“Agar firdaus bar roo-e zameen ast, Hameen ast-o hameen ast-o hameen ast”
This is a famous Persian couplet by a sufi mystic, poet, composer and musician Amir Khusro belonging to the medieval period which means……
“IF THERE IS PARADISE ON EARTH,
IT IS THIS, IT IS THIS, IT IS THIS ”
He was referring to Kashmir … Which I haven’t seen still ! I remember when I was in the 8th grade we were supposed to go there but somehow it didn’t materialise because my dad was shooting for a Gujarati film & we landed up going to Ahemadabad instead ! Which btw is a city I always liked going to as a kid & to which I now have a connection through the husband . But that’s subject for another blog 🙂
Coming to Amir Khusro’s couplet … My little paradise on earth is Manoribel 🙂
I have been to many beautiful places around the world but I still consider this heaven :)))
The reason ? Many !!! Let me describe one perfect day at Manoribel & you’ll understand … Maybe 🙂
I love the sea & this is bang on the sea side. And very easily accessible !
In less than an hour I’m in this idyllic place … From Juhu Versova to Manoribel ! And if you’re a Mumbaite you’ll understand what a big deal that is in our traffic ridden city. We usually drive down to Malad & take the ferry across to Manoribel. It takes barely 5 minutes & costs 10 bucks . You have local fisher folk & day trippers for company. People can take their bikes across on the ferry too . So it’s really convenient. On the other hand if you were to drive down to Manoribel you’d have to go all the way to Dahisar on the Western Express Highway & then via Bhayandar & Gorai before reaching Manoribel after almost 2 hours which is quite a schlepp & the traffic gets to you . So we have stopped driving down & now only take the ferry.Which makes for an interesting ride & when we reach the other side we take a tonga ride to Manoribel . There are rickshaws available too but the tonga ride is more fun 🙂
So basically one car, one ferry & one tonga ride takes you to paradise :)All within an hour, tops !
The minute I get there it seems like life goes into slow motion … everything becomes unhurried & I go into relax mode …. Languid is the word :)))
We have been going there for over 20 years now and celebrated birthdays, anniversaries, New Years ,Holi & many fun weekends 🙂 I like it in Summer , I like it in Winter but I love it the most in the Monsoons ! There’s something magical about watching the rough sea & the lashing rains while you’re safely ensconced on your porch . Plus the staff is so friendly & nice. Some of them have been working there for years ! Mr Lobo who used to do the bookings at the town office … Now it’s Rita with a smile in her voice 🙂 And at the hotel it’s always great to be greeted warmly by Elizabeth & served with a smile by Virginia & Kallu….. Feels like coming home 🙂
They have cute little cottages with a porch outside & hammocks to laze in, read or just gaze at the sea 🙂 Everything is very neat & clean . Nothing fancy but spotless sheets & clean bathrooms ! They have this Medimix soap in the bathroom which my daughter loves !!!
Yummy,yummy food !!! For breakfast I usually order a pot of tea with fresh mint & lemon grass which by the way grows in their garden. Accompanied by Pau (from a local bakery) with butter & jam ( the red Kissan mixed fruit one ) Tastes better than all the fancy organic ones in the market these days ! Plus masala omelette & sausages .
Then you laze some more reading the newspaper,walk around the property a bit or lie down in the hammock & gaze at the sea.
Soon it’s time for lunch ! The food is delicious East Indian fare . Be it the fish curry or the chicken curry , they have a distinct flavour & the tindli pickle with dal rice is to die for . In fact you’d think that their veg food wouldn’t be as good but it surprises you in unexpected ways . Freshly cooked methi mutter (again the methi was plucked from the garden) . My husband also loves their palak paneer & aloo gobi ! And my daughter makes sure we book our dessert in advance 🙂 Caramel Custard ! The Best !
After the lunch described above you pretty much can’t do anything but retire to your cottage for a siesta .
When you wake up its time for chai & pakoras on the treehouse 🙂 I feel like a kid on top of the world gazing out at the sea . As you must have noticed I have mentioned a lot of “gazing at the sea ” it’s inevitable since literally every place on this property has a magnificent sea view & at no time are you not gazing out at the sea & I personally find it most therapeutic.
As the sun starts going down, it’s time for a walk on the beach which is usually empty except during the weekends. There’ll be some locals playing football or cricket . A lone gola wala & Ghoda gadi wala will be there looking for customers . So you’re pretty much on your own ! When we go with the kids we take their beach toys along & everyone gets messy building sand castles.
After that its time for a shower & getting ready for dinner & drinks in their restaurant which is more like a nice big open dining room … again facing the sea !
20 years ago when we started coming here they didn’t serve any alcohol but all that’s changed… They have some Indian wines & beer.Perfect to go with their food.
Dinner can again be the same East Indian fare or Vijay the cook who’s superb will make you “conti” fare like roast chicken or grilled fish with veggies & mashed potatoes . Their Chinese food & biryanis are equally good.On weekends the tandoor is lit up & you get nice tikkas & tandoori rotis.
The rooms don’t have TV’s which is great because it encourages you & the kids to hang out & do other things . They have a television set ( in a box ) in a little open air room next to the restaurant .So if you must watch TV !!! It’s there .
Otherwise there’s a carrom board, table tennis, badminton, a swing set & slides.We carry our own board games too . And believe me it’s fun to have no TV & try leaving your phone aside too while you’re there .
That in a nutshell is a perfect day at Manoribel 🙂
I love it ! I highly recommend it & I also beg the owners to keep its quaintness intact by not changing a thing about the place 🙂
And to any of you who go there , please enjoy its charm,preserve the peace & the quietude & take a deep breath of calm .