Living In America. Day 162

It’s now day 162 of my life here in the USA. I am a 3 hour flight away from my sister instead of 24 hours and Seattle is only place I want to live out of all the places in the US.

People say how about Portland? But I don’t want to be, you know………PORTLANDIA!men-portlandia-mpx

LIFESTYLE: I love Seattle’s hauntingly beautiful light, morning, evening or dusk. I love the trees whether in bloom or not, the mountains, the state’s stand on all things eco and on recycling, it’s hikes and trails, it’s BUSES (yea! shout out @King County Metro transport) and for being bicycle and pedestrian friendly. blog1The schizophrenic weather, not so much.  Is it raining. No it’s sunny. Oh no sorry I lied its windy and drizzling now. Oh no, wait, it’s now raining & sunny. WTF ? Do I run outside or not Weather ?

No. I had to opt for my ‘climate controlled’ gym instead (shaking fist at sky).

DREAMS: My dream came true. Most people look kinda disappointed when I tell them my dream. Disappointed in me, that is. My dream forever was to be able to walk to my yoga class! AND YES YES YES I can finally do it. I walk to Bala Yoga for my classes.

Proximity also saved me from spiralling into S.A.D depression when I got here in Nov.  4.30 pm and it was pitch dark! It really fked with my mind and my heart.  Thank God for yoga and thank God for being able to walk there. I even go for classes that end at 9pm

FASHION:  Maybe this is just a problem where I live, I don’t know. But I don’t care if Kate Hudson is modeling it, please wear leggings only if you are in the gym or at a yoga class, or getting to or coming from one. Other times it’s just lazy dressing. Like crocs and sweats.

Now, don’t be lazy. Swap them for a pair of jeans and soon you will pair those jeans with nice shoes. Maybe even high heels ? Who knows ?

The only way is…..Up!

ASPIRATIONAL WOMEN:  Again maybe this a Seattle thing I don’t know. But I LOVE the fact that I see ladies like me, everywhere. On TV, as models, as news anchors, on the boards of associations, giving speeches at gala dinners, lawyers, bus drivers, USPS postal service, in Sephora or ringing up the till at Macys.

I mean matured women. And often a lot of the women are proudly grey, roots and all. I love that !

I personally spent a lot of years competing in a world where the women got younger, the higher they went. And the first step in conquering that feeling of being invisible was to feverishly touch up my roots. Not any more.  I am slack and sloppy with my root touch-ups, do it when I feel like. But mostly I am purple ombre-d with grey roots and my sisterhood surrounds me.

POLICE:  Never have I seen police cruisers, cruising, with such frequency. At least once a day, I will see one somewhere, silently moving…… like a submarine……..but on the road.

Of course I got very excited. It’s like living in a detective novel.

Basically my steady diet of Forensic Files, Dateline, 48 Hours and Joe Kenda was now coming to life.  Where are they going ? What are they doing ? Did they make an arrest ? Who did they catch ? Why can’t they tell me ? I really really really want to know.

I looked at their Facebook thinking I would get a steady update of all the crimes they were chasing and solving. Alas not. Their Facebook is just a pleasant update from schools and citizens thanking them for a great school trip or a safety training class.

So back to YouTube and Netflix for me.

Things which have improved since my last post about Living in America are

  1. We found bread without added sugar
  2. I have figured out the doors in America and can open them right at most times (push)
  3. Pretty good with the light switches now
  4. And I don’t step onto incoming traffic because now I know which side of the road to stay on!

Onwards and Upwards

PS: did I say how MUCH I bloody love PBS ??? LOVE LOVE LOVE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dabbling in Lent

I am a Hindu. Practicing, non-practicing  and everywhere in between.

I don’t regularly visit temples or participate in all the numerous Hindu religious holidays but have Hindu icons sprinkled around my home, am respectful towards my holy book the Bhagwad Gita, will recite a quick prayer before a flight, join my palms and bow my head when I pass a temple and my absolute favourite Goddess is Ma Durga.fe3c75a921e5d0a71a8aa376f741224c

I used to be a lot more ‘Hindu’ right upto around 2011.

I had faith. Faith in prayer and in a God who would look after me. I would light incense and say a prayer in front of my Hindu altar table every morning before rushing off to work.

And then my mother died. A horrible, horrible, stretched out death. That was when I lost my faith. I lost faith that someone was ‘out there’ looking out for me.

I left God, of rather faith in God left my heart. I could not come to grips with the fact that I believed, I BELIEVED…. and I was let down.

After the initial feeling of betrayal and bewilderment, I spent a the next few years lost and incredibly sad.

I can not describe the loneliness it brings within oneself. That feeling that there was nothing there…nothing.

Then as the years passed a coldness entered my heart. I had turned away from God and I felt nothing.

In-fact my Hindu altar table was dismantled before I moved to America and here in my new home there is no altar. I light incense as an air freshener!

And then 4 days back,  I decided I will give up something for Lent.

Hang on a minute ! Lent ? What’s that ? Why ? Why Lent ?? I can not explain. I just decided.  Baaam!

3 days back I watched a short clip on RT News on Lent anchored by a hip, non-believer -believer…you know the type I mean ? And after that report I did a search ‘giving up something for Lent’. The first website I click open reads thus

Today we know Lent as a season of conversion: We acknowledge the ways we have turned away from God in our lives, and We focus on turning our hearts and minds back toward God.  

So here I am starting a brand new journey. A journey in symbolism. Let’s see where it takes me.

1993 Hong Kong was a new beginning for me. 2017 America is going to be Part 2 of that I believe.

 

Feeling Positive!

 

 

Feminine Wipes ?*&^%$%

(Warning: This post contains TMI)

I bought an awesome eye serum and received a few packs of Feminine Wipes, for free. Yaay….. NOT !! 

It took a lot of effort on my part to not fling it back at the cashier. It’s not her fault. Preying on insecurities is what Commerce is built on. 

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There are articles dedicated the Pros and Cons of Feminine wipes.  And I belong to the Con side of things.

While common-sense hygiene, underwear  and diet is always good,  I find ‘wipes’ dedicated to the Va-Jay-Jay (thanks Oprah for the word !) offensive.

I don’t see wipes for men. Then why, why do we need it ?  The natural taste and odour is what the vagina is designed to have. Nature knows best.

And what maddens me even more is the allergic reaction these products can have.

My own experience – THRUSH !

Now being allergic to wheat I have suffered, what in the past was a pretty frequent attack of, Vaginal thrush. I shudder to recall the sharp pain-itch even as I type.

Sitting in Vinegar baths, garlic suppositories, what not. I stopped my frequent wheat consumption and has helped keep this ‘pain’ at bay

However in my early, ignorant years, I ventured into Feminine Wash. And HOLY F*** The Thrush !!!

I don’t care how well formulated modern VJJ washes or wipes are. Don’t mess with nature.

I know there are discharge and odour issues that might have underlying medical-diet  reasons. A topical, cosmetic suppressant is not the answer.

And again, who said the Vagina needs a wipe or ‘perfume’?

Really offended.

Use them to wipe your makeup brushes or spilt foundation.

 

The Colour of Friendship (Bobbi Brown, Guerlain, Armani)

..is when a friend relocates countries and leaves you her make-up. She is every colour of the palettes she left for me. I see her in my mind’s eye in High Def colour.  A more lasting memento I am yet to appreciate.

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Guerlain, Dior, Estee Lauder, Bobbi Brown Pot Rouge, Giorgio Armani and Benefit Lust Duster

I hit the JACKPOT

Because my friend is a meticulous Virgo with excellent taste I hit the JACKPOT.  Sparingly used, spotlessly maintained Guerlain, Bobbi Brown, Giorgio Armani and Dior.

I think of her everyday as I apply the tinted Bobbi Brown moisturiser (not in above picture, it’s in my gym bag) on my face, and rejoice. There is something about this moisuriser. There is a inner glow. There is not a hint of sparkle, gleam or shimmer but I am lit.

I am going to buy this to re-place of my Bobbi Brown BB cream.

The other magical one is this Guerlain blush palette. As I blend I think ‘wow <name of friend> (http://pausetoponder.com/) this is a great find!’ I would typically never pick a Guerlain.

2015-06-21 08.47.50

It’s a rich pigmented blush and what I find magical is the more you blend the more the colour seems to strengthen. Odd huh ?

Ignore the brush. Why even bother to include a scratchy brush ?

I haven’t focused on the staying power so cant comment but what I can say is a little goes a long way. Its not shimmery or anything, though you can see flecks in the darker coral and the baby pink.

mir_20150620_120919

The Dior palette is subtle. A ‘my features but better’ palette for my skin-tone.

My fav out of the lot is the shaded bronzer. No shimmer and makes for a subtle contour on my NC40 skin-tone. The blush looks brown here but its a Dusky Rose. A natural flushed look.

Unfortunately I can’t give details on the palette, because I depotted them AND moreover it was probably Inflight Duty Free 🙂

Now these two products below make me laugh. Because I know my friend. How did she end up buying these I keep forgetting to ask her. Even I am fearful of these two and I know she is a fledging makeup user. The Giorgio Armani Eyes to Kill and the Benefit Lust Duster

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Top Benefit Lust Duster. Bottom Giorgio Armani Eyes to Kill cream eye shadow

I can’t really review these two, because I am not proficient enough to use them.  The Benefit one is just a clear Pearl dust and the Armani is a cream turquoise/sky blue shimmer shadow.

Though having said, after swatching it for this post, I might start playing with them. But not sure what look I would create. Probably a thin line above the lash line for that pop. I personally wouldn’t apply the Armani all over my lid, I would just look like that over madeup old lady on the train!

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LEFT: Armani. RIGHT: Lust Duster

The Armani is a cream shadow and applies well with fingers or my flat Shu Uemura brush, that frankly works with anything, even jam. There is fall though so do it before you apply your foundation/concealer/cream.

And oh, also I put a face mask on while writing this post and I splashed my face over the basin to wash the mask off, forehead, nose, cheeks and the Armani didn’t budge!

The other lucky find in my friend’s stash was the Estee Lauder palette. But I could cry! I tried to depot and couldn’t save the eye-shadow or the coral blush.

That mauve-y brown eye shadow shade, 2nd row, left,  I have not been able to find anywhere in Hong Kong. The closest was Bobbi Brown Heather, but its too ‘bruise-y’ on me.

And that coral blush ? To die for. ‘I just worked out’ flush.

Thankfully the setting powder and lipsticks escaped scot-free, thank god! They are nice but the stars of the palette are unfortunately dead.

Anyway this post is long overdue but thank you R for leaving me with these absolutely wonderful memories . I enjoy them immensely and you are always on my mind, atleast once in the morning and once post gym  🙂

 

 

 

 

Wallowing in Face Masks and Cleansers

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Monday this week, I had to put my cat of 16 years, Noor, to sleep.

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Hubby is travelling and I am alone. The working week is ok and I rush home to be with my other cat who must be wondering where his friend has gone.

Anyway Friday crept up and I didn’t feel like going for after work drinks, cancelled at the last minute and wanted to go home and cuddle my other cat, Zeb. A colleague warned me, “dont wallow” she warned. I promised I wouldn’t.

Zeb + Noor
Zeb + Noor

And then I got restless and decided on retail therapy, what else ?

I headed out to buy the HKD 89 Body Shop Anti-Cellulite brush. On my way there I stopped at Sasa, Causeway Bay.

I had seen they had the Peter Thomas Roth face masks and I needed some face masks. The cucumber got some good reviews so I bought it. Its expensive but if it works I don’t mind pitching in the cash.

I am looking for the Holy Grail of face masks, one that Hydrates, Deep Cleans, Revitalises and Brightens. But that doesn’t exist. So I need to get separates.

I also saw Ruby Hammer on Youtube who is 53, looks 35 and said she uses a face mask everyday. I thought ‘great, that’s me then!’

Sasa also ‘sells’ samples, I think its legit in HK because the packs do say ‘Not for Sale’, but they sell it openly and Sasa is a HK Stock Exchange listed company.

But I love this because you get to sample brands. So I picked up 2 sample sizes. The Clarins Restorative Replenishing Comfort Mask and the Nuxe Clarifying Cream Mask Rose.

I already have the Origins Clear Improvement (ho hum, not re-purchasing) and Soap and Glory’s Scrub your Nose in it (fab love it for my nose/blackheads).

I also want to sample some cleansers so I bought a SKII, Estee Lauder Perfectly Clean (too drying. Ofcourse it would- it foams! Dont like it) and a Nuxe Gel cleanser.

And, dont judge me, Clarins Body Lift Cellulite Control.

I then I went off to Lane Crawford Times Square Causeway Bay to look for the Shu Uemura Cleansing Oil. I have never owned one and wanted to. I know there are many others, cheaper, in the market but Mr. Uemura is the master so I wanted his.

I used it last night and love it.

Cleansing Oils and Balms feel so damned fantastic as you massage off your makeup. I really love that feeling. And a tiny amount of the oil is enough.

I then used a cleanser. I always double cleanse!

I applied the Peter Thomas Roth’s Cucumber Mask last night and keep it  in the fridge as some people have recommended. Supposed to work effectively to de-puff eyes.

Its a clear gel and it doesn’t harden or dry.

Today I put the Nuxe Clarifying Cream Mask. It does dry after 6 mins, rinse off after 10.

Secret to anti aging and youth is lifestyle along with beauty products. And after spending copious amounts of cash on the outside I should focus on the inside.

My wallet has done her bit, I now need to do mine (eyeing gym guilty-ly wishing I hadn’t eaten those 2 Chocolate Digestives)

In the middle of all this cleansers and masks, I crumbled and bought the Shu Uemura Caligraphy Pen. THIS DESERVES A SEPARATE REVIEW. ‘TIS COMING. <heart heart heart>

FIFTY SHADES OF GREY

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ROBfbymVvc
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ROBfbymVvc

Read books Two and Three of this ? I rather scratch my nails on a blackboard instead.

Book One ? A whole different story.  Read on.

Though I was months & months behind on the book it  coincided nicely with the Kindle I was gifted. And Fifty was the first book I bought on that device. Don’t judge me!

In my defence I had downloaded books before that. The free books that all Kindles start. Those that I call the ‘books of good intentions’.  You know Anna Karenina, Portrait of Dorian Grey, The Idiots and the like.

(https://zoorkitty.wordpress.com/2013/10/19/the-kindle-and-death-of-my-good-taste/)

Those lay unread, while I devoured Fifty Shades of Grey. (ok judge me). We have all been there. You are so sure you will order the salad but end up with a full biriyani chicken dinner.

The book annoyed me, made me seethe, made me blush and it gave me an opinion to air.

I belong to the school that considers this a romance. A romance that needs to be re-written.

How ? Easy. E.L James goes back to school to understand what Reading Writing and Composition really means, and then, grow up.

And now comes the movie. Why would anyone make a movie of this ? Its so blah !

And what’s with the explosion of Fifty Shades inspired fashion and makeup sets ?

This is a makeup blog (primarily) and should contain my insights on the makeup right ? Wrong.

When I couldn’t be bothered to buy the makeup inspired by my most fav movie of 2014, Disney’s Frozen, I am definitely not buying the Fifty Shades makeup lines.  Not for any intellectual stand on it, only  because the colours are so frikkin dull. Yes thats what I said. A movie about BDSM inspired really dull colour lines. Go figure.

So I have decided to digress and write about the movie instead. I think Sam Taylor did a great job, inspite of EL James control over the ‘script’ (laughable). I am curious to watch the sequels and appreciate  that Mark Kermode (BBC film critic) didn’t do his usual rant  and was moderate about the critique. It kind of echoed what I felt.

Not EVERYTHING was bad. The book was TERRIBLE the movie isn’t.

  1. Personally I liked Dakota Johnson as Anastasia. In the book I wanted to slap her every few pages.
  2. I loved the director’s little salute to Elizabeth Bennet from BBCs Pride and Prejudice. (side note- I absolutely LOVE that version of P&P and will never accept an alternate Lizzie Bennet or Darcy.)
  3. I am uncomfortable with too much sex or nudity so I was happy with what the movie gave me.
  4. The story & script aside (appalling) I would have liked a more balanced approach to nudity. It was an in-equal division that pissed me off.
  5. The whipping scene made me cry and I would have liked a MUCH stronger Anastasia in that scene.  The movie could have taken a stand even though the book was as weak. In the lead up to and the aftermath of that whipping episode.
  6. The pictures chosen, in the movie, to illustrate what a Sub was, were horrific and demeaning and didn’t make sense a virginal Anastasia did not absolutely freak out.
  7. I am not EVEN going to comment on Christian Grey’s stalker like approach, it creeped me out in the book and on screen. Pray it doesn’t give unbalanced men anymore fodder for their sick fantasies.

All in all-A flawed movie of an absolutely terrible book.

I watched it with a bottle of wine, chocolate popcorn and a girl friend. And like Frozen, I ached not having my sister with me when watching the movie.

Frozen and Fifty Shades of Grey – films made for Sisterly bonding.

Camping is a C Word

…and please never use it in my presence.

My friends are like me who enjoy the urban lifestyle. So mid-sip of champagne, when they invite me to go camping, I almost always choke.

But ‘you are not a Birkenstock hippy so why this desire to sh@@ in the woods?’

They tell me it’s the feeling of freedom, it’s the stars hung so low in a clear sky that you can reach up and grab them. They tell me the wine tastes better with friends around a campfire. They tell me it’s a feeling you can’t beat. They say once I try it, I will love it.

It’s addictive, they say.

Hogwash, I say.

If you are like me, then please don’t believe them. You are either a camper or your are not. Its not something thats going to magically appeal to you once you toast your first marshmallow.

I fell victim to camping. It was quiet possibly the most boring experience of my life not to mention the acute discomfort of it all. I went Glamping. A solid wooden cabin with locks on doors, electricity, power sockets, curtains, heater and….free wifi! Clean built up bathrooms, two fat stray cats and strawberries with chocolate.

My shoes and mouth were full of grit, my nose full of woodsmoke, my clothes dusty and sitting around a campfire is appealing only for so long. I started to panic when I realised it was only 9pm and day break was far, far. far away.

Day break when we could pack all our frikking paraphernalia and drive home. Paraphernalia of food, coffee, water, bug spray, torches, candles, cutlery, bedding, toiletries, hand towels, hand sanitisers and cooking pots. A lot of it and very heavy.

This bit is grossly un-necessary and should be provided by campsites as a service. Someone to source, carry and set it up.

But the whole exercise is pointless, so who am I to nit-pick.

As the sun set it started to get cold (California desert temperatures) so ofcourse I had to go to the bathroom a lot. Bathrooms are a novice campers biggest fears. But this was glamping so it came with a clean and brightly lit bathroom. But instead of being attached to my log cabin it was communal and stood on the edge of the pitch black country park woods.

It looked like a leering Halloween jackolantern .

Add to this the screeching animal sounds in stereo. Sounds that would muffle my cry of help when the serial killer lurking in the woods would leap out and slash my throat, mid p**.

My husband who was on bathroom duty all night long did try and make it magical by pointing out the BIG FAT low hung stars and the Milky Way. But I snapped at him. It was too cold, and having escaped the serial killer while in the bathroom I didn’t want to tempt him by dawdling around in the dark staring at stars !

On hindsight a swift slash across my throat would have been welcome relief.

The air-mattress was uncomfortable and at daybreak, my sister and husband knew I was at the end of my tether..and without further ado packed up and we headed home.

Home- where the outdoors stays where it should, OUTSIDE, with me comfortably inside.

My Top Tips for a ‘Camp’ like experiance: have a hotel arrange it for you. Where someone else does the work. You show up, as you would to a party. And when you have had enough you retire to your 5 star room with an ensuite bathroom and free wifi. I wouldn’t mind a glass ceiling so you can look at the night sky as you fall asleep. Now that I think would be awesome!

However if you want to experience what I experienced then please visit http://www.sandiegocounty.gov/parks/Camping/heise.html They didn’t pay me for this plug, but I do think you would enjoy it.

 

heise_park_campsite

Not me.

YOU.

My First Face Palette – YSL (or My Most Precious Palette )

This is my first ever makeup palette.
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It’s travelled with me through 2 countries, 10 homes and 25 years.

My father bought this for me and I have never been able to dispose of this. I couldn’t when I left home and now I can’t because he has passed on.
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It’s mostly un-used. Atleast I never wore these colours in public. Played with them behind a closed bedroom door.

The colours are very 2014, coral, vibrant pink, gold and emerald green, but at that time I baulked. Being Indian, a NC40 skin tone, I would only ever venture into browns or dark pinks. Colours that would disappear with my skintone.

this image does not belong to me. please visit captioned website for more information
this image does not belong to me. please visit captioned website for more information

Safe, subtle colours that didn’t scream look at me . The prevalent notion being ‘you wear colours only if you are fair. (fair like Western people)’. I dont think even the red and pink pictured here was considered suitable for our skintones those days.

Heavy kohl lined eyes, yes. With a maroon (burgundy wine) nail polish, a similar colour lipstick and an almost invisible blush to complete the look. The most daring embellishment would be a bindi- if we wearing dressing traditional

Bindis

Please dont mistake this as a societal comment about loud, un-blended or un-suitable makeup. It was purely a notion about colour.

Weird considering our sarees and fabrics scream colour!  Or maybe…’tis the very the reason ?

Anyway I was too scared to attract ridicule or comment if I ventured to wear any of those colours, so I never did.

So this palette lay un-used and untouched.

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But I don’t think I will ever dispose of it.

In his 56 years, 32 of which he was my father, he gave me many gifts. Chocolates, clothes, access to use his wallet as my personal ATM, humour, generosity of spirit, unconditional love, laughter and cuddles.  Gifts I have consumed, remember and miss.

But this makeup palette is that one physical symbol of him that I have.

This is not a review of a 25 year old YSL palette, though it is my pride and joy.

Its broken and the colours have faded but I will be holding on to this for a long long time.

Coconut Flour Pancakes or Weird Sh*t I Eat

I have been on a diet since I can remember. Or rather trying to be on one.  I have always restricted one food item or the other. And that lasts around 2 weeks at the most.

However I have never ever considered the Atkins, Dukan or South Bean diet. I cant be on a meat heavy diet regime.

I am a ‘ho um’ meat eater. Meaning I will eat meat and fish but prefer vegetarian . Basically a honey glazed pork, a beef rendang is as attractive to me as a fresh salad or vegetable curry with dal.

Throw Indian snacks (almost always vegetarian) food into the mix like bhel-puri, sev puri, dahi puri, aloo poha, uppama and I can forget about every other cuisine and food group known to man. Indian snack foods are my secret weakness.

http://savithakitchen.blogspot.hk/2011/03/bhel-puri-day-1-of-blogging-marathon.html
http://savithakitchen.blogspot.hk/2011/03/bhel-puri-day-1-of-blogging-marathon.html
http://cookforsure.blogspot.hk/2013/07/aloo-poha.html
http://cookforsure.blogspot.hk/2013/07/aloo-poha.html

Coming back to ‘diet’, I should clarify the word ‘diet’.

It’s more a ‘I jump on every health food bandwagon that comes out every year’. Quit sugar, quit salt, quit yeast, quit wheat, quit soy, quit dairy, quit cornstarch, quit lecithin and whatever else gets thrown at me that year.

However after jumping on the ‘quit yeast’ diet on behest of a friend, I found my 10 year skin rash disappear.

This was the longest ‘diet-lifestyle’ I was on, 2 months, and the change I saw was God send.  Years of testing and of prescribed and over-the-counter anti-fungal and dermatitis medication had done nothing for this rash. And 2 weeks of gluten free did the job.

I then started to get off wheat, on and off. The skin rash would show up, on and off.

When visiting my sister’s gluten-free, refined-sugar free home for 2 weeks, I was bloat and rash free. I felt awesome.

So right now I am hoping to take this wheat-free life style more seriously and making it a life long commitment. (http://www.wheatbelly.com/)

In HK its not easy to be gluten-free. It’s very hard. Its a constant struggle of self control and will power.  Even grocery shopping to cook from scratch is hard.

But perseverance and health (and meal planning) will pay off.

This morning I wanted a  wheat-bready-comfort feeling. Pancakes hits the spot, so it would have to be Coconut Flour pancakes!

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Original recipe on http://blog.paleohacks.com/coconut-flour-pancakes/  but I adjusted mine to what I had at home

So here it is – in BOLD are the changes I made against the original recipe.

3/4 cup coconut flour- Bobs Red Mill

1/3 cup of water (I added more when the mixture got gloopy and doughy)

2 eggs

1 tbsp of olive oil

pinch of salt

a ‘pinch and a half’ of baking soda

1/2 of 1/2 tsp of Vanilla essence

Did not use Honey

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USe a whisk, but  do a up and down motion with it to break the lumps, rather than WHISK or STIR. Apparently excess stirring would make the pancakes flat.

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Heat non stick pan, little oil and fry like you would any pancake.
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But here’s where things got really weird.
I said I didnt add honey and am not a “sweet” breakfast person and not overtly fond of eggs. So what do I do ?
I added fresh chilli sauce to my pancake and really enjoyed it !
20140510-133549.jpgI ate 2 pancakes with chilli sauce and 2 more with pure peanut butter ie no salt or sugar added.

I felt great !

 

Christmas 2013: Taj Bengal

lobbyWe love the Taj group of hotels. Who doesn’t ? Our wedding shopping stint in Bombay was even more memorable because of our stay at the Taj Lands end in Bandra. Efficient, welcoming and comfortable.

Our stay over Christmas at the Taj Bengal was equally satisfying.

UntitledWe left the hotel, heading to the airport with that slight feeling of regret. Much like we were leaving our granny’s home. ‘Who’s going to shower us with this much attention again?’. Definitely not our selfish cats!

27th Dec is Perfect Hubby’s birthday. A date that’s often spent in the stupor of post Christmas binging and the thought of anything resembling yet another ‘celebration’, is frankly nauseating.

timbday

Calcutta 2013; Taj Bengal, was however different. A bouquet of red roses, 3 complimentary cakes and all manner of staff wishing hubby a happy birthday was what he woke up to.

Taj does excel at hospitality and rest assured while we can afford it the Taj will be our hotel of choice.

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My issue is the location. I hate dust, traffic and anything that doesn’t have a high-end mall next door. Granted the Calcutta Zoo is right next door and it’s only a short walk to lovely wide roads and the gorgeous Victoria Memorial, but the 1 km walk there is just bloody awful.

It’s dusty, crowded and run down. I hated walking there and the only way I could enjoy Calcutta was to hire the hotel car to drive us around. My advise to visitors would be organise a hire car, or if you can afford it, the hotel car, and get driven around in air conditioned comfort avoiding beggars, dust and crowds.

The Oberoi Grand is slam bang in the centre of it all on Park Street, near New Market. Walking distance to everything. But I believe it’s dull and the service not as good as the Taj.

A word of warning though. Like me if you live in Hong Kong, having grown up in Bombay , the pace of service is slow. The people way-hay nicer, but slow. This is in no way reflection of the staff. It’s the city. The leisurely pace of a Bengali.

The staff are friendly, helpful, warm and efficient. But the pace tested my patience. Tested in a rather bemused way.

I lose my patience with the pace in San Diego and Sydney,  but the Bengalis are my people so of-course there is favoritism. I am amused rather than ‘snappish’.  (And Bali. I am patient there. One can not get annoyed with the Balinese as they float through life, smiling all the time)

In Hong Kong, or Bombay, we are used to sitting at a table and a waiter materializing out of thin air. In Calcutta we can sit for around 5 mins before someone attends to you. Even at the breakfast buffet it was a while before someone offered us  tea or coffee. And I am not talking a choka-block full breakfast service either.

I feel terrible pointing this out as part of a Taj Bengal blog this because large parts of the world, except probably Tokyo, are exactly this slow and being Taj the fact is the  staff delivered everything we needed, to perfection.

But HK does spoil you with efficiency. Unfriendly yes,  but definitely efficient. ‘Dont wish me goodmorning and ask me how my day is, just serve me’.

Heck even Singapore is a bit leisurely for me!

Anyway all in all if you visit Calcutta stay at the Taj Bengal and grab a hotel car.