Sunday, February 5, 2017

A romantic dinner date by the coastline

The view of the resort





Our  stay and visit to the Vivanta by Taj - Fort Aguada, Goa by far remains one of the most luxurious stays and dining experiences we have had in India. I had only imagined staying at a luxury resort in India and getting a chance to spend romantic moments with my husband, until the chance of staying at the Viavnta by Taj, Fort Aguada got included in the itinerary of our Goa trip. We had 5-6 days at hand when we had planned our Goa trip. We stayed at different places( mainly AirBnB's ) during out stay in Goa. When we were in North Goa and had plans to spend time at the Aguada fort and Sinquerium beach , we felt the best place to stay could be only Vivanta by Taj. It was right around the Fort Aguada which made it even more better for us to stay there. 

View of Fort Aguada from the resort

















Since we had made up our mind to stay here, it took us some time to decide on what rooms we would be choosing from a whole array of wonderful luxurious options. We chose Deluxe Delight- Sea View with Sit-Out which suited exactly to our taste. You wake up in the morning to the view of the might blue Arabian Sea, what more could one ask for! The room was extremely well done when it came to the interiors. The decor, the upholsteries and the interiors were were simple yet gave a classy look to the room. The sit out was very comfortable and gave a calm appeal to the room. The staff there were very courteous and everything was taken care of by them. Our stay was well coordinated right from the time we did our booking till we checked out from the hotel. We were welcomed in our room with fresh juice, fruits and light snacks. The room was equipped with all the facilities that any 5-star hotel should have. It took us almost an hour to explore around the entire property as the setting is extremely picturesque. As soon as we enter the main gate a huge pathway welcomed us , followed by ample parking space on the right. 

There are various restaurants within the resort which cater to the needs of different travellers and are specialized in serving multi-cuisine dishes as well different types of meals. Each restaurant has its own specialty. The various options one could choose from are Feast, Latitude,Morisco, Il Camino for the meals and SFX and Martini Bar to chill out with some nice drinks. We chose to enjoy our dinner date for the evening at the Latitude restaurant. We got a place outside which was facing the sea. The evening breeze, candle light on our dinner table, good food, soulful music played by the guitarist for the evening, Goan songs, the gushing sound of the strong waves lashing against the rocks and my partner sitting with me, summed up for an even more memorable experience. The food included a variety of Indian dishes and  desserts to choose from. The seating arrangement was simple and quaint. What I loved the most was the musicians on the guitar playing songs which we wanted to hear. My husband dedicated a song for me which they played immediately. For me, it was a first time experience. 

The lighting inside the resort was also done very artistically with the walls adorned with wonderful paintings and frames. I loved the look this whole place had in the evening. The lighting was even more beautiful then. 

We spent the rest of the evening relaxing and taking a post dinner stroll around the resort. The fact that this place is simple yet so majestically luxurious makes it unique. The location also matters a lot. The staff, the facilities and the various restaurants in this resort make it an experience one must try. We had a comfortable sleep and were woken up to the morning view of the sea. After making ourselves a quick cup of coffee in the room and freshening up we checked out from our room and headed to South Goa. 


The view from the restaurant in the evening




The interiors of the hotel

Our fine dining experience


Our room

Picture courtesy : Vivanta by Taj, Fort Aguada website
 


“I am blogging about my luxury stay experience for an activity at BlogAdda in association with MakeMyTrip

Monday, December 26, 2016

The Hibiscus Inn



There was an unusual rattle at the front gate.

‘Who is it? ’she called out straining her quivering voice.

‘Bijoy is that you?’

While saying this she moved closer to the gate and found that it was not Bijoy but a tall young man with a bike. For a clearer look, she switched on the lamp. ‘Excuse me, madam. Could you please tell me the direction to reach this hotel,’ he said in a very polite tone while handing over a small piece of paper to her.

‘I am afraid this hotel is going to be too far from here. You might have taken the wrong turn,’ she said expressing her worry.

‘But I was guided to this lane by a local in Morjim. I need to reach this hotel by tonight otherwise my booking will be cancelled,’ he said in a disappointed tone.

‘It will take you about two hours and you might reach the hotel only after midnight.’

‘Oh!, he said with a dejected look . He kept staring into the darkness of the path that had brought him there. ‘That’s going to be tough, considering that there is no network here, there are no street lights in these areas and I am also beginning to feel the hunger pangs.’

‘Is it possible to find a restaurant nearby?’

‘No dear, there isn’t any restaurant close by.’

Seeing the helpless look on his face Susan said, ‘Why don’t you join me for dinner?’

His face lit up after hearing this but he was contemplating.

‘Don’t think so much. I am anyway waiting to send dinner through Bijoy for travellers staying at the Morjim Beach Guest House. I have enough food for the two of us,’ Susan said with a twinkle in her eyes.

His face broke into a wide smile. Bijoy arrived soon and she went out quickly with the bag full of packed food boxes. As she walked back, the backpacker was standing near the door and observing the house.

‘Come in ….’

Her voice was sweet enough to shake him off his dazed state.

‘I didn’t get your name dear.’

‘Oh! Hi!! I am Lorenzo,’ he said giving her a warm handshake.

‘Spanish ?’

‘From Malaga.’ He nodded.

‘What brings you to Morjim, Enzo?’ she enquired enthusiastically.

‘ Errrr…. Can I call you Enzo?’

His smile was infectious and it sent out a positive vibe. It had been long since she had met someone from another country.

As they walked into the house Lorenzo told about his travel plans. He was an architect by profession and had come to India for an assignment where he had to research on the diversity in architecture. He had covered Nepal, Bhutan , New Delhi, Kashmir, Kerala, Hampi and Goa was the last place in his list. He was in his late twenties but seemed very mature for his age. His manners impressed Susan very much, otherwise, how could she have trusted a complete stranger and let him into her house at such an odd hour. The only regular entrant to her house at this time was Bijoy.

While Lorenzo got comfortable in Susan’s old dilapidated house, she lay the table for dinner which comprised traditional goan cuisine specially cooked to entice the taste buds of the travellers.

Lorenzo was completely smitten by the delicious food that she had prepared. He was extremely thankful to her for the instant help she had offered. He did have a mind to leave after dinner but when Susan insisted that he should stay over for the night, he readily agreed. Talking to Susan was also interesting. While they took a tour of her 100 year old mansion she told him about how she had inherited it from her parents and grandparents. They owned a fishery near Morjim which she had sold few years back.

‘I was not able to manage many everything at once. After the demise of my parents I was practically alone but maybe with time, I felt happy being alone,’ she had said and smiled.

‘I learn the art of cooking traditional Goan dishes from my mother which I did not want to let go. That is how this small business of cooking meals for travellers started.’

While they took a stroll over the other floor in her house Lorenzo felt excited as he was able to notice a unique architecture behind the dust and cob-web covered ceiling and walls. His eyes did not fail to notice the creativity that was behind the construction of the century old house which had been renovated only once since then.

The morning after, he was served with warm tea and an English Breakfast made to suit his taste. As he sat in the courtyard with a tiny garden adjacent to it, he told, ‘Susie, I will be going to the hotel in a while where my accommodation had been booked. But I will come back again some other day to have the delicious food that you make.’

Susan was excited to have someone at home years after her parents had passed away. She felt a little sad thinking that he would have to leave so soon. She was enjoying his company and for a change she could have the courage to trust a complete stranger which she never wanted to.

In a while Lorenzo was on his way to the hotel in Morjim. As Lorenzo reached his hotel he found that the hotel accommodation had been cancelled as he had not checked in on the time and had failed to inform them about his delay. After speaking to his manager in Spain, Lorenzo decided to go to Calangute or Candolim in search for a suit.able accommodation. On his way back, Lorenzo thought of dropping by at Susan’s place and bidding her goodbye as he would not be visiting Morjim again.

Susan’s happiness knew no bounds when he came home again. But she had no clue what was up in his creative mind. As Lorenzo walked in, his decision changed completely. He narrated the incident to her and asked very hesitantly, ‘Susie, can I ask you for a favour?’

‘I am not very comfortable in searching for a hotel again. If you don’t mind can I stay here till my assignment is complete? I loved staying over at your place yesterday and would love to spend some more time here. This place is quaint and beautiful and I feel it is perfect for me to stay over and work.’

Susan’s happiness knew no bounds. She ushered him in and told him to choose any room on the first floor which was comfortable for him. A day passed by in just settling in the house and talking to Susan. Lorenzo observed everything that was happening around for a couple of days. He had even made a pact with Susan that he was going to pay for the stay and the food that was served, since she deserved every penny for the hospitality that she was providing.

Bijoy had also become Lorenzo’s close friend in a few days. He was smart enough to tell him details about the places which could interest him as an architect. Lorenzo casually asked Susan over dinner one night, ‘Susie, will you help me out with my assignment?’

‘I will be glad to be of help to someone who trusts me already,’ Susan said chirpily.

‘I want to include the model of your house in my architectural assignment plan. I like the aesthetic look here but I want to give it a modern appeal too,’ he said beaming with energy.

Susan fell silent the moment she heard about the modification of a 100 year legend; her house, whose architecture was dearer to her than her own life.

She nodded and told him to give her some time to decide. A complete stranger walks in suddenly to her traditional house and insists her to change everything that had always been so dear to her. She was in a pensive mood over breakfast the next day. Lorenzo certainly wasn’t comfortable in pushing her further and he had also decided to vacate the house if she was not comfortable with the idea. He was out the entire day searching for alternate places to stay. When he was back home for dinner, he found Susan unusually quiet.

‘Susie, I am sorry if my idea of renovating your traditional house hurt you. If you are not comfortable I can leave any time,’ he said.

‘Don’t misunderstand me Enzo. It is not easy to change things which have remained this way for years together. It has precious memories in it,’ she said almost wiping a tear from the corner of her eyes.

‘But I would like a change, only if you manage to keep the originality intact and would agree to take upon all the expenses that could go into the renovation. I do not have a penny extra to spend for the modification of this house. But, if it will work well for your assignment, I am ready to help.’

‘Susie, you can be rest assured that I will not make any changes without discussing with you. My company is ready to fund the assignment. They also need to prove to the other customers that I can do exceptional work.’

‘And….. you know Susie, we could convert this modified house into a home-stay or a small motel where you can serve your traditional food and also invite travellers to stay. It will help you make money for your future.’

‘He touched her hand in reassurance.’

Susan felt a chord pull in her heart. She was amazed by the way a complete stranger could think about helping her. Although she had doubted his intentions initially and had had Bijoy check his credentials. Only then had she decided to let him take the reins and welcome the change which she couldn’t have fathomed.

Work started the next day as Lorenzo laid out his architectural plan. With the help of Bijoy, the Mr.-know-all, he hired workers for the major changes that were required. The whole mansion was getting revamped but with its pillars intact and the basic plan being the same. The pact was not to remove any brick but change the look of the house. Lorenzo found it challenging but it brought out his creativity. He had just a couple of weeks at hand to complete the task.

Susan also started involving in the work with Lorenzo. It was just like building her dream home without erasing the memories of her childhood. She couldn’t thank Lorenzo enough for his dedication She knew he had to leave after a couple of weeks but she did not want her mind to register it so soon. She found comfort in her new found company. Lorenzo was a happy man, a traveller, who only had the motive to make others happy with simple things in life. He was never attached to anyone. For his age he did not even have a girlfriend.‘I still haven’t found the right one yet Susie,’ he told.

As estimated, the work was complete well before time and the mansion looked perfect in every aspect. It had got the Portuguese look intact with a modern touch. The interiors looked neat despite the modifications. The garden looked beautiful with neatly trimmed shrubs and vibrant flowering and ornamental plants.

They named it ‘Hibiscus Inn’ because of the vibrant hibiscus flowers in the garden. Susan had tears in her eyes as she admired her house from outside. Lorenzo was satisfied that his project was a success. Bijoy was smart enough to bring in people to stay and let them know about this place till it gained popularity. Even the neighbours were surprised to see that a dull and lifeless house like Susan’s could turn into a new leaf.

As anticipated, travellers started flowing in and were undoubtedly in love with the place and Susan’s home cooked food. Lorenzo had taken charge and done all the administrative work. This was purely a ‘Walk-in’ inn which Susan had conceptualized keeping in mind Lorenzo’s entry into this house.

Finally, as work came calling it was time for Lorenzo to leave for his country. Susan stayed strong and managed to see off her Enzo. She couldn’t express it to him that he had become an important part of her life and without him it would be difficult for her to manage things around. She had realized the importance of having a good company around. As promised, Lorenzo paid her the rental amount and also bore the expenses. All Susan had of him was his visiting card and the beautiful memories they had weaved together.

Lorenzo’s creative business idea worked well for Susan. But she was all by herself again. She managed the inn for a few months but was unable to continue without her Lorenzo. She missed his presence and his charm. His company worked liked a medicine for Susan. She had forgotten what loneliness was. They wrote to each other regularly but it couldn’t compensate for his presence. She was losing even her physical strength without him. She knew this day would come when she would be paralyzed without him. But reality hit her sooner than she had expected.

Her limbs had become weak and had started losing sensation. Her body had shrunk because of weakness and dehydration in just a few days. Travellers had to be sent back as there was no one handle the inn. Bijoy stayed day in and day to take care of Susan but she did not respond to treatment. Her symptoms were rare and it could be due to an infection because of extreme heat condition. She had overheard the doctors telling Bijoy the previous night that she had very faint chances of survival.

Their dream project was collapsing. It was the first thought that came to her as she woke up. He was gone. And, soon, this bedroom , the house, the tiny garden outside with its gnarled old red hibiscus and the half-grown mango tree they had planted together, all those would be gone as well. It was the strangest feeling ever. The fear of loss affected her more than the fever.


The next day, the local newspaper first page’s right corner read:

A 75 year old lady dies an unnatural death in Morjim due to a rare infection. Only autopsy can throw light upon the exact cause of the infection. The government urges everyone to take ample precautions before moving out in the heat.

When the autopsy team reached Susan’s house to take her body to the hospital, they found a note by  her bedside table. It was addressed to Lorenzo:

Dear Enzo,

I may not be able to manage everything on my own. If by any chance I falter, please take over and save our home. A home that we built together.

Love,
Susie

Later, the police also found the house agreement, where Susan had added Lorenzo’s name. Susan had obtained his signature on this page too along with the house renovation agreement contract.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Sinful Bliss




They say that the time period between engagement and marriage is one of the most exciting phases for a bride and groom to be. I wasn’t feeling any different from the day we celebrated our Platinum Day of Love. After being in a long distance relationship with Adi during our courtship period, I felt the urge to meet him and get to know him better before I could feel confident about him. Who would have imagined that a couple who got to know each other through a dating platform like, Aisle ended up getting engaged through a horoscope match also. We both had decided to bury the Aisle secret and go ahead with the regular proceedings as it pleased our parents. Once a relationship clicks, who cares if it Aisle or Bharat Matrimonial. Our relationship was chugging like a steam engine, thanks to those miles that separated us. True love doesn’t get diluted with distance but we were yet to discover it. I tried my luck at job opportunities in Bangalore where he was staying so that I could get to know him more before we were officially engaged. Adi helped me in finding a paying guest accommodation which was close to my work place. I wasn’t happy staying at a place which was far from his house; but he being the more practical one said, ‘Dia, in Bangalore, if you want mental peace, make sure you stay close to your workplace. Do not risk your precious time in these crazy vehicle clogged roads. We can meet on weekends when we can spend quality time together.’
Our story from courtship to being engaged and then getting married was a strange one because our lovable moments always had something to do with food. I used to fear at times thinking it could affect our health but we balanced it well just as we did with our relationship. The first day I set foot in this city, Adi gave me a surprise welcome with a bouquet of twelve roses.
‘These are for those months which we have known each other for,’ he said squeezing my hand. 
It was extremely chivalrous of him to receive me at the railway station at 3:00 AM on a Sunday morning when half the city was sleeping. Probably he was equally excited to meet me. I had put on my worst look that morning. Which girl would meet her date for the first time sleepy eyed and dull? He came close holding the bouquet and we embraced each other for the first time. It wasn’t an awkward feeling at all. It felt as if we had known each other for long. As we sat in the car and picked up our conversation from where we had left on the phone last night, he decided to take me to a coffee shop knowing that I like coffee. I was wondering if there would be any coffee shop open at this wee hour. We were lucky that a Café Coffee Day was open. I had never seen a CCD more beautiful as this; A small garden café. We had to wake up the poor server boy and ask him for piping hot Café Moccha which happened to be our favourite. As we sat in a cosy corner by the table in the garden sipping on our coffee, an aroma of the feeling of first love wafted into our souls.  How could I forget that morning, as we sat with our hands entwined, sipping the nerve soothening coffee at the crack of dawn looking at the crimson sky and enjoying each other’s company! It was certainly a date to remember. Freshly ground coffee beans have a magic in them. The aroma is strong enough to mask any form of fragrance that lingers around. It did wake me up my brain from its slumber only to register the precious moments of my first date with Adi. I finished my coffee quickly and looked at Adi sipping the last bit from his mug.
He caught me staring and asked, ‘Do you want some more?’ Just for the sake of having the last sip from his coffee mug I took it from him and relished it till the last drop. The after effect of it was something which I had never imagined. The next moment, warm lips, smelling of coffee had engulfed mine and before I could open my eyes and realize what had happened. Adi was standing by the car waiting for me to get in. The motto of CCD is true- ‘Anything can happen over coffee.’
I had to spend the rest of the day in tidying my room and setting up things. My first date was a very short one but the feeling that I was going to meet him again in a few days got my hopes a bit high thinking that our relationship was getting a chance to blossom.
My thoughts were all over the place the entire day. I was physically doing the work and arranging my room but my heart was with him. I could still sense his lips on mine and the smell of coffee that hit my nostrils when he came close to me. It was having an intoxicating effect on me and I did not feel normal until the next day when I had to rush for work. Our long distance relationship continued even though we were in the same city. We waited for the weekend so that we could spend more time with each other. It was exciting to plan for the weekend as soon as the week begun. Weekend outings in the city were just a pretext to meet and get to know each other better. We tried to go for movies that interested us, visited book shops where we could read or discuss about our favourite books over a cup of coffee or tea.
We were the so called foodies. That was the first among the many other common likings that we had. Although, the cuisines that either one of us liked were not completely the same but in a way we were able to discover our love through food. Initially, we spoke only about our favourite dishes, likes and dislikes but when we were together it was exciting to try out something new. It is said that food has an impact on the brain directly. The gastronomic delight one gets after having their favourite dish is equivalent to feeling loved by someone.
At times we took more time to decide as to where and what we should eat than discuss about each other. One evening he took me to an Italian restaurant that served the best vegetarian menu in Italian cuisine. Each date was memorable and had its’ own charm in our lives. Our pleasant as well as bitter-sweet memories were linked with food as it formed a vital part of our relationship.
While dining at the quaint and beautiful restaurant Adi asked, ‘Dia, do you like cooking?’
I have heard that men want to know if their would be partner knew how to cook but I had never heard such a question. It made me feel that this man had a liberal mind set. I smiled at him and instead of replying I asked him, ‘What about you?’
‘I love to eat and serve with love,’ he said with a sheepish grin.
‘Wow… I guess I have one more reason to love you. When do I get a taste of your culinary skills?’ I asked giving him a gentle nudge.
He gripped my hand and held them inside his strong, warm fist. ‘You are invited home anytime my lady.’
Our conversation about meal plans vanished into thin air when the food arrived at our table. A glass of Sangria, cheesy creamy pasta and jazz music in the background with Adi in front of me made me feel that I had conquered the world. The combination of wine and pasta was enough to sooth our palate. As I took small sips of my wine and took few spoons of the creamy pasta, I felt different. The combination of vodka, cheesy cream sauce and wine hit my palette and I felt my head was heavy. I could hear what Adi was speaking and was also replying to him but there was a sort of vaccum created because of which only his words seemed to echo in my ears. I was talking to him but not in the way my normal self would do. I think I was high on alcohol and cheese. How could one get high after having pasta and wine? Later, when I read the menu in detail I realized that this pasta sauce had generous amount of vodka and when combined with cheese and wine it makes it stronger in flavour and its action on our system also is enhanced.
 ‘I can feel my head reeling Dia,’ Adi said putting his arms around my shoulder firmly. He needed me and I needed him for support. We had to take a cab and reach home as Adi was not feeling comfortable to drive. I could only remember the pasta and the wine when I recalled about that evening. We got tipsy together for the first time. There were many such firsts in our lives. But again the same feeling of parting and waiting for another week made the experience painful. It gave us melancholy but at the same time we had a hope to meet each other the next week.


The weekend after that was New Year's Eve. Adi had invited me home to join him and his friends in the celebration. I had never attended a New Year celebration party till date. It had always been spent with friends or family either watching the New Year celebration programmes on television or cutting a New Year cake. I was a little hesitant in going to his place and being with his friends but because his friends were also bringing their respective girl friends’ along, I felt a little confident about the whole idea of a New Year’s celebration. The apartment where he was staying with his friends was a beautiful one. It was the first time I was entering a house where only men stayed and I was feeling awkward even thinking about it. As expected, the house turned out to unusually neat and tidy. It was mainly to welcome the girls I assumed. Once the other girls also started joining us I was able to be my usual self. Apart from Adi and the other friends, there was music, good food and creative homemade cocktails made by one of Adi’s friends. I spent more time in observing Adi around with friends than talking to anyone much. In fact, his friends were too excited to know about our relationship. That’s how our conversation continued. I felt a little relieved seeing that Adi was his normal self when it came to being with me and his friends. It was one of those concerns I had which had instilled some doubts in me and made me feel a little hesitant about our relationship. Not that I had an option to step back. . It was only one additional reason to feel happy about the person with whom I was slowly falling in love with.There was no dual personality that he adorned at least in front of his close ones.

We waited for the clock to strike 12 and welcomed the New Year wishing each other good luck and happiness. Adi’s friend threw a challenge at us saying that as we all start our countdown to welcome the New Year; with each count we should have one shot of Tequila. Since there were 10 seconds left, we were all forced to have 10 shots continuously. I think, that was enough for us to not be our normal self for that night. Adi still seemed a little sane but, I wasn’t. I became extremely quiet and I went with the flow not knowing how to react. I was never used to having alcohol and 10 shots were not something which my body could take. Thankfully nothing happened to my health but I swore that day that never in my life would I have so much alcohol. I have never been so quiet but it made me calm down so much that it was difficult even for Adi to accept me that way. The celebrations were almost about to end as none of us could stay awake because of the overdose of alcohol. Amidst the confused discussion that was happening whether the girls should go to another apartment and stay over for the night, Adi took his chance and stole me from the group.
The next moment I was with Adi in the terrace. The dark sky was illuminated with brilliant colours of the firecrackers. The chaos caused by the crackers was loud enough get people out of their beds and celebrate the New Year. But, for some reason I was at peace at that moment in the terrace as I stood close to Adi admiring the lit up sky. Adi pulled me close and gave me a tight hug. He cupped my chin with his hands and lifted my head up so that his lips could meet mine. Our lips smeared with salt left over after the tequila shots engulfed each others. The strong smell of alcohol and the taste of salt against our moist lips made my stomach churn with desire. That day was one of those very firsts when I saw the most romantic side of Adi. The most passionate kiss to begin with and the firecrackers in the sky made me feel like life were a fairytale.  I had to push him away just to breathe and absorb myself into that moment. We did not speak but our eyes gleamed reflecting the bright colours of the sky.
Realizing that it was quite some time that we had spent in the terrace, we both rushed downstairs just to make sure the others did not realize our absence from the scene. I had to go with the other girls to their apartment to stay over for the night. I had no heart to leave Adi and go but I had to. He had left a desire burning inside me and I needed to wait till the next day in order to extinguish the fire.
I wanted to text him and describe to him about my feelings but did not have words to do justice. My head was reeling with passion and my palate was burning because of the strong shots of Tequila. It took liters of water to flush out the intoxicating effect of the alcohol from my system. But how was I supposed to stay normal after what Adi had done to me? All I could remember about the previous night was the strong salty kiss which lingered in my senses throughout.
Every time I met him I felt a strong sense of attraction towards him. I was slowly able to gain confidence in him and felt that getting engaged to him was not a bad choice at all. The long distance courtship had taught us trust more than love. Love, was something we were discovering throughout.
The next morning I did not wake up with a headache but instead wasn’t able to talk. My throat had a severe congestion and my voice had become hoarse. I texted Adi about my condition and he reached immediately to take me to the doctor. The doctor advised me complete voice rest for three days.
‘How am I supposed to select our marriage ring this way?’ I wrote on a chit and showed it to Adi.
‘Don’t worry, I can do the talking. You write to me in a piece of paper as you did now,’ he said handing over a small note pad to me.
Immediately after consulting the doctor we went hunting for appropriate rings. Since, we were travelling together from the same destination Adi took me on his bike. It was one of my firsts again. The evening breeze was just perfect to go on a bike ride. I sat as a pillion holding him tight and all those romantic songs kept playing in my mind. I couldn’t speak, so every time he wanted to know if I was doing well he would look at the rear view mirror and ask, ‘Are you feeling alright?’
‘I would tilt my head to the side so that half of my face could be seen in the mirror and give him a smile with thumbs up.’
The weather in Bangalore was supposed to be equally unpredictable, just as the traffic on the roads. We were about to reach the jewellery shop when out of nowhere dark cloud hovered above us and the weather was indicating towards a thundershower. To make matters worse, we were stuck in a traffic jam which could easily take about twenty minutes to clear. As expected, within minutes is started drizzling and by the time we crossed the signal it was a heavy downpour. We were completely drenched. Not knowing what to do I slid even closer to Adi and held him tight. I also felt slight shivers in my body.
‘Dia I am going to park the bike here. We can wait there till it stops raining,’ Adi said pointing at a petty tea shop where there was enough space for the two of us to stand. I was in desperate need of something warm and a hot ginger tea that we had in that shop was all it took to open up my senses and give my throat some warmth and relief. The combination of heavy rain and ginger tea has always worked wondered to sooth the throat. I couldn’t talk but that day I learnt the art of communicating with Adi through my eyes. Probably he understood how much I admired him for the care and concern that he was showing for me. Ginger works perfectly in soothing a troubled throat. Despite all the throat pain and the doctor’s advice not to talk, I took the courage to whisper in Adi’s ears, ‘I love you.’  Before he could scold me for talking I sealed the irritation with a peck on his cheek.
We couldn’t get our rings that day but because we were drenched completely and I was more prone to fall sick because of the existing infection, Adi took me shopping and also promised to take me to his house in the evening. ‘I hope you are feeling better after the tea,’ he asked rubbing my forehead and caressing my wet hair. After asking me to rest for a while he vanished into the kitchen. His friends had gone out for a movie so I felt even more comfortable in lying on the sofa and slipping into a short nap. I was woken up by Adi with a bowl of Pongal and chutney.
‘You made this?’ I exclaimed in my hoarse voice forgetting that I wasn’t supposed to talk. I saw a hint of anger on his face but it faded soon seeing me happy. I was having the home made pongal after almost months and I wonder how Adi knew exactly about that. The softness of the rice and dal with a hint of pepper and a dollop of ghee on top made me feel even better. My nose was watering, my throat was burning from inside because of the ginger and pepper in it but it had served the purpose. I was slowly being relieved of my throat pain. My eyes almost welled with tears as I was finishing the pongal. I had not only found a future partner in Adi but I had also found my parents in him.

********

The trail of thoughts that were going through my mind were disturbed suddenly.  You want some more of this? Adi asked feeding me and our little one in the making a spoon of chocolate brownie with ice cream. We were at the same CCD at 1:00 AM, where we had met first. But this time we were sharing a sizzling brownie with ice cream, thanks to the midnight cravings. A spoonful of hot chocolate over soft and warm brownies with vanilla ice-cream was enough to make me fall in love with Adi all over again. 

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Of Love, Luck and Lucky Ali





This is blog post, rather a letter which was left incomplete 8-9 months back. It was initiated when I was back from a Lucky Ali concert in Bangalore. The trail of thoughts started and it was in my draft ever since. I am dedicating this as a WOW prompt  under “A Story Yet Unwritten”. Thanks BlogAdda for bringing this out. 



An open letter to Lucky Ali from a devoted Lucky Ali fan's wife. 

After having attended three of your live concerts and having closely observed your devotion and love for music, I am compelled to write this to you. This can be considered as a heartfelt message. Moral of the story is that, I can't thank you enough for everything that your music and style has given me through my husband. My husband is a die hard fan of your music and he does not miss an opportunity to attend your concerts or to listen to any of your songs that are released. To an extent, his love for your songs and style makes me believe that my husband just cannot like anything artificial. Your songs have influenced his childhood and teenage and continue to do so. Your style has mesmerised him. More so, the kind of soulful music which you compose and deliver has made him extremely devoted to music. We would have seen couples during our teenage dedicate songs to each other with some of your most loved romantic numbers like - Gori teri aankhein and O Sanam....... 
I faced a similar situation in my romantic relationship with my husband too. The first Hindi song he dedicated to me was " Tu Kaun hai......" which of course I had never heard of until then. The song did not have any romantic touch to it but he still kept asking me often during the dating phase of our relationship- ' Tu kaun hai??'

Slowly, I discovered his love for music and fell in love more with his voice. Every time I spoke to him, I requested him to sing a song for me. I was happy then thinking that at least he had the thought of dedicating a song for me. He still has your music albums cassettes, CD's intact. There are days when he keeps listening to your songs throughout in a continuous loop.  He knows every song and every lyrics by heart which is extremely contrary to the fact that he doesn't remember trivial details like dates and events that happen in day to day life. This habit of listening to the same song the entire day to an extent that you wake up humming that song the next day morning, seemed strange to me initially but I have become equally crazy like him now. I like listening to those songs again and again.

My first concert date with my husband was also one of your concerts at the HRC, Bangalore. It was a beautiful and an unforgettable evening that will be etched in my memories forever. We both stood hand in hand, waving at times, singing along with you. Somehow, your songs have brought us closer at each step of our relationship. I see a child like excitement in him when he listens to any of your songs. His free spirited nature, carefree attitude towards life as he sings your songs makes me go back to the 90's. We had received the CD's of your album Xsuie and Raasta Man as a gift for attending the concert. My husband took me for 2-3 hours of long ride in the city at midnight  just to listen to these albums as the car was the only place with a CD player.

While I looked through his old teenage photos I could understand that his dressing style also resembled a couple of yours as it appeared in the album's song videos. Probably, I discovered him better when I looked at all the video songs. I hadn't watched many of them until he told me about them.

It was one night before Valentine's Day, when he was attending your concert. I was not in the city that time. Since it was our first Valentines Day celebration, he wanted to surprise me at midnight with a special message. He attended your concert, kind of left early from there towards the fag end and surprised me by writing a 10 page love letter. Again, it was one of his firsts and mine too. The happiness in his soul was evident as he wrote about the concert and later described about his feelings for me. I still treasure that love letter which brought us few steps closer to each other. The happy and energetic vibe was evident. Thanks to your wonderful songs and of course the concert.






His adventurous thoughts, the satisfaction he has gained by riding an Enfield, his description about travelling solo to random destinations in Ladakh, happily humming your song has made me visualize the ' Kitni Haseen Zindagi.......' song often. Whenever we go on long drives, either on a bike or a car we make it a point to sing this song or ' Hairat hai.... Hairat hai......' and our journey gets even better.

A recent incident which makes me laugh even as a I type this out. We had been to the theater to watch the movie 'Tamasha' because I insisted that we should watch it. My husband did not like the movie and was ready to leave the theater even before the movie was about to end. The only reason that held him back till the fag end was to visualize and listen to the song ' Safarnama...'. 

Such funny instances keep happening and I believe that the influence your songs have on him are unique. The interesting fact is that they have given an extra dimension to our relationship.



Signing off....



Picture Courtesy : Clicked by my dear hubby @Ydntnphotography.


‘This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’



Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Odd-Even story of every household

The Odd - Even rule doesn't apply only for cars plying in Delhi, it also applies to the distribution of household work. The formula is the same. One is for reducing the amount of pollution due to the increasing number of vehicles, while the another is to make life easier for women while taking care of the household. If I were to travel back in time, lets say, fifteen years before there was always an Odd rule followed in a family when it came to managing the household. It was only left to the women to manage the regular household chores like cleaning, cooking, washing and taking care of the family while men only were concerned about the financial well being of the family. They were the sole bread earners. If there were households where women worked too, they not only had to do the regular work any homemaker does but also had to juggle all this with their professional lives. They had to work as a professional and as well as a homemaker. There was no concept of sharing household work equally between a husband and a wife in many households. But, I am glad that situations are not the same anymore. Progress had happened where men have stepped forward boldly against all odds and have started helping their partner with the daily chores at home. 

With the introduction and easy availability of washing machines, like the, completely automatic washing machines, washing clothes became very easy for women. Gone were the days when women had to sit with buckets of clothes in the bathroom and keep scrubbing for hours together. Life became simpler but question here is - Why only women should take the effort to wash clothes? 


Brands like Ariel, who promise to manufacture detergents not only to brighten our clothes and help in removing rough stains but also help in creating awareness to share the load by their creative commercials which are able to drive in a very crucial message. The surveys they have conducted and the creative Ads with strong message have helped many men in realizing the importance of helping out their partner with the simplest of the household work, like doing the laundry. Ariel always amazes us with their beautiful ideas, just like this one. It gives a clear picture as to how even in modern times women have to hold their fortress at the household as well as the professional front. They have multiple expectations to fulfill and they slog hard to achieve their goals. The father's message to his daughter is conveyed strongly yet subtly. 


         

In the same, way there was an Ad created by Ariel when the #ShareTheLoad campaign began.The surveys showed that men felt it was only a woman's job to do the laundry not matter how busy a woman was with other household work. For that matter even if she was busy working she had to take the responsibility of washing the clothes or locating the clothes for their partner. 


         

         


While, Ariel is trying to send a powerful message through it creative Ads which are progressive and are delivering a strong message to everyone, I tried the Ariel Matic for my top load fully automatic Samsung Washing machine. The quantity required is less, and at the same time, the clothes are washed well. I don't need to even scrub the dirty out of shirt collars, cuffs, pockets and sleeves or salwar bottoms. The stains get cleaned easily. Things became simpler when I asked my husband to help out with the washing so that I could dry the clothes once they were done. Initially I used to wait for weekends to wash clothes or would do it when I was back home from work. Slowly, my husband started helping by putting the clothes for wash before leaving for office. If he had time and wasn't getting late for work he would dry them or leave it in a bucket so that when I am back from work I could dry them. Washing clothes became just another routine job for me which never required so much thought process.  Laundry became an even job in house which was shared equally between me and my husband, be it washing clothes, drying them, folding them, giving it for ironing or picking it up from the dry cleaners. We discuss and divide the work for the day so that it becomes easier to manage little things. 

Since we both work we had this problem of grocery shopping. We kept it for weekends so that we both could do it together but at times when the need arose it had to be in the middle of the week. It was always my job initially to make a list and go grocery shopping in days when my husband could not help. We made it even by adjusting our time only for weekends, where we would spend sometime for this. Although there are multiple grocery shopping apps which provide a solution to all these problems but there is a hidden fun in doing things together, as menial as going to a super market and shopping for stuff , except for those days when there are long queues. So, we avoided those stuffy and crowded super markets and instead chose smaller ones which were less crowded. At times, when this weekend plan didn't work out I made a list of the items and gave to my hubby. Whenever he got the time, he would pick up the groceries. Things became simpler after we adopted this lifestyle. In the same way, vegetable shopping also became simpler. We adjusted according each other busy schedule. 



Cleaning the house and arranging everything is still an odd chore in our house as my partner is not too much into cleaning. He does it rarely only when I cajole him to do so but we have tried to even it out by telling each other that while I am doing the cleaning of the house he could help me by cutting some veggies or preparing a light breakfast or brunch on a Sunday morning so that things get done easily. Situations improved slowly and I was no longer feeling stressed out on a weekend. 


We kept adding things like these to the list and tried to adjust timings in our own way, which would help in managing a household in a better way. At times I do feel that there are so many such household chores that are distributed in an Odd way at home but we manage to identify them by talking about our individual troubles and sort them out.  Solution to these small problems is always simple, we just need to search for means to even out the odd chores. The list is endless as work keeps changing at different stages of life of a couple. All we need is a supporting partner who could sit and talk and also help in finding a solution to these odd troubles.



I am taking part in the #LaundryGoesOddEven Challenge by Ariel India at BlogAdda.'

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Happy Holi #Buranamanoholihai


            

Whenever I think of holi it is always the beautiful colours that I see on a white background. Since I have spent my entire childhood in North India where Holi is considered as one of the most important festivals, I have been lucky enough to get holidays and enjoy the festival with friends. The usual Holi celebration would be to go out during the day and play with friends or sit in the balcony and watch others play holi. When we were kids, we loved playing with gulal ( powder colours) and mixed it in a bucket full of water just to pour on everyone who passed by from the balcony. There was also a fear of even going out during Holi because someone or the other would come and apply colours. Those days we were not even aware of clicking pictures during holi so I do not have any pictures to remind of the beautiful days but the memories that I have had in celebrating holi with friends is amazing. Mom would keep a separate bucket where I could mix colours with water, dad would come along with me to the local market and buy colours and pichkari ( water spriklers) or balloons ( later to be filled with water). I always loved having a minimum of 5 different colours. It was just an amazing feeling just to keep everything ready the previous night. I would hunt my cupboard with mom just to find an old dress which could be dirtied with holi colours. Mom would ask me to dab my skin with numerous amount of coconut oil before going out to play holi. It was not the end. When we were kids we had a specific time to come out and play. We feared the elders who would play holi with paint mainly, the silver ones. There were many beautiful faces hidden behind the golden, silver and green paints. I am feeling excited just as I recollect those beautiful memories. The entire day would go in just playing holi, spraying colours on others, pouring buckets of colours water on each other, even from the balcony or use those water guns to spray coloured water even when we stand in the balcony, look down and talk to each other. The entire row of houses and from top to bottom had holi colours dripping, in our apartments. There were many notorious ones who would deface the  newly painted white walls with the colours and instead all the innocent children would be scolded for these acts. It is mostly in the month of March so it would either clash with the annual or board exams but no body wanted to miss celebrating holi. I remember the last holi that we played in school after my 12th board exams. We skipped the actual day and instead celebrated the last day of exam by playing holi outside the  school premises.   I did not wash that white school uniform with holi colours for days together just to keep that memory alive. 

Once the celebrations of the day were done with, mom would be ready at home with enough soap and gram flour so that one could get rid of the colours easily. Despite spending more than an hour cleaning up, we would end up with some red or green marks behind the ears, on the finger nails and also in the corners of the forehead and around the neck. Those signs actually made one feel proud when we would go to school the day after holi. It actually spoke about the amount of time one has spent playing holi. Evenings, we would get dressed in fresh clothes, preferably white or light colours. Since in our culture holi was not a major festial, we would go to other's house who had invited us for dinner. There would be 7-8 invitations from the neighbourhood and I never wanted to miss even one house. I went to each and every house with my parents where they would welcome us by applying powder colours ( gulal) . We would be treated with one of my most favourite delicacies like Dahi Vada', Katahal ki sabzi '(Jackfruit) , Mal pua, Puri', Pulav, Chole, Gulkand Sherbet/Nimbu Pani and other sweets. These delicacies still happen to be my favourite. We would spend time meeting friends and talking to everyone around. 

Slowly as I grew up and went out of my hometown to study down South in India, the effect that holi had on me started decreasing. Although in college I have played holi a lot with friends and I can vouch for the fact that it was a crazy holi celebration that we had, but nothing like the holi celebration of childhood days. We at least got time to celebrate holi during college. Now, after having started to work which is also in South India, holi celebrations have reduced. We do not even get a holiday for holi. But this time I have decided to celebrate Holi in a way just as I used to do in childhood with my friends. In order to bring out the fun of it mom and dad came home during holi and my favourite Dahi vada and Katahal sabzi will be made at home. 


I’m pledging to #KhulKeKheloHoli this year by sharing my Holi memories at BlogAdda in association with Parachute Advansed.”

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Memories of life



           




Memories that we create day to day with all our loved ones are really precious and nothing but those beautiful moments that we have shared with each other are the ones which will always remain. Capturing them in our mind and through the camera helps us in framing them in a way that can never be erased. We might grow old and at times feel that memories are going faint due to the aging of the brain. That is when memories in the form of photos, videos and physical albums and memoirs help us in making those age old moments alive. People come and go in our lives as we grow up but 'Life Partner' is the one who is always with us through all phases of our life post marriage. We spend the maximum time with our partner after our parents. As the going says,' I would love to grow old with my partner.' 

I can image one such day when we both have grown old and we recall those beautiful moments of love and togetherness that we have etched together. To think about this is itself exciting. 

Such is the kind of world that we have started creating for ourselves and hope we have more such wonderful moments to celebrate in our life span together. Some of the best moments spent with you, Yd are dated right from the day we started talking over phone and chatting on Google Talk/Chat/. That was the only way in which we got to know each other. Had it not been for the wonderful Airtel and Google's services we wouldn't have got to know each other so well. The way we used to manage this long distance for the years before we could be together. Those little and big fights over multiple misunderstanding on the phone, those lovey-dovey talks overnight and hanging up only to realize that we have spoken for about an hour and those restless days when we had the urge to meet each other and spend time  but we couldn't. We cannot forget any such moments when we used count days just to meet each other for few hours. Those sudden surprise visits which we made added extra love to our relationships. We actually understood each other and slowly developed a mutual trust. Even when we were in the same city, long distance did not stop. We still had to walk that extra mile to meet each other on weekends despite the busy work schedule and also travelling distance within the same city. Staying far away in the same city was certainly better than staying 400 kms apart. Despite health issues and the distance we stayed strong and fought all those tiny-weeny obstacles and finally tied the sacred knot only to be living together in harmony. Life in any form is not a cake-walk. We have to put in effort whether we are together or apart. After a lot of difficulty in adjusting with each other we moved on to the next level of managing to live with each other. Two years passed that way and we have started etching our memories on so called time canvas .  

We started travelling more together, started venturing into wedding photography and exploring places together, gave our imagination wings and let each other lead an independent life despite being together. 

No relationship is perfect, just as ours. It is the beautiful memories that we have created and are going to create together, that will be taking us forwards. We have and will be having small and big discussions and disagreements but I know when we grow old it would be fun to relive all those moments. Hoping for a bright and a beautiful future together as partners forever. 



I have made a small scrapbook of the sweet and beautiful memories that I have shared with my husband from the beginning using HDFC Life : 




“Share your #MemoriesForLife like I’ve done at BlogAdda for HDFC Life.”