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A good book is like a Lifetime Romance…

reading

Are you often asked to recommend a good book? Isn’t it something more of a personal experience or a matter of choice? I myself got introduced with some books which had life-changing lessons to be learned but that was something of my own choice, though backed by recommendation.

An intense engagement with a book is no less than a passionate affair, it engages mind and emotions and distracts one from all else for the time it lasts. And when finished, it leaves you with loads of thoughts, sense of achievement and a big smile. Of course not every book can leave that impact but many do, where the author has been as intensely involved in writing as you in reading. When in the middle of my book, I tend to carry it everywhere with me, it’s like I can’t let it go even if I don’t have time to read it. Its presence only is so comforting accompanied with a promise of a good reading time ahead.

Inexplicably, if someone opens the book to where I am reading, it’s annoying as if someone has eavesdropped in a private conversation. This can be explained as I have a habit of marking passages and writing my thoughts down as I read along. When I read a good thought or a beautifully constructed sentence, I like to keep down my book and savor the thought for quite some time, as it is done with your favorite food, to deliciously slide down the throat, and then enjoy a while with the aftertaste.

After a good book ends, I possible cannot start with a new one for some time. At times, the Impression left behind lingers so intensely that I need to treat it with few quick reads, the kind that is more interesting and mindless rather than engaging and mindful.

It pains me to find out that reading habit is dying out. I would urge the more younger lot (Younger than me) to inculcate the habit of reading for all the conventional reasons- Reading makes you smarter, you gain more knowledge and perspective, improves vocabulary and writing skills, helps analytical thinking, is therapeutic, improves memory and reduces stress. But I also want them to read for the very reasons one enjoys it. . I want them to feel the indulgence, the pleasure and the expansion of mind that a good read brings.

Also, stop borrowing guys, Build your own collection and enjoy their presence. It’s the best feeling that cannot be described. Truly said, they will remain your best friends forever and are an instant mood lifter. An old book brings back so much memory that takes you to a ride in the past, which I am sure you would relish re-living.

 

Thanks for Reading!!!

 

The Desi fusion

iStock_000014183414Medium.jpgAre you ready for the sparkling feast? This got me really excited and inquisitive about the conversation that was about to start with my friends and colleagues from Europe and US. “Biryani” and “Kebabs” were something they were familiar of. Did we hear biryani and bubbly? They said, bring it on. Pairing Indian food with champagne or sparkling wine is the new hot trend globally.

A vintage brut is adding fizz to are very dear “butter chicken” and “dahi kebabs”. Sweet champagnes are sweetening payasams and rabris. Sommeliers feel sparkling wine and Indian food pairing is one of the biggest food trends catching the craze. Champagne has a fresh and bubbly effect that regular wines and whiskeys do not have which is perfect to cut the greasiness of Indian dishes.

We can stop tagging “champagne” only as a celebratory drink and start raising a toast with Indian dishes. And if champagne sounds too expensive, an alternative option is to try out Proseccos or sparkling wines. The rules that go out with it is that the drink is not served too chilled and second, only sweet ones are served with desserts.

The ability of sparkling wines in enhancing the taste of certain dishes due to their own acidic nature is making them a preferred accompaniment. Indian restaurants in the US and Europe are serving a wide range of wine, called “Mirza Ghalib”, that’s prepared specially to be paired with Indian food. Developed by team of sommeliers, led by wine experts, the French range is available in white, red and a sparkling rose. The fruitiness or sweetness of each wine is moderated as per set of dishes and each wine comes with a pairing suggestion to the extent of stating which one is apt for “Bhajia” and “Samosa”.

So, next time when you are drooling over that “Kebab” platter, ask your sommelier to pair it with the sweet French sparkling to counter the tangy side chutneys that we Indian are famous for.

Let’s explore the online food photo sharing craze!!!

 

  • When was the last time you had long overdue reunion with your friends or a family get-together. Dine-outs are a new way of bonding, but they aren’t enough for food lovers to share their meals with, they want the whole world to know what they are eating or about to eat. The urge to do a “check-in” to your favorite restaurant or for that matter even breakfast at “Murthal dhaba” is on a rise.

    Do you always tuck into that enticing appetizer immediately after the waiter brings it to your table or whip out your smartphone to quickly snap its picture first? If you love food, chances are that you will be clicking your grub.

    If you are what you eat, then people today love to share their true selves to the world by photographing and sharing practically every good-looking meal they try. Today, Instagram and Facebook feeds are filled with collages of exotic locales, cocktails, rich deserts that have been snapped up on myriad trips. They feel this to be a good way to connect to their set of “social” friends instead of plain written updates more so when they try an unusual local dish.

    Documenting what you eat tells a lot about who you are- your habits, personality, preferences, mood and culinary tastes. What you eat is just as much a distinguishing personal characteristic as how you dress or what kind of music you listen to. Food is just as much about visuals as it is about taste and aroma. The current explosion of this trend among Indian has many triggers. I see social media platforms flooded with hashtags #Foodporn #Loveforfood #Loveatfirstsight occupying maximum space in an update filled with happiness of drooling to that favorite dish ordered.

    My all-time favorite reality cooking show “Masterchef Australia” gives some serious reasons to try all those extremely beautiful looking deserts, they are truly an inspiration to the average viewers the infinite combinations one can put on a plate. Indian restaurants are paying more attention to presentation and experimenting with various cuisines. Adding to that are the smartphones which are a boon to those savvy foodies who want to share their culinary discoveries. Then, of course, is the high of bragging about how decadently or healthily you eat or should eat!! But don’t be too click-happy, too much of good thing is also bad, even if it’s great food.

    Some tips for shooting your “favorites”

    • Angle the camera or your smartphone lens in different ways; use to make your photograph look spectacular by depicting various layers of the dish.
    • Do not crop out that amazing cutlery that will make the hot a whole lot interesting.
    • Make good use of photo-editing tools. Tweaking the color contrast, sharpness, brightness and saturation can turn a plain image of a dish into a visual must-have-now delight.
    • With experience, I have learnt to avoid flash, if you find yourself clicking your candle-light dinner mains, position the camera in such a way that there no shadows or dark spots.
    • Work with dishes that have photo-friendly colors like various shades of red, green, yellow, orange and violets.

Do not be caught up in the post- vacation mess- Plan it!!

So remember the days leading up to your vacation? Two- weeks to go, A week to go and so on… Waking up to get ready for office, Monday’s, the usual commute to work, Never-ending deadlines, the to-do lists suddenly seems to be interesting and fun. The anticipation of travel includes obsessive planning, online reviews, looking at places to visit, reading about the culture and food, or simply imagining you to be enjoying at the place makes us happy.

The good thing is that you are back home. They say “People travel to get back home”…

The only problem with a good holiday is that like all good things, it eventually comes to an end. And then follows the dreaded post-vacation blues, dullness, holiday hangover, stress of returning to the pile of work and Lack of motivation. All The happiness that was once kicking within you seems like a far-off memory. But what’s the point of taking out that time to go to that beautiful place, spending a bomb on your vacation and most importantly taking an approval from your boss if it fails to keep you happy even for a week after the trip?

Plan for your vacation: Be stress-free

When your vacation is poorly-planned and stressful, you end-up experiencing ‘zero’ post-trip benefit. Hence, make sure everything is planned, find out in advance about the places to eat local food, best places to visit, to shop, pick up your souvenirs, currency exchange. This would save you to go through the last minute hassles and you’ll return from your trip with more energy, recharged and to take that next stride back at work.

Do not rush to get back to your “routine”

It’s certain that you are obligated to return to work after a good holiday, but that doesn’t mean it all needs to be done right away. Since you’ve missed out on a lot of stuff, an overload of email and yes the social media updates can be stressful. Be conscious of how many hours you would want to be plugged in. Stay away from the mindless internet surfing. Go easy on sharing your travel pictures and statuses, it is important to not become overly engrossed in sharing them, take pictures to weave memories and not to have a continuous eye on that “Like” button.

Pen down your travel- That is the best gift you can give yourself

A well-planned travel is an accomplishment; even you just hung up around the hotel pool, or just visited a friend. Travel has an ability to facilitate personal growth. We are more creative and imaginative when we travel. Carry a journal to note down your ideas. This way your trip gifts you the treasure of things to relish and achieve. So rather than feeling nostalgic and sad past your trip, you have to task to action upon and your ideas and also to re-live the things you write while travelling. A Good read takes you back to that wonderful time spent.

Organize your Photos

While it is difficult to accept to be back to the daily grind, the positive aspect of it is that you are loaded with new memories. Relive the time you spent away, before you forget the rich details of your trip, spare some to unload, organize, edit and share your snaps. These are instant mood lifters and they never fail to bring a big smile.

Live your souvenirs- Flaunt them!!

Let the vibe of your travel surround you, have a smart placement of your souvenirs. Bought yourself fridge magnets, crafty diaries, key-chains or just a pen-stand, use these in your daily life. Got those rustic pair of earrings from Udaipur, or a nice hippie skirt from Goa, wear it!! Wear your memories.

Do not forget to pick up the local masala from the destination and try to cook some exotic dishes at home. I remember picking the “Kehwa” mix, Darjeeling tea bags, butter cookies, dark chocolates, local Tibetan spices and experimenting with them. That feeling is inexplicable. Do try it and do not give air to your parents sating the legendary dialogue of “Sab kuch milta toh hai”. They will relish it even more when they will have the same thing back home. Do acknowledge with a big smile…

Plan the next one

Travel goals definitely make you a focused person. You need to earn your next holiday. Work hard and get yourself a bonus of your next travel. There is always something to look forward to.

 

Barren beauty through my lens- Ladakh

Staying like a hippy, living without mobile network for days, being amidst the barren beauty without a sign of human existence is what defines Ladakh. Such is the aura of this place that even a fire-grilled pizza wouldn’t match the joy of digging into a bowl of Maggi.

I couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity to challenge my potential as a traveler until I explored this beautiful city of Leh Ladakh. The body goes through such extremities that despite all the instructions and precautions, you just don’t know how it would react at such heights. This place helped me discover myself and was a lesson in tackling challenges we often face in life.

It’s a place where a mile speaks a thousand pictures and zillion words. If you like to bite your ice-cream rather than licking it, pack your bags and get ready to explore.

It was 10:00 AM on the 20th September, 2014 when we had arrived to the Leh Airport, albeit, it was a bright sunny day, we could feel the chill. It was 14 degrees Celsius but with accompanying strong winds, it felt a lot colder. We 6 of us got busy cladding ourselves in layers of clothes to begin our journey.

We had full 6 days to take a local tour to Leh city, Pangong Lake and Nubra Valley including a day rest to acclimatize. As can be expected at a place where we had our accommodation that rested on an average altitude of 6,000 m one wasn’t expecting an easy day, and there wasn’t any. Two people fell prey to high-altitude sickness.Our accommodation, Depsangla Mess (Maintained by Indo- Tibetan Border Force) had the best of the city’s view.

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Counting the stars is the thing of the past in the cities; however, during the night stays around Ladakh, you can actually see them.

Cuisine in Ladakh: Ladakh doesn’t spoil you with a great selection of food. It’s mostly basic- Rogan Josh, Momos, Thukpa, cabbage and dum aloo. We had a nice evening devouring on a sumptuous meal of noodles and tea. No, it’s not the ladakh tea but our very own Milk tea.

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I had a tough time struggling with the Ladakh tea (Popularly known as Butter tea) as you need a taste to gulp it down and warm down your nerves. It originated somewhere along the freezing Himalayan mountains; most likely Tibet. The Defining factor is that, it has butter (churned from yak’s milk), butter tea is salty. You read that right, it’s made with salt as opposed to sugar.

Ladakh- Land of Passes: Ladakh got its name from the high altitude mountain passes. “La” means Passes and “Dhak” means many, in short, Ladakh literally means land of many passes.

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That Proud feeling when you reach the world’s highest motorable road: Khardungla Top:

Ladakh trip is incomplete without conquering KhardungLa Top. Lying north of Leh Town, KhardungLa top is situated at an elevation of 5602 meters (18,379 ft) according to the local summit sign of Border Road Organization (BRO) who are in charge of the road maintenance.

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Attractions:

Visiting Leh  Ladakh can be a great experience as these places have  a lot of natural beauty. There are a number of attractions in Leh Ladakh that are filled with extreme pristine beauty, the list is inclusive of well- known ancient monasteries, other religious sites, palaces of the royalty, various gompas, mountain peaks, wildlife safaris, adventure activity spots and much more.

Let’s take a tour of some of the places that remains embedded in my memory:

Pangong Tso Lake: Do you remember the last scene of 3 idiots? For those who are besotted by the background that acted as a catalyst for Kareena Kapoor’s love confession, the place is Pangong Lake. The crystal clear blue lake sprawls over an area of 100 kilometers across the borders of two countries in India and China.

Pangong Lake is also known by the name of Hollow Lake and appears as a clear symbol of nature craftsmanship. The first glimpse of the tranquil blue waters, shaky lakeshore and the beauty of the surrounded mountains remains etched in the memory of tourists.

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Thikse Monastery: Thikse Monastery, this 12-storey building complex consists of a number of things related to Buddhist art such as  Thangka paintings, statues, stupas, swords, and so on. One of the major tourist attraction is the statue of future Lord Buddha in this temple of 49 feet high, which is also the largest in the region.

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Diksit Monastery: Located on the periphery of a desert in the Shok Valley, Diksit Village is an administrative center of the Nubra Valley, comprising of various government offices in it. The Diskit monastery is around 350 years old and houses a Maitreya Buddha statue, drums, paintings and Tibetan colored-patterned silk.

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Hall of Fame: The Hall of Fame, located near the Leh Airfiled, is a museum constructed as well as maintained by the Indian Army in the memory of the soldiers who had lost their lives during the Indo-Pak wars. It is also termed as a memorial for the war heroes. This building consists of two floors. While on the ground floor, there is information about the brave soldiers as and a souvenir shop but on the first floor, there are artifacts of various wars (mainly Kargil war) such as the weapons used during the war and some important documents, related to the same. There is another section dedicated to the Siachen glacier.

Leh Palace: The roof of this palace offers an excellent view of the valley. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is restoring some of the ruined portions of this nine-storey palace.

Sangam: Sangam means Confluence (where two rivers meet each other). Zanskar is the river formed from the junction of two streams; At Nimo Zanskar joins Indus River which the much beautiful view.

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Magnetic Hill: Located on the Leh-Kargil-Batalik national highway, and bordered by the sindhu river, the magnetic hill is a gravity hill.

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Camel Safari in Ladakh: Bactrian camel: The most distinctive feature of the Bactrian camel is its two humps. These humps, contrary to popular belief, are designed to store fat and not water. Bactrian camels are classified as herbivores.

Camel Traveling is predominantly evident in Nubra Area from Hundar up to the Diskit .Bactrian camels, along with dual humps, are basically also recognized as the ‘Real Camel’.

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Some hidden things luckily explored:

Ladakh Moments:

Tibetan Prayer

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Dine-out the Ladakhi way: Experienced the amazing hospitality of the people

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Some creativity with the amazing artists:

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Sea buckthorn: Considered to be the healthiest drink, Ladakh is the highest producer of sea buckthorn in the country. This product has become an export item for the state as it is valued for beverage and jam, herbal tea, cosmetic products, nutrient composition and anti-oxidant potential for pharmaceutical companies.

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Prayer Flags: Prayer Flags are inscribed with auspicious symbols, invocations, prayers, and mantras. Tibetan Buddhists for centuries have planted these flags outside their homes and places of spiritual practice for the wind to carry the beneficent vibrations across the countryside. Prayer flags are said to bring happiness, long life and prosperity to the flag planter and those in the vicinity.

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And here I conclude  on Ladakh. So, if you wanna feel how it is to be left without a gadget, drive continuously for Kilometers and experience simplicity with serenity, pack your bags and get ready to explore Ladakh!!