Sunday, 29 September 2013

Ringing in delight

 I was rather excited last night about my first shot at Pineapple Upside down cake. I had gone through a good 20 recipes, decided there was no taking chance when it came to what is my mother's favourite cake and went ahead with Nigella's recipe. I trust Nigella, I can depend on her. I have always emerged victorious with her recipes. I had taken a print out, read a tens of times, made tiny red and purple hearts all over the sheet of paper, even drew a pineapple with lush green leaves. I couldn't wait to wake up and get to work. OK I sound like a maniac right now...

This morning however I woke up with a splitting headache and the least desire to cook. I think I had exhausted myself last night. But then, I had put up a status on Facebook, (ramifications of irrational obsessive disorder of some sort) which said how my Sunday would be all about PIneapple upside down cake. I had a face to keep. 

So I got to work nonetheless.


  • butter (for greasing)
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 6 slices canned pineapple in juice (Now this depends on the size of your tin, I used 5)
  • 3 tbsp of the juice 
  • 10-12 glace cherries
  • 100 grams plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 100 gms soft butter
  • 100 gms caster sugar
  • eggs


Preheat the oven to 200°C. Butter the cake tin and keep.
Sprinkle the 2 tbsp of sugar on top of the buttered base, and then arrange the pineapple slices to make a pattern like in the picture. Fill each pineapple ring with a glace cherry, and then dot one in each of the spaces in between.

Put the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, butter, caster sugar and eggs into a food processor and run it to make a smooth batter. Pour in the pineapple juice and thin it a little.
Now that's what the recipe says but my food processor had died a gruesome death, so I used my bare hands to make the batter.A little tiring but going by the how the cake turned out, I think I did a fair job.

Pour this mixture over the artwork, the cherry and pineapple masterpiece you have created on the tin and spread it out with much love and care.

Slide it into the oven and bake for 30 minutes.  Ease spatula around the edge of the tin, place a plate on top and in a quick manoeuvre  flip it and turn it upside-down.

Not the most flattering photograph but sure tasted great.

5 minutes before it was demolished.

Recipe courtesy
However, I have made slight alterations to the recipe to suit the conditions of my kitchen (a far cry from Nigella's) and my mood or the lack of it.

However, two tiny pointers
1. The pineapple rings mustn't be too thick. I think thin slices would be better.
2. The next time I bake this I am going to check after 20 minutes, before continuing to 30 minutes. This time the upper crust of the cake (the bottom once you turn it upside down) was slightly burnt. Though I had deftly scraped on the thin burnt crust, and no one got a hint of it, I wonder why it happened in the first place. Or bake at a lower temperature, around 180 degrees may be. If you are reading this blog and have an idea please share.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Brownie points

Hi again,

So, It's been a month since I started the blog and I am glad I am still at it. My reputation is not one to be proud of when it comes to be at something for long. Well, I have my finger, toes and everything that can be crossed, CROSSED. I hope I can keep at this and make it better.

Last few weeks have been hectic at work, what with releasing special issues, shoots, messed up release schedules (working for a magazine isn't easy after all....lots of fun? yes. easy? no) so I have not been able to post as often as I would want to. But yesterday we released our last special issue before Pujas and I am guessing I'll have more time to tend to my blog.

Anyway, last evening when I got home, the first thing I did was bake some brownies. Isn't the fanciest thing to make, probably little kids could bake brownies, but I am comparatively new to baking and I am starting off with simpler stuff. So I baked these brownies that turned out great, gooey, a little sticky, with a thin thin crust and a little bitter too — just how I like it.

I was a little unnerved by the batter....I wasn't expecting it to be as thick, and sticky (and I had brownie batter stains all over, some stuck to my hair....Buddy, my dog, tried to get the crumbs out of home...I had to endure much pain). But at the end, all was well.


Brownies - Just how I like them 

Recipe inspired by Angie's recipe for Best Brownies on
The original recipe all had a frosting but I do not like frosting on my brownies. And I did play around a bit with the measurements. Worked for me.


Butter - 100 gms
Sugar - 180 gms
Plain flour - 100 gms
Cocoa powder - 50 gms
Baking powder: 1/4 tsp
Eggs - 2
Vanilla - 1 tsp
Pinch of salt 


STEP 1: Flour and grease your cake tin and keep (I used a 2 lb tin). Preheat oven at 175 degree centigrade.

 STEP 2: Heat and melt the butter in a bowl. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar.  Add the eggs one by one and combine well. Stir in the vanilla extract.

 STEP 3: Now stir in the cocoa powder, flour, baking powder and salt. That's how the batter should be — thick, gooey, one word YUM

  STEP 4: Spread the batter in the cake tin.

 STEP 5: Slide it into the oven for 25 minutes.
"The brownie tower the we must devour"

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Going bananas


During my university days at Sussex, there were two things I ate every day, well almost every day. One, was a chicken curry puff at the Bramber House store, piping hot and crisp, off the racks; and two, a slice of Banana bread – soft and moist – that came wrapped in a thin film at the café cum sandwich shop at the EDB building, where I went to attend my morning lectures, twice a week. And just to grab a slice of the banana bread, I went there every day. I sat on the single bench that stood outside and savoured my slice of banana bread (often followed by a slice of gooey chocolate cake).  That was almost 4 years ago and I still crave for my chicken curry puff and my slice of Banana bread….but alas. 

Ever since my oven arrived, a week ago that is, I have been toying with the idea of trying to make banana bread. I have never cooked with bananas though. Except once, when I was 11 and was visiting cousins in Delhi. One afternoon the three of us planned to take the kitchen over, my aunt, their mother had taken my mom out to Karolbag to shop. We had made something with bananas and honey and lemon juice, the recipe for which  the eldest among us, let’s call her M (she was14), had found in an old, tattered issue of the Women’s Era magazine. I was in awe of M, pulling out a Women’s Era – for me it was prohibited stuff back then. Anyway, the only person willing to taste what we had made was my uncle, their father, a good man he is and he said it was heavenly. I wouldn’t know. I hadn’t had the courage to taste it. 

Anyway coming back to banana bread….so I was thinking of giving it a try. In the meantime, I had planned something for the blog. MasterChef Australia is on television (oooooooooooo) and I was thinking why not try one recipe by each of the judges (Gary is my favourite by the way) as a tribute to the awesomeness called MasterChef. 

I brought the two ideas together and tossed up for you and me Matt Preston’s Rockstar Banana Bread with Maple icing. It’s a simple recipe and the consequence was delicious. Except, my arms are still hurting cause I do not have a hand beater at home (yet) and, yes I had a bit of a hard time getting the cake to leave the tin. Remember, this one's a little stickier than regular cakes and you need to grease your tin very,  very well. Otherwise it was delicious, soft and moist. 

And yes I didn't have a loaf pan, so mine looked like a cake, but the taste....well try it and see for yourself 


Banana bread
  • Spray oil, to grease
  • 125g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (220g) caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 over-ripe bananas
  • 1¾ cups (260g) plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • Pinch of salt  
Maple butter icing
  • 100g butter, at room temperature
  • ½ cup (110g) caster sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup (60ml) maple syrup
  • Toasted pecans, to garnish (optional)        

  • Method

    Banana bread
    1.      For the banana bread, preheat oven to 180°C and grease loaf pan with oil.
    2.      Using hand beaters, beat butter and sugar in a bowl until thick and pale. Add eggs and bananas and mix until combined, then add flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt, and mix until just combined.
    3.      Pour mixture into loaf pan and bake for 55 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
    4.      Set banana bread aside in pan for 10 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack to cool completely. Alternatively, when slightly warm, cover in plastic wrap for a better result the following day, and a slightly sticky surface. 

    *You will need a 1L loaf pan for this recipe
    *You can freeze your banana bread, wrapped well in plastic wrap for up to 2 months. It also toasts well.

    *You can pimp your banana bread by adding spices, such as such as cinnamon, ginger, allspice or vanilla. You can also add nuts, ground or in pieces, such as walnuts, pecans or dried fruit.
    Maple butter icing
    1.      Using hand beaters, beat butter and sugar in a bowl until thick and pale, and the sugar has dissolved.
    2.      With the beaters on slow speed, add vanilla extract, then 1 tablespoon of maple syrup at a time, allowing syrup to incorporate before adding another tablespoon.
    3.      Ice banana bread and garnish with toasted pecans if desired. 

    Now I so loved the icing, I had it all over :P 

    Recipe courtesy: 

Sunday, 15 September 2013

What made my Sunday — In pictures

I was taken by the title of this book and I had to read it. I am glad I ordered it and I am having a blast reading it. It's not just a wonderful story but a delicious one. A poignant, fun tale about a family....quite like mine. And the protagonist...well he is so much like me and his predicament... a mirror image of mine (almost). And why it is delicious....well it's peppered with names of dishes, Italian delicacies and American favourites and more....that leave me drooling all through. Frank Bruni is fantastic, his writing jaunty and his memoirs strangely familiar. And I love Grandma Bruni!!! Mid way through, this book is bound to feature in my coming blogs. As for today, I had to have Pasta. An tribute to the BruniS and there deep deep love for food.
How I love this colour...luscious and comforting!!!!
I love spaghetti. I love tortellini the most, had tasted it for the first time in a wonderful restaurant in a small village on Lake Maggiore and have been in love eversince. But spaghetti is what I love the most after tortellini. In fact it was at the same restaurant that I had tasted the best Spaghetti Aglio e Olio ever. I tossed up some myself today. Nothing close to that but lipsmacking good anyway. By the way this spaghetti came out of the water al proud!
Olive oil, garlic, chilli flakes, oregano and parsley....Bliss
My Spaghetti Aglio e Olio....I was a little too generous with the Olio though. But it was awesome anyway.
So, in the last post I mentioned my brand new oven. This is the first thing that went into it. Chicken breast fillet marinated (not in picture) in olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic paste, thyme, oregano, salt and pepper.
And came out nice and juicy.
And tasted great.
I made a sauce too to go with the chicken. Warmed some butter ( quite a bit actually). Added a tablespoon of flour, stirring vigorously all the while. When the flour was golden brown Added a cup of milk (the larger coffee mug actually), stirring all the while. Quickly added seasonings and sugar. Once it had reached the right consistency, took it off the heat. I was a little apprehensive but it worked well with the chicken!!!!

Layers of joy

Last evening was a blessed one. A dear friend — rum and coke (yes I still love my rum and coke) — incessant talking — crazy revelations — and my brand new oven. A gift from a special someone. Of course I was elated and though a few technical hindrances kept me from cooking the inaugural meal I had to celebrate anyway and I did by making a lip-smacking dessert, a personal favourite.

I had learnt to make this dessert from a dear friend, my para mate,  Pooja, almost 10 years ago. We were still in school. In fact, I still remember the first time I tasted it.

Pooja is now an IT professional based in Pune and her family has moved from their old house in New Alipore to their new, more swanky apartment in, New Alipore. But their old house remains somewhat special to a few of us who were regulars at her place.

One, her house was strategically located — a guy I had a huge crush on in my teens stayed right across.
Two, there was an old-worldish charm about her place. Her house even had a central courtyard. I especially loved that.
Three, her mom was a wonderful cook. (Well that holds true still)

So, yes it was during one of my frequent visits to her place that she brought in a bowl of this delectable dessert. A layered treat with rich chocolate and biscuits (she told me later it was biscuits, humble Marie). She said she had made it and I told myself she couldn't have.I didn't want to believe she had. It was bloodie good. Please note by now my culinary skills (limited though) were already being extolled in the circle and I was probably a little jealous. But one spoon of it and I knew it would remain my favourite forever.

Pooja often made the dessert when I would come visiting. I would pester her for days in advance. And finally, after a bit of coaxing she shared the recipe. Well, I tried but mine didn't taste exactly the same. But what I make now, after years, might not taste exactly the same as the one I had tasted that winter morning but it's delicious nonetheless.  And I made just that to celebrate.

Now I didn't have any measurements to follow, I always followed instincts.
But this is more or less the measurement I follow

Choco Marie camaraderie 

Milk - 1 litre
Cocoa Powder - 60 gms 
Corn flour - 2 tbsp 
Sugar- 1 cup
Coffee - 11/2 tbsp
 Raisins - A fistful 
Marie biscuits : I large packet. 
2 glasses of water
Coffee: 4 tbsp. 

STEP 1: In a bowl mix cocoa,11/2 tbsp coffee and sugar. In half a cup of milk stir in the corn flour and keep. Add the rest of the milk little my little into the sugar and cocoa mix, stirring continuously so that no lumps are formed. Now stir in the corn flour. Microwave the runny milk-cocoa mix for 12-15 minutes, or until a thick chocolate sauce is what you have. Thick and luscious. Oh, about after six minutes in the microwave, bring out the bowl, stir in the raisins and put it back for the remaining of the cooking time.  

STEP 2: Add the coffee (4tbsp) in the water and bring to a boil and leave it on high heat for about 3-5 minutes. Now take a flat bottomed bowl of any shape. Dip the Marie biscuits (how many depends on the size of the bowl) in the coffee and make a layer at the bottom of the bowl. With a ladle make a layer of the cooled chocolate mic on the biscuit layer. Follow it with a biscuit layer and then chocolate. Repeat the process once more. 

Finally put it in the freezer to set. Once set transfer it to the refrigerator.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Chicken with parsley and preserved lemons

I have always liked the idea of cooking chicken with preserved lemons. Have come across quite a few tagine recipes using preserved lemons with chicken. I have contemplated trying out a tagine 9there are so many recipes for this legendary Berber dish), but what's the point of making a tagine, without a tagine, that is the lidded earthen pot in which the dish is cooked.  

Nonetheless, I was going to make a chicken and it would have preserved lemons I thought.

But using preserved lemons can be tricky, one: it has a strong aroma and two: the degree of its sourness varies I figured. But I tried anyway. I came up with my own version though, and...... it turned out great. 
Dad: Verdict - Fantastic
Brother - Uffffff
Ma (scariest critic ever) - Brilliant 

 Spot the slivers of preserved lemons?

Chicken with parsley and preserved lemons

Chicken (boneless) –  I kg
Onions – 3 large (chopped)
Garlic: I large (finely chopped)
Ginger juliennes – 2 tbsp
Chopped parsley  – I medium bowl
Preserved lemons – 1 (remove the core and cut the skin in thin slices)
Kashmiri chili powder – 1 tbsp
Red chili powder – 1tsp 
Slit green chilies – 4-5 (depends on how hot you like your food)
Cumin powder – 1 tbsp
Coriander powder – 1 tbsp
Cinnamon powder – ¾ tsp
Nutmeg powder – A pinch or two
Salt to taste
Sugar to taste
Oil –  4-5 tbsp

Heat oil and add the onions and fry till the onion is soft and translucent. Sprinkle a little salt to soften the onions faster. Add the ginger and garlic.
Toss in the chicken and one by one add the chili powder, cumin powder, coriander powder, salt and mix well. Cover and Cook on low heat for 15 minutes or until chicken is tender. Do not add water. Let the chicken cook in its juices.
Now add the parsley, lemon slices and sugar. Add this point adjust seasonings. Cook until the juices dry and oil separates.
Sprinkle the nutmeg and add the green chilies.
Garnish with chopped parsley and serve with piping hot rice

PS: My version was hot and tangy with a hint of sweet. The quantity of sugar you add depends on your taste but do not delete it altogether. Even a pinch would enhance the taste.

 On a bed of piping hot rice


Last night my brother and I were in bit of a nostalgic mood, we spent a good two hours talking about the trip to Italy we had taken two years ago...

On my return I had written quite a few travelogues on the trip for the now infamous Bengal Post...I doubt anyone had a chance to read them at that point considering the kind of circulation the paper boasted so I thought why not post it here. Here goes one of them. More to follow. Whole lot of Italy coming your way....And yes I ll post my next recipe soon. 

One of the few travel essentials that feature on my packing list, irrespective of my destination, is a story book. They come handy during the long hours on flight or while waiting in traffic in some far away city. Besides, on a few occasions, a book has been of much assistance in avoiding the irksome rattling of a gregarious fellow traveller or as a ‘Go away’ sign to eccentric strangers with flirtatious tendencies! It could be any book really, but preferably an easy read which wouldn’t haul you into deep ruminations. So, it was quite by chance that I tossed in my half-read copy of Hemingway’s, A Farewell to Arms, into my handbag just before I left home to catch my flight to Rome. And it was a curious coincidence too, I would realise later.
    And yet another weird and wonderful happenstance followed. After the book had remained untouched in the dark recesses of my handbag, for an entire week, under a pile of scraps and bits of paper, some cosmetics and used wet-wipes, it was on the bus en route from Milan to Baveno, a charming town on Lago Maggiore that I fished it out. And I opened it at Chapter 33 and resumed reading. 
    And if that was not enough, I was precisely reading the part where Lieutenant Frederick Henry reunites with ] his love Catherine Barkley in the small Italian resort town of Stresa on Lake Maggiore, less than five kilometers from Baveno where I was to stay. And later the riveting details of Henry’s escape into Switzerland, rowing across the choppy waters of the lake on a stormy night. Of course, this newly acquired knowledge only increased my interest in the area I was headed for, manifold. I wished, of course, that our hotel was in Stresa, instead of Baveno.
     It is needless to say, that the first glimpse of the blue waters of Lago Maggiore was a moment that would remain frozen in my memory for a long, long time. On one side were the quarries of pink granite and on the other the dazzling blue expanse of the lake dotted with little islands and surrounded by green hills. Further beyond were the faint outlines of the Swiss Alps. Tiny boats, white, yellow, blue and red, anchored near the shores, rocked on the undulating waters of the lake.
     Our hotel in Baveno, Hotel Splendid was splendid indeed and was right on the lake. My own voice as I hollered in delight at the view my room afforded, still rings in my ears! I could sit on that balcony all\ day, doing nothing, simply watching the striking beauty of the lake and its surroundings. But I decided in favour of exploring a bit of Baveno, while there was still daylight.
     Baveno is lovely indeed. No doubt it was a favourite sojourn for Queen Victoria who stayed at the Villa Branca, by the marina, and that Winston and Eleanor Churchill chose it as their honeymoon destination! Rich in history, Baveno is strewn with historical villas, quaint churches and other architectural delights and its lakeside promenade offers excellent views of the Lago Maggiore. Wandering around the central piazza of Baveno, where the Parish Church of Santi Gervasio and Protasio and its baptistery stand, was a pleasant way to flex the muscles taut from sitting on the bus for hours together. Unfortunately, I missed the famous mineral water springs of Baveno.
   Dinner tonight was on the Isola Pescatori, the fish-shaped island; a part of the Borromeon archipelago that comprises three islands and a few islets on Lake Maggiore, owned by Italy’s famed Borromeo family. The other major islands being Isola Bella and Isola Madre, the former famous for the stately mansion of the Borromeo family which has hosted none other than Napolean Bonaparte and the latter for its gorgeous ornamental gardens. We boarded a ferry from the docks at Stresa, which was a short bus-ride away, as the last light of the day engaged in an intimate coquetry with the tiny swells of the indigo waters of the lake. And although I  wanted to explore Stresa or at least visit the café reputed for being a favourite with Hemingway, and still has his signature on their guest album. And where perhaps, sitting at his favourite table he conceived A Farewell to Arms. After all, Hemingway like Lieutenant Henry was an American who joined the\ Italian Ambulance corps as a volunteer during World War II. He suffered an injury similar to Henry and also had an affair with a nurse just like Henry! But time was a constraint and I boarded the ferry anyway. A cloak of shadows was fast descending upon this tiny but pictorial island with its charming houses with red brick roofs, the Church of San Vittore, its spire silhouetted against the rapidly darkening complexion of the evening sky. In fact, the island was permeated by an amber glow, from the night lights burning in the houses. It was a pity I couldn’t make it to the island earlier in the day when I could walk down its cobbled pathways, sit on one of the benches on the promenade along the shores immersed in fancy thoughts or browse through the fare in the little souvenir shops whose shutters were now down. 
     Isola Pescatori as the name, literally meaning fisherman’s island, suggests is a fisherman’s hamlet, although currently the economy of this sparsely populated isle pivots around tourism. And fish caught fresh from the freshwaters of the lake and the safely guarded age-old recipes that go into cooking it, make for an irresistible treat. Dinner was served in a tavern perched on the edge of the island, its glass wall overlooking the lake, flames fluttering in iron torches were the only source of light and warmth too.
        The food was oh-so-delicious – the juicy salmon fillet topped with a lemony dressing and served on a bed of crunchy greens and fresh fish (I do not know the name) breaded and fried to perfection served with lemon wedges and fried diced potatoes and finally a bowl of delectable chocolate soufflé. Luscious, fruity wine and fresh baked bread accompanied the scrumptious spread. Outside the glass wall, the lake shimmered with the lights from the surrounding towns which glittered like a myriad diamonds studded in the black cloak of night. I do not know if it was the taste of the food or the refreshing air from the lake and the picturesque setting or both, that the dinner here was an exceptionally satisfying experience, almost overwhelmingly so. Back in my hotel, I sat on the balcony for long, hearing the soft murmurs of the waves lapping on the shore. A lonely light glimmered at the top of the hill opposite. I wondered who stayed there, in such seclusion. Soon after, I called it a night.
Next morning we were headed for Switzerland! Our destination was Lugano — a beautiful town situated in the holiday district of Tricino, on the northern banks of Lake Lugano, in Southern Switzerland. It was a relaxed Sunday morning in the charming town and most of the shops and designer boutiques that lined the roads were closed. The streets almost empty other than a few locals out on a walk or a bicycle ride. But Lugano was a feast for the eyes. Streets festooned with immaculately trimmed beds of colourful blossoms, ornate fountains, beautiful villas and gardens, posh cafes and restaurants, arcades and typical Mediterranean squares, youngsters canoeing in the lake and ducks wading in its turquoise waters and finally the lake-side Belvedere Gardens, famous for its camellias and magnolias – Lugano was all about brilliant hues and pictorial
views. Here too, green hills surrounded the lake but the mighty peaks of the Swiss Alps were clearly visible against the clear blue sky.
         Much to my delight the peaks were snowcapped! And although the sun was shining bright there was a distinct chill in the air. After an hour or so of loitering in the centre of the town and lapping up a cup of delicious cappuccino at a sidewalk café, I joined the others for our excursion to Monte Tamaro. The best part of the excursion was without doubt the cable car ride to the top of Monte Tamaro, approximately at an altitude of 1600m. Monte Tamaro is a favourite with trekkers, hikers and mountain bikers. We saw quite a few bikers, take the cable car to a mid-point station, their bikes propped up on the cable car, where from they set off through the dense woods, on narrow, winding mountain trails. The cable car ride afforded some spectacular views of the ring of lofty Lepontine Alps, the nearest ones were greenish brown or perhaps a brownish green and further beyond they were a cobalt blue and finally milky white, the snowcapped peaks shimmering in the sun. The valley down below steadily diminished in size until it seemed like the face of a board game, toy houses, toy cars, et al! And was then hidden from view altogether till we reached the top.
         At the top, there is a café, an adventure park of sorts with some dangerous (I thought so) rides. Imagine zooming downhill on a double-bob sleigh or sliding down a cable along the edge of the mountain, hanging only by a harness and a pulley! A miniature amusement park for children completed the setting. And perched on the edge of the mountain was the charming, stone Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli, though its award winning design hardly resembled a conventional church. The terrace of the church is a long aisle that ends in a platform that almost juts out of the cliff, a miniature viewing gallery of sorts and affords the best views from Monte Tamaro. A mammoth iron cross is propped up on the balustrade of the viewing gallery.
     Lunch comprised turkey breast cutlet, a heap of French fries and a glass of sweet white wine, which I chose  to have al fresco on the terrace of the café, where local musicians played typical alpine music to which a few old couples matched steps. The stinging chill in the air, the warm comfort of sunshine, the clear blue sky and the soothing alpine music reverberating in the mountains, what could be a more perfect setting? Besides, the wine was already having its effects on my excited nerves. I simply sat there, smiling.

    Post lunch, I walked down the terrace of the church, to the very end and climbed on to the platform. Strangely, my legs were shaking. I don’t know if it was the height, the chill or the wine. The wind blew so strong that it threatened to blow my scarf away. The quite of the morning was almost disconcerting. The sound of music came drifting from the café. Otherwise there was pin drop silence. And there I was, alone, as if floating mid air, below the giant Cross and in front of me was the breadth taking sweep of the majestic Alps; just the mountains and me. The hair on my neck was erect and an alien chill ran down my spine — this was one of those few extraordinary moments that define a life, a moment of epiphany, a surreptitious ecstasy that is almost painful, when you feel blessed! A few more tourists had arrived by now and were waiting for their turn. But I wanted to stand there some more time. Perhaps, just an instant more