It was a whim and driving to the airport, besides being amused I was a little intrigued. Off the top of my head I had picked the place and here I was off on my own adventure- my first solo holiday.
Sure people do that all the time yet for me it was a first. A coming of age in many ways. If I could do this I could do anything! Taking a break from work was tough enough and when I got time off, suddenly planning a break was stressful. I knew I needed time off to be by myself and take stock off where I was headed. Part of me was tempted to stay home and do that. Better sense prevailed when I had a sneak peek of the kilos of pending chores that I would have to look into at home.
Goa seemed like the most obvious choice. It was literally in the backyard and I knew the place like the back of my hand. I had 48 hours to plan and decide where I would go and this seemed simple and uncomplicated. I did ask a few pals if they wanted to join in. Then came the options of other places. Some places were on my to do list and some came heavily recommended. Yet there was a voice telling me that I needed to do this by myself and go some place that just sounded exotic and like it was calling me.
A friend recommended I try a new company that tailor made holidays in Karnataka. They are called The Bucket List and that had me hooked. Seemed like they had already got what I was looking for. So when I was sent pictures of a gorgeous resort in a coffee plantation, with a great spa, I instantly said yes.
I didn’t realise it was six hours away from Bangalore and when I began the drive I was wondering what I had gone into. That’s when I realised that sometimes going with the flow and trusting the universe is the only choice you have. Solo time is what I had yearned for and here it was all mine...so I gingerly trod ahead into this not so familiar territory.
Of course calls and messaging with family and friends didn’t help. Some called me mad and asked me to come back. Others said the peace and quiet would drive me mad. That egged me on. Surely I couldn’t me such a slave to the bad life?!!!
Mr Srinivas, my guide and driver set the tone for the next four days. Tough but interesting if I made the effort. He looked like a bank manager and spoke like a doctor. We both didn’t know what to make of each other honestly. I got to know that Chikmagalur, my destination, actually meant the little girl’s town in Kannadiga. It was to be gifted by a rich merchant to his little daughter as part of her dowry. Seemed ironical that I had chosen a town thus named when I needed to feel that I wasn’t the little girl any longer, who needed to be chaperoned even on a break!
Googledeva threw in more surprises. This was the place from where coffee, my constant companion, first entered India. It was also Indira Gandhi’s constituency before Amethi. A friend’s anecdote about how her brother called the lady chikmagalur as a kid, I thought was adorable. With my camera suddenly the landscape begun coming to life. It was a festival of sorts and all the women in their finery lined the streets, at times blocking traffic. Mr Srinivas showed some mock anger which was totally endearing. En route we stopped for south Indian filter coffee and steaming hot idlis. I was liking this...got into the groove listening to cheesy tamil songs and discussing the phenomenon called Rajni Sir.
My phone and computer were allowed to take a break as well. There was a coffee aroma in the air as we drove uphill. It isn’t at too much of a height yet chikmagalur has a hill station vibe. Old british structures with green roundabouts. A colonial air where if you saw Mr Brown, riding past you would be tempted to tap your hat. Then there was The Serai. Calling it just a resort would be unfair, it honestly is something else.
Luxury takes on another meaning at this place. What is amazing is the understated elegance with which it unobtrusively spoils you. It takes a couple of hours getting used to a private villa with a diving pool, a jaccuzzi and an outdoor shower...
Early morning walks in the coffee plantation is what I picked. Well trained staff, showed me around and let me wander when I felt like. The place is set in the cafe coffee day plantation. Felt like I was home. Maybe I was a coloumbian coffee planter in a previous birth? From green to red to brown saw coffee seeds in different stages. Also got to know how coffee and pepper grow together in these parts. Both need each other to flourish. Set me thinking. Peace and chaos in the right proportions?
Hot stone massages. Meditating in the forest clearing. Sampling local cuisine in the finest china. I knew I had made the right choice. What for me, was a first and a great beginning, was the fact that I did not miss my phone, tv or social networks. It was a revelation and an achievement.
I was sleeping by eleven and was up at seven am. The best part is that the routine continues even now that I am back to real life. If I can keep that and my no smoking stance, this has been the clincher for me. The life changing holiday. Got some amount of writing, a fair amount of reading and lots of thinking done. Rid of toxic people and situations in my mind. The sheer joy of not having to second guess what your partner is thinking is inexplicable.
The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that I had to go to chikamagalur since I was the little girl of the little girl’s town! Solo holidays are hugely recommended