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Why I Travel: Nandita Sirohi

Around the world in 80 Bars!

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

Photo 3: My sister at one of the bars in Rue de la Republique, Paris. Easily recognizable by all the bras at the entrance and the shirtless gentlemen in the background (waiters)

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.

Photo 4: L’Ovella Negra or the Black sheep, Barcelona where I’m being my usual dignified self.

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

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26 Responses to “Why I Travel: Nandita Sirohi”

  1. Karnik Rungta says:

    u shud start a travel company called ‘around the world in 80 bars’ i wud sign up today!!

  2. shalini Abrol says:

    great series, u seem to make friends only with other travelers :O

  3. Palki Desai says:

    LOL’d on ‘tough love’ from ur folks. mine were same, but our trips were usually to family and nowhere near as exciting as ur trips. also- i didn’t dare go to bars back then. getting older is not so bad after all :)

  4. Selva K says:

    copy right the title ‘around the world in 80 bars’! nandita wud love to read more, blog? shud i google for ur escapades?

  5. Ankush Awadh says:

    unreal- i’ve been to melting pot in toulouse. small world indeed!

  6. Another Bar Hopper says:

    i’m on a similar mission. i studied hotel mgmt in Zurich in ’97. i’ve tasted more than 70 types of beer and i collect the labels. somehow my vacations are always planned around what i can drink where. cheers to you!

  7. Sean Bratts says:

    share the article with Matador Network, they have a nice series running too

  8. Kimaya Kapur says:

    cheers to throwing up on the remaining continents. u r my new hero

    KK

  9. Desi Drunkard says:

    a good reason as any to travel. could also be the most honest :)

  10. Hanish Ahuja says:

    good plan to work at bar, drinking is mad expensive in europe. unless you’re sitting in a park! which is what i really miss. a bottle of wine in a beautiful park. try doing that in lodhi garden LOL :D

  11. Dilshad Kareem says:

    i don’t drink, so can’t share the enthusiasm. i’m more of a food freak- i’ll sink my teeth into pretty much anything i can find. not the best for a waistline but then neither is beer

  12. anika hoon says:

    go to oktoberfest for ‘the heaving mass of humanity’ Does not disappoint.

  13. priya dang says:

    nice post, bar hopping can be the best way to tune-into a place

  14. pooja kaul says:

    no pics of hot boys for your female readers? not fair, i’m calling for a nation wide bandh starting with happy hours today :p

  15. gaurav gambhir says:

    single malt trail in Scottish highlands sounds like a good option for you miss.

  16. prakash sangat says:

    if you’re coming to Hong Kong- do check out lang kwai fong! exactly your kind of place. i’d be delighted to take you around. been a resident here for 8+ yrs

  17. Traveling Sam says:

    I spent 8 months in India in ’10, where were all the pretty girls hiding then? I found none under bar tables either!

  18. Rohit Dhalan says:

    Nice! I travel for the pretty girls. I’m a yash raj film waiting to happen. Indian boy traveling the world looking for love in hostels and local bars ;)

    no luck so far

  19. Parth Ray says:

    good read i like the series, who’s next?

  20. Ankit Chawla says:

    So which bar are you watching the world cup in? are you in india?

  21. Saba Iqbal says:

    funny read, sharing on FB! cheers

  22. Nandita says:

    Ok let me do this one at a time so you all feel special

    @Karnik – One day sure, but I’ll have to do lots of research in the meantime :)
    @Shalini – Very discriminatory on her part but its true. I keep telling her non-travellers are people too.
    @Palki- Ranikhet and Nainital were considered exotic back then..
    @Selva- I do have a blog. Its anonymous though, you’ll never find it by googling it..lets just say it contains sensitive info about a lot of people..
    @Ankush – Melting pot rocks! Say hi to stephan the manager next time.
    @ABH – Yee gads, there’s another one! Dont drink my share please
    @Sean – I’m notoriously publicity shy. This is about all i can handle
    @Kimaya – As long as the liver’s willing, the head will just have to put up with it
    @DD – I did do some touristing between bars i swear ;)
    @Hanish – Yup, which is why i like to ‘picnic’ a lot.
    @dilshad- Whats that like?
    @Anika – all in good time, have to practice first.
    @Priya – its not too bad. No, i lie.. its AWESOME
    @Pooja – A thousand apologies. Have sent one to tithiya to rectify this glaring oversight.
    @Gaurav- On my to do list. Soon soon
    @Prakash – Lang kwai fong you say? i like it already. Added to my list
    @TS- Did you try taking off your pants and climbing on a bar?
    @Rohit – I usually just look for a great cocktail. Been pretty lucky ;)
    @Parth – Umm, i’ll let tithi answer that
    @Ankit – For the mo. I’m running around for sis’s wedding, trying not to kill the in-laws. Drinking happens in a corner, while i mutter dire threats of disembowelment and butt kicking. (the world cup is on??)

  23. Devyani Desai says:

    every time i come to ur site, it does not disappoint! i love my beer too. my friends started calling me the female Dev D! i will tell them about u, i am not alone!

    CHEEEEEERS!

  24. Sukhmani Madan says:

    sister’s wedding? nightmare it must be, older or younger sis? are you married? i guess not, or it might be the end of ur drinking ‘n travelling ;) unless u marry a drunk… which i do not recommend!

  25. niti khola says:

    just read on fb, awesome! gr8 site, dint know abt it before

  26. Good read. Thanks a lot.

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