Parathas @ Mt. Whitney

The pace of life in the nourishncherish household has been peaking. The husband, in a dash of mid-life madness decided that what he wanted most was to add to his resume, the fact that he scaled the tallest peak in the contiguous United States, Mt. Whitney. Hikers apparently prepare for a few months (with at least a few hikes in high altitudes), but the husband and his friends don’t set much store by what people usually do. So, in their typical fashion, they went ahead and attempted the peak after 5 weeks of ‘rigorous training’ on a hillock by our house.  It is a bit like jumping in the middle of the ocean and navigating through the rip tides on the firm knowledge that you can swim in the deep-end of the pool in your local pool, even when the lifeguard was not on duty. (I exaggerate as usual) But like our friend said wisely, you only get to be young and stupid for so many decades of your life and so, there they were.

Mt. Whitney from the Visitor Center
Mt. Whitney from the Visitor Center

I have observed this multiple times with the husband. When I ask him to take a packed lunch for example, he scoffs. He not only scoffs, but also shrugs his shoulders in a manner suggesting that it is only old maids, elderly aunts and mothers who think of food and packing and all that. Not cool guys like himself. He is a man who will hunt for food, rouse his primal instincts for food gathering or stop at a sandwich place. But to give the man his due, I have never seen this cool attitude towards the food linger once the Biriyani packets are opened at picnics. There are some egotists who would  turn away from the Biriyani thinking back and reflecting on the hurtful statements hurled at the Biriyani earlier in the morning. Not so with the husband. All trifling misunderstandings with Biriyanis are shelved and he is the true example of the bigger man. He shows that all biriyani-related ill-humour earlier that day is water under the bridge and tucks in with joy and enthusiasm. The biriyani is happily settled in the stomach and the smile of contentment is happily displayed on the man. All is well.

Characteristically, when I asked him what he planned to do for food during the hike, he scoffed. I suggested Idlis (steamed rice cakes) because I thought idlis were a good food to take on hikes (they are starchy enough, steamed and relatively dry). But more importantly, I thought ‘Idlis on Mt Whitney’ would make a good blog title. The husband snorted loudly at this. I then prudently suggested Bread and Jam. It is easy to handle, light,  and there is sugar in the jam which can be critical when they planned to hike for 16 hours non-stop. He poo-ed and pa-ed and that was brushed aside too. I told him to forage berries for himself on the barren mountainside and set about packing Biriyani packets for their drive a little haughtily. It was then, that his friends (3 of them planned to hike together) intervened and said it might not be a bad idea to take some parathas (Indian breads). I still think my bread and jam idea was better, but ‘Parathas on Mt. Whitney’ sounded like a pretty good blog title too, and I let it go.

So, off they went with the biriyani, parathas, an unhealthy dose of over-confidence, a seemly dose of comradeship and a good dose of adventure to conquer the King of Peaks, Mt. Whitney.


Our friend has written about the journey here, and he is also the one who gave me the pictures for the Mt. Whitney posts: (the link may only work for his friends)

Did they do it?

Read on in Part 2, for it is a thrilling tale: Do bears prefer Pizza to Parathas? We may never know.

The I-Miss-Hawaii Craving

We are just back from a wonderful trip to the vowel islands of Maui and Kauai in Hawaii.  Our eyes only need to close to pull up those magnificent beaches, trails and lookouts. We are not quite ready to be back in our zone yet, and sigh wistfully of the many things done and to be done on subsequent trips. (I can see the husband rearing up and saying ‘What?!’ )


Whilst there, one early morning, the husband and daughter decided to go snorkeling in the ocean with a boat full of people, while the toddler son and I were left hovering on the shores waving goodbye to the adventurers in life vests. The boat turned and chopped its way out to sea. I glanced at the watch: the time was only 7:30 a.m. after all the elaborate goodbyes. I turned around to the son and said, “Hmm. Shall we go and have some breakfast and take a long walk?”

The son threw his arms up in the air and said, “Yeah! Oaks!”

Now, before you kindly point out to me that Oak trees are not endemic to Hawaii, ( I would like to clarify that what the son is referring to is not the Oak as in tree or shrub in the genus Quercus (/ˈkwɜrkəs/;[1] Latin ) “oak tree”. He is referring to Oats as in Quaker Oats to be slurped down with milk for breakfast. My little man there wants his nourishment, not like the daughter, who will willingly go on for three days smelling a wrapper of chocolate, every few hours,  as sustenance . The son wants his meals. He is clear. He may not eat much, but he needs his nourishment on time.

I laughed and told him we may not be able to get oaks, but how about something else?

Idli mammum!” he exclaims. ( 

I tell you, you can take a South Indian to Hawaii, but you can’t squash the idlis out of him. I assured him, I will find something that he likes to eat and we got going.

I looked around for a coffee shop.

Seeing none, I made towards a store that had Whales displayed in the windows, because I thought the large animals would fascinate him, and I could ask for directions to a good coffee place there. We were near the store when he saw something that made his heart soar. The whales may be fascinating, but the thing that got the son’s attention was a packet of chips he calls Red chips (Doritos). “I likes this chips Amma” he said beaming. The whales can wait, but these chips, not a chance, he seemed to be saying. I know a good thing when I see one and promptly got him a packet of chips. He was a merry, content being for the time being and the pair of us browsed through the store.

We grazed among the trinkets and stood admiring paintings and books on whales, dolphins and oysters. We even stopped to admire the cuddly, plush toys laid out in perfect order. I picked up a couple of knick-knacks as gifts and stepped over to the counter when the old man behind the counter told me that I had the most adorable child in all of the population that ever visited his little trinket store. I was surprised. Really? Well, okay. If he was going to give the compliments without prodding, who am I to resist? Apparently, other children his age routinely created havoc with his merchandise. I smiled politely. It was nice of him to say so. “Especially little Indian boys!” he said shaking his head sadly. I was taken aback. What did he mean by little Indian boys, but I let the generalization pass, and smiled at him. “This boy has a disciplined and focussed mind.” said the man with a smile.

I looked down at the son, his forehead wrinkled in concentration at trying to extricate the next chip without chipping off pieces and straightened up to face the man and thanked him for his kind words.

I didn’t tell him the role the packet of chips had played in the focus-and-discipline part. Some things are better left unsaid. 

PS: The idli craving was only met after we came back to our home and launched ourselves at the menu at Saravana Bhavan. The I-miss-Hawaii craving can only be appeased when we go there next, what?!



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