Herzlich Welcome – Welcome Party for Refugees in Verden

Days like these make me #ProudToBeHuman -My hometown Verden, celebrated the German National Day 2015 (03 October) with a Welcome Party for Refugees at the town house square.

This blog post will have few words but many pictures because A PICTURE IS WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS. And these pictures will describe #Willkommenskultur that Germany stands for.

If you wonder what Willkommenskultur is, check out this description by the Guardian: “Willkommenskultur means ‘welcome culture’ and is a word not born of custom but created to establish one.”)

Welcome Party in the heart of Verden
Welcome Party in the heart of Verden – this is how #Willkommenskultur looks like. It was a great statement to celebrate diversity on 03 October (German National Day).
Music connects people
Music connects people – and no (welcome) party is complete without it.
Verden welcomes people from all over the world
Verden welcomes people from all over the world – a mother and her child are checking out the home countries of refugees in Verden that are marked on a world map.
Dancing and Laughing and Celebrating
Dancing and Laughing and Celebrating -this is what diversity and Willkommenskultur look like.
This refugee boy may be a future police men in Niedersachsen
This refugee boy may be a future policeman in Niedersachsen – great to see different organizations, NGOs and government bodies come together to make the Welcome Party for Refugees a memorable day filled with fun, laughter, discussions, music and good food.
World map - refugees came to Verden from different countries
World map – refugees came to Verden from different countries and due to different reasons. It is important to recognize their individual and different backgrounds.
Refugees and police women playing fussball
Refugees and policewomen playing fussball – i love this picture! The only thing I wish for the next game: mix up the teams 😉
The refugee welcome party was organized under the patronage of Lutz Brockmann, mayor of Verden and my super dad :)
The refugee welcome party was organized under the patronage of Lutz Brockmann, mayor of Verden and my super dad 🙂

And if after all these beautiful pictures, you wish to see even more from the Herzlich Welcome event in Verden, check out this video:

P.S. I am especially proud that my school junior Catherine Lohmann came up with this amazing idea! I really wish I could have been there…

Photo Credits: Arne von Brill, Elona Beqiraj.

Desi Deli Review: The PRETTIEST eatery in Bandra and super delicious #DesiDogs

 

Before I can tell you anything about the food at the newly opened Desi Deli in Bandra, I have to admire the PRETTIEST design and décor ever. Seriously! Forget Pinterest and Instagram and head directly to Desi Deli if you need inspiration.

The Prettiest Design at Desi Deli
The Prettiest Design at Desi Deli

I love the lively colored tables and chairs, the fresh flowers and the black & white herringbone design. It’s a small eatery –like most of the upcoming restaurants of home chefs turned entrepreneurs in Mumbai –and like a true Mumbaikar, Lolita Sarkar and her team made excellent use of each square feet and every corner. The heart of Desi Deli is the outdoor seating from which you can watch people and street scenes and breathe in the typical Bandra life.

I could even live with average food at this beautiful place which I will surely visit many more times, but I don’t have to. The food is pure DELICIOUSNESS.

What started off with Amar (veg hot dog), Akbar (chicken sausage hot dog) and Anthony (pork sausage hot dog) at Mumbai’s flea markets turned into a new food heaven for Bandra: Desi Deli is the expression of Lolita’s passion for food and travel.

She connects the #desi taste with the world and creates amazing bilateral combinations of hot dogs, burger and main dishes. Of course, Gwenda Glocalista loves it.

Gwenda Glocalista in Desi Deli Style
Gwenda Glocalista in Desi Deli Style

On a weekday dinner date at Desi Deli, my husband and I tried a variety of vegetarian and non-vegetarian #DesiDogs

The Classic Desi Anthony -A pork sausage served with a dhuandaar red sauce, peppers, onions and mint.

The Puerto Rican Desi (veg) -Grilled pineapples, lemony garlic sauce, peppers and Killer Red take you to the edge of tropical Caribbean.

The Goan Desi -Teekha Portuguese chorizo (made in Goa, of course!) with applesauce, onions and peppers.

The #DesiDogs Collection
The #DesiDogs Collection

The statement “I won’t be impressed with technology until I can download food.” holds so true right now. If only I could share the taste with you guys: so many flavors and still the traditional fast food feeling.

I don’t know about you but my hot dog experience so far was the typical IKEA hot dog after endless furniture shopping on a Saturday morning (the worst time to go to IKEA but we always do the same mistake…). But then, I ate my first #DesiDog last month and life changed.

Gwenda Glocalista enjoys her first Desi Dog
Gwenda Glocalista enjoys her first Desi Dog

I can proudly say that the Goan #DesiDog was the best hotdog I have ever eaten in my life and around the whole world. Saying this as a German (you know, we eat sausages and sauerkraut the whole day), it means really THE BEST hotdog e-v-e-r.

The best #DesiDog ever
The best #DesiDog ever

But there is still more to this new Bandra restaurant: Yes, they’ve got Pinterest chic décor and scrumptious flavourful food but the icing on the cake is the passion and warmth with which owner Lolita Sarkar welcomes her guests. With curly hair and her warm-hearted smile, the owner guides you through the menu and ensures you choose what your personal taste-buds will enjoy most. (I can’t believe I didn’t take a picture with her.)

I have only one wish left for this amazing new Deli in Bandra: Offer hot dog tasting events 🙂

Desi Deli Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Where NOT to eat – Moti Mahal in Phoenix Marketcity

A couple of weeks back, I visited the Moti Mahal Restaurant in the Phoenix Marketcity Mall in Kurla. My husband and I went together with the father of my sister-in-law.

It was the first time we met after a long time and it was a last minute dinner plan. We were in BKC and thought heading to this mall might be faster than going to Bandra… And we would find a couple of restaurant option under one roof.

Though Moti Mahal was completely empty we gave it a shot (after checking if they were open as they didn’t even bother to open the door for us). We ordered simple dishes (some tandoori chicken tikka as starters and thick gravy chicken with rotis as main course). Taste is average. If the atmosphere would be amazing you might even call the food tasty. But atmosphere too is just average. So what is left to make for a great experience? Outstanding service -but unfortunately that one was completely absent!!!

While we were ordering, the staff did not bother to guide us much when asked for specialties or whether a dish was dry or with gravy. But the worst was when I finished eating and the other two were still enjoying their meal, the waiter cleared my plate and asked us if we want the bill. Already annoyed with the fade service before, I pointed out that we are still eating the main course and that it is not an appropriate time to ask your guests to pay. Not bothering much about what a woman says my husband had to repeat the exact same thing for the stupid guy to listen.

But as we were out with a relative to enjoy time together we tried to just ignore the horrible service. When leaving the restaurant I walked up to the manager of the place and asked him whether he was aware of what just happened.

Instead of apologizing (remember guests are always right) he tells me that he “will check” with his employees.

Seriously?!??

I am taking the extra step and give you valuable customer feedback and instead of using this to improve your service you make your customer feel that you don’t trust their word??? Seriously, that’s a no go!

P.S. No picture to be shared as I was too unhappy with the service. And I usually take only photos of beautiful things or memorable moments… 😉

How to find the perfect home in Mumbai

Finding a home is not easy –nowhere. You want to come to a cozy home after a long day at work; you want to have enough space for children playing and parties with your friends; you want a convenient location, maybe a bit of greenery around and some amenities you can’t live without. For expats, moving to Mumbai is a big decision. Likewise, moving into the right home is a big step. With the difference and new experience somebody from abroad experiences in the first few of months of moving here, their home may be the only oasis with the known comfort.

I spent my first couple of years in India without house hunting as I moved into my husband existing apartments. But since then, we have been moving houses twice. The first move was unspectacular as we were shifting apartments within the same building in Andheri. But a couple of weeks back, we moved to Kurla which is closer to our work places (probably the most important reason to choose a location in Mumbai!!!).

Websites like housing.com have made it so much easier to find the right apartment –but it doesn’t stop there. Once you found your dream home on the picture, you have to get it. And that can be a very frustrating long process (especially when you are a foreigner)! As most people, we used a broker to find our new home and we were very lucky because they did not show us extremely overpriced expat apartments. Instead, they listened to what we were looking for and helped us find it.

Or maybe we played it right: My husband checked out a couple of places without me and took videos of the apartments to show me later. As he is Indian, people don’t show him the pricey “foreigner” places when he goes alone. And once they anchored the price, I come into picture 🙂

This may sound like a good solution but the reality is this takes much more energy and time. And even when we revisited the potential apartments together, brokers and landlords came up with all different excuses why now the prize has increased or that suddenly another couple were interested in the place and offered more money.

But to bring this story to a happy end: Even without accepting foreigner prices, a bit of Hindi and a lot of negotiation skills, we made it and are now living in our dream home 🙂

As mentioned earlier, distance to your work place, kids’ school, etc. is probably the #1 reason to choose where in Mumbai you want to live. For me and my husband that was a difficult one as I work in town and his office is all the way in the north of the suburbs. So we were looking for a place halfway which allowed both of us to travel by road and had enough options around to socialize, relax and forget the craziness of this city. In a mega city like Aamchi Mumbai, it is important to have a home with all the comfort that you need (no matter whether you are an expat or a local).

To the surprise of all our friends (local as well as expat), we found our dream home in Kurla: Walking distance to the church, big trees in front of the window, big living room to entertain and with a club house that allows us to exercise and unwind. Besides –it takes us less than 30 minutes to Bandra, Powai or even Lower Parel (well again, if the traffic permits!).

A foreigner who knows better short cuts then the locals? That’s because I am local.

Did that ever happen to you: On your way home from office the taxi driver praises you for knowing the way?

Of course not. That’s the most normal thing in the world. You take that route twice daily. Ten times a week. Fourty times a month. Four hundred eighty times a year. Well, minus a couple of days of holidays but you get my point, don’t you?

It would be the most normal thing in the world that you know your way home if…

If only you weren’t a foreigner.

As a foreigner you are expected to tell the taxi driver to take you to the Gateway of India, the famous Taj Hotel in Colaba or to the Prince of Wales Museum. But not to a residential area in the suburbs of Mumbai.

Well, I did ask him to go to the suburbs and showed him some of the roads that would prevent us to get stuck in traffic.

Upon arriving my apartment complex, I had to listen to praises for my great Hindi and for knowing all those tiny roads that lead us here. (‘Had to’ because it would be so much better to just be recognized as one of them instead of a foreigner who knows the language).

So far, so good.

Mumbai Taxi
My daily way to office is a 30km one way ride. I use taxi apps to book my safe ride.

A couple of days later, I am booking my taxi and recognize the name of the driver. Of course, he, too, remembers me and proudly tells me that he was talking about me the other day. Huh? Really? Not sure whether I want to know about it, I ask him.

He had another customer who wanted to go to the same residential complex and when he took all the short cuts to reach fast and without traffic, the customer was very impressed and asked him how he knew all these short cuts.

He proudly said: ‘I myself didn’t know about it. I learnt it from another customer. And can you believe it… She is not even a local. She is a foreigner!’

Argh. There it was again. The dirty F word. Foreigner.

 

P.S. I must admit… I still feel a bit proud that I could impress a taxi driver with the short cuts I know. 🙂 And that’s because I am not any random foreigner. I am a local foreigner.

TOP 5 German foods that I miss in Mumbai (What I brought back from my business trip to Germany)

We had just moved into our new apartment when I had to go on a business trip. I probably would have pushed one of my colleagues to go if it wasn’t a trip to Germany (my passport was about to expire 4 weeks later and I kind of kept it on hold to renew it for way too long). So I decided to pack my suitcase literally two days after moving into our new place keeping in mind that I could do the express passport renewal much faster in Germany than in India.

I will post about our move separately but you can imagine how it looked like when I was opening all boxes searching for my formal (and warm!!) clothes for the biz trip. (Side note: If you are moving houses and need to go for a trip just about the same time, please do listen to all the people who advise you to pack your suitcase for the trip before packing boxes!)




Anyways… I managed to pack my little purple suitcase and was surprised to fly off with not more than 17 kg (check-in and hand luggage) out of which around 5 kg were office material for my meetings in Germany.

Still I had to decide carefully what to take and what to keep when I was about to return home to Mumbai a few days later. Here is what I brought back with me:

All the food goodies from Germany
All the food goodies from Germany

Looks yummy, huh?

Most of the chocolates and sweets were meant for friends and colleagues (who enjoyed the Gummibärchen as much as I did when I was a child). Some of the Schwarzbrot (brown bread) and cheese is still left and will be enjoyed at our housewarming brunch soon.

I would love to hear from you which food from your home country you miss most? And have you been able to find it anywhere in India?

Comment below this post or send me a message here.

German Breakfast Table
German Breakfast Table
Fish, Salad and Potatoes
Fish, Salad and Potatoes

 

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Gwenda Glocalista – a SHEROE!

Wow. I am a SHEROE!

I was truly flattered when I received an email a few weeks back from a content writer of SHEROES.in asking if I would agree to an interview. Me? Wow. They considered me an inspiration for women in India! I guess this is just another day of being true to yourself and loving what you do. Thank you, SHEROES Team!

Since yesterday, the interview is live: Meet the SHEROES – Gwenda Schobert

Like always, not everything fits in one article. And therefore, I decided to put up some of the statements that I liked a lot into this blog post:

  • I am a Mumbaikar; I love the fast life, chaos, opportunities, spirit and inspiration this city has to offer. I even found my peace with the never ending traffic of this city (A tip by the side: Plug in your headset and listen to classical music or audio books. I promise you; even Mumbai traffic will feel inspiring to you!).
  • We live in a world where people #dreambig and #workhard –but not for a boring and stressful 9 to 5 job that doesn’t bring fulfilment into their lives.
  • If you ask my husband, he would tell you that every day I come up with “the most brilliant idea”. Seriously, whenever something comes to my mind that I think is a good (business) idea, I start sharing my thoughts with him as “I got the most brilliant idea…”
  • I truly believe that if you love Mumbai, the city loves you back.
  • I had just an idea at that point of time. Like we all have ideas. But something told me that day to just make it happen.
Meet the SHEROES - Gwenda Schobert
Meet the SHEROES – Gwenda Schobert

Paaji’s Express in Lower Parel -Tasty food like at a Punjabi home

I was lucky enough to be invited for softlaunch of Paaji’s Express a few weeks back. It was such a great evening seeing all the hard work our friend put into the opening of this new restaurant inspired by Papa Pancho in Lower Parel. And you can’t imagine how tasty the food is over here…

The feedback my hubby and I gave: “We will come here every day -this is better than home-cooked food…” To be honest, we are not coming every day -the only reason being that we live pretty far away and don’t work in Lower Parel.

But if you either live in this part of town or get to work here, I urge you to try out this fantastic place if you haven’t done so yet.

The world's best Paneer Tikka -only at Paaji's Express in Lower Parel
The world’s best Paneer Tikka -only at Paaji’s Express in Lower Parel

As a starter we enjoyed Tandoori Chicken and Paneer Tikka. I remember that the chicken was tasty… but oh…. the paneer was just heaven! I would come here anytime just for this paneer tikka!!! It’s the best in town.

We continued our food journey of happiness with a Thali with Punjabi Kadi, Aloo Gobi, Bhuna Gosht, Butter Chicken and Baingan Bharta which was served with rice and roti. My husband and I were trying to figure out which dish was the best… But.. Seriously, they all tasted amazing.

The yummy thali at the softlaunch of Paaji's Express.
The yummy thali at the softlaunch of Paaji’s Express.

Often you find Thali sabjis being overcooked or made in big quantities (and therefore maybe with less love?)… Well, this one is different. With all respect to my MIL who makes the world best kadi -Paaji’s kadi was sooo yummy. The tastiest I’ve ever had. And we promised, next time my MIL is in Mumbai, we make her try this one as well… She will love it.

Overall, Paaji is a great concept of tasty food for office (check out their delivery service) or a lunch/dinner with colleagues that makes you feel at a Punjabi family home. Check out the menu here.

I am so excited about the menu. Choose a number between 1 and 15 for a set lunch delivered to your office.
I am so excited about the menu. Choose a number between 1 and 15 for a set lunch delivered to your office.

Oh and by the way: Awesome decoration, too. You will find the Papa Pancho typical parrots, movie posters and Bollywood music. It’s a lively and cozy place to spent your lunch break or eat a quick bite between meetings.

Parrots, movie posters and Bollywood music like at Papa Pancho.
Parrots, movie posters and Bollywood music like at Papa Pancho.

But now, go: see and taste for yourself. Let me know what you think about this restaurant in the comments below.

Paaji's Express Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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