Glimpses of Dar es Salaam

As a child, I used to walk along the beach and looked at the bare horizon; wondering whether it was the boundary of my world or the beginning of another. I never found the answer until I began travelling in 2011. I thought it would be an exploration of boundaries and an expedition of territories, but it was more. Travelling turned out to be an institution that shapes us in a way or another.

I could feel the burnout after months of intense office works and after competing in the highly challenging law exams. Apart from works and studies, I had few more subtle reasons why I felt the urge to halt everything and to turn more inward. Like every year, I filled my loyal backpack and set out in quest of stories that few would have to share.

But this time, there was something exceptional and meaningful about the voyage: my father was my travel-buddy. Our chosen destinations were the majestic Tanzania and Kenya. It was a dream coming true. Two years have elapsed since I have last travelled to Africa.

We spent few weeks preparing for this trip: from watching a series of revealing documentaries on the colours and contrasts of these countries to getting immersed in devising the most convenient travel plan. Additionally, I made a checklist of the things I should obligatorily carry with me while travelling. I would highly recommend you to prepare a detailed checklist if you are travelling too. Your checklist should be reflective of your destination.

Here are a few things that my checklist included:

  • Travel documents including reservations, tickets and passport
  • Credit cards
  • Contact information of hotels and the tour operator
  • Emergency contacts
  • Creams including sunscreens, organic aloe vera serum and pain-relief cream
  • A basic first-aid kit comprising of bandages, antiseptic ointments, paracetamol and other essential items
  • Medicines including eye drops, ear drops, insect repellant, fever relievers and anti-malaria
  • Book (Mayada: Daughter of Iraq, a book by Jean Sasson)
  • Travel journal and pen
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Shampoo and conditioner; especially to maintain my curly hair 
  • Photography accessories including lenses (70 – 300 mm, 50 mm and 18 – 105 mm), cleaning kit, memory cards, battery grip, spare battery and charger
  • Macbook Pro and headphones 
  • GoPro Hero3
  • Selfie stick
  • Travel watch

As far as possible, I tried to adhere to the checklist but after all I’m human and I tend to forget things too. Can you guess what have I forgotten from the checklist? One of the most important items: the anti-malaria medicine. Consequently, I am strictly using the insect repellant and the mosquito nets to protect myself. Cross fingers.

The most awaited day finally arrived when we had to pursue our adventures on the African territories. We departed from Mauritius at 08:40 a.m. to land in Dar es Salaam at around 11:20 a.m. Our eyes remained glued on the spectacular topography of Dar es Salaam as we looked down through the window of the plane few minutes prior to landing.


Upon arrival in Dar es Salaam, I walked inside the airport with conscious pride and gratitude. My eyes could not cease to scan the surrounding. I proceeded to the international arrivals concourse and surprisingly, VISA requirement was not imposed on me. The official, at the arrival counter, stamped my passport with a blue entry stamp and said “Jambo” (salutation in Swahili) while wearing a wide smile on her face. No mention of VISA requirement was made. I stood stunned as I remember having been informed by the Consulate of Tanzania of the VISA requirement for Mauritians to enter the country. But I masked my surprise, smiled back at the official and exited the Julius Nyerere International Airport. Everything was new to me. I was walking in a place where no one knew my name and I loved that feeling. Unplugging from the common world and connecting to a quieter inner world was the best gift I could offer myself at this point in time of life.


I stayed at the Transit Motels, a small but comfy hotel located 400 m from the Julius Nyerere International Airport. If you aren’t carrying heavy luggages, you can easily walk to the hotel. This place is good for an overnight stay. The rooms were simple and clean. Mosquito nets were provided. Free WI-FI was available too. The hotel staffs were friendly and readily responded to my queries. Coffee and tea are freely available at any time. There’s something I would not recommend you though. If you are intending to explore the city, I’ll advise you not to go with the hotel’s drivers. They’ll overcharge you. The best thing to do is catch a bus outside. It’s not only cheap but it’s the most authentic way of living life as a local in Dar es Salaam.



After settling in the hotel, we preferred to have lunch outside as it served as an excuse to explore the city too in the little time we had in Dar es Salaam. The temperature outside was warm but not inconvenient for a walk.


Our driver recommended us several shopping malls but being quite exhausted after hours of flight, I chose the closest one which was the Quality Centre Mall, one of the popular and highly frequented shopping malls in Dar es Salaam. The mall is situated at Nyerere Road. From entertainment to healthcare services, it is a one-stop shop where you shall find a wide chain of products and services.

We had lunch at an affordable restaurant found on the first storey of the mall. I forgot the name of the restaurant though. We paid 6000 Tanzanian Shillings per person for an open buffet.

I could not leave without meeting people and understanding their stories, as this remains the focus of all my travels. I walked in the compound of the mall and indulged in deep conversations with strangers. They all had to something to share: from their struggles to their dreams. From my experience, people in Dar es Salaam are approachable and good.

In the evening, we took a walk in the surrounding of the Transit Motels and again, our focus was people. We met a lot of strangers and some even invited us to visit their homes. This touched my heart. I was on the brink of accepting one invitation but time was not in my favour; I had to politely decline. If ever you are landing in Dar es Salaam and you have enough time to visit around, then you should not bother about going too far. There are a number of villages around the area. Just walk around, meet people and create stories.

As the night drew to an end, we walked to the Flamingo Restaurant which is found in the Julius Nyerere International Airport and it is open to the public. Though the food was expensive, it was a tasty treat to the stomach.


Behind the hustle and bustle of Dar es Salaam, there’s a lot of stories awaiting to be lived. If you are heading to this beautiful part of Planet Earth, I hope this blog post will give you some ideas about where to stay, where to go for lunch and dinner and how to make your stay meaningful.




Sunset at Versova Beach, Mumbai

Every time I endeavor to write about India, a little worry settles in and I ruminate on whether I will succeed in doing justice to the splendors of this continent. But, as I weave my words with my emotions, I find poise in my mind and I walk down the lane of memories to collect fragmented moments left behind; just like an attentive child collecting seashells at the beach and marveling at their colors.


I found a soothing escape on the 17th of March 2015, at Versova Beach in Mumbai. The energy springing from the setting of the sun rejuvenated my being. I love the little things in life – the hue of the sunset, the shimmering stars, the colors of the sunrise, the cherished road trips, the first love letter, the evening coffee, the silence of the mountains and much more.
Versova beach is a beach of contrasts. Though the slum has invaded the beach, the breathtaking vistas of the sunset is to die for. I walked across the beach, befriended the locals and photographed the sun as it dived into the ocean.
I closed my eyes, traveled deep into myself and allowed a feeling of gratitude to settle in my being.


Meeting the locals in Karen

The smell of coffee woke me up on the early morning of the 14th of April 2014 and I rummaged to the kitchen to have a sip of it. It was freezing cold in Nairobi and hot coffee makes more sense when it is not hot outside.
In my bucket list for that day, the Giraffe Centre featured on the top and I eventually drove all the way to the conservation and breeding center, located in Karen. I arrived earlier than the normal opening hours. I thus made the most of it by walking in the surroundings and meeting the locals.


I met a young man who was riding his bicycle, on the way to the town. He was quite reserved but I managed to have a brief conversation with him and here is a snapshot of the moment.
People of Kenya are generally welcoming and this picture conveys it.

I do justice to my adventures by living them fully. The world is my home and its people are my brothers and sisters.

I take risks, I lose myself and I learn.


Finding my purpose in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo

Living in Democratic Republic of Congo is undoubtedly a brave venture. Blending into the culture of the country was hard. The outbreak of Ebola pandemic in West Africa made the climate tenser. Walking down the lane of memory, I recall those days when I would wait for hours to have a fortunate glimpse of the blue cloudless sky and those nights, when I would peek through the window, with a thin hope, to glance at the sky peppered by myriad shimmering stars. But Democratic Republic of Congo has its own reality. I hunted for reasons to persuade myself that time would fly quickly.


However, the 24th of August 2014 was not just any other day. I spent the second half of the day touring around the deepest river of the world – Congo River. This walking tour taught me what books could not. I came across playful children, young couples, hawkers and even singers. I walked to people, felt their smile and connected with them. I had no clue what they were until they related their stories to me. I played with the children, danced with the locals, laughed with families, listened to the singers and eventually found my purpose. I then did justice, as far as possible, to the days lived in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo.


A walking tour from Dharavi to Machimar Colony

I walked tirelessly, on the 22nd of March, through Asia’s largest and densest slum, Dharavi, to reach the Machimar colony, located in Mahim. The walking tour convinced me that Mumbai itself is not willing to be understood straightforwardly. The more I sought to feel Mumbai, the profounder it grew in complexity, mystery and splendor. The media did not fail to project the terrifying destitution of Dharavi and Mahim but my tour largely proved them wrong. People are not numbers. The people of Dharavi and Mahim have stories and emotions too, though they are often numbered and overlooked. I walked daringly and did not hesitate to open up to people.


I remember having knocked at numerous doors and went directly to the question, “Namaste. Can I take a picture of yours?

Either I was curtly refused or silence settled. But I eventually made my way through to engage the locals in enriching exchanges. On my way to Machimar colony, I witnessed ancient flimsy and crumbling buildings, litter-filled roads occupied by beggars and a busy fish market. The distinctive scent of the sea blended with the tides of summer confirmed that I was nearing the shore. I was enthralled by the spirit of the people. They were hospitable, full of life and open. Nevertheless, a tinge of disappointment instantly settled in when I walked across the shore. I thought I would try to evade the shells and the rocks on the beach, but the reality was much less. The shore was filled with piles of garbage and the sand was quite dark.