Tuesday, December 25, 2018

2018 - The Year that Was!

Ho! Ho! Ho!
Where did the year go?!

It was only yesterday that I was stranded at an unknown airport with complete strangers on the New Year's eve. I shed out a tear or two because my plans could not materialize and I was away from the Boy on this fun day. After relieving myself of the distress, I had one of the most memorable evenings of my life.

So yes, that set the trend for new experiences in the year that I am always so game for!

This year I spent a lottttt of my days in a pain that was and still hard to diagnose. Somehow I managed to forget the agony and move on each time it happened. Frankly, despite the pain, I declare 2018 to be one of the best years, you want to know why? Well...

I found a new best friend. We meet three times a week. We exercise together for an hour. We share stories and discuss a lot of things. Will she be able to help me with my struggles? I don't know for sure. What I do know is that she has given me a new hope that 2017 took away from me. I was in a state of constant worry during the last year. With her, I am in a state of constant appreciation and gratitude.

What else can I ask from a therapist? That's all I look forward to in life.

What else happened in 2018? I wrote much lessor than 2017. I blame it on my new best friend. She is very demanding!

We took our first cruise, and boy! What an experience! This vacation will be etched in our hearts forever and I worry if any other cruise that we take, which we definitely will, would come any close. I met three sisters in the cruise. The oldest was 80 and the youngest was 72. They are the inspiration I was looking for all my life and found it on the table next to ours. We went to eat in the dining hall just to meet them. I wish I had their number, I wish I could talk to them.. next time I won't be so hesitant.

Our second trip to Oktoberfest was a lot of fun as well. We danced and laughed and had beer and ate a lottttt of pork. Oh, I am so nostalgic now!

We had several visitors this year who stayed with us. Even though it gets a little tiring, it is an amazing feeling to have people visit you. Bahrain is not a tourist destination and so you know that these people don't really come only for a holiday. They come to meet you and have a little fun on the side. And now I've become a little cool with visitors as well - I can remain calm when the house becomes messy, I can sleep even if there are children making a noise outside my room, I can order in when I think I can't cook.. umm, maybe too chill?

Did we get lucky this year, let me think. I won a USD 500 voucher for travel, I won a glass of wine, I got a couple of vouchers from blogging contests, and got USD 500 from travel insurance for baggage delay...haha! Free money is money won!

Anyway, so my 2018 was very, very nice. I think my 2019 will be nicer. Now, I have to go and meet my best friend. After that I will write for a blogging contest and strive to achieve the goal of making 2019 nicer.

Yes people, you have to make your year better. No one else will come and do that for you.

Ho! Ho! Ho!
2019 I'll love you, I know!

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

A Punjabi, a Wierdo and an Alcoholic walk into a Map #TheBlindList

September 2016

Nisha Planning Punjabi – that’s what they call me. Google Street is my favourite companion. I devour reviews and I download maps and transport applications before I reach a destination. I read on the history of the country before going there; it’s economics – well, whatever is on the Wikipedia page is embedded in my encyclopedia of a brain. High rated restaurant names are on my fingertips – after all, I start following the destination’s Instagram page from months in advance.

Yes, yes, probably a local can ask me for recommendations in his city and he would be surprised. THAT is why Planning is my middle name. You can read about the Punjabi part of it here, but this post is not about that!

There are pain-in-the-backside kind of excel files on my desktop that I constantly look at. If there was a person keeping track on this particular travel website, he would ban me thinking I am a spammer because I go there several times a day. I am constantly looking for travel inspiration ideas for the destinations on my mind.

Screenshot of my excel file from my last trip to Baltics
 in July

Here is where I explain why I am NOT a weirdo - it is just how I like to travel. If you have seen Monica on FRIENDS on television, you will know we are not a rare breed. Some people find us adorable because of our quirks. And if you are anything like my husband, you would be relieved because you will not even have to lift a finger before and during your travelling. Like he says, he goes on organised tours customised for the both of us by me!

October 2016

My middle name is overpowered by the strength of my last name which signifies I am a Sindhi and NOT a Punjabi. Wait, what? Since you didn’t read the post I directed you to, here is the gist of it: I am a Sindhi but my surname is Punjabi because some people in my community have this surname. Why? As I said, this post is not about THAT!

So, when this can’t-leave-this-deal on Lufthansa came in October 2016, I had to be spontaneous.

We were getting tickets to quite a few destinations in under 250 USD. There was no time to think – it was a one day offer to be redeemed on the same day and travel within the next one month. We had a long weekend coming up, leaves were hard to come by and so we had to travel during the same week. The sweet guys at German embassy had given us a 3-year Schenghen visa on our last trip to Europe. And since it was October, a comparatively low tourist season in European countries, we knew hotel will not be a problem.

Out of some 20 cities on offer in Europe, we closed our eyes and put a finger on one. I did not know then that we were being blessed with MAGIC!

Image source

The next few days are a daze – I had some chores to finish and had absolutely no time to plan or investigate the destination. We picked a hotel purely based on its ratings and did not care much. I was a nervous wreck – will I be able to sleep in that room, will it be close to public transport, will it be clean… well, I calmed myself by telling me that if a nine out of ten rating on all these aspects will not make me happy, nothing else will!

We packed one jacket each and 2 pairs of jeans with some t-shirts. I had no time to think what I will wear on each day, forget shopping for new clothes for new pictures! What will my socially active friends think – I have no new clothes? I did NOT have time to contemplate on that.

With very little hope and lots of jitters, I stepped on the plane with the Boy and our cheap flight tickets. The Sindhi in me was very happy, the planner, well, she was annoyed and baffled at this new turn of events.

We reached Prague at 7 in the evening. The journey was extremely comfortable, but I was not. It is in the flight that I revise my notes for a perfect trip. I was reading a book, A BOOK on this one!

Anyway, after taking a taxi to the hotel and checking in, we just wandered in the by-lanes for dinner and called it a night.

If I had to tell you about our first day in this city in one word, I would say 36000 steps!

A screenshot from my Instagram page that day

 See, the tourist information kiosks in each city gives you the basic top 10 or some locations to visit. The Hop-on-Hop-Off bus covers major tourist attractions and you can easily see the city without planning. However, one thing I did not tell you about me is that even though I like to plan, I can’t take instructions or visit a place based on someone else’s planning! The HoHo bus was my enemy and so I figured I would find a different way to see the city.

We spoke to our second best friend, Google, and walked our way to a nice breakfast place. The things you see when you walk in a city are the best. We reached the main square and had a lavish breakfast. It was here we saw the astronomical clock, the town hall and other pretty buildings.

Then we saw a lot of people walking in one direction as if something free was being distributed. We followed with greed in our eyes and were treated with the best bridge of the city! Charles bridge is the most iconic part of Prague and has the most beautiful views. We didn’t know that we would be walking over it for atleast ten more times during the trip! 

We were hungry again and looked for a place to eat and drink. Prague has a number of breweries and we wanted to try atleast a few. The most famous according to Google was U Zlateho Tygra and so we ventured into it. Now this place was famous with the locals. You share tables and then some stories. We sat with a father-duo daughter from Prague and talked about so many things. They gave us names of other famous breweries in the city and well, our plan for the next few days was set. Instead of eating around a place of interest, we decided to see the places of interest AROUND the best eating spots!

Him on the bridge, us in the pub! Hazy pictures are symbolic of goofy times - or so I say!

All our walks in the city were towards some brewery or beer garden. In the process we discovered nooks and crannies of Prague which were not mentioned in any guide book. We saw some extremely beautiful views and loved each one of them. 

We just walked to eat and drink our three meals a day and saw pretty sights on the way. Despite what these pictures may suggest, I am NOT an alcoholic. Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of food because we just pounce on it when it arrives!

Hot chocolate with Rum and a Beautiful church for a view!

It is not what you think it is. Just a regular ice-cream!

This place served toys with its cocktails and the square had horse driven carriages!

Oh, this brewery was in a monastry and had entire Prague for a view!

Frankly, I have many more pictures like this but I don't want you to think that this was just a beer trip!  For the love of new things, we even took a beer spa. Needless to say, finding this place in a unique neighbourhood was one of my favourite things of the trip.

You really do walk through these lanes and you really do bathe in beer :P

I have taken many planned trips before and after this. But this blind date with Prague was kind of a self exploration and remains my favourite. I had no expectations, I had no clue, I had not read anything and yet it blew my mind and was an extremely enriching experience.

To change overnight is a difficult thing, but I am now slowly understanding the perks of being spontaneous. My new mantra is - #Bucketlist is a passe, #SayYesToTheWorld and to #TheBlindList.

And my new name is – Nisha BlindList Punjabi. Ah, just kidding – I have enough mystery around me already with Punjabi!


Tuesday, October 16, 2018

An Ode to #TheBlindList

What do you want for your 10th anniversary?
A diamond, a watch or a blackberry?

I think I want a vacation that is oh-so-dreamy
In a land where I can feel like a princess, or a fairy!!

Your wish is my command, now pack your bags
We leave in a week – don’t forget the name-tags.

Where are we going - how can you plan so soon?
See, it has to be perfect, just like our honeymoon.

Be openminded and leave your worries behind
I promise you magic. Perfection? – that you can find.

We board the plane in a week, Lufthansa it is. 
Are we going to Germany? One hint please?

Yes my dear, but I myself don’t know exactly where
We will pick up a car at Frankfurt, and then see from there.

We have no hotels booked, don’t know which city? 
You want to start a trip with a fight? Oh, what a pity! 

We always had a bucket list, it is time to spice it up
Say yes to #TheBlindList, c’mon, buckle up! 

I have Goosebumps, my heart is racing
For an unusual, unplanned trip, my mind is bracing.

It is not that hard, just fill your eyes with wonder
Magic will take over, your worries will go under!

I am trusting your gut, let’s try this one time
If it doesn’t work, repercussions shall be prime!

Haha! Let’s disembark and pick up our reserved car
Believe you me, romance is not that far!

The drive is so scenic, is it all along the Autobahn?
The hills are so pretty, I wish I could just roll on!!

We will do that, and everything else you want to do
That's the beauty of this trip - explore things that are new.

So we stop at Wuzburg, then where do we go?
Is there a B & B, a motel or a hotel that we know?

We will see what we want, we will stop when we please
There are little towns in this country – we shall explore with ease.

The roads are so smooth, the towns are so quaint 
Alas I am not an artist, or this picture I could paint!

If you had known before, it might have been different
See you blindly followed my ploy, now you are content!

We stay in Wuzburg, we see the Residential palace 
We drive to Rothenburg, where I really feel like Alice!

On our way to Nuremburg, we will drive by a lake 
Do you want to stop there and try the black-forest cake?

I will do whatever feels good, this journey seems perfect
Why plan for tomorrow, right now, lets just get clicked!

Looks like you have a crush on this Romantic Road
Your eyes are so dreamy, you seem ready to pen an Ode!

I want to take a dip in the lake, and climb the rolling hills
I want to walk into that stable, and check out those wind mills.

Lets do that while we drive towards the majestic alps
See the road signs for Romantic Strasse? - we don’t need any maps!

Are we heading to Neuschwanstein? I have seen it in Disney
I already feel like a QUEEN, this is a very happy anniversary!

We sing songs along the way, we eat at random stops 
We dance like Bollywood stars without the usual props!

We see a number of Churches, the architecture wows us
This world is so beautiful, a nice travel partner is an added bonus!

Bucket List or The Blind one - which one is your favourite now?
Where do you want to go next so that you can say WOW!?

First I want to say Thanks, for making me see this side of me.
As for a place, TOGETHER is my favourite place to be!

#SayYesToTheWorld ..Always!

Monday, October 8, 2018

Me so Lucky!

Not writing is not fun. It makes me a boring person whom I absolutely hate. Also, social media sucks. I spend so much time there that I forget to come here and do what I love most - write.

Now that there is a contest around the corner, my grey cells are twisting and turning in their grave. It is time to reincarnate them. You see, I work best when there is a prize involved.

A few days back some friends and their kids came home. When they were leaving, one of our friends seem to have lost his wallet. We searched each and every corner, checked the cars, looked at the reception, dug into the diaper bags(!), but there was no sight of the wallet.

My biggest worry was what if someone threw it in the garbage? I had already thrown the garbage down the chute.

Anyway, to make the atmosphere less stressful and add fun into the whole ordeal I declared that whoever finds the purse will get 30 USD from the owner. He was in such a panicky state that he agreed. After all, his identity card for his trip back home to Saudi Arabia was in it!

As I said, I work best when there is a prize involved. Within two minutes of declaring the prize, I found the wallet! It was hidden from the kids behind the mandir, probably by the guy himself when he was feeding his own child.

I won another prize in fluke by just participating in a silly Instagram contest. It has been the easiest 500 USD that I have earned. Did I say social media sucks - absolutely not.

Social media is what you make out of it. Some days you need an inspiration to lose weight - you check out before and after stories on Instagram. On other days, you might be feeling blue - click a selfie and fetch some compliments! Believe it or not, no matter how ugly you are, those who love you will call you beautiful.

Why and how I will never know!

Some call social media a place where people post only happy things while their life might be miserable. Yes, it is true that we post happy things because happiness is meant to be shared with the world and despair is meant to be shared with only those who will care about it. Trust me, when you share anything sad, most people are just looking for gossip or, the sadists that we are, looking for things that make our life look better.

Social media may suck if you spend too much time on it. It may suck when you unnecessarily stalk someone. It may suck when you get jealous. All these things can be controlled by a strong will and a happy attitude. Well, I've got it all, and I have won a prize as well, so you worry about yourself!

The biggest high in my life right now are not these lucky moments of glory, it is my newest physiotherapist. I have a tendency to be impressed with the new ones since I always get a fresh perspective. And so I gave this one a few sessions. After 24 sessions I still love her and look forward to going to the clinic every other day.

Will it help me in any way? - only time will tell that. As of now I am just happy to have found her. I am just happy that hope remains the single most important thing in my life. Struggles continue but I am grateful that God has always been kind and He continues to shower His blessings.

Like He will shower his wisdom on me and I will continue to write and win more prizes in the coming months!

*Note to self* WRITE MORE.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Movie Review: Veere di Wedding

When the trailer of Veere di Wedding came out, I immediately knew it was one to watch with my girl friends. With work, kids and home, these chickas have a tough time coming out of the house alone - but they managed and I am so glad.

In one word, we absolutely LOVED the movie!

From the first scene to the last, the movie had us hooked. Since I don't intend to give out the story, I will not write the narrative here. And since I am no expert on screenplay, editing, lyrics, dialogues - I will not write about that either.

But whatever all that means - I LOVED it!!

You see the movie has certain punches that make you roll on the floor. I don't care about girls saying the cuss-words, and frankly they don't make me laugh. I am so glad the movie was much more than that.

Veere di Wedding is about the modern Indian girl and all that goes in her mind. Yes, they could have gone to Goa instead of Phuket to make it more relatable to the middle-class us, but then how would they show us the amazing clothes and interiors that left us all drooling throughout.

There was never a dull moment in the movie, no melodrama, no putting the men down or anything - it was about human relationships and the women actually made us laugh throughout. SO rare in Indian cinema where men get all the humourous quotes.

As for female bonding - ah, there are so many scenes that made me wish I could go for a holiday with my girl friends. The bond we share as girls is incomparable and it is shown so beautifully in the film. Like they have a fight in one scene and they just go on a holiday in the next - no offense taken by any of them. They stand up for each other, pull each other's leg, share secrets, bitch about each other, fight and make up - all signs of incredible female bonding.

Yes, this is a chick film. But men may enjoy it as well. For a change they will get to see our side of the story. Go for it peeps, and see the likes of Kareena Kapoor, Sonam Kapoor, Swara Bhaskar and Shikha Tansania take you in the world of female friendship which is a laugh riot.

The Punjabi tadka in the movie is hilarious. And the songs - oh Tareefan and Bhangra Ta Sajda are just my favourite. There is another song - Pappi - the choreography for which is so funny!

There is one thing though which I did not like - they have given out almost all the punch lines in the trailer. That reduced the fun I had... anyway! I hope some people don't reject the movie just because the women in it are not typical of majority of us, or they abuse in the movie, or the movie reminds them of Sex and The City. I hope they take it as how it is - a fun film showing female bonding, strong women who can stand up for themselves and, just, cheap thrills!

Go watch it with your veeras.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Dual in One - Our Happily Ever After!

Dual hearts, one soul, drama non-stop - in a Selfie!

Once upon a time
Not in Riverdale
Archie met his Betty
To start a fairytale.

They chatted about the world
And had common dreams
Far from the usual
They loved the same themes.

Love blossomed 
They wanted to EXPERIENCE MORE
After they said "I do"
A beautiful life they began to EXPLORE.

If a picture could speak
This filmy one is the one
That defines their dreamy life
The drama, their love and the fun.

Once upon a time
Not in Riverdale,
Archie met his Betty 
And this is their fairytale…

The story behind this selfie? Let's go back in time to LEARN MORE!

Archie meets Betty

It was the night of April 13, 2003. I had given my second-year psychology paper in the afternoon and was feeling pretty good about it. My computer was on and the green flower of the ICQ messenger service icon was blinking on my status bar. Like a normal 20-year-old female in India, I was receiving several messages asking my ASL (Age-Sex-Location, duh!).

By now I had been using the Internet for about 3 years and could easily filter the jerks from those who had some potential. A window popped up that caught my attention:

archie29: Will you be my Veronica?

It was cheesy and cute at the same time. And since I had a nick name that was just as ‘interesting’, I decided to respond:

rhythmdivine: Nah, I am more the Betty types.

Those two lines were the beginning of a life-long romance. Several chats later photographs were exchanged. Though looks don’t matter, I was glad he didn’t look like a character from The Hulk and he was just happy that I was a girl.

You know, boys!

We lived some 1000 km apart and were both studying. There was no easy way for us to meet. On my first birthday as chat friends we wanted to CELEBRATE MORE, and so we both decided to buy a web camera. It was then we had our first picture together, a different kind of selfie experience!

Perfect Selfie? - well, the best was yet to come!

Chat friends in a Selfie

Boy meets Girl

To LEARN MORE about us, in October 2004, on his way to his brother's wedding, he decided to take a detour and hop on a train to my city - Lucknow. I was a nervous wreck, and he was a naive and geeky IITian who had no clue how to impress girls. 

Unslept, unshaven, he walked towards me. The first time our eyes met, I cannot say I was impressed!

The second day was better when he looked more human. Several hours of real-life chatting later, he left. Cupid had done its work, now it was upto destiny to decide our fate.

Six months later, he got admission in IIM Lucknow. He came again, only this time, we were not chat friends, but a real life couple. 

Our second picture together was in a Cyber Cafe from their webcam! We were trying to perfect the art of taking good pictures together!

Besties in a Selfie!

Boy dates Girl

Our dates were discreet and short. I come from a conservative family and seeing me with a boy was not my parent's favourite choice. We were extremely cautious and met only in locations which were far from my place. Also, we were both doing our MBA from different colleges and between our tight schedules, semester exams, project reports and assignments, there was little time to love. 

Needless to say, it was an awful lot of fun and an adventure in its own way. Thankfully free calling between two numbers was introduced and our tiny handsets helped us cruise smoothly. There was no selfie camera in our phones, so he bought a digital camera with his meager pocket money. 

The timer setting helped us click a few pictures, and this one remains my favourite. But did we want more? - You bet!

Lovers in a Selfie

Boy and Girl say "I do"

After 4.5 years of being best friends and then lovers, we decided that we needed to stay together. Although we were both starting our careers and had absolutely no money to start a household, we couldn't wait any longer to declare our love to the world. 

We told our families and after a few days of anxious moments, we got hitched! Again a mirror helped in giving us a different kind of selfie experience! Although I wish it had captured MORE!

Bahu in Selfie

Boy and Girl in a new country

He got a job in the island country of Bahrain and moved there. My dependent Visa took nearly four months - a phase which was more trying than any other time in our lives. It was like we were not meant to get married that soon. 

After several visits to the passport office, immigration departments in India and in Bahrain, hopping  between my house and my in-laws place, my Visa was stamped and I landed in the tiny island country to be reunited with my husband.

Our reunion was like none other and we spent the next few months exploring the new country and our new life.

We were free for the first time and could date without being scared of being caught by a family member! It was one of the best years of my life and this mirror selfie captures it beautifully. If this picture is not perfect, then what is? Well, wait for it!

Man and wife in a Selfie

Boy and Girl travel the world

After two years of making a little bit of money we wanted to ENJOY MORE and so, we set our foot outside Asia. We travelled to France and Switzerland, to Turkey and Greece, to USA and Jamaica, and several other countries. Since we are not tripod kind of people and almost never ask strangers for taking our pictures, we  hardly ever had pictures together before the time front camera finally arrived.

Our memories were etched in our minds, the unforgettable trips were marked in our hearts, and the few couple pictures that we had in our digital cameras, made for great mementos. 

In our nine years of travel, my favourite country is Czech Republic. This picture captures the fairytale that has been our life. But perfection needs more work!

Travellers in a Selfie

Boy and Girl bug each other

As you can see from these pictures, Archie has lost a fair amount of hair. I've got some grey hair as well although I still look like I did in 2004, like I always will!

We have our moments of annoying each other, some arguments here and there, and a fair share of khit-pit

In these moments, I can raise my voice but he cannot. That is just a rule in our house. So what does he do to show his frustration? To CREATE MORE drama, he enacts his inner feelings! Not to be a buzzkill or anything, these are definitely NOT my perfect selfies!

Buggers in a Selfie
Buggers in a Selfie

Boy and Girl click perfect pictures

In the fourteen years that we have known each other, we have several pictures together. If I try to remember, most pictures have a story behind it. There have been countless times when he won't take a perfect picture and I would scream at him. Sometimes he won't take the background properly, on other times he would miss my complete dress! We have had fights because he is so repulsive to capturing a moment perfectly. 

However, In this new era,  we did manage to have a favorite selfie. It was clicked in the parks of Amsterdam while I was loving every bit of this amazing city.

I feel that this picture defines our life - dreamy like a poem, dramatic like a film, and perfect like a fairlytale. It captures our love for travel, our crazy poses, the precious moments in the process. It smells like freshly watered grass and oozes of romance...Ah, to me it is just perfect.

Hero Heroine in a Selfie!

I am glad I was online that night. I am glad I responded to a random stranger. I am glad he found his Veronica in me. 'Cause we were meant to be... we are DUAL IN ONE!

Dual in one? The title of this post is inspired by the latest  Mobiistar phone  that has a  front, dual selfie camera which  can capture 120 degree wide angle shot. Just like we aim to EXPLORE MORE in life, the brand promises us to "Enjoy More" through the products functionality.  Now my favourte selfie can have more of the location it has been captured in, including my full dresses! I am also waiting to try the potrait mode in all its glory. All of this for budget conscious people like us.

We aim to create many more memories and experience more of this beautiful life. To RESTORE MORE of these moments, Mobiistar phone's camera sounds exactly what we need!

Monday, April 9, 2018

Caribbean Tales - 3 days in Antigua and Barbuda

We thought all Caribbean destinations looked the same - blue skies, white sand beaches, clear waters. Well, we couldn't have been more wrong. Apart from similar ports, each destination in our itinerary was different!

After a mellow St. Kitts, we landed in Antigua with Liat airlines. We were just grateful that our luggage had safely arrived, misinformation regarding time did not matter after the horrifying tales I had read online.

We chose to stay in Siboney Beach Club Hotel in Dickenson Bay since it suited our budget and looked like a perfect hotel to stay in. Apart from getting a crappy room, everything went perfect! Ha! We are positive people you see.

The beach was literally 10 steps from our room and it was indeed a white sand beach. Coconut Grove restaurant and Anna's on the Beach made the bay really pretty with their decor. The food at both places was yum, especially the seared Mahi Mahi in Coconut Grove.

It was a Sunday evening and I had read that if you are staying in town you must visit Shirley Heights for this night. The place was worth all the adulation it receives - great food, amazing DJ and Steel band, absolutely perfect casual setting, romantic under a moon-lit sky... my first amazing holiday moment had arrived.

The views of English Harbour from Shirley Heights. 

The moon-lit sky at Shirley Heights.

Now let me tell you about Antigua's biggest problem - this island is designed in such a way that there are absolutely no pavements for pedestrians. If you have to go from one place to the other, you have to call for a taxi. And these taxis ain't cheap! Our trip to Shirley heights and back cost us a bomb, but we were determined to go. We crossed a huge stretch of island before reaching our destination. Wood and Cinder block homes lined a few roads and as we passed St. Johns, the capital, we could see the Caribbean life up close. We would come here the next day - today it was about Shirley heights!

Our driver was an interesting man - with four marriages and eleven children, he had his hands full! He waited for us while we hung out, danced and ate to take us back at 10 p.m., when the venue closes.

The next day we took a dip in the very tempting ocean. A pre-wedding video shoot was going on that made the destination look more picturesque. Although I must tell you, Dickenson Bay only had cruise ship passengers who were mostly in their sixties or above. This place didn't look like it was for the younger generation. I wondered where the Shirley Heights crowd went!

After posing in the great outdoors myself, we ate at Anna's on the Beach. This restaurant had a
dreamy setting and a small, but delicious menu. Post a hearty meal, we left to see the port area in St. Johns.

Now this is one area that we liked more in St. Kitts. Basseterre was lively, while St. Johns was tiny and underwhelming. Maybe because Antigua had other things to do, cruise passengers did not stay in this area for long. The by-lanes in St. Kitts had much more to offer than Antigua.

We came back quite early in the evening and thought of going to a restaurant mid-way. But like I told you, getting from point A to point B was a big concern and so we decided to eat at Dickenson Bay.

Even there, walking 200 meters from our hotel was not easy. At night the area was poorly lit and had uneven ground. We wanted a change in dinner menu and so ended up at Putters Bar and Grill. Thank God for a time-share accommodation in the area - otherwise I can't imagine how deserted the entire place would have been at night!

Our third day was spent exploring the entire island. Antigua has a mixed economy - from filthy rich to extremely poor - you can see it all on the way. Most hotels are all-inclusive giving no chance for the restaurant business to boom. The dark history of sugar plantations and slavery is evident in various parts of the island. Tourism is island's prime source of income and a large amount of money flows in from American and European clientèle.

The famous Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Stadium that we saw from a distance

We went to the second most famous beach - Jolly Beach and Harbour. Even with hundreds of visitors, this beach was picture perfect. We had an Indian meal at Castaways and enjoyed our time here. We like places with a bit of a crowd and a good scenery, this was ideal. I could clearly see shady activities going on in the area when a man came and congratulated my husband on having a very beautiful wife! Yes, he wanted to sell us something that we won't smoke - at least not in the Caribbean!

Nelson's Dockyard was again a postcard-worthy place. In another era, the yard served as a naval base to protect British West Indies from French incursions. Now it looked like a picturesque place to sit back and drink nice cocktails! We barely spent any time here and thought of going back to our favourite Dickenson Bay. Devils bridge and Betty's hope were on other side of the island, and we had run out of cash for taxi fare!

Antigua's roads are fairly easy to drive but we prefer to play it safe. We do have a hefty amount to pay for commute, but that's our contribution to their economy!

We walked back and forth on our beach, took in as many romantic moments as we could, loved the sound of the sea and totally relished each moment. We were perfecting the art of a perfect holiday - Eat, Drink, Beach and Chill. The three days were filled with moderate activity and were good fun. A beach destination is meant to relax anyway, and relax we did. And if I had to do it again, I will stay at the same place and do the same things. Only this time, I wouldn't take the hotel's lowest category room!

It was our 9th wedding anniversary on the day we travelled from Antigua to Jamaica, an island I was most looking forward to visit...

Previous Post: St. Kitts & Nevis

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Oh! Darling.. #SayYesToTheWorld

Me: Mum, he doesn't buy me any presents.
Mum: He is showing you the world, what else can you ask for?
Me: Hmm! Indian mother-in-law.

Did she read Alice in Wonderland though?

To be frank, I did not love the world. I was afraid of unknown places, people from different races, losing my belongings, getting robbed, feeling extremely anxious before taking flights,  - yes, paranoid to be exact. I lived in one city for 26 years of my life, travelled only to the hill station next door and went to nani's house once every couple of years. Living out of a suitcase? - never did, never thought I ever would.

And then I married him. When I said 'I do', I didn't realise I was saying yes to a life full of adventures. He did not promise me the world, yet he took me everywhere. Without even realising I fell in love again, only this time it was with the world and the man who was my partner in all my journeys.

Our first trip outside Asia was into Switzerland. Apart from breath-taking Alps, I witnessed a life changing phenomenon. A couple in their seventies lived in the room next to ours. One look at them and I thought how cool is their retired life. They have come here to sit back, relax and soak in the nature.

The next day we met them on a hiking trail in their crisp white pants walking briskly past us. The lady climbed the hills like a swift animal and had the brightest radiance on her skin. Sit back and relax? - the Gen X oldies were fitter than their younger counterparts!

After I came back, I made sure I exercised every single day. I had found my deepest travel inspiration – I wanted to be strong and fit even when I was seventy so that I could be like them. 

Every year when we took that annual holiday, I saw more of them. I saw them walk past me because they were sturdier. In Greece, I saw a bunch of women in their seventies riding the toy train and laughing uncontrollably – I sent the 2050 plan to my gal pals. I saw them relishing the beauty of nature much more than me because they were wiser. Frankly, each one of them influenced me. I came back after every holiday stronger in my resolute to stay fit and travel the world as I grew older.

But that is not all that the last 25 countries have taught me.

I was on a train once, crossing a city in central Europe. We were late to board and there were hardly any seats available. I walked from cabin to cabin only to find one vacant seat next to a girl who was probably twenty years old. I asked her if I could sit - she refused rather rudely.

I felt racially discriminated. If that was not enough, she gave the seat to another white girl just fifteen minutes later in the ride! On deeper thought I remembered how we differentiate between fair and dark-skinned people in our own country. We have always been critical of racism towards us even though we are inherently racist ourselves.

Honestly, I was one of them. I liked anyone with a fair skin (except that girl on the train!) and was vary of those who were not of my favourite colour. I was shallow and I knew it. I blamed it on my upbringing, but I realised that after a certain age, it was up to me to change my views. I felt ashamed that even though I was well-read, wise for my age, and more sensitive than most of the people around me, I treated people differently – at least in my head.

All that changed after my trip to the Caribbean islands. On my visit to Jamaica I felt that African-American community was the sweetest in the world. I have never felt so welcomed in any country like how I did in the land of Bob Marley. They were kind, sweet and so helpful. I loved their enthusiasm in life and how they talked. I tried to imitate them, walk like them, basically be cool like them! If you want to learn how to live your life – those are the people you should look up to.

Honest confession – I even had a tiny crush on a guide for like an hour! I was surprised at myself for feeling that way. I was even relieved that now I was where I wanted to be. I wish that girl on the train travelled the world so she could see the beauty in its people. I love the world for making me the person I have become. I owe it big time!

I also owe my confidence to this sweet world. One day I was Googl'ing my way into the world when I got a ping. It was from a person I barely spoke to but was connected on social media. To my surprise she asked me details about a destination I had been to a few months back.

I asked her about her preferences and helped her make a detailed itinerary for the same country. She was the first of many more who got in touch with me later...

You see, I am a housewife. People of the world look down upon the likes of me. Having no kids doesn't make the picture look any prettier. Travelling changed that for me. Since the husband's only contribution to our travels is his awesome wit and a half-loaded credit card, I know my places to the T. I choose our destinations, book our tickets, reserve hotels, make itineraries, pack our bags, be a pain in the back-side when we are on a vacation, etc.

That gives me an edge over other women who book through travel agents or leave everything to the man of the house. I don't know why I started it, but I post detailed albums on social networking sites. I do it as a hobby, but you won't believe the kind of confidence people around me have shown in my abilities as a pseudo travel agent.

A few chats with my free-loader clients a.k.a friends/cousins

After posting a few albums, I started getting messages from people I barely spoke to for help regarding their travel plans. I helped a cousin plan his entire Europe trip, I assisted a new mom in deciding a relaxed vacation with her three children, I managed to find a fun birthday celebrations venue for a group of friends... the list is endless. 

Imagine my happiness when someone told me that before planning a vacation they look at my albums for help. There are times when I have to turn down requests because I have not been to a particular location! I tell them I haven't been everywhere, but it is on my list!

Do I love the world now? YESSSSS!!! It has given me everything I never thought I wanted yet it was everything I ever needed. Life is all about happiness, oozing with confidence, being loving towards one another, staying healthy - travel has given me all that and so much more.

Travel has given me dreams. I stay healthy for those dreams. I save every penny I can to fulfill those dreams. I tell everyone around me - divide your earnings in three parts - one, for necessities; two, save as much as you can for old age; then use the rest to travel beyond your city. There is no better gift you can give yourself.

Needless to say, I can't believe I agree with my mom. He did give me the best gift. And the adventure continues..