Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Happy Janmashtami!

Dear reader,
One day, around this time last year, my son and I suddenly found ourselves in the middle of a dancing, drumming and cheering crowd of people! It was crazy! And when the guys started to climb up on top of each other, attempting to build... a human pyramid?! The crowd went ecstatic and we went ... speechless! It was so wild ! We could't believe it! What on earth was going on? This was new to us - freshly arrived expats...!

Now, we know. We know that today at midnight, Janmashtami, the birth of Lord Krishna, will be celebrated with songs, dances, pujas, with rocking the cradle of baby Krishna, with enthusiasm and devotion all over India. We know that we celebrate at midnight because it is said that Krishna was born on a dark, stormy night to end the rule of his vicious uncle, and that he is an incarnation of Vishnu.

I saw that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh ( greeted the nation in occasion of Janmashtami and said that the festival celebrates the triumph of good over evil:
- It should be an occasion to remind ourselves of Lord Krishna's eternal message of performing one's duty without any thought of the reward. May the festival bring happiness, peace and prosperity to the people. 

And then - we are well prepared for the big commotion tomorrow! Govinda (or Dahi Handi) is a dramatic sport/game to celebrate the birth of Krishna. The players (the Govindas) gather to form a human tower so they can catch and brake a pot which is hung up high in the air. The stories say that Krishna was a naughty little boy, also stealing butter- so to recreate that -and for fun - my friend says. Many organizes teams for this, they train for it, and there are rewards involved. And every year casualties too unfortunately...

Well, if you are in Mumbai - look out for human pyramids tomorrow! I sure will!
Ready for this? (from 
PS: I had an interesting visit earlier this year- the celebration is really biiig there tonight at midnight!

I wish you a very Happy Janmashtami, dear reader:-)  

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Giving Juhu a second chance

Dear reader,
I love the name Juhu! It is as close as you can get to a joyful loud roar - at least back where I come from- that is. I have always liked it, and one of my first wonderful moments from Mumbai is also from Juhu. Usually when we have been to Juhu, the beach has been packed with people, lots of people -  watching the sunset, eating from the food-stalls, playing games, watching magicians, talking, walking, being...

This morning the beach was almost empty, and it looked almost clean (at least from a distance..) Because of the monsoon, the sea washed up a lot of garbage, and on our first try last week - well- let's just say it was not so pleasant. But then an army of cleaners and some trucks appeared and this morning it looked really nice! So - a second chance for Juhu! Juhu! And is it like the monsoon is starting to let go now? This morning the sun was shining bright and clear from a blue sky over the beach. Lovely!

Oh, how I enjoyed the moments at Juhu today! Nothing beats sea breeze:-). We walked up and down again, and feeling the sun and wind and the soft breeze from the sea - lovely moments and a wonderful start of the day! -- and well, yeah - ok, so a few clouds gathered later in the day. That's ok! :

I hope you had a good day too, dear reader. Have a wonderful evening:-) 

Monday, 26 August 2013

Travel India - but where to go?

- Oh, you have to go to Delhi! It is nothing like Mumbai! My friend (who happens to be from Delhi by the way!) is crystal clear in her recommendations! Another friend praises Pondicherry, yet another fell in love with Udaipur and a neighbor keep asking me every time we meet: - So, did you go to Kerala yet? No, not yet? You must go! Promise you'll go!

Ouu - the list is looong, (and the more people I speak to, the longer it gets). And then we have our dear guinea-pigs - remember when we sent them out to explore India? They have their favorites too, I have seen. So, the guinea pigs did some testing and now it is our turn! I have a loose plan in my head (of course I do..)  - so let us see where we will go - on this first (of hopefully more) trips in India. So, dear reader, maybe you have your favorite Indian destination too?

So, even though I was suppose to clear my mind from all thoughts today, I didn't quite manage to do so. Wait, what? Why is that? Well, you see, I started a very interesting class today - including meditation. It hasn't really been my cup of tea before, but we were off to a pretty interesting start on this one. Maybe with Indian Meditation I will finally get it? You know?! Well, I will keep you posted on my progress:-) And I know for yoga, practicing in India took my relatively modest yoga passion to a whole new level. Love it!

I hope you have a good Monday, dear reader, and thank you for following:-)

And - PS: Goa, we have already visited:-):


Sunday, 25 August 2013

Kitchari - recipe

- If any food could wear a cape and fly, it would be Kitchari. (1)

The Indian dish Kitchari has become a big favorite of mine, a delicious meal which fills the kitchen with wonderful scents. Kitchari is best known as the all-star of Ayurvedic cleansing, and if you are a yogi, you might know the dish? - it is said to be the most wholesome food for yogis- balanced for body & soul.

Kitchari is known for the good ability to detoxify the body, it is nourishing and easy to digest. It has a perfect balance of healthy proteins and carbs. In addition, it may help healing digestive problems, balance the metabolism, clean your liver and assist in weight stabilization. Not bad? 

There are so many different ways to make Kitchari (which means mixture, usually of two grains, by the way), but common for all is that it does not take a lot of time, and it is easy to make. I like it this way:

You need: 
  • 1/2 cup basmati rice
  • 1 cup red lentils (Mung Dal, split yellow)
  • 6 cups water 
  • 2 tsp butter (ghee, if you have)
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 cm ginger root (chopped)
  • 1 t coriander seeds
  • 1/2 t salt
  • fresh cilantro leaves
If you like, you can also add 1 cup assorted vegetables. I have experimented at bit and tried with different vegetables. You can add carrots, potatoes, beans, but I liked it with zucchini or tomatoes - I think both works very well. Separately though. 

You do:
Clean the lentils and rice, and set aside. Heat the butter in a pan, and add the seeds. Saute them until they pop, and then add the other spices. Add the rice and lentils, and pour over water. Allow it to boil for 20 minutes, but check that it has enough water. It shall be a bit sticky, but not dry!. After 20 minutes you can add chopped vegetables. Cook for another 5 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft. (you can also precook them, and add them to the rest towards the end of the cooking time )  

That's it, dear reader,  it is ready - I hope you got tempted to try it out?

- hope you enjoy your Kitchari! I do!

(1)Kate Lumsden-

Thursday, 22 August 2013


I think the first time I heard the word Namaste was in a yoga studio in Norway, or at least that was when it had an impact. It was January and snow was pouring outside. We were sitting on our yoga mats with scented candles in the corner of the dim lit room. Our yoga teacher looked at us, closed her eyes, bowed her head and greeted us with a soft Namaste. Being used to greet each other with a firm handshake, a pat on the shoulder, kisses on the cheek or a hug, this was something new. So elegant, exotic, clever and a bit mysterious...
And you may remember my attempt to master Hindi? Then you'll know that Namaste was the first Hindi word I learned (hopefully not the last). Namaste is a greeting, and when saying it, you place the two palms of our hands together in front of the chest (heart center), and bow your head a little. You can also place your hands together in front of the third eye, bow your head, and then bring the hands down to the heart - to show a deeper form of respect. Doing the gesture in India, it is understood that it means Namaste, so it is not necessary to actually say Namaste when you bow. But, I'll still say it...:-)

Obama's greetings when he visited India.
For me, Namaste sounds like the Greek Na'maste (Na imaste) = here/there we are. So for me, hearing it makes it sound both familiar and friendly, and a thing I am used to say catching up with someone. In English: So-here-we-are-and-it-is-so-nice-to-see-you-all-and-be-together-with-you-all!
The word Namaste origins from Sanskrit: namah + te = namaste. (namah= to bow, te= you). I bow to you – my greetings and salutations to you. A wonderful way to greet someone, I always thought...

Namaste, dear reader, and thank you for following:-)

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Happy Raksha Bandhan - celebrate your sibling!

Have you told your sister or brother that you love them lately? Yes? No? Well, today is the perfect day to do it! Because today we celebrate the relationship between brothers and sisters here in India, and they sure know how to celebrate in this country!  Today it is time for Raksha Bandhan, dear reader!

Today the sister will tie the rakhi (holy tread) on to the wrist of her brother, as a symbol of love and her wish for his well-being. In return the brother will give gifts and sweets to his sister, and he will promise to protect her for a lifetime. The girls/women may also tie the rakhi on the wrist of their male cousins and on boys/men, (friends&unrelated. but considered to be their brothers) -, if they commit to a lifelong obligation to provide protection to the girl/woman. In that way they bond for a lifetime and extend their present family. And as Manisha told me (I thought this was both sad and lovely at the same time): If the brother has passed away, the sister will tie the rakhi at the picture of her brother. So, she added: if you forget it in every day life: at Raksha Bandhan you are reminded to tell your siblings that you love them...:

Happy celebration -  Happy Raksha Bandhan, dear reader!

PS. The very popular practice of Raksha Bandhan has many historical associations. My personal favorite (we are talking Greek History now of course!)  is the story about when Alexander the Great invaded India in 326 BC. His wife Roxana then sent a rakhi to the Katock king Porus, asking him not to harm her husband in battle. On the battlefield, when Porus was about to deliver a final blow to Alexander, he saw the rakhi on his own wrist and restrained himself from attacking Alexander personally. So there you go!
Alexander the Great - saved by a rakhi???

Sunday, 18 August 2013

One year in Mumbai

Yes, we have now lived in Mumbai for over a year! And what a year it has been! After a long holiday in Norway and Greece, and now starting our second year- I look back, and be sure, dear reader, things are quite different this autumn than it was last year.. So, what comes first to my mind when I think back to:

August 2012: Chaos! We arrive in Mumbai, and it is Overwhelming. We are still in a hotel, because the apartment is not ready after all. It is raining all the time and I wake up some mornings thinking: What have we done?! One day, at a traffic light, there is an elephant next to our car! I learn that there really are a lot of cows in the streets in India, and sometimes also an elephant.

September 2012: We see the amazing colorful Ganesha festival, and I learn that Indians are very including. We move into an apartment = new levels of chaos. I learn that 11 am Wednesday does not necessarily mean 11 am Wednesday here, that the best meat is in a shop 2 hours drive away, and I discover COD. Oh heaven!

October 2012: The Powai Explorers is up and running, and I learn new things like why the Jains do not go out after dark,  how to wear your belly with pride and what a sudrah is.
Powai explorers on tour:-)
November 2012: I found "my" NGO. We celebrate Diwali and go to Goa for the first time. I realize that learning Hindi will be a big challenge and I write my very first blogpost. Yeeey!

Desember 2012: We have wonderful Christmas parties and lunches with new friends, and I hunt for Christmas decorations. I learn to try to bargain hard and long at the markets. I have some moments I will never forget, and some funny Indian moments in Malaysia.
A moment I can not forget
January 2013: My Greek in-laws are visiting. We go to Dharavi. I learn not to take no for an answer, and I learn to be more pushy when standing in a non-existing- ladies-washroom-line.
Kids in Dharavi
February 2013: Friends from Norway come to visit and we have a guru next door. NRK visits the NGO. I learn the names of all the kids in my class, and I learn how to make Dal and fresh lemonade- Indian way.  
NRK at the NGO
A Guru next door... 
March 2013: My parents are visiting. Our library is born. The crazy Holi-festival is on, and I learn not to wear my usual clothes during this holiday. I also learn that everything I had ever heard about FRRO is true.

Our NGO library is born! Yey!!
April 2013: This month I learn what a pineapple bush looks like and how cashew nuts are harvestedThe backpackers are visiting. I learn that April is a steaming hot month in Mumbai, and that indoor activities also can be nice.
The cutest pineapple plant..
May 2013: A month filled with joyful parties and sad goodbyes. I am on an emotional roller coaster this month,  dear reader: NGO summerparty, 17mai, a wedding... I learn that I have made many really good friends in Mumbai, and that it is going to be sad to leave - even though only for 2 months.

A wedding in India

NGO summerparty:-)

I hope you enjoyed this glimpse of my first year in Mumbai, dear reader. I am ready for the second one, and you are heartily welcome to come along. Stay tuned for more tales, and thanks for popping in.

Friday, 16 August 2013

The Two Hammocks' Tale

Dear reader,
The world is full of coincidences, they say, and today I sure had mine. And it has been on my mind all evening. Or what do you say about this moment:

I am sitting in the car, going home after a trip to Navi Mumbai. I have dived into an email from a friend. She is at Goa right now, and she loves it - because this year they sat up a hammock in the yard. So, she is describing how nice it it, with the view, and how she can lie there with a book and admire the green leaves on the tree above.

I read and I smile at her enthusiasm, and then I look up and out the window. I stare right in to a ... What? I can't believe it - a hammock, well a sort of a hammock that is. A baby is lying inside, and a little girl, maybe his bigger sister?  is standing next to it, pushing it slowly back and forth. Maybe trying to get him to go to sleep? -  in that busy traffic junction we are at. Oh, dear reader, the everyday moments here are crazy. Well, a hammock is not just a hammock to me anymore after today, I'll tell you that much....

A hammock:

And a hammock:

I hope you have had a good day, dear reader, and enjoy the start of the weekend wherever you are. 
Good evening from Mumbai!   

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Happy Independence Day India!

- India is a great country with many temples and famous things to see. India is beautiful. All Indians are my brothers and sisters. I love my country deeply.

The kids in my class have been asked to give a presentation on their home country. They talk with pride and passion. About India. About the temples, about the mangoes, about the music and about the village where their grandparents live. And about their city, Mumbai.

15 of August we celebrate Independence Day here in India and what a country we are celebrating, dear reader! One country which is home for around 1,3 billion people! A country with 28 states, 7 union territories and where over 1000 different languages are spoken! The birthplace of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism and of yoga, meditation and ayurveda. And around the world: who hasn't been to an Indian restaurant to taste yoummie Indian food? History and culture... And as I sit there, listening to the kids, I feel it. They care for India. We care for India.  And they show it - for example- yes, when we go to the movies, we do stand up for the national anthem before the film starts. That's the way it is. India.    

India got its freedom from the British rule on 15. August 1947, relatively peaceful, at least the events leading up to the Independence. So, how does the Indians celebrate? Well, the Indian flag has been for sale everywhere for the last few days, there will be some parades and flag-ceremonies and otherwise people gather around a good meal.  Wikipedia says it like thisIndians celebrate the day by displaying the national flag on their attire, accessories, homes and vehicles; by listening to patriotic songs, watching patriotic movies; and bonding with family and friends!

I wish all my Indian friends, known and unknown, a Happy Independence Day!

.PS: For foreigners visiting India on this day: this is a DRY DAY ( = no alcohol served ).

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Back home to Mumbai

- I was waiting so much for you to come back. I was counting the days. I was waiting and I say to myself every day: now they will come in fifteen days, now they will come in ten days...

Aaaaah, how can we not feel good about a welcome-home-greeting like that? Yes, we are back in India, back home that is! After a long summer break, we have returned to Mumbai -  waaaay more experienced expats than last year...Oh yes. And what a great feeling - to come home, to friends who were waiting and to people who were happy that I finally managed to tear myself loose from the Aegean Sea, the beaches, ouzo, kalamarakia and the Greek Gods. - What took you so long? 

Yes, it is funny to think about that one year ago we arrived for the first time: the new fresh-off-the-plane-expat-family who didn't really know what to expect... - a bit blown away by traffic, cows, smells, colors - well, in short - by India. Now, I know. And I like it, and I am ready for more. More exploring, travels and everyday adventures in this bustling city. More Mumbai. More India.

Hello home, it is nice to be back!

A last peaceful Greek moment before departure:-)

Thursday, 1 August 2013

My Big Fat Greek Salad

I am a true loyal supporter of The Greek Cuisine! And loving Greek food like I do, there is no better place to be than in Greece herself right? Now, when our summer days in Greece are coming to an end, I do feel a slight touch of desperation: - Sarmadakia- did I taste them this year? - One more plate of Kalamarakia! - Kolokithakia tiganita? Melitsanosalata? Kefalotriri saganaki?- bring them over! Now! 

Yes, I recreate some of the dishes back home in India, but you know: the tasty Indian food is waiting... and by the way, some of my favorite ingredients can be found only in Greece - the view, the sea, the people...In other words: Greece herself, I guess:)

You remember I have a thing for thali, right? Well, it Greece, when dining out, we usually order a variety of small dishes, and everybody eats together from those - the best way to enjoy I think! The first dish to arrive the table, is the one that appears in every one of our meals, and the dish that everyone throws themselves at: The Greek Salad! We usually order angourodomatasalata-me-boliko-kremidi! Puh! Then you will have a cucumber/tomato salad with lots of onion (kremidi) and some olives. We often order feta psiti (grilled feta cheese), or tirosalata (a spicy feta cheese dip) or kefalotiri saganaki (a salty fried cheese), a perfect addition to the Big Beautiful Greek Salad. Together with good company and fantastic view, these meals could last for hours for my part! Day after day!

Salad with feta psiti and kolokithakia tiganita (fried zucchinis) - another favorite:
And with big black olives - in Nafpaktos:
Salad with a view - from Lefkas:
And the salad is obligatory at barbeque-night with my big wonderful Greek family! Some are barbequing while we- the lucky ones - can sit and start to enjoy the yoummie homemade salad - and lots of other dishes... Aaaaaaa - Let the party begin!
How we make our salad?
We chop (big, red, juicy) 3 tomatoes, 2 cucumbers and 2 peppers. Mix. If you like, you can slice an onion and add on top. Add some olives and pour over some olive oil and vinegar and sprinkle over a little salt and pepper.