Life

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.

Processed with VSCO with m6 preset

Processed with VSCO with s3 preset

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.

Processed with VSCO with k2 preset

Processed with VSCO with g2 preset

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.

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Processed with VSCO with g2 preset

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.

Advertisements

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.

Processed with VSCO with e5 preset

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!

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Processed with VSCO with s3 preset

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.

Processed with VSCO with k2 preset

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.

Processed with VSCO with a8 preset

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!
xx

 

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.

Processed with VSCO with e1 preset

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.

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

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.

 

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

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.

Processed with VSCO with c2 preset

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!

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

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.

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 preset

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!

 

Lang Leav

I came across Lang Leav while strolling through Instagram. I was intrigued by the poetry but didn’t look into it at the time. I then found her come across my news feed more frequently; Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook, you name it, she was popping up everywhere. Having enjoyed what I had read so far, I followed her Instagram page. Thereafter, whatever she wrote, I liked. On my commute back from work one evening, I read one of her excerpts and the urgency to own her books took over. Come midnight, I had ordered all three books she had published so far.

When my flat mate skimmed through some of the work, she looked up and said, “No wonder you enjoy her writing. You and she have similar writing styles. Its melancholic and romantic, somewhat walking the fine line between realistic thinking but faltering at times and slipping into grief and regretful hope.”

I didn’t quite believe her when she said we had similar writing styles but I’d like to take that as praise, nonetheless. Besides that, I agreed with her description of Lang Leav’s poetry. It is all that and what I enjoyed most, was the gentle brush against love and all that it brings with it.

She has released a new back and I haven’t had a chance to get my hands on it but I will soon. Once I do, I will add to this post, her new poetry and what I enjoyed/related to most.

Somehow, I can never quite read or enjoy poetry without a steaming hot mug of coffee next to me. Hence, every time I sat down with these books, I made sure I was warming my hands over a foamy cup of coffee. After all, poetry and coffee go hand in hand, right?

The first book I started with, titled Love and Misadventures, was a gentle read, divided into three parts.

Processed with VSCO with c6 preset

Love and Misadventures

The first part is friendly, warm, the kinds that make you giggle and smile as you turn one page after the other.

Processed with VSCO with t1 preset

Misadventure

The second awakens an ache inside of you, one you know exists but try to stifle.

Processed with VSCO with t1 preset

The Circus of Sorrows

The third part brings to life static and makes you feel profound and reminiscent, all at once.

Processed with VSCO with t1 preset

Love

I then continued onto Lullabies. Released a year later, this book was divided into three chapters. Although it follows a tune similar to the previous one, it comes across as more mature. Like herself, Lang Leav’s writing too has aged a year, grown a bit more, learned a lot more.

Processed with VSCO with 4 preset

Lullabies

Titled Duet, the first chapter is like reading a personal diary. It has confessions and conversations; stemming from one perspective, one train of thought and one point of view.

Processed with VSCO with t1 preset

Duet-In books unread, we lie between their pages. As they turn to lovers like season’s changes. – Excerpt

The second chapter is titled Interlude. Raw and passionate, it is a peak into the desires of the body and mind. Dancing between playful and naughty, it has writing that makes one blush.

Processed with VSCO with t1 preset

Interlude – ‘She was different from anything he had ever known.’ – The Professor.

Processed with VSCO with t1 preset

The third chapter, Finale, is the crushing blow one feels when they feel love slipping away, the breath being snatched from one’s lungs as one lets go, unwillingly or otherwise.

Processed with VSCO with t1 preset

Finale – They gave us years, though many ago; the spring cries tears- the winter, snow. – Melancholy Skies.

Processed with VSCO with t1 preset

The third book, Memories, is more accepting in its writing. The words resonate a voice that has learnt, acknowledged and is now living with all that life has offered but not without musings of how things have decided to splay themselves out in life’s deck of cards. It has two parts. Unlike the other two books, there is also a burst of colour in within the pages, more life unlike in the previous books, where there are sketches, representative of us as puppets

Processed with VSCO with q2 preset

Processed with VSCO with q2 preset

The first part, Here and Now, is devoted purely to new writings. There is more inclination towards prose than poetry, the writing is distinct, metaphorical and poignant. Every page stops you and makes you think and almost unknowingly, you nod in agreement.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Part One: Here and Now

Processed with VSCO with t1 presetProcessed with VSCO with t1 presetProcessed with VSCO with t1 presetProcessed with VSCO with t1 preset

The second part, Remember When, has a compilation of poems from the previous two books. It does have new excerpts that go along with the title of the second part as well. The reason why I’ve added this is because, there were poems that I didn’t focus on or be gripped by when I read them in their individual books but caught my attention a second time round, when reading them in Memories.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Part Two: Remember When

Processed with VSCO with t1 preset

Processed with VSCO with t1 preset

Processed with VSCO with t1 presetProcessed with VSCO with t1 presetProcessed with VSCO with t1 preset

I enjoy Lang Leav’s poetry tremendously. It is relatable, soft in its creation and no matter what the theme, is always born from a place of love. Her latest book is titled The Universe of Us and I cannot wait to add it to my collection.

Something I found incredibly sweet; all her dedications are to Michael Faudet, her partner and fellow poet. He has released books of his own and in time, I would like to read his writing as well.

Besides all the poetry, I’d like to leave you with this; In Memories, besides a dedication, Lang Leav also adds a sketch, with one simple sentence.

IMG_2918.JPG

Forget her tattered memories, or the pages others took; you are her ever after – the hero of her book.

Chrissi Island

On our last day in Ierapetra, we decided to head out to an island quite close to it, called Chrissi Island. Costing about 10€ for a round trip, we booked our tickets, choosing from one of many boats headed there. Since we had some time on our hands before we were to set sail, we hung around the beach and also visited a Greek orthodox church.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

The architecture was one of many things that made this church stand out from the countless others that I had visited. Having been intrigued, studied and practised Christianity for a bit, experiencing the orthodox traditions of the Greeks was fascinating and so enlightening!

Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take pictures of the interiors but from memory, I can recall the interiors being very dark and the idols placed on shelves almost doll-like. They were draped in traditional clothing and fabrics and greek scriptures were hung from pillars and tapestries. The air inside was daunting yet extremely pious. I wish I had the chance and time to experience one of their sermons but oh well! beggars can’t be choosers.

It was soon time to head out to the island. The journey there was heavenly. With wind in our hair, flicks of salty sea sprinkling over us, the hour and half journey was completed in no time.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Chrissi Island from afar.

Chrissi Island had two beaches for the visitors. There was one that was more visually appealing while the other was more rocky with massive wooden logs strewn all over. It being a windy day had caused the sea to turn quite rough one one side of the beach. Turns out, it was the more picturesque beach that was facing rough waters, so it was out of bounds. We therefore, trudged over to the other side where we hogged sun beds as soon as we caught sight of them.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Fun fact about the island: Chrissi Island is strewn with Cannabis plants. The whole island had a subtle scent of cannabis and we saw massive bushes of them sprouting here and there.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

On more than one occasion, multiple names crossed my mind of people who would have lost their marbles had they known of the free abundance of cannabis on this island, their hippie souls having found paradise.As much as I would have enjoying gifting these friends of mine their idea of nirvana, the law abiding citizen in me made sure my hands stayed far away from these plants.

Mary and I took a quick dip in the sea and had the scariest time on our way back. The sea bed was known to be filled with sea urchins and we kept yelping and jumping in our skins, thinking every other moss covered rock was a sea urchin. The fear was fuelled further by the news that Mary’s sister had spent the night before in the ER, having the spines from a sea urchin taken out of the sole of her foot. I did not wish to spend my last day in Greece roaming the sterilised walls of a hospital! Thankfully, we reached land without facing multiple stabs.

For the next three hours I think, Tony, Mary and I simply slept. The wind and crashing waves were a gentle lullaby and we nearly missed our boat back home!

Having arrived back, Mary treated us to Gyros, a traditional Greek dish. With meat stuffed inside a massive flatbread along with mustard, tomatoes, onions and tzatziki sauce, the dish is too big to fit into your mouth. Add to that, french fries are stuffed inside the flatbread as well and trust me when I say this, you’d have to open your mouth as wide as a hippopotamus to fit one bite in.

Extremely ravenous, I hogged on it but couldn’t finish the entire dish. Wordlessly, Tony slid my plate over to him and cleaned it up as smoothly as he had his own. I think from the time we met, Tony and I have had an unsaid deal where I finish off the fatty, cheesy junk on his plate and he cleans up the greens on mine.

We ended our perfect Greek vacation by eating Souvlaki (another Greek dish) for dinner with honey raki, of course.

img_2367

My vacation/visit to Greece was brilliant and filled with love and laughter. Having good friends around me made the trip all the more sweeter and I will never, not cherish the memories I made there. Plus, the water baby inside me was extremely satiated and somehow, I left Greece with a relatively decent tan. Indians, more often than not, don’t tan well, especially dark complexioned ones. I’m glad I did not resemble an aubergine by the end of it.

I have to thank Mary for being such an amazing host and guide. Without her and her family’s hospitality, the vacation wouldn’t have been half as beautiful as it was. Her kind gesture didn’t stop at being a host though. She gifted the boys with books about the Greek islands and the girls with jewellery; symbolic and carrying special meaning for each girl individually. Mine was a turquoise filled star as you can see in the picture below, meant to ward off evil, store the good and bring in radiance. I absolutely love it and am so grateful for it. Thank you Vasi, for the trip of a lifetime!

Here’s to Greece and visiting you again, sometime, someday.

img_6146

Mary and me.

 

Coriva and Almyra

With only three of us left, we decided to slow down and just let time pass us by. In between all the touristing and driving and sight seeing, I think all three of us (Tony, Mary and me) were quite socially burnt out. I think, we were a tad bit exhausted. Surprisingly, doing touristy stuff can get quite draining as well!

So we decided to take a bus to Coriva Hotel Beach, having bid adieu to the two people who had valid driving licences. The fantastic thing about beaches in Greece is that they are all public property. This means that even if a hotel or resort is built on the beach, the beach is not the property of the hotel. Others, those not checked in to the hotel, can simply walk in and head to the beach and relax.

And that’s exactly what we did.

Having arrived, we headed straight to the beach. The beach itself was serene and a shade of blue darker than what I had seen previously, in other locations. The sand wasn’t really sand. It was actually black pebbles which made it a bit difficult for anyone headed out for a swim. The stones were blistering hot and walking on them to get a quick dip meant frying the soles of your feet. That unfortunately, was not fun.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Mary didn’t wish to swim so Tony and I headed out. I think mid way, we both got really competitive and started swimming really fast towards the buoy visible at the horizon. Mind you, this competition began without any words being spoken. I have no recollection as to who won though. I do remember returning and slumping on my sun bed, exhausted and breathing very heavily.

This was perhaps the only beach where I saw women topless. Almost all of them had their bikini tops off, lying face up, soaking in all the sun. It was while I was lying face down, dozing off, that Tony decided I should join the ranks of all the rest of the women out there. Without me realising, he undid the strings of my top. How I sat up and got Mary to retie the knot without flashing anyone is beyond me but hey, I did succeed.

So score 1 for me, 0 for Tony.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset
We then headed back home to dress up for a fancy dinner. Mary took us to Almyra, a five star restaurant in Ierapetra. Situated at one extreme end of the island, the view this restaurant provides, is spectacular.

Built atop rocks, one gets a breathtaking view of the sea at night along with a panoramic view of the entire island, glowing like fireflies.

Having dined on some exquisite pasta and sea food, we were just paying the bill when catastrophe struck. All the bills Tony pulled out of his wallet, were blown away by a gust of wind. Running and jumping, Tony chased after his money while Mary and I looked on in horror. We were worried the bills would blow out to sea. Thankfully, they didn’t. Tony caught them two floors below our seating and had to fish one out of the swimming pool. Nevertheless, he retrieved all his money.

Our walk back home had us capturing Ierapetra in a state of stillness. It wasn’t something I had witnessed before and it was an experience all in itself. The otherwise bustling, exuberant crowds had disappeared with barely any people on the street. Our voices seemed usually loud as we debated politics on our way back, the click-clack of our heels and the swaying of the trees all round us, possibly the only sounds giving us company.

 

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Wearing six inch heels allowed me to reach Mary’s height cause on any other day, I think I reach her shoulder.

Mochlos

Bidding Sarah farewell was an adventure of its own. She had to take a bus from Agios Nikolaos to the airport, so we decided to make a trip of it.

We left early morning so as to have more time on our hands to explore Agios Nikolaos. Despite it being 8 or so, the sun was bearing down on us, making us sweat like crazy.

Unlike Ierapetra, Agios Nikolaos attracts more tourists and is more stereotypically Greek in its layout. The landscape is similar to Santorini with more white exteriors and architecture. The terrain isn’t flat and has a lot of uphill/downhill driving unlike Ierapetra which is flat and stretched out.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset
Since none of us had grabbed breakfast, we stopped by one of the finer Greek cafes which were reputed to serve the best frozen yoghurt and coffee. As is well known of me, I conveniently forgot to document the name of this cafe. Oops. BUT, the frozen yoghurt, oh my god! I am very selective about my yoghurt, half of them taste medicinal to me. I was therefore, weary, despite Mary urging me otherwise. I gave in and ordered a frozen yoghurt with muesli, mangoes and cranberries.

screen-shot-2016-11-12-at-4-13-16-pm

My extremely divine yoghurt.

I fell in love with it. Is it possible to fall in love with food, because I did. I guzzled down the yoghurt within three, maybe four spoonfuls and was already contemplating, ordering another one. Unfortunately, my extremely massive cup of coffee decided for me. Now when I think of it, my order must have seemed so weird, piping hot coffee with a size of Fro Yo. Hah!

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset
Once we had catered to the needs of our tummies, we decided to head out to the bus stop to drop Sarah off. Unfortunately, Mary was unfamiliar with the directions. Greeks are so incredibly sweet! Even if they were unaware of the route, they still tried to help. This didn’t bode well for us, since we were more often than not, sent off into the wrong direction. The time spent following the wrong paths had us all tensed since we were all worried Sarah might not make it. In our panic, we also almost died at one point. Dipa had taken over the steering wheel since Sarah was too stressed to drive. We were going uphill and had to stop, to get directions obviously, when the car started rolling backwards. I think all of us swallowed our screams and thankfully, Dipa got back on track and we didn’t encounter anymore almost-accidents. Thankfully, just in the nick of time, we reached the station and we made sure Sarah boarded her bus.

Once we bid adieu to her, post relaxing and freshening up, we headed to Mochlos.

Mochlos is a small village that serves food right by the sea. The view is absolutely breathtaking but getting there isn’t easy. The roads are winding and topsy-turvy. One has to be extremely skilled to drive down the roads to get to it but the views on the way are spectacular. On our way there, we stopped at Panorama, a tourist spot from where you can take pictures and get a wonderful view of the horizon.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset

img_6070

Come evening time, we had safely arrived at Mochlos. We seated ourselves at Kapilio where we all decided to dine, pescetarian style.

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset

Spaghetti with octopus braised in red wine.

While Dipa and Tony decided to order the fish platter which had an assortment of fish, Mary and I decided to have Spaghetti with fish on the side. I loved my dish and still dream of tasting it again, sometime soon. Having never tried octopus before, it was a first for me and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I think I prefer it more than squid now, which is saying something.

While we dined, we had the most beautiful view. Honestly, I don’t think any meal since, has trumped my experience there.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset

As it was getting quite late, we decided to head back, which was another adventure of its own. The roads were pitch black with no reflectors placed anywhere, nor were there any lamp posts. It was a little scary, especially when turning on the mountainside, since there was no way of knowing if there was a car headed from the opposite direction until too late, but we reached home, safe and sound, nonetheless. We crashed soon after, the sights of Mochlos making for the perfect dream.

 

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.

Processed with VSCO with c6 preset
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…’

xx

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

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. 

Processed with VSCO with a2 preset
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. 

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset
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.

Processed with VSCO with h6 preset

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.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Querencia

Music has always been an exhilarating experience for me.

Like any other human, I guess I discovered music at the prime of my teens. During that time, Linkin Park, Green Day and Evanescence were my go to musicians. From then on, music has become my salvation and my second preference when it comes to communicating. My music library has evolved and grown. At present, I have over 1800-2000 artists on my hard disk; some heard of by everyone in the world, some barely discovered.

I cannot do without music. It is my lifeblood. Although, just as it has saved me on numerous occasions, it has also caused ache. Simply because, in times of great emotional turmoil, it has been too relatable and I, wanting to wallow in my masochism, would cut off from it. As mentioned before, I have been obsessively possessive about my music collection, sharing it with a chosen few. Only lately have I started letting others into my coveted world, letting them experience the same emotions I did upon hearing the tunes I surround myself with.

Music also plays a great role in my life, when it comes to love. I don’t know when or how I became a hapless romantic but I did. I hail love as the most beautiful gift and treasure of all. So when love fails to conquer, I mourn it. I rejoice with those who have found love and root for their success. I consider any and all relationships sacred and place them before anything else. Needless to say, in this selfish world, it has been taken advantage of and used ruthlessly, even mocked. Music has clasped hands with this side of me ever since they stumbled upon each other. The lesson though that I learnt from being as I was, is this: As beautiful as love maybe, it is not for everyone. Music helped deal with this painful truth.

A dear friend once told me, that maybe some of us were meant to love selflessly, quietly taking in the pinch that comes with it when people do not value or honour what we give; ravenously consuming what we offer until they find someone else to feed off. As harsh as it maybe, we might never feel this unrequited, infinite love ourselves.

Music, then taught me to let go. I may not be that girl anymore, who believed in love so fiercely, who had hope in love, always. I may now be the girl who has sworn never to listen or follow her heart. It doesn’t mean though that music has let go. Somehow, even in this transition, I have found music that grounds me.

Cynthia Bonitz wrote something that resonated with me. This playlist is a representation of this excerpt.

I'm not going to ask you to stay. I'm not going to show up at the airport like heart-wrecked girls do in the movies, yelling for your name, frantic to tell you everything I never said.
But the truth is - I am devastated, and you will never know that. Because I will never tell you. I say I'm proud of you, excited for all you'll see. That is not a lie. I am. I just wish that it hadn't ended like this. I wish we had more time. 
All I can do is watch you go. All I can do is swallow the break in my soul, take it like resilient girls do, and pretend that my world isn't sinking. "You have to fight for what you want," everyone says to me. But so much time has gone by. I don't really know what to do anymore. I've gotten really great at pretending that I don't miss you, that I don't care.
But that's just life and how it goes, right? You'll go and this chapter will finish and we'll just become words to each other, of what was and what will never be. And please, don't worry about saying anything. You really don't have to. Promise me you won't.
I'd rather have our last words be the silence of that night that we're not supposed to talk about. The night I shouldn't have stayed. The night I turned around anyway and caught you looking at me like no has ever looked at me - even you, back then.
I will never get over that. Ever. If I was haunted before, I am haunted now. And I wish so badly you could know.
Maybe I'll never understand. Or maybe I do already. Either way, I just wish it was enough. Do you know what I mean? Enough to stay. Enough to hear you tell me that it all meant something.
But I will never ask. I will never know.

There is a Spanish word, Querencia. It means, a place from which one’s strength is drawn, where one feels at home; the place where you are your most authentic self.

The partnership of music and lost love is the Querencia in my life. Love is the lie we tell ourselves and music is the one that breathes life into it, making it real, seemingly making it true.

Click on the image below to understand this union better.

Hope you guys enjoy!

img_1382