Saturday, November 29, 2014

Honeymoon Diaries Part 3: Vishakhapatnam: No Other Place I Would Rather Be

I'm sure God had personally set the plan for us – perfect place, perfect hotel, perfect set of people and perfect weather – no other place would have treated us better; it had to be his hometown!
The first day, around 11 in the morning, we reached Vishakhapatnam, the city of destiny as they call it. We reached the hotel where we had planned to stay – Novotel – one decision I am really proud of. 

What a treat it was – the rooms, the service, the view, the quality of the food they served – everything was out of this world! Driving you a bit offbeat, I would like to mention that there are times in life when we can’t thank few people enough – the people we call friends. His one such friend, Kalyan, took so good care of us during our short stay that saying ‘thank you’ would only nullify his efforts. He sent us a car, with a friendly driver, to pick us up and take us wherever we wanted to go. Kalyan also did a superb job by giving us a bullet to ride on wherever we wished to. I cannot really write my husband's feelings while riding the bullet, his favorite machine, by the sea, with me riding as pillion - it was mesmerizing, like a dream come true! Things got even better when my parents landed the same evening.

We went for dinner to one of his relative’s home and the moments we spent there were overwhelming. We had a great time eating great food and talking our hearts out. We could not, for a moment, feel that both our families were from two different states and cultures.

The next morning, we headed for the famous Simhachalam Temple. His one more friend had his father as the head priest of the temple. Therefore, we could get VIP entry and special pooja done for all our family members and the bliss we all experienced there can't be summed up in words. Once we were back at the hotel, we decided to head to the beach and give it a polar-bear hug – needless to say, we all had an amazing time there J

The same evening, we had our wedding reception planned. The kind of reception I received, being a new entrant to his family, was so heart-warming that I was floating in clouds. I tried reciprocating all the love I received from the elders and the kids, and so did my family. Thanking my new family for this love would never be enough. Having reached the hotel, we (my family and my husband) sat by the pool and tried to re-live the day’s happenings. The sea breeze helped us freshen up and live each moment we were breathing there.

The next morning, my brother had an early flight to catch, therefore we bade him adieu and set off for Rushikonda beach. Thereafter, we saw our parents off, who too had to head back home. We reached our hotel and decided to head to the hotel gym. The amazing time working out together, and then while taking steam bath energized every cell in our bodies and we were all set for a new phase of adventures.
The two days we stayed back together was our private time together, so to say J We spent the best time meeting relatives and friends, seeking blessings at Sampath Vinayagar Temple, shopping jewelry, riding bike in the entire city, even when it was raining, eating at the most fabulous places in Vizag – Daspalla's Dimple Rooftop Restaurant, Dolphin Hotel, Cabana and Novotel and the climax: riding a speed boat in the sea at Rushikonda beach. Our honeymoon just couldn’t have been better than this. All this while, the weather in Vizag was similar to heaven. Only when we were heading back that it was hot there – probably, the place wasn’t happy seeing us leaving. One more incident which brings smiles to our faces is the meeting with one of his friend's mom on our way back to the airport. This friend, Chandrashekhar’s mom not only blessed us, the newly wedded coupleand gave us goodies to take along back home, but also offered “Bournvita” to us, the kids! Never ever in my life had anyone offered me Bournvita when I visited them. This cute incident made me hug the lady even tighter – people have THAT kind of influence on you J

With this, my extended honeymoon came to an end and I must say that this was THE best time of my life. Not only this trip got us emotionally closer to each other, but also introduced a new level of intimacy which wasn’t there when we were dating. We also got together as a family, a unit – my family lovingly accepted my husband as a member and so did he. We all had an amazing time exploring a new place and new relations.

I can say God listens to all the prayers and how! With our each breath ticking the life away, our gratitude to them increases manifolds. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Honeymoon Diaries: Part 2: Lost and Found

One day – one aim: Tirupati! We were on the very auspicious soil, but had to wait for one night to finally set off for Tirumala. Right early in the morning, we started our pilgrimage and took not more than two hours to reach the top of the hills. They allow vehicles right to the top, and walking all the way is an option many pilgrims still go for. We vowed, too, to walk the whole way the next time we will be here.

We set out unbathed from the home, considering we had to go to Kalyan Katta first. Kalyan Katta/tonsuring booths are for those who want to offer their hair to the Lord. One could also offer 10-15 strands from their head, if they don’t want to go for the complete shave. We chose the latter option.

Having participated in the auspicious task, we freshened up, changed and moved on to the Kalyan Mandapam, in Sri Venkateswara Swamy temple, to perform Kalyanotsavam. Srivari Kalyanotsavam is performed to the utsava murti of the Lord Sri Malayappa swami and his consorts Sridevi and Bhudevi in the marriage hall. The wedding ceremony is held amidst recitation of the vedic mantras and pronouncing the family pedigree of the brides and bridegroom. A purohit conducts the marriage and an archaka is consecrated to perform other rituals on behalf of the bridegroom. Only grihasthas (married couples) are allowed to perform the seva and they are given prasadams and clothes at the end of it. It was, indeed, blissful to attend God’s wedding in proper Telugu traditions. Getting overwhelmed by the puja, my husband expressed his desire to get remarried in Telugu style some time in future! J We had a Punjabi wedding, considering the fact that we didn’t face any opposition to the same from the groom’s side.
After Kalyanam, we headed for darshanam of Lord Venkateswara. Chanting ‘govinda govinda’ while still waiting for our turn, we didn’t realize when we actually entered the boss’ house! From where you stand to the actual place for darshanam, you would hardly get 3-4 seconds to have a glimpse of the God, but the visual delight is incomparable. We forgot everything, including ourselves, and entered a trance mode – experiencing complete relief and solace. This was my first visit to Tirupati and I was all charmed and satisfied with life. It was like, I was lost at the moment and, then, I found a new ME.
Lord Venkateswara's Temple
After collecting the prasad (the yummy laddoos), we bade adieu to the Lord and thanked them for the great darshanam. Thereafter, we set out for Padmavathi Ammavari Temple, some 28 km away from Lord Venkateswara’s temple. Goddess Padmavathi is the consort of the Lord and, yet, lives away from him. There’s a legend behind this, that she was angry with the Lord and decided to immerse herself in river Swarnamukhi. After thirteen years, Goddess Padmavathi emerged from a golden lotus as a reincarnation of Goddess Lakshmi. Hence, the distance. The blissful feeling we had experienced earlier, reentered us in the finest of its forms. Gleefully, we marched on to Sri Govindarajaswami Temple.
Padmavathi Ammavari Temple
Sri Govindarajaswami were the elder brother of Lord Venkateswara. This temple was right next to where we were staying, and, thus, we decided to visit it the last. There are 18 sub-temples in this temple, and we visited each. The poojas and sevas we conducted inside the temple were relaxing and extremely comforting. Despite being tired, we were able to connect with God with our fullest selves.
Sri Govindarajaswami Temple
We had a train to catch at 8:30 PM for an overnight journey to Vishakhapatnam, so we decided to munch on Hotel Bhimas’ in-house restaurant. Again, delicious food there made us munch a bit extra, pushing our usual appetite to the edge. But the food here couldn't beat Mayura's standards. We walked to the station, right next to our hotel having thanked everyone at the hotel for a wonderful treatment, and boarded the train! What happens in Vizag will tell the next addition in this series. J

Monday, November 24, 2014

Honeymoon Diaries: Part 1: Tirupati via Chennai

We have been planning this since six months and dreaming about this ever since we started seeing each other – travelling together. The first phase of our honeymoon kept us dreamy-eyed for months and now that it was happening, it was hard for both of us to contain all the excitement. TIRUPATI!

Having heard a lot of stories about the temple from him, I really wanted to visit it and experience the divinity there. It was, indeed, God’s grace that we got to visit the holy place, right after our marriage, together. I confess going there had me extremely casual about the values it holds, but coming back had me transformed 360 degrees into a girl who was bathed in colors of divinity, continually chanting – edu kondalavada venkataramana govinda goooovindaa!

One part of travelling together, or in rather preparing for it, that I thoroughly enjoyed was packing for the same. It was like two amateurs planning up for a holiday, in fear of not leaving anything at home, carry everything that they saw around – including clothes they hadn’t wore in a century! Result – we were set with four bags, which we had to unpack later in the night to declutter.

Anyway, the adventure started the next day at 4 AM, as we had an early morning flight to catch. I am sure I was living my dream, breathing in the ecstasy of boarding our first flight together - 6E 285. Having arrived at Chennai, we took a taxi, which took us to Marina beach.

(Note: I might just go crazy writing hereon. This was THE first time I saw sea in my life!)

A huge, massive body of water – water till wherever your eyes can go – water so energetic, it brings you to life – water so loud - you want to sit by it and talk to it. Boy! I loved every bit of this experience. 
Hybrid, Orange Coconuts we saw at Marina Beach; obviously, we couldn't resist tasting the nectar it contained.
That's me! :)
Moving on from here, to quench our thirst for authentic, local food, we checked out a restaurant – Sangeetha – which served us the delectable, Tamil food on a banana leaf. I could not stop licking my fingers way after we had finished munching.

Biryani with Raita at Hotel Sangeetha
This point on, we had to rush for our train from Chennai to Tirupati – our first train journey together – this entire trip had plenty of surprises to keep us entertained throughout. Having reached Tirupati at 7:30 PM, we checked in a hotel really close to the railway station – Hotel Bhimas Deluxe. A decent hotel, which was comfortable for us to spend a night and move to Tirumala the next morning. In order to use the time we had at hand to the best, my husband proposed we should go to Kanipakam Vinayaka Temple in Chittoor (some 65 odd kms away from where we were staying). 
Kanipakam Vinayaka Temple
It turned out to be the best day we could visit the temple as it was Kartik Purnima that day – a blessing-in-disguise we were unaware about. We had the best pooja and the best darshanam that day and we returned to our hotel extremely content and satisfied. And did I talk about the beauty? You have to be there to feel the aura of the place - it's magical!

The best thing which could conclude our day right was great food, which we had at Hotel Mayura. The local food buffet we had there and the kind of service we received left us feeling blessed all through. We had our taxi the next morning to Tirupati. What happened there is something I’ll share in my next blog (that’s a complete record of experiences)! Till then, I will leave my readers with the feeling an extremely tasty fruit punch ice cream leaves in your mouth - glutted yet unsatisfied! :) 
Buffet at Hotel Mayura

Friday, November 21, 2014

Ms. to Mrs.: A dream transition!

So now, the world identifies me as somebody’s wife; the feeling? It’s inexplicable. I am sure every couple, who in their dating period feels seriously for each other, dreams of this transition but seldom they are able to reach this stage. I am one of the few chosen ones who could successfully hit the goal, without facing any opposition at all.

My say on the feeling of this transition from being boyfriend-girlfriend to husband-wife is IT IS NEVER THE SAME. Dating is way different from living a whole, life-ful of relationship. Living with each other 24x7 not only gives way to serious revelations about the other person, but also opens up another chapter of love – sustenance.

The only privilege ‘pre-marriage-dating’ blesses you with is that you don’t listen to the other person as a just-brought-home cat, who doesn’t know how to act feeling a new air around. You freely meow, purr or even pounce, as if it was your own house and your own people J

The first hit I got was when I woke up, startled, seeing him sleeping on the same bed as mine! J Yes - when we got to sleep for some 3 odd hours after I reached my “new” home at 5 AM. My first-hand experience on dating, love and marriage is that friendship transcends all hardships you face as a couple and brings a lot of peace and calmness back home. So, you know, great food, romance, organized life, adjustments all take a back seat. 
I am sure preaching does not help when it comes to relationships and the only thing you would want to experience is a free-fall, being yourself, feeling an eternal calmness of having achieved a big goal in life – togetherness. So, I will not preach a word on how you should be steering a relationship to the right path (I don’t know it myself, to be true J). Let us all, newlyweds, make our honeymoon period last for a lifespan and hope that this transition from bachelorhood to marriage takes off as smoothly as a Lufthansa airplane racing on the runway to kiss the clouds. 
Here’s wishing all the best to all the couples travelling on the same boat. Bon Voyage!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

#BringBackTheTouch by taking it easy

Womanhood arrives with loads of baggages – the burden to act perfect, more responsible, disciplined, well-behaved, organized, modest, pocket-conscious and to carry all the pristine qualities one would associate with a “lady”. This idea of acting “perfect” drives us away from the basics life teaches us when we are born; acting free, letting things be and prioritizing happiness over everything else. Men, as the breed is famous for, appreciates all these qualities from a distance. They would surely not want any of the side-effects of being a “lady” come an inch close to them. This clash between ‘to-be' or 'not-to-be' perfect is what gives way to the infamous gap amidst a couple.

At times, the answers to the most tough questions or challenges life imposes on us is letting things be and being a mere spectator, waiting for the time to pass. You might never know how slowing it down or taking things easy could give a fresh air to breathe not just to the other partner but also to the relationship. Bringing back the warmth in a relation or rekindling the yesteryears’ romance wouldn’t remain a challenge you could only pray your way out of.

I remember a friend getting appalled by her husband’s attitude of not talking to her when he was back from work, despite her poking him a lot about the same. The answer she found to this problem was as simple as spelling this word out. She stopped poking him whenever he was back from work and waited for him to initiate discussions. Talking at his own convenience gave her husband immense relief as he could drive the conversation as per his choice and not as per his wife’s curiosity. Things just kept getting better thence for them. She would cook food, play soothing music and scent the house with the aroma he liked. Upon his return, she would serve him with a smile and give him the time he required to get himself out of the environment he has been spending his entire day in. From this time on, I never heard her cribbing about her husband’s ignorance or his being unromantic.

That’s how she found her way back to romance and a brand new, rekindled relationship, which had a lot of love, care and breathing space for each other. That's how they could bring the touch they were missing back. Taking things easy could do wonders we never had any idea about!
I got inspired to write more on #BringBackTheTouch by watching this video:

To know more about the campaign, please visit: or catch the action on twitter by using the hashtag #BringBackTheTouch 
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