Movies that inspire a moviebuff to travel Europe

There are some images that leave an indelible mark on us and remain with us prodding us to make promises to ourselves that we will visit the place one day and capture the memory for ourselves. Images which inspire and influence me to travel often come from movies and books. They are the best alternative to traveling while allowing one to immerse oneself in a new land, foreign culture and way of life.

The one continent that has eluded me for most parts of my travel has been Europe and hence any opportunity that lurks around which would take me to Europe, beware because I am going to grab you and wrestle you down. I have been to Switzerland, the beautiful country and its flower laced windows beckon me all the time but my bucket list which incidentally have all been inspired by movies is slightly longer.

P.S I Love You

Hillary Swank in a tan jacket stands in front of the purple flowered landscape of Wicklow Mountains in Ireland where she meets Gerald Butler. The scene is tranquil, inviting and mesmerizing , words fall short. The air around them looks wet with promise. Also having Gerald Butler is definite plus  in the scene because who doesn’t want to swoon over him. This movie has inspired me to put Ireland right on top of my bucket list for more reasons than one. Dublin would certainly be the first destination on my trip and I hope to do a musical pub crawl while I am at it.

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Image Source – here

Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge

This Bollywood movie was what defined the spectrum of love for most kids growing up in the 90’s in India. A large part of the movie is shot in Switzerland and soon it topped the chart as India’s favorite honeymoon destination and because of this there is a lake in Switzerland that is named after the director of the movie. The images of silent wind over the alps and wooden houses with cow bells jingling in the distance and the promise of finding love has prompted many Indians to visit Switzerland, including me. Its true that a Bollywood movie took me to Switzerland but I was validated when a person I met in Interlaken said that Madhuri Dixit (Indian actress) is his favorite. I have been here but I would go there again in a heart beat. The next stop of my movie inspired trip would be Zurich and onwards to Interlaken.

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Eat Pray Love –

Eat Pray Love is popular as a book and a movie as it tugs on the heart strings of anyone who wants to rediscover themselves. The first part of Julia’s journey takes her to Italy and sun kissed Tuscany. Cobble stones, gelato and wood fired pizza’s should be reason enough for anyone visiting Italy. Another movie which has cemented my desire to visit Tuscany is Under the Tuscan Sun. The movie literally transports you to the orchards in sun kissed Tuscany. I hope to board the Eurorail and travel to Tuscany and Naples from Swizterland.

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Image Source here

Angels and Demons – 

I read the book while in college before I saw the movie and the book takes you on an adrenaline ride across Rome. The intricate details some fiction and some fact takes the reader on a virtual tour of Rome and definitely piques one’s interest in this ancient city and seat of power. The shots of the Basilica and other monuments in Rome which are themselves important characters and plot changers in the movie leaves a powerful memory. Rome is also close to Italy and hence can be easily incorporated into this movie inspired itinerary of mine.

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Image Source here

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

Sisterhood of the traveling pants is an important coming of age story that resonates with many teenagers. Some of the imageries that have stayed with me are the ones that were shot in Santorini in Greece. The stark white houses hanging precariously on the cliff against the blueness of the ocean gives me goose bumps. The little boats along the coast bobbing up and down in the water where Lena and Kostas meet each other and the donkey rides to and fro the mountain abode are experiences I would definitely like to own one day.

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This post is written as an entry for GoEuro Travel and it would be great if you could head over there and vote for this article. Who knows maybe I could win!

 

Ridiculous Currencies Around the Globe

Money makes the world go round but some currencies have a way to drive one crazy. We require money and the first thing any traveler does after she lands in a new country is figure out the country’s currency and get a wad for herself. The neat currencies of dollar, yen, pound have been discussed, known and recognized but there are some currencies and denominations that to be put politely are just bad ass. These are a few that have been a bit of a thorn during my travels.

Indonesian Rupiah: The foremost on my list is the IDR or Indonesian Rupiah. I knew it was trouble when we traded in two crisp notes and gained a sackful of Indonesian currency in exchange. We thought we were gonna live like kings in Indonesia, turns out three zeros are redundant so tea costs 10,000 IDR and we have had lunch for a lakh per person but it was good lunch.

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American Pennies – American dollars are great and they are just amazing for all the Uncle Scrooges in the world but Pennies! Pennies are a different story altogether, they get stuck in the washer, they make your wallet heavy and are a pain to cross airport security. Also pennies do not get back into the system with the frequency it comes out of the system and into your wallet. It seems like a cruel joke when things are ticketed 1 $ 99 cents, I mean come on! It has been three years since I went to the US but I still have three small bags filled with pennies!

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Mentos – I know Mentos is not an official currency, not even close but tell that to the guy at the toll booth on the highways in India. I give the guy Rs 30 and he give back three breath mints instead of my balance of Rs 3. So if he had the three Rupees to buy the three Mentos why couldn’t he just give me the balance or do they get Mentos supply for free!

Sodexo –  What started as food coupons in Indian tech offices has certainly come a long way. I was recently given a Sodexo coupon for Rs 10 at my local grocery store ! An acquaintance bribed a cop with a Sodexo coupon and apparently it was even used to fund a rickshaw ride. So.. dexo you are officially a currency.

Have there been any ridiculous currencies that you have come across? Do share.

Representational Images via Pixabay. The restaurant bill however is ours..

 

How To Start Driving In India?

Are women drivers oddities? Or so-called warrior women? Here is a list of tips for promising women drivers.

Driving a vehicle is not rocket science, if it were, there would be fewer cars on the road and we would not have the odd and even experiments. If it were there would be less chaos on the roads. Women on the roads in India are still rare though there is a growing number. I believe that it is an essential skill to learn as it leads to independence and that is exactly the type of woman who is un-sanskari because an independent woman cuts her hair, eats noodles and can drive to the post office on her own.

A woman who has learnt to drive is seen as an oddity, this became apparent to me when people around me hailed me as if I was Jhansi ki Rani and I had just won a war.

Whereas the fact was that all I had done was to buy a car and learn driving. Since I am one of the ‘warrior women’ (sarcasm alert!) out there I thought it would be a good idea to write down some of the cheat codes for women in India who are on the cusp of learning to drive.

  • Confidence is key in learning to drive and this is one thing that is often systematically undermined as a woman grows older. If you find yourself lacking confidence, think of all the morons you have seen driving on the road and repeat to yourself this magic mantra, ‘if they can do it so can I’ for ten times and then go apply for a learner’s licence. You can then invest your time in learning some road rules but looking at the state of drivers around I guess most of them put that subject as optional.
  • Get your hands on a vehicle to learn driving and practice driving with an L board. In my experience relying on only the driving schools instructor is not enough. The instructor’s car usually has controls on his/her side of the seat as well (much like a marriage) and your confidence usually stems from the fact that they will slam the brakes or clutch if need arises. This is alright for the initial days but for gaining confidence you need practice.
  • Being a woman driving on the roads in India can be seen to some (read men) as an invitation for a race. Let them win and pray fervently that they get pulled over for speeding. I would also like to point out that you will receive quite a bit of leering or staring but the good thing is that with you behind the wheels, you can leave them behind.
  • You don’t need to be car expert to drive a car and it is also not required during the driving test to know different models of cars all you need to know are the A,B,C’s (Accelerator, Brake and Clutch). If you are driving an automatic you can shorten the alphabets you will need to learn.
  • There will be embarrassing moments and some distressing moments while you are learning to drive. If you find yourself in the middle of the road and your car stalls don’t panic. It has happened to every driver out there who was learning to drive. This is precisely why Rajesh Khanna crooned, ‘Kuch toh log HONK karenge, logon ka kaam hai HONK karna’.
  • As you are learning there will be other drivers who will emphasize that a mark of a good driver is someone who is fast and one who cuts and weaves through traffic. This of course is total bull because unless you are in a high speed chase which has about 0.5% probability of happening, you won’t need this skill. People currently practicing this skill (*cough cab drivers) should hastily abandon it and try driving safely instead. Leave the weaving to the weavers, save handloom buy handloom.
  • If you find your confidence constantly being hampered by ‘well wishers’ in your family/ friends who insist that they should drive because they are the better driver, feel free to use the sound tttbbbttpppptttthhh, (now try saying it with your tongue out) they will get the message.

To read the entire article and more such tips read further on Women’s Web

Fostering A Dog and Finding Love

Being married to a consultant and then choosing to travel with him is a never ending series of packing your bags and staying in hotels. I have found myself in hotels of all shapes and sizes in towns as small as Stroudsburg in USA and as big as Shanghai but I am not complaining. There have  been many adventurous along the way some minor and some life altering. One of those adventures was a tiny bundle called Bumbleshoot who was named after a music festival by the rescue center in North America.

We did not want to name him as he was going to be part of us only for a few weeks till he got adopted. But shouting Bumbleshoot every time he chewed my belt or got into my wardrobe in the hotel room was tiresome hence he was cagily named Chambu as he followed me dutifully from room to room. To rewind a little, we were living in a small city in Pennsylvanian called Conshohocken and were living in an extended stay hotel where we stayed for close to four months or more. It was around this time that I heard of Wags Rescue and the idea of fostering a dog got planted in my head. I had never owned a dog and my husband had not warmed up to the idea of being a dog lover.

Chambu - The first day he spent with us
Chambu – The first day he spent with us

We called up the rescue center and after they had contacted our referrals and had confirmed with our hotel Bumbleshoot came into our lives. Chambu as we later called him was a four month old black lab mix pup. He was part of a litter that the rescue center had saved from a Kill Shelter.  He came into our life and hotel room untrained much to the chagrin of the hotel’s housekeeping staff. The rescue center insisted that the pup be crate trained and hence gave us a crate and a few other essentials. The first night that the pup spent with us in the crate he howled all night while we Googled frantically and most sites advised us to leave him in the crate till he got used to it. Finally somewhere around 3 am we finally gave in and let him share our bed, where he happily snuggled.

The next day was spent in systematically crate training him and he learnt fast, his adopted family later told us that he was the recognized as the most well behaved dog at a training center they had taken him to . We then started the quest of potty training which took a little extra time and also teaching him to walk with a leash since most often he had his own agenda and would sometimes just plonk on the grassy patch near the hotel. Time moved fast and Chambu got adopted by a lovely family in the neighborhood. We had quite a lot of adventurous during his short stay with us like taking his to the vet when got an allergic reaction we were unable to diagnose (this was taken care of by the rescue center), making friends with fellow dog lovers, making a dog lover out of my husband, getting freaked out the first time he was taken near the river and many more.

He stayed with us for close to two months during which we learnt a lot from each other. The last day before his family picked him up was a very emotional day for me as we spent most of the day snuggling and going for a walk near the Schuylkill River. His family came that evening and he happily climbed into the car. We received a few pictures of him later as a strapping young dog and are quite happy that we let this little one come into our lives even if it was for a short duration.