Category Archives: Wanderings, Outer

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!

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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.

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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!

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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’ 🙂

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  • 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.

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  • 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)

What do i.e., e.g., viz and other Latin terms mean?

There are all these terms and abbreviations we see everyday in various texts. As we see them, we often have just a vague understanding of what they mean, and make a mental note to one day find out what, but then we never do. So, today, I decided to educate myself better, and help you all too 😉

i.e. id est. “That is more precisely.” Literally, “it is.” Commonly used to refine a general statement or provide additional information. Usage: “Jerry’s girlfriend always managed to turn the conversation toward children, i.e., the possibility of having children together.”

e.g. exempli gratia. “For example.” Literally, “free as an example.” Usage: “We have numerous problems to deal with before reforming welfare policies, e.g., the trade deficit, Medicare, and social security.”

viz. videlicit. “More appropriately or accurately; namely.” The abbreviation is often used interchangeably with i.e. Literally, “As it befits or is pleasing to him.” Usage: “He was a minor Duke in the House of Lords, viz. the Duke of Rochester.”

sic. Literally, “yes” or “even thus” in Latin. It indicates a misspelling or error in a quoted source, in order to verify to the reader that the researcher did not create a typographical error, but instead exactly reproduces the way the word or statement appeared in the original material. Usage: There are, according to the writings of seven-year old Andrew, “Manee wayes of riting words” [sic].

cf. confere. A Latin imperative suggesting the reader should compare and contrast one statement or idea with another one. Literally, “compare.” Researchers often follow the abbreviation with a reference to an author or page number, suggesting the reader look for similarities and differences between what a previous citation has said with the subsequent source listed.

t.i.d. ter in die. “Three times a day.” Used by older pharmacies and doctors to indicate that a medication should be taken three times a day. Usage: “Aspirin, t.i.d.; call if headaches continue.”

s.p.s.sine prole supersite. “Without surviving issue.” The phrase is used in inheritance laws to indicate that an individual has no children or legal inheritors. Usage: “Since Mrs. Clayton died s.p.s., her six million dollar estate will revert to the City of Portland.”

P.S. post scriptum. The abbreviation indicates a last-minute addition to a letter or document. Literally, “After what has been written.” Usage: “That’s all for now. Take care. Love, John. P.S. Don’t forget to write me back!”

N.B.: Nota Bene. The Latin imperative means “Take notice of this very carefully,” that is, pay special attention to this part because it is unusually important, tricky, or confusing. Usage: All assignments are due at the beginning of class. N. B.: I lock the door to the classroom once lecture begins.

R.S.V.P. Repondez S’il Vous-Plait. “Please send a response confirming whether or not you will accept the invitation.” The abbreviation is French rather than Latin. Literally, “Respond please.” (S’il vous-plait are four French words that mean ‘please’). Note that it is redundant to write, “Please RSVP,” since the phrase itself implies “please.” Usage: “You are cordially invited to a wine-and-cheese reception at the Bradson’s House. RSVP by Thursday afternoon.”

Vos crostino :)! (See you tomorrow – in Latin, of course)

 

WABI-SABI — What the heck is that ?

Some readers may have seen this term before and others may be quite perplexed, wondering just what is this wabi-sabi?

2014-05-02 16_58_33Wabi-sabi is a Japanese expression, that represents a world view centered on our true everyday reality, which is closer to the real life form of objects and life in general, than the artificially perfected shape and form, which is far removed from its natural state.

Wabi-sabi thus acknowledges and accepts beauty that is imperfect, impermanent and incomplete. Characteristics of the wabi-sabi aesthetic include asymmetry, asperity (roughness or irregularity), simplicity, economy, austerity, modesty, intimacy and appreciation of the ingenuous (naïve, simple) integrity of natural objects and processes. Wabi-sabi is the most conspicuous and characteristic feature of traditional Japanese beauty and it occupies roughly the same position in the Japanese aesthetic values as do the Greek ideals of beauty and perfection in the West.

2014-05-02 16_59_21If an object or expression can bring about, within us, a sense of serene melancholy and a spiritual longing, then that object could be said to be wabi-sabi, nurturing all that is authentic by acknowledging three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect.

It is said a picture is worth a thousand words, and so now I’m going to illustrate the wabi-sabi philosophy more concretely. What you see in the first image is a sculpture of the Indian goddess Saraswati, who represents knowledge, music, arts, wisdom, nature (the same as the Greek goddess Athena, and the Roman goddess Minerva). This statue has the pride of place in my home.

2014-05-02 16_59_38The second image is a close up of an imperfection in the wood the statue is carved out of, which subsequently cracked. The third image is a still closer look at the crack. So, is my statue defective? I vehemently have to say NO; it isn’t defective, it is in fact a perfect example of wabi-sabi art!

Look around you, in your home or office — can you spot any wabi-sabi objects? Next time you go out in nature, look around you — can you try and identify pleasing objects and parts of nature that could qualify as representations of the wabi-sabi philosophy? I’ll bet you’ll have a lot of fun :)!

Have a nice weekend everyone! ‘See’ you all soon!

 

Technology wimp no more :)

My knowledge of technology is not very strong and so, it has taken me months and months to buy myself a tablet, so I could blog on the go! I finally bought myself one, and this is my first blog post, on the go. I am absolutely delighted to be sitting in this office building, with 2 hours to kill ( I don’t really like this expression, it sounds violent to me, but will leave it here  this time, because it does exist 🙂 )… between two ESL students. For long, I considered this sort of waiting a waste of time (waste is better than kill 🙂 ), an occupational hazard that I just had to learn to deal with. But it always bothered me that on some days my blog post didn’t get written at the end of the day, either because my days were too long, or I was too tired by the end of the day — and yet, I’d had time during the day but no access to a computer. Lugging my laptap around was not an option, as I didn’t like carrying the extra weight. And now, I’m going to be just fine :)))

Another thing II’m really thrilled about is that even though this building, where I am right now, doesn’t have an open wi-fi, I have learned to create a hotspot with my phone so that my tablet has a wi-fi connection :)! Yaaayyyy… from being a tech-zero, I’m feeling like a tech-hero!!! The next thing to accomplish is downloading pictures, and I’ll be all set :)!

Yippy dabadoo 🙂 🙂 🙂

 

Who likes movies?

This might be a very odd question for most people ;)… especially those who watch almost every movie that’s made, and I know several such people! I have never been an avid movie-goer, but there was a time I did watch all the very popular ones, or if a friend recommended one. However, being a writer, I’m a sucker for good lines, and know a lot of them, even if I didn’t watch a particular movie. Here are some of my favorite movie lines!

* “You complete me!” and “You had me at ‘hello’!” — The famous lines from the movie Jerry Maguire, that express love, and how long a person has had affection for somebody. Both lines are in a dialogue. At the end of the movie, when Jerry (Tom Cruise) expresses his love in a long speech to Dorothy (Renee Zelwegger), Dorothy’s reply was simply: “You had me at hello.”

Jerry Maguire: “I love you. You… complete me.”
Dorothy: “Shut up. Just shut up. You had me at ‘hello’.”

* “Here’s looking at you kid!” — The well known, but slightly confusing line from the movie Casablanca has been interpreted differently by different people, but the most common interpretation is that it was a one-time idiomatic phrase meaning simply, “Here’s to you”, or “Best of luck to you and your future endeavours.”

It’s a bit ambiguous and so you kind of have to conclude its meaning from the context, but as Rick, the character played by Humphrey Bogart, used it as his goodbye to Ilsa, played by Ingrid Bergman, believing he’ll never see her again, it can be assumed he was wishing her luck and a happy future!

* “Fear is the path to the dark side…fear leads to anger…anger leads to hate…hate leads to suffering!” — This is one of my favorite lines from Yoda, in the Star Wars movie, The Fantom Menace. The line is self-explanatory!

* “Do. Or do not. There is no try!” — another one of my favorite lines from Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back. This one is THE most popular of Yoda’s quotes!
* “Oh yes, the past can hurt. But you can either run from it, or learn from it!” — This line was spoken by Rafiki, in the movie Lion King.
* “There is a story in the Talmud about a king who had a son who went astray. The son was told, ‘Return to your father.’ The son replied that he could not. The king then sent a messenger to the son with the message…’Come back to me as far as you can, and I will meet you the rest of the way!’ ” Reuven, the character played by Barry Miller in the movie “The Chosen”
Enjoy :)… and you are most welcome to share your own favorite lines from the movies!

And some may prefer these hotels :)

1. Giraffe Manor, Kenya

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The Giraffe Manor was built by Sir David Duncan in 1932 as a private home surrounded by over 140 acres of its own park and forest. In 1974, Jock Leslie-Melville bought the manor and founded the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife. The Melvilles set about making the Manor a refuge for a number of endangered species like the Rothschild giraffe.

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Now travelers from all over the world visitthe Manor to dine with the giraffes and enjoy the Manor’s welcoming and warm accommodations. If I ever traveled to Africa, this would definitely figure on my sightseeing and staying at list!

2. Sarova Salt Lick Game Lodge, Kenya

sarova-salt-lick-exteriorYet another of Kenya’s beautiful and exciting hotels, the Sarova Saltlick Game Lodge is any wildlife enthusiast’s’ fantasy. The hotel was built ecologically, to fit into the habitat of the wild animals that roam through its premises.

It is located in the middle of the Taita Hills Sanctuary, a private wildlife conservatory located about a 6 hour drive away from the capital of Nairobi, and is made up of rooms on stilts located right above the animal watering holes. The rooms are connected by walkways that allow the guests to enjoy front row view of the wildlife below.

3.  King Pacific Lodge, Canada

photoNow for a hotel that is actually in the water. The King Pacific Lodge is considered the only hotel in the world where guests float on the water as they rest. Unlike a cruise ship, the hotel is comfortable and feels much homier.

The hotel travels through one of the largest nature reserves in the world, Princess Royal Island, which is full of magnificent flora and fauna.

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It is the ultimate vacation for luxury adventure travelers as it is located at the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest on the western coast of British Columbia. However, the hotel is only open from May to October.

The resort is only accessible by float plane as the Great Bear Rainforest protects some of the world’s most endangered animals, like the Spirit Bear, Orca Whales, bald eagles and wolves.

Oh dear… decisions, decisions — go to Marques de Riscal, Spain, first, or to British Columbia?… hmmmmmm!!! Perhaps toss a coin 😉

 

3 extraordinary hotels

Searching the internet for something, I came upon these absolutely spectacular hotels. Making a mental note to put them on my bucket list, I decided to write about them here as well!

1. Marques de Riscal, Spain

lux1539ex_109637_xxLocated in the Vinos de los Herederos del Marques de Riscal vineyard near the medieval village of Elciego, this beautiful hotel is a wine connoisseur’s dream. The wine cellars at the bottom of the hotel were designed in 1858 by the architect Ricardo Bellsola.

The hotel has 43 luxury rooms, each unique and different in their shapes due to the outlandish structure of the building. Thus, each room offers a different view out into the spectacular vineyards.

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I am quite frankly, stunned by the architecture, which is at once absolutely gorgeous, and yet surreal! I thought I had already seen the best of Frank Gehry’s architectural feats but for me, this beats them all! I can not find enough adjectives to describe it!

2. Desert Lotus Hotel, Mongolia

untitledIn the isolated Xiangshawan Desert in Mongolia lies a magnificent hotel surrounded by a circle of white tents. The tents were rotated at 45 degrees and connected together to look like a lotus flower.

The resort was built without tiles and bricks due to the rugged climate, and instead with ‘greener’ materials that take advantage of the solar, water and wind energy in the desert. The tents were erected to protect the hotel against the elements.

Due to its difficult geographic condition, a new structural system was developed by the builders of the hotel to keep it in place. Instead of using concrete or water, the building is fixed with steel panels with sand at its base.

3.  Lake Palace, India

JamesBondLocations04_CNT_24Aug12_istock_b_646x430A hotel floating on water, the Lake Palace has 83 rooms and suites all decked with marble floors. The hotel is located on a large rock called Jag Niwas Island, in Lake Pichola.

The hotel has a speed boat that transports guests to and fro. It has many times been voted the most romantic hotel in India, and in the world, and the James Bond movie Octopussy, made it famous all over the world. It was built between 1743-1746 under the direction of Maharana Jagat Singh II, the 62nd successor to the royal dynasty of Mewar. It was meant to be a royal summer palace and was originally called Jag Niwas after its founder.

lw1891_28050970_720x450And lastly, never forget to keep dreaming of experiences you’d like to have… write them down on a piece of paper… allow yourself to feel the energy of what it would be like to have this dream come true, and then relax and allow it to manifest… It may take a while but it will show up… just believe and trust :)!

If any reader has been to an extraordinary place they would like me to write about, please let me know… thank you! 🙂