Here, the mountains reign, swathed in tones of grey & sepia, crowned by milky white caps of snow. Bedecked by a plethora of flamboyant conifers in the darkest of emerald, they stand tall & proud,… More
“One belongs to New York instantly, one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years.”
– Tom Wolfe
October 23rd, 2010. The cold, nippy air, despite bearing a stark contrast from the world I come from, spurred feelings of pure elation and I vividly recall, I wasn’t going to let a moderate amount of jet lag or a massive amount of “missing home” stop me from experiencing that. Call me crazy but this was the land of ‘F.R.I.E.N.D.S’ after all and every red bricked building had me hoping it contained the purple walls of Monica’s apartment(don’t worry, I knew they shot the whole thing in LA). Call me silly but this was the land where Serena & Blair fought & made up but, through it all, granted alluring, scenic views of the city & a glimpse of the lavish, sequined & sparkling piece of the city, The Upper East Side.
Maybe that’s when the fascination began, 10000 miles away and was bottled up tight until this chilly morning, when it all came bubbling out…..the funny thing is, four years later and many miles farther, the fascination still silently continues. That would explain my undiluted love for books that allow me to indulge in the magnetism of this city:
Truman Capote’s, ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ where he so explicitly describes Holly Golightly & Paul’s horse ride amid a leafy , autumn ridden Central Park. The glamour of Tiffany’s still intrigues me although I only have my imagination to rely on.(On the Bucket List.)
Melanie Benjamin’s ‘Swans of Fifth Avenue’ where she takes the reader to a classy 1970’s New York, Bergdorf’s, tea time at the Plaza & Babe Ruth. “Delicious sounds of the city”, she so rightly narrates.
Wednesday Martin’s Memoir, ‘Primates of Park Avenue’ where she forays into the contrasting lives of the West & the East Side of the city…Birkins, sprawling views of the Central park & Lulu lemon.
As we took our first drive in the hollows of the Holland Tunnel that chilly morning, encapsulated by the waters of the Hudson River, I failed to fathom the magic I was about to encounter in the coming couple of years. Here are some of those moments…..
Like the luminous Brooklyn Bridge spanning the East River. Admittedly, it’s not a smart idea to stand atop a bridge to admire the masterpiece that it is, especially in the freezing -1° winter of December whilst fighting cold winds. So, we waited for the warmth of spring. Decked in golden lights and surrounded by skyscrapers seemingly lit by glowing fireflies, the Brooklyn Bridge waterfront park promises a stunning view.
Roosevelt Island is a little island in the East River and the idea of travelling in a cable car, speeding past the Queensboro Bridge while being able to appreciate the nonchalant waters & the hustle bustle of the city below seemed perfect. Unlike the history of this island which is far from perfect aka a harbor for asylums & prisons.
The unfurl of glitter that occurs in a Manhattan Christmas draws everyone like a moth to a flame. The flood of lights and bombardment of colors at every corner translates into warmth & joy regardless of the winter mayhem. Synonymous with a New York Christmas is the Rockefeller Tree which has been spoken about enough & more in romantic comedies but allow me to share with you some other spots that scream & shine with colour & shimmer.
Travel back a month before Christmas & we have Thanksgiving. No turkey for me but I’ll have a big serving of Pumpkin pie & the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade please! While a giant Snoopy, Kung Fu Panda & Mc Donald’s soared in the skies, there’s a minute possibility I raced back to childhood and an innocent excitement got the better of me.
Talking about childhood, I have to make a mention of the Spider man Broadway Show, an indulgence but every penny’s worth. The mind fails to reason for few moments when Spider man uninhibitedly & undauntedly flies high above whilst shooting out fake webs…is there a one in million chance that he could be real? (Here’s hoping!)
The American Museum of Natural History aside from spawning memories of Ben Stiller’s ‘Night at the Museum’ also makes for a fun day trip but beware of your legs falling off! (The museum is massive and a day is too short to explore). Although a little time at the butterfly conservatory can make one forget the turmoils of not just the long walks & the million photo clicks around museum but the trials and tribulations of life itself. Fearlessly, they flapped, fluttered & perched on my head, the husband’s bag and another’s dress & posed with utmost poise for the cameras around….
Say hello to Rexy & Dum Dum!
And finally, every September 11th, some friends & us stood at the edge of the waters of the Hudson River in Jersey City and witnessed the Tribute in Lights, two columns of lights ascending heroically to the skies, much like the brave hearts the world lost on that fateful morning….
This ends my NYC series on the blog. I’ve pushed hard to try and recount my experiences, the byzantine thoughts that crossed my mind as I explored the choked up streets but for some reason I feel these articles will always be incomplete, something amiss like the missing piece of a jigsaw puzzle…maybe because some feelings can never be wholly described….
Next on our travel adventures, come with us to the glorious Canadian Rockies, where nature stole our breath, one mountain at a time!
“There is only one happiness in life. To love & be loved.”
– George Sand
I’m drifting from my NYC series to indulge you all in a decadent, fit-for-the-Gods dessert. So, my 31st happened to be a special one….we had landed in a new country just hours before we rang in my birthday. Still jet lagged from a 22 hour flight, I dozed off putting aside the brimming excitement that normally accompanies me before a birthday. My husband woke me at 12 AM with a broad smile & the most sinful Raspberry White chocolate cake blanketed in little white chocolate curls. A surprise indeed and the sweet, romantic guy that he is, he managed to scour the city he’s never been in before, at midnight, to find this cake. I’m not sure if it was the jet lag or the enthusiasm to begin new adventures or just that the cake was plain & simple, delicious but it made me forget all about being a year older!
That was my first tryst with a raspberry-white chocolate combination and on most celebratory occasions, we run to the same store to get one. I would tell myself to make an eggless version at home but kept putting it off for no particular reason. A few days back, fed up with my procrastination, I decided to heed to my heart’s calling & make a Raspberry cake with a silky, luscious, white chocolate ganache on top. Although I generally use buttermilk to make the cake, I decided to opt for yogurt this time. It’s ultra moist , infused with the freshness of lemon zest, sweet & delicious! I personally crave for a ganache that’s ooey gooey flowy & floods the delicate sponge rather than one that’s more like a slather of frosting.
A friend who is new to the concept of eggless cakes was eager to try mine & I decided this cake would be perfect for a dinner party at my place “I don’t miss the egg” she said with the first bite and the remaining cake went home with her in my tupperware.
I do hope you try this cake & as always I love me a feedback! Thanks!
|RECIPE FOR EGGLESS RASPBERRY YOGURT CAKE WITH WHITE CHOCOLATE CAKE (for a 6″ cake)
3/4 cup of Self raising flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp Baking soda
3 tbsp oil ( I use sunflower)
1/2 cup plain skim yogurt ( store bought)
1/2 tbsp white vinegar
2 – 3 tbsp of hot water
1.5 cups of fresh raspberries (1 cup halved for the batter and remaining to top)
1 tsp lemon zest + extra for topping
FOR WHITE CHOCOLATE GANACHE
170 gms of Baking white chocolate, chopped
75 ml of Heavy cream
The grey, cracked & decrepit sidewalks, the swarm of people scurrying past, their minds as crammed as the streets. The million food trucks & hot dog stands suffusing the air with wafts of warm food that admittedly I’m not a fan of, being a vegetarian but saw myself yearning for the same warmth in the crisp New York winter. The roads choked with teeming traffic, the sunshine-bright-chrome-yellow taxis not just driving but blazing by, they probably imagine they’re part of a race car event. The subway stations: the most efficient of labyrinths so much so, we’ve ended up in the wrong destinations at times more than once. Having said that, they make for the best escape from the winter winds & will let you revel in the best musical entertainment in those few minutes of wait time. The steam grates aka plumes of steam arising from manholes. Throw in some rain, a man in a hat & trench coat and voila!, you’re on the sets of a 1950’s suspense thriller. Later I learnt that the steam is actually the by product of electricity generation. The Pizzas, oh the Pizzas!, slices as big as the paper plates they come in but sinful, cheesy, greasy & divine.
The glorious Empire State Building (West 33rd & 34th street). Aside from standing proud amid all the hustle bustle, also the reason for an everyday ritual at our home in Jersey City: spotting the colors it drapes on itself, red, pink, purple, the Indian tricolors on August 15th. If it happened to be a lucky day, then fireworks lit up the skies against the backdrop of the glittery New York skyline. We didn’t just admire it from afar, we rid the elevators to the 86th floor one afternoon & treated ourselves to sweeping views of Midtown Manhattan, the green of Central Park, the blue of the Hudson River, ant-people & toy-cars. Along with a burgeon of skyscrapers that compete to see “Who’s the tallest?” & conjoined with a sparse breathing space, there are some that stand out with hardly any effort aka, the ornamented spire of The Chrysler Building.
If you’re visiting/live close to NYC, then you go to Central Park. You go in the 100 degree Fahrenheit summers to get some respite in the calming lush of greens. You go to ride the bicycle along it’s vast expanses and realize it’s so much bigger than your imagination can fathom, you realize by the end of it you’ve arrived at another corner of the city. You walk, jog, get some exercise and then go to listen to musicians whilst gulping ice cream after ice cream. Then, after 3 months of hot & humid, fall arrives and you had no clue the beauty of this place could triple in a trice. Seas of ochre & sienna brushed dried leaves cover the ground and the slightest breeze can beguile you into being on the sets of a Karan Johar movie.
(On a side note, if you to appreciate jaw dropping views of Central Park, watch Gossip Girl!XOXO)
Summers in New York City are synonymous with outdoor movies at Bryant Park on the 40th Street. A weekday evening, with a couple of friends we sat back, relaxed & watched Audrey Hepburn in the Roman Holiday. Although, I have to confess, we arrived late because we had to have the Margarita Pizza from Pronto’s (obviously!) and were forced to sit way back. We spent the next 2 hours craning our necks trying to comprehend bits of the movie but we still had our fun and made a plan to visit again. Never happened. 3 years later, I watched the movie on my laptop & fell in love with Audrey.
The Grand Central Station on 42nd Street as the name perfectly defines has never been a train terminal for us but rather a place to delve in grandeur & history. We would go to repeatedly admire the sprawling blue astronomical ceiling with stars & constellations,to whisper in the Whispering Arch, where whispers from afar can be heard crystal clear.( To learn more about the the secrets of the Grand central, go HERE )
One of these casual visits, we also witnessed a romantic proposal, the man organizing a mini flash mob to woo his lady into marrying him…needless to say, she said YES!
Clearly, I can’t stop! The little things, the big things, there’s so much more. I can go on & on & I will…Stay tuned for Part- 2.
Before I begin, the two beautiful people/students of mine, who are the inspiration behind this post, are the loveliest ladies with chubby little grandchildren to boast of. (and thanks to technology we still keep in touch) .
Now, let me a paint the background. Back in Bangalore I was busy running & managing a little art/craft school . Working from the comforts of home, it was more than just something done to pass the time. The passion for art combined with the satisfaction of teaching made the experience incredibly satiating & divine. Every morning & evening, I delightfully welcomed students of all ages, introduced them to my world ( a possible topic for another post), invariably putting a smile on their faces. Some were kind enough to let me be a part of their lives and we went on to become friends, relationships I will cherish for life. Every moment, a coveted privilege.
Two among this family, that remain to be special are Uma aunty & Lakshmi aunty (I call them “aunty” out of respect, them being around my mom’s age) and I unapologetically call them my favorite students. As you read further, you’ll see yourself agreeing with me.
When I first met them, hardly did I know that these two friends would gain the honour of becoming the “back-benchers” of my little classroom. Since they catered to a multitude of responsibilities at home, it almost always ensued a late arrival to class but the loud burst of energy they brought with them was infectious at the least. Always attired elegantly in the crispest of cotton saris painted in an array of pleasing colors & prints, it would be a matter of moments before peals of laughter reverberated through the walls of my living room. Rare lackadaisical mornings merely expected their presence in order to be uplifted. They beckoned us to look beyond that room, beyond art, beyond craft, beyond the paper & paint because “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” and if not for them, I probably would have been ignorant of that lesson. Their affable nature was undoubtedly popular among adults but I always thought it’s their experience that procured them the very prized attention of the little children.
Having said that, none of this hindered their progress in class. Be it paper art or painting, they were pros and constantly brimming with creativity(take a look at the pictures below). They were always battle ready to learn new forms of art, a thirst I failed to spot in the hearts of most of the younger generation. Maybe it’s because we delve in the turmoils of uncertainty and prefer to procrastinate, that we neglect the “present” that is so gloriously offered to us. Lesson learnt.
I won’t deny that I taught them the ways of the paper strips & the brush but the truth is I learnt more from them than they did from me. I learnt that age is just a number, I learnt that being happy or making someone else happy is hardly dependent on the pitfalls of life. Although they are much older than I am,( and not that I expected it), they showered me with the respect they would offer a teacher.To be honest, it spoke more of their humility rather than anything about me. Another lesson learnt.
But, before I conclude, the one thing I am certain I will never learn from them is the magic they pour into their spicy, flavour jammed Indian Mango pickles & the myriad of chutneys, for some things can never be replicated…..
Here’s glimpse of their creative journey…..
“New York, concrete jungle where dreams are made of
There’s nothin’ you can’t do
Now you’re in New York
These streets will make you feel brand new
The lights will inspire you
Let’s hear it for New York, New York,
Jay Z & Alicia Keys have hit the mark in ‘Empire State of Mind’! Manhattan was a mere five miles from home (Jersey City) & we didn’t really have to wait for the weekend for a rendezvous. I’m sometimes a victim of frayed memories, remembering the special moments & willingly omitting the rest but never with Times Square. The unremitting burgeon of lights, the glamour, the electrifying joy….every bit is firmly etched in my mind. I admit, natural beauty, silence & calm have their perks & have a way of rejuvenating but there are times when a blast of euphoria helps too. Sometimes, all you need to cheer up is to watch happy people, drown in the deluge of glinting lights, devour greasy food and shop till you drop, all of which one can easily indulge in at the Times Square.
Here’s what I brought back…..
I remember having a celebrity moment when I saw myself up a mammoth screen draped atop a store. Although, I have to confess, giggling & jumping about waving hands, doesn’t really scream “celebrity”.
I remember shopping like a maniac at 2:30 AM with a bunch of cousins at Forever 21. It was more the thrill of being able to shop at midnight rather than actually wanting something. But, we girls do that, right?
I remember cuddling with the husband on the neon red steps after being shot from all the walking. Not that I needed a reason but the crisp New York autumn breeze sure helped.
I remember taking a picture with a shaggy Red Muppet. I come from the land of Amar Chitra Katha & Malgudi Days, ignorant of who a Muppet is. But he looked adorable & so what if his woolly costume was a little old?
I remember Batman rescuing me from a couple of villains. Let me rephrase that. I remember a guy pretending to be Batman, imploring us to take pictures and swinging me right into his arms.I’m not complaining, this is as close to Christian Bale as it’ll get.
I remember a perpetual yearning to visit the Starbucks reveling in the midst of all the action. The throngs of people striving for a cup of coffee in a moderately claustrophobic environment constantly put me off. Maybe another time?
I remember venturing into the world of M & M’s despite having a clear distaste for them. But, let me tell you, I’m a big fan of cheesy photographs with round, smiling faces! I also sanctimoniously revere organizational & color coding skills that assuage the OCD side of me, which happens to be in abundance here.
I remember the luminous billboards & marquees, NYPD in navy blue riding sturdy horses, the thrums of people handing out pamphlets for comedy shows, the sounds of laughter & glee, the frenzy, the lights , the lights, the lights…..
Take a look,
I’m constantly on a relentless quest for a good vegetarian burger and by “good”, I mean, a healthy (read “medium healthy!), pure vegetarian, a light, soft bun & positively deprived of mayonnaise. To be honest , and at the risk of sounding too critical, I have to say that at times, it feels like a Sisyphean task. At a popular joint, a vegetarian burger signified, a sliced bun with some butter & a single slice of tomato. As you can imagine, that didn’t satiate my stomach nor my soul. Back home in India, we also have our own little burger that is loved & worshipped by every Indian there is , aka the humble Vada Pav. Back when the husband & me were in Mumbai, be it notorious hunger pangs or just a rainy monsoon day, these spicy, potato filled Vada Pav’s were the ideal snack. Continue reading “Vegetarian Burgers/ Sweet Potato & Chickpea Burgers”
Back in 2010, the husband & me had a little studio for a home in Jersey City, NJ. No complaints though, smaller spaces make for quick cleaning & easy maintenance. With a dreamy view of a shimmering New York Skyline, the only thing amiss was privacy. The living room directly merged with the bedroom space & though the house seemed bigger, we would have been happier with a make do seperator. We scoured Ikea, Amazon, & Craigslist even in the quest to find the perfect room separating apparatus but in vain. That’s when the husband had a jolt of an idea & the Wall of Warli was born. Continue reading “The Wall of Warli- A Painting & A Story”