Wednesday, 25 March 2020

This too, shall pass. World Hold On

5 years later, here I am. It has taken me a long time to get back here, without finding a reason to avoid being here, to procrastinate, or stop the flow.
I'd like to think Words are my friend but they don't come to meet me, as often as I would like them to. Perhaps the Words sense my capricious nature - they've often come, and been completely ignored.. . Oops. Bad Me. Well my quarantine promise to you guys - my friends - Words - is that I am going to be better about "staying in touch", and all that. Let's start nice and slow today...

All of us are living in what can only be described as a Sci-Fi movie script. Covid-19 has taken every single one of us on Earth today by shock. Bringing the entire human race to its knees. Bringing our super-duper-fast lives to a grinding halt. Whilst we let the medical experts and elected world leaders do their thing, to steer us out of this catastrophe; us normal folks have been left to do nothing more than twiddle our thumbs. Or Tik-Tok! If any business survives this and emerges victorious then its online app creators behind Tik Tok (make your own music video app) or House Party (connect with one another with video chats and play Trivia). And Instagram remains the Undisputed Boss.

The other potential winners could be the alcohol industry at large...sanitisers, wine, country liquor.

We will never ever know the factual origins of this deadly virus. Was it merely an infection afflicting bats and pangolins that mutated to affect humans? Bio warfare? Good Gosh. Let your imaginations run wild....and the most creative answer wins!

As for myself, I go from an "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" to "Doomsday" in one hour. Until two days ago, I was enthusiastically fulfilling my bit by staying at home and warding the virus off its dangerous and speedy trajectory.  I was very excited about the 5 pm bartan and ghanti party that the PM had ordered on Sunday . I got all dressed up. Well, wearing any thing that is not your sleepwear or gym wear, counts as dressing up these days!? The kids, the husband and house stall were told to look spiffy and we all met on the terrace (Thank God we have one!) at 4.55 pm. The streets of Tardeo were already ringing with metal and cheer by then, and the din grew louder as the minutes went by. It created some incredible energy and was definitely my social highlight in ten odd days. After that, I kept a chilled, stiff drink handy and danced the evening away. But the harsh reality hit me when i woke up (+headache, of course) the next morning, only to realise this wasn't a mean joke. This was going to be life for an indefinite period to come.

Even the Super Intelligensia have not come up with a solution better than the "Stay-At-Home" one. How is one to argue with a fix that is free, easy, asks us to eat-sleep and for those who can, make merry. We can watch endless hours of TV, share countless memes and faltoo videos, and coin trite terms like "wfh" , " quaranshine" ,  "social distancing".

The unprecedented fact of the matter is that for the first time the entire world is actively fighting a a common enemy. And each are actually fostering global unity by staying apart. Now, there's an oxy-moron for you!

On the flip side, all businesses have been shut, national and domestic borders have been barricaded. Groceries and basics are in scarce supply. Over all, the economy is being run the ground. Some of us lucky ones can survive this and will ride it through. But for many people who survive on a daily wage, or own a small business -  it is absolute hell. argh! Is this any way to live at all?

What isn't a question, is the resilience of the Human Spirit and the evolution of the Human Brain. I'm counting on both to help me through this freaky time for the sake of myself and my loved ones who need me. And of course, I'm counting on my old friends - Words, to have some faith and show me the way...

Sunday, 2 August 2015


This post is dedicated to all the countless individuals lost in transit and/or are in the search of the Holy Hotspot. 

On my last grand summer holiday, my friends were bemused to say the least, as I hopped, skipped and jumped from point to point in the search of the elusive wifi. In Europe, the wifi isn't as generously or as widely available as it is in the Eastern parts of the world...Singapore, Hong Kong or even in the beach towns of Thailand. These countries are happy to spread the love.....the Internet....

Let's admit it, most of us, are sort of androids ourselves - ever since the invention of the great smart / android phone. The world is in the palm of our hands. As travelers, each one of us knows the precise moment that our plane makes contact with the tarmac. Some of us mark that moment with a short, silent prayer for a safe journey, but others are frantically turning on their gizmos and awaiting for the pulsing network bars to go up. The real touchdown for them is when their whatsapp messages begin to pop up. 

Call it a blessing or a curse, I am not sure; but it is what it is. 

Today for example, I'm taking full advantage of the free wifi in an uninteresting and sleepy airport in Central Europe. My layover here is 4 tedious hours and as you can tell, I ain't a patient passenger. Being a Sunday morning, the airport isn't as buzzing and am
Passing time watching the stores and cafes being opened by their grumpy and listless managers. 

It is the beginning of what ought to be an exciting and happy travel and I can't get myself to sleep like a hobo on an airport armchair since the excitement within me is too strong to snooze through! But here I am, going clickety-clack on my iPhone, using the free wifi service. Additionally, croissants and coffee are an arm's distance away. All shall be well. 

I'm trying to keep myself busy until I have to board, there are a few other travellers around me in this part of the large airport. And almost each one seems to be lost in transit, bent over with eyebrows furrowed and thumbs jumping, in his/her state of cyber oblivion. 

Wish all a happy travel. Let's remember go look around at where we are, for its more real than what's on our hand phone's screen. 

Yep. That's right!

Friday, 19 June 2015

The Guppy Yuppy

funny this comes at a time when the restaurant is closing for the season….

Click here to be directed on my foodie experience at the Guppy by ai pop-up restaurant at Olive in the Racecourse, Mahalaxmi

An early and feeble attempt at dissecting a dining experience with a little bit more skill (and thought) than mere table manners.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Sunday ke Sunday

I have been in Mumbai all through March, and I dare say that it has been a vibrant and activity-filled month. Some would even say, it has been hot and happening.

First up - the jewelry house I have worked with since 2010 opened its flagship boutique in Mumbai amidst great pomp and style in Kala Ghoda. The NIRAV MODI boutique is housed in a beautiful heritage building and the space has been used cleverly and stylishly, reflecting the aesthetic vision of the brand's creative head Mr. Modi.  The novel use of space must be attributed to another creative genius, Spanish-based Jamie Hayon (pronounced “Haymee”). But most importantly, the jewels have found their rightful place in the creative display vitrines with intricately crafted paper art. It is a matter of great pride that I look forward to welcoming guests and friends to the boutique, knowing that the jewels on display in this wonderful setting shall enthrall them.

Put a Bow on it!

Girl Crush moment with Lisa Haydon

Welcome to my Office!

Kala Ghoda is shaping out to be a great address for shoppers and city folks to hang out in, with its quaint pedestrian streets, terrific eateries, chic boutiques and of course, art galleries a plenty. The periwinkle-blue synagogue in the heart of the district makes for the perfect picture postcard. The city's oldest music store, The Rhythm House has also spruced up its facade with an eye-popping blue and yellow coat of paint. With many age-old haunts like Khyber, Chetana thali, The Golden Thimble still holding their own, I hope the area continues to flourish and attract more stand-alone entities to add to its collection. It is the one part of South Mumbai that has an eclectic energy to it with such a diverse offering. The edgy-artsy-hipster vibe is definitely what the city needs and I am most glad that it so close to home! For my parents and their friends, the closing of the Cafe Samovar in the Jehangir Art gallery has been the source of huge waves of nostalgia and sadness as it closes down after 50 years of service...Alas, hopefully it signals the beginning of something new and wonderful none the less.

Saturday workstation at The Pantry

Lovely new tea house

Sabyasachi's resort show was at the (now) defunct and iconic Richardson and Cruddas warehouse two Sundays ago. What the collection lacked in terms of the Sabya touch was amply made up by the drama of the unique location and the star-studded front row guests. Sabyasachi epitomises success in contemporary Indian fashion wear for Indians in India and elsewhere and continues to hold fort as the leading bridal couturier. The show was a sharp departure from his usual style; say the critics, but in my "fashion outsider" eyes, it was quite simply, blah. Most blah were the gawky, awkward models, who walked for him - poor body language and catwalk style. Was Sabya making a subliminal statement of “Let's mix it up”, with the unexpected psychedelic laser light show and the 70’s retro remix music that replaced the antique chandliers, mogra-infused haze and Satyajit Ray music?

Speaking of organisation, Anamika Khanna was the closing designer for the Fashion Week and three hours before the show, political goons came and shut down the show at its original venue - the spectacular Bhau Daji Lad museum.

But, the Show Must Go On and contrary to their violent and regressive vision of the political mafiosi, the fashion fraternity showed a harmonious and productive spirit. The show venue was changed to the Palladium hotel lobby and the entire production and choreography had to be changed, naturally. All the guests still came to show support and feast their eyes on the ethereal garments. Sure, there was a long delay and a poor execution of a new seating plan, but when the show eventually started, all these hassles were forgotten. African Goddess meets Earthly Nymph was the look and the feel of the models with their dewy, wet hair, red wine stained mouths and strong eyes. Designed by AK’s equally talented sister, Suhanie Pittie, the accessories were very eye-catching.

The rest of the fashion week continued on at the new venue - the Palladium Hotel and I did happen to see a few more shows of young designers presenting their work on the New Talent runways. Afterwards, walking through the stalls, I was just amazed at the powerhouse of talent they had. I saw such great work and workmanship in the garments on display. The Indian hand is golden in my opinion, and it angers me when I see the great Western design houses borrow so greedily into our deep talent pool. Buying cheap, only to sell it back to us...! When will we learn to show pride in our metier and ancient know-how? Mostly, when will we have the discipline to make a uniform, international level product. I don't mean to lament, because I do see a sense of organisation kicking in (Nirav Modi, Sabyasachi stand as case in point) and I look forward to strolling down the Avenue Montaigne's of the world and spotting Indian brands commanding top spots in the international retail map.

Stand-alone eateries are much welcome in Mumbai, especially when it is not just the vibe of the place that is cool, but the food is terrific. The latest addition to the local food scene is The Bombay Canteen at Kamala Mills. Opening 6 weeks ago, it is impossible to get a last-minute reservation here and the aam janta’s reviews on the food have been terrific. So it became the restaurant venue of choice for a big, fat family get-together on account of my New York-based sister’s milestone birthday celebration. Arriving there a little bit before the reservation time, I was tired-famished-thirsty all at the same time. The restaurant was buzzing with all the tables occupied and the bar was busy too. Finding myself a spot, I grabbed the menu, which resembled an accounts ledger (taking me back to my school days – Accounts was my favourite subject!). A quick scan of the cocktail menu, I picked the Tar-Booze (vodka, watermelon juice, kala namak) and then pondered over what appetizer to pair it with. I didn’t need to ponder too long as I was approached by a server carrying a tray of “pick-and-eat” bites, adorably called “Chintoos” priced at a swet Rs.40 for the vegetarian (lotus stem fritters with chaat masala) and Rs. 60 for the non-vegetarian (Deviled eggs served in the egg white) selection. How clever was that! Hungrily attacking the bites and washing it back with the yummy drink, I was quickly relieved of my earlier disposition. When the rest of the group came and we were seated at our table within the art-deco inspired glasshouse, the chintoos were ordered by the tray! The final verdict was that it had been a superb meal – the Raan was the clear winner and warranted its 24 hour advance order. For me, the banana leaf steamed snapper and the thepla tackos were the winners, not to mention the ridiculously humble coconut rice, which I could eat sans accompaniments. My only grouse was the poor acoustics and high sound level that rung through the period I was there, definitely making it impossible to enjoy a polite dinner table banter. I nearly lost my voice on account of bellowing over the music level (perhaps the icy cocktail played its part too). I look forward to discovering the rest of the menu, especially the dessert section, soon and wish the young, talented team behind this venture tremendous success.


And slowing down the manic month a tad, was an evening at the movies (Inox of course!), whilst eating popcorn and watching Cinderella.


It's true - there ain’t no romance, like a Disney romance and the 2015 adaptation of the classic Cinderella doesn’t disappoint. Staying absolutely true to the story, the movie maker didn’t muck up the tried-and-tested formula by adding any gimmick. Director Kenneth Branagh and screenwriter Chris Weitz have grounded this romantic tale with sincerity amid the dazzle. Perfectly cast, every character was easy to relate with. The beautiful Lily James (Lady Rose from Downton Abbey) as the humble, obedient, beauty wins over your heart from the very beginning. Cate Blanchett plays the evil stepmother effortlessly and brilliantly, along with her two awkward daughters, as the cruel step sisters.

In these fragile times that we live in, it is very important to remain positive, focused, optimistic and retain innocence. The arts, particularly movies often work as therapy. And watching Cinderella that evening along with my sisters and friends like sisters, proved to be a therapeutic session for me. Perhaps it would have also worked as a suitable alternative therapy for Andreas Lubitz.

We are our own monsters.

Yet another air calamity has hit the news with the Germanwings crash in the deep ravines of the French Alps. The devastation of this incident is compounded by the fact that the utterly young (27) co-pilot was in a distressed and disturbed state of mind and as a consequence, can be held responsible for ending his own life, along with that of the remaining 151 passengers on board the flight. Young people today have such bizarre mental activities. In India, little is known of clinical depression – what triggers it, how to treat it and what its possible repercussions maybe. Perhaps this horrific incident turns attention to this modern-day killer and raises awareness on how to identify it and help those suffering from it.

I am definitely going to begin my spring fling with a greater endeavor to continue the practice of gratitude and always remember to Be Kind and Have Courage

Sunday, 29 March 2015

A Spot of Calm within the Chaos

At the outset, I must disclose that as an utter and complete SoBo girl, anything beyond Haji Ali is considered “out of town” for me.

In early 2002, the JW Marriot opened its first property in India on Mumbai’s Juhu Beach. It was quite a landmark occasion in the Indian hospitality business. I distinctly remember the first time my entire family and I traversed the cityscapes to the suburbs for the opening of the iconic Enigma nightclub at the hotel. There was much excitement at home leading up to The Day of voyage.
Pulling into the impressive driveway, we arrived at the hotel with as much enthusiasm as we would have when reaching an exotic, foreign locale. It was wonderful to be on a beachfront property in the Maximum City. And the wow factor continued with the rocking nightclub, restaurants and café, soon becoming the preferred hotel of the Bollywood Brigade.

Over the years, my work life has taken me out of my territorial comfort zone as I work in Lower Parel (or shall I call it Upper Worli). Spending a lot of time in commuting and traveling around the country, I do find the need to indulge in a soothing massage at my hotel spa every now and then. When I go to Pune, I stay at the smashing JW Marriot Hotel there, and always look forward to another pleasant stay in it. I have used the services of Quan Spa a few times and always left it feeling rejuvenated, repaired and relaxed.

It was a Sunday evening and I was looking forward to my first Quan Mumbai experience – it had been a hectic past few days and my body was looking forward to the pampering. I had made a complete ‘day out’ of the trip by attending a seminar at the hotel and indulging in a delicious and healthy Sunday brunch at the hotel poolside, enjoying the view of the Arabian Sea in front of me.
quan spa mumbai human being in tank
a rather morbid installation

“The word Quan means source of water in Chinese,” the Spa Manager, Dr. Rashmi Ambastha , told me while welcoming me into the waiting area. Perhaps she had noticed my peculiar expression trying to understand the décor elements of the space. White pebble walkways, blue lighting, white furniture, not to mention the pièce-de-resistance – a dry fish tank with a full-sized human floating in it – lending a modern feel to the space. In operation since 2005, the spa has never been renovated since, which explains the current state of the tired reception area. 

 Quan Spa Mumbai reception
Dr.Ambastha advised me to try the 90-minute signature treatment - an aromatic, light-medium pressure massage. Wonderful, I thought as I filled in the mandatory sheet with the usual questions. I waited a short while with a soothing ginger tea concoction and shortly after, I was introduced to my therapist who ushered me towards my treatment room. I noticed that she could not have had the chance to review my completed form, which I had earnestly filled, mentioning certain problem areas to avoid and other areas to focus on.

Moving from the stark modern feel of the reception into the wood-toned spa area, I certainly found it more appealing and comforting. The single therapy room that I was taken to had all the features of a reputable spa, with an en-suite shower and changing room. I changed into my robe and chatted with the cheerful and friendly therapist as she proceeded to begin the treatment by cleaning my feet with water and aromatic salts.

Let the zen times roll…. 
I lay face down and let the therapist  work her magic on me, giving into the ambient music and heavy aroma of Rose and Geranium infused oil. She was good. After all, she had been working at the spa since 2006. The massage was fairly straightforward and old school. At the end of my 90 minutes, I was indeed more relaxed. I completed my experience with a refreshing, hot shower. I would have liked the recommended steam, but I didn’t feel up to walking out and making way to the common steam room, which along with the sauna, ice pool and jacuzzi are shared by members of the health club and spa clients.

I changed back into my clothes, wished my therapist  farewell and rushed back up to catch the last glimpse of the setting sun. Dusk is always such a magical time, something is ending and something is beginning, all at the same moment. It felt nice to savour this moment, smelling like a fragrant garden!

As I made my way back to town, braving the Sunday traffic, I wondered if I would ever go back to the spa? Probably not since it was too darn far for me. Then I thought if I would tell my Burby friends (yes, I do have a few!) to try it out. Perhaps I would let them know since most certainly it had not disappointed. It is an obvious choice if you are a hotel or health club member due to the convenience factor. As a five-star spa, it lacked that extra je ne sais quoi, just about meeting all the expected norms. If one is paying five-star prices, then one should get something more out of a luxury experience.

For now, I’ll take my Quan Spa in Pune any day…

Visit the luxury portal:


On the outset, I must disclose that as an utter and complete SoBo girl, anything beyond Haji Ali is considered “out of town” for me.
In early 2002, the JW Marriot opened its first property in India in Mumbai’s Juhu Beach. It was quite a landmark occasion in the Indian hospitality business. I distinctly remember the first time my entire family and I traversed the cityscapes to the suburbs for the opening of the iconic Enigma nightclub at the hotel. There was much excitement at home leading up to The Day of voyage.
Pulling into the impressive driveway, we arrived at the hotel with as much enthusiasm as we would have when reaching an exotic, foreign locale. It was wonderful to be on a beachfront property in the Maximum City. And the wow factor continued with the rocking nightclub, restaurants and café, not to mention, soon becoming the preferred hotel of the Bollywood Brigade. 
Over the years, my work life has taken me out of my territorial comfort zone as I work in Lower Parel (or shall I call it Upper Worli). Spending a lot of time in commuting and traveling around the country, I do find the need to indulge in a soothing massage at my hotel spa every now and then. When I go to Pune, I stay at the smashing JW Marriot Hotel there, and always look forward to another pleasant stay in it. I have used the services of Quan Spa a few times and always left it feeling rejuvenated, repaired and relaxed.
It was a Sunday evening and I was looking forward to my first Quan Mumbai experience – it had been a hectic past few days and my body was looking forward to the pampering. I had made a complete ‘day out’ of the trip by attending a seminar at the hotel and indulging in a delicious and healthy Sunday brunch at the hotel poolside, enjoying the view of the Arabian Sea in front of me. 
- See more at:

Monday, 16 February 2015

Falak-Numa: Mirror Of the Sky

Haunted by the music of Coldplay that I have been listening to on my iPod for the past two days, I aimlessly drift through the wondrous corridors of the Falaknuma Palace, completely lost in the beauty, décor and details around me.

It is one of those perfect sunset moments. Standing at the edge of the balcony; it is impossible not to feel elevated by the grandeur of the location. At a height of 2000 ft. above the old city of Hyderabad, one can see the Old City distinctly recognized by the Charminar tower in the distance. This is a property so very different from the many beautiful palace properties in Rajasthan, owing to its architecture, interior design, rare objéts and of course, its unique history and incredible story.

Laid out in the shape of a scorpion, Nawab Vikar-ul-Umra (birthsign: Scorpio), the Prime Minister of the Sixth Nizam started building it in 1893 as a lavish residence for himself, the palace took 10 years and four million rupees to complete, back then. The foundation stone was laid in 1884, but the building wasn't completed for almost another decade. In that time the prime minister was forced to borrow funds to finish it – money he had no chance of ever earning. The story goes that to save face his wife suggested a shrewd plan. Inviting his master Mehboob Ali Pasha, the sixth Nizam, to stay, the prime minister waited to be extolled for creating such a glorious pleasure dome. And when the praise was lavished, Viqar ul Omra offered the building to the Nizam as a gift. Accepting graciously, the ruler reimbursed the full cost – a pittance to a man of such colossal wealth.  (

The facade by day

The facade by night

The entrance to the palace ground
Golden Light

The Coronation Room

Marble Skies as seen from the inner courtyard

Watching the sun set languidly into the cityscape, and hopelessly enjoying being bathed in the glorious, divine light, I was transported to another era. An era of pomp and splendor, extravagance and beauty, art and perfection; of tehzeeb and khaandaan. Our generation (for the most part), has been prey to the pitfalls of rapid urbanization in our cubby holed existence. For us Mumbaikars, we remain confined to choose between small apartments at exorbitant prices. Most of the modern buildings and construction projects that tower into the sky are eye-sores, with little regard to design and aesthetic. I too, live in a tall building but it’s location and view makes up for a lot! Fortunately, my neighbourhood is dotted with old colonial homes and structures, some of them tucked away in hidden, leafy by-lanes. Most of them are crumbling and decaying, but there are some that have been restored painstakingly. I silently thank the owners of these properties, each time I pass by, for they have invested in heritage and history. From Cuffe Parade, I drive to work, which is in Lower Parel (or are we calling it Upper Worli these days? I really am not sure…), which depicts all that I don’t appreciate in modern development. Ugly buildings that have come up virtually over night, razed trees leaving spaces devoid of greenery, uneven roads, unplanned neighbourhoods and massive, overflowing garbage dumps that dot the area to be viewed as pieces of sculpture!!

I understand the expense and labour and meticulous approach required to build something. The Taj took 10 years to renovate the palace into a palace hotel. Unlike most palace hotels that have been newly built or simply redone, this one has undergone intensive restoration by the Taj group, under the very guidance of Princess Esra Jah (royal consort of HEH Prince Mukarram Jah Nizam Eighth). After a hiatus of about 60 years and ten whole years of restoration later, it is finally set to welcome guests into its marvelous structure, rechristened The Taj Falaknuma Palace.

Dinner 101 - The room has the perfect acoustic so that one can be heard from head to head without having to raise one's voice 

I enjoyed the property as the curious, awe-struck visitor when I was there last weekend for a wedding. The lucky couple had meticulously planned their wedding in this palace venue and the marriage proceedings were nothing short of Magic for all those who were a part of it. The first night was al-fresco in the oval-shaped inner courtyard with music and dancing under the stars! It was impossible not to feel alive and enchanted when one was surrounded in such an atmosphere. Post midnight, the dancing continued into the Coronation room or as I prefer to remember it – the Red Room. Quite the spot for an after-party, wouldn’t you say?

Sky Full of Stars

Party Time!

The wedding ceremony took place the following evening at dusk and once again twilight cast a spell on the guests as the sky turned from a hot, white to a burning orange, then into a tangy red and finally the colours dissolved into a inky blue. The post-nuptial celebration took place in the lawns with the spectacular palace as its background. Between the celebrations, many guests took the 45 minute long palace tour where the guide shared anecdotes and details on the property and its elements of royal finery; making the time spent there more meaningful.
If I had to choose, I would perhaps choose the Jade Room as my favourite space – marrying French sophistication with art deco design motifs and Chinese-Oriental jade antiques, I could have sat there and day dreamed for a long time to come.

Green & Gold - Texture and Colour Balance

As a modern Indian, there is much to be proud of in terms of heritage and past glory – I certainly hope more enlightened and moneyed individuals and enteties step forward to partake in restoration projects before it is too late. We are rich in every artistic resource – past and future – now would be the time for people who have been bestowed with talent and resource to come forth and work towards making India a better place to live in. Basic pride in even our personal domicile would be a super place to start! (Gosh, I didn't realize I was unconsciously campaigning the Swach Bharat Abhiyan here…)

I will leave you with the Magic that was and that will be –

And if you were to ask me
After all that we've been through
Still believe in magic
Oh yes I do
Oh yes I do
Yes I do
Oh yes I do
Of course I do

Monday, 2 February 2015

Whis this Kolveri-D?

Let’s back it up just a little bit and rewind to the Republic Day long weekend. Ok, great – Pause it right there. Perfect:

Some of the sights and scenes from my weekend break in the Backwaters land of Kerala. My first trip to ‘God’s Own Country’ was quite wonderful. It was an utterly last minute and spontaneous trip where I didn’t have to do anything other than pack and show up! Pretty neat. I went along with my favourite travel companion and her parents to Bekal, which is located at the Northern most point of the state. In fact, to get to the resort (Taj Vivanta), one lands in Mangalore, which is in fact Karnataka and then involves a two-odd hour drive to the seaside town of Bekal. The uncomfortable drive down the narrow and poorly constructed NH 17 is beautiful for the lush foliage and true-blue water bodies that paints a pretty picture all the way. It is nice to note that I found the land clean and unkempt. The seemingly lazy towns all had electricity supply, water and a bustling bazaar life. Not to mention, the many schools and mosques that were there at every kilometer or so. Statistically, Kerala holds a 100% literacy rate so the number of school kids and educational institutions along the route I took, pointed toward that statistic.

Bekal has come on to the travel map thanks to the Taj group’s newest property there. I learned that they chose Bekal as it was a new spot – Kochi, Kovalam and Kumaram have all been well-discovered and have plenty of established hotel resorts.

Typing this out, I am chuckling to myself because of all the capital K’s I have just typed out. Will do it again:
I spent the first day on Kappil beach, BeKal, which is in Kerala. The closest city is Kasargod and the hotel is located on the Kanhagad Road.

Wokay, that’s a lot of K’s innit?

But more prevalent than the K factor, is the abundance of coconuts and bananas. Erm, I didn’t mean to sound any other way, other than factual, of course! But this region of Kerala (Kasargod to be precise) houses the world’s largest coconut crop research institute – CPCRI ( Nothing spells tropical more than a willowy coconut tree, bending lustily toward the sunlight and in Kerala, one won’t tire from seeing abundant, luscious grooves all through the coastal topography. And if one looks closely, one will see that these trees provide shelter from the sun to the smaller banana trees that are grown under/between it. In fact, my sole purchase from the holiday as 2 kg’s worth of banana chips to be distributed among the family.

The weekend was spent kayaking down the backwaters which the property is developed around, enjoying the ocean spray on Kappil beach whilst tanning and collecting shells, taking a look at the infinite coastline from the towers of Bekal fort, adventuring on a remote river island whilst taking a houseboat cruise and generally eating lots of khaana...

Fresh banana tempura from Fruit to Fritters!!

Not to forget a mixology lesson under the tutelage of the hotel's principal bartender Prince and his sidekick Shining Star. These were their given names, clearly their parents have set high aspirations to them. It was fun to learn how to make a classic mojito and a classic caprioska.

Well okay, drinking them was probably the best part of the lesson! Whilst on the topic, I was surprised to learn that the state government has pulled the alcohol prohibition strings as recently as October 2014, in an attempt to curb its rowdy drinking problem! A peculiar site that we encoutered during our stay would be a line of lungi-clad men standing in serpentine queues that led to a cubby hole in a random lane, where they could purchase their daily dose of daaru. Wikipedia and BBC reveal-

30th October, 2014 The Kerala High Court has upheld the state government's decision to ban the sale and consumption of alcohol to tackle the state's drink problem.
The order means that nearly 700 bars as well as some shops will be shut in a move towards total prohibition.
Bar owners and hoteliers who challenged the government order say they will now appeal in the Supreme Court.
Kerala has India's highest per capita alcohol consumption at more than eight litres per person yearly.
The national annual average for alcohol consumption is estimated to be about 5.7 litres per person.
Lungi dance, lungi dance....

Boozy at 11.30 am!
Meanwhile, the weather in Mumbai is still quite lovely in the evenings and another week drew to an end watching the sun setting lustily into the Arabian Sea from the terrace of my sisters home with children, music, cake, bhel and the banana chips, of course! The 1st of February marks my younger niece’s 1st birthday, just two days after celebrating my father’s 75th birthday. He has the same curiousity and zest for life as my nieces, which is the beauty of it all.

It's February folks - a short and snappy month. So make it count. Or else, mind it................!