Friday, February 17, 2006

A Perfect Sunday Afternoon

I have to tell you this:

(The phrase "I have to tell you this" is copyrighted by Aditi Herwadkar of Cleveland, Ohio. Every time "I have to tell you this" comes from Aditi, we know that some interesting story is coming up. Since last Sunday Afternoon was Aditi's plan; this had to start with "I have to tell you this". And it started just like that... Anyways...)

Last Sunday, Aditi felt like putting up chef's hat, and making her trademark Goan / Saraswat shrimp curry with white rice. She wanted some company to enjoy this delicacy, and since there are very few 'fish fanatics' (I am one of them. For me, fresh fish comes first, then chicken, then lamb, etc.), we were invited.

I woke up at noon, and it was snowing heavily at that time. It somehow felt very nice to see some fresh crispy snow after so many days. I had a voicemail from Meghna, asking me to be ready by 1.00 pm. Gautam and Amita were to join us at Aditi's place.

I made some Irish creme flavored coffee for myself, and stepped out in the balcony to enjoy some snow. It was not so cold, but was windy, and somehow felt very nice. I was simultaneously planning my day as well; it was supposed to be just an afternoon lunch at Aditi's place. So potentially the day was open for me.

Anyways, we all reached Aditi's place at 1.30 pm. I could smell coconut curry as soon as I entered the apartment. Food was ready, and without further delay, we latched on food. The menu was simple: coconut-shrimp curry (made with coconut milk, green chili, salt, shrimp. No red chili or tomato etc), mussels with green chutney / coconut stuffing, and white rice. We had some nice wine to go with that. ( It was Blue Marlin- Shiraz; one of my favourite ones). And we had some deliciously royal Baklawa as dessert.

Food was simply Divine. We kept eating till food was over. Of course, the topic of discussion was fish and food. Hot white rice, and some very well made fish curry is worth more than a million dollars. I probably wont be able explain my feelings here. Only true fish lovers will know it. But I had very satisfied expression on my face all the while.

After the hearty lunch, we were all set to go in the "hibernate" mode, but Dr. Gautam Shetty proposed a visit to Cleveland Botanical Garden. Unfortunately for us, and fortunately for him, Gautam is about to leave Cleveland to pursue a more lucrative career after spending 5.5 years here. He had never been to this place, it was on his to do list. It was a tempting offer, and even though it was cold outside, we decided to do it.

Cleveland Botanical Garden features a Glasshouse, which is a world in itself; a world of beauty and wonder. Its a crystal-peaked conservatory that beckons visitors to explore two of the world's most fragile and fascinating ecosystems: featuring the flora and fauna of two diverse and contrasting environments: the spiny desert of Madagascar and the cloud forest of Costa Rica. It features more than 350 exotic plants and more than 50 butterflies, insects, birds and other animals.

Both houses have been excellently maintained and give a perfect experience of a hot, humid tropical weather. One could see all the hard work that was put to made somethings as wonderful as that. It perfectly felt like a humid monsoon day in a jungle somewhere in Sahyadri, with that particular aroma filling up the space, all kinds of creatures showing the richness of nature, and some very specific tropical things that one doesn't get in the US. What mesmerised me was the fact that it was all snow and cold outside; and perfectly sunny and warm inside.

It was a very special experience to be at the glasshouse. It was beautiful, and yet quiet. I am actually planning to go there for studying once summer starts. It somehow feels nice to be there, may be because I am used to hot and humid India.

I will remember this Sunday Afternoon for Aditi's shrimp curry, and the world of Madagascar and Costa Rica.

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