Monday, August 29, 2011

A lovely first weekend back

So I got back from India last Saturday with a nasty, nasty cold. That combined with jet-lag, and I wasn't in the mood for much last week. Of course, I HAD to make up for it this weekend, and what a great weekend it was!

Friday evening, N and I joined Sarabot, AJP, JV, Lara, Jon, and Alex to celebrate Sarabot's birthday with the Indians game and the return of Thome!! Now I wasn't here in '95, so the significance was lost on me, but it was was great time either way!

JV and Sarabot

N and I 

I love this pic!! 

The Tribe won, and N and I ended the night with some wine and late evening munchies at Greenhouse Tavern. Incidentally, the very last item on Greenhouse's dinner menu is something called Kitchen Coffee, where you essentially buy the kitchen a round of after-service canned beer-- a great little way to directly thank the kitchen staff that cook up with the deliciousness that is Greenhouse!!

Saturday morning started with an early morning spin class, a haircut, and then HOURS of yard work. I really hate yard work, especially weeding. BLECH! A short nap and long walk with the dogs followed, and then N and I scooted over to Luxe to enjoy the gorgeous weather while getting some dinner. It was an absolutely beautiful evening, although for some reason, there were an exceptional number of 15-50's in attendance that evening. Must have been the weather... Anyway, we had plans to meet friends at Market Garden later, but oops! we fell asleep on the couch cuddling the pups!!!

Sunday, clefoodgoddess and I took the furries for a nice long walk in the Metroparks. We explored a part of the Rocky River Reservation that neither of us had visited before, and had a great time with the pups, until I was violently assaulted by a bunch of mosquitoes. Seriously, they bit my EYELIDS!! And of course, I'm super sensitive to mosquito bites and ended up with giant swollen eyelids, and huge welts on my face and my arms, and even my back!! Stupid bugs bit me through my clothing!!! THIS IS WHY I DON'T CAMP, PEOPLE!! That and the whole lack of electricity and running water. I'm a city girl through and through. We followed up our walk with a lovely little dog-friendly brunch at the Wine Bar in Rocky River. If you haven't tried this spot for brunch yet, I highly recommend it. The food is very good, and very reasonably priced, and best of all, your well-behaved, leashed dog is welcome to join you on the patio!! The rest of the day was pretty low key, and then before I knew it, it was all over!!

Lucky for me, I have a 4 day week followed by a 4-day weekend!! And even though this means summer is ending, I think I'm really ready for fall!!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Glimpses of Mumbai: Ancient Wellness

As you may know, India is a very old country, with ancient traditions and forms of medicine that may seem very strange for those of us used to more modern drug-based form of healing. One of those forms of traditional healing is called Ayurveda, which stresses the use of plant-based medicines. One of the many aspects of Ayurveda involves massage as a form of wellness and healing. Having never had a massage in Mumbai, I decided to take the plunge and get a Kerala Ayurvedic massage.

Having had the massage, I honestly have very mixed feelings about the whole thing. Unlike the Swedish Relaxation massages I'm used to at home, this massage was very very very oily. They use heated herbal oils that have various medicinal properties, and they use A LOT OF IT. I was a little panicked that I was going to slide right off the table at one point. And because of the quantity of oil used, the massage table is literally a table, not the plush cushy things I'm used to! Its so oily in fact, that you literally HAVE to shower before you leave. All this together, and I was convinced I hated the massage. But now that its 4 hours later, I'm not so sure. Why, you ask? Well, for one, I feel amazing; rejuvenated and relaxed, and my skin is soft like a baby's bottom!!!!

Would I do this again? Honestly, I'm not sure. I didn't like all the oiliness and lack of plush comfort at all, but I do like the end result!

P.S. If you're interested in learning more about Ayurveda, the Agni Yoga Studio offers an Introductory workshop.

Product Testing (in Mumbai): Thermal Reconditioning

I've been terrible at keeping you updated. To be honest, I've been doing pretty normal stuff, so there hasn't been much to write about, except that I'm doing it in a different country. However, I have been taking advantage of the relatively inexpensive services offered in Cleveland.

You may remember that in early June, I had the Brazilian blowout. Since then I've been sorta obsessed with the idea of wash-and-go hair, which is something I've never had. I have no problem with having to blow dry my hair, but I would really LUUURRRRVVVEE to retire my flat iron. While I was back in Cleveland, I had my mom investigate getting the Brazilian Keratin treatment done in Mumbai. I figured that like most beauty services, this would be way less expensive that then $400+ price tag in Cleveland. Turns out, while the Brazilian Keratin is available and popular (and around $150-$200) in Mumbai, a lot of friends and family have chosen to go the route of hair rebonding, which is effectively similar to the Japanese hair treatment available in Cleveland. The Japanese treatment in Cleveland costs about $100-$150 an hour and takes 4-5 hours on average. In Mumbai the cost is less than $200 and includes a hair wash and deep conditioning treatment 48-72 hours after the treatment!!! SOLD!!! I had the hair treatment done on Wednesday, washed professionally on Friday, and have been enjoying wash-and-go hair since then!!! My hair looks like its naturally straight and has a lot of body. If I chose to have it pin straight, I can flat iron it, and it will stay absolutely pin straight until I wash it (even if there's crazy humidity)!  Overall, I absolutely LUUUURRRVVEEE it!!! The best part? It lasts for a whole year!!!!!

Couple of caveats-
1. Like a perm, this is a chemical process, so if you are pregnant etc. you should probably stay away from it.
2. If your hair is damaged, color treated, or highlighted, please please check with a stylist before pursuing this treatment. This is a different treatment than the Keratin treatment and may not work for you.
3. Make sure you're going to a reputed salon with an experienced stylist and ask to see lots of before and after pictures.
4. Above all, do your research!!!

I have sucked at taking pics lately, but keep an eye out for my straight hair in future posts!!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Glimpses of Mumbai: Day 4 and 5

So although Mumbai is 9.5 hours ahead of Cleveland, I'm a little behind getting you caught up on what I've been doing! I've been hanging out with friends, and doing some shopping- not nearly as much as I would like because I'm having some sticker shock!! In the past two years, prices in Mumbai have risen quite dramatically, but there are a few things that remain a good value- jewelry, leather, and scarves! Lucky for me, I love all those things, so its not so bad : )

Monday night, I went to dinner with some girlfriends from high school. In Mumbai, we graduate from high school at 16, and then enroll in Junior College (for 2 years), at which point you pick the broad discipline of your major: Art, Science or Commerce. In any case, I hadn't seen some of these ladies in 15 years!! As soon as I booked my trip to Mumbai, I emailed my friend Shivani (who I try to see on every trip), and she organized a mini dinner-reunion at Olive Bar & Kitchen. I had never been to Olive before, but it has a really fun and relaxed atmosphere, and is reportedly a hotspot for the Bollywood crowd. Note: Mumbai is both the New York and L.A. of India. No, I did not see any celebrities, although I'm not sure that I would have recognized them anyway. 

I had SUCH a FABULOUS time with these ladies- loads and loads of laughs and catching up. And the best part was that we picked up right where we left off- it was like we'd never lost touch at all!!

Tuesday I spent the day hanging out with my mom; we had a fun time and I learned that in India, you can either exchange your gold for cash OR other jewelry at the same value!!  Tuesday night, I went to dinner with my parents to my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE seafood restaurant in Mumbai: Trishna. Trishna is a MUST-EAT when I'm in Mumbai, and although the tables are very close together (if you're 6' tall like N, you will be a little uncomfortable), the food is absolutely DIVINE!! Their specialty is the butter-pepper-garlic calamari, and it is TO-DIE-FOR (and not one bit spicy. The pepper is just black pepper). If you make it to Mumbai, Trishna should be your must-eat too!!!

As you can see, I'm enjoying some really great meals here. I'm sure I will pay for this when I'm back home and back on my bike! But in the mean time, I'm luuuurrrvvving EVERY SINGLE BITE!!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Glimpses of Mumbai: Day 3

After a busy Saturday night with family, I spent Sunday hanging out with my parents at some local art galleries. The art scene is BOOMING in India and art is the new "must-have", which is a great development for India's artist community! We looked at some really beautiful pieces and some that were just mediocre (you'll have that), but unfortunately I wasn't permitted to take any pictures. 

We also stopped by one of my favorite home stores, Fabindia. I have to admit, I did have some sticker shock here! It's no where near as inexpensive as it used to be!!! That said, its all relative, and I did pick up these cushion covers for way less than what I've seen in Cleveland. Fabindia does ship international, so take a look if you're in the market for home furnishings!

Here's some more pictures from around Mumbai:

A different part of the Mumbai skyline.  

N's favorite building in Mumbai- an apartment building designed by Charles Correa

The Haji Ali Daragh- Mumbai's most famous mosque. For more on this landmark including legends surrounding is origin, go here

Pretty buildings constructed pre-Independence

Yes, that is a silver horse drawn carriage. Probably one used at weddings. 

Indian food carts. This one sells raw pressed sugarcane juice. 

So back in the day, before malls were all over Mumbai, shopping for clothing meant (1) you traveled internationally/waited for friends and family to bring you clothing from their international travels or (2) scoured the city looking for "finds" often in places like "Fashion Street" in the next two pictures below.

There's an art to shopping at fashion street: (1) You MUST have patience (2) You must also have a poker face. (3) Haggle, haggle, haggle. It usually goes something like this: You find something you like. You ask how much it costs. You're given price. You feign outrage at the suggested price and start to walk away. You are then presented with another price. You go back and forth for a few minutes and leave with a sense of immense satisfaction having successfully negotiated the transaction. The piece will then promptly fall apart 2-3 washes later. 

So, if you make it to Mumbai and decide to tackle fashion street, you've been warned! : )

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Mumbai Day 2

Saturday was a particularly dreary day in Mumbai- it rained on and off all day, and as a result, I didn't end up taking any pictures. The day began with a quick trip to the mall- I saw an absolutely darling pair of animal print flats at Charles & Keith, but sadly, I was the wrong size and they didn't end up coming home with me. I did however, pick up this little piece at Cheemo for the equivalent of $34. 

An interesting note about shopping in Mumbai- if you're looking for apparel and some shoe brands, you will find a number on international brands like Zara or Mango. However, the price differential is the exchange rate plus some, so you're much better off buying clothing in the U.S., unless you're looking at Indian or Indian-inspired clothing, in which case you should certainly shop your heart out. Also, if you're looking for leather goods, or even "vegan" (read: pleather) handbags, jewelry, and scarves, this is the place to shop for excellent quality at a very reasonable price. Now you're not going to find brands that you're familiar with, but you will find very unique pieces that you're HIGHLY unlikely to see on anyone else in Cleveland (or the rest of the U.S. for that matter).

Saturday evening, my mom (who is an EXCELLENT cook btw) was hosting family for dinner, so in preparation, I went ahead and got a blow-out, that cost a whopping $12 (tip included). It was a great blowout, but sadly Mother Nature won the day with her CRAZY humidity and my hair starting curling a half hour later. Seriously, I don't know what I did with my hair when I lived here full time!!! I definitely didn't have bangs (now I remember why), and I think for the most part I just didn't fight it and let it do whatever it pleased.

Its Sunday now as you read this (Mumbai is 9.5 hours ahead), and I'm hoping for some sunshine today. I don't have anything planned for the day, but I'm fairly certain I'm meeting up with friends tonight! I'll keep you posted!!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Mumbai Day 1

Here's a little feature that I will call: Things you will see in Mumbai that you probably won't see in Cleveland.

Exhibit 1: Ceiling Fans in the bathroom. I think this is an absolute genius idea, and granted, Clevelanders would only use it for 4 months out of the year, but it would be an awesome bathroom amenity for those 4 months.

Exhibit 2: Cows on the sidewalk. The term Holy Cow comes from India, and as a sacred being, the cow is allowed to roam pretty much undisturbed wherever she pleases.

Day 1 in Mumbai is typically my day of relaxation and jet-lag recovery. It usually involves a FABULOUS mani-pedi at a posh hotel spa for a whopping price of $30!! Of course this is a premium to the more normal, non-posh mani-pedi cost which is usually under $15 ("Maintenance" is so much more affordable in Mumbai!!!).  On the way to my appointment, I took a few pictures to give you a glimpse at the city...

If you lived in Mumbai, you would do shop for fruits and veggies at a series of stores like this:

Its monsoon season in Mumbai- ominous clouds rolling in over the Arabian Sea with part of the skyline in the distance. Its rained on and off in the past 18 or so hours that I've been here, but its usually a short sharp shower, followed by general cloudiness. It is however, VERY humid!!!! My fading Brazilian blowout is no match for this crazy humidity!!

Tonight I'm having quiet dinner at home with my parents and my grandma, and hopefully getting to sleep at a normal bedtime in an effort to erase my jet-lag induced dark circles and bags under my eyes!!!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Mumbai Day 0

So about 24 hours after my last post,I'm finally in Mumbai and unpacked. There's nothing like spending time on a plane with a kid throwing a tantrum and then proceeding to speak in a very very LOUD voice to convince me that I am in fact, NOT AT ALL READY TO HAVE KIDS! Luckily, my flight was fairly uneventful other than the periodic child-tantrum interruptions, and I watched a couple of totally light silly romantic comedies, Angus, Thongs, and Perfect Snogging, and Valentine's Day (what can I say, I can't resist a Bradley Cooper movie).

As you walk off the plane at Mumbai, you're first hit with a waft of heat and humidity and an unmistakable Mumbai smell. Its a split-second thing before you're back in the cool arms of airconditioning, but it always reminds me that I'm back. One tip: if you're flying to Mumbai, don't bother buying Duty Free at your origin. Once you're past customs, you literally have to WALK THROUGH the Duty Free shop to get to baggage claim, and you're permitted to buy stuff there to take out of the airport. Just make sure you save your boarding pass. I picked up my two bottles of Jameson (for my dad) and was off to baggage claim, where of course, my bag was THE LAST ONE on the belt.

I always enjoy the drive from the airport to my parent's place. Like much of India, Mumbai is in the midst of a construction boom (and has been for the past 5 or more years), so every time I'm here the city looks different, especially at night. So as I try and get some sleep and hopefully get over this impending jet lag quickly, I leave you with this, my first pic in Mumbai, of the sea-link bridge that connects one part of the city to the other, literally over the Arabian Sea.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

CLEshopaholic travels

If you've been wondering where I've been for the last week, I've been busy packing and getting organized for my trip to India. As I type this at Hopkins airport, I'm about ready to board leg 1 of a VERY long journey to Mumbai. Later today I will be on a 15 hour flight (gag!). But not to worry, I'm taking you with me (virtually)! I will be blogging about my adventures in Mumbai so you can get a taste for my second home without leaving the comfort of yours!!

Stay tuned...