Charukesi is such an uncommon and beautiful name. Was it the raga or the hair that inspired your name? 🙂
Thank you. Definitely the raga! Both my parents are music lovers and even connoisseurs – my mother sings and used to play the veena, while my father taught himself to play the flute at a young age.
We love filter coffee as well! Where in Bangalore do you get the best coffee, according to you? Which other coffees of the world would you recommend coffee lovers to try?
According to me, any half-way decent darshini in Bangalore serves up good filter kapi – try MTR and Airlines Hotel to start with. Make sure to have it piping hot and with the froth on top. Although my heart beats only for filter kapi, I am not averse to trying the odd exotic espresso or cappuccino (but please no, no to cold coffee). My recent delightful find has been these new age roasteries in Bangalore, like Flying Squirrel
We were not aware that there were world championships in Tetris! How did you get hooked to the game?
Well, there really aren’t. It’s just an excuse I came up with for spending so much time playing that game, once upon a time. I got hooked on to Tetris almost at the same time that I started using computers professionally – way back in 1997 – when a colleague introduced me to the game. It is only recently in the last few years that I have moved on to slicker games on my phone, but Tetris remains an old favourite.
We see that you have covered pretty much all the continents except Antarctica. When is that happening?
I wish I knew! Yes, six continents so far, only Antarctica to go. Hopefully, within the next five years.
If there is one country/city that you could revisit, which one would that be and why?
I often say that if there is only one country that I could visit year after year, then it would have to be Italy. I have been there thrice already, and left a piece of my heart each time. And I still haven’t seen even a considerable part of it.
Tell us some of the hidden gems of Bangalore that are not on the usual tourist lists.
A cloudy day up at Nandi Hills (followed by a visit to the Bhoganandeeshwara temple at its base), and the early morning wholesale flower scene at KR market are two of my favourite experiences.
What is the most bizarre experience (good or bad) you have had on your travels?
I haven’t had too many bizarre travel experiences – several interesting and memorable ones, but nothing that stands out as bizarre – so I get my wacky thrills from watching other travelers, especially those who rush from place to place with a list in hand, without stopping for a moment anywhere to take in a deep breath and take in the beauty of what lies right in front of them.
Tell us about the strangest dish and drink that you have ever had?
As a vegetarian, my food choices are often restricted when I travel – so I have not had the opportunity to taste some of the truly strange dishes and drinks that many friends speak and write about. Given this context, I would vote for the fermented tea leaf salad in Myanmar (which sounded weird initially but was oh-so-good that we ended up having it at every possible meal). As for drinks, I have tried a variety of local liquors made of grains (maize, corn, rice) – each time, it gives a buzz that is unmatched.
Did you dream of traveling as a child? Or did you grow up to become something completely different that you dreamt of?
As a child, I hardly traveled, since my parents were not keen on it. The only travel as such, was during summer vacations, to my grandparents’ place in Hyderabad, or the occasional trip up north to Delhi, again to visit family. I am not even sure if I ever thought about travel or dreamed of seeing the world as a kid. The bug bit when I started working in consumer research, and had a job that took me all over India on my own.
Travel writing is often glamorized. Do you agree? What are the common difficulties that you face as a travel writer?
Travel writing is indeed glamorized to an unbelievable extent.
And then there is the task of finding the unusual, unsaid stories in every place you travel to – in some ways, even when I am on vacation, I am still working (always looking for the next possible story idea). But I am not complaining!
When the hobbies of others are what forms your career – traveling, writing, photography – what do your hobbies look like?
I have been lucky enough to turn not my hobby, but my passion, into my career. Other than that, I spend almost every waking moment reading – my tastes are eclectic and range from sublime food history to gory crime fiction.
What is your favorite travel quote?
We loved talking to Charukesi, and for more of her adventures, we recommend you visit her website Itchy Feet.
All images here are copyrighted to Charukesi.0