Asia,  North America,  Travel

The Sublime Winds of May

The winds are in a hurry to get somewhere today. Their whooshing sounds permeate the insulation of these glass windows and there is this suggestion that they are feeling rather spunky. That’s all there is to it. Just the suggestion. No nannies and tots floating around. But there is this romantic feeling that sets in upon the senses when the wind whistles outside and the skies are smothered with clouds.

Now, the last time I last wrote here, I was in Calcutta, on a spontaneous visit to my parents. My father had just had an angioplasty then and I thought it was imperative to have a look in on them, if not for anything else, for the mind to stop concocting grim scenarios.

On the way to Calcutta, I flew Cathay Pacific for the first time. I was won over on two counts. The service was simply splendid and the food so healthy and flavourful that by the time I reached Hong Kong airport for a few hours’ layover, even after a 15-hour long flight, I was brimming with contentment.

I headed to The Wing, Cathay Pacific’s flagship lounge in Hong Kong, where I bathed in the shower suites. Minimalistic and neat inside, each suite was sheathed in beautiful dark stone and the fixtures carved from bamboo wood. Kitted up as it was with the fresh-smelling lux cleansers and shampoos, I came out feeling spiffy and ready to take on the world which as it turned out was not too tough. It was but a pillowy world of fluffy baos, you know, those big Chinese buns filled with vegetables and meat. The Chinese woman at the counter barely smiled and she understood no English, something that is rather common in the city of Hong Kong if you saunter into its flea markets and street food stalls, but all that mattered was that she doled out a platter of baos. Now these were proper bad boys. You could fashion them into pillows and sink into them, really. Except that the teeth would rather sink into them and make quick work of the matter at hand. This took place in the Noodle Bar which was one of the three sections in the lounge.

There was the Long Bar too where you could sit and catch a drink apart from making a beeline for the buffet, but this was kind of boring, it being early morning in Hong Kong, so I wandered into the third section, a Coffee Loft. Ooh now there was the real deal following a heartwarming breakfast. Shots of espresso and traditional  pastries. My pick was the Chinese Wife Winter Melon Cake. Names get me. Just like books with smashing covers and titles. Who says I am not superficial? To get to the heart of the pastry, it was flaky, and if I were a bard, there would be sonnets on Chinese melon cakes. This beauty was rich (you cannot go wrong with pork lard shortening) and it dissolved in the mouth in a beautiful symphony of melon and spices. As usual, there are enough stories behind the name, but I will tell you of two of them.

One goes back to a man’s love for his wife who sold herself as a slave to get money for her father-in-law’s treatment. The man conjured up the idea of this cake as a street snack. His plan was to get his wife back once he had enough money. The other is about a Guangzhou chef who worked at a teahouse. He initially took some round pastries home as a treat for his wife. Her feedback: They made it better in her hometown, with winter melon paste. The chef reworked the pastry with melon paste and gave it a flat shape.

Dear men, it is thus easy to draw the conclusion that good things come to those who listen to their women.

When I landed in Calcutta late at night, the wind was knocked out of me. It was sultry. The real feel was often 49°C during the day and I was dissolved in the heat every morning I headed out for a run. Summer had blustered its way into the city. But in a few days swept in Kalbaisakhi. The season of thunderstorms when the skies grow dark, so suddenly that you do not have the time to even cuss. Smoky blue clouds mushroom in armies and hang ominously above your head, like dark devils with a mission. They then proceed to let loose upon you with all their might. These are accompanied by dust storms, which are not kind on you if you happen to be walking on the roads like a daft creature out to court trouble. Naturally, I had the thrill of being caught in one. I had forgotten how it all was since in the last few years I have been going back to Calcutta during winters when the weather turns all mellow and lovely.

After two weeks, I returned home to Bayonne, having spent time in Calcutta schooling and scolding my dad — also feeling relieved that all was fine with my folks for now. When I got back, I found to my delight tiny leaves upon the trees and cherry blossoms about to bloom. It was still nippy and the days were starting to warm up. On days, when it rains, it all looks like a beautiful painting. And with the change of seasons, there are children now in the park, yellow dandelions matting the grass in the parks, waiting to turn into those airy fairy balls of seeds, flowers everywhere you look. It is so happy and joyous that I can feel my heart bloom along with them. So that it is also time for me to stop prattling, leave you with some random photographs, and pop out for a wind-in-my-hair-and-a-song-in-my-heart kinda walk.

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I had forgotten how scenic the landing is in Hong Kong.
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Cruising along the runway in Hong Kong
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Bamboo wooden vibes of the Noodle Bar at The Wing, coupled with suspicious lady.
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Baos stuffed with pork and cabbage, sweet lotus, and the third was a plain mantou, a bao made from wheat dough. Teamed with the scallions and chilli and peanut sauce, these were the formidable three.
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Above-mentioned, Chinese Wife Winter Melon Cake.
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Flaky pastry to swoon over
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Moonlit night in Calcutta on our terrace
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Back in Bayonne, the green is so fresh and young, as the trees shrug back into their clothes. Nature’s fashion is effortless.
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Well hello, long time! What, no peanuts? Must have been waiting for a little booty since people here insist on feeding them.
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Cherry blossoms with their brief and intense spell of beauty
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And, that’s a wrap for today from Bayonne. 

62 Comments

  • equinoxio21

    Hi Ma’amji, when I read “Bayonne” I thought you had moved again. To the French Pays Basque. 🙂
    Now that I’ve looked the other Bayonne on the map, you are indeed but a bridge away from NY.
    I trust you found your father well with a spring to his step?
    Take care my dear.

    • dippydottygirl

      Brianji, I am still located stateside. This Bayonne possibly cannot match up to its prettier French counterpart but we do with what we are given. 🙂 You are right, a bridge away from the city, and all the better for it, with a chunk of serenity by the bay.

      My father is definitely doing better under the eagle eyes of my mother. It was heartening to see him getting back on his feet. For these are time when this vast distance cuts deep.

      Thank you for asking. Hope you have been well. Looking forward to swinging by your blog. 🙂

      • equinoxio21

        Yes, looks like a good location. I did spend some time in NJ, but I can’t for the life of me remember where… 🙂
        Yes, distance… can be a burden. Even with skype and other video conferences.
        Look forward to your visit. Take care ma’amji.

    • dippydottygirl

      Thank you. 🙂 Not blogging for some time had made me rusty, but your words inject me with spirit. Cheers!

    • dippydottygirl

      Hiya, how have you been? Some time a name does crack it. Not mine though. My name breaks everyone.
      Thank you for the kind words, and here’s to warmer days, so that we can be done with the jacket for good. xx

      • The Cozy Pages

        Lol. Hopefully that means you get to have lovely conversations about the origins of your name?
        I’m good. Getting ready for a little less work over the next couple of months.

        • dippydottygirl

          Many interesting facial expression for sure, when it comes to my name. Mostly zapped. 😛 Let summer bring you some more time to read then though you are clearly not doing bad on that front with the number of books you review. 🙂 xx

    • dippydottygirl

      You know what I am on about. I do remember the custard pastries I had the first time I was there. They were frigging delicious and I have not had the likes of them anywhere else. The closest I have come to them are the famous egg tarts of Lisbon.
      Thank you for dropping by as always, Lorelle, and you too have a good weekend. xx

  • michnavs

    Glad to hear your folks are doing great..i love those hongkong pastries too..the last time we were there with my family we weren’t able to enjoy and taste much of HK’s food…(well obviously for a family with kids…time spent in HK is time spent in Disneyland)…they say they have really good foods though..

  • Sheree

    Welcome back Dippy, we’ve missed your lyrical tones and charming photos. Glad to hear that your Dad is fine, though it’s good to have the opportunity to see for oneself. Enjoyed your gourmet stop over in Hong Kong and delighted to hear Cathy Pacific is as good as ever. Good to see the squirrel missed you too, we’ve lost ours. He’s nor returned and I’m assuming he’s gone in search of a mate rather than fallen victim to some cruel fate.

    • dippydottygirl

      Sheree, so lovely to hear from you. I will swing by your blog soon for I have missed news of all my blogging friends. You are clearly aware of Cathay’s goodness. It was a first for me and I am a convert.
      I am sorry you are missing your four-legged friend, but you know, maybe he is indeed visiting a lady friend. I would not like to think of the other scenario at all, you are right. Hope you have started the weekend on a contented note already! xx

  • Megala

    Hope you feel relieved after making a short visit to your parents. The shots taken in Hong Kong airport remind me of wandering around the airport during the long layover. It is a good idea to relax ourselves in the lounge rather than popping in to every gift shop at the airport.

    • dippydottygirl

      I am indeed feeling relieved after the trip, Megala. Thank you. I am now at a point where I do not enjoy shopping at airports at all. I would rather just walk around and browse and then sit with a good book and a drink to unwind at a lounge or cafe. Have a good weekend, girl. xx

  • lexandneek

    The photo of the Chinese Wife Winter Melon Cake was to die for! Why is it that the pastry can only get that flaky and melt in your mouth with lard in it? It looks delicious and I wish I could take a bite out of it right now. I am so glad to hear that your father is well. It must have been a difficult time for you and your family. Your mother must have been happy to have you there. Glad you enjoyed the ride on Cathay Pacific and to be back in Bayonne. Squirrel Nutkin looks a little surprised – he missed you while you were away 😉 Neek

    • dippydottygirl

      Flaky and lardy …lordy what a match made in heaven! Thank you for your words, Neek, but it is a rite of life, is it not? Does not make it easy, but there it is. He is better now. My mother was annoyed that I left home right after shifting into a new apartment and leaving her son-in-law alone, but she made peace with it. 🙂
      I have missed blogging and chatting with you. xx

      • lexandneek

        I’m so happy to hear that your father is doing better. It’s always difficult when a family member gets sick. Sounds like you have a similar relationship with your mother as I do with mine – Hee Hee! I’ve missed our chats also. Hugs to you! – Neek

        • dippydottygirl

          So good to hear, Neek! Apologies for the delayed reply. It has been a busy start to summer but a happy one. Anaheim…I had to look it up and see that the famous mouse demands a visit. Well done you guys! Will drop by to read about your Anaheim adventures. xx

          • lexandneek

            So glad to hear that your summer has a happy start! Can’t wait to read about it. Yes, the famous mouse now has some strange aliens and droids from a place called Galaxy’s Edge on his property. We still haven’t seen it yet but are keen to do so in the future. Hope you are doing well! – Neek

          • dippydottygirl

            I had no idea that the Mouse has been quietly renovating his property. 😛 I am intrigued! I am good, thank you, Neek. Hope you are doing well too and summer is bringing a fresh batch of travel your way. xx

  • Virginia Duran

    Hi Arundhati, very glad to read that all is well with your father, I was expecting the worse when I started reading but felt relieved after a bit. Your posts always make me hungry, I could almost feel the fluffiness of that bao in my own mouth 😉 Where are you now?

    • dippydottygirl

      Hey Virginia, how’ve you been? I have been seeing photos from your amazing travels and feeling a twinge of envy. 🙂 Thank you for your words, lovely. He is faring much better now. Aging is a difficult business.
      As for the baos, hmm I bet you would have savoured them. Wholesome but the taste was so delicate. I am back in NJ now. When do I see you in the city? 🙂 xx

  • travelgarb

    Glad your folks are OK. I have fond memories of food on Cathay Pacific. For one meal, I couldn’t have the regular offerings due to allergies I’d forgotten to notify them of. Somehow in between Hong Kong and Australia, they conjured up a delicious Devon cream tea. With each additional scone and cake (of which there were many) came an apology for some reason and kept promises to search for additional treats. I still believe it is the best inflight meal I’ve had!

    • dippydottygirl

      Thank you. A Devon cream tea on board, yikes! I find myself verily green with envy. I would be tempted to eat myself into a state of stupor. Champs to wash it down. Additional treats too! I can quite believe it all after seeing Cathay’s commitment to the concepts of hospitality and service.

  • Mad Hatters NYC

    We’re actually heading back to Malaysia later this year and will be stopping by Hong Kong so I’ll be sure to look out for your recommendations! I love the food in Hong Kong and can’t wait to go back 🙂

    So glad to hear your father is doing well!

    • dippydottygirl

      Thank you Lynn. He is. 🙂
      As for Malaysia, the food that awaits you… I am envious. If you head into The Wing, I trust you will find more to snack on than I did. Will look forward to your Malay flavoured posts, but here’s hoping time does not gallop away to the end of the year. Go slow and steady 2019.

  • carolinehelbig

    I too recently spent a memorable 6ish hours at Hong Kong airport on our way back to Vancouver from Sri Lanka. Sadly we were not at The Wing but managed to eat our way through several lovely food courts and get massages. It certainly isn’t a bad place to be in transit. Your spring Bayonne photos are beautiful. Hope your dad is doing OK.

    • dippydottygirl

      Hey Caroline, good to hear from you. I have been sluggish with blogging…summer means house guests and busy times but fun ones. My father is better now, thank you for asking. 🙂

      HK airport is certainly promising. I love the custard treats. They send my senses into a tizzy. And I feel so greedy when there are dumplings and noodles thrown into the mix. I missed out on the massages. But a note to the self for next time. How was your SL trip? I will hop onto your blog soonest. ❤

  • carolinehelbig

    Sri Lanka trip was great. I held off posting for awhile because I just wasn’t in the mood after the Easter Sunday attacks. As you’ve seen, I’ve started my Sri Lanka series and will slowly add more posts. We have also started the nice weather season with lots of house guests. Glad your dad is better.

    • dippydottygirl

      I will look forward to them, Caroline. These attacks have become commonplace enough to toughen one’s hide, yet I could not help cry at the stories I read. Humans are capable of such extreme emotions that the heart quavers.

  • TheresaBarker

    Glad your dad’s all right again. Gosh, that’s a long travel, to Calcutta. I’m sure they were delighted to see you even though the occasion was unsettling. And Happy Spring!

    • dippydottygirl

      Thank you Theresa. It was a long journey. It always is, but it is what we have chosen. And we have got to pay the price. 🙂 Life is full of these choices we make and some we do not, but then we are mere mortals. Ours is but to do and live (not die yet). Happy Spring to you too. Though almost summer here! 🙂

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