These are a few of my favorite things…….

sapphire blue

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Please Not Entering the Water If You are Having a Heart Attack

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I will never forget the beauty of Pattaya. The resort, nestled amidst lazy palm trees and lush greenery was a delight to a Mumbaiker who had lived amidst tall…taller… tallest… concrete for so long.

Add to that the cushiony hotel bed (that’s why I love hotel beds!) with its inviting sink-in mattress and the gorgeous view from the balcony. It was like being in a tropical forest, complete with multi-hued butterflies and chirping birds.

To add to our enchantment, the skies suddenly opened up and droplets of rain came hurtling down. They had told us the weather was unpredictable, but this was something else. More than any temperamental female!

Driving in to Pattaya and feasting our eyes on the endless patches of greenery was a sheer delight. You know what? Had those green parks been located in my beloved Mumbai, they would have been promptly declared as forest land!

Next day they told us that the dress code was a tee, shorts and slippers. What liberation I felt walking on the white sands of Pattaya! Surely this was paradise?

My denouement was soon to come. Wading through tee-deep waters, we began heading towards the boat that would carry us to Coral Island. The others of the group—mostly males were hopping onto the boat much before us. I waded leisurely behind, enjoying the crunchiness of the white sand beneath my bare feet. One hand held the pretty cap I had hastily shopped for at the beach (girls will be girls!).

Feeling on top of the world, I stood just below the very high vertical ladder steps leading to the boat. Of course I could do it all by myself! In fact it would be quite an adventure! Hauling myself up the steps, I felt wonderfully free, like a retired Ballerina, remembering her days of glory!

The next moment I was on the ocean bed, spluttering, gargling and gagging on sea water. A male arm had extended towards me, and in the process, taken both of us under water.

The helpful arm was Indian, weather beaten, age-gnarled. Miscalculating his strength and my weight, the geriatric gentleman had slipped, carrying me into the ocean. I still have that cut on my knee to remind me of my adventure. The adventure lay in my having to save him instead!

To get even with Fate, I decided to take nobody’s help as we changed one boat after another and kept wobbling in the waters. I was fascinated by the glass-bottomed boat through which we could see the amazingly beautiful Corals and fish. Finally, we got onto the boat from where we had to go inside the waters for an Ocean Walk.

We indulged in our favorite pastime— frantically shopping for sarongs, shirts  and skirts on the boat (girls will be girls!) as if these were our final moments on Earth.  Just then our eyes fell on this wonderfully painted advice–

If you have high or low pressure or heart attack, please to not go inside the Ocean.

How May I Have You?

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How May I Have You?

It took just a little impassioned ‘sales talk’ to get my high-spirited elder sister, Poonam, agree to become my co-traveller. My partner-in-crime was born barely two years before me, but looking at us chattering away like magpies, you would think we are twins—Siamese ones at that!

That’s how we found ourselves on a low-cost carrier flying off to a low-cost holiday destination, on a low – budget to what people warned us was a low-moral destination.  We were eager to unravel the mysteries of why a woman should not travel alone to Bangkok!

We had decided, that once air-borne, we would leave all our cares behind—she, her Professorship worries and me my PR ones. All we would talk about would be ourselves-and the relaxing time we were sure to have.

So that’s how it was. Like two overgrown teenagers, we giggled in our seats, 33,000 ft above sea level, much to the collective surprise of the other members in the  group. We had joined a group holiday package. Being forced to be in the company of 20 more people—mostly men, we felt it was more like blind dating. So we giggled some more when we realized it would have been quite a blessing to have been blind after seeing some of the “handsome” team members. I am sure the feeling was mutual.

 

We squeezed each other’s hands excitedly as we landed at  Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok. My sister has this fetish. Others go weak-kneed when they see a stunning person of the other gender. She goes weak –kneed every time she sees a wheelchair.

So, to keep her in a comfortable frame of mind, we had organized a wheelchair for her at the airport. While her happy knees smiled at being driven comfortably around “Duty Free”, I had a hard time on the mirror-shine floors, trying to keep pace with her enjoyable joy ride.

 

Baggage claimed, visa examined, passport stamped, we headed towards the exit, only to wonder where the others were. (It was later that we learned that we had been swished in through the Privilege Access route far ahead of the hard-working others.) Had we missed the Group Coordinator? Had the group given us a miss?

 

Worriedly, I walked about in the vast expanse of the massive airport, trying to get my bearings. It would be a good idea to get a local phone card for my mobile, I thought. So I walked… and walked…and walked. Once in a while, I would feel a spurt of anger rise in my heart at my holidaying sister who was comfortably seated in her “foreign” wheelchair, trying to look the part of an invalid, and failing.

 Every once in a while, her eyes would light up at the sight of a goody being sold. She would groan, pick herself up, hobble to the stall to buy it and smilingly stuff the “prize” into her bags, while I kept walking endlessly with her mobile and mine.

Just when my anger had reached its peak, I walked across to a counter, hoping the nice young man there would help me.

It happened simultaneously. The historic words he uttered, the squeal of laughter from behind from my sister (who had hurriedly wheeled herself in my pursuit) and my own disbelief at what I heard.

In a very concerned manner the young man asked me—“How May I Have You?”

Mutual anger gone, once again we broke into our giggling spree.

“Well, answer him!” my sister whispered merrily “The poor, innocent guy,  cannot pronounce the “P” in “Help”. “P” is  “V” here!”

It was a priceless Kodak moment for our threesome—the confused nice young man and the two squealing women.

That’s how we entered the wicked world of Bangkok where it is okay to say—‘How May I Have You?”

 

 

Naturally Neelam… The Flirty, Feisty Fifties

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The Flirty, Feisty,  Fifties

It is in my 50’s that I have finally discovered the joys of Flirting. Flirting with Life!

Whoever told you that the 20’s were the much-awaited “coming of age” were wrong. And how!

Take it from someone who has lived through five decades and is excitedly nudging the next.

At 21 I was a vacuous-faced pretty young thing with a nonsensical, fairy-tale idea of life. Having weathered many typhoons and been flattened breathless by the hurricanes of real life, I have finally emerged from the constrictions of life’s chrysalis  into the freedom of the Fifties. My multi-hued butterfly wings are dappled with lived-through experiences, and my curious antennae are eager to fly off into the unknown.

Can you even begin to imagine the freedom I now have? There is no pressure on me of looking good, of saying all the right things or being accountable to any family member. Having nurtured and set them up in their various relationships, I am now free to fall in love once again with myself!

In the hurly burly of life, I had relegated myself and my own needs to the background. My wise Mom once told me, “Nobody is going to award you a medal for being the top martyr, so babe—learn to be selfish”.

So off I went, training my mind to think only of Me and Myself, quickly quelling that guilty thud-thud inside. It’s hard, believe me, after all these years—like a car having now to drive in back gear, but what the heck!

So I decided to commit to paper my “Bucket List”—something that had been dancing tantalizingly in my mind for many decades. I pulled out the first item. To my delight, it was “Traveling around the globe”! This blog is dedicated to my various whimsical escapades around the world.

Bangkok, Thailand it had to be—precisely because all the males in my office and all the youngsters around me rolled up their eyes in horror when they heard the choice of my destination and said, “What are you going to do there?” To be frank, it was incentive enough, as all my life, I have had fun doing exactly what people did not expect me to.

So hop along with me on my flight to Bangkok. Coming aboard? Fasten your seat belts please…

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