What to Blog!

Its quite a while since my last post. Life has kept me very busy! Too many things happened in my life during this period that many blogs can be expected on these happenings. Nothing could be a perfect gift as my son’s birth just 2 hrs before the clocks strikes 12:00 to celebrate my birthday. He gave us a surprise visit just a day after ‘valaikappu’ with a nail biting suspense. Thank God our rules do  not allow to know the sex of a child earlier. There is nothing as thrilling as waiting long to know if your first child is a boy or a girl. Those crazy old wives tales! they didn’t work 🙂 .

And my visit to Taipei. Short visit it was; but a wonderful experience. I should admit that I was over confident with Taipei’s food due to my Beijing experiences. Taipei food is nowhere near Beijing. We didn’t miss out our visit to Taipei 101 and the famous night market. 

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And my website crash. Oops! For three years I have regularly taken backups. Exactly when I have forgot to do it for more than four months my website crashed. Luckily since there was not much activity I was able to restore it with minimal loss. I never expected someone would break into my database and clear the records. Big lesson learnt!

And so many fun filled dramas in life and at work. But I am still thinking for a topic, for a reason to blog. What to Blog?

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Bannerghatta National park – A Visit

On a Christmas day eve we planned a trip to Bannerghatta National Park. We chose that destination hoping it would not be crowded as it is far away from Bangalore. We booked a taxi on Fast Track. We started at 10:00 AM and reached there by 10:30. It was not far as we thought (16 Kms from Silk Board). We spent some time to have some grilled corn. We did not carry food with us as it was mentioned as plastic free zone and we were not sure if it would be allowed inside. By the time we reached the ticket counter there were already a queue of 20 members. We chose the one hour grand safari (Rs. 125 per head, Rs. 20 per Still Camera, Rs. 110 per Video Camera Holiday Rates). We entered in and had to wait in the grand safari queue which was already loaded with around 70 people. After a half an hour wait in the queue we were able to board the van. We expected a Zeep Safari but it was a van safari. The van was fully loaded with 35 people and the view form the van was not good for photography. But there were green colored vans which seemed better built for safari. But there were only a few of them used for Lion & Tiger Safari. The Lion & Tiger Safari costs less and the duration is for half an hour.

During the safari we could be able to see Deer, Sambar, Bear, Tiger and Lion. The experience was indeed good. We could be able to see the animals so close in an natural environment. The bears surrounded our vehicle and we can see them very closely. We could see the Lion and Lioness playing which we could not experience in a zoo. At the end they dropped us down at the butterfly park. One cannot expect much at the butterfly park but it is a bit refreshing after the hour long tiring ride. For lunch we tried to look for a decent restaurant. The Jungle lodges looked good, but we have to return back after seeing the awfully maintained restaurant. We went back to the zoo only to see a huge (really huge!) crowd waiting in the ticket counter and the safari queue. Oh my God! Thankfully we came in early or else we should have spent all our time in the queues. There was a decent collection of animals in the zoo. In the zoo and the park surrounding we could see hoards of families having home cooked puliyodharais and thayir sadhams. It looked like a family picnic spot.

We returned early to avoid crowd in bus. We took the 365 Volvo back home. At 4:00 PM we could see a still growing queue to buy tickets.

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Chinese Vegetarian

My first visit to China was short and all I could risk to enjoy local experience was to take the local train instead of an boring taxi. I wrote down the hotel address “Hotel Regent, 99 Jinbao Street, Dongcheng District, Beijing 100005, China” on a piece of paper and started from office along with my colleagues to the hotel. Ignoring warnings of my colleagues I dared to take the subway and got down at WangFuJing station. It was only then I realized I am in a real foreign country. Nobody was able to read the address from the slip of paper, neither they were able to identify the hotel name. And thanks to one gentleman who showed me the wrong direction. I almost walked two kilometers in the wrong direction when one European victim trying to locate his hotel helped me with the right direction. I managed the visit with continental and Indian vegetarian food so I didn’t have a feel of Chinese food.

It was during my second visit I ventured Chinese recipes. My Indian colleagues always warned me taking Chinese food worrying it might not be vegetarian and may not suit my appetite. But curiosity didn’t leave me. My Chinese colleagues took me to restaurants and helped me find the best vegetarian dishes. I was surprised to see them explain the restaurant personnel for at least ten minutes each time they order for me.  I could member only a lots ‘bu sha’s’. Curious I asked them what these ‘bu cha’s’ are. It is a form of ‘no’ and they were ordering something with ‘no meat’, ‘no fish’, ‘no sea food’, ‘no egg’, ‘no pork’ etc… I wondered if there is no single word for vegetarian. True, if they forget any of the bu sha’s you can expect the left outs to be there in your recipe. But it is really worth it, I should say chinese vegetarian is really that good. For Indians, Chinese vegetarian would be a surprise in China as all that we get in India named as Chinese is only Indian.

The tempting Chinese dishes forced me to try them myself even when my colleagues are not there around me. One weekend in the Hotel I stayed (this hotel was Chinese) I ordered fried rice that was supposed to be vegetarian as explained in the menu. When it was served I was surprised to see egg along with it. So explained her bu sha mutton, bu sha chicken, bu sha egg, bu sha seafood, bu sha fish. The item was brought back with pork in it. Oops! I forgot the bu cha pork. I explained her again and she asked me ‘like goat?’. No! I screamed, bu sha goat (mutton?). A few seconds later I recognized that she was mentioning me as goat for eating only the greeny stuff.

Next time in a restaurant I explained all the bu sha’s without fail only to receive a reply ‘bu sha food. Get out!’. They are quite sentimental about food. I still wanted to try. I carried a pocket dictionary with me which had the Chinese word for vegetarian. Guess what! no body could understand what it really meant even in Chinese. Now I understood why it was hard for my colleagues to explain vegetarian food.

Chinese McDonalds, Pizza Hut and KFC do not have vegetarian meals. I have to manage with fries and fruits pies. However surprisingly Domino’s has a all vegetarian pizza (http://www.dominos.com.cn/english/pizza/pizza.asp# Look for Tomato Vegetable) . He looked surprised at me and mentioned that I was the first to order that particular pizza in his experience. I don’t know how long he was working at Dominos but it’s a comment worth mentioning.

The best of all Chinese dishes in the ‘Gan Bian Dou Jiao’ (Green beans fried with ample dried red chilli). Spicy and lip smacking it was a part of my every order. Next on the list would be sauted mushrooms, stir fired vegetables and the pumpkin cake.  But beware! if you forget the bu sha’s you can expect some pork sprinkled on the dishes!

Chinese Vegetarian in an real experience! You cannot buy it, you have to earn it!

Note: People travelling to Beijing need not worry as there are some few Indian restaurants that serve good north Indian food (veg & non-veg). The Taj Pavilion at China World Trade Center is a good one.

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