Sick and travelled.

I had decided. I wanted to be a journalist. When other children were by-hearting lessons, I was busy writing my own stories. Parents noticed this talent, and without much ado said, “She’ll be a journalist like Jaanu Tai (my sister’s BFF’s elder sister whom we never met, but were collectively overwhelmed by her profession.)

But that was childhood.

As I started growing up with chronic hyper-acidity, I realised journalism is not my profession. I mean, who’ll be out in the sun, covering news the whole day, and battling acid reflux in the washroom the whole night! Thankfully, I discovered a better outlet for my creative writing and joined advertising.

But, that’s not the topic of today’s post. Then why am I telling you about my childhood dream? I’m telling you about it because today I was about to make the same mistake, by letting my health dictate my future.

My entire friends circle, my colleagues, and of course, my family is aware of my hyper-acidity. According to WebMD, I have IBS. It may be true. It may be false. But one thing is for sure, my stomach creates acid like there’s no tomorrow. Too much sun, untimely meals, skipped meals, a few food-foes like raw onion and capsicum; anything, absolutely anything can aggravate it. doctors say that precaution is the only cure in such cases. But it’s extremely difficult to control these factors all the time. And when you’re travelling, it’s next to impossible to manage the temperatures, availability of food, etc.

So last night, while combatting with a heavy migraine and constant vomiting in a hotel room at Hampi, I was almost on the verge of quitting once again. As I grew up, I realised I wasn’t cut for journalism. I thought, may be I am not cut for travelling as well. I popped a painkiller and forced myself to sleep.

Come today, I woke up as fresh as a flower, all set to fill the backlog of yesterday. Undoubtedly, I had an amazing time, which covered up for yesterday’s sulking.

No way, I can do this compromise and stop travelling the way I want to. No way, I’m letting my weak health win over my strong passion.

Now, as I’m contemplating while heading back home, I felt the need to write this post.

So, here’s my promise to myself in order to have safe and healthy journeys forever. If you, as my reader, find any tip from below helpful to sort your health issues while travelling, it’ll be my pleasure.

1. Tanking up is compulsory.
Just like a vehicle on road, your body also needs fuelling up. There’s a logic behind dividing your food intake in four to six meals. For God’s sake, stick to it. If you are planning to visit a remote destination, stock up some chocolates, nuts, cookies, anything that you like and your body is familiar with. My favourite is the good old Parle-G.

And one more thing! Go ahead, load yourself with the complimentary buffet breakfast at your hotel. But don’t try to miss your lunch time and cover one more sight. You’ll end up wasting your rest of the day in the washroom, and you don’t want it, do you?

A scrumptious lunch at German Cafe, Hampi.


2. Sun is unavoidable. But sun stroke is not.
A scarf, a hat and a pair of sunglasses with UV protection; make these three your best friends. You may feel like ditching one of them in quest of travelling light, but don’t make that mistake ever.

I never understood why cats love to soak in the sun so much… until this happened in the afternoon, at the Sunset Point, Hampi.


3. Hydrate yourself.
These days, almost all backpacks have bottle-holders, so why not put them to good use? Always carry at least a litre of water with you. Keep sipping while you’re out. You can even compliment your meal with refreshing drinks. Juices made from the local fruits taste yum. Ginger lemon honey tea goes perfectly well with any kind of food. Even coconut water works wonder when it comes to hydration. Heat strokes can be tackled better with hydration.
While I was dealing with throat inflammation, acidity, migraine and a god damn corn, all at once in Kerala, coconut water came to my rescue. Why aren’t we declaring this as the world’s most magical fruit already?


4. Accommodating doesn’t mean compromising.
While travelling with groups, being accommodative becomes a virtue. Do not compromise on the basic needs of your body and go with the flow, just because someone wants to go to an Echo point. Articulate your needs. Tell your friends that you need to tank up first, or that your legs are hurting, or that you need to pee. They are your friends, they’ll understand. And if not, make a mental note to make that the last trip with them. If things are completely out of hands, and neither you nor your friends can do anything about the situation, put your solo traveller cape on, and step out from the group for a while. Let them proceed with the plan, and you cater to your needs. Once you feel better, join them. They’ll be happy to see you after recouping than looking at your sulky face while you torture your body in order to be ‘accommodative’.

These three ladies handled my sickness so well in Kerala, I have no words to describe my family’s patience. (The driver was too cool to not be in the frame.)
5. Travel happy.
Stress makes your head hurt. Avoid any kind of stress while on the road. Plan well if you are a person who frets about the drawbacks of unplanned plans. I usually do a little homework to understand the weather, food, amenities, etc, that the destination offers. It helps you pack your bag well and be geared up for any uncalled for situation.

But hey, don’t pack your other worries with you. Be it some pending work at office or any odd job that you were supposed to do this weekend, do not take anything of this sort along with you. Trust me, you’ll feel the difference when you won’t.

How can your stress not melt away looking at these snow-clad Ladakh mountains?

Did you notice most of these things are quite predictable and simple? But interestingly, simple things are the most difficult ones to do. I hereby promise myself to follow these five rules, and wish that all of you too may always enjoy a happy and healthy vacation! 

🙂

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B for Bengal. B for Boroline.

There are brands that own market’s share. And then, there are brands that own market’s heart. Boroline belongs to the second clan.

While I made it clear in my earlier posts that my visit to Kolkata was exclusively for Durga Puja, today I’m writing to tell you a brand story. Correction: a super brand story.

Boroline is synonymous to Bengal. It is an integral part of the city’s history and heritage. Naturally, my curiosity about the brand piqued, and I wrote an excited mail to the Boroline People. Within a few days, I got a reply and a warm invitation to visit their factory.

To my surprise, Mr. Debashish Dutta (MD, Boroline) himself accompanied me to the factory. Before visiting the set up, he took me to their headquarters in New Alipore to give a glimpse of how it all began. In the reception area, He pointed at two rudimentary machines secured in a glass case. The first one is called a charge machine, and the second one is a filling machine. Back then, this was the only apparatus used to manufacture the legendary cream.

The charge machine.
The charge machine.
The Filling Machine
The Filling Machine

We cut to the current factory down South, and what we see is a humongous set up divided in two distinct sections. One is dedicated for Boroline, and another for Suthol, both top line products in the company’s portfolio. In a period of mere two weeks, stock of over 50 lakhs is produced, with 2.5 lakh tubes manufactured per day.

IMG_20161001_122609
The state-of-the-art machines, specially designed for manufacturing the Boroline products,

Not to mention, this massive production takes place without compromising on product quality. Here, precision and efficiency are strengths of every employee. State-of-the-art machineries are made to order understanding the nature of the product, to suit it’s requirements.

We were given anti-contamination gear to cover our body, and were made to go through hygiene control gateways to ensure zero contamination in the manufacturing unit.

Khushbudaar antiseptic cream Boroline. :)
Khushbudaar antiseptic cream Boroline. 

Every machine, every process, every nook, every corner of the factory mirrored the team’s sincere efforts and dedication towards their work.

The iconic green tube.
The iconic green tube.

 

They also have pods.
They also have these cute pots.

 

It was so comforting to watch these pots move from one track to another.

Boroline is a brand that was born in a quaint corner of North Kolkata in a house that played a triple role of a manufacturing unit, store house and the founder’s residence. The factory then moved from The Boroline House to another area in North Kolkata. The current factory is their third set-up.

The brand was a brainchild of Mr. Gourmohan Dutta. He formed a company called G.D. Pharmaceuticals to give a Swadeshi answer to increasingly oppressive imperialistic policies of British Raj. People started loving the product, and then there was no looking back. A humble green tube with black lettering (better known as the haathiwala cream) became a strong weapon against unjust imperialism.

After Mr. G.D. Dutta, his son took the legacy forward with product innovations, extensions and marketing ideas. But, his sudden demise was a great shock for the entire Boroline family. Little Debashish was too young to take such a big responsibility. Mrs. Dutta didn’t know how to run a business. But one thing she knew was that the lives of the workers and their families are depending on her. She didn’t let the gates close and took on the mantle.

I feel, women like her are the real Durgas of the modern times. Durga was incarnated as an ultimate form of Shakti, which was otherwise unknown to the universe. She was formed to save the world from evil. Mrs. Dutta, who was otherwise a shadow of her husband, took a bold step by taking the responsibility of a multimillion company on her shoulders. Her brave decision not only fed workers’ hungry mouths, but also saved a significant part of Kolkata’s history from dying an untimely death. That significant part of history that is still successfully creating history.

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Sunderban: Too Sunder to capture

Imagine that you wake up bubbling with excitement to visit the most beautiful attraction your current destination has to offer. Imagine that it is a one-of-a-kind jungle safari in India. Imagine that the beautiful landscapes, animals and rare species of birds are waiting to pose for you. Imagine that you embark on such a beautiful journey without taking your camera.

Now stop imagining.

Because that’s exactly what I experienced in reality during my Sunderban Jungle Safari.

Not having a professional camera, I was completely depending on my One Plus 3 throughout the Kolkata trip. Was it the excitement of the safari or my forgetfulness, I don’t know. But I left my phone to charge at the safari operator’s office, and realised after a good one hour that I have forgotten to collect it from there. Like many millennials, I thankfully do not suffer from check-my-phone-every-second syndrome, but sometimes that too has it’s own cons.

When I realised I’m left with no device to click a single picture for two long days, I was devastated. Every time someone flashed their camera, my heart shattered in million pieces. Fellow travellers promised they’ll share their pictures with me (which Henrique very well kept after returning to Germany). But I was not very happy with this ‘borrowed memories’ affair.

So, that’s how my journey to Sunderban began with a sad note. Throughout the bus ride to Bidyadhari river, I was pacifying myself thinking about how cool it would be to spend a night in a jungle with no connection whatsoever with the outside world.

Fascinated about the idea of a 100% offline escapade, I looked through the window. River Bidya sneered at me with her psychotic waves. No wonder she is called a mad river. Her water ebbs and rises twice a day, every day. During the high tides, it rises up to 5-6 metres washing the banks away, and during the low ones, it is so scarce that one can even cross the entire river by foot. It was a high tide when we arrived.

We crossed Bidya in a local boat and reached Gosaba island. Gosaba is one of the 102 islands that constitute Sunderban. Out of these 102 patches of land, only 52 are inhabitable and the rest are covered with thick mangrove forests. The island was very small. It took us not more than half an hour to travel from its one end to another. The rickshaw ride was rickety and bumpy. But passing through those narrow lanes covered with lush paddy fields, straw houses with small ponds in front-yards, and ducks quacking and crossing the roads was all novel for the entire group.

After crossing Gosaba, another ride was waiting for us. This time a private ferry, and it took us from Jothirampur ghat to Saathjhali island, our base camp.

Yes, island-hopping was exciting, but we didn’t realise how it drained our energies until we reached our pads. After a scrumptious Bengali lunch made of homegrown veggies, spices and herbs, we headed straight to the hammocks for siesta. Henrique, Chelsea and Matt started snoring in the next fifteen minutes.

But I was wide awake, sulking and staring at the cloudy afternoon in silence. I was talking to myself, “Such a quaint place. Such beautiful landscapes. There is so much to capture over here. I should at least make notes before I forget everything. Should I go back to my cottage and bring my notebook or my iPad? Oh God! My iPad!! I have an iPad!!!”

I literally jumped out of joy and fell off the hammock. The same iPad that I was planning to get rid of a few weeks back was here to the rescue! I tiptoed from the rooftop and ran towards my cottage. I opened my backpack and pulled out my saviour, my messiah, my iPad. I hugged it tight and we lived through the Sunderban Safari happily ever after.

Happy viewing to you!

Sunderban is India’s only mangrove forest.
We walked barefoot in muck for almost an hour to get this view. Totally worth it!
The sun rose from the opposite direction, but the blue hues were equally mesmerising.
The haven.
This is where we spent the night gazing a star-studded sky.
And this is where we kick-started our morning.
With a cup of honey tea.
There were dewdrops on the surface of these lotus leaves and water snakes underneath.
It’s essential to start your safari with a full tummy. 

Please note that all the pictures I clicked at Sunderban are clicked from my iPad. The quality of photographs may not be as good as that of a professional camera, but they’ve been clicked with the same passion and excitement. 

Have you ever forgotten your most important travel gadget like me? Share your stories in the comments section, I’d love to hear them. 🙂

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