Sure Cure to Fatty Liver & Acid Reflux – Reiki , Physical training , Yoga + DIET

17 May

Fatty Liver, Acid Reflux  and Low Vitamin D are some of the most common ailments that Indians suffer from, given our lifestyle and diet. But in most cases, its never considered serious enough to be treated.

Its been a struggle for over 10 years. Around 2005 I used to always feel tired, sluggish and sleepy. I was gaining weight. Frequent early morning flights, eating out regularly, late night dinners, oily food, the occasional drink, no time for exercise and a lot of stress at work  – all this formed the perfect recipe for Fatty Liver & Acid Reflux.

Soon, the ailment became more aggressive and the symptoms more severe – I used to feel feverish and have a sore throat. Thinking it to be a light viral attack I self medicated myself with Crocin / Tylenol and in some cases even antibiotics – but the fever persisted before dying out after a week or two. I hate going to a doctor and never visited one for a few years – thinking these were basic day to day ailments. On the advice of a friend I finally visited a GP who immediately asked me to get a Liver Scan done – and diagnosed it as Level 3 Fatty Liver. What this means was that at age 39 I had the Liver of a 58 year old. Now, I panicked.

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Fatty Liver is caused by the poor lifestyle choices mentioned above coupled with bad genes ( The Punjabis are lucky ) and as such, has no cure. The liver stores some fat, but greater than 10 percent is considered abnormal. Too much fat might cause inflammation and liver malfunction.

Acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease is extremely common. This is caused by stomach acid backing up to the throat causing coughing and sore throat. If left untreated, it can even result in throat cancer.

Though there is no direct linkage between Fatty Liver & Acid Reflux – I was clearly facing both these problems. Unfortunately, as mentioned above, fatty liver has no fixed cure. It can, however, be reversed   with regular exercise, a controlled diet and total prohibition from Alcohol. You need to sweat, lose weight and eat very light meals ( more on this later).

For 7 – 8 years I tried this, Rantac before meals, Gym whenever possible, a combination of Yoga and meditation , and a bottle of Liv 52 always by my side – a tight control worked , but on the days you erred a bit – an early morning flight , Flight food, The occasional indulgence with Aloo Paratha or Luchi Aloo Dum and a glass of Vodka after a stressful day at work was all that was needed to awaken the dormant Acid Reflux – and then it was 10 days of trauma, sometimes so acute that I used to throw up at night just to get relief. The best way to treat a attack is to eat very light , lots of Ginger , Buttermilk , Sugar Cane juice , fresh fruits , food with very less salt – think you have a light attack of Jaundice and treat yourself accordingly.

This is when a good friend of mine advised me to do a few yoga poses. My visit to Shreyas and the Yoga Teacher there added a few more asanas. Basically any twisting pose is great for the Liver , hold the pose for 5 – 6 breaths so that the effect reaches beyond the muscle to the glands. (Consult with a good Yoga Teacher ,  any Yoga posture that pumps or  squeezes the stomach like Kapalbhati is avoided)

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This helped and that’s when I got introduced to Reiki.

Reiki is a spiritual healing art with its roots in Japanese origin. The word Reiki comes from the Japanese word (Rei) which means “Universal Life” and (Ki) which means “Energy”. Reiki is not affiliated with any particular religion or religious practice. It is neither a massage nor is it based on belief or suggestion. It is a subtle and effective form of energywork using spiritually guided life force energy. Reiki is the life energy that flows through all living things. Reiki practitioners understand that everyone has the ability to connect with their own healing energy and use it to strengthen energy in themselves and help others. It is believed that a person’s “ki” or “energy”, should be strong and free flowing. When this is true, a person’s body and mind is in a positive state of health. When the energy becomes weak or blocked it could lead to symptoms of physical or emotional imbalance.

Reiki is akin to “Prana” and a Reiki healer acts as a conductor of universal energy helping you to generate energy balance.

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I was lucky to have the experience of Radhika a divine Reiki healer – when she was conducting the healing sessions in a serene setting with lighted candles and soothing music, I could feel the energy pulse through each and every inch in my body. Three direct and a few remote session created miracles – and I could see my fatty liver and Acid Reflux problem almost becoming non existent.

Add to this I enrolled with Sonali a world champion Physical Trainer and the 1 hr of vigorous physical activity she drills me to do every second morning added to solving the problem. The sheer variety of activities she makes you go through each day is fascinating.

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Dr Jha a naturopath ( http://www.totalphysiocare.com) helped with his own useful advise – after checking for energy balance he was quickly able to identify my Fatty Liver problem without me even telling him. A few beads taped in some nerve endings on the hand immediately brings relief –  he also suggested a few simple things to do daily – I have been following this regularly

  • A glass of diluted cold milk in the morning when you wake up ( I add a spoon of ice cream to make the taste better)
  • Rice soaked in water previous night to be eaten with Curd and green cooked papaya
  • Pineapple slices soaked in honey in the evening before dinner
  • One Tender Coconut every day (Its alkaline – so solves for the acidity very affectively)

All these wonderful people with their helpful advise and professional expertise almost cured my Fatty Liver & Acid Reflux problem, I can see the change at the cellular level. Now the occasional drink or oily food does not affect me – life goes on. I guess the fat in the Liver is melting away.

A few more tips if you have Fatty Liver & Acid Reflux 

  • Don’t drink water while eating food – or 30 min before or after
  • A diet that has a lot of fresh leafy green vegetables , walnuts , avocados, Apple , Lemons & Lime + Green tea – are all great for Fatty Liver reversal
  • Leaves of Drumstick cooked with Adai or mashed up boiled is strongly recommended
  • After every meal sit in Vajrasan for a few minutes
  • Finish your dinner by 7 PM
  • Get at least 7 hrs of restful sleep
  • If you can’t make it to the Gym or for PT – walk briskly for an hr every day ( Don’t walk after dinner)
  • Try Kunjal Kriya ( Water cleansing of the stomach) – I haven’t but a friend swears by it – again needs the guidance of a good Yoga Teacher
  • In the initial stage you may need a special inclined mat in your bed – as the Acid Reflux may cause severe coughing at night.

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And finally don’t go to a doctor – medicines are drugs , they don’t solve the problem at the root. They just get you addicted to the medicines without which you cannot sustain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Singapore & Bali in 8 days

26 Apr

SE Asia is a travellers paradise – nature has showered its goodness on the region, its reasonably economical and everything works with clockwork precision.

Singapore is normally the 1st international destination for most Indians. Then they graduate to Bangkok, KL, Phuket, Krabi, Langkawi, …… we did all of this and it was now time for Glorious Bali.

Unfortunately there is no direct flight from Bangalore to Bali, so we planned a trip Via Singapore (3 nights at Singapore & 5 nights at Bali). We have been to Singapore many times – but the city always beckons – Singapore can  be described in a few words – small, efficient , safe & a perfect place for a family holiday.

You can spend a relaxed week at Singapore that includes a few days at Sentosa –  in the 3 days that we had we wanted to focus on the the new attractions – sights we had not been to before – Universal studio, Gardens by the Bay & the fascinating Art & Science museum – and with children a trip to the Singapore Zoo & Jurong Bird Park is a must. (Other attractions include Night Safari, Duck Boat, Little India & Chinatown, The Science Centre, The Red Dot Museum, A walk by the marina bay and the Merlon & the underwater park in Sentosa are worth a visit.

Gardens by the bay was the highlight of the visit – two giant air conditioned  indoor canopies that house a world of greenery. We were lucky to see the Tulips in full bloom and it was a riot of colours.

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The recently opened Arts & Science museum is also fascinating –  a 1500-square-metre digital universe, where 15 spectacular art installations are brought to life and evolve in real-time through visitor presence and participation.

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Universal Stuido is a key attraction for the kids – it has the following 7 theme parks – New York, Sci – Fi City, Ancient Egypt, Madagascar, Far Far Away, Water World and the Lost World.

I felt that the clock had not moved since 1999 when I first visited at LA. Its the same set of rides and shows – hardly any evolution. You can spend a day if you want to visit every ride – but we were there by 930 and left by 3. (The fast track tickets helped us beat the Q). The scariest ride here is the Battlestar Galactica – it can really shake you up

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We also managed to walk down Clark Quay and have dinner with some friends – the Quay is the party zone area – we left by 10 PM but this is where you can party till early morning

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We stayed at the Grand Hyatt at Scotts Road / Orchard intersection – very centrally located. Distances in Singapore are 10 – 15 min by car to almost all attractions – the Bird park is located farthest ( 30 min drive) – but is soon expected to move next to the Zoo

Other Basis Information 

  • Silk Air has a convenient morn 950 AM flight from Bangalore that lands Singapore at 430 PM
  • 1 Sing $ ~ INR 50
  • Cab Fares vary from $ 10 – $20 ( Airport to Hotel ~ $20)
  • Indian Food – not a problem – head to Little India
  • Tickets for the attractions cost from $25 – $50 / person , book online in advance you save money and avoid the Q

2nd Leg of our  tour : Enchanting Bali

On day 3 we took the 630 PM evening flight from Singapore to Bali – its a 2 hrs 30 min flight , and landed at 9.50 PM. You don’t need Visa at Bali and your passport is your entry – you can zip past immigration in 10 min and reach your hotel in 25 – 30 min. The airport is at Denpasar, located in the south of the island.

Bali is Not a City . Its a province of Indonesia which is located between the islands of Java and Lombok island, Bali island is also commonly referred to as The Island Of Thousands Temples, The Island of Gods, and Bali Dwipa, Bali also has several small islands including the island of Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan Island, Nusa Ceningan island, Serangan Island and Menjangan Island. Its a bit like Goa and distances between tourist attractions can be as far as 2 – 3 hrs.

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Background on Bali & Indonesia

Indonesia is an Archipelago with over 2000 islands of which less than 50 are populated. It was a Hindu & Buddhist country in the 600 – 1200 period before the conversion to a Muslim state started happening. It was colonised by the Dutch for ~ 250 years and was under Japanese control for a few years during the 2nd world war. Indonesia is the worlds largest Muslim country. They share the same language and script with the Malaysians.

Bali has strong Hindu roots – Mythology says that the great Sage Agastya is supposed to have travelled to Bali & Java to spread Hinduism 10 – 15,000 years back. 90% of Bali is still Hindu and the area is dotted with thousands of temples. Shiva , Vishnu & Uma are the main deities – and  a lot of what they do is linked to the Ramayana and Mahabharata, but the festivals they celebrate are different from those in India. Would be wonderful to do a research on how Hinduism spread & flourished in  Cambodia , Vietnam , & Malaysia thousands of years back.

(More info on bali here : http://www.baliglory.com/2012/10/bali-history-about-island-god.html)

We stayed at the Grand Hyatt Resorts at Nusa Dua which is at the Southern part of Bali. Within Nusa Dua there is a gated enclave designed like a park that houses most of the large resorts – Westin , Hilton , Hyatt etc.

The Grand Hyatt is a sprawling 650 room beach front property with rooms and villas. It is an oasis of peace and tranquility. Quality of rooms and service was excellent. Rates are comparable to the 5 Star rates in India.

Bali has a sense of energy balance – the place is blessed , you can feel the vibes. The people are calm and relaxed (not restless like in India) , soft spoken and seem to be at peace with themselves. there is a sense of contentment and joy and it was wonderful to soak in this environment for 5 nights.

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Tourists come to Bali and spend weeks and months – but if you have 4 days here is a itinerary to follow

Day – 1 : City Tour  9 AM to 6 PM

  • The Goa Gajah or the elephant cave
  • Artisans Village
  • Plantation walk
  • A Visit to a Mount Agung – A live Volcano that last erupted in 1996 (View it from a  Distance – Trek takes 1/2 a day)
  • Shopping at Ubud (Lunch at an Indian Restaurant – Queens)
  • Monkey Forest

A temple supposedly built by sage Agastya – it was excavated recently. 

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Mount Agung – one of the active volcanoes in Malaysia

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An organic farm that grows Cocoa, Coffee , Spices – they served us a tray of over 5 different types of coffee .

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Day – 2 : City Tour 9 AM to 7 PM

  • Butterfly park
  • Jatiluwih Rice Terraces (UNESCO World Heritage site) *
  • Hot Spring
  • Floating temple (Pura Ulun Danu Bratan)
  • Tanah Lot – Sunset
  • The other 2 UNESCO World Heritage sites in Bali are the Pakerisan Valley & the Taman Ayun temple ( We did not have the time to visit these beautiful places)

A 2 hr drive from Nusa Dua our first stop on day 2 was a small but pretty butterfly park.

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The Jatiluwih rice terraces are located in a hilly part of Bali – the weather is cool and pleasant and it feels like a hill station. The undulating greenery is soothing to the eyes. Spend some time here and take a relaxed walk by the rice fields and be with nature – its calming & serene. Not very crowded as getting here takes almost 3 hrs.

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Pura Ulun Danu Bratan, or Pura Bratan, is a major Shivaite and water temple  The temple complex is located on the shores of Lake Bratan in the mountains near Bedugul.

Built in 1663, this temple is used for offerings ceremony to the Balinese water, lake and river goddess Dewi Danu, due to the importance of Lake Bratan as a main source of irrigation in central Bali. The 11 stories of pelinggih meru dedicated for Shiva and his consort Parvathi. Buddha statue is also present inside this temple.

Lake Bratan is known as the Lake of Holy Mountain due to the fertility of this area. Located 1200 m above sea level, it has a cold tropical climate.

Its a beautiful temple with landscaped gardens and a large lake – we reached here in the evening around 4 PM and it was a wonderful sight.

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The Tanah Lot temple is best visited at sunset or sunrise. It was built and has been a part of Balinese mythology for centuries. The temple is one of seven sea temples around the Balinese coast. Each of the sea temples was established within eyesight of the next to form a chain along the south-western coast. This temple reminded me of the Shore temple at Mahabalipuram and the fact that maybe the Pallavas or their descendants had some influence in the design and construction of these temples at Bali.

In addition to Balinese mythology, the temple was significantly influenced by Hinduism. At the base of the rocky island, venomous sea snakes are believed to guard the temple from evil spirits and intruders. The temple is purportedly protected by a giant snake, the temple complex has a snake park.

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The Bali temples are well marketed but are no comparison in size, stature and design to what we see in S India.

Day 2 was a long trip and we were back only by 730 PM

Day – 3 : At the Resort , Shopping and the Devdan Show

With 5 pools, 5 restaurant , amazing green landscape and a great beach we had to spend one day at the Grand Hyatt Resort and most of day 3 was spent there.

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Right next to the Resort is a beautiful mall called the Bali Place where we stopped by for some shopping and late lunch and in the evening visited the spectacular Devdan show.

This is a live 2 hr show ( like a Las vegas show) with light & sound effects that presents the different art and cultural treasures of the Indonesia archipelago. A well choreographed program it was indeed a sight to watch. ( Tickets are expensive ~ 80$ / person)

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We ended the day with dinner at an Indian restaurant and felt like a millionaire as the bill was 1 M Indonesian Rupiah. ( that is about $ 70 or Rs 5000)

Day – 4 : Cruise to Lembogan island and water sports 

The last day was a cruise to the Lembogan Island – this is about 1 hr from the Nusa Dua harbour. You spend the day here – its a picnic, you leave the resort at 7.45 AM and are back by 5 PM  . Activities include snorkelling, diving, Aquanauts, kayaking & banana boat. The package includes vegetarian lunch (and we were pleasantly surprised to get good vegetarian food)

The girls were brave enough to go diving while we experimented with Aquanauts. This is the easy way to go to the seabed (10 metres) as you get down with oxygen masks to see the flare and fauna below. Kids above 9 are allowed.

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That brought us to our last supper and the chef was kind enough to prepare a meal of paratha , dal and curry for us ( Food at Bali & the Hyatt is a bit challenging for vegetarians and the Balinese dishes are not as nice as the Thai ones – during the trip we were mainly on Pasta / Pizza )

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That brought us to the end of a lovely 8 day trip. I am thankful to the weather gods and all the people who helped in making the trip successful – the travel agents in India , the tour operators in Bali (Bali Hai Cruises who managed all the bookings for us msuwitra@yahoo.com), my brother who helped us in Singapore , the friendly tourist guide Karma in Bali, the staff at The Grand Hyatt at Singapore & Bali , the kids who were wonderful all thru the trip, for SQ that took off and landed on time , to the immigration officials where the lines were zipping and our friends from Mantri – it really helps to go on a holiday as two families – its a lot more fun.

A big Thank You to all for a memorable trip.

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PS : Additional contact for car booking – we did not use this since we were a group of 8 and had booked a van – but was strongly recommended by our friends for a family of 4 : Driver Name Abbe +62 878 60570999

 

PIO to OCI @ Bangalore FRRO

23 Feb

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This morning I submitted my daughters application to convert her PIO to an OCI. Lots of learning in the process – which I felt may be of use to others – listing the same below.

  1. You need to log in and complete your application in the online portal https://passport.gov.in/oci. Information that you will need to fill the Online Application – a) Passport & PIO card Details b) Aadhar card c) Body Identification Mark d) PP Photo & Scan copy of Signature as explained in point 2 & 3
  2. You will need to upload a PP Photo but there may be no specifications in the portal – Please have a Square Photograph not less than 51 by 51 mm with 80% face coverage with plain light colour background – not white – without the border with front view of persons head & shoulder showing full face in middle of photograph. While uploading the photo there is no mention of specification – but after you have completed and printed it out there is a space to paste a PP photo – and that has the specifications listed above. Now you could have a situation where the uploaded photo does not match the one you are pasting – and this could cause rejection.
  3. Filling the Online form could take about an hr – the tough part is scanning the PP Photo and the Signature in a certain format  a) Both images must be in jpeg or jpg format, with max size 200kb  b) The Min dimensions are 200 Pixels(W) X 200 Pixels (H) for the Photo and Max Dimensions are 900 Pixels(W) X 900 Pixels (H)  C) For the scan signature the Min dimensions are 200 Pixels(W) X 67 Pixels (H)  and Max Dimensions are 900 Pixels(W) X 300 Pixels (H)Once you have completed this take two print outs – the printout will state that all you need to attach are copies of the PIO & Passport – but beware you need many more documents to be  submitted.
  4. The FRRO office is located at TTMC A Block , 5th Floor , BMTC Bus Stand  Building, Shantinagar – Bangalore – 27 (Located at the Rear of the Bus Stand)
  5. The FRRO office is clean & well organised – starts at 930 AM – but they allow you to enter at 9 AM – Open only from Mon – Fri , 930 – 530 PM (Closed on Sat) – No Brokers
  6. Most people walk in with the printed form and a copy of the Passport & PIO – and they are sent back – so to save time and get the job done in 1 visit here are the set of  documents you need to carry
    • Copy of Applicants passport & PIO card – self attested – 2 sets , Take both front and back pages

    • Copy of Parents Passport – front & back pages

    • Address proof – Recent Gas / Electricity bill

    • Birth certificate of applicant – Copy self attested + Original

    • Aadhar Card Copy self attested + carry original

    • Parents Aadhar Card copy self attested + carry original

    • Good to have DL / Pan card of parents Copy self attested + Original

    • Have the address of your last Res abroad handy – you will be asked to write that in the form at the end

    • Keep extra copies of the PP Photos that you have pasted in the form ( keep a glue stick also) 

With all this you may still run into problems – some examples

  • The address has changed from your old PIO card – that will mean police verification
  • Your PIO card was issued in another City
  • The Passport Number endorsed on your PIO car is different from the current passport
  • Solving this will need the help of the Staff at the FRRO office and could delay the process 

If you sail through – you will get an acknowledgement – and I was told it takes 45 – 60 days for the OCI card to be ready. It will not be mailed out and one needs to go back to the FRRO office to collect it. In the interim if you need to travel abroad – the existing PIO card with the original acknowledgement should suffice.

Two More Points 

  1. No fees are charged – This could be till March 30th 2016 only
  2. Applicant need not attend – parent can carry all the documents
  3. Last Date was recently extended from March 30, 2016 to June 30 2016 – http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/conversion-of-pio-cards-last-date-for-application-extended-till-june-30/articleshow/51143520.cms

All the best.

 

 

Offbeat Resorts in India – Been there + Got to get there soon List

24 Jan

I enjoy travelling – and a lot of people keep asking me on good places to go to. I have compiled a list of these places and will keep adding to this as and when I spot something unique.

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Places I have visited in the last few years

16

 

Others in my list

North 

6

 

East 

  • Sikkim Village Walks
  • Glen burn Tea Estate Darjeeling
  • Mayfair Palm Beach – Bhubaneswar

1

West

  • Machan – Lonawala
  • Hidden Village – Shahpur
  • Ahilya Fort – MP
  • Nilaya Hermitage – Goa
  • Swaswara Gokarna (Outstanding)

 

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South

  • Wild Planet Jungle Resort http://wildplanetresort.com/index.php/how-to-reach/
  • Orange County – Kabini
  • Kumarakom lake resort – http://www.kumarakomlakeresort.in
  • Spectre Resorts – Munnar http://spicetreemunnar.com
  • Briar Tea Bungalows – http://teabungalows.com/talayar-valley-bungalow-munnar/
  • Niraamaya – Cardamom Club, Thekkady, http://www.niraamaya.in/thekkady.html
  • Malabar House – Fort Kochi
  • Niraamaya Retreats Backwaters & Beyond, Kumarakom, http://www.niraamaya.in/Kumarakom.html
  • Yacht @ Goa – http://www.niraamaya.in/foxy-lady.html
  • Aanavilasam , Luxury Plantation House Thekaddy – http://www.aanavilasam.com
  • Paradise Plantation – http://www.paradisaretreat.com
  • Windermere Estate Munnar – http://windermeremunnar.com
  • Turtle Bay Beach Resort – Marvanthe
  • Meriyanda Nature Lodge Coorg – http://www.meriyanda.com
  • Fishermans Cove Chennai

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A few Good websites 

Niraamaya Resorts – A Hidden Jewel in Kovalam (Near Trivandrum)

20 Oct

ll Sarve Bhavatu Sukhina
Sarve Santu Niraamaya
Sarve Bhadrani Pashyantu
Ma Kaschit Dukhabhagbhaved ll

means …. let all be happy, let all be healthy, let all be safe, let the sorrow not come in the life…

Thats a good summary of what the Niraamaya Resort at Kovalam promises and delivers. Great things don’t need marketing – Niraamaya conceptualised and designed by a German doctor has been around for 20+ years mainly catering to European clientele. Recently (6 years back) it was acquired by Jupiter Investments (Rajeev Chandrasekaran) – and it was purely by chance that I came to know of it while at Shreyas glancing at the exclusive list of Relais & Chateau properties in india. The minutes I saw their website I knew I had to visit this place. Its old construction but constant renovation makes it look new.

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A Relais & Châteaux property (and there are a handful of them in India) Niraamaya Surya Samudra is a enchanting property on a cliff side with a spectacular view of the Arabian sea. What makes it unique are its two pristine beach fronts that are secluded and as good as private. its serene, calm and has great energy balance.

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The property boasts of 33 rooms & villas spread over ~ 12 acres of lush greenery. 13 Rock garden rooms (Set amidst greenery – no Sea View, but you can hear the rumbling sea) and 20 sea facing Villas in varying shapes and sizes (Heritage Classic, Banyan Tree Bungalow, Heritage Premium , Octagonal Presidential Suite) with rates varying from Rs 12,500 – Rs 30,000 / night. Rooms are perfect for 2 adults and a child and the rates are inclusive of Breakfast , Wi Fi, airport pick up & drop. (Rates are dynamic and tend to get higher in peak season). Well landscaped gardens, nice manicured coblestone walkways, rustic statues and figurines, hammocks swaying in the breeze, coconut tree – it feels heavenly and you can see the eye for detail in every small thing

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Picture taken at 6 AM – at sunrise

You can start your day with Yoga , feeling the breeze and hearing the thundering waves – its a wonderful experience. Niraamaya is not a Yoga retreat like Ananda / Shreyas – they do have 30 min group classes in the evening at 5.30 PM , but most sessions are 1 : 1 paid basis appointments.

The Spa infrastructure is outstanding and was recently rated the best in the country. They offer a wide variety of treatments – a 90 min session with well trained therapists and a wow ambience can cost you ~ Rs 5000. I liked the total package – the massage was good but not the best I have had.

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The property has a main restaurant, a speciality restaurant and a small bar – all overlook the sea. the quality of food is diverse – Indian, Continental, Kerala specialities. (We are Veg – but I am told that Sea Food is their speciality) The staff are wonderful, the food quality is excellent, service is fast and the rates are reasonable (Family of 4 veg dinner ~ Rs 2500) – the highlight is the level of customisation that they are always ready to do. The people who run the restaurant come with great pedigree – the manager comes with experience in Oberoi & ITC while the Chef has international experience from Miami and has recently authored a culinary book. (The Restaurant is open air, no AC and I wonder how they will accommodate people if they are sold out, also they need to combine their multiple menu’s into one booklet – too many sheets of paper to shuffle)

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Some of the rare herbs for cooking come from the Organic garden – its small but does have a nice collection of Organic plants. walking in its midst you can breathe health and vitality – and I always took the extra 100 m to walk past the Organic garden to reach my room.

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Every evening there is a wonderful cultural program at the restaurant from 730 – 830 PM. we were entrained to some wonderful Kuchipudi, Veena, Flute  and Kathakali performance during our stay.

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A small but efficient Gym, a lovely pool (quiet deep, as it is made from a scooped out rock) and a small conference room that can cater to 20 people are the other amenities in the resort. Rooms are large and come with a TV/ Cable Connection. Wi Fi is free across the property but is patchy , so is the phone signal – which is good. They have room service from 7 AM. (Only challenge with the room we were in  – The cane Sofa is not comfortable and the Mattress / Bed is not Ortho – so a bit challenging for a restful sleep)

With all this in the resort you would not want to step out – but if you do you have a few options

The famous Padmanabha Swami temple dedicated to lord Vishnu is 30 min away – they have strict dress codes , its supposedly the richest temple in the world now, don’t expect much on Spirituality, but yes a strong dose of Traditional Beliefs – the temple is well laid out and is not as crowded as Guruvayur or Tirupathi.

There are a few other temples worth visiting including one dedicated to Parashurama (Mythology says that Kerala was created from Parashurama’s axe) and a temple of a 100 Ganeshas that is run by the Indian Army. Poovar is close by – 20 min drive and thats where you can take a boat ride in the backwaters. On your boat ride you can spot a fruit that looks exactly like a Mango – its called Mangova, a highly poisonous fruit – one fruit can spell the death knell for a 100 people.

IMG_6965Close to Poovar is a Elephant Riding / bathing spot. Kovalam is also a stones throw away – but with the beach at the resort you don’t want to visit a public beach. I am told that a few nurseries / Orchid gardens are also close by. (Mon is a holiday in Kerala – so please plan your holiday accordingly)

Trivandrum is a small well maintained green city, the airport is efficient and the streets and roads are in great shape. Not much to see in the city barring a visit to the small museum and the zoo if one is inclined.

Kanyakumari is only 80 km away –  it is a one track road and took us nearly 2 hrs (we started at 7 AM). You can cover by 4 PM the famous Suchindram temple, Vivekananda Rock and the Kanyakumari temple and the Travancore Kings palace and be back in Trivandrum by 430 PM.

The Suchindram temple is unique in the whole of India in that it is dedicated to three different deities represented by one image in the sanctum and is called Sthanumalayan (Sthanu-Shiva; Maal-Vishnu and Ayan-Brahma) kovil. The temple is rich in sculpture and architecture and a visitor to this temple is amply rewarded with the sight of such exquisite art of hundreds of years old. Fortunately the temples were not crowded and we got excellent darshan in a few minutes.

Vivekananda Rock – the spot where Swami Vivekananda meditated in what he called ” the last bit of Indian rock” for 3 days – the monument is well maintained and its a short 10 min boat ride. Regular tickets are Rs 34 but VIP tickets at Rs 169 gets you fast access to the boat ride.

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The Padmanabha Palace of the Travancore Maharaja is in TN but maintained by the Kerala Government. Its one of the largest wooden palaces in the world and is well maintained. Palace + antique museum budget for 45 min.

Given that Trivandrum is just a 1 hr flight from Bangalore – would strongly recommend this trip. Indigo has a 9 AM flight that gets you into the resort by 11 AM. The departure timing are also convenient as the Indigo flight leaves Trivandrum for Bangalore at 4.55 PM. A 3 day trip is good – but we stayed for 4 days in October – the rains are almost over – so the landscape is lush green. It is very humid and the temp is 30+ , needless to say the best time to visit is Nov / Dec / Jan.

Website : http://www.niraamaya.in – they have another property in Thekkady that is supposedly equally interesting with only 6 exclusive Villas – I am adding that to my list.

 

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Some more Views of the Property – all photos shot on my iPhone 6

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Primrose Villa – Luxury homestay in Chickamagalur

28 Sep

Tucked away amidst 500 acres of verdant greenery and surrounded by mystical hills shrouded in fog, in the Northern part of Chickamagalur is the wonderful new Home Stay – Primrose Villa.

The word home stay normally connotes basic and frugal – Primrose Villa is contrarian – its probably the only Home Stay which on luxury and service can put a 7 Star hotel to shame.

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The property is spread across 5 Acres and is part of the 500 Acres Bagane Hedol Coffee Plantation. The Vision behind Primrose Villa is Sumitra who belongs to the 5th generation of the family running the plantation. And she has designed a place that is regal , ethnic and yet classy and contemporary. The family may well find its name in the Forbes list of Karnataka – but the ambience here is down to earth, humble, the level of service  is  very warm and customised and is personally led by Sumitra who has an immaculate eye for perfection. (The family has S Indian Iyengar roots – thats where the level of hospitality and simplicity comes from)

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PS : Don’t miss the Raja Ravi Varma painting below which I sam sitting with the gracious and wonderful hostess Sumitra 

The property has 7 Villas and 5 rooms. The rooms are part of the main building but the Villas are spread out and designed in a manner that it provides 100% privacy. Each Villa is set on 1/2  Acre land , is very spacious and has its own sit out and private garden. The rooms are smaller and best suited for couples.

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The food is delectable – and you can choose from a wide variety – Indian , Malnad ,    Veg , Non Veg , Continental …. and the highlight is its 24 by 7 availability. You can have breakfast at 11AM and Lunch at 5PM (My bengali friends make note – this suits your timing perfectly) – and its all served fresh and customised. The Rava Dosa is outstanding, so are the Paneer Tikkas, the Phulkas are fresh and fluffy and the Chocolate cake is delicious. My friends devoured the boneless chicken and Fish with gusto – on taste, aesthetics and prompt service its 10/10 on food  – this is one place where you should not plan to be on a diet. Most of the ingredients come from their family farm – and thats what makes it so fresh and tasty.

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The property is located at 4700 feet and grows some of the finest Arabica coffee in the country (Coffee grown above 3500 feet is considered Premium). This part of Chickamagalur receives over 100 inches of rain in the monsoon, thats what makes the greenery lush and thick. The Bhadra wild life sanctuary is just a 40 min drive away and the greenery from the estate melts into that of the sanctuary – so be prepared for the occasional wild boar or the rare pug marks of a tiger in your morning trek. The roof of the property is the perfect place to star gaze and immerse yourself in the hills and forests that surround you for miles. The air is fresh and nippy. In the morning the forests and hills are cloaked in mist, which very soon turn to a bright blue sky and by the time its dusk you see a riot of colors  blending in the skyline.

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Its calm and quiet and the perfect break for the common man or for celebrities and we were pleasantly surprised to meet S Janaki the legendary singer spending a few days at Primrose.

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Activities in the Property are limited to treks, reading books from a well stocked library, watching TV, playing Carrom / Board Games in the common room. Horse riding is available from Oct and a pool room / entertainment room is coming up soon.  Thats a lot for a home stay.

The location of the property is excellent and there is a lot to see close by. Mullayangiri the tallest peak of Karnataka at 6300 feet is a mere 30 min drive away ( The last stretch of the drive is tough – so have a good powerful vechile)

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Further away on the same route are the Buttermilk falls and Baba Budangiri Caves. The former is a must visit but you can skip the latter. The drive down this stretch is beautiful and will bring memories of the Scottish highlands and William Wordsworth.

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Lots of waterfalls, treks, lakes to see nearby. Belur, Halebidu, Shravanabelagola are best covered while driving from Bangalore or on the return. Most people miss out on the Belavadi temple – another must visit. If you have time you can visit Sringeri & Agumbe a 2 – 3 hrs drive on the picturesque W Ghat. A  2- 3 day trip is what you must plan for at Primrose.

Other Basic facts 

  • Drive time from Bangalore is 5 hrs (with a 30 min break) Roads are excellent
  • Connectivity is patchy and there are few corners where you can get good strong signal.
  • There are no TV’s in the individual villas & room , but there is a TV in the meeting / conference room which can house 8 – 10 people

Primriose Villa was recently featured on the Conde Nast as the 50 best new properties in the world. For more details visit them at

http://www.primrosevillas.com

Bangalore Contact for Booking :  + 91 9880932423, kb@primrosevillas.com

We were here to celebrate  5 years in my current company with my team – we loved it . The highlight of the place is the quality of service and the warm touch of homeliness –  when we were leaving they packed us a sandwich bag and water – just like relatives do. We joked that the only thing missing was the customary  Coconut and Kumkum  – and maybe they will give that if the wives are in tow – thats why I am planning a return with my family very soon.

Thanks Sumitra and team for a memorable trip

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Walk Alone

14 Sep

Walk Alone……

“Jodi Tor Dak Shune Keu Na Ase Tobe Ekla Cholo Re” – If no one responds to your call, then go your own way alone”, commonly known as Ekla Chalo Re, is a Bengali  song written by Rabindranath Tagore in 1905 dedicated to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.

This is one of the finest memories I carry back with me from the 18 years I spent in Bengal. (Shreya Ghosal singing the song – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yPqdlR_X1Vk).  For some strange reason I loved the song and I still do – especially on a quiet night in soulitude.

Its enchanting when you listen to this song all by yourself in the midst of nature – sitting in a balcony on a cold wintery night with the mountains surrounding you and a gurgling brook flowing by. You can get different interpretations – it could mean A leader is always on his own alone and it could mean that every man needs to find his own way … eventually.

Every book you read on spirituality talks about the same thing ” search within”. But we get joy in a crowd , in a company of others. It feeds our Ego. They say man is a social animal – is it really so ? Which man the artificial man or the true man ? Once you start enjoying soulitude its addictive.

I was talking about this to a friend in Gurgaon today – telling him how boring it is to be sitting alone in a hotel room (I do that a lot when I am in Gurgaon) and he immediately shared this beautiful poem written by his sister.

A lovely touching poem by Dr Alka Marwaha

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When life bogs you down,
And nothing seems your own;
Hold the hands of your mind;
And start walking alone.

When the self is tortured;
by thoughts awry and askew;
Leave the old beaten track,
and walk afresh and anew.

When the path ahead is hazy,
and truth seems obliterated;
Clear the dust off the soul,
and walk re-juvenated.

Happiness lies within,
only source of joy and bliss;
Muster courage to reach out,
and walk out of the abyss.

Observe the highs and the lows;
The ecstasies and the pain;
Watching it all pass by;
With neither love nor disdain.

Walk alone on your path;
With head held high;
Many may join in pursuit;
And many may bid good bye.

 

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