Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Turkeys in Nepal?

You can actually get an American Thanksgiving Dinner in Kathmandu. Although we decided not to sample the three-course dinner offerings. Momos, Chicken Tikka, wood-fired pizza and nice lean steaks were more to our liking and what we happened to choose. We took a 4 day trip over the Thanksgiving weekend (25-28 Nov) to Kathmandu - while taking advantage of some new airline deals on direct flights between Delhi and Nepal's capital.
It's an easy trip - only one hour - fifteen minutes. You spend more time wading through security and customs then you do in the air... We traveled with our fun, English friend, Jane. The kids love her, and Jane is the best person to have around when you're exploring stalls and shops in local markets!
If you're not familiar with Nepal, it is the small, very mountainous nation north of India, wedged in next to Bhutan, and Tibet. Nepal is 81% Hindu, 11% Buddhist and 5% Muslim (.5% Christian). It has been a democracy since 2006. The country is probably most famous for being home to the world's tallest mountain: Everest.
For this visit we just stayed in around the main city of Kathmandu. The Valley of Kathmandu is home to several UN world heritage sites. Durbar Square was a former seat of Nepalese royalty. Beautiful buildings with delicate-carved wooden frames, shutters and decoration surround you as you walk through this once-royal section of the city.
We spent some time exploring several Buddhist Temples, including Swoyambhu Nath, where you must climb many old stone steps to get to the large Stupa built high up on the edge of the Kathmandu Valley. Monkeys and souvenir hawkers follow all around you as you ascend the broad stairs.
We hired a car one day with our friend, Jane and drove out to the nearby town of Bhaktapur. Also a UNESCO World Heritage site, the architecture here is even more beautiful and much better restored than what you find in Kathmandu. Narrow, winding streets connect multiple market squares (Durbars). Our favorite of these is famous for pottery.Pots, bowls and oil lanterns cover the cobble stoned sidewalks as they dry in the sun. Once they are dried, they are stacked and buried in straw and wood - fired in a make-shift oven that is more of a ditch than a kiln.
I think we had the most fun wandering from market to market, browsing and shopping for clothing and handicrafts. It's all inexpensive and mostly quite useful. Except, maybe for the wooden ties Audrey and Evan managed to find hanging in the doorway of one shop...
My own personal favorite was all of the bogus "North Face" outdoor gear... Fleece jackets, coats, rain-pants. This stuff was just everywhere. The stitching is a little off, The quality is mixed at best, but for $5 who cares? I think my jacket is guaranteed to survive at least 2 spin cycles in a washing machine... Great trip.

Friday, November 12, 2010


Rangoli is a traditional art form here in India. Made of fine colored powders, flowers and candles, they are decorative designs placed on the floors of living rooms and courtyards during Hindu festivals. The designs are meant to be a sacred welcoming place for deities. Rangoli add color and beauty to one's home and are thought to bring good luck.
Lesa got rather ambitions this past Diwali - the wonderful Hindu festival of Lights.After winning a Rangoli competition at work with her team at Freescale, she dove into designing and making a rangoli for our living room to help celebrate Diwali. Our driver helped us shop for colors, flowers and diyas (small lanterns) for added decoration.
Lesa laid out her design on the floor, and with the help of Audrey, carefully spread the colors and laid out what became quite a beautiful work of art!

Lesa's design added more, beauty, light and meaning to our Diwali evenings!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

More than just Pork

It's not easy to find consistent meats in India - especially, lean and hygenic. But after many attempts I have finally found the perfect shop: "The Taste," in nearby Defense Colony:Pork, chicken, fish and... Lingerie? Leave it to India to come up with creative, more complete ways to meet customer appetites...