5 weeks in India

The next part of my travels is Russia for 15 days, Europe for 3 months, and Canada for another 3.

To make this possible with my Indian passport I had to come back to India and apply for visas for all 3 of those. I chose a rough figure of 5 weeks and hoped it works out.

As of this moment in the last week of those 5, I have all my visas. I was afraid something or the other might get ruined and I might end up wasting a lot of my flight ticket money. I had already booked flights to all the 3 places as well as a couple of intra Europe flights. Schengen visa is also quite notorious for third world countries.

I made a surprise visit to my parents in Mumbai when I came to India. They thought I was headed Bangalore where I stayed before leaving.

I got the Russian visa in a single day in 30 mins. Thanks to my friend who stays in Russia this was a private visa type and I paid double to get it the same day. Since I had other visas to apply, I didn’t want to risk anything even though it was cheaper to get back after 2 days. The visa was issued for 90 days.

I applied for the Canadian visa online seeing that they did not want flight ticket bookings by this means. The other way was to apply on paper where they wanted me to submit return tickets. I was hoping the application after submission online would ask me to go to an application centre with the filled in form. Instead all it said was that I had to wait now for their reply.

Meanwhile I headed to Bangalore to catch up with friends and my cats and to apply for the Schengen visa from there.

My cats were able to recognise me even after this long break of 3 months. Here are the two cuties whose pics I share like a cat lady.

The brown one (Chutku) had grown so much that he was barely recognisable.

I applied for the visa to Czech Republic since my entry point is Prague. They took 2 working weeks to process the visa and gave me a single entry one even though I had requested for a multiple entry. I had to show hotel bookings and car rentals in Europe to get my visa. I was pretty pissed with the whole process and felt like being in SE Asia again. The single entry visa also means that I can’t attend a friend’s wedding in India, which is in the middle of my trip.

3 weeks down, the Canadian embassy had replied with a request for passport submission. I went back to Mumbai after submitting my passport in Bangalore and requesting it to be delivered in Mumbai. 4 weeks, 1 day is when I received it back from the Canadian embassy. They gave me a 5 year multi entry visa (passport validity). There’s a reason I love Canada way more than Europe 🙂

I spent most of my time here catching up with friends, playing with my cats, spending time with my parents, and eating lots of good and tasty food.

Going to Russia on the 15th and there’s only a couple of days left for me here in Mumbai.

I migrated my blog from the WordPress.com domain to a new one today. I bought the new domain name and hosting from go daddy. Hopefully subscribers were migrated correctly 🙂

I’ve been doing other travel prep like arranging currency, buying essentials, loading up kindle with books I want to read in the next 6 months, buying a tent, SIM card, foam pad etc. Last few days have been quite busy doing this.

If I didn’t want to attend all the metal festivals in Europe so badly I would have seriously continued being in SE Asia and gone to Malaysia, Philippines and all.

Long stretch of travels coming up. Pumped!

What my dream living place looks like

If I made a list of what my ideal place to live would be like, my utopia, it would look like this:

1) Mountains and hiking opportunities close by. 

2) Fresh water lake or river to swim in. 

3) Not many people, which in turn translates to less pollution. 

4) Good food and it doesn’t hurt the pocket to eat at a restaurant few times a week. 

5) Friendly people. 

6) Good weather throughout the year. Preferrably not the kind where the winters are cold and sad, or the summers are too hot. Rainfall is okay, if it’s not cold when it rains. 

7) Access to music concerts \m/

Do you know any place that fulfills all of these? I know some places that fulfill some of these criteria, but none that fulfill all. 

If any of you have pointers about places that are close to this utopia, please let me know. 

Hanoi culture. 

4th day in Hanoi and one of the better ones. 

I had a wonderful lunch today. Tofu in tomato sauce, sauted cauliflower, and rice. Yum. My Couchsurfing host made this:


I then hung out with 2 other Couchsurfers. Aga from Poland and Vuong who is a local here in Hanoi. 

Riding around my motorbike was fun and we did explore the Vietnamese way of living life slightly on the edge. 

After Aga joked about a mid road selfie, we ended up taking one. Her expression says it all:


I then found out then during the weekends (Fri-Sun), the road surrounding Kiem lake (one of the popular ones here) becomes a walking street and people just hang around and chill. There were old ladies dancing, people playing leg-badminton(?), folk songs being played, small children driving cars, ice cream shops and so much more. All by a beautiful lake. This made me wonder why people in Bangalore don’t do this? Why is there no concept of just hanging out at some place in the city and doing a bunch of random things? 

Till today I thought Hanoi seemed like maybe a slightly better version of Bangalore. Better in terms of maintaining  lakes and having a history and places to see, similar in terms of traffic. But this option of hanging outside definitely beats options in Bangalore. 

I also noticed that people here don’t easily lose temper on the roads. There’s a lot of traffic and it’s a sea of motorbikes but people understand that with this crazy amount of traffic,there are bound to be some small incidents. So instead of shouting off on the top of their voices and being ready to pick a fight and being frustrated, they just carry on like nothing happened. Yesterday a guy lost control over his bike and the bike was almost vertical in front another bike. But 2 minutes later the street was same as before. 

And bland food contest for dinner:

Random

If opportunities exist,
and you don’t take them,
do you regret later
on things that you could cater
but didn’t
since you were looking for other gems?

Existential crisis and travelling

As an INTP personality type, I’m prone to existential crisis every now and then. One moment I am enjoying watching something on my laptop, and the next moment I get thoughts about whether I am doing the right things in my life. Whether my current job is where I should be. Should I work more? Should I work less? What is it worth, anyway? Is ANYTHING worth it? What difference does it make whether I live a good life, help out others, have minimalistic impact on the environment or I live a really bad one. What exactly is good or bad? Does ANYTHING matter?

What is the point of my existence?

“You should follow your passions and figure out what you want to do in life.”

My passion is being a lazy bum, eating chips and watching movies. Does that count?


My cats are going to stay in a single house for their entire lives, with a few occasional trips to the vet. They play around, get food to eat, get someone else to clean their litter, have people that love them. All of this while staying in the cage, that is my house. Isn’t that a nice way to live a happy life?

We all live in cages ultimately. Of varying sizes though. Some of us are caged by our locations, some by our jobs and some are even caged by their thoughts. Some are caged by their responsibilities, some caged by their health, some by their wealth.

The important point here is to be completely oblivious to the fact that you are in a cage.

Or may be do the occasional stuff that lets you venture outside, and give yourself a pat on the back.

Sometimes I feel ignorance is bliss.

By the way, ice-cream does help in keeping these thoughts away. It’s very hard to think all of this, when enjoying a cone with your favorite ice-cream in it.

Or travel long periods if you can. Being outside your comfort zone, you would be busy searching for food and a place to stay, which will keep the primal you engaged and not have room for the intellectual you. While I was travelling, I valued a roof over my head and hot food, more than anything else in the world. Sorry for cheating here and including travel in the topic, with only a small paragraph in the body. Life isn’t fair, deal with it 🙂

Love the title pic, by the way.