29 August 2009
24 August 2009
Ganesh puja at this time of the year is a big event in Mumbai and both N and I miss the fun here in Vancouver...miss bappa coming home..bringing in his tow hundreds of friends and relatives, yummy food, carefree celebrations- in short, 'beshhtest times'. Growing up, I always wanted to bring bappa home but since each (extended) family is allowed to bring only one idol home and one of our uncles has been bringing our family idol to his house over the last few generations, there was no way we could do that. My wish was granted, however, when I got married...N's parents bring their (and now mine) family Ganesh idol to our home in Mumbai...its absolute fun time..miss the mood (sigh, sigh, sigh).
So this year, after being away from Mumbai for a few years (7 for N, 4 for me), we decided to create the magic ourselves....for the first time ever, we made the modaks (recipe follows), did a small puja at home in the morning, volunteered to make food at a local (Marathi mandal) celebration function and then enjoyed the prasad food in the evening at that same function....good times, I say!!!
Marathi Mandal Ganeshotsav, Vancouver
Modaks and home puja
The best part about making the modaks? N and I made them together...anyone who had tried them before should know that making the modaks and moulding them into a nice shape takes time and practice...N and I were like kids in the kitchen...each trying to make better modaks than the other...at the end, I have to admit, N did so much better than I did (hmmmm)!
joint effort- N made the one at the centre- adjudged as the best modak of all :D
For the recipe, I followed the instructions in this video..the recipe the lady uses is exactly the same as N's ma (I am guessing its a standard recipe) but the art lies in making the rice dough while its 'just hot' and then moulding it into beautifully shaped modaks...check out the video here..she has some very interesting techniques for beginners like N and me!
It took us well over an hour to make 12 modaks but we were both quite pleased with the end result...hope bappa liked it as well!:D
17 August 2009
So we had this lovely Danish breakfast..complete with the 'Danish' pastries (of course, what else?)..and enjoying the harbour view as we ate..fabulous! Once done, we packed and checked out of the hotel and took the metro to the CPH airport.
A few things we learnt about 'commuting in CPH without paying through the nose':
-the best way to get around CPH is using the public transit i.e. metros and buses...the transit system is awesome and connects almost all tourist attractions and more
-tickets for the transit system are available right at the airport...the costs vary with the number of zones you might want to visit...since we were going to be in CPH for three days, N and I each bought a 10-ticket card that cost us about 130 Danish kroners (about Cdn$30....expensive, I know!!!) but it lasted us throughout the trip...we even had a couple tickets left at the end but didnt find anyone to pass them on to!
-each of the bus drivers we met was very helpful so getting around the city was quite easy (in spite of not knowing Danish at all...of course, we ended everything with 'Tak' meaning Thanks in danish)
-another good way to go around the city is rent a bike...we would have loved to explore this option but came to know about it after we had already bought the 10 ticket cards....next time though, I will keep this in mind...not only is it super-cheap (2o DKK) but also a lovely way to see the city from up close...mind you, the weather in CPH is very finicky and I would take up the bike only if Mr. Sunshine comes along
With that, we said bye to CPH, our first European country visited, and started for Rome...I cant begin to tell how excited I was at the prospect of visiting this city...I am a kind-of-history-and-arts-enthusiast and what better place to know about history than Rome???
More about my first impressions of Rome in the next post!
Bye bye CPH..tak!!
15 August 2009
In the world of people, that's pretty old...but in the world of countries, that's young....a vibrant, diverse country on the altar of youth...she is beautiful on the outside...growing at a lovely healthy pace (healthy enough to draw some envy form others)...she even has a few jewel-cities she shows off.....but when i look carefully enough, when I prod a little, I see some scars and wounds...some of her neighbours have tried to inflict much pain, her own corrupt netas have tried to sell her for their selfish motives and everyone has neglected her heart- her villages, her beauty, her land....Mind you, she tries to hide these scars under the veil of 'India shining' but I don't think she will ever be completely happy till these scars heal (sigh, sigh, sigh).
I came across this video on my cousin A's orkut profile last week...it is a dance sequence on a show called 'India's got Talent'....the concept, choreography and skills touched my heart...the group performing the sequence are labourers from Orissa..interestingly, they didn't want to reveal that they were labourers because they didn't want any sympathy votes but wanted to win on the basis of their talent....amazing video!
To me, this is the perfect embodiment of the Indian spirit...India, too is in a race with other countries, in the race for progress...she, too, is handicapped by corruption, illiteracy, terrorism...but she has the skills, the concepts and the determination to go ahead...not with sympathy votes but because 'India's got Talent'!
Happy birthday India!!!
14 August 2009
I don't know if its the vacation/jetlag hangover but it sure seems that I am cranially slow this week!...for those who may not know, I have these slowing down tendencies once in a while but usually N will shake me out of it (he'll give a prep-up speech about how the slow-bug is for sloths and not youngsters like us...how the rain outside is not a reason to slouch but rather one to get excited about, etc etc...occasionally, he will also grace me with a special, Bombay-ishstyle tapori dance...and this, if nothing else, always makes me laugh and get back on my feet)...but this time, N was crazy busy in lab and came home almost each night at 9 so my fuzziness stayed longer than I wanted!
Anywho, Mr. Weekend's arrival seems have done the trick...he has made me wake up from my slumber and asked me to start being a little more active...like maybe working on my blog, writing a post, cleaning the house, cook something interesting, go out for a walk, get a haircut, do some shopping, go on a vacation (I have reminded Mr. weekend that I could start working all items on his list except the last two...N will scream and roar if I spend money on shopping or even as much as utter the word 'vacation')!
Some may or may not notice but I did work on the blog already...I have added some widgets for my books (one about the book reviews and other on the books on my reading list) and hope to add some more on the travel/food ones very soon...have also added the 'subscribe to posts/comments' on the right...any comments/suggestions on the layout are welcome!....will also resume the trip recap very soon!
Back from the land of fuzzies,
09 August 2009
07 August 2009
Anywho, when the rain finally did stop at 4, we no longer had the museums option (by this time, both N and the sun were beaming...and I was fuming)...so we decided to do the next best thing...we took a train/bus ride to Nyhavn...literally meaning 'new harbour' in Danish, it is actually a 17th century waterfront in the heart of the city and is a lovely area to dine and move around.
We liked the place instantly...it has lovely residential, colourful buildings that lining it on both sides.....people dining outdoors in restaurants...and little boats moored along the harbour...pretty!!...we decided to take a boat ride here..it lasted for an hour and took us on a ride along the harbour to show us a lot of interesting places including H.C.Anderson's House, the New Opera Place, Christiania, Little Mermaid statue, the Danish Royal Palace (one of the places on my list...sigh), the old National Bank and Stock Exchange Buildings and a few other notable places...the tour was lovely as the boat guide also gave bits of history on each place as we passed by it!
The second day of the trip went well...we could have done so much more....with N busy with the conference, I must confess that I wasn't hoping to see much of CPH in the first place...given that, I seem to have seen quite enough...next time though, I will make sure we have enough time for the palaces and museums...and also that I pray harder than N to keep the rains at bay :)
05 August 2009
(Picture from here)
While I was growing up, typical RB celebrations in India would involve all of us cousins piling over my Uncle's house...this worked out great you see...my mum has two girls (me and my sis) and her siblings each have two sons....two generations of brothers and sisters...the bond strong and love in the heart!
By the way, I am sure it was a sister who started this festival...think about it....by tying a thin band on my brother's wrist, I get not only 'unlimited love and protection from all possible bad things'...but also a lovely gift....both the untangible and the tangible...pretty good deal, I say! and if you have more brothers than sisters (which was our case), the gifts were even more fantastic...oh man, miss those days!
Anywho, a very happy RB to all the brothers and sisters out there (especially mine)...may the bond of love grow stronger with each passing year!!
Missing the fun,
03 August 2009
The next day, we started with our sightseeing around 1 after lunch (N did the muh dikhaai at the conference in the morning while I slept...yes, like a log)...there was a mall right next to the hotel and we ate a buffet meal here....that too an Indian/Mexican one (funny combination, i say)...at first, I was a bit turned off...why would i want to eat Indian in CPH????But N, the wiser-by-two-days-in CPH, reassures me that this is the best thing to do....firstly, things in CPH are way too costly...he tells me that he had a measly salad the day before and it cost him $20!!!!!!!!!!!..poor thing even mixed the salad himself (the shopkeeper just put his salad on a plate)!!..Secondly, Danish food doesn't best suit Indian palate like ours...they have a lot of meat (which neither N nor I eat) and it isn't spiced enough..all in all, I decided to trust N on this one..after all, he had 'tried and tasted' it!...the buffet meal itself was nothing great...there was a funny guy greeting everyone at the entrance saying 'dhanyawaad' (thanks in Hindi) to everyone who entered the place..at first we were impressed...but soon he started asking everyone eating their meals if 'sab dhanywaad hai'?(is everything thanks)...from then on, N bugged me with this phrase till the end of the trip....is the food thanks, is the sight thanks, is the hotel thanks...thanks but no thanks, I say!!
Anywho, so after the meal we began with the sightseeing...our hotel was a 10 mins walk from the Tivoli Gardens...this is supposed to be the world's first Amusement park (info source: travel guide N...hmmm...I know he is wiser-in-CPH-by-two-days but not sure if I can trust him on this one!)......but it sure is very popular with the Danish...when you enter the place, you think that the whole of CPH is here...it was super-crowded, especially for a weekday....and the crowds kept coming well into the night...I am scared of rides (yes, I admit it) so I didnt take any...and N refused to go without me (very sweet, I say)...so we walked through the gardens, listened to a live orchestra, heard other people screaming on the rides and spent a good couple hours there.
Once outside the gardens, we headed towards the 'Stroget'...a very long pedestrian street right in the heart of the city lined with shops on both sides...this turned out to be a lovely walk.... there were not just shops, but much more on the way....live street performers..musicians...vendors selling their fares...people sitting outside of cafes enjoying food...gave us a true feel of the city..we walked on for a good 1 hour before heading back....the walk back took more than an hour back and we were ready to hit the bed after dinner.
So the first day of the trip went lovely...what are my first impressions of the city and its people?....the city seems 'just okay' at first..but grows slowly on you...I liked it better at the end of the day than I did at the beginning..and from what little I saw the first day, there seemed to be some historical monuments in there too..hoped to see more of them the next day....as for the people, they have the blondest of hair, the bluest of the eyes and loveliest of the skin...really exquisite, I say!!!!!...No wonder Hans Christian Andersen wrote fairytales here!!!
From the land of fairies,
01 August 2009
Anywho, plan to write some posts in the next few days...in the meantime, how have all the dost mandali been doing all this time??
For the Vancouver junta, happy long weekend!..and if you thought what you are going through here is a heat wave, let me tell you, its nothing close to Europe!!!!..one thing I have learnt during this trip is how much we take Vancouver for granted!
A little wiser than two weeks back ,
P.S. yes, its 6:22 am here...the jet lag made me wake up at 5:30 today...got a chance to catch the sunrise in Vancouver...it was utterly-butterly-loverrrlyy!!!..wish I could do this more often..catch the sunrise that is...but anyone who knows me knows that this can happen only if I am jet lagged...hmm...N might not like the huge airlines bills as a price to watch the sunset!!jaane do :D