Monday, July 18, 2016

Gurdwara Sahib of San Jose

This weekend, our family outing was to the Gurdwara in San Jose. I had heard about it from many people but never got a chance to go there. In fact, BAO even conducted an event based on my suggestion last year but I got to go there only now.

The Gurdwara is about a 30 minute drive from Sunnyvale and is located on a hill. You get a great view of San Jose from up top. We reached there by noon. As soon as you enter, there is a place to leave your footwear and wash your hands. Entering the main prayer hall, we offered our prayers and sat down for a few minutes. A satsang in Punjabi was going on at the time. We then proceeded to the langar hall where lunch was being served. Grabbing a plate we stood in line, got the food and sat down to eat. Seniors and those who have difficulty sitting on the floor can sit at the tables.

The food was delicious and volunteers kept walking around serving more. After a satisfying meal we walked around clicking pictures and then made our way back home.

With my lovely In-laws
The noise caused by kids treating the place as a playground and adults socializing took away from the peaceful and meditative environment one expects from a holy place. The walls of the langar hall had a lot of posters explaining Sikhism and its tenets. It was an eye opener and I was amazed at how modern a religion it is. The teachings are very practical and are a good guideline to lead ones life by. The most impressive poster was the one which listed out the reasons why the Guru Granth Sahib is the most unique religious book. Some of the key points were as follows:

-Written by the original Gurus so there is nothing lost in translation or room for misinterpretation unlike other books which were compilations of word of mouth teachings.
-Followers consider the book as the ultimate truth and no one is worshipped above the book.
-Has a lot of different languages and dialects.
-Written in poetry form and has literary value
-Stress is on morals and value rather than miracles.

I'm very curious and will be taking up further reading about the book and the religion.

What: Gurdwara Sahib of San Jose
Where: 3636 Murillo Ave, San Jose CA
When: 24X7

Cooking Event

I am not particularly crazy about cooking.But when our team organized an offsite at a cooking school, I wanted to try it out.

The event was conducted at the Draeger's Market in Menlo Park. A small section of the store is turned into a cooking school. We arrive there at 11.30am. The 15 of us were divided in 3 groups. 'Rustic Italian' was the theme for the day. 3 groups together was responsible for cooking up one complete meal. Keeping with the theme, the groups were appropriately named as 'Team Milan (my team, yay!),' Team Rome' and 'Team Venice.' Each team was also assigned a dedicated chef to help them.

Team Milan
Team Rome and Venice made a salad, grilled vegetable and dessert. 


Our team was tasked with making 'Homemade Farafelle in creamy lemon sauce with peas and mint.' This was exactly what I wanted to make so I was thrilled. All ingredients were duly measure and prepped for us to work with. Our chef, Sukanya, had already kneaded some dough for pasta and also made a sample of the farafelle pasta. There was fresh flour, eggs and butter kept ready in the blender. All our team had to do was run the blender to get the dough kneaded. The next part was the most interesting. The dough was then put through a pasta maker and rolled multiple times to get flattened strips. These were then cut using serrated cutters and then pinched to make the bow-tie pasta. Everyone took turns to do this. Afterall we were making pasta for 15 people so we used all the help we could get.

Pasta making

More pasta making
I took up the job of chopping onions. I got started with it and chopped a whole bunch of them. Others busied themselves with zesting and juicing lemons, cutting cherry tomatoes and chopping mint leaves.

Once all the vegetables were done, we moved on to make the sauce. Most were still occupied with the pasta so I took over the making of sauce. A large quantity of butter was melted, onions sauteed, heavy cream and spices were added. Post a few tastings and adjustments we were ready with the sauce. It was a fun experiment. With Sukanya in tow, I had no fear of going wrong.



Once all teams were done, the final touch was provided by the chefs and post a 15 minute break, the meals were served. Unfortunately, I didn't click any pictures of the final product :( But it was a satisfying meal with the best dish being the pasta!

It is a fun place to be and can be an excellent team building activity. I hear kids host their birthday parties there although it is quite an expensive affair. Nevertheless I had a great time donning the Chef's apron followed by a delicious lunch. They even provided us a copy of all the recipes scaled down for 6.

What: Cooking class
Where: Draeger's Market 1010 University Dr, Menlo Park CA
Fee: $125

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Family trip to the East Coast

I have family visiting from India so I foresee a lot of fun travel in the future. The first of our trips was to the east coast. We covered Niagara, New York city and Washington DC over a period of 7 days.

Selfie in the flight

Since it was their first time in the US, we covered all the tourist spots and highlights of each city.

Maid of the mist and Cave of the winds in Niagara.

Maid of the mist
Niagara falls

Cave of the winds

Statue of liberty, One world observatory, Empire state building, Central park, Grand central terminal, Wallstreet, Brooklyn bridge were spots we covered in NYC.

Empire State Building
Grand Central
One World Observatory

Cruise to Statue of Liberty
Statue of Liberty
Brooklyn Bridge

We barely had 24 hours in DC so that limited us to seeing the White House, Lincoln Memorial, US Capitol and Washington Monument. It was a super sunny day which drained our energy and walking the distance between each of these monuments made it even worse. Towards the end, we resorted to using Uber! The only place we could enter was the Lincoln memorial and the rest of them were merely photo ops. Since I wasn't too keen about American history, I didn't spend time learning more about the monuments and so I don't have anything to write about them :)

The White House

Washington Monument

Lincoln Memorial

US Capitol

We were visiting most of these places for the second time so the excitement wasn't there. The only exception being the Niagara falls which invoked the same sense of awe as my first visit.