From my kitchen to yours

From my kitchen to yours

Friday, February 3, 2017


Ziggy Mars and Zeke Zidaan..

So I lost my Taz on the 26th December 2015, after a long struggle with not being able to let go and sickness.
I let him go, not because I did not crazily love him and want him to stay, but because, I realised that this is not the kind of life, he should be living.
Life for me just changed that day, he was the love of my life, if there is a soul that got me and knew how I felt, I know he did, and for me to let go of him was one of the most heart wrenching things I have ever done in my life, but it also showed me, that I would have to sometimes let go of hearts that I truly love, not because I don’t love them , but because I love them too much, and that's probably how it will stay, whether they are in my life or not.
I hated my home post Taz.
It was horribly quite, it had sorrow and heart-break looming over-head like a dark cloud, and even the leaves refused to sway on the trees.
Dew drops settled on the floor like a wet blanket.
I just could not deal with the fact that I came down everyday with no brown eyes that were happy to see me, and I had no furry love to cuddle and talk nonsense to.
I have actually called to to Taz.And wanted to see him once more.
But at the same time, I really did not want to lose any more ones that I love.
I had lost 3 doggies, Betty-Boo, Ninja  and Taz.
And no I did not want to deal with one more pet that I would lose.

So when my Vet sent me a picture of a really sweet black Labrador with the saddest 'come love me eyes'.
I just sent me a mono syllable answer ‘NO’.
And that was that.
And so life continued and I missed Taz terribly, but I knew that like a love story that will have a sad ending, I could no longer keep anymore pets.
Till I was one day having a conversation with my yoga teacher Eefa, and I was telling her about Taz, and she said that she lost her pet too and did not have one for the longest time, but as soon as she did, she wondered why on earth, she did not get one earlier.

So I actually thought about this, really hard, and felt why should I say no to love and happiness, when I can actually have it.
Yes I have lost three pups that I loved crazily, and why would I stop myself from feeling love, and being able to love, when all I had to do was reach out.

And I went back to that picture my Vet had sent me of that black pup, with the ‘Please love me eyes’..
And I knew that I was getting him home.
And so on the 28 Jan 2016, I took Zeke and Zene straight from school to Dr.Karkare’s veterinary clinic and was handed, this black pup with the saddest eyes ever, and as I saw Zene hold him, I knew, it was all going to be wonderful again.

Sad black pup and Zene Zoe..

He got into our home , and destroyed most of everything in the months to come, did not want to be hugged or cuddled, slept under my study table, next to my feet while I wrote, ate up the legs of all my chairs in my home, they now look genuinely’Distressed’..
He has chewed the bottom of all my dresses, because he likes hold the edge oh my clothes and take me for a walk, has littered his way into most places I wanted him not to go, and has barked at me like I was a stranger getting into my own home, he jumped broke his hind leg and now has a rod with 10 screws in it, has chewed the ZZ’s slippers, devoured dirty socks, that we prayed would be thrown out of his system as soon as possible, has uprooted my flowering plants, and run away with it if I shouted at him, has been bullied and slapped by the cats that live in my garage, that I started feeding post Taz, And behaves like a thug and chases them , only if one of the home members are around him, he has made friends with all the colony dogs, and wants to go out and play with them all the time, every time he hears them in the garden, he comes and tugs at us, and makes cute sounds, which means, my friends are out and I want to go run with them.
So on the 28th January it has been a year since he came into our lives, and I totally love it.

The little thugster...ZiggyMarsWarsi...

Today Ziggy Mars wants to be hugged and cuddled and wants to be chased while he runs of with a coconut in his mouth.
What can I say he is born on the 2nd Dec 2015, is a Sagi puppy and I’m totally in love with him, he showed me that I can  always feel like I do about my Taz who is now a mulberry tree in my garden, But I still have place in my heart for him, and always will.

Ziggy Mars my little love...

So yup, in the event you lose someone you love , if you had to let them go, leave them or they just one day never returned.
Yes you will love again, and it will be differently beautiful.
But love you will , because that what our hearts are made for, to simply LOVE.

Ziggy Mars my Sagi Crazy pup...

Monday, May 9, 2016


So it's been a really long time ..
Since I wrote..
Or was excited to do something new..

Mostly because I have become just plain lazy or then , nothing was really exciting me enough...
Till Vivaan called me one day and asked me to make him a Nutella cheese cake ..
Now the thing is , Vivaan is not just someone, I really love..
He is someone I know since he was a little embryo in his Mama's tummy..
I have seen him from his diapers to his cool shorts.
He is adorable, full of manners, has swag , is a nimble footed foot baller ..
And he has an added advantage..
He is Mini's little boy ..
And that's an advantage he will have, for the rest of my life..

I was seriously tickled pink that he called me, and very politely asked, if I could make him a Nutella cheese cake..
I was so happy, that he felt that he could just call and ask, like you would with someone , you treat as your own..
It made me feel really really happy..
Like Mini and me have done something right together.
I have always maintained that kids are the best and purest part of any relationship..
And that's the part, we have to always keep free from all outside influences..

Well I had never made a Nutella cheese cake before , and so I was game.
This had bloody better be damn good, because kids are honest with what they like or dislike and , I think it's best that way..

So I googled a bit and finally found two three recipes, that made sense to me and , so I decided to do a trial before his birthday, so there are no last minute shocks or disappointments..
I sent him half a cake for tasting.
While the other half was devoured by the ZZ's and my parents.
Vivaan called me a day later, saying he loved it..
And so I was given the complete pleasure of doing Vivaan's 13th birthday cake.
Which I really want to share with you, its easy, a bit lightly complicated, but just follow the instructions..
So sometimes in life you need to follow the rules, most other times, if you do , you miss all the fun...

So here is Vivaan's 13th Birthday Cake..
For a little man, who is just the nicest little fellow I know..
And thank you for waking me from my kitchen slumber ..

Vivaan Kabir...

HAPPY 13th BIRTHDAY VIVAAN, stay blessed and happy...



8 digestive biscuits
4 Oreo  or Bourbon biscuits
3 tbsp of melted butter

Put all the biscuits in a zip lock bag and with a wooden rolling pin, crush the biscuits together , they will be kind of sticky because of the cream in the biscuits.
Pour it out in a bowl , add the butter and mix till it looks like wet sand.
Taken a pan and line the sides of it with a little butter and then grease proof or butter paper, this makes the un-moulding  process easier.
Press this mix at the bottom of a spring form pan , one that has a removable base .
Press it down with a spoon , so the base is nice and firm..
Put this into the fridge for a minimum of half an hour..

Filing for the Cheesecake
12 gm - gelatin leaves or sheets
180 gm - cream cheese
90 ml - Amul cream
2 - eggs
1 tsp - Vanilla essence
80 gm - sugar
I small box Ferrero Rocher's chocolate
290gm -  Nutella

Mix the cream cheese and the Amul cream together, till soft and batter like..
Dissolve the gelatin crystals in 2 tbsp of boiling water, add it to the cream cheese..
Keep it aside, stirring from time to time, till it is about setting.

Place the egg yolks , vanilla essence and 50 gm sugar in a bowl, and cook it over a Bain Marie or a pot of hot water also known as a double boiler, till it becomes a pale yellow colour, and is nice and thick, take it off the fire, and continue beating it till it becomes cold, add this to the cream cheese mix.

Now in a separate bowl, beat the egg whites really stiff, then keep adding 1tsp of sugar to the stiff egg-whites, till they convert to a meringue consistency. I did this because I liked the texture and the consistency , its thick yet very light.
Add this to the cream cheese, egg yolk and gelatin mix, fold it in carefully.

Now take the base out of the fridge and add the roughly chopped Ferrero Rocher's chocolates on the base, pour a little of the cream cheese mix onto it.
Then pour half the bottle of the Nutella on to the mix, and stir it around with a tooth pick.
Then add the remaining cheese cake mix, and let it rest for about 15 minutes, then take it out pour the remaining of the hazelnut from the bottle onto the top of the cream cheese cake, put it back in for 10 minutes, then with a fork, just very lightly, whirl the Nutella into the cheese mix very lightly.
Now let it rest in the fridge for at least 5 hours , till the cheese cake is firm and ever so slightly wobbly, and can hold its shape, so that's its easy to slice.

I made this again a few days later, and while I was alone in my kitchen, I was thinking to myself, like I often do...

I feel in life, that NOW is just always the best time ...
To learn or do something new...
To say sorry...
To say thank you...
To say please... &...
To say "I love you" ..
I think now comes with its own "Super Power"
It's like the Star Wars Saber sword, that lights up with amazing amount of energy that makes things happen...

But I also realise that if you are in the now, it's not necessary that the person you are addressing all your energy to, is on the same page as you..

So Newton's third law of Physics , does not apply here..
For every action, there has to be an equal and opposite action..
This applies to motion .

But in Life, its a bit different..
For every action there is an equal or unequal amount of reaction, or then sometimes nothing at all..

So lets figure this out, together..

If I want to learn something new, me and only me can make that happen..
Like I want to learn Kashmiri food..
So I'm trying my best to make that happen..

But if I'm going to address my "please, sorry, thank you and I love you" to someone else, then I am expecting , an acknowledgment back ..
Right ?

Like a perfect scenario ,would probably feel like like this ..

1-please may I ?
- yes you may/no I'm so sorry you may not !

2-I'm so sorry for
- it's OK don't do it again/ it's not OK at all, I don't want to have anything to do with you..

3-Thank you so much
- Oh , don't mention it / that's really nice of you to thank me, very few people do.

4- I love you
- Oh my God, I love you too / err I love you, but not in the way , you love me ..
So on and so forth..

So these are ideal situations , and yes I feel that that's how we would like situations in our life to unfurl..
But then what if it does not ..

What if no one responds to our "please, sorry, thank you and I love you" ?
Are they bad people... ?

I don't think so , I think their "now" is not coinciding with our "now", that's all...
And no matter how hard it is to make sense, you are just going to have to make peace with it...

Have I confused you enough..?
Great ! Because I'm confused myself..

So while I was sitting alone at night and eating a fully loaded piece of acceptable sin...
I was thinking of what my very wise and practical friend Mini once said to me ..

She once told me , that sometimes I have a Calvin and Hobbes relationship with some people...
(Frankly I totally love Calvin and Hobbes, and one day I will build myself a transmogrifier and ..
Well the rest of the plans I'm absolutely not sharing with you ha ha ha)
Well if you do not understand what 'A Calvin and Hobbes relationship is..
Let me decode it for you..
It means that , the other person is not real and what he/she says to you or how he/ she behaves with you, is just a figment of your really fertile imagination...
Which basically means
1.You are nuts..
2.Have lost your marbles
3.Probably need help
4.You are cuckoo, but not the feathered variety.
5..Just need a slice of this delicious Nutella Cheese cake..

So then if you want to ever figure, a relationship status,  you need to apply the "Now Formula", to save yourself time for bigger better things that are just waiting for you ..
This helps you figure , in the words of an amazing funny fellow Sagittarius Jaaved Jaffrey, if that person in your life is "Real or Na-Real' ha ha ha ..

So depending what situation you are in or think you are in..
You say Please, Sorry, Thank-you or I Love You..
And wait, if your now is not coinciding with their now, you may be able to deduce 2 things..
1. Maybe you are not priority.
2. Maybe you are again reaching out to Hobbes, who is alive only when no one else is around and so safe to say, is not part of your real world, and so is Na-Real..
Ha ha ha ha....

I think it's just better to eat cake sometimes, than try to figure life.
If any of you out there, take part in the 'Now' , I hope it goes all fantastic..

I meanwhile , am just going to hang a while longer, with my really yummy, delicious, hazelnut filled slice of heaven..
With lots of love from "Maria's Kitchen "...

Vivaan Kabir's 13th Birthday Cake...
P.S. I don't have any picture of a cross section of this cake, as it was devoured..

Saturday, January 30, 2016


I completely believe, that there is always a preassigned plan, to why people meet.
And what ensues , good , bad or mad, is what makes our life always richer, no matter what the experience.


And so somewhere in November, I met Nikhil after years for a dinner, at a brewery called The White Owl, where I collaborated on a menu with Chef Dinesh..
And Nix, was able to make it, it was a small sit down and so all of us were able to have a nice conversation with one another, without pushing through a crowd or being drowned by loud music.

So I was trying to catch up with all thats happening with him in his life, and in the middle of all this, he tells me about his brother Nitish's company Fleetfoot Adventures, that does these amazing dive holidays in the Maldives.

And as I was anyway going to do my Open Water PADI in the Andamans over New Year, this seemed like a cool idea.
And so I asked a few of my girl friends, and then finally Radhika and me along with our kids, were booked to go diving in the Maldives, and would be bunking two days from school ha ha ha ..

JANUARY 22 ,2016,
So Zeke , Zene and me wake up at the bizarre hour of 3.30am, because we have a 6.15 am flight to Bangalore, Well even though they were excited about the holiday, they really were not jumping out of bed at that time, so I had to drag them out of bed and they crawled back in..
Then I was told by Zeke, that he has to bunk school and that's not good, so I told him , well it's his choice, if he wants to stay back , while Zene and me dived in Maafushi-Maldives.
 I think that worked and he was up brushing his teeth.
In a bit we were off to the airport, where we met up with Nikhil, Jay, Radhika and little Dhruv..

YUP...checking in , so early in the morning is really exciting, specially when we were all going on holiday, so we did our little chaotic number at the counter, and then proceeded.


Zeke and Zene were quite kicked meeting Nikhil, but were playing it cool and not yet asking for autographs and photographs yet ha ha ha, I told them that Nikhil is a VJ and we used to work together, and the best DJ India has, and he has the coolest job of playing his favourite music.And they proceeded to have a discussion with me, about how they play videos from YouTube...

The Mumbai Gang...

We all got onto flight, ate a yummy litchi and broccoli sandwich, courtesy Radhika, and passed out.
We reached Bangalore , and there was a buzz in the air...

We met the rest of the gang..
Anup.J.Kattukaran - Insta @anupjkatFantastic
Chief Optimist at 1st December films, Underwater photographer and explorer (even better than Dora ha ha ha)
If I ever have to do a funky photo shoot, he is going to be the guy..
Sudhir.Makhija- Director at Doctor films, Passionate-Chef, Foodie  and super-Dad
Mia - All of 13 , very well behaved , super fun , wise and an amazing singer.
Ahmed Mohammed - Naturalist and owner of, Wayanad, and will hook a fish soon ha ha ha..  (I'm going to walk though this beautiful forest soon )
Jay Punjabi  - insta @JAY_PUNJABI ,Artist manager at Submerge and my Advanced Open Water PADI Buddy and total Rock-Star..
Radhika Sawhney- insta @radhikasawhney , ad-film producer and super-girl.

We all finally said hi to one another, over our dosas , Idli's, filter coffee and general chatter, and in a bit boarded our flight to Male.
When we hit Male, the blue of that water just did something to all of us..
The kids all just started playing together "UNO', the supposed adults picked a bite , got down to just hanging ..
And we could be called the "ADULTS"...

And what ensued was three days of completely balanced chaos and madness at sea.

We checked into our hotel, and then hung around a bit, then went to the dive shop and got our wet suits and fins in order, and then proceeded for dinner.
And because we were a big bunch of talking laughing people, it took some time before we all were able to order.
The guy serving us, was quite amused to see us all laughing, and was sharing his observations with us,since it is the Maldives, yup, its a honeymoon destination, and he said most of the couples are either being extremely romantic or then fighting ha ha ha .

Well as none of us there were on a honey-moon, we were all generally having a blast..
And then before we walked back to our hotel, we went to the shore to sea baby rays in the moonlight.
I was just thinking, I have never been so very happy and comfortable with a bunch of strangers in such a small span of time.It just never felt like we had just met a few hours ago.
Well tomorrow was a long day, and so 5 minutes post wishing Jay a Happy Birthday, I crashed.

JANUARY 23, 2016.
We woke up really early, and everyone slowly poured out of their rooms, some sat on the beach, some for breakfast, the kids were really excited, Zeke was going to be doing his Certification for Open Water PADI along with Mia, Radhika and Mak.

Open water PADI Certification ..

Jay and me we going to be doing our Advanced Padi.
Ahmed was going to dive and fish, because thats what he loves.
Zene was allowed to do her Bubble maker as she is just 8 and Dhruv his Introduction to Padi.

Mia & Dhruv  

Nikhil was our Zen bringer, motivator and the guy who just did everything right .

And so started our three days of under-water bliss, sometimes scary , filled with adventure  and wonderment.

As I was doing my Advenced PADI along with Jay , our first dive was a Deep dive where we went down to 30 meters, ha ha ha ha .
And everything is OK...

Well if truth be told, I could never have even imagined me doing something like this, say about as recent as a year and a half ago, but it just felt so smooth and effortless.

Our first dive was at DM Giri , we went down 30.8m , the visibility was about 15-20m , It was Jay's 223nrd birthday, I really don't know too many 23 year old's, who would bring in their birthday with a dive, and somewhere in that blue, Nix opened up a lovely banner for Jay , I think it was such a beautiful way to celebrate , and we were up in 46 minutes, beaming from ear to ear, everyone surfaced from their respective dives at the same time.


And after getting on the boat, we were all so sick, I just kept wondering what the hell am I doing, on this boat , rocking in the high seas, and through this my little Zene slept, more because she was really upset, she was not allowed to dive.
Sleeping beauty

We were all quite queasy and trying to find our sea legs.
I made a mental note to just have ,bananas the next day ,and not a proper breakfast.
I was not liking these rough seas, but I was loving the company on board, It was a mad-house of extremely talented and crazy people, and through all the complaining about how sick we were feeling and blowing our noses to clear our sinuses, we all got to know each other better.

I just have no words...

We were all feeling bloody sick, we all almost looked like sea-kelp, but our next dive was a wreck dive, and  hell, none of us were going to miss this one,we were diving at Kudagiri, and as soon as we all jumped into the water and dunked our faces in , everything started to calm down, the wreck was beautiful and filled with fish and beautiful coral, tons of fish, we went down 30.7m, and everything was peaceful and pretty, time really flies under-water, and by the time we were up, 47 Minutes had passed.

Its wonderful to watch the expression on every ones faces, when they come up from the blue, there is a sparkle in the eyes, and a big bright smile on the face and as soon as the regulators are out of our mouths, everyone starts talking, despite all the salt water getting in , because no one has quite reached the boat.

It was a sequence now, suit up, hold the regulators and mask in place, big step into the ocean, dive, come up chatter , feel sea-sick repeat.
It's always better when you dive with friends...
Our boat took us back to land for lunch.

I don't think I have had a more exciting time than this.we all were so hungry, and full of stories, about everything we saw and felt.
I was not looking forward to the evening, I had a night dive.
I'm horrible in the dark, in my own home, I hate to sleep alone.
And this diving into the unknown in pitch darkness, was really not exciting me in the least bit.
But I also knew , that I was never going to bail out, I was in for the terror ride ha ha ha .

As we boarded the boat, Nix was a picture of calm, making videos posting it, Jay was chilling, on the stern with the wind in his face, Ahmed who had decided that this would be the right time to catch some fish, was very busy, with a knife in hand and a chopping board, cutting fish.

My heart was pounding, but on the surface I kinda looked calm.
What the hell was I even thinking.
I really was not looking forward to this, but I suited up,
and told my Instructor not to leave me alone.
The only reason I think I actually dived , was because Nikhil and Jay were also diving with me,.
If I was doing this course alone, at this point of time, I think I would have just , stayed on the boat and fished with Ahmed.

You know the fact is...
I'm not as fearless as I portray myself to be.
But that's my front for the kids.
Inside me there were nervous Casper the friendly ghost bubbles bursting.

Anyway it was a beautiful full moon night, and I was trying to distract myself with it.
Well we dived at the wreck again, so it was kinda familiar ground and yet, the night brings its own sense of suspense.
I realised two things, I may never do this again and I probably am a more mountain and forest person..
Because a night on a mountain with just stars for company , is for me the most magical experience.
(Like I had at.Mt.Kilimanjaro)

That dive under water for me was actually not as scary as I imagined it, now that I think about it, but its just that my mind was not helping me relax, there is a lot more action under the blue at night, you see even more fish, you can watch them hunt , and they look scarier than they are.

For me the coral I saw, I think that's what made my night dive spectacular, the coral on that wreck was the most luminous colours of mauve, blue, green , yellow orange and white.
The looked like bunches of flowers arranged for a beautiful evening, and a beautiful full-moon night it was, and every time you hold your torch against you, to block the light and look into the deep, you see the flash-lights of the other divers, its actually very very mesmerising.
And in retrospect, I think I am still bloody a Poochie-Tiger, but given the chance and the right company, I will do this again.

At 5 meters , which was our safety stop, I for the first  time in my life, experienced first hand,  'Bioluminescence"..
That for me was most fun and just a stunning experience, I was just thinking, while I was moving my hands to see them light up, is that, there was really no need for me to deep dive, I could have just waited here and had a magical time ha ha ha
I felt really lucky that I got to witness this, because this happens just in Puerto Rico, San Diego and the Maldives,
Basically this is plankton, that have evolved to glow in order to startle or distract potential predators.
Well , let me just say, I was not a predator and I did not not get distracted..

Once we all got back on that boat, we just sat on the deck with the wind in our faces and chatted in the moonlight.
Life is good.

We went back and then got ready for dinner, but by the time , we all reached the place we wanted, it was shut and so we finally had dinner at another place , and it was really tasty, fish curry rice, fried rice, garlic butter prawns chicken curry, by the time we were finishing, the boys came over to join us , from there happy land, and little Mia, got a birthday cake organised for Jay, whose birthday it was. Little Mia went to the kitchen and got the chef to freshly bake this for the birthday boy, how cool and totally enterprising is that.

Happy Birthday Jay, I don't know another 22 year old quite like you , and I'm really happy to have met you and dived with you and Nikhil on your birthday..
You really do SPARKLE..

The Birthday Boy..
The kids were passing out, so post singing for Jay , and biting into a piece of his cake, we left.
I think all the nights I just slept like a baby, I think we all did.
It was the sea and the salt, the fresh air, the wild waves and the calm of being under the sea

JANUARY 23, 2106.
We were all up early, messaging one another good morning, and lets meet for breakfast, and by 8 am we , our kids , bags, chocolates and food were all speeding , for a fun morning dive to Guraidhoo Corner..
I was really excited about this dive, it would be the first time I would be diving to see sharks...ha ha ha .
And I was excited and bloody scared and nervous all simultaneously, I was secretly hoping that there would be none.

Hello from the other side ....ha ha ha ..

Zeke , Radhika, Mia and Mak were also diving here, but not the same place, so we went our way and they went there's.

We went down to 29.3 meters and then to the edge of the reef , where the sides plunge down and held on to the reef just before the big blue, and as we were kind of finning our way, to station ourselves, when Nikhil makes the shark sign and points to one sleeping, right in front of us..

Shark, Shark, Shark,Shark....

I did not react , like I imagined I would..
I was most calm and so fascinated looking at this feared Fish.
And as we were finning closer, I had a few voices in my head head talking to me, 'Like really Maria, you are actually finning towards a sleeping shark, ha ha ha, you have totally lost the plot, or then maybe you never had it..
And Nikhil and Jay were behaving like they were just about to meet friends, it looked like the most normal but abormal kind of scene.

I was both amused and bemused by what I was doing, and then Thuthu my instructor, signalled me to hold on to the reef and "rubbed his thumb against his fingers " which was some sort of a distress signal , and alerts the sharks.

And slowly very slowly, they all started swimming out of the blue to where we are, I can't even for the life of me explain how surreal this all felt, I think we saw about a dozen or over of grey reef sharks, and it actually felt fine, my heart did not race, I was not stressed, I was just really fascinated to witness their gracefulness, in their natural environment, will I ever do this again 
Oh Bloody Yes.
I was also told that they don't just randomly attack people, like you watch in films, and by the end of my three days, I had seen white-tipped sharks, black-tipped sharks, grey reef sharks and eagle rays.

It felt exactly like when I met the white lions in their playground in Africa, that same feeling of thrill and absolute respect.

And then as my oxygen tank was getting used up, I realised that I was ascending to the surface, because I was getting lighter, and the weights I had carried did not seem sufficient and everyone was still down, I kept trying to go to them, but I was not getting to them easily, damn crap..

My only hope was Anup, who does brilliant underwater photography and moves around like a dolphin performing a ballet, well I was hoping that he turns around, and to my luck he did, as soon as he was turned with his eyes looking up, I just did the most ungraceful flapping of hands and legs together ha ha ha , like a frog trying to do Jazz, but failing miserably, but it worked.
Anup saw me, and helped me get down again..Like I said, he also is an amazing life guard.

Anup the mer-photographer..

I stayed on the boat, for the next dive, Zene and Dhruv were on the boat yesterday , and Radhika took them snorkeling , while I was diving.
"Im gonna get that fish", "THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY ?"
So today the rest of the group dived, and Ahmed was now fishing , since he had not yet managed to catch any fish ha ha ha ha ….
He is gonna kill me…but can't because he lives too far... (Claps her hands and laughs even louder)

So as soon as everyone dived in, Dhruv, Zene and me , also got into the water, and we just stayed in between the reef and the deep blue, we were quite happy there on the surface, with Zene and Dhruv, putting there head's up every one minute to discuss the fish we saw..
All was flowing and floating really well, the current was really peaceful , when all of a sudden, I saw all the fish , pass us in a great rush to our left..

I held both their hands and peered into the blue onto my right..
Nothing..Absolutely nothing..
But I did not feel too safe, having dived from about , close to this spot ,for sharks…
So I convinced the kids to get out, and as we dried and came up to the stern of the boat, what do I see, Ahmed, with his pieces of fish, and hook and thread, dunking it into the sea, that's why all the fish were rushing to the other side..
I wanted to push him in…

Well, the kids were most happy to join him and the captain of the boat in the whole fishing process, while we waited for Nikhil, Jay, Mak, Zeke, Radhika and Mia to surface,
Meanwhile Ahmed decided that, they all must jump into the water from the top deck, because its fun,so that's what everyone started doing ha ha ha ..


I have never ever done this in my life, neither had Radhika, but we all did this, I think it was the deep blue and the crazy company, then Nix and Jay did amazing back flips, while Mak and Anup took photos and recorded it..

Jay and Nikhil flip out ......

Then Nikhil and Jay, were throwing the kids into the water amidst many squeals and laughter.
It was just too much fun..
Something I will do with this crack group again if we manage going all together..
Well we all went back laughing and smiling and really hungry.
Zene enjoys her little fling...
Post lunch Jay and me did our Peak Buoyancy dive in the Maafushi reef, while the rest went diving in the deep .

Dhruv enjoying his fling...
The kids were busy dancing and showing Mia what all they can do.
After our dive, I picked them up , and they went for scooter rides and then jumped into the aqua-green sea, it was just so much fun, the water is transparent and warm and inviting and you just feel totally yummy.

Sunset here was absolutely we just sat and watched it .
And then a made the kids sit for a photograph, and for some time, I just did not tell them that it was done ha ha ha I'm a Witch sometimes..

Watching the sunset...

Post that we showered and went for dinner, a nice big dinner , a buffet dinner , stuffed ourselves and laughed our way home..

25th January 2016
We all got into a wonderful flow, wake up, chat, eat together, talk rubbish, poke fun at one another, laugh at one another and at ourselves and go diving.

Today was a really exciting dive, we were going to Kandooma Thila, which is a huge reef under water, that you first have to go down to, and from there proceed to dive lower down along the wall of the reef, and from there is where you see the big ones..
Thats where the action is Thuthu said..

Ha ha ha what on earth was I and everyone diving here thinking...
You need to be a little nuts to be a diver..
But I realised a year ago, that I liked being on boats and diving, and even more that that, the kind of colllection of aqua loving atoms..
I think I found one more kind of "my people" , besides the mountain and forest people...

It was the open Water PADI Certifications, fun dive too , so we all went into the blue together.
Mak, Mia, Radhika, Zeke, Nikhil, Jay, the instructors Thuthu and Sohay and me.
I now had stopped hesitating about that "one big leap" into the sea..

The moment I got in, the first thing was the colour, this shade of blue was very very different from anything we had dived into yet and it was the most deep blue, but not dark blue...
There was no reference point , no wall , no bottom , just hurling waves, we could see from the inside, with the sun streaming through..
It was my prettiest dive...

We were in at 27.8 meters with a visibility of 40 meters and in a bit of time, about 14 minutes, we were actually lost, the current was so strong that day, that we had been pushed off the reef, and so just could not find any reference point to start our dive.

At which point of time, I just held onto Thuthu , for dear life and immersed myself in the blue and the shiny plankton. I can try and describe this blue with plankton , but I may not be able to do justice to what I saw , ok it felt and looked like, the softest and prettiest shade of mesmerising blue mal, adorned with the tiniest and the sparkliest diamonds, of the perfect cut , clarity, colour and weight…


I was calm, the sea is not my best friend, never has been, but with Nikhil, Jay . Anup and Thuthu, right there in the deep blue, everything felt LIKE IT IS SUPPOSED TO.

So we had to abort the dive and come up to the surface, where the waves were so rough because of the current , that we were just being hurled around, our boat was nowhere near us, and Thuthu signalled for quite some time, finally even I began to use the whistle on my BCD, I started laughing, and really felt a bit Kate Winslety ha ha ha , I had officially lost it..

We had just aborted a dive, we were far from our boat , and everyone was fine and smiling, like we just landed on the moon..
Im thinking its probably narcosis, and if you don't know what it is , please ask @nikhilchinapa he does a wonderful explanation.

Well we finally got back on that boat, Just in time  to see the other team emerging, with huge smiles on their faces and so excited, telling us about sharks and eagle rays, and you should have just seen their faces, they were alit , like millions of plankton had settled on them , they were filled with wonderment , awe and happiness, Oh damn, this has to be done again..

So we changed cylinders and Jay, Nikhil, Anup with his camera , Thuthu and me got back in..

We were back in that beautiful blue, I was feeling a bit nervous , but every time I saw everyone with their fingers in OK, I calmed down.

We were over our reef, we went further down from there and went to the edge of it , and were soon facing the deep blue, and swimming right there were sharks, just calmly going about there sharky business, not even bothered about us, in the least bit, now in retrospect, I feel the time we spent in the deep was just too little , but I guess that is good enough a reason as any ,to want to go back there, which I do.

And then when we came back higher , we also met a turtle, My day and trip was made, infact this was not the first time here, Everyone feels happy when they see a turtle, and Jay was also having a full conversion with the little fellow,which actually made me quite jealous ha ha ha in a good way.
And ofcourse Anup always went back and told the kids that I chased the turtle and it was no more, and the kids actually started believing him..
Well , I'm waiting for his son to grow up, so I can spread stories about his dad...ha ha ha

And then while we were doing our safety halt at 5 meters , these boys started fooling around with the spare regulator , and there were bubbles everywhere, so this I guess is what you do , when you are comfortable in the water, about to ascend, and have enough of oxygen in your tank and you are nuts..ha ha ha ..
I started giggling, but was also a bit worried about losing my regulator, damn this whole diving holiday was ending too soon..

We  got back up, and then all of us were going to be diving at Biyadhoogiri, that felt really awesome, smiling happy faces, all sun-kissed , mad chatter , laughter, that's what filled that boat, and if I could do exactly this again I would.

We all went back in , for the very last dive together, Ahmed, decided to fish , as he had already dived in the morning.

Zeke Zidaan.
This was the last time I was going to be hearing, "All right divers , hold your mask and regulators, and splash, splash, splash..everyone was in.

We went our separate ways, both the groups and then suddenly met one another somewhere mid-wall of a reef, and we behaved like we had not met one another in ages, much bubbles and plenty of hand signals later, we were suddenly all posing in the water, for photographs, ha ha ha , it felt so comfortable and weird simultaneously.

Nemo & Mama...

Radhika & me...

We did a lot of posing in the water, and at one point, I was trying to strike a pose, which was just not happening, buoyancy issues, its the same like boy-Friend problems on land ha ha ha ..

But the good thing is that I made Nikhil , laugh under water, he giggled and Jay heard him, and so its fine, I'm a slightly buoyant finning comic ha ha ha , I will find this perfect buoyancy one day, and when I do I will have much to say, to him , till then, I'm Ok swimming like Dory..

Well we were told before getting into the water , that we need to follow our own instructors, and so I did..
And you know what, I was the only one.
Which brought me back to a fact of life..

"If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.."

By the time I realised, that Anup, Nikhil and Jay had not followed, I was far ahead, and I wanted to go back to meet them all, so I signaled to Thuthu, that I want to swim back to the group, to meet my little boy, but my sign language really sucks , because, he showed me clown fish and sea anemone, ha ha ha , by the time , I found them , we had to go back up , and it was madness again with the bubbles, there were smiles and there were giggles under water. we all surfaced , completely satiated, I could not have asked for a better time, we all got back on that boat , saw dolphins and just had such a joyous time over the most beautiful waves..

Thuthu with his students..
We all had lunch , and then Jay and me, went to finish our final dive, which was our Navigation dive, which I was begging Thuthu to do on land, because I was so sleepy, but I was not convincing enough..
Well we finished that really quick , because we dived into the house reef, and that was that.
Jay and me finished our Advanced Open Water PADI Certification yeaaaaah...
We were done.
The thing is now, I just need to keep diving , so that I get more and more comfortable with myself and my gear and the temperamental sea, with every dive.

We went and joined the rest of the gang doing water sports, and then Zeke, Mia, Radhika, Mak and Jay , filled theit dive books, post which we all went for yummy dinner, the kids were really tired and went of to sleep.

And the rest of us, decided to go and have some fire water ha ha ha .
I think the moon that night was the most beautiful I had seen , it seemed like it had a rainbow around it, something about Mercury no longer in retrograde, said my friend Jaya.

I don't know what it was , but it was just quite magical.

JANUARY 26, 2016
We all travelled back to our respective cities and homes.
Amidst much missing and separation anxiety.

The thing is this, I never imagined that I would meet a bunch of strangers ,that I would completely, be in sync with, this does not really happen to me often, infact never.
And I don't remember laughing so much and always having a smile on my face twenty four seven.
I guess the fact that there were no pretences and no masks , made a hell of a lot of difference, well I did try and put sun-Screen , but that really does not work for me.
We were all feeling sick, blowing our nose and sometimes puking, it does not get any more real than that, I guess.
Also when you dive with one another, there is a sense of trust that builds, you look out for one another..

I did things I have never done before, and I'm not talking about going under water 30 meters, or hanging in shark territory, or diving in a dark sea.

But we jumped off the boat from the top deck, Radhika, Zeke, Zene, Dhruv, Mia and me dived into the sea, we had never ever done that,
I actually saw an angler who never caught a fish ha ha ha...But who never gave up and was always laughing regardless...
I met a pirouetting underwater photographer.
I saw Nikhil snap chat from the middle of the ocean because there was such "FantaAstic" network.
We all just had a smile on our faces perennially , and the life I led for those three days felt completely normal.

So coming back to reality is taking some time, and I'm not really wanting to..

Some combinations of people and places are magical, and may never happen again, but I'm happy to have been part of the magic dust..
Lets see what the future has in store for all of us..
But as a very dear friend of mine wisely put it, "Till then drift dive"

I want to thank a few people for making this holiday so darn special..

CHENGS_- for organising this crazy diving trip , and putting us all together, I must tell you that you have shuffled our normal lives a bit and dusted off a lot, I hope to dive with you really soon.
Please get well soon.

John & Kiera

JOHN and KIERA -I did not get to spend a lot of time with you guys, but John, I wish you all the best,and since you can so comfortably dive, you can now explore swimming ha ha ha , and Kiera, I really hope you can dive soon, because I know, you really really want to, stay happy guys

MAK- It was great getting to know you , you are such a trooper, Thank you for all the food, will hopefully have a meal with you the next time we are in Bangalore, and your soup was bloody outstanding. For someone just about doing there PADI , you were so comfortable with your camera in the water and such a fun person to hang with.

Sudhir A.k.a Mak...

MIA- you are just a smart and fine little 13 year old, so well behaved, with it, funky and such a beautiful voice, in Rihannas's words, 'Please don't stop the music"


ANUP - And I mean this from the bottom of my heart, You could be part of an international, synchronised swimming team, and I mean this not as a joke..but absolutely seriously, you are like poetry finning.
I don't know too many, who can get into the water, handle a heavy cameras and have  perfect buoyancy.But the thought of you in a one piece swimsuit and a swim cap with glitter on it and a smile plastered on your face , with toes and finger tips pointed and doing a pirouette…aaah ha ha ha ha , that just made my day..

No , but all the laughter aside, you are just an amazing underwater photographer, fearless, perfectly buoyant , also saves lives, does not hurt coral and knows the names of most of all the fish we saw, and besides that you are just a funny and good human being, and I hope you don't mind staying friends with me, given the fact that once in a year, I may just get featured on Page3, if I agree to pay for it ha ha ha... 

Ahmed the Angler
AHMED - I don't know what to say to you, will laughing hilariously suffice, you are a mad , crazy person, and i'm happy to have swum in the Blue with you,  well you made even sea-sickness fun, that scene where you were cutting fish bait into precise pieces with a blunt scissor, is forever etched on a huge screen in my mind, with a laugh track ha ha ha ha ..
I really wish that Poseidon is nicer to you the next time around, or then I suggest you start sending pretty gifts to Thalassa , maybe that will work, or maybe then learn to play the flute like Pan..
I'm just making suggestions, but you please feel free, to do what you have to , to get you that fish on your hook..

Jay having a heart to heart ...
JAY - I'm so happy to have met you, and was really lucky that you were my buddy for our Open Water Advanced PADI, you are the prince of cool.
I was happy that we could laugh together at the various situations, that we kinda caught together ha ha ha .You are just so sorted, and such a lovely human being and such fun company,you are brave and kind, that is just such a beautiful combination.Please swish your magic wand over my kids., so that they grow up at least half as sorted as you. Oh and lest I forget, please stop wanting to spend time with Moray eels, I really think there are prettier fish out there, or then turtles ha ha ha

Radhika the mer-maid..
RADHIKA - I love travelling with you and Dhruv, its always comfortable and fun and easy, and I know we will be doing many more holidays together, we have done some mad stuff and have many more crazy things to do, and thank God we broke the jinx..
To trying to party with sleepy kids, to many flights, car journeys and boats, surfing, diving,to sun-rises and beautiful sunsets, to sand, sea, cycles and rain-forests..
Stay your lovely self always, you are the hottest diver I know and are beautiful inside out..

Nikhil the Zen-Master
NIKHIL - Yup, you have always guided me the right way, from handling a live audience, to introducing me to Baz Luhrman's- Everybody's free to wear sunscreen and how it should be part of life, to diving into a dark sea.
We have both come a really long way.
And yes doing that night dive was a bloody 'Fantaaastic" idea, and I'm in the next time we go diving, you please stay in touch, because if I do get Alzheimer's early, I won't remember who you are, because we did not meet often enough ha ha ha ...
And that wont be nice..
And thank-you for the music..

Zeke the Certified Open-water PADI Diver..
ZEKE, ZENE & DHRUV - I love travelling with you adventure seekers .
You are the Power Rangers, Dora and Diego, Peppa pig, Zack & Cody , Avengers, Fantastic 4, Chota Bheem and Hanuman all rolled into one..
Zene my little fire-fly..
I love hanging with you guys, though sometimes, I want to pack you in a suitcase and just courier you really fast back home.
But holidays through your eyes are the best..

Dhruv the musicical groover

Strike a pose, there's nothing to it....

And now that I have finished my speech..
Can someone please present me with an Oscar ha ha ha ha ..

P.S. Just remember in life, never hold your breath...
Breathe in..breathe out..
Everything will be much more than just OK..