April 26, 2007

Cafe Terrace at Night!

"Like to have a coffee?" is often the most common pick up line and you can confidently use it in Paris, almost every corner of Paris have this cute café with nice terrace in the outside side walk, you can sit hours together sipping a warm cup of coffee and the warm sun of Paris. And in night, this place takes another nicer color. Today we had a lab party in one of such beautiful café terrace near our lab, it was to say official good bye to two oldest members of our lab, heavy emotional moment in a romantic place! What a combination? I am not Van Gogh to capture the moment in canvas with colors but I tried my best to capture the moment in my little digital camera!

April 25, 2007

French wager!

French have all the good reasons to be proud of their cuisine. In my long list of favorite French food, right now on the top is Tarte Tatin. If I have to give a crude description of this delicious dish, I should say it’s a special type of inverted Apple pie. Knowing its high calorie ingredients, I don't dare to buy it for myself, but nowadays I started making Tarte Tatin as my wager. I just won a bet and I am getting a ‘big’ tarte tatin. Yesterday at work, for political reasons, I was forced to make a phone call by a colleague, I bet with her that the outcome is going to be annoying and I was right! Great! An annoying phone call can get you a tarte tartin! yes! I know its a silly and very very mean food wager, but any thing is fair for a tarte tatin!

I got to know about another French wager last week as I was reading and commenting in Arjun’s blog! Pascal’s wager, a bet on religion”. Wager of both food and food for thought can be fun!

more pic of tarte!

April 22, 2007

My First day in Pyrenees!

To recover from the shock of touristy crowd, Anton put me in a train and with almost less than 2 hours raid in a scenic mountain route, we reached a beautiful calm and quite valley.

I should say this is the first time in my life; I traveled to a place, even without knowing name or the direction or the location. As we had the fist sight of snow covered mountains,(in the train junction, Ribes where we changed to a mountain train) Anton said see there, that’s Pyrenees and we are going to a valley there. Oh! My God! It’s my first trip to Pyrenees, one of the most beautiful mountain rage which stands majestically as a natural boundary between Spain and France.

This valley Vall de Núria , was discovered by a saint Gil almost in 700 AD, and built a small church and in later years people expanded to big monastery. You can reach there only by this less frequent cog train, which still keeps the place undisturbed by touristy crowd and with wild animals happily grazing in the valley, even in the little hiking routes. We spent a day hiking and resting at the banks of the half frozen lake with the happy thought, “what a vacation”?

The Half frozen lake and the Cog train of the valley

Short break in the hiking route!

The wild animals of the valley!

More of Pyrenees!

April 20, 2007

A day in Barcelona…

After seeing the beautiful country side and spending the weekend in Europe union’s least populated region, Soria . Barcelona was big “crowd shock”, I have always enjoyed even the very crowded cities of India and Italy but this crowd of tourist in Barcelona was really suffocating. Barcelona does have some cute features such as its old city center with cathedrals and small stone paved paths etc. but after the 1992 Olympics and by over selling Gaudi’s architecture got more attention, ended up with overflowing tourists.

Spanish people are very friendly, infact even more than my favorite Italians. We can have lots of small talks as we meet people in shops or in a café. I ended up having such a small talk about the touristy nature of Barcelona, in the airport with a Barcelona lover. He said I don’t have rights to complain about Barcelona, when I am living in a touristy city like Paris. But I should say that Paris which is being a touristy city for many many centuries have facilities to handle its tourists in a very sophisticated way without much suffocation. Anyways, I liked the small streets of the Gothic and Born quarter and the small after noon nap in the beach and the over view of the city in a cable car from the beach to the near by mountain Montjuïc .

Some more of Barcelona...

No Rain… No Update!

Yes! Its true! No rain in mountains! As we drove towards the mountains in the rainy highway…we started seeing the stars as we reached the beautiful mountain holiday house of Gorka, I was wondering when I last saw the sky full of stars, even in the horizon. As I was staring at the stars, little I knew about the surprises waiting for me, in the very corner of the valley that I was staring at.

Hiking through the snowy slops…. Touching the lake (Laguna Negra) origin of a river which flourishes Spain and Portugal…sliding and being drenched by the snow…biking in the valleys …. The path filled with wild flowers …nice food…warm hosts, what a perfect weekend. Thanks to Eider, Gorka ,Anton and Spain. For a fun filled adventurous weekend in beautiful arms of nature.

The holiday house of Gorka's family in El rayo! At the banks of Laguna Negra!

Snow Hiking

The warm hosts!

More pics of the weekend adventures!

April 12, 2007

Les Franqueses Del Valles!

Les franqueses del valles, a small town in north of Barcelona, with small brooks and green hills , that’s where I am, Its wet and rainy , just did a small drive inside the town... that’s the cute city hall building (the green used in that building top was very beautiful) and a nice home made Spanish Tortilla de patatas for dinner! What more I can ask for , for my first evening in Spain.

Tomorrow will go to check if it rains only the plains in Spain, we are driving to a small hill station, El Royo. Anton says that, this little village might not have seen an Indian before. How on earth that’s possible? I will check that out! More pics of the place .... !

April 11, 2007

The rain in Spain

I am leaving to Spain tomorrow and the weather forecast says 'it’s going to rain in Barcelona for next few days'...... Anton says ‘Spain looks more beautiful when it’s wet’ ! and Audrey Hepburn says “The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain”.... So, we are planning to drive through some of the beautiful wet Spain and spend the weekend in a hill station . I will keep posting about the rain in Spain and if My Fair Lady & Man are really fair? Till then check out this song from one of my all time favorite classical movie…
Sunitha, do you remember this movie DVD? , we got it together in our favorite shop ;-) in Bangalore…. you suggested it to me and I am still addicted to it!

April 09, 2007

Brunch at Père Lachaise !

I was craving for traveling; now I am blessed with so many, last weekend in Hamburg and next weekend in Barcelona, this weekend in beautiful sunny Paris, having Easter brunch with friends. The sweet ‘chocolate girl’ Meena invited us for Easter Brunch at her place. She lives in North east Paris and me in South West! No worries! Paris is well connected with Metro, but the day was too beautiful to be in the underground, finally took courage to bike 20 kms. She lives just at the entrance of Père Lachaise, one of the biggest cemeteries in Paris , with maps to navigate through the small streets and big lanes it took almost two hours just to see one half of it! Yes! It’s really big!

Some photos here...more ...!

Oscar Wilde! People love him to death…With so many lip marks on his grave!

Auguste Comte! Philosopher who coined ‘Altruism’…map says he is somewhere here … friends searching for him!

Is that really a family name or just people don’t like them?

Victor Noir, a journalist killed by Napoleon's family, after his death he was made as a symbol of fertility it seems! Look what naughty girls have done to him! check this news!

Finally if you want to rest in peace along with the big people! I guess you can book your place in advance too!

April 07, 2007

My Bliss!

Last few days, I was reading more of Joseph Campbell, the mythologist who came up with “follow your bliss” concept! After listening to his two hours interview on “the power of myth” I was thinking about the recent moments of bliss in my life! I was able to recall few ...

Last summer in Switzerland, I was working as a volunteer in a meditation center; we were just three, cooking for 50 meditators. We have to start cooking early morning 4 and went till almost 9 in the night. It was very hectic, but end of the day, I was left with an immense joy… I found bliss in cooking for people, seeing the people enjoying the food that you cooked. Wow…. it’s real bliss! It’s more fun to cook for the fuzzy eaters too; I wish to cook for the most troublesome eaters out there :-)

I often amuse kids in small towns with my skin color. Western kids in small towns, who are not very used to brown skin, start smiling and staring at me! My friend Meena in Paris also had a similar experience with kids, they call her as ‘girl of chocolate’ it seems! Once I was shopping in a small town in south of France, a few months old kid reached out his hand and held my finger very tightly with a big smile on his face! I was standing there few minutes without having courage to pull out my hands; finally his father has to distract him with ‘real’ chocolate to let me free! The few minutes of slavery in a smile is…. wow!

Keep smiling! You are cheering up someone’s spirit !

April 04, 2007

Two worlds, one journey! - Follow your bliss!

I don’t know if I am evolving or Mira Nair’s direction or may be both? I was not a big fan of her earlier movies, but I was spellbound by her latest one “the namesake”. I was bit paranoid about seeing this movie ,after reading the reviews that “it’s a sad story about Indians living abroad” especially with my present emotional dilemmas, living in two contrasting worlds and just one life to live, often get confused in making decision and choosing the ‘right’ path. This movie left me with “a greater sense of assurance” with the life that I am living. Apart from conveying a beautiful philosophical message, the director has given every small attention to show the transit from ‘parents’ generation to the present so beautifully. With the type of ear rings, dressing, the body language and especially the difference in the art of making love in 70s to the present generation was depicted like a poem in movie; I feel its one of the most challenging part of the direction, as there is just a thin line between vulgarity and aesthetic in such scenes. I have to agree with Karan, one of the reviewers and say “For God sake please see “the namesake”!

My favorite quotes in the movie!

“Follow your bliss” (Hmmm! What’s mine?..Let me think about it till I write the next blog )

"Pack a pillow and a blanket and see as much of the world as you can, you will not regret it” !

April 02, 2007

German Technology!

My friend Sunitha, as a car lover can talk hours together about German car technology (first thing she told me, when she heard about my Germany trip was to send her pictures of nice German cars) and my dad as an engineer always have very high regards for German construction skills, I don’t have enough knowledge to appreciate such things, but the technology which attracts me the most is their kitchen technology. Micha got me this egg pierce thingy during our last visit to Munich; you have to put the broader side of the egg on this and press it, it makes a small hole and lets out air in the pouch at the bottom of the egg, by this way you can avoid the egg from bursting when you boil it, hmm! Smart! This time during my window shopping, I was looking from some useful kitchen thingy and look what I got, this thing called tea tube, in which you can make a just a cup of fusion tea. It’s so handy for a tea lover like me! Sunitha! Sorry this time, I didnt take car pics!(you know the reason ;-) but this one from Munich is just for you!

Dos and Donts!

The German dressing was wonderful! No! I am not talking about their way of dressing; I am talking about their salad dressing, I guess among the European countries I visited so far the best salad I tasted was in Germany. So, don’t miss to taste German salads.

Never…Never …Ever cross a road when its red, even if the road is completely empty and there is no police around, don’t dare to do it unless you are ready to hear some stranger shouting at you in the middle of the road.

We were trying so hard to find the link between Hamburg and Hamburger, Doron even tried to order one for lunch in Hamburg port, and look what he got, some piece of meat which even a meat lover can’t tolerate. If you want to eat good Hamburger I guess the right place in USA and not Hamburg.

When you are traveling alone in Europe (as a girl) never book a hotel near the main railway station, even in a safe country like Germany, just the look and feel of this doggy area can put you in sleepless night!


Saturday morning, left to Hamburg with Doron, the person who made me have second thoughts about reincarnation and Aaron, his (also Assaf’s) Phd advisor. The plan was to have a quick and dirty overview of the city but the debate was whether to do it on a bike or in a city tour bus, in spite of having my and Doron’s vote for bike, we ended up seeing the town in a open top city tour bus! When it comes to boss, they are always right! I was always scared that tour buses like this can steal a traveler’s freedom but finally it was not that bad. Well Aaron didn’t just remove my fear over such buses but also beautifully gave reasons for many more fears in my life (more updates on this later). After an enlightening ride around the city, came the most disgusting thing of life, ‘to say good bye’. Doron reduced the weight of the heavy ‘good bye’ by a the usual Assaf's magic hug. Aaron and Doron left to Israel leaving me to discover the rest of Hamburg. That’s not all; I have more stories to share, but till then check out few photos from Hamburg!
And also friends! say hi to Doron! taken at the top of St. Michaelis church.