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Wander wheels - Hyundai ‘Next Gen Verna’...

Hyundai Verna is one of the globally acclaimed offering from Hyundai with over 8.8 Million Customers in more than 66 countries and already 3.19 lakh units sold in India.

Sporty and dynamic looks blended with luxurious interiors, Next Gen Verna is all set to redefine Premium Brand Statement. Since its launch on 22nd July 2017, the car is quickly becoming a vehicle of preference for the Indian customers.

Termed as ‘Intelligent by Design’, Next Gen Verna is developed on four strong pillars: Futuristic Design, Dynamic Performance, Super Safety and New Technology & Advanced Features.

The Verna brand has been a landmark product in Hyundai growth story winning many prestigious accolades worldwide. The Next Gen Verna is engineered to deliver excellence in all core areas of Styling, Performance, Technology, Safety and Ride & Handling. Got a chance to test drive the good looking NextGen Verna (Petrol 1.6 VTVT, Automatic transmission) in the Bloggers Meet organised by Hyundai India.

It was time to analyse why this sedan has become a segment leader within 2 months of its launch. Let’s analyse…

Impressive Exteriors:
First impressions make lasting impact. The aggressive exterior styling of Next Gen Verna will be a sheer delight to new age aspirational generation. At front is the Hyundai’s Signature Chrome Cascade grille with horizontal chrome which projects bold, yet premium stance of the car. Check out…

Back Projector LED headlamps enhances the sporty appeal and also give hi-tech and premium appeal to the rear.
The aerodynamic design elements have increased the overall stability of the car and lowered the coefficient of drag to 0.308.

Dimensions to announce your arrival in style…

Length x Width x Height
4,440 x 1,729 x 1,465 mm
Wheelbase
2,600 mm
Max Tyre
195/55 R16 Alloy Wheels
Ground Clearance (Unladen)
165 mm 

Comfortable Luxurious interiors:
The interiors have been designed keeping in view the premium feel and the driver’s comfort at the same time.  The Driver- oriented centre console along with ergonomically located controls provides an intuitive access with minimal distraction to the driver for comfortable and safe driving.

Ample in-cabin storage space and boot capacity of 480 litres is enough to ensure comfortable family week-end trips and also far off long camping trips, with all the accessories. Turning radius of 5.2 m. for a vehicle of these dimensions is an absolute shot for those looking to explore remote corners of the country.

Key Interior Features:
  • Supervision Cluster integrating 3.5˝ Mono TFT-LCD offers all the useful information with outstanding visibility (New)
  • Rear Adjustable Head Rest (New)
  • Cooled Glove box
  • Leatherette Upholstery with soft pad door arm rest adds richness & Luxury in the cabin

Dynamic Performance:
Under the sporty looks lies a powerful yet efficient and smooth drivable engine:
  1. Petrol (1.6 L Gamma Dual VTVT): 1,591 cc/ 123 ps @6,400 rpm/ 15.4 Kgm @ 4,850 rpm
  2. Diesel (1.6 U2 CRDi): 1,582 cc/ / 128 ps @4,000 rpm/ 26.5 Kgm @ 1,500 ~ 3,000 rpm
Wanderers like myself who aim to scale the whole world by roads will surely get pampered with the powerhouse engine and new level of ride comfort with smooth & precise handling, exceptional interior quietness and enhanced safety. For long and deserted highways, Cruise control is just a click away on the steering itself. 
Maneuvering has been given good attention, steering the car and shifting the lanes while driving is pretty comfortable. .
On the bumpy surface and irritating speed-bumps now found in abundance on almost all of the roads, the car never looked like losing touch with the surface. Rear view mirrors can be easily adjusted from the ergonomically placed arm console.


The Superior Ride and Handling characteristics of platform are complemented by McPherson Strut Suspension in front and Coupled Torsion Beam Axle (CTBA) with Vertical Shock Absorber   along with Hydraulic Rebound Stopper (HRS) in rear for improved damping, ensuring a comfortable ride and stabilized driving. 
From the perspectives of the wanderers, the Next Gen Verna offers wonderful mileage with option of two performance packed engines of Next Gen Verna: 

Petrol 1.6 VTVT: 17.70 Kmpl (MT), 15.92 Kmpl (AT)
Diesel  1.6 VGT  : 24.75 Kmpl (MT), 21.02 Kmpl (AT)

Forget frequent refuelling and keep on enjoying the longer drives..
Super Safety:
All Hyundai cars are developed, tested and built under the Hyundai ‘Safe-Drive Philosophy’
The SUPER BODY STRUCTURE of Next Gen Verna is developed with 50% of Advanced High Strength Steel (AHSS), an additional 37% increase over the previous generation models. AHSS components increase stiffness of chassis and protect passengers effectively in case of collision. The Hot stamping on door pillars provides cabin protection in case of side collisions. (Earlier Verna had only 13% of AHSS).

Key Safety Features:
  • Dual Airbags, Anti-Lock Brake system (ABS) with EBD
  • 6 Airbags (Front Airbags are Standard feature)
  • New Features: Front Projector Fog Lamps, Cornering Lamps, ISOFIX (Child Restraint System) as Standard fitment
  • Impact Sensing Auto Door Unlock (First-in-Segment)
  • Reverse parking camera with steering adaptive guidelines, Rear Parking Sensors
Feel safe while staying indoors in the Next Gen Verna with yourself and your loved ones…

New Technology and Advanced Features:
As warm summers in India are getting longer and warmer, NextGen Verna offers a host unique comfort feature of Front Ventilated Seats for keeping seats cool in hot weather. For better clarity check the representational diagram…
Smart trunk (First-in-Segment) that automatically unlocks and pops-out when the owner stands with-in 1 metre behind the vehicle with smart key for more than 3 seconds and the new Electrically Controlled Smart Sunroof gives a sense of openness and premium ambience inside the cabin.
The Next Gen Verna features advanced infotainment system with 7.0 IPS (In Plane Switching) capacitive touch screen - Audio Video Navigation System (AVN) with rear view camera improves driver visibility and functionality. Multimedia system is equipped with Apple Carplay, Android Auto and Mirror Link for seamless integration of app based navigation, streaming audio, voice controlled search capabilities and smartphone applications. For the first time, the Next Gen Verna comes with 6 speakers along with Smart Surround System by 'Arkamys’ delivering a music experience much closer to the artist’s original intent.
The efficient cooling of the Next Gen Verna keeps its occupants cool, Comfortable and Pleasant while maintaining clean and healthier cabin environment. The Eco Coating Technology ensures odour free and fresh air for a comfortable and pleasant journey.
Some Key Interior features include
  • First-in-Segment: Front Ventilated Seat, Smart Trunk 
  • Smartphone connectivity with IPS Panel (Best-in-Segment)
  • FATC with Cluster Ionizer (Best-in-Segment)
  • New Features: Electric Sunroof, Rear AC Vents, Voice recognition, Cruise Control, Rear Curtain
  • Engine Start/Stop Button
Hyundai Auto Link (New) is a unique innovation to let the owner stay connected with the car. The vehicle health check, driving information, Road side assistance, Driving History, Eco Driving and Vehicle Health history all can be checked with click of button. By this Auto Link, now the owners will be able to stay connected to their cars while sitting in their offices and homes. This feature will surely lead to better driving, Check out the informative interface of the "Auto Link"... 


Colour and Variants:
The Next Gen Verna will be available in 7 exterior colours options with 12 Variants. On pricing front Next Gen Verna has been launched at Rs. 7.99 lacs (Petrol) and goes upto 12.39 lacs (Diesel), ex-showroom prices at Delhi.

Technological acumen, coupled with fabulous Hyundai Customer Care Program:
In order to be the preferred choice for Indian customers, the Next Verna will be offered with Lowest Cost of maintenance, warranty with 3 Years Unlimited Kilometres, 3 Years Road Side Assistance, 3 times Map Updation and home visit on 15th Day of purchase for all the customers of Next Gen Verna.
Having covered miles while exploring various destinations in India, as a satisfied Hyundai i10 owner; the choice of upgrading has just got difficult with Next Gen Verna joining the competition with other wonderful Hyundai offering called Creta.
About HMIL - Hyundai Motor India Ltd. (HMIL) is wholly owned subsidiary of Hyundai Motor Company, South Korea. HMIL is the largest passenger car exporter and second largest car manufacturer in India. HMIL’s state of art manufacturing plant is located near Chennai and a modern multi-million-dollar R&D facility is located in Hyderabad.
It currently has ten car models across segments – Eon, Grand i10, Elite i20, Active i20, Xcent, Verna, CRETA, Elantra, Tucson and Santa Fe. To serve the customers, HMIL currently has 480 dealers and more than 1,260 service points across India.
(PS – Views and opinions are my own.)


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View Finder: Top 10 Places to Catch Dinner and a Sunset in Charleston

What could be better than savoring the taste of low-country cuisine from award-winning restaurants in Charleston? Enjoying them while enjoying a beautiful sunset over the Holy City, of course.
With its warm climate and gorgeous sunsets over the Charleston Harbor, you couldn’t ask for a more perfect place to wine, dine, and unwind. Here are the 10 best places to grab dinner while taking a sunset over the Holy City.
Fleet Landing
Fleet Landing may seem like nothing special from the outside, but step inside its cozy interior, and you will quickly realize the appeal. With picturesque waterside views, a jolly atmosphere, and some of the best shrimp and grits in town, Fleet Landing will make it on your list of favorite places to dine.
This popular restaurant stays packed, so make a reservation to guarantee a table and avoid the wait!

Charleston Harbor Fish House
If you’re on the Mount Pleasant side, be sure to stop by the Charleston Harbor Fish House. Named Best Water View Dining by Charleston Living Magazine in 2016, the Fish House is the only rooftop bar in Mount Pleasant that offers stunning views of the entire Charleston skyline, Ravenel Bridge, and U.S.S. Yorktown.
Besides watching the sun go down over the Charleston Harbor, you can also enjoy the restaurant’s delicious seafood entrees such as their impeccable crab cakes and pan-seared swordfish. Grab a cocktail at the Bridge Bar on the roof and unwind as you take in one of the Holy City’s best views.
Bowens Island Restaurant
You know that you’ve found a great place to eat when it’s a hotspot for locals and tourists alike. Bowens Island is a funky restaurant that you have to visit to understand its quirkiness.
Located five miles from Folly Beach, Bowens is covered in graffiti, and guests are encouraged to sign their own names on the wall. The restaurant’s eclectic vibe is only part of its charm. The delicious oysters, fried shrimp, Frogmore Stew, and other Lowcountry cuisine have been a local favorite for decades.
To top it all off, Bowens has seating on the deck for guests to enjoy their meals while they watch the sun sink into the marsh. Whether you are a tourist or Charleston resident, this legendary eatery shouldn’t be missed.

Morgan Creek Grill
As if their breathtaking waterfront views weren’t enough, the Morgan Creek Grill on Isle of Palms has a superb offering of both upscale and casual dining menus featuring unbeatable Charleston cuisine. Whether you are going for brunch, a fancy dinner date, or simply want to have a drink while taking in the view, the Morgan Creek Grill is sure to please.
Located at the Isle of Palms, the Morgan Creek Grill is a great place to find savory Lowcountry cuisine and listen to live music as you watch the sun set into the calm waters of the Charleston Harbor.
The Rooftop Bar at Vendue
Do you love art, incredible views, and colorful cocktails? If so, The Rooftop Bar at Vendue is calling your name.
This rooftop bar is part of an art hotel which features interesting wall art and provides unique guest rooms for visitors. Even better, you don’t need to be a guest to enjoy the views and impressive bar menu on the rooftop! Go on a Sunday, and you will also hear live music that perfectly bends with this creative oasis by the water.
Salty Mike’s Bar
For a casual dinner or a quick beer with friends, Salty Mike’s is a fun choice. Locals frequent this dive bar for its cheap, tasty drinks and the tranquil view of the marsh.
This may not be your place for a romantic, fine-dining experience, but Salty Mike’s deserves your consideration for its wide array of beers on tap, juicy burgers, and stunning views of the ships and boats on the Ashley River.

Élevé Restaurant & Rooftop
Inside the Grand Bohemian Hotel is Élevé, a quirky restaurant with an equally eclectic rooftop bar. Although many simply go for drinks on their fourth-floor rooftop, Élevé also offers serves Lowcountry cuisine with a French influence.
The furniture and the décor of the outside bar area are part of Élevé’s appeal. With its glowing pink planters and shabby-chic furniture, Élevé is probably more suitable for younger crowds, but don’t let that stop you from enjoying their fantastic selection of wine.

Coda Del Pesce
Are you craving Italian food? Coda Del Pesce is the place to go if you’re staying in the Isle of Palms. Unlike many so-called Italian restaurants, Coda Del Pesce offers an Italian-meets-seafood restaurant experience and provides an intimate atmosphere for special date nights.
If you want a romantic dinner date with a view, Coda Del Pesce won’t disappoint. The cozy setting and calming views of the beach are amazing, whether you catch the sunset or not.

California Dreaming
From chicken strips to pasta and prime rib, California Dreaming has a menu that will please even the pickiest of eaters. For classic American fare, this restaurant is a winner.
California Dreaming also has a wrap-around deck and patio that allows guests gorgeous views of the Ashley River. Do yourself a favor and save room for the New York Cheesecake!

Market Pavilion Rooftop Bar
The prices of their cocktails aren’t cheap, but the Market Pavilion Rooftop Bar makes up for it in other ways. Not only does this bar have an impressive skyline view of Charleston, but its bar-side pool offers a respite from the blisteringly hot days in the Lowcountry.
Market Pavilion Rooftop Bar is considered a high-end restaurant, so it’s great spot for a romantic dinner. However, with the amazing atmosphere, stunning views, and delicious cocktails, it is worth experiencing at least once.

Final Thoughts
Charleston isn’t short on picturesque views. Whether you are a Charleston native or merely visiting this magnificent city, watching the sun set in the Holy City is a must. With ample venues to see the show, you will have plenty of opportunities to see why Charleston is such a special place.

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Forts, Beaches and Alibaug in the Incredible Western Ghats

Older than the Himalaya mountains, is the Western Ghats ranges that runs parallel to the western coast of the India through the states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. A drivable road from inside the lush green forests and alongside the coastline will take you on a journey to a different world.

What is Western Ghats? A world set aside in the serenity of the green mountains, where music of chirping birds and where streams of flowing water play a perfect symphony to the tired souls. Well known for their rich and unique flora and fauna, Western Ghats is one of the eight "hottest hot-spots" of biological diversity in the world and UNESCO has declared Western Ghats, a world heritage site.

As per the studies, Western Ghats are sustaining around 7402 species of flowering plants, 1814 species of non-flowering plants, 139 mammals' species, 508 bird species, 179 amphibian species, 6000 insect species and 290 freshwater fish species. This is not all, many may get discovered tomorrow. Over and above these, Western Ghats provides shelter to at least 325 globally threatened flora, fauna, bird, amphibian, reptile and fish species.

A small welcome break from the business schedule opened a window to explore the incredible Land of Western Ghats, its biodiversity, nearby a small coastal town of Alibaug. Alibaug is much popular for its neat and clean beaches. It was the time to enjoy attractions near Alibaug.
We started early morning for our first destination, Korlai Fort which is approx. 25 Km. (75 minutes) from Alibaug. Though now in ruins, Korlai Fort is an old Portuguese structure situated on a hill top. Built in the year 1521, Korlai Fort originally meant as a watch point for the invaders and was used to be a house of 7,000 people including horses and Portugese army men. The Korlai Fort is surrounded by Arabian Sea on three sides and has a beautiful lighthouse as major attraction.

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Food you can't miss in Old Delhi

Purani Dilli is heaven for food lovers in winter, and for all things sweet, savoury and spicy.


Freshly-baked naan khatai. (Below) The chaat spread; Gobhi samosa and matar kachori; Charcoal-grilled paneer tikka.

Chaat, Chowk Hauz Qazi, Chawri Bazaar corner
Ashok Chat Corner has been satiating chaat-lovers' hunger and souls since Independence days. More than 70 years old, the place enjoys such a large fan following that should you reach a little late into the evening, you might not get everything on the menu. Be it their papdi chat, my favourite, with its topping of saunth and slivers of kachaloo, or crunchy golgappas, aaloo masala, kalmi bada and chaat gunjiya, this is your heaven for everything chaat and spicy. If that already had your mouth watering, there's more on the menu.


Gobhi samosa, matar kachori, Chawri Bazaar
Shyam sweets down the busy lane might be everyone's go-to shop for things that you like and stuff that you have never even heard of. Slowly and steadily reaching its century, the establishment can make you a regular with its bedmi poori (made of flour and urad daal) and aloo ki sabzi, available only till 1. I, however, was awe-struck with gobhi samosa and all-time favourite matar kachori. A quick chat with co-owner Sanjay Aggarwal made me enter bhindi and raw banana samosa in the list for next trip. Their rabdi is also lip-smacking; I overheard someone pay a compliment, “Dhampur bhi fail hai. (this even beats Dhampur's sugar.)”
Naan khatai, Balli Maran
While walking through Balli Maran towards Gali Qasim Jaan for Ghalib's Haveli, expect your nose and taste-buds to be suddenly tempted with the aroma of freshly-baked goods. As you follow the smell trail, you would find yourself at this cart selling home-made cookies – naan khatai. These melt-in-mouth, baked-to-perfection naan khatai can transport you to your childhood days in a flash.
Dahi bade, Natraj, near Bhati Mati Das Chowk
There are dahi badas and then there is Natraj ka dahi bada. Started in 1940, this small shop at the corner of the lane that takes you to the metro station is always full of customers. The bada made of coarsely ground batter, topped with thick fresh dahi and sweet and sour chutney and a Natraj-special masala is supremely filling and refreshing.
Paneer tikka, Nai Sarak
Old Delhi can make you succumb to its flavours even on a full stomach. Just as I decided to call it a day after having had my fill of food I saw this vendor making paneer tikka on his coal grill. Even if you could ignore the aroma, the visual delight would make the foodie in you give in to the temptation. 
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Past perfect in Old Delhi

If you want to see the Delhi of old books and stories, spend a day in Purani Dilli.

The life in the lanes of Old Delhi. (Below) A tea vendor; The happy coexistence; Mirza Ghalib ki haveli.



My first tryst with Old Delhi, its Chandni Chowk, and other lanes had ended in a mutual dislike. All of 10, its chaos, crowd and odours were all a bit too overwhelming or beyond comprehension for me. For the flag-bearers of Delhi-bred Gen X, like me, Delhi was New Delhi, with its broad roads, South Delhi malls and new markets. Old Delhi didn’t fit into my idea of the Capital.
Once I gained some wisdom with age and developed appreciating taste-buds, Old Delhi’s narrow maze-like streets and ways were no less than treasure tracks. From once promising myself to never set a foot in that place again, I gradually turned into a life-time admirer of this part of Delhi.
The trips to Old Delhi with my father became the breeding ground for many stories and experiences. The food elsewhere after that was never to be had without drawing a comparison with the same from Old Delhi.
I still remember that shop in Khari Baoli (Asia's largest wholesale Spice market selling all kinds of herbs, lentils, rice and tea ) where my father and I would go to for buying our annual dose of saffron for kheer and other sweets. To reach his shop we had to climb up two levels of stairs. On the first floor, the Nepalese saffron-seller’s family would ask us a lot of questions to ascertain we were mere buyers and no one else. We would then be allowed to ascend to the second floor and wait for him in a room. He would then come with a lot of keys and open his big safe.
The sheer process of him taking out small plastic containers filled with saffron from around the world, sitting wrapped in cotton beds, would make me feel like living in a fictional world of secrets and unknown places. Armed with enough knowledge about saffron, just when I would think I have become ‘Miss know-it-all’, this largest spice market of Asia would stump me. I would righty guess the aroma of cloves, cardamom or cinnamon in that highly fragrant air. Then suddenly I would find myself standing dumbfounded at some shop. There was always a spice or two that I had never seen. That place introduced me to star anise. A live school beyond comparison! Perhaps why famous poet Mohammad Ibrahim Zauq said:
In dinon garche dakkan mai hai badi qadr-e-sukhan
Kaun Jaye ‘Zauq’ par Dilli ki galiyan chhod kar

Those Dilli ki galiyan would then treat me the most authentic of recipes and freshest of flavours. For me, no one can still match up to Natraj ke dahi-bade, Chawri Bazaar ki chaat, Nai Sarak ki kachori, Fatehpuri ki kulfi and the rest. Those serpentine lanes and bylanes of Old Delhi might be a chaotic setup for many, for others like me they were and still are a place for exploration. No doubt, even large number of foreigners can be found exploring this charming spot of Delhi. Perhaps there is no other Purani Dilli on this earth.
You just need to visit Mirza Ghalib's haveli, spend some hours wandering in those lanes, soaking in the music that I always found in that commotion, and you would also get mesmerised by Old Delhi. A walk through the rooms where Ghalib spent last days of his life would make you also fall in love with this place all over again.
Mirza Asadullah Beg Khan, famously know as Mirza Ghalib, made romantics out of many with his ghazals and shayari. Though born in Agra in 1797, it was Delhi that saw the best of him after he moved here which was soon post his marriage at the age of 13. His residence in Gali Qasim Jan, Balli Maran, is a heritage site not only for the archaeologists but almost a pilgrimage for his fans and followers. The sheer Mughal era look of the place, with bricks, sandstones and a huge wooden gate, Ghalib's couplets and literature for the company, is a perfect way to end a day at Old Delhi. You can almost imagine the Delhi of Ghalib through his ghazal:
Ballimaraan ke mahalle ki wo pecheeda daleelon ki si wo galiyan,
Saamne taal ke nukkad pe batero ke qaseede,
Gurhgurhati hui paan ki peekon mein wo daad wo wah-wah,
Chand darwaaze par latke huye boshida se kuch taat ke parde,
ek bakri ke mamiyaane ki awaaz,
Aur dhoondhlayi hui shaam ke be-noor andhere,
Aise deewaron se moonh jor kar chalte hai yahan,
Churi-waalan ke katri ki bari bee jaise,
Apni bujhti hui aankhon se darwaaze tatole,
Isee be-noor andheri see gali qaasim se,
Ek tarteeb charaghon ki shuru hoti hai,
Ek quran-e-sukhan ka safa khulta hai,
Asadullah Khan ‘Ghalib’ ka pata milta hai.

And, who knows if you are paying attention you might even find yourself in these lanes, just like these poets did.


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The Seychelles: Here, life’s much more than a beach

The waters and sunsets of these islands will spoil you for life.



A serial window-sitter in me has had her share of stares and curses coming her way all throughout. Yet, time and again, the views from that seat have always made the struggle worth it. One such reassuring moment was reaching the Seychelles
From a tiny green island in the sea, as the view changes to blue waves turning white upon crashing at the beach, I am already telling myself to be proud of the window-stealing habit. This time though there was no resistance as the non-existent competition for the coveted spot on the plane came from the husband. And, once on land, this place welcomes you with untouched beauty and unbridled love that you will rarely find elsewhere.
The small airport, packing sea, greenery and hills, all in one frame, is your first tryst with picture-perfect vistas of this archipelago consisting of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean. As John drives us to the hotel at the beautiful bay of Beau Vallon of Mahe Island, the largest island and hence the place for the country’s capital and international airport, we cannot help but admire the riot of colours the nature is and how well the people add to it. 
Le Meridien Fisherman’s Cove, meanwhile, is one among those idyllic and romantic getaways of the Seychelles that any couple would have been dreaming of. Probably the reason why Prince William and Kate also chose to honeymoon on one of the Seychelles’ islands! 
Our hotel is also a peep into the country’s love for life and happiness. You work for five days or a half more and spend the rest partying or lazing around on the beaches sipping on the sweetest of the coconuts – the King Coconut, a huge variety of the species in striking yellow colour. After all if you have such ivory beaches at your disposal, why would you want to go anywhere to let your hair down.  As the sparkling turquoise waters of the Seychelles spellbind us, even a non-swimmer in me is unable to resist the new-found love for water and get into the infinity pool once the evening tides start spelling danger. 
If you knew all about great evenings, wait till you see the one at the Seychelles. Can they get better than floating in the calm pool, sipping on the cocktails made from the local spiced rums, coconut liqueurs, and just gazing at the setting Sun lending the sky beautiful tones of amber. The night, however, gets even better. Creole cuisine with an obvious abundance of seafood (read fish, crabs, lobsters, snail, octopus...) and exotic desserts due to the French influence, coupled with live country folk music and a dash of Calypso rhythms, somehow makes you believe you have found your heaven right in this land. 
The admiration, either at the natural beauty or the organised, simple and happy way of life, increases with every passing day.
The capital city of Victoria is nothing short of a modern French colony with its planned spic and span roads, colonial structures and green pathways. It is also a pedestrian’s delight as many must-see places are within walking distance. Right from the Clock Tower that was erected in the memory of Queen Victoria of England, Natural History Museum where you get the first lesson on the legendary Coco De Mer and black parrot among others, the National Park to the street market, all could be checked out on foot. Kenwyn House at Francis Rachel Street is an elegant example of French colonial architecture and a must-see yet often-ignored in Victoria. It also offers the visitors a chance to browse through the world-class jewellery from the Home of JOUEL- the premier luxury retail company in Seychelles. The collections are inspired by the Seychelles islands.
Among the cluster of restaurants near the Clock Tower, The Pirates Arms is among the few that boast of a small casino inside the restaurant. We still crave for the pizza and the cocktails the place had despite their casino having made us lose some of our cash. Such is the charm of the Seychelles that even if far from the country the evident Indian influences make you feel right at home. The many buildings and shopping complexes have Indian owners and are named so. Apart from a number of Bank of Baroda branches, the Quincy Street takes you right back to India with its magnificent Sri Navasakthi Vinayagar Temple constructed in familiar South Indian style. The currency of the Seychelles is also rupee – Seychellois Rupee. 
After Mahe, Praslin and La Digue are the next most-visited and approachable islands. We pick Praslin for its famous beach of Anse Lazio which has been ranked among the top 10 beaches of the world by many travel magazines and portals time and again. We opt for inter-island ferry rather than a plane to reach Praslin. The sudden showers and turbulence at the sea spark off a bit of fear but add a lot more to the 60-minute adventure ride. 
Robert Johnson, our transfer incharge from the jetty point to Hotel Coco de Mer and Black Parrot Suites in Anse Bois de Rose gives us a quick lowdown on the must-visit spots and rare flora and fauna. After indulging ourselves in the lip-smacking curries and desserts, ice cream on caramelised coconut on this occasion, we can’t wait anymore for Anse Lazio on the other end of Praslin.
Its snow white sand sparkling like gold in the sunlight, palm trees, large Takamaka trees, granite cliffs and thunderously-crashing waves have us in a trance in an instant. If waters at Mahe made me a convert, the crystal-clear blue waters of Anse Lazio has spoiled me for life. Anything less pure or beautiful will not have me even dip my feet into it. That might not bode well for future travels involving a sea, but as John Watson of TV series – Sherlock – says, “It is as it is.”
Like a star-struck teenager we bid adieu to Anse Lazio with great difficulty. The next meeting, with Aldabra giant tortoises, ignites similar youthful excitement. As we stop for some snacks at a restaurant, we chance to see these unique reptiles. Found only in the Seychelles, Aldabra giant tortoise is one of the largest in the world and can live up to 200 years. Despite their legendary laziness, a younger one establishing eye contact with me indeed makes me feel special. The hubby, much to my disappointment is only amused and not jealous!  
Praslin’s wonders don’t end there; Coco De Mer being the next. The buttock-like nut of rare Coco De Mer is the largest seed in the plant kingdom. Found only in islands of Praslin and neighbouring Curieuse, this Seychelles native has separate male and female trees; the gender known only when it produces flowers or fruits which takes almost 25 years. A reason why eating the nut which grown at the bottom of the tree unlike other coconut varieties is illegal and is used for cultivating new trees. The Seychelles black parrot, the national bird of the country, is also another unique attraction of Praslin. Found only on this island, in the World Heritage Site of Vallee de Mai Nature Reserve and the lower part of Fond Peper in Praslin National Park, you should count yourself among the luckiest on the planet if you are able to see one. We were not.
The dreamy night under the clearest of skies and abundance of stars with the rhythmic crashing of waves, however, more than makes up for it. As we gape at the horizon together, I know I have found perfection and love all over again in this place where land meets water in the most beautiful imagination.




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