Life, travel

Holiday

It’s been exactly one year since my last family holiday. We had travelled to Ooty (Tamil Nadu, India) and stayed there for about 5 days and believe me those 5 days were so much full of fun, laughter and enjoyment.

View of Nilgiris with “Toy Train”

It’s such a beautiful hill station and rightly named as “the queen of hills”. We all had so much fun that even after a year its memories are absolutely fresh and vivid. I clearly remember the excitement we all had, right from the time when we were shopping for our vacation to the rainy morning of 1st Sep 2019, when we finally commenced our journey. There are so many memories from that holiday that we as a family keep going back to; from going for a walk in the rains, to visiting the tribal village, to shooting birds (with a camera 😊) and many more.  

Our flight was scheduled to reach Coimbatore at 11:20 am, but owing to a late start from Mumbai, we touched-down at 11:50. Since Coimbatore is a smaller airport and therefore cabs were not readily available. After waiting for half-hour, the cab arrived and we made ourselves comfortable in the car and excitedly started our second leg of the journey. We took a break at around 2pm for lunch and enjoyed “authentic” South Indian food, served on banana leaves.   

It took us close to 4.5 hours to reach Ooty from Coimbatore. We all were really tired as we were travelling since morning; nonetheless, the moment we stepped out of the car, we were greeted by the cool breeze of the mountains which brought a pleasant smile to our faces. We were welcomed at the resort with a warm and refreshing lemon tea. Within a minute’s time we all felt completely recharged, I don’t know whether it was the “Tea” or the “beautiful weather” of Ooty, which took our tiredness away so quickly.  

We were very clear with our holiday plans. Even though we had about 5 nights and 6 days with us, we intended to be in Ooty only, for the next five days and therefore we hadn’t planned to cover any other nearby location like Coorg, Mysore, etc., as our idea was simply to unwind and spend next couple of days there only, exploring just the nearby spots or maybe lazying around in the resort itself. We came across a lot of surprised faces when we told them about our idea of staying at one place for 5 days, as if we were committing a big mistake by staying at one location for these many days. I think Rain-Gods were also listening to our thoughts and they took us quite seriously as it continuously kept raining throughout our stay 😊, because of which we anyway couldn’t have gone to any other location.  

Beautiful flowers in the resort

Fortunately, the property was really amazing and flora inside the resort itself was no less than a botanical garden. Our favourite place in the resort was the holiday activity centre, which each one of us enjoyed fully. My daughter loved playing carrom or air-hockey with her grandmother while two of us sharpened our Table-Tennis skills.  

Adyar Ananda Bhawan

Despite non-stop rains, we managed to explore a couple of nearby spots. Although all the locations in Ooty were so very beautiful, however it is not possible to move ahead without mentioning a few of them, like the vibrant botanical garden whose roots go back to 1848, mesmerising “Dolphin’s nose”, serene Tea-gardens of Coonoor and the slow and romantic “Toy -Train”, which gives you the view of “Divine Nilgiris”. Apart from the majestic locations of Ooty, one more thing that I and my wife very fondly remember is the amazing dessert, “Kesari Bath” that we had at Adyar Ananda Bhawan. Every time we crossed the restaurant, we made sure to stop-by and have it, we convinced ourselves by repeating this statement to us” Holiday calories doesn’t count”. It was so really delicious that even while writing also I could feel its taste in my mouth. 

Now, about a little over 4 months being home-bound, we as a family have got a chance to spend some quality time with each other, since a lot of time is being saved that I used to spend commuting to and from office. Although an important aspect of a holiday is spending some quality time with family, but that’s not all, I believe the beautiful surroundings contribute a lot to it. I feel I am quite fortunate to have travelled with my family to a lot of beautiful locations like Shimla, Nainital, Mussoorie, Goa, Tehri Garhwal, Mahabaleshwar, Ooty and many more. I believe every holiday gives us lot of memories to be cherished forever and further strengthens our bond. I reckon, similar to getting our cars serviced at constant intervals, it is quite important to take a break from our regular routine and give each other a quality time at a “beautiful location”. 

View from Dolphin’s Nose

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Life

What’s your “High”

I was reading this book called “When strangers meet” by Kio Stark, gifted to me by a colleague, who also happens to be a very good friend of mine. The name itself was so intriguing that I couldn’t stop reading the book. It has some genuinely nice insights about interacting with strangers.

I reached home from work and started packing my bags, as I was supposed to travel to Munnar (Kerala) for a 4-day workshop. My flight to Cochin (Kerala) was booked for the next morning and in order to avoid any hassles in the morning, I pre-booked the cab thereby allowing myself to sleep for 10 more minutes; morning sleep is truly the most precious. Luckily, the cab arrived on time. I boarded and made myself comfortable on the rear seat. A lovely song, in fact one of my favorites, from a hindi movie was playing in the car. To be precise, “Sach keh raha hai deewana” from “Rehna hai tere dil me” was playing. Since, I was travelling to an exotic location Iike Munnar, I was anyway in a very good mood and this song added to the glee. Just by entering the car, I started dreaming about the tea-gardens of Munnar and its lovely weather. 

I thought of interacting with the cab-driver, just to make sure that I am putting my learnings from the book into practice. To start the conversation, I asked him where does he live in Mumbai, to which a quick response came, “Mahim” and then there was silence again. I was expecting that this question itself will initiate the conversation, but I was wrong; dynamics of every human interaction are different. So, I started to think about something else to keep the conversation going. Then a thought hit my mind, of going into reverse psychology, so that he’s bound to ask me a question. I told him to stop the music and to my delight, the plan worked, he asked, 

kya hua saab, aapko gaana pasand nahi aaya” (what happened sir? did you not like the song?). 

Now I got a chance to keep the conversation going, I told him, 

nahi nahi, ye bahut achcha gaana hai, balki mera favorite hai”, (No, the song is really nice and in fact one of my favorites)

My response completely took him by surprise. Baffled to hear this, he said,

arre agar pasand hai to fir band kyu karwa diya”, (if you really like it then why did you ask me to stop playing)

I told him that because I wanted to talk to him and music was the hinderance, that’s why I asked to stop the music. Hearing what I said, he got even more puzzled.

While now the conversation had started, I asked him, where did he belong to, as in where was his “hometown”, to which he answered “Begampur, a village near Allahabad”. Just to give him a little more ease, I shared with him that my hometown is also in the northern part of India and it is in Dehradun. By now he got a little comfortable talking to me and we discussed lots of things ranging from Mumbai rains, Marine drive, Vada pav, etc. I think we were around Chembur, when he stopped the car and got out to get pan-masala for himself. He came back in a minute’s time with his mouth full of some strong-smelling pan-masala. I really don’t like pan-masala and have always had this question as to why people consume it. 

Since we already had got comfortable interacting with each other, I couldn’t stop myself asking him about this habit of chewing pan-masala, however his response left me thinking even after I got down from the cab.

He replied by saying, “this is something that keeps him going”, and somehow, he already anticipated my response to it and therefore continued by saying, he knows this isn’t good for his health but anyway we all have our drives and passions which not necessarily are good. Now I guess, it was his chance to take me by surprise. I really got perplexed and asked him to explain what exactly he meant. 

He answered by saying, when you booked this car you had a choice of booking “Uber go” also which is comparatively less expensive and you could have saved money, but you didn’t do that, rather you went ahead and booked “Uber Premier”, why because travelling in a luxury car is something that gives you a kick. Same goes for me, consuming tobacco gives me a high. We all have our drives, for you maybe luxury or comfort is something that gives you a high and for me it is tobacco.

To be candid, I was not prepared for this kind of an answer. Although, I completely disagree with his justification of consuming something as harmful as tobacco, but the fact remains that he left me thinking about it. 

Yes, we all have our passions and drives and there’s always something that we do because of certain emotion attached to it and that emotion could be anything from luxury to comfort to status, etc. I think we must be mindful of all the activities that we keep doing as they slowly become our habits and before we even realize we become addicted to them. Its good to pamper yourself, however it is also of great importance to understand, is it actually pampering or does it harm you physically, financially or may be mentally.

More often than not, we get muddled between 

what is a passion and what is an addiction?”.

Actually, there is a very thin line of distinction between these two. In fact, any passion can turn into addiction. Addiction as we define it, “is a repeated behavior even though it is harmful.” I guess, if in doubt, we must ask ourselves, “given the harm, am I willing to stop?” and If the answer is no, “you are addicted”.