What on earth is this I exclaimed? It’s a two-in-one you see replied my father. But this is not an ice cream to which he smiled and replied that it’s a two in one music system having both a cassette player and a radio tuner. It was the 80’s and it was the era of disco and boom box. My father had just got home a new Akai two one and I was stuck to it like a magnet. I knew what a cassette player was and even knew how a radio functioned with the SW (Short Wave) and MW (Medium Wave) buttons but this one had an FM button and that was something new to me.
At night my father extended the antenna and switched on the radio while he was locating radio stations by turning the tuner dial I asked him about FM. Frequency Modulation he replied, it’s like radio but with stereo audio but you won’t be able to hear anything now as there are no functioning FM channels in India. Maybe if you travel abroad someday you will be able to hear FM. By the way, he asked do you know who invented the radio? I did not know the answer so he replied that it was J C Bose who had first identified radio signals but it was Marconi who the world credit it to as Bose could not spread the word of his discovery to the world.
“So you are now an avid traveler, you must be a millionaire now” this is what I get to hear all the time from my friends. They keep following me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and last but not the least my blog. They keep enquiring about my next destination and many of them have actually chosen a destination for their vacation after reading my blogs. And for some, I have to even prepare a personalized itinerary.
What people especially friends fail to realize is that I have a full-time job, my wife also has a full-time job and we have an eight-year-old school going daughter. We are just like any other average middle-class Indian family with things to take care off. We have to pay electricity bills, monthly food expenses, pay the maids and not to forget the massive school expenditures. Keeping all these in mind I also have also purchased life insurance policies just to be sure that there is a fixed back up.
I have traveled to many hill stations around India and there is a common saying that all the locals keep telling us that the village is better than “Switzerland” when it snows in the winter. I have heard this some many times that I have actually started ignoring this whenever I am traveling to hill stations. So when I was traveling in the Bloggers Bus along with six other bloggers from around the country on a trip organized by Uttarakhand Tourism Development Board in coordination with GMVN (Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam Limited) I was not expecting something different when I was told that this Harsil is the real “Switzerland of India”.
I was around six or seven do not remember the age but what I do remember was my birthday celebration that year. Many of my cousins had come and it was a gift galore. I was not much of a reader of books instead loved people reading my books and that particular year one of my grandfather (uncle to my father) who was a teacher gifted me a small hardbound book. I still remember the book cover it was light blue in color with a photograph of a puppet wearing a red outfit and what stood out was that the puppet had a long nose. It was Pinocchio that was gifted to me that year and it was my grandmother who read out the story to me.
Being the naughty child that I was my grandmother reminded me that I would have a similar fate if I kept lying about my various mischievous activities. I kept skipping through the pages to read the paragraph where Pinocchio’s nose starts growing longer as he keeps lying.
The year was 1998 and Internet in India was at its bare minimum. My sister was traveling around Europe on a special educational tour and all the information that I could get were on text emails once a week. I had waited eagerly for her return and then the wait for the numerous negatives to get developed and then printed. She had meticulously cataloged various locations depending on their location and the one that fascinated me most was Italy. “This is the Colosseum of Rome” she exclaimed as she flicked through the album. I was completely mesmerized and wished that one day I could see the grand Colosseum myself standing right in front of it.
When you are in an alien city a lot can go wrong but thanks to smartphones with GPS enabled maps it’s sometimes rather easy to track and locate offbeat tourist locations. During one of my trips to the capital I decided to visit the Delhi War Cemetery. It was important for me to visit the site for two reason one being that fact that it had to do something with World War which interests me a lot and on this subject I had written two blogs Japanese Air Raids on Kolkata during WWII and Balloon Squadron That Protected Calcutta Against Japanese. Secondly it was important for me to keep a promise. While researching about the Balloon Squadron during WWII I had come in contact with some friends from UK who helped me with lots of facts about this regiment and one of the member of this regiment who was killed during an air raid by the incoming Imperial Japanese Airforce was supposed to be buried here.