Friday, June 21, 2013

Chicken Tikka Masala

Okay, this isn't about cancer, or bikes, either.

I love Indian food.  I have to.  Being a Buddhist, especially a Buddhist who is part of a community in Boulder, means you have to love Indian food.  There's no getting around it.  It's a moral imperative.

Sue and I eat Indian food quite often.  We went to a nearby Indian joint last night.  I ordered Chicken Tikka Masala.  I like Chicken Tikka Masala and it's what I usually order or choose from the buffet when we visit a restaurant we've never been to before.  I don't get the Chicken Tikka Masala at new places simply because I like it.  It's much more practical.  I don't like surprises when it comes to my dinner plate unless it's a surprise I'm ordering.  I don't want to order something I really like from a menu only to find out the cook has his head shoved up his snerve.  So why Chicken Tikka Masala?  It's simple.

All Indian restaurants, everywhere, make their Chicken Tikka Masala exactly the same way.

Chicken Tikka Masala
It doesn't matter if you're at the Taj, or the Himalayan, or Sherpa, or Yak and Yeti.  It won't matter what city, state or perhaps even country you're in, because ....

the Chicken Tikka Masala is always exactly the same, no matter where you go.

I swear that it's a massive conspiracy, a benign and helpful one, but still a conspiracy.  It's a conspiracy to help people find something in Indian food that they can like and feed it to them everywhere.  The humus and nan may be different, the Dal may be spicier, the samosas may be unique, .....

but the Chicken Tikka Masala is always the same.

You can't even make it yourself and not have it taste just like Chicken Tikka Masala at Every Indian Restaurant In The Universe.  A friend of mine's wife makes it at home and he tells me that his wife's Chicken Tikka Masala tastes just like everyone else's.

I'll bet that if you added rabbit turds and small bits of broken glass to Chicken Tikka Masala it would still taste the same as at the Old Bombay Cafe.

It always looks the same.  It always tastes the same. It's even presented pretty much the same way.

You may be scratching your head over the rest of the menu, but if your waiter's come back to the table for the third time, you can always say

Aw fuck it, I'll have the Chicken Tikka Masala.

and you'll know exactly what you'll be getting.

On the other hand it seems very unimaginative, almost Scandinavian, that the Chicken Tikka Masala is always the same.  You wonder why they couldn't try something a little different for a change.  Chefs for other types of cuisine do it all the time.  Why can't somebody try new twist on the Chicken Tikka Masala?  It's simple.  They can't make the Chicken Tikka Masala differently because, well, it's Chicken Tikka Masala and it's an immutable law the universe that ......

Chicken Tikka Masala is always the same.

Want something different?  Try the Pakora.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Homesick

Don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what you've got 'til its gone?
~Joni Mitchell

This isn't about bikes or riding them.  It might not even be about cancer - at least not directly.  Ok, it isn't about cancer, either.

I'm from Minnesota originally.  I was born, raised and for many years lived in Duluth.  About 25 years ago I pulled up stakes and moved to Colorado.  I've been here since.  Until recently, I never thought of Colorado as home.  It takes awhile for that sense of place to settle in, but in the last few years I've come to think more of Colorado as home.  Actually, as I told my wife not too long ago ....

My home is wherever you are.

Anyway, today I got homesick.  Not for Colorado.  Homesick for Minnesota.

Courtesy of SS & DS
An old friend, back in Duluth, posted to Facebook some snapshots of a weekend outing with her husband.  One of the pictures was shot across a lake to the far shore, maybe a mile away. The water is dead calm.  Low-hanging clouds.  Green like you can't imagine. So Minnesota.  It hit me like a ton of bricks.  I could feel the air - warm, humid - palpable.  Even silence has a sound to it and I could hear it.  The smells - rich, heavy, wet - pine mixed with maple, water over black muck. Somewhere, across the lake, a loon calls.....

There's a new man on the lake.

In a rush, there's this pull at the heart - something calling me home, even if only for a day, or an hour.  A feast awaits; a feast for the soul.

And I can't go.

A deep sense of loss.

... you don't know what you've got till it's gone.

Why did I ever leave?

Why can't I go back?

And with all of my heart and every shred of soul I have left, I want to.  More than anything else.

Homesick.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Climbing


I like climbing.

Sorta.

Climbing goes part and parcel with cycling in Colorado   It doesn't matter what kind of cycling you do.  You have to climb around here.  We have these Big Things called the Rocky Mountains.  They're kinda high.  Because we live close to those mountains the terrain here isn't flat.  At least not for very long.  Sooner or later, on any given ride, you have to climb.

Yeah, it hurts sometimes.

If you ride a bike around here, climbing is something you have to make peace with.

I have a love/hate relationship with climbing.  As I approach a climb, there's a certain loathing I experience.  Something in me doesn't want to do the Work.  I think about walking the climb, or I'll consider possible alternatives.  However, at some point, usually just before the slope changes, something automatic kicks in and I just start working.

I start enjoying myself.

When I finally summit the climb, even a short one, I feel an exhilaration.  I feel like Caesar.

Veni. Ego ascendit. Vici.

It's kind of silly-sounding, but climbing with a bike is serious business.  It takes strength, endurance and intelligence.  You have to have strength to push yourself ever higher, be able to carry on to the end, and smart enough to do it right.

I find climbing a useful tool.  I ride a number of climbs regularly and I find that as time goes on I get through these climbs faster.  It's never easier, either. It's like Greg Lemond said.

It never gets easier.  You just get faster.

Climbs that  a year ago, would kick your ass, still kick your ass, but the difference is that as time goes on you don't have to endure the ass-kicking for as long.

And that, dear friends, is progress.

It shows that I'm getting stronger, my lungs are improving and maybe, just maybe, a tad smarter.

I like that.

I also find that once I make it to the Top, that I've been having fun.

I like that, too.