A New Beginning…

The past two weeks have been hectic to say the least. A lot of positive changes have taken place in the meantime, one of which is that my recharging sabbatical has come to an end and I’m getting back to working full-time. The other being, Kam and myself have decided to celebrate our second year anniversary by going on a road trip through Maharashtra. The next few months are definitely full of excitement and I hope to share the fun of new experiences on my blog as well.

Here is an abstract sketch I did while waiting at an interview:

Excited Sketch

Balinese Masks

Among the many popular activities in Bangkok, shopping is a favorite among most tourists and we were no exception! There are many stores and street shops selling clothes, art, crafts and curios. Women squealed in delight as they found their dream outfit for the night out, men were immersed in browsing through a variety of tech products. A colorful store where the products had made their way into the street’s exterior beckoned to us. The first few minutes were just a feast for the senses, there were beautiful abstract paintings, sculptures, figurines, dolls, masks, rugs and a  shop full of kitsch. The ornately carved wooden masks caught my eye, I imagined they would make a great addition to my home decor.

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I initially presumed the masks were locally made in Thailand, it was only later that I came to understand they were made in Bali and popularly known as Balinese masks. The philosophy behind the mask is that every element has a soul, including the mask created. These masks represent various mythological characters, many of which are from the Hindu religious texts such as the Ramayan. There are also strong influences of Buddhism. These masks were used to narrate stories of life, of kings and the triumphs of good against evil.

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The masks are typically made from wood. Craftsmen in even the remotest parts of Bali are adept with the knife and sculpt staggering pieces of art. Intricate drawings and shading is also seen on the finished masks. The prominent colours used are Red (symbolising courage), Yellow (wisdom), White (purity), Green (peace) and Black (ambitious). These masks were used in dramas, dances and as protective charms, today they look great as elements of home decor.

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The masks adorn a prominent space in our home and we are pleasantly reminded of our travels, every time we stop to admire them. What I would love is to visit Bali and sit through the actual making of some these expressive masks. 🙂

Small and Beautiful

DSC_0152Kathakali (classical dance form originating from Kerala) and traditional cow head fridge magnets done with such eye for detailing.

Sometimes while doing up our homes, we realise that it is the small things that capture a big place in our hearts. Like maybe our kid’s doodles / pets’ paw prints or our parent’s black and white photographs or even the simple fridge magnet picked up on travels!

Here are two beautiful fridge magnets we picked up on Jew Street, Cochin. It is true, small is beautiful.

And in my personal opinion, nothing quite like revisiting travel memories 🙂

Turning 26…

I could not have asked for a better birthday week. I simply had it all; family, travel, scenic locations, picnics, spa, games, cycling, yummy cakes and shopping for curios! After spending a few days at my parents house in Coimbatore, we started early morning on May 1st for our first stop of the vacation – Munnar. We were headed to this very scenic hill station for the first time and I must say the reviews for this place is underrated. It must be seen to be believed! Long winding roads in the ghat sections that seemed to go on forever, tossing us left to right and right to left as we desperately tried to soak in all that lush green beauty around us! The tall trees with massive trunks that might be a few 100 years old, sprawling tea estates that resemble a patchwork lawn you just want to lie down on and beautiful birds flitting about, Munnar indeed has plenty to share.

greenery1Sprawling Tea Estates

We stayed at Sterling Resort in Munnar, the rooms were cozy, but what interested us more were the outdoor activities. Playing games, cycling, taking long walks and having hot cups of ‘Kattan’ ( black tea in Malayalam) made us forget that back home summer was actually causing havoc!

flower thumbprintedColorful Flora

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On visiting the spa at the resort, I was pleasantly surprised to see Kerala wall murals adorning the reception area. I love this vibrant and ethnic form of painting that one can see across many parts of Kerala. We saw more of this in Cochin as well, but more on that in my next post.

mural1Kerala Wall Mural Depicting Lord Vishnu 

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Another element of decor caught my eye in the spa, something I had not seen before. Coconut shell lamps; the intricate patterns drilled into these shells threw sparkling light all around. And since they were small with low wattage lamps, more of them were used to adorn the ceiling here to make the room appear brighter, providing a spectacular arrangement.

coconut shell lampsLovely Coconut Shell Lamps

And lastly before we left for our second part of the journey to Cochin, we did some yummy shopping at the Tata store in Munnar. The well laid out shop offered plenty of choice in tea, flavored tea, strawberry preserve (one can get this only here in Munnar, I think the rest is exported). The highlight for me is the wholesome strawberries soaked and preserved in lemon syrup and my favorite lemon tea! We have stocked up enough to last us a few months 🙂

preserveStrawberry Preserve Manufactured By Tata

Kattan ChaiLemon Flavored Black Tea

As we prepared to head out again, the only thing that made leaving behind this beautiful  hill station for the hot and humid city of Cochin bearable was the prospect of visiting a tiny area called Jew Town, which I first visited in 2009 and loved at the very first sight. More on Jew Town and its precious curios in my next post.

Summertime Travel!

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When I told my friends, I was off on a vacation over the weekend they wanted to know my destination. And when I mentioned the name of the town in Andhra Pradesh, they were amused that instead of taking a break from the heat, I was in fact  jumping from the frying pan and right into the fire!

The past three days that we spent in Chittoor & Puttur in Andhra Pradesh were HOT! HOT! HOT! and DRY!

But also loads of fun as it always is when family gets together, rest assured there is plenty of good food, stories that need to be told and some re-told (a 100 times over!), fun games and activities planned and new findings and experiences. I ate more than I normally do, since every family member was on a ‘lets-fatten-poor-anusha’ mode! I did rather enjoy it 😛

We had picnic by a waterfall, the water refreshingly cold, so cold that it was initially a shock and my husband was worried I was having trouble breathing! But slowly all I wanted was to stand under the pelting fall. Some great food and a small nap under the mango trees. A walk through the mango orchard, and the unforgettable experience of  getting tender coconuts from the tree and enjoying the refreshing drink.  Indeed this trip was was quite a break from city life.

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More on how I struggled to learn everything about how silk sarees are made in Narayanavanam, in just a single day and staying in a very much lived in village home that is more than 150 years old in the next few posts.

So tell me now, what is your most memorable vacation ?

 

A Nice, Long Weekend

So the much awaited  long weekend is finally here, with elections and festivals lined up. And we have decided to make a small road trip to our relatives’ homes over the next three days starting early in the morning tomorrow. I’m quite excited as I will be visiting a more than 100 year old traditional home there, a mango orchard and might just get a peek into how silk thread is dyed and set for the weaving process 😀

So lets see how it goes and hopefully I have some great stuff to share on Monday!

I love long weekends, because it could mean travel. What about you, what do you love about your weekends?

Happy Weekend 🙂

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