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Saturday, September 30, 2017

Someshwara Temple, Ulsoor

Since a long time, I had been wanting to visit the Someshwara temple at Ulsoor that is built by the Cholas. However, the thought of getting there by beating the horrendous Bangalore traffic always resulted in procrastination of this trip. But with the Metro rail running in full swing, things have been different. On Saturdays, I take the Metro to my French class and it is much easier than driving through the busy traffic. So, when I figured out that there is a Metro station very close to the temple, I decided to finally make this trip. The temple is right behind the Ulsoor Metro station. 

The temple architecture is magnificent. It is pleasantly surprising to see this piece of heritage stand tall midst the concrete jungle. 







We took the Metro back to Jayanagar 7th Block  and had lunch at Prems Grama Bhojana. The food was delicious. The speciality here is that they do not serve rice, instead, they serve raagi and different millets; which is a trend in Bangalore these days. 


Monday, September 04, 2017

Sand Diego Downtown

I returned to the US on the 19th Of August.  I preferred to stay at Downtown area while returning. That was to get a feel for another side of the city. Saturday afternoon and evening was very busy at San Diego. I took a walk to the city centre and walked around the mall. I really did not have much to do, so just grabbed some food and returned back to the hotel to go to bed early. I had a 6 AM flight to catch next morning. The downtown looked impressive and in the evening, was getting ready for the weekend party.



My flight from San Diego was at 6:00 AM the next day. I reached San Francisco and from there, took a long flight to Delhi and then another to Bangalore. So, another trip to the US had ended and this time, I had met many new people, made new friends and it was a truly one of my best visits to the US. 




Sunday, September 03, 2017

Mexican Food and More!

Well, I had so far eaten Mexican food only in the US and have always heard that it is different from what is found in Mexico. So, this was a great opportunity for me to try some local food. 

My favourite place of all is this small café that Pedro and I stopped at on our way to Tecate. Here, I got to eat Dulce de membrio (Ate) with wheat tortilla. Its a caramelised paste of a fruit called membrio. I liked it so much that, the same evening, I walked to the super market opposite my hotel and bought one pack to carry back home. 



When 25 of us partied at a Sushi bar (Nigori), I was the only vegetarian in the group. So, the Chef prepared some good veg varieties only for me. The best was this Veg sushi. It was delicious. 


One afternoon, I tried Mollete - Open sandwich. I also tried the Jamaica juice. Its a juice made of a flower. I tried a vegetable called  Jícama that is very juicy and eaten raw similar to Cucumbers. 


I had some great local tacos at a taqueria in Tecate. Pedro helped me order some quesadillas with vegetables. It was like a normal dosa stall in India and many office goers seemed to stop by to have a bite during lunch time. 


About half a kilometre from my hotel (Coral & Marina) is a restaurant called Osho. I was curious to try this place so, I went there one evening. During my conversation with server, I confirmed that the name was indeed inspired by the spiritual Guru from India. He told me that the owner is a follower of Osho. I must say, that it is in this restaurant that I had one of the best foods of all time. 

For main course, I tried Chimichanga de vegetales,



The server suggested that I try their special salad made of lightly roasted brinjal and asparagus with Jamaican sauce and mozzarella cheese. I must tell you that this was one of the best salads I have ever had. The sweetness of the jamaican sauce and lightly salty mozzarella cheese added flavour to the brinjal slices. 


For dessert, I wanted to try Piña a la parrilla con salsa de tequila - Pineapple with Tequila sauce, sounded interesting. It was delicious too. I am not sure if these are authentic Mexican cuisine or not but they were absolutely yummy. 


So, on my last day in Ensenada, I decided to go there again for breakfast. I had some delicious Ranch omelet and Chocolate rolls. Both were as yummy as they look. If you are in Ensenada, do try restaurant Osho. 


Baja California, Mexico

This was my first visit to Mexico. I had to cross the border by land from San Diego. One of my US colleagues named Ron, who had previously visited Mexico before joined me and so, that made it easy.  But even otherwise, entering Mexico is not very difficult but that also may make you drive across the border without proper papers. If you are a visitor, then you have to drive to a building on the right, at the border. I do not recollect seeing any clear directions towards the building. At a deserted office, you need to fill a form with some basic details and hand it over to the officer. With a valid US visa, you could enter Mexico. If you are visiting for 7 days or less, then its free; If higher, then there is a fee, i think it is around $20. 

So, once our permit got approved, we drove past the border. Our taxi driver was a very jovial man and spoke less english. I tried to converse a bit with him in Spanish. It felt good to apply all my learnings. He particularly wanted to know if there were cinépolis in Bangalore and when I said yes, he was very happy and said that he now believed the newspapers and was proud of the fact that the Mexican company is going global. 


When you cross the border from the US to Mexico, you almost immediately feel the difference. The border city of Tijuana is densely populated with small houses and buildings almost touching one another. That did remind me of a crowded city in India. The rules of driving were not strictly followed as much as it is done in the US but it is not as bad as in India either. There were people walking on the streets and that made me feel good. 


I mostly spent the week at Ensenada and did drive to a small town called Tecate for a day. At Ensenada, the hotel our company usually books is one of the best in the city - Hotel Coral & Marina. It has a beautiful view of the All Saints bay. Whenever I got a chance, I would walk by the bay, though we had no access to the sea. 







The week that I spent in Mexico was amazing, simply because the people are so friendly and nice. Remotely, it did feel like home. The people I met at our factory, the taxi drivers I interacted with, the hotel staff, everyone were so humble and friendly. 

One of the evenings, Ron threw a grand dinner party for about 25 colleagues at a Sushi bar. It was a great evening and I got to know some of my Mexican colleagues. After the dinner, Pedro and Javier took me to one of the oldest bars (Or Canteena) in Ensenada called Houssong's. The atmosphere there was interesting and very different from the bars I had seen elsewhere. There were only two or three tables in the entire bar. Everyone else were just holding a beer and standing. A group of musicians were playing Norteño music. Everybody else surrounded them and kept chatting in their little groups and occasionally swayed to the music. There was hardly any place to stand. No body seemed to eat much there except for groundnuts and beer. We met some other colleagues from office and I met a hotel staff. We tried the electric shock offered for a fee, which I thought was crazy but fun. 

What I liked the most was that the youngsters seemed to appreciate the traditional Mexican music. I enjoyed speaking to my wonderful hosts - Pedro and Javier from office. 

Rest of the week, I tried to book taxi through the reception and tried to converse in Spanish with the taxi drivers. I also tried speaking Spanish to the servers at the restaurants I visited and it worked perfectly okay to make short conversations - basically to survive. However, I do need to improve to make descent conversations with people. 



All in all the week in Mexico was awesome!

Saturday, September 02, 2017

Old Town, San Diego

Before crossing the border to Mexico, I had an afternoon to spend at San Diego. I flew in to San Diego at around noon on a Sunday (13-Aug). One of my colleagues Prasad had suggested me to stay at Old Town, San Diego. He believed that I would like it out there and he was right. 

Old town is a neat place. My hotel was at a walkable distance from the Historic park that accommodates some old buildings, houses and museums. The entire feel of the place was very festive out there. There were a lot of street stalls selling artefacts mostly from Mexico, there were cafés and restaurants playing live Mexican music. There were candy shops making candies like in the olden days, there were music performances and lots and lots of food. It was like a permanent carnival out there. 

I truly loved walking around the streets of old town. Here are some pictures. I would highly recommend people to spend some time there while in San Diego. 











Friday, September 01, 2017

Food!

When you are in America, you have to try food. It does not matter if you are vegetarian or vegan, everyone has choice here. I love to explore the vegetarian side of any cuisine. Here are some of them.

I loved the food at Matt' the Miller's Tavern in Carmel Indiana. I tried the delicious Bavarian Pretzel Bites - Warm and soft Bavarian style pretzels, dusted with sea salt and served with roasted garlic sauce and sweet and tangy mustard sauce. 


And delicious Flat breads for main course.


And my favourite New your cheese cake for desserts. 


During weekdays, for lunch, I went health conscious and stopped by at a Subway near the office to have a salad bowl. 


Bored with the hotel breakfast menu, I tried some breakfast at First Watch. I loved the packed egg with avocado that i had here.


I never miss out on a Mexican dinner while in the US. The enchiladas were amazing. 


At Old town San Diego, I tried some really good sandwiches at Hungry's Kitchen and tap.  I loved the incredibly tasty bean soup they had prepared. 


And I also tried a fine dining, Italian restaurant in old town San Diego - Jack & Giulio's Italian restaurant. Their Panzerotti (crepes filled with parmesan, ricotta, and spinach baked in a béchamel sauce) and their strawberry with some really tasty sauce was so delicious that I left the plates back empty. 



And you cannot leave America without trying the famous burgers. For me, I had a patty made of Quinoa.