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Member Interview: Know your fellow traveller

Name: Sunaabh Sarkar

Display Name on OkTataByebye: Mistral

Occupation: Professional (Architect)

Age: 48 yrs.

Places you have been to: Morogoro, Arusha, Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater in East Africa are places that have remained in my memory for decades. I was a kid then and it was at Ngorongoro, where I had shot my first ever celluloid capture. Ironically those were the moments when my sister was breathing her last in the sanctuary clinic. Every bit of those moments, right from the breathtaking wildlife within the sanctuary to the moment, my father had driven hundreds of miles, all night, carrying the mortal remains of my sister still remain etched in my memories.

As I grew up I indulged more and more in my own travel quests. I used to keep aside some dough from my earnings before marrying. Over years, I had a already few grands in my kitty and spending them on a 28 day tour of South India with my better half seemed most appropriate for me after my marriage. The circuit covered Cochin/ Ernakulam, Trivandrum, Kanniyakumari, Madurai, Rameshwaram, Chennai, Tirupati, Kodaikanal, Mysore, Bengaluru, Hyderabad I had embarked upon with my better half soon after my wedding. No, this was not our honeymoon trip ;). Honeymoon was a rush-rush four day parents sponsored thingy to Mount Abu. This destination was impromptu choice since my boss who was a true replica of “Virus” from 3 Idiots would not sanction me more leave because he took lesser days off during his HM.

By and large, I’ve been to almost all hill stations in North India. Education, professional commitments and simply travelling has taken me to several places all over India. Ahmedabad, Baroda, Udaipur, Chittorgarh, Ajmer, Jaipur, Ranthambhor, Kota, Lucknow, Agra, Haridwar, Mathura Vrindavan, Bharatpur Sikandra, Allahabad, Varanasi, Chandigarh, Shimla, Kalka, Kasauli, Mumbai, Elephanta Caves Bhubaneshwar, Puri, Chilika in Orissa, Nagpur, Mehsena, Ajant- Ellora Caves, Kolkata, Shillong, Darjeeling, Kaziranga, Gaya, Nalanda, parts of Bihar,. The list is endless… Apart from a whirlwind dirve in the mountains of Uttaranchal covering Almora, Kausani, Ranikhet Nainitaal. The latest trip I embarked up on was with my family to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. I’ll remember this trip for a long time for the sheer natural beauty, soberness and the wonderful time I’ve spent with some wonderful islanders during our short stay there.

Great places, you can remember, please name a few: Almost every tourist destination is a great place to be. Much depends on the visitor’s outlook. Even a simple sleepy hamlet can turn out to be an exquisite quiet getaway. While Shimla, Nainitaal, Mussoorie can be places for activity and enjoyment, Kasauli near Kalka is a quiet getaway. A lot depends on your mood how you look forward to spending your holidays. While places like Haridwar, Brindavan can turnout to be a quiet getaway in somber mood, Kasauli, Kausani, Ranikhet, Chail could be places to simply unwind and relax. However Bikaner, Nagaur Almora, Kausani in Uttaranchal and the Andamans are some places I have loved most, probably with the Andamans scoring over the rest.

Your dream destination: A trip back to the African Wilderness or to the rush of the Amazon Rapids.

Best holiday so far: To the Andamans.

Best food you tasted –what & where: I’m not really a foodie but the Daal-Chawal with mango pickle at a Dhaba en route Naina Devi via Anandpur Sahib has been the best so far. Being a Northie, with apologies to all concerned, I had harrowing time during the South India tour where almost every food is prepared in Coconut oil. However, Dosas and Uttapams at the Madras Hotel, Connaught Place, New Delhi is always welcome. For desserts, sundaes at the Gianis outlets all over Delhi remains my favourite. For Bhalla Paapri, and Aloo Tikkis, Bittu Tikkiwala at Netaji Shubhash Place, Delhi is my choice. Like I’ve mentioned earlier I’m not really a foodie, Bread-Jam is more than welcome while I’m traveling.

You use OkTataByebye mainly for: Sharing and reading travel experiences and also sharing travel photos which may motivate travelers to visit places in India. OKTTBB also has a fraternity of likeminded helping members who make the portal very helpful, friendly inviting and infectious. You can’t travel without: Can’t travel without a Camera, maps and an ipod full of super oldies and Country Music. Every thing else is manageable.

The best hotel you stayed at: Within the budget of economy travel, The CPWD run Grand Hotel at Shimla offers five star family suites with a range of recreational amenities at very affordable prices.

Your favourite travel quote: This is not really a travel quote… its actually lines from a rambling song written by Barry McGuire… very close to my heart… heard it first when I was in school almost three and a half decades ago and still have it with me. I feel I relate very much to the theme of the song…

"Green, green, it's green, they say, on the far side of the hill Green, green, I'm going away to where the grass is greener still… …I don't care when the sun goes down where I lay my weary head green, green valley or rocky road It's there I'm gonna lay my head…"

Interests/hobbies: I’m fond of traveling, photography and sometime indulge my self into writing and reading too. I’m also an Electronics Geek and this helps me follow my other passion of making working models of airplanes and ships.

Travel anecdote: I was on my first ever job and had to work for long hours and often used to be late from work. This, my parents believed was perhaps very hard on me. So on my birthday, they gifted me a “Wanted” brand deep blue colored Denim Jacket. The fabric was unusually rougher, tougher and harder to the touch than most jeans wear. Though it helped me keep warm, I used it as tool to rub people the wrong way, just in case some one messed with me. A normal Garam Khoon syndrome most youngsters out of their college suffer from. The canvass like stuff was hard enough to hurt even by the slight rub of it. Soon however, I discovered quite accidentally, another charm that the jacket carried. Once I was waiting for a friend at the railway station when sudden a person came to me and said “Saab mera waiting hai isko confirm karado…jo thor a bahut chai pani…” I was taken aback by this sudden approach. I shooed him away, but while I waited for my friend to arrive, I was approached by many others with similar requests. Thus I came to know of the hidden prowess of my Jacket.

Similar incidents kept happening every time I visited the Railway Station with that jacket on. The best came one evening, when just out of curiosity and a yearning to taste railway commuting, I boarded a train from Shivaji Bridge Station to Naya Azaad Pur. Though I had valid travel ticket costing a mere two rupees with me, The TTE who boarded the train at New Delhi Railway Station checked each and every passenger except me for travel tickets. This made me bolder, so much so that on another winter evening, I simply did not purchase a ticket. This time again a TTE boarded the train at NDLS, proceeded to check every ones ticket and passed by me as if I never existed. Something in the jacket either pulled a Mr. India trick or simply made me look like a Railway official.

Later on many occasions, I ignored purchasing tickets when I had upon me the jacket and on none of the occasions I was ever asked for a ticket. I still have the jacket with me somewhat faded (I have recently dyed it), I rarely use it.

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