Why I Travel: Nandita Sirohi
For the longest time, travelling made me want to throw up. Now you’re thinking ‘oh no!’ this is one of those sad, morbid tales where you’ll hear about my painful experiences as a traveller.
Yes, well I blame my parents. They would put me in the car and we’d travel for exactly 2 hours before we’d have to pull over. I would then treat them to a bird’s eye view of my breakfast coming up (or lunch as the case might be). But my car sickness never stopped them from revving up their ol’ Maruti 800 every few months and taking us to new and exotic places.
Eventually they ‘travelled’ the motion sickness right out of me – I believe its called tough love. The upside to that traumatic childhood story is that I can now eat anything, sleep anywhere, travel anyhow and read my own body weight in books.
Why do I travel? Maybe it’s because I have a special form of restless feet syndrome that compels me to move to new places. I’m being facetious here because the wanderer in me doesn’t usually concern herself with the “whys” of the question. It’s the ‘how’ and ‘when’ that matter.
I thought I’d explore a different kind of tourism – bar-style travels. Wiki will probably give you all the dirt on tourist attractions, more than I could possibly provide. I’ve also been known to embellish a time (or two) to make it more interesting, which apparently is a ‘bad thing’ when the 7-foot waterfall turns out to be a 1 m trickle.
Photo 2: At the Melting Pot, Toulouse France where I used to work and politely ask drunken Irish lads to climb down off the counter and put their pants back on. I included a picture of my hot friend for the gentlemen who’re tired of reading all the text.
Bar-tourism is a much neglected segment in the travel writer’s blog, according to the 10 second research I did on google (I did however, discover that Bar is an actual place in Montenegro so Bar tourism exists – but only to Bar). I can find out a lot about the cities I visit by looking at their bars. Are they friendly, helpful, open, reserved, cold, surprising, creative or any of the shades in between? Below are some of the cities across the globe that I most bar intensively explored and my helpful comments next to each.
Delhi – 4/10
Yes, you know it’s true. They’ll knife you in the back if it means getting their drinks 10 seconds earlier.
Paris – 7/10
Mention “Happy hours” and they suddenly don’t understand zee English. Best drink menus (and Happy Hours) are at the rainbow flagged gay bars but I’m not allowed to enter. A fake moustache doesn’t help.
New York – 7/10
You can find bars where the waitress will spank you with a whip for your birthday. Lacks soul though
Glasgow – 7/10
Men (and their fathers) may want to flirt with you. They may also wildly swing you around by the arm and call it dancing. It’s just a ruse to steal your beer.
Goa – 8/10
Friendly but slightly lax on the service. If I could muster enough energy I might get annoyed about my warm beer.
Barcelona – 9/10
This, despite the fact that I got locked in one of the bar washrooms on my first trip (I also didn’t get missed for the next half an hour) Bars on boats, bars on streets and bars in the middle of fresh fruit markets.
For those of you still unsure about the importance of bar tourism and its place in history, consider this. For centuries, bars have been the birthplace of revolutions and have faithfully echoed the voice of the common man. From here the first seeds of doubt, dissention, genius and idiocy are created, perfected and given form even today. They’re a perfect microcosm of the society as a whole, reflecting its biases, opinions and attitudes. If you don’t like the bars, then chances are that you won’t like the city or its people.
So in the end, the answer is surprisingly simple: I’m a travel addict because I like it for the big, sweating, heaving mass of humanity that I meet, with its quirks, weaknesses, ideas and surprises. A beautiful cathedral by any other name is just another building.
I still occasionally throw up on my vacations…I’m going to stick to motion sickness as the excuse this time too.
Nandita Sirohi is my partner in crime and favourite travel companion. When she’s not busy enjoying the view from under bar tables, she works as a marketing professional with a leading French F&B company. Nandita has spent quality time in bars (and sometimes outside them) on three continents so far. In our last conversation she told me nonchalantly that “I think I’m going to go live in Copenhagen for a while”.
Danish bar owners… you have been warned.
UPDATE: This additional picture has been added by special request. Nandita would never want to disappoint her female readers, let alone encourage a nation wide Bandh. It would ruin Happy Hours for everyone!
Stay tuned for Nandita’s responses. Thanks folks!
Photo 5: Nandita with some friends in Paris. Location? Probably some bar with extra long happy hours