Saturday, November 20, 2010

Haal Kaisa Hai Janab Ka?

It has been a while since Ive written. We were in Sri Lanka most of November. This was the first time we were flying after being "downgraded" to Silver from our Gold Card membership, something I just cannot understand with all the travelling we have done this year. Thats OK. I now know how to entertain a toddler in Bangkok airport without access to the Star Alliance Lounge. Somewhere past the security check on Level 3 is a little playground for children which must be the best kept secret as there is no "toddler traffic". Arhaan was pretty happy cooking and washing dishes in the pretend kitchen, good habits that I hope he does not forget when he enters his teens.

If your kid is considerate enough he will fall asleep and you can indulge in a nice foot massage. Sadly our kid's " cup of kindness" only extended to showing model child behaviour in the playground.

Colombo, rather Mount Lavinia where they had put us up is pretty, it will remind some of the Marina Beach in Chennai, though with less early morning walkers. There is a train line running through the beach, which might be quite unsettling for some, but considering I am still going through my "life hands you lemons" phase, I told the toddler how lucky for him that we find ourselves in the Island of Sodor, yonder is Thomas the Tank Engine and his Friends paying us a half hourly visit.

We are a strange, strange family as you can tell if you eavesdrop on a typical breakfast for us when we are travelling. Im the one usually whining "Why Cant We StayHeeeere, Why Cant You Get Posted Here. I dont want to go back to Dhaka" alternated with So if there is a Tsunami, do we run, go up, tell me again all the while Arhaan chiming Go, Go, GoBaba, Go. Sadly, Arhaan doesnt do buffets. He is OK with restaurants but there must be something about the anxiety of people, 20 minutes, 20 dishes, can we do justice?combined with the frustration of the hotel staff, If they ask me just once more where the silverware is. ITS ON YOUR TABLE FOOLS and all that coffee in the air. Nopes, he doesnt like buffets. Which of course cramps our style as we really like to eat.

Gman had three days off in between. We were planning for a weekend getaway in Dambula and stay at the Heritance Kandalama which has our friends raving. Sadly, 3000 other people also think so. And it was the Diwali weekend, which even though I keep on joking is like being in Germany on Armistice Day, is still a pretty big thing for most Sri Lankans. The hotel management were kind enough to give us a booking for a later date, emphasis on later. I think my grand children will be very happy when Arhaan takes them for that weekend.

We finally ended up going to Kandy and Nuwara Eliya (a hill town famous for sprawling tea gardens and those hankering for a bit of colonial memorabilia, but considering we are living in times of all things Ramayana rather than Britannia, there are car loads of Indian tourists making way to Sita Elia, the site where Sita was allegedly held captive. On an earlier visit which was a good 13 years ago, there was a small grey cave and an emaciated pandit who was so thrilled that our bus load of students got down and walked through the place and chatted with him. Now of course there is a fat, contented little temple which wants us to take off our shoes and has all the signs of becoming even more prosperous in the future. Somehow it does not seem as REAL as it seemed earlier, though there are now more people, (even a court in India !) which believes that it is...and sadly there is no cave. The mark of (Hanu) man came around the same time.

But not all is lost. Some of our cousins are prospering. Three centuries ago, my great grand daddy lost his tail so I can partake of your prasad goody bag.

On our way to the hills we passed beautiful waterfalls.
and had coffee in a beautiful boutique hotel The Plantation which indulges in the Brown Saheb in us. You know a garden seat with a view.

A bench where you can watch the world and the river flow by.

In Nuwara Eliya, we were upgraded courtesy Arhaan to a very posh suite in the Grand. It is funny how useful toddlers are in freaking out hotel staff that they may create a ruckus and disturb other patrons. Lets move them to a wing where they cant be seen and definitely not heard. The kid though was good as gold and didnt destroy any of the property that I was so paranoid of. In fact he never let go of the dad's hand. Sadly, he still didnt do buffets. And we never got around to making the paisa vasool of the paisa spent there alas.

Onwards ho to Kandy, where I took artistic pics of foot poised on moonstones (in the Temple of the Tooth)
and I wondered what was behind this as offerings, or is it a mannat, vow made to the deity? Anyone out there who might know?
There is a new hall coming up at the temple now.
On our way out Arhaan saw a pelican which was quite ready to apply for senior citizen benefits.

He was more excited after attending a "cultural show" which amongst others had fire walking.

By the time we reached Kandy, we had decided to split up when it came to partaking of the buffet. However, it was not helpful as there is always one hotel staff who is worried. " Baby NOT coming? Your husband NOT coming".
Sadly, by this time Arhaan had decided that he just didnt want to leave the Island Paradise. Pretty verandah, no. Pity about the toddler who did not want anyone touching his red bag.

We got back to Colombo to hear that I won the 99labels competition (see earlier post), wow, this was amazing news. I thought I had my share of good things happening to me courtesy wedding when Arhaan was born, but well I can milk that day for some more time, I guess.

But my evening in Nuwara Eliya did make me think. The place is a lot like the hill station my mom would drag my sister and me to when we were kids, and I remember most summer evenings we were there we were always moping about Some Place We Would Rather Be, the grass was always greener on the other side (of the hill), we were always sure there was someone having a grander time than us in some other hotel. But that evening as Arhaan dozed in his stroller, and Gman and me sat reading in the parlour (and a cold cold wind blew outside. Kafee Angrezi Mahol tha if I must say) I looked around and thought to myself I have never been happier or more content. Such a long journey, from that hotel in Nathiagali to this room here, I dont think its possible now to tell that sixteen year old to stop fretting about her life. Actually I would rather not. For all that teenage angst, and twenty something shenanigans did lead me to this very moment and the people around me, and THIS is something I will never change.

But I am going to make some changes. The name of the blog for one. When I had started out a while ago it was called Living Room to go with the golkamra in the address. At the time I had a "jootey utar kar aaye, please take off your shoes" kind of attitude towards the blog. It was a place to store some of my op/eds, some thoughts on potential projects, comments were not allowed, it was that kind of place. Then life happened. In time it became notes to Arhaan lest I kick the bucket and he is left thinking about the "every day" questions about me, the blogging process saw a change as I wrote earlier. And for some reason it became Life Or Something Like That with a click. Well, I realise now that there are a lot of people out there who might have heard of the Jolie film as well. So a change is a'comin. And I think there is a different mood, a whole different light in the sky as I write. It could be the winter air. It is 28 degrees I confess, but it looks like winter, and umm after the hot gulam jaman from a while ago, it smells like winter too. I have been thinking of green tea, and gup shup and tucking your feet under as you settle down on that cushion in the corner. Parul, has very generously offered to gift me Baithak (it could be after the 50 or so votes I cast surreptitiously, she might have thought "well she really likes it, doesnt she"), she is not so keen on the green tea as it reminds her of a diet drink (not the way we drink ours honey, I tell her. The teaspoon can actually stand in the sugar settled at the bottom). So does the Sheny Chai (Green Tea) in the Baithak, strike your fancy. I promise we have no other branches.


  1. so did you or did you not obssessively fall in love sri lanka?

    the mmmim disliked it on arrival...

    and as a long term fan and reader (and a future publisher of your book -- well i can have a dream cant i ?), i totally dislike baithak and cannot bring myself to key it in...

    it sounds like a body part that i sit on.
    pls consider an english name...

  2. Pa khair, Aneela Jaan!
    Lovely blog! I just came across it and am delighted; feels like I've been missing out on a lot all this time.


  3. You really should write for travel mags, darling. Not just because you have us planning our next holidays to where your footsteps have fallen, but because of the little delights you capture and reveal to us; because of the experiences you live and recreate for us. Your Dhaka during Durga Puja and now SL post have conjured up visions wonderful in my mind.

    And given your love for all things filmy, how about, "Thodasa sheny chai ho jaaye?" or some such more creative line to go with the Baithak feel? Or 'Saqqi's Baithak', you know, for your knack of mixing up really intoxicating adda sessions...

  4. Ah phooie to the MiM, I quite like Baithak.

    I've always wanted to go to Sri Lanka. Lovely post, this. Now I'm waiting to see what changes you will ring. Are you planning to change the focus of the blog?

  5. Humphing at MiM, Baithak is a very good name, I say. Aneela's baithak, come in for a cup of shney chai. Sounds perfect. Chalo, ab hum re-naamkaran par aayenge.

    I get more and more envious of your travels. Let's plan that trip together at the earliest. Or you know what Anee, let me wean Ragini when she turns one and then you and I can take a holiday sans kids? What say, huh? Huh?

    *most excitedly starts day-dreaming*

  6. MiM, I think you are outnumbered by the Baithak lovers!
    I'll have my green tea without sugar, Aneela love, and I'll take the comfy armchair, thank you very much- the old knees don't enjoy sitting on the floor anymore.
    No need for too much khidmat and mehmaan nawazi- doston mein koi takkalluf ki zaroorat nahin.
    Looking forward to your new place!

  7. nuwara eliya made me think too- except when i went i WAS an angstsy hmmm 20 yr old and in the throes of falling in love for what i thought was forever. that place will do wonders to push you over the edge as you remember the many filmy songs that have been sung in tea plantations :D
    loved reading this- and as always im amazed and awed by how much you manage to do with one little boy as an accaessory.

  8. I agree with MammaMia - you should consider writing for travel magazines and whatnot! Your style and great story-telling gift is perfect for it.

  9. Since Parul's readers gave Baithak, you have the wonderful chance to own it. Pls do, I urge. And if I were a tea-drinker, I'd certainly come down for sheny chai :)

  10. MIM is going to publish my future work, how many of you are going to top that eh. Lets look for a "consensus candidate".


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