There are a few things I miss about India. Having been back for close to four weeks now, Adz and I are slowly adjusting back to normal life... well, if normal life means dealing with early morning school runs, -42 C, layers and layers of clothes and frozen nose hair (yes, really!) February and March aren't usually this bad in Edmonton, but this year seems unusually harsh. Or maybe its just that we haven't managed to get used to the cold after the balmy tropical breezes of India.
So yes, missing the warmth is probably top of the list. And this...
... and this too.
And then there is the life of leisure and luxury and hot breakfasts and bed tea. I'll be honest, when you live away from home and then go back for a vacation, its hard not to feel like a teenager again. Albeit a teenager with no school, college, money or entertainment worries. Oh yeah, it's definitely the life of Riley, and I don't even think Riley had it this good.
Hitting normal life again, is then a shock to the system. It's great to be back with family and friends, but there is definitely a shadow of sadness at leaving behind other family. But that is life. We're defined by our choices, and when we make a choice to follow some of our dreams, we leave some other dreams behind. I am lucky that I am able to go back whenever I want, even if its not as frequently as I would like. And while India changes, there are a lot of places and people there who don't. And that's the real blessing of my homeland.
I was lucky enough to spend time with my family in India, and even luckier to meet up with lots of old friends. And in the time I spent there, I even had the opportunity to make new friends as well, which is truly remarkable. On one hand, I spent time with friends that I hadn't seen for over ten years, all the time feeling like it was only just yesterday that we were all hanging out at the beach all night and going for breakfast the next morning. We hung out at familiar haunts, talked and talked and talked, walked everywhere, all the time laughing at our inability to walk a couple minutes without hiring a rickshaw, ate some more, went back to the beach, discovered a surf club and the most glorious of estuaries, drove along crazy Indian roads and crazier Indian traffic, visited coffee and spice estates (now that is a tale in itself and its coming soon), indulged in rather too much alcohol and reminisced about our childhood and teenage years.
And then, on the other hand, I also made new friends who, despite our age differences... got me. It was certainly strange, but also fulfilling. I made friends over food and blogging and eating and discovering places I never knew existed in my childhood town. I found that as soon as I said that I wrote about food, the advice would just start pouring in. I would be regaled with tales of cooking, eating and where to find the best of everything in the town. I even got advice on how to take style food and take the pictures for this site (thanks, mom, sigh!!)
I met the chaps behind the popular website The 3 Hungry Men. I started a conversation with a lovely young lady over Nutella cupcakes at a friend's wedding and then headed out for charmuri (a street snack) with her. I took a complete stranger on a road trip and bonded over photography and getting the driver to stop every few minutes so we could shoot pictures (the driver eventually got used to it, to the point where every time he actually saw something interesting, he voluntarily stopped an told us to go take a picture). And I hung out with my Edmonton mate Big Addie, grumbling every time he changed plans.
I lived life to the fullest, and I showed it to my baby girl and I dreamed in sunshine and colour. I rediscovered India.
When we say lassi, most people automatically assume that they are sweet, fruity, yogurty concoctions. And to some extent, they are right. But did you know that lassis come in sweet and savoury too?Just like the famous Nimbu Paani, a lassi can also be customised to your taste. I love a good mango lassi, but this is my ultimate favourite one. The different flavours may feel like they will all clash, but are surprisingly harmonious together, and together form the trifecta of Indian desserts.
For me, these flavours are reflective of India. Sweet, fragrant, floral, earthy... with that elusive something that makes India undefinable and mysterious. Which is really how it should be anyway, shouldn't it?
500g (2 cups) plain or greek style yogurt, chilled
1/2 cup whole milk, chilled
1/4 cup, or to taste sugar
A generous pinch of saffron, slaked in warm milk
Seeds from 5 green cardamom pods, crushed
1 tablespoon or to taste, rosewater
Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend together until smooth and creamy.
Taste and add more sugar and rosewater, if required, and blend again. Serve chilled with a tiny pinch of saffron threads on top.