best whiskeys.

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Magical sights of Hampi that you may not even know exist

We’ve visited Hampi—the ruins of Vijayanagara, the center one of south India’s most powerful medieval kingdoms—three times now, and have always found something new to see (or seen the same thing in a new way). Built into the granite hills of central Karnataka state and straddling the Tungabhadra river, Hampi is a 40-square-kilometre treasure trove of ancient temples, crumbling palaces and boulder-strewn natural beauty. Some even say that the ancient city was built on the ruins of one even older—the mythical monkey-city of Kishkinda, home to Hinduism’s Lord Hanuman the monkey god, devoted follower of Lord Rama.

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Eight things every first-time dog owner should do (and one that they shouldn’t)

I’ve lived with dogs for most of my life, and I’m still amazed at their capacity for affection and loyalty, even though we often don’t deserve it. I believe that, if you let them, dogs can enrich your life immeasurably, and lend it a sense of fulfilment and security that you’ll be hard-pressed to find elsewhere. But, like everything good in life, this doesn’t come for free.

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6 great experiences to have when you’re in Kalimpong

It was April in 2014, and my wife and I desperately needed a holiday. We were tired of the beach, though, and so we decided to head up into the mountains. After casting about a bit, we decided on Kalimpong in West Bengal, where we could stay as guests of the army, and where my wife could re-live some fond childhood memories. Here are six great experiences we discovered while we were in Kalimpong.

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The colours of Kutch

In late 2013, my wife wanted to visit Kutch in Gujarat as a sourcing trip for her fledgling ethnic gifts business, so we decided we would turn it into our annual new year’s holiday. We spent close to two weeks in Bhuj and its surroundings (arguably home to India’s highest concentration of high-quality textile handicraft producers), investigated lots of towns and villages, and took in India’s great white salt desert, the Great Rann of Kutch.

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An off-the-beaten-path Goan holiday

Between the end of September and the beginning of October 2014, my wife and I had decided to take full advantage of a coming long weekend, and had booked a nice holiday in Kashmir. Unfortunately, life had other plans and Kashmir was hit by its worst floods in recent memory, so we had to cast about for other options. We finally decided we would drive down to Goa.

Driving to Goa

So. We kicked off our trip at about 5:00 AM and headed down towards Shamsabad and the Bangalore highway. This was our planned route: Hyderabad-Jadcherla-Mahbubnagar-Raichur-Lingsugur-Mudgal-Bagalkot-Belgaum-Chorla-Aldona. I must say, I was impressed with the road. Not at all like a state highway, and good enough to hit 100 kmph over most of it. The only rough patches were before and after Raichur, about a kilometer or so long each time. Otherwise, a very nice road! The only real annoyance for us was that there were hardly any roadside eateries on the highway, so we had to head into the nearest town even for a cup of tea.

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A road trip through Germany, and other ways to pass the time (Part 3): the Rhine valley

In September 2015, my mom, my wife and I embarked on a month-long trip through Germany, with a few days in Belgium and the UK thrown in for good measure. On the itinerary: Wuppertal, Brussels, the Rhine, Germany’s ‘romantic road’, Munich and the Oktoberfest, Berlin, London and Cambridge. All in a month’s time.

This is part three of the story, and is about our experiences in the Upper Middle Rhine valley.

The great Rhine, Ruedesheim and Oestrich-Winkel

When we got back from Brussels, we spent a few more days in Wuppertal, and then started our road trip in earnest. The first leg was a drive down the Rhine via Leverkusen, Cologne and Koblenz to Ruedesheim (a distance of just over 200 km, roughly one-third of the length of the Rhine in Germany) to meet some old friends of my mom’s. This route took us about three hours, and once we were off the autobahn, the roads mostly ran alongside the river. Driving along the river through tiny villages and past hilltop castles was vastly more enjoyable than using the autobahn, and gave us our first real experience of the German countryside. The only problem was that we kept having to slow down to the urban speed limit of 50 kmph every time we passed close to a village—and there were a lot of them—while being acutely aware of the hidden automated speed monitors along the road. Despite our best efforts, we were sent a few speeding tickets at the end of our trip (though finding out that that was normal for that route made us feel a bit better).

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