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Cedar Point: Amusement Park

Tuesday, August 4, 2009 0 comments

- Reflections -
Photomanipulation of the Iron Dragon roller coaster. The steel tubular track is supported by 137 columns.

- Water play -
Walking through the amusement park, I came across some kids playing with water jets which shoot up on regular intervals. This kid was having fun trying to catch the jet and it kept hitting him on the face :)

- Woodwork -
Wood structure of the gigantic Mean Streak roller coaster. Constructed in 1991, it is made of 1.7 million board feet of Southern yellow pine, spread out on 5 1/2 acres at an estimated cost of $7.5 million.

Pics taken on July 27, 2009 at Cedar Point, Sandusky, Ohio.



A few years ago, I came across some aerial pics of forts of the Sahyadri mountains in Maharashtra. The images were quite popular among trekkers giving them a bird's eye view. Little did I know that the man behind the camera was Shiv Sena politician Uddhav Thackeray.

Uddhav Thackeray was invited to the BMM convention at Philadelphia this year for an exhibition of his aerial photography of Maharashtra. The photos are compiled in a reference book titled 'Jai Maharashtra' which was distributed free to registered members. I did not attend the convention but got hold of the book. Thanks to my aunt & cousin : )

Press releases from BMM have been particular in emphasizing that Thackeray's visit to the convention was not political in nature.
“I am here as a photographer and not as the leader of the Shiv Sena. For me, this convention is an opportunity to display Maharashtra’s rich cultural heritage to future generations,” he explains.

Thackeray gave his first public interview outside India which was conducted by noted compere Sudhir Gadgil. The interview was almost 1 hr 15 minutes long, with a few minutes of discussion on photography related matters:



The 40 page soft cover book has 66 photos divided into four sections:

  • Forts of Maharashtra
  • Aamchi Mumbai
  • Places of Worship
  • Beautiful Land
It came enclosed in a saffron colored envelope with saffron colored pages on the front and back; the color being symbolic of Hinduism.


The book starts with a photo of a helicopter in the background with
Uddhav Thackeray holding two cameras in his hands, and the following prologue:

All photos (except maybe one) are taken from a helicopter. Numerous articles have been published in newspapers which provide 'behind the scenes' information. Mahesh Vijapurkar - a journalist writes about the endeavor behind this aerial photography in the article Uddhav Thackeray and those scenic forts and Santosh Harhare provides more input in View from Above. The photos were taken in 2003 and I am sure exhibitions are being held in Mumbai on a regular basis. The first exhibit took place at the Jehangir Art Gallery on January 19, 2004 and was named Where Eagles Dare. Balgandharva Art Gallery in Pune had the exhibit from April 19-22, 2004.

Coming back to the book, each photo comes with a caption both in English and Marathi. I wish the images were larger enabling one to appreciate details. One thing is clear that this is essentially a reference book to accompany exhibitions. Text and commentary is kept minimal. Maharashtra offers many landscapes and not many aerial photographs of historic forts and other beautiful places have been printed, so this compilation is definitely a nice addition.

I will look forward to the day when a larger hard-cover book is published with in-depth discussion on the places photographed. For now, you can view the photos online here.

The Voyager

Friday, July 24, 2009 0 comments

Voyager : traveler : somebody who makes a long journey to or through a place. The journey can also be an endeavor to achieve some dreams and goals in life. 'The Voyager' in us likes exploring, trying out old/new things - traveling through life creating memories. French novelist, Marcel Proust rightly said:

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.

This quote can have a different meaning for all of us. For some it could simply mean to look at familiar things in a different way with a new perspective. For others it could mean a deep soul searching journey to find out what lies beyond the horizon. I saw this quote printed on one of the travel diaries in a news/book shop at Philadelphia train station. It immediately caught my attention and the name of this blog was inspired by the quote.

Kolhapuri Chicken

Wednesday, July 22, 2009 0 comments





Kolhapuri chicken is the most popular regional non vegetarian dish in Maharashtra, India. It is called "tambda rassa" in the local vernacular and is accompanied by a white chicken curry known as "pandhra rassa".

The authentic flavor of this dish is hot and fiery because of the use of lavangi mirchi and/or Sankeshwari red chillies. The red hot chillies impart a distinct flavor and red color to the gravy. Another important ingredient is the Kolhapuri chutney or ghati masala.
Ready made masala packs of K-Pra & Pravin brand are available. I did not have the ready packs so decided to make it from scratch. Added advantage is that the masala made is fresh and one can change the quantity of spice mix according to your taste.

Ingredients:

Chicken drumsticks - 2.5 lbs
Oil - 4 tbsp
Salt
Turmeric powder (Halad)
Lime juice
Onions - 2 medium finely chopped
Paprika powder - 1 tbsp
Bay leaf (Tejpaan) - 1

- For masala paste -

Sesame seeds (Til) - 1 tbsp
Poppy seeds (Khus Khus) - 1 tbsp
Big Cardamon - 2
Small Cardamom - 4
Mace (Javitri) - 1
Cinnamon (Dalchini) - 1 medium piece
Cloves - 4
Star Anise - 1
Peppercorn - 1 tsp
Coriander seeds - 1 tbsp
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Caraway (Shahjeera) - 1 tsp
Stone flower (Dagad phool) - 1 tsp
Acacia (Nagkeshar) - 1 tsp
Fenugreek seeds (Methi) - 1 tsp
Mustard seeds (Mohri) - 1 tsp
Fennel seeds (Badi-sheb) - 1 tsp
Dry coconut - 3/4 cup shredded
Ginger - 2 inch piece chopped
Garlic - 8 cloves chopped
Dry red chillies (whole) - 10
Green chillies - 2 optional
Onion - 1 medium sliced
Asafoetida (Hing) - 1 pinch
Nutmeg powder (Jaiphal) - 1 pinch. This spice is optional and not shown in pic below.



Preparation:

1. Wash the chicken drumsticks in water and drain. Apply turmeric, salt and lime juice to chicken and keep aside.



2. Roast all the above spices (except bay leaf) in frying pan on medium heat until golden brown. Stir continuously to avoid burning and keep aside for cooling. The quantity of various spices, method and degree of roasting will affect the flavor of the dish. There is no one definite technique and variations can be found in different households, but the essence of making this spice blend remains the same.

3. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in pan and saute the sliced onions, ginger, garlic, and green chillies till the onions are translucent and there is no raw smell.



4. Mix the roasted spices and sauted onion, ginger, garlic, green chillies in a blender and grind to a fine paste. Add some water if needed.



5. Heat 3-4 tbsp of oil in a pan. Add one bay leaf and the finely chopped onions. Add salt and saute the onions till golden brown.

6. Add the chicken drumsticks and mix well under high heat.

7. Reduce the heat. Now mix the masala paste and 1 tbsp paprika. Saute for 1-2 minutes.
I forgot to add paprika at this stage so used it in step 8. Note the bland color without paprika:



8. Add water. Cover the pan with lid and cook till chicken is done.

Usually authentic red chillies give deep red color to the gravy but I did not have access to the specific ones. So I used paprika which also gives nice red color:



9. Garnish with cilantro.

This was my first attempt at making this dish. The masala paste came out a little coarse...so may be I need a new blender :D, but overall I was happy with the result. This is one recipe which will definitely keep anyone warm on a cold winter day and the aroma is heavenly.

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