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We always knew we were a good website. But we like the sounds of it when others say so. What made us do whatever we did is a long story and rather than get into the nitty-gritty, let's just say we strongly believe and are totally committed to quality and service to our customers. And when we deliver, we give it the best shot.

Here's proof...

Mother Daughter vacation of a lifetime.

Madhavi and Swati relaxing in Spice Plantation in Thekkady
December of 2001 will stand out in my mind as the most enjoyable trip that I have ever taken to India in the last 29 years of my NRI life. The reason is very simple: this year my daughter Swati and I took 5 glorious fun-filled vacation to Kerala all by ourselves. The idea came from Swati who had been always telling us (since she was 10) that the only memories of her vacation in India were of family get-togethers, weddings, engagements etc. and that she would like to visit places outside of Karnataka. I had promised her that someday we will take a week off and just go away on our own.

I decided that we would indeed go to Kerala for a short vacation. Making plans is easier than actually acting on them. I spent hours browsing through the popular travel sites of India that were impressive with photos of the attractions and an extensive itinerary. However, most of them just offered information without actually giving choice of various packages. The only site that offered in-depth information on places to see and various choices of 2-3 day package was Koramangala.com. One reading of "Kerala for Two" is all it took for me to convince myself that we were going to Munnar, Thekkady and Alleppey for 5 glorious days.

Lucky for us that we had Balbir and Amrit, our new-found friends of Koramangala.com to make the arrangements for us. All it took for me was to send an e-mail to them in October, stating I wanted to book a 5 day package tour to Munnar, Thekkady and Alleppey. Since I had no idea of how far these places were from one another I just let Balbir figure out the details. A prompt response was received, detailing 3 options for us to pick from and it also gave me a price for each. All I had to do was choose the best package followed by mailing a cheque to cover the advance and the rest was taken care of by Balbir and Amrit.

Swati in a motor boat on a lake in Munnar
Finally, 16 years after Swati first started pleading with us to go places in India her wish was about to come true when we boarded a Jet Airways flight to Cochin on December 21. The one hour flight on Jet-Airways set the tone and mood for what was in store for us in Kerala. Even before the flight landed in Cochin we were treated to the most wonderful sight of the magnificent green forests and hills dotted by rice paddies and houseboats. Swati remarked "Amma I think now I know why Kerala is called God's own country". Upon landing in Cochin we were greeted by Leo who informed us that he was going to be our driver for the duration of our stay. He showed us to an Ambassador car parked outside and from thereon we were treated like royalty. We soon found out that Leo was also our guide and a good one at that. Although Balbir had informed me that one of the drawbacks about hiring a car with a driver is that most drivers cannot speak beyond "yes or no" we were pleasantly surprised that Leo could say "yes, yes, yes" and "no, no" very enthusiastically. We discovered by the end of the first day that he actually spoke pretty good English.

Backdrop of mist rising from the valley in Munnar
We had asked to see The Jewtown, St. Francis Church and Eranakulam beach known for its Chinese Fishing Nets before taking off for Munnar. Leo showed us all plus Bowlgatty palace and had even arranged for a hour speedboat ride on the Arabian Sea. As luck would have it, we saw couple of dolphins playing in the water. It gave me pleasure to watch Swati enjoy these unexpected and beautiful sights that were passing us by. After a sumptuous and delicious lunch at The Grand Hotel we were on our way to Munnar. The ride to Munnar was another story altogether. For all the beauty and scenery that Kerala has to offer tourists, it is a shame that not much has been done by way of road improvement. It was a long, bumpy 5 hour ride to Munnar. The drive to Tall Trees took us through some wonderful sights of mists rising through the valley and as the car curved around some treacherous hairpin bends we would suddenly come upon cascading waterfalls rushing from the top of the mountains.

There was one place where we saw a man actually bathing himself at the foot of the waterfalls oblivious to all the people that had stopped to take in the awesome sight of the falls. This is what made our trip memorable as the thought of anyone bathing in public in America would be grounds for imprisonment. There is something to be said about the carefree lifestyle of the villagers in India. There were times during our drive up the mountains when we wished that we had more than a pair of eyes to see all the beauty that surrounded us. It was a matter looking up to see the glorious trees rising from the valley with the tops covered by mist or looking down at the sprawling tea plantations nestled at the foothills. We reached the resort of Tall Trees by 7:30 p.m. We were shown to our cabin which was so high that we could actually see the top of the eucalyptus trees without craning our necks.

Swati's turn to show off her love for cruising the backwaters

The dining experience at the restaurant would probably fill a couple of pages of the travelogue but suffice it to mention that the ambience, the service and the food at Tall Trees will never be forgotten by either of us. We were served personally and never felt rushed, we could look up from our seats and see the beautiful sky above the glass roof. The people working at the restaurant asked us what we would like for our next meal. Leo was very particular about taking us sight-seeing to places in and around Munnar while we were content to just stay at the beautiful resort and walk around taking in the gift of mother nature.

After spending 2 blissful days in Munnar we proceeded to Thekkady. Here was our first glitch of the vacation. Upon arriving at the Cardamom County resort we were informed that since we arrived late (7:00 p.m.) our room was given away. Guess they did not know who they were dealing with. This is an NRI who has had to deal with consistent follow-ups with vendors when it comes to questioning a statement or a bill. I stood my ground and insisted that we have paid for our room in advance and we are going to be spending the night in the hotel. Thanks to Balbir's timely intervention we were promptly showed to a lovely room in Cardamom County. Thekkady was a pleasure for Swati as she loves nature hikes and she actually convinced me to go along with her. We treated ourselves to massages and facials and ate delicious meals cooked to perfection.

Relaxing in the houseboat at Alleppey
Our next stop was Alleppey where Balbir had arranged a house boat cruise for half a day. I am not too fond of boats to begin with, but if I knew what pleasure this trip would be I would have taken an overnight trip on the boat like Swati desired. It was just the two of us in the boat with two attendants who stopped in every fifteen minutes if we wanted anything to eat or drink. All we did was soak in the beautiful afternoon as we passed other boats filled with "foreign tourists". As we skirted the banks of tiny villages we would hear little kids come scampering up to the banks asking for pencils. I guess they could tell that we were foreigners in spite of our very South Indian looks. Wonder what gave us away. We enjoyed piping hot banana pakoras and masala chai. We stepped off the boat feeling exhilarated and somehow wished that the journey would never end. I looked at my daughter's face and realized that this might just have been the vacation of a lifetime for us. I am lucky that I got to spend this time with her and see for myself what it is that makes this bright, vivacious, driven young woman achieve her goals so successfully in life.

All this was made possible because of one very enterprising, ambitious and friendly couple who have made Koramangala.com a growing success without losing personal touch with their clients. I wanted to express our heartfelt thanks to Balbir and Amrit by way of this travelogue and wish their website a resounding success in the future.

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