Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Of beaches and bliss

Our much anticipated Goa trip finally happened in mid December and even though I'd been waiting to blog about it as much as making the trip itself, I'm only getting down it to after nearly a month thanks to the villainous net connection and my remarkable efficiency at procrastination. This was our first proper vacation with Nikki, not counting the one trip to the in laws when she was just ten weeks old and a few one off road trips now and then.

I'd somehow always harbored the notion that relaxed vacations would be a thing of the past after P & I had kids, and used this with great success as a handy weapon to pack many more vacations in five years of pre-baby married life that P would have normally liked to go for (just vegetating on the living room couch makes the man happy, who needs vacations?). So I was a little stressed at the thought of the upcoming Goa trip. Was it going to be one of those horror vacations with kids I'd seen in movies and sometimes witnessed first hand, at the end of which I'd need another vacation just to recover?

"No way mater" Nikki would have said if speech and vocabulary had been on her side a little more, "bring on the holidays, I say!". Right from the flight to Goa where she brushed off my concerns with air pressure, chucking the cotton balls I'd stuffed in her ears at the hapless passenger next to us and choosing to look around instead with supreme alertness, to being superbly cooperative with the meals and the naps, the child has proved beyond a doubt that she's a born traveler. *Short pause to thank the Dear Lord for his Mercies. Thank You!*
Probably the only person who was hassled on the flight was the unfortunate chap next to us, to whom Nikki decided to take a great fancy. This guy was one of those cool looking studs complete with his own neck rest pillow, eye pads and mini laptop on which he intended to watch a movie as he gorged on a box of Ferrero Rochers. That was before Nikki, fascinated by the laptop, pillow, eye pads and his egg shaped bald head tried to be friendly and babbled eagerly at him. The guy just ignored her so she swatted at him to catch his attention, but he continued with the cold shoulder treatment and not wanting to be classified as one of those irritating mothers who don't even want to try and control their unruly kids, I held her next to the window to show her the clouds which she remained fascinated with for a large part of the flight.

We reached the resort around dinner time and I fed Nikki her dinner and sat her down in the baby cot provided for us as P & I debated whether we should check out one of the many restaurants for dinner or just play it safe and stick to room service. We were just about settling on room service given the fact that Nikki had been on the go all day and would probably be getting cranky when we noticed her fast asleep in the cot! She had fallen asleep ON HER OWN. Just like that! For the first time in her life. Those of you who follow this blog would be familiar with my sleep, or rather lack of sleep related travails. Suffice to say, Nikki falling asleep on her own, without any nursing, rocking, walking up and down, crooning or permutations and combinations thereof was a milestone event, significant enough to be classified as history in the making.
"I want to relocate to Goa." I told P. "Let's not celebrate too soon" he warned, "this may just be a one off thing."
It wasn't. Our week long holiday settled into a blissful pattern as Nikki fell into an easy routine of fuss free feeding and blissfully falling asleep on her own, all beautifully coordinated with our own meals.

We would typically get up early and head to the beach for a stroll, return to our own room to feed Nikki and then go to the restaurant for our own breakfast, where she would happily play in her pram and observe the other kids milling around.The rest of the day would be spent either lolling by the pool (I did the lolling, P actually fit some swimming in) where we even managed to play our very own version of water polo or at the resort's well equipped indoor activity center. Evenings were dedicated to the beach where the resort had a superbly equipped water sports activity center; banana boat rides, para sailing, jet skiing they had it all! I even overcame my hydrophobia to do some beach para sailing and floated around for the rest of the day feeling like a total Bond.
P & I rented a bike and took turns at cycling around on the beach; windswept hair, the salty sea breeze blowing in your face, it was total bliss! I thought Nikki would be awestruck by the beach since it was her first time there and went a little berserk hopping around pointing out the waves and the sand and the seaaa, look look! and generally making a complete ass of myself, but the girl remained quite unimpressed. She looked around nonchalantly for a bit, noted said sea, sand, waves and setting sun being pointed out by hysterical mother, patted me gently on the shoulder and nodded off. Again! "I want to relocate to Goa" I said to P, firmly this time. He said he was seriously considering it himself.

Nikki stuck to her wonderful routine of turning in regularly by 8 or 9pm everyday leaving us free to conquer new territories in the gastronomic domain and we obliged by stuffing our faces at the various unlimited buffets till we could have rolled quite effortlessly like footballs from one end of the resort to another. Evenings in Goa were pleasantly balmy and we spent many of them wandering around the manicured lawns, with Nikki completely enthralled by the night sky and the large fountains gushing out water in merry tinkles in the center of the resort.

On a couple of days we took turns to baby sit while the other sneaked out to fit in a bit of pampering at the spa or working off some of the excesses consumed in the gym. We even managed a spot of shopping which I quite enjoyed, until the shop lady latched on to me and began telling me how she hated her job and had been trying for a baby for three years and how all kids loved her. I was being sympathetic till she insisted on holding Nikki who promptly began bawling her head off causing me to beat a hasty retreat.

Vacations for me normally end with a heavy heart, but this time round we had fitted in a weekend stop at our friends' B & N on the way back making it the perfect end to the perfect holiday. We braved the chaos at the Goa airport, including a run in with an obtuse airport official who didn't want us to take Nikki's stroller all the way to the aircraft like we had done on our way to Goa, and sat back in the flight feeling rather chuffed at how well we'd pulled it all off. The flight back was pretty relaxed which significantly increased the chuffed-ness and we spent a lot of time telling B & N how we'd had all our meals in the restaurant and how all our evenings were relaxed and how Nikki went to sleep on her own all the time and remained that way even when we- hold your breath!- transferred her from cot to car seat, until they got a little bored and told us to shove it. Shove it we did and and spent a pleasant evening going thru the holiday pictures and chatting about life with kids (B & N have a daughter a little older than Nikki).
The perfect end wasn't so perfect after all because that night I came down with a high fever and the next day Nikki and P fell ill too. The next week back home was pretty lousy what with battling a combination of the post holiday blues and the bug we'd got but we're all okay now.

I want to end this post on a happy note, so I've reserved the best for last :) The most fabulous thing about this holiday aside from the fact that the three of us got to spend so much bliss loaded time together was Nikki's fully loaded happiness quotient; she was just so full of joy all through that it was a delight to watch her. Whether it was the giggling on the flight, the unadulterated delight as she watched other kids splash around in the kiddy pool,the glee reserved for the towel swans on our bed every day made by the resort staff or the well fed ducks in the hotel lawns, I've never seen her so blissfully relaxed and happy before. She even broke into song one afternoon as we went for a stroll around the resort, in perfect tune with P who was humming too!

So even though the relocation to Goa remains a distant dream (I'm still working on it) I've moved to the next best thing; planning our next holiday, that'll happen hopefully sometime soon! Here's to more fun, family times ahead :)

Edited to add: *Kala Tikka* as suggested by Preeti.
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