By Shalini Arora Kochhar
Little did we know when we started our lives together in London 23 years ago, that we would end up, still together, just us, minus the kids, at this magical place called Monaco, celebrating a bond built on love, trust and romance.
“I look at you and I see the rest of my life ahead of me”. Yes, this line says it all. That’s love. That’s marriage. That’s the belief I have lived by all these years. Call me old school, but that’s what I have always believed.
That’s what kids think
“Mom, you and dad should go for a candlelight dinner for your anniversary; it’s so special,” our teenage kids, in a romantic zone, urged us. For them celebrating an anniversary with friends or having a party is not romantic enough. They, however, don’t realise that even if we do go for a romantic dinner, all we would do is to talk about them.
But then they are so right. You are never too old to get the romance, the zing back into the marriage. All it took was an exotic destination with nobody but just the two of us for company. When there is love all else falls into place.
Turning over a new leaf
We are in Monaco not really to celebrate our anniversary. My hubby has just bagged himself a new assignment in Monaco and I have followed, about to start a new life again – just the two of us. We are apprehensive of course. “We don’t know what lies ahead,” he said, “but we started at the back of the plane and here we are today in the front of the plane. Life has only looked up.”
That was reassuring and I already knew we are going to have a beautiful journey ahead. A new chapter.
With the kids having flown off the nest, it was time to rediscover each other. And what can be a better place than to be at this exotic location, a city of dreams, the playground of the rich and famous. You land here and you are like, really!?
Yachts, fancy cars, and a Greek God
The city defines exotic. Every person on the street is well dressed and looks straight out of the movies. Those fancy cars… you want to drive each one of them. The yachts, parked at the harbour, some, venue for sit-down dinners. It’s a whole different ball game. And then I see the best sight in town!
An irresistibly good looking dude. I spot him around the corner and cannot resist asking if I can take a picture of him. The guy raises his eyebrows.
“Why me?” he asks.
I say I am posting sightseeing images of Monaco on Facebook and “You are the best sight I have seen here so far!”
“Oh, why just a picture when you can have me absolutely?” he says.
What do I say? I tell him it’s not allowed especially since it’s my anniversary.
“I am only allowed to be naughty to this extent,” I say with a sigh.
Groceries can wait, romance first
Well, yes, it is our anniversary time. My hubby, who has always stood by me through some serious ups and downs in life, has always said, “Don’t worry hon, we always have each other.”
And look, here we are away from family and friends and only have each other for company. Let’s then make the best use of our new found two-someness, before we settle down figuring out the mundane stuff like groceries to run our new house.
Adding to the drama
We decide to kick-start our anniversary celebrations with a musical called Legally Blonde. And the two of us are dressed to kill. Hey, you must do these things, they make you feel young; they make you feel like stars. Of course, we are looking good.
As you walk in, the theatre totally overwhelms you. It is the most stunning experience. Even if you don’t enjoy theatre, you will absolutely love being in this awesome ambience.
The play has been magical. We have all seen the movie version, but there’s something about theatre: The energy, the music, the dancing. You are transported into a whole different state of being.
Don’t forget to book your table in advance!
Emerging out of the hall on a high note, we decide to compliment our experience with an exotic dinner in a Michelin star restaurant. Yeah right! Wishful thinking. In Monaco in the month of August with no table reservation – nah, that isn’t happening!!
But sure, we manage. With well-dressed people at every restaurant, we are not exactly misfits, blending in with the bold and the beautiful, and bring in the anniversary. With Champagne on ice!
That is the eve before our D day.
Oh yes, I got the roses and tea on the bed too!
And then the anniversary morning. It is my day to be pampered. But living in a foreign country with no full-time help, isn’t it too much to be expecting bed tea? Apparently not, for in what would be a beautiful start to a beautiful day, my hubby appears right next to me with tea and roses.
As we stand in the balcony looking out at the sea enjoying our morning smoke, we suddenly look at each other. It is as if we have an idea and we both know what it is. “What say,” he said, “let’s do something crazy today.”
We see a cruise ship docking and the thought of another 800 tourists flooding this tiny 2 sqkm country isn’t appetising. Who wants to go through the drill of finding another restaurant reservation for the night? Better to run away for the day.
It is a spur of the moment decision, and before laziness sets in and we change our minds, we are there at the train station heading off to Nice for breakfast and shopping.
Nice, Nice, baby!
Twenty minutes later we are having our breakfast in Nice. Now where to shop? We Googled and discovered that the opportunity to shop and indulge each other with gifts was more in Cannes, not Nice.
Of course, I am a queen brought in to this world to be loved and pampered. So the queen has to be on a red carpet, nothing less, on her special day.
Let’s play tourists for now
So lunch would be at Cannes then. Back on the train, we find ourselves at Gare de Cannes in less than half an hour. There is no stopping us now. We have to make this a milestone anniversary (never mind, it’s not the 25th!). We shop to our hearts content. Do all the touristy madness. We are still tourists after all. It will take us a while to become locals, language being the first barrier to remove.
Chilled beer and a juicy burger is what I have over a lazy, chilled out lunch peppered with lots of conversation. Following that, we head off to the beach for some more chilling. Soaking it all in, and by evening we are now ready to be back to “our Monaco”.
Thank god they are gone
Once there, it is a relief to see the cruise liner sailing off. The hoards of tourists have left, which means we don’t have to hunt out for a restaurant reservation. As I said, we have no maids and who wants to cook on an anniversary.
We land at the Buddha Bar which I am sure is going to be our favourite haunt. With Champagne and sushi, we end the evening by telling each other that yes, we still have it in us.
Comfort zones are for losers
The kids were right. Romance doesn’t need to fly out of the window after a long marriage. But we literally had to be pushed into a corner to realise that. Comfort zones are for losers.
We were best friends; and we discovered, we still are. We still do enjoy the same things.
Thank you Monaco for bringing the zing back.