Istanbul never lies

Six hours. This is the duration of the flight from Kigali International Airport, Rwanda, to Istanbul Atatürk Airport, Turkey. It all came as a surprise to me that I have to transit via Istanbul to reach my final destination: Mauritius. As an adventurous young man, the surprise was a pleasant one. While Turkish Airlines managed to impress me with the assorted and mouthwatering food they had to offer on board, I was absolutely mesmerized, minutes before landing, by the topography of Istanbul. The plane dived freely into the air space of Asia and Europe, and this was a scene worth dying for. I saw myriads of small boats sailing in the lap of Eurasia’s sea, and gigantic bridges connecting cities. I grew absorbed into my thoughts, nodding to the doleful fact that humans do not create only bridges and boats, but borders too.

Prior to exiting the airport, I made sure to convert some dollars to the local currency of Turkey: the Turkish Lira. As I exited the big and busy airport, I saw many taxis around but I was recommended by one airport officials, to only choose the yellow taxis as they are supposedly the most trustworthy ones. He was right. The driver was humble and respectful, and the taxi had legit meters.

I entered Istanbul carrying many questions in my eyes and the answers were contained in the unplanned meetings with strangers, in the sacred and breathtaking mosques, in the delicious local food, in the serene gardens and in the spirit of Istanbul. The modern infrastructure and exquisite architecture render the city vivid, colorful and contrasting.

I checked in at the Four Points by Sheraton Hotel, located in Bağcılar, which is around twenty minutes’ drive from the airport. The hotel was comfy, imposing in appearance and affordable.

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After a hot shower, I headed to Bosphorus: a calm and posh area. It took me around thirty minutes from Bağcılar to Bosphorus by car.  I walked for hours on the streets of Bosphorus: clicking pictures and meeting the locals. I checked in at one of the popular restaurants, called The Market, to have a delicious cup of Turkish coffee. It was love at first sip.  

Sultanahmet, a historical district of Istanbul, was glorious and unique. I felt the divine call of its mosques and decided to travel there the next day. Bosphorus and Sultanahmet are separated by the sea. Many passenger boats were sailing back and forth from Bosphorus to Sultanahmet.

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Istanbul welcomed me with smiles and coffee. I spent the first day to understand the culture of the place: from the greeting etiquettes to food habits. I reached the hotel in the evening and penned down the moments of the first day in my travel diary. One important lesson that I learned on this first day in Istanbul is that Istanbul never lies. It speaks of faith but it brings you to its doors too: the mosques. It takes pride in its local food and it offers you umpteen restaurants and cafes.

It is as it is.

It is an open book for travelers to read.

 

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In the lap of Le Bouchon

In the course of my travels, I have come across hundreds of enthusiastic travellers who have Mauritius featuring in their bucket list but there’s something funny too: many have no idea about Mauritius. They have neither heard nor read about it. But, are they to be blamed? I think no. We have an important role to play too in educating the rest of the world about this part of the world. I write about my travels also for this reason- to tell stories that few might live, to promulgate the colours and contrasts of places and to help people soak in different cultures.

Mauritius is not only about the sunbaths and the playful children absorbed in building sand dunes on the beach. It is not only about the star-filled sky. It is not only about the shopping malls. It is about green villages tucked away from the busy cities too. It is about the struggling hawkers too. It is about the chirping birds that render the alarm clock useless in the morning too. And, it is about Le Bouchon too.

I was made aware about a rescue operation that began at Le Bouchon after the Liberian vessel, Lib MV Benita, was shipwrecked near the coast. On the bright Saturday morning of the 23rd July 2016, I decided to travel to Le Bouchon to witness this scene. I had no idea about what I would be seeing. I drove from Pamplemousses, a village located in the northern region of the island, to Le Bouchon, situated in the south east coast. It took me nearly one hour’s drive to reach the destination. I’d recommend you to pack some bottle of waters and eatables.

There’s a reason behind everything; even behind the shipwreck of Lib MV Benita. It was not just a mere coincidence. I think it was meant to be. It was a call to the people of Mauritius who have perhaps closed their eyes to this mesmerising place.

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I walked through the rocky terrain with my camera hanged around my neck. My eyes weren’t tired of scanning the place. I saw few cows grazing grass in the surrounding.

Lib MV Benita did not seem to be boasting its pride but rather, it was resting serenely in the lap of the ocean. I had to take a picture of the helicopter while it was unloading the goods from the ship but in the gist of the moment, I totally forgot. Nevertheless, I may not have pictures of it but I have the memories, for my eyes have observed and my heart has felt.

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The rescue team was so engrossed in their operation. Everything was so neatly coordinated. They seemed not to be disturbed by the onlookers.

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The place wasn’t crowded but as time flew, more and more people came. I looked around and caught a glimpse of two children. The picture speaks for itself.

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Not too far away from this scene, I saw an old man sitting on a stone with his fingers interlaced and his attention unswerving from the ship. I could not decipher what he was contemplating upon but something was apparent: there was something that he was confiding to Lib MV Benita. 

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I toured around the place and met the inhabitants of the locality. I love spontaneous conversations with strangers. There’s always something to learn from them. Le Bouchon is more than just a public beach for some people. It’s their workplace. I met this determined lady who was selling fruit salads.

Until Benita is here, I am earning more“, the lady said.

A deep line, isn’t it? Can you imagine how?

Le Bouchon is not much frequented but since the shipwreck of Lib MV Benita, more and more people have been visiting this beach. Lib MV Benita has been a blessing in disguise for the few hawkers who have been toiling hard under the scorching sun. They have been selling more that they usually do.

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I could not resist the fruit salads. I’m sure you would also not have left this place without tasting the salads. I ate some and then walked leisurely to the other extreme of the beach. It took me around seven minutes to reach there. It was a lot more greener and calmer compared to this side.

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I kept clicking as many pictures as I could, but I also made sure to put my camera down from time to time and to feel the magic of the place.

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I spent nearly two hours in the lap Le Bouchon. It was the first time I’ve been there and I’m sure that it won’t be the last time. I’ll visit this place again in the future. I hope that the outstanding natural beauty of this place will not be interfered with.

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Travel, Inspire and Become

Buying a ticket, touring the length of a country and coming back to sink into the routine of life is something anyone can do but true travelling, in the deepest sense of the word, is not something everyone can do. I can easily bet on this.

 

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I spent the last five years of my life digging deep into the colors and cultures of numerous countries around the world. It has been the most enriching phase of my life. The wisdom I acquired over the past five years helped me to unsnarl and embrace the art of travelling. I often wonder whether my words will be able to do justice to such wisdom that travelling bestowed unto me, but I shall try though.

I used to think that travelling is a remedy to one’s problems but this is not entirely true. Travelling does much more.

In the nook and corners of thousands of slums, villages and cities around the world, the dreams of many are being killed every day. The climate of war has confined people to the walls of their homes. The reign of fear is sprawling from country to country. There’s more hatred in this world, than love. People are not becoming who they deep inside wish to be.

I travel to inspire people to dream – of a better life and eventually of a better country. I come back with stories few shall have to tell someday in life. If I can do it, you can do it too.

Travel, inspire people to dream and become.

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The beauty of becoming

The dynamics of my life taught me some noteworthy lessons lately. I buried some secrets deep inside for years – I have loved. The darkness of this world is so terrifying that I had to nurture this love in the light of my heart. I loved quietly through my fears and tears. It took me years to muster a resolute courage and to eventually confess my deepest truth to a world filled of lies. I presumed I would be respected for my honesty rather than being judged for loving, but the contrary happened. I learned hence to bury some pains in my heart, to wipe my tears and to confide to none but the universe. I walked out with a heart filled with scars – each telling a profound story. I thought I was fighting the whole world to protect my emotions but when I stopped and questioned myself, I understood that I was at war with myself. I needed a trustworthy friend to listen to the echoes of my mind and the silent screams of my heart; not necessarily to solve the quandaries of my life. I traveled outside and inside; looking for a glimmer of hope.

The beauty of becoming

I found none until I gazed at the grandeur of the wide blue sky. It stole something from me as I stared deeper at it; and that was my agony. I conversed for hours with the universe and to my surprise, it would listen and even answer. I found some answers though I am yet to find more. From nurturing fears to unleashing love, I was becoming something every day throughout this battle – something greater than myself. Have you ever come across a tree laden with ripe fruits? It does not submit to the inner and outer changes so easily; to a point that it even agrees to bend low. Nevertheless, it dies every day knowing that its fruits shall eventually fall and gradually vanish. The little deaths that consume the tree ever day somehow shape it to become something sturdier. I die every day too but my deaths make me; they don’t break me. I die knowing that I hide nothing within. I die knowing that I have spoken my truth. I die knowing that I am pure in spirit. I therefore die fulfilled and thus, I become something greater than myself.