Tag Archives: Recreation

Olaulim Backyards

Olaulim Backyards: Where time stands still, but a lot can happen!

They had me at Richard Parker!

The one who rules

This cosy homestay, situated in a very quiet and serene part of Goa will transport you to another world all together. Away from the buzz and the humdrum, the noise and pollution of the city, it’s a relief as you step into what is literally a “backyard”! All around is just green as far as the eye can see. And a creek that lazily winds its way into the property completing the perfect picture.

And fittingly, you know why this serene place is called Olaulim Backyards. Inhabited by a motley group of permanent residents (besides the hosts and their 2 kids) – three dogs, a pony, a donkey and a cat called Richard Parker - every moment is a delight.

Gone grazing...

I was lucky to spend 3 days at Olaulim, in the peak of the monsoons and I don’t think I’ve seen Goa in a more beautiful season – bathed in rain, the countryside is a shade of green that you’ll never find in a concrete jungle. The roads are inviting, winding and wet. And the best part of the rains is that life doesn’t stop in these parts. Armed with large raincoats, people go about their business not really caring much. It does rain incessantly for days on end and the monsoon in Goa is a long one.

Olaulim is run by Savio and his wife Pirkko, who are friendly, accommodating and immediately make you feel at home. I got shown to my cosy cottage overlooking the Olauim creek, with Richard Parker meowing loudly to make sure I was settled in properly. From the cottage, is a lovely view of the fields in the horizon and the water in between. I ventured out on my first kayak adventure and spent a happy hour enjoying the peace and quiet. Just the chirping of birds, the ruffled waters as I rowed and the occasional flying fish performing acrobats for me, it seemed!

Welcome to the cosy room

There’s never a dull moment. Either you’re lounging around in the central dining area – naturally my favourite place – or diving into the pool enjoying the beautiful waters. Or you can borrow one of the cycles and go off to discover the Goan countryside. Like I did. And got caught in the pouring rain, but enjoyed it immensely. Give me these  lovely hilly country roads any day, over miles and miles of boring highway!

Some fun in the creek

And then there was all this amazing food to be eaten. Be warned – if you’re visiting, make sure you get a healthy dose of exercise during the day. Otherwise, you might just get back home a few kgs heavier. Like I did. Despite all my attempts at cycling, kayaking, swimming, I still over ate! With delicious fish fry, fresh vegetables and great company, it’s quite easy to get carried away.

During my stay, I also met a very interesting couple who had driven all the way down South with their two kids. It was heart warming to see them enjoy their time, playing with the animals and enjoying the outdoors. One of the advantages of living in homestays are the interesting people you meet and have dinner time conversations with.

I would have probably stayed on forever (or asked to be adopted by Savio and Pirkko!), but had to head back eventually.

More pictures: Goa Monsoon Diaries
Olaulim Backyards home page

(Note: If you’re looking for a place to stay in Goa, and like the sound of this one, head over to my Best Homestays India blog for the full review and contact details.)

new banana cafe

The search for good food in Pondicherry

It’s no secret that I love good food. And I will go to extreme lengths to find it!

I chanced upon the Banana Cafe, thanks to my sister who currently calls this town her abode. It was a small hole in the wall operation, but going by its popularity, I knew that something was obviously attracting a lot of customers. And since it was a restaurant, I deduced it had to be the quality of the food! I tried it and loved it.

On a later trip to Pondi, my sister informed me that the cafe had since been shut down as they had to vacate the small space they were operating from (it was a part of a larger house). Which was a pity since it was walking distance from where my sister lives.

But the story doesn’t end there. A few months later, on another trip I was given the good news. The owner had managed to find another place for his business. It’s now tucked away in a quiet lane called Cazy street and you’ll have to really look hard to find it. But it’s definitely worth the adventure to get there. And the best part – it’s still two streets down from where my sister resides.

The New Banana Cafe as it’s called in the current avatar, is on the terrace of a residence. You need to climb a few pairs of stairs to get to the top. The open air location means you’re treated to a nice pleasant breeze while you wait for the food. There is a mosque very close to it so be prepared in case you’re going anytime during prayer hours. Otherwise, it’s relatively peaceful. Senthil, the hard-working owner who runs the cafe,  also has wi-fi so you can sit there and type away. Not that you should go there and do any urgent work; that would totally defeat the point of being in Pondi!

But moving on to what we all want to know about… the food. First is a disclaimer: the menu is extremely limited. I’ve gone numerous times though and maybe because I enjoy the food so much, I don’t really mind the lack of variety. And it’s not Indian food - so if you’re only satisfied with roti and rice, this is not the place for you.

What I like however is that everything that comes out of the kitchen is super fresh. I love the fresh vegetables and inevitably ask for the salad. With the crunchy beetroot, the potato wedges, which Senthil makes really well, it’s actually a meal in itself. He also has fish sometimes, do enquire. He cooks up a simple minimal fuss preparation, but it’s really good since the fish is quite fresh. There are also the quiches, gratin and bakes which are well sized and make for an excellent meal, served with salad on the side. I usually order one of the drinks on the menu – try out the flower syrups with soda. Can I have one more please?

newbananacafe

New Banana cafe at Pondicherry

If you want to try something different, I’d recommend the ragi galette – it’s not what you expect. It’s much better!

The prices are pretty reasonable too and won’t make a big dent in your pocket.

Finding New Banana Cafe is an adventure in itself, but if you’ve got a sufficiently smart phone, I would leave it to the device to do the hard work and lead you there. Be prepared to do a little bit of work before you get to the food.

Don’t expect anything fancy here. The ambience is low-key and the place is simple, but cosy. Just go there for wholesome delicious home-cooked food and you won’t be disappointed.

It’s closed on Mondays and check their opening and closing times on other days on their Facebook page – they’re online too.

I, for one, am looking forward already to my next trip there!

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