Early Morning Boat Ride

One of the must do’s while you’re relaxing in the backwaters is waking up before dawn to take a boat ride across the backwaters before the sun reaches its apex.

For someone like me, who absolutely loves sleeping in, this was quite the task. I woke up groaning and despite all my feeble attempts at backing out, muffled by the duvet I was hiding under so snugly, I found myself dragging my feet towards the dock with puffy, sleep laden eyes.

The ride begins gently but slowly floating past the infamous floating cottages. As one floats by them, one also gets to witness the idol of Mother Mary and the Cross built on a rock. It is a unique experience to see the hues on the idol come to life as the rays of the sun bask upon it, inch by inch. In much the same manner, the water too turns a different shade, seemingly dark maroon or purple, a trick of nature on the irises.

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Once past the floating cottages, the boat heads deeper into the groves where one gets to witness, thanks to the sharp eye of the guide and skipper, birds of different hues and species. Hidden behind heavy sets of leaves and often camouflaged, naive eyes would never notice the birds if it weren’t for the experienced skippers whose very livelihood depends on showing tourists around and impressing them with their keen eye for discovering, what otherwise would be very hard to detect, birds and animals.

One also gets to see houses hidden within the groves, with people waking up and doing their morning chores or getting ready to head out to earn their daily wages. Boats tied here and there indicated fishermen around as well.

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Somewhere between the purr of the motor from the boat and the echoes of birds chirping, an eerie comfort somehow settled upon us as the boat sailed around. Slipping in and out of little streams, created by cutting down hundreds of coconut tress, passing through nooks and crannies, arches made out of trees bent with age, we got to witness flora at its prime, wild in its beauty. From time to time, the skipper chipped in, informing the passengers of fruits that seemed deceivingly normal but were incredibly poisonous and flowers that seemed to be withering but were actually in full bloom and were used to medicate cuts and wounds.

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The entire boat ride was about an hour and a half long. The ride ended just as the sun was about to rise to its zenith. We stepped out and onto the dock feeling energised and awakened, the impression of such tranquil beauty leaving quite a deep impression on the mind and soul.


Experiencing the Backwaters

It has been quite some time since I have woken up, feeling refreshed and well rested, rather than cranky and groggy. The sun was beaming and there was a slight breeze, whistling as it brushed through the trees and bushes surrounding us.

As I had an appointment with the Spa in a couple of hours, my parents sun bathed beside the pool while I decided on a nice, sunny swim.

I hate gymming. Gymming and running, to be precise. It makes it difficult for me, therefore, to maintain a healthy regime. As a teenager, I was an exuberant participant in multiple sports. Basketball, badminton, swimming, horse-riding, I loved them all. Needless to say, I was toned and extremely fit. University and work ruined all of it. Swimming during this vacation, was not just an enjoyable excuse but also a welcome exercise. I did not realise just how much I had missed swimming until I dipped my toes and broke the surface of the cold water.

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Fun fact regarding my swimming costume while I am at it. Only after the vacation did I realise that I could sport the bikini top two-ways. I could either choose to don it as a halter or remove the straps and sport a cute and well fitted strapless top! Also, the neon print isn’t just for show. It glows in the dark, as I had noticed, the day before, when I had my evening swim.

Soon after, I headed for my spa appointment.(There will be a blog post about it in the coming week, so stay tuned!)

Post my spa treatment, my muscles so relaxed, I could barely move, I somehow dragged myself out of Jiva (the spa centre). Smelling heavily of scented oils, I decided on wearing something light and loose since I wasn’t allowed to bathe for the next hour or so.

Quick tip: Take a shower or bath after the hour is up. The scent becomes quite strong, the more it stays on and makes you feel quite queasy by the end, if you have it on longer than 60 minutes.

I suffered and learnt this bitter truth since we we had a 40 minute journey ahead of us, followed by checking into our resort at Poovar and then being reallocated. All in all, I ended up washing up about two hours later than instructed!

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Having arrived, we hopped onto a little boat, ferrying us across the backwaters to the resort. For all those who are unaware, the backwaters are a part of the river, untouched by the current. Hence, the waters are extremely still.

On our way to ‘Poovar Island Resort’, we saw multiple floating restaurants on one side and an expanse of sand on the other. The sand was a makeshift beach of sorts, barricading the sea. The sea in this part was in a constant state of high tide and the beach was quite unsafe, with various places marked dangerous since it was surrounded by quick sand.

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Beyond the conch lay vast acres of greenery. Flowers in full bloom, coconut trees looming everywhere and small paths weaving in and out, with hammocks in full use, welcomed us as we walked inside the resort.

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From the entrance, one could see tiny cottages popping up here and there with a swimming pool built right in the centre of the entire resort. Once check-in had been done, we were escorted to our floating cottage. Unfortunately, our first and last impression of the floating cottage wasn’t the best. It was dingy and somehow, just didn’t seem appeasing.

For the first time ever, I feel, I put my foot down. My parents had headed for lunch while I decided to wash off the oils from the spa treatment I had done before. Turns out, there was no water! Shocked, upset and taken aback, I stormed out and refused to enter the cottage until we were relocated to a better accommodation.

Thankfully, post lunch, we were housed in one of the newer accommodations which had a wonderful view of the entire resort with the sea visible in the far distance and a jacuzzi installed in the walk-in bathroom!

Come evening, we had a small tour of everything the resort had to offer. We soon realised, this part of the backwaters was best suited for a weekend getaway rather than a long vacation. So we decided to shorten our stay at Poovar and head back to Kovalam after two days rather than three.

Also, it seemed Poovar Island Resort hosted day trips and the like, since the resort seemed to be bustling with people throughout our time there. It was a surprising change from the quiet and calm of Kovalam where people were in their own space and silence was a calming blanket. It doesn’t imply that it was disturbing! The experience was simply different.

We were also informed of the Ayurvedic Village (a must do for everyone, I would say!), located in a small corner of the resort, tucked away from all the cacophony and bustle of tourists making the most of their vacation. Excited, we made ourselves a few appointments, deciding on giving our muscles as good a pamper session as our skin.

Stay tuned for more updates!


First Impression of Kovalam

I am not one to lose my calm when I am around my parents. Why? Because they’re capable of doing it without my help. They lose their marbles at the drop of a hat which is why, even if I want to, I can’t. But, they know, that if I start to panic, there really is something to worry about.

Headed to Kovalam had me worried. We had a super early flight and somehow, we were extremely close to missing it. We made it inside the airport with minutes to spare and my bad choices had me swearing under my breath, incessantly. The one time I should have worn sneakers, so that I could do all the running around with ease, I decided on 6 inch heels.

Poor judgement aside, we boarded our flight without much of a delay.

A stop over later, we had landed in Trivandrum.  After a fifteen odd minute drive , we were pulling into the breathtakingly beautiful resort, Vivanta by Taj. Beautifully structured and designed around waterfalls and forestry, the resort oozed serenity and calm. Welcomed with shell garlands, we settled down to cool ourselves, sipping on some refreshing coconut water while our backs were taken to our room.

Having toured all that we could of the resort while the receptionist was confirming the details of our check-in, we decided to stop by the sea. It gave us time to have a quick trip down to the beach, something, all of us were quite eager to visit.

The sun was at its peak, there was salt in the air and the waves were crashing relentlessly on the rocks.

Yes, my vacation had indeed begun.

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We then headed back to the resort where our lovely concierge Roshin surprised us by upgrading us to the Premium Deluxe Suite. Let me just say, the room was spectacular. With a gorgeous sea view, a panoramic view of the resort, two balconies and a walk in bathroom, I was all but ready to kick my heels off and collapse into the relaxing environment that was beckoning me, enticing me never to return to reality.

Having not had lunch, I decided on treating myself to Roasted chicken breast with rosemary, potato mash, mushroom jus and sautéed vegetables.

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I got quite obsessed with mushroom jus by the end of it, my father being witness to it. He actually caught me with my finger dipped deep in the jus, unabashedly treating it like a jar of nutella.


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On our way to the sea in the evening, we got to see more of the resort, landscape and design of the resort and everything it had to offer as we bumped along on the cute buggy that was driving us there.

Processed with VSCO with f3 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 presetRight next to the beach was a small lagoon. A boatman would, every forty minutes, seat three to four people in his boat and take them around the lagoon. Just as the sun was setting, we got into the wobbly boat, wearing extremely unflattering lifejackets. The boat ride was quaint. The stillness of the water breaking every time the oars splashed, was possibly the only sound one could hear, with the occasional screech or hoot of birds in the surrounding environment. None of us spoke. We simply absorbed the rustic beauty surrounding the village; the swoosh of the oars, hum of the boat floating slowly and our gentle breathing, creating a mild tune to keep us company.

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The water was so still, everything was a mirror reflection on its surface. On our way back, once the boat had turned around, we got to witness the sun setting. Shades of pink, purple and orange kissed the skies and watching it, had my heart fluttering at its beauty.

With our feet back on solid ground, we relaxed some more on the beach.  Eager to let loose the water soul I host, we headed back. The swimming pool in the resort was beautiful to say the least and I really wanted to dip my toes in and swim, something I hadn’t done in ages!

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The design of the swimming pool mimicked the infinity pools that have become so famous, with one side of the pool not walled, instead, ending in a steep drop. The view on the unwalled side of the pool was basically, a never ending view of the sea and the sky meeting, two distinct shades of blue, shaking hands.

Dad decided to give me company while I swum. Having not swum in ages, I decided to really push myself. By the end of it, my muscles were on fire, something I actually enjoyed. While I headed back for an extremely relaxing and LONG bubble bath, my parents headed for their spa appointments.

I think I dozed off in the bath. The warm water and the heady scent of lotus from the bubbles had me relaxed and I lost track of time. When I got out, I felt so sleepy. It was a good kind of exhaustion, not the kinds where you are weary and want to curl up and cry. Donning a bathrobe, I collapsed on the couch, all set with my book. Soon, my parents returned from their spa appointments, smelling of oils and looking, well…sticky.

Dinner was as succulent as lunch. I treated myself to Garlic butter prawns for an entrée and Pesto pasta for my main course. For dessert, I chose Tiramisu with shaved coffee flavoured chocolate.

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Well fed, relaxed to the point that our limbs were almost jelly-like, we hit the bed. For the first time, in what seems like forever, I fell asleep immediately. Actually, I didn’t even realise I had fallen asleep. Middle of the night, when I awoke, parched and in search of a water bottle, did I realise that I had fallen asleep and had been tucked into my bed by my Dad. Slightly embarrassing but adorable too, I’d say.

My first day in Kerala was perfect in every way!


To Helen, for Joni and everything else.

I first met Helen (Arv’s grandmother), when Arv and I decided to visit Brighton for a weekend which you can read about, here.

Any and all nerves that I had about meeting her, disappeared the minute I embraced her. Warm, loving and full of life, Helen made a place for herself in my heart, right away. When my parents came to visit me for my graduation and I decided to take them to Brighton as part of their tour of United Kingdom, I could not NOT introduce them to Helen.

She welcomed me into her life with open arms and since the day we met, there’s been no looking back. She has become my dearest pen pal, a confidante and an extremely special friend. Her ever giving heart has found so much love for me. On more than one occasion, I have forgotten that she is not my grandmother, although it barely if ever feels that way. Daily emails have ensured we keep in touch, updating each other about the minutest changes in our life with the frequent exchange of photographs as well, giving life to worded descriptions about the people in our lives.

During our conversations, Helen and I also exchange music and books. I gifted her This Modern Love by Will Darbyshire and she in turn encouraged me to give Joni: An Unforgettable Story, a read.

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I remember sitting next to her, listening to her as she read out verses from the Bible, to my parents and me. Despite being an atheist, her calming voice and steady belief nestled the heavy restlessness I had been harbouring for weeks. Having sensed that emotion and others as well, Helen urged me to give this book a read. I am not one to go out of my way and read autobiographies of people, especially people who have such an unshakeable devotion to God but Helen had recommended it to me and, if it wasn’t evident before, it should be now, that I would readily do anything she asks or tells me to do. Not just because I adore her but also because I respect her tremendously and am inspired by her, every single day.

That being said, the book was a wonderful read. As mentioned before, it is an autobiography. Joni Eareckson became a quadriplegic at an extremely young age. A diving incident gone wrong, led to her breaking her neck and losing function in her arms and legs. The book journeys through Joni’s struggles with this paralysis and taking on life by its horns, relying on God and her faith.

Like every other human, Joni had her instances of doubt and hesitance, questioning the existence of God, harbouring enormous anger, hatred and jealousy at the unfairness of the life she was forced to live. The passion to live though and to make something of herself despite the massively turbulent incidents in her life, is truly inspiring. Bringing in the importance of friends, family and the trinity (spirit, will and hope) Joni trudges through these hurdles, ultimately becoming a woman of her own. By the end of the novel, I was rooting for Joni, wishing her prayers came to life, aching with her when people decided they couldn’t cope with her paralysis and shedding tears as she mourned the loss of those she knew.

I will be honest, I swing between being an atheist and an agnostic but never reach the point of acknowledging myself as a believer. At times, it became difficult to read the book, the extreme faith in God making it hard for me as my own lack of faith was warring with the words swimming in front of my eyes. Despite it all though, I enjoyed the book thoroughly and somehow, with every page turned, let go a bit more of the war within me about people and the bonds I shared with them.

Somehow, in my eyes, Helen and Joni have so many similarities. They smile through life and accept what comes their way. They don’t deny anger or grief but they don’t let these emotions consume them either. They aren’t defined by the sadness they have faced during the course of their lives, instead believed that there will be better and are grateful for everything they have, now.

I am so appreciative of Helen in my life, her positive influence, her accepting nature and her infinite love, guidance and nurturing soul. I eagerly await every single email from her and cannot wait to meet her again, cup of camomile tea in hand, the crash of the waves in the background and simply talking and listening to her, one heart to another.

So Helen, my dearest darling Helen, thank you for finding a place in your heart and life, for me. Thank you for every message, every hug, every email, thank you, for Joni and thank you, for you.

Till then, as Helen always gently reminds me, ‘Que sera sera…’


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Dining at The Hub

After having spent two birthdays away from my parents, I was lucky to be able to celebrate it with them, this time around. As much as I’d like to say it was divine coincidence, I can’t quite. The biggest celebration for us Bengalis, falls at the same time as does my birthday. Unlike me, my parents see that as something wonderful. As a kid, I didn’t quite agree with them. Solely because it meant there would be a holiday on my birthday. Now, I don’t really care. Birthday’s don’t mean much to me.

The fewer people that wish me, the happier I am.

Despite pleading for a bunch of books rather than making a big deal, I was given a Polaroid camera and a lavish dinner. I’m not complaining though! Food is my deathly sin, one I will gladly face Satan for.

Having arrived at The Hub, my parents decided on experiencing the buffet. I chose to go A la Carte. For the appetiser, I decided on the Atlantic Smoked Salmon with a Maple Mustard Emulsion, Sour Cream and fresh greens. 

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Can we just take a minute to appreciate how beautiful this dish looks? It tasted even better! I think I went into a trance of sorts while eating this because I had cleaned up the plate before I even realised. The salmon was cooked perfectly and the mustard emulsion was the perfect kick, balancing the sweetness of the salmon and the tanginess of the sour cream.

Next up, for my main course, I decided on the Pan seared Sole with steamed lentils, pan fried mushrooms in sherry cream with crispy pancetta. 

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The first thought that struck me when I first laid eyes on this dish was, ‘That is one pink dish!’ I hate the colour pink but that didn’t stop me from diving into my food. The colour of the food didn’t dampen the tastes one bit though. The sole was placed on top of the lentils and mushrooms. My knife sliced through the meat like butter and the sherry cream, oh my! It was so silky and light. It went brilliantly with the rest of the dish and made sure my palette was clean with every bite I took. Being a fan of mushrooms, I just wish there were more in the dish. Somewhere between the pancetta and lentils, the taste of the mushrooms often got lost.

Oh and to go with these divine dishes, I decided on a glass from the 2012 bottle of Pater Sangiovese Toscana. It blended in very well with the dishes I chose to try and it did a wonderful job of satiating the wine lover in me.

For my dessert, I chose the Crème Caramel with Cherry Compote. Unfortunately, I was half way through the dish before I realised I had forgotten to take a picture of it. I can assure you of this though, it looked as beautiful as the rest of my courses did.

Once we had finished our dinner, we headed out where we stumbled across this art installation.

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The Goddess of the Wild by Bobo

The inspiration and idea behind this installation was:

Every year Calcutta dresses up for the annual autumn extravaganza celebrating the spirit of victory; the victory of Good over Evil, Hope over Despair, Love over Loss. These overwhelming emotions are represented in the form of the mother Goddess Durga slaying the demon king Mahishasura, most importantly diminishing his ego in the process.

The tales of this battle resonate in the ears of the children who grow up in the otherwise sleepy neighbourhoods of Calcutta. These stories have become very relevant today, given the many battles we are fighting at both the individual and societal levels. Whereas every epoch has its own problems and their corresponding solutions, our contemporary moment has witnessed the intensification of issues on a planetary scale. Are we exhausting our capacity to live sustainably and in harmony with each other and our surroundings? How are we placed to accept difference - different people, different beings, varying cultural norms, multiple religious temperaments? The mythological metaphors represented in this installation invite us to re-evaluate ourselves on these lines.

There are demons and thus there is Hope. One cannot dismiss the growing awareness in recent years towards the shared goal of empowering India's women. A lot of positivity and productive thought has been spent on the cause. Owing to the presence of social media and the platforms for freer expression, as well as due to altering family structures, many urban and rural women in the country today are moving past oppressive patriarchal norms that have historically disadvantaged women in both the domestic and professional spheres. This installation is a tribute to such a blossoming and powerful new sense of womanhood. The representation of the feminine soul as a Bengal tigress also references the wild cat that has been fighting its own battle of survival in our forests. Relatedly, the recent tiger census shows a considerable growth in India's tiger population. We hail the efforts of conservationists, women's rights groups, and everyday people who have contributed to such betterment. The Goddess, here shown as a tigress, is a powerful woman, a mother, and a warrior. More power to her adds more power to us.

I enjoyed my birthday a lot. It was a quite evening spent with my loving family and that is all my heart needed. Add to that, there were no reminders of the fact that I had turned a year older and still was as clueless about life as I was before.

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