So my schedule is going to be crazy busy the next 30 days. I will not have any access to the net on most days, and I will be hopping from one city to the other in the coming days, covering a total of 8 cities in 30 days.
While writing this post I am in Allahabad, the land of the famous Kumbh mela. Kumbh started on 14th Jan and will continue for the next 56 days. The festival got its name from the mythological “kumbh” or pitcher of nectar, over which gods and demons fought and which would give them immortality. Devotees smear ash on their body before taking a holy dip (shahi snan) in Sangam or the confluence of the rivers Ganga, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati during the Kumbh Mela. Hindus believe that by doing so, one is freed from the sins committed in this lifetime and also attains freedom from the cycle of birth and death and rebirth.The first day shahi snan saw 82 lakh people taking a dip. The crowd on the main days is large enough to be visible from space satellites and if that still doesnt grab your attention then this would. The estimated number for the next shahi snan on 10th Feb is close to 3 crores! In fact certain Hollywood personalities are also expected to attend the Kumbh (the rumors include names of Richard Gere and Catherine Zeta Jones).
I then leave for Kolkata, the city of Joy and the once capital of India during the British rule, on 17th night, where two of my grad school friends are tying the knot with each other. After a brief 2 day stay at kolkata and hopefully a quick trip at Kookie Jar and Flurry’s, I fly to Lucknow, where my undergrad college friend is getting married. I swear I did not threaten everyone to get married while I am here in India. This is just by pure coincidence. From there I head to Agra, only as a transit visit while on my way to Jaipur.
After the fun filled days of wedding food, dressing up and quality time with friends, I will be observing Noble silence for ten days at the Vipassana Meditation Centre in Jaipur. Vipassana is a way of self-transformation through self-observation. It is this observation-based, self-exploratory journey to the common root of mind and body that dissolves mental impurity, resulting in a balanced mind full of love and compassion. It is one of India’s most ancient techniques of meditation. It was taught in India more than 2500 years ago as a universal remedy for universal ills, i.e., an Art of Living. The technique of Vipassana Meditation is taught at ten-day residential courses during which participants learn the basics of the method, and practice sufficiently to experience its beneficial results. There are no charges for the courses – not even to cover the cost of food and accommodation. All expenses are met by donations from people who, having completed a course and experienced the benefits of Vipassana, wish to give others the opportunity to also benefit. I have wanted to do this for a long time now, ever since my B-school days where a friend told me about it. Since this time I am here for a substantial time in India, I decided to register for it and go ahead with it. The schedule is rigorous where one has to observe Noble silence- no talking at all, even through gestures for ten days! Will fill you in with my experience once I get back and have access to the internet.
After ten days of meditation and purification of the mind, I head to Delhi for another friend’s wedding. A few days in Delhi and then I am off with my in-laws to Chandigarh for a wedding there. Once done with the wedding I plan to stay with my grandparents, who stay in Chandigarh, for a few days before I head off to another wedding at Corbett National Park, that is if I survive the hangovers from the other weddings. From there my friend (who is also a wedding photographer) and I head back to Allahabad, where my parents are presently living and visit the Maha Kumbh Mela.
In fact while this post goes live I will already be on my journey and will be at one of the places spoken above and hopefully wordpress would not ditch me and publish this post as scheduled.
And just because I am away, doesn’t mean I can not leave you with a recipe.
And this is one recipe you have to try. It’s simple, flavorful and a perfect companion to your cup of coffee/tea or well even air.
I made this cake for my mom’s meetings, and if I believe her, everybody loved the cake. And I do believe her, because I loved the cake too. This cake (adapted from here) almost reminded me of a banana cake- something that I can’t eat because of my banana allergies.
- 3 cups diced Granny Smith apples, about 2 apples
- 1 cup lightly toasted chopped walnuts
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups sugar ( I added about 1½ cups- 1¾ cup sugar since I dont like my baked goods too sweet)
- 1¼ cups vegetable oil
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly grease a Bundt pan or tube pan.
- In a bowl, mix together the apples, walnuts, vanilla, and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
- Using an electric mixer beat the sugar, oil, and eggs in a large bowl. Add in the dry ingredients and beat until completely combined. Fold in the apple mixture.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes or until a tester inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
- Allow the cake to fully cool in the pan, about 1 hour, and then turn it out onto a plate. While the cake is baking make the glaze.
- Add all the ingredients to a small bowl and stir until smooth. Set the bowl aside.
- Drizzle the apple cake with some of the honey glaze, serve and enjoy!
- The cake can be wrapped tightly and stored in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days.