Kill Cruella!

I have always been rather self destructive. My parents remember this well, when I got myself in trouble when they were in the midst of shouting at my sister for something she had done and I would suddenly point out something I had done which was worse.

But cute as that seemed as I grew older, I got even more destructive. The critical little voice in my head was almost a shout and I was never good enough, pretty enough, smart enough or worthy enough. And so I hurt myself, I had terrible bouts of anxiety and stress. I was depressed at times and was easily swayed into believing that I was lucky to get anything because I obviously didn’t deserve it.

And when I got sick (multiple sclerosis), this became even worse. Now I was living proof of someone who may never be pretty enough, smart enough or worthy of anything- but something switched inside me. I was stuck so long listening to this evil shouting voice, I never took the time to hear the softer, more encouraging voice in my head. And when I did take the time, and since in the hospital ,I did have just time- I started hearing the voice that told me to believe.

It’s the voice that tells you that ‘you can be more, you can do more and that you are better than you think you are.’ It’s the voice that tells you to believe in yourself and that you are ready for the meeting, for the interview and even to take over the world! It’s the voice that tells you that your body- in pain, fit or unfit- is amazing because it’s yours. It’s the voice that tells you every day can be amazing because you are part of it.

And once you listen to this voice , the evil one becomes softer and slowly becomes non existent, if you work hard enough.

Initially and even sometimes now, when I hear Cruella (yup she has a name) popping up with her fears and doubts in me… I loudly proclaim how sure , how positive and how amazing I am so that Miss D (yup she has a name too) gets the strength to go louder than ever!

P.s.(Palat says)-: How successful you are will often be a direct relation to how much you believe in you. Don’t look for the applause from outside. Be proud to be your biggest cheerleader.


Living like a Maharaja in Udaipur!


So anyone who knows me at all…and all those who don’t know me but have read stuff that I’ve written- you’d probably know that it doesn’t take much for me to want to travel…I can make occasions out of almost anything and in my mind celebrations are occasions and are the perfect time to do something different, to travel, to explore, to dream and to make dreams come true!

It was the husband’s birthday last year and in true Divya-mystery style , I told him to take leave from work- ” I was going to kidnap him!” is what I said! And that’s totally what I planned! The Ultimate Kidnap! Nothing was bought via his Credit card.  Bookings were done on email and via the phone and Aditya who was delighted about the kidnapping stayed happily oblivious to all my intricate plans!

Now Aditya had only been very briefly to Rajasthan once when in school. It had been quick , short and unmemorable and he’d always talked of wanting to go back- to see the palaces. I have spent more than a few vacations in the Palaces of Rajasthan but this was a trip and a surprise I wanted to give him…so it was up to me to try and ensure that the trip catered to HIS very specific tastes  and so I went ahead and did my research! The Palace I chose was the Taj Lake Palace in Udaipur.

The Taj Lake Palace has always been one of my favourite palaces. A white , carved beauty almost arising like a lotus from the lake- the Lake Palace was a palace used by the Royals for dancing, music and merriment. The Lake Palace stands proudly amidst Lake Pichola with the beautiful Aravalli range helping create the most picture-perfect backdrop!

The Royal WelcomeThe flights from Mumbai are limited and the one we took was rather early in the morning (3:30 or 4 am ish) so despite it being a short flight; both of us were quite exhausted! Udaipur airport is almost a shell structure with only basic facilities and I was happy to quickly get out!

All our exhaustion vanished the minute we stepped outside! A beautiful, heritage car had come to pick us up and Aditya was almost jumping in glee as he carefully examined the beautiful car! The car ride was full of  ‘I don’t believe it’s’….and  ‘What’s next?’s’ and before we knew it we were at the pier ready to take a boat to the fabulous Palace that stood gleaming majestically in the early rays of the morn!

The trip I had planned would be a trip fit for a King! After all my wonderful husband is my King and he deserves nothing less…so as we arrived we were ushered into one of the Palace suites! The suite was beautiful- a two level suite with all our bedroom windows overlooking the beautiful lake. The room was perfect- opulent , rich and comfortable and the minute our heads hit the bed we were off to sleep!A Palace in my palm!

But there had been much planning that had gone into this Celebration and so in a few hours I woke my husband to take him off for a special Spa session. Aditya loves spas, food, water and a relaxed break and I’m usually the total opposite- loving cities, noise, adventure and fun BUT this was Aditya’s celebrations and the plans were geared to him the time of his life! And the spa treatment did just that. With an outdoor spa bed overlooking the lake as the sun started setting, even I had to admit that there was no way that city noise could compete with the beautiful serenity of that moment! We relaxed. We talked. We de-stressed.

After some fabulous green tea, we grudgingly left the spa but started exploring the hotel. As soon as we found the beautiful pool we couldn’t hold ourselves back! We jumped in! A refreshing swim later- it was back to the room to dress for dinner!The Lily Pond

Now with the help of the hotel I had chosen some Unique Royal Dining Experiences for Aditya and me and our first was at the beautiful Lily Pond. A table had been set and our personal butler escorted us to our table where a musician regaled us with live music as we had traditional Rajasthani food sipping champagne under a beautiful moonlit sky! When we returned back to our room, our Butler had thoughtfully put out a cake, some more champagne and lit up the room so wonderfully – it must have taken him our entire dinner to have been able to make the room look so spectacular ! We cut Aditya’s birthday cake and finally called it a night!

Breakfast on the birthday morning was very special as well. I had pre-ordered breakfast and this was brought to a small garden outside our room and set up just for us! After a late night and with plenty of exciting plans today- this was a wonderful start for us!

Vintage TasteBreakfast over we headed back to the Pier where we had a Vintage car waiting to take us on a tour of the city. Stopping at a few select stores , we took a long break at a collection of the Maharaja’s cars. All restored. All spectacular. All drool worthy ! Now it was back to the hotel and a short heritage walk around the Palace. As that ended we were escorted back to the Upstairs spa ( my request after seeing how calm Aditya had been the previous day) and a new spa treatment. Equally relaxing and fabulous…this time we chose to just let the moment take control and slowly drifted off only to be awakened at the end of the treatment with warm tea.

The Octopussy Boat

Dressed to Impress

Now it was time for my HUGE SURPRISE and the reason why i had chosen we come to Udaipur! The Lake Palace owns and looks after the boat that was seen in the Bond movie Octopussy- the Gangaur! Aditya is a film buff and I knew it would be worth the extra expense to give him a birthday surprise he’d never have dreamed possible- dinner on the boat!The boat is kept in the middle of the lake and holds 10-20 guests but I booked it for just the 2 of us! A magnificent multi course meal on the lake had been booked while my Bond enjoyed the sunset, starters drinks and meal that I had pre-planned for him! The boat was decked exquisitely. With red carpets and 10 butlers , we were looked after like royalty. Both of us headed to the upper deck where a gadda (comfortable , padded mat) had been placed with cushions and we surveyed the whole city as it lay before us.

The City Palace

As drinks finished and the sun set, the boat had maneuvered around some ruins on the main land under the City Palace. Suddenly they came to life and were lit up with beautiful girls doing incredible dances among the ruins. Fabulous music, dances with fire and we felt like Maharjas (I too felt rather King-like!) watching courtesans dance as they might have done decades ago. This had been done especially for us and I was delighted when I saw Aditya’s happy surprise! The meal was served upstairs as we were so comfortable relaxing despite having seen a beautiful , intimate table set up downstairs on the boat. The food was a collection of kebabs, dals , biryanis and curries -each more delicious than the next, each more decadent than the next!

And then as the boat turned once again we saw the beautifully lit Mohan Mandir ( the temple island) and as it turned again Birthday fireworks erupted in the air once again especially for us! The excitement in the air was electric and we were really privileged to have been part of such a wonderful, well thought out experience. As dessert was served (once again a medley of all Aditya’s favourites) we wound down to live Indian music being played by our very own musicians on the boat (once again a special experience just for us!).

And then like a dream the evening ended and we floated back to our suite dreaming of the Rajasthani Royal past and grateful that we were able to have some of the experiences!

My husband felt like a King and I was proud to have been able to make him feel like that! Udaipur is the crown among Royal Rajasthani palaces and the Taj Lake Palace- the Kohinoor!

Price Factor-: Udaipur as a city is inexpensive for traditional Rajasthani handicrafts and materials. The hotels however are expensive and are traditionally between $320- $ 420 per night.

Best times to travel-: Dessert climes…so October thru to March is great to travel in though we had a wonderful time last July as well!


What happened on the 13th of July 2011 was unforgivable and I wrote about it! the responses and calls I got were overwhelming…it seemed like alot of us felt this way. Someone from the BBC called last night and asked me a very pertinent question- what do I want? Well I though I could list a few things that would make me feel safer and I’m all for more suggestions, more opinions and more wants!

  1. I  want somebody to be the face to take the onus of what has happened and to spearhead a change! Instead of politicians hiding behind their money-minting portfolios and the bullet proof car windows- I want someone to say- ” Hi! I am in charge and I will do my best to personally ensure this NEVER happens again and the perpetrators are brought to justice!!!
  2. I want someone from the government to NOT HAVE TO READ FROM A SHEET OF PAPER TO TELL YOU HOW OUTRAGED THEY ARE ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED!!!!!! You don’t need to read about how angry you are! You NEED TO FEEL IT!!!!!! I wantt our Prime Minister and President to speak to their citizens! I want to not hear that they are outraged in small print under an actual news report! THESE ARE THE PEOPLE THAT PUT THEM IN POWER!
  3. Someone from the government must be on the news minutes after the attacks to keep the calm and give us the CORRECT INFORMATION! I heard of 2 attacks, 3 attacks, 4 …new bomb sites and even more disturbing news till almost 120 minutes later we got official news from the Home ministry!
  4. Stop going on television an telling people not to indulge in rumour mongering- tell them how many blasts have happened, where, how many are dead and where the injured are at- GIVE THEM THE FACTS!
  5. don’t say its our fault cos we elected these leaders- we’re not really given a choice! There’s criminals, murderers and cheats on our ballot polls. Its almost a joke that if you haven’t shot, killed, raped or looted someone you can’t get into politics! CRIMINALS SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO BE IN OFFICE- NO MATTER WHAT THE CRIME!
  6. WE MUST be ALLOWED to use our NO VOTE OPTION and the candidates MUSTN’T BE ALLOWED TO RE-STAND for election!
  7. Instead of using 4 sets of cars per politician for security purposes- we should use the money to secure our cities!!! After all- the politicians will live but the way the attacks are progressing, sometimes it’s doubtful they’ll have any alive in the constituencies they represent!
  8. Instead of making promises just during election, government officials must have a monthly/ tri-monthly report card to see what they’ve done!
  10. Stop having VIP Visits in hospital just for the show and PR!!! We needed you to save our innocent victims, not to console them with empty promises and thoughtless words! it makes for great PR! BUT THIS IS JUST NOT THE TIME!
  11. Instead of cops skulking around corners to catch the one car that broke a light so they can make money of bribes- we want them to dismantle illegal parking places like the one at Zaveri Bazaar!
  12. If you have the Intelligence that the city is under threat- DEPLOY COPS— ITS BETTER TO BE SAFE THAN DEAD!
  13. Stop worrying about losing votes- worry about saving lives!
  14. STOP THE COWARDICE- 1500 RAPES, 1 BROAD DAY LIGHT MURDER & 3 TERRORIST ATTACKS IN 2 1/2 MONTHS!!!!!!! SERIOUSLY! MAYBE our cops and politicians need to stop bending over backwards to keep the moneyed terrorists and vote banks happy! we need to take a stand and punish the guilty!If the men at the helm our cowards- our city had no chance!
  15. GIVE US JUSTICE AFTER THE KASAB TRIAL. WE MIGHT BE DEMOCRATIC- but do we need to be IDIOTIC!??People have suffered. Hundreds have testified. Many died! We have the proof and yet we let him stay in our jails, eat our food, and cost our tax payers CRORES OF RUPEES! USE THAT MONEY TO PROTECT OUR CITY instead of PROTECTING YOUR IMAGE IN FRONT OF TERROR GROUPS!!!
We’re a country who works to ensure that the evil get a fair trial but many of our good don’t get a fair life and sometimes don’t even get a fair death!
i want to stop looking over my shoulder. i want start feeling safe. this is my home and if i’m not safe here, how is that fair? Mumbai is like a war zone…except we don’t fight back and we keep getting killed! It’s time for Delhi, our government, politicians and cops to take charge and KEEP US SAFE!