Hello, dear readers!
I’ve been writing on people, food, travel and lifestyle for more than two decades now, a journalistic career that actually started in this very same newspaper! I had a column in the Sunday FPJ called On High Heels then. I’m not wearing those high heels anymore but am still the hungry happy hippy I was back then. I’ve been lucky to have travelled across the length and breadth of India and zipped around on almost every continent, seeing places and trying out local flavours that few others are fortunate to savour. I’m also a very active advocate of Mumbai – its fascinating mix of culture, charm and chaos – and I’d like you to see it through my prism. Through this column, I’m going to serve you a slice of my life every Sunday, offer a peek into my perspective on plates and places, and to try and entertain you through my many varied experiences.
Now I know we’ve all been too V-dayed out over the years and no one wants to buy into all the red-hot hype that comes along with it. But come February, there are little reminders everywhere. The florists are in makeover mode, the chocolatiers are getting their ganache in top gear and the restaurants are all giving you the come-hither look. Even if you manage to evade all these, there’s something to be said for love. An emotion that has endured down the ages for good reason. It’s actually a good time to pause, take stock of where you stand in the love stakes and up your game if something seems lacking.
Love, three ways
I’m all for special moments, shared. It needn’t be a grand gesture – just a simple lingering glance, a caress on the cheek or a genuine laugh together can convey all you need to say. An early morning walk in the mountains or a stroll by the sea at sunset can spell romance more than the most expensive gifts. And if you do have the moolah to plan a vacay to exotic locales, here are my personal recommendations for some of the most memorable things that could bring you even closer.
A horse carriage ride around the lake in St Moritz at this time of the year will enchant you with its cloak of fairytale romance. Hold hands under the incredible soft and warm blankets, enjoying the gentle sunshine on your faces (St Moritz has an extraordinarily high number of sunny winter days for a Swiss ski resort town!) as you feast your eyes on the snow-clad pine forests straight out of a Christmas card.
For a truly romantic adventure, nothing beats taking the slow boat down the Ogod River in Donsol, Sorsogon, in the Philippines. On a no-moon night, the river is like a skein of inky silk that the boat glides down noiselessly while a pleasant breeze lifts up your hair. You’ll find your pulse racing, when, out of the pitch dark, a thousand fireflies all light up at the same time as though God flicked a switch somewhere. After you’ve seen the magic at this off-the-beaten track destination, no fairy lights in a restaurant will ever compare.
Closer home, let strawberries seduce you with their lush scent and luscious taste. Various strawberry farms at Mahabaleshwar give you a chance to pick your own, restaurants offer the quintessential cup of romance – strawberries and cream – while resorts like Le Meridien Mahabaleshwar do some gorgeous strawberry treats that you can eat and have as a spa therapy too!
And for those who have loved and lost and are feeling their singledom keenly in this world where everyone seems to be encircled by the arms of another, remember what Buddha said – “You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” Let February be the month where we spread love, no matter what age or stage of life we’re at.