Sunday, October 23, 2005

Ifthiyar with Turks

Sitting at the dinner table, I was literally clueless about what was spread across the table.I couldn’t recognize any of the dishes there. How could I, after all it was Turkish dinner.

It was the ‘Ifthiyar’ party arranged by the Turkish community and we ended up there after my Turkish colleague Ahmet invited for the party.

Ahmet understood my concern about the food and assured me that he had made arrangements for vegetarian food. While rest of my colleagues digged into the various meat dishes, me and another friend were the only veggies there.

First came the palm dates and then appetizer ‘Ayran’. It was a drink of beaten yogurt, salt & grated cucumber. It was something like our butter milk but not exactly same.This was followed by vegetable salad.Then followed a series of main dishes.

One was an orange color rice item which was made of rice(or rather rice-lets).It was plain in taste with some unknown spices and only thing I recognized in that was that they had put salt in the dish !

There was another green color grain item which was like Kosambari. Even ingredients almost tasted similar. In a flash, Kosambari prepared in home during festivals passed through my head! Next regular rice with vermillion made its way to my plate.There was chutney like thing which tasted familiar but couldn’t co-relate the taste!

Mean while my host friend was giving running commentary about all the dishes coming to my plate.

'Dolma' was the one which I liked. It is rice stuffed in the grape leaves and baked.It is almost like our ‘Patra Oday’ we prepare in Karnataka .I heard from Ahmet that the ingredients of 'Dolma ' can also be vegetables & beans.

There was a rectangular deep-fry item which tasted some thing like pakoda. Or was it that I was trying to find Indian taste in every item?!!

In that dinner party, me & another friend were the only veggies and this food was specially prepared for us. Looked like Ahmet took extra pain for us..

After getting stuffed with the food, ‘Tatlisi’ appeared on the table.Tatlisi is the Turkish term for sweets or desserts.

‘Helva’ was that dessert made of milk, sugar, nuts, vermillion & flour.Before we could finish that small rolls were served on the plate.It was a deep fry sweet & tasted like Jeelabi.One more variation came which with great difficulty made its way into stomach!

During dinner, I had a lengthy conversion with Ahmet about Turkey, his home town Istanbul, places to visit in Istanbul and current political scenario in Turkey.I could notice how excited Ahmet was when he was explaining to me about Turkey. For any ex-patriate, talking about their country is such a nice thing. I remember I also get pumped up when I explain about India to someone here.

By the way, if you are not aware, Ifthiyar is the party arranged during Ramzan month for breaking fasts.If you recollect, Muslims fast through out this month and they won’t have food in between sun rise & sun set.This party was arranged by Turkish community here and I think we were the only non-Turkish people there!

After dinner, a video presentation was made telling significance of Ramadan .We took leave of Ahmet and while returning I had this question hovering me

“Religion is simple and it gets complicated when it gets interpreted.It was invented to show the light in the dark but why it is being used instead to push towards dark?”

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Once again in Phoenix!

South-West Airlines, LAX-PHX flight…

Everything was same & even few of the airhostesses in the flight were looking familiar!! It was nice to be back in Phoenix.How do my office folks know that I love travelling places?

First four days of training was spent, most of the time working in class and rest of the time as usual searching & testing new restaurants in Phoenix. And some part of my hotel stay was spent calling up customer care of hotel asking to rectify the internet connection in my room!

On Friday evening, a long ride of 30 minutes brought me to Deer Valley apartments. Last time I was here in Phoenix, I had met Archana. This time it was to meet one more good friend from Lucent-background and who was part of our picnics & treks in Bangalore. It was almost 8 months since I had seen him. After a little while I heard that familiar voice and there he was sitting on a bicycle…Supreeth Hedge!

Suppi took me to his house & I met Giri, his roommate whom I had met in our Kumara parvatha trek. Chatted with Suppi for a long time and didn’t forget to pull his legs about why he hasn’t shaved for weeks?

Next was visit to Archana for dinner. When she was about to start cooking, she realized that there was no rice & once again we were out on ‘Bhavathi Bhikshan Deyi’ campaign!!!

Archana took me to her colleague Sachin & Mubin’s house & it so happened that we ended up cooking there & eating dinner with them! Mubin is an interesting guy to talk with.As I mentioned any project name to him, he used to come up with few gals names from that project and would ask how they were doing! Had dinner and chatted with them till 11:30 before Suppi called. So these guys dropped me back at Suppi’s place.

One more drive with Suppi this time to ‘Blockbuster’ to get some movies. We were literally ‘Gone in 60 seconds’ seeing the movie of the same name!

Saturday, Oct 1:
Phoenix appeared little cooler now then it was during my previous visit.

After lots of hiccups & last minute changes, finally Suppi was the rescuer and took us to Arizona mills.This is one of the big malls in Phoenix and as expected did lots of window shopping before we went to movie ‘Flight Plan’.

A little girl goes missing in the aircraft and there won’t be any proof left that the kid had boarded the flight. Nobody believes mom that her kid came with her. So mom herself gets into action of searching the kid in that aircraft, of which she knows each & every bit of it!! How she knows the aircraft? Because she will be the one who would have designed that aircraft !! Interesting movie and I heard rumors that the movie may get banned! That may be because the movie has many scenes showing minute details about aircraft and how to goof it up.

After movie, did some small shopping in the Arizona mills. I added one more t-shirt, to my latest hobby of collecting T-shirts bearing city names I visited.

Next stop was ‘Mills Avenue’, which we called ‘Brigade road of Phoenix’. Looks like Brigade road had deep rooted influence on all of us hailing from Bangalore. First thing we do here is compare any dazzling-happening street to Brigades and then we add ‘May be this is little bigger’!

Mills Avenue is across Arizona University and I think the large chunk of that crowd was from there.One interesting thing about Mills Avenue was the huge guitars erected on the footpaths.There were so many of them and each in different color & design. There was a guitar which was shining red, which got its color by the 1 cent coins pasted all over it

The evening was just getting lit up and there were young crowds all set to enjoy the Saturday night. Most of the time here again we spent in window shopping and also followed Achhu to whichever apparel shop she went.Looked like all the shops in that Avenue was meant only for Ladies!

After a quick dinner of Spinach pasta, went to ‘Four rabbits fountain’ and sat there chatting for a very long time. Invariably the topic of treks and finally Sakleshpur trek came and how dearly we remembered that trek.

Anand, who is Acchu’s colleague, was in great form too. Best part about Anand is he speaks so good Kannada. It is significant & heartening considering the point that he is a Bihari !

I know that sometimes I just get pissed off due to silly & stupid reasons. Achhu will definitely be nodding her head to this & saying “I know”!

We left Mills around 11.The crowd was getting bigger and bigger. Came back and slept at 2 not beforing watching ‘Gone in 60 Seconds’.

Sunday, Oct 2:
We got up pretty early for lunch at 11:30. Me and Suppi were in quite a flash back mood after seeing our Kumaraparvatha trek fotos and Lucent picnic fotos.Don’t know how long we sat chatting about that KP trip, about Sandeep who was the 'star' of that trek, about Sudheep's capability of carrying friend's luggage,about Sumanth,Hakim,Mohammed,Ayush,Bhat….

Picked Achhu on the way and went to Anthem malls. It seems the whole idea of that session was to show me huge cactuses and desert landscaping in Phoneix.Indeed there were cactuses on either side of road and there were few cactus nurseries also.On the way back from mall, Suppi, Achhu & I sung some Kannada songs non-stop. Especially that song “Heghe idhey namm desha..Heghe idhey namm bhashey..Heghe idharey namma jana?” was sounding so meaningful!!

Anthem mall is one more shopping mall in Phoenix.If you had noticed, Phoenix has nothing but huge malls and looked like those are the entertainment spots here. Phoenix doesn’t boost huge things as in Los Angeles or San Francisco.

But things small or big, looks good only when you are with good company.
Suppi & Achhu gave such a nice company throughout my stay there.

Achhu & Suppi, I know you will definitely do still better planning next time I come there!!!