My First Time at the Quebec Winter Carnival

We are back after a few days in Canada. We have taken a little delay in writing our blog so today we take you back by two months to plunge back into the heart of winter. During the first weekend of February we decided to go live the Quebec winter carnival experience. This is apparently a highlight of the Quebec winter. It was therefore the occasion for a trip between friends for a festive weekend.

We rent a van and take the road from Toronto at 8 on Friday morning because the trip is very long, between 8:30 and 9h which across Canada is nothing at all! After braving the elements, we arrive in Quebec and on the advice of our friend we stop for eating a poutine. It was the first and also the last time! But we have to eat well and at this time there is not much left open. We then return to our hotel room to get us off the road and rest before starting our carnival weekend!

Quebec Winter Carnival

Day 1 in Quebec

On this Saturday morning, it is cold and it is well covered in ice. We start towards old Quebec to begin our winter journey. It is with joy that we find the atmosphere of the old city and its fortifications, the Chateau Frontenac. In short, it is here that Quebec was born!

We start by buying the carnival efigie that will allow us to enjoy all the activities offered during the weekend. Here we are on a slide course, ice sculptures and ice stamps on the ice, a whole program! We start with the slide of the Chateau Frontenac to put us in the leg and despite the intense cold the experience is very nice. We must quickly get warm before continuing because the day will be long!

We then continue our walk in the streets of Quebec where we come across several ice bars and braziers installed nearby. The atmosphere is really nice! We head to the Bonhomme palace, the carnival king, carved in the ice and really very impressive. I donned my sash and thoroughly immersed in all the clichés associated with the event.

Many other sculptures come to decorate our visit including the famous iron throne of the famous Game of Thrones series. The fans are noticeable right away! It's still cold, if not longer, and we need to warm up again. A good hot chocolate at a cafe is needed!

We have a strong will to get out of our cozy nest and go back to brave the cold! But we still have to win the Plains of Abraham. After some photos and big hugs to Bonhomme, we left the Loto Zone to go to the Plains of Abraham, which are part of the Battlefields Park, theater of the short but fierce battle between French and British in 1759.

It hosts the bulk of activities including many slips on large buoys, car stamps and sculptures from around the world and a spa! You can also skate, compete with snowballs, take a little sleigh ride, participate in a giant bowling game, or learn to snowboard.

Although tempting we did not want to dare the experience, as it is really too cold for us. We are content to hit some slopes which is already worth many laughs. The night falls on Quebec and the decorations are illuminated which makes the place even more magical. We would forget (almost) the cold! Then it's time to set off the carnival parade.

We head immediately to the Sugar Shack at the entrance of the village, to enjoy our first maple taffy. The maple syrup is heated, then poured over the compacted snow, in strips aligned side by side. With our little wooden spatulas, we just need to wrap the delicious sweet stuff around the stick, and we feast on a typical Quebec lollipop!

Quebec Winter Carnival

Day 2 in Quebec

The next morning we decide to stop at Montmorency Falls. These are 83 meters high, making them the tallest in Quebec and although much smaller, they are taller than Niagara Falls! The frozen falls show (but not completely either) is amazing and we take a closer look at them as we walk on the frozen lake that surrounds them.

We even see some daring men climbing the wall of ice that forms in winter. It is even colder than watching it and we decide not to go back to downtown Quebec City because today another event awaits us. We take part in a canoe race on the St. Lawrence, caught in the ice of course!

Again we find the way to arrive late and we miss the start of the race but fortunately for us it works on a system of delayed starts. So we can still attend the entry in the running of some teams. This is a very impressive and dangerous sport. It requires great coordination because all the crew members have to advance at the same rate on the ice before rushing into the part of the river that is cleared.

We witness a man slip on the ice and bangs his head hard enough and is then evacuated on a stretcher. The race is very physical that's why we take our hat to some feminine crews who do not demerit absolutely! Before heading back to Montreal, we decided to make a last lap on the Plains of Abraham to test new slips and especially the buffer cars that intrigue us a lot since the beginning.

But in the end it is not very impressive because we spend most of the time trying to control his gear and do more of everything on himself than anything else! We end the carnival by raising my glass of caribou scented with clove, cinnamon, nutmeg to warm up.

We leave at the end of the afternoon and it will take us nearly 4 hours to overcome the terrible traffic conditions to Montreal. There is snow, and ice on the highway and it is midnight when we finally take the plunge at the bed!

Christmas on the Winter Goa Beach

I love to escape the winter at Christmas. Then I do not have to cook or decorate a Christmas tree or buy any gift. I also like to travel in winter, as then the weather in the native climes slowly gets dull and dark. This usually starts in November. The darkness bothers me and then the gray and drizzly weather! That makes me tired. I want to go to the light! Where to travel? This time I decided to go to southern India in Goa.

Just in time for Christmas, I flew to Goa. When I completed my 300-kilometer trek around the Annapurna Mountains, I spontaneously booked a flight to Goa on the 24th of December. The prospect of sun, warmth and beach party after the cold in the mountains seemed very tempting. To avoid unnecessary transfers and long waiting times, I have chosen a non-stop flight.

Christmas Decor

Day 1

We reach the small Dabolim airport in the morning. And so I landed in Goa on Christmas Eve, exchanging the 7 degrees cold in Kathmandu for the 30 degrees warm beach of Candolim. After a full hour, we leave the airport with our luggage. Our transfer bus takes us to the hotel in Candolim in 45 minutes. In the light of the day, waiting taxis and a service counter comes to my attention.

Nevertheless, I'm glad to have a pre-booked shuttle. I was surprised by the Christmas decoration that laughed at me in Goa from all sides. I did not expect that, because there was hardly anything to see in Nepal. But Goa was once a Portuguese colony and probably has a high proportion of Christians because of this, so Christmas is a big deal here.

I stayed for a day in the hostel. We are in the pre-Christmas time in Goa. In the afternoon, the hotel invites us to bake a joint cake. That sounds exciting. Large quantities of nuts and dried fruits pile up on a large table in the hotel lobby. Another table abounds with alcohol like rum and brandy. The cake gets a treat! Equipped with plastic gloves and chef's hats, the cheerful mixing of ingredients begins.

Next to me, an Australian, Scandinavian and Englishman mix with me. This will be a typical English Christmas cake! Afterward there is coffee, tea, and biscuits for all the hard-working helpers! In the lobby, the Christmas tree glitters. Christmas music is playing. At almost 30 degrees heat, it seems a bit strange. I am missing only the White Christmas by Bing Crosby!

At 0 o'clock I actually wanted to watch a midnight mass. When I found none, I strayed to the beach. I noticed that on Goa the change from 24 to 25 December is more like New Year's Eve, namely with rattling fireworks. Anyone who was up to something started firing, which was explosive enough to think that World War III had begun. We are quite tired and fall into bed at about 4 o'clock in the morning.

Day 2

When I stood in the supermarket the next morning, I saw things that I had not seen for months. There is dark bread, cheese, and pork sausages and yes the beer! So I bought my dignified holiday feast.

At the entrance of the beach are small booths to buy missing items like towels or souvenirs. The dealers are pretty quiet. They are only allowed to sell in front of the beach so as not to bother the bathers.

The beach is wide with fine sand. What I miss for a really picturesque beach are palm trees or shady trees. Beach shacks and small restaurants line the beach and provide sunbeds for a fee. The ocean current is very strong. A walk along the rushing sea leads to the beach of Sinquerim and the first towers of Aguada Fort in the south. On this site, the beach is also made with palm trees. Toward the north, the beach merges seamlessly with Calangute Beach.

The decision to fly to the beach was definitely the right one. In Nepal, after my trekking tours, I always had the urge to go somewhere. At the moment this urge is completely gone and everything is super relaxing. My life is now in eating, lying on the beach, swimming and drinking beer.

In the late afternoon, I go along the main road with small side streets in both directions. There are souvenir and clothing shops of all kinds, as well as small supermarkets. The restaurants offer Indian and international cuisine. The menus are in Russian too. The bars invite for a delicious beer.

Candolim is firmly in the hands of package tourists. What I had not considered in my spontaneous Goa flight booking, was that the time shortly after Christmas to New Year is the absolute peak season. Although the time of the hippies and their music is long gone in many places parties and techno music has replaced them.

At the end of December, during Sunburn festival hundreds of visitors come here. The room rates rise three to four times and it is increasingly stressful. Especially Anjuna, Baga Beach and Calangute are said to be very crowded. So I moved to the quieter Benaulim in South Goa that night.

Day 3

Next day I drive to Gokarna, a coastal town in Karnataka, where it should be a bit cooler. There I want to spend the New Year's Eve on the beach.

A Week in Sagar Island and Bakkhali during Gangasagar Mela

After days in Calcutta, we really want to rest at the beach. We decide on Bakkhali, a small seaside resort at the southwestern end of the Sundarbans. Today we plan our departure for Sagar Island and the Sundarbans. For now we inquire about the price of a taxi to Kakdwip and Hartwood Point, the pier for Sagar.

At 10 am we leave the city for a dive into rural India. The countryside of Bengal is generous and green, with water galore, banana trees and bright green rice fields. At 1 o'clock our taxi leaves us four kilometers from the pier for the Sagar island. We walk on foot with luggage, then a van rickshaw and the last mile with the crowd of pilgrims who are starting to arrive.

We board a boat. On board the groups sing, throw offerings to the river. In the distance the Sagar island emerges. After disembarking we walk to the sound of the speakers that broadcast music and announcements in Bengali. On all faces there is joy and smile. Pilgrims piled in buses travel the last 25 kilometers through a beautiful landscape with small farms sheltered by trees, each with a small pond full of fish.

Before two days of the sacred bath the place of the Gangasagar Mela is already well populated and it will be difficult to find accommodation. The hotel that we booked through the internet is of course requisitioned by the senior officers of the army, and the hostel too. Most pilgrims will sleep on the beach in tents of fortune made of plastic or in large tents installed by ashrams, sects, associations or religious groups.

It is in one of them that we find a space of four walls in tarpaulin with a mattress of jute enclosing straw on the ground. We are offered a badge with the room number and a meal voucher in exchange for a deposit of hundred rupees. Sitting at a table behind a plate of braided tree leaves, the volunteers hurry to feed us. Here the luggage is safe, as the surveillance is well done. Our hosts are extremely nice and worry constantly that we do not miss anything.

To reach the seaside just before the night we have to walk another 2 kms in a crowd that grows by the hour. In a soft and unreal light from a light mist, some pilgrims bathe, others do the aarti, the evening prayer by lighting small oil lamps. At 7 we settle in our little nest. There is no switch to turn off the neon lights and the speakers continue to scream religious texts.

A Week in Sagar Island and Bakkhali during Gangasagar Mela

Day 2

The loudspeakers shut down around 1 in the morning. The generator and the neon light as expected did not stop. We slept intermittently. At dawn the diesel generator go silent but the amplified music to the limit of saturation returns.

We resume our pilgrimage in the crowd. The paths leading to the sea begin to fill up. The anthill moves with a smile hanging on the ears! Strong emotions overwhelm us by bathing in this multitude of people. Near the Kapil muni ashram temple volunteers manages the long line of devotees. The small temple is colored with bright and acid tints.

We go back to the sea, and take a stop at the chai shop for lunch. The sea is high at this time. The pilgrims splash and immerse themselves three times then they dry their saris in the warm wind. The group of sadhus cross each other, greet each other, plant their tridents in the sand, sing but hide to smoke the ganja. They let themselves be photographed.

We see a couple of German photographers with heavy cameras and prying zooms. I feel better with my old dslr. We go back to the two-way street. Back at our lodging, we are offered a meal again. In the tent temple a ceremony is held and where three musicians play and sing the epic of Ramayana.

At the tent our companions take a nap despite the ambient din. I take the opportunity to find a bucket that I fill with water from a pond and wash and rinse completely with happiness. We go to the village to try to find some peace because around our accommodation there are few other ashrams including ISKCON that all compete to attract the pilgrims.

Since the beginning of the afternoon the Sangam is constantly filled. People from rural Bengal fill the place. We arrive at the south-east end of the beach and we see a panoramic view of the landscape. Here the speakers are far and we find ourselves in a quiet atmosphere with the approaching evening.

Going towards the center of Sangam we realize that pilgrims settle to sleep under the stars on the dry sand. With the mauve night that comes the lamps of the Ganga Aarti light up here and there. Groups continue to flock to prepare for the holy bath that officially begins tomorrow from precisely when the sun goes into makara or capricorn.

We go together with the human tide. At the ashram a Shiva devotee constantly sings accompanied by a cymbal. Entering our room we find that some luggage has come to occupy a little surface. A cheerful volunteer organizer tells us that this room is for seven people. In these nine square meters it will not be cold tonight.

An obese couple burst into the room. We go to the kitchen of the ashram. People cook vegetables and rice in large pots. The atmosphere is nice. At the time of going to bed the sound continues screaming the Ramayana and it will last all night on a background of diesel generators.

Day 3

Around 7 o'clock we go out of our tent. Yesterday, we spoke of human tide but this morning nobody can imagine the size of the mass. We get the impression that people from entire India has come for this great rendezvous with the Sun and the Ganges.

It takes us an hour and a half to reach the sea. At the top of the beach we do not believe our eyes as the sand has disappeared to make room for the crowd. The fervor is enormous. Moving away to the southeast of the beach, we find a slightly less populated lane that allows us to climb gently towards the ashram.

At noon it's time for us to leave the sangam. The incessant noise make us not to stay longer. We aspire a little calmness and we refuse to spend another night in this noise. With our bag on the back, we leave. It may not be the right time. It would probably have been better to wait a day or two after the departure of the pilgrims but the decision is made to go to Namkhana.

We climb a crowded bus. To go the last kilometer separating us from the ferries it take us four hours of trampling. The mass increases. Fortunately every hundred meters the security aided by the army imposes a bar to manage the mass. Finally we arrive at the last barrier. It becomes really dangerous.

Once on board we breathe easy. The ferry enters a long channel edged with mud and enters the wide estuary. At night we disembark at Namkhana. The small town also lives to the rhythm of the town. The first hotel is a 10 minutes walk but is full. The young receptionist sends us to three other guest houses. We take a rickshaw van.

The second hotel is also full and this time the young receptionist offers to help us find a cottage. Three steps away a hotel offers us its so-called single room. We have no choice nor the courage to go back in search of a hypothetical good room. We go back to the street to eat a pancake with a fried egg and a few small sweet bananas. We buy shampoo, a candle and mineral water.

A shower with a little cold relaxes the fatigue. The calmness is finally here. At 11 o'clock a good rain falls on Namkhana. We think of our friends under the tent of the ashram, and all the pilgrims on the road and think that we finally got well out.

Day 4

The hotel manager suggests us to go to Bakkhali further south by providing us with a list of hotels with their phone numbers. We have our brunch with chicken curry and rice. We go for a walk to the place called Namdabanga, and find the brick-paved path coming out of the city center to the northwest. For a good hour the ride is superb. First the suburbs pass through a fishing village where we find women seated under the veranda of small mud houses, fiddling the nets.

We meet the locals whose smile freezes when they see us. It is clear that tourists do not often come to Namkhana. Through the continuous path in the shade of tall palm trees and coconut trees we see glimpses of the river. Small farms in soft and rounded land mark out the course. The end of the path opens on the bright and blazing estuary. A bamboo tag with a green cloth marks the entrance to the channel.

On the way back we take photographs. Children have fun to see their faces on the screen of the digital camera. We stop to see this moment of simple happiness. Once in town we see that a good part of the mela landed in Namkhana.

In the afternoon we take the path to the south which is actually a dam to protect tides. Most of the cultivable areas are below sea level. These dikes are well maintained and it would be a disaster for the peasants if the salt water penetrated.

We depart for Bakkhali. We take a boat to cross the channel, with about twenty passengers sitting on the plating. After venting from shore, the pilot starts an ancestral diesel single cylinder without clutch. The boarding maneuver on the other side is done with finesse thanks to a string that stifles the engine to the limit of extinction.

We climb in a mini bus painted as tiger skin to cross the 20 kilometers that separates us from Bakkhali. On the outskirts of the village we see some big hotels for rich tourists. On arrival we discuss with the driver around a tea. A sign indicates a Bengal Tourism Bungalow. The manager greets us in the big hall that sounds and announces that it only accepts customers who booked at the tourist office located at BBD Bagh. He makes us visit a small guest house rather basic and dark.

Towards the beach a restaurant attracts us. We have chicken, rice, vegetables, kingfish, shrimp and the grilled pomfret. This little exotic fish is succulent. Walking on the big beach, the air is wet facing the Bay of Bengal. We go for a dip in the refreshing water, very salty. We approach, at the end of the beach. There is a hamlet, fish driers, women sorting shrimp and fishermen unloading their nets.

Back to the village, a huge structure of bamboo as a cathedral is installed on the sand. A man and his son offer tourists a shooting range, a wooden horse ride and a rudimentary big wheel with four wooden pods, all operated by hand with many squeaks. The sun forms a beautiful red ball that sinks into the misty horizon. After a meal in the room, we go to bed at 11:15 pm.

Day 5

We go into the countryside. When we turn around a rickshaw man offers us a two-hour tour with a visit to a government tiger shrimp farm and the Frasergunj port. Sitting on the tricycle, we shake like a plum tree because the road is paved with bricks. We admire the rural landscape that we have often seen through the window of a train or a bus with the frustration of not being able to stop.

The shrimp farm consists of about thirty large pools like a football field, located in the middle of the mangrove! We go on the road for half an hour through the rice fields and small hamlets. The Frasergunj port with a concrete jetty houses a flotilla of about twenty fishing boats ranging from the sailing canoe to the small trawler, an ice factory and warehouses.

Fishermen near their boats unravel small fish that will be frozen or dried to go to Calcutta or exported. We go back to Bakkhali where we ordered chingri malaikari for lunch. They are cooked in coconut milk, and it's a treat. Around 4 o'clock, we take a walk on the beach. One of the great bamboo cathedrals was completely dismantled and loaded into tipper trucks bound for Calcutta.

At sunset we sip tea before the sun diving in the Bay of Bengal. Life is beautiful! Tomorrow a bus day awaits you with three or four changes to reach the village of Sona to the north half way to Calcutta.

Trip to Vienne Jazz Festival in France

Music erupts as summer dawns in France and Europe. Among the hundreds of cultural festivals, I'll talk about one that honors an enveloping and sensual rhythm called Jazz! The Jazz festival at Vienne in France is one of the most important meetings of world jazz. Some say it is etymologically a derivation of the word 'jasm' which in turn comes from the slang 'Jism' or 'gism' but also used as a synonym for energy or guts. However, other scholars believe that its origin is in the popular French Lousiana state in the verb 'jaser'. It means chat, gossip or mock.

The city of Vienne in France has a rich Roman history, from which several imposing ruins can be seen walking the streets. One of the monuments is the impressive Roman theater, which is the main stage of the open air jazz music event. I assure the environment has a magic that makes music mixed with live jazz with a lot of emotion.

Thus the leading exponents of jazz attend every year in late June for 15 days. They forget about the cold days of European winter and celebrate the arrival of summer with gentle rhythms.

The nights of the festival in Vienne can easily pass between musical euphoria and hypnotic calm, between rhythms as blues, jazz and RnB. However the opening concerts have other melodies and sounds like salsa, Cuban and African sounds. The result is a kind of rhythmic and sensual fusion invites welfare.

Vienne Jazz Festival in France

But the event is not limited to the concerts in the great Roman theater. Several platforms located in gardens and parks provide an opportunity to appreciate and live jazz for free and even beyond midnight. For all this the city of Vienne and its festival, are the perfect excuse to enjoy and to enrich themselves with music, while the beauty of the architecture and history of the city can be seen.

The concerts in the Roman theater has a cost of 40 euros on average. The concerts in parks and gardens of the city are held in the afternoon and after midnight. These are free. The city of Vienne is 20 minutes from the city of Lyon and on the banks of the Rhone River.

There is no doubt that the tour of the origin of the word 'jazz' is infinite and somewhat daunting. Real consensus may never be there. It could have served as the perfect soundtrack for any jazz-belle of the French Quarter while her body smelled of jasmine.

In the early twentieth century, Storyville was one of the hottest spots in New Orleans. At nightfall, emerged a new city, a suffocating atmosphere of vice and perdition where drunkards, whores and pimps intermingled. Illicit pleasures emerged with the first moonbeams and merged with flashes of neon lights. The 'bordellos' multiplied by every corner.

There were a lot of customers, but also a lot of competition. The narrow streets of the unpaved red district, lit only by the dim light of gas lamps became a hotbed of people. When it rained or sea level rose, it smeared all. In an attempt to counteract stinky (and noisy) and more marshy area of the city, and to set the mood for the hogging candidates, prostitutes started using a fragrance of jasmine. Already popular in certain environments were known as jazz-belles.

The customer who left the brothel, still imbued with the scent of jasmine and passion, was said to be "jassed". For the musicians who played the piano in those brothels had to inspire the dances of harlots and satisfy the male staff. Even brothel owners, at the door of their stores advertised those musicians on large signs saying 'Jass music', in order to draw the attention of passersby. Some naughty boys took care of erasing the 'j' initial for it to stay as 'ass music', a fact that forced the owners to replace it definitely with the word jazz.

Among the many theories that attempt to explain the origin of the word 'jazz', the perfume of jasmine perhaps is the most unlikely, but at the same time one of the most captivating and sensual. In general thesis that refer to decadent character of the city it is less consistent, the most fanciful, or even the craziest, but they are also the most surprising and innovative. Because after all, something that was born there in the brothels of Storyville, why it could not take its name there?

It is true that none of the pioneering black musicians admits to having heard the term 'jazz' in the city during those early years. They all spoke of ragtime. There is also inconclusive testimonial evidence. The evidence is scarce and authors that defend it are almost outcasts. But as jazz music does not become mathematical or physical theories are found to catalog Louis Armstrong solos, any version is, at least, noteworthy.

In addition, most passes tangentially through New Orleans. They cite especially Chicago, New York, to Los Angeles or Atlantic City but do not stop at the real focus where jazz was born. At the time we also talked about the trio of sex, alcohol and jazz and played the importance of brothels and other dives for the emergence and development of style. Perhaps without that sinful background, jazz would not have been what it is. Who knows. Well, it is in those bawdy brothels where theories that speak of sexual origin of the word 'jazz'.

It seems that 'jazz' before 1900 already had a strong sexual charge. It could be a verb or noun. In the popular slang, it meant sexual intercourse. Southern blacks used it as a substitute for copulation.

Vienne Jazz Festival in France

Africa and other exotic theories

Some musicians speak of an African root, where the word 'jasi' means living apace. We find more experts delve into the transatlantic theories to explain the origin. In the Gulf of Guinea, in West Africa, the word ' jaz ' has the sense of fast things. It was also the term to refer to dance or play music and could illustrate a possible descent of onomatopoeic sound from African drums.

In connection with this theory are reminiscences of Arabic 'Jazib' and by extension ' jazibiyah' which refers to charm, beauty or attractiveness. In the Hindustani language the word 'Jazba' expresses a violent desire. In opposition to that interpretation are those who believe that 'jazz' comes from a corruption of 'Jezebel' fomented by black preachers.

One of the most outlandish theories was published in 1920 in the London magazine and establishes a divine explanation. English sailors from 17th century, collected the word 'God' from Portuguese and brought their Indian colonies and from there spread to China. The peculiar pronunciation of the Chinese became 'Joss', a term used with a strong religious sense.

When the Chinese migrated to California in the last decade of the 19th century they introduced it in the country. San Francisco was founded as the 'Frisco Chinatown Orchestra Joss' that caused a furor among blacks in the area. The Joss Orchestra in the slang of black resulted in the 'Jazz Orchestra'.

Although there seems to be some unanimity that 'jazz' as a musical term arose in New Orleans, the first applications took place in Chicago, although this issue is not without controversy. In 1915 the Chicago Daily Tribune published an article. Conversely, some argue that the first use was in New Orleans in 1914 in connection with the performance of the Original Dixieland Jazz Band at the Casino.

In this struggle to be first, also comes trombonist Tom Brown, who claims his place in history even in his epitaph- as the first musician to be hired as a 'Jass Band', but also in the race enters the banjo player and bandleader Bert Kelly. Whoever may be the first it is not until 1915 the word became popular among Americans.

In the 20 alternative names of 'jazz' such as 'ragtonia' or 'calethumpia' even came to enjoy the favor of musicians. Fortunately, none came to fruition.

My Workspace: Microsoft Presents New Office 365 Toolbar for macOS

Microsoft garage Toolbar App My Workspace synced Office 365 with the Apple macOS. It offers an easy calendar overview access to MS office documents and files on OneDrive. The optional installable app can get placed in the toolbar area of macOS. My Workspace displays a chronological list of recent files.

It is like the DropBox or OneNote app. Especially important files can get pinned and displayed in a list available per tab. This is especially useful for anyone who opens a large number of documents in a short time. They have quick access to the most important project data. A split function is also built into My Workspace. It allows access to individual files by a link.

Outlook calendar in the snippet

The built-in, scrollable mini-calendar view should be practical for the office work. You can see the appointments and tasks of the next hours without opening Outlook itself. From there, you can also answer invitations at the push of a button. You can start scheduled Skype meetings. A quick starter at the bottom opens individual office apps.

How many items get displayed in the file list or calendar can be set in My Workplace options. Depending on what you select there, the menu that gets displayed from the top of the screen is larger or smaller.

Creative project of Microsoft Garage

My Workplace gets developed by a group of Microsoft employees. It is within the framework of the so-called Microsoft Garage. In this respect, this is not an Office-Mac enhancement developed by the Office team. It is an independent project. Microsoft Garage released an extension with Speech Recognition program for the Windows Office.

Adobe Sign

Adobe Sign allows for secure digital signatures in electronic documents in Office 365. In return, Adobe makes Microsoft Azure the preferred cloud platform.

Microsoft has integrated the electronic signature solution Adobe Sign in Office 365. Documents in Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Outlook can get signed with Adobe Sign. This works according to Microsoft over all device classes and platforms. The signed files fulfill the requirements of handwritten documents.

The two companies are making announcements from the past year. The goal is a deep and diverse integration of the respective product offerings. Adobe Dynamics 365 and Microsoft SharePoint, Adobe Sign has been available since March.

In the course, the integration of Adobe Sign into Microsoft teams will also follow. It then facilitates the complete electronic exchange of documents. It thus reduces the duration of approval processes in companies.

For this, the Adobe Sign-App in Microsoft teams will offer a tab to sign documents. Through a bot, team members can manage and keep documents. When these functions are available is not yet clear.

Adobe will also integrate Adobe Sign into Microsoft Flow. The signature solution allows you to create your own workflows. The integration of Adobe Sign and Microsoft Flow gets to other Microsoft products. It includes SharePoint, Dynamics, and OneDrive, in the coming months.

Microsoft teams also gets linked to the Adobe Experience Cloud.

Christmas Wedding Trip to Folegandros in Greece

About a month ago, I went on a week-long trip to the Cyclades with two islands on the program - Folegandros and Santorini. I did not know these islands at all, and in the case of Folegandros I had never even heard the name. In fact, I went to attend the Christmas wedding in Greece of a friend, and I took advantage of this trip to have a vacation.

It's probably not going to be a big surprise, I really enjoyed it during this trip. I tasted better versions of dishes that I already knew, but I also made many culinary discoveries. In this article, I will tell you about all these finds.

For those who would like to go on a similar trip, I have prepared a itinerary, based on my personal experiences to give you an idea of ​​what to do and what to eat. But before that, I want to thank my friends who invited me to their Christmas wedding in Greece. Without it I would not have discovered this hidden Cycladic treasure.

As Folegandros does not have an airport, the only way to reach the island is by boat. You can either go to Santorini by plane and take a ferry (about 1 hour ride with speedboats), or take a boat from the port of Athens, Piraeus.

These small extra trips obviously waste some time, but it's well worth it. It's also why Folegandros is quieter and untouched by tourism than some other Greek islands.

Approaching the port of Folegandros, you will be fascinated by its pristine beauty. This island is the perfect destination for relaxation and escape. There is not much more to do than "chill" under the winter sun and hike.

The best choice for comfortable accommodation is to stay in the main village of the island, Chora. Set on a clifftop, many resorts offer spectacular views of the Aegean Sea. And as the island is not the most touristic of the Cyclades, the price of accommodation is very reasonable. By the way, forget about Airbnb.


Arriving at the port of Karavostasis, it seems that apart from this small port there is nothing else on this island. But do not worry, there is more. It appears that the main village of the island, Chora, was intentionally built out of sight to avoid pirate raids. It is a strategic position that has helped to ensure its flawless preservation.

To go to Chora we take the bus from the city (Chora is the only destination of the bus that leaves from the port). The bus leaves everyone at the entrance of the village because access is prohibited to motor vehicles.

Chora is a white and very picturesque Cycladic village, full of stairs and narrow paths. It is perched 200 meters high, overlooking the Aegean Sea.

The island of Folegandros, like the other Greek islands, has a variety of local specialties that are worth trying. From Chora, to Ano Meria and the picturesque village of Agali we find many traditional taverns serving Greek and Cycladic specialties. The Kalasouna for example is a typical Folegandros cheese pie made with sorouto cheese and onions. As a dessert, we taste the Karpouzenia, a traditional sweet pie made of watermelon, honey and sesame.

For my first day on the island, I did not look too much. I stopped on one of the most beautiful squares of the village, at the Dounavi Square, to eat at the restaurant. I could not decide on a dish, so I decided to take two entrees with roasted summer vegetables and stuffed vine leaves, served with Tzatziki. It was really delicious and at the same time very simple and light.

After lunch, I tried to get lost in the alley. The most beautiful part of Chora that I could see was the Kastro, a set of alleys just off Dounavi Square. Kastro is the oldest part of Chora and has been inhabited continuously since its creation. Some of the houses are over 1000 years old and are surprisingly maintained in very good condition.

The three main plazas of Chora fill up after sunset, while locals and tourists dine under ceilings of bougainvilleas and festive hibiscus.

I had dinner on one of the places in the restaurant. I would have liked to take some of their vegetable gratin that seemed delicious, but it was a victim of its success and out of stock. I then took a dish with different vegetable stuffed vegetables. It was really good. I also had a bowl of tzatziki while waiting for my meal which was really good too. The special thing about this restaurant was that they had quite a few vegetarian and vegan dishes. In addition, everything was homemade.

Folegandros is ideal for hiking. The paths are deserted with sea and mountain views at the same time. Donkeys and goats come at times to give us company. To end this first day, I made a short walk (15 minutes) to the church of Panagia at the top of the hill overlooking the village. It was the perfect place to watch the sunset.

Folegandros Greece


Going west of the island, there are many small roads and trails to walk around. The landscape is arid and without trees, but still beautiful and welcoming. Many of the old donkey trails are preserved, the distances are short and it is almost impossible to get lost. Many hiking trails end with a beach or a small cove. To the west of the island is also Ano Meria one of the great villages of Folegandros. There is, I think, no accommodation for tourists in Ano Meria (or very little). So it's not bad to go see the real life here and to eat in a restaurant by locals.

At Folegandros, you will have to try Matsata, a traditional artisanal pasta. It's like noodles, but cooked immediately after preparation. They are not sold in stores, but you can find them in restaurants, where they are served either with a typical red sauce, or with braised meat, rooster or rabbit.

I tasted the Matsata at a restaurant in Ano Meria. It was a restaurant on the main road that seemed to be run by a family, ranging from grandchildren to grandparents. There was no map. All the dishes available were written on a sign at the entrance of rabbit, chicken or pigeon served with matsatas or fries. When we sit on the terrace we can see a dovecote and a henhouse behind the restaurant. This suggests, of course, that the meat comes directly from this place.

Returning to Chora by the main road, there is a sign indicating the path to a bakery. Curious, I followed this path to find the said bakery and buy me a small dessert. The Panifias bakery was very small and was actually part of a house. At first it seems like it's closed, but in fact we just wait for one of the family members who opens the bakery. In this bakery, we find mainly cookies, brioches, biscuits and pastelis.

For our penultimate evening, we were particularly spoiled. That evening, was the wedding party. While I had said several times during the day that I would have liked a pork dish for dinner (local food, par excellence). The whole pork is roasted as it is represented in the medieval banquets and there was precisely one on the wedding menu. As we approached to take a picture, the bride's sister came to us.

In the end, this day has been one of the most memorable. But what satisfaction to live this adventure in family and to have seen the children so enthusiastic in this environment!


For this third day I decided to go to discover the beaches of Folegandros. Some beaches are not far from Chora and can be reached on foot if you like to hike. The beach of Angali for example, which is an hour from Chora on foot. There are also buses leaving from Chora that go there twice a day.

Angali is tiny hamlet with a small beach and 2-3 restaurants. As often for beach restaurants, these are not great, but if you are really hungry after your hike, you will find something to eat. Or to cool off you can opt for a Greek coffee brew, a specialty found in all cafes and bars of the island.

As my stay in Folegandros was coming to an end, I tried to condense everything I had on my list last night: eat a good gyros and drink Rakomelo.

For the gyros I went to Maraki Square with a very small terrace that friends had recommended to me. It was the best Gyros I have ever eaten. In addition, the price was really very low. We order fries in this restaurant with mint sauce, and it's really good. We also try Greek sausages.

To end the evening in style, I went to drink a Rakomelo in a bar atmosphere, which I did not manage to know the name, because everything was written in Greek alphabet. I just remember it was not far from Kastro. The inhabitants of the village there watched a sort of incomprehensible game on TV.

So we get back to the Rakomelo. It's a drink that looks a bit like the grog. It's hot Raki honey, and it goes much better than the raw Raki. I also tasted ouzo. But I liked a little less. My third day at Folegandros ended with the discovery of a very good restaurant.

It is a restaurant of Chora, a little away from the main squares, with a small terrace, which nevertheless has a very special atmosphere, thanks to its jasmine and its many cats. The decor is simple but very tasteful. All dishes were interesting, Greek specialties with a modern touch. I took the sea bass (very fresh) with a bergamot sauce and I was delighted.

On the fourth day, we had to take the ferry to Santorini. Folegandros will definitely be on my top 10 favorite destinations. I recommend it to everyone, especially in late winter when the weather is just perfect and there are not too many people.

Tourism, IRCTC and Indian Railways

Indian Railways has shown remarkable improvements over the last few years. Special attention is now built on providing comfort for passengers. The railways have introduced some new trains. Indian Railways is coming up with a new strategy to make more use of ICT. This system will soon be introduced in all the tourist trains and railway coaches.

Indian railway is also making serious efforts to include professionalism in their flow and make some organizational reforms. Indian Railway Catering & Tourism Corporation Ltd or the IRCTC is the marketing wing of Indian Railways. It is currently working on some policies to accommodate private parties from the travel and tourism trade to participate in their joint venture.

The Indian Railways is the largest of its kind in the world consisting of a manpower force of about 1.5 million workers. This is also referred to as the lifeline of the country and makes a great contribution to the growing economy of the nation. The Indian railway promises safe and hassle-free journey to its passengers and at the most reasonable price. The tracks run in almost every corner of the country and are known for its inherent strength. More than 13 million passengers benefit from it every day directly from the rail system in India as it has a network of 6,800 km.

With more than 200,000 freight trains, about 50,000 coaches and 8000 locomotives, railways set of tracks cover the entire length and width of India. With more than 7,000 stations across the length of the route and more than 20 million passengers, Indian Railways became one of the largest and busiest rail networks in the world. It is not only the largest but also the money to gain more public sector in the country! Indian Railways include Southern Railways, Northern Railway, Western Railway and Eastern Railway, and more. The utility and convenience of Indian trains are noteworthy.

Trains like Rajdhani Express, Garib Rath Express, and Shatabdi Express have a proven track record to make the trip easier and more comfortable. Progressively such high-speed trains are capture most of the portion of no-frills airlines. They are able to provide a rapid, low cost and happy travel compared to other means of transport.

IRCTC is the body that manages the entire online ticket booking plinth of Indian Railways! All these attempts are made to promote tourism in the country. This establishment has taken place so that it can function as an extended arm of the Indian Railways. It aims to make Indian Railways more comfortable and also handle the food service and hospitality at the stations.

IRCTC also introduced some cheap hotels and special tour packages for the convenience of passengers. IRCTC has gone functional to effectively exploit the tourism and catering potential. A memorandum of understanding was signed between Indian Railways and IRCTC Ltd. to perform their functions.

IRCTC online portal is designed to provide a responsive user interface to book tickets to any destination in India. It also operates trains exclusively to all famous tourist and offers several packages that attract attention! On the login page, you will find an IRCTC login menu consisting of username and password. If you have registered to the IRCTC website, you can enter your username and password for logging. If you are a new user you have to sign up and register.

The beta version offers additional services such as e-ticket, Tatkal booking, cancellation, PNR status inquiry, and more. Passengers can also check their PNR status through SMS via fixed or mobile phone. All you have to do is send the 10-digit PNR number via SMS to 139. Or simply dial 139 from your phone and follow the instructions and get the current PNR status

Do you think, travel packages are offered only by airlines and road transport companies? Of course not! Avail the travel packages offered by Indian Railways and you will know the difference. It does not matter if you're a domestic or international tourist. You can grab a budget and deluxe package tours organized by IRCTC.

This wing of the Government of India also manages the catering, online ticketing operation, and other tourism-related activities of Indian Railways. Visit the IRCTC and get your railway booking done or plan your visit to the destination of your choice. If you want to visit the main tourist destinations across the country, book the package 'Bharat Darshan' offered by IRCTC. It is a popular tourist package for budget tourists.

Those who want sophistication in the services, facilities, living room, kitchen, etc. during the complete journey can choose to choose the package of luxury tourism. There are special trains dedicated to luxury tour packages in luxury.

These luxury trains run by Indian Railways have Palace on Wheels, Deccan Odyssey, Royal Orient Express, Royal Rajasthan on Wheels, Golden Chariot, and Buddhist circuit train. IRCTC also happens to be a partner in the light of the Maharajas' Express. Get pampered throughout the journey is what makes all the difference. Take a package of luxury and make your trip unforgettable!

Indian tourism is not only conventional. The fun and adventure lovers will appreciate the various packages offered by this tourism wing of the Indian Railways. Since wildlife trekking for water sports, you can choose one or all. You can also get your personalized tour according to your special requirements. Railway booking is facilitated not only the ticket but also online. Visit the official website of IRCTC for the same. You can also get a railway reservation done from your phone, even while on the move via GPRS or SMS.

Tips for Travelling with Children

There's one thing everyone would like to gladly do without when traveling is to avoid the unexpected and when among the travelers there are children, it threatens to make things more complicated even for the most relaxing trips from canceled airlines, delayed trains, unexpected illness, hotels that do not match the expectations. These are just some of the most commonly unexpected occurrences.

There are potentially explosive consequences if you are traveling with a child and on arrival, you realize that you have brought with you just a pacifier. Nothing wrong except that the object is a specific brand, which is quite impossible to find, which is the only way to appease the whims of your little despot and to sleep.

In reality, however, I think a lot of contingencies that can happen on the road with children are easily manageable with a little planning. Let's try to see how.


The first issues if you are traveling with children are the possible canceled flights or endless queues. Let's face it, missing the plane for any reason is never pleasant. In that case, the crucial point is certainly to hold off the irritation, but maybe a few tricks can help you avoid, where possible, the drawbacks.

Beware of coincidences: if your flight requires a change in schedule, consider that with a baby in tow everything could be much slower. So if there's an opportunity avoid the coincidences by the too tight timelines.

Dawn departures: often low-cost flights provide very early morning departures, which is not so easy to manage when there are children in tow and maybe the airport is not just around the house. In these cases, you might like to arrive the day before and stay overnight at the airport and take the opportunity to learn about a city that maybe you never thought.

Traffic: the long queues in the car can exhaust anyone, let alone children. In this case, the advice is the most trivial is if you can handle the departure intelligently avoid the days with red letters.

Entertainment: as not all contingencies are predictable always try to avoid the long wait. Carry something to eat and drink, books, small games and a couple of videos that will help you pass the time in the airport or at least a little.


Children from this point of view are punctual as a Swiss watch. Almost certainly they will fall ill just before a departure or just start to. In this case, the best thing is to always have the emergency drugs in hand while traveling, especially if you plan to do long distances in the air.

Another good habit is to try where possible to predict the future. Some examples. If all of your child's kindergarten class has had the intestinal virus, make the necessary incantations possible that he whacked it. Bring along your need to avoid having to run to the pharmacy. Obviously, in this case, a pre-check with the pediatrician can help.


Let's face it as everyone has happened to arrive at the hotel or maybe the house late at night and find something very different from what you expected. The most classic chaos that happens in truth is to find a not very clean facility. In this case, it is not possible to resolve the situation and in another way, a good solution is to have packed some sanitizing towelette, a couple of towels.

Needless to say, it, to leave with a child in full tantrum phase bringing one pacifier is not a good idea. Of course, you could also take the opportunity to remove the pacifier but at the cost of some little relaxing day.

This is to say that all those objects that are precious for your children are to bring and to keep on hand. A lost luggage may only be a small hassle but if inside there is a favorite doll of your child could become an unexpected complication to manage. So how can you forget in the car in the parking lot of the airport that book with which the child falls asleep.

It is true that children need to get used to the changes, but it is also true that the routine is important for them, especially when maybe you're taking them into very different environments.

The central point, however, in my opinion, is that children watch us and learn from us always, even when things do not go exactly as we would like. In this case with the ability to take things a bit in spirit and a few laughs and not dominated by irritation that is normal. That not only helps to better manage the emergency but also our children learn to eliminate the small difficulties and obstacles of life.

A little accident, a train leaving, just as you enter the station are never pleasant, but the way they are managed by the parents help the child to understand how to deal with minor setbacks of life.

A Journey to the Gulab Jamun

In the collective imagination, Indian cuisine is very often associated with super spicy dishes based on rice, meat, vegetables, and legumes. But the Indian culinary art presents some goodies regarding the typical sweets. First of all is the Gulab jamun, typical of the entire Indian subcontinent. The gulab jamun originates from an Arabic dessert, the Luqmat Al-Qadi, which became popular in the Indian subcontinent during the Mughal era. In addition, the dessert became popular in the Turkish-speaking areas, following the expansion of the Ottoman Empire.

This star dessert is present in the menus of all Indian restaurants, although its origins could be shared with Pakistan (where it is also very widespread). They are shaped like small balls, and their main ingredient is khoya, a kind of cottage cheese that is fried and dipped in sweet syrup, to be completed later with saffron (hence its red color) and honey. Rose water is used to sweeten it. The term gulab jamun comes from the word Gulab or rose water, referring to the homonymous syrup, and the Jamun is a fruit of Southeast Asia, similar in size and shape.

Gulab jamun is usually consumed during holidays or celebrations such as marriage, Diwali, the festival of lights, and Muslim celebrations such as that of īd al-fiṭr (festival of fasting).

I headed north to the desert of Thar, in Rajasthan. The trip is long. I cross half the country, but traveling on Indian trains is a pleasure. The second class involves being in compartments of six bunks, chatting with fellow travelers. In India, everyone seems willing to strike up a conversation. You can be treated to the homemade delicacies of some Indian mom, accompanied by traditional tea with milk and spices, served in disposable clay cups by the vendors who roam in the corridors of the train.

It was time to take a break on such a long journey. We go down to stretch our legs and buy some snacks. As always, I would chime everything that was around me. About thirty meters away, I saw it. It is an Indian beauty that makes you think that God was in a very good mood when he created it.

Somewhat perplexed and letting out a sigh of chimerical longing, I turned around and went to buy some cookies in a stall at the side of the station. What a crowd, what chaos! And to vary the eternal litany of the lack of change to give me back. One of those discussions is approaching in India where one always ends up losing. I get friendly with the fellow sitting beside me.

We alternated chatting with tea, contemplating the somewhat arid and surprisingly unpopulated landscape compared to what I had seen of the country until then. And then a moment comes when it is time to bid adieu to my fellow passenger. I asked him the name of the city where he is planning to go down. And then came the sudden invitation from him. Why do not you come with me? He adds that some friends are waiting for him to go to Rajasthan.

And then my mind goes into a tizzy. I then remember the golden rule. If you know someone interesting in the area, who shows interest in you, and seems to have time to share, never, never say no. The plans, as well as ideas, must be discarded when they no longer work. After five seconds I changed my mind and plan to join him. We got off in his city. No idea where it was. My friend told me the name, but I forgot it. I searched Google Earth to see if it came to my memory, but without success. Anyway, I'm somewhere in the center of India.

He leaves me in a hotel. There was a pool, and it was hot. After swimming a bit, I sat down to thank how good the superior forces were being with me. At nightfall, my train friend picked me up on his motorcycle. He was dressed in white shirt and black pants. So I ask him where are we going? He smiling says to a wedding.

What? Why did you not say me earlier? I shout. I could have bought new clothes for the occasion. I had no choice but to go with my traveler rags. The wedding took place in a large room, decorated with colorful garlands and many other flashy stuff. The atmosphere was very relaxed. The reception was warm. The presence of an outsider, even if he looks different, gave the event a different touch, I was told later.

It was not long before we left to dance, only the boys. The demure girls kept at a distance, looking, perhaps pondering who would be the best candidate for their own nuptials. While we danced, we laughed, and I adopted some local steps to reduce distances. In a break from the dance, I went to the extensive buffet, and there I saw them. It was a tray full of gulab jamun, my favorite Indian sweet. I went over and tried one. The taste was very slightly liqueur, very sweet. During the night I overcame a bit, stuffing myself with gulab jamun. It was the richest Gulab Jamun I had ever tasted.

We went back to the party to continue dancing. I do not remember how in the end I returned to the hotel. What I do know is that, when laying my head on the pillow, I thought I should stay longer in this place, that I would receive other surprises. And I was not wrong.

Apple Juice Cider Recipe

Apple juice is a delicious apple cider syrup boiled until reduced to the consistency of a gel-like essence of apples, an ancient specialty of the New England region of the northeastern United States overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Outside of these six US states of Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island, the Apple Cider Syrup has become popular in North America to sweeten the delicious traditional Apple Cider Pancakes, a classic of the first autumn breakfast. The syrup can be prepared the day before use and stored.

The cider apples are not filtered and, by tradition, in the United States and Canada is drunk heated unlike in Europe and spiced with cinnamon in particular in the period between the holidays of Halloween and Thanksgiving Day. The cider is an alcoholic beverage obtained by the alcoholic fermentation of the fruit of Pomoideae, a subfamily of the Rosaceae, to which they belong apples, pears, quince, and medlar.

Its origin dates back to the Middle Ages. More than 95% of world production of cider is made from apples, cider, but for the connoisseur with the best bouquet seems to be that rarest of quince. In France, from the fermentation of the pears, you get a drink similar cider called perry.

This drink is very popular in the United Kingdom, the world's largest consumer and producer, in France, Spain, Germany, England, Ireland, Netherlands, Finland and Switzerland, and the production is particularly concentrated in Normandy and in the Asturias. In addition to the classical method based on natural fermentation starting from squeezing apples, you can simplify the method starting from the apple juice mix. It starts by putting in a small carboy to 5 liters of unsweetened apple juice, lemon juice to correct acidity, yeast in a sachet.

The fermentation should last about two weeks, at a temperature around 20 ° C. To allow venting of carbon dioxide, it is necessary to affix a cap or collimator bubbler, or failing to strive with a double cap of foil having had the foresight to the lower one. Alternatively, you can use the apple pears: the drink thus obtained in the Anglo-Saxon countries is called perry.

Apple Juice Cider Recipe


4 apples
6 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
2 cups water

Recipe Method:

Roughly chop the apples. Place in a large pan and add the water. Add the cloves and cinnamon stick. Slowly bring to the boil and simmer for 45 minutes, crushing the fruit with a masher. Remove from the heat and perform a final crushing of the fruit to maximise the release of juices.

Strain apple juice using a strainer, and discard cloves and cinnamon. When cool store the juice in the fridge.

Serve apple juice in glasses.

Where to Eat the Most Original Chicken Dishes

The following article will make your mouth water because a large number of succulent dishes will be mentioned. It will be difficult to control your cravings after reading about the exquisite food. The city of Aguascalientes was a meeting point for several commercial routes that went to the north and south of Mexico. With the introduction of the railroad during the Porfirian era, thousands of people from all over the republic came to the hydro-calid lands. They bring with them their gastronomic influences. The dishes and seasonings were combined with local foods to create one of the most representative cuisines of the region.

Of the traditional dishes of Aguascalientes it is almost an obligation to try the Aguascalientes Chile. Another typical dish is Pollo San Marcos. The exquisite chicken is served especially during the popular San Marcos Fair. It is made with succulent golden chicken with tomato sauce, accompanied by mountain chiles.

Chicken is one of the basic ingredients of the human diet and that is reflected in the menus of the restaurants. We show it with this route, in which we visit new openings in the capital following the trail of this poultry.

The Portuguese tradition is served where chicken is marinated with a secret recipe. It is then cooked on a charcoal grill opened in half so that they are crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. The sauces are served separately and there are lemon butter, green mojo, chimichurri and spicy piripiri soft or strong. The garnishes range from chip chips to couscous with a touch of oil and turmeric or the red cabbage salad.

Two North-South proposals arrive from the American continent. They serve the biscuit-coated wings with maple syrup mayonnaise.
Indian proposals has spices that shine with their own light. In the "tandoor" oven, the chicken is served macerated in a mixture of yogurt, ginger, garlic and traditional spices (tandoori), or chopped and marinated with herbs and spices (tikka). The poultry also reigns in the curries from the soft korma to the piquant vindaloo.

Dutch cuisine, which does not go beyond winter stews, stews and, yes, many sweets. The good thing about this limitation is that the Dutch are much more open to kitchens in other countries, such as Italy, France, Spain, China, Mexico. It is very simple to find both the ingredients needed to cook at home and restaurants. In fact, it is quite difficult to find a restaurant that serves Dutch food.

But among all the kitchens that the Dutch like, I would dare to say that the one from Indonesia, former colony of the Netherlands, is their favorite. Dishes like nasi goreng, bami goreng, gado-gado or saté are the most popular.

The sate or satay is basically a skewer with pieces of meat made on the grill and accompanied by different sauces. The most popular version, at least in Holland, is with chicken meat and peanut sauce. It is common to find it in many Dutch restaurants, not only Indonesians. And in spite of the strange thing that can sound to some this combination of flavors, I can assure you that it is very very good.

Trip to Chandannagar during Jagadhatri Puja

Chandernagor was for nearly 250 years a French city administered by France. We leave Calcutta without much difficulty on Sunday morning and take the northern route. As soon as we leave the national highway for a smaller national highway, the quality of the roads deteriorates.

Our trip was not easy. If the city is located about 30 km from Kolkata, it took us two hours to reach it. The track is crowded with trucks of all kinds and our Bengali driver knows neither the road nor the destination. In addition, some minister was to arrive in the area and part of the city was closed to traffic.

We reach Chandannagar or Chandernagor, former French counter on the right bank of the Hooghly at 10am. The preparations in the town is in full swing for the upcoming jagadhatri puja. It is in the state of Bengal and particularly in Chandernagor, that these celebrations are of unparalleled scale and intensity.

The sculptors compete with skill and ingenuity to create effigies, all more beautiful than the next, which are then covered with sumptuous clothes and adorned with sparkles and glittering jewels. The rivalry is great between quarters, to who will possess the most beautiful, the greatest and the most resplendent of goddesses.

The effigies, once created, are exhibited, during the festive period, in the different places of the town, either in permanent structures, or in temporary installations, often tents, the pandals, which will be dismantled after the festival.

We first discover the Church of the Sacred Heart. We were greeted with great warmth by the priest, a jovial Anglo-Indian who, besides his pastoral tasks, brings a lot of heart to the restoration of his church. Several funerary steles, more or less legible, are on the outside. The interior is rather sober.

Jesuit records indicate that the life of Jesuit missionaries of past centuries has not always been simple. The rivalry with the Portuguese Augustinians some miles north of Bandel was so strong that the French Jesuits once reported to their superiors that they feared being poisoned! Life is more serene today for the catholic families of the parish.

A little further away is the Dupleix Palace, which was the residence of the French administrators. This building has been magnificently restored and houses a library with 18,000 books and a museum. In average condition, it houses the Institute of Chandernagor, a small museum. The French garden is well fallen from its former splendor.

We visit the museum which keeps many documents of the French administration. This palace is really nice and faces the Ganges whose quays are adorned with benches. We go see the French cemetery! Then we see a woman writing carefully on a notebook. This is the kind of meeting we do not expect and that is very timely.

A French woman, who has been living in Bengal for a long time is jotting down the list of names inscribed on the tombs. More than that, she draws the cemetery plan and the location of each grave. A cemetery rehabilitation project seems to exist and private funding will be needed to clean and arrange the cemetery.

We leave at noon. We pass by Bandel, a little further north, former seat of a Portuguese mission and cross the Hooghly to the bridge of Kalyani. It takes us more than an hour to reach the national highway on the left bank, known as the Assam road, as it is the gateway to the Northeast Indian states.

The road is unfortunately in a deplorable state. Apart from a few short sections that have just been redone, it is completely broken down or being repaired and passes through many villages. We go slow in the jolts and the dust. We need five hours for 150 km and we arrive at Berhampore at 6 pm.

How to Make Chicken Dum Biryani Recipe

The biryani is a dish of rice prepared with a mixture of spices and basmati rice, meat or vegetables and yogurt. The biryani has an uncertain origin and some authors indicate a possible Persian origin because the name of the dish comes from the Persian beryān. It is very possible that it entered North India from Afghanistan, perhaps passing through the valley of the Thar. Other authors mention that may have a connection with Turkish pilav.

The dish, which was initially considered suitable for the upper classes, was made available for the lower classes during the Mughal Empire. Today it is a dish very closely linked to the Mughal empire in India.

There are many varieties of biryani and each type has its unique characteristics. From Kashmir to Kanyakumari, from east to west India, there are different varieties of this dish, which often have their roots in the ingredients and uses of chefs in the area.

It can be considered in all cases as a dish made in a handi or pot, with ingredients cooked together in the final stage of preparation. There are mixtures of pre-made spices in India that are sold commercially in supermarkets or shops, trying to reduce cooking times, but the taste differs considerably from traditional processing.

The spices and condiments used in the preparation of biryani contribute the flavor of this dish like the cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaves, coriander leaves and mint, apart from the ghee, ginger, onions, garlic, and yogurt. The most exquisite variants like the Calcutta Biryani often include saffron and the garam masala along with very lightly cooked and flavored meat and potato. It is one of the toughest to prepare.

For non-vegetarians, the main ingredient that accompanies the spices is the meat of chicken or turkey or lamb or mutton, which is the most popular or sometimes beef. In India, a very popular variety of biryani is made only with vegetables called Tehari. There are two varieties according to their way of preparing the Katchi Biryani prepared by the method Kachi Yakhni or raw sauces and Pakki Biryani, where the meat is marinated with spices. Both methods employ seeds of cardamom and saffron.

In Bangladesh, the tehari concept refers to Biryani prepared by adding the meat to rice as opposed to the traditional Biryani, where rice is added to the meat. The difference between biryani and pulao is that while in the pulao ingredients are cooked together, in biryani rice is separately cooked from other items. The dish is usually served with eggs, raita, korma, a curry or a dish of brinjal or eggplant called Hyderabadi bagara baingan and Mirchi ka salan.

There are different methods of preparation of biryani. In India, the Hyderabadi biryani is one of the most popular versions of biryani. The kitchens of the Nizam usually had about 49 types of biryani, which included fish, partridge, shrimp, deer, and hare. The Sindhi biryani variant is very popular in Pakistani cuisine and there are several varieties of biryani in almost all the territories. Another popular biryani dish is the Awadhi biryani.

Biryani Recipe images

Preparation Time: 30 mins
Cooking time: 50 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Calories per serving: 325 calories per 100 gms


2 chicken breasts
1 cup basmati rice
2 large sized potatoes
2 onions
1 lemon
1 plain yogurt
1 tsp saffron
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp turmeric
Cinnamon stick
1 clove garlic
1 piece of ginger
1 tsp of cayenne pepper
1 bay leaf
Fresh coriander leaves and parsley
3 cloves

Recipe Method:

First, take the chicken breasts and cut them into large pieces. Then take a bowl and add the chicken along with paprika, turmeric, half chopped ginger and garlic, a little cilantro, parsley and a little salt. Then add the lemon juice and a little water. Leave it to marinate overnight in the freezer.

Put half a cup of milk in a cup and mix the saffron and leave it for an hour. In a frying pan with a little ghee, add cinnamon stick, cloves, and bay leaf. Saute a little and add the pepper together with the rest of the cilantro. After a few minutes add the chopped onion and stir well. When the onion is golden take out a quarter of the onion and set aside. Add the potatoes diced into two halves along with the rest of the ginger. Mix everything well. Add the marinated chicken to the pan and sauté over high heat for about 10 minutes.

Cook basmati rice separately with water and pinch of salt and yogurt. Once the rice is semi-cooked take it off the heat. In a large pot arrange half of the rice in the first layer and then the chicken and the half of the fried onion and saffron evenly in a single layer. Top the rice in a homogeneous layer and the remaining crunchy onion and cover well with a lid and a foil that fits as tightly as possible. According to traditional preparation, the lid is sealed with a dough made of flour from all sides.

Cook for 5 minutes on high heat, 10 minutes on low heat and 20 minutes on a diffuser over low heat. When ready, sprinkle with a little cilantro. Serve hot.

Food Adventures in Chandni Chowk with Paratha, Lassi and Halwa

Paratha is a flatbread that originated in the Indian subcontinent. It is one of the most popular unleavened bread in Indian cuisine. The mass of the paratha bread usually contains ghee or oil, and it is also usually spread on the already prepared bread. It is common to fill the bread with certain vegetables such as potatoes, radishes or cauliflower, and can even be filled with cheese (paneer).

The paratha is smeared on the top with a little butter, or with a sauce made with yogurt or herbs and even with some curry of meat or vegetables. Some prefer to roll the bread in a tube and eat it with tea. This is the perfect companion for the Butter Chicken although it is also possible to eat it with rice. In the Indian culture, the paratha or the chapati is always present at the table.

The paratha was conceived in the ancient Punjab region. Despite its origin, its consumption is spread throughout the subcontinent, to such an extent that one of the typical dishes of southern India is Kerala Parotta. It is a type of chapati made in several layers that resembles puff pastry. The immigrant Indians brought this dish to Malaysia, the Mauritius Islands (where it is known as farata) and Singapore, giving rise to certain variations such as "roti canai" and "roti prata". In Myanmar, where it is known as "palata", it is eaten with curries or as dessert with sugar.

I decide to leave at 12.30 to Chandni Chowk on the other side of Delhi. Some food shops remain open until midnight. Then it will be the schedule until night, we deserve that breath. They say. I had a tough bargain with the rickshaw that asks me two hundred rupees as 'tourist' is written on my forehead. Well, you're wrong! This tourist will not pay more than 50 rupees! He literally puts me in front of the Gurudwara Sis Ganj Sahib. Also, with the subway works, it has become an obstacle course. Even so, I venture forward as a caterpillar tank towards my target.

Chandni Chowk remained the shopping center par excellence with its four bazaars of Urdu Bazar, Johri Bazar, Fatehpuri Bazar, Chikan and Zari Bazar. The corner of Ghantewala Halwai is proud of its tradition that made pure ghee sweets since 1780. Wait, I'll be right back! First something salty to recover strength.

So I head for the Paranthe Wali Gali, famous since time immemorial for its Parathas of various types and recent Bollywood films. They say that 300 years ago a family of Brahmins from Agra settled here and their descendants have continued with the trade.

The paratha bread can be round, square or triangular. In the first case, the filling is mixed with the flour and prepared as if it were a roti. But in the last two forms, the ball of kneaded flour is flattened in a circle and the filling is put in the center of the dough and sealed as if it were an envelope.

I enter one where there is no onion and garlic according to the tradition. Methi Paratha is my first, served with pudina chutney, jaggery and ginger, and aloo mutter. A lassi alongside softens the hotness of the chilis. But I'm not satisfied and I still have another one called the paneer paratha that leaves me satisfied. Then I go back to Ghantewala and I buy the sooji halwa with pistachio that makes me forget my pains.

A group of foreigners arrives grazed by the tour guide. With the backpack tight to the body, they get half suffocated by the medieval effluvia of this decrepit Old Delhi. With the halwa, I give up. The Badshahi badam pasanda, the jewel of the imperial Delhi will be for another day.

A Trip through Vrindavan - Widows, Temples and Hare Krishna

After saying goodbye to Agra and everything that was sold there (maybe to say goodbye to us forever, since it is not a city we would return to) we decided that we wanted to return to that more mystical and profound India that we love so much. Our untidy itinerary took us to visit Mathura, about 50 km from Agra, one hour by train.

At 4.05 in the morning stopped the train in a station while at the same time my alarm clock rang! Our reservation said we would arrive in 20 minutes and we had nothing prepared. The backpacks were still tied and we did not see each other with the possibility of collecting everything quickly to get off the train. I still remember asking a lady a thousand times: Mathura, Is this Mathura? Yes, we were actually in Mathura Junction.

At that time of night we did not dare to leave. So we went to the 'waiting room' and went to sleep on the floor in the company of thousands of women and children. I never thought I would sleep so well on a floor. At 6:30, with the daylight, we went out in search of a hotel for that night. The first steps in the city make us see that there are no tourists.

We took the guide and went searching for hotels in Mathura but the place is horrible and we were asked 900 INR for a pathetic room. We decided to keep searching and, finally, the third one is going to beat us. We found a hotel for 500 INR, although I do not remember the name. It did not really have a name either and we realized that it was a hotel for locals or at least there was not a outsider there.

The hotel was just for one night, nothing clean but stretching the sack on top of the bed is not much of a problem either. The good thing about the bathroom is that although it was not very decent, it was more or less acceptable.

We got a Rickshaw that takes us to Vrindavan and leaves us at the ISKCON temple. We had hired him to return us to Mathura but when he arrives he says no.

We arrived at Vrindavan knowing that in addition to being an important city it is the city where Krishna grew up. It also owes its importance to being the city where one of the important ISKCON temple is located. That is to say, one of the most important temples for the adepts to a certain Hare Krishna movement. And with that said we met, with many singing and dancing to the rhythm "Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama".

We see hundreds of devotees dressed in white and with the whole head shaved except for the strand of hair that is allowed to grow. And among the hundreds we met many Western believers. It was easy to recognize them by skin, eyes, features and gestures. We were surprised by the large number of targets camouflaged in the set of devotees.

We visited the temple, the architecture and the luxury was exemplary. It was not a common temple. Several came to give us explanatory brochures in Hindi, to sell us books and ask for donations for the cows. It was the first time they asked us for money for a cow! Then we went looking for a place to eat something and I do not know why, we have a tense feeling in this city. I do not feel completely comfortable and there is nothing obvious that gives me a reason. We found a place to eat there and we went for a walk around the ghats of Vrindavan, towards the kali ghat, the main ghat.

We also knew Vrindavan as the city ​​of widows. It was easy to recognize them. They are dressed in white with a metal vessel to store the food and silver they collect in the eternal tour of the city. It was a Sunday that we peered into one of the many temples of Vrindavan and discovered a ghat with many women (all in white) praying. Then we learned that maybe it was some ashram of widows where they spend the day praying and cleaning in exchange for a plate of meals. We did not think it appropriate to photograph them.

After traveling through Vrindavan with very different realities, we decided to give Mathura a new opportunity. We arrived wanting to know another sacred city (previously we had been in Haridwar), to soak up mysticism and share with the local culture. Mathura showed us how ignorant we were, how much we still need to know.

Mathura is one of the 7 sacred cities of India. It is considered a sacred city because Krishna was born there. His existence is surrounded by legends and myths that range from his childhood antics to his adolescent love affairs. He is recognized for having been a good shepherd who protected all his cows and in passing for having been with almost all the shepherds of the region. It is easy to recognize him in images. His skin is bluish and is usually in the company of cows, a bow and his transverse flute. Each of these elements is linked to the different scenes and vicissitudes of his life.

We arrived on a day of rain and unbearable humidity. The heat overwhelmed us. In this context it did not take us long to realize that we were the only two tourists that visited the town. And so our stay began there, successive and unfortunate events made us reconsider our visit in the city. But luckily they became simple anecdotes:

The first has to do with the journey that unites the cities of Mathura and Vrindavan. We took a shared rickshaw with another 6/7 people (when the capacity would be for about 4). When so many people traveled with the knee out, until another rickshaw got too close and squeezed the knee between the two vehicles. The result was a simple bruise. Luckily, nothing more.

Another anecdote that we took from the visit was during walking the streets of Vrindavan. It was midday and the sun was breaking the earth. It was very hot and there were almost no people on the street, just us looking for a quiet place to eat. And in that we were when a monkey, with all the skill came running behind and without even messing up stole my sunglasses. Before we reacted, it had already climbed a tree. We saw it there, sitting, breaking the glasses.

What to do under this context? We arrived on a Friday and had train tickets for Sunday night. We did not have many options other than to lament. Or we could take it easy, knowing that on a trip not everything is rosy all the time, and enjoy as much as possible our little stay in both cities. We are inclined for the second option.

After the long day, we return to the hotel to have dinner, since they had told us they would prepare dinner. But upon arrival we realize that if we want to dine they offer us only rice with paneer for an exorbitant price. So we indignantly go to sleep with half an energy bar and a bit of mango juice for dinner. It was 10 o'clock at night and we did not find anything near the hotel where we could eat something!

The next morning we left on our train to Agra , a city that we have already explained in a previous post and in which I have already been twice. At the hotel we were also told that there would be a rickshaw waiting but after the run-in at dinner it was clear that there would be no transport to get to the train either. We left and they were behind us for a while so that we paid the welcome Chai.

We did not want to pay after how they had treated us. They also told us that it was courtesy. So we left at 4 with our backpacks! We had no other way to get there than to take a cycle rickshaw and in 10 minutes we were there. We negotiate 15 INR and when we arrive they tell us 150! Being there I do not know what happens to me but I do not like to feel that I'm being taken for a ride. I go to sleep as soon as I get on the train. It is my favorite sleeping pill and I wake up from a brake in Agra.