In Road Trip, Travel on October 16, 2014 at 8:36 pm
Day 3, September 1, 2014
Sonamarg-Kargil (195km, 6 hours)
I woke up around 6 am to a quietness through which I could hear the Sindh river flowing not far away. The rain had stopped and so had that racket from the downpour onto a metal sheet below. I stepped out to check the view on the other side and found the tops of the mountains still hidden behind thick clouds. Little by little the clouds started to lift to reveal fresh snow on the mountain tops around.
The plan for today was to drive up to Kargil through our first real mountain pass (Banihal Pass was through the Jawahar Tunnel) and we were in no hurry. There was time to take in the surroundings. Anand decided to take Vikas’ bicycle for a spin. Bharat went out to find a replacement for the petrol tank-cap for his Gypsy which he seemed to have lost while refilling the previous night. The rest just ambled around doing nothing in particular.
Sonamarg is at an altitude of 2800 m (9,200 ft) and is primarily a tourist town with no permanent settlements. The hotels shut with the onset of winter. At the moment, the meadows looked mossy-green and soft.
Stop with the construction already!
In Road Trip, This and That, Travel on October 8, 2014 at 6:05 pm
Mid-August I was getting ready to accompany students on a study tour to Cuttak, Odisha. It is one of the few states of the country that I have never visited. Naturally, there was some excitement. A week or so before we were scheduled to leave TH casually asked if we shouldn’t go to Ladakh instead. You don’t just wake up one morning and decide you want to get behind the wheel and take a road trip to Ladakh. Or, maybe you just do! It had been on TH’s mind a long time. Even so, this seemed sudden. But being the good spouse that I obviously am, I didn’t bat an eyelid, and replied equally nonchalantly, “Yeah, sure.”
The following week the car underwent a thorough service at the garage and the mechanics there assured us that the Maruti SX4 was game for whatever the Himalayas might throw at her. There was a long list of supplies, food and other items, that had to be procured. Driving in the Himalayas is not be taken lightly, and you are advised to stock survival rations for at least a couple of days. The weather is unpredictable and takes a heavy toll on the roads. It is not unusual to find yourself stranded for the night or longer. Some of the places on our itinerary were remote and isolated, and we were traveling at a time when the tourist traffic would be past its peak. We stocked up on non-perishable food items that included some junk-food but also nuts and cheese. Our survival bags included sunscreen, tow-rope, flashlights, and oxygen canisters. Winter woolies were dug out and we were good to go.
We’re off to a rainy start!
In Bengal, Bengali, Currently reading, Potatoes, Under 30 min!, Vegetables, Vegetarian on October 4, 2014 at 4:17 pm
Sometime back there was a discussion amongst some food-blogger friends on cookbooks and their relevance in a world of food blogs and websites. The topic was triggered by the surprising admission of some food-bloggers (aspiring writers at that!) that they only look at and rarely cook from cookbooks. My bookshelf is lined with cookbooks I have been collecting since my teens; they are a weakness. They are my insights into a new cuisine or deeper explorations of a favourite one. I put a moratorium on further cookbook purchases because I am constrained where bookshelf-real-estate is concerned. That ended, as all fad diets do, in a binge. With e-shopping only a click away, I was on Flipkart, ordering away. I am no longer looking for cookbooks titled “All About Baking,” but seek out books that link food to a culture: “Gujarati Cooking”, or “Simply South.”
I have been searching for a recipe for the Goan Sambarachi Kodi ever since I tasted it at O’Coquero. On the Web, I came across only one recipe, the one on the charming Goan Food Recipes blog. While Googling for it yet again (I try to check multiple recipes before attempting a less-familiar dish), I came across a mention for it in Pushpesh Pant’s India: A Cookbook. Now, I am usually weary of cookbooks that want to cover all of India in one book. If you know anything about the diversity that is India, you cam imagine how daunting a task that is. In India, I assure you, we know nothing as “Indian Food.” But Pushpesh Pant is a respected scholar and reading some of the recommendations for the book, I thought, well, his might just be the definitive volume, the exception. To his credit, it has a 1000 recipes and weighs in at over a kilo! With those statistics I was expecting a tome of great research and insights. As usual, I started with the section on the cuisine I know better than any other – Kashmiri. That right there, is the cornerstone by which I judge a cookbook dishing out “Indian” Cuisine.