Haci Abdullah, Istanbul

Haci Abdullah

It is our second night in Istanbul, and we have just finished surveying the Grand Bazaar. When we are done, Aditi and I sit on a bench to plan dinner. It is dark, and we are eager to get back to our side of Istanbul. We make a plan to go to the Golden Horn, but upon asking directions get diverse and often contradicting instructions.

It is a 30 minute walk, which we decide against, our feet tired and blistered from a day of sightseeing and walking around the Grand Bazaar. We get to the tram station, which is packed with people, and are not able to get on. It appears the King Streetcar phenomenon of waiting for six to pass before you’re able to get on, has also reached Istanbul.

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Milion Stone

All roads start at Constantinople

We start the day slowly, though we are awake unusually early. Although the weariness of our travels makes us sluggish, the time difference means our body clocks are two and a half hours ahead, which means 8:30 am makes for a pretty leisurely start.

After we shower and get ready, we grab a pumpkin spice latte at the Starbucks around the corner. Yes, before you all judge, it’s not very Turkish, but a treat for us nonetheless as you don’t get this in Starbucks in Delhi.

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IMG_1678Aditi and I booked window seats one in front of the other for our trip to Turkey, via Abu Dhabi.  I am seated in 32K, and Aditi has the window seat behind me. However, when we get there, there is already a man sitting in her seat. He looks confused, as he doesn’t appear to know that not only is he in the wrong row, he is in the window seat instead of the aisle. He is meant to be in my row instead.

He moves over as I am struggling to settle and says “good morning” with great gusto. I am leery of over friendly people on flights. I have one of those faces that invite unsolicited conversation from people who have no social skills, self-awareness, or sense of personal boundaries.

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Adrenaline surges, your muscles feel weak yet poised to bolt. You feel every moment of contraction in your heart as if it was the first time you heard it beat. Cool sweat erupts from your pores, glistening your skin. Your throat closes half suffocating you. Maybe your fingers or your lower lip trembles. For moments, seconds, minutes and what seems like hours, this is your whole existence: you are overcome by it.

But this isn’t the caveman era, and you are not running from a giant bear (most of you anyways). You are perhaps sitting in your office cubicle, or in a room full of people at a social get together, and chances are that nobody is interested in eating you for dinner or taking your turf. You are just having a panic attack, and let me tell you, you feel pretty dumb about freaking out about what other humans, or just life, may or may not do to you.

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The Road to Nong Khiaw

IMG_9425  On the morning of my trip from Luang Prabang to Nong Khiaw, I am running late, and in my haste to order breakfast, I do not think to specify that I want my egg hardboiled instead of soft.

I do not think to question why the server hands me a tiny spoon, or why my breakfast arrives in eggcups, if anything, thinking it a tad bit quaint. By the time I realize the truth it is too late, and the shell is peeled in a way that renders it impossible to eat without making a giant sticky mess. Continue Reading »

Finding Freedom in Laos


Although I’m told that Laos is an “off the beaten path” destination, flight QV 634 from Bangkok to Luang Prabang, features a disproportionate number and variety of foreigners from young backpackers and couples to retired seniors.

I have no idea what to expect. I have come off a hectic work schedule, don’t speak a word of the language, and have no idea what I should even be looking to experience from Laos, with the exception of the yoga retreat that I will be attending in Nong Khiaw the next day.  Continue Reading »

photo-1As I leave my last Jaipur Literature Festival event, I get a frantic phone call from my friend Shampa. We had come to the city together, along with her family and had split for the morning to pursue our respective interests. She tells me they are stuck in traffic and cannot come get me on the way back to Delhi.  Continue Reading »


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