Wednesday, October 17, 2018

A Punjabi, a Wierdo and an Alcoholic walk into a Map #TheBlindList

September 2016

Nisha Planning Punjabi – that’s what they call me. Google Street is my favourite companion. I devour reviews and I download maps and transport applications before I reach a destination. I read on the history of the country before going there; it’s economics – well, whatever is on the Wikipedia page is embedded in my encyclopedia of a brain. High rated restaurant names are on my fingertips – after all, I start following the destination’s Instagram page from months in advance.

Yes, yes, probably a local can ask me for recommendations in his city and he would be surprised. THAT is why Planning is my middle name. You can read about the Punjabi part of it here, but this post is not about that!

There are pain-in-the-backside kind of excel files on my desktop that I constantly look at. If there was a person keeping track on this particular travel website, he would ban me thinking I am a spammer because I go there several times a day. I am constantly looking for travel inspiration ideas for the destinations on my mind.

Screenshot of my excel file from my last trip to Baltics
 in July

Here is where I explain why I am NOT a weirdo - it is just how I like to travel. If you have seen Monica on FRIENDS on television, you will know we are not a rare breed. Some people find us adorable because of our quirks. And if you are anything like my husband, you would be relieved because you will not even have to lift a finger before and during your travelling. Like he says, he goes on organised tours customised for the both of us by me!

October 2016

My middle name is overpowered by the strength of my last name which signifies I am a Sindhi and NOT a Punjabi. Wait, what? Since you didn’t read the post I directed you to, here is the gist of it: I am a Sindhi but my surname is Punjabi because some people in my community have this surname. Why? As I said, this post is not about THAT!

So, when this can’t-leave-this-deal on Lufthansa came in October 2016, I had to be spontaneous.

We were getting tickets to quite a few destinations in under 250 USD. There was no time to think – it was a one day offer to be redeemed on the same day and travel within the next one month. We had a long weekend coming up, leaves were hard to come by and so we had to travel during the same week. The sweet guys at German embassy had given us a 3-year Schenghen visa on our last trip to Europe. And since it was October, a comparatively low tourist season in European countries, we knew hotel will not be a problem.

Out of some 20 cities on offer in Europe, we closed our eyes and put a finger on one. I did not know then that we were being blessed with MAGIC!

Image source

The next few days are a daze – I had some chores to finish and had absolutely no time to plan or investigate the destination. We picked a hotel purely based on its ratings and did not care much. I was a nervous wreck – will I be able to sleep in that room, will it be close to public transport, will it be clean… well, I calmed myself by telling me that if a nine out of ten rating on all these aspects will not make me happy, nothing else will!

We packed one jacket each and 2 pairs of jeans with some t-shirts. I had no time to think what I will wear on each day, forget shopping for new clothes for new pictures! What will my socially active friends think – I have no new clothes? I did NOT have time to contemplate on that.

With very little hope and lots of jitters, I stepped on the plane with the Boy and our cheap flight tickets. The Sindhi in me was very happy, the planner, well, she was annoyed and baffled at this new turn of events.

We reached Prague at 7 in the evening. The journey was extremely comfortable, but I was not. It is in the flight that I revise my notes for a perfect trip. I was reading a book, A BOOK on this one!

Anyway, after taking a taxi to the hotel and checking in, we just wandered in the by-lanes for dinner and called it a night.

If I had to tell you about our first day in this city in one word, I would say 36000 steps!

A screenshot from my Instagram page that day

 See, the tourist information kiosks in each city gives you the basic top 10 or some locations to visit. The Hop-on-Hop-Off bus covers major tourist attractions and you can easily see the city without planning. However, one thing I did not tell you about me is that even though I like to plan, I can’t take instructions or visit a place based on someone else’s planning! The HoHo bus was my enemy and so I figured I would find a different way to see the city.

We spoke to our second best friend, Google, and walked our way to a nice breakfast place. The things you see when you walk in a city are the best. We reached the main square and had a lavish breakfast. It was here we saw the astronomical clock, the town hall and other pretty buildings.

Then we saw a lot of people walking in one direction as if something free was being distributed. We followed with greed in our eyes and were treated with the best bridge of the city! Charles bridge is the most iconic part of Prague and has the most beautiful views. We didn’t know that we would be walking over it for atleast ten more times during the trip! 

We were hungry again and looked for a place to eat and drink. Prague has a number of breweries and we wanted to try atleast a few. The most famous according to Google was U Zlateho Tygra and so we ventured into it. Now this place was famous with the locals. You share tables and then some stories. We sat with a father-duo daughter from Prague and talked about so many things. They gave us names of other famous breweries in the city and well, our plan for the next few days was set. Instead of eating around a place of interest, we decided to see the places of interest AROUND the best eating spots!

Him on the bridge, us in the pub! Hazy pictures are symbolic of goofy times - or so I say!

All our walks in the city were towards some brewery or beer garden. In the process we discovered nooks and crannies of Prague which were not mentioned in any guide book. We saw some extremely beautiful views and loved each one of them. 

We just walked to eat and drink our three meals a day and saw pretty sights on the way. Despite what these pictures may suggest, I am NOT an alcoholic. Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of food because we just pounce on it when it arrives!

Hot chocolate with Rum and a Beautiful church for a view!

It is not what you think it is. Just a regular ice-cream!

This place served toys with its cocktails and the square had horse driven carriages!

Oh, this brewery was in a monastry and had entire Prague for a view!

Frankly, I have many more pictures like this but I don't want you to think that this was just a beer trip!  For the love of new things, we even took a beer spa. Needless to say, finding this place in a unique neighbourhood was one of my favourite things of the trip.

You really do walk through these lanes and you really do bathe in beer :P

I have taken many planned trips before and after this. But this blind date with Prague was kind of a self exploration and remains my favourite. I had no expectations, I had no clue, I had not read anything and yet it blew my mind and was an extremely enriching experience.

To change overnight is a difficult thing, but I am now slowly understanding the perks of being spontaneous. My new mantra is - #Bucketlist is a passe, #SayYesToTheWorld and to #TheBlindList.

And my new name is – Nisha BlindList Punjabi. Ah, just kidding – I have enough mystery around me already with Punjabi!


Tuesday, October 16, 2018

An Ode to #TheBlindList

What do you want for your 10th anniversary?
A diamond, a watch or a blackberry?

I think I want a vacation that is oh-so-dreamy
In a land where I can feel like a princess, or a fairy!!

Your wish is my command, now pack your bags
We leave in a week – don’t forget the name-tags.

Where are we going - how can you plan so soon?
See, it has to be perfect, just like our honeymoon.

Be openminded and leave your worries behind
I promise you magic. Perfection? – that you can find.

We board the plane in a week, Lufthansa it is. 
Are we going to Germany? One hint please?

Yes my dear, but I myself don’t know exactly where
We will pick up a car at Frankfurt, and then see from there.

We have no hotels booked, don’t know which city? 
You want to start a trip with a fight? Oh, what a pity! 

We always had a bucket list, it is time to spice it up
Say yes to #TheBlindList, c’mon, buckle up! 

I have Goosebumps, my heart is racing
For an unusual, unplanned trip, my mind is bracing.

It is not that hard, just fill your eyes with wonder
Magic will take over, your worries will go under!

I am trusting your gut, let’s try this one time
If it doesn’t work, repercussions shall be prime!

Haha! Let’s disembark and pick up our reserved car
Believe you me, romance is not that far!

The drive is so scenic, is it all along the Autobahn?
The hills are so pretty, I wish I could just roll on!!

We will do that, and everything else you want to do
That's the beauty of this trip - explore things that are new.

So we stop at Wuzburg, then where do we go?
Is there a B & B, a motel or a hotel that we know?

We will see what we want, we will stop when we please
There are little towns in this country – we shall explore with ease.

The roads are so smooth, the towns are so quaint 
Alas I am not an artist, or this picture I could paint!

If you had known before, it might have been different
See you blindly followed my ploy, now you are content!

We stay in Wuzburg, we see the Residential palace 
We drive to Rothenburg, where I really feel like Alice!

On our way to Nuremburg, we will drive by a lake 
Do you want to stop there and try the black-forest cake?

I will do whatever feels good, this journey seems perfect
Why plan for tomorrow, right now, lets just get clicked!

Looks like you have a crush on this Romantic Road
Your eyes are so dreamy, you seem ready to pen an Ode!

I want to take a dip in the lake, and climb the rolling hills
I want to walk into that stable, and check out those wind mills.

Lets do that while we drive towards the majestic alps
See the road signs for Romantic Strasse? - we don’t need any maps!

Are we heading to Neuschwanstein? I have seen it in Disney
I already feel like a QUEEN, this is a very happy anniversary!

We sing songs along the way, we eat at random stops 
We dance like Bollywood stars without the usual props!

We see a number of Churches, the architecture wows us
This world is so beautiful, a nice travel partner is an added bonus!

Bucket List or The Blind one - which one is your favourite now?
Where do you want to go next so that you can say WOW!?

First I want to say Thanks, for making me see this side of me.
As for a place, TOGETHER is my favourite place to be!

#SayYesToTheWorld ..Always!

Monday, October 8, 2018

Me so Lucky!

Not writing is not fun. It makes me a boring person whom I absolutely hate. Also, social media sucks. I spend so much time there that I forget to come here and do what I love most - write.

Now that there is a contest around the corner, my grey cells are twisting and turning in their grave. It is time to reincarnate them. You see, I work best when there is a prize involved.

A few days back some friends and their kids came home. When they were leaving, one of our friends seem to have lost his wallet. We searched each and every corner, checked the cars, looked at the reception, dug into the diaper bags(!), but there was no sight of the wallet.

My biggest worry was what if someone threw it in the garbage? I had already thrown the garbage down the chute.

Anyway, to make the atmosphere less stressful and add fun into the whole ordeal I declared that whoever finds the purse will get 30 USD from the owner. He was in such a panicky state that he agreed. After all, his identity card for his trip back home to Saudi Arabia was in it!

As I said, I work best when there is a prize involved. Within two minutes of declaring the prize, I found the wallet! It was hidden from the kids behind the mandir, probably by the guy himself when he was feeding his own child.

I won another prize in fluke by just participating in a silly Instagram contest. It has been the easiest 500 USD that I have earned. Did I say social media sucks - absolutely not.

Social media is what you make out of it. Some days you need an inspiration to lose weight - you check out before and after stories on Instagram. On other days, you might be feeling blue - click a selfie and fetch some compliments! Believe it or not, no matter how ugly you are, those who love you will call you beautiful.

Why and how I will never know!

Some call social media a place where people post only happy things while their life might be miserable. Yes, it is true that we post happy things because happiness is meant to be shared with the world and despair is meant to be shared with only those who will care about it. Trust me, when you share anything sad, most people are just looking for gossip or, the sadists that we are, looking for things that make our life look better.

Social media may suck if you spend too much time on it. It may suck when you unnecessarily stalk someone. It may suck when you get jealous. All these things can be controlled by a strong will and a happy attitude. Well, I've got it all, and I have won a prize as well, so you worry about yourself!

The biggest high in my life right now are not these lucky moments of glory, it is my newest physiotherapist. I have a tendency to be impressed with the new ones since I always get a fresh perspective. And so I gave this one a few sessions. After 24 sessions I still love her and look forward to going to the clinic every other day.

Will it help me in any way? - only time will tell that. As of now I am just happy to have found her. I am just happy that hope remains the single most important thing in my life. Struggles continue but I am grateful that God has always been kind and He continues to shower His blessings.

Like He will shower his wisdom on me and I will continue to write and win more prizes in the coming months!

*Note to self* WRITE MORE.