Estonia — the lesser known Nordics
I was astonished by the largely undiscovered ingenuity of the country, the simplicity of local people, the vibrant culinary scene, and the interesting impact that Estonian culture absorbed because of its proximity to Russia.
Copenhagen — the city of bikes and bikers
Connie Nielsen once said, "if Copenhagen were a person, that person would be generous, beautiful, elderly, but with a flair." I was in Copenhagen for just about a week and was stimulated by the motion of this city. With its unconventional architecture and quirky streets, Copenhagen does remind you of the creative spirit of its people, and a willingness to hold on to its ingenious authenticity. Afterall, it takes more than just muscle power to run a city on bikes!
Shots taken at Freetown Christiania, Amalienborg Palace, Nørrebro, Frederiksberg
Dilli (Delhi) — hearty capital of India
"I asked my soul: what is Delhi? She replied: the world is the body, and Delhi its life!" - Mirza Galib (an Indian poet from Mughal reign). I lived and worked in Delhi (Dilli in Hindi) for about 2 years after my graduation. It is a city I always wanted to be a part of - but never really got my share of intimate familiarity. There's something about this city that speaks out loud, in ways that make you feel like an outsider. For centuries, Dilli has been a carpet for civilizations, civilizations whose footprints are vivid in modern Delhi, and an old and beautiful carpet you always want to step on!
Shot taken at Rajpath, Connaught place, Khan market, Hauz Khaas
Meghalaya — the far India!
Thanks to my dad's job, I was lucky to grow up in different parts of India, at times moving thousands of miles from the east (Bihar) to far west (Gujarat) and to south (Karnataka). At school, we were always taught that India is a country of diversity - something that I witnessed at a very early age. If anything, the north-east block of India (seven sister states; Meghalaya is one of them) is the epitome of that diversity. I visited Meghalaya with some friends when I was twenty, and, in my head, it reinforced the solidarity of the diversity of the country I live in. In hindsight, Meghalaya was an occasion to fall in love with India again, yet differently!
Shots taken at Shillong, Mawlynnong, Jakrem
Kolkata — 'Maccher Jhol', 'Bhat', and stories
My family was friends with a lot of Bengali families during my childhood years. I was also friends with a lot of Bengali kids, whose moms always made 'Maccher Jhol' and 'Bhat' (Bengali for a type of fish curry dish served with white rice). They also told me stories about how nicer it was than where we lived (in Bihar at that time). Only it was in 2013 that I replayed their stories and reconnected with their narratives. This city has deep roots: in history, culture, literature, music, sculptor, cuisine, politics, and what not. And 'Maccher Jhol' with 'Bhat' can be one hell of a spicy yet delicious thing to eat!
Shots taken at Howrah, Dumdum, Ballygunge
Berlin — a cultural mosiac
Berlin comes across as a mosaic of cultural imprints. It's modern; it's artsy; it's cheap; it's historic. From curry wursts to doner kebabs, Berlin does not claim to own a lot - a city that has always embraced the unknown. Berlin also makes you realize that indigeneity is over-rated. As playful and young it seems today, what's apparent in the streets of Berlin is that it has outlived its times of sadness. It's a heaven for a street photographer, nonetheless!
Shots taken at Alexanderplatz, Brandenburger Tor, Reichstag
Darjeeling — tea and trains
Darjeeling stayed on my bucket list for an unjustifiably long period of time. I can only say that the wait was unjustified after visiting there in April 2016, and deciding to stay for two weeks rather than three days! Darjeeling is plain charming. I drank tea and looked at the tea gardens for the first three days. And what did I do during the rest of my overstay? Nothing distinguished, besides drinking more tea and imbibing the charm more closely. It's one of those magical places you want to visit and revisit. Perhaps I'll do that when I am older and wiser. Or once my big box of that earthy Darjeeling first flush tea is over!
Shots taken at Keventers, Happy Valley, Tiger Hill
Hamburg — no sea but sea!
What does the view of gigantic cargo ships make you feel? Well, firstly, it reminds me of the fact that cargo shipping a freakily huge industry! Secondly, that the world is such a physically connected place. Hamburg has the vibe of a coastal city, but it's not a coastal city per se. The city is a huge container, of harbors, an infamous red-light district, and expensive apartments. Like it or not, Hamburg strikes you with its grandeur and the sheer quantity of vibrance it contains!
Shots taken at HafenCity, Hammerbrook, Oberhafen
Rishikesh — rafting is secular!
Although I am a Hindu on government documents, I am not the greatest advocate of the religion (or any religion, rather!). Hrishikesh (a semi-hilly station in the laps of Himalayas), and would, perhaps, be ranked among the top three pro-Hindu destinations in India. Going into the trip to Rishikesh, I decided to discount the religion, and treat the town it as a playground for the fresh and rocky waters of the river Ganga (the third largest river in the world). I'm not a swimmer, but I was looking forward to river-rafting in rocky mountain lap. For a guy who's always afraid of drowning, it turned out to be one hell of a pure water-sports-fun kind of trip!
Shots taken at Ram Jhula, Muni Ki Reti, Tehri Garhwal
Sylt — posh and serene
Think of white and sandy (or silty!) beaches, expensive spas, and windy campsites - that's Sylt. It is one of its kind island and an elegant one by all means. I was visiting with a purpose to camp on one of those sand dunes, so I didn't explore its expensive indulgences. All said, amidst the wind and rain I was embraced by, Sylt has one of the most beautiful and long beaches I've ever seen.
Shots taken at Westerland, Wenningstedt-Braderup
Magdeburg — Home away from home
Famous for the Cathedral, Magdeburg was destroyed in WWII to a large extent. The city still has snippets of medieval architecture and a young crowd that keeps it buzzing.
Shots taken at Magdeburger Dom, Hundertwasserhaus, Stadtpark