• Tracy Bottiglieri

It's Time For Another Virtual Vacation!

Just like any trip, it takes a little planning. Consider me your Virtual Travel Agent!

I have already "taken" some of you to Italy. I hope those that joined me enjoyed the cooking classes, learned a little of the beautiful Italian language, and took part in some of the many other choices I offered! No worries if you haven't gone on this trip yet. My Virtual Vacation to Italy itinerary is always available and open to as many as are interested!


Since the pandemic is still raging on and the vaccine is taking a bit longer than we hoped to be distributed to everyone, I thought you might enjoy another Virtual Vacation. This time I invite you to join me in India! I carefully chose this country as our destination due to its extensive history, beautiful landscape, and welcoming people. India is such a large and diverse country that it would be impossible to see everything on our trip, but the itinerary I have planned will give you a nice sampling of what India has to offer. Hopefully, one day you will go and see India for yourself.


Preparation for Your Trip

Regardless of the activities you choose, you will enjoy the trip more if you do a little preparation. Following each activity, I have highlighted in "Preparation" the items you can choose to purchase ahead of time and/or supplies to find from around your home to "pack" for your Virtual Vacation to India.


ACTIVITY MENU

Create your own itinerary from the following choices:


🟨 Watch a Bollywood movie

Preparation: Select a movie to watch; print BINGO cards; purchase BINGO prizes; send Zoom link to people watching the movie and playing BINGO with you

Activity's importance to India: Bollywood (Bombay + Hollywood) influences Indian culture through fashion, music, dance and more. Bollywood creates more than twice as many films each year as Hollywood and contributes billions of dollars to the Indian economy.


Movie ideas from Oprah Magazine:

How can you possibly make a Bollywood movie even more fun? Play BINGO while watching!

Click on link to go to printable pdf of all BINGO cards. DON'T FORGET TO BUY BINGO PRIZES! Prize ideas are below the BINGO cards image.

Prize ideas for BINGO: treats such as elephant-shaped tealight holders, decorated silk bangles, or jars of mango chutney.




🟨 Yoga

Preparation: yoga mat, comfortable clothes; yoga video like this one

Activity's importance to India: There is not enough space in my blog to express the significance of yoga to India's culture. I have read that yoga is thought to have been created in India over 5,000 years ago! According to medindia.com, yoga is about trying to elevate your life force at the base of your spine through a series of physical and mental exercises.

Give it a try! My bet is that we can all benefit from yoga. Here are a few health benefits listed on the Johns Hopkins Medicine website:

  • Yoga improves strength, balance and flexibility.

  • Yoga helps with back pain relief.

  • Yoga can ease arthritis symptoms.

  • Yoga benefits heart health.

  • Yoga relaxes you, to help you sleep better.

  • Yoga can mean more energy and brighter moods.

  • Yoga helps you manage stress.


🟨 Bollywood dancing

Preparation: there are tons of online videos to teach you, but here's a great one to get you started:

Activity's importance to India: Dance is an important part of Indian culture. Bollywood dancing began as traditional Indian Dance and has evolved by fusing with other dance styles, such as Jazz and Western dance, over the years.



🟨 Henna - buy temporary henna tattoos on Etsy, Amazon, and other online outlets.

Preparation: find and purchase henna tattoos, such as these from Etsy, Amazon or uncommongoods.

Activity's importance to India: Mehndi, otherwise known as henna, is a paste associated with positive spirits and good luck.

Henna is a temporary dye that sits on top of your skin, unlike a tattoo. Henna is a large part of an Indian wedding ceremony.





🟨 Color Mandalas


Preparation: download and print mandala; colored pencils

Activity's importance to India: Mandala in Sanskrit loosely means "circle," although not all mandalas are circles. According to mandalas.com: In the Hindu and Buddhist traditions, mandalas are an object of meditation to aid in one’s spiritual development. The imagery depicts the universe and the symbols represent one’s spiritual journey, the cycles of birth-life-death, and the interconnectedness of all living things.


🟨 Tour the Taj Mahal (virtually)

Preparation: digital device connected to the internet; possibly TV to project/cast link from the digital device; Tour Link of the video below

Activity's importance to India: One of the 7 Modern Wonders of the World and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Taj Mahal was built in Agra between 1631 and 1648 by order of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favorite wife.



🟨 Hold a Chess Tournament

Preparation: chess set or (in our current pandemic) online chess tournament site (chess.com)

Activity's importance to India: Chess is commonly believed to have originated in India, evolving from a 6th-century game known as chaturanga.

According to the site Chess.com, there have been over 11 Million games of chess played on their site to date!



🟨 Read a book based in India.

Preparation: review book ideas below and purchase/borrow your choice.

Activity's importance to India: Reading is a perfect way of immersing yourself in a culture, time, and place. Learn about India from someone who knows it best. While no one book can give you a true sense of such a large, diverse place, it can give you a taste of India and probably leave you longing for more.


Book Ideas:

The Jungle Books by Rudyard Kipling

Summary taken from Goodreads.com:

The Jungle Books can be regarded as classic stories told by an adult to children. But they also constitute a complex literary work of art in which the whole of Kipling's philosophy of life is expressed in miniature. They are best known for the 'Mowgli' stories; the tale of a baby abandoned and brought up by wolves, educated in the ways and secrets of the jungle by Kaa the python, Baloo the bear, and Bagheera the black panther. The stories, a mixture of fantasy, myth, and magic, are underpinned by Kipling's abiding preoccupation with the theme of self-discovery, and the nature of the 'Law'.

You can read the original book, The Jungle Book, free through Project Guttenberg.

Here is a wonderful Lonely Planet article about the real jungles of Kipling's Jungle Books.

The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai

Summary taken from Goodreads.com:

In a crumbling, isolated house at the foot of Mount Kanchenjunga in the Himalayas lives an embittered judge who wants only to retire in peace, when his orphaned granddaughter, Sai, arrives on his doorstep. The judge’s cook watches over her distractedly, for his thoughts are often on his son, Biju, who is hopscotching from one gritty New York restaurant to another.
Kiran Desai’s brilliant novel, published to huge acclaim, is a story of joy and despair. Her characters face numerous choices that majestically illuminate the consequences of colonialism as it collides with the modern world.

A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry

Summary taken from Goodreads.com:

With a compassionate realism and narrative sweep that recall the work of Charles Dickens, this magnificent novel captures all the cruelty and corruption, dignity and heroism, of India.
The time is 1975. The place is an unnamed city by the sea. The government has just declared a State of Emergency, in whose upheavals four strangers--a spirited widow, a young student uprooted from his idyllic hill station, and two tailors who have fled the caste violence of their native village--will be thrust together, forced to share one cramped apartment and an uncertain future. As the characters move from distrust to friendship and from friendship to love, A Fine Balance creates an enduring panorama of the human spirit in an inhuman state.

🟨 Enjoy Some Traditional Indian Foods.

Preparation: As simple as ordering takeout from a local Indian restaurant or more challenging by finding and creating a recipe you find online.

Activity's importance to India: As in many countries, food is part of India's culture. Eating together as a family or entertaining friends or business associates revolves around the meal. Indian food is known for the development of flavors, which takes time. Indian cooks often mix and grind their own spices at home to create flavors unique to them.


Some ideas of foods to try: Tandoori Chicken (often recommended for first-timers due to low heat of the spices); Murgh Makhani (Butter Chicken); Chicken Vindaloo Curry; Malai Kofta; Chicken Tikka Masala; Chole (Chickpea Curry)

Have plenty of time? Make samosas, traditional Indian hand pies.


🟨 Make Traditional Chai.

Preparation: See instructions from Bon Appétit below.

Activity's importance to India: Chai means tea. Growing tea is a family business for many and a major export item for the country. It is not only a drink that is enjoyed by people in India, it has become a worldwide favorite thanks in no small part to Starbucks! Chai is a part of tradition and ritual in India at every level.



Did you know?

The common name for wilderness in India is Jungle which was adopted by the British colonialists to the English language. There are quite a few words originating in India that entered English vocabulary during the British colonial era. Here are some examples:

  • bandana

  • bangles

  • bungalow

  • shampoo

What other English words can you discover that originate from India?



Until next time...remember to make life special!




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