Celebrating #PulaoBiryaniDay with Family - “So who decides that today is Biryani Day?” asked my family. I had cooked two pots of Biryanis (one veg and other non-veg) as a special treat. The morning...
Friday, 29 August 2008
Tenerife, being an island, has beaches on all of its sides. But not all the beaches are safe for swimming. It is important to identify the safety of the beaches by the color of flag that you see at every beach. Different beaches display different colored flags. It is important to understand their significations by their colors before taking a plunge. They are red, green, yellow and blue. The beach with blue flag is a five star beach. It is clean, has all the safety precautions, has active life guards, has instant first aid services, restaurants, clean toilets, sea beds and all the facilities to enjoy the day at the beach. When you see a green flag, it indicates that the waves at this beach are well behaved and are trained not to display their bad temper. Yellow flag indicates that you have to make your own decision and swim at your own risk. All the safety precaution might not be available and you are in charge of making your own decisions. If you see the red flag, don’t even bother changing. On such days, the best option is to walk along the sea shore on the paved path that has colorful rock gardens or simply just patronize the café bars that have spread their furniture on those promenades.
Thursday, 28 August 2008
Each time, my vehicle stops at the traffic signals in Mumbai, I am surrounded by swarm of beggars who invent different tricks to attract my attention and I always practise yoga to be able to ignore them if I am not feeling too generous. But here in Tenerife, it is a different story. First of all, there are hardly any beggars. Sixty percent of the population are floating tourists who come here to breathe fresh air and the government supports its local population by either creating a job for them or paying them a substantial amount till they can find a job, but they make sure to keep them off the streets. Unless, The beggar has extraordinary begging skills Like this man who was dressed in white from head to toe and his hands and face painted in white too. He stands there in the busy tourist area, in a perfect pose, still, like a statue, frightening the passer by, every time that he makes a slightest move. It is a pose that requires skill to stand there without even blinking for five complete minutes. Many people stop and click his picture and wait till he changes his next pose. Children walk over to shake his hand, placing coins in his hand and clicking pictures with him. Now that is the art you just cannot ignore! Technorati Profile
Tuesday, 26 August 2008
Every country has its own speciality of rice dish. In India, we enjoy Biryani, Indonesians like Nasi Goreg, Chinese like fry rice, Thais like Khao paat, and Spanish like Paella All the rice dishes have common ingredients of vegetables and meat of your choice, but the only difference is the method of its preparation. Even the utensils differ from country to country. It could be a deep pot containing layers of coloured rice, covered tightly, and cooked under steam, or it could be opened wok to simply stir fry the rice with mixed veggies and meat. Spanish use a huge flat pan. Vegetables or meat stock is separately made which is used for boiling rice instead of plain water although some may just use veggie or chicken cubes. My niece made for me veggie paella and it was quite delicious. She put 2 tablespoons of olive oil and fried the ground paste of one large onion and one teaspoon of crushed garlic. Next she added one tin of Soya bean chunks and stir fried till light brown. She then added assorted veggies such as carrots, beans, mushrooms, corn, green peas, red and green capsicum, tomato paste and also tomato puree. When she saw the oil bubbling, she added five hundred grams of par boiled rice, and then added veggie cube, five glasses of water, paella powder, saffron strands, perejil powder and salt. She covered the pan with foil and steamed it till it was tender. For garnishing, she put slices of lime. Non vegetarians use chicken, pork, clamps, octopus and shrimps Spanish can’t eat chillies, not even a pinch of chilli powder; I find their food very bland. Thank Gawd, I carry my own bottle of chilli sauce in my purse whenever I go dinning in a Spanish restaurant.
Monday, 25 August 2008
The evening stroll from Playa Martinez to Lago ( in Puerto De La Cruz ) makes an interesting walk. The streets are even tiled and well-lit path; it is a no traffic zone, it is laced with waterfront on one side and rows of shops and restaurants on other side.This place is a walker’s paradise Puerto De La Cruz is the interesting place in the north of this island. The climate in Puerto de la Cruz is pleasant throughout the year and is flooded with tourist all day long. In the mornings, you will see them bathing at the beach or at Logo (which is the group of swimming pools) and evenings, you will see them jay walking, enjoying the sea breeze. There are lots of activities in this area, even during late hours when the restaurants host live musical shows that are not only entertaining their customers but also to people out on the streets. The restaurants have chairs and tables spread out on the streets. I was tired of walking so I sat and enjoyed sipping coffee and the cool sea breeze and watched the continuous stream of tourist walking at easy pace, It was interesting to stop by to watch the street performers or getting the picture painted by those street painters.
Monday, 18 August 2008
After a gap of three years, I am in Tenerife for this year’s Rakhi day. I had planned to make a nice one (I prefer to make them rather than to buy from market)..Ready made rakhis don’t have that personal touch….but since my injured right hand refused to cooperate I just made kaju sweets with my niece’s help and tied those Rakhis that were posted from India by my other two sisters.(My brother never removes them till they come off by itself and I put just one, on behalf of all three sisters) Rakhi is such an important day on Hindu calendar (How do Europeans and Americans express their affection for their siblings?) and Hindu woman remembers and blesses her brother on this special day. It is the day to remind her brothers to be alert and help his sister when the need arises. Personally thinking, I don’t need this day of tying the thread to remind my brother, and expecting cash and snatching it. I am quite sure that my brother is there for me whenever I need him (he has never let me down). My festival lasts just two minutes. It is just tie and dye event. I would be too embarrassed to put tikka, do aarti and chant rhymes like in films. I cannot do that. I cannot spell affection. I will make my brother’s favourite dish, help him if he needs my help and be within the easy reach for communication but I don’t utter dialogues that a script writer would be interested. I cannot. For me, it is just important that he should be happy. I would not do anything which would cause him grief. I am always amused by the way people celebrate this festival. It is a great business stunt for many and a great day to see the cash flow from the jingle boxes of card sellers, rakhi sellers, sweets shops and now, networks. On facebook, tuenti, hi5 and other social networks, you see pictures that are clicked especially for sharing with friends. Brothers can now enjoy a well dressed sister with a silver tray containing flowers, rakhi, diya and vermillion, she will bless her brother khule aam…lets the world watch while she ties a sacred bond.
Friday, 15 August 2008
The Indian club of Tenerife celebrated ´Independence Day´ by saluting to the national flag, singing national anthem, putting up a small variety entertainment show and then enjoying a lunch party. But, here I am, staying far from NRI society, surrounded by the population who are not even aware of my big day. But they have a holiday too and they are celebrating their own festival which is important on their calendar called ´Dia de Candelaria´ To celebrate this day I am invited for a swim and Paella (Spanish traditional rice dish) to our club. The weather lets me down by hiding the sun behind the clouds and it is too cold to swim. Most of the members, who are dressed to swim have just wrapped themselves with scarf or towels and are waiting for the paella to cook. There is a small cubicle near the pools where the cooks are busy preparing two big pans of rice dish that contains pork, chicken, and sea food. It takes them two hours to prepare the dish. I spend my time, walking around the pool, chatting with different people as I pass by their inclined seats. There are various people playing basket ball or tennis on the other side of the pool. In the children’s area there is inflated outdoor equipment where children are enjoying jumping and sliding down the soft corners. It is nice to meet so many people, most of them I am meeting after a long time. Spanish are very friendly people and they can never run out of conversation. Just by nodding my head, I can assist them to continue their long, long stories. When I am tired of walking, I come and sit closer to the cubicle. When the paella is ready, they announce it on mike and a big serpentine line crawls towards the cubicle. One gentleman brings my share to the table which is served with bread and beer. Paella is very tasty for Spanish palate, but for me, it is bland because there is neither chilli nor any spice at all. But still, I nod my head in affirmative when the Spanish lady, sitting next to me, sweetly asks me, “Te gusta? Muy rico. No? ¨
Thursday, 14 August 2008
Everybody is talking about trekking during this week-end. There is a fiesta this week end called ´Dia de Candelaria´ when pilgrims all over Tenerife walk or trek to a shrine of Virgin Mary at Candelaria. It is a long walk and you see them making groups and heading towards the church which is closer to Santacruz and North airport. While most of the pilgrim leave from Santa Cruz t at 12 midnight and reach the shrine during the early hours of the morning, here in Icod de Los Vinos, pilgrims begin their journey one or two days earlier. I met the group of 15, who left at 3pm from Icod de Los Vinos. They looked cheerful with haversack containing food and drinks, torch and a walking stick for a journey of 70 kms which would take them about 15 hours to reach. I have neither strength nor stamina to walk with them, so I followed them for a while and then retreated my steps as I saw them disappear into the woods. The trek is through the steep beaten path of hills, trees and shrubs. There are path-signs at regular interval directing the proper route to follow. There is one point on the route which is the meeting point where different groups from different parts of the island meet. This point offers the beautiful panoramic view of the island. It is the resting place and they share their eats and drinks and let their hair down. In between their journey of beaten path, they cut through concrete roads, where there is traffic and if somebody is too tired to walk, he can continue his journey in the car that may be driven by one of their friends. The last five hours of the trek are quite difficult and the route is going downhill, climbing down the huge rocks. At the end of the journey, they are breathless, tired and silent, they offer their prayers at the secret shrine and are back home to sleep for next 24 hours brushing away the pains from their tired limbs.
Wednesday, 13 August 2008
I sit at the beach, fully dressed, under the shade of the big rock and the European lady in light blue bikini stares at me. I smile at her, enjoying the cool sea breeze. I shift my gaze towards the silver waters that gurgles, somersaults and waves at me. There are more white-skin-people, some of them bare from the top, enjoying the sea. Being an Indian, I am not used to taking off all my clothes to sun bathe on the beach and I would find this idea totally unacceptable. Even when I decide to swim, my swim-suit will not be so revealing. I am very shy and am very embarrassed if people stare. But here, in Tenerife, I have noticed that people don’t stare. They will give you a momentary glance, smile, and then, back to their own thoughts. When they come to the beach, they come to swim and sun bathe. There are many tourists at Tenerife beaches (that stretches over 200 miles of coastline,) and most of tourists are from nearby European countries. In European countries, many of the people are deprived of sunshine especially in winter and in spring and therefore they face many health problems and brittle bones due to deficiency of vitamin D (which comes from being exposed to ultraviolet rays from the sun). Spain is an interesting place for nudism and it is legal everywhere in Spain unless you are causing offence. Tenerife has many beaches and coves, and there are casual visitors daring to dress only in sunscreen for an afternoon by the sea. Only the color of their bottoms might give them away. There are official Nudist Beaches in Tenerife, the main ones are: Playa de la Tejita (El Médano) Playa de los Patos (La Orotava) Playa de las Gaviotas (Santa Cruz de Tenerife) Playa de la Tejita is the nearest one to Los Cristianos, (El Medano is about 10 miles away) and is very easy to get to. The beach is situated to the west of the town, the 'other side' of the Red Mountain. There is also a small (I believe un-official) Nudist area that can be found in Costa del Silencio, it is at the bottom of Yellow Mountain and is quite difficult to get to if you have any mobility problems. Then there are many hotels along the shore line that have private nude beaches where they can sun bathe freely without being disturbed or stared at. It is their way of being in harmony with nature which Indians need time to get used to. It all depends about when Indian men abandon their nature of staring too much.
Saturday, 9 August 2008
I sat in front of my plasma to watch the greatest show on the earth. The Olympic Inauguration show left me spell bound. It was an amazing $300 million spectacle that featured 15,000 performers, nearly 11,000 athletes from 204 countries, and I envied those who were present there to witness it in person. All I can say is ´Wow´ With large population it is easy to sort great number of talents and place them into different slots. On word ´China´, we think of food, painting, and Tai chi, imitation of branded goods, fire works, and human rights and now we will talk about the stunning big bang show of drummers and box men and amazing fire works Can it be replicated by another nation too? Can we do it? We have a large population in India too. We too have great number of talents worth mentioning. Unfortunately, many of them are stamped under the heavy foot of politics and diplomacy of the system. Besides having talent, it is important to have influence or money to pull the strings. Last year, one special child (whom I know personally) was selected for Special Olympics. Special coach was appointed to train her for table tennis event, passport and all travelling needs were met but she was dropped off from the games just few weeks before the games. No reasons given. The parents and her teachers were shocked by these turn of events but chose to remain silent. If deserving candidates are not given chance to enter the competitive world, how can we expect to bring home any Gold?
Thursday, 7 August 2008
Nikita and Haresh Mehta sought judicial redress for aborting their unborn baby who has been diagnosed with a congenital heart block and the whole world is peeping into their court rooms and passing their own verdict. The child will be born with a hole in heart. A person with a hole in heart can lead a normal life, but the problem is, one will get tired very fast as compared to normal persons. Now-a-days after a surgery, a pacemaker can be planted in the heart, battery of which lasts for 10 years. Generally speaking, people with any kind of deformity (physical or mental) are always treated differently. Either they are ignored completely or they are pampered to the extreme. Equal opportunities do not come easy to them and time and time again, they have to keep proving their ability to fit into a proper slot. Deformity is a block that blinds the society to recognise true talent instantly. It is very easy for others to pass the verdict and treat them (Mehtas) like criminals, but I have met many mothers of severely mentally challenged children. Many times, mothers are blamed for the deformity of the child and are treated badly by their in-laws. Lower income makes them dependent on sponsors for medicine and education for all their life. Some of them have zero social life and they go through emotional depression and become incapable of looking after their children. Having any kind of deformity is a life time punishment, not only for an individual, but also for the parents. It is very painful for a mother to see her child suffer. Even though Mehtas do have some help like Jaslok Hospital has promised to provide a pacemaker, worth close to Rs 1 lakh, and free surgery for their baby, but is that enough? Will they have a life time financial support for the child? Who are we to presume to lecture the Mehtas from the smugness of our normalcy? Separating the chaff from grain is always tough.
Monday, 4 August 2008
This week end I decided to pass my week-end with my niece at Puerto de la Cruz, which is on the north of the island about 20 minutes away from Buen Paso where I am staying. Going to Puerto de la Cruz and sitting indoors is not a good idea. So even though I am still afraid to walk freely with a broken arm, my niece insisted that we go for a short walk down the street. Puerto de la Cruz is bustling with activity. There are people everywhere. Narrow streets of the Old Town, packed with colonial architecture, make walking a safer bet than driving. The city is packed with tourist during this month of August. .There are cafes and restaurants in every street that has no traffic or walking plazas. The stores display their article outside the shops and attract the passer-by. This is a town of two halves. To the west of Plaza del Charco, whitewashed houses and cobbled lanes reflect the serenity of years gone by. Whilst to the east, the excited chatter of holidaymakers reverberates around the labyrinth of cafés and restaurants. Just a short walk in any direction, and I am surrounded by quaint stores that carry local handicrafts, cafes and bars, produce stores (the bananas are absolutely delicious), fantastic wine stores and the old harbor. San Telmo is a neighbourhood that bridges old Puerto to new Puerto. That "bridge", Paseo San Telmo, is dense with tourists, stores, gelato shops, and restaurants. The hotel lined streets and avenues behind the walkway reach out like arms, encouraging travellers to rest. We walked, rested for coffee and pastries, walked again, stopped for hamburgers and sandwiches, walked the bridge through San Thelmo, resting a while, watching the world pass by. The short evening walk lasted four hours actually and was not tiring at all.
I have poor memory therefore I tend to forget the good and the bad times easily. What is past is forgotten, each day I try my best that my ...