Saturday, October 25, 2014

How does a Vegan survive in the US

How does a Vegan survive in the US

If you are a vegan then it is better you land in the US in summer. At least Burger King is there where you can order a veg burger, The Indian store offers a variety of uncooked food from pulses to curry leaves. It is unnecessary to ask if these condiments are overpriced. I did manage to shop some Indian stuff like rice, lentils, clarified butter, fresh vegetables and skimmed milk.
Though I am not a professional cook but my work place was different now. A bigger kitchen, that housed all modern & efficient appliances. The only snacks that one could think of for a ‘quick meal’ were a sandwich or a pizza. All the rest will hit your face with the ‘aroma’ of meat.

Do-nuts draw out your nuts every morning

We did taste them at Dunkin’s on a couple of occasions. But the snag was those pretty icings, so enticing that the devil ‘diabetes’ kept beckoning from all outlets. Muffins and cup cakes look cute on the shelves but the tummy may turn turbulent. Coffee outlets at Starbucks or McDonalds are the prime ‘day’ starters for those on the road-to work or play. We are ‘erstwhile’ coffee drinkers. Oh we Indians !?!
A policy rehearsed well in India-Cook & Eat at home to be safe
Here at Raleigh eating at a restaurant was tedious and boring as the Vegan palate yearns for a Samosa. Dosa,Vada, Vada-pav etc. Finally after scrolling eye balls on the menu up and down one is compelled to settle for a veg pizza or a milkshake or green salad to pamper our ‘cattle class’ appetite.

Pancakes for a few days

A random search in the kitchen and I laid my hands on a pound of pancake flour. So our breakfast problem was solved. So it began
*Pancake with sauce
*Pancake with coriander chutney
*Pancake with jam
*Pancake with grated cheese

Now my jaws ache when I yell out or try to yell out “pancake”. This pancake flour was sweet and gluey. So, we had to cut down on the quantum of consumption.

Fruit and vegetable juices – the ideal supplement

Srinath (b-i-l) is smart enough to install a food-processor which can crush even apple seeds if you are not happy with the apple juice. The machine was so useful to crush almonds, pistachios, cashew nuts and peanuts in that order. Quite a nutty processor. So many an evening was spent sipping juice watching TV and get drowsy.

Now did I incite tears of joy in a tragedy of gastronomical proportions. I win.

Pawn-shop visit

My raised eyebrows elevated abnormally trying to trace why such shops exist on the main street? We entered to purchase a laptop – every piece looked elegant but quoted high-end price. Why? Somebody was broke and the good laptop was sold for a song. So now, it is our turn to feed the pawnbroker. The pawnshop looked more inviting for amateur musicians as we kept tripping over drums, guitars, saxophones and amplifiers. The deal was not struck and so we stepped into the next shop – a ladies jewelry shop which also sold accessories like bags, scarves and trendy shoes. Not exactly a pawnshop here but a mixture of high and low-end brands which kept boggling in our minds. Is it a jewelry shop?

Book-shop and Reading Corner

Almost every shopping centre or mall was studded with at least one bookshop and reading corner like Barnes & Noble  that does tend to attract a wayward shopper. They have the right discounts on the latest books, a stationery corner and none would miss the coffee shop. The book cum coffee lovers have a good time here.Reading the synopsis of books was a pleasure.

Visit to Washington DC

Your visit is not complete without a mandatory visit to Washington DC, the capital exudes all its grandeur and its restraint to tourists. Every tourist must visit the American History Museum which sprawls upwards to three floors with annexes (connected by bridges). (The Museum was built as an after-thought due to a sudden influx of war stories and the connected inventions of machines specially weapons.) The visit leaves you struck with American history which you will never forget even if you want to. The other museums were interesting, too but getting close to Capitol Hill and the White House is taboo. Better avoid it as the Americans are finicky about security nowadays. Our stay at the Grand Hyatt was also memorable as it was only for a night and two days. The best meal in Washington was the Mexican bread which was not bread! A tray served with five kinds of cooked beans and topped with Mexican rice(cooked). The taste was groovy as much as it looked. God bless the Mexicans. 

Friday, October 3, 2014

More impressions about the US…a mild & pleasant shock

The jetlag dragged too long after visiting the US, partly genuine, partly lethargic whereby I had to post another piece on ”Abuses”. Okay back on the track to rewind about my trip that lasted hardly a month.

The fifteen hour flight drilled a mighty block on the mind. Our focus was on how to reach the Delta Terminal when shoulders dropped and my face fell. Then out of nowhere came Ms X, can’t recall her name, who would be the next attendant to wheel out my husband on to the Delta flight.

Today I can recall that cute face, who hails from Togo (West Africa). This part of Africa is lately in the news, due to the deadly Ebola virus. Ms X handled her job well and spoke of her family (a little son and her old mother) who depended on her income. She lives alone in New York & works here for a livelihood. Her job of leaving us at the terminal ended well when she very gladly accepted the tip we offered her. I queried “ How much would a meal cost in the city?”, She said $5 at least. But she did not fail to pack sandwiches to work whenever be the hour of work. Then she added that she would save the tips received for the day to indulge in small luxuries like gifts to take to Togo. Young women who live thousands of miles away from homeland just to earn a livelihood is no strange instance for Indian women too.

It was a pleasant stay at Cobblestone, Raleigh. Far from the noise and people. The houses here resembled those small cottages built on the plantation area. They all looked similar in structure except for the individual taste in painting the houses in different shades. Each house separated from the other by lawns (well mowed) and a narrow driveway that can park three cars at a time. We stayed at my brother-in-law’s house in Cobblestone. The man works at a Corporate through the week and is a stickler at gardening. The flowers that ornated the lawn were daisies, pansies, roses, purple lilies and red flowers on the myrtle tree that get blown even with the gentle whiff.

WAKE FOREST - Enlightens

The silent cluster of houses could let your imagination go free not wild due to a typical European aura that hangs here. Residents gloat about Wake forest that houses hundreds of Oak trees making this area a carpenter’s paradise. But the area also places the Wake Tech University that stands out quite elegant in the area. The campus caters to very well-behaved students out here. Smoking, drugs and guns are disallowed in the campus quite apparently sanitized. There seems to be a multi-national mixture of students here who prefer to conceal their nationality by dressing like Americans, they talk less to hide their identity. I saw it as pertinent as when in Rome do as the Romans do.

The University offers an array of subjects and a student can choose from the prescribed list. His interest can swing from biology to history  to electronics to cuisine. The best part is the semester system which will test you only on the books prescribed. The lengthy syllabus  along with the books are available at the University .If the student flunked he can change his subjects in the next semester. But the syllabus will change in case he sticks to the earlier choice.This makes it mandatory for the student to get through the exams---Good system, where the students and counselors are kept busy and students who are disinclined to be serious about studies will drop out. In case they are inclined to continue but fiscal constraints stop them ,then they look out for jobs to earn and pay   their fees. Now you know why the youth in the US are also busy in making the wheels of the economy move.

WINSTON-The cat belongs to the house

Oh now you know how domesticated cats are?

Like many families drift apart due to work, relationships or marital convenience--- an emotional vacuum entails, so also here. That vacuum is filled by an animal (a pet) who by universal law is always loyal. But Winston was a refugee rescued by Srinath (b-i-l)’s family on a rainy night .A tomcat, no doubt but lacking vile characteristics
like clawing, mewing louder to get attention and chasing tabbycats (?).May be the domestic and obligatory status helped him earn a place in everybody’s heart. Moreover in America it is different, if you are found ill-treating any animal the Animal care people will get to your throat.So Winston  is treated like a lord who entered and left the house at will.He will remind you always when the cat food ran out.

“PANERA Bread” outlets endear the locals.

Panera is a bread outlet that is found at all leading malls and is busy spreading clientele in North Carolina. Besides bread the eatery also serves snacks and soup that differ from the other eateries. The seats are comfortable and a relaxed atmosphere prevails unlike other fast food joints .The malls I visited were Macy’s , Walmart, Target, Crabtree mall, Food lion and of course the Patel mall. If your wallet is loaded shopping is a delight or window shopping is recommended to kill time.

What did I eat during my stay will bring tears of joy to you---Await my next blog post!!!