Dinner at The Royal Afghan

12 Nov

Vegetarians must love traveling to India. Since much of the population is vegetarian, there are always options at every restaurant. I’ve been adhering to a vegetarian diet while in India, but have dabbled in a few carnivorous cravings (when appropriate). For example, when we went to eat dinner at The Royal Afghan, known for their meats cooked in a Tandoor, I couldn’t pass up a chance to try the specialties of North/West India. We started our meal with papdums topped with chopped tomatoes and onions… think Indian nachos, where the chips are fried lentil crackers.

Next we had dal Bukhara (stewed black lentils), raita with cucumber, onions and tomatoes, murgh makhani (butter chicken), tandoori lamb and a basket of parathas, rotis and chapatis.

Thankfully we had ordered the raita, because everything was super SPICY, even the lentils. The chicken was rich and the lamb was oh so tender. North Indian food is flavorful yet heavy, so we were quite stuffed by the end of the meal. And as full as we were, we felt like it was our duty as tourists to sample a few of the regional desserts. Just doing our job. 🙂 We tried the rasmalai (paneer in clotted cream) and the shir berinj (rice pudding). I liked the cardamom spice of the rasmalai, but really loved the creamy shir berinj. I am a sucker for rice pudding though.

Traveling for work means never paying for a meal. Hello per diem! Just like being taken out on a date for every meal every day of the week. A girl sure could get use to this.

The Royal Afghan – ITC Windsor
25 Golf Course Road
Bangalore, Karnataka 560052
(91)(80) 22269898

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Critters in Maldives

9 Nov

Cutest crab ever!

A not so hermity Hermit Crab.

One of the many lizards running around the island.

Aquatic life around the coral. Little black and white clown fish. Below is the tiniest glimpse of a Reef Shark.

Why is it so fun to take pictures of animals?

Maldives

7 Nov

Boy, do I feel spoiled getting to visit Maldives over Dawali weekend. It is just over an hour flight from Bangalore. If I were to fly from Los Angeles, I’d be looking at 30+ hours each way including layovers. Yikes, right? From the Malé airport, Claire and I took a quick speedboat ride out to Paradise Island. Look at that water.

Maldives is indescribably beautiful. The water is a crystal turquoise blue and unlike India, it is free of honking horns and polluted air. What a refreshing change. We’ve been working 12 hour-long days, so a mini-vacation was a much needed refresher. I can see why Maldives is a top honeymoon/vacation destination. Muy romantico! Our room opened up onto our own private beach.

All we had on the intinerary was working on our tans and a little floating around in the water. Apparently the reef sharks also had the same idea. I think I’ve watched a few too many Shark Weeks on Discovery Channel, because I was thoroughly freaked out by them. Some of them were just bitty babies that weren’t more than two feet long. Every time I saw a shark I would run away. I did happen upon this little colony of fish (aka shark bait) when I was playing around with my underwater camera.

It was all very peaceful and relaxing. The most work that I did all weekend was collect sea shells/coral and watch the sunset. Sheesh. What a spoiled brat I must sound like. 🙂

I really liked this shell because it looked like it was painted with hearts.


We had rain and lots of it on Saturday, but eventually the weather cooperated and we were able to lay out. Thank goodness because vitamin D deficiency is a serious problem. I also got a lot of quality Kindle time. I’m now on Part 3 (of 5) of Shantaram. Here you see the dark sky and the sun fighting hard to burn away the storm clouds.

I wasn’t ready to leave this morning. I wanted to burn the image of the island in my head because no matter how manner pictures I took (and I took A LOT), none of them came close to capturing the true color of the Indian Ocean and its breathtaking beauty. You will have to take my word for it or come see for yourselves. You deserve a vacation too.

Chamundeshwari Temple: Return to Mysore

4 Nov

India is quite the religious country, so of course, there are lots of temples to visit, Gods to worship and traditions (aka holidays!) to follow. On the way back from Bandipur, we were stopping at Mysore Palace, since last time I went I felt a little cheated that I didn’t go inside the palace. Our driver insisted that on the way we also go to the top of Chamundi Hill to visit the Chamundeshwari Temple. I believe “Very famous. Very famous in Mysore” were his exact words, but I was a little groggy and the Titanic theme song was bumping (for the 58th time) so I nodded my assent and up and away we went.

The temple was packed and so was the surrounding 1 mile radius. It was more like a street market mixed with a carnival. Tons of activity and bustling with street vendors, worshipers, animals, beggars and people in general. We would have gone inside, but the line was at least 100 people deep. Still pretty from the outside though. When I got home I Googled the temple to find out that it was once the site of regular animal and HUMAN sacrifice! Umm… yikes. To take your mind off death now here are some happy photos. Here is a fun picture of a snack vendor. He was just scratching his head before I took this.

And here’s a shot of Mysore from the top of Chamundi Hill.

Bedtime for me now. Happy Dawali to you all!

I Love Room Service

3 Nov

You never truly appreciate the amazingness of room service until you’re stuck living in a hotel for months without it. When I was staying at the Taj Palace and Towers Hotel over the weekend, I took full advantage of the availability of it (and the perfect English of the staff). I even ordered my Masala Chai with soy milk, without a hitch. Oh Jamiepinkpanda, you had the right idea all along! Here’s a picture of my breakfast of Bircher Müesli and tea.

If the hotel only had movies on demand, we never would have left the room. Well I suppose it’s a good thing that they didn’t.

Mumbai and Elephanta Island

2 Nov

A trip to India wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Mumbai, the New York of India. Everybody told me that it would be more congested, louder and hotter than Bangalore. Well I’m not too sure about the more congested and louder part, but it was definitely hotter. I had a few on the brink of heat stroke moments. The locals told us that this was considered good weather and that it didn’t get much better. Oy! I can’t imagine what hot is to them if nice means you get swamp ass every time you get exposed to sunlight!

Claire and I stayed right in the heart of the Colaba at the Taj Palace and Tower Hotel. If you recall a few years back, this was the same hotel that was the site of terrorist attacks. Comforting, isn’t it? This is also the same hotel President Obama will be staying in later this week. We noticed the city preparing for his arrival by “cleaning” the streets. Well they were really just repainting curbs, but our taxi driver seemed to think this was a big deal.

The hotel was directly across the street from the Gateway of India, a monument built to welcome the British back in the colonization days. In the picture above, you can see the Gateway of India with our hotel peeking out from behind it. Talk about tourist central. Here’s a photo looking out into the Arabian Sea, in what looks like a parking lot for boats.

We went on a 40 minute trek on one of these ferries to get out to Elephanta Island, which is home to a set of five Hindu caves dating back to the 6th century A.D. Finally, something older than the Liberty Bell! Here are some pictures from the first and most impressive cave. There’s Shiva in all her his (thanks, Karthik) glory.



What trip to Mumbai would be complete without a visit to the stock exchange? Only kidding, of course. Claire and I went for work. Unfortunately, they don’t allow photos inside.

After looking through my photos of Mumbai, I realized that I did a horrible job of documenting our trip. Most of our time was consumed by shopping, which meant lots of haggling and negotiating with street vendors for pashminas, leather sandals and bangles. I didn’t get a single shot of the vendors at Linking Road or at the Colaba Street Market. Maybe I didn’t want to give myself away as a tourist… oh wait… did my face already do that? 🙂

Animal Print is the New Black!

28 Oct

I knew animal print was in, but apparently the Bangalore police did too. These are their cheetah print motorcycles. How fashion forward of them. Purr!