Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Himachal yatra

In our family none of us have seen snow.So,we decided that we will go to the north for a visit & experience snow.I was all for Kashmir but my hubby would hear none of it as he fears for our safety.So,we opted for Himachal Pradesh.But we asked the tour operator umpteen times about being able to see & feel snow in May in Himachal.

Being assured & reassured,we packed & flew to New Delhi.From there,our tour operator took us by bus to Chandigarh after some hassles.In Chandigarh,we halted at night & morning we left for Shimla.Enroute we visited the Pinjore Garden.It is landscaped like the Vrindavan gardens.All of us enthusiastiaclly took lots of snaps.We then restarted for Shimla.We reached in the night dead tired but having enjoyed all the lovely scenic beauty of the mountains & the valleys on the way.The next two days,we visited various places like the Mall road,Kufri,Himalyan zoo.My kid enjoyed the zoo very much looking at a variety of animals who are found in the Himalayas.The weather was just right with a nip in the air.We did some shopping at the Mall road.We also took turns identifying places wherein the film 3 Idiots had been filmed.It drizzled every now & then making us shiver !

The tall pine trees all over the place give shade & seem to stand steady watching us look up to them !One just wishes that we could imbibe some of their features.We then left for Manali.Enroute we stopped at a shawl factory at Kullu.All along the route,we got to see picture post card views ! The green pastures with cattle grazing & local Himachali ladies tending to their fields is just etched in our minds ! No photograph can do justice to those beautiful scenes ! We got some shawls,some woolen jackets,stoles ,etc from the shawl factory store.Actually,the items are very difficult to choose as all are too pretty.But we remembered that buying too many pieces will serve no purpose as we reside in a hot & humid place.Some of the pieces we brought were for gifting.

We reached Manali which was colder & we could feel the winter chill & that too in May .We felt blessed to be in Himachal as we were enjoying winter in May !The next day,we visited Hidimba temple -so ancient & made from wood ! It is carved fantastically & stands shaded amongst tall pine trees.My daughter got herself clicjked twice-once riding  a yak & another carrying a rabbit in her hands ! She was simply too thrilled for words ! We also visited Gayatri Mata mandir where we were pleasantly surprised to see a woman as a priestess ! Himachali women are an empowered lot !

The next day,we were to finally play in snow at Rohtang pass.At last,we were to achieve the purpose of  this journey.We equipped ourselves with all protective gear en route & landed at Rohtang pass.It was bitterly cold.We were barely able to speak or hear.As we tried to walk on the snow,our gum boots would get struck & snow seemed to be getting into our boots.It was getting scary.My kid was afraid & she started yelling that she wanted to return to the hotel.We some how managed to get back into our vehicle which was parked some distance away.We rushed back to the warmth of the hotel.So,this snow was a big dampener !

On the way back to the hotel from Rohtang snow point,we saw some people throwing plastic wrappers & bottles from their vehicles ! All places seem to be dumping grounds for plastic & other kinds of trash.The retail revolution in sachets is making us generate trash in wholesale ! This is a sorry state of affairs.We ought & should not litter around.As tourists,it is our duty to let the beauty of the place shine through .If not,very soon,all will turn into trash cans .

The next day,we left for Chandigarh.We flew back from Chandigarh to our homes as were too tired to travel by bus from Chandigarh to Delhi.

All in all,it was a memorable trip.We  have so many snaps to look up whenever we get nostalgic ! Travelling is a learning experience .It is relaxing as well making us take a break from our monotonous life ! I am sure,this yatra will evoke happy memories for my daughter as she grows up !

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Kabhi khushi,kabhi gam !

My daughter  has changed & how ? ! Well,she disliked a majority of the vegetables except aloo & bhindi.She loves aloo parathas but that also sans hara dhania.I had to remind myself that she will just not eat the aloo paratha  if she discovers even a single sprig of corainder ! But I was  also glad that, she wanted plain aloo paratha as this meant, that I need not bother about cleaning the hara dhania.Come to think about it,I need not buy it at all ! So much labour & money saved !

I hate cleaning all green leafy vegetables.I love hara dhania in rasam,sabzi,parathas,uttapas,batata wadas,etc but I hate cleaning up the green coriander.So, I thought, there was no need to bring coriander & spend an hour cleaning it & storing it in the refrigerator to forget all about it till it gets dried off to be completely useless ! I can take everything in my stride except my labours getting wasted like this ! I could have done so many jobs in that one hour which I wasted on cleaning hara dhania.Even lazing  an  hour away is better than cleaning dhania or for that matter any hara pattedar sabzi ! I feel that whatever health benefits I will derive by eating the dhania is lost as I get stressed about cleaning it ! To put it bluntly,the stress is many times more than any benefit derived by consuming it ! So not buying dhania de stresses me !

I like many things about the dhania - its aroma,the fresh feeling that one gets when I  cast a glance at it in the market or in the kitchens of others.The green colour which it has, is something so attractive that makes one buy it on impulse! The aroma of fresh coriander chutney,I can sense, as I near any chaat shop selling pani puris,bhel puris, wada-pav,bhajiyas etc is too tempting to resist. But I control my appetite, &  find comfort in  reminding myself that dhania  chutney eaten with the chaat far outweighs any benefits accruing by consuming fresh coroiander ! On second thoughts,I will outweigh more than I can sustain by eating dhania regularly in chutney form in chaats & with any bhajias,bata wadas & the like ! In this form ,the dhania is a health hazard !

But the love for dhania ends here.The fact that it has to be cleaned thoroughly of its roots,the yellow leaves,the shoots,etc gives me the jitters ! Actually it overwhelms me ! The clean up task at hand that is ! Moreover,the size of dhania leaves is inversly proportional to the cleaning up needed.Smaller the leaves,longer is the period required for cleaning it !

So my days consisted of making aloo parathas or rather getting them made from the servant in maid on a weekly basis.The aloo would be mashed & a minimum amount of spices added so as to make it just tangy enough for my daughter.No hara dhania was added so that she will devour the parathas ! But since all good things come to end, faster than we can even comprehend,my kids  aversion for hara dhania has transformed into a  love for it !

I just added lots of hara dhania to aloo parathas recently as I had cleaned up some dhania donated by   my neighbour who grows it in her kitchen garden.I was actually thinking of giving my neighbour a good lecture on other vegetables she could grow instead of the hara dhania but since the donation to me was the first crime she had committed,I forgave her ! My daughter relished those aloo parathas & declared that they were the best aloo parathas eaten so far ! I was thrilled, that she failed to notice the hara dhania in the parathas .But I was wrong !

The next week ,I tried aloo ki tikkis .My kid gulped the tikkis by garnishing the tikkis with fresh coriander ! I was aghast ! What has come over her ? I started having nightmares wherein I was surrounded by mountains of  hara dhania & my daughter who was chomping away at it like a cow, chewing grass ! My daughter also started insisting that unless green chutney is made,she will not eat idlis .So,I started visualising myself wasting away, cleaning fresh coriander all my life! The sheer wastage of my precious time depressed me no end.

I had to bow down to her fancy for fresh coriander though with a heavy heart! This is so, as I was happy that her fondness for dhania showed that slowly but surely, her tastes were changing for the better.Moreover,hara dhania is very healthy & useful in controlling cholestrol levels,improving digestion, healing mouth ulcers.It is said to be anti -carcinogenic,anti -convulsant,anti-histamanic,etal ! With so many plusses on its side,I have let my kid have her way with dhania.But I suddenly experience pains & aches in my body as I sit cleaning up the hara dhania.My back hurts & my neck stiffens.My hands get so dirty that I feel that I have just played in mud like a kid ! I am sad about cleaning up but happy that my daughter is finally discovering taste !

 I have started watching a stand up comedy show on the idiot box whilst I am engaged in the utterly useless task of  cleaning hara dhania.The humour makes up, partly, for the tediousness of the job at hand.

But I am also thinking of other options like outsourcing the cleaning work of hara dhania & all other hari paate wali sabzis to my maid ! That way ,I can laze away & my maid can earn some more moolah ! But what if she has similar hatred for such clean up ? ! Maybe , fresh & clean coriander will make its appearance in   tetra packs ,very soon....

I have written this blog post as part of the Close Up "Fire - Freeze" Contest.
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