Life is this tightrope walk where you are constantly balancing and juggling between various distractions and, still trying to maintain focus to keep walking ahead, very slowly, one step at a time and then you fall, a lot of times.
However, the art lies in jumping back onto the tightrope and, this is no easy task.
What makes me get back to the tightrope is – Travel.
Travel for me is like “Babaji ki booti” that simply fades away all the problems, all the stresses and all the glamour around living. It brings back the focus on me, JUST ME.
My Chennai trip was one such sojourn that was complicated from the go –
- I was travelling alone – Yes, woman in India, alone!
- I was travelling right from top North to down South – extremely distant for a North India (For them Thailand is closer!)
- Why Chennai?– When you can go to GOA if beach is on your mind ( stereotype mindset issues to be handled with care otherwise family drama can actually sabotage your plans)
- Tiff At Airport With Indigo – And, last but not the least – over efficient Indigo staff who denied giving me MY BOARDING PASS because I was like a good citizen standing in the queue and waiting for my turn and meanwhile was precisely 3 minutes over the printed baggage drop time. I was then bullied to buy a new ticket which costed me three times over.
I became the sea and the sea became me.
The experiencing of horizon where sea meets the sky, the feeling of absolute unity with Nature, the introspective reflection on irrelevance of everything in between – was simply irresistible for me. I had to be there to feel this. I continued irrespective.
And, the best decision of my trip was to book myself with GRT group of Hotels. My Chennai to Mahabalipuram to Kanchipuram trail was absolutely sorted.
Staff of GRT Hotels never blinked or quirked condescendingly when I asked absolutely nonsense questions. Yes, when you travel alone you tend to be over meticulous with your planning and your sixth sense is always at alert mode. In my panic mode on, I called up the hotel manager who had arranged my airport pickup to inform him of my flight delay. I was super anxious – not sure, if he even understood, sending him frantic messages about my new flight arrival time and then the flight took off and I left everything to God.
At 11 am when I landed at Chennai airport, I was greeted by a man dressed in crisp uniform holding my name placard right inside the exit gate.
I looked at him,
“Geethanjali mam”; he said in his Tamil accented tone.
“Yes”, I said.
“I am from GRT Hotels. We welcome you to Chennai”.
He took my baggage and asked me about my flight. And, as soon as he heard about my stressful flight adventure, he said “ I am sure you skipped your breakfast. Let me call the hotel and get it arranged for you as our usually buffet breakfast close time is 10 am”.
I was floored. I was home. I was in safe hands.
With warm welcome and genuine concern I was walked into the Radisson Blu by GRT Hotel, Chennai. I checked into my room which was no less than a paradise with my favourite orchid flower bouquet, chocolates and an inviting recliner chair. For me personally, the best thing was a switch panel which had options to change the light setting of the room as per my mood – night, reading, relaxing – and oh boy! I played with them like a child.
The real purpose of travel is to reconnect with the child hiding within
Connecting With The Quiet Within
I had a heavy head after all that scuffle with Indigo staff and running from pillar to post to get myself into next flight. As a quick relief, I was suggested a dry head message at their Bodhi Spa. The moment you enter the spa your senses seem to calm down slowly, the quiet around amalgamates into you and sucks out all the noise and you are left with JUST YOU. My process of reconnecting and realigning with myself had begun.
Such was the magic of therapist’s hands that I literally dozed off. I clicked a selfie with her, thanked her and came back fully charged. It was later when I was raving about the spa facilities with their General Manager, Mr Sasikumar, was I told that Mapui (the same therapist) has recently won the ‘Best Therpaist in Asia” Award. Well, that speaks a lot about their quality standards.
Salt In The Kitchen
Raddison Blu by Grt Hotel has come up with a unique idea of SALT.CO.531 KITCHEN – a first of its kind kitchen that uses different varieties of gourmet sea salt. Watermelon feta cheese over Himalayan pink salt slab with lettuce was my absolute favourite. Such an interesting twist to the traditional dish! When you slightly brush the watermelon slice by the salt slab and savour it, the flavours subtly explode in your mouth – sweet, salty, cheesy and cold – indeed a “WOW” moment.
The Secret Ingredients
Being born and brought up in Lucknow, I was extremely skeptical of ordering Galawati kabab in a hotel in Chennai. You know, you can call yourself The Great Kabab Factory or whatever but serving a perfect galawati kebab is no joke. However, on the insistence of chef and seeing his bubbly confidence in proving me wrong which I would be happy to for who wouldn’t love a galawati kabab, I went ahead. What came a few minutes later; just broke all stereotype regional biases in one bite itself. Like what was it! The kabab just melted in my mouth. It was beyond perfect. It was as if a Mughal Khansamah has unlocked his best kept secret ingredients. This dish brought back nostalgic memories of my childhood in Lucknow. If a dish can do that, I don’t simply eat it. I respect it. I salute The Great Kabab Factory of Radisson Blu by GRT Hotel for holding on to traditional cuisines in the most authentic way while experimenting with contemporary twists.
I was awed to hear about their process of creating new dishes, the amount of research that goes into it, the quality maintenance and their continuous strive to serve the best. I never knew so much science and research lies behind each dish.
The Surprise Flash Dance
The flash dance show by the staff right there at the restaurant area peppered the lunch. Spontaneous, fun and contagious energy it was.
It was a quick pitstop at this Radisson Blu by GRT hotel and Chennai. After lunch, I was to start with my vacation and head towards Mahabalipuram (Mamallapuram).