6 siblings of Haldodderi!

During the excavation of photos at home, you realize you have grown up little too much to see the elders in the photograph. A lot of elders have gone to a better place to stay and a few are less reminiscent of the way they came from a far-off village to make Bengaluru home.

To start it our paternal family migrated from a village called “Haldodderi” in Tumkur. It is 28 km from Tumkur district headquarters,  26 km from Sira and totally 108 km from Bengaluru. That is too much of a distance to cover in the 1940’s and 1950’s.  Well according to me I can never imagine leaving my city for anything, 1-year masters in Barcelona put out a very scary face of migration to me.

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If you look at the map there, you could see a kere and an Anjaneya Swamy temple. That is all my reminiscence of the place.  You can also find Seebi which is our mane devru Laksmi Narasimha Swamy temple abode. Now closer to it you find the country club which is the showcase of too much migration to cities where farmers sell or forcibly sell to get a better life in Tumkuru or Bengaluru. I have heard stories of how the name of the village came up to. Halu(milk) is the key word here. Thaatha did mention saying the kere was as white as the milk and it was flowing too good. Now it is almost dry. Tumkuru was the dry area of Karnataka. After North Karnataka, I presume a lot of migration to Bengaluru happened from here. My great grandfather Ranganna was a farmer and I have heard he was an innocent man. A lot of his relatives gobbled up his land. Whereas his wife Krishna Veni was a compassionate but much more practical lady.  She studied more than him. This was also the same case with my maternal great-grandmother. In a way, these women uplifted the house.

Ranganna had 6 children, 3 boys, and 3 girls. A villager, a farmer dreamt of only to get his daughters married off and sons maybe take care of the farm. But Krishna Veni had other plans. She had a sister named “Puttu” who was already a teacher. She had her personal issues to work and stay in a place to educate children. Krishna Veni migrated to Tumkuru with her children to educate them. Interestingly this was the biggest step to take for a lady at the era where women in the household were asked to not go out. Well, breaking barriers had to start somewhere, isn’t it?

She got her eldest daughters married and the eldest son who secured a job in the city due to his studious marks.  This was the first successful migration to a far-off city unknown place. My grandfather, my thaatha H R Nagesh Rao who is middle in the picture probably had other plans but a lot of things changed for him. Yesterday when I spoke to my maternal thaatha he told my paternal thaatha was a rank student in his intermediate. I was a little baffled as to how he never acknowledged it. Well so case to say a tragedy struck a house with his youngest sister. She was widowed at age 13 with a son. Which meant tonsuring the head and locking up in the house for the rest of her life. Thaatha disagreed, he rebelled. He bought his sister, his son, his mom, his brother and took all their responsibilities and migrated to the city Bangalore. The village put a ban on him for going against their customs. It probably deterred him initially because he was a teenager or in early 20’s but the unit around him helped him profusely.

The story of this is very inspiring me for reasons to vary. One was the rebelling against wrong things. Even if you don’t have an ample support system, if you think you are right we should stand alone. Second, owning up responsibilities. Third, going against what was wrong even though everyone foolishly followed it. I was just thinking what would be our states if Thaatha would not have taken a decision so boldly. Would women in the family be again tortured in dark chambers? Well, I can only assume!


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[First Row: Raghavendra Rao, the eldest, Nagesha Rao, my thaatha, Prahlad Rao. Second Row: Akka, the eldest(also my maternal great grandmom), Satyavati, the survivor and Janaki, the most fav of thaatha]

So all the 6 siblings of Haldodderi successfully migrated to Bengaluru. For job, marriage or any such things. A little reminiscence of the village for all of them. I see they never spoke about their childhood in front of us. Their story only began with they migrating to the city. I think this is the most comfortable story to share for them and mostly a success story.  Now all of them have houses in the city, made it their home. 5 out of 6 siblings have passed away. One remains to tell us how beautiful was that sibling bondage. Grandchildren have made the city their native. I proudly say I belong to Bengaluru or even very narrowingly write Jayanagaradahudugi. Migration causes disruption says a lot of activists but in a way, we are all migrants. Someone had to take a bold step for leading a better life. When I was in Barcelona for a year, I could see the disagreement for this. They hated people from other places. Europe is very strict on that. They hate the inter-country migration as well. So much of opposition to for a different color of skin, race, and language. I was just wondering how similar or different it was before. I always wanted my thaatha, The News Editor of Samyukta Karnataka to answer this. Well, he went away too early.

Recently in a family meet up speaking to the eldest dodappa he told our generation that, If one person would not have migrated, all of his cousins would be grazing cows in a dry village and women would be not allowed to study like me going abroad. I gulped down that with a pinch of pepper saying “Maybe its true for men, women are still banned for 3 days in a month and still only a few like me make a choice. Is this going ahead or they don’t want to forget where they are from”.

Well in my case, I am a rebel like my grandfather and not worried about bans 😛



The grass is always green on the other pasture!

So to introduce myself, I recently finished my masters from Barcelona(Well recent is July, some may not think it is recent). I did a course which was the most interesting and amazing way a course should have been called “Sound and Music Computation”. It involved courses in Audio Signal Processing, Machine Learning and even something very interestingly called Music Perception and Cognition. I enjoyed all those courses, My batchmates were highly intelligent. Since I went there after 2 years of work experience and few of my classmates had just finished their Bachelors, I thought I had the edge. Well after the first week I realized how it was untrue. I had to put in more efforts to understand what was happening around me. Leaving home after 25 years and trying to recoup with the loneliness was another issue. However, I managed to defend my thesis with a broken hard disk, misbehaving MAC and absolutely no clue on my future.

I did something most of the people who do their masters abroad don’t do. I came back to my hometown for future prospects. This was absolutely for personal reasons so I would not really discuss my choice to come back or stay there but I would say I was totally disappointed in the beginning. We have people around you who exist because they want to talk ill of you. They want you to lose your mind and prove how wrong was your previous action. I have exactly such kind of people around me. While I was on a job hunt a lot of funny stories happened to me.

I was called by a certain company ‘A’. It was in Whitefield and took 2 hours for me to travel and I went to be told: “my profile does not suit their company”. I was wondering sitting in 500CA and listening to “Yaarige beku ee loka” on radio and contemplating what prevented the HR to not tell me that on phone. So company ‘B’ called me next day, that was my ex-company(ex = previous). I went there. I knew everyone, the security guard, the housekeeping and even wifi connected automatically. It was a good sign for me. The person who interviewed me said we can put you in different places, so let me check all your skills. After every question, there was a taunt of “oh that’s not as easy as how you create music, like your course you know”. After the 5th question, I knew I was playing a losing match.  The HR was courteous enough to put me in an interview, these guys were hammering me because they didn’t want me in the team. I almost had tears in my eyes, the same 500CA had to console me. The song also was not in sync. I was frustrated. Company ‘C’ said I should do a software testing course. Company ‘D’ said I am a master of all. I hated how they questioned me, asking some random dictionary problem. After everything, they said, “I don’t know where to put you, we will get back”.

So after similar experiences with E, F,G,H,I,J,K,L,M,N,O,P,Q,R,S,T,U,V,W,X, Y and I cursed myself for following my heart for doing masters in the subject as fancy as I love. Seeing all my friends putting up statuses on Facebook saying their work takes them to USA, UK, Australia and even Guahnatara resort for a weekend office party, I here was sitting at home eating mosaranna. I wrote Jayanagaradahudugi, taught Kannada at KG to keep myself busy and also make some peanuts. I read exactly 2 pages of self-help books and threw it away. I tried to be spiritual it went for a toss and finally I applied to company Z.

I had no expectations honestly. I thought either I shall flunk or I would hear I will get back to you. But it wasnot. I chose Z because the office is in Basavanagudi. The heart of the city and every South Bangalorean will die for that place. They did some amazing Machine Learning stuff as well. But the interview was in Hoodi. 500 series bus became some sort of a joke on me. I went, it was an amazing thing there. I was asked about my skills, my exact work that needs to be done. Technical discussions, work-related discussions, and the CEO, CTO also spoke to me. It was interesting because the questions were totally related to the product they develop and how a certain problem could be solved. That’s the smartest way to test a person’s skill. It tests how quick a learner a certain person is, how can he use his python or algorithmic skill to get the problem fixed. Far better than a random dictionary, database problem.

Finally, I work for AppAchhi, an amazing ML-AI startup. Now I am Research and Development Engineer. AppAchhi is a vision to help the entire world test their apps as though they hired an expert. I laugh at myself sometimes telling “Hey the world doesn’t listen to me, but I am making a bot listen to me”. I just sighed a relief saying “AppAchhi, Man sachhi”.

To hit some nails on the head if you are a new masters graduate or planning to do masters ask yourself few questions and then proceed.

  1. Why do you want to do Masters?
  2. Are you really interested in that?
  3. What are your career prospects on that?
  4. Are you staying in the place you did masters or coming back? (Deshbhakti is not the skill for technical job)

If you can answer such questions honestly then you are on the right track to hit the throttle.


PS: This blog was in drafts from the day I finished my masters, I was just waiting to add AppAchhi in the blog.

Friendship day !?!?

It was somewhere in the year 2000 I heard that there is a day specific to celebrate friendship  😊 . My childhood friends who stayed in the same road, tied a hand made band and wished me happy friendship day. In return I was so bad at art and craft I turned to my grandfather’s sister who with her intricate wolleen weaves produced few bands to me. I also did the custom. My friends told me the friendship is as strong as the thread on the hand, the day it breaks we are in trouble. It also stood as the testimony of how many friends we had. Every year there was a count, few added, few subtracted and few well vanished. The band depended on how special the friend was, used all my creativity(very less) to make that special band to the friend 😊. While cleaning my room today I found one such band which had friends forever written on it. Thankfully that friend is still my best friend 😊 so the deal is sealed. I thought I would write on the friendship I experienced. I had a very happy childhood, so friends were plenty and it was fun to hang around. I hate being alone so friends are a major part of my life.

I was traveling back from Barcelona after my masters. The flight and the layover was long. Even before I did my masters I was under a confusion of what to do. Every friend I  had was either getting married or flying for Masters. I had no clue what to do,also I had my urinary tract infection relapsing 3 times and I visited hospitals much more than I frequented home. That was the most difficult phase of my life. That’s where the true test of friendship came to me. Actual friends came home without asking whether they could come , gave me nice prep talk, sometimes scolding me for being sad. I cannot thank them enough. Well well that’s not the end. I treat friendship as the most important entity in life sometimes even beyond relationship. I have seen the trait of people ditching their friends as soon as they get married and move to a different country. I cannot take that sudden change 😁.

When I was in Barcelona, I realized the value of true friends. You cannot share everything with your parents, I could not tell them how crazy my landlady was when in the middle of night she wanted us to vacate the house because her boyfriend wanted us to do so or she hid her own food and blamed on all tenants tat it was stolen. Such things could be shared only to friends. I am glad I had people to talk to at 2 A M or whatever time zone. Growing up you realize it’s not the physical presence of friends all the time that matters but what they did when you needed them. I am sure I have been 2 A M friends to many so I understand how it works.

Friendship between opposite gender is most complicated in India. Here we don’t express our love openly but hatred at its peak. We take pride in saying it loud we hate someone but even if we love our friend we don’t say it. Make things more complicated. I have seen that people don’t realize friendship is the basis of such relationship,also we grew up watching bullshit like boy and girl can never be friends 😁.

Barcelona taught who my real friends are. Surprisingly I have friends I met through Facebook who I have never met but worked for a common cause of Kannada content . We create Kannada content, read poems together and discuss ideas as well. That’s a strange thing that could happen to me but it’s very interesting friendship I garnered. 

Growing up I have realized it’s important to let go of people who don’t want to be part of your life. It’s a very matured process of not fighting over things which are not yours. I am glad I let go many and found a lot more.

There was not a day where I have felt lonely and dealt with the word ‘no one to look upto’. My father says that’s the situation you create on your own with your ego, if you are at least honest and respectful with just one person in your life that’s where you are never lonely. When you put your ego and start speaking rubbish because of the mood, everything is spoilt. What a sound advise I say 😊 

So life is beautiful with friends, I have had such beautiful moments and continue to have so for the rest of my life. There is absolutely one I can be myself with, school buddies who have been friends from age of 7, childhood buddies who I don’t know when I became friends, friends of my age , younger to me, older than me. These friends have been the most respectful and loving.

So my dearest buddies who stood by me and I stood by them, happy friendship day though friendship bands and the number have lost relevance but those are always in my heart ❤ because ಕಾಲ,ದೇಶ ಮೀರಿದ ಭಾವ.ಸ್ನೇಹ ಅತಿ ಮಧುರ

Love, peace and happiness always.

ನಮಸ್ಕಾರ Barcelona !

It’s been a month I came to Barcelona,a far away land from my city. I  grew up in Bengalooru. The city which is called the Silicon Valley of India. I had a great childhood,my loved ones stay there in namma Bengalooru. Its been the longest time I have been away from home. There are times I miss my city,my people and most importantly my language I used to speak,kannada.

Barcelona is a part of Catalunya,have a very distinct culture rather a little different from Spain. The identity most of the people are really proud of. Coming to Barcelona I did learn a lot in terms of being independent,not being judgmental and to have hell loads of patience to get the work done.

Barcelona like namma  Bengalooru has its own Kempegowda,Hamilcar Barca. Well everyone had a different story to tell why this city was named so. I still want to draw parallels to my city. So I vote for this .

I remember few months I visited this city for a trip our family friend took us to a place which has a big statue of Columbus and said this is where it all started. Yes he started his voyage to India and then accidentally found America. Well this pretty much sums up my life as well. Accidental discoveries of life lead you to the best place! Well I am here now!

Spanish people are the most passionate people for their language. They do not impose it on you but make you slip into it like the sugar in the coffee. Sometimes I may forget to tell my daily prayer or practising music but I would probably never forget to revise few words my landlady taught me.

The house I live in is mini India – different faiths,different languages and different food habits. Being the only vegetarian in the house it was difficult for my flatmates to understand what i was eating. Now I can safely say they eat my anna,saaru,pulyogare and avalakki. I have made peace with bread, bocata, paella and cold salads.

This has become my familia in Spain. Everyday as a family we sit for dinner and discuss how good or bad was the day. Fortunately India’s foreign policy is so good that,none of the days I was in an uncomfortable position at the dinner table when discussing the politics of the country. One day I had to explain karma theory, sanathanadharma and yoga to them. My ajji would have been so happy to listen to what I would be preaching 😝.

Music culture is amazing here.Metros to museos to beach to ports, people play music. Interestingly all my classmates are musicians. They play an instrument,sing or do both. I was really shocked at their vidwath. My Indian friends who are self taught musicians give me a complex as to  what did I learn for 15 odd years of classical music and not compose a song , they write play so well.

On a serious note, I see that women are very independent here. I do not see ladies compartment,ladies seat or reservation on any kind here. I still remember an old lady giving snobby look for asking her to sit on my seat in the metro. My landlady herself manages the house,drives her car and works for a living. Her daughter wakes up and makes breakfast,goes to school. Never did I see her asking her mother to make breakfast,pack lunch. It’s all about being independent. The timings, deadlines don’t matter much. But this doesn’t mean people are too well behaved. There are black sheep everywhere. The other day when me and  my friends decked up for a dandiya night , a truck driver made an ugly comment on us for a long time until he saw a police patrol car and disappeared. I wasn’t scared but it just puts your morale down to move freely.

The place I study and work has an amazing way of putting out music to the people. There are musicians,musicologists,engineers to make music,write algorithms,do research on different music cultures. It brings a smile on my face when the professors and PhD researchers  pronounce the Carnatic music technical details,its theory closest to its original pronunciation. What seems great is looking at the department with different nationality and culture,music is the only uniting force.

Few months before I moved to Barcelona,i had serious contemplation on what to do in life. I could really count the number of  people who stood by me and gave ears to all the stuff I spoke about. Oh yes they are my forever. I learnt the lesson to prioritize,not give importance to unnecessary things and mainly you are not everyone’s cup of tea☺.

I teach Kannada on WhatsApp to few people in bengalooru,i attend  Skype class for music,write blogs,study,do assignment,work and talk to my most favorite people which gives me peace. Well thats the best to do isn’t it.

I miss you Bengalooru,my loved ones but hey!  this is nice too. This is all that you built on your credibility ☺

Until next episode  : Adios  Amigos     Next episode : Como estas barca 😁

Life is a BTS bus journey!

A fortnight back when BMTC was on strike in Bengalooru, the roads were empty and it was raining heavily a small conversation about my Thaatha motivated me to write this. Appa,Ranga sir and I were talking generally on how awesome our public transport rides were,how much of bus pass fees we paid and all those minor adjustments with the depo manager on the bus route. Interestingly none of us in three different generations actually complained on the bus service as we studied in the colleges close to the bus stops. Suddenly appa told an interesting snippet of Thaatha’s life which I thought was the ultimate philosophy of life.

Long back when BMTC was called BTS, Thaatha the Resident Editor of ‘Samyuktha Karnataka’, though entitled for a car from the organization always travelled by bus. He always told my father that the simpler you live life becomes less complicated. In fact while I was growing up he had told me it’s very important to have inexpensive hobbies to lead a happy life! So on the day he retired from the service from the newspaper, his farewell function was organized. Thaatha didn’t go in the car that was sent but travelled in the usual bus. While coming back he promptly surrendered his ‘Press Pass’ exclusive bus pass for the journalists by BTS.

Appa could not contain his curiosity asked him as to why he was fond of bus travel as it was so tiresome. He told my appa, life is a BTS bus journey. It’s filled with so many stories. Imagine you take a bus to JC Road from Jayanagar,there are no seats and you would have to stand. You would he eyeing a certain seat and suddenly someone else who alighted the bus after you would take that seat. This is a perfect example of us when we start grumbling when someone else who goes ahead of you even though you are aged,senior or think you always deserve it more than others.

Also he always said life is a bus journey everyone has different destinations to reach,sometimes you get the same bus everyday sometimes you don’t. A day where you really need a bus to go early,it deliberately comes late. A day when you are totally free the journey happens very smoothly. Just to draw parallels,how much have we wanted something and so desperate to do something,a minute thing halts the whole procedure or something becomes a hit with very little efforts. 

There will be a day where the bus driver and conductor wait for you or even ask for you,give utmost respect and may be even miss you if didn’t turn up the previous day. Also there will be a day where the driver and conductor both in bad mood would scold you for traveling by pass,not stop at your destination or deliberately move the bus even though they see you run. This is as simple as you sometimes get too much respect and consideration at times not required or do not get at all when you expect it the most.

Sometimes we get multiple buses at the same time when there is no urgency but we cannot take a bus at the time we require the most. I think sometimes help also comes at time when you require the least and you struggle with your own battles alone. You meet interesting people in the journey for a short time,sometimes sharing the same destination as yours, making it beautiful or making it as disastrous as stamping the feet to bleed. 

I was taken aback by this simple philosophy thaatha preached and probably lived by it throughout his life. I never saw him cursing someone nor appreciating too much. A very very subtle expressioned face who took responsibility of every action and words he did or spoke of. Interesting that 13 years has passed by and he has taught me lessons for life time to cherish. A day doesn’t pass without thinking of him or his lessons. I think very less people have lived life the way they have preached and thaatha stands first in the line of all the people I have seen. Year after year during his birthday or death anniversary the memories don’t fade away  rather increase. Obsession will not be the word to say but truly inspirational!                        I miss you thaatha, you cut short your journey in the bus or may be reached the destination too fast leaving us alone to find our paths and destination. I promise to write in memory of you because that’s what you taught me. I also promise to stand by all that you have taught me.
I really miss you 😢

Dearest Thaatha

Thaatha’s first poetry,the design and handwriting is his.

God’s Domain!

[This is a Six part series of my Euro travelogue ]


So,Day 1 was awesome in Roma. My friend had her classes on Day 2,she had to attend them. We decided to explore the city on our own. As we were so hooked on to our phones,google maps and internet. We decided to take a local sim with internet connection in Roma Termini. This place is like our own Majestic(Kempegowda Bus station),center place for metros,trains and any other information about the city. It has a history from 1863 modernized in 1950, architecturally, the building punctuates the sense of arrival to Rome, and communicates a sense of the Eternal City as both modern and traditional, looking forward to the future as well as remembering its history. Its bold presence in the urban fabric expresses the diversity of the City’s history, and speaks of the dramatic new scale of the modern industrial economy of Italy.



With our limited knowledge in Italian and Monika helping us,we went to a ‘sim card angdi’. A token was issued to wait in the queue and we started explaining in broken Italian and perfect English that we wanted a sim which would work in the whole of Europe and to call home(India). The man in the angdi nodded his head and understood something,gave a brochure which promised a fortune!. As usual any tourist makes comparisons of how it is better here than India,nobody follows queues,strangers don’t help you etc. We bought a sim which worked fine in whole of Italy but didn’t in Austria,Spain and France our next stops. Mr.Shopkeeper had understood that we wanted a sim which could make calls from Italy to anywhere! So lesson learnt,take a sim card that works anywhere in the world in INDIA than trying to explain to anybody!

So our next stop was the most famous The Trevi Fountain, the  wish making place in Europe. This stretch of fountains were built in the honor of a girl who showed the soldiers freshwater to drink after a long tiring journey. But Trevi is famous for its wish making-fulfilling powers. Promptly every tourist throws a coin,making a wish mostly saying I will come back to Europe/stay in Europe. We also made a wish and returned.  Interesting Trivia was everyday the coins in the fountain would be used for the development of the city . No wonder Rome is so beautiful! While I was writing this blog, remembered my ajji telling me that she was so fascinated seeing River Kaveri near Mysooru long back and it was a ritual for everyone to throw coins. The bus was stopped on a bridge and she also religiously did it in reverence to her favorite god. I had told her it was so stupid and how a coin to the river would make her wish come true,also gave her gyan to not to do any such unreasonable acts which she would be ashamed off in future. Now I sit and write a blog about my wish making story in Rome. I think its a way that you get carried away because everyone does that! Nevertheless the roads leading to fountains were fantastic. Sculptures everywhere,each one narrating a story.



After walking miles together,we decided to stop at a place which is famous for Ice cream. Yes the famous Gelato Ice cream. The place is called ‘Quinto Gelateria’ in Piazza Navona which is there since 1915. The gallery in the shop shows most of the celebrities,world leaders eating ice creams there. Much emphasis was given to natural flavors of ice creams,crepes to suit everybody’s taste. I can very safely say its one of the best things I ate in my life. Yes it didn’t give me sore throat,hence its very apt for my sensitive throat!


Famous Gelatos!

So the most famous Vatican City could not be missed by a Dan Brown and Pink Panther fan visiting Italy,an independent country in the country. A place of religious importance for Roman Catholics and spread over only of 110 acres. It contains St.Peter’s Basilica,Sistine Chapel and few museums. The sculptures by  Michelangelo and other famous artists were mesmerizing. Every sculpture,painting was very detailed. I used the heading ‘God’s Domain’ because like in India,Italy is not a great country for atheists. Every place has a history attached to God,miracles and the religion that is followed. Empires have fallen,risen and flourished in the name of GOD. If you are a fan of Dan Brown,his novel explains a lot about every inch of the roads leading to Basilica and I was more intrigued on the Vatican Secret Archives which is a closely guarded secret of the church. All the enthusiasm came to an end when it started to rain in Vatican. It looks beautiful in the evening,but rains were harsh. I imagined all the scenes of Pink Panther which showed the funny side of the city and laughed! I found a similarity in the architecture of theirs and ours,they also had a huge pillar in front of every religious place they worship something like Garudagamba.


Vatican City

I am pretty sure everyone would have a question how could we not eat Pizza in Roma. We went to a Vidhyarthi Bhawan like place in the midst of the city. It was called Carlo Menta,the best pizza I had ever eaten. It had too many people,waiting queues and less vegetarian options as usual. Margarita was the only vegetarian pizza available,if mushroom is classified veggie then two exactly! The pizza joints in Bengalooru have definitely made pizza junk here looking at them in Rome.  Best desserts like Tiramisu, Panna cotta were savored.


Real Original Pizza

We left Italy with a sweet note to travel to Austria. Yes it is a beautiful country  but has it’s own problems,conflicts,pregnant single woman begging on streets,heavy smoking,refugees,radical religious followings etc. For a tourist Rome fills your heart with beauty. Grazie Roma!

Next Episode – Vienna,detour to Rome,Venice

Rome,Roma, Romaanchana !

[This is a Six part series of my travelogue to Europe]

It was a holiday that a family which traveled rarely took. I scantly remember going to a family trip far away to ‘Badri Kedara ‘ when I was three years old. Other trips were to Tumkuru,Mysuru and Mangaluru.  Traveling was never a part of our culture mostly due to financial constraints,different priorities and unavailability of South Indian vegetarian food everywhere!  We a family of four decided to travel to Europe, hard core South Indian Asian vegetarian people traveling to Rome,Venice,Vienna,Barcelona and Paris for 12 days. It was a budget and not a tour package travel. The biggest problem would be food  Half of our luggage was Ready to eat(instant food),Instant Rasam and Basmati rice.

After the necessary preparations for food,bookings of apartments(mainly due to non availability of vegetarian food),we booked an AIR INDIA flight to Rome(Transit in New Delhi ) from Bengaluru. The flight duration was about 12 hours including the transit time at Delhi. A childlike excitement to see all the luxuries in the flight made me feel like ‘Maharaaja’, the mascot of the Airline I traveled in.


Our in-flight entertainment had lots of kannada movies and songs as well. I was very thrilled that AIR INDIA did recognize other official languages in India, because few years back when I traveled they audaciously had declared Hindi is our national language. But flight announcements in the domestic flight from Bengaluru to Delhi only had Hindi and English. An elderly couple who only knew native language were totally clueless about the safety announcements. I had the best time watching those kannada movies back to back,great Indian food and chatting with the fellow passengers.


We reached Rome (ROMA) 7pm local time,my close friend Monika who studied with me in school is doing her MBA  became our guide there. We had deliberately booked our apartment/hotels very near to the city center so that accessing public transport is easier. Do not travel in Taxis until you  know the local language and also the public transport is cheap  – safe. The whole of Europe had woken up from the terrorist attack in Brussels and Paris,hence every tourist spot had a tanker,hulk men(very good looking though) guarding the places. Indians do not have a problem anywhere because of our good foreign policies and not poking our nose in other’s business. There was warmth by the people welcoming us saying India a beautiful place to naming few of the important cities.

If you are a non smoker and a teetotaler,its difficult to survive. Wine is a staple just the way we drink coffee. The cigarette butts covered the footpath,metro stations because dustbins were overflowing. My friend who is in Rome,did not know the local language until she went there and has learnt it extremely well. She came down all the way from the university to visit us to the hotel. My mother had told her strictly that she should not be visiting us if it’s dark (typical Indian mother you see),but the sun doesn’t set until its 11pm. My friend very happily said ” Aunty ilella esht ghantege bekadru odadbodhu,thumba safe”, the biggest lesson we learn there is being independent and not time bound.

We started our journey with world famous Colosseum, the massive stone amphitheater which has stood the test of times since  AD 80. This was the largest amphitheater ever built with the capacity to hold 80,000 spectators. This was used for gladiatorial contests,mock sea battles,animal hunts,executions,re-enactments of famous battles and dramas based on Classical Mythology. In medieval times it was used for housing, workshops, quarters for a religious order, a fortress, a quarry and a Christian shrine. This monument has stood the earthquakes,world wars(the bullet marks,shells,grenade damages are seen) and stone thieves. The difference between the Indian monuments which are older than this is, the compounds don’t read ‘Roopa loves Arjun,heart shape symbols and  idiotic caricatures‘. The local authorities and the people are extremely careful on ‘others‘ spoiling their precious monument. Yes,sometimes the guides to trouble us to tell us the actual story of the Great Roman Empire holding different color umbrellas and receivers with headphones.



The next stop was Arch of Constantine,built to commemorate the victory of Emperor Constantine I over Maxentius. This looked very similar to India Gate but its purpose was very different. Roman Kingdom had the concept of a Senate,a political institution to advise the kings. Interestingly the guides there project it as the first democratic institution in the world.


Arch of Constantine

Roma has the best footpaths to walk. I should tell you pedestrians are most respected there. The superspeed cars,the trams,and vespas stop until the last man crosses the road. Old people do not hesitate to come out or rather  not dependent on anyone to do their work and women specially are independent.I saw many lone female travelers,single mothers with their children and people who spoke absolutely no Italian carrying city maps,metro map,a back pack walking miles to know the culture and heritage of the city.My friend Monika,who came here as a complete stranger a year back as a student could take us to every single place on the map without any help and also not really thinking about the timings. Interesting that this country has given her so much of confidence,independence and new hobby of travel. She told me that she has a check list to travel and she would do it even alone. This is something we needed to learn as our travels are just so restricted to few religious places and native places!


Monika and I in front of Colosseum

Rome reminded me of the Vijayanagara Empire,which was ruled by great kings and it was most prosperous. But never do people there project the leftover parts of old Rome as Ruins. They are really proud of their kings,the culture and music. I really felt every second how easily we say ‘Ruins of hampe’ but why don’t we really give the nicest name to the place and feel really proud,protect it.

The place we next went to was Altare della Patria(Altar of the fatherland), is a monument built in honor of Victor Emmanuel, the first king of a unified Italy. The monument holds the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with an eternal flame, built under the statue of goddess Roma after World War I. My friend told me that the soldiers do not move even if it rains,winds or too sunny.


Tomb of an unknown soldier-Goddess Roma

Well we almost walked about 10kms on Day 1,interestingly weather was with us. Though it was windy,we had the most interesting places to see. I really cherished the day 1 at Roma. The music culture at Roma was very interesting. Street musicians were really good,violins played the best music. Being a Carnatic Classical Vocalist, I wanted to really capture the music of the cities I visited in Europe. I was not disappointed as the best music was heard on the streets and not in the big avenue halls. It was very evident that music was a part of their culture,some left their lucrative jobs to pursue music as their passion. I did not see much difference in the culture of Indians and Italians. They love their children too much and would do anything above their capacity to keep their children happy. Monika did tell me that Government in Italy pays certain Euros a month to young people who could accompany the elders to do their daily activities as the children would move away from them or they do not have children…………


Amazing Street Musicians!

Next Episode :Roma Day 2,the sim card story,vatican city and metro experience