Uma Nair is a familiar face on the mini screen. In fact, many of us remember her as a child artist who had a successful innings with several noteworthy roles in television serials. She took a hiatus after marriage and was back in action around 2014.
She did a notable role in the Prithviraj-starrer 'James and Alice' and her mini screen characters are currently garnering much attention and affection among family audiences.In a free-wheeling chat the actress talks about how travelling is an important part of her life.
"These days, most of the travelling I do is part of temple visits," says Uma. "Guruvayoor Sree Krishna temple is the place I go to most frequently. I take a day or two off from my work in TV serials to find the time. Usually I drive from Thiruvananthapuram to Guruvayoor," she says.
Apart from the passion for driving, there is another reason for travelling by car. It gives her the leisure to visit friends on the way, says Uma. "For me, travelling is an opportunity to meet friends. I need to stop in almost every district if I am going to meet them on the way somewhere. That is one reason why I prefer driving than travelling by other means. So by the time I get to Guruvayoor, I have a good time meeting and talking with my friends. After a stay at Guruvayoor and a good darshan of Lord Krishna, I come back relaxed and fresh," says Uma.
Mumbai in a day
Travels are never complete without storing the memories away in her camera, says Uma. Photography is close to her heart and travelling is an opportunity to wield the camera to her heart's content, says this talented actress who has wrote and directed the Malayalam short film, 'Daily Hero.'
"I was invited to attend an event hosted by the Malayali Association in Mumbai. I reached a day earlier to find some time for sightseeing. It turned out to be a beautiful day filled with the sights and sounds of the old city and plenty of memories captured on camera. Of course, a single day allows you only a peek of the grand old city, but I thoroughly enjoyed my time there."
The villages of Tamil Nadu
If you chance upon Uma in one of the interior villages in Tamil Nadu and suspect that it’s a look alike in all probability, you might be in for a surprise. The actress says that she is a regular in villages like Thanjavur and Kacheepuram.
Says Uma, "I have lost count of the times I have been to the quaint old villages of Tamil Nadu. They just continue to cast their spell on me. It seems as if the streets smell of art and silk. I find it so fascinating that the people of these villages have been able to preserve their art, music and culture through all these centuries. And the fact that they have held on to their culture is reason enough to respect them."
Her favourite mode of transport in Tamil Nadu is bus service. "There are direct buses from Trivandrum to Madurai. I get down there and travel by buses to the villages. In fact, I enjoy those bus rides more than travelling in trains or by car. Maybe it's the love for the place, but I find the climate and everything else about it absolutely entrancing. The most enjoyable journeys are those in the night and early mornings," she says.
Uma remembers how one such night journey through an interior village had kept her on her toes. ''The bus I was travelling in broke down in the middle of the night. And there I was stranded in the middle of nowhere in the company of strangers. There's no late-night bus service in those remote villages. The next bus would come by only in the morning. Since there was nothing else to do, I thought I might as well not get tensed. I spent the whole night in the bus, just sitting and staring into the night. I don't remember being scared at any point, but it's a journey that I will remember."
Kashi and Kailas top travel goals
Uma says that she's bitten by the wanderbug for a reason. "I inherited it from my mother. She’s a committed travel enthusiast. In fact, I am the one at home who has done the least amount of travelling. I took to dance at a very young age and started taking lessons. Holidays meant dance classes every day. My mother planned her journeys around school vacations. But I was torn between wanting to go and wanting to stay back for my dance classes. Those days, my passion for dance got the better of me on most occasions. My mother and sister however did not want to miss the chance to travel and would go ahead without me," Uma says.
She adds that she has given herself some major travel goals to make up for lost time. Her dream journey is a trip to Kashi and Kailash. "I am a devotee of Shiva; in fact I think the more appropriate description would be that I am in awe of the concept of Shiva. As the two most important places connected with the mythology of the Lord, I want to visit Kashi and Kailash at least once."
Next on her list are Kulu and Manali. The lore about the beauty of the hill stations never fail to ignite the desire to visit them each time it is repeated by someone, she says.
Beach person, period
"Beaches are my go-to places, on good days and bad days. Sometimes it is consolation that I seek and sometimes it is to double the happiness of a happy occasion. I have gone to most of the beaches in Kerala. But my favourite one is the Chavakkad beach in Thrissur. It isn't crowded like most other beaches, which makes it the perfect spot to spend some quiet time," says Uma.
She adds in the same breath that Sankhumukham beach, the most well-known in her home town Trivandrum, is equally dear to her. ''It is also the beach that I go to most frequently; only that it feels more like going right on to the courtyard of your home than a picnic spot.''
Mookambika, the abode of peace
If there is one place that spells peace and tranquility, it is the Mookambika temple for her, says Uma. On each trip, she goes to 'Kudajadri,' the mountain peak that sets the backdrop to the Mookambika temple.
"There are jeeps that take you about halfway. From there, you have to walk uphill on foot. I have journeyed up the mountains so many times by now, but it feels like a new experience each time. The whole geography has something sacred about it - the mountain, the air and the peace that fills your heart are unmatched. If I am asked to pick one place that is dearest to me, it would be Kudajadri," winds up Uma.