Cinnamon Rolls 

I was invited to a house party on August 18th, 2011 on the event of my friends Birthday. I was pretty excited about the venue, the backyard at my friends place was very pleasant with a hand crafted picnic table, well manicured garden with an antique Lambretta adorning the lawn. 

Little did I know that my fiends dad was the master chef for the day! I had heard that he baked bread but I dint know he also baked some mouth watering delicacies. All my doubts or questions were put to rest when I saw that the ham pizza was baked in the kitchen!  

I could not resist but enquire about the faint but persistant aroma of cinnamon, it was quite fragrant. Before I could ask about what was in the magical oven, a fresh batch of Cinnamon Rolls were exhibited and we all grabbed one each. 

Apparently my friends dad has a very keen interest in baking and eventually wanted to bake professionally. He learnt most of the art of baking in Germany and had years of practice in this area. He was super excited to fly from the other end of the world to celebrate the birthday of his son. 

The rolls were hot, just out of the oven, the bread crisp and well done. The aroma of the cinnamon infused in the dough, and the castor sugar sprinkled on top was just the right amount giving the entree a glazed appearance. Well, honestly I dint pick just one! 😉

It was a birthday to remember, this picture makes me nostalgic,  like it happened yesterday. I hope to savor these beautifully rolled cinnamon buns in the near future. It was perfect to nibble on the Cinnamon rolls, with a glass of white wine. 

Salude! 😍

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Flowery Onset of Summer

At the onset of summer, I get slightly paranoid because of the heat. And yet I wait for it every year, as Bangalore witnesses some of the most beautiful floral marvels of nature. Whoever planted the sapling of these beautiful flowering trees decades ago did a fantastic job. Little did they know, they were gifting our generation these beautiful flowers.

Tacoma argentea – also called as the Golden Bell Flower is a delight to a Bangalorean. Huge trees form a natural canopy on many roads, sunlight hardly filtering through, making the entire road look lush with greenery, flanked with bunches of Golden Bell Flowers.

The color of these flowers is a deep, radiant yellow. Everyday a new floret takes birth, and the whole tree sheds the leaves to make room for the flowers. At the end of February the show begins!

Among all the metropolitan cities, Bangalore enjoys a luxurious climate. The winters are pleasant, the summers not too bad. The green canopy does provide immense relief in many residential areas in Bangalore. There are trees that are several decades old, they spread over the residential areas providing shade, a relaxed, scenic feel & housing several birds.

The Golden Bells adorn my Balcony!

I often wake up to the sound of birds, open my windows and doors to this Golden Bloom, weather pleasant enough for light cotton wear and a warm cup of coffee. This is the view from my balcony and I wonder if my day could get better than this, and I hear the most melodious voice ever, my 3 year old neighbor chirping, “Nam, look boootiful yellow flowers, look a bird – wooooow!” 🙂

And I have all I need. An innocent toddlers unconditional love, Golden blooms, carefree birds chirping, coffee in my hands, gratitude in my heart – with the conviction that ‘All is well in my life’.

The Great Wall – 万里长城

My father is extreamly passionate about history. He had a strong affinity towards the rich culture and heritage of the Ming dynasty. As a child I would often hear stories about the Great Wall of China. When I was 7 years old, the playground in my school looked massive, an endless expanse! You can imagine my shock when I heard of a fortified wall that was tens of feet high and boasting to measure 10,000 miles long!

The Great Wall at Badaling.

My dad filled me in with the details about the disciplined soldiers, the watch towers, the famous silk route, and the wall being an important trade route. The most important aspect he emphasized upon was the fact that this was a wall to keep off the invaders & avoid attacks from the northern tribes.

I guess what Paulo Coelho says in ‘The Alchemist’ is in fact true. The Universe does conspire in you favor and helps you achieve what u truly desire. When I used to see pictures of travellers on the Great wall – I used to always wonder when would my turn come? I always fancied being on the Great Wall with a lot of delight.

When I reached Beijing it was the most magical feeling ever, because the Great Wall at Badaling was just an hour away by a very posh and convenient train ride costing just 6 Yuan!

China is amazing with tourism, the connections from the metro to the bullet trains is a seamless transition. I ventured on the Great Wall alone and I had the most beautiful time ever. The weather was perfect! Temperature ranging around 8 – 14 degrees and I was secretly thanking the universe for such a wonderful chance to be at the Great Wall.

When you are up there you can’t ignore the fact that, tremendous effort was taken to build it – for every feet of the wall is precise. This great fortification built of Stone, Brick, Earth & Wood all along the norther terrain of China. The grandeur is mesmerizing. I was filled with awe and wonder, as to how this great venture was humanly possible.  It really is Something!!!

This Wonder of the world scaling the endless mountainous terrain of northern China is intimidating and inspiring. I would strongly recommend a visit to the Oriental Mainland China – as you will cherish it forever.

Beauty of Trekking 

It feels good to be lost in the right direction!

Going on a trek is great form of exercise, a wonderful way to break the routine of everyday life, and THE best way to meet wonderful people.

On my 20th birthday I went for my first national trek in the Himalayas. Back then, my fitness regime was good, I would do some cardio at least and I had good stamina, but I dint actually do a rigorous boot camp training for what was to come ahead. I treated it like another touristy venture. Oooooops – that was my first bitter lesson about the prominent difference between being a tourist vs being a hiker.

The base camp for the National Himalayan trek was in Himachal, the air is fresh, you can hear the river gushing through the rocks, the place is calm, cool and serene.

One amazing aspect of going on the treks is that you meet amazing like-minded people. There is an aura of positivity, you live with the bare minimum, learn to share dry fruits, biscuits, offer water to a panting team member & help spontaneously. On your treks, you are bound to make friends for life for you see each other in the most unedited way, without make-up, in your sweatshirts, track pants, crying out in pain, panting & cursing – this is the true version of you without any pretense. 🙂

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The Cool Mumbaikars!

We had an amazing time during the Sar Pass Trek and this was a candid click – we saw a tree trunk, all of us tried to fit in the frame & we have a picture to cherish. Nostalgic recollection of the day’s events, even after all this time is inevitable.

Hampi – Stone Art 

Hampi a town in southern India, is of great historical significance & a UNESCO World Heritage Site. What’s beautiful is that the entire city is built of stone! It is an important part of the Vijayanagar Dynasty & the ruins now don’t just amaze everyone it also makes one feel humble standing in front of the Huge stone matap (the picture above).

Many tourists visit this unique architecture built centuries ago to get a feel of ancient India.

Virupaksha temple is beautiful and you will find elephants as you enter the gate, there is a section towards the east wall of the temple where the shadow of top of the temple is inverted. Some physics here. It’s the main temple of the city. The city is built on the river Tungabhadra and you can take a boat ride to cross over to the other side of the river.

I have been to Hampi twice and I loved it when the streets were full of local vendors serving eateries and handmade handicrafts. And my personal heaven was the cafe Mango Tree! A quiet serene place, seating arranged to face the river in front, the only sound would be the birds chirping and the distant view of elephants enjoying a wash by the Mahut. The food was as homemade as it can be, Nutella pancakes with a South Indian Filter Coffee would set the tone for the rest of the day.

You can rent a cycle for about One USD and explore the entire city. The road through the main city gate ia slightly uphill and leads you to the stone mantap, the lotus temple, and the elephant stables. You might want to take a rickshaw ride to the Vittala temple – this section is gorgeous, with the beautiful stone temples the architecture and the famous stone chariot.

When you reach the sunset point you can see that the entire town is built on rocks. It could get extremely hot, it’s advisable to visit Hampi in December & early January to avoid the relentless blaring heat.

This place is a visual treat to all artists and it will definitely turn back the clock to a historic era.

Biang Biang Mian!

Biang Biang Mian – from the exotic Shaanxi Province of Mainland China is considered a speciality noodle dish, which is scrumptious and makes you come back for more!

Biang Biang Mian is an enigma in itself, famously known as the Belt Noodle – considering its length and thickness.

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Biang Biang Mian is served in a bowl tossed in aromatic sauces, topped with lots of hot peppers to beat the cold Xi’an chills, a generous sprinkle of grated garlic, lots of freshly cut cilantro topped with marinated and barbeque meat of your choice. This is an absolute delicacy, the aroma is rich and the dish only beats the expectations one might have after just looking at it.

It was introduced to me during my backpacking trip to the Famous city of Xi’An by a dear friend Nimrod.  The first comment was about the Mandarin Symbol for this scrumptious dish – it consists of 58 strokes – quite complex even for a seasoned Mandarin writer.

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This is the Mandarin symbol for Biang Biang Mian – its pretty complex with 58 strokes!

The noodle is handmade and makes one wonder about the precision of every other inch of this noodle that transformed itself to perfection from an innocent lump of dough.

Xi’an is a beautiful city, famous for the terracotta warriors, apart from this archeological site the city has lots more to offer! The weather was beautiful and the best place to taste Biang Biang Mian is at the food street, east of the Bell Tower wall.

I hope the food lovers do get a chance to taste this dish and its worth every penny!

A Brand New Perspetive

“To be inspired is great, to inspire is incredible!”

I am blessed with parents who have a keen interest in adventure, and an undying affinity to spend time close to nature.

They are avid trekkers, very different from the stereotype families among our community, the far and distant relatives.

We grew up in a house where our holidays were planned around camping and travel. My mother set the tone by going for national level treks to Himalayas and the western ghats of India & she offered to be the base camp leader thrice. My sister, dad and I were fascinated with this unique idea, although we were extremely apprehensive at first. My sister and I hid it well. My dad helped my mom with the schedule for the next month and a half – lot of planning, booking tickets to the Himalayas and the Plan B to run the show back at home.

The enthusiastic stories she would come back with, left us all mesmerized and we sat around her to hear more and more – soaking in the narration and trying to imagine the scenario unfolded in front of us. From a very young age we were introduced to a unique yet exotic version of life. We heard about a life in the forests, among bears, snakes, how it felt to live in tents for days at end.

None of my friends had ever come even close to hearing about camping back then. We grew up in a town called Mysore – its in the South of India. My mothers adventurous stories brought about a mixed reaction among my friends. Some were fascinated and they were in awe of her, others were judgmental about the hiking and camping because a mother never really did anything close to this! This was a huge shock to others. But i would tell them like it was nothing less of a fairy tale because I was convinced this was magical. I would also turn a deaf ear to the criticism from others who thought this was not usual & they are not wrong – this hiking & camping was totally weird 🙂

My father soon followed suit and the next summer he asked my mom to take care of us while he was off in the Himalayas to validate what his wife just told him. We missed our parents when they were off on exotic adventures like this – but it was a small price to pay for the bigger benefit. They gave us a gift – A Brand New Perspective to life!

When my dad came back – he was rejuvenated, enthusiastic and full of life. He had a sense of accomplishment about being able to scale 12,500 Ft above sea level. His self-confidence soared greater heights post the trek & he relentlessly trained to build strength, stamina & flexibility.

We saw a new rigor in him. His stories were more animated and he inspired us so much that we couldn’t really wait to go there ourselves! My dad was thrilled that he could effortlessly scale the snow-clad the mountains – it’s a big deal for anyone who lived all the while in a tropical country. I guess he also felt altruistic about being able to help the youngsters who were either afraid or were terrified of the relentless terrain.

We kids couldn’t wait to go there ourselves. We had years of mental and emotional conditioning as to what has to be done when we were hiking in the Himalayas. It was a dreamy preparation all along.

When i graduated i received a priceless gift from my parents – a ticket to reach the Base Camp at Himachal Pradesh & a registration at the Chandrakani Pass in the Himalayas! It was by far the most exotic, unusual, thrilling gift anyone had ever received and I am very grateful to my parents for the experience.

This experience set the tone for the days ahead & my life has always had this beautiful streak of adventure & I have been bit by a lethal travel bug!