Tuesday, January 31, 2006

My whirlwind up coming weeks...

FYI - This week I have the pleasure and privilege (sarcasm duly noted I hope) of being in Jharkhand, which is roughly the Alabama of India, for work. From here I take the over-night train back to Kolkata and I have 4 hours to shower, re-pack and get back to the trains station for a 3 day train ride to Kerala. Normally going to Kerala would be exciting, but I am going for a meeting by the foundation that is funding me to be here and the town that they picked to hold it in apparently is total crap. According to Lonely Planet:

Kottayam's town center is a rather ugly mess of concrete buildings and
traffic and there is little reason to come here unless you arrive too
late for onward transport.

I mention all this, to let you know that I will probably only be doing some sporadic blogging until I get back to Cal. I definitely have some stories about Jharkhand already.


Friday, January 27, 2006

The Latin/Indian Thing: A follow-up

Catering to India's continued fascination with the spic'ish, Lay's-India has released a new special edition flavor of potatoes chips: Latino Style!

I don't know if the developers have ever visited a Latin American country, if this is just India's interpretation of what Hispanic food tastes like. However, as a born and bred Latino who has sampled the cuisine of various countries I can tell you that those chips did not taste Latino in the least bit.

And on the topic of deceptive Latin things...Amazon, Kolkata's first Latin/Bengali fusion restaurant finally opened and in our quest to explore new restaurants my friend Neela and I venture forth.

And oh how we were disappointed. Let's start with the ambiance. Apparently they were going for some sort of tree trunk look that could have been cute if they had gone all the way, but apparently they ran out of money half way or got bored with it. Second apparently the Amazon was in North America because the walls had carvings of American Indians (the feather kind). The music playing was some sort of 80's elevator music greatest hits compilation. And the menu consisted of North Indian dishes and Indian Chinese selections. We were hard pressed to find a Bengali item on the menu let a lone a Latin one.

So much like my Bangalore Taco experience, I just need to learn that it takes a spic to make real Latin food, and what am I thinking believing that I will be able to get good Hispanic food in Asia.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Happy Belated Birthdays!!

It occured to me today that I completely forgot to do my January Birthday Well Wishes. My deepest apologies to my family and friends for not acknoledging the anniversaries of your births sooner.

Many hugs and kisses go to:

Ashish David
Gabby Harrington
Anuj Jaggi
Michael Matthews
Juan Melendez (my old man! who now is really old!)
Pavel Melendez (my jock bro)
Ricardo Salgado (my granfather, and the only grand parent I have left)

Monday, January 23, 2006

Images of Kolkata - II

Last week I had some friends from the U.S. visit me in Calcutta. They are currently working in Bombay for a bit, and decided to travel across the country. These are some Jeremy's pictures of their visit to Cal.

Friday, January 20, 2006

The Latin/Indian Thing

Fashionistas and Gourmands across the western world will not argue the influence that India has had on designs and foods. From fabrics, to decor, to spices, the sway of the subcontinent can be felt all around. But the question remains - Who influences Indian style and tastes?

After 4-5 months of roughing it on the so called third world (my water heater conked out on me so until it gets fixed I am definitely roughing it) I have come to realize that Latino culture is a major influencer of Indian trends. Go Spics!

From Ricky Martin to Shakira Latin music can be found everywhere, with a very captive audience. Latin influenced musicians abound (you have not lived until you have heard Bengali salsa!) and Latin fusion restaurants are popping up through out the country (granted they still cannot seem to get Mexican food quite right). Just around the corner from my house they are opening “Amazon: A Latin/Bengali Restaurant.”

Not to mention that Spanish is fastly becoming a popular language to learn. Cannot tell you the number of times I have been introduced as “This is Andy, he speaks Spanish!” followed by copious oohs and aahs and requests for teaching. I could probably make quite a living if I charged for being the token spic (who knew that would get me somewhere!?).

I found this interesting because Puerto Rico in 2005 opened its first Indian restaurant, it is not any good, but it is a start.

As proud of my Hispanic heritage as I may be, it gives me no greater pleasure than to know that we are crossing are making our own contributions to globalization. :-)

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Welcoming 2006 - Macanese Style!

To celebrate the end of 2005 and the beginning of 2006, Ameet and I went to Macau to spend it with my friend Victoria and her friend Alfa who were both stuck in Macau. It ended up being the best decision we made. We started with a seafood feast of Portuguese and Macanese dishes. Followed by a quick stroll along the main drag of Macau. Ending up partying at thee Mandarin Oriental, dancing and drinking till the wee hours of dawn. (which is way we spent New Years day relaxing and recuperating, not touring).

A fabulous time was had, and I could noto have asked for a better way or better company to celebrate with.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Macau - The Random Land

Macau is a beautiful place with amazing food. A random little town with nothing but casinos and Portuguese colonial architecture it was the best way to start the new year. Ameet and I only spent New Years eve and day there because the plans kept getting messed up thanks to the fact that you need a separate entry visa for HK and Macau, and Victoria's work visa status was a mess. But even though we did not get to see much of Macau what we did get to experience definitely made us want to come back fro more someday. We spent New Years day eating, drinking, socializing and chilling; I cant think of a better way to start off the year. Highlights include Macanese food (a blend of Chinese and Portuguese cuisine) is extraordinary - as long as you are not a vegetarian, and amazing company. Downsides include spending so much time eating that we didn't get to tour the peninsula and going back to Hong Kong too quickly.