Mainland China- Restaurant Review

I think it was watching the movie “102 Not Out” that sparked our interest in Mainland China. There’s a scene where the main characters all go to this fine-dining place to celebrate a milestone. It looked tempting. We’d never tried this before even though we’d passed by it so many times on our way to other restaurants. Being vegetarians, we, not exactly my husband and I, but a few members of my family,  refused to go on the grounds of it serving non-vegetarian food along with vegetarian, being smelly etc. etc. But one fine Sunday we decided to check it out. Everyone else took a safer route and went along with the restaurant we normally dine at. It was just Prasad and I. We called it a date. 🙂

First things first, there was no smell as we entered. It was quite empty at that hour. We were greeted by friendly staff and huge Chinese statues. The restaurant was done up beautifully. I walked around looking at the paintings and hangings on the wall. We went with the buffet. Vegetarian. There were separate tables for vegetarian and Non Vegetarian entrees.

The Eight Treasure Vegetable Soup was a comforting meal in itself. It felt like just what the doctor prescribed for a gloomy day. It perked us up immediately. We both went for another bowl each. And then came starters, one better than the other- vegetable Siumai, corn and mushroom dumpling, crispy vegetable herbal salt and potato hunan style. Even their appearances were a delight, especially the dumplings. I was tongue-tied at how delectable the crispy vegetables were. They were all so tasty just the way they were that I didn’t need to pair them with any of the many sauces that were placed alongside the snacks.

We were almost full by the time we were through with the appetizers. And then came the main course. I’m not a big fan of Chinese food anymore, thanks to Prasad, who has dampened my appetite for it by ordering some bad takeaways. But there, at Mainland China, I found myself taking a bite of everything and simply closing my eyes in pleasure. I was in Food Heaven! Now, back to the main course, the ginger and capsicum fried rice, the vegetable hakka noodles, the vegetable in Chinese parsley sauce, okra and tofu in hot chili mustard sauce, everything, even the stir-fried vegetables were lip-smackingly good! I’m not the adventurous type at buffets. I eat only the things I really feel like eating, but at China, I was trying everything.

The Sweet and Sour vegetable with Crisp noodles was a dessert in itself, but I had my eyes set on the Dessert spread. We were so full by this time that we had reserved space  just for one special sweet. But how could we not try the others? They looked so pretty and forlorn! 😦 Good-natured folks that we are, we decided to try them too. 🙂 The mousse, the chocolate biscuits, the Deep-fried milk, Uff! Everything tasted divine, but what left an indelible mark in our hearts and minds were the combination of crispy honey noodle with sesame topped with assorted ice creams and a generous pouring of hot chocolate sauce all over. I said to Prasad that I could cry out of sheer joy!

I felt so bad for the family of 3 seated beside us, none of them smiling, 2 of them immersed in their phones, pulling at their chicken legs as if it were just another meal and not a godsend. I asked Prasad if I were allowed to compliment the chef. He didn’t let me and I’m glad he did so. I would’ve surely embarrassed myself in my over-excited state! Yikes!

We stepped out of our routine, our comfort zone, the usual North Indian Buffet we go to,  and gave Mainland China a try… 🙂 It is quite pricey, but it is well worth checking out, at least once. Ha! But I’m sure you will not stop at once!

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“What we are ………….” Wednesday!

Hey guys, What are you up to?

Here’s what Madhurya and I are doing this Wednesday…..

Madhurya:

Reading: “Pride and Prejudice“. I was too young when I read it the first time to understand it well. I am enjoying reading this book again. My sister and I love Mr. Darcy!!

Watching: Brooklyn Nine-Nine series on Netflix. It’s really silly and funny and kind of a stress buster for me.

Eating: lots of homemade Indian food. I currently have a strong urge to eat South Indian curries and dosas and enjoy making them too.

Making:  a list of fun activities for Neel to do at home on his own while I work.

Wishing: that my parents and my sister’s family was living close to me. Well, the bright side is I will see my parents soon.

Learning: to take it easy and not be hard on myself. Everyday is a new day with a baby at home. Everyday I make a new schedule to stick with but if one day it works out, the next day it doesn’t. So instead of cribbing about it, I am learning to take it one day at a time.

Thinking: about baking my favorite chocolate chip cookies or a chocolate cake this time? What do you think? Will Neel allow me to spend some extra time in the kitchen?

Listening: to kannada song “ondu malebillu”. It is so soothing and melodious.

Loving: the antics of my super-active baby. He has started to stand while holding something for support and enjoys standing on me, the table, basically anything and everything he finds. He just doesn’t want to stop!

And me…
Reading: I just finished reading my sister’s “The Seafront Tearooms” by Vanessa Greene. A nice book to enjoy on a lazy rainy day. Now on a hunt for another feel-good book. Can you recommend any?
Watching: “You’ve got mail” on Amazon Prime. Something else prescribed by the doctor to lift my blues. 🙂
Eating: Yesterday’s Mango Italian Festa Icecream cake from Ibaco. 🙂
Making: .Nothing, sadly, although I PLAN to make something every single day.
Wishing for:a clearer mind, better time-managing skills and more energy.
Learning: Yoga. I joined a class. Finally.
Thinking: about spending less time online and more time making stuff happen.
Listening: to lots of interesting podcasts and videos. Found a new one.
Loving: reading to my kids. I’m currently reading this to Medha and this to Madhav. 🙂
Love,
Madhurya & Manasa.

Currently…(29/06/18)

  • Projects, Assignments, Tests, Dictations, what not… We (the kids and I) barely have time for free play, answering questions Madhav comes up with, listening to stories Medha weaves, for movies, for ice-creams, for simply meandering through aisles of stationery supplies, for doing nothing… What am I turning my little kids into?
  • A friend’s mother has been diagnosed with Invasive Carcinoma, which has us all talking and talking and questioning the ways of this World.
  •  Madhav- “When I’m 8, Medha will be 11. When I’m 11, Medha will be 14.”

           Me- “When you are 97, Medha is gonna be 100!”

           Madhav- “What age will you be then?”

           Me- “I’ll be up in the sky, smiling at you guys. “

           Madhav- “No mama. You will be here only.”

Hugs me and we move on. Or at least I do. After a while he comes up to me and says, “You WILL be there mama. You will be dyeing your hair to become younger.”

  • I’m learning make-up and skincare, 2 things I vicariously enjoyed but denied myself, saying I’m too busy or I’m not so vain. But I hadn’t realized I was making myself unhappy by not doing the very things that made me happy. Like Julia Child said in her book, “My Life in France”,(I don’t remember her exact words, but..) I’m in my 30s and I’m still learning so much about myself.

We don’t have to have everything figured out. We just need to be willing to learn.

  • I’m a mess right now, what with so many things to do, but hardly any time to get them all done. You gotta see my to-do-lists. You will think, nah, you will KNOW that I’m crazy! I also know I just need a break, to come up for air. It will take time, but I’ll be OK.
  • Read “Eleanor & Park” . A sweet story of romance for young adults. It was good, not great. I wish I had read it long ago. Maybe I would have liked it, but now, the romance didn’t resonate with me and Eleanor and her household kept depressing me. Reading “Strengthsfinder 2.0″ and this line kept me thinking…

         “you CANNOT be anything you want to be-

          but you CAN be a lot more of who you already are. 

-Manasa

“What we are ………….” Wednesday!

Here’s what Madhurya had to say:

Reading: (Re-reading) The Mystery of the Blue Train by Agatha Christie. I am looking for new interesting books. Any suggestions?

Watching: Thor Ragnarok. I am so in love with this movie. I love the humor!

Eating: Watermelon and fresh strawberries. We plucked the strawberries from a farm nearby. They are so sweet and juicy!!

Making:  a list of projects for my #100craftadventures on instagram (I will update this in our blog soon)

Wishing for: a lovely sunny weekend so we can do more hiking, swimming and spending time together.

Learning: to experiment different food recipes for us and Neel (I don’t want Neel to be as picky as I am when it comes to food) and different methods to keep Neel busy while I work at home.

Thinking: about starting a Moms group or a Reading group here. Hope it works.

Listening:  to Tamil songs like Aluma Doluma & Donu Donu.. Thanks to Manasa, now I cannot get these songs out of my head. Even Neel starts to dance when we play them on the radio.

Loving: my “Today I am happy about” journal where I list out at least 5 things that made me happy every day. It is just to remind me that no matter how bad a day goes, I need to see the bright side.

 Here’s what I had to say:
Reading: “Writer Mama” by Christina Katz. I’ve had this book since forever, but I’m reading it now. Guess I never considered myself a writer. Can I call myself a writer now? I always write, don’t I? I still wonder…
Watching: “The Hollars” on Amazon Prime. I’m only now beginning to enjoy the perks of watching what I want on the Prime app on my phone.
Eating: Mangoes. Lots and lots of Mangoes. ‘Tis the season, y’all….
Making:  Masks, Animal masks, for Medha’s Inter-house Competition at school.
Wishing for: more time to do some creative projects plus more time to relax. Is that too much to ask?
Learning: how to do make-up that looks natural. My skin isn’t the same I had in my 20s. Sigh!
Thinking: about how mamas are being so so protective these days. Is that healthy?
Listening:  to Marie Forleo’s Interviews on Youtube. She brings such inspiring people to her channel.
Loving: my daily writing habit.
Love,
Madhurya & Manasa.

Tipeshwar Wildlife Sanctuary

It was the month of May. We wanted to get away from the heat and our daily routine. We’d heard about Tipeshwar Wildlife Sanctuary in Maharashtra on our last trip to Tadoba, so we decided to check it out. We knew the place would be hot, but we were so not prepared for quite literally an “out of the frying pan and into the fire” kinda experience!

Tipeshwar is about 5 hours from Hyderabad, which is awesome. It isn’t as far as Tadoba, but is on the same route. We booked our stay at a newly opened resort right at the entrance to the sanctuary. We left home around 1 pm and reached by 6:30. We would have reached earlier had we not stopped to change our punctured tire. That took us nearly an hour as we had to figure out how to get the spare tire out of the car and find that there was no air in it. Thankfully there was a petrol bunk right opposite to where we had stopped. Our men rolled the huge tire across the highway like a couple of 6 year olds having fun along the way, pumped air by themselves and rolled it right back. We didn’t stop anywhere after the fiasco.

We got onto a rocky terrain after the smooth highway, to make our way towards Sunna gate. There were low-roofed squalid huts, tiny stores that seemed poorly stocked and women walking around holding cans to attend to nature’s call in the fields nearby. It wasn’t a pretty picture. In fact it made me realize how granted we take basic facilities like a comfortable home, a restroom etc. After much driving we finally reached our destination. It was sundown time, yet it was too hot, the air thick and hard to breathe in. It took a while for our bodies to get used to the heat.

The rooms (tents) made of canvas were spacious and clean. Since it was hot outside, it was hot inside as well, despite the fully functional ACs in every room, but I did not mind. I sat and read and wrote and slept whenever I could, as the kids were with their cousins in the other room. When the power went out, which was quite frequently, the Generators were turned ON. Food was delicious and healthy throughout our stay. With so many kids in the group, the cooks even customized our food to suit our varied tastes, without bickering. I don’t know if the exceptional Customer service was because there weren’t any other guests in the resort!

Our Walk in the morning took us through barren lands, cracked open, yearning for Rain water. A couple of workers from the hotel accompanied us along with a house-dog (There were a lot of Dogs at the resort, but they were a harmless sort. They barked at the wild boars, which were a menace. Take care of your shoes and snacks though!) We crossed ploughed fields, climbed atop a mountain full of dry teak trees and leafy tendu trees (that are used in making beedis. Apparently the fruit is a delicacy around here). It felt a bit breezy atop the mountain. Madhav walked bravely and earned the affection of the staff, who kept calling his name and going out of their way to help him cross the slippery dips and climbs. The way back was a bit scary and exhausting, but everyone enjoyed the adventure, even the less-prepared ones wearing slippers instead of shoes. On our return, we tried climbing the machaan (a wooden platform used for viewing wildlife). Madhav and I struggled while Medha climbed like a monkey. She kept going up and down, up and down.

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Our Safari into the jungle was HOT! It was 3 in the afternoon and the Sun was overhead. We were loaded with quite a few bottles of lemon juice and water, but we realized, that pretty soon we would have a shortage, no, a crisis at hand!

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We drove through rocky roads, ascended hills, turned curves and everywhere the landscape was barren- bald trees and parched soil. We could spot the birds and animals easily. Usually I suck at sighting, but this time I pointed out all the creatures left and right. We saw the usual monkeys, Peacocks, spotted deers and nilgais. Indian Rollerbirds with their blue, wide wingspan became a hit with the adults and kids alike. They were everywhere and provided such cool bursts of color amidst the brown and muddy landscape.

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All we did inside the jungle was park our vehicles by the Tipeshwar lake and waited, for hours. Kids began getting restless as they weren’t allowed to talk or get out of the vehicle, play or eat snacks as that would make them even more thirsty. They took turns and sometimes squabbled over whose turn it was to see through the binoculars we had. There were herons and peacocks and other birds by the lake. Nilgais and Spotted deers could be seen quenching their thirst too. A few jeeps left, but we were told to wait as the tigers would come out for water. And they did, just as it was time for us to leave. There were 3 cubs and a mama tiger who all came, one by one, to take long swigs from the lake and just loll beside it. All the animals, except a few birds, had vacated the premises by then. All of this happened quite far from us. I had to zoom in through my camera to see them. Although we enjoyed the sight of the Tigers and were reluctant to leave, I felt that we were more worried about whether we would have enough water to drink till we reached our hotel! We asked other people if they had any water to share. Some lent us, some didn’t. And when it was time to leave, our guide brought us a bottle from somewhere which we simply gulped down. fighting over whose turn it was to drink! We’d lost it! I feel so ashamed of myself just thinking about it now.

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Can you spot the 3 cubs?

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We made our way back in the dark. It was Medha’s birthday and the men had gone and bought a cake, so we got Medha to cut it during dinner. Someone said the cake looked a bit funny. Tipeshwar is not a big city to house a fancy bakery, of course the cake would look and taste funny! But Medha was happy she got to celebrate her birthday in the jungle with her cousins! Thank God we were fine the next morning, despite all the things we subjected our bodies to!

What a rough night it was! Medha dozed off right away. Madhav slept with his grandparents in the other room. Somehow I couldn’t sleep, so I just read. It felt like there was a knock on the door every few minutes. I thought the dogs were just playing. Then I heard the wind howling. It was picking up its intensity, almost pushing open our locked doors. Then came the thunder. I thought our tents would be blown away or get burnt due to lightning. I simply read on…. Then I heard Madhav’s voice. “Mama”, “mama” he called out. I ran out, all panicky, my wildly-beating heart in my mouth, assuming his tent had blown off and that he was getting drenched in the rain with his grandparents! But…

He was just having a good time while the grandparents were out checking what was going on! That kid! I was worried sick! After a rough night through which we hardly slept, I thought our safari in the morning would be cancelled, but it hadn’t. It was 5 when we were woken up by the staff. We were late! There was quite a throng of visitors already lined up by the gate to the jungle! We got ready and left. And then we were told that one of our jeeps had broken down and there was just one. We thought of taking our Fortuner inside, but decided not to. The roads were not suitable for our car and we didn’t have a spare tire. All of us, that is 6 adults and 5 kids, squeezed into a single jeep and crawled into the jungle once again. It looked beautiful in a bent-but-not-broken kinda way! The rain that had scared us last night hadn’t ruffled most of the jungle’s feather! Everything still looked dry and barren, but there was beauty in it, or maybe, it seemed to me to be so. I understand that nature goes through these cycles called seasons and now it was time for summer, peak summer that too.

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This time we were well prepared with lots of water bottles, but we weren’t as thirsty. We waited a long while by the lake again, but this time had no chance. Someone said they spotted the Star male (the sole male, the father of the cubs we saw) in another location. We went there but he had left by then. We were a tad disappointed, but It’s all a matter of luck we know. We got back to our rooms, got ready, settled our dues. (About 45,000 for 3 rooms for 2 nights i.e 7500 Rupees per room per night inclusive of food. ). The jeeps were paid separately- 950 for permit, 2000 for drivers. We had to pay for 3 jeeps as the fourth one had broken down. We thanked the folks at the resort wholeheartedly and left.

Tipeshwar is so close to home, we will surely pay a visit in the cooler months.

-Manasa

Medha @ 8

Oh What do I write about Medha, my firstborn, when I’m still trying to figure her out myself?!?! There have been times when I have felt like asking her, “Who ARE you?” Seriously! She’s so unlike me, that I find it hard to believe she came from me! Medha is a riddle I’m trying to solve, and boy I can tell you I’m enjoying the challenge, even though it is quite frustrating at times!

Can’t believe she is 8 already. She’s come so far from being a scrawny and colicky baby who used to drive me to tears with her constant crying. She’s in 3rd grade now. She’s taking Taekwondo lessons and practices her kicks and other moves on us. She’s a total foodie. She won’t tell you, but I know she’s fond of her brother. She simply loves babies, especially Neel.

Medha loves watching TV. She can watch it all day long if we let her! Like Kevin who says “I’m 10 years old. TV is my life.” in Home Alone, TV is her life too, which can make this mama go crazy! Animated movies, chick-flicks, cooking shows (especially baking) and travel shows are her favorites.

She pesters me to buy something for her whenever we go out shopping. She won’t ask for clothes or books, nah nah, it’s the make-up stuff and candies! Medha loves make up and draping herself with scarves, adorning her head with a tiara and walking around the house like a princess. Oh! And her little brother, who kinda worships her, is ready to take on the role of a prince or servant or whatever suits her highness’ fancy!

These days she’s into making a lot of money. Our budding entrepreneur goes around serving lemonade that she herself prepares or giving massages or facials to whoever is willing to pay her a buck or two, preferably in US Dollars!

Medha is more of an outdoor person than indoors. She loves the jungles and safaris. Oh she doesn’t mind going to the neighborhood shop even. She just loves to be out and about.

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And when she comes to me as I type this and I tell her I’m writing about her monkey business, she tells me, “You always talk about my monkey business. You never see my good side.”, that hits me hard. Am I really? This girl doesn’t have to punch me to make me stagger. So small yet such big words!

She can be sassy when she says “Why are YOU so happy about Papa coming home early? Don’t you see him everyday? I’m happy, but not like,’Yayyy! Papa’s coming!’ kinda happy!”

A Firecracker, this one!

You know, sometimes I share my thoughts and feelings with her and she comprehends them (mostly) and gives her own inputs. I feel she’s emotionally capable of handling big conversations. She’s empathetic, she feels for others’ pain and responds with compassion. When someone was being mean with her she asked him how it felt if someone did the same to him. Wouldn’t it hurt him too?

I think of her as a Wildflower sometime – exotic but rugged, beautiful yet adaptable, someone my Grandma, who wanted so much for us to be ever-smiling and pleasing towards everyone, would have simply adored, had she been alive.

I used to think she would struggle to cope with her studies, what with her monkey mind and her lack of interest in some of the subjects, but with steady, everyday, bit-by-bit learning and relearning, she’s not just scraping through but a straight A student now. Her award for proficiency says so! But what truly made me happy was when she won an award for having a “Golden Heart”! Yeah! That’s my girl!

-Manasa.

A South-Goan Vacation

1st March, 2018– We were on AirAsia. It took us an hour and 20 minutes to reach South Goa.

Our pre-paid taxi driver drove us through picturesque inroads. Fresh green fields bordered with tall coconut trees and homes which looked like they were from the Victorian era, added bursts of color to our journey. There were houses in shades of purple, sea-blue and mustard yellow. The women wore frocks. It made me feel like we were back in Mangalore, although Mangalore is losing its old-world charm quickly.

There were quaint little churches dotting our drive. As it got darker we could spot cafes and bars with outdoor seating shimmering like magical havens. We were exclaiming all the way which must have thrilled our driver who threw in a random bit of history and culture our way. We let out whoops of delight as we rounded into a compound with a huge building all lit-up. We had reached Radisson. We couldn’t contain our excitement as we got out. The ceilings are almost sky-high with arched railings for roof. There are huge murals depicting the history of Goa. The pool is gargantuan and inviting, everything here is King-size! As we were taking in the interiors like a bunch of school kids, I spotted the actress, Radhika Apte, talking animatedly over a phone and walking over.

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I could write all day about this hotel itself. We could spend the rest of our holiday right at the resort and still feel like we’ve had the best time! The rooms are spacious, cozy with beautiful paintings and lampshades. The bathrooms are big and clean. There are bathrobes and slippers. There’s a locker facility available. There’s TV. There’s a porch on which we enjoyed our morning coffee, which was delicious by the way.

We freshened up and  went to find a place to dine at. The avenue was chockful of shops selling swimwear, jewelry and other junk. I wasn’t interested in checking out the stores that were catering mostly to foreigners. I wanted to go to the local stores. After much looking we found a restaurant called “Mike’s Place”. Prasad, I and the kids loved its vibrancy immediately. There was live music. It was outdoors and prettily decked up. It smelled of sea food which was a bit of a turnoff for the rest of my family. The waiters were quite nice but the service was delayed. We were famished by then. And when the food did arrive, it was in smaller portion size. So we had to order more and wait even longer! But the taste was great! The food wasn’t spicy or oily. We ate Naans and Rotis, Babycorn crispies and Gobi Manchurian, Veg Jalfrezi, Kadai Paneer and Aloo Gobhi. Everything tasted finger-licking good!

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When the in-laws and kids left for their room, Prasad and I walked to the beach and had a quiet, lovely time.

We don’t care for a visit to the US or Egypt, we simply wish to explore the length and breadth of India!

2nd March, 2018– I scribbled in my journal to the sound of waves tumbling towards the White sand beach. Along with the sound of waves there was the cawing of crows and the talk of people, mostly Indians, early in the morning. We could not spot a single Indian at the beach or on the streets the night before.

I took off my sandals whenever we walked on the beach. The powdery sand felt nice under my tired feet. Cavelossim is the name of the Beach. It is a private beach reserved for the customers of Novotel, Radisson and not sure what other hotels. There’s no litter here. There’s no noise and mess that’s certain to be found at the other beaches.

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Last night there was music, laughter, fireworks and the roar of the waves. It still felt calm and therapeutic just lying on the benches and do nothing but lose ourselves in the experience of being in a heaven-like place. I simply gazed at the stars above, trying to figure out the patterns they made. I never felt so in-the-moment as I felt that night. I’m so hurried, stressed and elsewhere most of the time.

We booked a 5hr tour around south Goa. It was for 3700 Rupees. People on the streets could be seen playing Holi, the Festival of Colors, even foreigners. We first climbed onto Baradi Hills. Then we took a walk outside a church that was closed at that hour. There was a scenic view at the top, of the ocean below. We tried freshly-picked Cashew Fruit which was oozing with juice but tasted funny. I couldn’t gulp it down my throat.

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Next it was time for Cabo de Rama Fort. It used to house a prison before but now is quite desolate, with graffiti on walls, overgrown trees and the path crackling with a spread of dead leaves and dry sticks. There was a beautiful blue-and-white church- the cleanest and freshest area within the fort. Beneath the fort there was unspoilt beauty. The sea looked clear and blue and the hills looked majestic. By the end of this jaunt we were parched. All of us rushed into a tiny place advertising the availability of fresh fruit juices. It costed us less than half the amount we would have paid in and around our hotel!

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Since we’d loaded ourselves up with heavy complimentary breakfast we didn’t feel hungry for a long while. We also stopped at Agonda and Palolem beaches. It was getting hot by then and we were sapped. We had another hour’s exploring left but we cut our trip short and made our way back to the hotel.

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In the evening the kids splashed about in the pool with their grandpa. Freshening them up, we set out to find a place to eat. Our driver had told us about a hotel called Kinaara that served great vegetarian food, so we made our way there. It took us about 10 minutes by walk. The menu looked good and reasonable. In fact it was very cheap. We ordered Masala Papads, Veg Pakoras, Crispy corn, Cheese sandwiches, Egg Masala, Veg Kolhapuri and rotis. Everything tasted great, but again, since there was just one chef, the service was a bit slow. I had a chance to speak with the manager there. He told me North Goa is about 2 hrs away and there’s a great Saturday Night market and everything is much cheaper there. He told me most foreigners preferred South Goa over the North as it is less crowded and more serene.

3rd March, 2018– My pen was smooth, its tip gliding along the surface of the book as if writing by itself; like the ripples of water effortlessly making its way towards the shore. It was sunrise. A couple of dogs sat beside me as I wrote. There were shacks- Seaway’s, Q-Baa, Baywatch, on one side and the frothy ocean on the other. I sat snugly between them. I was enjoying it all. I could easily get used to this kind of life, I felt. A life of leisure. Waking up when my body decides to, and not when the alarm shrieks. Sitting on the porch sipping coffee and enjoying the peace all around. And then going for long walks or writing in a quiet place. Maybe if we save up enough money I’ll do just that. At least for a few months at a stretch.

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I prayed to the Sun God as he gently made his way up. Namah Suryaya… I felt grateful.

Our plan was to head to North Goa after a nap in the afternoon. Afternoons are kinda exhausting as it gets really hot around here.

But before that, we gorged over the lavish breakfast and made our way to Kris’s cruise. Jack’s was offering us a 500 Rupees per head on a double deck boat. We went with Kris’s after reading reviews online. He was offering us 2500 Rupees for a private motor boat. We went for the Dolphin tour. We started in the backwaters, making our way towards the sea. The backwaters, smooth and the sun, balmy, lulled us to sleep.

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It was nice to watch the deckhands on the other boats going about their daily business- eating, bathing right on the boat, hanging clothes at the top to dry etc. As we entered the sea we were sprayed with salty water as our boat picked up speed. We began spotting Dolphins right away. They were jumping out and nose-diving back in. They seemed to be everywhere. Hey here here… there there… we saw them splashing about, their glossy exteriors sparkling in the sun. We returned to our rooms, parched and exhausted.

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After a siesta we were ready to explore North Goa. The taxi driver we found outside was willing to take us to Old Goa and Panaji Market (not the Saturday market, as he said it would be too crowded) for 3500 Rupees. We thought it was a bit too high, but we didn’t know how far and how long it could take us. It was a long drive. We went to the Basilica of Bom Jesus. Then the Se Cathedral. From that onto the Viceroy Arch, the gate of the palace of Adil Shah. It was closing time, so we couldn’t go to the museum where we could’ve learnt about the history and culture of Goa.

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I loved the cool interiors of the churches, where I sat and soaked up the calm and serenity. They were tall, majestic, awe-inspiring and even humbling. I sent up my prayers and gratitude to Jesus.

These historical places could do a better job of explaining the monuments to the visitors. Most of them were built before the 18th century, but their history and significance are not clear. Only the architectural style and the construction materials used have been mentioned. That’s not enough.

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At the Panaji Market we ate snacks, did a bit of shopping for souvenirs. We got everything for half the price they were charging in South Goa. We picked food for the grandparents and kiddos on our way back and they ate in their room. For ourselves we decided to check out one of the shacks by the sea. We googled a bit and went for Silverwaves, which had a good enough crowd. It was magical, just the 2 of us, a candle burning bright between us, the sound of waves giving a background score. The food was great. I was worried it would make me feel yuck. The veg fried rice with gravy, the tandoori mushroom, all prepared fresh and hot simply satisfied us. The experience was priceless!

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4th March, 2018-  It felt like we made the best use of this vacation. I was ready to go back home. But there was a small part of me that felt a tug, a pull to stay back and enjoy the good life.

Madhav and Medha splashed about in the sea. They made a happy sight. Even though Madhav coughed a bit, we let him play. Things like this don’t happen often. We wanted them to enjoy the sparkling ocean to the fullest.

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We had to check out at 12 pm but our flight was in the evening. We requested the concierge to give us more time but they couldn’t, as the hotel was totally packed.  And there was a wedding party coming along that day. But the staff were considerate. They let us place our bags at the concierge and told us we could use the pool and shower facilities. Prasad and I headed out even though the sun was high and we were quite drowsy. The kids and grandparents hung out by the play area. We thought of checking out the scooter ride as we hadn’t tried that one out yet. The guy told us it would cost us 500 Rupees and a deposit of 2000 Rupees and we could use it all day, but return with the same amount of fuel. We tried negotiating with him saying we needed it just for an hour or so, but he went down only a 100 bucks. Anyways we didn’t have the deposit money at hand to begin with nor the energy to roam about. It was crazy hot and it felt like we would be scorched. We dragged ourselves to the nearest shack on the beach, ordered a couple of drinks and lay on the beds provided. There was a big umbrella shading us from the sun. We spent time relaxing, sipping juice, people-watching, and, in my case, having a pedicure done. It was lovely!

 

It felt surreal once we landed in Hyderabad, as if Goa had never happened. We were brought back with a thud , quite literally, to reality, as we’d lost our house key and had to break in into our own home!

-Manasa.