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Features

On chef Manu Chandra’s bucket list: A trip to Russia, rural China

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Chef Manu Chandra shares experiences that shaped his life as a traveller.

A little bit of downtime

“I don’t take holidays. The last time I took one was to the US three years ago, after a gap of 12 long years. I usually travel for work and extend my trip by a few days to do my own thing. After finishing the work leg of my trip in England recently, I checked out London’s clubbing scene, cooked Indian food for a family friend and visited a local grocery store. I believe you can learn a lot about a city from its department store than a historic castle alone. Exploring a city’s sub-culture is a priority for me. I like discovering hole-in-the-wall places. I have seen fist fights in Hong Kong’s clubbing district. I have visited a vintage crockery market in Verona. I have shopped for offbeat Chinese herbs in Taipe.”

Friends on the way

“I am a shy solo traveller and usually need my space. I was once flying back from England and my co-passenger was a mother trying to comfort her ailing son. She asked the air hostess for a blanket, which she cut up and transformed into a poncho for the kid. This sight stayed with me. Months later, I saw her dining at my restaurant in Bengaluru. She looked familiar, but I couldn’t place her. It struck me later that she was the hassled mother on the flight. I hunted for her comment card at the restaurant and found her email id. I wrote to her and narrated the story. She lives in Boston and is now a friend for life.”

I keep going back to…

“I have visited Rome several times already and would like to return again. I am a history buff and enjoy art and architecture. A lifetime at the Vatican museum isn’t enough. The historic city has so many layers that cannot be covered in a single lifetime. I like the chaos of cities.”

Out of the comfort zone

“I once entered a bar in Taipei, completely oblivious to its category positioning. I was taken by surprise when a drag queen hosted us. It, however, turned out to be fun and stands as one of my best night-outs. Step out of your comfort zone and learn to celebrate.”

Travelling solo

“I took my first solo trip at the age of 15. I visited Denmark. Travelling without a smart phone made it a solo trip in its truest sense. A hostess of the room I was staying at made me very comfortable and helped me with tips on getting around.”

On my bucket list

“I want to see Russia. It is a place shrouded in mystery. Rural China is another destination on my bucket list that I wish to explore for its food scene.”

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