In which I list down articles that can help us in our daily lives…
Beat the clock: how you can save two hours a day – It’s interesting to see the increase in articles these days that speak about how to reduce time wasters and focus on one’s priorities. This article has an interesting suggestion for how one could actually put this theory to practice. In this article, author Marie Forleo, suggests that one should aim to free up two hours a day by first understanding where one’s time is presently being spent. It might sound tough, but there are some useful tips on how one can achieve this.
The Mental Health Benefits of Having a Daily Routine – This might seem counter to the popular notion these days that flexibility is one of the key requirements for success. But I strongly believe that having a daily routine can be a powerful tool to help us achieve our goals. In addition to providing an anchor in this fast changing world, it can help reduce stress and help us sleep better. Interestingly, both this and the earlier article emphasises the importance of developing a good food habit as well.
In the Beginning, Anything is Possible – So, if all of the above articles have helped you decide that you need to make a change, and you are wondering where to start, then this excellent article might just be your best starting point.
We decided to take a small break during the Christmas holiday period, pretty much at the last minute. As expected, decent places to stay without having to break the budget were hard to find. But as I started looking around places that can be reached in a comfortable day’s driving, the hill station of Valparai stood out.
Valparai is located on the Western Ghats in Tamil Nadu, close to the town of Pollachi. As I started reading more, I realised that Valparai is located adjacent to the Annamalai Tiger Reserve, which in turn is contiguous with Parambikulam Tiger Reserve in Kerala. While researching for suitable accommodation for the family in and around Valparai, I came across the Forest Rest Houses located within the Tiger Reserve.
While I have stayed inside or adjacent to forests previously, I realised that my kids had not. This, along with the suitability of the accommodation for this specific trip and the budget were the key factors that influenced us to consider this option. But the most important, and surprising, factor was that accommodation at any of these Forest Rest Houses could be booked online through a surprisingly good web-site.
Accommodation booked, I rented a car through Zoomcar for the duration of the trip. An important point that we had to keep in mind was that, as the place was located within a Forest, access was restricted after 4 pm. This was to minimise any wildlife encounters. As the place is a fair distance away from Bengaluru, we decided to break our journey at a friend’s farmhouse near Coimbatore.
The drive to the rest house (at Attakatty) was uneventful, except for the fact that the location of the rest house is not very well sign-posted from the main road. We ended up missing the turn-off and had to make some sharp U-turns to get back on the route. But once there, it was very nice. Accommodation is in the form of low-slung rooms, beneath tall green trees nestled on the side of the Western ghats. It is sufficiently far away from the main road to block off vehicular noise, but close enough that we could walk down to the tea stall at the junction for delicious snacks.
The room was spartan, but reasonably clean. Bed linen was provided, but one has to carry all toiletries, as well as soaps, towels, etc. There was running water in the very clean toilets, but ours was missing hot water. The staff were attentive and made arrangements for hot water, so it was not too much of an inconvenience.
Dinners and breakfasts were at the Rest House. Prior notice of a few hours has to be given to the caretaker so they can prepare the required quantity of food. The food was typical basic South Indian fare, but delicious.
We were only there for a couple of days. but the experience of staying inside the evergreen forests of the Western Ghats, one of the key ecological hot-spots of the World, was a very memorable one. On the first evening, we were visited by a small group of Lion-tailed Macaques, a species of monkey endemic to the Western Ghats.
I had high expectations of spotting endemic bird species, but this did not fructify. But I still managed to observe a good number of birds, some of which were lifers for me.
For a last-minute holiday, this surpassed expectations and made for a refreshing break.
A friend of mine owns a farm in the state of Tamil Nadu. As we were passing by the area enroute to a holiday at Annamalai Tiger Reserve last month, he kindly agreed to let us stay at the house on his farm.
The farm and house are located near Mettupalayam, at the foothills of the towering Nilgiri hills. We enjoyed a scenic and spectacular drive to reach his place. It was evening by the time we reached the place.
Sitting on the verandah of the house, nurturing a drink while listening to the sounds of the evening and night was a beautiful moment, worth the long drive to get there.
Dinner was a delicious affair, cooked by the wife of the caretaker of the farm, using vegetables grown on the farm itself.
The next day, we went on a walk to explore the farm. The setting was quite brilliant, as can be seen by the photos on the top of this post. We were treated to a lovely selection of fresh fruits and vegetables that we gratefully carried back home with us. Kids also enjoyed running around the farm and playing with the friendly farm dogs.
We had to leave the farm soon after breakfast. It was a very short stay but I hope to go back there some day.