While Corona has turned the world upside down, it has surely changed how the world views work from home today. Businesses have realised even with work from home, work is running business as usual. Zoom, Google Meet and Blue Jeans have seamlessly replaced stand ups and face to face meetings.
Although the one industry that got the most hit is the travel industry and its revival in the times of corona seemed very far fetched. Fortunately with the travel restrictions beginning to lift and destinations becoming open to welcoming travellers, people are willing to take that risk and escape from the daily grind to get a change of work atmosphere. Interestingly with more people opting to such travel, a new concept of Workation has emerged. Workation? Yes, workation is working while enjoying the perks of a vacation. Vacationing in a home away from home, with the comforts of a home.
As soon as my husband and I heard that with an epass Kodaikanal was opening up to tourists, we decided to go. We had moved from Karo Na to Karo Ha with the news. Yes sure, it would take a minimum drive for 11 hours to get there, but I was just sold at the idea of a workation between the clouds in Kodaikanal. We found an ideal homestay with the most scenic views you can find in the whole of Kodaikanal and made our booking. Cloudwalks Kodaikanal it was! Our new home away from home for one straight week!
So we left Chennai at 6:00AM sharp. It had rained the entire last night and hence it was a really pleasant weather. The roads were amazing, and with music of the best travel songs blaring from the speakers, the drive couldn’t have gotten any better. The only two stops we made were at Oorvasi restaurant in Tindivanam for breakfast and the next stop was at Thalapakkati in Dindigul for lunch. We also stopped by Kodai road to take in the beauty of these majestic mountains by the side of a calm & pristine lake.
After a good 11.5 hours drive we reached our homestay by 5:30PM. The moment we stepped out of the car, a gorgeous landscape of mist covered mountains and terraced rice fields at the foot of a large reserve forest enveloped us. We were then greeted by our lovely and ever smiling host Niroj who led us into this beauty of our room.
The room had amazing antique furniture, french windows, a couple of old-school paintings, 6×8 foot king size comfy bed and a large balcony with a lounging chair to just collapse into and retire for the day. My excitement knew no bounds.
The moment my eyes landed on the Diwan by the french window, I knew what my work place from would be. There was also a work table with comfy chairs, another work spot which competed equally to get occupied.
We ordered two cups of coffee and sat by these chairs in the balcony to savour the vistas that just seemed to better with time and hear the birds chirping in full glory. Soon the sun was down and the night took over.
We buried ourselves under the sheets in the comfort of our king size bed to kill the chill while occasionally laughing in between light cold shivers. After an hour we got down to the dining place to feast on some finger licking good Panner Butter Masala and hot Phulkas. Post a scrumptious dinner, we spent sometime getting to know our sweet hosts – Niroj, originally from Orissa who earlier run a cafe and Raj, who worked for a big NGO, before both quit to do something of their own together. After a long intense conversation with them, we head back to our room and retired for the day.
The next morning, we woke up to this sunrise from our room. Envy me all you want! Haha!
After a small chanting & meditating session of Num myoho renge kyo, I grabbed a book The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini from the small in house library – and find my spot in a comfy bed by the bookshelf.
A cozy bed with plenty of cushions, a good book in your hands, a lush green backdrop & light rays of sunlight piercing through the windows and tickling your skin, it was just the perfect start to my Monday morning. Before I headed for breakfast, I had finished reading till the part where Amir had watched Hassan being compromised by Assef but him being a wuss and a coward, chose to run away from the situation. It upset me, and I narrated the story I had read so far to my husband. If not for the breakfast, I would have been still sulking thinking about the book.
As we sat across the dinning table, hot soft idlis came in a casserole, followed by a bowl of coconut chutney, tomato-onion chutney and a big bowl of sambhar. Next in the line came a bowl of luscious Vermicelli Upma. On demand they also served all kinds of dosa and omelettes. Bread, butter and home made jam were served as well for those who have a good appetite for food. Tea, Coffee, Boost with breakfast goes without saying. The best thing about the breakfast is that, it just tastes like home food and it is absolutely delectable.
After my morning reading session at this cozy place, I decided to continue working from the same spot for the day. Some soothing music and some kick ass backdrop, I started my work for the day. After a couple of hours, when our stomaches craved for food, we made our way to the dining hall.
The lunch again was appetising. A full course meal, right from Rice, Sambar, Rasam, Mor Kozhambu, Appalam, and three poriyals. The meal was flavoursome and above all tasted just like home food. We stuffed ourselves to exhaustion and with great difficulty got back to work. We finished the rest of our respective tasks for the day and spent sometime watching IPL, and to everyone’s dismay watch CSK fail miserably! Dinner for the day, we settled for Mixed Vegetable Sabzi and hot Phulkas. Early risers sleep early, and before we knew, we had hit the sack by 9:30.
One of the best things about our Kodaikanal workation was that we woke up to a beautiful sunrise EVERY SINGLE DAY.
After my little meditation session, I wrapped myself in the warmth of my blanket and started with my book from where I had left. After I read a few more pages, I was just sickened by the character of Amir. Amir throwing pomegranates at Hassan and Hassan’s reaction to the same, Amir’s planting the theft and Hassan’s and Ali’s accepting to a crime they didn’t commit had me hate Amir. When Ali & Hassan left Kabul, I was in tears. Very few books have that impact on me. I got comforted with a hug when my tears turned into sobs, I wished I could have been there to comfort Hassan with a hug.
Setting aside my emotions, we got dressed and left for breakfast. This time instead of Vermicelli Upma, it was Millet Pongal, everything else remaining the same. After a heavy breakfast, we started with our days work. Husband, with his child like smile convinced me that he wished to use the Diwan as his workplace for the day, so I settled for the study table by it. Lunch was as extravagant as yesterday, but today with my favourite Potato fry. I had till stomach full and got back to work.
After a tiring day at work, we settled for some mouth watering Daal Tadka and hot phulkas for dinner, and dozed off watching a close match between Kings XI Punjab and Sun risers Hyderabad.
The next morning, the sun had laid up this view for us. It was yet again another beautiful sunrise that we woke upto. One thing that we were certain of was that we were surely going to miss waking up to such sunrises.
Clearly, I was in the mood for some sunrise photography. And also in the mood to know how Hassan was doing, if Amir was ever going to spill the beans to Baba on how he did Hassan wrong and that he was a pathetic person or is life going to make him drown in his own sorrows.
I was also in the mood to get decked up. Well, yes, those moods are rare. Especially since lockdown, where after being in the comfort of sweat pants, dressing up is really a pain. But this mood happened to come, and I made sure I get some pictures clicked to remind myself that I tried.
And soon enough, before we knew, it was Friday already! And Friday gifted us this sunrise. It hurt thinking after two days, I won’t wake up to see the same.
In the meantime, I also realised while I have it, I might as well capture it.
I got back with the book and sat on it till I finished. I was horrified to find out that Hassan dies in the story, but I hated how the author still chose to bless, Amir & his wife, a childless couple with Hassan’s son, Sohrab. Although it took a really long time for Amir to breaking the ice with Sohrab until the whole Kite flying episode, I still kept feeling that Amir had it easy. Agreed, Assef disfigured Amir’s face with continuous hits with those brass knuckles, and Sohrab saved him with his slingshot, I still felt, he had it easy. I also ended up with the feeling wishing there was more of Hassan to read.
After breakfast when I still had sometime before the clock stuck 10, I helped myself to discover parts of the property that I had adored from the balcony but didn’t find the time to really explore. This beautiful garden with over hundreds of plants bearing flowers of all colours prospered and with their placement close to the entrance gave a very pleasant look & feel to the property.
And I stopped by this swing to sit back and work out in my head the plan for the day. And then I got back up and got dressed.
Cloudwalks Homestay Kodaikanal
Ok, one day I could do formal. And so I did.
And on my last work day at Kodai, I wanted to finish from where I started. Back to my favourite work spot. All the colours just perfectly added up for this beautiful picture.
Friday night called for some fun. The fun came by way of Bonfire, Barbecue and some drinks with other fellow guests.
Well, wherever in the world you go, you will run into a Malayalee. So did we. There was a couple who drove down from Bangalore with two other friends. Conversations started with movies, new on Netflix, Scam 1992, to our professions, road trips, politics, dogs and what not. A bunch of total strangers pouring their heart out, and trying to find connects between each other. Conversations like Do you know abc ? Where in Calicut? The climax of 22 Female Kottayam!OMG! Fahad Fasil and the gushes after! All of us had just let totally loose and enjoyed every bit of each others company.
There were frequent laughs and giggles and of course this yummylicious Barbeque.
Which got even tastier when that little Mallu friend behind lent his hand with the barbecue.
After a couple of hours of intense & fun conversations, we bid goodnight to our fellow partners in bonfire & hit the sack.
Saturday morning came and gifted with a sun that played hide & seek. But this sunrise was special. The sky turned all colours pretty.
After watching the sun rise into full glory and bright up the sky, we binged watched Mirzapur Season 2. And then decided to head out for Kodai sightseeing.
Although it was our second time at Kodai and we had already visited most of the major sightseeing spots, there were a couple that we had missed the first time. So as we drove ourselves to Pillar caves, we came to realise all sightseeing spots were shut till the end of the month.
So we decided next to stop by a restaurant in the famous Tyagaraja road called Abby’s Cafe for lunch. After a wholesome lunch, we stopped by a Chocolate factory close by to buy some Kodai famous chocolates to take home and headed back to our homestay. We spent the rest of the evening enjoying a few drinks and talking everything under the sun.
Before we checked out, there had to be some mandatory rituals. This blog wouldn’t do justice without a picture of the lovely couple – Niroj and Raj. They were fantastic hosts, and it goes without saying, every time we visit Kodai, it would be Cloudwalks that we would choose. The cooking and cleaning staff also definitely need a mention. Courteous, generous and ever smiling. In short, they feed you love with food. Kudos to their hospitality. Not all home stays give a home feeling, but this one truly did.
And of course then a picture of ours with the hosts.
And before we depart, a picture with Rex, who accompanied my husband on his morning walks and showered him with his unconditional love.
And then a big thank you to nature for being so kind. For blessing us with such wonderful weather on our way back.
Anything I say about our Kodaikanal workation experience would be an understatement. A week away from the shor of the city, amidst clear skies, nature at its purest best, hospitality that you can’t stop raving about and all of which in the comforts of a lovely home managed by two lovely people! To sum it up in short, it was truly a workation to remember!
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