Insider tips for India: go where the locals go
India is a majestic country blessed with a vastly diverse landscape. This great peninsula is called a "subcontinent" for good reason. The mighty Himalayas grace the north, evergreen forests cool the east, a formidable desert stands out in the west and stunning beaches dot the entire southern coast; Tourists flock to the famous hot-spots of India, the world wonder Taj Mahal in Agra, Jaipur for architecture, Rishikesh for yoga retreats and Goa for beaches.
Where camel herders meet their match
As pilgrims come for the annual ritual of bathing in Pushkar’s holy lake at the time of the autumn full moon, thousands of camel herders also gather for the world’s biggest camel fair.
She smiles at me and whispers: “Photo?”
From a distance, the hundreds of tents in endless rows on the outskirts of Pushkar look like the military encampment of a besieging army. Thousands of desert nomads, here for the annual Camel Fair, start to welcome a new day.
The differences make us one
The Fort district of Mumbai was the site of the original settlement and remains the city’s financial heart.
Holy temple of endless chatter
During the monsoon (Bengali: barsha) in Kolkata, my spirits always soar, with the help of many a familiar monsoon verse, away into the ethereal realm of newly-washed tree tops swaying above the concrete clutter and the cool caress of the damp breeze carrying a whiff of wet earth.
Kolkata, the city with six seasons
In West Bengal state, of which Kolkata is the capital, we claim to have six seasons: winter, spring, summer, rains, autumn and late autumn. Probably no other Indian region bothers to differentiate climate in such detail. Out of these six seasons, the rains are the most welcome.
A place to stare without shame
I am savoring my tap beer at Café Mondegar in Colaba and staring at the people seated around me. That’s something you can do in Mumbai without shame, even when within elbow-touching distance, as nobody here is bothered with anybody else’s business.
India’s imperial past is still on show in Mumbai
In Mumbai, stroll down the busy shopping precinct of Colaba Causeway to the Gateway of India, retracing my steps to Elphinstone College, my alma mater, in a 500-meter walk that bristles with Raj buildings and has been declared a special heritage zone.
Can Goa’s beaches preserve their charm?
The old cliches of hippy shacks and yoga on the beach started on North Goa’s beaches, a broad swathe of continuous sand now bristling with hotels, restaurants and seasonal pop-up eateries.
Life in Mumbai is a constant rat race – but that's its appeal
My cab ride down the busy Tulsi Pipe Road of Bombay, past the Dadar wholesale vegetable market, takes me to an amalgam of the past and the present coexisting in a strange medley.