Friday, 14 November 2014

The Bazillion Lakes

When we hit the road for the Niagara Falls, I had not imagined the magnificence of flow that we were going to witness.  Although I had read about the flow of a couple of millions of litres of water in a second, it was not possible for me to visualize.  In my lovely dry native place, it used to be a feast to our eyes to see some flowing water even during the mighty Indian monsoon.  And here you are talking about millions of litres in the blink of an eye...and one more millions of litres in another blink...and one more time...and on and on!  Abundance!  Affluence! Wealth of Nature!  Is someone splashing out?  It keeps on and on..."someone" has Infinite.

Endless supply of the transparent, odourless, tasteless liquid - out of world, in the real world.  Roaring water, gushing down the cliff, filling the deep gorge with aerosols, misting your vision, making you feel unbelievable.


Where does this come from? Who is releasing so much ...but, before that who has the boundless power to hold all of it in the first place?  Intrigued me, started finding answers to these questions.  Wayne Grady, the author of the book The Great Lakes mentions that "they are taken for granted equally by those who know them and by those who don't".  I couldn't agree more!  The lakes are taken for granted so much that no one speaks about them.  Does anyway speak about gravity while enjoying the sight of water flowing downhill?

The misleading common noun lake, only indicates the failure of mankind to derive proper names to these massive water bodies - they are oceans of sweet water.  And they are the real wealth of the North Americans in sight of a passionately crazy water-lover like me.

Lake Superior is bottomless.  Fathomless.  So is Lake Huron.  Lake St Claire - the smallest amongst the other beasts - is beautiful.  Lake Eerie is mid-sized.  And Lake Ontario is the one which successfully holds water before releasing it into the salty waters of the Atlantic.


The lakes are the most complex biological ecosystem...and so is the understanding of flow paths.  I have attempted in my mind - surely something to keep me motivated for next couple of years.

More to follow on my Bazillion Lakes!!!


Saturday, 8 November 2014

Much Ado About Nothing: Hi from Canada...

Much Ado About Nothing: Hi from Canada...: I was surprised when someone reminded me that it had been almost 3 months since I first arrived in this small land of 10 million km2 which ...

Hi from Canada...

I was surprised when someone reminded me that it had been almost 3 months since I first arrived in this small land of 10 million km2 which divides the ponds of the Atlantic on east and the Pacific on the west.  Time flies.  So flew my courageous wife along with the two little angels - the devils otherwise - to join me here in Canada.  

The super-excited girls after seeing me at the airport brought big, wide smiles on the faces of even the strangers.  The bloke waiting for his guests standing next to me was so happy to see the cheerful younger one, that he started laughing out so loud as if he was my close friend or cousin.  Such is the power of the innocence!  And all that reunion filled my heart with the feeling of "being so wanted"!!! 

Well, while we are looking forward to our next couple of years with some kind of nervous excitement with lots and lots of questions in our mind, I thought it would be a good idea to connect with people.  Improving the writing skills is another benefit.  Who knows I might also write autobiography in future and these skills might be handy that time. 

The big question is what will Eesha do for about an year, since now she doesn't have school until next year?

What about my driving license in Canada? I love driving cars...and I can drive using the Indian license only for 60 days from my arrival here!


Manisha....will she have some time to do something of her liking?


And not sure if Shriya will have any friends in school. 


Living in -26 deg C should not be a problem, because....we are used to living in the harsh climatic conditions of Mumbai hhehhhhhhaaa hhaaaa. 

And from here to other questions related to opportunities - 
How will be Niagara Falls? 
Shriya was already ecstatic with prospects of access to the local library - she has a lots of plans to enjoy the benefits of borrowing 100 articles at a time! 
Food - I love the concept of enjoying the local food wherever I go.  Am not foodie exactly, but I love new preparations.  Let's see if we invent some new dishes during our stay in Canada. 



We surely wanna do some mad things...




So, interesting times ahead....
Stay connected. 

Monday, 7 January 2013

The Man Who Saw Future

Yes, I am that man...who else him could be.

I am sure I am not very different than you readers. Have you any time forgotten anything? 
...your parents' marriage anniversary
...your cousin's birthday
...your own birthday
...your kiddo's date of birth
...at least your wife's birthday !!!

If don't want to accept, don't. Don't spill beans if you don't want to. If you admit to yourself that you are also prone to succumbing to the great force of a phenomenon called forgetting, I am done with my job. You don't have to read further down unless you want to laugh at me and write your rude comments?

Incident: 

We all went to "the" great ice-cream parlour in Mangalore. Ate combinations possible for the age, size of the group and our appetite. I hurried the tourists and threatened them to leave there if they didn't understand the importance of time. I reminded them that we had a train to catch...not like how Spidy catches in Spiderman 2.
Finally, I was successful in driving these ice-cream crazy boys and girls. Their faces were happy...so I assumed that I was't a villain in their mind.

Going back in auto-riskhwas to our hotel, packing-up, checking out, again auto-rikshaws to the city railway station (ha ha...there are 2 railway stations in Mangalore and that is fun! I don't want to provide more information), getting down in the crowd, rolling-carrying-pushing our 16 pieces and 8 live-stock to the platform helped us in neutralising the lingering effect of banana split and parfait and gadbad and tiramisu and what nots. By the way these are the names of the ice-cream flavours...not cocktails or fish.

Drenched, drained us all were proposing smart plans of reaching to our coach. With a brilliant idea of seeing how far the coach was, I - the tour operator - took lead as usual. After walking for another few hundred feet, I reached "C2", and started looking for our names on the reservation chart tucked on the exterior walls of the coach. I don't know why I do this even when I have a confirmed booking! Probably I just like to see my name displayed in public. I know now why one should have this excellent habit.

Our names were missing on the chart! I immediately started cursing the railways for not displaying today's charts...but no, the date was correct. I saw the printout in my hand..."C2" was correct...the date was next day's on the printed tickets. Since I had matured by 3 minutes after cursing the railways, I thought it was dutiful of me not to curse anyone...and hence I didn't curse myself. So, I laughed at me. With heavy heart (actually didn't have heavy heart, it is courtesy to say so, it makes you look polite) I walked back those few hundred feet, smiled at my fellow passengers. They had become my buddies in last few minutes - no more tour operator-tourists relationship. Look at how they had come up the ranks. Proud of them, I am. They were proud of me...they knew how busy their buddy was at his work. And such mistakes happen from human beings.

Whom to Blame: 

Oh, this corporate culture. It makes you think - makes you share your brain, work hard, work smart, help others in achieving their goals. It makes you look stupid in front of your disciples. Your fellow passengers. I was working 12 hours a day at office for last 3 weeks. Am I not going to forget this small, insignificant information?

And why didn't someone else keep a copy of the ticket with them? Let me tell my fellow tourists, 'you are as good as your leader'. You can't say I didn't handover the extra copies that I had with me. Why didn't you ask for one from me.



What Next: 

Every cloud has silver lining. We had one more peaceful day to spend at Mangalore. We were now able to visit the great temple of Mangla Devi which brought smiles and satisfaction on the faces of everybody. So, was it written somewhere already? 

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Bond is Scottish !!!

The English pride looked being mocked at. Double O Seven continues to be emotional. This time with Bond Girl M....the motherly M. In Casino Royale he declared that M felt like being his mother, and it felt like one sided affair. M loving her kid and the kid after MISSION. In Skyfall, Bond, James Bond is not at all dispassionate about his duties, or affairs? He is completely involved in M...the-Bollywood-style-love-blunting-all-sensibilities is seen flowing through his and M's eyes for each other.

He was emotionally involved with Vesper Lynd earlier. We encountered the emotions for his 'first love' even in Quantum, until then he was not from this planet. He was a hero - always - however, I had never imagined that I could dare to fantasize myself being the real unreal hero. You (the readers) feel imagining yourself in Italian gardens and Vinecian waters with Vesper, or is it with Eva Green!? I guess the sheer intellect of Vesper attracts you, and the character was decorated with the beauty of Eva Green. A masterpiece.

He has changed in the last 3 movies and in Skyfall he has Home! That's too personal for 007. Puts a lot of stress on Bond lovers - at least me - to digest that he is bonded to his dead parents. What an honour the couple has received posthumously! The world's most sought after manly man finds support in his ancestral house...oh, Bond, the world was not enough for you once upon a time.

Still, there is a lot left in you. The Grand Bazaar roof top chase and the London tube is a typical of you. We die for that, we come to theatres to see that. We love the ruthless destruction of baddies. Our eyes are thirsty of blood succumbing to the gravitation pull of earth. Loved to see the destruction at the Scottish property, didn't feel too bad for the Aston Martin - just hope to see a new one next time. So, you got a hope to pull the crowds back from the Bourne storm.

Ah, one point about the capabilities of Q - he is so worldly whizkid! He has used the invented technology! Nothing against the laws of science - come on Q, you are so un-Qly. Tell me, how did you entered National Portrait Gallery with your toys? I was shouted at when I tried speaking on my phone. The author has anyway allowed me to ask such a silly question because of new avatar of you all.

Time to move on....you got a lot to catch up with the young Q and the new M. Not to forget Miss Money Penny. And we got a lot to catch up with you. We love the original of you, welcome the new faces and in masses feel connected because of Bollywood-ness. 

Friday, 21 September 2012

.....And Trivandrum Biryani Was Born

A complete evening menu for "forced bachelors"...

Like millions of youngsters do globally, I also quite frequently stayed away from my family.  While being away at various places within India and the UK, the stay at Kerala was a special phase of my life. While working on a project with people of four different nationalities - British, German, Japanese and Indian - and various regional colours of India, the project work and the outside world taught me many great lessons.  I have vivid memories of many things - especially the Onam celebration when all the global cultures melted into one pot, in the local traditional dress of mundu (Dhoti, sarong, lungi) and Kerala sari.  I liked the beautiful surroundings of Trivandrum, the rich cultural programmes at the place and the local friends and people around me. 


The travellers around me enriched my life in the evenings and on holidays. 

You can be hopeful that you will get the recipe for this exotic dish!!! We don't have the patent of the dish, but I claim that my wife has the one for the name. 

Friendly one upmanship is the foundation of this dish. When away from home, passion of 'want of home-made food' pushes you to achieve such excellence. You need like minded people at the time of invention and the small discoveries are needed to be rewarded with self-boasting remarks of how own knowledge helped others achieve the great pinnacles. Any ordinary cook will observe the actual 'lack of knowledge' against the claims. To gain the knowledge, you need to fry turmeric in oil and attribute the bitter taste to great Indian history of spices. You need to learn how to 'short marinate' onions and thakkali (tomato in Malayalam) and pumpkins and what nots. Let me enjoy this high, don't rush to correct me that that was actually not marinating, it was soaking or something like that. Being in high under NO influence of alcohol is a non-negotiable for success. 
A vegitable shop at Palayam Market in Thiruvananthapuram on Sunday. Photo:S. Mahinsha

Vegetable market research, a little friendship with Malayali words, courage to try out new experiments and being there for the first time added a plenty of spices. Trivandrum Biriyani is free of hot-spices (garam masala)...sorry to disappoint the fans of garam masala, however, our rice dish is full of taste of the original ingredients.  Forced bachelors do not like garam masala.  Normal spice powder is perfect and your 100% involvement makes it more tasty.  

It is like those all-inclusive Murphy's Laws...you can't challenge them, you can't publish your own law unless you name it after "Mr Murphy"...you can't call anything else Trivandrum Biriyani unless you follow NO rules.  The taste MUST be same whichever rule you follow or don't follow. 


I had never imagined that my wife would demand any dish from me. Although the intensity of the demand is on decline, still it is sufficient to pamper a cook's ego. 
This dish was born in God's Own Country...Kerala... which looked after us bachelors very nicely with different kind of food. We loved all snacks, especially savouries like chakka-chips (jack-fruit chips) and "side dishes" in restaurants which were prepared in coconut oil. The tastes of dosa, idiyappam, sambar and chamba-rice (brown rice) with rasam still liger. 

But shortly our "north Indian" (that was what we used to be called) taste buds were longing for something home-style. Although never had much opportunity to extend helping hands in kitchen, we told each other how cooking was a child's play for us all.  ...And yes, that was the victory. Full confidence in own ability and unlimited patience in tolerating others' mistakes. This itself was a perfect recipe. 

You need a few little ingredients like rice, split pigeon pea (toor dal) and the shallow fried, or sautéed to be precise, mixed vegetables.  The mixed vegetable at this time should taste good with salt, chilly powder and a little bit of spice powder. United they work together amazingly well. Sauté it more, add water and apply pressure for a few minutes.  Play cricket, listen to a song and fly back to kitchen following the path of waft after a few minutes. 

Go on improvising every time you prepare it. Add seasoning to your liking.  While eating, enjoy the aroma of cooked vegetables and also their sweetness.  I love raw onions broken by hand and a few drops of any edible oil directly along with this biriyani. 

I have impressed a few friends in the UK during my another stint of forced bachelor life for 6 months with Trivandrum Biriyani.  

This dish pays you great benefits in the long run like believing in yourself, the quality of improvising, overcoming home-sickness, providing nourishment, and if you are in a group of good company it provides a great opportunity to bind the group together on all evenings. 

All are welcome to comment on this blog and fix an appointment to know nitty-gritties. Any kitchen is Ok - yours or mine. 

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Hari Hareshwar...food and nothingness

On the way to Hari Hareshwar

You set off your journey from Thane or Mumbai on the Goa Highway, and after a hard work for about a couple of hours, you deserve a lunch break at Kamat Govinda. Arghh, that Goa Highway!!! 

I was amazed by the range of Maharashtrian dishes on the menu at KG (that is what I like to call it). And they were not just on the menu, they were available on platter.  Still the tastes of bhajani-thalipeeth (need your help in translating in any other language), rice bhakari and dalimbi usal are lingering. A couple of glasses of buttermilk is highly recommended. 

And just because that is not enough, you encounter with a stall of snacks with yummy Konkani products like papad, Amrut kokum, Aawala candy and many other things. The Maharashtrian dishes and snacks are not marketed well and hence rare to find them commercially available. The food might need others to acquire the taste because of simplicity and lack of "glamour" (read un-necessary spices). I will write separately about the Maharashtrian food. 





After continuing our journey up to a Goregaon (not the one in western Mumbai.. don't know how many Goregaons we have in Maharashtra!) market, we took a right turn off-the Goa Highway. What a relief! You will hear such an expression only in India regarding a national highway. The journey further was not necessarily comfortable, but atleast road was empty. Narrow, hilly, under repair road sections greeted us taking their turns. Anyway the surrounding was beautiful and within our world-class Wagon R we were enjoying various word games and songs. Needless to say that these were baby-games for our 5-year old baby. The second one was enjoying her ride inside her mother. 

It took a few ages for us to reach from Thane to the superb MTDC guest house spot atHari Hareshwar. Wow, what a view of the sea! I was sure that the next morning we were going to enjoy, doing nothing. 


Brunch at Hari Hareshwar MTDC

"Can't be better", was my expression when asked by the restaurant manager about food on the next afternoon. The friendship with food started at early morning with tea and light breakfast with Pohe (a preparation of rice flakes), and it continued until late afternoon. All of us pampered ourselves with excellent dishes, golden sun shower and amazing view of the Arabian Sea. "Lazy!!!", my wife would have shouted at me if she wasn't the one on that particular day. 

 Not much has been written in this world about the veg food, neither am I strictly veggie, however, I love veg food that is served in this part of the world. Have you heard your friend recounting anecdotes about veg food? I haven't. Here is my resolution that I will touch upon the dishes made from "herbs and grass"...that is what others call it. 
After spending the morning through late afternoon in 'nothingness', our calmly soaked souls turned us into very enthusiastic tourists :-). So we set out to see the surroundings along the road leading towards east of the MTDC resort. And it will need a separate blog and lots of words to narrate the experience. It was not less exciting than a trek... just that, this was in a car with family members. 
Back to our food suppliers and this time for a change we voted for north Indian style...











A must-have on the way to Dive Agar

At Peshwe Smarak, we were greeted (or 'un-greeted and un-welcomed) by a local cricket team members shadow-practising...as usual. I bet, my team with me on that day would have beaten them. 

Anyway, there is a strange calmness in the air at this place, and despite of apathy in maintaining this place to attract tourists, we loved to spend a few minutes. 
In the sultry morning, we found solace in some 'kokum' drink in a shop opposite the smarak. The shop-keeper Kaka (uncle) mentioned about a good place for lunch - Paladhe (apologies if the name or spelling is wrong) on the way to Dive Agar. This turned out to be a place serving great Marathi food. 
My feeling were similar Anton Ego's at Gusteau's (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ratatouille_(film)) - remembering simple taste of dishes prepared especially by my grandmother. Only the difference was this had Konkani touch...obviously.  The race-flakes popudum (tandalache papad), some pickle, steamed rice with dahl and at the end the very best original Shrikhand!!! Can't write much dispassionately...these are mouth watering names for any person like me who has been brought-up in a Maharashtrian household. 

Another feast for my daughter was the look of banana tree with fruits and inflorescence (kel-ful). 

We had our day out at Dive Agar and on our journey back, had a stop at the Paladhes for our evening meal. 

Next morning this foodie outing was ended after our lunch break at KG. 

Since then I am looking forward to opportunity to visit this part of the Raigad district.  In case you have any plans of travel to this part, feel free to invite me by posting a comment on this blog. 

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Bhandardara Dam


Reaching Bhandardara 


It was in the month of Oct 2011, we thought of taking a little adventure tour to Bhandardara Dam..adventurous purely because our younger was just 7 months that time. For the older one, it was still Diwali vacation and we, the elders were looking for an opportunity for a short break from the daily routine. 

This place is not far from our current hometown Thane. Although the dam site is in the district of Ahmednagar which is my native place, I could never travel to see this place. 





From Thane it is now about 2.5 hrs away if you travel by your own car. You need to take Bhiwandi Bypass and then at Ghoti (1km after a toll plaza), take a right turn and then follow the signboards...sometimes they work in India. If they don't work for you, its your luck :-(. Anyway ask for direction if you don't believe in signboards. 


Stay and Food



MTDC resort at Bhandardara Dam - actually Village Shendi - provides you the best view even from your rooms. Lying on bed you can enjoy the view of the backwater. We had booked 2 bungalows, however, after reaching there we felt only one would have been sufficient since each bungalow has 2 rooms, large beds and additional mattresses. 



MTDC resort has a canteen which satisfies all your food needs from breakfast to dinner. 


Attractions


The main attraction is of course the backwater and boating in the backwater. You have a choice of various types of boats - motorboats and manual boats. 




Go away towards the downstream side of the dam wall, and there are a number of beautiful spots as you travel from Shendi towards the other side of the earthen wall. In between, at the spillway of the dam, if you are lucky, you will see some waterfalls on the rocky terrain composed of compact basalt. 




Randha Falls is about a couple of kilometers downstream of dam on River Pravara. 














And the most important attraction is family outing for a couple of days...away from the city life.