Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Mandatory Goa Trip After Graduation.

"Life is like that Goa Trip. Either you show it who's the boss or it takes you for a ride"
-Nishma Khetia.

If someone told you a Goa story without high-level drama in it, they would be lying to you. Take my word for it. There is a reason behind all the memes on the internet surrounding Goa plans that fail and they are there for a reason. I am sitting on the train back from Goa as I write this blog post because a lot of my research on travel blogs have told me to journal my experiences as soon as possible as the details are crucial but they are also volatile! After a lot of planning a few of my friends agreed to go Goa the day after the completion of our final exams. We were graduates! Yeah, the ceremony is in November and the results are not out yet *phew* so this was the perfect time to travel for us, take one last trip before we parted ways.

Manipal is 4.5hours away from Goa by train. The Madgaon station, however, is also a good 1.5hours away from the famous Baga Beach. Our hotel was a walking distance from Baga in an area called Calangute. Our journey began at 7.30am from Udupi station and by the time we reached our hotel freshened up it was 4 pm. We were all exhausted but we had no time to waste on rest or sleep which were a rare luxury. We had not been having any sleep for the past two months due to hectic exams so were pretty much used to the idea of sleep deprivation.

After getting some much needed late lunch, we hit Baga beach. The beach is lined with dozens of shacks serving food and drinks. The crowd on the beach was pretty decent. We were told that this was 'off season' ( I traveled in May end). The waves were huge and the water sports were going on in high swing. Latest music blasted from the shacks and we ordered ourselves some drinks. Every shack had a variety of options to choose from. You would have to look at a few places and decide where you would like to sit. We watched the sunset and I clicked a few photos.

The walk to and fro from our hotel was pretty much a routine in Goa. We walked through Tito's lane which is Goa's famous street that has clubs and pubs on one side and local shopping on the other. We strolled through the shops and clubs weighing our options so we could get the best deal to party the night away. Getting ready was the next task and putting on our best party wear because a lot of clubs in Goa require formal wear. After getting delicious dinner we decided to head to Tito's. The other strong option we had was Club Cabana but as our transport back from the club was debatable we decided to go with Tito's. After all the club had an entire lane named after it and all the advertisements hyped it up. Spoiler alert: it was worth it AF.

Tito's lane at midnight was like a carnival full of people enjoying themselves and dancing to upbeat music. The couple entry was thousand rupees and ladies had free entry and drinks at Tito's. Five of us got in at midnight and got ourselves a nice table. Tito's was divided into a drinks only section, a Sheesha place, restaurant and the dance floor area. As we experimented with drinks, a magician came to entertain us and it was absolutely delightful. Another group of friends from my batch were also in Goa and later came to Tito's. I was on the dance floor till four in the morning celebrating the end of four years of hard work! It seemed to fit perfectly.

Goa had some power problem as they were changing the power lines. We got some disturbed sleep and checked out of our hotel at eleven in the morning. We had hired a driver to take us sightseeing. Cars are not the recommended choice of vehicle for Goa! A scooter is perfect but we didn't know how to ride one or didn't have the license. First on the list was Candolim and we got into boats to see some Dolphins. The boat took us into deep waters where we spotted Dolphins. However, they were quick and unexpected sightings so I could not photograph that.

Next up we headed to the famous Dil Chata Hai fort- Aguada Fort. Okay, I have not watched that movie. Sue me! I shall watch in the holidays. The fort was beautifully located on a hill. It was made by the Portuguese and had a lighthouse. It was very sunny and one could easily get dehydrated. We had lemonade to replenish lost electrolytes and continued our sightseeing post lunch. The boys had Goan fish which they said was delicious.

The last location we visited was Basicila of Bom Jesus. I have seen quite a few churches but this one stood out to me. If you watch the video of the ongoing mass you will get the idea of what I am talking about. It is so beautiful and the mass going on was in-tune and it created a holy atmosphere. I don't know what it was but I have only felt this moving feeling twice in my life. Once when I visited the ISKCON temple in Bangalore on my own and now in Goa. We lit candles at the church and said our prayers.

Our taxi driver then dropped us to the railway station for our train back home. A lot of drama unfolded prior to our settling in the hotel but I choose to not highlight the negativity in my blog posts and instead leave my readers with all my fun experiences with caution tips wherever required. When booking a hotel ensure that the check-in and check-out timings and rules are crystal clear because small hotel owners can take you for a ride! Also, do not depend on your friends to take any sort of travel responsibility, just do it yourself even if that means coming off as rude or just solo travel! Which reminds me,  I'm going to write about the trip that sparked the traveler in me very soon so watch out for that one to be inspired to travel solo.

1.Carry enough cash! Goa can be expensive. We went during off season but the prices of food and accommodation are pretty high. It does have very cheap alcohol when compared to other Indian states but everything else is costly. I spent 5000 rupees in two days. This is when I traveled to Goa in General class train ticket so if you are coming in by bus/flight you have to consider the cost of that as well.

2.Stay hydrated. As Goa is humid and sunny you could easily loose track of your water intake and the if you are drinking alcohol, it will leave you dehydrated even more. Have a lot of fresh juice and water at all times.

3.Confirm and re-confirm your bookings to make sure you know exactly how things are about to go down. Goa is huge so I suggest booking one hotel in North Goa and then another one for the next day towards Old Goa or South Goa. This would let you explore easily. According to me to fully explore Goa 2 nights and three days would be sufficient.

4. Traveling on a scooter is recommended but I realized that if you are 4-6 people you can hire a car as well because scooter can get uncomfortable and long distances on GPS can leave you exhausted.

5.Watch out for all shady people because there will be a lot of people trying to offer you stuff. You do not want to get yourself into trouble. Also, make sure you have proper transport arrangements after you are done partying. DO NOT DRINK AND DRIVE.

6. There are many beaches in Goa. If you want to go to a laid back one you can discover one for yourself and you do not need to be on a crowded beach if you are looking for a more relaxing vibe.

7. Last but not the list, just keep your calm while traveling to Goa. Things are bound to get a bit out of schedule as everyone is just looking to have fun in their own way. 

That's all for this blog post. Oh, what's that you want more?...Hmm Okay! I made a proper Goa Vlog for you guys. Have fun. Leave your comments below. Thank you for reading.

All photos/videos are owned by me or my friends.


Signing off,
Nishma Khetia.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Sunbathing at St.Mary's Island

"That beach sand in your hair, that beach wind in your face and that salty beach smell. Those are the secret ingredients to my Beach Therapy
- Nishma Khetia.

Manipal is very much like Forks, the rainy gloomy town that you see in the Twilight series. A few kilometers away from Manipal University and you will be surrounded by the forests of the Western Ghats of India. Other than college activities and course work there is not much a student can do other than travel. Which is kinda perfect, right? If you have watched or read the Twilight book you would remember that one beach that Bella went to with Jacob called La Push? This blog post is about Manipal’s very own La Push beach. No, it is not the commercialized Malpe or Kapu beach. It is St.Mary’s island, a place with clear blue waters and an interesting history.

St.Mary’s island has distinct rock formation known as the columnar basaltic lava and is one of the four geological monuments in Karnataka. According to folk history, people believe that Vasco da Gama landed at the island and fixed a mother Mary cross giving it its name. This beach just keeps getting more and more like La Push. It is also believed to be connected to Madagascar before the whole continental drift happened. I loved Geography back in school and all this information topped with my travel bug took me to St.Mary’s island.

I put on my beach maxi dress and left around 10 am in the morning from Manipal. St.Mary’s is easily accessible by boat from Malpe beach which is 12km from Manipal. We took a bus to Malpe. It was a full-house day at the beach because of a public holiday but we decided to go ahead and be a part of the crowd! The waiting for the boat can take to about an hour but you can laze around at Malpe and have some ice-creams which was what we did.

The boat ride was fun and took about 20minutes. The island looked beautiful as our boat approached it. My mind was already racing ahead thinking of all the aesthetic photos I would get to take. The last boat back from the island was at around 4 pm so we had a few hours to chill and sunbathe. The island has not been commercialized and therefore it is hard to find any restaurants or food there so I would suggest carrying a picnic basket with a few snacks and water.

The rock formations on the island were truly beautiful and unlike anything I had seen before. I tried to photograph my experience and my friend helped me. As we got lost into our photo shoot we missed a bunch of crows trying to attack our chips bag! We had to save it and fight them off. We took a long relaxing walk around the island and climbed on few of the higher rocks to enjoy the top view of the beach. The ride back was uneventful. I wish we were allowed to set up a tent/camp on the island. My thoughts continued as the sound of the crashing waves played as background music and before I knew it Dora-the-explorer was back to reality.

If you are in or plan to visit Manipal be sure to save some time to check out this place and you will not be disappointed.

 (Try saying that 5 times faster!)

-Start your day early so you get enough time on the island.
-Carry some food and remember to stay hydrated as it can get sunny.
- The island is usually closed during monsoon (June-September) due to the rough ocean.
-Don’t forget your beach essentials: Sunscreen, Sunglasses, and Flipflops!

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Feel free to comment below with your favorite beach trips or where you are planning to go this summer break. Like, comment and follow Hakuna Matata :)
Signing off,
-Nishma Khetia.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Real Talk: Overthinking.

At three in the morning, I lay awake in my bed, twisting and turning, begging for sleep to take me I started questioning my sanity. I have not been diagnosed but lying in my bed when my brain is in overdrive, thinking in repeating loops about my behavior has convinced me of having mild levels of insomnia and overthinking disorder.

I plan and organize or should I say over-thinking and over-analyzing?
A little bit of planning never hurts anyone, right? In fact, it's even considered effective to increase your efficiency. But what happens when your plans take over your life? More importantly what when they don't work out?

Anyone who knows me personally would have seen me get upset when they cancel a plan they made with me. I'm sure no one likes being ditched but I take this more personally and seriously. I know it's very wrong of me. The reason one tends to do so is because they only have the understanding to their side of the story. This is why when you cancel on someone else you don't tend to feel as guilty as you should. It is because you know the exact reasons behind your actions, and to you, those reasons can fully justify your actions.

Everyone has a mental list of tasks they need to accomplish during the day. It can be challenging to switch one task with a leisure activity or the other way around. It is a matter of how important the task/activity is on your priority list and the impact of scheduling it later. The time gap that opens up when a plan is canceled and how to use it efficiently is an important skill that I am struggling to develop. Also, the excitement and the anticipation leading up to the plan goes down the drain and then pouring down come to the tears of mixed anger and sadness of rejection. Okay, maybe that's a mouthful to read but that is exactly how I feel.

The silver lining to my problem is that I am optimistic. After a small breakdown, I channel my energy to something positive. Always. However, the breakdowns are what bother me. I hate the periodic sessions of vulnerability. Sometimes they lead to lasting headaches. The state of emotional turmoil would mentally drain me. Any academic work during this time is out of the question and during a crucial period of examination, this downtime is unacceptable.The loud, tall girl with a strong exterior is after all just human.

Stress and anxiety are the biggest foes when you have an overthinking problem. Examinations or peak business months can be very challenging times as it restricts your ability to take healthy mental breaks as you are forced to lock yourself up to study or to work. After some research on how to overcome overthinking behaviour, I have come up with the following techniques that can be easily implemented and overtime shall help myself and anyone out there who suffers from the same.

 5 Ways to Overcome Overthinking: 

1. Awareness.
Isn't this the word thrown around the most these days but I guess its about time. You need to first acknowledge the fact that you are an overthinker. It should be easy because if you are anything like me, you already know it and you wish you could just take a break from your 'thoughts'.

2.Distract yourself with mindful activities.
Please note the word mindful before you take in the note distract. That is crucial. It can be anything that you truly enjoy. A sport, cleaning your house, working on an interesting project, learning a new language, community service! The options are endless. Wouldn't you rather spend your time doing things you actually love than waste it on 'thinking'? If the activity drives you it can be safe to say you will enjoy it and take away the negative hours from your life.

3.Reflection is the key.
Your hectic schedule does not allow you to exercise and I am telling you to reflect? Am I crazy? Hold on and hear me out. Ten minutes of your day with yourself and a journal can take you a long way. 'Talking about it' or 'complaining' to your friends will not be helpful in the long run. Take some time out for yourself. Write one thing you are grateful for every day in your journal along with whatever is bothering you. Once your ten minutes are overlock away your problems in your journal because it is time to rule the world.

4.Live Now.
Live in the present. “Iif you are depressed you are living in the past, if you are anxious you are living in the future, and if you are at peace you are living in the present.” What is the point in worrying about the things which cannot be changed and the future over which you have no control? Always ask yourself this question "Will this matter in 5 years?" The answer will most probably no then do not spend more than 5minutes worrying about it. Also ask yourself 'What can I do?' instead of 'Why did that happen' or 'How/What if that happens'. Ultimately the only thing 'you can do' is work on yourself. Improve your skills, study, indulge in self-care because at the end of the day that is what is going to help solve all your future problems.

5.Your best friend: Endorphin.
Endorphin also known as happy hormone can be collected. It almost sounds like a Pokemon hunt but it is going to leave you happier than catching a rare Pokemon. It is scientifically proven that physical exercise and sports can generate endorphins. It makes you feel good about yourself. It will also give you a good night, good quality sleep and be beneficial for your health. You will have no time to worry about anything when you have to worry about your gym and shower schedule while maintaining a job/college schedule and that is exactly what you need.

Other extremely good ideas include listening to music, watching motivational videos/Ted Talks, reading non-fictional books to keep you busy.

On that note, I will conclude this blog post. I hope it was relatable. Please do share it with your friends who you think would find this helpful because trust me, one good read is all it takes to feel motivated again and come out of the overthinking loop. Feel free to leave your comments and thoughts below. Also, do not forget to follow my blogs via email or by simply following me on Google.
Signinng off,
Nishma Khetia.

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