Wine and Yoga

Went to an excellent wine dinner last night and an excellent yoga class this morning. Each on their own were fabulous but lets face it wine and yoga don’t mix.

The wine dinner was at Caperberry’s featuring Spanish Torres wines. About 60 people showed up which was surprising and most of them Indian. As always the dinners are as much about the people you meet as the wine you taste. And in this case we were lucky to have Anna Manchon, the Torres Head Wine Sommelier sit at our table.

We had a great time talking to Anna about wine and travel. Although she said Spanish wines are the best (she has to say that right?), we talked about Tuscany and Brunello di Montecino which we all agreed was the undisputed favorite Italian wine between us. Left me wishing Tom and Melissa (our Tuscany buddies) were at the table with us. Anna definitely has a passion for wines and with her Spanish accent can talk a mile a minute. Definitely a dream job – travelling all over the world promoting wine. A fun evening with good food as well!

My 1 1/2 hour yoga class started at 9:00am this morning. With only a few classes left my yoga teacher is pushing us to the limits even though she says we are still just doing the basics. She wants us to perfect the standing poses as well as shoulder stand, head stand, and many other asanas before we are sent off into the big wide world.

And now lots of coffee and lots of water to face the rest of the day. Off to the school to watch Alanna horseback riding and then bringing back three giggly girls for a sleepover. Craig will fly out the door as soon as he gets home to play cricket with his friends and tomorrow we will all look forward to sleeping in.

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"What’s in the News" and "Life This Week"

What’s in the news? A full page ad in the Bangalore newspaper, DNA, about beautiful British Columbia, Canada, that’s what!

Imagine my surprise to see a huge travel article and photos on my home town and province, “Cosmopolitan and hip Vancouver…Charming and quaint Victoria with its British heritage. The wilderness of the Canadian Rockies. Whistler, one of the world’s premier ski destinations…From hiking to skiing to scenic train rides and gastronomic delights, British Columbia offers amazing diversity.”

Color photos included those of Burrard Inlet, the Parliament Buildings and Empress Hotel in Victoria, the Sea to Sky highway, Whistler and Capilano Suspension Bridge. Wow it looks beautiful and BC is diverse isn’t it – it looks like a pretty nice place to go back too!

Well, you are probably wondering about those ants? I’m happy to say (knock on wood) that the ant problem seems to be solved. Looks like we cemented up all the entry points to the house and we seem to be ant free.

The list of things going wrong continued this week though when our washing machine broke down. Appeared to be a clogged filter and thought I could fix it myself – looked simple enough. Michael read the instructions outloud and I pulled out the little tube to drain the water into a pan (the machine was full). No water came out so we proceeded to the next step: “turn and remove the plug and then remove filter and clean.” The plug came out nicely and as I looked in to find the filter an enormous gush of water erupted! The pan couldn’t hold it all and I scrambled to plug the hole, but not before the kitchen floor was full of water. Michael had backed away to avoid getting wet and calmly asked, “Should I phone the repair guy now?”

Oh What a Week!

Wouldn’t you know everything would start to fall apart now? It’s like the house knows we only have 5 weeks to go  – maybe it’s trying to get rid of us early. Let’s see – Craig’s geyser blew up, our main electrical switch in our bedroom blew up (smoke and fire was involved), the sliding shower door won’t slide (again), 20 litres of water from the water cooler leaked all over the dining room,and lastly (hopefully), an army of ants have invaded the house.

First, a geyser is not to be confused with a geezer (we have no old men getting blown up in Craig’s bathroom), nor is it a spring coming up from the ground with lots of vapour. A geyser is a water heater found in bathrooms and kitchens. Much to my delight who should come to the rescue but my favorite Handiman in his trademark red jumpsuit!

The geyser and electrical switch got fixed, the wheels for the sliding door are (supposedly) on their way. The 20 litres of water found all over the dining room floor was annoying but fairly easy to clean up. But I can’t say the same for the tiny flying ants.

We noticed the ants when we got back from Kabini – in the living room and dining room at night, attracted to the warmth and the lights. We sprayed the rooms with no results – they just kept coming. So we had pest control come in – twice. The second time the guy found a hole outside under the living room window. He sprayed it like crazy and ants poured out. We thought that would be the end of it but the thing about ants is they come in seemingly unlimited numbers and are small and smart.

They obviously had more than one entry. Every night we turn on the lights and in they march. So yesterday I had the holes patched up – all the cracks inside and outside the window. Then we noticed some ants coming out a crack in the tile outside so we patched that too, wiped our hands clean, sure that we had outwitted and outplayed those little insects.

But evening came, the lights went on and suddenly they appeared inside again. We sprayed but couldn’t even tell where they were coming from. Nauseated from the smell and just plain frustrated, we turned off all the lights, went out for dinner, came back and spent the rest of the night in our rooms. The ants were clearly winning.

Today noticed another crack in the upper corner of the inside wall, sprayed and out poured the ants. Cleaned them up and filled those cracks in. Waiting patiently now for evening to come…and the lights to come on…

Kabini (Part 3)

Sunday morning we were woken up at 6:00am for our morning boat safari. None of us were really into it but we dragged ourselves out of bed and made our way down to the boat.

It was a calm and beautiful morning. We saw the odd bit of wildlife here and there: lots of interesting birds, lots of deer grazing along the shoreline, a couple of really cute otters and even a crocodile. We had our binoculars with us which kept the kids entertained for the full two hours and everyone really enjoyed the trip.

Back on shore we had breakfast and packed up ready for the long drive home. Our driver managed to speed as much as we would allow (a bit nerve racking) and he got us to the outskirts of Bangalore in only four hours.

A big bottleneck as always getting into the city where we stopped at Hard Rock Cafe for a break and our usual nachos, burgers and margaritas. Back home we remembered that it was Easter (an unusual way to celebrate) and the kids were thrilled to find a huge Bliss chocolate easter egg waiting for each of them in the fridge.

All and all we really enjoyed Kabini. The people at Kabini River Lodge were friendly and accommodating, the safari’s were entertaining as long as ones expectations are not too high – it’s India, not Africa – no open plains with unlimited numbers of animals. But really nice to see a quiet and calm part of India out in the wilderness.

More About the Royal Wedding (part 2)

A few more things about the Royal Wedding:

Married a prince but still not a princess? Doesn’t seem right does it? After all this time – ten years – and all the thought that went into “do I really want to be a princess,” and what does she get – HRH the Duchess of Cambridge. Kate’s certainly giving up any sense of an ordinary life – one would think she would at least be given the title of Princess. But no, the Queen had a bunch of titles thrown into a hat and pulled out HRH the Duchess of Cambridge – at least she gets to use HRH.

Only a couple of celebrities that I noticed:

1)Elton John – caught on camera singing hymns looking rather stuffy – come on Elton snap your fingers or move your hips a little.

2)David and Victoria Beckham – her wearing black (oops it’s a wedding not a funeral) and looking royally upset about something. A few reasons why:

  1. Perhaps she was upset that David didn’t put on his hat, (V)”put on your hat David.”  (D)”No, I don’t want to mess up my hair.”
  2. She may have been miffed at having to ride in one of those horrible mini buses back to the palace – (V)”I want to ride in a horse and carriage. It’s not fair that Kate and William get one and we don’t.” 
  3. She didn’t get a front seat at the wedding.
  4. She was royally pregnant and mad at her Dr. for refusing to do a c-section prior to the wedding.

The cameras panned to Kates’ Mom singing “God Save the Queen” with the gueen sitting practically next to her. That must have been an “aha” moment.

After the “kiss on the balcony” the couple drove off in an Astin Martin; probably a wish of the prince – “just once I’d like to drive a car down that road with the top down.” Well don’t get used to it cause it’s never going to happen again “future king.” Did you notice the big “L” on the front of the car? A little embarrasing but yes, even a prince has to get a learners license.
Whereas Charles and Diana had the fairytale wedding this so reminded me of “The Sound of Music” weddding. The music, the boys choir and the high camera shots from above – definitely reminded me of Julie Andrews walking down the isle. Now that I think of it maybe even the dress? I’ll have to get out the CD and compare the two.

Royal Wedding (Part 1)

I have to interupt my Kabini posts for a quick view on the Royal Wedding. First of all please excuse any grammar/spelling mistakes because 1)I’m writing this blind and 2) I’ve had a few glasses of Proseco – couldn’t afford Kate and Wil’s $1500 bottles of wine.

Started watching coverage early with a lot of blah blah blah about Diana and this and that. Also had to go to my children’s science fair at 1:30 – what kind of a school schedules a science fair during the Royal Wedding coverage? Anyway stayed for a reasonable length of time and made it back to see the royals arriving at Westmenster Abbey. Flipping back and forth from CNN and BBC but the choice was made when the royals were leaving Buckingham Palace in minibuses – the BBC named the royals in a monotone voice – while CNN roared with laughter at the silliness of royals in minbuses, wondering if they were having a few drinks and singing songs! Promptly decided CNN was the way to go – Kat Deely of “So You Think You Can Dance” fame, Piers Brosnon, and Anderson Cooper.

What did I think of the wedding – understated – it was like a couple of good friends getting married, very mature and well thought out – in love. Hard not to compare it to Charles and Diana who barely new each other – theirs really was more of a fairy tale. While the wedding today was well thought out between two people who really knew each other.

The dress? Lovely, a little old fashioned with the lace, high collar and long sleeves. Worst dressed – the Duke and Duchess of Yorks’ daughters – Eugenie and ? Miss Piggy blue dress and Mickey Mouse hat – sad. Lovely day for the Middleton’s – they must have been gobsmacked – their daughter marrying a royal.

It was all very lovely but not the pomp and circumstance because the couple is much more down to earth than most other royal weddings. Let’s hope they are partying into the night with friends and enjoying the moment.

Kabini (Part 2)

It took two hours to drive from Mysore to Kabini River Lodge where we stayed. Not a bad drive, nice to get to the rural areas and villages. Just the last 10 or so km were full of potholes so slow going.

Kabini River Lodge had a great feel to it right away – wilderness, trees, a clean river! They have a network of nets strung up in the trees and a treehouse for the kids to play in. Alanna and Craig were excited right away when they saw this and off they went to climb and explore. As an added bonus some friends from school were there so the kids got to hang out and play.

There is a set program for the weekend and the price includes a buffet lunch, dinner, breakfast, a jeep safari in the afternoon and a boat safari in the morning.

We set off on the jeep safari in a vehicle that resembled a small bus rather than a jeep with about 15 of us in it. The first sighting was three elephants crossing the road. We saw a few more elephants, including one big one with tusks, some wild boars, lots of deer (spotted and sambar) and monkeys. There are tigers and cheetahs in the park but none that we saw.

The park is treed, and the roads windy and bumpy. With the rains lately one section that dipped down had washed out – the vehicle ahead of us got stuck but eventually made it out and up the hill on the other side. Our driver decided to go off the road and bypass the section but it meant going over a bit of a ledge to get to the other side. I opted to get out and walk rather than take the chance of rolling and everyone else agreed.

With about half an hour to go it started to rain…and then it started to pour…and then it was definitely a monsoon rain. The plastic sides came down and there was no view at all, the driver could barely see in front of him. Made it back but then got drenched running from the “jeep” to the cottage.

Waited out the rains and then Michael and I made our way up to “John Wakefield’s Bar,” for G&T’s; such a civilized way to end a day out on the hunt.

Mysore-Kabini Roadtrip (Part 1)

One last roadtrip – this time to Mysore on Friday and Kabini on Saturday and Sunday. We left at 11:00am Friday morning and it took four hours to reach Mysore via the Mysore Highway. Have to say the NH209, the rural highway to Mysore, was much more pleasant (see Aug. 9, 2010). This highway was busy and far too many speedbumps constantly slowing you down.

Got to Mysore at 3:00pm and grabbed a bite to eat at the hotel restaurant. This was our fourth time staying at the Regaalis Hotel in Mysore – 3 star, reasonable rates, friendly staff, and a good restaurant. The rooms are big enough for the four of us but do ask for one of the renovated rooms  as they are nicer.

We had seen the palace, the market and Chamundi hill on previous trips so this time we decided to venture out to Brindavan Gardens where in the evening the fountains are all lit up and apparently there is a light show. So off we went at 5:00pm. The receptionist said it would take 20 minutes but it took at least 45min. along a narrow road full of potholes. We couldn’t believe the cars and tour buses in the parking lot – it was packed.

It was very pleasant walking through the gardens and fountains. There is always a sort of festive feel when lots of Indian couples and families are out enjoying some leisure time together. The gardener may have been on holidays though as we noticed a lot of lawn mowing and dead heading to be done. On one side of the gardens the Cauvery Dam looms overhead. There are steps leading up to it and we got a great view overlooking the gardens to the east and the Cauvery River and the sunset to the west.

Way in the distance, on the other side of the gardens we noticed an amphitheatre and figurered out that the fountain/light show would be way over there. We made our way down the steps as the lights came on and the fountains were lit up – very nice.

 But to get to the amphitheatre you had to cross a narrow causeway over the water or go by small boat. Neither were appealing and both were packed. Plus what would happen once the show was finished?Everyone had to come back via boat or causeway.

We decided to skip the light show and made our way to the parking lot. Found the van and headed off to the one exit and the narrow road. We couldn’t help but notice the parking lot was like a big ferry lineup with rows and rows of vehicles – but the difference was every third or fifth car was facing the opposite direction. I couldn’t imagine the chaos at the end of the night. And this happens every single night – I really think the Mysore government could put a little money into a new road with a few more lanes. It must have taken hours for those people to get out of there.

Next…Kabini…

Updates and Winding Down

First the Updates:

  • The Bangalore Restaurant Guide and Book Reccommendations have been updated.
  • Remember little Anand, the 2 year old who Smile Train operated on in October to repair his hair lip (see Jan. 11, 2011 “This Will Make You Smile”)? A very sad update to report that little Anand died recently in hospital from pneumonia. Our OWC charity member who arranged the operation saw Anand ten days before and he was fine, he had put on weight and was walking. Such a sad ending but we know he was well loved and well taken care in his short life at one of the OWC charities.

Things are Winding Down:

With just under two months left in India things are winding down. We’ve booked our flights out of here on the same day our visas expire and the moving process has begun; we’ve had two companies come through to estimate how much stuff we have to send back to Canada. We are going back with little more than what we came with but both companies estimated five times the amount.  That’s a huge difference and means the difference between shipping by air (2-3 weeks) and sea (2-3 months). Something fishy going on there.

My charity work is almost done and I’ve handed off my four charities to other committee members. It was another productive year with a big increase in funds raised over the year which meant that we had a lot more to distribute to our 25 charities. After many meetings and emails we have distributed the funds to many, many worthy projects.

I have written my last article for the Rangoli also. I think I managed to write an article in almost all but three issues since I joined. Really enjoyed writing for the magazine.

Yoga – I’ve cut back to just taking the Iyengar class 2-3 times/week. I still love it and the other days I’m doing yoga at home. I definitely want to focus on Iyengar when I get back to Canada and looking forward to finding a good studio or teacher. Definitely one of the best things I have learned in India!

Back to Goa (Part 2)

This time in Goa we went south and the beach was beautiful – nice soft sand, clean, long, warm water, great waves and not crowded at all. The days were spent lounging on the beach, playing in the waves and eating at our favorite little beach shack: Cafe Zumbrai, just next door to the hotel.

We stayed at the Taj Exotica which I would not recommend. Overall the service was poor – we heard the word “No” far too much – and the food was overpriced and unappetizing. There were some good points such as housekeeping, the Goan restaurant and staff, and the breakfasts. Generally at these “expensive” hotels you are paying extra for service and facitllities – this time, unfortunately, it didn’t pay off.

I was really surprised because I had such a good experience last month at the Taj Holiday Village where customer service was outstanding, food was excellent and reasonably priced. Ahh, how I longed for “Towel Ganesha…”

So we just had our breakfast at the hotel and then off to the beach for the day. Lunch and dinner we gladly walked the hundred meters down the beach to Cafe Zumbrai where we ate fresh fish, all the Goan specialties, pasta, cheap beer and cocktails too!

All in all (despite the hotel), we had a great family vacation with lots of sun, sand, surf and good food.