Tag Archives: Overseas Womens Club

Ayurvedic cooking

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I took an Ayurvedic cooking seminar today through my Overseas Women’s Group. The day started with a lecture from an ayurvedic doctor. We all got a chuckle out of the set up of the conference room, in a fancy hotel no doubt. Mattresses on the floor, shoes off to the side. It was actually very comfortable but made me sleepy! (Thanks to the OWC Cooking club for the photos that include me in them!)

The Ayurvedic health process includes a great focus on body types and diet. Based on your body needs, you should adjust your diet accordingly. The doctor discussed three body types, and said that people are one of these, or more often a combination of two.

VATA–focus on large intestine and lower body, air and space, dry, cold, moving

vata people have joint pains. they are athletic, can’t sit still, the mind races.

They also describe these people as really tall or really short with thin, dry hair. (okay, well I thought I was vata until I got the really tall or really short).

Vata people should avoiad coffee, raw veggies, potatoes, nuts and beans and embrace sweet and salty food.

PITTA–focus on digestive system, fire and water, hot, oily

Pita people have heart shaped faces, pale skin, burn easily.

They tend to have digestive issues and be quick tempered and emotional

Pitta types should focus on cooling foods that are gentle to the stomach , so nothing too spicy or sour.

KAPHA–focus on mucous and lymphatic system–chest, shoulder, head eyes, cold, heavy, dense, smooth, slow

lots of sinus issues

These people are heaving, slower, calmer. They have good hair and a strong voice.

Kapha should avoid sweets, bread, red meat, and avocados

Then we headed to a cooking demo that demonstrated the preparation of food for each of the three types–a spicy coconut milk soup for vata, a beetroot salad for pitta, and a cabbage dish for kapha.

We followed the cooking demo with lunch at the Movenpick buffet–one of my favorites. Yummy naan, tandori chicken, and sushi too!

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The growth of the wine business in India

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On a very hot February morning, Todd and I headed north of town to join an ex-pat excursion to Grover Vineyard http://grovervineyards.in/  , a winery trying to establish itself as one of the elite in India.  Grover started with a search for the climate that would yield the best grape production. The Kashmir region took first place, but given the extreme political unrest up north, the second choice region became the preferred area–Bangalore.

The 40 of us were greeted at the beginning of our tour with jasmine garlands. Very fragrant. Often these gardens are placed in women’s hair. The scent was overpowering for many in the heat and folks wrapped them on their arms or on purses to move them away from their faces. I thought it smelled heavenly.

  

The Grover vineyard only started tours three months ago, and after I realized that I really thought they did a great job. We started out in the fields where a man described the growing process. They have vines grown the Indian way and the European way. The European vines and climate reminded me very much of Napa.

Every step of the touring process emphasized that Grover was doing everything just like the French do. They have a French person in charge of the entire process, they import their barrels and grapes from France, and so on. As I teach in my policy classes, mimicry is the way a new company in a new place gains legitimacy. It is interesting how little I hear Napa folks comparing their production to France. It is almost in the U.S. like there is an explicit attempt not to try to compare to France in Napa but instead to establish the value of U.S. wine in its own right. I most remember comparisons in which the U.S. winemakers showed the medals that they won over french wins.

  

After touring the fields and the production facilities we were finally taken to the tasting room. Sitting down with some wine put a smile on our faces. We are pictured here with my new friend Priya. She lived in the States for 17 years (including Illinois and Boston) before deciding to move back to India with her family. I am learning a lot from her about the struggles and successes of returning back to India. For her kids, it is not returning, but moving to an entirely new place–not so easy, and especially not so easy to learn how to fit in to a very different schooling structure. Priya has kiddos the same age and gender as ours, so we are hoping to plan to get the families together soon.

   

Most of the wines were just okay, and some were actually quite awful. We sat with a fun group of Brits and one lady exclaimed after a red, “it smells like old leather shoes.” But thankfully our opinions changed after we had the last wine, La Reserve. A delicious blend of cab sav and syrah. So delicious that I bought a bottle to bring home to share with my monthly wine group.

  

After tasting perhaps too much wine, we had a lovely biryani lunch outside, with even more wine. Ducks floated about in the pond and monkeys climbed overhead!

We find the expats

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This week I have discovered the ex-pat women’s network in town. Very helpful! The Oversea’s Women’s Committee—OWC has a huge membership of over 1000 women, primarily from the US and the UK but also from Germany, South Africa, Denmark, Sweden, Japan, etc. Most of the women in the group are wives of people who have been transferred to Bangalore for 1-2 year stints. As such, most of these women are here unwillingly to some extent. They are trying to embrace the adventure but they didn’t CHOOSE to come here. Nevertheless they offer a wealth of information on everything from driver recommendations to where to find cheddar cheese and fresh meats to finding a place to stay for a weekend trip. They also offer many social activities, including cooking demos, wine tastings, and excursions.

http://www.owcbangalore.org/index.html

The main event with the OWC is a weekly coffee on Thursdays in Leela Palace south of the city. However, every other Tuesday a coffee is offered on the North End of town, just a 20 rupee auto-rickshaw ride from my NIAS office. So I arrived at the Mövenpick Hotel promptly at 11 and eventually 10 women joined the group.  Five of the women have kiddos at CIS like Kaden and Carson and one was even in Carson’s class.

In the two hours that I was there, I learned about how to take an air conditioned airport bus into the city from Brinda (an India woman who lived in Germany for 50 years before recently returning). I also learned from the CIS ladies about some inside scoops on the school.  I found out a woman named Helen from the UK who has lived here for four years hosts a private power yoga class in her house Tuesday and Thursday  mornings on this side of town (yay!). I also got some leads on drivers and some weekend trips. And I even found out the best grocery stores to buy meat, cheese, yogurt, and other U.S. kid-friendly foods. Total score!

A bigger OWC event is on Thursday at the very fancy Leela Palace south of the city—one of the fanciest hotels in the world. Here are some photos of this fancy place:

 

That’s Tay showing off the gardens.

  

   

A woman named Tay who I met at the Tuesday even offered that I could come to her house and then we could head to Leela with her driver. So my mom and I headed down there Thursday afternoon. Tay is from Greensboro, NC and her husband works for Volvo. She has a beautiful 9th floor apartment in Shantinagar—an old neighborhood in Banglore with large trees and actual sidewalks. She has her dog from home and they take walks around the neighborhood every day. She is helping to coordinate the neighborhood recycling effort, which is totally volunteer and just getting off the ground. Interesting stuff!

We arrived at Leela after a 45 minute crawl through city traffic. It was massive. At least 100 women there. My mom came along and we perused a binder full of information on drivers. We bought a book written by the ex-pat group on all the details you might want to know about the city, including shops, directions to groceries, and so on. I also signed up for an ayurvedic cooking class held next month right near my office. We met two women from Buffalo, one from Austin, one from Boston, one from RI, and a smattering from the UK among others.  It was a great resource, despite some of the disparagaing comments of some of the women, like “Why should my daughter have to know how to spell ‘burkha’ as a spelling word?

 

This is the OWC weekly gathering. What a beautiful outdoor room! And on the right, that’s Kathy from Buffalo. She just moved here with her husband and kids 2 weeks ago. Both of her girls go to CIS as well. We are getting officially registered as OWC members.

Tay was kind enough to drop us off back at Poonam’s—the uniform shop. And it turned out that a post office was right down the block. We made our way down some sketchy sidewalks and into the post office. Mailing a letter in India is complicated. Stamps aren’t used very often because people might cut the stamps off of your letters. So, most people go directly to a post office to send something. I needed to send some receipts for reimbursement to the Fulbright office. I had grabbed an envelope from my office at work but noticed that it had no glue on it. When I arrived at the post office, the main pointed to a counter where he asked me to “paste” the letter. Indeed, there was a small pot of paste on the counter with a stick on it for sealing the letter together!   I have also noticed that we do not have a mailbox at our villa. Bills do not happen through the mail either. In this labor intensive society, someone comes around to collect most bills and you pay in cash. Increasingly, internet payment is an option, but mailing options are still not very common at all.

Lastly, we needed to do some serious shopping so we hopped an auto to the Manti Mall—the largest mall in India. onSix floors of insanity.

http://www.mantrisquare.com/

  

On the right in the above photo, you have the only ice skating rink in Bangalore! It ain’t big, but it’s quite an interesting site!

Fitting the typical plan, the bottom floor is a gourmet/ex-pat friendly grocery store. The top floor is restaurants, a movie  theater and an arcade. In between those floors were everything from furniture stores to sari stores to book stores to electronics stores to Crocs, Reebok, and Office Depot! We were starving so we had a delicious late lunch at the “Great Kabob Factory.” A silly name but delicious chicken kabobs. I loved the four chutney choices—pineapple, mint, tamarind and peanut.

  

And the array of Indian desserts was also fantastic.

We got a few floor lamps and a clock to add to our sparse apartment, a data stick to access internet since we are still not up and running with WiFi, and LOTS of groceries. We were delighted to find fresh chicken breasts, strawberry yogurt, a huge vegetable section, and fresh bread and pastries at the Spar grocery story.

Since we still do not have a dedicated driver (although we are getting close), I called a taxi to bring us home. Mind you we had  a U.S. sized amount of groceries—about 8 bags, plus the two floor lamps, the bag of uniforms, and other assorted purchases. We never did find the taxi (which only come if you call a radio taxi service and it takes at least half an hour). So there we were on the sidewalk with fresh chicken, ice cream, yogurt and floor lamps and no way to get home. We debated an auto but wondered how on earth we could fit all our stuff into one. Well, we did. We were like the circus clowns that keep coming out of the car. Mom and I were squeezed so tight in that auto that the loaf of French bread from Au Bon Pain kept hitting my mom in the head. We giggled all the way back to Yelahanka, where we all had to pitch in to prep both kiddos for very tough spelling tests tomorrow!