Updates on EAB Program, Dancebody, Shoe Peace (?!), and Vacay

A few weeks back (a month and 5 days back to be precise), I had announced a lovely little plan that TCG and I had undertaken. We have voluntarily become each other’s Exercise Accountability Buddy, which means we each exercise and motivate the other to do the same by checking in with each other every time we complete a workout.

It’s been 6 full weeks of this EAB program, and I’m happy to report that it is going rather well (and hope I haven’t jinxed it with this declaration). We have managed to work out 4 times per week on average, and we consider it a big step forward considering we hadn’t been consistently this active in the past few months (YEARS). I’ve had spates of a few weeks, usually about 3-4, when I get super active, and the enthusiasm fizzles down. It’s no show for 3-4 months, and then a month of intensity. I wanted to stick to a change which becomes a much sought after “lifestyle change”. So far so good!

6 weeks back I signed up for this AMAZING dance cardio workout program called Dancebody (online streaming). 2 Signature classes in, I felt that this is basically what I’ve been looking for for AGES. It’s got variety, great music, is actually challenging and not repetitive (unlike most dance cardio videos out there), and gets fresh content every month. I have been a pretty long time subscriber of Les Mills on Demand and Physique57 but they were just not cutting it for me. They weren’t “the perfect fit”. I’ve had spates of being obsessed with both, but I guess I just tired of their format after a while.

Coming back to Dancebody, I love it! If you love dancing and high energy cardio, you have to try it. It’s FUN and challenging. The perfect combo, right?!

I did however come across a small stumbling block in my indoctrination as Dancebody Fanatic.

Shoes.

Dancebody’s dance cardio sessions involve a LOT of bouncing around and plyometrics. You need highly cushioned shoes (the kind that runners wear) for it to be a comfortable workout that doesn’t wreck your knees/ leg muscles.

The instructors all swear by Asics (Gel Nimbus especially), so like a good devotee, I too tried out Asics. However, after a couple of sessions in the Asics Gel Cumulus and half a session in Gel Nimbus, I felt like my toes were being punished for a crime they committed in a past life. It did NOT feel good. No no no no no.

I returned the Gel Nimbus (they were from Amazon) (Amazon, I LOVE you and your free 30 day return policy). I was still stuck with the Gel Cumulus because I’d bought them from an actual store (rookie mistake). From then on ensued a 4 week process of obsessively researching highly cushioned running shoes, ordering them online, trying them on for a Dancebody Signature session (you really don’t know if a pair will work until you DANCE Dancebody style in them), returning them broken hearted and looking for more.

In the meanwhile, I got the Gel Cumulus to work for Sculpt sessions and also for shorter Signature classes. The problem with these was that the toebox in the left shoe was too tight, and my little toe would be hurting like CRAZY by the end of a class. To get that shoe to “open up” a bit, I followed this Youtube video by a nice teenage kid who showed how to use socks and heat from a hair dryer to achieve this result. I’m happy to report that that method worked and now my Gel Cumulus is comfortable during Sculpts and not too bad during full Signatures!

However, through all of this, my search for a GOOD shoe FOR MY FEET continued. I tried a couple of models and sizes in Asics, Saucony (two styles including the famed Triumph ISO), Puma, I even gave Power Mello Shoes a try (too unstable to do anything but walk in). I even tried a men’s shoe in Saucony for its width, but sadly it was not to be. Finally, I ordered Brooks Glycerin 16 which was available in my size on Amazon. These shoes do not stifle my toes, they have tons of cushiony cushoin (much like the Gel Nimbus), and are soft overall and are much better suited for lateral movement than the Gel Cumulus, which quite frankly feels really stiff in comparison.

So, yes, Brooks Glycerin are perfect for my Dancebody Signature classes!

Are Brooks Glycerin my holy grail Dancebody shoes?

Yes and no.

Yes because they are perfect for me! They fit my feet well, and have the cushion I need. No because I want to leave room in there for EVEN MORE CUSHION (yes, I am aware of Hoka One One, and really badly want to try the Bondi – sadly they are not available in India yet).

Will I stop trying out shoes and researching them?

Nope! Shoe research is kind of addictive, and now I really want to try Hoka One One Bondi. I also want to try out New Balance 1080v9 just for fun. I don’t actually think New Balance will be better than Brooks, but WHO KNOWS?!

Separately, I am going on vacation next week! This is a small trip to Bhubu to chill with my family back home. I’m trying to do this thing this year that I take some time off every second month. Breaks and recharging my batteries is essential for my creativity, but I never end up taking PLANNED breaks frequently enough. I read interviews by many artists who swear by taking frequent breaks away from their studio to come back refreshed.

Although, as of now, it’s also causing a bit of extra stress because as you might have experienced yourself, the week or the couple of weeks leading up to a break are quite jam packed and stressful because you’re desperately trying to meet a firm deadline. Also, I take about 2-3 days after a break to get back into the flow of things at work, so the week after a break also ends up being a bit stressful on account of lack of productivity (which makes me think, am I really benefiting from frequent breaks?). Though that’s also mostly on account of not having a firm plan on tasks to be done that first week back. Any way, we’ll see. This time I’ve prepared a firm list of tasks to be accomplished the minute I’m back in the studio/office, so that should help.

I’m also carrying another Maud Montgomery book with me for this trip – Pat of Silver Bush. Excited!!! I prevented myself from reading it in the past few weeks because I was saving it as a treat for vacay!

Will report back soon!

p.s.: Delhi has been DELIGHTFUL. The skies are gorgeously blue with puffy white clouds, tree tops sparkly clean & green, and evenings are nice and breezy up on the terrace. Is it humid? Yes. But I LOVE this version of Delhi weather, and will take the humidity any day for the lovely temps and clear air the rains bring!! Please can it stay this way?

Clean blue Delhi skies with puffy clouds. L from an Uber, R from my office window. NO FILTER!

Books of Late – E. M. Delafield, L. M. Montgomery, Cal Newport

I’m on a bit of a blogging roll here, and I want to keep up with the momentum (while it lasts).

I’ve been meaning to document a few of my recent leisure reads but each time I’d get to the appropriate “books read” part of a round up blog post, I was already too tired of writing, and would promise a future installment.

Also, these are books that have made some impression on me, and I want to remember them, so it makes sense to blog about them. I normally abandon books if they don’t grasp my interest by page 100.

Jane of Lantern Hill, Chronicles of Avonlea, Diary of a Provincial Lady
Jane of Lantern Hill, Chronicles of Avonlea and The Diary of a Provincial Lady (the framed postcard says “Travel is cheaper than therapy” (from an indie art store in Sri Lanka)

I so badly wanted to fall in raving, mad love with The Diary of a Provincial Lady by E. M. Delafield. It sounded like something I would be thoroughly entertained by. I highly enjoy reading books set in this Edwardian-Victorian era. Also, I stumbled upon this book while looking up books that people who liked Nina Stibbe’s Love Nina: Despatches From Family Life would like. And I LOVED Love Nina. Had to read it in a single sitting with breaks for meals and sleep.

The subject matter of Provincial Lady is intriguing, and I feel it is enlightening in many aspects, but in terms of comic value, it simply has not delivered yet (which it has promised!! otherwise I would not expect it as a matter of right). The husband seems to be too mean a character to be found funny, and the provincial lady herself seems quite petty. Also, there is some dialogue in French with no English translation footnotes, which are hard to keep track of. I am halfway through the first book. I really want to like it, if not love it; and I’ll certainly persevere. BUT, persevere is really not a world I want to use while talking about leisure reads. They are supposed to be delightful escapes (hopefully dotted with insightful thoughts and HUMOUR, lots of humour).

Provincial Lady is now my 10 minute filler read for whenever I don’t have enough time to dive in, but want to be lightly entertained for a bit.

Now, coming to the two L. M. Montgomery books. I carried these two to Maldives with me, and my my, it was the perfect reading experience. Away on a secluded island, surrounded by heart-achingly beautiful nature, it was the perfect place to experience Maud’s descriptive deep dives. I loved Jane of Lantern Hill. It was a super quick, entertaining, engrossing and thoroughly enjoyable read which uplifts and soothes your soul. You feel for the poor lead character, starved of emotional connection, an underestimated and neglected soul. As with all of Maud’s work, it paints glorious pictures of her beloved Prince Edward Island, and takes her heroine through many adventures which you wish you had as a kid. It made me want to rewind my childhood and go live on a farm somewhere. It also made me want to always have a lovely table cloth and fresh cut flowers on my dining table. You’ll want to too, when you read the book!

Chronicles of Avonlea is a collection of short stories by L. M. Montgomery. Many of the stories feature Anne as a side character. Not as unputdownable as Maud’s novels, but still highly entertaining. They are all pretty much about similar themes, but with their own little subtle nuances. I’ve never been one to read short stories, but I thoroughly enjoyed this compilation. It also felt special to read this particular copy as it was printed before I was even born (bought it second (or whatever) hand on Amazon).

I keep reading educational, interesting non-fiction and spiritual material almost always. One non-fiction book which I recently read (on my Kindle, and hence no picture) and found valuable was Deep Work by Cal Newport. If you’re finding it hard to focus, it’s a good book to get ideas on techniques for getting that focus back into your work life. The method of working prescribed by Cal is my natural way of doing things. But, it’s always interesting to read another person’s take on “how to do life” (and work!!). The most interesting parts of the book were about case studies and anecdotes about how other people use this sort of principle to order their work life. Loved it and it was a good stimulus to think about my own routines and habits (current and over the years)

“Perfect Happiness” and Imperfect Peace

A couple of hours ago I had finished reading Liz Rosenberg’s biography of the beloved L.M. Montgomery, titled “House of Dreams: The Life of L. M. Montgomery“. I finished it in pretty much a single sitting. Monday saw me deep dive into all things Prince Edward Island. Tuesday, I read (and re-read) numerous articles on Maud, and ordered this book on Amazon. Wednesday the book arrives. It’s Thursday afternoon now.

The last line in the book is a poignant sentence from her once private (now widely published and read (with her consent)) journals:

Perfect happiness I have never had – never will have… yet there have been, after all, many wonderful and exquisite hours in my life.”

Through out the biography, I kept wondering what it was that made Maud the way she was. The way she lived in two extremes – in her own mind. Why couldn’t she focus more on the splendid things in her life? Why did she find herself fixating on things that were beyond her control? Why did she never grow out of the anxiety caused by the pressure of living under a constant doom of “what will people think?” which was ingrained in her early childhood? Why did she not have much emotional growth personally?

Maud had faced early loss and abandonment in her life. She felt socially and emotionally stunted in her early years (until the age of 15 or so). However, she still had all of the material comforts any child of that time could have needed. She also went on to have a lovely sprint as a student, and then a teacher. She kept meeting with stiff resistance from her patriarchal grandfather, but she had some silent support from her grandmother. A lot of her decisions have baffled me, though. And I was also surprised to find so much focus on things she lacked – even when she did not really lack much. Through out each stage of her life, she had at least one close confidante and supporter, and often more. She was surrounded by friends and cousins. She had an active social life. She was fairly rewarded for her early short story writing career. She received instant success with her novels. When her grandmother died, she was a financially independent woman – something which was rare and unheard of in rural Canada of that time. She had many, MANY good things going for her.

It is also possible that just like her heroines, she romanticised pain and suffering. That could be one potential explanation for her fixation on melancholy. She also romanticised the idea of loss. Even though she promised to be a “messenger of optimism and sunshine” (which most certainly has been) to her audience, it seems she was not able to converse to her own self in that same vein. She also found the most depressing things to manically obsesses about – like the two World Wars. Of course, through all of this, she managed to escape into her literary worlds and spun tales of effortless joy and hope for her audience. But, dear Maud, why didn’t you create such worlds in your own daily life? Why didn’t you use your imagination create a sense of loveliness in your own actual life?

This biography has left me with more questions than answers. I must read her actual journals, and try to see if I can make any sense of it. Of course, I am fully prepared to not receive answers to my questions even then.

Just as I thought it was a good time to take a break from Maud (now that this book had come to an end), I watched a bit of Masterchef Australia over lunch. Then, I indulged in 10 minutes of Instagram scrolling, where I came across this news headline:

Saravana Bhawan founder Rajagopal, facing life term for murder, dies.” – 18th July 2019

Really? I know nothing about this person. But, I imagined the founder of a wildly successful food chain to have some peace in his life. And peaceful people don’t kill other people.

It seems like the Universe is sending a definite messages across.

Fame & fortune and happiness & peace are two different things. They are not mutually exclusive, but the former does not guarantee the latter.

Wholesome, Eternal Quotes

I was doing a little Facebook “clean up” involving tweaking privacy settings on a few things.*

The “quotes” sections on my profile caught my eye:

“Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.”– Albert Einstein


“If you bake a bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half man’s hunger.”– Kahlil Gibran (in The Prophet) (On ‘Labour with love”) 


“The wisdom which a wise man tries to communicate always sounds foolish.”– Hermann Hesse (in Siddhartha)

Carefully selected and reproduced years ago (at least 12 years back, when I joined Facebook) I am very happy to report that these are words that I continue to abide by.

There are many new dimensions to my beliefs, which have slowly crystallized over the the past decade. I might update this quotes section with some of those. In fact, I just went ahead and updated it with the quote which appears in the header of this blog:

I believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens but just those that bring simple little pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string.” – Lucy Maud Montgomery

* – Last year I had changed my date of birth settings to be completely private. The bittersweet consequences of this little act of rebellion will need a post by itself. With my learnings from last year, and with the knowledge of the surprising (to me) fragility of my heart, this year I have changed the setting so as to hide the year of birth, but still show the date and month to Facebook “friends”.

Mangoes: The Measure of a Summer Well Spent

Since May, BO has come across numerous lists on fast internet publications titled “Summer Bucketlist”, “Things to do this Summer”, “Summer To Do List”, “Plan Fun Activities for this Summer” and the like. They were mostly written by and geared towards people living in cooler countries where Summers are the only time when the sun shines down, and it’s warm enough to go out to the park. BO lives in a hot, sticky, tropical country. People here wait for the winters (well, not BO on account of feeling grossly inadequate in body heat generation capabilities and being constantly cold in the winters). Summers are for being indoors, doors shut, air conditioning on. And for one more very special thing. MANGOES.

BO measures the success of any summer by the metric of how many types of mangoes she got to enjoy. Listing here are the current favourites (and ones that have been well enjoyed this season).

Alphonso Mango – The perfect mango for Milkshakes & Aam Ras

Alphonso mango is the mango that first comes to the shops in Delhi. You can find it at fancy places like Foodhall and this year BO’s online vegetable vendor (Everything Organik) carried lots of lovely fresh and organic Alphonso mangoes.

BO LOVES alphonso mangoes in the form of aam ras (with a bit of milk), and in milkshakes. To say an alphonso mango milkshake is DIVINE is an understatement. Thick, creamy, fragrant, and refreshing at the same time. PERFECT.

Unfortunately Alphonso mangoes cost quite the bomb, and there’s only so much milkshake one can have before it starts showing on the, ahem, weighing scale.

During early May, many Alphonso milkshakes were had, and thoroughly enjoyed. Total success.

Safeda Mango – The Perfectly Delicious Filler Mango

BO considers the Safeda as the “filler mango”. It’s nothing great by itself, but it’s a great mango to stay your mango-hungry stomach while awaiting the arrival of Dussheri. Safeda mango comes in pretty much with Alphonso, but once you’re done with your Alphonso phase, you can swiftly fly by a couple of weeks with Safeda. BO enjoys these cut up into pieces. They don’t have quite carry that oomph that a milkshake mango needs (like the Alphonso), and milkshakes with Safeda don’t quite turn out as thick, creamy or fragrant. Cut up, perfectly acceptable & yummy. And hey, they’re still lightyears better than cut up apples (yurgh).

Amrapali Mango – A sweet little gem of a Mango

One of the little known mangoes, but a lovely, fragrant and unique variety. BO loves the perfect size of Amrapali mangoes – big enough to fill you up when eaten as a snack, but also perfectly small enough to be had as a dessert post lunch. The yummy fragrance of Amrapali mangoes, and their non-fibrous juciness makes them perfect for enjoyment as is. You do have to be careful while picking out Amrapali mangoes, and make sure they are ripe enough. They seem underripe for ages and quickly go bad after ripening to perfection. Amrapali mangoes feel a bit like avocados in that they are perfectly perfect for a short window of time. You do have to wait patiently until end of May and June to find fresh & ripe Amrapali mangoes (if at all!). They are quite common in Bhubaneswar, but not to be found easily in Delhi. Y’s late grandmother’s house has a lovely Amrapali mango tree from which bucket loads of Amrapali mangoes were enjoyed a few summers back. Blissful!

Dussheri Mango – The safest & sweetest of them all

The safest mango of them all! Sweet, super juicy, not fibrous, lots of fragrance and flavour. These are probably most Indians’ favourite mangoes. They also stay in a perfect state of ripeness for quite a while, making them easy to store and enjoy. The quintessential June mango.

Langda Mango – Delicate balance of tartness, fragrance and sweetness

Langda mango is Y’s favourite. Of course, anything that has the potential to be tart is Y’s favourite. BO also likes Langda mangoes but only when they are properly ripe and sweet. In that state, they achieve that perfect delicate balance of mango-ey fragrance, sweetness and just a hint of tartness. The tartness ends up lending more strength of the sweet notes in the mango. The only downside of Langda mangoes is that they are a bit fibrous which can get annoying when those strands of fibre get stuck in your teeth. Langdas hit the market in July and are perfect to stay your stomach while you await the delightful….

Chausa Mango – The one which makes it hard to say goodbye to Mangoes

Chausa mangoes are pretty much BO’s favourite mangoes to eat as is, and is totally up there with Alphonso mangoes when it comes to Overall Mango Rankings. They start coming in mid-July, so you have to eagerly anticipate their arrival. Many a trip to the super market is loaded with excitement, in quiet excitement over the arrival of Chausa mangoes. Repeated questions are asked of the fruit-wala, much to his annoyance, about when would Chausa mangoes make landfall in Delhi. Quiet, eager eyes glance through heaps of Safeda, Langda and Dussheri, in search of the elusive Chausa. When they finally arrive, it’s time to stock up!!!! And enjoy them!!! Because these are pretty much the last (and the BEST!!) mangoes each summer. High levels of mango picking skills are not necessary for picking out good Chausa mangoes. 99% of chausas will be lovely, ripe, sweet, fragrant and delicious. Guaranteed.

Speaking of Mango Picking Skills, that is for another post, another time. BO feels that MPS is no less than Wine Tasting Skills. You need to use your senses of sight, smell and touch to properly pick the right mangoes, and once it’s yours, TASTE TASTE TASTE 😀

Update 18th July 2019: Last Sunday (a couple of days after writing this post), I received a little batch of Amrapali mangoes from Y’s mum! Talk about serendipity! Here’s how they look:

Amrapali mango
Amrapali mango

Workout Buddies, Warm Ice Bath, Petrichor

Hello, the non-existent readers of this blog. If you exist, make yourselves known (by leaving a comment).

For some time now, BO has been wanting to get back into the swing of regular workouts. You might remember she had also joined her neighbourhood Zumba classes. That didn’t work out too well because those were in the evening, and evening workouts might have led to some acidity issues. Any way, since then she has done a few morning workouts here and there. But you know how it is? You do something one day, and then that’s about it.

Hopefully, not any more! Beloved TCG (formerly TC (sidenote: we have grown up so much, but internal world still feels the same)), messaged saying she plans to join a gym. BO jumped at the opportunity and proposed being “Exercise Accountability Buddies“. Meaning, the two girls, fine, LADIES, will do their respective workouts and let each other know. They will encourage and prod each other on in the hopes of accomplishing their fitness goals.

BO casually mentioned this EAB plan to Y, who then proceeded to laugh at said plans, and ALSO MESSAGED TCG a scathing review of BO’s former performance as Y’s EAB (when basically neither of them went to the gym, and each convinced the other to promptly go back to sleep instead of the other way round).

With such lack of faith in display, BO got extra pumped to prove Y wrong. As a result, BO and TCG have managed 2 days of back to back morning workouts. Today was a break (unintentional).

Dear reader, also be reminded that this is the Peak of Summer, and as such, the heat is rather painful. Cold water (or NOT HOT water) is impossible to get (except from the refrigerator), and “room temperature” is a HOT 45 degrees celcius. BO found post-workout bathing particularly torturous. What kind of a place is Delhi where you get scalding hot water at 8 am in the summers??? Enter, giant block of ice. B (BO & Y’s domestic help) has been freezing giant blocks of ice in the fridge for cooling things quickly when needed for cooking purposes (mainly for setting dahi). Yesterday morning, BO remembered said ice, and dunked it in the bucket of 8am-hot-as-hell water. Tada! No longer hot water, but acceptable temperature (still not COOL or COLD, but we’ll take it).

As BO writes this post, heavens choose to contradict her and have showered Delhi with a lovely little rainshower. BO happened to be dreaming about petrichor yesterday and how she longs to smell it, and now, here it is!

As for the actual workouts being followed, TCG has been doing zumba until she joins a gym. Turns out, in a classic case of Google Maps Treachery, the gym she had her eyes on is 850m away from her place, and not the Maps version of 250m. Speaking of GMT, it is apt to remind self of the time delightful Google Maps led BO and Y into an actual forest in the middle of Delhi (Rajokri Forest, Google it).

BO, the video exercise enthusiast (she’s been exercising to videos since 2005 and has done it ALL) has recently signed up for Deanne Berry’s new online workout platform – Deanne Berry Bodies. She is one of the thousands who did and loved the original Pump It Up DVD (and erm, also lost a good amount of weight with it). Considering Deanne Berry Bodies Online is a super new platform, there is a good amount of variety already. There are full on dance workouts, aerobics, kickboxing, strength training, stretch. The only slightly strange thing is that the glammed up costumes in the videos is not really necessary. Sure, on the Pump It Up video, the marketing was all flowing from the original Call On Me video’s success, but well, on DBB Online it’s not really needed. BO surely does not want any one walking in while she’s doing these workout, not because of her own super embarrassing moves, but because of what’s on the screen!! BUT the workouts themselves work up quite the sweat, are not super high impact but high intensity, and should be effective if stuck to. BO hopes to update with success story.

And with this, it is now legitimate to create a “Fitness and Workoutlabel and congratulate self on said achievement.

Vilamendhoo Maldives Review & Trip Report

BO (BlogOwner, for the uninitiated) saved writing this blog post for after having returned to what she fondly refers to as the “jwaalamukhi” of Delhi. Part of the reason for doing this was to mentally revisit the loveliness of the past week once again, which was spent in utter bliss surrounded by the peaceful sights and sounds of the SEA.

Why Vilamendhoo in the Maldives?

Before we get to the actual holiday, lets first pay tribute to the AGONY of deciding which resort to pick in the Maldives. You see, there are hundreds of similar looking and sounding resorts there, most with 4.5 and above ratings on Tripadvisor. And most costing a bomb. Well, with some very thorough research, going back and forth, BO and Y decided on Vilamendhoo based on these criteria: of course has to be very highly rated on TA, with wonderful clean, crystal clear water with shallow pools & lagoons, highly rated FOOD, full board package (i.e. all meals included), infinity pool, and new-ish / recently renovated property.

Many properties belonging to Crown & Champa Resorts ticked these boxes. Vilamendhoo, Meeru and Kuredu were closely considered. Vilamendhoo picked finally because it’s the smallest of the lot, was (rightly) said to have a personal, private, and relaxed vibe, and also the newest/ most recently renovated. Veligandu is also similar to Vilamendhoo, but it did not have availability on the same dates.

How to get to Vilamendhoo, Visa for Indians, Seaplane transfer!

There’s a very convenient Air India flight from Delhi to Maldives, via Trivandrum. From Male airport, you get a stamp on your passport (for free) permitting you to stay in Maldives for up to 90 days – this was the fastest and easiest immigration process ever. You then proceed to take a seaplane to reach Vilamendhoo!

Now, every resort does not have a seaplane connection. The islands close to Male will offer a speedboat connect. The seaplane experience was expensive, but also very exciting. BO was super excited before the plane actually took off. After which she proceeded to shut her eyes and only peeped at the sea below, dotted with little specks of turquoise lagoons and centres of golden sands. It was quite terrifying to be flying in a tiny little cabin that low (below major clouds, flying through misty expanses), but also that high! (!!!!). Y on the other hand (and most others in the cabin) had a splendid time looking into the ocean and enjoying the views.

Picking a room in Vilamendhoo – North Side or South Side?

Picking the right room is pretty important at Vilamendhoo. This is because each room comes with a set of sun loungers with your own bit of private beach right in front of your room! So you want to make sure you like the area you’re in.

BO and Y had booked a Jacuzzi Beach Villa which is located on the adults only side of the island (the west end) with the infinity pool. A north facing room was requested as TripAdvisor reviewers mentioned that side being more breezy.

However, room 213, a detached villa on the south west end (right next to the infinity pool) was the allocated room. BO and Y took it with a view to examine that side and the other side, and switch later if needed. Well, BO is happy to report that 213 is the best possible location you can get on the island!! It’s super close to the water (which is true of most South side rooms), the sun beds are under the perfect little canopy of leaves, and you also get healthy doze of western facing sea breeze here. Best of everything!! The north side villas are a bit too far from the water, with a large stretch of sand between them. It’s a matter of personal preference, but BO and Y preferred the shorter walk to the water, and also the lovely calm lagoon in the south western part! If you get Room 213, keep it!

5 days in utter bliss!

BO is a planner. She keeps a proper paper planner with tasks & appointments for the week well scheduled and planned out. The planner in BO made sure that she had a nifty sheet of paper with a list of “Vacation Activities” like what to read, what to draw, topics to think about (related to work) (YES) (in all fairness, many matters require much thinking and planning, and the idle excitement of a vacation is often conducive to do much strategising and planning), photography plan for stock shoots and generally, online classes to follow along and brush up on, and many other such pointers to make sure that BO was never out of productive, but relaxing things to do on vacation.

2 hours into arrival at Vilamendhoo, and with the soothing balm of the salty air on her frayed nerves, BO was so RELAXED that she found ample ways to stay idly occupied for the next 5 days without having to refer to that list.

Days were spent reading by the sea. Read 2 books (both by Lucy Maud Montgomery). Spent a lot of time in the pool, gazing at the sunset and the purples and oranges in the sky.

BO and Y took lovely walks around the island. Early morning is the best time to do this. Watched the local black tip reef sharks and the aggressive parrot fish feed on schools of fish every morning.

Listened to the waves crashing, the winds blowing.

Splashed about (a LOT) in the shallow lagoon. BO had carried along an inflatable donut ring to float in – best decision ever. Floating about is the most fun & soothing activity. Make sure to carry water shoes. There are quite a few broken bits of corals lying about. It also rained, and BO and Y did not leave behind the opportunity to get drenched in the rain like little children.

Star gazing at night. The sky comes alive at night. BO is a worshipper of starlit skies, and it was wonderful to be able to just get lost in the stars and constellations at night.

Food

BO and Y chose the Full Board plan which included all 3 meals at Ahima Restaurant. The food was of good quality, and with enough variety so as to not get repetitive. There were enough options for vegetarians and non-vegetarians who eat only some meats (like BO). Every meal also had rice and curry options, along with many, MANY other options. Vilamendhoo will manage to please or at least pacify picky eaters.

BO came back with a halthy gain of 0.5 kg.

The All Inclusive Plus Package also included evening snacks (which are actually available all day long), and free drinks. BO & Y did cost benefit analysis and didn’t opt for this. Y ordered a few drinks separately, and BO carried munchies from home (erhm, Haldirams Khatta Meetha and Hide & Seek are the best evening snacks, ok?).

Snorkelling & the House Reef

One of the selling points of Vilamendhoo is its excellent house reef. BO is unable to personally comment on it due to (a) complete lack of interest in reefs, and (b) she did not go snorkelling.

BO and Y had planned to take the guided house reef snorkelling session arranged by the resort. When it was finally time to go, the instructor/ guide told BO that the session was not suitable for non-swimmers as they go to the edge of the reef and into the deep end; so, BO didn’t do the tour and was she super relieved!!! BO is not at all into under water things, so no harm, no foul. Y went went snorkelling and enjoyed it heaps. They saw lots of colorful fish and also a turtle. Although, he did come back with a bit of sunburn, so make sure to take a rasher vest or just wear a t-shirt while snorkelling.

Vilamendhoo also organises diving and snorkelling tours to see dolphins, whale sharks, manta rays, turtles and what not.

Free Photoshoot!!!

These two photos were taken by the lovely in house photographer at Vilamendhoo.

This was the CHERRY on the pie! BO was THRILLED to find that their booking included a free 30 minute photoshoot with one print included (you have an option of purchasing any number of photos you like from your session). This was scheduled at the east end of the island and we ended up with a couple of lovely photos. Y was not pleased about having to participate in a photoshoot, but when providence gives you an unexpected FREE photoshoot, you just have to go along with it.

Vilamendhoo also has a little gift shop with some very pricy items, and a lovely lady at the checkout counter. On ascertaining our being from India, she told us that she’d been to Nainital for her honeymoon and she felt Nainital is the prettiest place on the planet (Maldives included). How cute!

Other activities & entertainment

Vilamendhoo has lots of other activities like kayaking, windsurfing, paddle boarding, sports, cruises, diving & snorkelling excursions. They give you a sheet with a schedule and list of activities at check in. Very handy. BO and Y were mostly busy doing nothing, so they didn’t participate in too many of these. There is more than enough stuff to keep you from getting bored.

Internet & TV – Connectivity

BO & Y had picked up Dhiraagu local sims from the airport which gave them fast 4G internet access all throughout. The hotel does has wifi but it was patchy at best. The room had a flat screen TV with satellite channels – Cricket World Cup updates were not missed!!

Go to Vilamendhoo!!

BO & Y highly recommend Vilamendhoo! Private, peaceful, tranquil. Had everything that one could possibly want from a chilled out, relaxing break. You can just be by yourself and nobody will disturb you.

Optimism

It’s 11th June, and the temps have hit 48 degree celcius here in Delhi. You can certainly start a teppanyaki operation on your terrace tiles.

Felt quite windy (and dust-stormy) this morning, and the sun was not visibly ablaze (i.e. said blaze was obscured by passing clouds).

BO is going down to Mother Dairy to pick up some milk. It isn’t raining while she is leaving. It isn’t even drizzling. But she did here a thunder or two in the past few minutes. As she’s making her way out the main door, she decides to turn back and pack an umbrella in her bag.

Goes down. Does milk shopping. Takes umbrella out of bag to fit in milk packets. Quickly hides umbrella before co-shoppers or Mother Dairy guy judge her for her naive optimism in carrying one this morning. Back upstairs.

By this time the sun is out and bright and shining hard.

Poor umbrella (and BO) will have to wait for another day.

Blogging about Plogging

BO has been rather pleased to learn that the idea of voluntarily picking up random trash from places has a word now. It’s called Plogging.

I came across this term while on one of my Instagram suction spirals, and read about the Ploggers of India, Ploggers of Delhi, etc. who are basically groups of runners who voluntarily pick up trash on their running paths – most of this trash being plastic waste.

I remember doing exactly this on my school compound many, many years ago when I’d newly moved to Bhubaneswar and just entered 9th Standard. I didn’t have friends until a few weeks into school, so in those early days when I didn’t have any one to “hang out with”, I’d spend some time going around the campus by myself (getting to know it), and picking up bits of plastic waste like empty wrappers and plastic bags, collecting them and depositing them in the main waste bin. I don’t know if anyone saw me doing this back then (and found it strange), but I don’t think the thought that someone else might find it weird ever stopped me. Though I must confess that once I’d made friends, I stopped doing this… my plogging wasn’t done with any major noble motive, just a little pastime at snack break.

Back then I did only think of it as random trash picking, and it felt rather therapeutic. Now there’s a nice little word (and hashtags galore!!!) for it!

More power to all the ploggers out there – specially to the ones who don’t know that there’s a special word for the good work they’re doing!