Living the Romance

 

Sun is setting across the ocean. Sky is a melange of varied intensity of red, orange, pink blue colour. Waves are gently caressing the shore and  merging back into the ocean, where they belong. Wind is gentle and warm. I have just arrived in the Tanjung Rhu resort on Langkawi Islands, soaking in this breath-taking view from the lobby which opens to the ocean.

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The ocean is calling, I walk to the bar, pick up a glass of Bordeaux and start walking on the endless pristine white beach which now is changing colours in coordination with sky. I take my flip-flop out and start walking bare foot, waves lovingly stroking my feet, my blue dress is swelling because of wind and is getting soaked in water, it doesn’t care. It seems to be happy with the light playful touch of the wind. My lips are singing in joy as red wine kisses them warmly. My body sparkling as the gentle wind is drying the sweat off. I am feeling heady walking into the beautiful unknown. Some where far, somebody is playing, Claude Debussy, ‘Clair de lune’ on the piano. The sound is sugar to my ears and is taking me to a far off fantasy land where the world is at peace and there is romance in everything!

Butterfly Flutter

What I am going to tell you happened 15 years back, but the learnings will remain relevant, forever and ever. 

I am sitting on my terrace garden, sun bathing, admiring beauty and abundance of nature. Delhi is beautiful around this time, gardens get decorated with multiple coloured flowers. If you walk around on the road, you will realise yellow and dark pink are predominant colours, the boundary walls of the neighbourhood houses get loaded with Bougainvillea and the roads get carpeted with Amaltas flowers. 

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While I am engrossed in a book, my daughter nudges me  with excitement and asks me to look up. I look up and find two gorgeous butterflies right in front of me, they seem to be playing with each other. They hover around her head and move towards purple and pink petunia. They station themselves atop one flower, they rest for couple of seconds and then fly away.

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As I see these butterflies fluttering playfully on the flowers and my daughter trying to catch them, I get transported back to my college days.

My college had a beautiful lush green front lawn and an equally beautiful massive back lawn. There was a short cut to the nearest bus stop from the back lawns but there was no exit door. Students often used to climb up the wall to take the shorter route and in time a part of the wall fell. Unofficially, that part of the wall became our exit door.

One fine day, when I was crossing the back lawn of the college with a friend, we came across a small yellow and black coloured butterfly lying on the grass. I had never ever seen a stationary butterfly that’s why I had an inkling that she was hurt. As I was pondering about her, I noticed my friend taking a step to crush her. He was about to step on her when I pushed him away, he went tumbling down towards left.

I got very angry with him for his brutal act and as I was reprimanding him, an unbelievable thing happened. The butterfly flew towards me and sat on my shoulder, leaving me perplexed. I didn’t understand what happened. I was surprised by this gesture. For the next few minutes I stood still, I was fearing that she would fly away. She didn’t.  After five minutes I started moving towards the exit, but she didn’t move from my shoulder, she sat comfortably as if it belonged to her. She accompanied me to the door and when I crossed the wall, she flew away.

Butterfly is an insect, I am not too sure if they have any intelligence and reasoning.  she was not supposed to understand what I was saying or  doing. But she did. She understood and reacted accordingly.

Later my friend told me that he had no bad intentions, he was killing her to end her misery, or what he assumed was misery.

15 years later, I still clearly remember that incident. The whole episode strengthened my believe is love and kindness.

Language of Love, Kindness and Gentleness is understood by everybody.

It transcends through age, gender, cast, religion, nation, country, continent and in this case even species. 

With love.

Expensive Shit!

Guide, ‘It’s USD 1,100 per kg.’

Me, ‘Is it made of gold?’

Guide, ‘No, shit.’

Me, with wide eyes and shocked face, ‘Mind your language.’

Guide, ‘Ma’am, i am serious, it is made of shit.’

Me, ‘You are kidding me right?’

Guide, ‘No, i am serious, it can actually go upto USD 3000 per kg.’

Me, unbelievingly, ‘No way…… you can’t be serious, you are shitting me!’

Some time back, we visited Coorg, beautiful, serene, lush green coffee plantation, 5 hours away from Bangalore.

I travel often and in any of my visits to numerous destinations in India and abroad, i have never ever attended any hotel organised programs, such as baking, cooking, dancing, yoga, rock climbing, scuba diving, painting and many such interesting, creative programs, which the very attentive hotel staff design to keep their guests occupied. Imagine not attending yoga session at Ananda in Himalayas, not attending scuba diving sessions in Phi Phi island, not attending baking classes in Paris, not attending history tour in Italy, not attending fishing in Langkawi island. It’s blasphemy.

On the trip to Coorg, i realised i am missing out a lot by letting go off these wonderful, entertaining and educational sessions, they are specially designed keeping tourists in mind, i should benefit from them. I promised myself to attend and educate myself, starting from this very holiday.    

In Coorg, on our second day we attended a guided tour around the plantation. The guide took us around the coffee plantation, describing and detailing various vegetation and taking us through the life cycle of coffee from the time they are seeds to the time they land in our cups. We wandered in the lush green bush of coffee touching, feeling and smelling aroma of coffee beans/cherries. After two hours, exhausted going up and down the the slopes, we returned to the hotel. The guide lead us to the hotel coffee workshop for coffee tasting session. It’s here, we tasted the most exotic coffee in the world, for the first time and i think for the last.

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‘The coffee you are having is one of the most expensive coffee, it’s Kopi Luwak’, the guide announced with pride.

Kopi Luwak sounded exotic but nobody payed heed, everybody in the group was exhausted and all they wanted to do was to drink their coffee in peace. Nobody made any effort to know what is Kopi Luwak, that didn’t seem to demotivate the guide, he continued,

‘It is made from cat’s shit.’

I nearly choked and spilled my coffee after hearing that. The guide continued,

‘The mountain cat, Civet, eats the finest coffee berries and poops them out, our farm people collects the poop, clean, roast and grind the beans, to serve you, the world’s most exotic flavour.’

In the state of shock, i asked him, ‘So basically we are drinking cat’s poop and it is suppose to be exotic.’

‘Yes, m’am, it’s exotic and most expensive type of coffee, it originated in Indonesia in 18th century’.

I kept my coffee mug aside and made two mental notes, first, I will inform the hotel staff about this guy’s lunacy and second I will check about the exotic coffee before i inform the hotel staff.

Foreign land linkage didn’t help me much, my thoughts were in turmoil, there was hurricane in my mind, how can poop be exotic ???? Is this guy mad? so i googled and as we all know google is next to god, it has all the answers. 

Eureka moment, we were actually sipping world’s finest poop!

Google for better or worse have all the answers, Palm Civet is a kind of cat that eats finest coffee cherries, the cherries goes through fermentation process during digestion in the cats intestine, while the fruit part of the cherries gets digested, the beans does not, in about one and half day the cat egest the beans in their feces, the farm people collect the beans from the poop, cleans, roasts and grinds them to make the world’s most expensive coffee.

So why is it so special??

Firstly, Palm Civet is a smart cat, she only eats the finest cherries so her poop ensures the finest quality of beans available in the region. Secondly, the fermentation process in the intestine alters the flavour of the beans, resulting in better tasting coffee. Some doubt it and some buy it at the price of gold!

I am north Indian bred, we are tea people, coffee for us is Caf’e Coffee Day, Barista and lately Starbucks and i am sure they don’t serve exotic coffee to common people, thank god for that.

Tea, i believe is less adventures, i am not too sure though, i will let you know after my visit to tea planation in Assam!