Aboard a Jet Airways flight from Mumbai to Dubai. Seeing the business-class cabin empty, I joke to the stewardess that she should just let us sit there. She tells us that the seats have takers. Sure enough, there is a hubbub later as passengers go up from economy to the front to take pictures - of Bollywood couple Ajay Devgn and Kajol.
Take a taxi to the Sharjah Cricket Stadium to watch the last day's action of Australia's tour match against Pakistan A before the Test series begins. My last memories of living in India and watching cricket on TV are of Sachin Tendulkar's "desert storm" innings, so the visit to the stadium feels a bit like a pilgrimage. There are still hoardings and advertisements in the stadium from when a portion of the IPL was held there many months earlier.
Pick up my press pass at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium. Beautiful arena with plush facilities, but far away from the city centre. Need to take the metro and then a bus to get there.
Pre-series pressers with the captains. Clarke makes eye contact with the person he's responding to. Misbah-ul-Haq has an emotionless stare fixed on a spot faraway. Both very professional at handling the press.
First day of the Dubai Test. On the bus to the ground, meet a couple from Yorkshire, Ian and Sue Jones, who have been travelling to warmer climes every English winter for the last 15-odd years to follow cricket.
Realise while trying to interview Mudi Pa that Skype-to-phone calls are not allowed in the UAE for some reason. Internet helps in identifying a reliable VPN service that re-routes the call through another country, which allows Skype-to-phone to work. The things you learn on a world trip!
Australia take the Test to the final session, threatening to draw the match, but lose. It could have been one of those blockbuster nerve-wracking draws that make Test cricket what it is, and given me "I was there" bragging rights, but alas, it is not to be. Clarke comes to the presser and soaks up the blame, while giving credit to Younis Khan and Pakistan. He showed up for the previous days when Australia didn't do well, too. My respect for him goes up, for showing he is ready to cop it for the team. Some teams send assistant coaches to the pressers after they have had bad days.
Attend a media interaction at ICC headquarters. Presentation on DRS and the upcoming World Cup. Then a q&a with ICC chief executive David Richardson. Not happy with the responses and explanations I get for my questions on DRS. Request Richardson to be on Couch Talk. He says, "Maybe." We get a tour of the building. Get to see the new office of N Srinivasan.
Pre-match presser day. Wait at the ground for three hours for Australia to finish training to interview their assistant coach Craig McDermott. Conduct the interview by the sightscreen even as the nets session winds down. You can hear Steven Smith nail them in practice in the background. The normally subdued Chris Rogers hits one out of the park and the team hollers and whoops it up.
First day of second Test in Abu Dhabi. Another Younis century. Clarke fronts up to the press again. Get delayed by work in the press box and Abu Dhabi traffic. Rush to the airport to catch flight to Sri Lanka.
Land in Sri Lanka. Made cranky by the red-eye flight and the annoying cellphone and foreign exchange hawkers at the airport. Glad to be in the taxi finally, to nod off on the way to the home of Andrew Fernando of ESPNcricinfo in Colombo's suburbs. It is the monsoon season in Sri Lanka and one can feel it in the humidity.
Take the train down the picturesque south-west coast to Galle. Walk to the Galle Stadium, which still has a lot of banners of Mahela Jayawardene from his last Test in Sri Lanka. Kids in whites play a schools game. Plenty of spin bowling but the match is cut short by rain. Story of the trip. There is no international cricket on in Sri Lanka at the time but the West Indies High Performance Centre team was visiting, and the matches I was planning on watching get washed out.
Take a seven-hour bus ride from Galle via Hambantota to Tissamaharama for a safari at Yala National Park - the best place on the planet to spot leopards in the wild. An hour into our safari, we see one resting on top of a rocky outcrop, warming up in the morning sun. We see a couple more later on. On our way back, we notice kids playing cricket just beyond the boundaries of the park. Brave souls!
Back in Colombo, visit the Cricket Club Café. All the items on the menu are named after cricketers. "Ian Botham's Banana Split". The restaurant has cricket memorabilia from all over the world, displayed country-wise. You can tell from the fact that there is a Bradman Bar - at the centre of the restaurant - that cricket-mad Australians set it up.
Train to Kandy. Relief from the heat of Colombo as we slowly chug up the mist-covered mountains. Stay near Trinity college, Kumar Sangakkara's alma mater.
Oversleep and nearly miss the early-morning flight to Bangladesh. Wake up just three hours before the flight. Manage to get there in time. Fall asleep at a friend's place in Gulshan, Dhaka. Wake up to Rohit Sharma's 264 on the telly. Take overnight bus to Chittagong.
Day three of the third Test between Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. First session in the stands but the BCB media liaison invites us to the press box. Watch the remainder of the Test from there.
Stay an extra day in Chittagong to take part in a media cricket tournament. Get to open the bowling for the "journalists" team with a taped tennis ball. Three-over spell. Two catches dropped off my bowling. ESPNcricinfo's Mohammad Isam takes three wickets with his left-arm orthodox spin.
Aboard the Jet Airways flight from Dhaka to Mumbai. It's the same stewardess from our Mumbai-Dubai flight. She recognises us and gives us extra beer. Good times.