When exploring a city, I like to take to the streets like a local. Sure, a fancy hotel stay is a much-needed rejuvenating treat but I had under 24 hours to backpack around Guwahati, the capital city of Assam (North East India) and ofcourse it involved a major eatathon!
Guwahati is a maddening chaos. The streets are jam-packed with traffic, hawkers and bystanders.
We walked through its streets this monsoon-laden Monday. The air is hot and muggy, and the humidity shrouds the body with a permanent layer of perspiration, making my flimsy cotton t-shirt stick on like a second skin.
My father in-law has a very endearing caretaker who originates from the Garo Hills. Swing is a short, middle-aged man with a rather muscular stature and a deep, dark chocolate-brown complexion, and has been a part of this family ever since I married into it. Yes, his name is Swing! Given his fondness for the bottle and a very jovial disposition, this name seems pretty apt for him. Sparse teethed yet ever-smiling, Swing has formed a special friendship with my daughter who he last saw as a 2 year-old. My daughter does not speak any Indian regional languages, and Swing has very limited use of the English tongue. Yet the other afternoon, I saw him sitting there trying to tell her a story in colloquial Hindi.
Always keen on hearing some regional-style storytelling myself, I sat down to listen and offered to be the translator between the two. Swing narrated the story of Gangbo Raja, a folktale that has been passed down generations in the Garo Hills.
I am spending the last few precious days of Ramadan in India with the extended family. Iftars here are rather different from the UAE. When fasting in Dubai, we tend to focus on the socializing aspect of Ramadan, and are spoilt for choice with the plethora of Iftars and Suhoor buffets on offer.
In my husband’s hometown of Shillong (Meghalaya), Iftars are far more solemn and people prefer to enjoy them within the privacy of their own homes with close family. Neighbours exchange dishes, but mainly meet up in the mosque for the extended prayers.
I spent the last couple of days at my maternal aunt Zuleikha Hazarika’s place, and had the pleasure of watching her very talented cook, Ali, whip up a giant pot full of traditional Chicken Pulao (an aromatic chicken pilaf fragranced with the spicy notes of cardamom, cloves and cinnamon). In the true spirit of Ramadan, the pulao was divided up into boxes, and distributed across the neighbourhood to close friends, as well as the less fortunate.
“The bus was a carcass of a vehicle, a mere tin box with faded paint and prison bars that housed an entire crowd of perspiring strangers. Each grasped on to any available solace as the driver took frivolous turns on the rocky, uneven roads ahead. I stood there, balancing my luggage and child with hands and legs, praying the next swirl will not deplete my balance, lest I end up crashing out of the glass door behind me.”
Where are you heading off this summer? If you are a major foodie like me, you’d take to Google to plan out your foodie trail in the little time you’ve got at your destination. However, an even better bet is having a local friend who’s lived and eaten around the city. Today we are exploring Toronto (Canada) through the tastebuds of my very special friend Upa Hazarika. Upa and I go back a long, long time and have been friends since we were wee toddlers. Trust me, this girl has great taste when it comes to eating out 🙂 Read on about her recent trip back to her hometown Toronto.
With a population just over 80K and covering an area of 336 square kilometers, my gorgeous little hometown of Palmerston North, New Zealand can be considered pretty tiny by global comparisons.
However, this little city has earned itself a number of titles. It is known as the ‘Knowledge City’ of New Zealand, given the number of highly reputable educational institutions it houses for its size (the biggest, and oldest campus being Massey University from where I proudly earned my three tertiary degrees in Marketing).
Palmerston North is also known as the ‘City of Roses’ owing to its very well-loved Dugald Mackenzie Rose Garden.
I booked my trip home to New Zealand on Singapore Airlines. However, the flights between Singapore and New Zealand were operated by Air New Zealand as the two airlines have a partnership deal through Star Alliance.
I’ve flown Air New Zealand domestically within New Zealand, and have never been too impressed. The aircrafts for one are very tiny, and all you get onboard is a cup of tea or coffee accompanied by a miniature biscuit (it still makes me giggle how the flight attendants even announce this: ‘In a few minutes we will be serving you tea or coffee along with a biscuit‘!).
However, for the longer haul, Air New Zealand’s international flights are a class apart. Being a Kiwi myself, perhaps this is biased but here’s 3 reasons I thought Air New Zealand was ‘Sweet As’!
I am back in sunny Dubai after a whirlwind trip back home to New Zealand. Where did the past two weeks disappear?
I flew via Singapore to Auckland, New Zealand and on the return path, I had an 8 hour transit in Changi Airport, Singapore.
As I was travelling alone, the thought of dwindling away 8 hours in Singapore all by myself seemed all too daunting and I was looking up Google on airport rooms and transit lounges.
Much has changed in Palmerston North, the little township of New Zealand I fondly call home. The bustling Broadway Ave is a ghost of its former self with big retail giants like Farmers moving into the grotesquely expanding mall, The Plaza. About a decade ago, the city center of Palmerston North spread beyond The Plaza, and I quite miss the charm of walking about town for my weekly dose of retail therapy.
Although the town looks shuffled with old favorites gone, and newbies playing trumps with bigger, brighter and newer signage, a few of my favorite foodie haunts have managed to survive the tests of time.
Here are 3 must-try places for foodies visiting Palmerston North: