Journey From Fes to Marrakesh : A Moroccan Adventure

Map of Morocco pointing to the various places we travelled to  A few years ago we went to Morocco. There were many reasons behind that trip - the strongest one being a direct flight from Washington DC to Casablanca! We flew to Casablanca (the red line on the map). We travelled from Casablanca to Rabat which is the capital city and from Rabat to Fes by train  (indicated by the yellow lines). We then intended to go to Marrakesh (the purple line on the map) and already booked our lodgings near Marrakesh's central square - Djemaa el-Fna. The keys to the place would be handed over to us by a man who worked in a near by souk around seven in the evening. We reached Fes transit stop around seven in the morning and we felt very confident that come hell or high water we will reach Marrakesh well before we were expected. After all, it should just take at the most five to six hours from Fes! City of Fes
We had plans to take a road trip since we had taken the train on our way to Fes. We obviously…

Cottage Gardens of India

The word "cottage garden" is synonymous with the English cottage garden all over the world. That word itself brings to mind the picture postcard images of pastel coloured blousy flowers such as, roses, foxgloves, cow slips and many of those typical English flowers that are grown in India during the winter. The philosophy behind creating the English cottage garden was however not to grow flowers but to create a functional space to grow vegetables, herbs and medicinal plants for the common folks. These gardens used to supplement the daily needs and provided medicines for common ailments of the owners. In fact, cottage gardens all over the world serve the same purpose and their cultivators add a dimension of beauty and individualism to it. Indian adobe with a cottage garden
When I visualize an Indian cottage garden, I picture an adobe in the middle of green pastures of paddy or wheat fields. The vines of pumpkin, gourds and spinach scrambling to climb the roofs of those little ho…

An Ode to Luchi

I wrote my first blog on breakfast and asked my friends to comment on it. My friends are very honest and generous people but some of them are livid that I insulted our Bengali tradition. That there is not a word written on Luchi is a terrible omission. This blog is therefore dedicated to Luchi as an attempt to smooth a few ruffled feathers and a simple attempt to describe the Bengalis' love for Luchi or Nuchi (as my significant other says lovingly).Luchi is quintessentially Bengali or Eastern Indian delicacy. We even raise our young in a way that they can pay their due respect to it and carry on the tradition over the generations. I am no poet and have no talent in writing verses. There are many wise men and women who have sung praises of Luchi but even a simple person like me is mesmerized by the sheer beauty in it. A perfect Luchi is like a fair virgin's cheek which hasn't yet been kissed even by the sun. There, I have said it! Granary of Harappa
Before I delve any deeper …

My Durga Pujo

Durga Pujo brings out many emotions in the Bengali psyche. There is euphoria mixed with the excitement of meeting friends and families, new clothes and shoes, festive food, pandal hopping. Did I mention new clothes and shoes of the latest designs, going out on a tour, watching new movies, the Pujo-Shonkhya magazines. Did I mention the new clothes and shoes? These five days of fun and festivity are what each Bengali in every nook and corner of the world looks forward to every year and says "asche bochor abar hobe." Ekchala Durga Protima
My childhood Pujo is an experience that I have always treasured and tucked in a box full of precious trinkets and carried with me everywhere I went. I have never dared show it to anyone lest it loses its shine until now and that too at the request of another childhood friend who treasures it as much as I do. We all grew up with the Durga Pujo of The Park, in Ichapur. Our Pujo used to be a pretty small affair but we never had the urge to go anywh…

Bursa, Turkey

Our trip to Turkey had many highlights however, I am not going to give you a guide book description of where we stayed, what we ate and what we saw. Turkey has a history going back centuries and there are no dearth of palaces and natural wonders. That is why I always wanted to visit Turkey but these were not such a big deal to a little boy. My son was about seven years old when we went there. Before I started writing about Turkey, I asked him what he remembers from that trip and this is what he still remembers - Green Bursa and the huge tree under which we had our afternoon tea!Bursa is a small town which sits in the lap of Uludag mountains. People go there in winter for skiing and winter sports. In summer, it is simply green and pretty. We went there for no reason and heard people talking about a 600 years old tree! We certainly needed to pay a visit to the grand old thing, the Buzurg. The Buzurg Chinar tree of Bursa
The town of Bursa reminded me of old Srinagar in Kashmir. There were …

Ms. Hasnahena

Cestrum nocturnum or Ms. Hasnahena
Hasnahena or Night Jessamine (Cestrum nocturnum) is one of those inconspicuous little flowers which you can simply walk past and not spend a second thought until the night fall. You would then start looking around madly for the unknown beauty which is emanating the intoxicating perfume. Once you solve the mystery you would start reveling in the nature’s whims that such simplicity in looks can have that immense an effect on other senses.I was only four years old when I was introduced to Ms. Hasnahena. We lived in a government allocated house with a garden (which we shared with another family). That garden was immense in my eyes and felt as dense and mysterious as the forests of Congo! Our wash basin was next to a corridor connected to the garden and my mother was accompanying me to wash my hands at night. I was hit by the sweet smell and asked my Ma what was that? “Hasnahena”, said my Ma and we turned to get in the house but we couldn’t! Russel's Vi…

The Breakfast Rants

Breakfast in our era has become a matter of many debates in the circles of the health enthusiasts. They keep debating about the essence of its existence altogether noting it might give you a fat tummy. Breaking the fast early in the morning with a piping hot cup of tea or coffee to me is like finding a new reason to live each day!The breakfast is always an essential part of our travels which is almost always “budget”. That meal most of the time becomes the only square meal we can have before we reach our destination at the nightfall. So we love our breakfast and pay due respect to it not only when we are travelling but even when we are not. Some breakfasts are very plain and simple by which I mean the buffet breakfasts that come as a package deal when you book a hotel. You can always close your eyes and can see what the spread will be like, however, in some parts of the world they are done a bit differently. For example, while in Malaysia, we were shown to a usual spread of eggs, brea…