Brad Pitt in Chandigarh!
Thursday, October 27
Sunday, October 23
Location: Bangladesh House – Near Sector 8 Market, Panchkula
After another lovely evening partying with the kids out in Panchkula I rolled out of the communal bed at craving something to take the edge off the craziness the night before. On call the house cook, Kent came in to ask if I wanted chai. He was visibly nervous knowing that a review in Chai Talk could make or break his career as a tea man.
I was a little apprehensive when I walked into the kitchen and caught him sniffing the milk but he assured me that it was ok and probably bought that morning. When the chai did come it was hot as lava and burned the tip of my tongue however the pain was followed by the delicious realization that he had made it using only the finest Sri Lankan blended tea.
Kent had obviously been doing his research on my chai preferences as he kept the sugar to minimum and used 1% milk rather than whole. This made for a light tea that pirouetted on my taste buds but did not overstay it’s welcome. I could sense a fruity plum like undertone that is generally found in tea grown along the coast. This was followed by a smooth chocolate aftertaste. The chai could have benefited from some nutmeg and cinnamon to really bring it to life and expose its delicate subtleties. Non-the less is was an exquisite chai and I will be back for more. If you ever find yourself in Panchkula be sure to stop by the Bangladesh House to enjoy a great chai served by one of the friendliest tea men you’re likely to meet.
Friday, October 21
On Friday I had a new tiffin that has been the talk of the office. As always it came in a cute little thermos on a rope that just makes you want to skip down the street with it. I popped it open and surprise, surprise the first little metal container had four somewhat warm chipatis. They were whole wheat for the health conscious and not burnt. Next was the rice which is needed in a tiffin to make you feel like you've eaten anything for lunch. In the third container was a paneer and capsicum mixture. While there were only two pieces of paneer (an indian version of cheese that's more like tofu) I'll give points because it's the fist tiffin I've ever had with paneer in it.
This was a classy tiffin and had a fourth item, the ever popular dahl. Dahl comes in many shades of green, brown and yellow and while I'm sure there are many subtle flavors every one I've ever had tastes the same. The slightly slimy texture compliments the beans and sticks well to chipati. It was good enough to give it a try for one more week and I bet on Monday they'll surprise me with a steak and on Tuesday sushi!
Kuddos to Kent for getting the sweetest picture of a cow in his office parking lot! This one was made for National Geographic.
Check out his blog at: http://kent.nomadlife.org/
I'm a Local at Last
Wednesday, October 19
Ok so this was a big day. I’ve been trying to pick up a little hindi here and there and been not to successful at it because the only time I really practice is with rickshaw drivers who never understand a word I’m saying but always nod and smile. So this morning catching a cycle rickshaw to work I said namaste and told him chauntiis sector where my office is and hoped in. Normally this is not something you do in India because you’ll find yourself getting out of the rickshaw and the driver demanding twice the regular price because you were stupid enough not to fix it when you got in. But when I got to work I said pandra rupees (the actual price for a white guy at least) and gave it to him and he smiled and left.
For those who have been to India you know this is a big deal. A rickshaw driver had the chance and didn’t try to screw with me. I think that means I’m a local now!
Tuesday, October 18
By the time we got to the chai stand at monkey point I had had a beer for breakfast and was hungry enough to eat the monkeys. Of course the air force guys wouldn't let us up to the point because none of us had our visas or passports with us so what to do but have a chai at the roadside stand.
Service was rather slow but with the stunning view from the old British hill station it's hard to complain about having to wait for your chai. When the chai came I was pleasantly surprised that it had much less sugar than most and a subtle nutmeg flavor. The milk used however was whole milk making it a little too creamy for my tastes.
The stand owner redeemed himself for the slow service when my friend drunkie Jean broke my chai cup and he didn't bat an eye, just smiled and laughed. So when you are stuck negotiating with the air force trying to get up to monkey point you might as well put down your beer for a couple minutes and have a chai.
Monday, October 17
The first chai review comes from where I have chai every day, my office. While the service is great with chai delivered to my desk twice a day, the flavor is somewhat lacking. Office chai has a weak hint of assam tea but it is masked by an overpowering sugar rush that leaves my vibrating in my chair for the next hour. While there are undertones of cinnamon and dates they are drowned in Punjabi dairy. All and all it's not worth making a trip to Sector 34 for this chai.
Underneath the Mango Tree
Sunday, October 16
Anyway I wandered down to my neighborhood barber under the tree beside the round about and had a haircut and a massage for about $1. The massage was more like being beaten in a burlap sack and the hair cut is a little uneven but all in all I'd say I got my moneys worth.
So on Saturday night we had a smokin party at what has come to be known as The 5 Seasons 36. The floor was littered with sleeping bodies in the morning when the jeeps showed up to take us to kasauli. With no sleep we stumbled out and asked the driver to stop at the first wine and beer stand because that was the only way we were going to make it through the day. After some nice talks with the air force who wouldn't let us see a temple because we didn't have our visas with us, our drivers left us at the top of a hill for about an hour. It was just enough time to catch a nap before momos and absolutely tasteless Indian food for lunch. And trust me you have to work hard to make Indian food tasteless.
We went to watch the sun set with a bottle of whiskey and ran into a celebration with people dressed up and acting out a hindu story. The whole thing because like a bacardi commercial with dancin in the street with a tiger, a bunch of kids, the monkey king and a guy all painted in blue. We held up the whole parade because the monkey king and his army wanted pictures with us so we had to stop by the Kodak store for a group shot. The party kept going all the way back to Chandigarh in our jeep before winding down over chapatti and channa masala at Kumars Restaurant.
I Miss Music!
Thursday, October 13
In case anyone was wondering, I made it through the earthquake just fine. I was actually on a bus at the time so never even felt a thing. Thanks for those who checked in on me, I appreciate it.
I've been thinking allot about my old friends from back home lately. Maybe because it was just Canadian thanksgiving and I was remembering our crazy thanksgiving party last year when Mandy even left her own parents thanksgiving to come to ours! I didn't celebrate thanksgiving this year, our oven doesn't work and even if we could find a turkey it would be little and probably not so tasty to eat. Now we're all over the world with our own lives and own thanksgivings or lack there of. But still thanksgiving, maybe even as much as Christmas seems like a time to be with family. This thanksgiving I missed my family and my friends, many of whom are like family to me. I hope we all get to do turkey again some day soon but until then take care everyone and make sure you all do some crazy stuff that we can talk about over wine and mashed potatoes!
On another note yesterday was dusshera here and everyone got together to watch them burn ephagies filled with fire crackers, gotta say it was pretty cool. AND there's a party at my house in Chandigarh this Saturday night so let me know if anyone feels like dropping by, we'll put the speakers on the roof and dance till sunrise so you might just want to buy your ticket to india now!
Another weekend in India
Monday, October 10
Ok it's been a few crazy days since I've posted so let me tell you all about it. On Thursday night after pulling a 12 hour day to get a project done on time I met up with some friends who managed to get invitations to a Mumbai Fashion Show after party. Open bar, real music and pretty girls, it was the best party I've been to in India. Decked out in my second hand tuxedo jacket and jeans I won't lie I was hot stuff and the tv camera agreed because they stood there and video tapped us all night long. I even got to take a little footage myself. I'm working on becoming a bollywood star!
So even though we were exhausted we decided to go to Delhi for the weekend to party. We got in Saturday afternoon and then that night ended up at a party that a french guy was having. A little lame so we bar hoped around refusing to pay overpriced cover until we ended up at F-Bar. The place was pumpin the worst R&B you can imagine but it was packed with people from Korea and China for some reason. It had this great view of silhouetted trees and a lake out a huge glass window and we got in for a quarter the cover somehow. Luckily we still had a bottle of whiskey with us and Jean could mix us drinks under the bar rather than paying $10 for a highball. I mean come-on, it's India. Starving we stumbled out of the bar and got back to our hotel at 4 am and had the usual fight over price with our rickshaw driver. All the stores were closed but luckily Aman the omelet guy was still up and whipped up some omelets, toast and coffee on his little cart in front of the hotel. Mmmmm, then the sun came up so time for bed.
As if that wasn't enough we spent Sunday at "The Food and Fun Village", a water park outside Delhi. You know how anything that involves a bathing suit in north america is a bit of a fashion show, well not in India. The ugliest bathing suits you have ever seen, girls wearing actual bathing dress and pants and guys were wearing baggy Speedos and some had Speedos on over trunks. And they danced to Hindi music at the "water bar" that serves coke. Haha, it was so funny but great for a hangover. So now back in sleepy Chandiagarh.
What a weekend!
Tuesday, October 4
The adventures never seem to stop in India. We had a crazy weekend here
with a big party at our house on Friday night and way to little sleep we set
of on the train to Shimla. Shimla is an amazing little piece of Europe
tucked up in the hills of northern India. There are like 2 or 3 old
churches, an old ferris wheel and the whole city sprawls up and down the
hills with European looking buildings. It was nice and cool and the sunsets
The real adventure was on the way back down to Chandigarh. We ended up
taking a jeep back because there was six of us and as soon as the Hindi pop
got pumping it was clear that it was a good ride ahead. We decided to stop
off at a wine and beer shop for a little Sunday night cap but everywhere was
closed for Mahatma Gandhi's birthday. Luckily, as often happens, our driver
knew a place and we stopped to buy fruit wine and apple cider. Of course
then we made a couple of India friends and 10 minutes later a bottle of
whisky materialized. The next hour in the jeep was pretty rowdy with a guy
from Scotland and me passing a bottle around sitting in the trunk. Then we
his a traffic jam and were told we'd have to stay the night in this little
city. Of course all the rooms were taken at every hotel we went to so we
settled down in front of a building and tried to sleep on some creates for a
couple hours. Sleep was impossible but the guard of the building gave me a
little tour of what apparently was a little shampoo bottle factory. Finally
the we checked and the road had opened up so we left our comfy spot on the
sidewalk and found a driver to take us to Chandigarh. I slept in he trunk
with the bags and we got home at 6 am to an apartment full of water. But
that's another story.
Talk to you all soon.