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Blog 54 Nashik to Dhule

12th November

Another day on the road. Can't say much happened except that in India the world passes by quickly, effusively and there's a lot of it. 1.4 billion people to be sort of precise. There isn't a single second of my day when I'm not bing overtaken by stinking vehicles, someone looking at me, or someone giving me a smile. India is in my opinion the epicentre of the world for genuine smiles. Of course there are a few loonies about who don't engage but they tend to walk in the centre of the highway dragging a stick, and some are dressed in orange robes. There are always fellas with sticks and flags hanging around food stalls with a plate asking for food. 'Guruness' is part of the fabric of India but I have to be convinced it's different from television evangelism but without the TV.

Quotes from a Guru

The Rain Man

Charlie Babbitt: "That's amazing! He is amazing! He should work for NASA or something like that."

Doctor: [walking to Raymond Babbitt] "If you had a dollar... and you spent 50 cents, how much money would you have left?"

Raymond Babbitt: "About 70..."

Doctor: "70 cents?"

Raymond Babbitt: "70 cents.”

Raymond Babbitt can do very difficult mathematical operations without using a calculator

Forrest Gump

"Now, mama said there’s only so much fortune a man really needs… and the rest is just for showing off."

Yet here I asked politely if I could take a photo and without hesitation, whoever I ask, Indian people always oblige. But you have to ask. And it's the way you have to ask. And you have to smile.

A Bit of Information

The Diwali festival tends to fall between October and November, but the exact date varies each year. Each day has a different meaning and, in 2023, the main date of celebration is Sunday 12 November. The word Diwali comes from the Sanskrit word Deepavali, which means "rows of lighted lamps". Homes and streets tend to be decorated with small oil lamps called diyas, with the light supposed to help Lakshmi - goddess of wealth and good fortune - find her way into people's homes. For Hindus, it marks the beginning of the New Year, and is about the return of deities Rama and Sita after 14 years of exile. The festival is known as Bandi Chhor Divas for Sikhs, celebrating the release of the sixth guru Hargobind Singh from prison in 1619. For Jains, it's about the moment Jainism founder Lord Mahavira reached a state of being known as Moksha, or eternal bliss. People visit friends and family, with sweets, gifts and good wishes being exchanged.

Some of the festive dishes enjoyed include puri (fried bread), paneer and gulab jamun - with celebrations for many being rounded off in style by lighting fireworks.

If you see an Indian bloke trying to sell you a sofa,

even on Diwali, that looks like this .... check his ID!

The weather is perfect; warm but not heaty. There is no forecast for rain. The wind follows me mostly then turns across me in the afternoon to cool me. There is not a single moment when I haven't been made to feel welcome. Perhaps it's the way I travel, perhaps it's because I start a conversation with a smile. Juice time and a kindly treat; not a Pan au Chocolate, but a Paan covered in chocolate and it was delicious.

It's a WOW Recipe!

And if you don't click on the button, here it is on the digitally printed page.

Paan leaves: you need nice large paan leaves to make this paan. All Indian stores in my area carry paan leaves. To make meetha paan, always choose the big paan leaves, you have to add all the fillings, so it makes sense to have a larger surface area to work with.

Hazelnut spread: Use a hazelnut spread (like nutella) to smear the paan leaves for this chocolate paan. You can also use a chocolate spread if you have that. Anything chocolat-y will work.

Tutti frutti: these are candied dried papaya and come in various colours. Again, most Indian stores carry them so you always get them from there. You can use an assortment of tutti frutti colours or use a single colour, it doesn’t really matter. The different colours are more for visual purpose.

Gulkand: This rose petal preserve/jam is made with rose of course and is quite sweet in taste. You can find it at Indian stores.

Cherries: Add some cherries in the filling and also use a whole cherry on top to seal and decorate the paan.

Coconut: the combination of chocolate and coconut goes really well together so use some desciatted coconut powder in the filling and also sprinkle some on the top after dipping the paan in chocolate.

Chocolate chips: of course since it’s chocolate paan, you have to add some chocolate chips to it.

If you don’t have chocolate chips, you can simply grate any chocolate and add that to the filling.

Mukhwas: for those who don’t know, mukhwas refers to mouth freshener made with fennel seeds, sesame seed etc. They come in various types and are eaten after meal as a freshener.

You can add a green color mukhwas in the filling. You can use any that you have.

More filling ideas: so other than these, there are several things that you can add to this paan like-

  • nuts: like chopped almonds and cashews.

  • fennel seeds: you can add some raw fennel.

  • peppermint: for that refreshing flavor, add some crushed peppermint or even a tiny drop of peppermint essence will be good.

  • mishri: which is sugar candy can be also be used here.

  • dates: chopped dates will also go well here.

Dipping in chocolate: So, you dip these paan in chocolate which is optional. These are good without it too but if you want to make them more impressive and also add more chocolate flavour, then do dip these in chocolate.

Hello hello....! What's this about drinking Pepsi I need to know?

And so the day draws to an end. I have had a great day. I have lived in the moment, or at least 100,000 moments that joined up indistinguishably and made a day. The bike helped me ride a couple of roundabouts short of 100 miles so I got into a nice little hotel to write my blog.

Map of the Day

Scene from Where I Sat

This a new sub-sect of the blog - I like to innovate and see how the story can expand and develop, almost whimsically. I sit down and just film for a few seconds, taking in the sights and sounds as simply as possible. It's like "No Comment" - nothing from me, all from you.

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13 nov. 2023

Smooth, suave and irresistable. And that's just the Paan....


What a fine and spicy world! Not only food wise, but also in pictures and colours. Wonderful! Thanks to bring us India a bit closer, Nick. swissRalph

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