Month: August 2010

Tales from Wales

Or tales from the land which appears to have walked right out of Middle-earth.  

There are certain moments in life when you set out to do something, all pumped with enthu and righteous resolve. Then at a certain point, you get soundly walloped 🙂 Your thought processes at that point broadly range beween #$#^&* and “what on earth could I have been possibly thinking of”. The trick in those circs is to basically hold on. Hold on like a bloody leech. 

Now, now, don’t worry, patient and long-suffering reader. I am not going all metaphorical on you. Nor, have I yet added bestowing leetle life homilies to the long list of sins I am guilty of 🙂 Just letting you know what you is to be generally expected if you go mountain-climbing in Wales. 

Cadair Idris might not be the most imposing mountain in the world. Or for that matter, even in Snowdonia. But its gotta be one of the most storied mountains around. And, Lyn Cau arguably has the most dramatic setting for a lake I have ever seen. What Cadair Idris also has in spades, is seriously fiendish weather. All those who moan about weather in London have presumably never seen Cadair Idris in form. Freezing 90 mph winds, almost torrential rain, thick mist, a steep ascent and not exactly the most well-laid out of ’em trails. Good, good stuff. So, essentially if you are giving Cadair Idris a shot, and the weather-gods decide to give you a bit more bang for the buck, you basically hold on, hold on like a leech. (Related points of advice would include using contacts and wearing a few more layers of clothing than you did back in Cal)

In retrospect though, as much as I might crib about the weather, that  actually made the hike so much more fun 🙂 Hanging on to a rock, literally hanging on to it during a particularly bad spell, ultra-low visibility levels which meant the Robot, Mr Lightening and the Soccer-Man all had to bring their shtud navigational skills into play, setting up camp on the banks of Lyn Cau where the wind promptly proceeded to decimate the Soccer-Man’s tent, those two ghostly lights on the other side of the lake which had no business being there, and the truly psychedelic sight of watching your pee land some hundred metres away from where it ordinarily should.

Now, all that would/might have been perfect tosh in good weather. 

And when the sun does come out, and everything is back in glorious technicolour, there are few prettier sights anywhere in the world than Wales.

P.S. We went mountain biking too. We got lost there as well.

P.P.S. Welsh rarebit rocks!

Of Food and Festivals

When I was a child growing up in Doon, Diwali was THE festival. Dusshehra might have meant assorted pyrotechnics involving a 30-ft ten-headed effigy of Ravana (and his unfortunate cohorts) at the Brigade Ground; Holi probably took the cake for all-round revelry; while Christmas-time meant jingles, and carols, and cakes, and general chhutti from studies and whatnot! But, Diwali was, well, in a league of its own. The scene changed a fair bit when I moved to Cal though. There ‘twas the Durga Puja. Period.

I’ve always thought there is something about India which is instinctively festival-friendly. Think colour, think passion (hell, I sound like Javier Moro), think general vela-giri. Heaven knows we as a country have enough issues to drive us up the wall. And the Gods must have said to themselves, ah, well, lets cut these chaps some slack, shall we. And that’s the thing about festivals, you forget the drudgery of your daily lives, you smile for no discernible reason, and you just feel bloody festive 🙂

When I left India, I really didn’t expect to see stuff like that again. Alrite, there is Christmas here, but there is also probably some upper limit to your festivity-quotient when yer body is trying to choose between frostbite on one hand and a chilblain on the other. And the Brit version of Diwali is Guy Fawkes Day. ‘Nuff said.

What I certainly did not expect was to have my first Onam in the heart of London.

The Indian YMCA might have its faults. Its probably a tad on the costlier side, it has this smashing snooker table locked up inside a room, it has an 8:30 pm dinner curfew time which is bloody early, and we could probably also do with a lift which breaks down a little less frequently. That being said, there are more than a few things it does pretty well. The event alluded to above comes in the latter category for sure.

There was Rangoli, there were ornate candle-stands, there were banana-leaf plates and then, there was proper authentic Onam cuisine, the works basically. And from what I was told, there were more people inside the YMCA dining hall since, well, probably Onam last year 🙂 Most importantly, we did not have any utensils. Had kinda forgotten how good it felt to eat that way!

For your viewing pleasure, I attach the menu below:

Also, just to rub it in, the food was superlative. People who know me would tell you of the contempt in which I generally hold vegetarian food. I gobbled it all up. Some of it was even decidedly squishy. (There were no brinjals though, or so I think!) My personal favourite though was this ultra-tangy ginger concoction called inzupulli; followed closely by kuttukurry.

Credit for all the magnificent items cooked go to Rashid and the rest of the gang at Indian YMCA.

Special notes of mention also go to Jose, Tintin, the Jacobean, Sharry and RKC who did a stellar job in serving through out the evening. A further note of mention for RKC who served the servers themselves and one other git who landed just in time for the spread.

P.S. In case yer interested, Raga apparently does the same spread. Some designated day of the week. For about 32 quid.

Quotidian Quibbles

I am currently about halfway through, what is in my opinion The Greatest novel I have ever read. It might not be the best of the lot, nor might it be the most engrossing read around, but ‘Great’, yep, that most certainly it is.  It’s also a novel I have been making pretty heavy weather of over the last few weeks/months. I don’t think I have ever taken as long as this to finish a book. Well, probably working in the City ain’t exactly that conducive to reading habits. That being said, two former lawyers from my firm have just had their first novels published! 

At times, I just wanna run. All day long. Preferably in sneakers. And not in hiking boots which weigh half a ton. (That almost rhymes, probably if spoken in a faux Scot accent).

Have a long weekend staring me in the face. With a slightly constipated expression and rather complicated upper-eyebrow movements. None of which is especially endearing. Neither is the fact that I would have to be up again early tomorrow morn. But then, faithful and fed-up reader, such is life. 

On the point of which, I think I should go to/try to go to sleep.

 P.S. The Chap might have written The Greatest novel, but The Chap also seems to like the term ‘quotidian’ a lot. Not that I mind. It just sounds a bit like what one might name their pet duck-billed platypus.