Window seat view: Taking a train through the Scottish Highlands

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Loch Trieg Bothy

Recounting the experience of travelling by train through the Scottish Highlands. An artist’s dream! Five and a half hours on a train through rugged mountains, thick pine forest and uninhabited moors. The West Highland Railway Line seemed to promise a much-needed mental and physical detour. So tempting was this train ride from Glasgow to Mallaig, that I booked a return … Read More

Living in Cherry Hinton: Cambridge’s pocket of peace

thetapinPersonal Essays, Writing12 Comments

A year of living in the lovely neighbourhood of Cherry Hinton, Cambridge: finding calm in the chaos. I was standing by the railway crossing on the High Street, admiring the row of cherry trees that lined the street. In full bloom, they made for a postcard-worthy picture: pink and white flowers against a clear blue sky. Walking on the other … Read More

St Mary’s Islands, Karnataka: India’s piece of Madagascar

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St Mary’s Islands in Karnataka is home to massive basaltic rocks that formed millions of years ago, when Madagascar split from India. It’s a blazing hot February afternoon. The summer sky is a clear, gemstone blue, and the sun is white, blinding. A gentle sea-breeze soothes my heat-flushed cheeks. I am at the coastal town of Malpe in Karnataka, about … Read More

Piddington Circular Walk, Oxfordshire

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The Piddington circular walk is a varied but easy walk in rural Oxfordshire. The 6-mile route takes you through vast grazing lands, dotted with placid sheep and somewhat suspicious cows. The path follows the slope up Muswell Hill, one of the highest points in the Cherwell District, which overlooks the gentle, rolling slopes of the valley.  My partner and I … Read More

Bourneend to Little Marlow Walk: A day out in the Chilterns

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The Bourne End to Little Marlow walk takes you through the peaceful Spade Oak reserve and stunning Thames valley views. It’s a quintessential Chilterns walk, one that I’ve gone back to over the years. I was introduced to the concept of circular walks a few years ago when I moved to England. One of the walks that I’ve grown particularly … Read More

NatGeo Traveller India: A Night in a Lighthouse, UK

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An article for National Geographic Traveller India about a stay in a 190-year-old lighthouse in Wales, UK. Scroll down to see the full text.  The tower of the West Usk Lighthouse has signalled ships to safety for about a century and served as a lookout post during the Second World War. Now run as a B&B by a couple (and … Read More

An Illustrated Keswick Walk: Walla Crag to Ashness Bridge

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Keswick walk: Walla Crag to Ashness Bridge

An illustrated account of the much-talked-about Keswick walk: the route from Walla Crag to Ashness Bridge (starting at Great Wood). For a detailed route, check out the National Trust website. One of the hardest decisions to make as a first-timer in the Lake District is to decide which fell you’re going to take on. After much debating, I announced to … Read More

Magical Monsoons of India: Reminiscing the Rains

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A nostalgia-soaked essay on the magical monsoons of India. There’s nothing that says home like thunderous rain and hot roadside bhutta (roasted corn). It’s the season that brings a whole upheaval of emotions. Great big drops fall from the saturated sky, at that breaking point beyond which the earth can’t hold back anymore. These are tears of happiness, of sadness, … Read More

Cherrapunjee | A trek to the double-decker living root bridge

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The living root bridges of Meghalaya are one of the only such structures in the world. Here’s an illustrated account of the exhilarating trek to the double-decker bridge at Nongriat, Cherrapunjee, Meghalaya. “Ow!” I cry, as a steel nail pricks my palm. Hurriedly withdrawing my hand from the railing, I put another foot forward on the suspension bridge, which sways … Read More

Bird-watching, a first-time experience

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This story, titled “Bird-watching: A first-time experience”, first appeared on 2nd February 2016 in The Pollachi Papyrus. Read the full story here. Ramya birding from a bullock-cart | Credits: Lingesh Kalingarayar My interaction with winged creatures has been almost entirely limited to crows, peacocks and pigeons. While crows constantly stole my food during the hostel years, a peacock once used … Read More

13 must-have Indian food experiences

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This piece was originally done for the travel company GoMowgli, highlighting Indian food experiences a first-time visitor must have.  From the 36-course Kashmiri wazwan to the simple biryani of Tamil Nadu, India offers to your palate a mind-boggling variety of tastes and flavours. Much like its people and culture, Indian food is highly diverse, with each region having a distinct … Read More

On fear, fist pumps and freedom

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“Stretch your legs out in front of you,” the instructor said, as I hung suspended by a pulley, ready for my first zip lining experience. The rope I clung to for dear life connected one mountain to another across the gorgeous green valley of Cherrapunjee. I had decided to do this after agreeing to the the driver’s mysterious question,” Madam, … Read More

Parambikulam Tiger Reserve: A night on Veetikunnu island

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Staying at Parambikulam Tiger Reserve, one of my favourite places in the world. A version of this story, titled “Fiercely protected, fearlessly wild”, was first published by The Pollachi Papyrus on 21 October 2015. Read it here. Spread over 640 km2, and surrounded by forests on all sides, the Parambikulam Tiger Reserve is home to a large number of endangered … Read More