Sunday, November 8, 2015

A Holiday Finally

We'd been talking of taking a break and going on vacation for what seems like forever. Moving milestones with work and endless lists of things to do at home ensured we were in August and I began to feel quite suffocated. In September, I was mentally immobile, unable to get through a full day without feeling angsty. I was not enjoying work too much and that is always a sign to me, because I really love what I do. 

I served K with an ultimatum, that I would put Sage in the car and drive off on a designated date if he didn't take time off from work and come with us. He relented. Arm twisting has always worked well for me!

The places we could go to on a short notice and over 10 days were limited. Because we travel with Sage, we drive to our destination. This means that any distance more than 300 kms needs a night stop. We'd decided to try and go to the hills or at least eliminated a sea shore holiday on K's request. Narrowing it down to destinations reachable from Bangalore (which was our halt) and that I didn't want to go to a place already visited, we picked Wayanad. 

We found a pet friendly resort in the middle of a forest and took off one early wednesday morning. 

This trip was going to be new in two ways - first we were going in our own car, usually we hire a taxi, secondly, K was going to drive, we did take our driver along for the first leg to Bangalore, thereafter, K was going to drive (sans license of course). 

On the 12th of oct, we slept at 2 AM, finishing work that always has a sense of urgency when you are on the cusp of a holiday, packing and generally trying to calm the excitement. We set off at 5:30 am with a very excited Sage who knew something was cooking! We reached Bangalore city by 1:30 PM and then the ordeal with traffic to get to my friends Shailesh and Shree's house took three hours and melted my brains. Stayed there that night and packed the driver back to Hyderabad. 

The morning we set off to Wayanad, I have not been so excited in a long long time. The absolute bliss to be just three of us was unmatched. Even the potholed roads in patches didn't bother us. We used Google Maps on the entire trip and realised that it is easy to get re routed if you take one small wrong turn or don't pay attention. K had a surprise in store, he drove through the Bandipur forest reserve. For some reason, the forest officials didn't seem to mind that we had a big fluffy dog hanging his head outside the window. 

Herds upon herds of spotted deer, lots of monkeys, some peacocks and lots of other birds. We also spotted tonnes (literally) of fresh elephant dung, but not one elephant. Which was disappointing, but the lushness of the forest and the cool climes more than made up. We realised we were in Kerala as soon as the roads turned narrow and winding. This stretch from Bangalore to Wayanad was beautiful except the last 50 kms to the resort we chose which was a nightmare. 

We reached our resort by 2:30, hungry and very irritated with the last patch of road. I'll write more about the resort in another post. I have bitter sweet experiences of it. Unhappy with our accommodation, K breathed fire and brimstone while Sage and I decided to take a nap. We were soon shifted into another more spacious place and there we spent the next four days - doing nothing.

We had a two room suite, one a largely unused living area and the second a very romantic if dimly lit bedroom (which was a nightmare to do routine things like read without an extra light after dark), a nice red floored porch and a small patch of grass in front. The end of the grass patch was the beginning of a thick natural fence of overgrown bamboo. Beyond that was a small lake, more like our backyard filled with rain water while I was growing up. No really, it was brown water in which a pair of ducks would aimlessly swim all day.

The next four days passed in a haze of food. Each day began and ended with endless food and there was chai and wine for in between. Fresh, well made (mostly), lots of vegetables and fruit and served so nicely on the porch for us because of Sage. Wayanad has a huge Muslim population who for religious reasons do not want to be in close proximity of dogs. We had a choice to go to the restaurants at a time that was not too busy or eat in our cottage and we chose the latter. So every meal of every day was served to us on a little table. Depending on the mood of the hour, I would ask for the table to be set outdoors or indoors and it would promptly be done.

It was such a relief to be in a time and space like that. I picked up a couple of ramshackle books from the hotel library and read them non stop, some travel magazines with not so great stories of places I want to see someday were read from cover to cover. Not having cell phone coverage was a blessing and a curse. It was sketchy at best and I had no internet access. So I kept getting beeps that there were 500+ messages on whatsapp for me, but I couldn't see them. I did nothing about it. I will admit that the first two days I felt antsy, after that I felt no urge to be in touch with anyone or update anything.

For me, this was a lesson. I've always known that I can turn on and off the buttons which get me hyperconnected to people and things. Yet increasingly I felt fatigued by the information I was consuming online. Primarily because most of the information has no where to be used once processed. So this was a good break from everything.

The vacation was not as idyllic as I thought it would be. The resort we chose was built to resemble an eco friendly place, which meant minimal landscaping and the cottages were built on little slopes,  the pathways were real narrow and this posed a problem with walking Sage. The place allowed pets, but for a dog as large as sage, who likes to roam and explore on his own, it was a bit constricted. He would refuse to step more than 5 feet away from where I was standing and since it got dark by 5.45, evening walks caused us a little anxiety.

Oh and the leeches! I was totally unprepared for this, until the second morning, after my walk, sitting on the porch having coffee, K noticed my toe was bleeding. I wiped it and wondered where or how I got cut. The bleeding continued for the next 20 minutes and that's when it struck me that it could be a leech! I freaked out when we finally found it, round and fat and fallen not far from where my slippers lay. After a clean up, I checked Sage and found a couple on his feet. This would continue to freak me out for the next two days until I started dousing his paws with diluted dettol and water and wearing my shoes for each walk. This annoyed me after a while, taking the joy out of our walks.

The good part was that we spent time in complete privacy, we had great food and overall liked the place we stayed in. The bad part was that it was not as comfortable for Sage since he couldn't run around making him edgy and bored. And since we travel with him, Sage's comfort is a big part of our experience.

I've also realized that with K, vacations are about doing nothing. There is no frantic pace of wanting to see places or anything like that. We spend money and time to hire a place and sleep, read, eat and watch TV. Not that there was much to see here. There was the mandatory visits to waterfalls, dams, tea plantations and such like. Some we did and some like the tea plantation we skipped because we have seen enough of those for a lifetime!

After 4 days here, since this was a "do nothing" vacation we moved to another resort. I'm thinking that should be part II of this story... should I write that?