Saturday, March 21, 2009

Invasion of the Roach Coach

Food trucks (roach coaches?) are part and parcel of daily life in the US. The closest equivalent of those were roadside street vendors with pushcarts or small stalls that sold beverages such as tea, coffee, fruit juices to snacks like chaat etc. With a growing workforce that is dealing with increasing mobility, long commutes, extended working hours, it was simply a matter of time before the "mobile" food stall became part of the Indian daily life as well.

Last week, as I was driving to work, I realized that I had never noticed the number of mobile food stalls that were all around. Small vans with mobile kitchens are out in the morning churning out hot masala chai and south Indian coffee along with a full south indian breakfast. The vans are back during lunch with an assortment of snacks and full meals and catering to the hundreds of thousands of office workers.

The concept is pretty much similar between the Indian and the US roadside food services. The big difference is the highly discernible palate of an Indian. Indians are very choosy and selective about their meals and it is interesting to see the mobile food industry evolve to cater to the Indian market - with all the flavors and choices that a typical consumer might want!!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Holi is back!

Today we celebrated our third Holi in India. Mona left for Mumbai this morning so she was not able to join the celebrations and we missed her. There was a large turnout for the festival. As in prior years, there was enough color, water, music, dancing and snacks for everyone. There was an added element this year - Bhang!. It is a preparation made from the Cannabis plant and can be smoked or consumed as a beverage. Last time I had Bhang was over 25 years ago. This time, the concoction was probably a bit milder (catered to the 40+ generation) and all it did was make me pass out for a few hours.

And since Mona was not around this year, I had to figure out how I would get myself and two color and water soaked kids into the house without messing up the whole place. But as they say, necessity is the mother (well, father in this case) of invention. A few newspapers, old napkins, plastic bags and a mop did the trick. Place looks spanking clean!

Standing in the midst of swirling colors and spraying water, I was watching folks from the ages of 2 years to 60 years having a gala time. Festivals like these bring people from different backgrounds, ages, religions together in an environment of fun and friendship. To get a feel for Holi, check out this wonderful ad.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Leadership Camp Report

Ayaana is back from her one-week Leadership Camp in beautiful Coorg. I am not 100% sure but it feels like she has grown taller and her self-confidence is higher! But then - that could be a doting father speaking.

Jokes aside - the camp sounds like a lot of fun. Coorg (also known as Scotland of India) is a resort in Karnataka near the border of Kerala. Almost 50 seventh graders spent a week at camp in a coffee plantation learning team and leadership skills. Activities ranged from trekking and rapelling to survival cooking and hanging around bonfires. One night, the students learnt how to pitch tents and spent the night in tents.

I have never been to Coorg but Ayaana claims that the scenery is out of this world. The pictures she took on her digital camera confirms this.

After a week of bonding with nature, the kids returned home on Saturday - after making a lunch stop at .... you guessed it - McDonalds!!!!