Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Brunch in Atlanta

Smita's Top 10 Brunch places (Under Construction)
I LOVE Breakfast. Easily my favorite meal. Dad got me into it. Growing up, I ate an eggs a lot. Dad and I love them as runny as possible! (cholesterol is still ok and I just think that eggs got a bad name in the 90's). I also love a Sunday Brunch. So I decided to dedicate a posting to Brunch.

I also submit restaurant reviews to http://www.yelp.com. Great site for foodies.

1) Carol Street Cafe
Descriptors: eclectic, unique, cozy, stylish
Love this place. Went there once with Mel and another time with Jen, Mar mar and Ed.
Recommendations: Start with the Mimosa's and make sure they are made with fresh OJ. I am a big fan of runny eggs so I would go with Eggs Meurette or Eggs Benedict
Details: Neighborhood: Cabbagetown 208 Carroll St SEAtlanta, GA 30312(404) 577-2700

2) Radial cafe
Descriptors: green, local, brick, art, diner
Some unique dishes include buckwheat pancakes, bagel and lox, gouda scramble
Details: Edgewood/Candlerpark neighborhood; 1530 Dekalb ave NE; Atlanta GA 30307

3) Flying Biscuit
Descriptors: good for out of towners, popular, fun
Try the biscuits, shrimp and grits.
Details; Multiple locations; I usually go to the one in Inman park

4) Original Pancake House
Descriptors: Rockin pancakes, crepes, original
Signature Item: Dutch Baby (http://www.originalpancakehouse.com/)
Details: Tara Shopping Ctr.2321 Cheshire Bridge Rd. (Lavista Rd. NE) Atlanta, GA 30324

5) Canton House (Dim sum)
If you are looking for "real dim sum" this is the place. It may not be as good as SanFrancisco and New York, but is the closest thing I have come across to a chinatown in Atlanta. They have everything. If you havent had dim sum before, be prepared to be introduced to dishes that you will never typically see in a regular chinese restaurant (Think Singapore and China).
I liked they typical, steamed pork buns, dumplings, shrimp shu mai. If you are a fan of the red bean paste, they have that too.
Descriptors: Ballrooms, old fashioned, dim sum on carts, families
Details: 4835 buford highway; Chamblee, GA 30341

6) Belly General Store
Descriptors: Cool, hip, modern take on traditional general store
Details: 772 North Highland Ave
Best cupcakes, olive oil bagels made fresh, nutella and banana panini.
Good for a simple breakfast.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Casablanca, Chile -- Habitat for Humanity House Build














We arrived in Santiago on Friday November 8. 60 people, 12 houses, 3 days. I was assigned to house number 4 and house number 9. We took a bus to Casablance, Chile which was the town where we built the homes. I was very fortunate to be selected to go on this build through Delta's partneship with Habitat for Humanity. It is my second one -- the first was india last year. I would say that these experiences have been one of my best ever -- I will carry the memories with me and smile everytime I think of them.
I actually built a home for someone. It is an unbelievable feeling. Especially knowing that it was was someone who would be given hope for a new life. My home owner had 2 kids and she was a single mother. She was 19. The house was only 2 rooms but to her it was everything.

Monday, September 29, 2008

On Death

Khalil Gibran

You would know the secret of death.
But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life?
The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto the day cannot unveil the mystery of light.
If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide unto the body of life.
For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.

In the depth of your hopes and desires lies your silent knowledge of the beyond;
And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow your heart dreams of spring.
Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.
Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd when he stands before the king whose hand is to be laid upon him in honour.
Is the shepherd not joyful beneath his trembling, that he shall wear the mark of the king?
Yet is he not more mindful of his trembling?

For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?
And what is it to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?

Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.
And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Stairway of Tears

Author Unknown
If tears could build a stairway
And memories were a lane
We would walk right up to Heaven
And bring you back again

No farewell words were spoken
No time to say goodbye
You were gone before we knew it
And only God knows why

Our hearts still ache in sadness
And secret tears still flow
What it meant to lose you
No on will ever know

But know we know you want us
To mourn for you no more
To remember all the happy times
Life still has much in store
Since you’ll never be forgotten
We pledge to you today
A hallowed place within our hearts
Is where you’ll always stay

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Text Messages from Mum

How to begin? Today is the day that mum passed away. I find that very difficult to write and yet I feel compelled to write something. When I went running yesterday morning, I knew something was wrong. I stopped at a shady stop because I was choking and i couldnt breathe and I knew it wasnt because of the heat.

The call came at 3:45 am and it was my sister who said "mum is no more". I felt like I didnt hear it and perhaps I was dreaming so I asked her again "what" "what was that?" and she said over and over while crying "mum is gone, she is no more". It is ironic that mum said those exact words to Dad when I last spoke to him 2 days ago -- she wrote on his arm while he was sitting on the bed "I am no more".

I had asked God a few days ago to either giver her back to me just as she was a year ago or else take her. The cancer was eating her away and it was time for some fairness. Such a good person cannot deserve this, I thought last week. She had become so frail that she could not lift herself to sit up.

The tumor lodged at the back of her tongue despite all the medicines, radiation and chemotherapy was taking over her body. And inspite of her mental strength, the vitality of other organs, will to live and determination, it was time. I think mum knew she was going and I believe she is in a better place. I think angels came to get her several times but she was not ready until today. When my sister called me last night and talked about mum trying to take off her hospital gown and asking for a "Saree", it was because she was getting ready to go. I know this now because today she is in a pink and gold saree looking very peaceful. She was just trying to tell us it was time.

She is truly and always will be an inspiration.
She dedicated her life to us.
She was a person of great character, unbelievable strength, tireless love and affection.
Her personalty was contagious. Every one loved her.
People flocked to her at gatherings and even for the last 7 months that she was in the hospital, she brought the family closer and closer.
She taught me to be patient and to forgive.
She taught me the importance of being neat and clean and to always look presentable. "wear some jewellery and lipstick" she would say. "you should always look nice".
She taught me to enjoy life and food.
She taught me to be strong and endure.
She taught me the importance of good friends.
She taught me to have faith.
She tought me to be positive, always.

I will miss her text messages. Here are some that I have saved:

"Smallie (my sister is small and i am big so she called us smallie and biggie) said you were worried and confused. Pray for strength. You will be shown the right way"

"Stress is a destroyer. I have told Smallie also -- quality of life, work, and emotions will suffer with stress luv so keep it down" (Sept, 2006)

"Pray for Health first, then Peace, then Happiness luv".

"Dont ever be the underdog, ok? baby; dictate your terms" Dec, 2006

"Get the movers to help you move baby. You must be dog tired. Get rest. Never mind if its late. Take it slowly but get the the move finished. Nite nite and god bless"

"Morning baby, Are you having tea? I am having evening tea" (11/17/2006)

"Baby, we must find peace within us by facing reality, living in the present and seeing positive. Harness positive thoughts; don't let them run away" (1/11/2007)

"Don't underestimate yourself"

"Hi Darling, how are you. Have a good day at work luv." 2/8/2007

"Worry is an insult to the Gods wisdom. Problems arise to humble not tumble you. Purpose of life is to do good and be happy" 3/5/2007

"An hour of exposure to sunlight will do you good" 4/3/2007

"You are my efficient biggie; remember, something great is in store for you" 4/6/2007

"How is your cold and cough. Take care luv" 5/16/2007

"Darling, have a good day. I'm also shopping for milk and veg. June is almost here and God will lead us to a new phase of life for the better (day my divorce was final) " 5/21/2007

"Best of luck and talk with confidence, luv" 8/7/2007
"How was the meeting. Did you steal the show? I'm sure you looked like my big fairy (she called us her fairy princesses)" 8/8/2007

"Bon voyage, have a wonderful trip luv"

God bless her and may she be in peace.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Mom


January 23, 2008 was the toughest day of our lives. It was the day we found out that mom was diagnosed with a Stage 3 Cancer. We had been through 2 years, sugeries and radiation but in December when she went to the wedding, it was all going to be ok. We didnt know at that time that the real fight was just about to begin. The real fight started on January 24th. And mum has inspired us all. She has been battling this disease in a manner that I never could. She has been through surgeries, radiation and 12 round sof chemo. I will never forget the night that she was put in an ambulance and rushed ot the intensive care because of the continuous bleeding. I was in Frankfurt on my way and was praying every second. She made it through. That is the first time I have been in an ambulance with someone so close to me lying in front of me, hooked up to tubes. I was listening to the sirens and it all started sinking in. I have cried at odd times. Not in the face of the disease or in front of mom but more when I watch a movie, walk out of the grocery store or listen to a song that for some reason strikes a chord so deep that it becomes impossible to hold myself together.
I am not sure why I am writing this. I was inspired to write after I read something that my sister wrote on a blog about oral cancer. After I read that, I decided to write too.
Mom has tremendous faith. That is what gives her strength. She is more concerned about us and herself. She makes us smile any chance she gets.
Mom came home in June. We were so happy -- she was watering her plants, ordering the cooks around and walking to the garden to pick flowers for her prayers in the morning. She was back!! When I flew back here in April, I was hopeful. Hope -- its a dangerous word. It can make things ok in seconds. It is so powerful.
When I saw mom over the July 4th weekend, I cant help say that I was very sad. I saw that she had declined severely since 8 weeks ago. She was still her usual self. She couldnt speak so she wrote some things in her book. "How is work?" she said. So I talked ot her for a while and told her how things are going really well. A lot better than last year. I have a new boss and a new job that I really like. I am so lucky to have a great team of people who are brilliant and hard working and they make me look good. Then she asked me what I was going to eat for lunch. In her book she wrote "Tell the cook to make Dosa, Coconut chutney for you". So I did. At dinner time, she wanted the book again. She wrote "Tell the cook to make you chinese food -- she can make fried rice and why dont you have some shrimp and fish?" she wrote. It broke my heart to see her in such spirits. She said " Dont worry, God is with me. God will take care of me"

Today is July 12, 2008 and we are praying again. Mom is back in the hospital. She was admitted the day after I came back here. Since the cancer is in her throat, she has difficulty eating, speaking and breathing. The 3 things I cannont imagine myself without. The cancer is showing signs of coming back. This is the worst disease anyone can get. Why does my precious mother have to suffer?

Mum is fighting Oral Cancer. We are praying. Oral cancer is the largest group of those cancers which fall into the head and neck cancer category. Common names for it include such things as mouth cancer, tongue cancer, and throat cancer. Approximately 35,000 people in the US will be newly diagnosed with oral cancer in 2008.
Nameeta's blog

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Binod Bhabi


This is Binod Bhabi. She was found on a Railway Station platform. She knows her name but has no knowledge of where she came from. She was lost in a crowd situation at a Railway Station. For some months she just got on and off trains, begging. One of the social workers found her when she was begging and took her to a Shelter and then to MEG Community Centre. Binod came when she was 7, now she is 10 and very happy in M.E.G. Home.
I am her sponsor. It is only $420 to sponsor her for a full year. You can share with that child your affection and a chance to feel special by keeping in touch with him or her. Then you'll receive their photographs, their drawings and thougts in return.
It is more personal than donating money and not knowing what happens with your money which is often the case.
She is from the Visakhapattnam MEG Home. MEG has 2 villages -- one in Puri and the other in Vizag or Visakhapattnam.
If you are interesated in sponsoring a child, just click here

Monday, June 2, 2008

Cairo, Egypt

























Things to do in CAIRO:
1) El Fishawy, one of the most popular traditional cafés in Egypt, has been run by the El-Fishawy family 24 hours a day since 1773. If Egypt is the heart of the Arab world, Islamic Cairo is the heart of Egypt, and El Fishawy one of its key arteries. El Fishawy itself is at the heart of the Khan al-Khalili - a souk originally built in the late 14th century and today a gargantuan labyrinth of markets and shops, one of the great bazaars of the whole Middle East.
2) The Pyramids of Giza are what you go to Egypt for. Make sure you ride the camels through the Sahara dessert around the pyramids. If possible, visit the queen mothers tomb. Its 200 degrees inside and climbing into and out of the tomb is quite a feat, so make sure you have walking shoes (although I did it with flip flops).
One of the best kept secrets is the Pizza Hut behind the pyramids. You can eat a deep dish pan pizza with pepperoni on the rooftop while watching the sound and light show (starts around 8:30 so get there by 7:30 if you can). Pyramids are breathtaking at sunset.
3) Tutankhamun (King Tut) Exhibit, Tomb, Artifacts and Mummies at the Egyptian Museum
This is amazing if you are a history buff (or not) and want to spend a day learning about the King, Egyptian civilization and mummies. Over 3,000 treasures were placed in the tomb to help Tutankhamun in his afterlife, and the walls of the burial chamber were painted with scenes of his voyage to the afterworld. Tutankhamun's mummy is made of solid gold and weighs approximately 240 lbs. His body was wrapped in linen and over his face was placed an exquisite gold mask.
Go early. The museum gets crowded by 1 pm. Pay the 100 LE extra to see the mummies exhibit.
4) The Nile: A dinner cruise on the Nile is highly recommended.
Beware of the airport. It is a mess. Get there 2 or 3 hours before your flight and carry a printed itinerary.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Alaska












Seward, Alaska. Simply beautiful. We did this over Memorial day weekend. Left at 2 pm from Atlanta for Anchorage. Got in around 6 pm and ate dinner at Humpys (www.humpy's .com). Excellent Alaskan King Crab and lot's of Salmon choices. Highly recommend it. Next morning we drove to Seward (3 hour drive absolutely breathtaking). There are several cruises that leave from Seward every day. We took the Marine Line Tour's. Saw Porpoises, Humpback whale, Puffins, mountain Goats, Sea Lions and a Sea Otter. We also passed Bear Glacier. Great Salmon lunch was served onboard. I recommend staying overnight in Seward. This is a nice town with several bars and restaurants and quaint shops and churches. Seward has several breakfast joints and Reindeer sausage is a must -- very tasty. The next morning we stopped at Portage Glacier on the way back. Also hiked the "Trail of Blue Ice" -- Around 3 miles, very scenic. Exit Glacier, closer to Seward was closed off due to snow but I hear that is a must see also. We arrived back into Anchorage on Sunday and took the 6:40 pm redeye back to Atlanta.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Sea kayaking, Carolina coast





We are near north of Myrtle beach South Carolina at Francis and Junesca's house on the beach on Pawley's island. Today is by far the most beautiful day this year. It is 76 degrees, not too warm, cool breeze off the ocean. This is our first team offsite. We went to the shrimp dock yesterday and picked up 5 pounds of shrimp. We boiled them with old bay seasoning and lemons(just 3 mins after the water boils and they are perfect. more than that they get mushy). We also played Apples to Apples which I think is a really fun group late night drinking game like 'pass the ace'.
This is my first time sea kayaking and I think I am addicted. I plan to go back out again later but this time on the creek rather than the ocean since the tide is getting high and rough. The sun sets on the creek side so it's going to be awesome.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Atlanta Braves


Living in Atlanta its really easy to become a fan of the Braves. The season has just begun and I've been to 2 games. Lucky for me, Delta has a suite and sometimes we get tickets to the suite. This is a team building event and the game is verus the Mets. It was a great game and the Braves won it!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Spring in Atlanta


Spring time is my favorite time in Atlanta. All the flowers are in bloom. These tulips are right in front of my apartment and I love to look at them every morning when I walk to the car.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Spice Market comes to Atlanta at the new W, Midtown





Spice Market, Atlanta
Jean George's Spice Market features cuisine inspired from the street food of South Eastern Asia.
www.culinaryconcepts.com
http://www.jeangeorges.blogspot.com/

My favorite dishes:
black pepper shrimp with sundried pineapple
spices chicken samosas with cilantro yogurt
shanghai noodles (in pic)
pork vindaloo
thai jewels

Saturday, March 15, 2008

San Jose, Costa Rica







Costa Rican colones are 490 to a dollar. We were in San Jose for the weekend. Cindy and Ernesto will be moving there in June for a year. I will miss them very much but will fly often to visit. This trip was more about getting a feel for the neighborhood than about rainforests or volcanoes. It was fun. Some thinngs that we covered on this trip...
1) Escazu and Santa Ana neighborhoods
2) El Pueblo nightlife, bar areas downtown
3) The park that runs in the middle of downtown and along sabana sur neighborhood
4) Hotel Grana de Oro -- Situated on a shady street just off Paseo Colón, Hotel Grano de Oro is a true oasis, a sanctuary in the heart of the city. Converted from a Tropical Victorian mansion, the 35-room hotel has the warmth and comfort of a private home. Hallways lined with period photographs and original art meander through the building and present lush tropical flower arrangements and luxuriant plants at every turn. Italian tile fountains that grace the intimate atrium are a must. The breakfast is great as is the bar/cafe area.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Cancun, Mexico




This is one of the most inspirational books I have read. It is the story of Lance Armstrong who battles cancer, defies his odds for survival and wins Tour De France making the idea of a medical miracles a reality. I hear a miracle happens everyday. This, like mum's case is one of them.
My favorite lines:
"The truth is that cancer is the best thing that ever happened to me. Why would I want to change, even for a day, the most important and shaping event of my life?"
"I don't check my mother at the door"
"i want to die at a hundred years old after screaming down an Alpine descent on a bycycle at 75 miles per hour"

Thursday, February 14, 2008

A prayer for mum, for life













Om Trayambakam Yajamahe Sugandhim Pusti - vardhanam /Urva - rukamiva BandhananMrtyor - muksheeya Ma - amritat

The Maha Mrityunjay is a mantra that is said to rejuvenate, bestow health, wealth, a long life, peace, propsperity and contentment. The Mantra is a centuries old technique of connecting one to pure consciousness and bliss.The prayer is addressed to LORD SHIVA.

By chanting this Mantra, Divine vibrations are generated which ward off all the negative and evil forces and create a powerful protective shield. And it is said to protect the one who chants against accidents and misfortunes of every kind. It is a vibration that pulsates through every cell, every molecule of our body and tears away the veil of ignorance.

It ignites a fire within us that consumes all our negativity and purifies our entire system. It is also said to have a powerful healing of diseases declared uncurable even by the doctors. It is a Mantra to conquer death and connects us to our own inner divinity.Known as the Moksha Mantra of Lord Shiva, Maha Mrityunjay evokes the Shiva within and removes the fear of death, liberating one from the cycle of death and rebirth.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Sundance Film Festival 2008











I was lucky to go to Sundance this year to do some interviews with the press for Delta. The Delta Sky 360 lounge is located across from the post office (Address was 449 main Street I think). In here we have displayed our wines, Chef Michelle Bernstein menus and appetizers, Samples form Todd English and wines from Andrea Robinson. Also in here is our lie flat 777 LR seat and our refurbished BE seat with our seat back In-Flight Entertainment. The lounge is frequented by customers, employees, partners, travel agents, media and execs. Hope we get some hits with the media. This is such a cool space. I stayed with Tina Wilmore who has an amazing place on Mahre Drive about 15 minutes form the main drag. Tina and Bill are awesome hosts.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

New Years 2008



I was in New York and it was awesome! Started off in Time Square, followed by a great party (Thanks Annika!) at Delta's Sky 360 Lounge located at 101 West 57th street and finally ended up at Wyclef's house (I'm not kidding....yes, that's him in the red hat). I wished him a Happy New Year! Annika knew his manager so we got invited. He was cool and most people there were his family and friends.