At Samode Palace, the invention of flavours

The kitchen of a restaurant contains many hidden treasures rarely open for outsiders to see. At Samode Palace, regardless of the formalism de rigueur and chic baroque atmosphere, the waiter genuinely invites the client inside as soon as the latter points at the menu with dozens of questions. Please, come and see! When you push the door of the upstairs kitchen, chefs bustle about, play masterfully with the ringing saucepans and move in a coordinated rhythm that allows no faux…

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The scent of Kashmir – Pampore

Ask me what Kashmir smells like and I will not hesitate. It smells like saffron. Not that it is the only fragrance to float in the air, far from it. The moment you arrive in the valley, your nose is tickled by a wide variety of impressions. The huge deodar forests of this alpine region exude a refreshing smell of pine and wet earth; the hearths in the villages warm up the air with the scent of burned wood; the…

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Peace of Mind in Kerala

In need of some well-deserved peace of mind. I seek out the Kalari Kovilakom, a palace in which the austerity of the ashram is transformed into the comfortable simplicity of the abode destined for Ayurveda. Within the protective walls of the century-old palace, a holistic process of healing begins. The first adjustment is the shift from a life of daily chaos and noise, errands and duties, to a silence and stillness that characterizes the Auyervedic experience. Sights and sounds are slowed,…

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The Thar Desert, the Eastern Far West

Sand easily overtakes the careless traveller. Grain by grain, it squeezes slowly between tight lips, it threads its way through half-open shoes, and it catches at freshly washed smooth hair. It can turn a strong eyelid into an inconvenient strainer. No notice board warns you beforehand, with a stock expression such as those sometimes found between official frontiers, ‘You are now entering the Thar Desert.’ The soil lacks a strict magenta line to mark the boundaries between the…

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Calcutta for the First Time

When we went to Calcutta for the first time, we were a bit fearful, reducing the West Bengali capital to a stereotype of poverty crafted by ignorance over the time. But Calcutta (or Kolkata), the city of Mother Teresa, had plenty of surprises in store for us; today we can all affirm that we have discovered a place of great refinement and mind-boggling contrasts.   Calcutta is the city of Kali, the terrifying goddess who can destroy…

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