OK, You PERVERTS And DRAMA QUEENS! (Most Popular Entries)

OK, You PERVERTS And DRAMA QUEENS! (Most Popular Entries)

My first day of med school. Will I ever travel again?

The Monsoon Diaries’ 10 most POPULAR posts

…courtesy of Google Analytics

10. June 24th, 2010 – Mae Sot, Thailand – The Thing About Squat Toilets

83 visits, 83 unique visitors, 03:09 average visit time (winner for longest visit time)


9. June 27th, 2010 – Penang, Malaysia – The Thing About Facial Hair

105 visits, 99 unique visitors, 01:34 average visit time.


8. August 11th, 2010 – New York City – Afterplay

109 visits, 95 unique visitors, 02:16 average visit time


7. July 6th, 2010 – Gunung Bromo, Indonesia – I’ve Seen Things You People Wouldn’t Believe II

113 visits, 83 unique visitors, 02:09 average visit time


6. July 20th, 2010 – Udaipur, India – Udaipur is Pretty Pimp

116 visits, 107 unique visitors, 02:25 average visit time


5. June 10th, 2010 – Hanoi, Vietnam – Miss You, Dad

128 visits, 120 unique visitors, 01:53 average visit time


4. August 11th, 2010 – New York City – As If I Didn’t Have Enough Coincidences

132 visits, 101 unique visitors, 01:42 average visit time


3. June 5th, 2010 – Batad, Philippines – I’ve See Things You People Wouldn’t Believe

196 visits, 97 unique visitors, 01:04 average visit time


2. August 8th, 2010 – Mamallapuram, India – INJURY, AHHHHH!!!!!!!

210 visits, 202 unique visitors, 02:59 average visit time


1. July 3rd, 2010 – Bali, Indonesia – How Awesome/Unfortunate Is This Tan?

226 visits, 212 unique visitors, 01:11 average visit time


I start medical school today. I hope Brooklyn will be as interesting as Bangalore.


- At time of posting in New York City, it was 22 °C - Humidity: 93% | Wind Speed: 4km/hr | Cloud Cover: broken clouds


And the Awards Go To…

And the Awards Go To…


Most Generous Hosts: Saraswati Reddy, Avanti Maluste

Best Lifesavers: Vaibhav Shah, Arjun Rajagopal

Earliest Riser: Supraja Sudharsan at 5am

Fastest Response Time: Cindy Chang

Miss Congeniality: Madhurya Reddy

Best Unexpected Travel Partners: Fiona Mary Lewis, Claire McBride

Best Foreign Foreigner: Ryu Hyeon Joo (Korean), Anna Armengol & Ines Moreno (Spanish)

Best Dance Partner: Jazba Singh

Best Dinner Partner: Gillian Grossman

Best Conversations: Nikita Bhalotia

Best Night Adventure: Erin Meyer

Most Curious: Steffi Haberland

Best Brief Encounter (old friend): Sajni Mehta, Nikita Manilal – 2 hrs.

Best Brief Encounter (complete stranger): Kitty Van’t Geloof – 3 hrs.

Best Brief Encounter (friend of a friend): Vineet Devaiah – 2 hrs.

Best Brief Encounter (family): The Baraodawalas

Most Random/WTF Awards: Nikita Bhalotia, Steffi Haberland, Kitty Van’t Geloof, Jamie Fleming, Yiru Li, Lydia & Danielle

Best Planned Reunion: Rebecca Joseph

Best Unplanned Reunion: Jamie Fleming

Best “Bro” – Tanmay Dhanania, Dave Levin

Best College Nostalgia – Nishant Dixit, Mrinal Mohanka, Thommen Ollapally

Best Translator: Etri Pratiwi

Best Party Animal: Shyama Rajendran

Most Energetic: BX Tang

Best Effort on Nightlife: Van Nguyen

Best House Party: Saniya Gupta & Malika

Best Dynamic Duo: Hansika & Ashiba Sahni

Most Interesting Drama: Natasha Hoban

The Humanitarian Award: Geoff Soe Lin Aung

Best Group Dinner: Alice Cazenave, Rebecca Joseph, XiaoXiao Peng, Mic Smith, Andy Coclough, Mathilde Utzon, David

Most Understanding: Jackson Gore

Most Impressive Traveler: Jamie Fleming

Best Bar Conversation: Holly Taylor

Most Anticipated Promise for my next travel partner: Shivani Khatau

Most Potential for my next travel partner: Jean Pak

Longest Goodbye: Julia Grochla, Nikita Bhalotia

The Hardest Goodbye: Nikita Bhalotia

Who are these people? See their pretty faces at: https://monsoondiaries.com/friends/


- At time of posting in New York City, it was 22 °C - Humidity: 78% | Wind Speed: 8km/hr | Cloud Cover: scattered clouds


Monsoon Diaries By The Numbers

Monsoon Diaries By The Numbers

Days traveled: 72

Countries Visited: 12 (Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Indonesia, Taiwan, China, India)


  • # old Friends I ran into: 15 (Manila: Shyama, Saigon: Van, Mae Sot: Geoff, Singapore: BX & Sajni & Lillian, Mumbai: Avanti & Shivani & Nikita Manilal & Mrinal, Hyderabad: Vaibhav & Saraswati, Taipei: Cindy & Edward, Chennai: Jean)
  • # friends I tried but failed to meet with: 9 (Manila: Tiffany Qua, Bangkok: Papkori, Hyderabad: Sonia Sethi, Kuala Lumpur: Harn, Calcutta: Shuli, Goa: David, Mae Sot: Emily Setton, Mamallapuram: Natasha & Holly)
  • # new friends of friends I was referred to and I sought out: 6 (Calcutta: Tanmay, Bangalore: Vineet & Sap, Chennai: Arjun & Supraja, Surabaya: Harn’s park ranger friend at Gunung Bromo)
  • # new friends of friends I was referred to and I successfully met with: 4 (Calcutta: Tanmay, Bangalore: Vineet, Chennai: Arjun & Supraja)
  • # new friends I’ve made on this trip that I eventually reunited with: 5 (Varanasi to Jaipur: Rebecca, Hampi to Bangalore: Natasha & Holly, Hyderabad to Singapore: Nikita Bhalotia, Hampi to Mamallapuram: Jamie)


  • # times I ate out alone: 7 (Hanoi evening, Singapore lunch, Calcutta dinner, Jodhpur dinner, Bangalore lunch 2x)
  • # hookah sessions: 16 (Manila, Saigon, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore 4x, Jakarta, Bali, Udaipur, Hyderabad 3x, Goa 2x, Bangkok)
  • # nights out: 14 (Manila, Saigon, Phnom Penh, Siemreap 2x, Bangkok, Luang Prabang, Bali, Singapore 2x, Mumbai 2x, Goa, Bangalore)
  • # times dancing: 10 (Manila, Saigon, Phnom Penh, Bangkok, Bali, Singapore, Mumbai 2x, Goa)
  • # dance battles: 14 (Phnom Penh, Bali 2x, Mumbai, Goa 10x)
  • Longest time without dancing: 14 days (from Singapore to Mumbai)
  • Highest density of attractive people: Taipei and Bangalore


  • Amount of Purell/hand sanitizer used: 55ml
  • Amount of Sunscreen used: 7.5 oz.
  • Amount of 33% DEET cream used: 4.5 oz.
  • Amount of Off! and Lemon Eucalyptus spray (insect repellant spray) used: 3 oz.
  • Amount of toothpaste used: 1.5 oz.
  • Amount of dry skin/hand lotion used: 0.25 oz
  • Amount of Immodium used: 14 mg (7 caplets)
  • Amount of Pepto used: 8 mg (8 tablets)
  • Amount of Advil used: 1200 mg (6 gel caplets)
  • Amount of cipro antibiotic used: 1500 mg (3 tablets)
  • Amount of eyedrops used: 0
  • Amount of azithromycin antibiotic used: 0
  • # rolls of toilet paper used: 1/2


  • # stomach troubles: 3 (Vientiane, Udaipur, Bangalore)
  • # fevers: 2 (Vientiane, Mae Sot)
  • # collisions: 2 (motorbike in Saigon, bicycle in Bangalore)
  • # tanning sessions: 2 (Bali, Goa)
  • # sunburns: 3 (Batad, Halong Bay, Bali)
  • # times went swimming: 5 (Halong Bay, Luang Prabang, Bali, Goa, Mamallapuram)
  • Longest without a shower: 3 days
  • Longest without doing laundry: 4 days


  • # moments when I shed a few tears: 2 (Golden Temple at Amritsar, ending my trip in Singapore)
  • # moments when I took a leap of faith: 4 (Halong Bay diving 2x, Luang Prabang swinging, Beng Melea roof jumping)
  • # moments when I had a profound spiritual moment of self-awareness: 2 (Varanasi evening pooja, Golden Temple at Amritsar)
  • # moments when I felt like I was working for National Geographic: 6 (Batad Rice Terraces, Halong Bay, Goan waterfalls, Goan monsoon, Luang Prabang lagoons, Gunung Bromo)


  • # times woke up at an ungodly hour and cursed to myself, “FML!”: 9 (Siemreap sunrise, Singapore all-nighter, Amritsar dawn, Borobudur sunrise, Gunung Bromo sunrise, Bangkok 5am arrival, Jodhpur 5am arrival, Udaipur 5am arrival, Singapore 5am arrival)
  • # things lost: 7 (Manila: small Canon camera & rain jacket, Hanoi: Cell Phone, Halong Bay: Watch, Saigon: Hand towel, Bali: Silver bracelets, Singapore: Nikon LCD plastic cover)
  • # times almost lost my Nikon DSLR: 2 (7-Eleven in Kuala Lumpur, Taj Palace Hotel in Mumbai)
  • # things broken: 1 (one pair of convertible pants — the zippers broke in Singapore, thus they remain as shorts)
  • # thieves caught in the act of stealing: 1 (Hanoi with Corinne’s yellow backpack)


  • # times witnessed a heavy rainstorm: 23 (Hanoi 2x, Siemreap, Luang Prabang, Singapore, Varanasi, Mumbai 10x, Goa 6x, Calcutta)
  • # times actually caught in a heavy rainstorm and getting soaked to the bone: 5 (Luang Prabang, Singapore, Goa 2x, Calcutta)


  • # capital/larger cities where we used public transportation: 10 (Manila, Vientiane, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Yogyakarta, Singapore, Calcutta, Jaipur, Penang, Chennai)
  • # capital/larger cities where we did not use public transportation/public transportion was not available: 9 (Hanoi, Saigon, Phnom Penh, Vientiane, Jakarta, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bangalore)
  • # local buses used: 7 (Manila, Vientiane, Penang, Singapore, Yogyakarta, Jaipur, Chennai)
  • # subways used: 4 (Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Calcutta)
  • # skytrains used: 2 (Manila, Kuala Lumpur)
  • # boats used: 1 (Bangkok)
  • # times in an auto-rickshaw: 100+
  • # times I genuinely liked my auto-rickshaw drivers for not ripping me off: 3
  • # times on a motorbike: 2 (Udaipur 2x)
  • # times on a regular bike: 0
  • # times used a personal driver: 6 (Phnom Penh, Siemreap, Surabaya, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Mysore)
  • # planes: 28
  • # long-haul buses: 20
  • # trains: 3
  • Longest transportation: 50.5 hours on 3 buses from Hanoi to Saigon
  • Longest transportation on a single vehicle: 16 hour bus from Udaipur to Mumbai
  • Longest layover: 6 hours in Shanghai
  • Longest delay: 4 hours in Vientiane, waiting for Laos Air flight to Luang Prabang


  • # new stamps in the passport: 31
  • # sticker one-page visas on arrival: 5 (Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Indonesia 2x)
  • # World Heritage Sites SEEN: 10 (Batad Rice Terraces, Angkor Wat temple complex, Hampi, Borobudur, Prambanan, Luang Prabang, Halong Bay, Hoi An, Penang, Mumbai’s Victoria Train Station)
  • # World Heritage Sites MISSED: 6 (Monuments in Hue, Huang Long Citadel in Hanoi, Mumbai’s Elephanta Caves, Churches of Goa, 5 Raitas in Mamallapuram, Jama Mantor in Jaipur)


  • Total Traveling Expenses (includes all airfare, trains, buses, public transportation, taxis, and autorickshaws): $3972.45
  • Total Lodging Expenses (includes all hotels, guesthouses, hostels, and paying back friends for their hospitality): $793.99


  • Slowest Internet: Laos
  • Fastest Internet: Thailand
  • Longest time in an internet cafe: 7 hours (Taipei)


  • # pictures taken: 10,195
  • # pictures deleted: 5,854
  • # pictures kept: 4,341
  • Video taken: 47 minutes


- At time of posting in New York City, it was 26 °C - Humidity: 40% | Wind Speed: 7km/hr | Cloud Cover: n/a


“Kuch Bhi Ho Sakhta Hai”

“Kuch Bhi Ho Sakhta Hai”


If it’s not already playing, press play. And then start reading. 


The echoes of Jeff Buckley. An autorickshaw roars by an airport runway. I came in as a stranger, left as a friend. I came in unsure what I was looking for, I left knowing what I needed to search for.

It’s not about sights I’ve seen or places I’ve been. Those play second fiddle to the countless unfamiliar beds, floors, sleeper buses, trains, flights, and bathrooms. Second fiddle to the countless moments of loneliness and ephemeral relationships, to the countless hassles and bargaining touts, to the countless tricycles, rickshaws and taxis, to the countless faces and conversations.

It’s not about the destinations.

It’s about that note you slipped into my hand at Calcutta Airport asking me out to coffee,

how you let me feet rest on your lap at 3 in the morning before my flight to Varanasi,

how we laughed into the late nights of Singapore,

the dinner we enjoyed under the shadow of the Golden Temple in Amritsar,

the 3 hour history lesson from WWI to the Israel-Palestine conflict while overlooking the Ganges at night,

the nod of your head to accompany me from Jodhpur to Udaipur since you couldn’t speak a word of English,

the weekend trip to Mamallapuram you let me take you and your friends,

the old friends and new friends of friends in Mumbai,

the silent cab ride we shared to Varanasi airport,

the delicious desserts we shared at a lounge in Delhi airport,

the undying hospitality of an acquaintance and your family in Hyderabad,

the undying hospitality of an old friend and your family in Mumbai,

the random conversation between strangers on a Hyderabad bus that led to 2 surreal days in Singapore,

the lunch you invited me to after 2 minutes of introductions at an internet cafe in Amritsar,

the familiarity of a school dorm and lecture hall at the Indian School of Business,

the sheesha puffed into our mouths on Arab Street,

the sheesha puffed into our mouths in Hyderabad,

the dance-off we had in Mumbai,

the home-cooked meals in over 15 cities,

the 5 days together starting from a quick question about Hampi temples to being roommates on the beaches of Goa,

the reunion handshake while waiting for the bus to Mamallapuram,

the reunion hug in Jaipur after 3 days apart,

the reunion hug on a rooftop bar in Bangalore after a week apart,

the reunion hug in Singapore after 2 weeks apart,

the reunion hug in Singapore after a month apart,

the reunion hug in JFK Airport after a few months apart,

the reunion hug in a Chennai hotel after a year apart,

the way you came out from your GRE class just to hug me before I left for Hampi,

the way I looked back at you in the cab,

the moment I asked to give me your hand in saying goodbye,

…and the way I say all my goodbyes: the kind of embrace no one forgets, the three seconds of wishing you could say and do more, the final look in the eyes before life moves on, the turn of the back that you wish could just mean “see you soon.”

Well, friends, see you soon. Kuch bhi ho sakhta hai.


Monsoon Diaries By The Numbers

Word Associations

Philippines: Laid Back

  • Manila: Wistful
  • Banaue/Batad: Grand
  • Tagaytay: Single-minded

Vietnam: Frenzy

  • Hanoi: Bustling
  • Hue: Tasty
  • Saigon: Sprawling

Cambodia: Polar

  • Phnom Penh: Heartbreaking
  • Siemreap/Angkor Wat: Breathtaking

Laos: Lethargic

  • Vientiane: Vacant
  • Luang Prabang: Romantic

Thailand: Flashy

  • Chiang Mai: Comfortable
  • Mae Sot: Quaint
  • Bangkok: Hedonism

Myanmar: Overlooked

  • Myawaddy: Foresaken

Malaysia: Blooming

  • Penang: Aromatic
  • Kuala Lumpur: Cosmopolitan

Indonesia: Adventure

  • Bali: Vacation
  • Surabaya: Charmless
  • Gunung Bromo: Surreal
  • Yogyakarta: Rich
  • Jakarta: Congested

Taiwan: Familiar

  • Taipei: Glitzy

Singapore: Disney

India: Sensual

  • Calcutta: Lively
  • Varanasi: Holy
  • Amritsar: Spiritual
  • Jaipur: Dusty (Pink)
  • Jodhpur: Relaxed (Blue)
  • Udaipur: Charming
  • Mumbai: Haven
  • Hyderabad: Personal
  • Hampi: Magical
  • Hospet: Unattractive
  • Goa: Lush
  • Bangalore: Effortful
  • Mysore: Adequate
  • Chennai: Frustrating (Learning Curve)
  • Mamallapuram: Pleasant

Singapore II: Fateful

New York City: Home


- At time of posting in New York City, it was 21 °C - Humidity: 86% | Wind Speed: 5km/hr | Cloud Cover: scattered clouds


Monsoon Diaries By The Numbers

Returning Pains

It’s weird to…

  • have a hot shower with good water pressure.
  • have a clean bathroom.
  • have more than 4 pairs of underwear, 5 pairs of socks, 5 shirts and 1 pair of pants to choose from.
  • have an insulated cab.
  • lie in a familiar bed.
  • dig through clothes from a closet instead of a bag.
  • have a working computer with uninterrupted, fast internet.
  • see Americans.
  • see diversity.
  • see familiar faces.
  • see yellow cabs.
  • leave tip.
  • hear English in American accents.
  • use a cell phone.
  • read time from a watch.
  • wear jeans.
  • wear more than one pair of pants.
  • wear a different pair of shoes.
  • brush my teeth with tap water.
  • drink tap water.
  • not having to think about how to bargain.
  • not having to think about finding the closest internet cafe.
  • not having to think about putting on mosquito repellant.
  • not having to think about taking daily malarial pills.
  • not having to think about sunburn.
  • not having to think about racing against time.
  • not having to think about fitting everything in one day.
  • not having to think about how to get to my next destination.


- At time of posting in New York City, it was 24 °C - Humidity: 79% | Wind Speed: 6km/hr | Cloud Cover: cloudy