Category: Travel

Solo & Susegard

I’m currently relaxing in Goa and experiencing a sense of “susegard” which in Portuguese translates to being relaxed, contented and in a state of bliss when one chills by the seaside.

This is my first solo trip, though for just a day. My bestie joins me in a few minutes. And we will spend the weekend here; a weekend of madness and some mindless banter that we specialise in.

 

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Wordy Wednesday #1- Feb 2017 #BARWoWe : Love’s Epiphany

 

This Week: Word Prompts

Educate

Ethereal

Epiphany

Extraordinary

Basic guidelines:

Use the prompt in your posts.
Write a minimum of 100 words on the prompt.
Visit others. That’s it 🙂

It was the first day of February, The month that portended love. The month when many hearts came together as one, and many were reclaimed.

Jay and Sriparna were taking a trip to Thailand. A trip celebrating 10 years of togetherness. They had barely taken any one on one holidays due to their hectic schedules at work. They had left the kids with Dadi who was always more than happy to have them over and spend time pampering and teaching them new skills like baking, even making samosas, donuts, cross stitching etc.

On this balmy yet beautiful February morning on Sriparna’s insistence, they had taken off to yet another Buddhist temple. They had visited a few during their trip, but this one was supposed to be highly revered. As they walked through the grand, majestic door of the temple that was built in various hues, superimposed with a lot of gold, they caught sight of the extraordinary looking statue of Buddha. It sat there ensconced on a majestic seat, covered in the most resplendent finery. The look on Buddha’s face was ethereal and so very calming. The Buddha seemed to look back at Sriprana with benign eyes and bless her. Even Jay stopped short on his feet to gaze at the Buddha. He normally just wandered around aimlessly, just trying to be a good husband and giving Sriprana company. After all, they were on a romantic getaway together. 

Jay and Sriprana could not take their gaze away from the Buddha, There was something unexplainable, something so real, life-like about this Buddha that it had them spell-bound. Sriparna had read Buddha’s Lotus Sutra and many books written on him and his philosophy, but her leanings were always dismissed and brushed away by her side of the family, a family of staunch Hindu believers. Yet her quest for finding what worked best for her spiritually never ceased to exist. Jay was an atheist, yet open to any religion or form of spirituality. 

Sriparna saw a set of meandering stairs that led to the floor above the statue. She followed them through, to be greeted by a foyer which directly looked over the Buddha’s crown. She felt a magical halo around the crown of hair or Ushnisha, the three dimensional oval at the top of the head. She went down on her knees and  started meditating. The temple was almost empty and serenely quiet. As she meditated, with her eyes open, she felt tears of happiness trickle down her cheeks. She was experiencing a spiritual epiphany of sorts. She could feel the presence of Shakyamuni and his aura emanating back to her and speaking to her about the reason she was there- to embrace the Buddhist path, to imbibe the beautiful practice of unconditional love, of touching lives through compassion and acceptance, of making a real difference in this hatred-ridden world, and propagating world peace by educating people about love, harmony, and co-existence. 

Sriparna had found a love of a different kind, a love that was unexplainable. After all, it was the month of spring, the month when love found its way into many a hearts, knowingly or unknowingly. This was a divine kind of love. Ethereal, magical, truly incredible. 

Jay came up the stairs looking for her and was surprised to see that pristine look on Sriparna’s face and the blush on her cheek. The doors to love had just been unlocked, and a new kind of life awaited them.

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This post is written for Wordy Wednesday # 1– February 2017 #BARWoWe

Linking this post to https://blogarhythmblog.wordpress.com,

10 Day ‘You’ Challenge : 7 Wants

 

#ALLABOUTME #BLOGCHALLENGE

7 WANTS

  1. Travel the world and explore fascinating places and have memorable adventures while doing so. On my bucket list are to visit the Northern Lights, the Amazon forests, Spain, Galapagos islands, Arusha in Tanzania, Leh-Ladakh to name just a few.
  2. To be a certified Scuba diver and to get innumerable opportunities to go diving.
  3. Experience the exhilaration of sky diving.
  4. To continue spinning magic with my words, and to never ever stop writing. To write that book soonest. And to get on with writing related work that I really enjoy doing.
  5. To live by the sea and in the lap of nature.
  6. To have a world free of bloodshed, poverty, anger, and hatred. Want to have a world that is ruled by love, love, and more love.
  7. To be fit and healthy always. Right now I really want to get back to exercising-cycling, boot camp. It’s been a long hiatus.

When in God’s Own Country: Part 2

Kerela was proving to be more mystical, more magical than anticipated. We were enamoured by the riot of colours, the lush, verdant nature, the innumerable species of birds and insects, and the fresh crispy air that we inhaled. The DH and I love waking up early even on vacations. We feel the beauty of these pristine places can be savoured and experienced while everybody else sleeps. We love to go for our morning run or walk and unfailingly pack our workout gear.

The girls were fast asleep in their cottage. Al took off for his run while I chose to stick to my favourite activity, cycling. There were a whole bunch of cycles. I pedaled furiously around the property hoping to burn some of the calories I had gained over the last two days. But then our input outweighed the output. Well, we were on vacation so it was okay to take that leeway.

After having done with our rounds of workout, we sat at the patio and sipped into some soulful masala chai. The girls were awake by then and wanted to go pedal boating in the lake within the property. So we jumped into the boat and pedaled our way around the length and breadth of the serene, sensuous lake, where Kari meens surreptitiously swam away into unknown corners and hideouts. The morning breeze felt sublime and sweet. Once done we clamoured to the open restaurant for breakfast. A bevy of swans announced their arrival by making raucous sounds, begging for breakfast. The hotel staff gave us some bread to feed them. The little one was excited and forgot all about her breakfast and wandered around the swans feeding and cooing at them. The swans were not too friendly and when given a chance tried to peck back with guarded hostility.

Our day plans were as dreamy as the captivating land we were in. It was something we were eagerly anticipating a houseboat ride on the Vembanad lake. We arrived at the jetty well before time and our grandiose boat stood there anchored and steady. As we made our way into it, we were greeted by a lovely dine in area with a living room space with two open doors. There was an al fresco space where we could  sit and enjoy the balmy breeze and where the pilot or helmsman of the boat would be seated steering us through the huge expansive lake. There were also  two cosy bedrooms to boot.

Vembanad lake is so vast that it seems like a huge river. No wonder it is the longest lake in India. The houseboat had a chef and helper who served us our welcome drink and some munchies, while they got busy in the kitchen rustling up fresh Kerela cuisine of fish, chicken an array of vegetables. We savoured the beautiful lake and its wondrous view, as the breeze played with us coquettishly.

We passed various landmarks by the banks of the that were dotted by
the coconuts palms including an old, abandoned church which appeared eerie and haunted. We stopped by the bank to buy some toddy, the local drink which is extracted from the new buds of coconut palm. This drink is fermented and consumed and supposedly elixir to the local soul. We also stopped to buy some freshly netted tiger prawns.

Lunch was beyond sumptuous. We gorged on the various delicacies and smacked our lips in contentment when we were done. Our entire family, we realise is a fan of Malyali cuisine. The Tiger prawns were reserved for the evening snack.

Aarshia and I had another incredible experience of manoeuvering the boat, around the Vembanad lake. It was exhilarating to say the least. I felt unstoppable, as the breeze flirted with my hair and caressed my face.

Our Little Helmswoman

But then all good things have to come to an end. The sun was readying to go down and welcome the upcoming dusk and it was time to bid adieu to the Vembanad lake till the next time, whenever that would be. We docked back at the hotel jetty partially satiated to the soul and craving more adventure in God’s Own Country. Our next destination beckoned us, and the chances of visiting another more than surreal place seemed plausible and inviting.

Haunted? Abandoned?

When in God’s Own Country: Part 1

It was that time of the year when the sweetness of the spring was merging with the balmy summer. The board exams were done and dusted with. It was time to take off on a long cherished vacation and what better place than Kerela, God’s Own Country in South India. My dream destination for many years now.

We landed at Kochi (Cochin) well in time to head for Kumarakom, a sleepy, serene town in the backwaters of Kerela. It was a 3/4 hour car drive through the quaint little villages from the coastline of Cochin that looked a resplendent green, despite being a city. Simplicity wafted from everywhere, as we saw mundu clad men, and women adorning beautiful flowers in their nicely oiled hair, at almost every nook and corner. We stopped to pick up some local fruits and managed to get a big bunch of bananas-both the red and small yellow at an interestingly meagre price. It amazes us no end to see how reasonable these towns are compared to the cities we inhabit. There was a vendor selling a cartload of dried fish which I hadn’t seen ever since Philippines and I craned my neck out of the car window to grab its scent. We didn’t stop to buy any as the DH felt it was time we reached our dainty destination, Kumarakom.

Our hotel lay nestled by the banks of the Vembanad Lake, and we were greeted by the warm and friendly staff with garlands of shells and a welcome drink of gigantic coconuts which had the juiciest of coconut water. The coconuts were encapsulated in these jute holders, rustic and creative at the same time.

We were enchanted by the lush, fragrant beauty of the property, the ducks and swans dawdling near the artificial lake that looked as natural as one could imagine. The languorous lake was situated right in the middle of the property. Quaint cottages with lovely sit-outs, cycling tracks, nesting sites for birds, unending patches of green, huge, ancient trees and creaky wooden bridges, dotted it’s periphery. The lake abounded in talapias or kari meen. And one could sit quietly outside the cottages with a wooden fishing rod and go hook, line and sinker.

Since it was post lunch time and we were ravenous, we scrambled to the open restaurant that lay sprawled next to the lake and gorged on some lip smacking Malayali cuisine. I, of course opted for meen (fish) curry with big helpings of rice. There were prawns and other mouth-watering delicacies to choose from too.
Thereafter we walked back to our cottage to catch 42 winks. The girls were too excited and jumped into the swimming pool even before we could tell them to give it sometime post lunch. I grabbed my note pad and headed to the pool too with a mug of lemon green tea and just sat their savouring the awe-inspiring, resplendent colours of nature and the serenity the place had to offer.
Before we knew it, it was tea time and apparently from the banks of Vembanad lake we could watch the sun go down and sip on some masala tea and bite into some vadas, we were told. We headed as quickly as we could. Arusha was already there, engaging in some warm banter with the Mehendi woman who created this lovely pattern on her hand.
A surprise awaited us as the skyline turned a greyish-dark blue from the golden azure. Fruit bats, the size of a little dog flew overhead, en route their night haunt from the forest next door. There were hundreds and hundreds of them. It was a magnificent sight. We were told earlier they would come and hang around the trees of the hotel, but offlate they had moved to newer pastures. There was a little jetty, where I went and plonked myself and after a while I lay on my back, gazing at the star-spangled sky as the crescent moon appeared, lighting up not just my heart but the Vembanad lake and the surrounding flora. It was a beautiful dusk and a surreal way to end the day. But little did we know there was more in store.

As we walked back to our cottage we noticed diyas lined along the length and breadth of the lake, flickering their light into yet another young, radiant night. The crickets were busy engaging in their orchestrated symphony and we heard an owl hoot from the nearby tree. Before we knew it she was swooping overhead and caught her evening supper.

Supper, yes! We freshened up and headed for another sumptuous Malyali meal which began with a glass or two of Rosaˆ The aroma of freshly ground coconut and a medley of spices wafted from the other tables as we bit into the local papoddams. A group of demurely dressed girls from the local village, in resplendent off-white silk sarees with golden boders and vibrant blue blouses engaged in sequences of graceful dances as the musicians made magic with their tablas and instruments. We watched in rapt attention at their bright, beaming expressions and the grace, poise  and sweet demanour with which they swayed step after step, in rhythm with the music and the beatific night.

It would be an understatement if I said I slept like a baby. After all, “sweet dreams are made of these, who am I to disagree, I travel the world and seven seas, everybody is looking for something.” Mine is calm, nature, serenity and the surreal stuff Mother nature abounds in. The stuff, quaint little places are made of…

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