So now that I’ve begun enjoying solitary meals, it was time to take the next step – solo vacation. Now this has been something that I’ve been hesitant about since a long time. It’s probably because vacations, in our conventional sense, has always been a group event. Even I’ve always travelled in groups of friends or family. So, after a relentless stretch of stress of late from every field, I decided to make a quick getaway, and for once, didn’t bother planning for it. I booked myself in to Club Mahindra‘s Tungi resort in Lonavala (closest to Mumbai), and set off with my bags. I’ll be honest here, one of the pushing factors was that my friend Sherry Malhotra was also hosting a week long Punjabi food festival there – Unsung Punjab. It was an ideal way to begin my “solo’ vacation as I’d have time for myself, and when I crave for company of a loved one, Sherry would be right there.
Being a purple grade member of Club Mahindra, getting a room isn’t that tough, so I booked myself a studio apartment, which comes equipped with a tiny kitchenette too. My room was at the far end of the resort, overlooking the beautiful Pavna lake. This particular property of Club Mahindra is one of the biggest they have, that till date I haven’t been able to see it in its entirety and thanks to the area of the property, they have a two coach train that takes you from one end of the property to another ( boarding that train and aimlessly travelling in it is one of my favourite time pass’!).
Coming back to my room, I must say that it did feel strange as I entered a big space meant for 3 adults and to realise that it is for me alone. To add to the situation, I conveniently forgot to carry my laptop and kindle! The dialogue – “main aur meri tanhai” kept ringing at the back of mind continuously. And if that wasn’t it, I had also forgotten my phone’s charger. This trip was about to get interesting. Very interesting.
As I settled in and freshened up, I contacted Sherry and she asked me to meet her at the restaurant, where she was hosting the food festival. Just to give you a background – Sherry is an exceptionally talented home-chef specialising in Undivided Punjab’s food (food from both sides of the border and some lost recipes of Punjab). She is one of those people who’re naturally gifted when it comes to cooking and is happiest when in the kitchen. She told me the story of her grandparents and how after tasting the food she cooked when she was just thirteen years old, her grandfather proclaimed that henceforth he would only eat food cooked by her. So overwhelming and heart touching, that till date when she narrates this, she has tears in her eyes. “Mere sar pe mere bado ka haath hai, yeh unka ashirwaad hai ki main itna kuch kar sakti hu“, she tells me. Her words are indeed true, because she has magic in her hands, which translate into beautiful flavours on the plate.
At the festival curated for Club Mahindra, Sherry was highlighting home-style Punjabi cooking, which is very different from what the restaurants have popularised in the name of our cuisine. Her concept is very similar to my concept of Delectable Punjab – where we focus on bringing the essence of true Punjabi home food in the fore front. There was tawa ajwaini paneer (her home recipe), matraan waale chawal (peas pulao), mah di daal (home style black urad dal), rada meat (rada is a verb that means cooked till well done, in Punjabi), besan ka sheera, attewaale aloo and much more. You can learn more about this in the video at the end of the blog.
Post lunch I booked myself a spa therapy at Club Mahindra’s signature – Svaastha Spa, where Sana, my masseuse helped me release tension from the shoulder and feet. It was so relaxing that I fell asleep, only to be woken up after an hour. It was during the long walk to my room (I chose not to take the train, as I had a lot of time in hand), that I realised that I was purposely filling my day with activities because somewhere I was afraid of coming back to an empty room and being left alone with my thoughts. The last few months have been hectic, and with the upcoming wedding and the madness that comes with it, I wasn’t able to focus on anything. I felt anxious most of the times, kept cancelling on friends and family, wanted to sleep away the times and kept shrugging away responsibilities – all of this and more added to the mental exhaustion. Once in the room and after a long bath, I brewed myself a cuppa and sat in the balcony that overlooked the calm and still lake – exactly opposite of my mental state. My phone battery had drained out too and there was no digital escape anymore.
I sat in the silence of the evening, watching the sunset and the birds that chirped and returned to their homes. I could hear the crickets and spotted some fireflies too and the little kittens that followed their mother into the darkness of the bushes. Far away I could hear some children playing and observed the family in the balcony next door as they discussed politics in heated tones. I then saw a tiny puppy who had lost his way and could hear him whimper…it is then when I broke down. All my thoughts, my fears and my anxiety began catching up with me and now there was no stopping it. What I didn’t realise was that I probably just needed some space and time to cry and let it all out, because when I regained composure I felt better. Much better.
“In order to understand the world, one has to turn away from it on occasion.” – Albert Camus
Two days later, I’m convinced that this is the best thing that I could have done for myself. A solo, wire-free vacation can really do wonders — it livens you up, gives you time to spend with yourself, reminisce, remember how you used to love the quiet, wake up to a faint breeze and birds all around, and above all, regain your sanity, which is difficult to hold on to if you’re a freelancer in Mumbai.
So, here’s to all the solo travellers in the world, and to more such solo trips to come in the future. If you haven’t taken the plunge yet, I insist that you go for it.
Learn more about Unsung Punjab here –
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