A day here and there http://adayhereandthere.com spent capturing memories Tue, 04 Oct 2016 18:27:35 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.5.11 I scaled my mountain today! http://adayhereandthere.com/2015/06/20/i-scaled-my-mountain-today/ http://adayhereandthere.com/2015/06/20/i-scaled-my-mountain-today/#comments Sat, 20 Jun 2015 18:40:45 +0000 http://adayhereandthere.com/?p=908 summersolsticewwfm-09003

 

That little spec of black you see is my mountain!  That is not a mountain, it is a pebble silly, you say.  But for me it is a mountain.  Years of neglecting my body in my late twenties and early thirties has led to complete stiffness. Translating the story shared by my yoga teacher Lisa, if my cadaver is cut open, those hamstrings will not come apart even when lifted by a crane.

But just like anything else, getting back to health is a slow and arduous journey for me.  A decade or so ago I lost 40 lbs and began making exercise a routine part of my life.  Many adventures later, about two and half years ago, I decided that Yoga is the way to go for me.  I joined my local Yoga studio and through the guidance of the wonderful teachers at Yogasoul and my friend Elizabeth (my first yoga teacher), I slowly came around to loving my practice within my own boundaries.  Some days I can do a full half lift with spine so straight that you can balance a ball on my back and other days the back is rounder than a ball.  Some mornings, in the power class, I feel my fellow yogis in the surrounding mat move to the rhythm of their breath while I am struggling to keep my breath still in a childs pose.  Some days it is easy to do a double pigeon and other days both knees are a foot above the ground…..you get the drift…I will not even walk you through the challenges of the more advanced poses.  At first I used to make myself go to the practice as a forceful “must do” but now the studio is my second home and I have my 7:30, 9:15, 10:45, evening and weekend friends and I look forward to seeing each and everyone of them.  Their positive energy feeds me every single day and whether I can touch my toes or balance a crow is but a secondary benefit.

So…when the studio decided to host a 108 sun salutation practice for summer solstice, I was thrilled.  I love any community project and  think of it as a party and was game for it.  But as the day neared, I started bringing my mountain in…practicing on the blacktop means those pesky pebbles..I don’t think I can do it.  Maybe I will do 10 and rest.  Maybe I will break after every 10 and take some photos (that is not an excuse in my book…seriously…all photography but in particular Yoga photography trumps everything including eating and sleeping). But show up I did.  Within the first two sun salutations, those pesky pebbles started hitting the mat.  They are my mountains…..I was tempted to stop.  I got up, took a photo, missed one sun salutation and got back on my mat…I did this a few times (the type A, overachiever in me had to keep track of the number of sun salutations I was missing…eight in total).  Somewhere in the middle, a few raindrops fell and again half of me was wanting to roll up the mat and the camera and hit the car and the other half wanted to keep climbing.  In my rise, I looked up to the sky wanting to be guided by the gods of rain.  By the time 84 were done, I was on a roll and much to the surprise of my fellow practitioners, starting counting out loud.  I was nearing the peak of that mountain and was so elated that nothing could stop me….I embraced my type A personality and finished the last eight while the rest of the group were stretching ( I know I will have to deal with implications tomorrow…but that is another day…an international Yoga day, may be Patanjali will bless me and keep my hamstrings loose).

I was on cloud nine but the best was yet to come….we were led through a guided mediation of May I be happy. May I be well. May I be safe. May I be at peace…May my loved ones be happy, well, safe and at peace.  I felt the breath slowing and cooling down and a calm cool wind blew over us.  But then, Linda asked us to think of someone who is putting a negative energy in us and meditate… May they be happy …..I felt a deeper inhale here and my exhale was a lot of hot air, May they be well….a slightly less struggled inhale and a slightly cooler exhale… May they be safe…even cooler exhale, May they be at peace….a calm inhale and a cool exhale.  A cool breeze blew over us as we wished love and kindness to all souls on this earth.

I thought I was climbing my mountain of the physical challenge of 108 sun salutations but instead I was going over the hump of the physical practice to slide down the calmness of meditation.  Here are some images of the practice.

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This is my spot as i use my photo excuse

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Beauty in the backyard! http://adayhereandthere.com/2015/05/11/beauty-in-the-backyard/ Mon, 11 May 2015 22:17:30 +0000 http://adayhereandthere.com/?p=887 Todays blog is all about those promises we make ourselves; lets meet soon, we must go there one day, maybe next year I will go there and so on and on and on……

About six years back, my Papa and I embarked on a journey brought on by his health complications.  It was a ritual the two of us would have: he would be dropped of at my house in the morning, we would do our rounds of doctors and then head home….there, on the way home was this park…a park we drove by countless times each season.  In winter we would say, we should stop here in spring and then spring would turn to summer, fall and then winter again.  The park was never visited and then Papa decided he needed to move to a place where there is beauty, warmth and peace all year round.  After his passing, I drove past the park maybe once or twice.  And then last week I drove my Mom saw it and remarked that there was to be an Azalea festival there….and the words came right back..we must stop by here on our next visit.

A couple days later, our plans to be someplace else never materialized and we ended up at the  park.  If you have not yet explored this wonderful park in Mercer County, it is worth a visit.  It is not huge but large enough to explore the beautiful landscape and find an oasis within the traffic infected route 1, route 130, route 33 triangle….Sayen Gardens in Hamilton, NJ

Visiting during Azalea bloom, I was amazed at the variety of Azalea colors…all in my backyard.

I left with a ton of images of beautiful Azaleas but more importantly I left with  resolve to keep my “some days” to “this week”!  Enjoy.

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Shedding Light on Thomas Edison http://adayhereandthere.com/2015/04/07/shedding-light-on-thomas-edison/ http://adayhereandthere.com/2015/04/07/shedding-light-on-thomas-edison/#comments Tue, 07 Apr 2015 13:46:36 +0000 http://adayhereandthere.com/?p=819 Dear readers, this particular blog entry is the most precious  for me.  It is  cowritten by my 13 year old.  I am signing off now and handing it over to my son…Lakshay…

 

After 13 years of living only an hour away from a laboratory of inventions, a library of new ideas, and the home of the most influential family in the 20th century, my parents decided to take me to the Thomas Edison National Park.

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The grand entrance to the laboratory complex

As you can see, the gateway to the workplace of Thomas Edison is not exactly the most architectually stunning entrance. Although if you were living in 2000 B.C, the arch would definitely be something out of this world.  This building won’t catch the eye of every pedestrian walking by in West Orange, but if one looks closely enough, they can see the sign labeled “Thomas Edison National Historical Park.”

The first thing we visited was the chemistry lab. We stood squished In the corner of the lab, listening as the guide told us about Edison’s plan of extracting rubber from what most would consider a useless weed.

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Edison’s favorite workplace, the chemistry lab

 

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Dangerous machinery

Throughout the heavy machine shop, these big metal stations were placed without any safety contraptions at all. 100 years back, this placed would have smelled like a sea of oil, and would have sounded like a thousand people stamping on the ground with metallic shoes.

You can see the measures of safety in this next picture.

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Shocking

Just  like the multiplication tables and perfect square charts kids use in school, Edison has his own “cheat sheet”

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Music Room

The first thing I asked myself when I walked into this room was “why did Edison have such a big portion of his laboratory building as a music room?” One of Edison’s many inventions was the sound recorder. I would imagine that the instruments were used to experiment with the sound recordings and their quality. In fact, the  phonograph room was right next to this music room.

The phonograph horns.
The phonograph horns.

 

Spiral Staircase
Spiral Staircase

Even the staircase demanded the same level of attention and complexity as Edison’s inventions.

Camera
Camera

After exploring the laboratory complex, I realized that without Edison, our lives today would be very different. He made all things from sound recordings to toasters possible. He made one of the first black and white film studios (light bulbs, camera, action). The most important thing I learned was to appreciate the thinkers and inventors that lived before the 21st century.

Now the mom is taking over…..

I hope you enjoyed musings of our guest writer.  The laboratory was absolutely fabulous and  I highly encourage those who have an extra 45 minutes to spare to visit Glenmont house.  There are no walk ins allowed so you must sign up for a preassigned tour time at the visitor center in the laboratory.  The stunning victorian mansion bought by Thomas Alva Edison for his young bride to be: his companion, his muse, his PR person, the mother of his children from his first wife, the influencer of times; Mina Millette.  The house designed by Holly (who also was commissioned by Edison to design the library at the laboratory) was built for $300000 for Henry Pedder, an invoice clerk for Arnold Constable Company.  I needn’t say anymore except when Uncle Sam caught up with Pedder, Edison found a great deal for $125000.  The victorian was modernized by the Edisons and stands as it was from day one.  Photos are not allowed inside but here are the images of the outside.   The vast space  surrounding the house is an open lawn with some wrought iron furnishings that almost blend into the garden.  It is the most beautiful blood red building, impeccably maintained on the outside.  Although, there are many ceiling cracks on the inside, as with any other national park, the federal funding will affect the longevity of this one too.

There is a graveyard, a green house (that is still active and open for visitors) and the garage with a Model T.

The house sits on the first gated community of America and the surrounding homes in the community still speak of opulence, then and now.

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I am now signing off with a color image (it was my guest writers wish to have all the rest in B&W) of Glenmont with the two authors in the foreground….See you soon…hopefully in technicolor next time!

If you want to see more of the laboratory, click here!

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Seeking Light in Monotones! http://adayhereandthere.com/2015/03/09/seeking-light-in-monotones/ Mon, 09 Mar 2015 03:13:35 +0000 http://adayhereandthere.com/?p=778 The northeast winter this year has been brutal.  My friends and family are all tired of the snow, snow and more snow…but next week is forecasted to be in the mild 50s. The spring time blooms and new grass shoots will bring color all around.

In fact, the indian holiday of Holi was last week.  The play of  color was everywhere over social media.  For once people forgot the whiteness of winter.  Color is such a wonderful thing that we tend to take it for granted.  What if our world was indeed shades of grey?  Where would the excitement come from?  When viewed through the lens of a camera its the play of light that brings forth the excitement.  I took a detour from the color shots this week to bring forth mostly stark black and white images of the two people that bring color to my life.  Even in shades of black, white and grey…there are my everyday Holi!

Heres a glimpse of those images.

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For Every Elsa Needs a Knight with a Chariot http://adayhereandthere.com/2015/03/05/for-every-elsa-needs-a-knight-with-a-chariot/ Thu, 05 Mar 2015 22:00:34 +0000 http://adayhereandthere.com/?p=751 It was a beautiful morning, the red winged black bird was busy picking the berries of the pear tree and the last remnant of ice was falling in chunks making a tip tap tip tap tip tap sound as it melted the long winter away……spring, it seemed was around the corner.

And then we were all lulled to sleep only to be woken by a text message…Schools Closed..Snow Day. The governor declared a state of emergency and we were all home bound.

But not me.  I have a Knight who always whisks me away to the winter wonderland whenever Elsa puts her charm on.

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My Knight on his Horse

 

 

Despite Elsas’ frozen land, we managed to explore the beauty of our town in monotone.

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South Pole Road

 

And it seemed when we tried to stay behind the Laxman Rekha, there were those luring us to cross boundaries prohibited!

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The beautiful deer luring us closer

 

 

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Teachings of Ramayana to the rescue…even as they went into the woods, my Knight reminded me not to follow them

 

The winter wonderland was everywhere! (best viewed full screen and then forgotten )

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Hope….is a thing with wings …that flutters in the soul!

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –

And never stops – at all –

And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –

I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me. – Emily Dickinson (and my friend Shalini for revisiting this today!)

But so was the promise of summer and warmer days to come (best viewed  and remembered full screen :))

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Bye bye winter!

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Leaning out of the way in Tuscany http://adayhereandthere.com/2015/02/15/pisa-and-voltera/ Sun, 15 Feb 2015 20:04:48 +0000 http://adayhereandthere.com/?p=612 Is there a statutory limit on posting blog entries?  If so, this entry is well out of the limit.   A little nudge from a dear friend about arm chair traveling and I have arrived here again with full intentions of catching up during this winters hibernation.   There is nothing new I can add to the thousands, if not tens of thousands of pages devoted in the cyber world about my visit to this UNESCO site.  So here is a humble view through my cameras lens; as a slight detour from Firenze to San Gimignano.

The road from Florence to San Gimignano is short and straight forward but since none of us had been to Pisa before, how can we leave this beautiful land without being true tourists?  After checking out of our hotel in Florence, we took a taxi to the airport to rent our car and drive to Pisa.  An endless wait and not so great directions by Angela, our GPS guide, we still managed to make it to the highway.  Merrily driving along, I noticed a weird beep every so often on the GPS…it took me more than a few miles to realize that it was  warning me of an approaching speed camera.   I was now fully prepared to come back to America and find speeding tickets galore waiting for me.  But this was just the start of our vacation and we were not going to let those beeps get in the way.

Nothing, no amount of videos, photos, books..nothing… quite prepares you for the lean in the leaning tower of Pisa.  Every where we looked we saw people trying to straighten it back, old and young, tall and short, thin and not so thin.  I could have just watched the whole show for hours on end.  But we only had a few short hours  to catch the requisite sites before our allocated time slot to climb to the top.

Piazza
Piazza
The Leaning baptistry
The Leaning baptistry
Let straighten the leaning tower!!
Let’s straighten the leaning tower!!

The whole piazza is worth exploring in full detail.  Let me begin with the Baptistry.  When you first enter the Bapitstry you are struck by the sheer size of it.  Unlike other Baptistries in Tuscany this one is of rather grand proportion.  The inside is not as ornate as Florence’s but it offers something most others don’t,  a climb to the top.  As you circle up, stop by every window to see the 360 views.  My favorite was this view of the Duomo and the Tower from the Baptistry.

Doumo and Tower from the Bapistry

Heading out of the Baptistry, take a moment to stop (on the side off course otherwise you will be trampled over by the boatload of tourists coming through) and marvel at the four distinct balconies of this exquisite medieval church built in early 11th century.  What seemed like pure white marble from afar showed up to be every hue of gray and brown with wonderful details.  This is my favorite Duomo of all I have seen to date, from the coffered ceilings to the marble columns to the tiny 13th century Di Sotto Di Organi, Melanese’ Virgin with Child.

Shades of Pisa Duomo
Pisa Duomo

Di Sotto Di Organi, Melanese’ Virgin with Child

It was now time for us to head over to the little museum and pick up our tickets for the 20 minute allocated time slot to the top of the tower.  The three Indian gals (yes that includes me too!) were grouped with a coach bus full of Japanese tourists.  We queued up somewhere in the middle of the pack with the elderly behind us.  It made perfect sense since the rest of us would be climbing up quickly (at least that was the intention).  The climb is not for the faint of heart, the steps are worn by years of use and quite slippery (you can either save yourself or the expensive camera slinging on your neck if you fall).  I certainly felt the tilt of the tower as we climbed up.  You may not feel it so much, but the Carousel at our local Six Flags is out of my league, so you get the drift.  As we come out at the first landing, we had to circle around to the second entrance to get to the top.  A quarter of the way into it, we are now at the lower end of the tilt and the railing is just two steps away from the ledge where we walked.  Not only that, the railing is an open structure…..and this is where my story ends…I parked myself on the steps and let the Japanese seniors walk around me.  Once I calmed my anxiety, I opened my eyes long enough to capture the images below.

Level one of the Leaning Tower
The view of Pisa from the Tower

Coming down?  well that was easy enough as long as i kept the anxiety of walking on the platform at Bay.  Ms. Angela to was requested to guide us to our Hotel, a modern chain located at the outskirts.  Instead, she navigated us to a residential section prohibited to non residential drivers.  It took us 20 minutes to figure our way out of the town.  After checking into our hotel, we drove back to the town center and parked ourselves in plastic chairs in the Piazza and enjoyed Italy play in the World Cup..surrounded by the locals…what a treat.  We left Pisa with a lot of memories including a $400 traffic violation…not for speeding..but driving in (violation one) and out (violation two) out of that prohibited residential area.

The next morning began our adventure towards a weeklong stay at a farmhouse in San Gimignano.  We decided to detour via Voltera, the place where New Moon was filmed and are so glad to have done so.  Voltera is a beautiful walled city like many others in Tuscany with an added bonus of Roman theater ruins.  It is well known for its pottery, particularly Alabaster Pottery , but I personally loved the glass works too.  It was an afternoon well spent walking the alleyways and the Piazza dei Priori, going up to the fort and a leisurely lunch.

Home for afternoon Siesta, Voltera
Centuries of stories in the park at the bottom of the hill, Voltera
The countryside around Voltera
High noon light at the Baptistry, Voltera
Capturing the capturer, Duomo, Voltera
One of the many stunning alleyways
The old and new, the expected and unexpected, the fine and the grunge
Roman Theater
A wish to be seated at the table adorned with that tablecloth
Beckoning me!

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Slow Down

And we walked away with….rest a bit, explore the world with what is in the palm of your hand..slow down.

Duomo and Baptistry from the Tower, Pisa
Duomo and Baptistry from the Tower, Pisa
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Yes Kapu there is a Santa Claus http://adayhereandthere.com/2014/12/26/yes-kapu-there-is-a-santa-claus/ Fri, 26 Dec 2014 22:59:10 +0000 http://adayhereandthere.com/?p=572 I am back after such a long hiatus.  But it is the season and those who read my posts regularly know that I sure love this time of the year and all the little joys that surround it.  I often get asked if I celebrate christmas.  How do I answer that?  Or rather, where should I begin answering that?  Growing up in India, we celebrated all holidays of every religion, be it the gazillion hindu holidays of my ancestral religion or  Id and Muhharam or Christmas.  My mom told us many stories of “Father Christmas”.   After moving to America and the wonderful midwest, the holidays focussed around the judeo-christian prominence of this country.  When the university town of my alma mater emptied out of all the “american” students this time of the year, we often laughed that what/who stayed back were Indians, Chinese, Cats and Dogs.  We couldn’t afford to go home so we celebrated in what we we could.  We lit up our apartments, got fake christmas trees (the ones we could afford), put $ store tinsel on it and became merry.

Fast forward twentyfive years and I now reside in a town where there is no shortage of hindu holiday celebrations, and while I do celebrate them what still gets me excited is Christmas.  My celebratory roots in this country revolve around a tree, cookies and stories of friends getting together (mostly those who could not afford to go home).

Of the many traditions we follow in our family, a visit to NYC to catch the window displays and be jostled in the Rockefeller crowd completes our holiday.   This year we could not make it until Christmas day itself.  So instead of the Movie and Chinese food, we did Windows and Chinese Food.

This years theme at Macys was based on Intergalactic with a wonderful display of the planets, Lord and Taylor took you on a literary journey of the classics, Saks brought the magic of disney heroines and my favorite Barneys was a pure mesmeric display of Baz Lurhman.  Here are some images from Christmas 2014.  Have a Happy Holiday Season and a Wonderful New Year!

Yes Kapu There is a Santa Claus The now grown children forced to be merry! Mras at Macys Jupiter at Macys Amazing literary display at L&T blog-6 a book lovers dream blog-13 Books, books and more books blog-10 You are not in Iowa anymore. at L&T The fairy land at L&T blog-24 Cinderella at Saks Dyalns sugar rush tree Who is the fairest of them all Snow white Little red Woooolf Sony Plaza Snow Flake blog-17 blog-25 Sleeping Beauty Night Night The cooooold Planet At dusk waiting for the Empire to turn red and green Saks same nutcracker everyyear blog-31 Mesmerized at Barneys the Truth! blog-18 ]]>
Tuscan Food Fest! http://adayhereandthere.com/2014/07/07/tuscan-food-fest/ Mon, 07 Jul 2014 03:20:40 +0000 http://adayhereandthere.com/?p=549 I have been wanting to write this post for just shy of two years now.  Immediately after our visit to Tuscany in June 2012, amongst the thousands of pictures and day trips I wanted to capture, this was on the top of my list.    A friend recently asked me for some feedback on a trip she was planning to Italy and the memories came flooding back.  Quiet time as rare as it is, I just couldn’t help holding these off any longer. So here’s the Tuscan Food Fest.  How good was it?  Well heres the first food picture…you get it.  It was just too good.

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Mercato Centrale, thats where this inhaled plate was photographed.  It was a heaven for sights, smells and tastes.

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After such a wonderful start to a foodie vacation in Firenze, we continued our journey throughout central Tuscany focussing on these four rules.

1.  Take your time at every meal.  This is not your american fast food drive through zone.  Instead,  walk a few blocks away from the Piazza and the main tourist areas.

2.  Stop at the farmers market and pack a picnic, make a meal out of wine and cheese (and some meat if you are not vegetarian)

3.  Gelato and Vino any and multiple times a day are an absolute must.

4.  Take time to know the people who cook your food.

Over the next ten days these rules ruled every one of our meals.

Our home base for the next week was a beautiful farmhouse of Agritourismo Niccolai on the outskirts of SanGaminangno

And we wanted to bring this back with us for a lifetime of memories. What better way to do this than some cooking classes?

tuscan food fest-48First of this experience was a Pizza making class with Flavia and her husband Francesco at the Capella St. Andrea Winery.    Capella St. Andrea is situated just north of San Gimignano.  We got the tour of the winery, sampled some great Vernaccia and then got to work.  Spending the next couple of hours making pizza from scratch with freshest of fresh veggies from the garden.  They even offer meat but we just stuck to the good old vegetables.  Divino!

first things first, lighting the fire washing! nothing fancy...simple goodness tuscan food fest-41 check out the cool head gear tuscan food fest-26 checking the oven the proofed dough tuscan food fest-30 tossing the base tuscan food fest-39 how fresh is this and this and this creating the pizzas tuscan food fest-42 in the oven all done yum tuscan food fest-46 happy campers Flavia and Francessco Buon appetito!

With this new found appreciation of simple goodness, we sampled and savored every ingredient we could (provided it was vegetarian) and enjoyed the next week supplementing the food with Sangiovese, Vernaccia, Brunello, Chianti and so much more.

The very last day we had a completely different cooking experience.  As rustic and quiet as the pizza making class was, our dessert making class with Manuela at Organic Tuscany was a bustling family experience.  Manuela and Silvio had been exchanging emails with me for a few weeks now.  I wanted to go for a just desserts class but then Silvio reminded me that I would need to eat lunch before desserts (now how can i tell him that i have made dessert my lunch and dinner many times).  So we made a plan to make a simple lunch of salad, gnocchi and three desserts.  But once you enter the homey kitchen of Manuela they offerings are limitless.  It was like cooking with a family member.  Salads were supplemented with bruschetta, gnocchi became two types of gnocchi and the desserts were simply marvelous.  The table was beautifully set with hand crafted glasses made by Silvio.  After two plus years, I can still say that cooking with Manuela was the highlight of my trip.  Someday I hope to make it back there for a weeklong class.

 

my girls found a new pair of crazy glasses today spinach gnocchi potato gnocchi Manuela and Silvio yumminess over and over again and again. I have made this a dozen times and each time its a big hit tuscan food fest-81 tuscan food fest-82 tuscan food fest-74 tuscan food fest-73 finishing of with Vin Santo

And we all ate like one big happy family with Manuela, Silvio, their beautiful teenage daughters and their friends.

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]]> Hyderabad…a short visit http://adayhereandthere.com/2014/02/28/hyderabad-a-short-visit/ Fri, 28 Feb 2014 03:21:48 +0000 http://adayhereandthere.com/?p=415 Growing up in India, the long summer vacations were always broken up lazing around the neighborhood, playing hopscotch and marbles, eating snow cones and a week to ten day trip vacationing within India.  My Papa usually decided where the trip would be and now that I think back to it, it almost always headed north to Delhi via Shatabdi Express and then off to some hill station.  No wonder the south was never explored..who would want to escape the 100+ temperatures of Gujarat to yet another 100 degree city?

So in 2007 I was excited to make my first trip to Hyderabad.  It was an 8 hour stop in the city for a 1 hour meeting.  I had rented a taxi service from the airport to visit a potential supplier.  When I reached the site, I was informed in the typical non chalant Indian style “sahib nahi hai!”,  the business development guy had completely forgotten my visit and was out of town.  A short meeting was made even shorter and the taxi driver and I took a quick drive around Charminar.  He advised me against getting out of the taxi for the potential of being pick pocketed and dropped me at the Airport whereupon I find my ticket missing from my bag (which carried cash value in those days)…so much for pick pockets in Charminar!  This was the good old days of paper tickets and short of filing an FIR and no immediate resolution in sight I forked out $400 USD for last minute ticket to Mumbai….and HYD was chalked off my list…I thought forever….until recently…

You see our good friends have decided to call Hyderabad home. No trip to India would be complete without visiting them (or more importantly their little ones who were growing up too fast).  We had one full day in Hyderabad and this time too Charminar was removed from the Aagenda.  If you are frequent visitor here you will have noted how J is allergic to museums so Salarjang was off the list.   So what is left?  Ramoji Film City, Shopping for Silks or Golconda Fort off course!  


I was surprised at the sheer size of the fort when we got there.  After paying our foreigner entrance fee we  enrolled in the tourist trap complete with the orange haired guide.  This land of Kohinoor that was a mud fort is now an intricate and massive structure of granite.

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Oh how I could have spent exploring every nook and cranny.  But our Guidesahib was more interested in turning us over in the the requisite 2 hours so just kept walking ahead of us.  He did take a few extra minutes at the entrance…showing us the god knows how many lb weight that all soldiers needed to lift for the qualification round and demonstrating the fabulous acoustics of the fort.

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The massive stone corridors with their vantage windows to the gardens and the eunuch living quarters are a perfect hide and seek playground for young children.  A long climb up to the Bala Hasir Pavilion the highest point (at which point the guide will again demonstrate the acoustics …which i couldn’t discern btw…and I am chalking it to wax build up…gross i know but the alternative is age…and i am certainly not going there :)).

I did not know much about the fort except that it was from the Qutb era and reflected the affluence of the time.  So I was quite surprised to see each step lovingly revered with vermillion and turmeric.  As we turned around the corner I saw the symbolic flag of a hindu temple…there is a Ram and a Durga temple at the top.  What secular thinking… I paused to think …why do we forget such honorable history and carry forward the reprehensible divisions?  Todays Hyderabad is far from secular.

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   As much as the steps leading to the dieties are revered, there is complete disregard for the fort itself.  How difficult is it to carry an empty water bottle through to the next bin?  Instead the the massive funeral baths are now spiritually dead with all manner of rubbish.    As you climb to the top, stop to admire the stone nails, the superb engineering of the plumbing system and the ingenious use of in situ  boulders as part of the of the building itself.

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Much of the Palace is now in ruins but its glory days are evident in the design of the courts.

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A perfect blend of Hindu, Moghul and Persian architecture.  I believe this is on the UNESCO list.  I do hope it gets the funding and the TLC it deserves.

We wrapped a wonderful morning at Golconda and headed for silk shopping at Nallis.

 

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Don’t be afraid to show your feathers! http://adayhereandthere.com/2014/02/02/dont-be-afraid-to-show-your-feathers/ Sun, 02 Feb 2014 15:02:26 +0000 http://adayhereandthere.com/?p=394 This one is another deviant from my usual entry.  It is one more day where I captured a memory for a lifetime and wanted to share it with you.  You see, I had a milestone birthday recently.  The birthday came and went as quietly as ever but then a few weeks later, I was surprised with a fabulous party by my siblings, cousins and friends.  My Freimily made me a queen for the day complete with a Tiara,  royal decor by Dress Up Your Party and  chocolate decadence cake by TheSereneKitchen.

IMG_2539 IMG_2525 Whoa, I had no idea how to thank these beautiful  souls.  I wanted to do something they would never do on their own.  I am a Patel girl of that mid generation where we have seen our moms take care of three generations without ever giving some time for themselves.  In our free moments, if there are any, our families’ needs always trumps “me” time.  So it is with my siblings, cousins and my non Patel but still like minded friends.  

The first thought was to send them flowers, take them out to dinner…..the usual…..  So I sent an invite with just a note…Arrive at The Royal Court dressed in comfortable clothes.  Two days prior to the gratitude evening, I started getting calls…”what are we doing? ”  “you are not taking us walking in the cold are you?”  “Are you thanking us or torturing us? ” “No Yoga please, I cannot do yoga, I am not flexible.” (everyone knows I am a yoga enthusiast and preach its benefit to anyone who listens)…..and this one topped it all…can I please bring a dessert or can I come help you cook…No!

I had set up an evening with Pretty in Paint.  There are a lot of painting studios that cater to parties but I wanted someone to come to my place.  I wanted to keep the evening a surprise and the minute I would give out the venue address, my particularly youtube-internet savvy friends would have figured it out.

As soon as the canvasses were set in the dining room, the first reaction was, “We are doing what?”  “I have never painted”  “I cannot paint” and to take the cake “My shirt will be dirty!”  For a moment there I thought, maybe flowers would have been better.  

we are doing what?

But Ameilia and Danielle from Pretty in Paint had worked hard with me to give us some scheduling time at a short notice and I was determined that the “leaving our family to be here ladies” had to let loose.  Then Danielle, the sweet artist said the magic words “start with yellow paint for outlining as it is the most forgiving” and I immediately noticed everyone relax.  I had shot a beautiful peacock (in my camera) on my recent trip to Rajasthan and wanted that to be the painting.  Danielle had not only made an artist version of it but also recreated it along with us.  Following her recreation we went to town.

Inspiration

 

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As the level of wine started lowering in the glasses, the paint started getting thicker on the canvas.  Every one let loose and critiques such as “my peacock is on a diet”, “your peacock is too fat” , “my right brain is better than left since my peacock is lopsided” ‘your peacock is grumpy’…and on and on it went for more than two hours.  There was background hindi music from the 30s to the recent bollywood hits and the only time the cell phones came out was to take pictures.

sip at a time

as the wine disappeared

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Here were  three sets of ladies who do not normally hang out with each other but bonded through art.

making progress

Midway through it was hard to judge whether it was a painting party or a Karoake party.  We took a lot longer than anyone can take to paint a modern art peacock but had a total blast.  Danielle was ever so patient with us particularly with the perfectionists amongst us :).

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I don’t know about the Royal Court but the Queen sure had a blast.  Now the Queen hopes they would throw another surprise party and there can be another excuse to let loose and show our feathers.   

Stay tuned as I pick up travel entries…so many more to come…Sienna, Volterra, San Gimignano, Vienna, Salzburg, Jodhpur, Jaiselmer…..on and on…its that lack of me time..:)

 

 

 

 

 

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