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August 13, 2009

Auckland in Winter 2009

This is my second visit to New Zealand. The first was a year ago, when I desperately needed some R & R. Thanks to Yasmin & Hari I returned to Bangalore refreshed, in July 2008.

Why would anyone go to New Zealand during two successive winters?

These pics tell you why.

Let it snow, let it blow...
We're snug n happy here...

Auckland, June 2009

People asked me why I don't visit in December, when it is bright and sunny. The truth is, I wanted to see Vardaan, my new grandson asap. So as soon as colleges closed for examinations in April, I booked my ticket to NZ. I left Bangalore late in the night. The Volvo buses that ply from the city to the Devanhalli airport are convenient. There was a 3-hour stopover in Hong Kong. Not unexpectedly, the huge airport is predominantly Chinese. I spent a relaxed time strolling and browsing through the stores. I bought the book Soul Mountain by Gao Xingjian the only Chinese to win a Nobel prize for literature. Its like a travelogue of the Chinese countryside in the 60's, combined with long abstract passages which conjure strange mental images. After 8 weeks I'm still struggling through its difficult passages, hoping - eventually - to make it to the end.

After another long flight, the plane landed in Auckland. It was a bright morning with a light drizzle. With Vardaan in tow, Yasmin received me and drove us home to Albany. The entire journey from Bangalore to Auckland had lasted about 22 hours. Add to that another 7 hours for the time difference. It took me a couple of days to get over jetlag. When I arrived, Hari was away in Europe on a business trip. He came back 10 days later. Luckily some of his favourite Kaju Katli (an Indian sweet) still remained intact for him to enjoy.

The domestic routine revolves around Vardaan's 4-hourly cycle of eat-play-poop-sleep. His parents have trained him well: after his last feed around 8.30 pm he sleeps through the night. Vardaan is a gregarious baby. Everybody gets a smile and is permitted to hold and pet him.

The days fly. I'm already in my 3rd and last month of vacation. Its a cold sunday morning in Auckland. We're sipping hot tea and watching india play 20-20 in England. I miss my morning walks coz here it depends on the weather which gets windy & rainy - quite unpredictable. Yesterday we had been to Vardaan's weekly under-two swimming class - dunking the babies in the pool, singing rhymes, playing games & chasing floating toys. Its fun for parent and child while toddlers gets used to being in the water and automatically learn to flap their hands and feet. This evening we're invited to dinner by a young Indian couple friendly with Y-H . I'm included by default :) Last Saturday they kindly took me to mass before we joined their extended family for a delicious Malaysian dinner - a birthday celebration. Vardaan sat in the restaurant high chair for the first time and felt very gown up.

The food in NZ deserves special mention. In addition to Kiwi cuisine, Auckland has a variety of Asian restaurants - Thai, Malaysian, Chinese, Japanese and Korean. Surprisingly, I haven't heard of a single Maori eatery. Friday night is for drinks and food at the pub. If there's a Rugby match on, its even better. Throughout the year the markets stock fresh fruit, vegetables and dairy products. The excellent cuts of NZ meat are, of course, famous. Spices and condiments from India and other Asian countries are readily available. With all its water bodies NZ has abundant seafood. In addition to the familiar ones, I've seen and tasted varieties of fish whose Indian equivalents I don't know. I discovered that the king fish is similar to our surmai. I made a Mangalorean coconut curry with it. When Yasmin made kababs, we had a nawabi feast. Another day Hari grilled salmon which we ate with mashed potatoes and a fresh salad.... yumm. You guessed it! I enjoy good food - both cooking and eating.

As I write this, Hari is off to the grocery store and Yasmin is preparing one of her favourite (Sanjeev Kapoor) chef's recipes. Vardaan is doing his commando crawl, inspecting everything on the ground level with special attention to miniscule specks of lint on the carpet. Our latest game is playing peek-a-boo round the kitchen counter. His upper front teeth have just come out to match the lower two which had appeared soon after my arrival in April. Now in his 10th month, he weighs about 11 kg and is tall for his age. As a doting grandmother I'm allowed to claim that he is intelligent, lovable, a fast learner and the best baby in Kiwiland :)


Khwaja said...

yup -- blogging grandmom is definitely a good way to keep in touch.

Khwaja said...

btw, that was aasim

Rhoda said...

Aasim ! I'd never have guessed ;)

Maurice said...

Haum patyetam tukaa Konknni yeta mhunn.

Actually I was looking for 'Farangipet' History. The Portuguese trade from this tradepost may have been on and off as they had another 'factory' at Bolar as well.

I was looking for information as to who built the 'covent' and the church as 'Monte-Mariano' and somewhere I remember to have read the rich and well to do and the coffee planters from Mangalore used to make a (sort of) pilgrimage to this church on Nativity feast (Monthi Fest), that some say was initiated by Fr. Joachim Miranda when he was the parish priest of this 'convent' church. But the custom of celebration of Nativity feast was prevalent in Goa then and probably is now too (Bonderam?)

So somehow landed on your blog. It seems like Mangaloreans are every where other than in their adopted native Canara these days.

Knew from you that a 'muDo' is 3 kaLshi or 42 Sher and of 'kulta kaat' with mogem. My mouth waters. I knew one lady who used to prepare when I was in my teans..come to think of it, she might!!!

Maurice D'Mello

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