October 26, 2015

The new and the familiar

It was new.

And yet so familiar.

As though they’d been doing it for ages. As though they sit close together, legs casually intertwined, his hand around her shoulder, talking about movies, every day. As if lying in bed together, talking about their travel tales while taking momentary breaks to kiss, was a routine they followed every day. As though ripping each other’s clothes off came so easily because they do it every night. You would never know by the synchronized breathing that this was their first time, and most likely the last. The way their bodies merged, setting fire to the already hot afternoon. The way her breasts fit in his palms so perfectly. How he knew exactly where she liked to be caressed. The way she left just the tiniest little mark on his ribs, so that his girlfriend wouldn’t see it. The way he knew exactly when to enter her, without she asking him for it, something her boyfriend never seemed to catch on to. The slow beginning. The steady rise in tempo. The arching of backs and locking of eyes and limbs. The gentle moans and desperate groans. The whimpers from her when he kept pulling out, torturing her oh so sweetly, and then pushing right back in, swallowing her gasp with a kiss as he did so. His strong arms pinning her to the bed, although there’s nowhere else she would rather be just then. That look in his eyes that told her that he was on the brink, holding on just for her. The look in her eyes that was telling him to break loose and let the pure lust overpower them. It was as though they lay together every day, having the most nonsensical and atypical of pillow talks, discussing everything from politics to horror movies, taking momentary breaks to kiss, running their hands over each other’s bodies, examining each other’s tattoos. The body was new, and yet, the touch so familiar. His fingers tracing the curve of her hips, her lips showering little kisses on his neck. His hands absentmindedly playing with her nipples as he rambled on about how stifling commitments can be, unaware of the storm stirring up inside her again.  
It was new.  

And yet, so familiar.

I've always been intrigued by erotic literature. I believe it so much more difficult to arouse your senses through words than it is through visuals. This is my very first attempt. And I'd like some honest feedback, please? But be nice, ya? Thanks!

June 1, 2015

Of wanderlust, drapetomania and Oyster Opera

Wanderlust can be a very dangerous thing. It can make you question everything you have going on in your life, and want to run away to unexplored shores, in search of adventures, in search of the "Great Perhaps". It can make you stumble upon words like "drapetomania" and instantly identify with it. I have reached that point where wanderlust is driving me insane (or maybe it's just the humdrum of life). I'm ready to kill someone, if I don't get out of Chennai soon. 

On that cheery and not-at-all-morbid note, hi there!

This post is long overdue. Like, waaaaaaaaaay overdue. This trip happened in December 2014, and the draft has been lying unfinished since February. I was going nuts wanting to travel (I've been under a strict do-not-travel restriction since April because of a bad back condition. My last trip was a short one to Jaipur), and when that happens, I usually go through pics of my previous trips. That cheers me up. This time, I decided to complete the damn draft and post it, for the benefit of other travelers. So here goes... 

I was born and brought up in Kerala for the most part. And yet, I have never seen Kerala the way a tourist sees it. I have never been in a houseboat in Aleppey. I have never posed in the midst of the famous tea estates and taken photos. I have never walked languidly through lush paddy fields while gazing dreamily upon the wonders of nature (actually, this one's not entirely true). I've never jumped in the middle of a koodiyattam performance and attempted to mimic the artiste's moves. In short, I've never seen God's Own Country the way god intended it to be seen and how the rest of the world sees it.

We never saw much of Kerala beyond Kochi (of which I have vague memories. I was four when we left Kochi for Pune),Trivandrum, and my native place. My earliest memories of Kerala involve seemingly endless two-day train journeys from Pune to Thalasherry during summer holidays. Two months of gorging on mangoes and fried mussels, grandma's homemade wine, roasted cashews, inventing our own games, reading books by the dozen, playing cricket with makeshift bat and ball, long naps in the afternoon, the small table fan providing temporary respite from the infamous Kerala summer. My mom's native place, Nadapuram, is a quaint little village (well, was. Now it's become one of those places where the youth wear neon-coloured pants and spike their hair).

I realised how little of the state I had seen when I started living in Hyderabad. Ironically, the first ever Telugu ad that I recorded was a tourism one for Munnar. When people came to know that I'm from Kerala, the first response was,  "Ooh, Kerala! Beautiful place, no. Munnar, Aleppey, Ponmudi..". And I'll be like, "Umm..ya. So I've heard. I've never actually been there." And they looked at me as though I have wasted my entire life( I wouldn't argue with that, really).

Once the travel bug bit me, and I started going on trips with friends and S, it was always to other places of the country - Goa, Coorg, Cuttack, Jaipur... Never Kerala. So when it was time to plan our next trip, we decided, let's go back to Kerala and see what the big deal is all about.

And that is how we landed up in a little piece of heaven called Oyster Opera, an island resort in Kasargod district, the northernmost part of Kerala. One of my friends discovered the place on a travel site. We quickly made enquiries, booked our rooms, and waited impatiently for December.

To be honest, I went there with zero expectations. I mean, the pictures of the place on their website were gorgeous, but the cynical me refused to believe them, thinking “This is Photoshop. It CAN’T be this good”. So imagine my delight when I reached there and discovered that it wasn't Photoshop after all. It was God's Own Country, in all its picture-postcardesque glory.

Oyster Opera Resort

I got there a day earlier than my friends and a few hours earlier than my husband. Soon as I reached, I was given a welcome juice and then shown to my cottage. Clean, well maintained, with a verandah that looks out over the backwaters. As I mentioned, it’s an island resort, so the place is surrounded by backwaters and backwater lakes. The washroom opens out into an open-roof bathroom, so I showered under an impossibly bright blue sky. I wandered about the property, waiting for lunch to get ready. They had hammocks tied to coconut trees here and there, swings, a play area for kids.

The view from my cottage

The open bathroom

Live a little, laze a LOTTLE

It was finally time for lunch. Please excuse me a moment here while I wipe off some drool. The Food. Unbelievable. They set down a clean banana leaf in front of me, and for a minute I thought they were going to serve me veg fare. Then came the generous chunk of spicy fried fish, quickly followed by prawns and squid. I was in seafood heaven by now. The main course arrived. Kappa with meen curry. The Malayali in me almost wept with joy. I completely ignored the vegetarian dishes and devoured everything else. I could hardly move! I slowly made my way back to my cottage and sat in the easy chair on the verandah, gazing out at the water. It was quiet, calm, peaceful. Just what I needed. It was so quiet, I could hear the water as it made soft little ripples.

Fried fish for the homesick Mallu's soul

I urge you to zoom this pic and take a look. Go on. You know you want to.

Kappa meen curry

The sunset was even more glorious. They have installed a small wooden pier that goes out a little distance into the water. I sat there for a long time, just taking in the silence. I sat there till the sun dipped below the horizon. At night, we could hear the waves crashing the shore at the beach that is a short distance away. Yes, it’s that quiet.

The stage is set for a glorious sunset

The pier - perfect place to watch the sunset

The beautiful morning light

Swing by, will ya?

Morning glory. No filter.

I thought dinner would be a simple fare, since lunch was so heavy. Na-ah. For dinner, the choices were – chicken, mutton, beef, crab, fish, roti, ghee rice and some veg stuff. Breakfast was no less, with idly, dosa, puttu kadala, bread, omelette, etc.

The next day, they took us out to the middle of the backwater lake and let us jump in where the water was shallow! So we swam around for a bit. All we could see around was miles and miles of water and coconut trees. In the evening, we headed to the nearby beach. Clean, pristine, almost virginal.

On the third day, we headed to Bekal Fort, where Arvind Swami once moped around waiting for Manisha Koirala to reciprocate his love. Beautiful place. There’s a lot to walk around, and we got some truly spectacular view of the beach.

Like I said, there's a lot to walk around

Yet another gorgeous sunset at Bekal

How to get there: From Chennai, take a train that goes to Kasargod and get down at a station called Charavattur. From there, the resort is just 6-7 kms by auto. From anywhere else, the nearest airport would be Mangalore and the nearest station would be Kasargod. I think it's very well connected by bus too. For more info, check here.

When to go: The best time would be October- Feb. Any other time of the year, it would be terribly humid. Even when we went, it was pretty hot. Don’t even think of going there in the summer.

What to take: Lots of sunscreen, loose cotton clothes, swim suits, sun glasses, a great camera. Don’t take your laptop. Instead, take a book along.

There isn’t anything much to do around there. The rooms don't have a TV either. So if you’re looking for an action packed holiday, don’t go. Go there only if you’re looking forward to some quiet time, where you want to unwind. If you’re like me, who can sit and stare at the water for hours and likes to watch sunsets, then this will be perfect for you.

Will it burn a hole in your pocket? Not really. The package (during non-peak season) is 6000 per night per couple / per room (the rooms are all double occupancy, from what I know). This includes food (drool alert), accommodation, boat ride, visit to the beach, and a trip to witness mussel farming. The food alone is worth the money. If we had to eat out, the same kind and amount of food, we would’ve ended up paying double the money.

So pack your bags, leave your worries behind, and soak in some God's Own Country your next holiday. You will thank me for it.

January 29, 2015

Ode to the Indian tourist

I see you, dear Indian tourist, I see you everywhere. You with the cowboy hat shielding your head from the sun; your sneakers in stark contrast to the fancy salwar kameez and nayi dulhan ka chooda; your DSLR’s and expensive camera mobiles proudly on display.

I see you, and hear you, loud and clear, as you crack insensitive jokes about the exhibits on display at the museum, making sure everyone knows how funny and cool you are.

I see you, every corner I turn, posing for the camera, taking selfie after selfie, in pursuit of the perfect frame, the next profile picture; clicking crazy pictures in crazy poses with your bunch of crazy friends. 

I see you, showing no interest whatsoever in the monument, preferring to spend more time photographing every inch of the place, not pausing to admire the intricacies of the architecture or taking in the breathtaking view from atop the fort, so that you can "arre facebook pe upload karenge", eager to show the world that yes, you are a "traveler" too, you've seen places of interest too.

I see you, letting your bratty kids climb atop monuments that have been preserved for centuries, blind to the very prominent board just next to it that says "Climbing on the steps is strictly prohibited", all for the sake of making happy memories.

I see you, skulking around large groups of tourists, eavesdropping on their guide that they paid for, the same guide you had brushed off just outside the gate because you are too cool to be walking around with a tour guide, but not so cool that you won't soak in some heritage passively.

I see you, declaring your love for your paramour by scribbling your names inside a heart at places that have been declared as places of heritage; Or your bonds of friendship forever. Because isn't destroying a national monument the ultimate test of true love and friendship.

I see you, spitting on the roads and walls of this new city that you have set out to explore, leaving a filthy, paan-stained legacy behind.

I see you, wearing stilettos for a visit to the fort where you have about two hours of walking, climbing and tottering to do. You are either ill-informed, or just phenominally stupid.

Athithi devo bhava, my ass. 

September 16, 2014


The sunset was glorious today. The kind that makes you want to write poetry about it. The kind that makes you long for life on the highway, the wind in your hair and destination unknown, and not behind the picture glass window in front of your desk that gives you a wonderful view of the sky. I stood looking at it for a long time. Till the orange ball of light dipped beneath the horizon, playing peekaboo with the clouds, painting them in ravishing golden hues. I watched it till it disappeared, exhausted from the day's work, both me and the sun.

The beauty of the sunset kinda takes away from the brutality the sun unleashes upon Chennai during the day. It's not fair, right? All day long, we curse the heat. And then at dusk, even grown men stop for a moment to stare and admire the view (and click pictures, of course, because you simply HAVE to click pictures of everything nowadays). It's weirdly like an abusive relationship where the woman puts up with the man's abuses and assaults, but at the end of the day, turns putty in his hands when he seems to repent and says "I'm sorry. I do this only because I love you so much? Can't you see that?"

I stared for a long time at the sunset. I stared till one of my colleagues yelled "Enough Divya, it won't stare back at you." And everyone laughed. Who said it won't stare back? It was staring right back at me, in all its golden glory, telling me, it's ok. What do they know? For them, the moment is over the minute they click a picture and post it to their Whatsapp group, with people commenting "wow, beautiful". For them, the magic is over the second the colour dulls. They don't have the patience to stand and look at the multitude of shades the sky was getting painted in. Who has time for all that?

It was telling me, it's ok, life is not all that bad. You may have bad days, you may have tough phases, you may have to deal with difficult people with a smile. But it's ok. For every bad day, there are hundred excellent ones. For every tough phase, there are innumerable extraordinary ones. For every difficult person, there are hundreds of others who love you unconditionally for who you are, who don't ask "Why are you, you?"; who don't expect you to 'stick to the template'.

For every brutal Chennai day, there is a glorious sunset at the end of it.  

September 6, 2014

Of birthdays, marriage, and turning 28

I don’t like my birthday. I always get depressed around the time. My thoughts range from “I’m getting older, not younger. What’s there to be happy about?” to “I am a year older and I haven’t done anything significant in my life. And people want a treat for that. Rubbish.” A birthday is usually more of a celebration for the people around you than for yourself because you are kind of obligated to take them out for lunch or dinner. And this is especially true when you are working. Your colleagues won't buy you a present, but they will expect you to treat them. They get you a cake, sure, but there again, who is the cake really for? You or for the rest of the team?

I never had such an aversion towards birthdays when I was younger. I used to in fact look forward to it. Getting older was an exciting concept, until I actually did get older. I couldn't wait to be a teenager, because aren't teens supposed to be like the coolest phase ever? I was dying to turn 20, because that was like a window to better opportunities, independence. A couple of years into my twenties I realised that with opportunities and independence also come expectations and responsibilities. And that's when my birthday stopped being fun for me anymore. Now when my birthday is around the corner, I feel a solid weight in my stomach and a dull thump in my heart, as though something bad is going to happen.

A few days before my birthday last year, the first one since getting married (and I mention this specifically because it holds relevance to what I'm about to say next), everyone was like, "So, first birthday right? What plans?" And I, first genuinely nonplussed, then pissed, answered "What do you mean first? I'm 27, not 1". "Ya, but first one after getting married right. So that's different". "I'm sorry, but how is it different? Just because I'm married now, does it make the preceding 27 years of my life and the birthdays obsolete?" That my  husband got me a voucher for a tattoo and took me out for dinner is a different matter. Which I totally appreciate. I finally got myself inked in February this year.

Another conversation with ex-colleagues last year went something like this:-
Them: So Divya, your birthday is coming up no?
Me (with zero excitement): Ya, whatever.
Them: Why are you not excited?
Me: What's there to be excited about? I'm a year older and have nothing to show for it. I have done absolutely nothing significant in my life.
Them: What do you mean, nothing significant? You got married, right?


I mean, what can you even say to such people? Don't get me wrong, I love my husband. But I don't think getting married was an achievement. It was something that had to happen as a natural progression in life, so it did. It had nothing to do with my capabilities or my talents (although, the whacky profile that I wrote on the
matrimonial site did help me in finding a suitable partner). It was a significant life event, sure, but it was not something that I did because I was good at it. Because, let me be honest, being a good wife doesn't come naturally to me. I'm not unselfish, I'm not so noble that I will put my husband's needs over mine, I'm unreasonable when I want my way, I don't cook everyday, three times a day for my husband, sometimes, at the end of a long day at office, all I want to do is sit and watch sitcom reruns with a glass of wine and Dragon Chicken from Wonton; the clothes are not always washed in time, and my family, the one that has looked after me and stood by me all these years continues to be my top priority, and that will never change. But then again, who decides what the qualifiers of a "good wife" are, right? Because let's face it, no matter how much you do, there will always be a few people who will pronounce you a bad wife just because you don't wear sindoor or thaali, or order in dinner.  

The last one year has been quite eventful, though. I switched jobs after only four months at my previous company. I couldn't wait to get out of there. I got a job that I wanted, and I've been having a whale of a time there. I work crazy hours, but I love it. You know that sleep you get at the end of a long, satisfying day of work? Bliss, right? Of course, it  comes with its tensions, and me being me, obsesses over every tiny thing. But I am lucky to have got a wonderful boss and team. And I'm doing well there *touchwood*

April 9, the day I completed my probation and got confirmed, was the day my little niece came into the world. Mrinalini - a.k.a Millie, Millie Mouse, Milsoo, Milsa, Millieboo, Millsie, Soudamini, Pankajam and whatever else catches my sister's and my fancy - is a little ray of sunshine. She is gorgeous and is the centre of our universe as of now. A precious little child.

Soon after that, I participated in an inter-corporate cultural fest. I was part of the group dance team. We cleared the prelims but could not win in the finals. Considering that this was the first time ever we were participating, we put up a commendable  show. It was a rigorous three weeks. I would put in 8.5-9 hours of work, and then two hours of solid practise. By the time I would get home by 11, I'll be ready to just fall into bed. As strenuous as it was, it was an exhilarating experience, plus it helped me lose some weight.

August by far has been the most interesting month this year. It started off with the finals of the dance competition. The weekend of August 15, we headed to Pondicherry. And I did my first ever scuba dive. I honestly cannot put into words how amazing that was. I have claustrophobia, so I tend to panic when I go underwater. Ironically, I love water sports. I get scared initially, but  I  go anyway. And every time I get dunked into the water, I think that I'm about to die. Strangely enough, it's whenever I've felt like I'm about to die that I've felt the most alive. Like when I went river rafting in Coorg and the raftsman pushed me into the water (for fun, of course, because I said something cheeky to him), which he later told us was 80 feet deep. Of course, I was wearing a life jacket, but when you're pushed into the water in the middle of a river (the monsoon was in all its glory that time around in Coorg), your life tends to flash in front of your eyes.

Anyway, the dive. So they took us about five kilometres into the ocean, fitted us with the tank, mask, fins and other gear, and then splash! The beginners are to hold on to a rope attached to the boat, called descent line, at all times with one hand. As we go down, we need to keep equalizing so that the pressure difference doesn't hurt our ears. And it WILL hurt. Badly. Even though you have the regulator in your mouth, you will try to breathe through your nose and when you realise you can't, you will panic. At least I did. But after a few minutes, you'll calm down. And you know what will calm you down? No, not the assurance that the diving instructor is there with you all the time. Not the safe support of the descent line. Not even the knowledge that one's body is buoyant by nature and can float in water. No. What will calm you is the silence. Ming-fucking-blowing. All you can hear down there is the sound of bubbles as you breathe in and breathe out. Nothing else. And it is so incredibly soothing. Eerie, if you are the kind who can't take that silence. We went about 13-14 meters deep and saw many schools of small fish. Unfortunately, the water wasn't very clear, so we couldn't see a great deal. And as luck would have it, my mask filled up with water completely and I couldn't see anything, so I had to spend a good amount of time clearing it (on a side note, I have renewed respect for contact lenses). The dive lasted about 30 minutes, but it felt like 10, honestly. I thoroughly enjoyed the boat ride to and from the dive spot. Fortunately, I don't get sea-sick (touchwood touchwood). On the return ride, as we saw the harbour approaching, the first thing that crossed my mind was "Shucks, back to reality". For about five hours, we were cut off from the mainland, no mobile phones, no internet, no books, no laptops, no office. And hardly any conversations. A boat ride into the ocean is hardly the place where you feel the need to make idle chit chat. It was a wonderful weekend; not even the terribly humid weather or the horrible hotel dampened our spirits. And if you like  to eat, Pondi is your place. Bloody expensive, but yummy food.

The following weekend, I participated in my first ever marathon - the annual Terry Fox run. Except, I walked the 6 kilometers. I'm not a runner. So I half-ran half-walked. I am glad I completed it, even though 6 kms is hardly a distance. I hope to do more.

Just when things were getting back to routine, S fell ill. Nothing serious, but we were in the hospital for five days. We're still here, waiting for the discharge papers to come as I write this.

So yes, it's been an eventful year from when I turned 27. Highs, lows, new experiences, bouts of moodiness, a new addition to our family (one who lights up our days with just a smile)... The only thing that hasn't happened is writing. Let's not dwell much upon that for now. As my birthday approaches, the weight in my stomach seems lighter and the thumping in my heart is considerably more mellow. I still feel I haven't done anything significant in my life, but last month, I made the first step towards making a difference in somebody else's. I started sponsoring a child, something I'd been wanting to do for a long time, but didn't know the avenues to do so. It's just been two months, and it's not a huge amount, but it is something. And I registered to be an organ donor. I'm not putting this up here because I want any praises. I'm saying it because I wanted to share the joy with you. When I got the sponsorship kit from the organization with a photo of the child I'm sponsoring, my eyes welled up. To be honest, I don't even  know how much of a difference I will make in his life. I don't even know how much of the money I'm paying will even be utilized for his benefit. But I feel like I'm finally doing something worthwhile with my money.

Turning 28 hasn't been so bad, after all.

*If you managed to read the whole post, thank you for your patience. This is what happens when I don't write very often. I tend to ramble endlessly.