Places To Visit

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!


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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.


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.


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.

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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.

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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.


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


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.

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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.


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!

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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.

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

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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.

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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.


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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Sunny Brighton

Before I start gushing about the amazing time I had in Brighton, let me just put it out there that my travel buddy and I are starting to make a habit out of cutting it very close when it comes to boarding trains. As exciting as it is, to race against time and make it to the station with minutes to spare, I’m really hoping, this trend of ours, ends soon.

Unsurprisingly, Arv and I made it just in the nick of time when it came to boarding the train. An empty carriage and hushed conversations helped calm our pounding heartbeats as we sat down, sweaty and out of breath. Time passed peacefully and within an hour, our train was pulling into Brighton station. From there, a quick two minute journey had us arriving at Hove where Arv’s absolutely adorable grandmother was kind enough to be our host during our time there.

Being utterly oblivious at times, I was so busy pushing my ticket into the machine to get the doors to open, that I did not notice Helen waiting for us until I saw Arv hunched over, enveloping her in his arms. Not having met Helen before didn’t seem at all awkward or weird, she made me feel so welcome, I couldn’t stop smiling!

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Arv, who sort of looks like Wolverine here and his Nana, Helen.

She was such a bundle of positivity, energy and love, I felt at home immediately. She drove us to her place where we had amazingly healthy food along with delicious Camomile tea although we had been warned beforehand by her that cooking food was not her forte and she did not enjoy it one bit!

One of the many things I enjoyed about my time with Helen included listening to her life travels and her interactions with people. Besides this, her house finally fulfilled and brought to life, my long harboured imagination of what a proper British house looked like, thanks to the countless books I read, written by Enid Blyton. She is also one of the coolest women I have ever come across. I absolutely adored her joie de vivre when we decided on a selfie. To be perfectly honest, she looked the most glamorous out of all of us in it!

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With the sun beaming down on us, my friend and I headed out to Brighton Pier having said goodbye to Helen and having planned a quick meet up before our train back to London. Before all this happened though, I got to witness Arv and Helen scrutinising maps of Brighton. This was because despite living in a world of gizmos and gadgets, ours failed us. Between Arv and me, we had three mobiles, all of which refused to function and decided to die due to lack of battery.

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While walking along the beach, I got to witness buskers of immense talent entertaining the multitudes of people who had stepped out of their houses to enjoy the sun and take a dip in the sea. With the sea water glimmering, ice cream cones everywhere and squeals of delight echoing from all sides, we approached Brighton Pier with a lot of excitement.

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Street buskers; Three men sitting absolutely still, balanced on soft balls held in one hand.

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As Meredith Grey once said, ‘The carousel never stops turning.’

Having entered Brighton Pier, the competitive gamers in my friend and me awakened and we headed to the arcade with steely determination. Maybe it was because I was still exhausted from work or it just wasn’t my day, I lost every single game to my friend. For someone as competitive as me, this was quite a heavy blow and my friend didn’t make things easier. It took all my will power not to push him over the railing of the pier as punishment for reminding me of my defeat, every single chance he got.

We took a break from the games from time to time, stepping out to enjoy the salty air and the sound of crashing waves, drowned by the laughter that flooded me from everywhere.

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We then headed to Palm Court for lunch since Arv was in the mood for Fish and Chips. For someone as healthy as him, it was quite a surprise for me to witness him cleaning up a gigantic plate of deep fried fish and fries or as the British like to call it, chips. I decided on Mashed Potatoes with a Pie made out of mackerel, shrimps, peas and salmon. It was delicious but for someone like me who is very picky about her sea food, it was quite…fishy.

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We then walked around the Pavilion, deciding against entering it, wishing to enjoy the weather rather than feeling jealous strolling through the pleasure palace for George IV. The pavilion was beautiful though. With a wonderful combination of Indian and Oriental architecture and a very picturesque location, the pavilion is something everyone headed to Brighton must visit even if, like us, you decide against entering it.

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With time running out, we decided to walk towards the station and enjoy whatever Brighton had to offer on our way to it. Our walk was quite the enjoyable one with a sea gull almost raking Arv and my skulls as it flew over our heads. We also walked through a vintage market that had a concert/gathering going on. The heady scent of incense sticks and vintage collections on display in the market, made for quite a fun experience.

Just when I was about to point out to my friend that I had not come across any street art, walls upon walls of street art appeared before us. Here are my favourites!

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It seemed our competitive nature had not yet been satiated since Arv decided to race me up the stairs to the platform. He duped me though! While I raced up, he casually set his pace, climbing the stairs one at a time. Just when I thought he wasn’t actually racing and stopped sprinting, he made a sudden dash for it and won.

No worries though my lovely Mavericks, I got my revenge later on.

Soon, we reached the station where we met Helen. She handed us a bag full of goodies for our journey back home which was so incredibly sweet of her! Having said our final goodbyes, we boarded an extremely crowded train and spent most of the journey, standing or rather dozing off, leaning on each other, the heat and exhaustion from our long walk, finally getting to us.

Coming back to my Brighton tale, remember when I said, I got my revenge on Arv? Well, my friend, who refused to adhere to the phrase, ‘Let the girl win’ got a taste of his own medicine when we decided to race from the tube station back home. From the minute we got off the tube, the race began. The first to touch the door of the house would be the ultimate champion and I can proudly say, it was yours truly despite Arv downing a double espresso for the sole purpose of winning the race.

The victory was made sweeter by the fact that my friend is actually a runner, who participates in marathons while I shamelessly give him the most judgemental looks for participating in them.

Anyway, that my lovely Mavericks, brings this travelogue to a close. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed reliving it while penning down this fond memory.

Oxford Moments

It’s funny how life works.
Having huffed and puffed about the stagnancy and boorish routine I had somehow found myself settled into, writing on this platform was just not happening.

I was seriously considering deleting this blog because I had turned it into a ranting stage. It didn’t bode well with me and I thought it’d be better to say farewell to this piece of me while it still had something good left in it.

Just then, a friend of mine stepped in and suggested visiting Oxford. It was not just a brilliant idea but also a break both of us agreed we needed, since we had both had quite exhausting weeks lately.

That being said, come Sunday, I arrived bright and early at Paddington station, excited to be visiting the quaint town of Oxford. Surprisingly, my friend who is ALWAYS on time, decided Sunday was the day to rely on wrong travelling information and cut it very fine when it came to boarding the train.

We made it though. At 8 sharp, the train departed and we were off !

Upon arriving, I was made aware of the fact that we had no itinerary planned which in the end turned out to be the right decision cause wandering around, discovering alleyways and sharing moments with friends, is on any given day, much better!

We started off by visiting the Mound. Although we decided against going all the way to the top, we did walk through a small alley that reminded me of descriptions in novels by Charles Dickens, rekindling a love within me, I feel I had forgotten.

Before delving deeper, apologies before hand if I don’t accurately label all the places we visited. Amidst laughter, conversations and simply taking in the view, I think retaining names was far down below on the priority list.

My friend, being the giant he is, took the lead most of the time. It was better that way because Mr. Big Feet wasn’t the best at reading Google Maps and more often than not realised the fact that we were headed in the wrong direction 200 metres after. This way, he walked more than me and my short limbs had some respite from time to time.

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We headed to Christ College but were turned away since opening hours began mid afternoon. Lost, we turned around and continued walking aimlessly but not without some beautiful sights!

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Somehow we found ourselves entering the Oxford University Museum of Natural History where we grabbed a small snack and somehow got into a very excited conversation about men instigating snakes into swallowing them.

We’re fascinating people, aren’t we?

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During our little break from touring, we got in touch with our mutual friends residing in Oxford and we decided to meet up within the coming hours.

The real sightseeing began after we all met up and it was so entertaining!

We visited quite a few colleges and also got to take in the epic staircase where Harry Potter was made to wait when he first walked through Hogwarts, just before he got sorted!

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Stained windows of cathedrals and ornately designed high arches, as I have mentioned countless times before, have always fascinated me. Needless to say, my camera roll was flooded with them.

All the walking had the men feeling hungry, so we stopped at a cafe where I had one of my infamous moments. Having not paid attention to what the others were ordering, I squealed in delight and shock when one of them asked me what chocolate I wanted.

Here are the reasons for my extreme delight:

  • Extreme sweet tooth
  • It’s chocolate. Excitement is a must.

The sudden quiet that settled had me very confused. That was until the man at the counter cleared the air. Apparently, you get a chocolate cookie free with your drink. So my friend wasn’t actually being nice or making a sweet gesture.

To be honest, I have had so many incidents of this sort, besides my nostrils flaring in embarrassment, I don’t think much else happened.

We then walked by the canal and after one too many uncertain and hesitant answers, decided against punting. Having done a poor job at hiding our exhaustion, we decided to take a break and just relax, soaking in the sun that was not supposed to be out at all! I think had we not, my feet would have bled into the soles of my shoes and my shoulders would have snapped.

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We then started back for home and made it just in the nick of time. Two achievements made during our little sprint to the station included  my running skills being acknowledged and the acceptance (I believe women all over the world will appreciate this one) that I, as a woman, am always right and my friend (who’s a guy) is always wrong. Hah!

All in all, the day was such a blessing and comfort. It made for not just great memories that are still echoing laughter but also for a relaxation of the soul, something that was dearly needed. So the trip was a definite win.

Signing off with a picture of us with our wonderful guides.

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From left to right: Yours truly, Arv, Debasmita and Emile.

Till then Mavericks!

Experiencing Addis

Being a working girl has its perks, I guess. Every time you pull out that slim card from your wallet, you realise that you can now take care of yourself, that you don’t have to crack open the piggy bank or ask yourself a thousand times over, “Should I ask Mum Dad for some money, or leave it be?”

At the same time, like it is with everything else out there, you sacrifice as well. You don’t have all that much time to yourself. When the alarm goes off, you can’t roll over or snuggle deeper into your duvet and decide not to step out or bunk whatever plans you had. You have to get up, get ready and head to the one thing that allows you to fund yourself.

The point I am trying to make, through all my ramblings, is this: YOU DO NOT GET MUCH TIME TO GO OUT AND CHOMP ON AMAZING FOOD.

There, I said it. My biggest woe as a working girl is out there.

It had been ages since I had last gone out and enjoyed a good meal with my friends and God did I miss it. Thankfully, Hari’s birthday came round and I got the chance to not just go out and let lose but also  experience a cuisine I never thought I’d try, let alone enjoy.

Addis, a small restaurant tucked away near the British Library serves authentic Ethiopian cuisine and for anyone reading this, a experience worth having.

A tad bit similar to the concept of sharing as is done in Indian cuisine, the food is served on plates with diameters as large as two backpacks put together. Maybe I am exaggerating here, but the plates were gigantic. Moving on from my shock on seeing the size of the cutlery, the food is served on these plates and everyone eats from the same plate, their chosen main courses served where they are seated. I can well imagine my explanation not doing much good, so I’m hoping the pictures to follow, will explain better.

With the walls seemingly plastered with dried mud, an appearance of cracks here and there, Ethiopian calligraphy decorating the ceiling and a soft yellow light emitting from all corners of the restaurant, Addis is welcoming and the aroma of food engulfs you, the moment you enter.

Once we were seated, my friends and I decided not to have any alcohol, instead, make it a night of fizzy drinks.

From someone who’s experienced the cuisine and restaurant, here’s a small tip. Don’t go there if you’re starving, neither should you go there with a belly somewhat full. The food is extremely heavy and leaves you with barely any energy to move or even leave your seat. Also, the food takes some time to prepare but that does not mean you should stuff yourselves full with the appetisers they have to offer !

For my starters, I chose Salata Aswad (deep fried aubergine salad, covered in rich tahini and yoghurt butter sauce served with pita bread)

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Another starter that was ordered was Seneg Karia (green chillies stuffed with onion and tomatoes)

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Another starter decided on, the only one that may not have wowed us was the Ayeb Be Gomen (cottage cheese mixed with thinly chopped spinach and cooked with various types of spices)

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Once we had polished off the starters, we waited for the mains which arrived in due time. First, as mentioned before, came the gigantic plated with the Ethopian version of flat bread, Enjera. 

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The plates served with Enjera for all the hungry mouths.

Enjera is flatbread made with yeast and when you first start eating it, the sourness of the yeast is quite strong, but once the gravy of your main course is absorbed by the enjera, the food is absolutely DIVINE and that my friends, is no exaggeration.

While most of my friends and I chose Tibs Firefir (cubes of lean lamb with fried onion with seven special spices mixed) my room mate decided on Doro Firfir (chicken cooked with hot pepper and sauce of spices, mixed). My vegetarian friends chose the Yetesom Beyaynetu (mild mixed vegetable sauce made with cabbage, potatoes, carrots and chickpeas seasoned with special spices) while two of my more devious friends decided on the Addis Special (a mixed platter of meat: Chicken, lamb with fresh vegetable salad) to have a taste of everything there was to offer.

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Endear served with Tibs Firefir and Doro Firfir

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The Addis Special.

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Yetesom Beyaynetu to be soon poured over the Enjara.

Soon, we were gorging and boy, did we enjoy the feast. If only, one of us could finish our portion though. Full to bursting by the end of it, we asked for the bill only when we found the energy to raise our hand and grab the attention of our server. If the world would allow it, I bet we would have gone home, rolling on the streets, instead of waddling at the slow pace that we did.

For my foodie readers out there, residing in London, I urge you to give this place a try and give your taste buds some love!