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About me

Am a contradiction of sorts. i love going out and having a good time with friends, and i can also stay home chill out over a book or a movie..

Am very passionate about writing, so give me a topic and watch me float away into wonderland... Love reading books- sometimes i read 3books simultaneously, crazy about music- need it all around me, all the time and ofcourse, i totally am ga ga goo goo over my 7yr old naughty brat- Floppy!! errr, Prince Floppy!! :)

Monday, May 6, 2019

Anantya Resort near Kanyakumari... The birthday getaway



I started this tradition few years back.. For my birthday I would get away, be away from Chennai... Over the years I have been to many different places.. Invariably, it would be a place I haven't been to before, unless there was little time or not much options cos of the time constraint. 

Last year, I was in a bit of a dilemma.. I knew the birthday was coming, I knew I wanted to get away, its like the itch knew when to appear and I was lost wondering where to go. I ran through a multitude of options in my head, ruled out most of them, cos they needed atleast 5-10 days to do justice.. I picked up the phone and sent a message to my bestie about this and within an hour I had arrived on one decision- I was going to indulge and do a holiday like none I have done so far...  

For those who know me, know that most of my trips are budget trips, under 20-30k [for a 10day trip, including travel accommodation food etc... ], and so this time when I zeroed in on where to go, I was excited.. While breaking my head on where to go, I remembered this place a friend had visited about a year earlier.. hunted around on Instagram for their photographs, messaged him and that was that, my mind was made up!

I was headed to Anantya Resorts, Kanyakumari. The property was located within 100 acre Rubber plantation and along the Chittar lake and was on TN- Kerala Border.. It is one of the few properties that has a brilliant Instagram feed/stories and a property that I wish I could go back to... 

I booked myself for 2N/3D at their Chakra Cottage [ they also have a Siddhi Villa which comes with its own small pond of sorts and a gazebo] , and had reached out to them asking about transport [pick up/drop]. The property is an hour from Nagercoil station, and about the same from Trivandrum Airport as well.  I love trains, and train journeys, so booked myself on the train headed to Kanyakumari. The property was sending me a cab... Ta da... I was set.. ;-)

There was this adrenalin rush and excitement like I had never felt before.. Maybe because my earlier birthdays were all kinda spent on the road going from one place to the other, or had been in places I had heard off/read about plenty and this place held some mystery element to it.. 

After a fun train journey, where I scandalised a few fellow passengers [who have never seen a girl travel alone...], I was out of the train and on the road towards the resort. The cabbie was a chatty guy, and asked if I knew Lakshmi madam [who's the owner of the property], he went on to share that she was currently in Chennai and asked if I was here on her recco.. We then chit chatted about the places around that I could visit, enquired about the distance to Kanyakumari and lo behold we had reached. 

The reception area is near the main gate, but the cottages are a short hop skip away, the path is rugged but the view ahead is what caught my eye. I was in Chakra Cottage #101 if I remember right [ I did lose my way once or twice but was happy to just be lost and wander about...].. 

The cottage was a few steps from the lake, as were all others. I was told all Chakra cottages on one side, and Siddhi villas on the other.. the lake was like a U around the property.. Am not gonna go on about the room or the property, it will make me go all nostalgic and so am gonna let the photographs tell the tales.... 

All I will say is if ever you are looking for a place to getaway, no signal [atleast no Airtel or Vodafone], and want to do nothing but walk, chill, eat good food, swim, get a massage or two then this is the place for you!! Totally worth every single paisa... 

During the 2nd morning breakfast, connected with a fellow traveller who was there for a quick getaway with her family. Rather she initiated the conversation seeing me alone at the table. Was surprised I was travelling alone that too for my birthday! Came to know she worked in Bangalore, in an IT firm and was into CRM, specifically Salesforce. She infact suggested I sign up for a course at one of the best centres that offered salesforce training Chennai if I was looking for a career shift. Her husband had apparently undergone salesforce admin training in Chennai and today was a VP at a company in Bangalore as well. Her parents chit chatted a while, they too were surprised I was alone, and asked if I wanted to join them for the rest of the day. I politely declined and told them I enjoyed my own company and headed out for a walk along the lake....


This is one of the joys of travelling, meeting interesting people from various walks of life and getting a sneak peek into what the other part of the world lives like... :-)


The sprawling open space around the cottages along the lake..


My Cottage...


The game zone, and the dining area beyond along with the pool and spa..


Artwork on a wall..


Greenery everywhere you see.

 

My cottage...




The lake as the sun sets..




The sit out area from the room...


The dining area..


Gaming zone,, chess, scrabble, books, pallankuzhi and more..


Walkways..


Breakfast/meals with a view...

Now that you have feasted your eyes, let me tell you it is a place you can go alone or with friends or family and will definitely have a blast.. They also have a court that you can use for tennis/shuttle or if basketball is your thing head over to the next space.. There are fun sitting options along the way- a low hammock or a funky hanging chair of sorts.. And if you wanna get some fitness in, grab a cycle and bike around.. You can also request a tour of the plantation, which takes about 1.5-2hrs and is good fun tour..

Address: 
Anantya Resort 
State Highway 45, Kaliel Village, Chittar Lake, Kanyakumari District, Alancholai  
Phone: 044 2823 2013

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Conversations about Travelling, & more...


I have been travelling for a few years now, more so in recent past. Infact, the love for travel began back in junior school. Luckily my parents let me go on every single trip, be it day trips or longer ones to new destinations. Even though they weren't big on travel, I got to explore the country-- Yayy for me! 


And over the years, I found joy in travelling alone. Initially it was because friends were busy and couldn't take time off but over time it has become something that is all mine. I infact even hesitate to tell people am travelling for fear that they will want to come along or latch on.. Maybe I am just being cautious, because I firmly believe that if you can travel with someone, then that relationship is set for life- be it a friend or otherwise. 

And the one big takeaway for me with the whole travelling alone is that I have learnt so many lessons, discovered so many things not just about myself but about how to travel smart and wise, considering am into budget backpack travel and not the lavish kind. 







Few weeks back, I was working out of a cafe, rather editing pictures from a recent trip when a friend pinged me on chat. We hadn't spoken in a few months, and it was a pleasant surprise to hear from him. We started chatting and here is how the conversation went..


He - Hey, how are you doing? 

Me- Hi, am good, whats up.. This is a surprise. ;o) 
He - Ah well, I do think about you woman, just that life happens and then work happens, etc etc.. 
Me - Hmmm.. 
He- So, are you in town or somewhere new/exotic? Gotta say, am so jealous of you/your life...
Me - hahah.. shuddup... dont put kannu now... 
He- Nah, never.. am happy you are doing what you Love.. back in Chennai? 
Me- yes, been 3 days since I got back. 
He - So where all did you go this time?Spill the beans.
Me - I was exploring in and around Gujarat this time.. Familiar places and few new ones as well. We started with Ahmedabad, then explored the regions around- Adalaj, Patan & Modera before moving ahead towards Bhuj and Rann of Kutch. It was a fun packed road trip alright. Also combined plenty of textile based village/NGO visits.
He - Oh wow, sounds exotic alright. How do you manage finances when travelling? Am assuming you went through a group and they charge a fee + taxes... 
Me - Well, this one was actually a reccee, which means we were checking out the region, the accommodation etc so we can put together trips and bring people. But yes, when we do that we will charge them a fee plus what is called GST. 
He- Wait, what is this GST? 
Me - Uff, well unlike earlier when we had million different kinds of taxes, today it has all been consolidated and we pay just GST [Goods & services tax]..   If you wanna understand this better, head over to the GST section on the site, it has all the info you could ask for... 
He - So, you pay GST on pretty much everything.. 
Me - Yep and you gotta file GST returns periodically as well.   
He- Ooh., interesting~~ Things seem to have been streamlined in India now... 
Me -  Ya, and what is cool is that when booking hotel rooms, if the tariff comes to under Rs8000, then am charged only 18% whereas if it is beyond this rate the GST is around 28%.. This way you can look at staying at high end hotels that give you good deals as well. ;-)
He - Hmmm, and what about food? does GST apply there as well?
Me - yep, in that you will see two components at the bottom- CGST and SGST- one goes to the center and other to the state, the total GST percentage is divided up equally between the two.. And on top of this, some places add Service charge[10%] as well- which is basically tips. 
He - oooh. okok.... Wow, so much has changed since my last trip home... What about flight and train tickets? how do they work these days?
Me - they work the same as before... you can choose your mode of transport based on the travel duration, your comfort and fears.. hehe
He - Shuddup monkey.. I mean how expensive are they these days? 
Me - ahh that.. well, if you book ahead they are cheaper... Under the new taxation laws, the tax on the economy class is 5% while business class is 12% when it comes to flights ...  For trains, GST is applicable to all categories of tickets at 5%.. 
He - Gosh, okay!!   
So, how do I find out about GST returns filing? 
Me - That is for businesses, but then you can check the site I mentioned earlier. It is quite indepth and easy to follow. Infact, they even do the needful for you, all you gotta do is provide necessary information and documents. 
He - Wow, good to know... Ok, this is enough for today, more later.. head is swimming with info... What were you upto when I buzzed? 
Me - Cool.. Was editing pictures from the recent trip..
He - Lucky bug~~ 

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Kala Ghoda & Mumbai...














I had heard of the Kala Ghoda Festival in Mumbai few years back and since then been wanting to visit the city around the time. But well, something or the other came in the way until this year.. I planned a short quick trip to Mumbai, just before the festival drew to an end.  Was quite excited and so was my bestie who lives in Mumbai.. 

This was the 1st time, I told more than one friend I was coming to the city and asked if we could meet. There are a few I know through the online world, we have been in touch for more than just a few years but haven't met yet.. But well, cant have it all right? This time managed to meet two friends and the third one continues to remain an online friend ... 

I landed in Mumbai Thursday morning and Friday afternoon we decided to visit the Kala Ghoda festival. Pick up friend's son from his class and off we went.. The ride from Goregaon to Fort area took almost an hour and a half, not including the half hour break we took at Pizza by the bay [lovely place by the way, but that is reserved for another post] .. 

Few other friends were also going to be there and was looking forward to bumping into them :D . That apart, another friend who had moved from Chennai wanted to catch up. Not keeping the city's traffic chaos in mind, I told him we could catch up around 7pm or so. Gulp..  [had to message him around 6 saying don't think meet possible that evening... ]

Kala Ghoda Association was formed back in 1998 with the main focus of maintaining and preserving the heritage and art district of South Mumbai. The festival happens around the Kala Ghoda statue [black horse] and streets on either side are cordoned off for stalls and installations, all of which are based around the theme for the year. This year was the 20th year and they were celebrating Mumbai, the city of dreams. So the installations were all about how people come to the city with dreams in their eyes, hope, light, etc... 

Was fascinating to walk around, one section was for NGO stalls and the other side was for the general vendors. The stalls change after the 1st 4 days, and then in come new ones.. and then there are talks, workshops that happen across the space, in different venues. As we wandered about, I did meet my friends, chit chatted a little bit before moving on to check out more stalls. Another lady I met , or rather kicked off a conversation with was Uma, who is from chennai and works at the Chinmaya IAS Academy. I initiated a conversation only because I heard her speaking in tamil ... hehe..

It is quite a thing! By the time we decided we were done exploring the place, and paid heed to the hunger pangs, it was 9pm.. We had spent close to 7 hours there, the longest I have ever spent at any festival.. :-) Did pick up a few things from the stalls- cloth bag to buy vegetables [it had 6 smaller pockets inside], jewellery[ friend gifted me 2 neckpieces],some herbs, freshner packets for the cupboard and so on.. I also gave my friend some time alone and helped her son decorate a light [we were given a paper light, got to use glue gun and fabrics/sheets/etc to decorate it- so much fun.. this whole installation was an initiative managed by the Goethe-Institut year on year.] Apart from this, there was a cool set of lights outside the Goethe-Institut that looked like the globe & a few displays within the campus based on science.. 

Must have walked a few kilometers that evening, but it was fun.. I enjoy interacting with business folks, stall owners and designers.. its a good opportunity to understand their inspirations, background, admire their creativity  & just connect with people. After reuniting with my friend, we decided to do dinner before hitting the road.. We knew it was going to be atleast 2hour ride home, so dinner was thali at Chetana which was located in the same area before getting out to find the car.. :-) 

Phew, what a day it had been!! 

Monday, January 14, 2019

Road trip, Temples, Mall.. Indore...


And just like that two weeks had flown by and we were headed to our final destination in the Explore Madhya Pradesh saga... We were headed to Indore, by bus from Bhopal. The morning dawned bright and sunny, but while waiting for the bus at Bhopal it got quite chill, and we pulled out a shrug from our wraps and prepared for the ride ahead. The bus had a screen & the movie for the morning was Golamaal Returns... *rolls eyes*... 

We reached Indore around 3pm, and made our way to the hotel, we were booked at Ginger, which was right behind the Shoppers Stop store... Our room was on the 7th floor and quite swanky.. The reception and restaurant were on the 6th floor and then ofcourse there was their signature Cafe Coffee Day on the ground floor.  [The last time I stayed at a Ginger, in Mysore they had only the Cafe coffee day, no restaurant.. looks like things have changed in a decade]

That evening we decided to explore Sarafa Bazaar, famous for street food and spent about 2 hours walking up and down the narrow lanes, sampling a few dishes that sounds unique.. Was a fun evening! Got back to our room around 10pm, and drew up a plan for the next day. We decided once again to go with zoomcar , this time hiring one for the 300kms package. Omkareshwar, Maheshwar and Mandu was on our mind when we put this plan... 

The next morning, we were up, ready and done with breakfast by 8am, the car was delivered and we hit the road by 9am. I remembered to pack my powerbank and cable as well.  First up, we were off on the highway towards Omkareshwar [ which was about 78kms away]. Upon reaching the town, we used google maps to take us towards the temple. We were stopped at what looked like a gate, asked to pay Rs20 for entry. And then further ahead, a guy directed us to a rough spot to park the car, and then showed us to a hut of sorts asking for Rs50 for parking. We told him we would pay when leaving! 

There was a small cluster of temples, including a Shiva temple near the parking lot. Took off our shoes and did a quick walk around, before heading down the stairs towards the Narmada river. Both sides of the steps flanked with shops selling everything from things to offer God to toys, jewellery and more. At the bottom of the stairs, was the row of boats waiting for customers. One guy managed to convince us to hire him, [after much bargaining, we agreed to pay him Rs700, he quoted Rs1200- we got a quick ride towards the dam, were shown a spot saying"triveni sangamam of Rivers Cauvery, Narmada and Tapi", a Vishnu temple and finally the mail Omkareshwar temple, which is located atop the hill. There was a bit of acrobats involved in getting off the boat, and I was glad I hadnt carried my DSLR. We had to jump into another boat and then walk down the length of that one before hopping out onto the steps.. Phew.. made it alive! 

And then once again as we made our way up the steps, men who looked like priests came over to convince us to hire them to show us to the main deity. One man showed us a ticket and said even though it was priced at Rs350, he would take us up & inside for Rs250. We dint buy his crap, but just played along. As expected as we got close to the main shrine he started with the "well, you need to go there and get a ticket for x amount for abhishekam and archanai, and then pay me Rs300 for taking you inside.. la la la..." we dint even listen to him, cos he hadnt made things any easier, we told him to bugger off and stood in line with the rest of the crowd. In 20mins, we had reached the main shrine, said our prayers and were out. And then peacefully we made our way back down the hill towards the boats. Had to wait a few minutes for our ride to take us back! Well, it was one hellova experience alright.. Even though I was sceptical about the boat ride etc, it was well worth it... Up the flight of steps and back towards the car we went. 

It was nearly 1pm, hunger pangs were starting to chime in. Deciding to take a break before hitting Maheswar [which is 66kms from Omkareshwar], we drove towards the MP Tourism property- Narmada Retreat... The property had a similar layout to the Betwa Retreat in Orchha, located right on the banks of river Narmada with rooms/cottages scattered across the vast space. There was a pool near the restaurant and we could hear kids screaming about.  We settled in, ordered lunch and relaxed a bit. 

Apart from the Ahilya Holkar Fort, Maheshwar is also the centre of handloom weaving [thanks to Ahilya Holkar] going back to the 5th century, Maheshwar has been producing the exquisite Maheshwari saris and fabric. The town also holds the distinction of being the capital of Rajmata Ahilya Devi Holkar’s empire during the 18th century... We spotted quite a few places with the weavers board, and some shops as well. The first thing you see as you make your way towards the fort is a life size statue of Ahilya Holkar holding her beloved God Shiva in Linga form in her hands. There is a temple where all the shiva [lingams] idols she prayed to has been preserved. Inside the fort I spotted a huge space that was dedicated to weavers, women especially and it had been set up the Queen herself decades ago. Also located within the fort is the beautiful Akhileshwar Temple, and as you walk down the endless steps, you go all the way to the River. The entire fort and area around is quite breath taking. 

After spending a few hours here, we were quite exhausted and it was then time to head back to Indore, which was 96 kms away. We got back to our hotel around 7pm and put our feet up, reminiscing about the trip that it had been. Next day after a brief outing, we decided to chill in Indore and ended up going to mall down the road, catching Aquaman and walking around a bit... Was good to relax and unwind~!! 

What a trip it had been, and to think it all began with a msg from S in a FB Travel group- "Who wants to come along to Corbett & Panna with us?!"

Ginger, Indore

The highway..

The boat ride at Omkareshwar...

Omkareshwar- the Temple, the boats, river Narmada...

Maheshwar- Ahilya Holkar fort leading up to River Narmada...