Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Gumbo for breakfast in New Orleans

The drunken debauchery on Bourbon Street never appealed to me. The gumbo, catfish, andouille sausage, po' boys, and cocktails of New Orleans, however, are another story. My husband and I recently escaped for three days to New Orleans, sans kiddos. We walked the streets, took ghost and plantation tours, went to a show, smiled at street musicians, read two-hundred year-old cemetery plaques, and I ate gumbo for breakfast…and lunch…and dinner.

Gumbo is my new favorite thing. The crab and shrimp gumbo at Brennan's is very good, the seafood gumbo at Peche, which just won the James Beard award for best new restaurant in the South, is to die for, the andouille and chicken gumbo at NOLA, Emeril Lagasse's restaurant, is delicious, but my favorite gumbo is Frank's, a family-owned joint that's been around since the 1960's. Their muffuletta, a typical New Orleans sandwich made with thick bread, olives, a mixture of cheeses, salami and ham, and their gumbo are worth it. Next time you're in New Orleans, order a cup of gumbo and a half muffuletta (it's enourmous enough).
Street band on Bourbon Street. 35 degrees fahrenheit and still going!
You must be wondering why I haven't mentioned the world famous beignets at Cafe du Monde. One simple reason: Yuck. It was ridiculously cold when we went to New Orleans. The US was experiencing an arctic blast that dropped temperatures to below freezing, even in sub-tropical New Orleans. I was looking forward to a hot cup of cafe au lait and a pile of those beignets everyone keeps talking about. We entered Cafe du Monde, and walked into a chaotic, jam-packed restaurant of people covered with the white dust of powdered sugar. My husband managed to find a table while I made the line to the bathroom, which is located near the kitchen. What I saw made me turn right around, tell my husband to get the heck out of the place, and run away. There is a small army of middle-aged Asian women who work at Cafe du Monde, quick as ants catering to the masses that order beignets and cafe au lait 24 hours a day. I have nothing against middle-aged Asian servers, of course, but I do have something against them grabbing greasy beignets with bare hands, plopping them on plates, pumping pounds of confectioners sugar on them, and sending them off to the tables. One server was eating a snack with one bare hand while using her other bare hand to pile the beignets on a plate. Another used the same bare hand that she used to take someone's cash to serve the next set of beignets to the next customer. So like I said, yuck. 

We had a far more agreeable experience at Morning Call, a place that's been around for 142 years. They also serve beignets and cafe au lait and believe me, it's a far more pleasant experience than Cafe du Monde. Here, instead of a chaotic mess, you eat at a pristine marble bar, and instead of servers with dirty hands topping your beignets with pounds of sugar, the servers at Morning Call offer a confectioners sugar canister to give you the choice of the amount of sugar you'd like to top your fried dough. Because let's be honest, that's all they are, those little beignets, fried dough. Nothing to toot anyone's horn about. 
Morning Call moved from the French Quarter to City Park after Hurricane Katrina.
New Orleans is awesome. I don't know quite how to put it into words, but the city seems to smile all the time. The French Quarter is all that it's cracked up to be, the plantations that are one hour away are lovely, and brass band shows at Tipitina's are so much fun. I look forward to my next trip and specially my next gumbo breakfast. 

Oak Alley Plantation
Treme brass band at Tipitina's

Thursday, October 16, 2014

What I ate in Rio

What better way to begin my Brazil entries than to write about my first trip to Rio de Janeiro.

Like you, I've seen multiple images of this city - including it's Christ statue, favelas, beaches, and bikinis.  However, seeing Rio's beauty in person for the first time struck me like a lighting flash. The topography is like nothing I've seen before,its buildings seemingly carved into every available crevice between mountain peaks. The sun's nightly light shows are surreal, live samba bands take the rhythm into your bones and make it impossible for you stay still, and let's just say I'm still relishing in the taste of those caipirinhas.
Sunset above Cristo Redentor in Rio de Janeiro, seen from Pao de Azucar
We stayed with dear friends who booked a babysitter and lead us into a taxi that weaved its way through the winding Rio streets, up and down its hills and mountains, and into the "Centro", or old town. The taxi pulled up to an old house, and to be honest I was hesitant to enter a building with such questionable structural integrity. My worries subsided as soon as the bouncers opened the door into a live samba experience I'll never forget. The place is called Trapiche Gamboa, and it is awesome. It's where Brasilians go to dance samba. And oh my goodness, can these people dance.
Live samba at Trapiche Gamboa, Rio de Janeiro
I dance salsa and have been known to swing my hips and shake my shoulders in my day, but the speed of samba took my dancing abilities to a whole other level. Samba-dancing women are able to shift their feet and swing their hips at an incredibly fast pace, while keeping their upper bodies quite still. They manage to hold on to their caipirinhas while they move this fast. So. Much. Fun.

Speaking of caipirinhas, I didn't want to be the only dork taking photos of the caipirinhas I drank that night, so I'll leave that image to your imagination. Let's just say that they were minty, lime, and cachaca goodness. Here's a recipe, so you can re-create this deliciousness at home. You'll need good cachaca (sugar cane hard liquor) to get close to the real thing.

Trapiche Gamboa also offers a lovely little menu. My friend ordered moela, chicken gizzards, which were sublime. I tried to guess the ingredients, and also walked to the kitchen to ask for the recipe. The cook who prepared them wasn't there, however, so I'll have to try to re-create the recipe at home. 
No matter what I put in the chicken gizzards and caipirinhas that I'll make at home, I'm certain I won't be able to replicate the way they tasted that night, in the energy and rhythm of Trapiche Gamboa. The gorgeous dilapidated house with its enormous iron chandelier and early 20th century tile designs speak of a time before ours, but that continues to enchant the  Brazilian dancers that flock to keep the culture of samba, caipirinhas, and chicken gizzards alive and kicking. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Public markets and cat calls

Last month, we packed up and moved from Panama to Brazil. During our last weeks in Panama, we celebrated with friends, said our goodbyes to the high rise that I had a tumultuous relationship with for two years, and visited the public market. I've always said public markets are the essence of a city, which is why I chose this place to say my goodbyes to Panama. 

Watermelon vendors, Panama 2014
Markets are where you buy delicious food, and also receive cat-calls that either make you or break you. Being a tough cookie, I generally respond well to cat-calls because I find them anthropologically fascinating. They transcend racial and class lines, and, if they are harmless, PG-rated, and fall along the lines of "you look as delicious as these watermelons", I find them endearing.

A week after visiting Panama's mercado de abastos, which literally translates to provisions market, I went to visit my sister in New York City. The public market scene in NYC is different than that in Panama because markets in NYC are usually cleaner and more expensive. I've also never received cat-calls in NYC farmer's markets. Actually, I receive significantly less cat calls in the US than in Latin America, or other countries.Despite these differences, markets do have some things in common. You have to talk to someone to buy your food.

There's something valuable and appealing about speaking to another person to ask for the items you want to buy, having to communicate with someone instead of simply grabbing a pear at the grocery store produce section and rushing, anonymously, to the check-out counter. I love that a conversation with a fruit vendor about seasonal cherries very often becomes a conversation about something else completely unrelated to a cherry.

It's hip to buy locally-grown stuff at a farmer's market. I think the popularity of farmer's markets is due to the element of human interaction and not just about the quality of the produce. Despite our addiction to anti-social smart phones and our need-to-grab-our-food-and-go culture, I believe we like the idea of stepping outdoors and talking to a vendor about their watermelons…even if they begin the conversation by telling you that you look as tasty as their bounty. Or perhaps you're lured to their stall because that's how they started the conversation in the first place.

This marks my last entry about my life and culinary pursuits in Panama. Watch for entries about my new adventures living in Brazil... and whether or not I'll get cat-calls at Brazilian markets.

A palenquera fruit vendor holding my son. Cartagena, Colombia, 2009

I mean, how could you NOT buy couscous and lamb from this guy? Marrakech, Morocco, 2011
Here are some photos of some lovely public market vendors I've come across in my travels.

Feeling warm in Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago, 2009
Coconut vendor by the Savanah, Port of Spain. When I shared this photo on a blog post, my friend's mom recognized this vendor. She was raised in Trinidad and left more than 40 years ago. He's still selling coconuts.
Beautiful boy, beautiful pomeracs, Port of Spain, 2010
My shark vendor in Port of Spain. She had bright red hair and always a smile on her face. Trinidad and Tobago, 2010
Moroccan mint tea server in Marrakech, Morocco, 2011
Fried red snapper, Embera Drua indian community, Panama, 2012
Mr. Best fish curry in the world, New Delhi, India, 2013

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Dr + Chef: Getting Kids on Track to Healthy Eating

Recently, my friend Gabriela and I spoke about the poor diet parents are giving their children. Snacks are either super sugary or very high in sodium with little nutritional value. So, we decided to do something about it!

Gabriela is a medical doctor specializing in nutrition, and I am a chef. So, we created a Facebook page called Dr + Chef with the intention of presenting ingredients with high nutritional and medicinal values and sharing delicious recipes using those ingredients.

As parents, I believe an invaluable lesson we must teach our children is to eat well; to eat real, healthy, nutritious food. This is a powerful tool parents can give their children to help them prevent certain illnesses and to lead healthy lives.

Our Facebook page offers tips on how to eat a healthy diet, and offers delicious ways to cook nutritious ingredients. So far, we've shared recipes for multigrain flax seed pancakes with red berry maple syrup sauce, which is good for your heart. We've also talked about the benefits of quinoa as a high-protein alternative. And, we've given a step-by-step guide to a doable one-day detox.

Follow us on Facebook for access to delicious recipes and nutritional information all-in-one. 

Here is a sample of the kind of information you'll find on our page:


In order to create white flour, cereals go through a milling and refining process that leaves only endosperm, or carbohydrates, which have very poor nutritional value.

Refined (or white) flour is very easily digested, and is practically all starch. It allows the body to transform this starch into glucose, thus increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol, diabetes, weight gain, and obesity.

Dr + Chef suggest that instead of consuming sugary cereals made of refined flour at breakfast, these can be replaced with a healthy and nutritious oatmeal, for example. Oatmeal is an excellent source of complex B vitamins, vitamin A, vitamin E, and vitamin D. It contains up to 25% protein, calcium (which helps decrease the changes of osteoporosis), iron (which is indispensable for transporting oxygen to cellular tissue), and zinc, which is fundamental for creating insulin.

Eating something healthy does not mean sacrificing good taste. There are delicious alternatives to sugary kids breakfast cereals. Get your children on the right track to eating well and do them a favor by eliminating sugary breakfast cereals that do not offer any nutritional value.

Oatmeal with almond milk, cinnamon and honey recipe
1 1/2 cups oatmeal (we recommend Quaker Oats or Coach's Oats)
3 cups almond milk
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp honey

In a sauce pan, bring almond milk to medium heat, and add oatmeal. Stir constantly until oats are softened and the milk's consistency becomes thicker. Add cinnamon and honey, and stir until desired consistency.

Top with fruit of choice, such as strawberries, bananas, blueberries, or raspberries and serve.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

India: Trekking and making chapatis in the Himalayas

My final India entry is about a breathtaking place that is the exact opposite of chaos.  It is also completely different to the luxury we experienced in Delhi, Ranthambore, and Jaipur.

We took an early morning flight from Delhi to Kulu, at the foot of the Himalayas. The small plane landed in a valley between two Himalayan peaks. The October air was crisp and fresh, welcoming the first signs of winter. We drove to Manali and rested until the following morning, when we met our trekking team, which consisted of five Nepalese porters, a Nepalese cook, and a guide from Manali. In a minute, I'll explain why this man became my hero.

We started off in a car, until the road ended. Up the mountain we walked, past villages whose residents hike up to two hours to and from the nearest town. They live in beautiful stone and wood houses with balconies that have views of the Himalayas. Close your eyes and picture waking up to that every day.

Someone's house in the Himalayas
This time of year, the woods are lush and rich with blooming apple trees and sweet corn that is cultivated along the mountain ridges. In winter, however, the terrain changes and becomes a scene of frozen air and mountain peaks. We continued to trek up the mountain, deeper and steeper into the pine forest. Out of nowhere, we found a small house and its inhabitants. As I thought about how difficult their isolated life must be, the grandmother, who was sitting in the yard knitting, pulled out her mobile phone to answer a call.

Before sunset, our porters set up camp in a valley. Here I was in a tent in a Himalayan forest with a pencil, my journal, and my husband reading a book. Alone with my thoughts. Disconnected. Silence. Will I last the next two days?

Our tent.
Our cook's resourcefulness would impress any Michelin-starred chef. He made due with two kerosene stoves, a pressure cooker, two pots, and a pan. The porters carried tins with food for the eight of us. We opted for a vegetarian menu, and were delighted with the tomato soup, daal, rice, cauliflower, and chapati meal by candlelight. 

My first time sleeping in a tent, and I chose the Himalayas to do it. I admit I'm an at-least-three-stars-kind-of-girl when it comes to accommodation, and this tent was not my favorite thing in the world.

We woke at 6am to use nature's bathroom, had breakfast, and began our four-and-a-half hour trek. I was impressed with my ability to walk uphill for this long. I did it! We reached our camp site and enjoyed an afternoon looking at the Himalayas. We hid in our tent when it started to hail, and once it stopped, I helped the cook make chapatis. Chapati-making in the Himalays - one for the books. 

The view from our tent
Making chapatis in the Himalayas
The final day of our trek was more like a suicidal downhill obstacle course to the "Lost Village" of Malana. Trekking agencies market this village brilliantly, convincing tourists that its inhabitants are mysterious people who have protected their way of life for centuries, and that outsiders are asked to respect the culture and way of life by staying away. As an anthropologist, I was thrilled by the thought of visiting such a place, enchanted by the idea of being allowed a glimpse into the lives of this community. 
The summit. With Hindu offerings; houses for the gods.
After reaching the summit of our trek, we came to what seemed the end of the trail. There was nothing but hill. Downhill. It was such a steep decline, you could not see the trail below. This is when our guide became my hero. Had that man not held my hand the whole four hours down the mountain, around loose plants and shifting rocks, I would still be there, crying. Yes, I cried like a baby. My legs felt like jello, my toe nails felt like they were going to fall off (and two of them did, later). When we finally reached Malana, I was exhausted, and for the first time in my life, I felt like I might know what it's like to have a body that doesn't work properly. My brain would tell my right leg to move, but it was so tired, so destroyed, that it wouldn't respond. 

Despite the pain, I grabbed on to that romantic idea of seeing the "lost village" of Malana. What a disappointment.

The sad reality is that Malana has become a shitty little town inundated with trash, and subsists from the sale of a special kind of marijuana that grows in this part of the Himalayas. I know nothing about marijuana, but apparently this kind is super intense. Weed-smoking backpackers are everywhere in Malana, high as kites. I was disgusted by them and because I saw young Malana girls harvesting leaves to sell to these tourists. Shitty Malana. Shitty tourists. The pain of the descent to reach this village was not worth it. All I felt was sadness that centuries of a culture ended up as a haven for cheap, dirty, drug tourism. After reaching the road where our car would meet us to take us back to Manali, I sat for a few moments and cried. My hero guide did his best to alleviate my pain by saying "don't worry, men also cry." That made me laugh. 

Looking back, I'm very glad my husband and I celebrated his 40th on the Himalayas. It was a first for me to sleep in a tent, to trek up and down a mountain, and to cook in the middle of a Himalayan forest. The stunning views are so incredibly beautiful, I don't think I could describe them in this blog entry. Even though I hold a special memory of this off-the-beaten-path experience, I think I'm still an at-least-three-stars kind of girl, and I'll always opt for the kinds of places the rest of our India trip had to offer. This luxury, coupled with glimpses of the not-so-perfect Indian life, made for a wonderful trip.

India is a place of contrasts, and I think we managed to witness a few of these contrasts during our trip. Lots more to see, however, and I can't wait to return.
Sunset in the Himalayas

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

India: Part IV - Jaipur and fish curry

After Ranthambore and its tiger, off we went to Jaipur. I'd dreamt about this city and its forts, crafts, and food. While living in Trinidad & Tobago, one of my favorite places was House of Jaipur, an oasis where I used to escape to sip a cup of Masala Chai and admire the gorgeous crafts for sale. 

We had the misfortune of having a driver who got lost getting to Jaipur. A 2.5-hour ride turned into a 5 hour nauseating headache. Part of this vehicular catastrophe included an unsolicited and unexpected trip through some of Jaipur's (I'll be honest here) ugliest and dirtiest back streets. Pigs wallowed in putrid water that ran along thin canals at the foot of homes and businesses, trash mounds were everywhere and trash cans were nowhere. People urinated, spat, and blew their noses every which way; and ate in the same ways. I have to admit that my anthropological open-mindedness went out the window and melted away in one of the disgusting canals. I was feeling green and I needed to see something beautiful and forget that I was holding a small bottle of hand sanitizer up to my nose to cover the revolting stench that inundated the car. 

Samode Haveli, Jaipur
We finally arrived at the right place to escape these scenes of some people's reality. We arrived in Samode Haveli, a beautiful hotel that used to be a Maharaja's home, no, palace. I thanked my lucky stars that we could afford to stay in a lovely hotel with a clean bed and a hot shower. After I recovered from the nausea and car sickness, I put my anthropologist hat on again and thought about how interesting that detour through Jaipur had been. I thought about how I saw small children walk arm in arm on their way home from school in an endearing way I haven't seen in many other places. I noticed that so much of Indian daily life takes place outdoors, for the world to see. Haircuts and shaves, a game of cards, fixing a radio, feeding a child, drinking tea, having a conversation, washing a shirt, eating a dosa, and watching the view. These lives take place in a fish bowl and are an absolute contrast to the private lives we live in America behind closed doors. Even though it was an attack on the senses, I'm glad I had the opportunity to see that corner of Indian reality. A fish curry dinner (*see recipe below) and drinks by the pool at the hotel did the trick, and we slept soundly in our privileged four-poster bed.
Samode Haveli, Jaipur

The next day, we visited stunning Amber Fort, Jaipur's Great Wall of China, and Elephant Village, where we painted and rode an elephant in a protected environment where families receive subsidies to care for elephants in exchange for a home. Images of the previous day's nastiness forgotten, we were once again on the way to enjoying the loveliness of India, but still silenced by her contrasts.
Amber Fort, Jaipur


Fish Curry

I was invited to a friend's home to hang out with her personal cook for an afternoon. This is his delicious fish curry recipe, an epitome of Delhi home-cooking.

Grating coconut


2.2 lbs (1kg) fish with firm, white flesh, such as Rohu
3 or 4 curry leaves
vegetable oil
1 tbsp garlic paste
4 tbsp mustard seeds (yellow and black) - ground in water to make mustard seed paste
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp ground red chili
2 pureed tomatoes
1 cup water
1 spicy green chili
4 small cubes potatoes
1 grated coconut (blended with 1/2 cup water) to create coconut milk

Marinate fish strips in turmeric and sauté in 1 tbsp vegetable oil and set aside. In a separate sauté pan, fry curry leaves in 1 tbsp vegetable oil and add garlic paste. Add 1/2 tbsp of mustard seed paste and 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp turmeric, 1/2 tsp red chili, and pureed tomatoes. Sauté until all elements are cooked through, then add 1/2 cup of water. Let cook throughly.
Green chili
Frying curry leaves

Fish curry
Add 1/2 cup water to the curry sauce to liquify, then add fish that was marinating separately. Halve the spicy green chili and remove its seeds. Chop and add the green chili to the mixture, as well as potatoes and the milk of the grated coconut.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

India: Part III A Tiger in its Home

We got side-tracked driving through Agra to get to Fatehpur Sikri*, and what we saw was reality. Our previous days' adventures included visits to gorgeous monuments, delicious restaurants, sublime boutiques, such as Good Earth (Tara's family's home decoration store) and a birthday party that Delhi's creme de la creme attended in all their splendor. That was one side of the Indian reality coin. The other was the view from our car, as it maneuvered through the streets of Agra. The stereotypical chaos of cows on the road, bicycles, rickshaws, people, cars, all of them moving. Together. Everywhere. Across. Around. Through. Over. Under. At. The. Same. Time. Sensory overload. 

I was glad to arrive in a quiet, clean hotel, and grateful for my life of comfort and the opportunity to be reminded of the way many *many* people live.

Taj Majal at sunrise.

The Taj Majal at sunrise. Put it on your list of things to do before you die, if you haven't done so already. It looks like sugar, and changes color every five minutes as its exposure to the sunlight changes. I thought I would be desensitized to its splendor because I've seen so many images of it, but that was not the case. 

From Agra we took a train to Ranthambore, an area of Rajasthan where tigers roam and reign supreme. Tara recommended we include a Sher Bagh experience. Created with the intention of welcoming those interested in going on safari to visit Bengal tigers in their natural habitat, and enjoying some of the world's best guest services experiences, Sher Bagh is a place where you go to be pampered, eat very well, and have spiritual experiences associated with seeing a tiger in its home, from the comfort of doorless, roofless, open-topped safari jeeps. When our train arrived in Ranthambore, we were greeted by Sher Bagh drivers and butlers who offered us lemon water on a silver platter at the railway station. We embarked our jeep, and on our tiger adventure. We arrived at Sher Bagh in the midst of a forest and adobe grounds. A luxury tent "glamping" (glamour camping) experience, where good taste, comfort, and respect for the surrounding environment come together to humble you into submitting to the magic this place has to offer. 

"Glamping" (glamour camping) in Sher Bagh.
On our first outing, we visited a Hindu temple dedicated to Ganesha located in the heart of the tiger reserve. The temple is more than one thousand years old, and sits carved into the rocks that protrude from the hills of Ranthambore. Ancient engineers masterminded a design that curves along with the winding hills, creating a powerful spiritual experience for pilgrims and visitors. 

We returned to camp for dinner by torch light. The buffet meal
Dinner by torch light in Sher Bagh.
of typical home cooking from Rajasthan was presented on an adobe buffet mound made of a mixture of manure and red soil that is used to make houses in this part of India. The design was brilliant and included a cavity in the mound where candles were placed to keep the food warm. Butlers helped us serve scrumptious daal, okra, chicken paneer, yogurt, and chutney on gorgeous copper plates. All this was accompanied with the best naan I've ever had. After dinner, we enjoyed a drink with our hosts, the family who owns Sher Bagh and whose passion for Ranthambore and its tigers is contagious. Their anecdotes about tiger sitings peaked our interest and made us almost burst at the seams with anticipation. We returned to our tent for a hot shower and a comfortable night's rest under a mosquito net. I felt like I was living the Out of Africa dream of living in luxury safari mode. A sunrise safari awaited us the next morning, and I dreamt of tigers.

Tracking tigers.
Tiger sitings at this time of year were complicated because the recent monsoons had left a lush canopy of brush, creating hiding places for tigers. For hours, we roamed the jungle, which looked like an enchanted forest where fairies live. Recent rainfall allowed for fresh and crisp mint green leaves to shimmer against the charcoal black background of tree trunks that twisted and curved amongst the magic of the jungle. We spotted different varieties of deer, peacocks, monkeys, wild boar, dragonflies the color of fire, and birds galore. We even caught sight of a terrifying but gorgeous spider with black, orange, and yellow spots the size of my hand. It rested on its gigantic and perfectly symetrical web waiting for prey. 

The spider waited for its prey just as we sat by an enormous and ancient Banyan tree that looked like something from the Lord or the Rings, about to pull its massive roots and vines as if they were arms and legs to start walking deeper into the jungle. We waited not for prey, but for a tiger siting. We were on the look out for alarm calls (sounds animals make to warn us that there are tigers around). At one magical and nerve racking moment, a deer stood perfectly still and began patting his front leg as an indication that he sensed the presence of a tiger. I've never been so horrified and thrilled with anticipation. We waited for an hour, and deep down in our animal instinct (that woke up in Ranthambore after being dormant in our life in a concrete jungle) we knew there was a tiger near us. However, the tiger wasn't feeling sociable enough to say hello.
Sunset in Ranthambore.
At sundown, we witnessed one of the best shows I've seen the sun put on. A palette of pastel colors draping the sky above an ancient Hindu temple that has sat in the middle of a lake as a lounging area for many generations of tigers. My heart skipped beats and I sighed more than once.

While exiting the reservation that evening, we stumbled upon a traffic jam of safari jeeps on the main road. The guide in the jeep ahead of us stopped and pointed to our left, where ten feet from us, there he was...a tiger. My hands started to shake with excitement, fear, happiness, and a feeling of relief because this tiger had allowed us a glimpse, and appeased anxious anticipation. The monkeys in the trees yelled, jumped, and ran away from the tiger, while us humans clicked away with our cameras. I left Ranthambore a happier person than when I entered it. Tara and the family that runs Sher Bagh is addicted to the feeling of complete awe of seeing India's Bengal tigers, and perhaps I am now an addict as well. The power and imposing presence of a tiger living in his home are enough to humble even the most indifferent of spectators. I now understand what it means to be blessed by a tiger's decision to grace you with his presence. 
This is what happens when you're shaking so much, you can't take a proper photo of the tiger that is ten feet from you, and you're in an open jeep.

Seeing a tiger in his home solidified my belief that animals, and the environment we share with them, are sacred and to be revered and respected. 

*Fatehpur Sikri is a stunning Mughal city built with the purpose of bringing together artists, philosophers, theologists, and people from different religions far and wide. Stone is carved so intricately, it has the appearance of wood.