Our first real beach holiday was in the Andamans in the beginning of December, 2009. We’d heard a lot about these islands that are part of India, but are actually closer to Myanmar and Thailand, so we decided to take a look for ourselves. Not having a lot of time, we planned to spend a few days on the popular resort island of Havelock, and on the way back, a day exploring the capital Port Blair and its environs.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.