Memories from last summer — Seville, Spain

Even though I haven’t travelled to most countries in the world I do consider myself well-travelled. What happens to well-travelled people, I find, is that we get jaded and are not too easily impressed, because not every place meets our expectation and anticipation of matching the last peak experience. Sad, but true!

1_1338416903_flamenco-dancer

Last summer, in July 2014, I travelled to Seville, Spain, filled with eager anticipation for two reasons—taking flamenco classes in the heart of the region where this dance was born, and secondly, the reputation of Seville as an enchanting, magical city that steals your heart away!

I’m happy to report that I was not disappointed on either count; I’ve lost my heart to Seville! When I returned, it was with the intention of returning right back within two or three months. Unfortunately that hasn’t happened but I know I’ll be returning soon—never a day goes by that I’m not juggling my time around to go back for a week or so, to relive the exquisite memories :)!

Since returning from Seville, I have become pretty active on Tripadvisor and contributed several reviews of the sites there. Here’s one about the Seville Cathedral (Catedral de Sevilla):

10348550_10152481023176327_6211924330985850451_n  “Awe-inspiring”

Very beautiful, and replete with history! Christopher Columbus’ tomb is inside; must climb the Giralda Tower for sweeping views of the city and take pictures  — you can visit the cathedral and climb the tower at different times, or on different days, if you wish, but will then have to buy the entry ticket a second time. This is what I did, but no regrets as to fully enjoy the place needs time and energy, and legs that aren’t too tired! If you have the time, give yourself between 2-3 hours (I took almost three), to slowly read everything and take in the history, resting on the many benches and seating available. Also houses the second largest pearl in the world!”

If you go before I return, please give lots of my hugs and kisses to this magical city!

Man — the wildest of animals :( !

I was terribly saddened today :(…and there were only tears, after watching this video and reading the related reports — first, tears of sadness, then of joy ! Who’s the animal here — the elephant, or the one who shot the poisoned arrow into his leg? The punishment for such deeds must be a lifetime behind bars, with no parole, no bail, no reduction of sentence for good behaviour — and for god sakes… governments must STOP this business of ivory trade within legal limits — this will not solve the problem of poaching at all…elephants aren’t trees that may be cut down — NO ivory must be allowed ANYWHERE… and ANY ivory found must be destroyed! Suck it up Hong Kong!!!

Please do check out this link, and post your views in comments. If the link doesn’t open, please copy and paste in your browser. Or you may google the relevant words. Thank you!

http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2014/09/26/poisoned-tusker-treated-in-daring-field-operation-the-eleventh-in-two-weeks/

 

Eating Indian food, fearlessly

Being of Indian origin, I’m very often questioned about Indian food and the restaurants  that serve it. While it is very interesting to note its popularity all over the world, there are also people who are almost afraid to eat it, as they find it too hot and spicy. As a gastronome, a lover of fine foods, before trying new dishes, I find out as much as I can about them, and also the eating practices related to them. I have found, however, most people don’t do this and end up having less than satisfactory experiences. This is true of Indian food. Many people find it too hot, chilly-wise, when in fact they don’t eat it the right way.

untitled

For geographical and historical reasons, Indians use a huge range of spices in their food. It’s important to note that spices are not the same as chilies , which add heat to the food. Spices, on the other hand, lend it perfume. With this clarification, the next time you visit an Indian resto, do ask your waiter to tell the cook to modify the ‘heat ‘ by adjusting the chillies. I always do this, in Indian and Schezwanese restos, as I don’t have a high tolerance for hot food, even though I spent most of my life in India. The spice box on the left is a part of EVERY Indian kitchen!

imagesCABMHISS

Back to the original reason for the post, which is to share some tips to help you enjoy your meal at an Indian resto:

  • Unlike most other cuisines, Indian dishes are not eaten one dish at a time, separately. spooned into the mouth. Instead, the sauce-based dishes, and the vegetables are added to the rice by spoonfuls, and eaten thus mixed together. This also cuts the ‘heat’ and it is thus easy to control the amount of the ‘hotness’ 🙂

imagesCAYBG3BI

  • Always order a side dish of yogurt. Add to the rice separately or to the above mixture, to tone down the ‘heat’. Or simply eat some alone if the mouth feels on fire ;)! This is better than drinking gallons of water and filling your stomach up with it.
  • The Indian bread is broken into pieces, and these are wrapped around the vegetables or dipped in sauce and then eaten. Again, this too tones the ‘heat’ down.

imagesCA4USKO8

  • Feel free to eat the starters of ‘samosas’ and the pakoras/onion bhaji’ as served in most restos, but please do know that an authentic Indian meal doesn’t begin with starters or aperitifs. Samosas and pakoras are teatime snacks. The trangular pieces in the picture on the right are ‘samosas’ and the others are ‘pakoras’. also called ‘bhajis’.
  • Traditionally no alcoholic drinks are served with Indian food, but this custom has slowly changed. Beer is a popular drink in India, and many people drink it with Indian food, but through my experience as a wine-lover, I have discovered that light to medium-bodied wines pair well with Indian food. Therefore, I would recommend merlots and pinot noirs for perfect pairings!

Before an Indian meal, there’s no tradition of saying ‘ Bon appetit’ or raising a glass and saying ‘santé’ or ‘cheers’, but it is completely appropriate to say ‘Dhanyavad’* (Hindi), and/or ‘Shukriya’ (Urdu, Arabic) to your host/hostess after the meal to thank them for their hospitality!

Dhanyavad, for reading my post! 🙂

*Dhanyavad is pronounced dan-ya-vaad, and is the closest I can get to the correct pronunciation of the word since some sounds from Indian languages don’t exist in English!

Yes, it’s been a w-h-i-l-e :)

…and I’m not sure if I remember how to write and complete my posts here ;), but we’ll soon find out!

A few months ago, I wrote that I was taking a break from writing this blog as I needed time to work on my book. Well, the break helped and I’ve made a lot of progress with my writing…and while I don’t have a deadline, I hope the book will be out soon :)!

The past few months have been very productive in other ways too! I took a 2-week vacation, and went to Seville, Spain, to take flamenco courses there as well as to visit this fully-alive, one of the most vibrant cities in south-western Europe! I left my heart behind, needless to say :)! I have so many stories to tell you all from there.

And what about you all? Was summer fun? Did you get to do what you wanted to? Yaayyy, if you did… and if not, don’t forget there’s always the next time!

Bye for now, and I’ll be back with the first of my holiday stories in a day or two! Chao chao! (This is how the Spanish write it—as opposed to the Italian Ciao)

I seriously need your input :)

Hi folks,

As you’ve probably noticed, my posts have recently been erratic and not half as regular as they used to be. The reason is that I’m working with a writing coach and striving hard to produce a book in the near future. The book is going to deal with the spiritual, deeper issues providing answers to life’s perplexing problems.

So, here’s what I need your help with :)! Could you please write and let me know what is the most perplexing spiritual problem you are facing, or have faced, and are looking for answers for! I promise your comments will be confidential and not mentioned anywhere — neither here, nor in the book, unless you expressly give me permission and want me to quote you. Thank you!

Looking forward to hearing from you, and thanks in advance for this help.

Wishing you peace in your journey 🙂

Some fun wine quotes :)

Wine lovers, and all others who like a good quote will get a kick out of these :)!

*  “The discovery of a good wine is increasingly better for mankind than the discovery of a new star.” ~Leonardo da Vinci, Italian Renaissance polymath*, 1452-1519 — Would you believe he said this ;)? I admire the man still more now!
*  “Give me books, fruit, French wine, fine weather, and a little music out of door, played by somebody I do not know.” ~John Keats, famous English poet, in a letter to his sister Fanny, c.1819
*  “A bottle of wine contains more philosophy than all the books.” ~Louis Pasteur, French chemist and microbiologist, 1822-1895
*  “Port is not for the very young, the vain, and the active. It is the comfort of age and the companion of the scholar and the philosopher.” ~Evelyn Waugh, English writer, journalist, reviewer, 1903-1966
*  “Boys should abstain from all use of wine until after their eighteenth year, for it is wrong to add fire to fire.” ~Plato, Greek philosopher and mathematician, 428/427 or 424/423 BC – 348/347 BC) — Hmmm… did he mean it was alright for girls to start before 18 ;)?
Make it a great day! 🙂
*A Polymath is someone who knows a lot about many different things

What’s so special about Champagne?

2013-10-22 14_40_54As I started to gather information about champagne for this blog, I started getting pretty confused. Wikipedia and some other sources almost categorically suggested that champagne has been made special only because of media hype and publicity by vested interests for profit, and that its prices are overblown. Loving champagne as I do, I was disappointed to read all this ;)!

As I kept looking I found this wonderful website whose author has described the whole process of how other sparkling wines are different from champagne. Instead of re-quoting from there I’m sharing the link here so not only can you read all the details but also discover a very interesting wine related website:

http://winevibe.com/tips-faqs/how-does-champagne-differ-from-sparkling-wines/

thCAWUDVOWFor my part, I’m going to post some of my favorite ‘Champagne Quotes’ for your entertainment :)!

*  “Come quickly, I am tasting the stars!” ~Dom Perignon

*  “Remember gentlemen, it’s not just France we are fighting for, it’s Champagne!” ~Winston Churchill

*  “In victory, you deserve Champagne, in defeat, you need it.” ~Napoleon Bonaparte

*  “I only drink Champagne when I’m happy, and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company, I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I am not hungry, and drink it when I am. Otherwise I never touch it – unless I’m thirsty.” ~Lily Bollinger

*  “Three be the things I shall never attain: envy, content, and sufficient Champagne.” ~Dorothy Parker

*  My only regret in life is that I didn’t drink enough Champagne.” ~John Maynard Keynes

*  “Why do I drink Champagne for breakfast? Doesn’t everyone?” ~Noel Coward

*  “There comes a time in every woman’s life when the only thing that helps is a glass of Champagne.” ~Bette Davis

*  “Gentlemen, in the little moment that remains to us between the crisis and the catastrophe, we may as well drink a glass of Champagne.” ~Paul Claudel

*  “In a perfect world, everyone would have a glass of Champagne every evening.” ~Willie Gluckstern

*  “Champagne is the one thing that gives me zest when I feel tired.” ~Brigitte Bardot

*  “Too much of anything is bad, but too much Champagne is just right.” ~Mark Twain

So, which quote did you like the best? Which one describes how YOU feel about Champagne? 🙂

 

The practice of Gratitude <3

As the readers may have noticed, I’m a big proponent of the practice of gratitude! Here are three versions of the same sentiment…

images

And, here are lines from the author Melodie Beattie that I love very much:

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” ~Melodie Beattie

untitled

Be grateful…be blessed! <3

Who are you, ‘really’?

I have found, that life is life! The best we can do with it is to live it. But better than best would be to make it count—not for anyone else, but to make it count for YOU! No matter where it takes you, don’t give up on it, because no matter where you may find yourself, unknown to you, just a few steps away, is a turn in the road that you can’t yet see, leading you to your best ever life!

Many people start withdrawing from life as sorrows hit them. These sorrows come from losses…the loss of a child, a loved one, someone close to us, or the loss of material stuff, an income or prestige of some sort. Many people’s only identity is these external fixtures, that a quirk of fate can take away from us. How strange then, to be so disconnected with yourself, that  according to you, you’re only a ‘title’ — a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher etc… or a ‘proprietor’, an ‘owner’, of a business or property, or material wealth etc. What if this title, or what you own, gets taken away? Who would you be then? What would be your identity?

This piece is not a lecture about materialism—it is about the REAL person who lives inside you. Most of us are not even aware of this ‘person’ that lives inside us, waiting for its day in the sun?

A very useful and powerful exercise in therapy circles is to make a list of all the ways you and your acquaintances describe and see you (an impression you’ve taken a lot of trouble to create) and then one by one, remove these descriptions till you are just YOU, without a name, title, wealth, material possessions.

Who would you be then? Would you know this person that you truly are, inside? How closely do you recognize her/him? Do you like this person? Could you live with this person if the trappings were taken away? Yes? No?

Think deeply about it, then proceed to become the person you could love, respect, honor, trust, and feel safe with. If you’re not there yet, there’s work to be done!