Posts Tagged ‘New Zealand’

Picture this! You are invited to a photo gallery showing. The photographer’s specialty is nature at its best. The colours and shades of each leaf, tree or animal is captured with such life, it feels almost real.

The water drop hanging off the edge a leaf could taste of the freshest rain. The shades of green are so many in number that it cannot be captured and contained in a bottle of paint.The moistness of the wind can be seen glistening on a birds feathers. The curves and shadows of the ferns beckon people to take a closer look at their secrets.

You go on a long drive, you come across so many farms, with unending lush green acres sporting post and rail fences made of solid tree branches with the sheep and horses lazing under the sheer blue sky. Has anyone ever noticed how blue skies and green grass goes so well together like a match made in heaven? And to add to the alluring charm these farms have such long dreamy driveways lined with such tall trees that it gives the feeling of being in the midst of a glade.

Golden sand and black sand beaches compete to get their share of the sea with a blue that uniquely belongs there. And the views from atop the ranges are breathtakingly beautiful. You can just sit for endless moments, gaze into the distance, do some soul-searching or be mindlessly numb taking in the beauty of the world below, losing track of time.

If you think this is beautiful and belongs within the sterile pages of a photo album or a gallery, you are wrong, I just described a sample of the beauty surrounding my life. You have got to come and experience it to believe it. Its way better than the views in that of your postcards, photos and books.

I can tell you quite honestly, no exaggeration at all, I have lived here in New Zealand for almost 3 years and the beauty surrounding me is a balm for tired eyes and minds. It just calms you down and soothes you after a long tiring day at work.

The blue beaches that I mentioned of is such a unique blue that we are yet to find a synonym to describe this brand of blue. Maybe I should name it the “kiwi blue”! What say??!!

Lonely sail at Waitangi

Even if you are the world’s worst photographer, you can never go wrong because each frame will turn out perfect no matter what.

New Zealand is so beautiful, that you don’t need postcards, pictures and paintings of beautiful sceneries hanging off your walls. You will be living in a postcard haven with backdrops of these postcards only life-size. “Haere Mae”! Come and experience New Zealand!

*Haere Mae-means welcome in Maori

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It is funny how life changes or should I be saying how much I have changed!

I was going through some of my old emails to my family. I came across this mail that spoke volumes about my fresh uptake on my first time experiences in NZ.

To see the world for the first time is a sight so amazing. But to see the world with a fresh perspective is perhaps more refreshing. Many synonyms spring to my mind. Something akin to breathing mountain air after the onslaught of polluted city air. Or a feeling of the web of forgetfulness masking our eyes being dusted. Or wiping clean the dust off an old photo frame.

My life is NZ is no doubt blissful, with me happily bustling about my daily activities, going places, to work and back, doing this and that and what not. But come to think of it, my life is punctuated with lashings of monotones, more than I dare to admit.

But reading these old mails, made me pause and realise that I was so caught in the rut that I never stopped to reflect and appreciate the enthusiasm and energy of looking at things the first time round.

Here are some excerpts of my email to my dear dad, mom and my sister.

——— >>>>>

The Job Hunt –

How r u guys? Long time since I wrote to you guys. Have been applying for jobs. Things are warming up. I am getting calls for interviews which surely is a good sign. Have given one interview so far which was okay! But I dont know how the results will turn out.

Dogs on a leash –

On sunday – 16/9 , we went to this exotic place called Waikowhai park pronounced Wai – Ko – Fai. In maori if you see the alphabets w and h together make the fa sound! So we went there. It had wide spread vegetation with loads of native trees and plants encased in walkways leading to the beach front. On the edge of the beach near the cliff walls, one will find a dog exercise area where the dog owners can release their dogs from the leash and you can see them play in the water , running or fetching sticks with wild abandon.

Painting the pebbles –

Walking further, one will find the rim of the shore encrusted with pebbles, sea shells, rocks, sea weed, algae of different variety . One can only take back a certain amount of those things.I picked up as many as 10 pebbles well rounded and smooth in a pale jade green algae color. It was fun. I am going to do the same thing I did when Jaanas gave me those stones from Bali. Paint them green 🙂

Watching the turning of the tides –

Then we suddenly come onto an area where you will find only pebbles that the area almost looks like white sand but it is actually sea shells strewn about. Unbelievable colors, shapes and formations makes me look at them with wonderment what with me having grown up in a coastal area and thinking there is nothing more different you can find about seashells. One needs to see them to believe what I am actually talking about. Then comes a huge rock along the coast where one can sit and watch the waves during a low tide.

Flying Fox

Flying fox –

We then headed back to the parking lot. Near that was the park. Do i need to tell you further. The child in us made us go on the swings. We headed to this contraption near the play area that my cousin was grabbing and trying to do latch onto. I was observing quietly as to what it was. It was something new and I had never seen in my life and I waited with baited breath. And wheeeeeee………..!!!!!! she goes screaming to the other side. I ask her what it was. She tells me it was a “Flying Fox”.

OK this is the part where you understand what it is. Two poles set on either side on a slope about 15 feet over the ground and gradually decreases height joined together with a cable. A metal rod is hung at the steep part with a seat kind of thing on it which is used to park ourselves and cling on to it. You grab on real tight and jump. This has a spring that can carry our weights and we go wheeeeeeeeee like on a cable car but with more  speed and less protection. There is a rubber padding beneath it in case of mishaps. When you think Damn! I am gonna hit the pole is when you realise the other end of the string is padded with 4-5 tyres which brakes and stops you from hitting the pole.

A child from Enid Blyton’s books come alive –

You feel like a child flushed with excitement and reckless to the point that we kept doing it until we got tired. After that we all drove down to the beach again. One good thing about these public places is you get a spot to sit with family like benches or picnic tables.  We had come geared with lots of munchies which we snacked to our heart’s content and ofcourse had coffee. You know how Enid Blyton describes these picnics and adventures. My day felt like a day right out of her books – a fiction that became a dream that turned into reality.

Dwarfed by the Muriwai

Dwarfed by the Muriwai –

Then yesterday, Ram and I had gone to a place called Muriwai beach[Moo-ree-wai]. Muriwai gives one a feeling of being dwarfed by the magnificence of the sea. It is so vast one can only merely begin to imagine what might be on the other side. It is so huge that it keeps going on and on for such a distance – like they say in tamil – kannuku ettum dhooram varai.(which means to the extent of one’s eyesight).  And the vantage points are so gr8 that you feel like you are standing on top of the world and observing the sea, its whole expanse with life thrumming below.Can you imagine the feeling?One feels like a tiny micro organism compared to the vastness of the water body. And to add to that splendor is the myriad shades of blue and greens on the sea. You turn away from the sea one finds ranges and trees and clouds and birds and hint of sun’s colors. The scene looks like something out of an oil painting. I know it is trivializing the beauty of nature to an oil painting but the point is such shades and beauty can be captured in an oil painting best.

Gannets galore –

One other attraction are the gannets. They are white birds with a yellow head. The yellow part looks like someone put a dollop of yellow butter on their head that not only does it look yellowy soft but it is glossy as well.Along side below the vantage point are rock spaces where gazillions of these birds and their colonies can be found. July to November is the mating and hatching season. During this period one can actually see the birds’ behavior patterns. If two birds are putting their beaks together and rubbing their necks it is courtship. If one dives like an arrow southward to the ground they r jus going to grab their prey and so on. The young ones hatch in January and no one not even their parents teach them about hunting food or flying. The beauty about these birds are they have only 1 partner for life mostly. The male gannet flies around and gathers food while the female gannet sits with its webbed feet on the egg.No siblings or any future kids. One and only one egg for a lifetime for the couple. These birds come here to NZ for hatching and fly back to Australia once the young ones are born. And those young ones when they are probably 4-5 months old they fly to Australia (remember no one teaches them this) and when they have seen the world and had their adventure they come to the same rock looking for their mate.And the cycle begins. Isn’t it beautiful?

After some gannet watching we went down to the cliff area where people can fish. You can find hoards of kilinjil here. Some rocks have holes and cave formations that when a huge wave hits the cave the water comes fountaining out of the hole. It looks like a geyser. Also something we will enjoy is the drumming sound created by waves when they hit the cave walls. After enjoying the spray of sea water for awhile we headed back feeling elated and dwarfed at the same time by the effect Muriwai beach had on us.

Sun, surf & sand

When the sun’s out –

And when the weather is good and sunny, you cant find a kiwi in the house.You will find them at the beach. Doing something. Not like us all sitting or walking in the beach. They swim, surf, snorkel, build sand castles, boating,fishing, gliding….you name it.they do it. it is almost considered a sin not doing anything in the beach.We saw so so so many surfers with their surf boards and them all going surfing and floating in the sea. Wow!It is a phenomenon to watch these things for real.

Having Hokey Pokey –

After a bit of surf gazing, we stopped over near the car park on a picnic table and had snacks and coffee. This time we took some snacks as well. And we chatted for about an hour or so. By then all the snack also got digested. And no one leaves Muriwai beach without ice cream. I had hokey  pokey. It is a vanilla based ice cream mixed with oodles of honey and butterscotch crisps. Yummiest ice cream ever. Ram had vanilla and boysenberry, perima had choco-nutty ice cream and peripa had passion fruit ice cream which is yellow and white in color.

Pristine beauty

Guilt of not sharing the joy –

Then back home the journey was pretty much reveling on the ice cream and of course the beauty surrounding us. I missed you guys like crazy I almost felt guilty that I am so blessed to be enjoying all of this alone. But I pray to God that some day he gives me the privilege and strength to bring you guys here and enjoy it all together as a family and live our dreams that were held so close to our hearts.

Love you guys so much. Missing you guys that the physical distance/void is almost as a physical pain or irritation.

Loads of love,

– —–>>>>>

Comparing then and now –

Job Hunt – Yes I got a full time job.

Dogs on a leash – I want a dog quite badly, but now is not the right time. Probably when we move into a bigger and fenced house. Hmmm….to see that day.

Painting the pebbles – I have not done them yet. I should probably add this to my To-Do list 🙂

With hubby dearest

Watching the turning of the tides – Fortunately my husband and I have a love for long drives and walks by the sea. Nothing like a walk in Orewa and a coffee at a local cafe to recharge ourselves. I cherish these moments and  not to forget our long talks about our dreams and aspirations.

Flying Fox – In Waikowhai is broken. But our memory isn’t.

The Boy next Door by Enid Blyton

A child from Enid Blyton’s books come alive – I think its thanks to my dearest hubby, he still has preserved that side of me. I think it’s good that he lets me be me … And oh.. I recently purchased one of my most favourite Blyton novels -The Boy Next Door that introduced me to Mysteries and Adventure. This book still leaves me craving for more.

Muriwai – Muriwai’s one of the entrances from the beach through cliffside is closed. Access to the Gannet colony is through the Maori Bay track. We have also found another breathtaking vantage point which we go to whenever we visit Muriwai.

Gannets – I noticed recently that the gannets are coming more closer to the Kiwi border or hedging closer to it atleast. Wonder how they are going to be this winter!

Beautiful sunlight

When the Sun’s out – I used to hate the sun back home, NZ has left me craving for more. And I have become more Kiwi this way not wanting to spend my day away from the glorious golden rays. For people visiting NZ during summer, do not underestimate the sun, do come geared with oodles of sunscreen, jandals and ofcourse your sunnies.

Hokey Pokey – Hokey Pokey still remains my most favourite ice cream till today. However there has been a recent contender in the form of NZ Natural’s White Chocolate and Raspberry icecream. Ummm, heaven!!!

Road to Mt Ruapehu

Guilt of not sharing – Now I can really enjoy life guilt free as my parents, inlaws and my darling sister as well have been here. And we had a wonderful opportunity to share this Green Heaven on earth with our families. I am hoping to arrange a big reunion someday over here in NZ.

Wow….that list is quite the height of the Waitakere ranges. My Season tree in front of my window is a silent witness of not just the seasons but my life as well. Will be back with more musings!

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Yes, yes, I know! I am talking about food again.

Well today, I am going to talk about my recent discoveries in terms of food and a list of food haunts I have enjoyed most. Maybe you could all try out and let me know how you liked these places! If I don’t love it, it wont figure on my list below.

Mecca/ Mission Bay Cafe –
I am unforgiving if coffee doesn’t taste good. Don’t we all love to kickstart our day with the most enticing and hot cup of well brewed coffee? Imagine the hot brown liquid steaming around the rim of the mug, the warmth of the mug seeping through your palms and the rich aroma of the ground coffee beans doused with milk and sugar and at first sip swirls through your senses to give that warm hug feeling. Pure poetry and what a spine lifting shot for starting your day!

For that perfect cup of Coffee-Picture courtesy-www.elev8.com

Well I have tried various places for that evasive “perfect cup” of coffee. I recommend only 2 places for really good coffee.

If you are in Auckland, a must try will be Mission Bay Cafe previously known as Mecca. I still like to call it Mecca! They make a wicked flat white. While you are there, do try some of their newly baked baklavas and sigara berogi. Well baklava by now you will know from my previous post. Sigara boregi happens to be another phyllo masterpiece rolled in the shape of cigars (hence the name ‘sigara’)filled with a mix of mashed potato, feta cheese and herbs served with 2 different varieties of hummus -roasted capsicum hummus and original hummus and garnished with a sprig of parsley.

Rapaura Water Gardens & their “Dam” Good Coffee
The second place, best by far and remains unparalleled, but not so accessible or affordable only because you need to travel miles away from Auckland. But this dream place called Rapaura Water Gardens in Thames have their own brand of coffee and they pride themselves in serving “Dam” Good coffee which lives up to its name and is also very much part of their marketing campaign. This to me is by far the best ever coffee I have tasted in my entire life. No other coffee shop can ever hold a candle to the Dam Good Coffee they serve. I highly recommend this.

Wagamama –
Unusual name? Well sure it is! A Japanese restaurant. Never in a million years did I think I would appreciate Japanese Food after being brought up on flavourful rich Indian food! Well, this is not what I would exactly call authentic, more a fusion of sorts, but they can cook up a storm with surprising flavour and blissful presentation on your platter. With tones of ginger, coconut, citrus and a lot of greens, one can never feel guilty when you eat here.

I am predominantly a vegetarian and draw my line with chicken as far as non veg food goes and maybe some sea food varieties, but that is a rarity in itself.

The Yasai Katsu curry is the best on their vegetarian menu served with steamed rice with spicy curry sauce accompanied by eggplant and kumara slices deep-fried in a batter with a crumby texture and green leafy salad with a yummy tasting seasoning that adds a zing to the salad.

And their dessert menu is something really unique. You gotta try out their Ginger and Lemon cheesecake and Banana Katsu with vanilla bean ice cream. If you think the ginger flavour is going to be overpowering, well you are going to be in for a surprise. The blend of the flavours are so perfect they are in perfect harmony. And this is indeed something very delicious.

As far as banana katsu goes, ripe banana is halved into two lengthwise, coated with breadcrumbs deep-fried and served with vanilla bean ice cream and dusting of cinnamon garnished with mint. This was a masterful stroke of genius in terms of execution. The vanilla bean ice cream with cinnamon is a delight and the ripe sweetness of the banana is a pleasant surprise oozing through the crumby texture of the deep-fried banana.

Sher a Punjab-
For those homesick Indians, this is a place that offers solace to those who miss the genuineness of the flavours of Indian cooking. They whip out authentic and hearty Indian food. The portions and food are generous in portion and spirit. The aroma of spices cooked flagrantly reminds us of home and eating at a street side Punjabi dhaba back in home soil. The colour, aroma and taste is simply beautiful. If you are looking for an ultra stylish interior, you will be disappointed. This place has a typical dhaba feel to it. Sher a Punjab’s signature item is their paratas. Oh the paneer paratas are so mouth-watering and the hot factor is not for the faint hearted. The paneer pakoras on the menu are simply delicious and have proper chunks of paneer fried in a batter mixed with spice powders.

Authentic Indian Food-Picture courtesy-www.expressentree.com

Punjabi Dhaba-
Another jewel in the Indian cuisine world in Auckland. Overall menu and food is delectable and rich catering to different crowds. The restaurant setting has an old palace like interior. Their USP and most memorable item is the Amritsari Kulfi. Not even in India, have I tasted this sort of heaven on earth. The richness of the dairy and the dry fruit and nuts awash in the kulfi is something that can be understood only when it is experienced.

NZ Natural-
Ice cream haven. The variety of flavours in NZ Natural is simply mind-blowing and puts other major players in the market to shame. Unique and simply marvellous. And not just that, you get to try out the ice cream before you can decide which one you want. It doesn’t happen in all stores!!! One can find an array of flavours such as boysenberry, raspberry with white chocolate, walnut and butterscotch, english toffee, green tea, rocky road, cookies and cream, rum n raisin etc and these are just from the top of my head. The ice creams are so unique and very creamy in their consistency leaving you wanting for more. Another one of the must haves in New Zealand.

I have saved the best for the last. We all call her ammamma, an elderly Telugu lady who has the power to infuse taste and flavours in her food with just the wave of her hand. Had the privilege of meeting this wonder woman through my husband who was boarding at her house during his bachelor days. And of course he always was in awe about her food. And what I respect most about her is the openness of her mind to experiment and try out new things. My most loved item from her magic wand is called a “Padarpeni”. These are sweets that are made from flour deep-fried in the form of mini discs that are layered and soaked in sugar syrup and kept aside to dry, crystallize and harden. This remains my most favourite in her menu. Her “adhirsam” is also quite special and executed quite well. Her food is traditional in spirit, execution and taste. And reminds you of your grandmother’s cooking. If you want some catering done by her, let me know I can email her business phone number.

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