india # 2 … step wells

Step wells – or Baoris, is one of the things we were looking forward to seeing in India.

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Step wells could be seeing as a flipped pyramid surrounded by stairs. They were build with the purpose of storing monsoon rain water.

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The construction of step wells in India dates from at least 600 BC (though the first rock-cut step wells in India date from 200-400 BC) with its peak between the 11th to 16th century.

The step wells had social and religious activities significance, but after British domination, authorities forced the abandonment of the wells, for sanitary reasons.

Ever since then the step wells acquired the connotation of being hunted places.

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We have been to Chand Baori in Abhaneri, a village in the Dausa district of Rajasthan, situated around 95 km from Jaipur, on the Jaipur-Agra road.

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Chand Baori consists of 3,500 steps over 13 stories. It extends approximately 30 m. into the ground making it one of the deepest and largest stepwells in India.IMG_7737.jpg

The Rajasthan area is extremely arid, and the design and final structure of Chand Baori was intended to conserve as much water as possible.

At the bottom of the well, the air remains 5 to 6 degrees cooler than at the surface, and Chand Baori was used as a community gathering place for locals during periods of intense heat.

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In Delhi we have been to Agrasen ki Baoli .

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With 103 steps, this Baoli is among a few of its kind in Delhi. The visible parts of this historical step well consist of three levels. Each level is lined with arched niches on both sides.

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The atmosphere is always kind of heavy when you are inside a Baori.

The air is quite humyd, and you keep going from extreme sunshine to cold shadows, where you may find a good amount of  bats, not a pleasant surprise…

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But though the odd atmosphere, this ´negative-spaces’ is beyond interesting.

Visiting the Baoris was for sure magic, and if you are plannig to travel around India, dont miss out the step wells on your way!

talk to you soon,

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India

Guys!

I am back! Finally!!!

And also, I just got back from two weeks in India… the trip I have been planning – ok, wrong word… let’s say: the trip I have been looking forward for the last two years – and it couldn´t have been better (actually it could…because there are still many places to visit, but a second trip is already being planned, and now I mean the word I just tiped!!!).

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So, to get this conversation started, let me explain our itinerary:

We have been to the so called golden triangle – Delhi – Agra – Jaipur – plus Dhaka trough Kolkata and Chandigarh.

Dhaka and Chandigarh because of architectural reasons: The National Assembly Hall from Louis Kahn in Dhaka – Bangladesh (1982) and of course Le Corbusier’s City in India (1950´s).

Later posts will follow this one talking only about both buildings and its cities.

Today I would like to give you guys a quick overview of our trip!

First of all, due to the short time, It has been a very good choice four us to get to know India trough the golden triangle cities, which are full of history, different cultural backgrounds, food, citizens and behaviors.

To make a long story short: we have managed to visit 5 different regions of India plus a neighbor country in two weeks so you may see bellow:

PUNJAB – Chandigarh

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DELHI

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UTTAR PRADESH – Agra

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RAJASTHAN – Jaipur

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BENGAL – Kolkata

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&

BANGLADESH – Dhaka

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Though time was short our time was used in a very efficient way, and by that I only mean… no time at all to rest! We have managed to move around by train, car airplane and of course tuc tucs and riquixas when moving around inside each city.

THE TOUR BEGGINS:

We have started our visit in Delhi, which was very good choice for our first stop.

Delhi has an interesting mix of old and new India. It is not so rural or spiritual as other locations we have been to, and it does have some elements from the occidental world… very few but the necessary amount for you to start your transition into the Indian reality.

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In Delhi people speak good English, specially taxi and tuc tuc drivers, so if you go to Delhi just try out riding tuc tucs and riquixas, you will have lots of fun!

Food in Delhi was amazing, no matter where BUT: We have been to BUKHARA, known as the best typical restaurant in India, and I have to say: There we have had for sure our best dinner in India!

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From Dehli we flew to Dhaka trough Kolkata.

Since we had not much time in Kolkata, we decided to hire a driver, and so we managed to visit all buildings in the BBD area, Victoria Memorial and the Pareshnath Jain temple of Kolkata, where we met this lovely old guru, and he provided us some of our sweetest laughs in India, as he said himself: There is only one thing we should all care about in life…happiness!

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In Kolkata we tried for the first time Thali food.

Our next stop was Dhaka and it was a chock for me! First thing we did was to visit The National Assembly, but after that… things got really hard when we tried to find someone to drive us around the city, which was very difficult once it was almost impossible to find a driver able to speak English.

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The helpful guards on the Assembly helped us with the task and we managed to move to our next stop, the Jantar Mantar (kind of observatory you can find on every city in India as well) and on our way it was kind of clear that unlike India where some humble poverty is all around in Dhaka we were facing something else… an unequal reality where people either drive luxurious cars or beg starving on the sidewalks, and that’s what bothered me the most.

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Our second day in Dhaka was better, we hired a driver so getting from one point to the other was not such a drama… but the fake reality was bothering us a lot! Out of that it was funny to notice that people don’t visit Dhaka that often! We were stopped all around and people were asking for photos with us, asking where we came from…

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Before heading back to the airport we had biryani food with our driver, the traditional food from the Bengali area.

From Dhaka we flew back to Delhi and caught a train to Agra, and there I found myself again back into the trip I was looking for! We could walk again on the streets!!!

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Agra is a touristic city, things are more easygoing and visiting the Taj Mahal is an unique experience.

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From Agra we went by car to Jaipur stopping on our way to see Chand Baori, a stepwell situated in the village of Abhaneri and also Fathepur Sikri an old Mughal walled city.

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Now in Jaipur we had again a very good time but what must be visited in this area is for sure the Amber Fort, from where you see Jaipur from above, and if you are up to, going up is something you can do by yourself or by riding an elephant.

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And the elephants!!! They are the most magnificent thing one could ever experience!!! I am still looking for proper words to express how I was amazed by them!

The street markets in Jaipur were also a must experience!

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From Jaipur we flew to Chandigarh and there besides Le Corbusier´s city we had the pleasure to experience Holi!

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It was magical, funny, and of course colorful!

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From Chandigarh we flew back to Delhi and spent our last day between Chandi Chowk and Kahn Market buying all the gifts and spices we were waiting to buy ever since day one! Then we got back to our hotel, filled our bags with gifts, clothes dirty by dust, sweat or colorful powder from the Holi festival of colors, and of course with our best memories from our two weeks around India and headed back to Delhi Airport to catch our flight!

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India was extremely intense! The colors, the flavors, the people…

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Many posts should follow this one and even that might be insufficient to explain all we have experienced on this travel.

The time was short but I wouldn’t recommend an even longer trip to India, but many 2 week trips.  I think there is far too much information for your body and mind… but that’s maybe only my point of view!

Guys,

I have to come back soon to talk about each city and the places we vised and the food we ate there!

But I think this introduction is a good start for you all and also my way back to a light delight!

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Lots of love,

p.s.:

Some photos are mine but most are a kind courtesy from my favorite photographer, the very talented Jonathan Howell Davies.

 

 

forever and ever

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A month and a week ago I lost my mom. What is practical b***s**** … I mean: One cannot lose such a thing …

Your mother is more than a living person, she is 50% or more from every living cell in your body, the safest and sweetest part of your memories, the best flavors and words in your memory… the feeling of being fully embraced – and you can feel her tight arms whenever you happen to be embraced – every now and then .

And despite the fact that I am not able to call her every evening now, to tell her about my day or ask her about the most stupid things on earth I can still talk to her whenever I want in / trough my heart.

And every time I close my eyes, I can see her by my side, she is for sure the one I’ll first run for comfort and advices, and I am pretty sure I’ll ever find the comfort and the answers I may need.

Today she would be 52, and from here I close my eyes and send her flowers and all my love,

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cookie time

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Today I woke up and I just felt like baking and blogging… and so I did!

I baked delightful chocolate chip cookies, wrote this post and now I feel like satisfied…

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The cookies are adapted from Mary McCartney’s EAT : Arty’s chocolate chip cookies:

Needed:

115 g salted butter

60 g golden caster sugar (I used 40 g)

1 large free-range egg, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

170g plain or spelt flour (I used: 60 g rice flour + 60 almond flour + 60 g GF oats flour)

½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

175 plain dark chocolate, broken up and bashed into little chunks

(Mary says you can use milk chocolate if you prefer… of course I do! So I used 100 g milk chocolate + 50 g cranberries)

Method:

Preheat your oven to 190 C.

Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper baking parchment.

Cream together the butter and the sugar in a large mix bowl. Mix in the egg and the vanilla and beat well. Then mix the rest of the ingredients.

Spoon tablespoonfulls of chocolate dough onto your baking tray, spacing them out well, so they won’t stick together.

Put them in the oven for about 10 min (mine needed about 16 min.) Until they are (de)lightly golden and just firm to touch.

Leave the cookies to cool, preferably on a wire rack. Then eat!

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Wish you all a delightful week!

Lots of love,

dp bye

recent past

Oh God, I cannot understand how come but it’s already September, or should I say … almost October? And my last post was a (late!) happy new years’ post!!! What a mess…

What happened? (…actually a lot!) And the fact is: I haven’t been lazy at all since my last post but I have to say something up loud – although it may hurt my deepest feelings:

I am not such a multitask talent as I seemed to be in my sweetest dreams…

And you know what? It is not an excuse not to write: It is a vote that I am going to write even if a little bit, and yes sometimes I’ll have to postpone other things I also like, because this blog matters a lot and I missed it like crazy for the past few months.

Talking about the last months, I have some picturess to share with you guys and I hope you enjoy it!

We have been around…

here in switzerland

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Genfersee – Lac Lèman, Genève

 

 

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we spent a weekend in Geneve recently and visited ‘La Claritè’ a beautiful building designed by Le Corbusier and his cusin Pierre Jeaneret in the end of the 20’s. (photos  above) And the unbelievable ‘Le Lignon‘ (photo below)

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We went a little bit further for our second but even though breathtaking visit to Ronchamp, also from Corbusier, but now we could see the new sisters dormitories  from Renzo Piano

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And yet in France… Paris…

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But wait, we went even further! We´ve been to Japan, and it was sooo awesome!

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We have visited Tokyo,

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Kyoto and Osaka

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We have also being to Brasil, and it was like Christmas in July : )

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Now we are back and ready for more!

With all my love and happiness

dp bye

happy new year (post)

I know I might be a little (just a little bit) delayed… nevertheless: I would like to propose a toast : H A P P Y   N E W   Y E A R !

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Where the h**** have I been? And what the h**** have I done lately?!?!

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I am pretty sure any of you guys should ever ask me such unkind words, but here is the truth: As ending/beginning of year time allows us to be a little (just a little bit) lazy… there is actually the place where I’ve been… and what I’ve done for the last couple of weeks! S O R R Y …

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But you know what? Somewhere in between laziness and Laziland I’ve factually been to Wien …

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and Salzburg, where we spent respectively Christmas and New Years Eve.

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It was heartbreaking to spent both holidays without our relatives, but I can not deny: we had a beautiful and beyond romantic time together, although (or fortunately) without snow…

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I´ll be back as soon as possible with further details and tips about these delightful destinations!

lots of love,dp bye

hey…hoo

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Yes baby, yes!!! Last week I went to Zurich to see the Lumineers, and it was Awesome!!!

Of course… I love the guys, but honestly: They are great ( and you should read it as :  G R E A T ! ) performers.

I have already mentioned the Lumineers on this post , but if you missed the tip and don’t know the band yet, I highly recommend this video clip, for you to get started!

They are a genuine folk band of very talented instrumentists, composers and performers.

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The opening Band was ‘Thao and the get down stay down‘, and I have to tell you the truth: I had never heard about them until last week, but ever since then I can’t listen to anything else! You should try it out

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Thao is the vocalist, and she performs with incomparable passion and vitality together with her multi-talented band!

I had the most delightful night, and hope this tips and my very few images may be enough to inspire you to know more about both Thao and the Lumineers!

Hope you enjoy it, and if possible have the opportunity to see them performing in your city!

Lots of love… uohhhohhh…dp bye

blending days

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Maybe it is because of the winter : that ‘finally’ arrived… Maybe it is because life is getting busier recently…

Maybe it is because I am getting lazy (and lazier), or maybe it is just a little bit of everything…

The thing is: For the past couple of weeks my cooking was pretty much reduced to blending ! And it is a great thing after all…

Whether if you are busy; lazy or simply in the mood, here is my tip for a delicious and super nutritive ‘anytime smoothie’!

I say anytime, because it is one of my favourite after-yoga smoothies, plus some greens to make it a quick-lunch or dinner!

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The ingredients are light and super detoxifying: apple, lime, currants, poppy seeds, spinach , yogurt or almond milk and if you want some protein powder.

The lime is a very special ingredient to this smoothie flavour! I first decided to add it because my protein powder has a resilient vanilla flavour, and it always felt weird to have both: protein + spinach on the same smoothie – just until I first added limes, and loved the combination – !!!

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Anytime Smoothie

Method:

In a blender mix well: a handful of raw spinach leaves; one peeled apple (I use 1/2 gala + 1/2 granny); 3 sticks of currants; 1/2 peeled lime (I add part of the peel most times); 1 tea-spoon of poppy-seed; 100 ml of almond milk or greek yogurt (I always prefer those who are made of goat’s milk); and a table-spoon of protein powder.

It’s recently my very favourite smoothie! I hope you to prove it, and of course to enjoy it!

extra tip:

If you are going through a busy week, or if it is a very warm week ( which is – unfortunately – not the case in here right now) you can prepare the fruits and leaves and store the portions on your refrigerator to blend whenever you want… I always avoid to freeze  but sometimes I have to because I am short on time, and I have to admit:  that is no better way for you to have a really ‘super smooth’ smoothie than blending frozen fruits !

Have a great week,

dp bye

Herbstmesse

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As I told you a couple of times, I live in Basel – the most charming city in Switzerland… – and it is time for the Herbstmesse (fall fair) around here!

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I love this time of the year! Between my birthday (24.10) and Christmas we have Herbst and Weihnacht (Christmas) Fairs, and that means: giant-wells, lots of treats, winter and Christmas market, and of course a real good time!

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Today I’ll share some pictures from this …

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and last weekend with you guys.

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Pictures of Munster’s fair (the fair is spread all over the city trough different spots: Munsterplatz, Barfusserplatz, Messe, Kasern and Peterplatz…

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Here you can see from Munsterplatz’s giant-well the lights from the Messe fair, just around the corner of my place (what means: fair everyday : yehhh!)

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Unfortunately sunday was Herbstmesse’s last day…

Fortunately Weihnachtsmesse will start anytime soon!

I can’t wait!

Talk to you soon,

lots of love,dp bye

pão de queijo

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What do you know about ‘pão de queijo’ the most delicious (and so easy to prepare) brazilian snack?

( pão de quijo : pane al formaggio : cheese bread : käse brötchen )

If you have never been to Brasil, and don’t have a brazilian friend, you are going to love me forever – and ever – for this tip/recipe!

And if you are from Brasil, you will also love me…  because this recipe tastes sooo good, you’ll never dare to buy any baking mixture ever again!

This recipe is not one of my own, but after several tries I can say: This one is the ultimate ‘pão de queijo’s recipe! It is one of Carla Pernambuco’s recipes, and if you don’t know either her,  ‘las chicas‘ and ‘carlota‘ – restaurants of her – or ‘brasil no prato‘ – a tv show hosted by herself – it is time for you to do some homework!

At Carla’s recipe she uses ‘queijo coalho’. I’ll suggest a different mix, but you can actually use whatever hard or semi-hard cheese you prefer.

If you can’t manage to find ‘polvilho’ where you live you can mix 1/3 of cornstarch + 2/3 of potato stark + 1 coffee-spoon of baking soda. You’ll have delightful breads when they are still warm, but then they got a little bit too hard (what doesn’t happen to the polvilho one).

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pão de queijo (makes about 24 ):

needed

40 ml. olive oil (Carla uses Corn oil)

90ml.milk

50 ml. water

250 g of sour polvilho starch.

1 egg

125 g of hard cheese ( I use: 75 g. of grana padano + 100 g. of aged goat’s cheese) .Grated in a thick grater.

method

In a pan, put together oil + milk + water and warm it up (don’t bring it to boil ).

Place the polvilho (or your mix) in a large bowl, add the liquids mixture, and then add the egg.

Now add your cheese and let the mixture aside for half an hour (if it’s summer – south Italy or Brasil – bring it to the fridge).

Pre-heat your oven at 190˚, and prepare a tray (about 40 x 30 cm.) with parchment paper.

When your mixture is done make little balls (about 3 x 2 cm.).

Bring it to the oven for about 18 / 20 min.

Tip: I really hate food with a ‘shape’ , so instead of rolling balls I just used a tea-spoon (to collect around the same amount of the mixture) and dropped ‘whatever I caught at my tray!

What else? It is 100% gluten-free!

Enjoy,

dp bye