Last month after counting my last nut and bolt, and tallying my final profit and loss, I finally found the courage to quit my job.
Merdeka! Merdeka! Merdeka!
My whole life has been about planning and calculating and weighing out pros and cons. I was getting a little tired of what I’d become – a staid, tight fisted pencil-pusher.
Inspired by Ian Wright’s backpacking exploits on the travel channel, I impulsively booked a flight on AirAsia to Tiruchirapalli. There was no particular reason for choosing that destination, to be honest. It just sounded unfamiliar and difficult to spell. I didn’t even book a return flight. I thought I’d just keep moving until the money runs out. My parents thought I was blinking mad but I told them a travel guide I once read said as long as I always carried a towel with me I’d be fine.
Much to their dismay and incredulity, I set off for South India.
I couldn’t believe it myself until I buckled up for take-off when I realised there was no chickening out. In spite of barely sleeping the night before I couldn’t catch any shut eye during the flight. I was OD-ing with adrenaline and alternating between feelings of trepidation and eager anticipation.
In my attempt to disperse the nervousness I befriended the passenger seated beside me.
Johnny’s has been wandering around Southeast Asia for roughly a year now. Suffering from backpacker’s fatigue he’s hoping India will serve up a few shocks to his jaded senses.
Turns out that we were both headed for the same hotel in Trichy which was brilliant because that meant we could split the cab fare into town.
Trichy, I am told gives an authentic experience of Tamil Nadu. Dusty and relatively underdeveloped, bullock carts, TATA compacts, bicycles, and rickshaws honk and swerve their way amid the haphazard traffic. This time of the year, the breeze can be quite pleasant except for when the occasional wafts of dung emerge to remind you of the large population of goats and cows in this town.
Trichy’s star attraction is the Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple – no shoes allowed and cameras can accompany their owners for Rs 50. If my (rather dubious) Rs400 guide got his facts right, five different dynasties including the great Cholas who extended their empire through to Southeast Asia, had a hand in shaping Sri Rangan. Spread out over 256 hectares with 21 towers and seven complexes, this is a sprawling monument to Vishnu the protector. Only certified Hindus are allowed into the centre of the temple where Vishnu lies sleeping on his side but there is plenty to admire around the outer walls where Brahmin priests sit in shrines to offer blessings.
The most amusing part of the tour was the most adorable elephant. Obviously well trained, you place a donation of a few rupees on its trunk and Iittle Dumbo will “bless” you with a swift tap on your head.
A footnote on Hinduism is probably worthwhile at this point and I must confess my ignorance of the religion prior this visit. I still don’t comprehend it completely but it goes something like this:
There a numerous deities in Hinduism but they are merely manifestations of Brahman, the source of everything in the universe. A bit like the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end; everything comes from Brahman and will return to Brahman. So Brahman is typically represented by Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver and Shiva the destroyer.
Vishnu himself has 10 incarnations, as I learned on the tour of the Sri Rangan.
The 1st being in the form of a fish; the 2nd a tortoise; the 3rd a hog; the 4th a lion; the fifth a young boy called Varmana; the 6th he is Parasurama and wields an axe; the 7th he is Rama the blue-hued prince in the Ramayana epic; the 8th he is Balarama; the 9th as Krishna an amorous one with 60,000 lovers ; and the 10th of which Hindus await his manifestation, he is Kalki, by which time the world would have been faced with its apocalypse.
It’s only been my first day and I’m loving India already.
Find out how to win goodies from Maryann’s adventure right here via AirAsia’s “What’s Your India” contest 🙂 and more pics from Trichy at http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=198490&id=18801397386 or http://www.flickr.com/photos/airasia/sets/72157623376827608/. Stay tuned for more adventure pics from India coming soon!
AirAsia’s “What’s Your India” Contest terms & conditions
1. The “What’s your India” contest [“Contest”] is organised by AirAsia Berhad [“Organiser”]. The Contest will run for 9 weeks commencing from [“Contest Period”]: 10:00 (GMT +8) 9 February 2010 and end 23:59 (GMT +8) on 11 April 2010.
During the Contest Period, one (1) winner will be picked at the end of each week. The will be nine (9) winners to this Contest and each of them will receive the following prize:-
• ONE (1) souvenir from India by AirAsia Berhad.
2. The Contest is open to all members of the AirAsia blog except for the following [“Participant”]:
a. Permanent and/or temporary staff or employees of AirAsia Berhad, P.T. Indonesia AirAsia, Thai AirAsia Co., Ltd., AirAsia X Sdn. Bhd. and Go Holiday Sdn. Bhd and its immediate family members;
b. Representatives and/or agents (including advertising & promotion) of AirAsia Berhad, P.T. Indonesia AirAsia, Thai AirAsia Co., Ltd., AirAsia X Sdn. Bhd. and Go Holiday Sdn. Bhd.
3. By virtue of an entry to the Contest, Participants signify acceptance and agreement to all terms & conditions set out here.
4. To qualify for the Contest, participants will have to do the following:
Week 1: 10:00 (GMT +8) of 9 Feb 2010 – 23:59 (GMT +8) of 14 Feb 2010
Week 2: 10:00 (GMT +8) of 15 Feb 2010 – 23:59 (GMT +8) of 21 Feb 2010
Week 3: 10:00 (GMT +8) of 22 Feb 2010 – 23:59 (GMT +8) of 28 Feb 2010
Week 4: 10:00 (GMT +8) of 1 Mar 2010 – 23:59 (GMT +8) of 7 Mar 2010
Week 5: 10:00 (GMT +8) of 8 Mar 2010 – 23:59 (GMT +8) of 14 Mar 2010
Week 6: 10:00 (GMT +8) of 15 Mar 2010 – 23:59 (GMT +8) of 21 Mar 2010
Week 7: 10:00 (GMT +8) of 22 Mar 2010 – 23:59 (GMT +8) of 28 Mar 2010
Week 8: 10:00 (GMT +8) of 29 Mar 2010 – 23:59 (GMT +8) of 4 Apr 2010
Week 9: 10:00 (GMT +8) of 29 Mar 2010 – 23:59 (GMT +8) of 11 Apr 2010
a. All participants need to be a registered member of the AirAsia blog.
b. A new blog post about a city in India will be posted every week. (Total 9 posts in 9 weeks)
c. Participants need to submit a comment describing why this city (according to the blog post) resonates as their India, and to end the comment with the sentence “What’s your India?”
5. Only entries in English, Bahasa Malaysia, Bahasa Indonesia and Chinese will be accepted.
6. All entries must be submitted and received by 23:59 (GMT +8) on 14 Feb 2010, 21 Feb 2010, 28 Feb 2010, 7 Mar 2010, 14 Mar 2010, 21 Mar 2010, 28 Mar 2010, 4 Apr 2010 and 11 Apr 2010.
7. Only Participants that fulfill the Contest Mechanism stated above shall be eligible to win the Prize. Incomplete entries and/or participants that fail to fulfill the Contest Mechanism will automatically be disqualified from the Contest without notice.
8. The winners will be selected based on the most relevant and creative answer by a panel of judges appointed by the Organizer.
9. Selected winner will be contacted, at any time deemed appropriate by the Organizer, via email.
10. Under no circumstances shall the Organizer (including its respective employees, staff and agents) be liable for any loss (including loss of opportunity and consequential loss arising therewith) and/or damage suffered by any Participant and/or winner in connection with the Contest.
11. The winner is bound by the terms and conditions that come with the prize. The acceptance of prize indicates the acknowledgment and agreement of such terms and conditions.
12. The Organizer reserves its sole right and discretion to delete, remove, not consider or reject comment with content that is deemed by it to be improper or offensive in whatever nature.
13. The Organizer reserves its rights to publish or display materials or information, including but not limited to the names of all Participants for marketing, advertising and publicity purposes in any manner it deems appropriate. The Organizer further reserves its right to use any personal data of Participants in any manner and/or for any purpose it deems fit and Participant is deemed to consent to such use with no monetary payment.
14. The Organizer reserves its right to cancel, terminate or suspend the Contest with or without any prior notice and reason. For the avoidance of doubt, cancellation, termination or suspension by the Organizer shall not entitle the participant to any claim or compensation against the Organizer for any and all losses or damages suffered or incurred as a direct or indirect result of the act of cancellation, termination or suspension.
15. The terms and conditions herein shall prevail over any inconsistent terms, conditions, provisions or representations contained in any other promotional or advertising materials for the Contest. In the event of any inconsistency, conflict, ambiguity or discrepancy between the English version and the Bahasa Malaysia version of these terms and conditions, the English version shall prevail at all times.
16. The Organizer reserves its right to vary, delete or add to any of these Terms and Conditions and/or substitute or replace the gifts from time to time without any prior notice.
17. By participating in the Contest, it is deemed that the participant agrees to be bound by the terms and subject to the conditions herein set out upon submission of entry. The decisions of the Organizer in relation to every aspect of the Contest including but not limited to the type of prize and winner shall be deemed final and conclusive under any circumstance and no complaint from any participants will be entertained.
18. The decision of judges appointed by the Organizer are final, conclusive and binding and no further appeal, enquiry and/or correspondence will be entertained.