GOA Calling: A Homestay Guide 

Every once in a while a magnum opus project comes ones way. For me this was in the form of the latest trends of #homestays for #timesofindia for the season 2015-2016. 

It was an arduous task traversing the length and breadth of this fine state of ours to being to you the top 20 #homestays     across India. 

Lucky and honoured to have catalogued and compiled the Goa chapter for this fantastic initiative. 

The guide is is available at your leading  bookstores. So before you head on over for the season do check out the list. It’s a home away from home experience. 

 

  

Grab your copy today!! 

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Spa’z #staycation & how!

I remember reading the diary of Axl Rose (from Guns’n’Roses fame), wherein one of his mates said- ‘one can never comprehend the time in his world. Your on the Axl’s time zone’. I get the same feeling every time I finish an out of town #foodtrail. This last one in Mumbai though thoroughly satisfying, had me beat. What better way to kick back- than to, get into ‘Spa’z #staycation‘ at the Alila Diwa Hotel Goa

Many who converdsed with me during my long soaks in the bathtub (look at that beauty in the image above) envied the ‘double whammy’ of heading back to Goa and that too in the lap of such luxury.

What can I say? It’s a writers life-indeed. 

So, heading back to my ‘Spa’z #staycation‘- being the klutz, that I am, I happily checked into the hotel without any identification. Top it off, that too, dead in the middle of the night. They were kind enough-NOT to keep me waiting for long and after a few online checks identified mr. NObody. Some serious CIA stuff over the counter took place that night. What was it you asked? If I told you I’d have to kill you. To avoid the harassment don’t do a NObody, and check in with proper identification,please. 

Though a suffering insomniac- I was deadbeat. The bed enticed me, to snuggle in, while the AC cranked up the chill. Being a technosavant, the room had me written all over it. Yes, I’m that guy, who enters a room and needs to check out all the electricals. Fancy lightings and switches. What connection does what. Cause and effect really. 

There was also an ‘I spy with my little eye’ contest with so many minute details taken care of by the management. Like-the personal hand written note,by the General Manager- Mr. Siddharth Savkur (Yes-I stress on this a moment longer, given that while hotels do personalize real well these days, going the extra mile- i have mostly bared witness to printed stationary with the name and signature signed off by hand. The art of ink to paper is purist and much appreciated, from this old soul). 

Lest we forget the psychoanalysis of my near and dear ones gracing a printed card accompanying, would have made any psychoanalyst proud. The art of class indeed.  (let’s not forget Facebook for the pictorial courtesy

 It’s personal  
I am up early next morning in full witness of the view below. It’s one of those moments, where one gets lost in time and in the process almost missed breakfast just staring into the sapphire blue pool ahead with lush palms for company. I could have sworn, I heard peacocks well in the distance. 
 Room with a view  
After a rather scrumptious meal- (you have seen my breakfast posts, hence I shall NOT traumatized you, especially with all on offer and just let your imagination run wild on this count), I relaxed by the swimming pool and waiting for my appointed massage. I was slotted in for the Theraputic Massage for an entire hour and a half.  Tissue deep and aromatically infused are two words to describe this treatment. At the iron fisted hands of Ravi, who is a certified Masseuse from Kerela, I was kneaded into (quite literally) a snore. Rather embarrassing to say the least, but he didn’t mind the hypnotic tune I belted out, during the procedure. He found it rather relaxing (or maybe he was being polite, one would never know) An outdoor shower, amidst a lush garden had me soak in the sun (literally) with cool water streaming down my back- temporarily fooling my senses to a tropical paradise far far away. 

Top it off in the lap of luxury with a fine meal with the team- Siddharth and Rashmi who generously took time off their busy schedule to fuss over me. Delving into the spotlight of food you must try their fresh Kokum bar at the breakfast counter and their wide variety of eggs to order. The cheese and mushroom with sage was meticulously fluffed . Not to mention their king prawns which were every so fresh at the lunch table. Fresh catch of the day at the hands of Chef Alex Ensor. 

It’s a quick #staycation, as i have been away from home far too long and miss the babies- Mojo,my Labrador and Cupcake June, my Persian cat. 

The 5am, pee-o-clock alarm from the mutt beckons. 

Spa’zin out till next time. 

Spa treatment  
Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography Shot on an IPhone6 

An Ode to forgotten Hospitality 

I love house parties. The madness that prevails before the guests arrive to ensure one puts their best foot forward- silverware polished, best China laid out, wine cellar stacked and the glassware spotless. It’s a lovely feeling to have close ones over on a pre planned date to ensure all is in order just like clockwork. 

What happens when one saunters over to a friends uninvited on a working day in bustling Mumbai is when the real McCoy presents itself- a simple yet elegant home cooked meal with a few last minute additions. 

It’s funny how friends meet, especially with the friend in question- Madhu. I resonate guarded attributes amongst my friend circle and in this case I shall just leave it at the name due to privacy clause I hold ever so dear. Madhu and I happened to meet all by chance at a furniture shop in Goa and hit it off instantly. Ever since then there has been no turning back and I can carelessly invite myself over to her place- unannounced only to incur the wrath of her in iron curls post a long jog on the beach. The simplicity and uninhibited warm and welcome feeling reciprocated is something not even family members can live upto in this day and age and I speak from experience. 

There was nothing earth shattering or ground breaking to report except chatter and then some more for a lazy afternoon ahead. A lady who knows her art, is refined and poised with grace yet throws the most elegant and subliminal parties filled with aplomb and panache. It’s a heady concoction to be in the presence off and we rage in theory from drapes to silverware with a hint of stocks and shares with artwork openings thrown in good measure. It’s stimulating and drives my grey cells into a frenzy. We were in hope of her son joining us for a meal but he had a rather ‘working’ late night and decided to sleep in. Catch you on the next one buddy. 

So, after all the fancy dining options in the past few days, this was a meal worth ‘gate crashing’ for. Home made and filled with love and presented ever so effortlessly. The flavor of Indian spices in the all vegetarian meal, tickled my tastebuds beyond measure. From Arbi Fry, Okra (bhendi) masala, Panchmel daal and some dum Aloo, i was in seventh heaven. Let’s not forget the Dahi Bhala with Paratha. 

But this is not about the meal at hand. It’s about the hospitality which is seldom practiced in these times. An uninvited guest these days, irks the criticisms of all and sundry between family members and becomes pillow talk long after the guest is gone. Sure it’s all about priorities and so called fast friendships these days and ‘time is of the essence’. Heck, I confess to having done it a long time ago and I am not proud to say so. 

It’s the simple things that go a long way to forge bonds of steel that can never be broken. An expression of surprise for sure, with a hint of twinkle in the eye to cook up ‘left overs’ and ordering some ice cream to the elaborate daily meal consumed by members of the family is what was presented to me and this by far outdoes some of the parties I have been invited too over the years. It’s that spontaneity, which is cherished. The meal was fabulous and here’s a BIG thank you my dearest Madhu. 

The Mini Grand Indian Thali  Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography 

Shot on Iphone6