Alappey dream drown in the backwaters! :(

After much ado, too many mails and many trying-to-convince pleads, the trip to Alappey stands cancelled! 😦 😥

Yea! I’m sad. Was looking forward to some beach-time. 😦 And a travellogue after that! 😀

The couple from Dubai cancelled on us. There was some unexpected leave problem, and the baby’s visa is delayed as well.

The couple from Kuwait was, as it is, not very sure they’d make it. And finally, the best they could get tickets was for 13 May, and land on 14 May! Well, land home after a year and go with baby directly to meet friends? No brownie points from the in-laws, apparently. 😦

But well, there’s the Kuwait baby’s baptism a week after the proposed-and-now-cancelled trip, and the Dubai couple’s brother’s wedding a week after the date. So, looks like they’ll all meet up somewhere or the other. The husband has no leave that time, so rather doubtful if we’ll make it!

Guess, like our original plan, the next meet up would definitely be at Malaysia (well, need to be optimistic, eh?).

Yea, so the dream of a vacation at Alappey drown in the backwaters!The only consolation is that we are sparedthe agony of leaving Pumbaa behind and setting of to have fun without him. I know I sound crazy — but he is such an important part of our lives, it’s tough to leave him behind overnight! So, though I’m mostly sad this got cancelled, I’m secretly a tad happy too. Just a tad 😉

The weather’s still fabulous here in Bangalore — the hot summer suddenly seem to have vanished and made way for the winter that apparently didn’t want to leave so soon 😉 So, nothing’s bothering me much right now. Guess when the sun brings the summer back, I’ll mourn the cancelled trip much more.

The 5 Best Cameras for Your Next Vacation: a guest post

It is not often someone writes to me asking if they can use my blog as a platform to write a post 😀 I received a mail saying my blog is much loved (yay!) and would be a perfect place to host a post. I agreed, and replied that I usually write nonsensical, sometimes funny, daily-life stuff — and that most of my posts are picture posts and travellogues. I guess there wouldn’t have a been a better suited guest post for a photography and travel lover like me 😉 Thanks a lot, Jennifer 🙂

So here it is, in Jennifer’s words:

The 5 Best Cameras for Your Next Vacation
How long have you planned that perfect vacation? And how long will you remember those breathtaking sunsets, ivy-covered castles, or that time you drank too many local ‘specials’ and your tongue turned purple? Choose your camera wisely, and those memories will be preserved, in all their colorful glory, for years to come. Whether you want a camera with more buttons and gadgets than 007’s car, or a simple camera that will let you point, shoot, and get back to your vacation, you’ll find it here.

Small, Simple, Powerful
Want a camera that fits in your pocket, but can still rise to just about any picturesque occasion? The slim Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS7 is the best point and shoot camera out there. I think the automatic mode is perfect for an active, light traveler who wants great pictures without a lot of fuss. But if you want more control over aperture and shutter speed, it also has manual options. And the GPS feature is a must for any secret agent in training. Go ahead and video your friends running with the bulls, or snap the sun setting over the mountains. This 12.1 MP dynamo can take it.

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Take Control
If you want an SLR for even more control over those shots, then choose the 14.2 MP Nikon D3100. I love how much less the D3100 costs than many so called professional cameras, but without sacrificing all the quality. It also weighs less than many SLR cameras. There are tons of individual scene settings like Child, Sports, or Night Portrait, and the 3 inch monitor is perfect for viewing your pictures or videos on the go. So be artistic with a sweeping landscape, or quickly capture that once in a life-time action shot.

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Don’t be Afraid of the Water
If your plans include the wet and wild, then be sure to bring along the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS2. Unlike its earlier listed cousin, the TS2 is shockproof, freezeproof, and, my favorite feature, it can be submerged in up to 33 ft of water. Some other great features are the extended battery life, the image stabilizer for shaky hands, and an impressive 14.1 MP. Make your own water adventure movie, or go searching for the abominable snowman; this camera won’t fail.

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On a Shoe String
Even if you spent all your money planning your awesome vacation, you can still find a great camera. For around $100, the Canon PowerShot SD1300 IS has an impressive 12.1 MP, a wide LCD viewing screen, and 15 shooting modes. I really dig the sleek contours of the silver model. So don’t worry about having to choose between food and photography on your vacation, this mighty little camera is here to help.

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The Professional
Is your vacation just an excuse to take the perfect picture? If you are willing to spend quite a bit more money, then try the Nikon D7000. At 16.2 MP, the D7000 has all the resolution you could ever need. I like the 6 frame per second shooting capacity for moving targets, like birds in flight. You can capture the brightest sunrise or the lowest lit cavern. Try shooting your next whale-watching trip with HD 1080p video for cinematic quality flipper action. This camera will take you as far as your photographer dreams can imagine.

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Written by Jennifer Skogen.

Protected: Goa :) so aah! – a travellogue: part 5

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Protected: the prelude to a travellogue

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us & them @ munnar: a travellogue

Till we actually set off for Kochi on Friday evening, I was dreading it’d be called off any minute. The couple from Dufaai Dubai might drop out, the couple from Kochi might want to stay back with the baby, the couple from Bangalore (me n the husband ;)) might miss our bus and not reach…etc. But we did reach Kochi at 5.30 am on Saturday. And it was raining like the skies had gone crazy! 😀 Anyways, the tempo traveller came to pick us up by about 10.30 am, and off we went. The tempo traveller had seats that were swaying like a boat. And a whacko for a driver 😉 So, when we started the climb towards Munnar, it was almost a 4D experience 😉 Well, we were moving in all 4Directions 😉 and even moved from within, by the pathetic PJs of the driver 😀

Of the initial 10 enthusiasts, 2 had dropped off. Well, it was 4 couples plus 2 single guys. So, when one of the guys dropped out, the other declared he’d be too left out 🙂 So, it was the 8 of us: (pic of us all) And of us 8, five were classmates. So, we were a bit anxious about how the other three would feel. We had back-up plans for everything else, but not if these 3 felt left out 😉 But well, it was all like the proverbial eggs of the same basket 😉 Probably why, the trip turned out to be as great as it was! Oh my. How much we laughed. All that laughing plus the boat-like motion in the bus finally made us all sick! 😀 Well, maybe it was also because of the 60 Ferrero Rocher chocolates that vanished in less than 10 minutes…mainly gobbled down by Gulfu, Jaya and me 😉

We reached Elysium Garden Resort by 3.30 or so, because of the heavy and constant rains. We all trooped into all the 4 rooms and made all of them equally untidy 😀 And almost instantly, the cameras were taken out and the posing and clicking began 😉

When I clicked a pic of the three girls, Merlin said “Priya, you don’t even know how to take photos. Give me the camera. I’ll take.” And she clicked this one 😀

Every time we went out on to the balcony to click a group pic, it’d start raining and the winds would drive it in, right into the room. It was like the rain had signed a pact against us…and would make sure we stay indoors all the time 😉 Well, we weren’t complaining. It was quality time we spent, getting to know each other, having limitless fun. And, we had packed playing cards and Pictionary and Ludo and all. So, finally, we settled for Pictionary. And my god, the fun we had. There was just so much cheating and screams and finger pointing and red cards and yellow cards and everything! Hehe…here are a few snaps of what the words were…and how they were sketched. (For those who do not know the rules of the game, CLICK HERE! You should play it sometime…if possible, with a big group. It can be the best fun ever! High scope for cheating and calling names :D)

Well, it was fun! Prashant saying “oh…ithenikkariyaam…Aamayalle? Frog Frog Frog!”; and for “surfing the net:, drawing a cloud to indicate “foam…surf detergent…and surfing…” 😀 :D; and Leena slyly pushing their token two blocks ahead every chance she gets; and Jaya slowly writing the word itself next to her sketch (but me the dimwit still not getting it right ;)) 😀 😀 We had about 2-3 hours of pure fun!!!

There were times when we all laughed out so loud, it was deafening. Like when Prasanth ordered “naalu chappathiyum oru chakan curryum”; when Jaya kept asking “adimaly ethaaraayo” too many times, that Prasanth finally said “Ho! Enthonnithu. Ethumbo ariyikkam :D”; when Ragesh kept making the weirdest statements which we kept connecting with the gay community, like “Da, nee kaalukal ingane veche…njaan kaanichu tharaam” 😀 :D; when Merlin said, in a most serious tone “…Why do you all keep calling him Rakesh? It’s Ragesh…as in RaGEYsh”; when Leena asked “Pavaroor kalava ethiyo?”; I can’t think of anything I, Gulfu or Suraj said…but am sure there were enough and more 😀 Especially from me 😀

And then, after another round of photo shoots and everything, we all went off to sleep. Planned to wake up at 6 the next morn and go for sightseeing. We all slept through right till 8 o clock and woke up to constant rains again. Went back to the fun thing: photo shoots.

Leena had planned to have a black-n-blue and white-n-blue themes and everything….so we got all that done 🙂 Gulfu, or professional photographer, was driven to madness by me and Jaya, making him click pic after pic of us both, till we finally got a snap we both liked 😉

Gosh! We were having so much fun that we forgot to do the one thing girl-friends supposedly do the most: gossip! So, on the way back, when we stopped for lunch, we had a proper gossiping session as well. It was a laughing riot at the Maria International Hotel, Kothamangalam. But we got bored of it in less than 5 minutes. So we went back to what we were best at: making stupidly funny statements, one after the other. 😉

Like Suraj kept telling me before we left Bangalore, the day we were doing countdowns for and waiting ever so excitedly, just slipped through our laugh riots…and we were back in Cochin before we even realised it 😦 But not before we planned out next trip: Malaysia in May 2011. Yes, it’s a doubtful month (one that sounds skeptic), but we WILL go 😀 And then, little Ananya would be with us too! Yeyyyy!

We reached the same rainy Kochi that we left behind the previous day, at about 5.00 pm on Sunday; hugged, kissed and separated and went our ways—everyone back to where we belonged. And, on Monday, back to work. I couldn’t stop giggling now and then, even at work, thinking of the many funny incidents. I still am giggling! 🙂 Next time, we’ll make sure we carry a tape recorder along, so that the funnies can be recorded for later laughs 😉 😉 😉

A few good outcomes:

  • Got to know Lee n Gulfu are finally getting married. Yeyyyy.
  • Jaya quit her job, when she went back home and realised her baby had not missed her one bit the past two days! 😀 Between me and Jaya, we know why I say it’s a good outcome 😀 😀 😀 Sad though, that it wasn’t accepted 😀
  • The 8 of us have become closer, and know each other much better (so much so that we’re actually sooo looking forward to the next trip)
  • We’ve definitely decided to make this a yearly thing. Next trip: Malaysia, Truly Asia 😉
  • Each one of us knows there are at least 7 people who’ll be there for us, at any point of time 🙂
  • We’ve realised that one does not need to be constantly in touch to maintain the friendship/or to have limitless fun when one meets up. What matters is just the mental wavelength… 🙂

Oh that was one true-blue vacation. A real fun ‘meet-up’. The best fun trip ever. I can’t justify the fun with words. The rest of the gang who missed it: you guys missed a lot. And we missed you too! 🙂

Best people off to one of the best travel destinations ;)

We had planned this once in 2008…but, like all Plan As, it didn’t work. And we didn’t have a Plan B then 😀  So, in 2010, we directly named it Plan B. And it’s working! 😀

Started off when one person just took the initiative and sent mails to everyone saying “We need to meet!” 😀 Guess time’s not just a healer, it also makes people sensible 😉 Because, this time, we quickly invested money and made bookings: so, now, no one plans to opt out.

On the 12th and 13th of June, 10 of us are going to be at Munnar 🙂 At the Elysium Garden Resort. And we’ve already set the mood through a Facebook page we created for this. It’s brought a lot of memories and forgotten pics back to life!!!

This is our Facebook Page’s description: Before the group began we mapped out three primary goals: 1) to see and meet every year 2) to make our bonds and relationships stronger and 3) to love each other more every year. Brilliant words, Lee!

The mail has already run into threads that crossed 100. A couple from Dufaai Dubai, a couple from Bangalore, a couple from Kochi. A girl from Bangalore, a guy from Aluva, another from Kochi and yet another from Dufaai Dubai again—we’re all discussing this, making fun of one another, making back up plans, deciding colour combos for the photo-shoot 😀 😀 😀 (so that a few years later, we won’t look like a bunch of something the cat brought in!)

We’ve arranged a tempo traveler. We’ve booked the rooms. We’ve asked for campfire and music. And we’ve planned to have a night out…to relive our college days…to refresh those memories.

People say it might rain there. So, we even have back up plans:

  1. A big umbrella and one adoring husband to hold it for his ‘paavam merlin’ and all her friends who’ll huddle beneath it ;))
  2. Uno Cards
  3. Pictionary
  4. Ludo 😀 [we used to hold championships at college; it’s part of our team’s existence ;)]
  5. Photo shoots (the gang’s favourite past time; guess we did more of that than any studying at college ;))

It’s amazing how friends always catch up like there hasn’t been a day of gap. None of us ever call each other every day (or week, even!), most of us don’t mail to/chat with each other…and yet, when the trip plan popped up, we’re all in, high on enthusiasm and spirit…and memories come flooding 🙂

The last time we all had a trip was when we were in college. 16 of us went off to Thekkady-Kodaikanal. We still have very good memories of it. Thankfully, time has erased the not-so-good ones, which were few! 😉

This time, we’re hoping it’ll be a brilliant one…and that time won’t have to linger around with the eraser 😀

Just 10 more days to gooooooo. Yippeeeeee 😀

Munnar…here we come 🙂