Kodaikanal lake view

The lazy person’s guide to Kodaikanal

I can feel the excitement of the school year finale in the air. We’re in the middle of the annual exams. We’re ripping out tattered covers of books knowing they need not be covered again. We’re using up extra notebooks as rough books. I am already dreaming of late mornings and leisurely toilet time. As usual I have a whole lot of things I want to do this summer including vathal making, de-cluttering the house, teaching kids some basic cooking, signing them up for some fun classes, re-arranging some of the furniture, catching up on 6 months’ magazines, finishing all the un-read books in the bookshelf/kindle, maybe going on a short vacation.. I may have planned for the next 5 summers. I am getting all tangled up just thinking about them. Talking about vacations, we went on a mini weekend vacation to Kodaikanal last month. It was quite a last minute thing. I did not really believe a 2-day vacation would amount to much. I am happy to say I was wrong. It turned out to be one of the most enjoyable, relaxing vacations in recent times. We didn’t do any of the regular sightseeing. We skipped all the viewpoints, waterfalls and must-see places. With summer vacation around the corner, I thought it might be useful to share my lazy person’s guide to kodaikanal. Find a nice spot, sit and simply look at the lake We checked into Carlton that’s just along the lake and were lucky enough to be staying in a beautiful lake facing room. We’ve been going back to Carlton Kodaikanal for several years now. Mornings, we woke up early, went out to the balcony and quickly ran back in shocked by the ice cold floor outside. We’d head back wearing slippers, sit down hugging ourselves in the nippy air and look across at the misty lake mesmerized. It’s still early, much before the cycling and boating enthusiasts are out. It’s quiet and peaceful. We wonder how life would be for the family that lives in that house across the lake. We order coffee through room service, not wanting to leave the setting. Snack and walk around the lake The kodaikanal lake has an almost 5km circumference and is usually crowded with tourists. You can hire a cycle and cycle around the lake. Or you can walk around the lake. When you’re hungry, stop for a snack...

Travel Post – Vintage charm at Chidambaram and Tranquebar

I enjoy reminding Yuvan that school starts in just a few weeks, just about a week now. And that I am really excited that he will be starting full working days. It irritates him no end. He’d charge at me. Now he pretends he hasn’t heard. Although the beginning of the school year brings joy and an overwhelming respect for school teachers, I am also worried I may break the school’s record for late-coming, that Hasini may turn me in and the principal may punish me, make me stand in the verandah/on the bench,  for being the most incorrigible parent. I am too ingrained in the summer holiday routine now. We haven’t started on any of the holiday assignments. They whiled away the summer holidays, colouring, watching cartoons, playing at the beach, in the swimming pool, decoding everyone’s mobile pins and using up their data plans, hijacking the ice-cream vandi and not letting the lady move until somebody bought them ice-creams. I whiled away the holidays contented not to have to sit through homework time. We happened to go on a small vacation at the beginning of the holidays in April. We were going to a dear friend’s wedding in Chidambaram and we decided to turn it into a mini vacation. I’ve been waiting ever since to share some of that experience here with you guys. This is a photo-heavy post. Please be warned. I don’t know if you know that I am mad about antique stuff. Antique rosewood tables, grandpa clocks and typewriters make me weak in the knees. Dressers and Almirahs make me dizzy. Brass vessels, high ceilings and cane armchairs make me babble in joy. This particular vacation had most of these elements, which is why I thought I had to share. There is a small heritage bungalow just off Chidambaram called “Lakshmi Vilas Heritage hotel” that must have been some zamindar’s place long time ago. It has been beautifully converted into a heritage hotel complete with “Ammi kallu” (traditional grinding machine of Tamil Nadu) and Ural and Ulakku lining the corridors, the reception desk at the entrance set beside a large spacious thinnai, a wooden swing at the far end and a couple of employees stretched out beside it. The staff were all one family, really. The receptionist was a petite girl in her early twenties from the same locality. The security cum general helpers were...

Summer plans

The heat is on in Chennai. I am feeling thirsty all day, every day. I am craving tall glasses of chilled fruit juices but I don’t want to pick out seeds, strain the pulp and wash all these dishes for a single glass of juice. I will also complain that juice shops charge exorbitant rates for a single glass of juice. And I just can’t seem to resist Watermelon juice and Jagan beer. Don’t worry. This is not a recipe post for Watermelon juice. It is not a recipe post because Vitamix, Hamilton and Kitchenaid and even Preethi mixie said they don’t want to sponsor this post. And I trust you my readers to chop up the watermelon, discard the green pith and blend the chopped watermelon to a juice. Promise me you won’t go wrong. Also since many of you told me you look forward to my stories more than my recipes, I decided to skip the watermelon juice recipe this time. I have big plans and bigger dilemmas come summer. I have a long list of vadams and pickles that I plan to make on my weekend dates with mambalam maami friends that I need someone to organize for me. I try to get out of calling people. I am not social enough. Before that I need to go shopping for the maa vadus (tiny tender mangoes) and ingredients. I need to make lists. Every time I look at the lovely low hanging mangoes in our terrace, I remind myself I need to go buy some maa vadu. I have two Hattori/Motu Patlu binge watchers at home that I need to keep from scraping their already battered knees doing cycle races through their very own dirt track over the siphon, into the puddle and through the mud track between the road and the pavement. I need to keep them away from the TV, away from all the smartphones in the house; pins and passcodes of all of which they have memorized. I need to keep them from razing all the crayons down to wax powder, from drawing on the newly painted walls, from raiding the cookie boxes and feeding the extras to crows, from drenching themselves under the garden tap, from bringing the garden into the house, from cooking their leaves and dirt curry in my non-stick kadai, from coating the living room floor in biscuit crumbs, sticky...
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