Tag Archives: #travelblog #day2

Ashville, NC – charming with extras

We recently visited Ashville, NC. And this is our second trip. First time we were passing by and spent a day here exploring the downtown and cool eating places. To be honest it was a)Dobra Tea House b)Chai Pani that brought us here. We loved it so much that we decided we will make another trip and we did.

I believe that it was more than these two places that made us come back to Ashville. There was this T-shirt that I saw in one of the shops which read “If you are too weird for Ashville, then you are just too weird.” And I agree with this. Ashville residents are not hippie but almost hippie. Lot of people with braided hair and a very nonchalant air about them which comes with meditation or sometimes using other mood enhancing stuff. There is a certain newness in the air as you stroll down the streets. And the fact that the mountains around Ashville are vortex centers might have something to do with it. It’s like Sedona except this is actual city as opposed to tourist stop on your way to Grand Canyon.

Like all such places, Ashville is very open and diverse. In one of the cafes, SunnyPoint cafe restroom signs said “All Gender”. Most places had a sign saying that we welcome all, everybody with pictures of people from different races. And for a place to embrace this unanimously says something about the openness of the culture. If you lived only in Ashville all your life your world would be a lot different.

Ashville has a lot of sass to it – I cannot remember some of the comments but two that stand out are
-Indian restaurant had a sign outside: “Tikka look inside.”
-Sign on a t-shirt: “I don’t carrot at all.”
-The best of all – a different take on religions

The owner of the store who had some of the cool T-shirts recognized our Shiba right away – he was a dog breeder for rottweilers in his past life. People there are very friendly. We ran into this gentleman in dog park who had moved from Texas to Ashville fifteen years ago with his wife. He is a author and piano player and they have a B&B. We got into a very good discussion about writing, MFA etc.They also have this cute little bookshop called Battery Park Exchange which has lots of cute window seats for budding authors. While we enjoyed a cup of tea and carrot cake we saw many groups come and meet in there.

Variety of restaurants in a place is also a good sign of diversity – they had a Mediterranean place called BabaNahm, Thai place, Indian, french, Chinese, Vegan and regular comfort food. We couldn’t try all the places but they were all in the top of the list in TripAdvisor. And if this is not enough they also have a double decker bus from London that serves amazing coffee/desserts.

And last but not the least it is a very dog friendly place. Almost 99% of our conversations with strangers was because of Aki. And they have these cool trails for both humans and pets.

I enjoyed my trip to Ashville and it is a gem in North Carolina. I may be biased in my opinion but as they say “Each to his own.”

Belize Trip – Day 2

The idea of the Belize Series is to give you a taste of the key things we did mixed with my thoughts. As you probably remember from last post that Belize is a tiny island which you can walk from end to end. It has about six over water bungalows and six cabanas and few villas – so all in all less than 20 accommodations. And while we were there we had about dozen people staying and dozen staff like the adventure guide/bartender/chef/manager etc.

And the meals are communal except breakfast which is served as you show up. Lunch and Dinner are communal and on these long tables outside or inside depending on the weather. Even though I am an extrovert I wasn’t looking forward to talking or making small talk. Small talk was something that went from high to low on the liking spectrum in the last few years.I would rather keep quiet than make small talk.

Let’s do a flashback, if that’s even possible but you get the idea. I went to London to do my MBA in London Business School. I was new there in terms of the social circle and so were majority of the other students who had come for the MBA. We all formed our circle of friends and bonded closely. Before MBA, I was never exposed to this wide range of network and newness of the social circle. Growing up in India , I also wasn’t completely at ease with all the conversation starters and questions that people asked – “How was your weekend?” or “What are your plans for Friday?”. With its proximity to Europe and large number of holidays there’s the typical question of – “What are you plans for the long weekend?” So, I started preparing these answers beforehand as to what I would say and be done with it. This was beginning of my story creation.

And then soon the story creation expanded to my dating Adam – “What’s going on with you and Adam?” and then wedding plans, the long term relationship and babies. Or How’s my job? How’s my mediation going? Am I still going to Bikram Yoga every day – why did I start doing it every day – why did I stop doing it every day – why did I switch to ashtanga yoga? I had all the answers and story ready. And why was this a problem – well, if you repeat a story enough times then there is social pressure attached to it which in some ways ends up shaping your life and I was tired of it.

When we left London – our social circle was quite busy. I remember telling Adam that I was either having lunch/dinner with somebody or deciding when to have lunch/dinner with them. And that meant a steady stream of stories.

Then universe did its thing and we moved to Columbus where our social circle is far and few which is exactly what I wanted and with that the realization that I don’t have to prepare stories. I can just do what I want over the weekend and forget about what I did. There’s still that question of weekends but it’s usually just at home or dinner with in-laws so not much preparation there. Now, I do understand that this is an ice breaker and an important social ritual. It was actually quite a relief moving to Columbus.

How’s this all related to Belize? So when we had our first communal meal the memories came flooding back. Here, the typical question was “What did you do today?” We came to the island to do nothing and plan on doing nothing as well. This is when I realized that I had stopped creating stories at least for conversation sake.I had found the freedom to live life the way I wanted.

Stories to play a huge part in my life but different kinds – the one about Karma Kitchen, the quote from my prof., or an interesting BBC article on why we pick our nose.

Here is to Stories – Signing off with virgin Mojito in Thatch Caye. [With an empty glass and a hermit crab]
Link to Day 1