Coming Home

Chennai Rains

The dousing squall greeted me with soft sweet drops on my face and a churning sludge around me feet, spoiling my slippers. I quickly hurried to the car park. Rain, sludge or bog, this was home. The smell of the city is always the first thing I notice stepping out of the Chennai airport. I revel in my olfactory trail trying to separate individual scents – the various trees, shrubs and flowers, the humid air, exhaust fumes and a unique scent of civilization; of having lived on this part of the Earth for more than 2000 yrs. A taxi was waiting for me. After dumping my belongings, two massive suitcases and folding myself into its frayed seat, smelling of diesel we set off. “Shall I turn on the AC?” the cabby asked “No. I like the city air” said I. We sped on towards dawn, through my city that was still asleep. The soft rain created a gauzy curtain and blurred out the details but I saw through my mind’s eye, memories of this busy city that would spring to life in a few hours. A rush to work, school, and college mixed with the shouts of vendors, kirana stores and little temples at every street corner. As we came towards my street corner, I knew my mother would be waiting, filter kaapi freshly brewed, smiling from the balcony. An act so simple yet so profound in its permanence. Do I love my city for the journey it is or for the destination – my mother’s smile?

The rocks and the birds

A long weekend deserved a long drive. Not that I love sitting in a car for hours listening to kids fight on top of the blaring music, but it was still a step better than spending it in my concrete cracker box.

We decided to travel all the way to the tip of the country (that’s not really far away) and I sat there dreaming of new characters that I could create for my story. We sped through some really wonderful desert sceneries.

It was an exhilarating place. Tall, harsh, rocky mountains looming huge on one side while the other wound to a slope ending in a glistening greenish blue lake. It was a peculiar scenery, devoid of any kind of flora, at the same time complete in its own beauty.

It was like the tall proud rocks proclaim they did not need the ornamentation of greens and flowers to complete them.

As an expat, I was at once proud to witness their beauty and jealous of their permanence. I have always wondered how would it be to live in a city long enough to grow roots and become a part of it like the tall buildings, the lakes and those proud mountains. But I have always been a part of the floating crowd.

A flock of birds, small, white and totally captivating (so much that my son stopped his fight to look at them) sat near the water. These migratory birds seemed totally at ease, pecking at the sand, dirt or whatever it was that they found so absorbing in that ground. They had made their peace in their temporary arrangement.

Passing between the rocky hills and those peaceful birds, I still had a long way to go! 

Creative writing prompt – Travel diary entry

Skill: Writing Travel Diary notes.

Writing a travel diary is like capturing your memories in words. It is even better than the photographs as you will have noted your emotions as well. But with the aid of photos, the travel diary becomes a magical memory. The art of writing a travel diary is therapeutic too. The creative juices, hidden thoughts, other memories and needs begin to surface. A few tips while writing a travel entry, but first read through this passage from mine a few years back.


Sample Travel Journal Entry

I had always loved any form of water and particularly wanted to go to a waterfall. Hence with a lot of planning we went to the Athirapally falls in Kerala. These are the excerpts from my travel diary.

Day: 21st June, 2005

It was a long ride from Cochin and I fell asleep in the bus. Suddenly I felt the bus stop. People were moving out and a rushing sound reached my ears like mother nature was running to come meet me. I quickly pick up my bag pack and go out. After moving through a rough trail for 5 minutes we reach a clearing. The magnificent falls is to my right and falling down.The Athirapally falls drops 80 feet to meet the Chalakudy river. I am on top of the Athirapally waterfalls! It is the most wonderful feeling.

I splash in the river running before it fell into the falls, but the current is too strong. As it became evening a soft mist settles. The spray of the water, the mist and cloud above – it looks like a soft magical passage is being made from Earth to Heaven.No doubt this place is called ‘God’s own place’.  I so loved my trip there. I clicked a lot of pictures to treasure this memory and am coming back again.

Features of a travel entry:

  1. The entry starts with a date and the place.
  2. The entry is written in the first person always. Use ‘I’.
  3. The entry should recount the events in a logical order, preferably as they occurred.
  4. The travel entry is mostly written in the present tense. But can be written in simple past tense if recounting later.
  5. The entry should include facts about the place along with the writer’s feelings. Just a list of facts would make it look like a trip brochure.

Try out your own travel entry now. Make it from memory or use your imagination to camp with the penguins in Antartica. And remember, the next time you travel write a proper entry!