SlowRover Snapshots #6

 Playing On
Playing On

Title: Playing On
Location: Mcleod Ganj, India

While backpacking in the Bhagsunag area of Mcleod Ganj, India, this stringed-instrument (Sarangi) player caught my eye. Dressed in a traditional Rajasthani attire, he played the tunes of god, while I sat there listening with rapt attention.

SR Travel Tip: While at Mcleod Ganj, it is a hara-kiri if you do not visit the famous Tibetan Monastary. It is the home of their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.
-Vibhav

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SlowRover Guests: On Recognizing Traveling is a Privilege

Our friends at Unexpected Wanderlust has written an insightful piece on – Why Traveling is a privilege. Check it out!


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So there’s a trend I’ve noticed in many travel blogs and it’s a trend I both love and find troubling: The “No Excuses!” trend. You know what I’m talking about. The posts that tell people that there are absolutely no excuses at all to not travel. Anyone in any circumstance can find a way to travel if they simply get off their butts and work!

Now don’t get me wrong, I love these posts for inspiring me, and countless other people, to dare to dream about a life we had thought impossible. Whenever my family tells me that I can’t travel indefinitely without being a trust-fund child I direct them to these posts and spread the “you can do it!” attitude.

But I also think that there is an underlying problem with this type of “No Excuses” mentality, which is that it focuses on a specific population for whom traveling is actually a possibility. Yes, there are lots of people who come up with excuses and who don’t allow themselves to break the boundaries of the possibilities, but there are also people who just cannot give themselves the luxury of traveling. If you are a single mother working two jobs and barely making ends meet, what are the probabilities that you will have time and money to take a trip to anywhere? Yes there are people who travel without money, I’ve been able to travel even though I have no money by working, earning scholarships, finding jobs abroad, etc, but the fact that I can save money to travel and that I have an education and skill set that has helped me get scholarships and jobs are in themselves a privilege.

Another thing I find troubling about this trend is that it’s a bit ethnocentric. Everyone claims how traveling around South America and South East Asia is SO cheap! Which is true…if you live in a country with a stronger currency. But what about people in South America and SE Asia? Is traveling around their own continents as cheap? Not to mention the fact that as citizens of the US and Europe we don’t have to worry about visas as much. The grand total I have ever paid for visas is $76 for a student visa to France. I never understood what a privilege this is until I was helping my best friend plan her family trip to Europe. The visa fees were exhorbitant! They spent around $700 getting both the UK and the Schengen visas for the family…and keep in mind $700 is a LOT of money in Colombia. Then consider having to spend in Euros and Pounds, which are almost four times the value of Colombian Pesos, and you can see how, in some countries, traveling can be limited to the very privileged. I mean, this is a family that lives a few blocks away from President Santos (not the presidential house, his actual house), and they struggled to afford it! What chances does a fruit vendor or a window washer in Colombia have of making their travel dreams come true?

It’s not that it’s impossible. I know people in Colombia who have packed their bags and traveled the continent with just $500.000 COP (~$250 USD) to start out. But these are people who have just graduated from university and have time and no financial or family responsibilities, which means they can live on a budget and take it as it goes.

I’m not saying we should stop pushing people to follow their dreams, or recognize that people break their backs to make these dreams come true. I myself feel very proud for having worked my butt off to be able to travel, and I know many other people who have done it too. But I am saying that we also need to recognize that there are certain circumstances in life that have allowed us to travel, and that people who can’t do that aren’t necessarily making “excuses”, sometimes life gets in the way. We need a balance between being proud of our hard work and being thankful that we’re privileged enough to see the fruit of that hard work go into our dreams. I think Amile handled this balance perfectly when she said “While I feel incredibly privileged to be able to make this choice (sometimes more than others), I think I’ve earned my stripes as well.”

So let’s keep encouraging people, let’s keep making success stories that feed dreams, let’s keep kicking ass and working hard. But let’s also keep in mind we’re extremely lucky to be able to travel.

-Lucia

Originally published here.


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SlowRover Snapshots #5

Sound of the Rain
Sound of the Rain

Title : Sound of the Rain
Location: Delhi, India

Clicked during the onset of the Monsoon of 2015. When the smell of petrichor lit up the senses of all living things alike.

SR Travel Tip: The Indian Monsoon is considered to be the most beautiful in the world. We recommend reading Alexander Frater’s ‘Chasing the Monsoon‘ that beautifully encapsulates the charm of the monsoon.

-Vibhav

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Feel free to post questions/suggestions for the author in the comments below.

Tripoto


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SlowRover Snapshots #4

Unbroken
Unbroken

 Title: Unbroken
Location: Kolkata, India

Caught a glimpse of the never-say-die spirit of Kolkata at a traffic signal.

SR Travel Tip: While at Kolkata, make sure to plan a trip to the nearby Sunderbans. They are a part of the world’s largest delta. Also, the Kathi rolls of Kolkata are lip-smacking.

Want to know more about Kolkata, India?
Feel free to post questions/suggestions for the author in the comments below.

-Vibhav


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SlowRover Snapshots #3

Dance of the Rainbow Sunset
Dance of the Rainbow Sunset

Title: Dance of the Rainbow Sunset
Location: Near Havelock Island, Andaman, India

The sky suddenly took a crimson turn. Kissed by the setting sun, it revealed the most beautiful sight I have ever seen- Dance of the Rainbow Sunset.

SR Travel Tip: If your get to visit the stunning Andaman Islands of India, make it a point to visit the gorgeous Havelock Island. Radhanagar beach, at Havelock Island, is considered to be one of the most beautiful beaches in the entire world.

Want to know more about Andaman Islands, India?
Feel free to post questions/suggestions for the author in the comments below.

-Vibhav


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SlowRover Snapshots #2

Under the Sky
Under the Sky

Title: Under the Sky
Location: Triund, Mcloed Ganj, India

Clicked at the famous Triund Campsite. It was a beautiful day to sit back and enjoy some delicious noodles after a long trek.

SR Travel Trip: If you ever visit this part of India, a trek to the Laka Glacier is highly recommended. Our favourite restaurant at Mcleod Ganj is Indique.

Want to know more about Mcleod Ganj, India?
Feel free to post questions/suggestions for the author in the comments below.

-Vibhav

Tripoto


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SlowRover Snapshots #1

By The Phewa Lake
By The Phewa Lake

Title: By the Phewa Lake
Location: Pokhara, Nepal

Clicked on a beautiful overcast evening while cycling around the beautiful Phewa Lake of Pokhara, Nepal.

SR Travel Tip: Two things are a must while you’re at Pokhara– An early morning ride to the Sarangkot , and Cycling around the periphery of the Phewa Lake. Absolute Bliss!

-Vibhav 

Tripoto


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Introducing: SlowRover Snapshots

Starting tomorrow, 10th of August, SlowRover will publish a series of awesome one-off photographs from our travels around the world. These snapshots will be accompanied by a fact sheet revealing interesting trivia about the respective shots!

So watch out for the SR Snapshots starting tomorrow!

Don’t forget to share, like, and comment on SlowRover!

Keep Roving!

SR Guest Posts: NIK & MAYHEM SHORT STORIES SERIES by Anahita

SlowRover presents the first part of Anahita’s NIK & MAYHEM SHORT STORIES SERIES.


Chapter 1: The Stairs

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He sat there with a cigarette between his lips and a worn out Polaroid of two.

“She used to live on the first floor and I used to live down here. The outdoor staircase was our safe haven. It was secluded and this is where our fingers nervously found way to each other. This is where we shared our first kiss. This! This was the place where I finally found someone I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.” His voice rose with every word, he uttered.

I wanted to ask the inevitable, “but” or “so what happened?” But he sensed my hesitation and added “a week before our wedding, she realized, she didn’t love me anymore.” I gave him a quizzical look, because either he was taking me for a fool or this was some Bollywood romantic gone sour.

Before I could ask him again, he cut me off by adding, “I am an artist.” and it was then when I could relate to what he was going through.

As artists, if someone falls in love with you, it’s extremely difficult to figure out whether they love you, the entirety of your existence of are they intimidated and enticed to your most prominent/highlighted face, “the artist”.

He took a long drag and rubbed his palms together and spoke in a grave voice, “I remember her telling me that I had too many flaws, that she loved me but she wasn’t ready to handle my past or be a part of my future. That there was a part of her, that was not ready to accept a part of me.”

And so we sat under the cracked roof of a staircase in silence because that was my only means of providing him compassion. It was my only way of letting him know that I understand because sometimes silence is louder than words.

Chapter 2: First 

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We met again.
I was pacifying myself with a salad on a rainy day while everyone around me sat in their bubble of happiness.

“Is this seat taken?” He smirked at me.

“Do you have a thing for movie like dialogues?” I snapped, hating the intrusion in my private moment.

For a second, I saw his no-care-I-own-the-world-sheit-eating grin disappear.

Then he abruptly sat down. “So Mayhem what’s that story on your lips?”
I was taken aback because his voice was serious and his eyes were intense.
I gulped down the fear because this was the first time someone was able to trace a speck of gloom in my pristine face.

“Why would you say that? Is it because I am enjoying a meal on my own accord. That’s kinda sexist of you, considering you’re an artist.” He laughed loudly.

“You’re adorable. But no that’s not why I asked you that question. For you and I both know I can list all the reasons to the question I asked which will leave you in tears but that’s something I fear. ”
I stared at his incredulous behavior.

“Who do you think you are? Just because I am your neighbor and we shared a moment on the stairs you think you know me.”

“Moments make a lifetime Mayhem. The increase in your tone & the rise of your chest & lets not forget the rather beautiful red on your cheeks is indicating otherwise.”

“Stop staring at my chest.” I blurted mad & ready to leave.
But then it made sense to me, he was forcing me to give in to the situation like all the times in the past.
Our past, is like worms dipped in a jar full of HCl. As soon as they are provided with the smallest inlet, they seek revenge and freedom.

“You know Mayhem. It would do you good, if you just shared. Stop being a Disney princess like Elsa hiding behind your frozen castle when you’re supposed to be slaying like a khaleesi.”

“Did you just quote a Frozen and a GOT reference in one?” I started laughing oblivious to the warmth that had developed in his eyes.

“So friends then?”

Chapter 3: Second Tilt 

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We decided on taking a joint trip to the land of tranquility, since it was peace that we were both craving. 

It had been a few weeks since the restaurant incident and Nik had been considerably docile and understanding, minding his own limits.

We sat on the steps of the monastery, enveloped by the peace around us.

“Do you believe in this?” He started. “In this concept of actually healing and acclaiming your inner peace?”

I pretended to think about it, when in reality I had the answer on the tip of my tongue. “No, I don’t.” He looked at me with a raised eyebrow.

“Okay, I am listening.” I got nervous again.

It had been these little moments with Nik that were forcing me to pull down on the fortress walls. Because, for the love of all that is food, I couldn’t figure out why I felt comfortable with him. 

Perhaps it’s the knowledge of his warm brown eyes or how his bearded face splits into dimples when I say something stupid or the way his raspberry lips paint themselves with a calm & accepting smile.

“I…I don’t think anyone ever heals per say. Pain stays with us for long and it leaves only when its course of time is done. Meditation is equivalent to a glass of whiskey for pain, it doesn’t completely erase it but it sure dulls the ache. So you understand? It’s like one day this pain will dull significantly and acquire a shade that doesn’t fit with our dress & that day, that day it would lift from our body like a dragon fly and fly it’s course away.”

I lean up because I had started to ramble again and I see him smiling gently trying to suppress a laugh. 
I feel dejected, had I made a fool out of myself again?

“Let’s go Mayhem, we have some orange and purple to get rid off.”

And he drags me by the hand. 
And I let him. 
Because our colors were merging and they were creating a beautiful composition. 

Chapter 4: Third of Line.

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It was another blissful morning.

“Are you done with the evil scheming for the day?” Nik stood besides the wooden frame of the door to our joint hotel room.

His hair was wet & damp & his face was void of the lines that hid with it his grievances & his pain.

“Come dear soldier, give me your advice?” Little did I know, aversion was the last thing on his mind.

“It’s been a week.” He said and I was reminded of the promise that I had made him that a week into the vacation I would try to open up.

“Nik, don’t.”

“Mayhem there was a reason we took this trip.” I could feel my breath galloping like the horse bitten by the snake. Now this was definitely “anxiety”.

“Nik, it’s morning. We could..”

“We could what? Talk about this later.” He spoke sarcastically.

“Wtf is your problem? Why are you so hell bent on knowing stuff? I am here, is that not enough.”

“Is this what you do Mayhem. Do you like the thrill of enticing people? Of knowing how intimidating you can be? How people are affected by your presence? Is this how you use them to subdue your pain? Is this your drug?”

“How dare you? Wtf is wrong with you?” He suddenly held me by my arms.

“Let me go. This isn’t your quintessential teen drama, where you hold me & intimidate me with words & I will be telling you everything about me.”

“Then what about this trip Mayhem. Why rip me apart more than my previous girlfriend? How long do you expect someone to wait around? Love…”

And that is where world stopped for me. That was the last endearment I expected to ever hear from a man again.
We often cut parts of our life story from people, for fear of judgement or fear of them proving our virtues wrong.
But every soldier has a chink in their armor.

“My fiancé was murdered in front of my eyes.” I suddenly uttered & for the first time since we stepped into the Himalayan hill station, I could feel the silence of the hills enveloping my being & piercing through every door I had kept locked. …..

There are stories which are not meant to unfold.
Ask the snow that sits atop on the mountain peak of all that remains in her soul, of all that she wish, she could have told.

Chapter 5: Magoa 

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Nik and I sat awkwardly at the coffee store.

After the dramatic confrontation, screaming & confession, we’d decided to end our time in the mountains. I touched my glass of ice tea & then stared at that book again.

“Do you remember how every childhood fairy tale used to begin with a once upon a time?” He didn’t reply, just nodded following my gaze.

“I know you need answers Nik, but you have to know that Kai was the one for me. That I was supposed to get married to him.”

“How do you know he was the one?” He raised his eyebrow in mock fashion.

“You’re incredulous. Nik I am trying to give you your answers & you have the nerve to judge me that the man who was killed in front of my eyes, that the man I loved more than anything wasn’t the one for me?”

“If he was then what are you doing here with me?” The cold of his voice seeping into my bones. I pushed the table aside,

“Why are you being a prick to me Nik? Is this some sadistic male pleasure of yours? Do you not understand how difficult it is to confess? I feel like I have been wasting my time on a prick.” I ran away tears brimming.

After Kai’s death, every guy had been a one night stand to a two date protocol. But Nik he had been different. 
I hated in accepting it, but his comfort slipped into my soul on levels where even Kai had never reached.

“Mayhem” he held my hand as we stood there under the beautiful white entrance arch of the cafe.

“You have to understand my insecurities. I can’t have you building your recovery around me.”
“I am not.”
“Who are you kidding? Did you see yourself a few months back? You looked like if you had your way you’d exchange places with Pluto. Look at yourself now, the day you put kajal for the first time I couldn’t stop staring at you, because in that hour I knew you had started healing. I care for you but you need to know I can’t take another break-up, I can’t take another you’re not enough.”

“And I can’t take another bouquet of flowers & then get stuck in the cage admiring the one thing I had & I lost. I can’t watch my pristine white gown, rust & turn pale & yellow. I need to be sure this time.”

And in that moment we had found our moment of sorts.

Chapter 6: Fragments 

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“Nik” I screamed, gushing down the common staircase that separated our flats.

“Nik, open up.” I kept banging on the door & was soon met with his sleep deprived-ruffled hair-perfect beard face that I had a secret itch to kiss him senseless.

“Mayhem it’s 6:00am. What is wrong?”

“I had a dream.” He arced his eyebrow in mock sarcasm.

“You don’t say. Is that even human?”

“Nik seriously. It was an important dream. Psychologists claim it only happens once or twice in a lifetime.” I pushed him aside & entered his flat. He shut the door & joined me on the couch, “tell me about this dream.”

“I had a dream that my tooth is falling.”

“Mayhem seriously, superstition.”

“No, you fool. Look even Freud & Jung have theories on this particular dream.” I said shoving my phone in his face.

He read intently & gave me the “go-on” nod “Nik this dream is both positive & negative. Freud says it means emotional repression & a great loss. Jung says its re-birth? Back to square one as a kid with inquisitiveness for the whole wide world. I don’t know what to assume of it. Am I about to lose someone & myself again. Am I?..”

“Mayhem, remember when we were in the hills & we stood at the edge & you asked, “fall or fly.” The same applies to you, if you wish love, you could believe in Freud & fall prey to a million doubts or you could believe in Jung &” he paused “and soar to your new life with me.”

I stared at him, he’d always leave the ball in my court, it was my choice.

In a lot of ways he had/no has become my person, but was I ready to fall into a vortex only to fly.
I closed my eyes, scooted closer to him & gently pressed my lips to his plump ones.
The decision was made.
I did rather go cliff jumping with a happy smile & a hand held out, rather than a suppressed sigh & a band of doubts.

Chapter 7: Equinox

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IG: kashmirichaii

And as we stared at the canopy of bliss above our heads, I couldn’t help but laugh at the way we’d found a way out.

“What?” Nik spoke from where his head rested above mine.

“We met on a staircase taking solace from the rain. Now here we sit an entangled mess under the rain seeking solace in each other. Don’t you think this is mystic?” He took a deep breath & pulled me over him.

“Love” he spoke with warmth gently pushing away the hair that had escaped from the French bun I was sporting.

“I always told you we were meant to be. But you & your neurotic ways were such a roadblock.” If it wasn’t for the way his eyes got all crooked when passing a genuine smile, I would have categorize this as a “typical jerk move”.

“Oh Ya. I am the only one who is a neurotic bitch. As if you don’t throw a fit when I re-arrange your paint brushes or call out canary yellow as Kodak yellow.”

“Cause they are not the same.” He replied incredulously.

“They are.” “They are not.” He said pushing me up with him.

His silent laugh rumbled through me as he laid his head on my chest.
And I couldn’t help but smile and envelope him in my arms while passing a thankyou to the skies above.

We were still stuck in a vortex.

We were yet to fly.

But from the white clouds spilling into our dark domain, there was nothing but hope & a will to fly & fight against all odds.

Two deranged half found freedom in the sanctity of being whole.……

Fin.

-Anahita

Originally published at Anahita’s super awesome blog: NinjaPotatoFry


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Petrichor- The Smell of Childhood

I don’t remember my childhood.

Nothing except the smell of the monsoon rains, right before they lashed onto the verandah. Me, the solitary crawler, both enchanted and perplexed by a sudden downpour, would rush indoors to the safety of my mother’s lap. Such memories are vague, rather loosely etched on my mind. But the smell of the rains, the Petrichor, is something I can never forget.

I suspect that the ravishingly beautiful Petrichor is hard-coded deep into the minds of every human being. It is passed onto an individual through an infinite chain of forefathers. Or maybe it is simply a gift from heaven. After all that’s where the rains come from!

IMG_55338
Rains-Monsoon in India

Continue reading “Petrichor- The Smell of Childhood”

A Chance Encounter In McLeod Ganj And The Musings Of A Wandering Mind

Woods are enchanting.They are partially the reason for my fixation with mountains. While reading Enid Blyton’s The Enchanted Wood in my childhood, I had convinced myself that woods were magical. And somehow they held more of a sway over me, it seemed to be more potent than the magic of the toys which used to come alive in her other stories. Pixies, goblins, fairies, unicorns – all could be my friends if I lived in the woods.

As I grew up, I was faced with the strict logic of textbooks which declared Santa Claus to be nothing more than an impersonator (I think he is a phenomena). Anyway, the books were still there. The Forbidden Forest deepened my liking for the woods, grave as the dangers lurking there might be. So, I can safely say that I love the rank of trees, the smell of pine cones and sweet Earth, the little rocks which make great seats to sit and ponder life.
So much for my growing up. But this story isn’t about that.

Continue reading “A Chance Encounter In McLeod Ganj And The Musings Of A Wandering Mind”

About Goodbyes And The Plight Of A Traveller

This is not about the goodbyes you bid to people as you hug and smile with the promise of meeting again. It is about those goodbyes which ring a bell of finality, of an end.

k1.1
Girls waving goodbye while I drove away in Ladakh
Every time I visit a new place, I find myself taking an oath to return. Because I feel that I leave behind a part of my soul at all the places and it is necessary to come back and collect it later, to make myself whole again. But somehow I know that it won’t happen.
I will leave a city, a village, a town, behind.
A place where I had sat on the grass and gazed at the stars. A place where I had the first taste of coal burnt fish. A place where I camped in the darkness for the first time.
gb2
An hour before departing from the place, a strange restlessness seems to take hold of me. As if I was Frodo leaving behind my Ring. I want to stay back, if only for a couple of hours. I can’t begin to describe how many times I have wished for the flight to be cancelled or to miss the bus which would lead me away from the place.
And then I have silently chided myself. For wanting to stay behind. Because isn’t it my aim to see the world? And the quicker I move from one place to the other, the better will my chances be of living that dream. And hence I have passed on, from one place to another.
Don’t get me wrong. It is not that I have not found happiness chasing different places. But it is much like the feeling you get when you are faced with the last day of school? Or the last day at work in your office? You are sad because you are leaving something behind, some people behind, a place which gave you beautiful memories behind. But that doesn’t stop you from moving forward in life, does it?
gb3
Driving away from Warsaw, where I experienced the first snowfall of my life
That’s exactly how I feel with places. I want to see the world. But somehow I also want to stay forever at some places. The city lights appeal at the darkest hour of the night and the cool mountain breeze at dawn. Sometimes I want the opposite. And I find myself thinking again, maybe one day, someday, I would go back to those places. The places which are forever present in the memory palaces of my mind, breathing and whispering. One day, someday, when that whisper grows louder, I shall follow it. Until then, like a true traveller, I shall keep looking for new pastures to graze my mind upon.
gb1
A man I met in Trakai, walking away after saying farewell

Tripoto

The author served as a staff writer at Scoopwhoop! and is a freelancer. Send her virtual chocolates on her Twitter and Facebook. © Copyright for all the images owned by SlowRover and Swetambara Chaudhary, unless stated otherwise. 

Lithuania – My Visit To The Country Which Had Intrigued Me Since I Read Hannibal

My curiosity about Lithuania, was deeply connected to Thomas Harris’s works. I looked at it as the majestic country where Hannibal was born and which shared Hannibal’s fate of destruction at the hands of the Nazis. And like all booklovers, I would like nothing better than to go and visit the country of the anti-hero. So when the opportunity to travel there cropped up, I was extremely happy.

l8

The World Wars had ravaged the landscapes of the beautiful country in the narrative. And in fact it has been an uphill climb for the country which knew such prosperity before the war. A considerable number of Jews, were forced to abandon their homes and migrate to other countries because of the imminent threat of German occupation in the early 1940s. With them they took a huge part of the country’s soul.

If that was not enough, Lithuania faced Soviet occupation in 1945. It was finally declared an independent country in 1990. And now, slowly and steadily, Lithuanians have come to a place where they can actually look back at the painful history and take lessons from it. The Grūtas Park, which won its creator an Ig Nobel Peace Prize, is a step in this direction.

Source : Andreas Moser

Around a two-hour drive from the capital city, Vilnius, the park houses the remnants of the Soviet occupation. Several statues of Soviet activists and leaders like Stalin which lay strewn about the country have been procured by the founder Viliumas Malinauskas and now adorn the theme park. According to Malinauskas, it is a way to criticise the ill-effects of the Soviet ideology which held the country captive. This is a bold step I believe. One visit to the park and you will know.

Lith4Source : Andreas Moser

The best way to prevent something horrific from happening again is perhaps to keep the memory of the event alive and breathing. However, just remembering is not enough. That is the tragic flaw of Hannibal (yes I do think he is a Shakespearean hero). He remembers each and every detail with the help of the memory palaces. But he is seething with the fire of revenge. He does not condone the actions itself but the people. Condoning such events will prevent us from making our future, a mirror of that past.

Lith5 Source : Daily Mail

The Hill of Crosses is one vantage point from where I could clearly make this observation. Twelve kilometres from the city of Šiauliai, is a hill which has over time become a mark of solidarity, a symbol of peace and hope for Lithuanians. It is here that the people found strength during the November Uprising when they decided to take their lands for their own from the Russian authorities. And again, during the Soviet and Nazi occupation between 1940-1990.

Source : Wikipedia

How did they manage to do achieve this feat? By turning to religion. They showcased their strength by leaving Crosses at the hills. This silent gesture reminded them again and again that they were not alone and their cause was not lost. The pile of Crosses keeps growing and it is a burden. A burden upon the hearts of tyrants and usurpers, upon the hearts of those who wish to take what is not rightfully theirs. Maybe Hannibal should have made this pilgrimage once. Maybe he would have if he had not been forced to elope from the country. Maybe then he would have been different? Who’s to know!

*****

Though Hannibal did not spend much time in Lithuania, it was his birthplace. Would it be too much to expect that his tastes, his elegance and sophistication were in some way a result of this ancestry? I was thankfully not proven wrong.

l3

The cobbled streets of Vilnius which greeted me as I walked on the cobbled streets of the city. The rustic appeal of the streets was enhanced by the maple leaves strewn all around, reflecting all the hues of autumn – from a mild yellow to a deep orange.

The buildings of the old town are a legacy of the Baroque movement. Beautiful cathedrals beckoned at me, to observe the peace that lay inside alongside the beauty.

l8 (1)

Food in Hannibal’s country was a treat for the traveller in me. Not only do they make the best potato dumplings, they also call them Zeppelin! (The fan inside me was singing ‘Stairway to Heaven’ the moment I set my eyes on the dish).

Lith7Source : Ausrine art 

Another favorite was the beetroot soup which is kind of the ‘national soup’ there.

Lith8Source :Pinterest 

My trip to Lokys – the most highly rated restaurant was rather dull because of the mandate by my parents to abstain from eating meat during the Holy period of the Navratras. Still, the eggplant dish was delicious. I can’t wait to go back and try some their special stuff (though I LOVE and adore bears).

Could I forget Hannibal’s love for music? I was waiting to be enchanted by Lithuanian art and the opportunity presented itself when I got invited for a violin recital at the town hall. The first half of the recital was dedicated towards expressing feelings of great joy. i could feel my feet moving in a happy tap-tap as the bow moved against the violin. During the intermission, I felt as happy as I could, drinking some espresso and treating myself to some handmade chocolates. Then came the second part of the recital. The range in the artist’s work was clear as he drowned me in a sea of sorrow as I felt the bow move across the violin with short twangs and lengthy movements.

*****

I was deeply affected by the music the previous night. But then the puff pastries happened. When in Lithuania, watch out for all these wonderful bakeries which dole out goodies made in HEAVEN. They taste magnificent. And I thought what more could I possibly see around here?

I did have the ancient Trakai on my list though. and so I was driven to the castle town. The magnificence of the castle greeted me across the bridge.

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  As I walked in towards the gates, I took in the size and architecture and the beautiful lake amidst which it was majestically perched. Happy school kids out on a trip, families showing their kids around and lovers walking with their hands linked – it was the perfect place for all.   l8 (1)

I read up all the information put up in different corners regarding the glorious past of the Grand Lithuanian Duchy of the fourteenth and fifteenth century. (Yes, the castle is THAT old. My proud Indian father kept comparing the fort to Chittorgarh – that grand abode of the fearless, warrior clan – the Rajputs. That’s another story) The tales of the Civil War were narrated by our friend and the impressive armory had much to say.

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Unknowingly, almost naturally, I had become friends with a bunch of schoolkids who were there for a school picnic. They kept following me, playing peek-a-boo at times and making much noise in general. You know what was the most entertaining thing for them? That someone could be called ‘swaatee’. To avoid causing great agony to non-Hindi speakers, I like to use my shorter pet name ‘Swati’ when introducing myself (in fact even Hindi speakers at times).

Indians are taught the importance of speaking English, and speaking it correctly early in life. Most of us have no problems in pronouncing a certain English name like James or Thomas. Now sometimes, the child in me thought everyone puts in efforts to get someone’s name right. Boy was I wrong! Those kids ran around the entire castle shouting out my name with an absolutely unique pronunciation of their own. Hannibal would probably put in a lot of effort.

While walking out, I set my eyes upon a pillory that was used to punish criminals and set to take pictures. And those kids ran out and trapped their friend so that I could get a perfect shot.

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*******

I stayed at this comfortable modern establishment called ‘Comfort Inn’. The buffet breakfast was great. But I think I would love to go and stay at the Shakespeare Hotel. There is something absolutely enthralling about it. The hostels like July are amazing to stay at.

Another of my biggest regrets is not having visited the Curonian Spit. I hope to take a trip soon and walk on the sand while the Baltic sea rages on one side and the Curonian lagoon on the other.

Lith10 Source : Pinterest 

I did fall in love with the country. With the architecture, the food and the people. Making friends with people allows you to come closer to yourself. And that is the whole point of travelling. Isn’t it?

-Swetambara Chaudhary


Tripoto
The author is a staff writer at Scoopwhoop! Send her virtual chocolates on her Twitter and Facebook. © Copyright for all the images owned by SlowRover and Swetambara Chaudhary, unless stated otherwise. 

The Ross Island- Finding Beauty in Negative Spaces

Ross Island is a deserted island that is a part of the Andaman archipelago in India. Once the seat of the royal Britishers, it now lies in utter ruins. A shadow of its earlier self.

Despite this, Ross Island has a charm of its own.

This post covers the macabre beauty of the  Ross Island.

Welcome to Ross Island

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This sight greets you at Ross Island

Sights like these are abundant:

IMG_4069Nature, the Ultimate Conqueror

Ross SIlandA little perspective

Nature has engulfed everything here, EVERYTHING:

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IMG_4166Only the memory remains!

But there’s more to see here:

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Some views are more beautiful than others:

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Whoaaa!

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An old swimming pool!

IMG_4215An ancient tree at Ross Island

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The Presbyterian Church

IMG_4234-001The Ross Island Cemetery

IMG_4243Yes, this place has a beautiful pond!

Wildlife’s abundant too :

IMG_4196Deers roam freely here

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Liked the images? Check out our other post on Andamans.
Click here to read more about the history of Ross Islands.

-Vibhav Bisht


The author is a hardworking lazy-ass! He loves to travel though!
Feel free to disturb his naps on Twitter and Facebook.

Follow Slow Rover on Twitter!

© Copyright for all the images owned by SlowRover and Vibhav Bisht. 

Getting Rid Of Sexist Ads Will Help Us Build An Equanimous Society.

We try to tell ourselves that we are progressively moving from a predominantly patriarchal society to a more equanimous one. In this progressive society, women have equal opportunities of education and men cry when they want to. Sexism is a textbook concept, a reminder of an era that was. But are we actually that progressive?

Something contradicting these claims surrounds us everyday. What? The advertisements which grace our screens and our newspapers, which cling behind buses and decorate walls like this one :

Source : Adrants

Are they trying to tell us that there was no better way of showing a drop in prices? Personally I think a parachute launch would have been more logical than a girl dropping her pants. Just as illogical as this playstation ad :

Source : Forbes

Or this jewellery ad :

Source : Find a wedding venue

Or this organ donation ad :

Source : Hoyden about

These ads are sexist in two ways primarily. One which aims at the objectification of women and the other which is building the male power fantasy. Now objectifying women is a simple enough concept to understand. Here are some examples :

Source : The Richest

Source : Metro

Source : Girls on Pitch

Source : adrants

Logically, I don’t see the relation between naked women and alcohol, naked women and cars or naked women and chips. All of these ads focus on marketing their products by objectifying the female body.

How is this different from other ads where scantily-clad women appear? Like this one?

Source : Pinkvilla

Well, for starters, it is an ad which is supposed to cater to women and hence her presence here is warranted. Then, she is in a confident position, not a vulnerable position like these ads :

Source : Adweek

Source : Pagesix

Source : Business Insider

Now, it’s not like naked men are not featured in advertisements. This ad which wants to sell salad dressing is a case in point :

Source : Adsoftheworld

And it’s not like gender stereotypes don’t play against men in ads. Aren’t you tired of all those ads proclaiming why men need to be real men? Like these ones :

Source : Aurora

Or these ads which proclaim that a husband is responsible for all financial expenses:

Source : Coloribus

But when scantily-clad men appear in ads, are they always objectified? That’s not how simple it is. More often than not, they are being chased by women. Like here :

Source : Tinypic

Now that is a boost for men, who again see women as objects. Something like a raise or an expensive car?

The prevalence of such images of men and women in advertisements is highly problematic. It normalizes their objectification while perpetuating stereotypes.

I wish these ads would stop asking women to eat something to get their husband’s attention :

Source : Blogspot

And these ads would stop telling men that finances are solely their responsibility :

Source : My ad post

And these ads would stop telling us that a man’s responsibility is limited to buying good detergent while a woman’s duty is to use it :

Source : Blogspot

Abandoning such marketing measures will go a long way in changing the gender stereotypes and thus contribute towards building an equanimous society.

-Swetambara Chaudhary


The author is a staff writer at Scoopwhoop!
Send her virtual chocolates on her Twitter and Facebook.

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