The Goa #LiveLodgyCal experience - a ravishing ride to remember

Dr Roshan Radhakrishnan
There are three major lessons I have learned in life over the years:
1. There is no greater example of unconditional love than a dog.
2. To look thinner, eat healthy exercise always stand next to someone fatter.
3. When Harish Krishnan of Blogadda calls you and asks "Boss, Are you free on X-Y-Z dates?", you say "Hell, yeah!" and start packing.

A typical conversation between the two of us usually goes like this:
Harish - Boss, what are you doing on X-Y-Z dates?
Me - You had me at hello!
Harish - Uh... I did not say hello...
Me - You said it now. That counts! Now show me the buffet tables! Show me the prawns! Show me the ham! Watermelons! Show me melons!!
Harish (placing hand over speaker end of his phone) - Ankita, are you really sure we want this guy along?

Anyway... when the phone call arrived earlier this month mentioning 'Goa' and 'drive', I had no hesitation in clicking my heels and replying in the affirmative.

Thus it came to be that on the 19th of June, 40 of the most brilliant bloggers of the country left their homes from various sections of India - ranging from rural villages like Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore to metropolitan shangri-las like Kannur (yes, I live there. How did you guess??) - heading for one common destination: Goa. The rain Gods tried their best to halt our progress but backed off once they saw some of the mean tweets we wrote about them.

From the airport, we were whisked away and driven to the legendary Leela Palace Resort in Goa where we were greeted by team Renault and Blogadda. (Did I not mention earlier that we were going to Goa  for the #LiveLodgyCal event to check out Renault's Lodgy, already being christened as the country's new number one MPV by experts and riders alike?) 

I wanted to try out all the things I never get in Kerala...
which is why the first thing I did upon entering Goa was
have coconut water!
It is tough to describe the Leela without gushing and running out of adjectives. There is such a wonderful blend of sophistication and serenity that welcomes you right from the moment you enter the famed resort. With over 220 rooms and 800 staff on hand (4 per room!) waiting upon your every need, it is hard not to feel like royalty.  Wonderful water bodies within coexist alongside the clear white sparkling beaches a short walk away, making for an enchanting journey of discovery as you walk though the property.

You know you are in for something special when this is the sight that greets you at the entrance

After high tea, we headed off to our rooms where we lazed around for a bit, taking in the gorgeous views, both within and without, before heading back to meet up with the others.

Our host for the evening, the lovely and vivacious RJ Archana Pania, had us hanging on to her every word as she kept the atmosphere in the hall consistently lively, chatting up the bloggers and getting them to talk about their team members as well.

Maneesh from Team Renault too gave us a presentation, regaling us with a lot of facts we were all unaware of regarding this 116 year old 'young' company before diving into what made the Lodgy unique and why it was being rated so highly since its launch. A lovely dinner followed where we got to interact with each other and let our hair down before everyone headed off to rest (or gossip till 2 AM, as some of the lovely ladies informed us the next morning) after a long day of travel.

There's always time to make new friends and share a smile

Day 2 and we were all up and about quite early in the morning. The morning rains added an extra element of glee and anticipation as we raced across to the hall to have our breakfast.

Since Ankita instructed the Leela not to feed me too much, I could only have this 'light snack' for breakfast... 

Exiting the hall, we got our first view of the Renault Lodgy and boy, it was a sight to behold.

Image courtesy: Deckle Edge

After receiving our starting instructions from the Renault team, the 10 teams of bloggers geared up and got into their assigned vehicles, making plans and scheming on how to defeat the others (My plan to distract the other teams by belly dancing on the roof of the car was sadly shot down by my team members... and Blogadda... and Renault... and the Goan tourism authorities.)

Team Solitary Reapers
Photo by Giridhar, Check out the hilarious video
he created during the event too

From Leela, we started off and quickly got used to the luxury of the ride as we took on the roads and terrain. Blogadda and Renault tweeted us our treasure hunt list along the way, keeping us all eagle eyed as we searched the streets for a duck with red shorts and a pink fish in a yellow mango tree (P.S. I apologize to my team #FleetingFour mates - turns out I read it wrong. They actually asked for a duck, a girl with a pink umbrella, a man wearing red shorts, fish and a mango tree... my bad.)

Team FleetingFour
Sammy, SenthilKumar, Prashanth and myself

The hunt took us all the way across to another picturesque spot, the Lalit golf and spa resort in Canacona where we had our pit stop. We all took time out to relax and enjoy Lalit's private beach and have a blast before heading off for a hearty lunch (because, you know... we just had a light snack for breakfast, as I showed you earlier).

Photography wars! My #FleetingFour teammates Sammy & SenthilKumar
engaged in a lens-off to determine who is the better shooter. I finally stopped
this war by telling them the one who could take a pic of me looking slim was
the winner. Both gave up and threw their cameras into the sea! Hmmph!

We lazed and lounged at the Lalit for quite awhile as the gorgeous Archana took our sound bytes and first impressions on the vehicle before it was time to head back.

Driving Miss Daisy... crazy! Gorgeous Archana Pania kept things lively for everyone throughout the event

Wacky pics with the car remained part and parcel of the evening as we all vied to outdo each other before reaching the Leela once more.

Having arrived safe and sound, the bloggers spent some time relaxing and exploring the beautiful property at the Leela before once more reassembling at the banquet hall where we had met the previous evening. Bloggers spoke about how they had used the influence of blogging to their advantage and lessons they had learned along the way.

Panel featuring actor Prateek Thakker, biker Omkar Thakur, travel blogger Rutavi Mehta, author Aditi Mathur, food columnist Rekha Kakkar and Madhumita (not in pic)

The engaging discussion was followed up by Goa's number one live band, ForeFront, as they got the party started. Spirits remained high all night as the bloggers got on the dance floor and yes, even on to the stage.

There is no way we can not bow/salute/high five the awesome Neha Kapoor who took over the mike and sang like an angel, belting out numbers like "Everything I do, I do it for you" and "Beedi Jalai le" with such passion, she had the whole crowd mesmerized.

The party never ends... in our memories, atleast :)

A night which every blogger there will surely cherish for years to come, none of us wanted it to end.

I drowned my sorrows in a dessert or two... or twelve.

The morning after was one of light banter and sad goodbyes as we all sat around the hotel, waiting for our turns to part. From the dream that was the last two days, it was time to wake up and head back to reality. And like most pleasant dreams, it was one we did not want to awaken from...

The #LiveLodgyCal event marked a new high in blogger events and once more showcased the brilliance of Team Blogadda not just in hosting such an event but also improving upon their own previous successful events. A big thumbs up from my side to Nirav, Harish, Ankita, Ankita -2, Sushma and Tridib. You guys made it such a comfortable and memorable event for all of us.

The Team that makes it all happen for us... Blogadda 

Aim for the skies... you guys are truly making dreams come true for bloggers in India. Here's to more awesome events in the days to come (and more breakfast buffets for me to assault as well, of course!)

Authors note:
For those who are interested, my views on the Renault Lodgy that we drove are available here.

You can check out the official photographs from Renault here and Blogadda here.

You can also follow all the other hilarious pics and lovely action that took place by checking out the hashtag #LiveLodgyCal on Twitter and other social media.

Authors note:
I was a part of the #LiveLodgycal Drive by in association with Renault India

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