Tuesday, 29 September 2015

All Aboard the Aqua Princess: A Mediterranean Cruise

It is 4pm on a clear Mumbai evening. I am just about to head out from work for a swim, when my dear friend Amazon delivers a package. I shove it into my bag, where it is snug between my swim suit and sun glasses; I head out in a jiffy to catch a rickshaw. In the rickshaw, I carefully unwrap the brown paper and sit back in awe to unveil the azure Mediterranean Sea in All Aboard, Kiran Manral’s latest bestseller.  With a promise of romance and more importantly - travel, I finish my swim, grab a sun bed and snuggle into the story.

The Plot
Rhea Khanna tags along with her Massi (mother’s sister) on a cruise. Her husband to be Samir, left her at the alter just a few days before the wedding and now all she wants is to be away from people, men in particular. Rina Massi, an eclectic, independent and colourful retired teacher is the perfect pivot and distraction in this plot. She manages to steer Rhea through her mental storms, and with a little help from serendipity, quite a few stars align at the end of the story and everyone is happy.

Especially me the reader; thanks to the gorgeous setting the story is based in. Back in 2006, I backpacked across the western loop of Europe and in 2014 a Winter in Vienna. But I was yet to experience the food and passionate of Italy. With All Aboard, I spend a couple of weeks, drinking flutes of Champagne, aboard the Aqua Princess, a luxury cruise line through the Mediterranean, taking off from the sea port of Civitavecchia in Rome with pit stops at Naples, Cannes and Florence. And with France being the capital of love, Cupid's true home, sparks fly between the two in Saint Paul de Vence, a sixteen century village and the oldest medieval village in France. This happens in chapter 12 and if I say another word I will be tempted to tell you all! Get your copy on Amazon.  

Travelling with The Khannas and the Shahanis
What is it about the sea... that makes you want to stare till it's infinity? And what better a place to do that than on a cruise? Through Kiran's book, I vicariously step aboard this cruise across Italy and France. With the best food on board, brewing romance and wanderlust, I am in for quite a treat. 

Serendipity plays a big role in a lot that happens on this cruise. How Rhea landed on the cruise to begin with, her being related to Kamal’s school teacher, both their estranged pasts and their finally getting together at the end of the story.  

Punjabis and Sindhis have almost always made a rocking pair. In this story Rhea Khanna and Kamal Shahani (is there a real one around? Single and available, leave me a note?) sure do.  

I feel like giving Rhea a lecture about getting over it already because she keeps going back into the past. I mean I turned 30 this year, and I don’t feel any older. And here I see Rhea sobbing away about her lost love, her unfulfilled marriage and her fear of being alone at 30. But through the course of her weeks on the cruise, she begins to realise how one sided the relationship was. For everything she and Samir did together, he was mentally always somewhere else. And then there is Kamal, always there, beautiful, thoughtful and brooding Kamal. Is it his entrepreneurial success that makes him so hands on? It sure does give him an air of maturity and wisdom. But when she sees him playing with his niece and nephew aboard the ship, he becomes comical and carefree; so endearing!   

On that cruise, Rhea has an adventure of her life. She travels across Europe, which you will agree has to be the most romantic continent on this planet. She falls for the wrong guy and is saved just in time by the right one, busts a criminal heist, and finally right at the end of the story, when we all give up all hope on this blumbering fool, she  rights all the wrongs with a kiss.

Oh and my most favourite part of the story? That has to be Rina Massi! She is so magical. She falls in love on the cruise with a retired colonel, she openly flirts, she makes Rhea fall in love, she wears the most colourful dresses and ensures everyone has a fabulous time! The kind of person that is the jaan of the party, I have an uncle like that! Oh and his name is Kamal! That’s just a crazy coincidence, but really everyone just waits for him to walk in for the party to truly begin. My favourite kind of people, always always, they are the ones that brew truly magical stories!

When I asked Kiran about her cruise experience, she said she hasn't even been on one! (All you cruise companies out there did you hear that?) Every scene aboard the ship is described so well, I would have imagined her writing it while she was on a cruise herself through the Mediterranean. So go on, get your copy to experience the story of All Aboard, to enjoy the infuriating but addictive twists and turns of Rhea’s life. And while you are at it, get tempted to book yourself a cruise; for the new year perhaps?  

But What About Sea Sickness?
That queasy feeling while on a long road trip or while on a cruise is called motion sickness or in the case of a cruise, sea sickness. Why does this happen? When what you see in front of you is different from what your inner ear senses i.e you are stationary but everything around you is in motion; that's when things begin to mess up. The only cruise I have been on is a short one hour en route from London to Dublin. But being a prime motion sickness subject, I did try to figure this problem out. I mean, you can't keep drinking ginger cocktails or popping pills all the time. So, here’s what I found:

In a recent twitter chat, the online travel company TUI India shared some vital insights to overcome sea sickness. They said, "Seasickness can be controlled if you cruise on a larger ship which operates in good climates. Also, larger cruise ships are built to stabilize motion to avoid sickness and others also train passengers to deal with the symptoms better."

Attending regular pranayam (especially Nadi Shodhan Pranayam, the alternate nostril breathing is supposed to work like a charm says Tanvi, my yoga teacher) sessions on the deck, during yoga classes is a sure shot way of preventing that queasy feeling while on a ship.

I use acupressure straps when I am on a longer road trip. I wonder whether they will help for sea sickness too? I am guessing since both are essentially motion sickness, they should work while on sea as well. I use the Go Travel Brand of Acustrap but I also found this Sea-Band brand that you can try. Do you know of other ways to prevent/overcome seasickness?  


Anonymous said...

That's an amazing review of Kiran's book and it's exciting. More power to Kiran:)

Vishal Bheeroo said...

That's an amazing review of Kiran's book and it's exciting. More power to Kiran:)


Unknown said...

Thanks Vishal.

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