Reproducing Ansel Adams

Posted December 9th, 2010 by Deepa and filed in Uncategorized
Comments Off

Yosemite National Park2

PHOTOS: YOSEMITE

Seejo and I (along with our friends Pulkit and Sejal) spent a long weekend at Yosemite National Park this November.  On the very first day, we stopped at Tunnel point and spent some time taking in the magnificent vista before us. This vista has become synonymous for Yosemite due to the famous photograph taken by Ansel Adams in the 1930s– Clearing Winter Storm.  This is not only one of the most famous photographs of Yosmite it is probably one of the most famous ones in Adams portfolio of wonderful photographs. I had seen the reproduction of that photo and was eager to see the real view.  And it was a magnificent view — with the majestic El Capitan and the aptly named Half Dome peaks with the green Yosemite valley in between and a tiny thread of the Bridal Veil Falls on one side.

Continue Reading »

Around the World in Seven Days!

Posted October 17th, 2010 by Deepa and filed in Food
2 Comments

This week I prepared seven different dinners– each one from a different country. I made everything from scratch and this is how it all turned out.

DSCN0133Last Sunday, I prepared my version of a dish from Mexico — chicken tamales with black bean salsa. Continue Reading »

Volt

Posted October 11th, 2010 by Deepa and filed in Food, Reviews
Tags: ,
Comments Off

Volt 081Last Saturday, we had dinner at Volt.  Although I am devoted follower of many Food based TV programs, I have never followed Top Chef and therefore had no clue about Chef Bryan Voltaggio’s culinary style or techniques.  All I knew was that he used local organic seasonal ingredients and that he was brilliant.  His restaurant, Volt had been voted Maryland’s best restaurant and it was on my list of top places to try. There are three different kinds of dining options at Volt.  You can either dine from the a La Carte Menu or from the prix fixe six course tasting menu. The third option is  called “Table 21” and is a 21-course meal that you have with the chef preparing it right in front of you.  It is a testimony to the popularity of the restaurant that it’s Table 21 option is  booked pretty much well into the end of 2011.  We were incredibly  lucky to get a reservation for the a la Carte option at  5:30pm on  Saturday. Continue Reading »

A Day in Johannesburg

Posted August 30th, 2010 by Deepa and filed in Travel
Tags: , , ,
1 Comment

PHOTOS : JOHANNESBURG

VuvuzelasWe landed in Johannesburg airport to the accompaniment of a thousand vuvuzelas.  As South Africa prepared for the World Cup– these vuvuzelas were South Africa’s hope & secret weapon. As one local person pointed out, their strategy is to blast out these vuvuzelas so that the Europeans will be too baffled to play well.  As each flight landed and fans disembarked from the plane, the uproar started all over again with everyone singing their own football anthems.  Amidst the pandemonium, our guide Amos waited for us at the gate.  We had booked a day tour of Johannesburg city through Wilro Travels (recommend it) and they had promised to send us a guide for the day.  Amos was a soft spoken rotund guy and seemed like an oasis of calm after the chaos of the airport. He quickly shepherded all of us to the car, loaded our luggage in the boot and immediately launched into tour guide mode telling us about the city and the places we were going to see. Continue Reading »

A Day at Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

Posted August 29th, 2010 by Deepa and filed in Travel
Tags: , ,
Comments Off

PHOTOS : VICTORIA FALLS, ZIMBABWE

DSC_9579We had arranged with the folks at Hotel Chobe Marina at Kasane  for a guided day trip across the border to Zimbabwe to see the famous Victoria Falls.  One of the hotel staff accompanied us to the Kazungula border post, about a 20 minute ride away. Four countries meet in Kazangula: Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Zambia.   We crossed the border to Zimbabwe, completed the immigration formalities and were met by our Zimbabwe guide, Stanley.  Seejo and I already had visas,  so we got our entry permit stamped immediately.  My mother, Dwiti and Asif needed to get a visa which was an unexpectedly painless process. We forked out $100 USD per visa , they stamped the passport and sent us off with Stanley.   Continue Reading »

A Cruise down the Chobe River

Posted August 29th, 2010 by Deepa and filed in Travel
Tags: , , , ,
1 Comment

PHOTOS : CHOBE SAFARI

DSC_8719Our first activity after checking in at the Hotel Chobe Marina at Kasane was book ourselves for a river cruise down the Chobe River.  We had booked a lovely cottage at the Chobe Marina with three separate bed rooms overlooking the Chobe River.  The hotel was larger than I expected and very upscale , especially compared to the tents that we were occupying at Okavango.  The first thing we did after checking in was to go to the Activities office and choose between safaris and boat cruises as our activities for the next two days.  Our very first activity was to begin immediately: we were going for a three hour cruise down the Chobe River.
Continue Reading »

Life in Botswana

Posted August 27th, 2010 by Deepa and filed in Travel
Tags: , , , ,
Comments Off

BotswanaI confess, I was singularly ignorant about the history of Botswana before my trip. But I soon learnt that Botswana had been a British protectorate (not a colony) from 1885 till its independence. Worried about a Boer (Dutch) invasion and getting incorporated into neighbouring South Africa, the leaders at that time, asked the British to protect their country.   Eighty odd years later, in 1966, under the leadership of the Botswana’s first Prime Minister, Seretse Khama, Botswana gained its independence from Britain.  At the time of independence, Botswana was a poor undeveloped country with no natural resources and only about 10kms of tarred roads in the entire country.  Given that they did not have any gold or diamonds, Britain granted them independence with minimal fuss in comparison with other countries that had to struggle for their freedom from Britain.  However, in one of those bizarre twists of fate for which I am sure, the Batswana are devoutly grateful; diamonds were discovered in Botswana just one year after independence.  The Botswana government made a joint deal with DeBeers for diamond mining rights making it one the world’s foremost suppliers of conflict free diamonds.  And they actually used their burgeoning fortune from the diamonds to develop the country financially and socially making it one of the economically strong countries in Africa. Continue Reading »

All Creatures Big and Small

Posted August 26th, 2010 by Deepa and filed in Travel
Tags: , , , ,
2 Comments

DSC_6145

PHOTOS : Inyati Lodge at Sabi Sands , South Africa

The impalas were the most common antelopes and indeed the most common animal that we saw.  They were rather smaller than the common American deer and with three black stripes on their rump forming an M shape – the safari guides called them Mcdonalds!  Impalas move in large herds: each herd consisting of  one stag (with antlers) and about 30+ does and fawns. Once the male kids are grown up enough, they are banished from the main herd and they form their own separate “bachelor clubs”.   Although these young bucks maintain their independence by keeping to a separate group, they tend to stick close to the main herd because there is safety in numbers. Occasionally, during the mating seasons, one of the young males would try to lure a female away from the alpha male.  The “man” of the family is aware of the shenanigans of the youth so he keeps a strict watch on his harem, each time a young male comes too close, he will promptly trot over and nudge the female back into the fold. Most of the times the young males are chastened and go away to indulge in mock fights with the other males.  Occasionally one of the young males might challenge the alpha male for the leadership of the herd and then these mock fights come in handy. Continue Reading »

Safari Camps

Posted August 25th, 2010 by Deepa and filed in Travel
Tags: , , , , ,
Comments Off

DSC_8246_47_48_49_50_Framed

PHOTOS: Okavango Delta

The highlight of our African adventure was undoubtedly the stay in the safari camps and the game drives at these camps.  We spent three days (and three nights) at the Pom Pom Camp at the Okavango Delta in Botswana. Seejo & I splurged for another three days at the Inyati Game Reserve at the Sabi Sands Reserve (part of Kruger National Park)  in South Africa at the tail end of the trip. In addition we also went for an early morning game drive at Chobe National Park.   Wildlife was abundant in all three places and we were lucky enough to get to see an amazing variety of species.  I found that there was a world of difference in observing an animal in its natural habitat as opposed to the zoo.  It was fascinating to see how each and every creature has adapted to its surroundings and utilizes them as best as it can to either get its food or avoid being food.

Continue Reading »

Birds in Botswana and South Africa

Posted August 23rd, 2010 by Deepa and filed in Travel
Tags: , , , ,
1 Comment

I have another post to describe the animals that we saw on the safari, but I thought I should show you the  bird life that we encountered.  Needless to say, variety abounded.   I have tried to name all the species that we saw but I am sure I have a few wrong. I’ll try and update as I get more information.

Collage-2

1. Spotted Eagle Owl 2. Black-collared Barbet 3. African Scops Owl

4. Pied Kingfisher 5. Bateleur Eagles    6. Crested Barbet

7. African Pied Wagtail

Continue Reading »