Jul 27, 2014

My Top 5 Aromatic Journeys

Smells help us travel! It is linked to memories and emotions so much that a whiff of a peculiar smell will transport you several years back, several miles away! Aromatics is one force that inspires transformation. Some fragrances help relax, some rejuvenates, some instill hunger pangs while some initiate romance! I have had them in my life and look forward to more. Below are 5 memorable aromatic journeys of my life.

5. I stand in my balcony watching my favorite jasmine bush. The sight of so many buds on the verge of blooming is enchanting. As the scent of the jasmine flowers floats into my brain, I find myself virtually transported to Spa Alila at Alila Diwa Goa. This Jasmine fragrance reminded me of my spa experience! I was made to lie flat on my stomach, my face resting on a U – shaped pillow. Had I wished I could have stared at the tiled floor below, instead I chose to shut my eyes and surrender myself completely to the small but strong hands of the young masseuse. There in the pin drop silence of the room my olfactory receptor cells suddenly seemed to get active. Her fingers dripping in jasmine scented oil went over my body with right pressure relieving me of all my tensions. Like a newbie chef who flips over an omelet, she turned me over as gently as possible. The entire process of ‘rub rub rub’ done, she paused for a feedback. But where was I? My brain was kind of slipping into deep slumber but the fragrance kept my brain active and my mind in a happy state. 60 minutes of pure aromatic pleasure, I woke to a new level of consciousness balancing both body and mind! Ever since then jasmine fragrance always reminds me of my relaxing spa experience.

 

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4. This sensory journey starts from my kitchen. As I stood preparing the Goan fish curry I learned from the chefs at “Spice Studio” a classy restaurant of Alila Diwa Goa, a delicate flavor emanated from the pan. Closing my eyes I smelt the aroma, did it smell the same as it did in Goa? Instantly I am beamed to the restaurants of Goa where at least 3 of the 5 tables would order this delicacy, where every waiter suggested ‘try the Goan fish curry here, it is excellent’! I added layers of heat and aroma trying to reach the perfect amount of ginger garlic paste and Kashmiri chilly for that ultimate flavor. It is the flavor which gives the right character to the dish! By now the smell had ignited hunger pangs in my stomach. This aroma can never be a room freshener nevertheless this is one strong smell that keeps taking me back to my holidays spent in Goa.


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3. Every morning I am on a trip to Darjeeling for a cup of tea. Well, actually it is the warm aroma of my morning tea that transports me there. I remember how I made the trip to Darjeeling just for a train ride, the one similar to Sharmila Tagore’s train journey when Rajesh Khanna in bike sings “Mere sapno ki rani kab aayegi tu…” But I soon got disinterested in the train after I saw the lush green cha bagaans (tea gardens). I preferred to be on foot. From the resort in the foothills there, I walked several cha bagaans, encountering many creepy crawlies, chirpy birdies on the way. It was refreshing in every sense of the word. “Taaza ho jaye!” the ad word seemed to gain a meaning here. Captivating smell, beautiful scenic sights, trying a hand at plucking tea leaves and throwing them artfully into the bag behind… with each sip I relive those experiences. At the end of the walk I found my arms laden with packs of Darjeeling Tea. Green leaf tea or the dried ones, I always find it hard to choose between the two. But whichever I choose the smell of tea always refreshes!


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2. “The fragrance always remains in the hand that gives the rose.” so said some great man! I have this habit of cooking up occasions just to gift roses or receive them. While at florists I almost always gravitate towards roses, my near and dear ones know this weakness of mine. The fragrance of rose evokes several sleeping memories! Always! I may be heading to the IT office but a bunch of rose there carries me away to distant lands. One that seems to recur is my trip to Ooty Rose garden. Approaching the garden, you get the fragrance from a distance and as you enter you feel as if ‘this must be heaven’. With a mix of fragrance from 1000s of varieties of roses there, it is easy to get intoxicated and loose senses. There is a surge of good feeling hormones. The walk inside through the curved paths is long but definitely worth the experience. I was there early April, peak time of the season so got to smell the maximum with so many of them in full bloom. The best place on earth for aromatherapy! Rose perfume has had importance from time immemorial and will continue to have so for years to come.

  
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1. When I think of night time fragrances few scents come to mind: musk, amber, night jasmine, each intense. In the stillness and darkness of night, when most sensory nerves cease to be active, the olfactory nerves are more alert. The fragrance of night flowers create a mood that often sets the tone for night. There is one particular journey in my life which I very fondly remember. Years back, in the initial months of married life, we had a very late night party with friends. After they dispersed we wished to just unwind so we decided to take a long walk. This was at my parents’ home in Thiruvananthapuram, earlier known as Trivandrum. It was dark, street lights dim and with moonlight everything just visible. The Night Queens in my mom's garden had almost fully bloomed and the scent was strong. As we walked the lanes we noticed almost every neighbor had this Night Queen plant laden with the huge blooming flowers. We actually wouldn’t have noticed but for the sweet smell all along. Our path wasn’t laid with flowers yet it was engulfed in fragrance! What a walk it was, the journey of life together had just started, hand in hand, with sweet fragrance! Today I have the same flowers blooming in balcony. Those moments can never be recreated, that short journey at that unearthly hour can never be recreated but it is continuing and we stop once in a while to try and relive those moments.


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This is my entry for the “ INSPIRE A FRAGRANCE “ contest being held on Indiblogger , in close association with Godrej Aer. http://www.godrejaer.com/

Jul 26, 2014

Faces of India - 171


Fish vendors of Colva beach; women selling fresh catch of the day. They are all smiles to see a photographer, a woman with a big camera. (Mine is just a Canon EOS450D) I had a huge language problem here, they couldn’t follow the Hindi language I spoke and I couldn’t understand the Goan language they spoke. In the end we parted with many nods and smiles.

Faces of India, a series through which I intend to portray the various characters of my country whom I met during my travels. See more here

Jul 24, 2014

Colva Beach, Goa

When the beautiful big blue sky is enveloped by a thick grey blanket of clouds what would you do? I simply stood and photographed. No point in wishing the sky was clearer. After all it is going to rain! That day along with sky the sea too decided to wear a grey look. Grey waves! That is another aspect of beauty that Mother Earth exhibits. One must have the time to stand and stare.


At a distance I saw a woman carry the garbage of the beach away on her head! Why do beach lovers burden her so?


SkyWatch Friday.

Jul 21, 2014

Alila Diwa Goa - Hotel Review

Alila Diwa Goa, approx 20mins driving distance from Goa Dabolim International airport, is a lovely property situated cosily between lush green paddy fields and soothing Gonsua Beach in Majorda. As I approached it, I could sense the peace of leaving behind chaotic traffic sounds. The south end room that I was allotted had a beautiful view from the balcony. Large green fields, cows and buffaloes grazing on them and the fields lined with tall coconut trees. For a person like me who landed here directly from the concrete jungle of Bangalore, the sight was heavenly!

S P A C I O U S  R O O M !

As I walked into the room I felt I could easily throw all my body parts around and still not feel cramped. The bathroom was a room too, very well planned and included in the room yet separated well with huge sliding doors. When did I visit Goa last? May be it was during the initial months of married life when I was too dazed to notice anything. Not this time! I had time enough and plenty to walk through all their facilities and I enjoyed the whole experience!

Before I checked in I was asked to mail in my choice on various factors, one among them was that of pillows from the pillow menu! Now that was a first time for me! They have a wide range: Super soft, cotton comfort, cervical support pillow, non allergenic pillow and more. I saw no reason to call in for their room service.


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Two of their facilities that I found very well equipped and furnished were the gym and kids area. Those families with young kids and toddlers have more reason to have happy hour at the gym and pool. The staffs at their kids’ corner are well trained and parents can leave their children there while they sweat in gym or soak in pool.


The infinity pool is fairy tale like! It faces the paddy fields with coconut trees standing tall providing natural shade in the noons. Notice the sunken pool furniture where one can enjoy a beer while soaking in the pool. I was almost tempted to take a dip there but had to give it a miss owing to my commitments in the city. The evenings here, with sun setting at the horizon visible from the pool are just not to be missed I was told.



Yet another place to escape from all tensions (including nagging family members) of life is their spa! Spa Alila is stuffed with signature oils and creams, here I allowed myself to be lavishly pampered by the nimble but strong fingers of a young masseuse. The spa provides unique treatments, blending ancient Asian and Ayurveda healing techniques with age-old beauty recipes featuring the curative benefits of fresh, natural and quality ingredients.


Food became a very enjoyable part of my stay here. The buffet meal in its spacious dining area easily tops my list of ‘memorable gastronomic experience’! The Spice Studio there showcases Indian cuisine from the Northwest Frontier, Awadh & Hyderabad, South East Coast and Gorgeous Goa. I chose the northwest frontier dishes and they were lip smacking finger licking good dishes. VIVO is their ‘live kitchen restaurant’ which is open 24 hours The Edge Bar and Lounge is a chic poolside bar great for sundowners with an outdoor deck.

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Jul 19, 2014

Faces of India - 170


The things tourists do for photographing themselves!!! I saw these two boys wake up this sleeping dog, pat it and pose with it. While his friends were taking his pics, I didn’t let the opportunity slip and framed them quickly. This picture was taken in Old Goa.

Faces of India, a series through which I intend to portray the various characters of my country whom I met during my travels. See more here