Pondicherry: A Colonial Paradise

It’s 4:45 a.m. I struggle to open my eyes at the sound of the alarm. A little disoriented, I look around. It takes some time to remind myself of where I am. And what I have to do.

I wake them up, and we head down to the beach, a spectacle of jagged rocks, waves hitting against them and spraying the water of the sea onto our faces. A cool breeze caresses, as the fishermen begin their journeys and the early morning walkers start their exercise. Any minute now.

The sky begins to change. Subtle. A hint of blue, the promise of a sun.

And then comes shades of lilac, brilliant orange, a smidge of pink, a dash of red…

And before I know it, it has arrived. Another new day.

Pondicherry is a union territory located near Tamil Nadu in India. Previously under rule of the French, following Indian Independence, Pondicherry became independent as well. However, traces of French culture still lie in its preserved architecture, mostly along the Rocky Beach and the French Colony, hinting strongly of Pondicherry’s colonial legacy.

But Pondicherry surprised me in so many ways, because it wasn’t just a place of beauty and history, it was a food lover’s paradise. One of the must try places in Pondicherry is Cafe Xtasi, where they make pizzas so huge you can feed a table of five, and the vegetarian pizzas are better than the meat pizzas. Another place that is worth a mention is the Indian Xpress Kaffe, which delivers wholesome filling breakfasts, and is equally proficient in both Continental and Indian Cuisine. Their waffles are just about as good as it gets.

The Gelato Place located on Beach Road is simply to die for. Along with normal flavours like vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry, they have really refreshing flavours like lemon and ginger, roast almond, raspberry (with real pieces of fruit!), and tiramisu.

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The best part about Pondicherry is that transport is so different from that in other crowded cities. Since the French Colony sees less traffic, it’s possible to cycle with ease. Filled with shady lanes and quaint neighborhoods, cycling along Beach Road and through the Colony allows you to feel the vibe of the area. In fact, taking accommodation in this area is the best choice. It’s very easy to rent cycles, and rates are usually cheap, at 100 rupees for the day. Visitors can contact the Tourism Office located on Beach Road and it is convenient for any other information you may require.

Pondicherry is not a party place, it’s not a place filled with young people, it’s not modern. It’s a place that revels in its past, lives in its history, and breathes in its culture…

That sunrise? That is what Pondicherry is all about. Being one with yourself. The calm before the commotion of life. It isn’t the most beautiful sunrise in the world, but it is the most beautiful feeling. And that is what makes it worth it.

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A Walk along the Kabini River

The clouds roll in… beckoning, forbidding. Gray.

A storm is coming.

It is flat. Flat, with tinges of red hidden between the short grass, which flickers and changes textures as the wind blows through it.

The horizon is clear, and it feels endless… like all around me are horizons as far as the eye can see.

With a sudden energy I take off at a run, the mud sucking at my shoes, hair whipped by the wind, which rushes through my ears.

I feel free.

I stop, to catch my breath. It’s silent, and the only sound I hear is the sound of my gasping breath. Is this what poets talk about? Is this what painters paint?

Yes.

Kabini is a river that originates from Wayanad, Kerala. It eventually joins the more commonly known Kaveri River. Once a private hunting lodge of the Maharaja of Mysore, Kabini was a popular shikar hotspot for British Viceroys and Indian royalty. Now it is considered to be one of the best wildlife sanctuaries in Karnataka, famous for its spectacular wildlife and variety of birds. Kabini also branches out into the stunning backwaters I experienced.

This year has been one of the hugest droughts seen thus far, and while the water in the river is scarce, the plains stretch for miles, absolutely flat, a perfect line between sky and earth.

And it is the epitome of serenity. Just me, alone… a speck in the fantastic world we live in.

I raise my hands up and feel the wind all around me, lifting my very soul.

And the clouds, that have been warning me for so long, let go…

Hello Rain… I’ve been waiting.

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Easy Paneer Butter Masala

I live in an apartment where the only source of cooking is an induction stove. Just one. Trying to make something delicious without any of the usual equipment is a challenge, but hey, that’s what makes creating these recipes so rewarding!

Just the other day, my roommate taught me how to make the most divine paneer butter masala. It’s rich, salty, sweet, sour, and spicy and makes for an indulgence that will leave your mouth watering. Pair it up with steaming hot tandoori roti, naan, or rice. It takes just 20 minutes, no mess, no worries. Here’s how.

Ingredients:

Onion- 1 large

Tomatoes- 3-4 depending on size

Chillies- 2-3

Ginger- 1 piece

Garlic- 1 clove

Paneer

Milk- A few tablespoons

Water- A few tablespoons

Curd- 1/4 cup

Ketchup- To taste

Salt- To taste

Red Chilli Powder- 2-3 spoons

Paneer Masala

Sugar- To taste

Oil- 5-6 large tablespoons

Cashews- 2-3 finely chopped

Cut 1 onion, 3-4 tomatoes, 1-2 large green chillies, a bit of ginger, and a clove of garlic finely. (as thin as you can)

Next, pour some oil into the pan, around 5 tablespoons. Once the oil has heated up put all your chopped vegetables into the oil. The veggies will begin to release water and change colour, beginning to form a paste, curry like consistency.

As the curry is forming, in a separate bowl, combing a little yogurt, around half a cup, with a bit of milk and water. Leave it aside for a minute.

Once the curry has turned into a light golden colour, add paneer. As the paneer cooks, pour the mixture of curd,milk and water over the curry.

Add a bit of sugar for the sweetness. This is where you need to work on balancing out your flavours (one of the best parts about cooking) Add salt according to tastes, along with a squirt of ketchup. Add the spices as well. Mix the ingredients in the pan until the curry forms and the flavours have balanced.

To finish, chop a few cashews and a bit of butter for garnish.

That’s it!

Staying in a place with minimal cooking devices, this recipe is great because it doesn’t require a mixer to make the paste, and its quick and easy to whip up with just one stovetop.

It does take some tries to get the balance right, as we usually cook by instinct and we don’t really measure. But then I always find that that’s the best part about creating curries… its always about taste and finding the flavours that click together.

So, happy eating!

 

Eggless Chocolate Cupcakes

It’s finally time to post a recipe!

I’ve been searching everywhere for the perfect eggless cake recipes, they tend to come in handy when you bake for friends who are completely vegan. However, with all my previous attempts, the lack of egg was a bit obvious, and they fell….flat.

And then. I finally found it! Thank you internet!

They came out light, fluffy, and decadent. I daresay it was probably healthier than any other cake I’ve ever made. And you can’t even tell that there are no eggs. They just might (might) taste better too.

It’s a straight-in for the recipe book.

Here’s a link to the recipe I used! Give it a try. I guarantee results.

Eggless chocolate cupcakes recipe | Eggless cupcakes

I did increase the measurements to make 24 cupcakes. So that would be:

Eggless Chocolate Cupcakes: {24 cupcakes}

2 cups flour

1 1/3 cup sugar

4/9 cup cocoa powder

1 1/3 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/3 cup water

2/3 cup oil

1 1/3 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/3 tablespoon vinegar

 

 

Bengaluru Rains

The first droplets hit the screen of the car, and for some reason I am speechless, completely spellbound. The rains have finally come. There are literally so many ways you can enjoy it, sitting inside with a steaming mug of coffee or hot chocolate, getting drenched outside; but my favourite way to watch rain is in a moving car. Ever sat in the window seat and watched the droplets swim across? If you have then you know what I’m talking about. It’s as if each drop is alive, swimming across the screen faster and faster….

And it’s so relaxing.

Bangalore has been experiencing one of the hottest summers to date. It’s reputation as one of the coolest cities in India is just that. An empty reputation. With all these high temperatures, the rains come like a saviour.

It’s always been one of my favorite parts about the city. In the summers of my past, whenever it got too hot, there would always be a brief shower of rain and the mercury levels would come down in an instant. Just when I had started to lose hope on this city, a couple of days ago, the first droplets hit my window. And just like that, my spirits lifted.

Bengaluru Rains…. Ah, it’s unpredictable, it sometimes teases, it takes a vacation…but I guess I can count on my city to deliver when it needs to most.

Photo Credits: https://www.caminodesantiago.me/wp-content/uploads/rain1.jpg

Waves and the Wind

I was having a conversation with a friend the other day. We were sitting at a restaurant, and all of a sudden we got talking about seafood. I realized that being from the city, it’s something I miss seeing in Bangalore. If there’s one place where the calmness of the world comes to center, it’s the ocean. It’s rhythmic waves pulling you in, caressing your feet, sand grains holding onto you for dear life…

Drowning out all the chaos, and yet somehow, chaotic in its own way… something in the way it moves, though, like a dance, or like snowflakes, unique.

I feel like it grows and ages with me. I want to keep every part embedded in my memory and yet each time there’s something else. Something new. Changing… never still… and each mood different from the rest. It can be angry, happy, sad, and even jealous, snatching away precious treasures, time, people.

Sometimes, I feel like the connection we have with our parents, or with our children stems from these memories, and that it lives in where we are. Just like the waves, these memories are embedded in our minds, forever cherished, and eternal.