Thursday, November 25, 2010

Back from Mumbai!

I've been back for a few days, but have failed to post a trip update. It could be that I had a hard time adjusting to the time difference and have been going to bed at 8 pm, leaving little of the evening to blog.

The trip was amazing, crazy, insightful and hard all at once. The streets are busy, crowded with people, and hot. There is always activity and this is coming from someone who lives in New York. But coming back to New York, I found my city almost calm and peaceful.

I just watched Eat Pray Love and will say that the scene when she is in the came and just arrived in India is exactly what it's like. The drivers are crazy.

I have a stomach of steel, but even I may have overdone it on the spicy food. It may be some time before I can venture back into Indian cuisine. I had a hard time saying "no" even when my stomach was bothering me. I never wanted to miss out on trying something new. From the kebab at Badamiya behind the Taj Palace to Sashimi in the Taj palace.

The world is so big and there are so many places to see, I have to admit, it may be some time before I make it back. And the only way I'll travel there is business class now (I know, it sounds bad, but it's the only way to go for a 15 hour flight). I hear the north area is great, and I would love to see the Taj Mahal (the real palace, not the hotel).

And being in the place of the terrorist attacks was a bit scary. I see the WTC site, know what happened there, but there is something about eating at Cafe Leopold, being in the Taj Hotel, that makes it all very scary and real.

This gives a good sense of what a rickshaw ride is like. Two short clips. The first is the Rickshaw moving along at a good pace, then slower as we encounter car and foot traffic. And yes, that is our rickshaw beeping.

A second clip of my rickshaw ride:

And this is the market off the Colaba Causeway, where the locals were all shopping:

And a few of my favorite shots. View from the Taj Mahal Lands End.

In front of the Gateway to India in Mumbai.

Inside the Taj Mahal Palace courtyard.

The rickshaw ride.

And of course, I tried my fair share of food items. Lots of Indian! Though I did manage to get to the California Pizza Kitchen for my first lunch (started off easy on the food front) Then I dove right in. Street food, grilled corn, spicy eggs at breakfast, fruit I couldn't identify...when in India, just go for it.

This is the chicken Sheekh Kebab from Badamiya behind the Taj Mahal hotel. Took a chance, but our driver recommended it after we asked him where we should go. The hotel concierge, Elton, said he used to go there late after hitting the clubs...We had two failed attempts (the first time we were too early and the 2nd we were thwarted by a downpour). But I finally got it!

This is lunch at the friend fish place on my second day.

Cafe Mondegar for lunch after Elephanta Island.

Wasabi Sherbet at Wasabit by Morimoto. Spicy and cold.

All in all a great and interesting trip. Lots of food and lots of sights. It may be awhile until I'm back, but have many memories.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Mumbai: Day 3

Day 3 in Mumbai, India! Sadly, I can't post any pictures or videos yet. Which is unfortunate because this place is like no other place I've ever been.

It's taken about 3 days to really adjust, but feel like I'm on a normal schedule now after the almost 15 hour flight. I'm staying at the Taj Hotel in Bandra, one of the business areas of Mumbai. I think the funniest thing is that every day I come back and my things are arranged just a little differently. And they have picked up on the fact that I'm a female because yeterday I found a pink silky robe in the closet and eye and face cream in the bathroom. The service is impeccable no matter where I am (almost too good, there is no need to stop what one is doing and wait for me to walk by). I guess I'm just used to fending for myself in New York!

I thought the disparity between the wealthy and poor in the US was wide, but it's even more pronounced here. I can eat a full meal for $2 at the "Food Court" at the office and $80 on dinner at a higher end restaurant. We'll drive by some very interesting looking areas on our way to work and dinner. The slums are known as Dharavi, and are Asia's largest slum. I'd like to explore more, but not sure that's such a good idea (yes, mom, thinking of you here).

Yes, the Food Court was not like the one at the mall, it's a sit down outdoor restaurant with a menu. Luckily, Gowri orders for us and gets us what is good. The Crispy Chicken came highly recommended by my colleague, and it was delicious. And the variety of breads is fabulous...naan, roti, paratha, I love it all! I'm on a "lots of carb" diet in Mumbai.

I was surprised when the Gowri, the team leader for the group here asked what peanut butter was like. Had I known she hadn't tried that or black licorice (which I thought was odd they don't have it since the after meal seeds taste just like anise), I would have brought these 2 items instead of candy corn and mini candy bars from Halloween!

Tonight we ventured to Juhu Beach, on the Arabian Sea (and many Bollywood stars live over here). On the map below, the lower red circle is where the office is and Juhu Beach is the upper circle. We ate at a great restaurant overlooking the beach. It was like an oasis of calm coming off of the busy noisy street.

Riding in a rickshaw is just like I imagined, even more fascinating. I feel like I'm on the Amazing Race when I'm in one. You can go about 1/2 hour for $2. It's a bit scary, I was afraid we'd take out a few pedestrians or hit a few other cars, but it seems to work here. You get a great view of the street. The streets are crazy - there are people selling things all day, everywhere. Going to venture out to the shopping areas tomorrow after work.

More reports to come, I'm here for over another week. And pictures when I'm back stateside!
Over and out from Mumbai!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Someone's Getting Married!

My sister is getting married! We had her shower in Durham, NH this weekend, with family, friends, work friends and even our neighbors from Ellington. It was great to see so many people there to help celebrate. I apologize for this being short and quick, but I'm off to the airport momentarily...and my picture uploading will have to wait for 2 weeks.

Here is the blushing bride!

My sister is a baker, so I thought there were appropriate. They are heart shaped measuring spoons with little phrases, like "a pinch of love". Granted, the "Love Beyond Measure" on the tag is just a teeny bit cheesy. But my creative juices were not flowing and borrowed it from the tag that came with the spoons. I didn't think it was cute enough so we needed to do hearts instead.

The wedding is in February in Key West, so in honor of the destination wedding, we ordered this cake to celebrate. Isn't it pretty! And it was very tasty, too.

The next wedding post will be from Key West! And then again post party in New Hampshire (lots of celebrating to do). Actually, this is kind of like Amy's Birthday, the number of times we celebrate :)

Monday, November 1, 2010

And Back From Ann Arbor

And we are back from another October wedding. This time it was off to Ann Arbor, Michigan for S & S's wedding. S (the groom) is a former colleague and roommate of my other half, so it was great to see him again and reconnect with some more former colleagues.

The weather was chilly, but delightfully fall like.

No matter where we go, we like to check out the local coffee establishments. Saturday it was Comet Coffee, where you can choose your coffee and then Hand Brewed, French Press or Vacuum Press (all done to order). Sunday it was Zingerman's Bakehouse for some coffee and a cinnamon roll.

We didn't just get coffee at Zingerman's, though, we had to go for the full sandwich experience. I will admit, a place like this in NYC (think Katz's) can induce anxiety and stress as people want your order NOW, the line grows behind you, and you realize you can't find a table to sit at. Not so in Ann Arbor. The staff was patient and friendly and no one yelled at me. And the sandwich was deeeelicious.

And then off to the wedding where we had more cupcakes! But these were little miniature cupcakes and so cute!

It was Halloween weekend, and thy made sure to incorporate the theme. The pumpkin cookie in our gift bag went in a matter of minutes. At the reception, we had little bags with a picture of the bride and groom as kids (see the little sticker), filled with candy corn and other treats.


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