Living with locals

Ever since I discovered AIRBNB, I have fallen in love with it, its very different from what I had always tried, apart from having a home with a lot more space and facilities that hotels ever provide, there so many times is an opportunity to engage with a local. Not always have I had a host who is living hands on, however, many times I have had the chance through AIRBNB to actually stay with some locals and that I must tell you is where AIRBNB takes the cake in comparison to all other websites that aid travel. I must confess I have not really travelled to Backpacking hostels which are next on my list to visit and experience but till then AIRBNB is doing a wonderful job really.

I have to mention this now especially when I am back from Sri Lanka, where we visited not one but three different homes and hosts. Amongst them one experience was so wonderful it will stay with me for life.

I have to mention the wonderful stay we had with Domaine de Bellevue, a home hosted by Valerian a Sri Lankan and Laure his wife who comes from Switzerland. As much as I regret that I could not meet Valerian’s wife or kids who were holidaying whilst we were there, I think that gave us more of Valerian’s time and interacting with the guy was a wonderful thing to do. The guy has travelled extensively all around the world doing all sorts of jobs, speaks 7 languages and now seems to have settled on this little mountain he bought, yes, you read that correct, he bought a mountain with a view and then he built his house. The location is so superb that sitting on his porch in Wattegama we can actually see & determine what weather is in Kandy(18kms away), Colombo(153kms away) & Nuwara Eliya (91kms away). To actually reach his house you have to climb around 400 meters inside his property from where the vehicles stops!! I told you, the guy bought a part of a mountain!

What we learnt from him was most Sri Lankans are involved in making their own houses, unlike us who basically hire people to do stuff. Very proudly Valerian would tell us that the tiles on the porch we were sitting on were actually done by his own hands! How amazing is that?! The man would go for his job, cook breakfast and dinner for us, do gardening, most of his food came from his own garden, would clean and do the dishes, feed his dogs, cats and birds, regale us with his chats, arrange transport for us and all that single handedly! I mean how industrious and resourceful is that, honestly I have come back with a big complex from there!

The other benefit is that it offers so much insight when you have a local who is ready to talk and converse with all the time, so many of your questions have suddenly got some answers, there is ready information to feed all your curiosity about the place.

Another amazing thing was, when at night we would sleep or when we would go out all we did was just close the magnet locked net of the door, the door would be otherwise open for anyone wanting to enter. That is how safe it was around there! Imagine doing that in a foreign country?

I actually joined him in the kitchen, he even made me love eating a pumpkin, I tasted several new fruits in his garden, Katu Anoda juice being new for me and one that fast became a favourite with the meals. We even made a wood fired pizza with me helping him a teeny weeny bit of garnishing. The pizza again was made from dough, that he prepared, most of the ingredients for the toppings came from his own garden, was wood fired, yes he had a wood fire oven made for this specially!

Infact one night he had some other guests who were a french couple who wanted to eat french food and Valerian made a complete french dinner and even asked us what sort of wine we would like to drink alongside! We had a wonderful dinner that night with some awesome classical music collection that Valerian has, the conversation during that dinner was enriching, I love interacting with people from different countries and cultures.

I wonder if hotels can ever provide such experiences? Atleast I have never had any of such in Hotels, its with homestays, which have locals living alongside that such pleasant benefits exist.

Apart from giving so many wonderful moments as far as the stay facilities are concerned the houses have so much more character than hotels, so much more space than a hotel room and actually a lot more privacy than hotels plus this wonderful insight into local life. Isn’t that what most travellers look for when they set out to travel???

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When we reached a little late in the noon to his place and claimed we were hungry, he made us this wonderful salad and Katu Anoda juice. The orange thing in the salad is actually Pumpkin boiled in just nutmeg water and salt and tasted wonderfully with pepper! I never knew I would say I loved eating Pumpkin you know!

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For really wonderful photos of the place you have to visit its page on FB on the link I shared above.

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We spent a lot of time here lazing with a book and sipping tea or just admiring the view.

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The view of Kandy city from our HOME in Wattegama!😀

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Lest I forget, the place is a treasure trove for birds, we spotted many many birds of whom I have to identify many yet! Here is a Scarlet Minivet we spotted from our hammock!

 

I just can go on and on about the benefits of staying with locals or staying in homes instead of hotels, not taking anything away from hotels, I use them as much, however, for the sheer varied experiences you get from a home and living with someone it just cannot match up.

 

So have you ever stayed in a homestay or with locals?? If not don’t wait, give it a try!

 

 

Sea, Sand & Fun

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A couple of kids jump into the Indian Ocean at a beach in Galle under the watchful eyes of their father. A beach is a wonderful blessing to have nearby and the Sri Lankans are pretty lucky in this regard, especially the ones that live near the coast. We happened to spend a week there, which coincided with Sri Lankan holidays as it is their festival season. It was a short, sharp trip but we loved it anyways watching the mild, smiling Sri Lankan’s enjoying their holidays and basking in the glory of their rich lands. Finally after the war ended some 6 odd years ago the emerald isle is set to shine and grow.

 

I guess the abc tag has to take a break, there are a lot of stories from Lanka to share. So stay tuned for more!

E for Equities

Equities are a lot more interesting I tell you than talking about eggs, its better to eat eggs and talk about equities whilst you are doing that.

 

Tell me which one of the following do you think is the best :

 

1.) Working for someone, working your ass off and getting a fixed pay for the work, whether you do well or not, maybe get a slight bonus if you work too well.

 

2.) Working on an enterprise, making people work for you, making decisions, devoting hours, carving a niche for yourself in this world

 

3.) Get both of the above whilst you are holidaying!?

 

Well, equities can help you achieve that you know, so much is written everywhere about it, so many examples around us, the richest people in our world, everyone owns it and yet they are so dreaded, so little is known about them, why is it a word that brings so much caution by one and all.

 

Why can’t we simplify it?

 

If you can understand the power of equities you will be that much easy placed in life, secondly now after understanding the power equities is how do you ensure that power works for you, this is the tricky bit ain’t it?

 

Tell me, would you not own a business like HDFC Bank or a company like Asian Paints? What if the whole company was up for sale and you had the money to buy it out? Would you want to own a company like that?

 

Honestly, if there is anyone that has NO as an answer must get their brains checked. Both of the above are simple examples of some great companies who have been generating a lot of profit and also have a pretty bright future.

 

Now, if you have some money that is spare, lying about, which you know you would not need for a good period of time, why not deploy here? I mean whats wrong in making people work for us? Here we do not even have to take any decisions, nothing, just buy and continue our life as we were doing. Give it enough time and you can be laughing your way to retirement.

 

Most of us Indians save, we save a lot, we die and pass this bounty to our heir’s but do not spend some money as we save it for a need that might arise, fortunately for many this need never arises and the money stays, I wonder if that money were deployed in equities where in people give their blood and sweat to run companies and you get a share of the profits without having to spend either!?

 

Selecting a stock can be pretty tricky, however, buying an index shouldn’t really be rocket science, the BSE Sensex has given over 15% annual returns over the past 30 years, buying the index should be easy shouldn’t it?? Wouldn’t someone buy the index and hold for twenty years?

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History tells us that the index oughta give atleast returns that equal the sum of GDP & Inflation, with Inflation and GDP both high in India the future for equities bodes quite well. If you do not take a part in this development that this nation is going to make and choose to be where you are, there is no one but you, yourself to blame.

 

Read, ask, inquire, get the gist of it, for if you understand equities trust me your life will be better for it!

 

Remember : “Risk comes from not knowing what you are doing.” – Warren Buffet

D for Division

Math is really not my forte and so I would refrain from going on writing about the formula’s not even sure you call it a formula or what?!

 

Now that I have D for Division to write about I wonder what should I go on about, but once an exercise is taken upon you have to go ahead and accomplish the task.

 

If you ask me that is one of the worst words as far as the human race is concerned, when I think of Division beyond math the first thing that comes to my mind is religion, what has it done apart from dividing us? I am a rational and I would not mind hearing contrary opinions from my readers.

Open up, speak, discuss, find out faults with your religion. Is it necessary at all? Apart from tagging us what else has it done!? Don't close your doors to logic!

Open up, speak, discuss, find out faults with your religion. Is it necessary at all? Apart from tagging us what else has it done!? Don’t close your doors to logic!

Honestly, in my opinion, religion has done nothing else but divide us, out of insecurity in ages when humans were a lot more barbaric we wanted more numbers on our side to survive and hence we sided with those so called similar religion fellows. Great philosophers over a period of time who are now revered as God’s actually showed a way of life, more than showing that way of life, they lived their lives as an example of what they meant, now instead of actually trying to emulate that life, somehow the followers, who I think found it difficult to emulate decided that they wanted to set up some rituals and those who follow those symbolic rituals would be called religious people.

 

The worst thing about religious people and believers of God is they will not discuss or argue a point beyond a certain extent, because they cannot reason and because since our childhood we all are conditioned to believe in something somewhere the ability to question or reason has gone out of the window.

 

Someone please throw some light and tell me apart from creating divisions what has religion done for us? I am a Muslim and you are a Jew, apart from it what is its role? Ghettoism perhaps would be an apt synonym wouldn’t it?

 

 

C for Cricket

DSC_0120The most compelling of all sports, without any trace of doubt if you ask me. Is there any other sport apart from Test Cricket that presents as much of a test of character, resourcefulness, stamina, perseverance and skill all together in one game?! I would like to know if there is another sport like this or better than this with all the diversity this sport offers.

 

Give a few kids a bat and a ball and watch them go, its here, most naturally you will see how captivating and likable the game is. Belting the ball as hard as you can, foxing the guy trying to belt the ball whilst flicking the ball to him or running like made watching skywards trying to grab the ball with open palms, the fun is evident.

 

It is apt that I have to be writing this after yesterday’s test match at Lords, after a rather long season of limited overs cricket it was back to the game’s main version, the main course or the real deal, whatever you want to call it. Just fascinating was the game that just ended. A really dead, low kind of pitch and you might have thought, okay this might just be a drawn match, but, if cricket does not throw a surprise, who will?

 

A 42 year old veteran, who many thought should be retired came out and scored a century, after reaching his century did some 15 push ups, an underdog team that is always found to be unorganised actually managed to trip a far more pedigreed opposition. At all times you thought the comeback was inevitable, however, inspired by Misbah, his team mates won the match in 4 days and symbolically at the end of it indulged in a push up show to prove that they had a lot left in them even after 4 days of pressure cricket.

 

Test cricket has so much drama that it woos me, there are so many plots and subplots and so many characters who are involved at so many different times that it fascinates, a slip catch being bobbed up by one and being grabbed by another, a short leg fielder ducking and getting crouched every time a batsman goes for a powerful shot, the leaping wicket keeper that jumps to collect a ball above his head delivered by an angry fast bowler, a batsman lured out by a spinner and beaten in the air, the thumping straight drive from between a fast bowlers legs, oh there is just so much to love about this sport.

 

Like any good book, Test cricket needs to be entered with a bit of patience if you are not a lover already, read two three chapters of a book and you cant stop, similarly, stay for a couple of sessions, watching, analysing, absorbing and discussing Test cricket and you will be smitten I promise!

 

You might say Test cricket is an ancient form, stretched over 5 days in this fast moving life of the twenty first century, who has the time, but trust me for lovers of this form of sport there is nothing that even comes close.🙂

B for Bombay but…

Well its my blog and so whilst B was supposed to be for Bombay I say bloody hell I want to post this beautiful picture I managed to take and these few lines I had to write about it!😀

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Enveloped under petals,
Slowly,
Lazily,
It blooms,
Raising is yellow limbs,
Reaching out,
Stretching itself,
In misty weather,
Embracing,
Rains!

Ageing

Age is an issue of mind over matter.

If you don’t mind it doesn’t matter. – Mark Twain

So says one of the greatest authors and story tellers the planet has ever seen, perhaps that is the truth, however, everyone from time to time when approaching an age he once thought was old always has all sorts of thoughts in his head.  A very dear friend is almost there and when she talked about the 40th birthday I didn’t want to listen, I wanted to almost go blind and deaf at the mention of the topic.

 

Damn I am approaching my 40th too and soon, I dunno how I should be feeling like, is this how I am supposed to feel at this age?! Is this just a bloody number, coz I don’t feel any saner or any wiser or any calmness is taking over me. Why am I still the same old(should be young but thats how english goes) fidgety, indecisive, impetuous fellow. Perhaps what Twain quoted, its an issue of mind over matter. Perhaps the mind is the same, so many moments still cross by when I appear to my own self after the moment has passed to be so childish and kiddish. Now wait a minute, how can I myself at one moment be childish and at that very moment call my behaviour childish!?

 

Fuck! Comprehend anyone??

 

Physically yes, I can’t reach that cross court forehand that would have been done in an instant ten years back, so many times I see my opponent on a tennis court playing the ball softly and I know I need to get my fat ass moving, but instead of my body starting to react automatically, that is what used to be called hand eye co-ordination in cricket and eye-feet co-ordination I term in tennis, is kind of stationary till my mind actually compels it to start moving and on so many occasions I am late. Yes, reactions have slowed, the biggest, saddest truth of this age, for a guy who is crazy about sports and someone who used to claim that he is not at all clumsy when it came to flexing the body suddenly feels he is starting to be a bit like the others. That is natural though and I am more kind in accepting it, bloody can’t help it can I?

 

Acceptance or being shoved down the throat, whatever you might call it is happening there, but the brain?! Its perplexing, one moment I am shrieking a song in the house so loud all my mom’s lil students look at me and giggle, the next moment I am advising my brother to spend some less time on his mobile game and spend that time with his wife! Yea, I am scratching my head too, what in the world do you make of it?

 

Perhaps, this antithesis is a more constant thing, age maybe is after all just a number. Inside the top floor of the body, it seems the process is unchanged, its still got to become wiser than it is, it is still going to throw fits of madness, it is still going to behave without any set patterns. It never feels like 40 when I am thinking or even when I am looking in the mirror, okay maybe I am biased there. It hits bad when some young girl of 20 suddenly wants you to adopt her!! It hits you at times and then I shrug it off looking at the fact that you are cool enough that people want you in their lives permanently.

 

Looking at positives in the end is all there is to it ain’t it? Bring on the 40’s!! My lungs still have it in them to climb up these measly mountains, pant a bit on the way but at the end stand tall and set my eyes on the next mountain!🙂 *totalsmugnessoverload*

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p.s. Writing in order to get the writing bug back after I threw myself a challenge here. 

The next 26 posts!

Like I mentioned yesterday, here we go : 

A for Ageing

B for Bombay

C for Cricket

D for Division

E for Egg

F for Freedom

G for Game of Thrones!

H for Himalayas

I for I am the smartest

J for Jungles

K for Kitchen

L for Longing

M for Movies

N for Numbers

O for Orange

P for Perceptions

Q for Questions

R for Remembering

S for Stories

T for Tiger

U for Uphill

V for Virat

W for Wanderlust

X for should really pass this one but well, X for Xplorers😉

Y for Yield

Z for Zest