2 Star material

After coming back from the holiday we went for (the family vacation-which was a package deal, living in 3 & 4 star hotels for the duration of our stay in SL) ..did I realize that I was no where close to comfortable to 3 star comfort, that said 4 star was out of my league!

At best I can say, I am 2 star material.

Let’s look at this more closely, what do I mean by 2 star material… while staying in a hotel that is a 2 star in comparison with that of a 4 star

A 2 star meets basic needs, clean, comfortable and affordable. 

when we compare to a 4 star

A 4 star comes with a superior property with a variety of amenities, upscale, high comfort standards + quality.

Now, lets think logically – We aren’t really going to use the property to walk around all day & if we talk of amenities, central air condition in the entire hotel, Free WiFi, tea/coffee/sugar with an electric tea kettle, a television, a hair dryer in the bathroom, and a bath tub with hot & cold water – I don’t think we really require all those things.

A fan that runs fast, a tasty cup of adraak (ginger) wali chai (tea) available at the stall outside on the road, a mobile connection on your phone and the natural sun to dry your wet hair is good enough, and besides we use hotels primarily for only 2 reasons, to rest and as a temporary home to go visit other places in the area. How much time do we actually spend in a hotel room? [unless you’re a honeymooning couple – probably then you would be spending a lot of time indoors]

Do we still need a 4 star luxury holiday?

Things that some Indians might do with the different amenities provided by the hotel for reasons other than what they are supposed to be used for (talking of 4 star and higher)

  • use the hair dryer to dry our clothes (specifically inner wear, socks..extending sometimes to even shoes etc..)
  • use more than normal toilet paper.. for obvious reason and also maybe to wipe shoes or shine them.
  • suitcases will be kept on the table instead of the floor (why bend when we have an elevated surface) 
  • fill the bath tub with water, then use the little jug (if provided or a cup) to bathe yourself standing inside the bath tub. 
  • the only chair in the room will be used to dry clothes, there’s always the bed to sit on.

They don’t call us Indians, for nothing!

Sometimes, I do think to myself.. how tough must it be to live as a rich man. Besides having the facility to buy, own, eat & drink the best of things of the world-there would be nothing forward to look to.. what a tragedy that is. How boring!

Having had more than a glimpse of what it takes to live in luxury for a few days, if I get the opportunity again, I think I’ll give it a pass. I am a simple person and I like to do things the simple way.

That goes with people too, simple people living simple lives having simple conversations – that’s my style!

Simple is the KEY word. No fancy for me.

“Simple is Beautiful”

Vacationing with the Family

Yes, we finally did it!!  – the 4 of us, TOGETHER – an International Holiday. It’s not that we’ve never gone out together for dinners, short trips or occasions – we have but a vacation is different, a WHOLE LOT DIFFERENT and more so if it is out of the country. I’m not gonna say it was roses all the way – it is FAMILY we are talking about here and with 4 members, mum, dad, myself & sis, there’s always going to be 4 of everything, more importantly 4 minds that think very differently from each other, in such a scenario it was necessary that at least 2 of those minds had to be flexible, to make the trip/vacation/holiday a successful one.

Our last Family vacation was 17 years ago in the year 2000, I was only 18 then.. however the one common thing that happened with me on both occasions, was that I found myself being in charge of the trolley, moving around the airport. A lot had changed though in 17 years when we last travelled – for starters, the suitcases got heavier (can’t even begin to imagine how much women can stuff into a suitcase) I felt travelling seemed to take longer somehow, I don’t know… (I thought a flight from Chennai to Colombo took a little over an hour, but it took 1 hr 40 minutes) it also didn’t feel the mind was on a vacation..personally speaking. That said, it was my first trip with the family, as an adult – I wasn’t very surprised on how the whole vacation panned out. It was good, could have been better. 

I’m sure before setting out for the holiday, each one of us had his/her own agenda, whether that was fulfilled or not, I’m not sure but we did end up doing a lot of activities together, whether it was looking at fish, birds, watching elephants or shopping, we ended up spending a lot of time with each other, 24 hours of the day which well.. was interesting! Stressful at times – definitely an experience though.

The first thing of course to do on a vacation is.. to do your own thing and not be bogged down by rules and instructions like “don’t venture too far” or “come back soon”. No matter how old you are, parents will always treat you like children. A vacation means giving one personal space to keep the mind calm.. how otherwise is it different from staying in home conditions?

All said and done, the key of going for a vacation is not to be disappointed, you might not have done/bought/seen everything you wanted, but its okay. The important thing is ‘YOU’ were there for your family and made the vacation a reality. Some families never get even beyond planning stage. No holiday is ever going to be perfect, but I guess if you can try and capture the small moments, you will realise it was a pretty good holiday overall.

It was the reactions of a couple of neighbours who did not know we were gone, when on seeing us, said.. [which I found quite silly!]

One neighbour [the Queen] told mom “you didn’t tell me you’ll were going on a holiday” [were we supposed to make an announcement?]

Another: “You’ll went for a holiday? All 4 of you? Where is Sri Lanka?” [maybe a geography lesson is due sometime soon]

Dad’s friend..met me while buying the morning newspaper: “So, you’re back!” [did he think I was going to stay there forever?]

We’re still waiting for a reaction from the neighbour downstairs, she always has something interesting to say 😜

We’re not the kind of family that updates their travel plans on-the-go on social media, like most people do. Neither do we make big announcements when we leave home or get back. At best, a few photographs uploaded on FB after we get back – that’s it. 

It was just a holiday! I guess people are just used to seeing us around all the time. The morning bread-man was happy to see me… 😁

Food – Sri Lankan & Ghaas phoos

The last time I came to Sri Lanka, the food was certainly different, in a sense that we ate authentic Sri Lankan meals..the spiciness that one associates with the food you get in the country, brings about a welcome change to your taste buds. It isn’t very much different from what we get back in India, just that the preparation and the ‘spice quantity’ is a little more that generous here.

However this time, I noticed a distinct change in the way hotels presented their food, it was mostly ghaas phoos with little portions of actual meal (either fish/chicken). I mean what’s with the decoration on the plate with all the greens? I don’t think Indians really care much for decoration. We are more interested in the actual food. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many veggies on a plate. Seeing so much of veggies on my place, reminded me of the cows back in my country – they would have enjoyed it more. We aren’t the Chinese/Japanese who can survive on veggies, Indians eat wholesome portions of food (maybe not the whole 4 course meal and stuff.. but definitely NOT ghaas phoos)

The meals I truly enjoyed, were the breakfasts laid out in buffet style. It had a mix of Sri Lankan, Indian and American dishes which gave us the freedom to explore and eat what we liked.

Food you should definitely try out in Sri Lanka:

 

Seeni sambol.. is a combination of a sweet, sour and spicy sambol. It can be served with any savory meal or can be a good filling for the sandwiches. This seeni sambol is mostly served with String hoppers, yellow rice or bread in Sri Lanka.

String hoppers.. [known also as Idiyappam (in South India)] Great choice for breakfast or a light dinner. It is best eaten with coconut gravy or pol sambol (dish made from coconut). I personally love it with parippu (dal curry) 

Parippu.. is the Sri Lankan version of Indian dal. Made thicker and it has a different taste to what we get in India. Make sure you taste it when you’re here. Best eaten along with string hoppers/rice.

 

Chicken/Fish Curry.. The chicken preparation is always spicy here, so make sure you have adequate parippu to mix it up or drink lots of water. Fish is another good choice (Seer Fish & Tuna among others)

Of course there’s a lot more to taste in terms of food in the country. The idea is to try out different food that you don’t find in your country.. but don’t over-eat. While the food may all be tasty to you, it is still food which your body isn’t used to.. so go slow. Make sure you aren’t eating ghaas phoos though.

 

The Nature Resort – Kandy

Hotel Tree of Life (https://www.hoteltreeoflife.com/) – A Nature Resort – It’s different!

This place is something else, Really! Being spread out on 65 acres of land, this place is massive and more importantly cut away in one corner of Kandy,  (don’t ask me which..it didn’t seem we’d ever reach.. driving on & on & on) Once you’re there though, you can say you are amidst nature ..like really nature…nature. Not a single sound of a vehicle passing by, but only that of birds twittering, which can have a calming effect on the mind or drive you totally insane, that said.. the resort impressed me.. and I am not really impressed that easily, so that’s definitely a + for the Hotel.

I’d still prefer the city any day but for once in a lifetime experience, I guess I can handle the calmness. Not sure it worked on me this time though… 

The weather was pretty pleasing too, considering we had come driving down from NuwaraEliya (a.k.a Little England) [Hill Station] (2500mts above sea level) @ 14 degrees, Kandy was pleasant in the low – mid 20’s. I enjoyed myself thoroughly in NuwaraEliya (weather wise), though the rains were relentless and it rained buckets as long as we were there, pretty much restricting our outdoor movements.

Colombo would be our last stop before we head back to India (now that does feel good..typing it out) may be a bit sad (not really) but certainly relieved and happy, for no matter how much and how close or far you travel away from your own country, you always want to go back home.

Yes, the beds were soft, the rooms were luxurious, the service was excellent and the food excellent.. but at the end of the day, you still miss your own bed (with the not so soft mattress) the  maa/ghar ka khana (which no hotel food would EVER match up to) and of course the freedom one feels being in your own state/country.

So looking forward to the journey back, but we’re not done as yet! Still a good day and a half to go.. so until then, I guess I’ll be eating and living the life King size! The treatment has been that good, of course its all come at a good price too.

I don’t know how to put this..

but.. I’ve realized

..travelling abroad is not my thing, neither is living in luxury or eating enormous amounts of food served. I am so much more happy in India.. I really can’t see myself traveling to a foreign country again, don’t think I’d enjoy it.

“The Food in SL” – well! at least for the days that we have been here, deserves a separate blog  post all together. That next.. along with  a post on “Certain Luxuries Indians could get used to..” next in line. It’s just that the few days that I’ve spent with the family in SL that has thrown up so many new experiences that.. thank God for this blog, I can write it all down. Not sure I would want to remember all of it though.

 

Indian People = EMBARRASSMENT

Most definitely. No wonder people talk about how ill mannered Indian people are.. especially outside the country. Well, they aren’t any better in their own country, just that their behavior is accepted and hence not talked about so much. I know, I know.. I am Indian too but well.. sometimes its just disgusting how some Indians behave Untitled 

The hotel at which we are staying currently also houses other Indians from other states of India, and it is needless to say they give India a terrible name. To pin point at one specifically, a family of 10 from Kerala ~ Keralites/mallus (heard them speaking in Malayalam) From loud voices to clumsy table manners, it was too hard to not notice their uncouth behavior.  

Sometimes I guess, it would be better to say “I’m from a certain state of India” rather than say you’re from India, people don’t have a very good first impression when you say ‘India’.  

Just done with another BIG dinner meal.. but tasty all the same. Something about the Sri Lankan cuisine that makes you want to go the extraa..aaamile when it comes to ‘one more serving won’t hurt’. The last time I was in Sri Lanka, I added 5 kgs in 5 days, it took me 2 years to get it back down. Looks like the same story this time round, I might just have to work harder this time 😊

2 things I’ve definitely learnt in this trip is:

~ Food can be thoroughly enjoyed when eaten slowly. Enjoy your meal and not just fill your stomach.

~ Don’t worry about the extra holiday weight you’d be putting on, there’s always a chance to lose weight – when you get back home, start walking. Eat like a King, good food is not always available. (don’t do it the Indian way [filling your plate up, take a 2nd serving])

Being Indian is one thing.. behaving like one is another

 

The 4-course meal Indian

Yes! The 4-course meal Indian, difficult to find them around, if at all – maybe just a handful. Indians love to eat and YET the 4 course meal is something, which may be a little too much for the Indian stomach.

I might have ever experienced a 4 course meal before, until yesterday for the first time.. and boy!! Was it an experience or what!! I could barely walk after I was through.

I guess that’s how Royalty feels like. Holidays are easy on the mind but strong on the stomach simply because with nothing much else to do besides sight seeing and sleeping, eating becomes that much more a TEMPTATION.

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Presently at the Pearl Grand Hotel, Colombo, Sri Lanka… proceeding to Nuwara Eliya at 8 degreees (if what the locals say is true!) I know mum, dad wouldn’t be too happy but I am sooooo looking forward to it. 12 degrees being the lowest temperature I’ve stayed in.. so far @ KodaiKanal, India (t’was my last holiday-solo)

Signing off for now…with lots more in store to write about, we’re just through a couple of days in the country and almost a good week left.6/7 days left

P.S: Sri Lankan girls are hottt AF!! That said Sri Lanka is a beautiful country and the people are kind. Reminds me a lot of people back home in GOA.

‘How are you?’

There are better questions than that right? Often thrown around as a casual greeting, people unsure on how to answer and often resort to default answers of “I’m good” or “I’m fine” – which is acceptable. While we may feel nothing even close to good or fine, we are very secretive when it comes to our true physical or emotional state, fearing people might judge us.

Of course there are innovative answers you could always give, for example:

“Waiting for my lab results, I’ll get back to you!”

“Any day above ground is a good one!”

“oh, I could be worse”/”I can’t say I haven’t been not unwell, thanks.” (try and figure these out) 😜

or maybe a simple response like “Somewhere between good and best” let them choose and Indians love to play when you give options, they get really excited 😂😂😂

So the next time you ask me that question and you don’t get an answer for the first 5 seconds… move on to your next question. And while you’re at it, ask some quality ones. Time for some quality conversations – what say?

Yayyyy! I’m going on vacation!

Exciting isn’t it? Talk of travel, a lot of free time, relaxation and HOTEL Rooms that we only dream of living in..and no matter how 3 or 4 2 it is, it will always be better and cleaner than your bedroom back home, and if you are one of those who isn’t used to vacationing often, HOTEL rooms can be a big deal. 

Now it does not have to be an exotic location you would be vacationing at. The fact that you are on vacation, the mind is programmed that its all gonna be cool & awesome.. from the time you catch your plane to landing into another state/country.. not before asking “Can I have the window seat please” at the airline counter at the airport [Yes!! why not, a picture of the view from the window of the plane is a MUST in the vacation Album] and besides aren’t vacations also all about the views [view from the window/veranda.. view from the restaurant.. view from the top of some peak etc etc]

You now arrive at your destination [hotel] and you are shown your room and the first reaction is woooooowww! It may not exactly be the wow I’m picturing in my head right now.. but it will be wow enough to sit on the bed to see how soft your bottom feels on it or the single sofa’s that have the soft cushions.

Now as Indians, we are very inquisitive people… we’d go around the room to well.. inspect (if I can use that word) every part of it, switch on the television, check the different light/lamp switches, visit the bathroom and see what it has to offer us (besides the squeaky clean pot, sink & mirror) ..the removable items like shampoo bottles, little soaps, maybe a little face towel that obviously you would not use (because you’ve carried one from home obviously) and will go straight into your bag (as a memento of the hotel ofcourse) and then eventually when its time to pack up and move on to the next place or back home, you will have enough of the ‘little things’ that you will be carrying with you.

As Ross (F.R.I.E.N.D.S) would say “You need to find a line between stealing and taking what the hotel owes you”

And what’s it about, when it its time to leave.. you see the room so perfect, that it just doesn’t feel right to leave it that way and you kind of leave your signature all over the room.. by ruining it.. and that makes your holiday complete.

We’re planning a family vacation, so this maybe a whole different experience considering my last 4 vacations have been solo, this one will pose a different challenge.

Expect a post ‘Vacationing with the Family’ after I get back.

I need ADVICE.. anyone?

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Indians give unsolicited advice for many seen &unseen reasons. If anything is told to an Indian as a complaint, query or opinion… we take it up as a moral responsibility 
~ to help…  
~ if not help share his/her own experience… op
~ if not share.. to show compassion….
~ if not compassion to convince… 
and if not to convince then successfully confuse… 

Giving advice is something we love to do. Sometimes, it does not even have to be that you’re asking for advice but will still get it. That’s us, we Indians..we are like that, what can you do?
From what clothes to wear to where to invest your money or bigger things like how to live your life, we have a lot of advice on offer. No one says you have to follow them, if you don’t want to heed the advice, hear it from one ear and let it go out from the other!

Why is it that Indians have the urge to give advice?

Is it because we care about others more than ourselves? Or is it just that we are a chatty lot and giving advice is just another way for us to ‘connect’? I remember this one time I was in an auto in Hyderabad, and the auto driver got very chatty with me, starting with the question from which state I belonged to (since my Hindi wasn’t the greatest and I used a lot of English words in between) and on asking me if I was married, (I told him I was still single) he advised me on why it is good to not marry too late and how it is better to holiday with your wife than by myself, sharing his own story etc etc – Oh boy!) Though he spoke a lot, he was a friendly chap..kept me entertained the few minutes I was his passenger (in the Hyderabad traffic)

Since advice is so freely available around, the next time someone tells you something or gives you advice, say thank you. Doesn’t matter what you do with it but the least we can do is to thank them, they did take the trouble afterall, even though it wasn’t asked for.

What’s the best advice you’ve given?

 

Are you famous enough to be a ‘Wax Figure’?

I opened the magazine page (Herald Cafe) of the daily newspaper to read this article:

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Really! Varun Dhawan – Celebrity? Okay, if you think so. We’re better than him right? Clearly he isn’t famous enough to find a place in Madame Tussaud’s London, so I guess for now Hong Kong would do. Ideally, he would be best placed in Delhi, where at least people would know & recognize him.. he (his wax statue) would feel pretty lonely in HK amidst greats like Narendra Modi, Mahatma Gandhi, Jackie Chan, Brad Pitt, Eddie Murphy etc. I mean, he’s only a bollywood actor and a very average one at that too. That way Alia Bhatt is a way better choice.

Imagine a young Hong Konger asking his father (standing in front of V.D’s wax statue)

“Who is Varooon Dawaaan?” and his father doesn’t know what to reply, so he says “Indian” and keeps walking..

So, what does it take to become a Wax figure at M.T’s? Madame Tussaud’s has been creating wax figures of famous personalities for ages now – Wikipedia says Tussaud created her first wax sculpture in 1777. They have cited 4 criteria to get a chance to have a wax version of yourself, which are:

* Star Power
* Timing
* Be a Reflection of Culture and History
* Popular Demand

Sure a few Indians would say they are eligible..lets see how:

C--fakepath-tick* when they use their power (physical power) people see stars (that’s star power for you)

C--fakepath-tick* Indians have great timing, they rarely miss (only when it comes to Indian footballers, their timing is horrible! Don’t see any Indian footballers making it as wax figures)

C--fakepath-tick* goondagiri is well..definitely part of Indian culture..history, am not sure

 C--fakepath-tick* and are always in POPULAR demand

I’m yet to visit a Madame Tussaud’s, be it London, New York, Hong Kong or even Delhi. Maybe when Priyanka Chopra gets her own wax figure made.. though meeting her in person would be ideal. She is beautiful..even at 35 she is glowing!