Matheran, first stop on my bucket list, hill station of horses and rust dust.

This is a quick chronicle of the zipline in Echo Valley. Or maybe not.

K, my cultural translator. My friend.

Born in Ethiopia. Formative years: Dubai. Married to a Gujarati, now moving. Moving, swimming, sailing, flying pass the Arabian Sea. Past our beloved subcontinent, landing underneath the sunny blue skies of the West Coast.

Today she once again patiently explains the intricacies of Indian society. Tightrope of layers. Social norms, for some chains. Chains that need to be snipped. Cut. So she can see the other side.

Last Saturday, she took her first long drive, hands clenching wheel. Careful. Planned. Determined. Strategic.

On this day, she mounted the zip line, eyes taking in the deep jagged ravine. She, held up by an invisible hand.

But she crossed the valley. Zip-lined it, in fact. And saw the other side.

And she will cross many more valleys. Zip-line them, in fact. And see the other side.

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Matheran, first stop on my bucket list, hill station of horses and rust dust.

It was my birthday last Saturday. To celebrate the day, as well as my last five months in Mumbai, K, N, C and I drove up to Matheran. On our way, C our navigator and guide (and what a knowledgeable guide he was!), recommended that our fist pit stop be at Lucky’s Korner, an outdoor restaurant near Karjat.

The food and service were heavenly! Here are some of our mouthwatering orders–

Reshmi kebab. Soft, juicy, tangy. It was a perfect kebab!

The garlic naan went very well with the kebabs. They reminded me of yummy thin crust garlic pizzas!

My two signature drinks--lemon juice and chai with cardamom, ginger and milk. I'll definitely miss the Indian lemons and chai, which I somehow can't replicate, when I leave India.

The food was very reasonably priced, around 150 to 250 rupees per main course, and the restaurant was clean, a must for me.

The service unexpectedly rivaled fine dine restaurants! The waiters were very attentive. They changed our plates as needed, and they were enthusiastic. They genuinely seemed to enjoy serving their customers. Our head waiter, gave us excellent recommendations for dishes and was excited to show off Lucky’s renowned tandoor oven.

This is a tandoor oven. It's a hole dug into a counter and it's where many breads and chicken are baked. It's what gives chicken tandoori, kebabs and rotis a distinct smokey taste that is difficult to replicate in other ovens.

All in all, it was a very memorable meal. Not just because of the food and service, but also because of good company! Nothing beats traveling with easy going people who know their way around and are excited to share and explore!

C, our navigator and K, our first time long distance driver! Good job, K!

I’ll share more about the hikes in Matheran in future posts.

Do you have any travel stories that you would like to share? I’d love to hear from you!

In the meantime, if you would like to visit Lucky’s Korner, you can call them at–
9921841414
9881764964
9273127314

In Matheran, monkeys greet you as you enter the hill station šŸ™‚

In a previous post, I talked about the Leftover Book Challenge–a self challenge to finish the unread books on my shelf. I am happy to say that I’ve finished my first book–The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins!

My Pinay friend, Aleta, gave me the book as a thank you gift when she visited me in Mumbai last year. Thank you, Aleta! This book is a definite page turner!

The story is reminiscent of the reality show “Survivor” except that it’s set in the future and the characters are fighting for their lives! I can’t get enough of Katniss Everdeen, from how she paraded around in her fire outfit, to her shooting acumen, and to her naivete at how beautiful and talented she is. I like how the author Suzanne Collins gets into her head, and takes us on a journey of how Katniss strategizes to win the audience as well as the Hunger Games.

Peeta is the man every woman wants, the man who fights for his love. Although, I actually like Gale more, Katniss’s best friend, the one she goes hunting with. I have a feeling that The Hunger Games, book one of the trilogy, has just planted the foundation for a future love triangle.

The language in The Hunger Games is also very poetic. The descriptions are clear and it’s an easy read (it’s written for adolescents, actually) but it’s good writing, something I haven’t had in quite some time! It’s also a good first book to read if you want to get back into the reading bandwagon.

I’ve started reading Catching Fire, book two of the trilogy, and I already I’m hungry for more! Five thumbs up for the Hunger Games. Thank you, Aleta, for gifting me with these two books. I’m hoping that Catching Fire will just be as good as the first installation of the trilogy.

Hope is when the local vendors and laborers of Matheran, a hill station in India, work hard to sustain and improve their local economy, and many of them do it with a smile. It’s much easier to blame others and complain than do the hard work to improve one’s life. These ordinary folk are India’s unsung heroes and they give me hope.

More to come on my trip to Matheran in the next blog entries!

Fruit vendor as you enter Matheran

Lemon juice for sale!

Human rickshaw

Women from the village walked several kilometers to deliver bales of hay.

In the non-veg section of Hypercity, I was about to buy my usual handful of prawns when I saw fresh sardines. As far as I can remember, it was my first time to see fresh sardines. I’m used to eating the 555 ones in a can, drenched in tomato sauce, salt and pepper. Cans dug out of the cupboards on a rainy Manila day, poured on top of fried eggs and fried garlic rice.

But that’s not what this post is about :). Here’s a recipe for one that takes around 30 minutes to prepare.

Ingredients:
2 medium sized sardines
olive oil
salt and pepper
6 cloves of garlic (chopped)
1/2 cup of lettuce (chopped)
1 medium sized tomato (chopped)
1 teaspoon of anchovy
1 teaspoon of crumbled feta cheese
balsamic vinegar

Rub salt and pepper onto the sardines. Pan fry the garlic and sardines for ten to fifteen minutes.

On a salad bowl, lay a bed of lettuce. Place bits of the sardines on top of the lettuce. Add the garlic, tomatoes, capers, anchovy and feta cheese. Sprinkle balsamic to taste.

Bon appetit!

Someone’s drying their laundry in Vile Parle.