Thursday, December 14, 2006

Kanchan Calling...

"Kanchan Calling" was the buzz phrase.....Hype that promised much - especially with regards to the "horizontal limit" to Kangchenjunga, finally delivered its promise on the morning of 2nd December. The curtain of clouds (and mists of doubt) were finally lifted - and this is the sight that greeted me as I stepped out on to balcony first thing in the morning -

We, of course, had gone to Deolo Hills (at about 5500 feet) near Kalimpong. We started on the night of 30th November, a gang of about 15 IBM colleagues and their families.

The next day we reached Siliguri - but that was a day when Bengal's Lady Peter Pan decided to throw yet another of her "Oh-I-want-a-lollipop" tantrums and call a bandh. So the day was essentially wasted as we had to wait in Siliguri itself. It was not until late afternoon that we started for Kalimpong and reached there at night.

We of course had lost a day, so the next day was anticipated to be hectic - and it was...We first went to nearby Pedong to pickup our guide. We then took us to a place called Ramithey. The distance from Pedong to Ramithey is merely 6 miles or so - but we climbed from a distance of 4800 feet at Pedong to 6400 feet at Ramithey in that short distance. The "road" was steep, bumpy, wet and tested our Chevrolet Taveras to their nuts&bolts.

One is supposed to get a almost 360 degree view of peaks from the top of Ramithey - the only things we managed to see, however, were clouds and haze (and a few photographs that promised much). On the way back to a hearty lunch at Pedong we had a short stop at Silence Valley. The day ended with a long drive to Aritar Lake in Sikkim and a bonfire back at the Deolo Tourist Lodge.

Here are the photos from the first two days.

Of course the last day was vastly different. The morning was glorious and the backdrop of Kangchenjunga majestic. Justice was finally done to the SLR's and the megapixels we had carried along.

However, soon it was time to say goodbye to 'Kanchan' and return to the mundane world. We took a bit of a detour and came down to Siliguri via Gorubathan.

Photos from the last day

Another aspect of this tour worth remembering was of course the food - our beloved Phalguni-da, needless to say laid down very high standards and went all the way to ensure 'demanding customers' like Gairik-da and yours truly were satisfied. 'Kanchan' may not have made an appearance on the first two days, but the chicken legs certainly did (and disappeared equally quickly).

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Pujo 2006

Last year was the first time I missed Pujo in Kolkata - away in Denmark, far from all the fun and festivities here.

This time, of course, I was in Kolkata and that made it all the more enjoyable. Also this time most of my school friends were able to make it back to Kolkata for the Pujas.

In fact the festivities for me started on Panchami itself with a lunch out to Charnock City - kebabs, tandoori pomphret, dub-chingri, chitol maach al. The next day also we had a lunch out to Honey-da-dhaba - tandoori chicken being the highlight. And that evening I had the opportunity to say goodbye to office for 4 days...

The next 4 days were extremely enjoyable and relaxing, punctuated by several binge sessions at Marco Polo in China, Flavours of China, Cafe The Atrium at the Park Hotel and also excellent home made food.

On Saptami we went to Doshghhora (Abodesh's ancestral home). Here are a few photos from that day -

These are a few snaps from Ashtami morning - a day when tradionally most Bengali's go their local pandals to offer 'anjali'...

We also hired a Sumo and went on a night long pandal hopping trip on Nabami night -

And this is a video I shot on Ashtami morning (Warning: those of you who missed the Puja's are gauranteed to feel extremely nostalgic and heavy hearted!)....

Shubho Bijoya !!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

100 years old and soon a memory?

Recently after a long time (possibly the first time since my childhood) I went to Victoria Memorial Hall in Kolkata. Some photos from the visit and some thoughts follow -

This building which was built as a symbol of the domination of the British Raj, is celebrating its 100 years this year. Though without a doubt better off when compared to many other historical monuments in India, this Kolkata landmark has been suffering badly in the hands of time & neglect.

For example, the dome itself is leaking. This is apparent as soon as we climbed up the steps and reached the front door. It was raining and some buckets had been strategically put in place to hold the water falling from the roof. The seeping roof has long been a cause of concern and there has been some talk of taking some temporary steps as well as some more long term actions. Going by the evidence I saw, not much headway has been made.

The inside was no better. Only about a third of the whole musuem is air conditioned. Priceless paintings and other artifacts therefore lie exposed at the mercy of Kolkata's hot & humid weather.

The 5 m tall bronze statue of the 'Angel of Victory' (as can be seen in the photo above, atop the dome) has always been in news since 1999, when it stopped rotating. After numerous petitions and court litigations finally something happened when experts from Jadavpur University were called in. They diagnosed the problem to be - "The problem with the Angel was mainly because of two things. One was the copper conductor which was placed to bypass the lightening current was taken out. As a result, the lightening current, which has passed through the bearings, got spot wielded. So, the whole thing became one piece. The other one was that the space in between the bearing, space between the spindle and all these were packed up with mixture of marble dust, white cement and iron powder".

Work is currently underway to fix these problems. But there has been an allegation that clearing the cementing material at the base of the angel has caused seepage of water into the hall from the roof. We can only hope that all the concerned authorities get their act quickly and give this building it's due importance in it's 100th year.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

'Tiffin' @ Work

A recent article from BBC News - Mumbai's "dabbawallas" have now gone online. The incredible chain of lunchbox pickup from homes and the delivering it on time at far away workplaces at lunchtime has long been showcased as an example of efficiency, dedication and teamwork. In fact, the study of the Dabbawallah's has made it to the course curricullam of several of India's B' schools as an example of supply chain management efficiency.

This brings to my mind the entire scenario of having 'tiffin' or lunch at our offices. To think of it, this need has lead to a whole sub-economy in India. I do not have the experience of working in any other city in India other than Kolkata - so my experience is restricted to Kolkata itself and that is what I will write about here.

Now we all know almost any Bengali can is invariably a 'bhojon-roshik' (rough translation: food afficianado). We Bengali's sure do enjoy and know our food. And since more than half the time in a typical day is spent at office, office 'tiffin' or lunch becomes a life saving necessity...

Before the fast food and eating out revolution hit us, most people used to carry lunch from home (many people still do now, but I believe the percentage has gone down). Now of course, there are various options available - be it the office canteen, street food, restaurant take-aways and such alike.

Office canteens are for the more conservative at heart - they dish out the regular Bengali 'thaali' or multi-course meals. Typical meal would consist of a rice and/or roti, some vegetables (in most days heavily dominated by the cheapest vegetable available - potato), fish or chicken curry and a 'mishti' (Bengali sweets) or doi (yoghurt - made the Bengali way).

Now many people are constantly driven by the spirit of adventure and innovation - and the above staple fare served at office canteens will not satiate their taste buds. That is where the street food of Kolkata comes into the picture.

The two places in Kolkata who have earned their fame in this regard are Decars Lane and Camac Street, especially the former. In both these places you would find an amazing variety of food available - bengali, north indian, south indian, "chinese" (thoroughly Indianised) and also what is proclaimed as 'Continental' (stews and such alike). The requirements from most people eating in these shops are primarily how filling the food is (the quantity), how cheap the food is and also how quick the 'service' is. The though of pristine hygiene is something which one will have to forego if eating at these places.

Another late entrant to the Kolkata lunch scene is the 'dabba' - now 'dabba' in Kolkata is not what is meant by 'dabba' in Mumbai. In Mumbai the 'dabba's contain food is home-made and is then to an individual at his work place. In Kolkata the 'dabbawala' delivers food which he has made/procured himself.

In this regard I should mention the lunch scenario in the IT industry belt of Kolkata (primarily Sector V, Salt Lake). Here the situation is a different because there are very few restaurants in this area. Most people either bring food from home or have it in their respective office canteens. But there are two more options - firstly there are some vendors who bring in food in mobile vans. They come in at lunchtime - serve the food out of the car/van and then leave. There are also a number of semi-permanent structures - they are referred to as 'jhhupri' in Bengali ('jhhups' is a recent trendy name :-)). These 'jhhups' normally have steaming hot rice, 'daal' & fried fish on the 'menu' - the hygiene bit of course leaves a lot to be desired.

Friday, July 14, 2006

The recent Mumbai bomb blast - some thoughts...

7/11 - Mumbai was ripped apart by 8 bomb blasts - around 200 people killed, hundreds more are gravely injured. The many 24x7 news channels across Indian TV space scramble over each other to provide the details - live feeds, audience reactions, expert panel interviews...

7/12 - Mumbai is trying to slowly crawl back to normal, people are going back to work...TV channels such as CNN-IBN go gaa-gaa about the "Mumbai spirit".... images are being shown of people helping each other on the streets, water & food being provided to the stranded, people are queuing up in front of blood banks...

People going back to work the very next day after the blast are interviewed, especially those who are traveling by the local train network...Mumbai is returning to "normal"...

7/13 - The security agencies and police are woken up from their slumber and they pretend to be doing their work - more than 350 have been detained...LeT & SIMI are being suspected as the perpetrators.

7/14 (today) - The bomb blast news is no longer the sole story hogging the headlines - the 'breaking story' is now just another story....

Tomorrow - Mumbai returns to "normalcy", the bomb blast story vanishes from the headlines and most importantly - we forget...

A regular and familiar pattern - all of us are proud and resilient Indians - we can take pain (give us more, please)...we are famous for our ability to "bounce back"....

Question is, do we really "bounce back"? Are the people who are traveling by Mumbai local trains today doing so because they want to show bounce back or prove to somebody that "India will not be scared of terrorists?". Or is it because they are taking the train because taking a taxi will cost more money and taking a bus more time than they can afford?

For the people who HAVE been the real victims, people who have lost their family, their friends...people who lost their limbs and will never lead an active life again....will things ever return to "normal" again? In my opinion, no...

There will be some arrests surely (maybe after 10/15 years), a high profile trial - and then mostly likely an acquittal. The accused will then proclaim himself as the "victim of the media's witchhunts" and win an election on a sympathy wave..

Okay, maybe I have gone too far in the last bit - but the reality is nothing will never happen, nothing will change. The whole nation will seat glued to TV watching the "breaking news", there will be reams of newsprint printed, parliament will see heated discussions, people will chat, rave, rant, blog (like me here!), and then we will forget - and then the cycle will start again for yet another story.

This brings me to a question which is related to what I have already said above - I have never understood why our collective public memory is so short? Why do we forget so quickly? Why is it that any issue which is burning today is not even in the fine print tomorrow?

There are so many examples in the recent past - the reservations issue for example. Protests, hungerstrikes, resignations and even self-immolations. Ultimately all that has changed nothing! And then quietly, slowly but surely that issue has vanished from each our minds.

Even non-issues such as during the release of Da Vinci Code will stir the Indian media into frenzied activity. Issues such as these have shorter lifetimes but during that time they even have the capacity of displacing the more important issues from the limelight.

Another area which gives (or used to give, in my case) us national identity is cricket. There also, for example a cricketer turns in a great performance in a match. He is hailed by all and sundry as the next Sachin Tendulkar or the next Kapil Dev. The whole nation will idolise him, people will sport his hairstyle - and then he flops in the next match. Lo and behold - all that was said & sung before is conveniently forgotten. That very same player will then be the villain and will be put down to the dust...

Or take for example the scant regard with which we treat our own history and our own monuments. How many times have we seen people deface our monuments by scribing their names on them? Or for that matter monuments covered in 'paan' stains and garbage?

All of this is something which arouses great curiosity in me. What is it that has caused our public memory to be so short? Why do we forget (and perhaps forgive) the past so quickly? Is it the role played by the media? Or is it the fact that given our continuous struggles with the present we can afford no time for the past?

I wonder....can someone answer?

Thursday, July 06, 2006

10 Things I dream to do before I die...

Just came across this book today while surfing through Indiatimes Books.....
"Unforgettable Things to do Before You Die"

I found the title of the book to be very thought provoking and started thinking about it.....I am in hurry to die right now, but why not start planning for things straight away? As somebody has said "Life is short and work is long" - once I started thinking about the things I wanted to do, it was a case of "Life is short and the list is long". In the end I forced myself to stop at listing the Top 10 wishes only.

So here list of 10 things that I would like to do before I die (in no strict order)

1. Visit Manasarovar in the Tibetian Plateau...a place of stunning & rugged beauty....a place where the heavens touch the earth....

2. This is something which I have already done - a trip to Paris! Two unforgettable experiences stand out - an evening cruise on the Seine River watching the Eiffel Tower lit up by glittering lights; a visit to the Louvre and being awestruck by the astonishing art collection on display.

3. A drive from coast to coast of USA - in a Ferrari F430 Spider

4. Spending a night out in front of the Taj Mahal lit by moonlight.

5. An open-air dinner in the many restaurants in San Marco's Square in Venice accompanied by the best French wine (Chateaux Mouton-Rothschild perhaps) and with musicians performing live classical music. I would like to be dressed in a Louis Vuitton suit, Salvatore Ferragamo shoes and wearing a Chopard watch.

I have been to Venice & San Marco's Square, so part of the dream has been fulfilled. But the reality ends there - the rest is sadly pure pipe deam :-(

6. A night out on the African Bush all by myself driving a jeep......stop the jeep in the middle of the vast plains......enjoy the silence, watch the starry skies and get to see a lion in its natural habitat.

7. Visit the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu in the Andes mountains in Peru. Take the Inca Trail route up the mountain, camping in tents at night.

8. Watch the men's singles final at The Championships, Wimbledon - with Roger Federer playing. It's not only about the sport - but also the sheer heritage, the ambience and the feeling..

9. Bungee-jump from one of the cliffs at Grand Canyon - dowwwwwwwwn to the depths below!

10. Watch Sourav Ganguly lift World Cup 2007 :-))

There are many other wishes and dreams - but right at this moment, at this stage - these are the Top 10 !

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Some photos from an old family album unearthed recently

Our house is small and seems perpetually filled with any things that I feel are not really needed. Especially my cupboard is a mess - with literally hundreds of books, CD's, small knick-knacks and assorted trash in all shapes and sizes.

Its not that I really mind that - in fact I am too lazy to keep things in order all the time. But at times things do get out of control - for example, just before leaving for office (with a rush to catch the office bus) I would be rummaging in the tons of rubbish trying desperately to locate my office ID badge :-)

When things reach such a head, I do try to make an effort to put a little method into all the madness. During one such 'clean-up drive' recently, I found an old album containing old family photos.

The photos are old and it is very likely that they might get affected by dust and moisture. So I decided to take digital snaps of all the photos, so as to preserve the memories at least in some form.

Here are some snaps of my childhood from that album....


Once upon a time I had 'bit' more hair!

Evolution into the age of colour photographs...

Monday, April 24, 2006

Delhi - 16th to 20th April '05

An opportunity for attending a training on CRM Marketing took me to Delhi on last Sunday (16th April). I won't use up much blogspace talking about the training - but on the whole we were all pretty disappointed with it. During the training I put up at the IBM Guest House at Safdarjung Enclave.

Sumantra and Mousumi came to pick me up at the airport and drove me to my guest house. Mousumi had to leave for Jalandhar on office work that afternoon. After dropping her at her office Sumantra and I headed straight for some 'light refreshments' :-). We went a restaurant called Ruby Tuesday in the PVR Saket Complex where we spent 5 very 'happy hours'....a number of meat platters made their way to oblivion during this time.

In fact on the whole this Delhi trip would be memorable for the excellent food I had. On Monday Sumantra and I went to a Greek restaurant - 'It's Greek To Me'. The place was small - but cosy and comfortable. The presentation of the food was very nice and quantity was ample. We had Lamb Souvlaki for starters. Sumantra ordered a Lamb Moussaka for the main course and I settled for a Chicken Mykonos (Grilled Chicken stuffed with ham).

On Wednesday we went on the search of a Japanese restaurant in New Friend's Colony - but it was closed by the time we reached. Finally we settled for some Thai food at a restaurant called Ego Thai. The food was quite nice - especially the starter course of Chicken Satay with peanut dip.

Each day, most of the time was taken up by the training but I did do some quick sightseeing with Santanu (an IBM colleague who was also in that training). Here are some pictures of my Delhi trip -

South Block, Rastrapati Bhavan, Raisina Hill.

India Gate, Rajpath

Red Fort, Delhi

Qutub Minar

Mehrauli Iron Pillar

Akshardham Temple

In front of the Bahai House of Worship (Lotus Temple)

The Lotus Temple grounds

Our training class

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Trip to Shankarpur (Sankarpur)

The travel bug in me first raised its head when I was in Denmark. Bitten by that bug, I travelled a lot of places in Europe over a relatively small time frame. I started with Paris(which incidentally remains my favourite) then went on to see Italy, Switzerland, Athens, Stockholm, Barcelona, Norway and then the UK.

But I have never really travelled much within India - which I now consider to be rather unfortunate and sad. For example, I feel really ashamed because I have never seen the Taj Mahal. Hope to set this record straight within the next year or so..the destination at the top of my mind is North India - Corbett National Park, Ranthombore, Rajasthan and the Northern Himalayas.

As a small start I went to Shankarpur (or Sankarpur) on March 19 & 20th. This was a mini-reunion of the old gang at Maersk project - with myself, Sanjay-da & Debasree-boudi, Shibaji-da & Durba-boudi & Popai in the touring party. To add to the fun Somnath-da & Sonali-boudi & Sneha and also Pramit joined the gang. The notable absentee was of course Pijush, who dropped out (for a reason which is now part folkfore) at 3 AM (or is it PM, Pijush?) the day we left for Shankarpur.

Shankarpur is around 200 kilometres from Calcutta and we drove there. I had been there before in 2002 but now the roads have improved considerably. It took us around 5 hours to reach there, with numerous 'pit-stops' in between to top-up our 'tanks'.
We put up at the Sandy Bay Hotel, which I would highly recommend to anyone visiting Shankarpur. The hotel is situated right next to the beach with great service and wonderful food.
There is nothing much to do or see in Shankarpur. It is an ideal getaway if good food, good rest and total peace & quiet is what one is looking for.
The beach is clean and wide with very few people. We dived right into the sea after reaching Shankarpur and checking in to the hotel (the photo below is courtesy Shibaji-da).

We went out to the beach in the evening also. The overall ambience is quite different at that time with the sun setting and darkness slowly embracing the beach. We also came out to the beach at night and the combination of moonlight sparking on the top of the waves is magical.

The following morning I planned to wake up early to watch sunrise. However the tiredness from the first day took its toll and I was a bit late in making it to the beach. I missed the moment of the sun rising from the sea horizon but managed to capture the following shot.

Another shot of the beach, early in the morning...

Shankarpur was great fun. It was wonderful to relax in calm & quiet without the hustle & bustle of typically 'touristy' places corrupted by commercial activities. The food too was excellent - especially the pomphret fries...the only thing which we probably regret is missing out on the 'tiffin' on the last evening, as Somnath-da had suggested :-)

We all agreed that we will come back to Shankarpur sometime in the future in the same group - I sincerely hope that that thought materialises!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Food delights found only in Kolkata

Got this list from a friend by mail recently. Would like to thank the kind-hearted soul who took the effort in compiling this. The delight he got from compiling it is pretty evident in hs language :-)

Unfortunately, only people who have lived in Calcutta will realise what these mean or what they taste like. But those for those of us who have - it will help to revive memories and urge us to try them out once again...and again..and again...

These are culinary gems available in only Kolkata!

  • Kabiraji Cutlet from Regent (S N Banerjee Road)
  • Moghlai Parota from Anadi Cabin (S N Banerjee Road)
  • Kosha Mangsho from Golbari (Shyambazar)
  • Phulkopir Singara from Mrityunjoy (Lansdowne)
  • Double Egg Chicken Roll from Kusum / Park Steet)(Campari @ Gariahat & Nizam is a close contender!)
  • Chicken Rezala from Shabbir (off C R Avenue)
  • Steak at Oly pub (with beer!!)
  • Ujjala's Chanachur ( no comparison anywhere)
  • Telebhaja from Putiram (College Street)
  • Daab Chigri from Kewpies (Elgin Lane)
  • Chicken Cutlet from Baked & Fried (Ballygunge Place)
  • Bijoli Grill's Fish Roll
  • Mochar Chop Dhoka from Apanjan (Sadananda Road)
  • Boudir's Lebu Cha (Deshapriya Park)
  • Kochuri & Tarkari from Tasty Corner (Mandeville Gardens)
  • Phuchka/Churmur/ Dahi Phuchka from Bilas or Boudi (Southern Avenue)
  • Chicken Cutlet near Samur (Bhowanipur)
  • Mishti Doi & Rosogolla from Mithai (Beckbagan)
  • Sandesh (all types) from Balaram (Bhowanipur)
  • Pantua from Bancharam
  • Indrani from Ganguram
  • Rabri from Chittaranhan
  • Darbesh from Sen Mahasay
  • Amritti from Bhim Nag/Ganguram (Jalebis are no match)

I wish I could add - Skyroom's Prawn Cocktail & Mixed Grill & BakedAlaska or Blue Fox's Lobster Thermidor - NOT anymore.... even theMandarin Fish from Waldorf is no more available!!

These are unmatched:

  • Chelo Kabab from Peter Cat
  • Phulkopir Shingara: samosas don't stand a chance against these.
  • Phuchka: gol-gappas aren't a match on phuchkas.
  • Karaishutir Kochuri: a seasonal favourite, have it with alur dam.
  • Luchi: puri and phulkas - no comparison.
  • Alurdom: the world's best. Try the offering at Vivekananda Park.
  • Jhalmuri: a unique concoction, with nothing to equal it.
  • Telebhaaja: these and jhalmuri are like 'made for each other'.
  • Chanachur: many have tried unsuccesfully to steal the formula, MNCs included!
  • Alukabli: where will you get something like this?Ghugni: again, chana is not the same at all. (And mangshe'r ghugni is even better)
  • Radhaballavi: try it with alurdom or cholar daal.
  • Chaanp: even Pakistani cricketers have sampled these, in Chitpur.
  • Rezala: out of this world, just out of this world!
  • Paradiser Sharbat: there is one which is green, and another, pink. No college student from Presidency or the University has failed to sample these!
  • Lere Biscut: needed to make the batter for chop-katlet. (Also phata-phati with butter and/or cheese spread)
  • Chicken Kabiraji: an unbelievable variation on the chicken cutlet.
  • Mutton Afghani: an equally innovative presentation of the mutton cutlet. (Coffee House)
  • Dimer Kalia: again, where do you get something like this?
  • Kasha mangsho: it's become an institution now.
  • Roll: the ubiquitous mutton, chicken or egg roll. Unquestionably superior to any variants in any other city of the world.
  • Coffee houser coffee: try the float with ice cream.
  • Bharer chaa: on the Maidan, from shining brass vessels on a rainy day.

The sweeter side...

  • Roshomalai: a creamy, mouth-watering delight!
  • Jilipi: smaller than the jalebis and tastes quite different.
  • Lal(Misti) doi: is an experience by itself!
  • Kamala bhog: a pale yellow orb, delicately sweetened.
  • Notun gurer sondesh: a winter speciality available in no other city.
  • Rosogolla: simply needs no introduction.
  • Natun gurer Rosogolla: the latest innovation.
  • Shitabhog: pure white, sweetened to just the right extent.
  • Mihi Dana: golden yellow, saffron scented.
  • Maalpoa: rich brown pancakes, dripping in sugar syrup.
  • Ranga alur pithey: another traditional favourite in winter

Some off beat specialities..

  • Aamer morobba - the best outside Gariahat market
  • Kuler achar - the best outside Gariahat market
  • Shukno mashla makha tetul - Available with the churanwalas outside all schools, much to the delight of the students and dismay of theparents !!
  • Dulaler tal mishri
  • Dulaler hojmi - mind boggling and healthy too
  • Bikrampurer kashundi - Mustard just pales next to this
  • Machher kochuri - Where else can you have fish in such an innovative form ????
  • Churmur - In my opinion this is slightly better than jhalmuri and phuchka. The sad thing of course is that it is unheard of in the restof the country.
  • Alukabli - Another must at Vivekananda Park or opposite Menoka Cinema
  • Muri ghonto - Defies description
  • Mochar chop - A delight even for the staunchest non vegetarians
  • Kumro phul bhaja - In tiny little food joints around Chittaranjan Avenue
  • Kada paker sandesh - A sure winner, especially the jalbhara talshansh with the liquid gur filling, which is sublime
  • Darbesh - Our own version of the laddoo
  • Bondey - How does one describe this sticky sweet delicacy
  • Patishapta - A delicate crepe with a filling of coconut and gur
  • Chhanar payesh - Better than rabdi anyday and does not weigh your stomach down..."
Try these out and enjoy!!

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Long time no post...

"Its been a long time since I posted something on my blog" - a common enough refrain seen or heard in the 'blogosphere'. Looks like I just caught the disease myself! Last I time I wrote something was over 2 months ago.
Somehow just did not feel like posting something on the blog. Not that I am enjoying writing this post either but just trying to revive my blog here (not sure why because nobody except myself reads it anyway!).
The project has gone live and now I am itching to get back home. Looks like that will not happen before February. More than anything it is the food that beckons me now - ohh what would i give now to have some hot 'karaishuti-r kachuri' in this cold damp weather here!
Speaking of food, it has taken me quite some time to get used to the Danish cuisine. To start with it looked all they had was a bread that quite frankly looked like a log of dark coloured wood and raw meat. But now I am much more the wiser and quite well acquinted with the food here.
The dark coloured wooden log like bread is actually Rye Bread - this is bread that is very popular in Scandinavia, northern parts of Germany and some parts of Russia. It is a heavy, dense bread. The Danes make "Smorrebrod" with this bread and that is what they recognise as their "national dish".
Smorrebrod literally means bread & butter - it is actually a open sandwich (that is you have only one slice of bread, at the bottom). The bread is buttered and is covered with a variety of toppings. The most traditional of toppings is pickled herring, sliced onions rings , beetroot & gherkins. Other other toppings are smoked salmon, liver pate, shrimp salad, spiced meat rolls or roast beef.

This open sandwich is never eaten by picking it up in the hands - it is eaten from the plate by using a fork and knife.

A very traditional dish in Denmark which is typically eaten by many families on Christmas Eve is the "Flæskesteg" - or Roast Pork with crackling. This is a dish of pork rind which has a crisp outer surface and a layer of cooked fat underneath. This is normally accompanied by caramelized potatoes or red cabbage.

The last item that I will mention on this post is "Ris Alamand" - which means rice pudding with almonds. It is somewhat like our own Bengali "payesh" - but a lot less sweeter and more creamier. This is also a very traditional Danish christmas dish. The rice pudding has grated almonds - but a single whole almond lies hidden in the bowl. The person who has gets the whole almond must keep it within his mouth and not reveal it until the whole bowl is served and eaten. Then the lucky one produces the whole almond and he gets a special gift at the Christmas dinner table!