Eating Out, Food, Travel

Becoming Parisian 101 : Embrace the carbs

When we started discussing about our trip to Europe, the first thing I was super excited for was – breakfast. To rephrase, breakfast in Paris. I am a sucker for all things loaded with carbs, and bread, is my weakness. I’m the person who loads up on free bread and butter in restaurants although a good main course is next. There is this Italian restaurant near my house that serves mediocre food but their whipped butter and fresh bread is killer. I LOVE that place. So obviously I was very psyched to try all the different croissants and baguettes.

I’ve had my share of decent croissants but guys, believe the hype when I say that the French take croissants to a whole new level! The first day we decided to have breakfast at one of the many cafés that were strewn around our hotel. All cafés in Paris follow the same theme – red, they all have outside seating and EVERYONE smokes. The tables outside these cafés are placed so close together you could totally join in the conversations and pick food off each others tables without even stretching. One day we decided to have lunch in the outside seating area and this guy was blowing smoke in my face throughout the whole meal. It was unpleasant to say the least.

While visiting most cafés we realized that the ‘locals’ had their coffee standing at the bar. We were the noob tourists “sitting down” for coffee. We later realized that coffee served at the bar is infinitely more cheaper than if you “sat down”. Its one of those “European” things that I don’t get.

Most cafés have a set breakfast menu offering one of each treat – croissant, baguette, pain au chocolat. We tried the breakfast set for a couple of days and switched things up with the Nutella crepes (chewy, chocolatey goodness) and Norwegian smoked salmon with the fluffiest, creamiest, most decadent scrambled eggs I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating. Coffee in Paris is good enough, but the coffee in Rome was the best. If you are visiting Paris first I’d recommend holding off a little on the food until you visit Rome, because that is where the magic lies.

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life, Travel

That Parisian Life

If you were wondering where I’ve been these past couple of weeks well, I was prancing around Europe, seeing beautiful things and eating scrumptious food. We visited Paris and Rome for a week. While we did not manage to see EVERYTHING in Paris and Rome this trip was by no means a vacation. I was exhausted from walking on the first day so we took it easy for the rest of the trip.

Paris is a charming city. There are tiny cafes serving overpriced coffee at every turn, tourists as far as the eye can see, freshly baked baguettes and croissants. I consumed an insane amount of carbs in that four day period. While I did try some French food, it was not made for my Indian palate.

I love to people watch, and Parisian women are now my favorite. None of them brush their hair. They’ve all managed to perfect the just-got-out-of-bed look while still looking like a million bucks. They don’t wear a jeans and t shirt with sneakers like how Americans do. They either wear dresses or knee length skirts. Most of them wear practical, yet chic flats, blazers and no make up. How is it physically possible for you to look so perfect?! I think fifteen minutes is all a Parisian woman takes to get ready in the morning.

Note to self: Master the art of looking put together in fifteen minutes.

It took less than a day to feel like Paris owned me. At the end of four days I did not want to go back to my seemingly monotonous life. There were too many places that I hadn’t explored yet. The Parisian life of hanging out in cafes on a Monday morning, smoking and drinking espressos called out to me.

 

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America, Eating Out, Travel

Welcome To My Life

I was struck with writers block for the past few days. I felt like I hit a mental dead end. I couldn’t think anymore and nothing seemed to inspire me. I’m not claustrophobic but at the time it sure as hell did feel like it. I needed sights, sounds and open spaces. So in the search for some air and much needed inspiration I took myself out to the city. Public transport has finally become my friend so taking a train to San Francisco and back wasn’t that bad.

It started raining the moment I reached the city but I didn’t let that deter me. I walked around Union Square. The main reason I love going to this touristy place is for the tourists – people watching, which is my favorite activity. Another thing I love about Union Square are the luxury stores, not that I can afford anything from there, yet, but the window displays are beautiful. I then walked in to Zara where cheerful yellow is the new Spring color. Feeling a uplifted and a little enthusiastic I took an armload of clothes to the dressing room. I then realized that I under estimated how much weight I had put on and I left feeling depressed.

After a spot of lunch and frolicking in the rain a little more I decided to call it a day. I took the train back and an hour later I was exactly where I had started – uninspired and claustrophobic.

In order to get rid of this awful mental state I was in, I dragged Jay to the beach a few days later.  We drove to Carmel, a tiny seaside village. North California beaches can NOT hold up to Chennai beaches. It was a pleasant day but the sea was grey and dreary with just a tiny bit of sunlight. The vacation homes that dotted the shore were adorable, right out of an Enid Blyton novel. Tiny cafes, Parisian themed bakeries, beautiful spring time flowers but no sundal or roasted corn in sight. Nonsense.

I felt like yelling to these people, “You think this is beach??? Come to Chennai and see the original beach.” Okay you cannot wear a bikini and lay on the sand (why would you when the sad could go places it is not supposed to) in Chennai but you can totally get wet in the warm water without worrying about “Aiyo I will feel cold because the wind, water, sand is all cold.”

Anyways we had coffee, one yummy quiche and okay tasting coffee cake and drove back home. I miss tasting the sea on my lips and carrying back the sand in my slippers. I have so many good memories of rolling in the beach with my friends. Like literally rolling. That is how a trip to the beach is supposed to be.

But I did have a nice time looking at all the perfect little houses and the perfect little white people who lived in them with their perfect golden haired kids and their perfect friendly dogs.

 

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Claustrophobia – 1

Zarine – 0

 

 

 

 

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America, faith, life, life lessons, madras, my crazy days, Travel

Home Is Where I Am

Growing up, all I ever wanted was a room of my own. We lived in a  two bedroom apartment for the longest time. I never had a room of my own. The general area of the house was my refuge. I kept myself busy during drowsy afternoons but I wanted a room I could escape to. I watched a lot of teenage dramas and I was itching to ‘bang the door shut in anger’. But my wish never came true until I was sixteen.

Once we moved house and I got a room of my own, I never wanted to come out. My room was my solace. It was my protection from the big bad world outside. I filled that room with my dreams and my pains. The walls speak of my heartaches. The floor absorbed my tears and the high ceilings accommodated my dreams. My room watched me grow from a naive sixteen year old to a… well, what I am now. The crazy thing is I always thought that my room would never change, it would remain the same, always my protection from the outside world. But when I went back this time I felt disoriented. It felt like my room had changed. My once comfortable bed that held my body shape now hit me like a rock. I felt weird and uncomfortable like I was living another life.

Every night when I went to bed I couldn’t help but think about the room I left back in California. I missed my bed and my fluffy comforter. When my mind started associating that with home was when I realized, much to my dismay, my solace was where I had stayed for the past year. This realization hurt my heart like crazy. For days I kept thinking my mother had moved my things and my room had changed whereas in reality it was I who had changed. I had been living away from my previous life and walking back in to it sent my senses in to disarray.

Today, as much as I miss my room I know that the girl who lived there was a slightly different one. She was confused and naive, among other things but she always had hope. I wouldn’t change a thing about that girl, or the room for that matter (trust me, there were quite a few things that needed to be changed). That girl and that room helped me appreciate the person I am now.

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America, Bhaarath Mahaan, Eating Out, Food, life, madras, Travel

A Tale of Three Cities

I just finished making dinner (stir fry from left over rice). I have my steaming cup of lemon grass green tea and I’m listening to Frank Sinatra on loud. I haven’t felt this relaxed in weeks. I just returned from a month long trip back to the mother ship and to the flashy city of Dubai. That’s the first word that comes in to my head when I think Dubai – flashy.

My Madras vacation was amazing but it went by far too quickly it was almost like it never happened. I ate some delicious comfort food, caught up with my extra large family and met my beautiful girls. I did some shopping too although it was very restrictive because of airline rules regarding baggage (annoying!).

Madras was gorgeous, not the same as I left her but that’s a post for another day.

Dubai was flashy. I ate unhealthy amounts of food. Like really unhealthy I’m so ashamed of myself when I think about it now. I did all the usual touristy things there is to do. The one thing that always gets me about Dubai is that while its fancy and modern it has no charm to it. Maybe its just me cause I have really strong “feelings” about certain things and that’s what drives me.

California is as gorgeous as ever. Cold and windy but I love it. I love the nature and the beautiful skies that I get to see here everyday. Every time I look up at the beautiful blue sky it never fails to remind me to send a little note of thanks to Him. I love how the small things around remind me of a greater presence. I’m so thankful I live here, eat good food and have everything I need and more. We don’t need to look too far to search for the blessings in our life. Blessings are all around us.

Now that I’m done with the ‘Thought for the Day’ can we all take a moment to appreciate how friggin’ amazing Frank Sinatra sounds? Every time I listen to his deep voice I get goosebumps! If only singers are as classy now. Take a note, Justin Beibers of the world.

I will be back with more stories. Don’t miss me too much, Interwebz!

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