- Seminyak is where everyone goes, got tons of restaurants and bars on the beach. (the locals are very likely to give you absurd directions to the beach)
- Sign up for a surfing class in South Kuta
- Do NOT GO TO THE ROCK BAR – it’s over hyped and honestly the sunset is just as beautiful while you sit on the beach. (plus that’s free and you don’t have to wait in ridiculous lines) (but if you really do want to go to ROCK Bar, I suggest you don’t wait in the 30- 60 minute line for the cable car, ask for the steps and walk down instead)
- GO TO GILI TRAWANGAN (do not hesitate). There are several tourist booths all over Bali, book a trip with them (I was very skeptical, but it turned out fine) (I paid 450,000 rupiah – said I was a student and bargained really hard). And learn deep sea diving with Ryan at Pesona Resort.
- The temples in Ubud are usually closed to tourists (except during full moon – is what I was told), you can only see them from outside.
- Every Friday some Ubud temples have kecak dances performances, you can buy a ticket that same day or evening (its quite fascinating)
- Go to warung eny restaurant at seminyak and try the noodle soup
- Learn to ride a bike before you go to Bali. It’s much easier to get around.
- Do not sit on the top of the boat to GIli with expensive equipment or your passport (there’s a huge chance you will get drenched)
- GO! But trust me you will not want to come back, it’s a lot like quicksand, it pulls you in and makes you want to stay.
Went to the ISKCON temple in bombay. met a prabhuji with a plan. got carried away with the plan. almost booked a ticket and a spot on a trip he was taking. felt super nervous. didn’t book. happened to talk to Niyanta Diwan Parekh about it. got carried away again. booked this time! still felt nervous. counted days till departure. counted hours till the ridiculously early morning flight. got to the airport just in time. had a layover at delhi airport. ate a pizza for breakfast. sat and watched (in complete awe) a piano that played automatically! made it for the next flight. landed in dehradun. walked out of the airport to see just mountains everywhere! found the driver. Drove to Chilla (just outside haridwar). Stopped at least twice to click pictures. Did not stop oohing and aaahing at our surroundings for the entire 1.5-hour drive! realised the rest of the group were going to be delayed by at least 10 hours. got our driver to show us haridwar! waked the streets aimlessly. gathered the courage to only dip our feet into the super cold water. got followed by random guys. ate amazing rasgulla! rushed to find a good spot for the Ganga aarti. sat for half an hour listening to some guy telling us how we must donate money for the aarti or we would regret it forever. did not donate. did not regret it either. watched the aarti cluelessly first. suddenly started spotting the giant aarti thaalis and flames. sat amazed. the number of aarti thaalis grew. chanted out loud with everyone. made our way back to the guesthouse. were warned to watch out for elephants if we planned on walking around. passed out! woke up. rushed to the jeep and Rajaji National Park. would not sit still. saw some deer. and more deer. and monkeys. and peacocks. did not see elephants or tigers. saw tiger pugmarks 😦 sat still finally. met the forest rangers. got a bit shocked when they said their orders were simple. “shoot at sight!” drove to Rishikesh. did a real Ganga dupki! did not carry extra clothes. tried to dry off. froze! finally made it back to the bus. found a changing room with a ceiling full of spiders. changed faster than ever! slept all the way to mussourie. got woken up by Niyanta Diwan Parekh to see a mountain full of lights! stayed awake as our driver insisted on taking a u-turn on the tiniest and highest road possible. got my hand almost crushed by a terrified Niyanta Diwan Parekh. made it to Kempti Village. were forced to share a dorm room with too many people. tried to dry our clothes from the Ganga dupki. went to sleep a little annoyed. woke up to the most incredible view! walked around happy again. taught a little pahadi boy how to use a dslr camera. learnt from a pahadi woman how to tie a headscarf. decided mussourie was too close to not see. convinced a couple with a car to let us borrow it. got dropped off at mussourie market. wandered around looking for Kalsang restaurant. walked a good 45 minutes. Saw a lot of the market. found it! got a table for 2. ordered for 5. couldn’t get over how amazing the place and food was. noticed the tables and the tissues full of reviews under them! added our own one! walked around some more. shopped a little. realised it was going to rain! found a cafe/ bar. had a beer and watched the view literally disappear amidst clouds and then reappear. watched my breath fog! got picked up by the rest of the group. slept all the way to Dehradun! Tried to dry our Ganga dupki clothes. woke up realising it had rained all night and our clothes were wetter than before. decided it was time to be super adventurous and part ways with the group! booked a car and a one-night stay at Silver sands campsite in Rishikesh! Drove through clouds, tried to spot elephants. spotted lots of monkeys instead. decided to stop in the middle of a hill and try the pahadi maggi! watched him make it on a chulla! heard a goat while we waited. went and found the goat and adorable little puppies! went back. inhaled the maggi! sipped the chai and proceeded! drove past the campsite by mistake. drove back. got off. walked down to the campsite with heavy backpacks and high chances of falling! were showed to our tent! spent the next few hours coming to terms with the beauty surrounding us! saw a familiar but unknown face. went from strangers to friends in 1 glass of beer and a few pieces of chocolate with Niladri Mukherjee. picked up my book. Read about hanuman while keeping an eye on the monkeys running around on the other side of the river! Used an eco toilet! was pretty fascinated by it! realised the closest place to charge our phones was a village 15 minutes away. let my phone die. drank local rum by the campfire. chatted with strangers. learnt how to find the north star (it’s somewhere on the left of the big dipper?). went to bed. woke up way too early and excited! got ready to go rafting. picked a raft. were asked to go in the other one instead. got annoyed at the guy in front of me for being a terrible rafter. got over it. jumped in every time Manoj (our guide) asked if we wanted to! Felt super happy on the rapids. watched the raft behind us (the one we wanted to be on) flip on the golfcourse rapid! watched the panic. almost panicked! sat still as people got pulled on to our raft. tried to help. made it to lakshman jhulla! ate some more maggi! changed. said goodbye to the best guides ever! stopped at Tip Top dhaba. had the BEST chicken ever! Continued to the airport. made it back home WITH CLOTHES STILL WET FROM THE GANGA DUPKI AND A LIST OF AT LEAST 8 THINGS I DID FOR THE FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE in just 5 days! #sabbatical
I started my career in advertising right out of college. And like most others, it sucked me right in. The late hours, the advertising groups, the events! It became my world, a world I was very fascinated with and completely content in. Until one day I literally stumbled upon an interesting website, that happened to be the website of Miami Ad School. And again I was hooked. The idea grew on me faster than I could shake it off. I began applying. Wrote all my essays, did the thousand projects they needed. And just like that, I was opening an envelope with my name on it and my acceptance letter in it! But life had other plans, actually my parents had other plans. After all of this they decided, this was the right time to tell me they thought it was a bad idea. They didn’t want to spend that kind of money on a 2-year course. Shit! I had already quit my job! And was half way to Miami in my head. So after a lot of crying I decided to look for a 1-year course and before anyone could raise any other issues I was on my way to chicago portfolio school! It turned out to be one of the best years of my life. I learnt to drink beer, take care of myself, make chicken biryani, to be an ideator not just a writer, do stand up comedy. And I also learnt that saying goodbye to such an amazing city and great friends was super hard. But before I could even get over my jet lag I found myself getting ready to go to office! And I was back to the grind. It was a fun grind. But like any other grind you get stuck in it. After 3 years of enjoying it, I started getting nauseous. I needed to get out, to do more with my life, to actually start doing the things I always though I would do someday! Because if I didn’t now, why would I do them later? So after a hard conversation with my boss and mentor I was on my way to actually living the life I imagined. I was on a 6 month sabbatical. With no plans. But that’s the best part. When you open yourself up so completely to new opportunities and experiences, you don’t have to go looking for them, because very often they find you first! I said YES to almost everything that came my way. 10 day vipassana, kite surfing, sleeping on the beach, sleeping in the car, organic farming in Cotswold, backpacking through Europe, living with villagers in Maharasthra, spending more money than I wanted to in Woodstock, flying trapeze classes in Brooklyn, Dutch mass in Amsterdam, trekking in Cinque Terre. After 6 months of saying yes. I realized something had changed in me. I couldn’t go back to the old me or the old job. So I quit. Again with no plans. And suddenly on a lazy, Chicago afternoon. I realized what I was doing right then: being on Sabbatical – made me happy. So why wouldn’t it make others happy? Maybe I could help others find that happiness? Push them to take that trip they always talk about. Show them that’s its not as difficult as it seems. All you need to do is jump! And after another 6 months of back and forth (and some more travelling) I did it! I registered, created and launched my own brand: Sabbatical! Sabbatical is a state of mind. Sabbatical is a style of travel. Sabbatical is a holiday from holidays. And Sabbatical is also the push people need. An innovative travel and experience service, Sabbatical curates and offers a handpicked collection of unique, inspiring sabbaticals across India, that range from 5 days to 6 months. All the Sabbatical experiences are specifically selected to engage mind, body and soul and encourage travellers to take the road less travelled. These Sabbaticals are designed to take people to places outside their comfort zone, teach life lessons and make people grow into the person they want to be. P.S. These are not holidays or sightseeing packages. No, they are not about being comfortable and relaxed. Yes, there will be really hard bits. But it will be worth it. Promise!
So you’ve taken the sabbatical plunge and now aren’t too sure what to do? I was there and then i went everywhere!
Here’s 15 of the most memorable things i did:
- Flying trapeze classes in NYC
- Kite Boarding in Tamil Nadu
- Sunrise sailing in Mumbai
Everyone talks about how a sabbatical will change your life.
So I took that sabbatical. It extended from 6 months to a year. And now
On the other side of that year, I find myself sitting at my computer about to tell you the same thing.
A sabbatical WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE. Take it!
- It will make you prioritize
Someone once asked me to pick between a 5 star and a tent, I said “both”. I always wanted it all, the luxuries and the hardcore experiences, the 5 star buffet and the local village meal, the drunk night out and the next morning adventure.
I was two very different people in one.
So often on sabbatical, you are faced with that moment when you have to pick. It’s not this AND that, it’s either or. Because there is only one real you. But luckily a sabbatical usually does make you stop for a moment, take a step back and actually figure out what you want to do, not what everyone wants to do. And then gives you the chance to do that.
P.S. I pick tent
- It’s a big world with a lot of different people
We often grow up and live and eventually die in our comfort zone, surrounded by people we have always known and loved. But what scares me is what about all the other people in the world, I’m never going to meet them, know their names and stories. But luckily I did meet tons. (never enough though)
You’ll meet all kinds of people. From strangers that change your life with one conversation, to strangers that stay strangers after a whole evening together. You’ll meet people that you’ll trust with all your heart, that will give your life new direction, help you without any reason. But you will also meet people who are nasty just because, people who will break your trust, who will not be what they say they are.
But the point is, the more you meet the less you didn’t meet.
- You will stop finding yourself. You’ll start making yourself.
I always wondered who I am, and I was always trying to figure out in my head, what box do I fit into? When one day I realized. If I stop thinking so hard about it and just start doing what comes naturally to me. I’ll start becoming myself. So I did.
On sabbatical you meet a lot of new people and are put in a lot of new situations. These might be out of your comfort zone, but that is exactly when you do something new, you don’t act out of habit. And every time you think for yourself, figure out the answer to a question you don’t already know the answer to, take a new decision, you are becoming more like yourself than you’ve ever been.
- You’ll get more confident.
I was just another South Bombay girl, with a decent career, a good set of friends and a lot of dreams. But so were a thousand others. And more than a thousand other girls were prettier, had better careers, cooler friends and even better dreams. How could I even compete?
But somewhere I stopped trying to compete with them, I started competing with the old me instead. And guess what, I won!
On sabbatical you get the chance to start living the life you always dreamed of and becoming the person you want to be. Day to day life won’t come in the way. The more you push yourself the more you’re going to start liking yourself. And when you like yourself, others find it hard not to.
- You will learn to let go of what you can’t control!
Why hasn’t he called me back? Why doesn’t he see me the way I see him? Why does she always talk to me like that? What if this was the best I was going to get? What if my flight gets delayed tomorrow?
These questions never had answers that made sense to me. So I stopped looking for them. Instead I started letting life ask the questions: ‘what can you make of this crappy situation? What to do this weekend? Where do you want to go? And enjoying the unexpected answers.
On sabbatical you are always meeting new people, travelling to new places, experiencing new things. Carrying old baggage around gets tiring.
It slows you down, it stops you form enjoying this moment, that you have now and you will not have even a minute later.
You will drag some of it along for a while, but at some point you will let it go. To hold on to something new, something better than what you had! To be free to live in the moment before it passes you by.
- You will say yes to more
The best things happened to me when I least expected them to. So often I wanted to say no, but I pushed myself to say yes. And the results were unbelievable. I found a place that stole my heart on my Cinque Terre trek, I understood my body more than I ever could, I got stung by a plant, I attended and sang along at a Dutch church mass, I saw a seahorse inches away from me. And to think, that I never wanted to say yes to any of these!
On sabbatical, you will have a plan or at least an opinion. And those will hold you back. Try to purposely go the other way, say yes to a plan that has nothing to do with your own, let someone else lead the way, do that thing that scares you. And just wait to be amazed!
- You will change your life
You will discover new role models, find new life mottos and fight society to hold on to them tight and live them!
these are mine:
My feet were itching, my heart was aching, and my mental clock was ticking.
It was almost time! Time to get out of the city with my backpack on my back and my feet pointing way south.
It was Tamil Nadu time. It was kite surfing time.
I didn’t know what it was about the south, but every few months I always find myself right there with the biggest smile on my face.
Maybe it was the first real trip of my Sabbatical, the first taste of the life I had always wanted to live.
Where it wasn’t what people thought that determined our plans, but the wind and our own bloody damn hearts.
Moving from place to place, with no real plans, going where our feet take us, staying there as long as we feel like.
And then moving on.
Learning new things, getting over old fears, meeting interesting people, sharing a part of your soul with them, taking a chance, letting it work out, letting it not work out.
And moving on.
Letting other people be in charge, learning to listen instead of talk, actually enjoying it. Hating it. Seeing the good and bad side to it.
And moving on.
Being excited to learn kiting. Being super afraid to get hooked on to the big kite. Getting dragged. Losing things, including my original skin colour. Slowly understanding it, trying harder, falling some more, but definitely making progress.
And moving on.
Trying to make one song the trip song. Failing, Trying harder and succeeding. Trying to fit in to a group, being super unsure of myself but sticking to the original version of me. Slowly fitting in. Warming up to people I didn’t like in the beginning. Making memories. Inventing games. Saying goodbye to them.
And moving on.
Watching sunsets, counting shooting stars, waiting for sunrises, watching the sunset from my airplane window while saying goodbye to the south.
And again moving on.
But leaving a piece of me behind every time too.
How can a trip make me feel so much?
Is it the sport, is it the place, is it the people, is it the moments?
I’m not sure.
But I’m sure of one thing. I have left so many pieces of my heart in these strange places. I have to keep going back. Hoping someday I’ll get it back.
Just to lose it to another place again.
Hey, I’m lost. What do I do? Google maps to the rescue.
I’m in a place where I don’t know anybody – facebook it is!
I’m in a new city by myself – whatsapp whatsapp whatsapp!
I’m at a bar waiting for a friend – its time to go through old messages and delete some
I’m on a long ass train journey – plug in my earphones – bye – bye world
I lost my Iphone – oh shit!
Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.
I wish I could just call it, but how! I don’t have a phone. So then I have to go talk to another human and borrow their phone and call mine. Its switched off!
After the initial hour of panic, somewhere, somehow I managed to find some peace of mind (even though I couldn’t tweet about my lost phone). It was so quiet, no beep, no beep beep, no group chats that you don’t even really care about anyway. I looked about, talked to some people and learnt a thing or two.
Hmmm. Interesting. So there is a world out there. And it’s not too bad either. I mean of course you can’t compare it to an Iphone, but being broke it would have to do.
The world and a simple flip phone that basically did nothing. (except looked pretty damn cool and was the topic of conversation at quite a few parties)
After the initial wave of excitement died down, I hated my non-smart phone! But now I had gone and made such a big deal of it that I had to suck it up and use it!
I tried sneakily to use whatsapp on it, but the gods of technology were watching and my stupid phone was really stupid.
So I gave up. I was honestly borderline depressed. Honestly. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I kept flipping open my dumb flip phone, hoping there would be something on that screen to entertain me, give my life meaning. But nope. No such luck. All it said was – no schedule today. I had lost my best friend and I had to replace it, fill in the void. So I did.
With people, books, early morning runs, offline conversations and actual best friends.
I moved back to phone calls and text messages (non qwerty keypad without t9 dictionary – can you imagine that?). everyone cursed me, told me I’d gone mad, some even offered me their old phones. “What do you mean we cant whatsapp you? just get back to the normal world please!”
But I was starting to like this abnormal world. my phone bills dropped. My friendships increased. I rekindled my lost love for reading. An actual book. Lots of books. I started reading 2-3 books at a time.
Suddenly my dumb phone didn’t seem like such a dumb idea.
I actually started noticing the world around me (not the world wide web one) the trees, flowers, sunsets, birds and people! Yes even people!
I spent less time trying to be funny on a group chat and more time actually meeting people and having a conversation beyond, “hey, what’s up?” – “nm, you tell me.”
Making big plans that I still haven’t actioned (but hey, I’m one step closer), having long phone conversations that honestly were super awkward in the beginning and slightly less awkward in the middle but so easy after that.
I started spending more time with myself. When was the last time you were alone and didn’t feel the need to look down at your phone? To know what everyone else was doing. To tell people you were spending “me-time”.
When was the last time to you spend time wondering what in the world is wrong with all of us? when did we become so driven by society and social likability?
Where did individuality go (no not the kind you boast about on facebook).
Are we forgetting who we really are? Because we are so busy trying to get the perfect picture, do the cool thing, tweet about the trending topic?
To be reassured that we did the right thing only after we reach a certain number of likes or comments?
What if I really don’t think the Iphone 6 looks good? And that facebook profile picture of yours that 232 people love, is actually stupid? That I met a friend for coffee and didn’t feel the need to take a selfie, post it on instagram and then share it on facebook?
What if for the first time in a very long time I actually realize that doing what I want to do, maybe not telling the world about it, being the only person who knows and likes it (in my mind). Is enough?
That even though I still love facebook and am using the world wide web to share this blog. I feel a little differently about it. Sure likes still make me feel good. But they don’t dictate my behaviour. Because you know what, even if you decide to not to do the cool, some people will think its cool and like it anyway.
But what’s better is that maybe I might get somebody to stop and think about it for a second, maybe like my post and then actually put down their smart phone for a bit.
That would make me feel pretty dam smart.
P.S I lost my flip phone too. Using my mother’s used smart phone and I hate it. Please stop whatsapping me.