Young actress Prayaga Martin is known for her witticisms and one related to travel goes like this, "The earth is always moving and it our responsibility to move around it."
A non-stop talker, Prayaga's trips to various corners of the globe does not follow the 'gypsy-style' journeys preferred by her generation. Prayaga, in fact, loves to travel with her family. She terms it 'Prayaga's life of happiness.'
Crazy about travelling, Prayaga lists four of her favourite destinations.
Stunning sights of Cape Town
Words cannot describe the beauty of Cape Town, says the actress. Even an amateur photographer's snaps of the area with a mobile camera would resemble Santosh Sivan's frames, according to Prayaga.
"My father often insists on visiting less-frequented destinations and my mother and I like this attitude of his," says the actress.
That was how the Cape Town trip came about. "Moreover, one of father's friends lived there, which made things easy," adds Prayaga.
Cape Town has two kinds of people, one at each extreme. On the one side are the super-rich and on the other very poor. "The people who reached the place as refugees are now the rulers and those who are the sons of the soil, their servants," comments Prayaga.
Among the interesting spots she visited was Chapman's Peak. It a mountain from the top of which one feels he or she is standing at the edge of the world. The biggest attraction of the place is watching the sunset. It is a picture postcard scenario, according to the actress. While young, she liked drawing pictures and one of the earliest was the setting sun between two hills. At Chapman's Peak, Prayaga could experience the sight at first hand.
From Chapman's Peak, Prayaga and family travelled over six hours in a mini caravan to Cango Caves. Along the route some wild African elephants intercepted; but they were lucky that the animals did not attack.
Cango Caves were formed before the middle ages, says Prayaga. It was pitch dark inside and each step had to be taken cautiously. "I felt fear creeping into me, but felt relieved hearing that legendary pianist and composer Beethoven used to sing in the caves. A clear echo is heard in the caves and I too sang the Malayalam hit 'Aayiram kannumayi kathirunnu nine njan,'" says the talented star.
Their next destination was Table Mount, a hill in the shape of a table. A rope ride and a cable car were the attractions there. She enjoyed all of them and returned late at night to the city. "Pubs and night life are very active in Cape Town. It seems the city and night are engaged in a love affair," comments Prayaga.
She also toured the University of Cape Town. "The atmosphere of the place is very conducive to academics. We could visit the university as the son of father's friend studied there. I felt a ‘Harry Potter effect’ at the place. It resembled a 'magic island,'" describes the star.
In fact, entire Cape Town seemed magical. "Feeling that I too was a sorceress, I uttered the charm chanted by Harry Potter with his magic wand, 'Riddikulus,' to turn everything comical. But nothing happened. Cape Town still retained it stately beauty," reveals Prayaga.
Strange traditions of Nepal
Prayaga travelled to Nepal while she was an eighth standard student. "After arriving there, we wondered whether the place was not part of India. But we soon realized that it was another country in the neighbourhood. As I way very young at that time, the Nepal trip is the diary of a young girl," she explains.
One tradition that she witnessed there hurt Prayaga. "A young girl, before attaining puberty, is selected as a 'Kumari,' the Goddess. It is the child’s mother who learns that her daughter is a ‘Devi’ when a serpent appears in her dream," the actress explains.
"There are many Kumaris in Nepal. At some places they are called 'Royal Kumari' and worshipped. The Kumaris stay at a house called 'Kumari Ghar.' However, when the girl attains puberty, her divinity is considered to have been lost. When I heard these tales, I became frightened," says Prayaga.
However, the charming smile of Buddhist monks in Nepal made her mind calm.
Another incident still clear in Prayaga's memory is a trip on a private jet. "Mount Everest, the world's highest peak, is located in Nepal. There is a private jet service that takes tourists above Everest. During those days, I was afraid of heights. Moreover, I heard an announcement in English that I thought said that changes in weather would affect the journey. I was terrified and closed by ears with my hands. In the jet, I chanted all the prayers I knew. Even now when I close my eyes to pray, I recall that scary Everest trip," says the star.
Trip to Holy Land
It was only after arriving in Holy Land that Prayaga realized that most people travel there at the fag end of their lives. "I felt that the place resonated with cries of repentance and regret. At the 'Wailing Wall,' everyone hit their head and spoke about their faults. However, nobody showed emotions of pain but only relief over washing away their sins," recalls Prayaga.
She also saw people scribbling 'letters to god' and inserting them in the crevices on the wall.
"At the place, I felt that spirituality was something beyond fear of god or belief in Him," observes the actress.
The next stop was the site of crucifixion. Prayaga soon reached the spot where Christ was buried. "There was big rush to kiss the spot. One would be lucky to spend even five seconds there. While leaving the place I saw a rosary lying on the ground and picked it up. I felt that it was something very precious and still preserve it as my most valuable item," relates the star.
A visit to the Dead Sea was also part of her itinerary. "As the salinity is very high, nobody will drown in the waters, but float like dead wood. It reminds us that we are all hollow people," comments the actress philosophically.
During this trip, Prayaga next travelled to Egypt. "I was stupefied by the sight of the massive pyramids. One has to see the pyramids at least once in their lives," she feels.
Dubai, where nostalgia lingers
Prayaga recalls every trip to Dubai fondly. "It was to Dubai that I took my first flight. It was where my birthday was celebrated while in Class I. It is still the place we head to during every holiday," she reveals.
She had visited every spot in Dubai, but not Desert Safari. "That wish too was realized recently. Earlier, I thought that roller-coaster offered the biggest thrill in life, but Desert Safari changed all that. Now I feel as if I have conquered all of Dubai," says Prayaga.
Prayaga has a dream; of travelling to a place covered with snow. This also will turn into a reality soon. "We are heading to Shimla for the shoot of a Kannada film," she says.
"Sometimes I feel that real life is the short period spent for travels," Prayaga makes another statement reflecting deep thought.