Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Holiday Highlights Thus Far
So this is what is up - it's been over a week since we came here to Ann Arbor, Michigan and here's a brief synopsis.
* Can't believe it's already time to leave tomorrow - we head out by a 3 p.m. flight to New York, and will be returning to Delhi next week. This has to be the longest holiday that Vijay and I have taken together since we got married - in fact, for each of us, the longest break from work ever. Wow. Should do it more often.
* Most of our time here has been spent pottering about the little town - it's very, very pretty and green, and generally very friendly - been to the malls; downtown; couple of restaurants; the University of Michigan; and so on - yesterday we went to the Arboretum, a large and beautiful park with many walking trails and its own river to boot. The baby was asleep and Vijay and I spent the afternoon just lying around in the sun and then getting lost somewhere while the brother-in-law tried valiantly to bring the car around to the desolate exit we finally found ourselves at.
* We had a mini-break with Vijay's brother's family - took a van to a lovely place called Mackinac island - and - I kid you not, Paradise. It really was, like its name suggests, something close to Paradise. The place we stayed at in Paradise was right on the bank of Lake Superior, which I am convinced is really an Ocean in Disguise - in the morning, we played on the shore - and the freezing cold water did not deter us, least of all, little Peanut, who refused to get out until we dragged her out kicking and screaming. Mackinac island itself was great, because it's an island that has no cars at all - took a horse drawn carriage tour of the place, and it's quaint, beautiful and hopelessly and utterly charming, even despite being an out-and-out tourist destination.
* I have discovered the best part about this country - it has to be the Peanut Butter. I am obsessed with trying everything that has Peanut Butter flavour , including Ice Cream and Fudge. While I am trying to keep up with my exercise, I'm afraid it's a losing battle against the temptations of the Peanut Butter concoctions, which, for your information, is very, very tasty.
*Surprisingly, the other pleasure on this holiday has been just generally pottering about the kitchen - something I haven't done in ...well, ever. I have discovered that I can actually put together fairly decent meals. Okay, let's not push it. But I do make a mean aloo-parantha, and one time I made this really tasty alu-matar-pyaaz thing in a unique, dry style - and gave it my own twist by adding ketchup on it, as well as cheese. Okay fine, so this is a recipe that my friend Vani showed me last year, but the cheese sprinkles on top were MY idea. I personally thought it was quite brilliant. Apart from this, I am also queen of Scrambled Eggs, but there, alas is where my culinary skills end.
*The house that the family stays in is beautiful, complete with sunny back porch and garden and everything. It's all automated and they even have a breadmaker that they use to goondo the atta in, if you know what I mean. There are switches for everything all around, but I don't use most of them because I get confused and frankly, I am wary of booby traps. That's me, the little Ghati, Rustic, Indian Bumpkin.
*Peanut has been having a nice time with her Didi and the 'Baby'. She's also been a barrel of laughs herself, doing things like discovering and trying to run away from her own shadow, which I must rather cruelly add, was one of the funniest things I have ever seen. The other funny thing happened yesterday, when we were buying Ice Cream ( and yes, I selected Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge Brownie). My niece Ananya and her Dad, Ajay ( Vijay's brother) were at the counter and Peanut and I were behind them. Ananya couldn't decide and kept pointing to different flavours on display, saying 'Papa, I'll have the Mint Choco Chip' and then 'No, Papa, I want the Birthday Cake Remix' and so on'. Finally, Peanut could stand it no longer and unexpectedly shouted at Ajay in her piercing baby tone ' PAPA!' and pointed to a picture of a Butterscotch Ice Cream Cone.
* Lastly, I wanted to tell you that the concept of a single scoop of ice cream the way we know it in India does not exist here. I asked for a single scoop each time, and got something resembling the leaning tower of Pisa. I shudder to think what would have happened if I had actually gone for the Triple, as Ajay kept trying to push me for.
In short, it's been rather nice, and we still have a week to go. And yes, the Americans have actually been very, very nice and friendly, and the best part is that so many people have a sense of humour even while interacting with strangers - so I guess it was only the officials at the airport who were a bit nasty.
But then again, let's see, because we've been in good ol' little Ann Arbor and around it, all this while - and after all, it's New York from tomorrow.