I recently met Mumbai’s most famous Hindi teacher –at least if you ask the Bombay expat community… 🙂 Pallavi Singh from hindilessons.co.in teaches Hindi to foreigners who usually come to the city for 6 months to 3 years work assignments. She works with a variety of consulates, including the American Consulate in Mumbai, international schools such as Deutsche Schule Bombay (DSB) and conducts individual private classes.
‘Language is nothing but a by-product of culture, traditions, niceties and exchanges of the society. I think one can either become an observer or an absorber and it’s so much more enriching to be the latter.’ Pallavi who started teaching Hindi when she was 19, traveled extensively nationally & internationally and knows India not only from the perspective of a local but understands how foreigners experience the country.
The first three sentences you should learn in Hindi according to Pallavi?
Seedha Lo (go straight)
Teekha kam (less spicy)
Han Theek Hai. (yes, okay)
Pallavi’s Hindi classes are very interactive and extremely well organized. Her modules are an intellectual result of 500+ hours of teaching, development and introspection. Price: 1200INR/class. You can check out more details here.
If you are interested to learn Hindi in Mumbai, get in touch with Pallavi Singh: hindilessons.co.in
Last Sunday, Naveen and I ran 10km during the Footsteps 4 Good run in BKC and supported Tender Hands India, an NGO that supports women who were rescued from human trafficking to start a new life through their Learn to Bake vocational training.
It has been an amazing experience and I learned a lot from this experience. So here you go: 5 life lessons that I learned from my first ever 10km run.
1) Start before you are ready
I still cannot believe that I used to be able to run only 2-3km in the gym while training for this run. When my friend shared with me that she would be organizing the Footsteps 4 Good 2016 run, I was determined to support her not only by promoting the event via my blog and social media channels but to actually take part in it. I had two options: choose the 5km walk that would be easily achievable for me or to challenge myself and to try the 10km run. I choose the 10km run –thinking that I would have enough time to practice and somehow make it happen.
But life happened. Life always happens. 36 hours before the run, Naveen and I ordered a pizza and enjoyed the evening on our couch. Since the time that we signed up for the run, we had probably trained only a handful (or maximum two handful) times. I was pretty okay of running for 20-30minutes and would achieve 2-3km. That’s it. But somehow I was able to continuously run for 1hour 16minutes and accomplish the 10km run without any walking break on that Sunday morning in BKC.
2) Keep moving
Don’t think that it was easy for me. I still remember that my legs started to become heavier after the very first kilometre and my breath become heavier with every passing kilometre. When I saw the finish line for the first time, I couldn’t believe that I had accomplished only half of the run. In fact, my muscles were tired and I could have easily said enough. But then, just a few meters before the finish line, I heard the commentator announcing that the guy in front of us was about to finish his second round. I felt pumped and loudly cheered for him. I felt inspired and I knew I could accomplish this. However fast or slow I was. My goal was not to run the fastest 10km run in history. My challenge was to complete the 10km running without taking a break. And so I continued. Step for step. Meter for meter. Kilometre for kilometre. Slowly, I ran. But the important point is: I ran in the right direction.
3) Run with your head up
…not just as a proper running technique but as a metaphor for life. Keep your head up and be confident. There were many runners that overtook me –right in the beginning and before crossing the finish line. But I can truly say that I have never felt more confident while running than during this 10km run. Instead of competing with others, I focused on myself. I was confident of myself –which showed in the way I was running (with my head up) and in the way I felt (happy and proud).
4) You really can do more than you think you can
I totally surprised myself with this 10km run. I mean… wow! I still can’t believe it. I ran 10km without any breaks or major pain. This totally boosted my confidence and helped me to realize that there are probably hundred other things that I am capable of –I just haven’t tried it yet and therefore don’t know it. If there is one life lesson from the many things I learned while running the 10km run that I find most important: it is this one. YOU REALLY CAN DO MORE THAN YOU THINK YOU CAN.
5) Enjoy the journey
Of course, it was an amazing feeling to cross the finish line… I was so pumped, I ran as fast as I could for the last few meters and I loudly cheered myself… But to be honest, the 1 hour and 16 minutes that I was running were the real achievement and fun. It sounds cheesy but it’s so true: Enjoy the journey.
Bonus Tip: You will feel even more amazing if you run for a cause. I felt extremely happy and proud when I saw my friend who runs Tender Hands India, the NGO that Naveen and I supported with our run, cheering for us on the side of the road. THI fights to end human trafficking and offers a vocational baking program for rescued women and young girls. Check out these amazing TROPHY SUGAR COOKIES created by them:
I am so excited -in less than two weeks, I will run my first ever official run and the best part -it’s for a great cause! And I invite you to join: More Footsteps = More Funds raised for charity!
A few days ago, my husband and I decided to challenge ourselves with a 10km run for a great cause: Footsteps4Good takes place on Sunday 07 February 2016 at BKC. Alternatively, they also have a 5km walk.
Footsteps4Good is a charity walkathon / fun run in it’s 5th year, where each participants Rs2000 registration fee goes directly to a charity of their choice. There are a number of affiliated NGOs but anyone can participate for any NGO.
This is a great way to be part of the change we want to see in the world. You can run for children education, environment & climate protection, women empowerment, or any other cause that you care for. 100% of your registration fee will be donated to the NGO of your choice.
We will run for Tender Hands India. This NGO fights to end human trafficking in India (and beyond) through awareness, advocacy and aid.
Women and young girls that have been rescued from the red light district in Mumbai or are at high risk of being trafficked receive a huge support by Tender Hands. Under the brand name TH Bakes, these women and girls receive a vocational training and learn to bake.
(By the way, you can support them by eating cupcakes and cakes, too. Check them out here.)
If you think WINE and INDIA, you must also think NIKHIL AGARWAL. The passionate sommelier and CEO of All Things Nice promotes the local wine culture by creating beautiful wine events that are equally popular with the local and expat crowd.
In 2012, he launched the first ever INDIAN WINES CONSUMER CHOICE AWARDS and I was invited as a judge to the fourth edition which took place earlier this month at the Jyran Restaurant at Sofitel in BKC.
The event introduced consumers to the entire spectrum of Indian wines available. As the Indian wine culture is still young, many new wine connoisseurs are seduced by big names or active marketing of the few known Indian wineries. I myself was surprised to learn that there are more than 50 wineries in India. (To be honest: I could have named only Sula, York and Grover Zampa.)
It was so much fun to taste and judge the wines. We started with sparkling and white wines, continued with the red ones, and completed the experience with dessert wines.
I usually like sassy dry white wines –the type you enjoy with friends on the terrace or during a lunch by the seaside and I found a few Indian wines during the tasting event that I really enjoyed (but as it was a wine judging I have no idea which ones to buy now…).
But surprisingly, I gave my best rating to a super sweet dessert wine that was served ice cold. Though the wine was extreme sweet, I really enjoyed it and can imagine pairing it with a dry cinnamon pastry after a Christmas lunch.
I am super excited to see who the winners of the Indian Wines Consumer Choice Awards 2016 will be. You can check out previous winner here.
Welcome to my world: I love food and I love healthy choices. I love salads more than chocolate –and I may have cravings for both sometimes. But that’s okay –everything in moderation.
I believe that #HealthyIsDelicious and that we don’t have to choose between comfort food and healthy meals if we develop some realistic habits that allow us to enjoy our favorite food and help our bodies to stay strong and fit.
Everybody is different and every body, too.
I am not a nutritionist nor do I know the requirements of your body, mind and soul. I am sharing my habits to eat clean and healthy to inspire you to discover your own healthy eating habits and to make 2016 your best year ever.
1. Eat at home
Yes, it’s fun to explore new restaurants and bars (and they pop up like mushrooms in Mumbai) or to meet friends over a late night dinner buffet. I do that, too. But not every day. In fact, I limited it to 2-3 outside meals per week. Whether you cook yourself or you have a cook: eat at home! You can monitor the amount of oil used and you know the exact ingredients of your meal.
2. Meal Planning
It seems that meal planning is the #1 sport of housewives in the US (sorry, don’t take it personal!). You don’t have to go all fancy and glittery but make sure you plan your meals for the week ahead. When you know what you will eat, you have fewer cravings for the non-scheduled food. When you are hungry, you know what you will eat and you won’t reach out to unhealthy snacks or order deep-fried stuff from nearby.
3. Buy/Order groceries once a week (but never when you are hungry)
This one goes hand-in-hand with meal planning. Buy or order your groceries once a week to ensure you have all ingredients for your meals at home. It also helps you not to buy random food that you don’t need (a.k.a. all the unhealthy and deep-fried stuff).
Bonus Tip: Never buy or order groceries when you are hungry.
4. Start the day with your favorite food and put a picture of it on Instagram
Sounds funny but it definitely helps. Starting your day with your favorite food (remember #HealthyIsDelicious –so you must choose a healthy favorite food) makes you feel happy about eating and encourages you to stick to healthy eating habits throughout the day.
Also make sure you present your omelette, fruit salad or muesli in a beautiful way (restaurant style!) and click a pic. Post that photo on Instagram or any other social media –that will hold you accountable as your friends, family and followers will comment about your delicious (and healthy 🙂 ) meal and will expect more such pictures in the future.
5. Snacking on real food
And if you have a craving or feel hungry in between meals, make sure you snack real food. Cut some carrots, mix a quick dip (curd, salt, pepper, chili powder) and enjoy your snack. Or make a quick fruit salad with an apple, banana or any other fruits you have at home. If you need a snack during office hours, make sure you prepare your snacks and carry them to office just like your lunch box.
6. Eating out (the right way)
I said it earlier –I love exploring new eateries in Mumbai or to meet my friends over brunch or dinner at restaurants. And that’s okay as long as you don’t eat out all day every day. When at a restaurant, I suggest you go for the healthier options like grilled, steamed and baked instead of the deep-fried chicken wings. Soups and salads are great options as well.
I personally love South-East-Asian cuisine and steamed dumplings or sushi are great ways to skip the cheesy pizza or creamy pasta. Also, I enjoy fruits as dessert (Call out to all restaurants: Add more healthy desserts to your menu. Baked bananas, chocolate-dipped strawberries, mango yogurt parfait, fruit salads… There are so many options.)
7. Resign the alcohol (at least for some time)
I don’t want to be a party pooper but skip the alcohol. You probably knew that your liver handles your alcohol intake. Think Detoxing. Well, think again. What do you think your liver will do with all the alcohol you consume and it is cleaning out of your system? Well, it converts the alcohol into an energy source and properly stores it away for future use. Means: Your alcohol is stored away as fat.
So try to resist the next shot or cocktail. And if you really want to drink, try going for some healthier options such as ONE glass of red wine (Organic red wine has beneficial antioxidants if consumed in moderation) or ONE bottle of beer (Organic low-alcoholic beers have great anti-cancer properties).
8. Don’t drink your calories.
You may think, if I can’t drink alcohol, I’ll go for a coke. Please don’t! Skip all kind of soft drinks as they can trigger many weight-related diseases, including diabetes, metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular risk factors, and elevated blood pressure. Instead: Drink water. I know it sounds old-school but it is so good. There are hundreds of ways to jazz up your water and make it taste even more exciting than a cocktail: Add fresh mint, ginger, orange or lemon slices, even basil and cucumber.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 🙂
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.
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… 😉
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!).