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Monday, August 3

A Week In Retreat

Once upon a time, there was this charming young woman, who came back to her home town in Kerala, after many years in New York. She was passionate about travel and she decided that her work has to be all about travel. She started a boutique travel outfit called Silk Route Escapes that designed unique experiential itineraries for the world traveler. One fine day, while on a boat (but of course), she chanced upon a little island, and spotted the perfect piece of land. She sighed and wished that she could get that perfect piece of land to live on and to work from. And then as her wish turned into firm resolve, she made it happen. She took that perfect piece of land and step-by-step, brick-by-brick, created a sublime abode. And if you thought that this was the happy ending, wait for more. She not only created this beautiful retreat but also opened it up for fellow appreciators of charming spaces, to stay in. And then, the happiest part of the story for me, she invited me to join her and experience the quiet little heaven, that is Kayal.

Maneesha Panicker and I have been in touch since the time Kayal was just an idea. She had 'heard' me exclaim over Kochi, and knew that I would love her little nook on the island of Kakkathuruthu - the Island of Crows.

And what a lovely experience I had! It started with a magical pre-dawn boat ride across the back waters of Lake Vembanand to the secluded shores of the island. The early morning peace and the gentle lull of water was the perfect backdrop to practice the yoga and meditation that my friend and I got initiated into earlier in the week. Simple yet beautifully done up rooms, open air bathrooms, traditional Kerala architecture, restored antique furniture, vintage pictures on the walls, friendly & helpful staff and best of all, a kitchen supervised by Maneesha's mom! With finger licking delicious food being churned out from the kitchen through the day and warm conversations at the dining table, we felt completely at home!   

As the sun set, we decided to take a boat ride to the other side of the island and then walk through the village back to Kayal. The leisurely boat ride was followed by walking through the meandering paths, taking in the local village life and a pit stop at the chai wallah by the shore. I also had to make cat-dog stops to befriend each fur ball that crossed my way. Or not cross my way. I went out of my way to say hello to the cats of Kakkathuruthu, and well, they weren't very impressed by my friendly overtures, as you can see from the pic below. Balan, on the other hand, our cheerful boat man, regaled us with local tales and ramped us up on the local flora and fauna.

I am now back home, after two superb days at Kayal, and am yet to get over the Kerala hangover. The good part (yes, the good stuff just doesn't end!) about Kayal Island Retreat is that it's a quick thirty minute drive away from Kochi. And Kochi being one of my favorite cities, I know that I am going to back very soon to this Island of Crows and again enjoy the amazing hospitality at Kayal. A shout out to the team at Kayal, Rupa, Maneesha and a big thank you hug to Maneesha's mom ~ I now have a second home in Kerala! :)

Here's how you can get to Kayal and find more info:

~ And then there was also Coimbatore & Kochi ~

My travel last week actually started with Coimbatore. My friend and I went to the Isha Yoga Center and spent three intensive days at the retreat. It was an unique experience and I loved the fact that apart from the yoga & meditation, we got to do so many outdoor activities, along with a bunch of fellow Damn-will-I-ever-learn-how-to-meditate enthusiasts. Walks in the foothills of Velliangiri hills, treks in the surrounding forest and a thorough pounding beneath the cold waterfall located deep in the forest complemented perfectly the physically & emotionally intense Yoga & Meditation sessions. I have come back rejuvenated with the resolve to continue the practice. Though my boy cat seems to take a personal affront to my doing the cat pose and every morning along with the yoga, I also practice hand to paw combat to ward off his attack on my legs & arms! Clearly, my cat doesn't like me all calm and zen.

And how could I go south and not spend atleast a few hours in my favorite city - Kochi! As I drove around Jew Town and the Fort Kochi area, just a few hours in hand before we caught the evening flight back home, I spotted old favorites & new boutiques, cafes and galleries. I caught up with my friend & midnight badminton partner (story for another time), the very talented corporate chef at Malabar Escapes, over a fabulous lunch of tapas and chilled white wine. And as promised, I shared snippets from the entire trip over at instagram, as it happened!

I can go on and on about this trip of mine, but I need to get up and start packing, for I am traveling again tomorrow morning. I will be back with you, later in the week. Till then, see you here, here and there!

[Images: All mine. An Indian Summer]

Tuesday, July 21

Come, Have A Seat

Yes, please do
I insist

Feel at home
I don't have much to say today
So instead
Let me put on some music for you
It's perfect for the mood right now

It was so lovely having you over
Do come again
For I will have travel stories to share
From my retreat this week
And a lovely little island abode I am visiting, next week

Oh, you will miss me till then?
Sigh. I will miss you too
Let's be in touch
Over at Instagram
Where I will keep popping in
A pic or two

[Images: From Here]

Thursday, July 16

Fingers Crossed

I am typing this post with my fingers crossed. As at least 92.3% of you must be aware, having tried to type with crossed fingers at various junctures in life, it's not easy. But one must do what one got to do. I am currently going through a phase of excesses and all these excesses are the ones that I love! Like travel, oh my god, so much travel that my travel toothpaste is finishing faster than my regular home one. Same to same tube size, people, same to same. And excess of places to style and decorate. The wildlife lodge project is in full swing, I moved homes recently and I am moving cities next month! (More on that later. My instagram gang has had the first dibs on that front...they have been helping me shortlist my next abode). My mind is overflowing with inspiration and style overlaps and decor ideas and when I close my eyes it's like I have an eye-closed-version of pinterest running there, if you know what I mean. And an excess of things to do. Good things all like meeting people, learning new stuff, upgrading technology yada, and erm, some, not that pleasant, like renewing my Driver's license. I have been a wayward, lawless, wild citizen these past couple of weeks since my license expired and I am going to hide under the bed with my cat before you all out there with intact licenses start tch tching at me.

So the fingers are crossed for even though I might whine a teeny tiny bit, and would love [LOVE] to have a week with nothing to do but put my feet up and get mauled by my mad cat, I do not want this exciting excesses phase to end. All this wild rushing from one thing to the other, from one place to the next, is exhilarating!  This blog of mine and those emails of yours are getting somewhat neglected, I must admit, but but, give me a few more weeks, my kittens. I promise to be less wayward and lawless. And yes, I will get that license renewed! With my superior driving skills, I should be awarded licenses! At home! Along with a Tshirt that says 'Superior Driving Ninja'! But no. Red tape and ignorance of my brilliance and all. *mutter mutter and eyes appropriately rolled at those licensing authorities.

I am off to Bangalore early morning tomorrow. This time it's all work, and work that I am really looking forward to. I will be spending the day at my favorite textile studio, selecting and designing furnishing for my project. And as with my other trips, you will get sneak peaks all day on instagram. Next week there is another trip lined up with a friend, a first-of-it's-kind trip for me, and I will tell you more about it when I come back. There is also a huge announcement lined up for the next month, so my lovelies, as they say, keep reading this blog of mine! You will find it all here :)

You be good
I will see you soon!

[Image Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9]

Wednesday, July 8

Coz I Gotta Have Faith

I gotta have faith

Because I got to have faith faith faith
I got to have faith faith faith!

I bet you are humming this song and moving to the beat, as I too am right now. And as I did when I was sitting in a tiny plane a day before and could hear the faint strains of this song coming from someone's earphones. I started humming and tapping my feet, and was joined by my co-passenger, whose involuntary humming of the song meant that he and I were of the same vintage, give or take a couple of months, as we later discovered. So we hummed I gotta have faith faith faith and swayed along in sync with the turbulent flight. What's with these old songs, anyway? I don't think I even like George Michael now (though try telling that to my teen self)! Yet, each time I hear one of the oldies, I can't help but sing. And if space permits, dance. My truck of  a car is one of the places where you will find me singing and (moderately) dancing. My furball of a cat is a long suffering witness to the singing & dancing routines, sometimes after a few glasses of wine. And no, he doesn't join in, either in the wine or in the singing/dancing bit, if you must know. And now that I have shared my singing and dancing trivia, which no doubt you will find useful one fine day, let's move on to the things that make my blog sing and dance, like these pretty pretty rooms. That was an abrupt segue, but really, sometimes it is best this way to get to the point of the post. Which is to share my latest haul of loveliness with you! Once I start talking, or singing, then you know, it's hard to stop. So before I start off with Freeedomm next, you have a dekko!



I am traveling again tomorrow for the rest of the week, this time in not-such-a tiny plane. As I did with my trip earlier this week, I will be sharing the as-it-happens on instagram. Join me!

 See you next week, my lovelies!

[Image credit: First five images from The Interior Stylist and rest of the images from photographer Gorta Yuuki]

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