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The Good Old Lady | Payal Gandhi Hoon Blog

Ms. Panioty and Payal
Ms. Panioty and PayalI travelled to assist my NLP mentor on a training course in Cherai, Kerala by the beach.

I checked into a home stay owned and run by a lady called Ms. Panioty. There she was in a long, wide, ankle-length printed dress, her hair tied in a small tuft, lines of experience and life running down her face, coupled with a strict and head-to-toe matron-look. I lumbered on lugging my suitcase for the next 10 days and she made a swift remark on its expansive dimensions which made me raise an eyebrow. That was the start of our relationship!

I wasn’t too sure about a home stay as this was my first time. But then because I so look forward to new experiences, here I was. I checked into this neat and tidy room with no frills but a bed, small admiral on the wall and a table with an attached bathroom. And the cottage being a stone’s throw from the beach, the waves were resoundingly clear. When night came, I was way overwhelmed with the quietude and faint lights of the surrounding island. All I could hear was the sea roar and it got louder by the minute. I was discomforted as I fell asleep thinking of the days to come.

It was surely worth the stay for I got to know a beautiful human being. To me she transformed from a school matron to a countryside-loving and compassionate granny.

Payal Gandhi Hoon - View from my room Next morning I woke up to a cup of hot tea sharp on time. She sat there in the dusky skies on a wide wooden chair with a comfortable back rest inviting me to sit beside her. All alert and awake to dart questions about the day and the course I was there for. And I was just about waking up and certainly wasn’t looking forward to this early morning chatter, so I waded my way through some attempt at polite conversation.

As per routine, I was back from the early yoga session at the beach and was ready to have some breakfast. I stepped out of my room to see a neat and sumptuous spread of healthy fruits, eggs and traditional Kerala preparations followed by not so healthy but delicious fried banana fritters.

This truly was a breakfast like none other as I discovered the next day when I woke up in the wee hours to browse about my course material. Just opposite my room the lights were on and there was busy movement behind the curtains with a lady bustling with utensils and food. No wonder it wasn’t the kind of food you’d get even at an upmarket restaurant, for what made it special was not just the basic ingredients, but Ms.Panioty’s making it all with her heart and soul.

Now every morning, I’d wake up and look forward to sharing my thoughts about the day ahead. She’d be ready with the breakfast standing beside the table to encourage me to try and taste it all and ensure too that I was on time for my session. There were days she’d compliment me on my taste in clothes or the colour I was wearing. And at nights, from being stern about my being away for coaching and feedback sessions with the participants, she became concerned. I became fond of her.

Days passed by in a jiffy, and the course was at its tail end. I had not even had the time to take a leisurely dip in the sea and she, in her not so expressive yet affectionate manner, encouraged me to enjoy the ocean. Then she made a quick mention of a special meal she’d do before I left. I extended my stay by a day just to soak in the place. Ms. Panioty stepped out for the first time with a small purse tucked in her hand in an auto to take me to a special place. The auto driver who knew her well halted right at this small shack where they served the best crab and prawn dishes ever. And it was our little dinner date.

It was surely worth the stay for I got to know a beautiful human being. To me she transformed from a school matron to a countryside-loving and compassionate granny. She had been felicitated in her teaching career by the President of India. I can say out of experience she truly is an expert at student psychology! The last thing we discussed was her birthday, which is due in two months. I wish and pray the very best for her always! And gratitude to her for making my stay such a wonderful one.

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