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A solo trip is pretty memorable and enviable in my opinion; and even more so when it’s an overseas one. I recall the time I had to make a work trip to the Maldives – a tropical island nation in the Indian Ocean, just off SriLanka. It was a work trip for me as I had just been accorded a very prestigious assignment of re-styling the interiors of a 7 star luxury resort.

I was super ecstatic to be on an overseas trip on my own; that also to a tropical island renowned for its uber luxurious resorts the world over. In fact, it has some of the world’s most expensive resorts where even Hollywood stars holiday as the privacy factor is high here.

I landed in Male – the capital of Maldives at 2 am local time and was frisked off to a tiny matchbox hotel in one of the alleys of the city. I was appalled and a bit frightened by the look and size of the hotel. Trust me when I say that I spent the entire night in a tiny square of a room with little or no elbow room; I sat on the bed staring at the door and yes I had jammed a chair under the handle. I was terrified of being there – my first and last such experience. Later on the client clarified to me that this was one of the best hotels in Male- Male is a single night stopover for tourists as they rush off to the more exotic resorts immediately when they arrive in the day. But at night all water traffic is suspended and so one has to make do with such accommodation. Whatever – I was determined to never again and I didn’t!

In the day time I discovered Male to be quite unimpressive in sights and sounds as I walked around to take it all in. This gorgeous gold dome belongs to the gorgeous Islamic centre in Male which was opened in 1984 and was one thing that I quite liked in appearance from afar.

With narrow lane-like roads, Male had a surprising number of taxis. I rode in a couple of them and was amused with the rip offs of Sonu Nigam / Shahrukh Khan songs which were sung in the local language and were blasted from every street corner with great love.
I came upon a signboard advertising a trip to the depths of the sea in a submarine. Thrilled I signed up and went in or rather down the hatch to immediately come running back up again as I felt too claustrophobic. The crew were quite bemused and assured the embarrassed me that they are quite used to this as most folks feel faint to be confined so.
I did finally settle down and watched the gauge like a hawk as the submarine plummeted 40 m below sea level. Unfortunately the water outside was somewhat dark and murky and the double glass lined windows offered a blurry view of the sea life. So even though I couldn’t take pictures, it was quite a thrill to watch coloured fish and other sea creatures scurry around us. Quite the aquarium feel but it was the fish watching us ;-)

Soon it was time for me to take an air taxi- something I was quite excited about as this was again a first for me – to the island where my project was located. Air taxi is simply a seaplane service to ferry people across the many islands of Maldives. Incidentally Maldives is made up of 26 atolls; an atoll is a ring like coral reef formation which encloses a lagoon and consists of a chain of islands. In total there are about 1200 islands in Maldives which is predominantly an Islamic nation.

While on the plane ride, the view of the azure blue sea dotted with plenty of aquamarine lagoons was bewitching to say the least. I wanted to simply jump into the sea below as the waters were pristine clean in beautiful hues of blue. Some areas were so clear and shallow that I could see all the way down to the sea bed. The sea around Maldives usually remains calm and rough waves are seldom seen. It’s an ideal destination for paddling in the sea and many resorts offer motor boats and yachts to their guests to enhance the experience.
Almost every island has this quintessential sight of a thatch covered pavilion insetted into the lagoon where one was wade in quite easily during low tide. The resort I stayed in had this serene setting where I spent many evenings with a glass of wine and my laptop as I worked and day dreamed alternately.

I stayed there for quite a stretch of time and it took a lot of time to acclimatize to the heat factor as we are very near to the equator and the humidity is almost 100% there. In fact the salt content in the air is so high that I found myself dozing off in meetings; much to my embarrassment. It was later I learnt that this happens to most everyone on their first time around.

One of the best memories of being there are these giant coral pieces that would drift in with the tide. I was thrilled to find this one but then my enthusiasm was dampened when I was informed that it’s illegal to carry it and the customs will arrest me if I do so. I consoled myself with carrying some tiny bits of it which were okay by the law.
In fact I was told of the many souvenir shops in Male that cheat tourists by selling them such pieces with a certificate of “authenticity”. Then at customs the poor tourist has to cough up a fine, the souvenir is confiscated and duly returned to the shop – it’s quite a racket there. I did walk into a couple of such shops and was assured wholeheartedly by them that I will be allowed to carry these items. Hmmmmmm!!!

One point of advice to anyone venturing out there is to be prepared for the heat – its killing and I spent most of the daytime indoors. So early morning and late evenings are best to enjoy the beach. There are no touristy spots in Maldives and each resort offers plenty of activities like indoor games, movie libraries, etc. to keep the guest entertained.
Also there is hardly any agricultural produce growing in Maldives and everything is outsourced. As a result there is a lot of canned and frozen food stuffs which is not very palatable; especially for the vegetarians. They use desalinated sea water as a water supply which is not advisable for drinking since it’s been cleaned off all minerals during the desalination process. So mineral water is best but that comes at a huge cost.
Go to Maldives with a no agenda holiday; just laze in cool indoors or sip cocktails on the beach or luxuriate in the ultra-classy spa at your resort!
Have you ever been to the Maldives? Do you like holidays where you do nothing but laze or an itinerary filled one is what you crave for?

About Shalzmojo
An interior designer by profession, writing is a passion which coupled with travel love blossomed into this blog where I love to just “do my thing”! Be it recipes, food events, travel jaunts, fiction dreaming or even meditative musings; all of it’s taken up quite passionately on my blog. I am a serious wine guzzler and love to chase butterflies in my free time.

Pls do check out my post Rawla Narlai

 This post is written for the December bloghop #mymojo with Shalzmojo

Linking up for #wordsante with Namysaysso for every post deserves some love 

What’s that band on your Wrist!

While you have a quick visit to the grocery store or say go for a morning walk, have you ever noticed people with some fancy watches/bands on their wrist? I am sure you must have wondered what’s this watch/band? What does it really do?

Fitness trackers have been around us from the year 2013 in various forms. iPhone, for example, has an inbuilt health app that counts the number of stairs you have climbed, the number steps you have taken in a day, etc. Apart from that, we have smart watches/activity trackers that can be synced with your phones using multiple apps that support these devices. 

There are various Trackers available in the market, the ones that are leading in the Indian subcontinent are namely:

1) Goqii Fitness Band- This is not just a fitness tracker but a complete package where you not only track your steps and your food, but you also have doctors and trainers who reach out to you biweekly and work with you in achieving these goals. It uses a subscription model, and the band is part of the subscription.

2) Mi Band- Mi Band is from Xiaomi, it has almost similar features of steps recording and heart rate recording as Goqii, but does not have the community building feature as Goqii.

3) Fitbit - Fitbit brings a range of fitness trackers, with a simple steps calculator to a high-end heart rate monitor, etc. The Fitbit is in a more upper price range as compared to the other two. 

So how have these bands shaped our life? 

1) They have been successful in building communities of similar interests, like fitness, healthy living, innovating the fitness drive in a way that it helps to contribute towards a cause. 
2) Live data capturing like how many miles/kilometers did you cover in a day, primarily talking about the amount activity you carried out in a day.
3) Analysing your sleep pattern, by sensing how much you move throughout the night.
4) Researches have found that with the use of activity trackers, individuals have shown a rise in their physical activity and have started building more awareness towards how the body reacts in situations.

The ultimate goal of having these trackers are to reach that point in your fitness journey where you understand how active you need to be in order to feel healhy and fit. 

                                                                                       --Guest Post by Shruti Shankar--

To read on a variety of subjects check Overcoffeewithshruti. You can also follow her on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook

This post is written for the December bloghop #mymojo with Shalzmojo
Linking up for #wordsante with Namysaysso for every post deserves some love 

To My Heart's Content This Children's Day

Hello friends, 

I, MocktailMommy Vidhi, am back, after a long hiatus, with a creative project. This time it's the one that is sp close to my heart.

What is there on 14th November??? No marks for guessing. Here in India, it’s children’s day!!!  When I was a child, there was no specific celebration of the Children's day. However our parents celebrated each and every  day for us in spite of  their busy lives. This year I will be celebrating this special day with my mother. 

Have you ever thought opening up your mother's heart ??? What do you think you will find there? I am sure it will be filled with love for her children, brim to brim. Don't you think so? With this very thought, I have tried to capture that moment in my creation. Sharing it with you here...

First, i got raw mdf box from my stash. I have very lovely image of mother and daughter lost in their world; as if time froze at that very moment! I have used the same image for this artifact. 

As I wished to indulge in this project to my ‘hearts content’. Driven by this thought,  I made a heart from air dry clay. 

After that, i decoupaged that lovely image at the centre of top side. Now the colouring time !!! I have coloured clay heart, all sides of box and inner portion of box too with acrylic colours and tried to mix decoupage paper’s background with the box.  
At the end, I simply stamped a beautiful line of lovely mother and daughter relation in the box and glued a sequence. 

You can gift this box to your mother on this special day and add any gift whatever she likes ... perfume , candles , jewellery etc. Because she is a mother we can still be children! You may also give this to your little Princess and fill it with the goodies that are her favourite.  

Running short of time to make it? No problem... You can buy it from my online shop at Artery Crate

-----By MocktailMommy Vidhi

Linking this post to #FridayReflections by Sanch Vee

The Nanny


Neha stared at the dress on the rack....it was the prettiest dress she had ever seen. She quickly checked out the size, it matched hers!!! What luck!!

She took a quick glance around to check if anyone was watching her. Nope... nobody around. She picked the dress, rushed to the trial room. After debating in her mind, she gave in to temptation.

She put on the dress carefully and looked at herself in the mirror. It was perfect!!! The fabric was so soft, the drape over her smooth curves only accentuated her sexy figure. She looked so pretty, she couldn't resist letting out a gasp... 

Suddenly she heard her name. She dumped the dress there and hurried out. "Where have you been?? I've been looking for you. Now take care of Riya..I don't have all day to finish shopping!!!"

"Sorry Ma'am." she said, taking Riya. For a moment she had forgotten, she was only the nanny...

                                           ------ MocktailMommy Prasanna

                                          Linking this post to #FridayFotoFiction by Tina and Mayuri 



A voice came from the Help Desk, "Next is your turn, Astha." All this while she was sitting quietly and was nervous as if she was scared of what was going to happen...

Was it not very obvious but? It was the fourth time. She was desperately waiting for her name to be called up.

The previous three experiences were worst than the nightmare. Still hoping against the hope, she felt a lot of positivity emanating from deep within.

With a heavy heart, full of self doubt, she entered the room, keeping her fingers crossed!!!!! She felt as if some one can hear her palpating heart... She was drenched in sweat, which she could hide in the guise of the climate. But from whom was she trying to hide it from? From her own doubting self...may be...

Lady in the room coaxed her...and after Astha was comfortable she started her procedure........and within few seconds she heard a confusing wish-swoosh sound.......gradually to a clear one... 
DHAK, DHAK.......DHAK, DHAK.......

It was nothing but the sound of her baby's heartbeats.....it was her first ultrasound check up of her fourth pregnancy.

"Congrats Astha, your child's heartbeat is normal and so is your pregnancy", said the sonologist.

"This was the cutest sound of her life which she was expecting desperately after her three miscarriages. THE CUTEST AND THE BEST HEART IMPRINTS OF HER LIFE... THAT MADE HER FEEL COMPLET...

-----By MocktailMommy kARISHMA

 #writebravely  #writetribeproblogger

Linking this post to #MondayMusings by Corinne