Ayubowan!

It’s been close to 2 years of zero blogging. Have been up to many activities worth blogging! This includes awakened interest in home décor, setting up a balcony garden (that I am proud of), lots of travelling, amateur photography  etc. etc. However sheer laziness and the new found love for Instagram  took up all my time. Today while sipping my cup of coffee and reading Ruskin Bond’s ‘ A Book of Simple Living’ , an ex- colleague messaged me asking for our Sri Lankan Trip itinerary. While I gave her a shortened version through WhatsApp, her request led me to think about re-starting blogging with our Sri Lankan experience. So here we go!

Sri Lanka was not the first choice for our June 2018 trip. We had initially planned for a 2 weeks trip to the North East. But once we reached closer to the date, we realised that the North East involves lots of planning and driving. The lazy couple that we are and thanks to our hectic work schedule at that point in time, we decided to so something more relaxing. The first picture that came to our mind was a clean beach, beer and some grilled fish. No other place matched this dream other than Sri Lanka. The  husband had his bachelors there and I had travelled for work a couple of times to Sri Lanka. We both had seen some bits, but not to our hearts content and just enough to get us longing for more! So we booked our tickets the very next day.

Having booked our tickets, the next step was to plan a rough itinerary. As at all times, I usually make the first draft and thereafter the husband comes up with his changes. Based on a combination of both our interests, we decided that the trip needs a good lazy vibe, exploring a bit of history and some beach activities. The below map sort of summarizes  our trip. We literally travelled across the country and it was worth every bit of it.

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Day 1 upon landing , we directly took off to Galle. While the husband hadn’t seen Colombo, we decided to explore Colombo on our way back. Twenty minutes on the road and the true blue-Indians that we are, we started craving for our morning Chai.Stopped at a small yet neat hotel where we had a cup of milk tea. This led to my first revelation – Sri Lankan tea is best had without milk. A very interesting thing on the menu was Nasi Goreng being termed as an Indian dish. Check the picture below!

Nasi Goreng

Soon after we had our next stop at the high way for a proper breakfast. We had a not so light breakfast. Check out the pictures and you shall know why  I say so!

Food

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We reached Galle in about 3 hours and checked into our first stay for the trip. To our surprise and great joy it’s one of the cutest homestay /bed and breakfast places that we have ever been to. The Stairway which was apparently  once an attic is a little café which has one room which has been rented out. Very minimalistic yet so beautifully done. Most importantly it has a very homely feel to it. Stairway has a limited menu in terms of food, but whatever they make is fresh and yum. Believe me, these pictures don’t do justice to the beauty of the place. We will definitely recommend this place to any couple who wants a quirky comfortable and cheap room to stay in.

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We spent the next two days exploring the Galle, visiting various museums, churches (place of interest for me), checking out the cricket stadium ( place of interest for the husband) and grabbing  a beer  in between ( common interest)  . Talking about beer, shouldn’t forget to mention how much I loved Sri Lankan beer!

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Church – Check!

We also spend our evenings pub hopping at the Galle Dutch Hospital Complex. Do not miss out on the great atmosphere and lovely people. While getting high I managed to steal paper coasters and napkins from each of these places, only to realize that they were more than happy to give me the same. The place has a very easy and laidback atmosphere. Live music, good food, scrabble tables and some great people made us stick around the place till 2 in the morning!

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After spending two days at Galle, we decided to move our base to Unawatuna. Drive to Unawatuna from Galle was hardly 45 min. Once we reached Unawatuna, we were clear about our priorities – beach, fish and beer. Not once did we wander away from it. We stayed at Thaproban beach house. Its one of the best located hotels since its right on the beach.

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While we judiciously whiled away most of our time in the water or reading a book, we did make a few trips. Once of it was to see the stilt fishermen.

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We also visited the home of the great writer Martin Wickramasinghe in Kogalla, Galle. Green and beautiful, a great place to spend reading his books.

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The best of course was our mini trek to the Jungle Beach. The beach is a little secret known to everyone ! Having walked for 2 hours through a small forest, we reached on of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen. White sand and blue waters. What a sight!

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My description about Unawatuna is not complete without talking about the amazing food we had. We stuck to fish, prawns and crab at every place we ate. While we tried may preparations, the best is grilled fish in butter garlic sauce. The taste of fresh fish caught hours before in this preparation is definitely to die for. Believe me, the picture below does not do justice to the fish we devoured in less than 5 minutes.

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If you fancy stepping out for lunch from your hotel do visit this little café/BnB called ‘Bedspace’. The husband found this one on Lonely Planet. Since he swears by Lonely Planet, we had to go there. We didn’t regret one bit. The lazy vibe and the amazing, fresh burgers are to die for. Your favorite book and their amazing music and food can help you spend the afternoon in bliss.

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Sri  Lanka apart from being known for its amazing beaches is also known for its precious stones. We also visited one of the mines. While it is very touristy, if you want to really see how they are made fit enough for our jewelry and may be buy a few, do visit one.

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On our way back from Kogalla, our driver took us to a beautiful  café by the sea sea side which served the most amazing crabs I ever had –Mamas Coral Beach Hotel. The husband was never a great fan of crabs until then, but my enthusiasm and the tasty crab that was, made him a crab lover too. The crab came with the freshest salad I have had in a few years. This along with  beer made for a lovely lazy sumptuous meal.

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The view from the café is also to die for. Check this out!

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Food experiences in SriLanka is never complete without the traditional Sri Lankan thali. While we kept having it throughout the trip, the best was the one had in our next place of stay- Sigiriya.

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Speaking of food, one must also definitely taste the fish sambol and the ginger ale made in Sri Lanka. I can move to this country just so that I get to have it every day!

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So, as I mentioned our next stop was Sigiriya. Historical places always intrigue me, so our long trips always include some. What interested us was more that this civilization is way older than Machu Picchu. Sigiriya is an ancient rock fortress located in the northern Matale District near the town of Dambulla in the Central Province, Sri Lanka. According to the ancient Sri Lankan chronicle the Culavamsa, this site was selected by King Kasyapa  for his new capital. He built his palace on the top of this rock and decorated its sides with colorful frescoes. On a small plateau about halfway up the side of this rock he built a gateway in the form of an enormous lion. The name of this place is derived from this structure —Sīhāgiri, the Lion Rock

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The Gardens of the Sigiriya city are one of the most important aspects of the site, as it is among the oldest landscaped gardens in the world.

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2 hours of climbing and cribbing got me to the top of the rock and the view was to die for. Check out the pictures.

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We had booked hotel Sigiriya Village, since it was recommended by a friend. What a place. Even if given an option to change all our bookings, I would never change this one. It is one of the most beautiful, organic places I stayed. Nestled in a forest of about 100 acres, the place has little cottages places in between 100-year-old trees. The staff were super friendly and the ayurvedic spa is amazing. They have a lovely dining area with live piano recitals ( Hindi Songs included) . Ideal place to have a glass of wine and enjoy in the lap of nature. As soon as we reached, we had a grand Sri Lankan thali as lunch.  Soon after that we set out to see the Sigiriya rock.

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The next day we were joined by two of our friends and we were sure that the trip is going to be a super active one from that moment!

We set off to Trinconmalee . The reason to go to Trinconmalee was the husband’s wish  to do snorkeling. June being off season was not suitable for it on the west coast. However the east coast had weather suitable for the same water sports. We drove directly to Nilaveli Beach Resort. Nilaveli and Trinconmalee, unlike the west coast are not  touristy places and don’t have many shacks or eateries like the West. Upon reaching the hotel, 4 of us quickly changed and ran to the beach and we were thrilled to see the calm sea. This one looked straight out of a Maldives or Seychelles. We spent some time in the water and occasionally visited the shore for our bottomless long island ice teas. Another great find was the amazing long island ice tea that this country made. No hotel or shack disappointed us.

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We were super tired spent the evening at the hotel and slept early since we had to wake up early the next day. Day began at 5 a.m! And I made sure,  after pleading so much with the husband that it started with a #followmeto picture Smile 

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We left the beach in our super fast boat to see some dolphins and whales. And to our luck and some amazing spotting by our guide Vicky we saw many. Post the same, the 3 of them set out to do snorkeling at pigeon island while I lazed around in the hotel and read a book.I am scared of water and snorkeling is not for me. They did tell me it was amazing and would love to come back again! That speaks volumes.

While we have been having crab all though out our trip, our friends hadn’t tasted them yet. Hence I found out a nice restaurant for our lunch which served crabs. When we asked them for crab, the waiter went to the river below the restaurant, picked one out, showed it live and thereafter turned it into one of the yummy preparations. Mind you that’s how fresh the crab was. Post dinner we had to have a quick nap and then spend the rest of the evening at the beach.

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The next day post breakfast we set out for Colombo. Reached Colombo during lunch time. Trip advisor advised me to go for lunch at Paradise Road Galleries. It was worth it. This place had a different, modern take on SriLankan cuisine.

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Having finished lunch,we did a bit of shopping and then headed to the hotel. Nestled in the centre of the city, the hotel was perfect for us to reach after a good night out. The rest of the evening was spend pub hopping and partying. We ringed in the friends birthday in SriLanka that night and reached the hotel in the wee hours of the morning. Some of the places which are a must visit are Rhythm and Blues, Fern, Republik, Botanic.  Didn’t really remember to  click pictures while we were partying and those I clicked are too blurry to be posted!

The next day was big. We had reservation at the Ministry of Crabs for lunch. The experience was amazing – period.

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The friends left for India post lunch and we hung around for another day before heading back. Some more shopping and lazing around got us relaxed before we enter daily life routines.

Sri Lanka is a must visit for people who loves clean beaches and an amazing stay for half the price you pay in a Goa or a Kerala. If you ask me three things for which I would go back again I would say – beaches, people and the crab!

Pluto and the other planets!

Dil Dhadakne Do is about Pluto and his solar system (family) – the Mehras. As much as the planets have a motion, speed and characteristics of its own, every member of the Mehra family has a life, pace and individuality of their own. However as much as the solar system binds those the together, the concept of family keeps these individuals together under one roof.

Dil Dhadakne Do is definitely set in a strata of society which is probably that is enjoyed by very few in India. However the problems they face are something universal across any society  I think the idea of presenting it this way was great since people who do not want to really understand the issues, the subtle humour, sarcasm and emotional connects can definitely watch this one for the amazing cruise, the beautiful places and the tastefully dressed characters.

Let us discuss the characters and the issues in this so called ’dysfunctional family’. There is a husband and wife (Kamal and Neelam Mehra) who have lost love for each other, but are sticking together since divorce is ‘not acceptable, in the society’. They have a daughter (Ayesha) who is trying to make an unsuccessful marriage work since a divorced daughter may ‘not acceptable in the society’ and who is repeatedly reminded she is no more a Mehra. The daughter reminds us of the son –in –law of the Mehra’s (Manav) who in this century thinks that by ‘allowing’ his wife to work he is a man of today and is professing the concept of an independent woman. The son Mehra (Kabir) is the most common of them all – someone who hates his job and is scared to take the ‘risk’ of following his passion. Delete the cruise, the lovely locales, the super-rich family and these characters sums up almost every other family we see in India.

Dil Dhadakne Do is not my favourite movie of Zoya Akthar, but is definitely a movie to watch out for just to see the way she has dealt with these characters, the amazing narration, the absence of jarring back ground music (which was refreshing), the subtle humor, the even more subtle use of sarcasm, the sea, the adorable Pluto, the fearless Farah and my favorite Sunny!

When it rained

11. https://wordpress.com/post/39816340/new/

2. https://poulosesarah.wordpress.com/2015/06/03/when-it-rained-2/

3.https://poulosesarah.wordpress.com/2014/06/25/when-it-rained/.

4. Lets place this one here!

What if…..

This according to me is the most dangerous phrase in the world. As much as it leads to you to explore the innumerable possibilities in the world, it also leads you to question everything that happened in your life.

What if Lakshmi had not gone for shopping that day?

What if I had not agreed to baby sit so that Lakshmi could go shopping?

What if I had agreed to baby sit but not let her take the car?

What if Meenakshi had cried a little more like every other time and made her change her decision?

What if she had worn the seat belt?

What if it had not rained so heavily that day making visibility so poor?

What if a Mumbai had shown the so called ‘spirit of Mumbai’ and ensured she reached the hospital on time?

What if the hospital had her blood group available?

What if she had survived a few minutes more just to see Meenakshi and me before her last breath?

What if I had not decided to move out of our house post Lakshmi’s death?

What if I had not requested a lift back home with a stranger from the airport?

What if I had not noticed the same stranger sitting at the window and drinking her tea?

What if Meenakshi had not smiled back at her?

What if the same stranger had not let Meenakshi and me into her life?

What if Meenakshi had not accepted the same stranger as her mother?

What if…………..

The thoughts were just about to wander away when Meenakshi’s giggles brought me back to reality. Mom and daughter came into the room, completely drenched. They seemed happy and in a world of their own. I didn’t feel like disturbing them.

She quickly changed Meenakshi’s dress and gave her to me. She seemed to be not in a mood to change and was longingly looking at the rains outside as if she wanted to go out and get drenched. As soon as my gaze caught hers, she quickly picked her clothes and went to change.

There was a lot of silence between us. But it’s a comfortable silence. A silence we both enjoy. The rains continued.

When it rained

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Somewhere between https://wordpress.com/post/39816340/new/ and https://poulosesarah.wordpress.com/2014/06/25/when-it-rained/.

It was yet another rainy, in Mumbai. The rains make the city a lot dirtier and disorganized than it is. Ever since the monsoon started travel in the city has been difficult. Half the cabs in Mumbai break down during monsoon and the rest get stuck in the traffic. Yesterday had to forcefully share a cab with someone staying in the same building, because of the non-availability of cabs. The lady didn’t seem quite pleased with my request, but obliged. I probably would have never asked a stranger to give me a lift had Meenakshi not been at home. I wanted to reach home and be with her at the earliest.

Sunday mornings becomes useless during these months. I do not get to do my early morning run or go for play tennis. Now days the baby’s cries wake me up in the mornings. Unlike other kids, Meenakshi wakes up very early in the morning. My mother insisted that I leave Meenakshi with her since she needs mother’s love. After Lakshmi’s death, I did think that it was a reasonable decision and did leave her for a few days with my mother. But then I realized that at the cost of getting a mother’s love from her grandmother, she should never lose out on my love. She does not have a mother and she will have to live with it her whole life. But she does have a father and hence she need not live without him. Though I think my reasoning is logical, I do think I am selfish too. I hate to be alone and she brings in life to the house.

The rains continued stopped for a bit and I was worried about my plants. The heavy rains and strong winds end up spoiling my terrace garden every year. I was taking a quick glance at them from the window when I saw my new neighbor across the window. She seemed to be having her morning coffee sitting at the window still – completely lost. She did look familiar but it took me sometime to realize that she was the one with whom I shared the cab the day before. She did look different then– detached and very un-emotional. She did look lost today but not un –emotional. Our eyes didn’t meet and I was glad. It would have been embarrassing.

The nanny brought Meenakshi to me. She looked fresh, lively and all ready to play with me. As always she started pushing the window and didn’t stop until I opened it. She was a free child and loves fresh air, wind and the rains –very unlike me. Her giggles and cries did attract the neighbor’s attention. And I think their eyes did meet. I saw her smiling at Meenakshi and got surprisingly got a huge smile in return– quite unusual of Meenakshi.

Suddenly I realized that I was very similar to Meenashi as a kid. Used to smile at everyone I meet. I was a happy child and very sociable. After Laskshmi’s death I have been socially very awkward. I just feel that everyone around wants to talk about it and hence withdraw from any kind of general conversations. But every minute I spend with Meenakshi, I revive a part of me I had forgotten or rather have been dormant. Old memories re-emerge fresh and new and in a completely different form. Today she taught me to be socially active, just by a smile of acknowledgement.

As my thoughts wandered away she kissed my nose and looked straight into my eyes as though she is reading my thoughts and will lead me to revive those emotions of the past!

My wonder girl!

Piku!

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Sleeping, watching television, going out with friends occasionally and watching movies (the trailers of which interests me) are things I end up doing over weekends. The first movie I saw in the new city is O Kadhal Kanmani , which I loved. Will soon write about the movie and why I loved it.

This post is about the second one I watched –Piku. One of the major reasons for me to watch the movie was Deepika. There has been a lot of news about her which were not connected with her performances. Two major controversies were with respect to her interview on depression and footage on women empowerment – both of which I loved.

Well, Piku. The posh Delhi that it is set in, the portrayal of a typical Bengali family, the beautiful Deepika Padukone, the super talented Amitabh Bachan and Irfan Khan does form an integral part and brings in a lot of beauty and character to the movie. But all of this does not take away the most beautiful relationship portrays – that of a father –daughter.

The childish and persistent behavior of an aged father and the irritation that causes to the daughter is something that we see in everyday life. It is great that the director chose to show the real side of life. However I would have loved to see the way the two individuals react and manage the situation had they been put in a surrounding which did not have luxuries like driver to take Piku to office, man –servant to look after the father, a spacious house in CR, Delhi, a doctor who comes to home upon a phone call, an office/ business which gives you flexible working hours, a good financial status, relatives who are not judgmental, friends/ colleagues who are understanding.The reaction of the characters will definitely be different, ,may be unpleasant and definitely much more closer to reality.

All said and done, I still love the movie for the unadulterated elements it gives you – be it music, dialogues or life. I wish to see more movies like this.

Perspectives!

I have never liked or taken a keen interest in English songs. It’s a friend who introduced me to the limited number of songs that I can recognize. It was during the time of Google /Yahoo chats . The friend used to sent me the names of the songs that he liked and felt I should listen to. One of the first songs that the sent me was a Bob Dylan number (The answer is blowin’ in the wind) and I loved it.

Years later another friend introduced me to this beautiful song -Rise up (Yves Larock). It’s her caller tune till date. I still remember there was a time when other than hearing to her happy voice, hearing the caller tune was an added incentive to call her!

Today when I look back, I realize that the little that I know about English music and the perspectives I have, is all credits to them and a couple of other friends who did the same. They are people with a genuine taste for good music and hence I got a bit of it too. Does this not apply to any environment or any kind of perspectives that one has in life? I have always formulate a perspective based on the exposure I have got on that subject. My perspective may be different from each one of them but the foundation will always decide the range or probabilities of the perspective I can have. Today, my perspective on English music is different from the two friends who introduced them to me, but definitely somewhere X to Z (assuming the first friend’s choice scores an X and the second friend’s an Z).

An idea

I will definitely rethink before I start the sentence by saying , “I hate the idea of ………………”. Want to know why ?

Read on!

“It is difficult to hate an idea. That requires a certain intellectual discipline and a slightly obsessive, sick mind. There aren’t too many of those. It’s much easier to hate someone with a recognizable face whom we can blame for everything that makes us feel uncomfortable. It doesn’t have to be an individual character. It could be a nation, a race, a group. . .anything.”
Carlos Ruiz Zafó