life in the deep south

Met new people. Lived with new people. Lived by the beach. Literally. Learnt how to ride the waves on a kayak. Tried to surf a wave. Fell down. Crashed the trainer kite. Did not crash the Trainer kite. Learnt how to loop it. Saw 2 new beaches. Got woken up by peacocks at bison house. Met more interesting people. Travelled 3 hours sharing one seat with another person. Adjusting Everytime 2nd gear was needed. Tried to pronounce the names of places we passed. Fell in love with manapad and it’s blue (apparently sting ray and shark infested) waters. Got hooked to my first big kite. Got dragged by it. Ripped my pants. Lost my cap to the sea and kite surfing. Learnt what a sudden drop in wind can do (scary). Realised the crabs and fish in the water are more scared of me then I am of them. Swam and walked through water and sand bars to see a giant dead turtle. Saw a tiny sea horse inches away from us. Discovered blueberry, raspberry and fruit beer soda and 1 rupee fryums in the middle of the village. Learnt how to wash my own clothes. watched them dry in an hour (so so hot). Got the funniest tan. Got extremely burnt. Felt like my legs were on fire. Realised my sunblock was probably fake. Mastered kite control. Got on the board. Fell down. Got on the board. Fell on my face. Fell on my back. Stood up! Rode. Swallowed way too much sea water. Piggy backed and did some body dragging. Let go by mistake. Watched Lydia fly into the air. And fall down. Watched Jehan jump over my head. Got amazing pictures. Had a drink sitting on an old boat on a dark beach. Ate a gigantic meal at our drivers house. Said goodbye to the prettiest town I have seen. Reached tuticorin. Met more fun people. Got terrified by the dogs. Got over my fear of the dogs. Ate on the beach. Stayed up till 4:00 am to watch the moonrise. Got woken up by the sun and ants. Saw the factory that started as a home business by a woman. Now a gigantic factory making decorations and potpourri for ikea! Tried and liked salt pepper prawns. Camped on the beach again. Saw glow in the dark water algae. Sang ridiculous songs all night. Slept in the car. Ate the yummiest brownies and pizza and pasta at aardvark cafe. Got back to mandapam. Cursed the winds for not picking up. Made the apartment feel like home. Lazed around. Met more people! Lost a snorkel. Got on a jet ski. Squealed like a little girl. Got on a fisherman’s boat. Fell off. Hurt my back. Cut my hand a bit. Played donkey in the middle in the middle of the sea. Ate a handful of sand thanks to all the mud fights with Daylon. Cursed the wind again. Went snorkeling. Realised corals are creepy. Kayaked around. Got scared watching Lydia stand up on a sup. got up on a sup. stood up on a sup. Played the stupidest games. Ate the yummiest chicken BBQd on a plot of land with no electricity and just 4 chairs. And a wild tarantula :-o. Answered natures call in nature. Stayed up all night. Saw 5 shooting stars. Watched the sun rise. Took a car – bus – auto to the airport. Realised I has misread my ticket. And missed my flight and connecting flight. Rebooked another flight. Spent 5 hours at chennai airport. Felt extremely hungover. Used the air sickness bag for the first time. Finally got home. Looked back. Realised what life should be like. already missed life in the Deep South.

Went to learn kite surfing. Learnt a whole lot more instead.



No, my parents like most Indian parents would never let their daughter go backpacking in Europe alone.

So, I found myself a travel companion. A family friend/ cousin (you know how that works) from London, who I’d met 3 times in my life.

But if it worked for my parents it worked for me!

I packed my backpack, and took off. From London to Amsterdam to Belgium to Rome.

My cousin was pumped to finally visit Rome, but what was I going to do there for 5 days, I’d already been a tourist there before!

I didn’t realize it then, but that was my chance to go solo!

After I managed to calm my unaccompanied, nervous nerves. I picked up my things and did what I actually wanted to do. Strolled around, stood and stared at a crazy floating baba.

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Got lost, found myself a map. Wasn’t sure if it was free, so sneakily pocketed it.

Found a nice spot overlooking the ruins of old Rome. Pulled out a book, plugged in my headphones and was suddenly the picture perfect traveller.


As the days passed, I stopped pulling out the book and put away the headphones. And instead started to be a small part of these magnificent streets and sights of Rome.

Walked in to a liqueur shop for some liqueur tasting. Got tipsy with the funniest couple, bid farewell to them, promised the salesman I would order some of that liqueur and walked away hungry.


I walked past way too may great restaurants completely confused. When finally I settled on one.

Got a table for just 1 and food for two.

My waiter was friendly, which took the edge off eating alone (I hate it). We chatted about places to see, great untouristy places to go to. And just as I was finishing my meal, he came back, this time with a weird smile on his face. And asked me if I would like to wait for a bit, since his shift would end soon and he would love to take me out.

Oh no! he was kinda old and balding and now creepy.

So I lied. I said I had to meet someone soon and paid my bill, left a big tip and took off.

Only slowing down as I reached Piazza Del Popolo. By myself.

As I thought to myself ‘Well that was strange’, Rome decided to show me what strange was.

A touristy looking guy walks up. Takes the empty seat next to me. We both sit in silence. Till he starts (in Spanish) trying to ask me something. All I get is photo! I instantly start playing the part of the helpful tourist and offer to take a photo for him, but he shakes his head and starts pointing at himself and me and keeps talking in Spanish.

I give up. I’m the helpful tourist, not the patient one.

But he’s very keen to have a conversation, he pulls out a thick book. And in the little English he knows, tells me he’s a poet. I smile politely (bad idea). He gets bolder, he opens the book and tries to convince me to read his poetry, which of course is in spanish!

Man! Me no understando spanisho!

He still doesn’t get it. But decides to go for the kill and continues with the Spanish, now pointing at my lips.

By this point I’ve had enough and I turn my back.

But our Spanish man isn’t going to give up that easily. He pulls out his phone and uses google translate to ask me, actually tell me “I want to kiss you”

Shocked. Amazed. Amused and a little scared. I walked away, managing to still be alone in Rome (thankfully).

As I walked along the cobble streets trying to look at my map and not trip on my kind of too long dress. I almost literally bumped into creep no.3. Except he was cute.

We like two happy strangers were crossing paths, he smiled, I smiled back. (I never learn)

And a second later he turned around and decided to walk by my side.

Luckily this one spoke English. Of course he started with the usual ‘lets talk to the tourist’ questions. What’s your name, where you from and hey. let me not ask you and just put my hand around your shoulder.

And me, with my great vocabulary managed a very loud NO!

He turned around as fast as he had earlier and walked away.


Finally on the Spanish steps (without the Spanish man) I spent an hour with me and a thought: ‘‘Maybe I had made a few mistakes, taken some bad decisions and put myself out there more than I should have, but I had also experienced, felt and learnt a lot more than I would have otherwise.’

So, was it worth it?

It just might have been.

The night I lost my phone and spent at the airport

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I lost my phone. What the hell was I going to do? Stuck at Chicago airport, my flight had been delayed for the 3rd time. They might as well cancel it. Oh wait, they did!  

So now, I was the airport it was 9 pm (I should have been in NYC and drunk by now), I had no phone to tell anyone I wasn’t, I had a dead laptop, a bag of popcorn, a bottle of water and a 6-hour long reimbursement line ahead of me. Great. I stood there, in a line that just refused to budge, looked around, hated the people who had cellphones to stare into. Looked around some more. Started over hearing conversations.

An hour later I couldn’t take it anymore! I needed my cellphone or any, ANY conversation. I started making eye contact with strangers, shrugging and smiling at the people in my line (we were all in this shit together, all 600 of us), even laughing at the crazy old biker dude screaming at anyone who even looked at him. Then I got bolder, I started making conversation with these people. The long hair guy in front of me, the woman with 4 kids behind me, everyone!  

And sure, the 6-hour wait still sucked, but it probably sucked a little less.  

Finally I reached the counter. And guess what, the spirit airline ground staff was as annoyed as I was. But that turned out to be a good thing. She was mad enough to book me a 400$ early morning (non spirit airline) ticket, for free!  

I walked away happy, tired and again itching for digital or artificial mental stimulation. I found a comfortable spot, on the floor, outside the restroom and (there is a god) next to an unused plug point. YES, No more of this ridiculous tech sabbatical! As soon as my laptop came on, I put on headphones and a movie. I was so sure that would make me feel good. But it didn’t.

Something, very weirdly had changed in the last 6 hours. I had realized I’m here, stuck in this airport with a bunch of other people I might never get a chance to see or speak to ever again. So I took out the headphones, put aside the laptop, people watched, clicked pictures (not selfies) and made some more totally useless conversation.

But it felt right.