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The Lizard King: Jim Morrison’s 72nd Birthday

by Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Today, December 8th,2015,  marks what would have been, Jim Morrison’s 72nd birthday. I saw this passing by my news feed, as well as, it also being the death anniversary of The Beatles frontman, John Lennon, 35 years ago.  A day of  reminiscing for The Doors and The Beatles fans.thewanderlustyogi.net

I have always been a fan of The Doors and thought the lead singer, who was sometimes referred to by other monikers, the most common one, being “The Lizard King”,  was so cool growing up. I distinctly remember my mom (when she was in her, much younger and wilder years-also a hippie) singing her heart out, into a hair brush, “Come on baby light my fire!”  with The Doors hit, blasting in the background, drowning her voice out. She may kill me for sharing that, but it was such fond memories.


I’ll put this right here. Just in case you want to sing along with Jim too. You know you want to!

 


We grew up with lots of great music always on in the background.  Besides The Doors, we listened to  The Beatles, The Moody Blues, Jethro Tull, Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Billy Joel, and so many others, that I can’t think of right now, mostly, thanks to my step-dad. Maybe this influence was why my brother ended up going to Belmont University to study music production and is a musician, playing the guitar and singing covers from some of these oldie-but-goodies, at gigs, in our local area today? But, I digress.

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When this anniversary comes up, I sometimes wonder about how weird it would be if he was still alive today.

Would he have been totally different now?

How would his music have change though the years?

Would he have aged gracefully?

Would he have become a father or grandfather and if so, would they have his gift?

None of these questions can ever be answered because, like many other music legends, he was cursed with the dark side of the industry, and died far too young, of a drug overdose.

The media coined a phrase for these talented artists, calling them the “27 club”. A term used, referring to famous musicians who died at the age of 27 from alcohol or drug addiction.  The club members include:  Jimi Hendrix, Brian Jones (The Rolling Stones), Janis Joplin, Ron “Pigpen” McKernan (The Grateful Dead),  Amy Winehouse, and Kurt Cobain (Nirvana).

This was such an eerie fact, even if it was just a coincidence.  And losing these amazing lyrical poets, and music makers, before their time was such a shame.

I hope that this “27 club” is no longer taking membership applications.

thewanderlustyogi.net

The “27 club”

This day reminds me of my visit to Paris, France, last August (2014). The reason: because I made it a point to go visit Jim Morrison’s grave, which is on the Eastern side of the city at the Pere Lachaise Cemetery.


 

This cool and cloudy, on again-off again rainy August day, that I went to the cemetery, made me feel as though I may be a bit of a morbid person. My husband as well. Our day consisted of first visiting the Catacombs,  then going to the grave of the “Lizard King”. We were both wicked [Boston slang-sorry] excited to do both and thought, “Are we the only one’s who go visit the dead on vacation? What is wrong with us?” We quickly learned that this was not the case. Both places were packed with other tourists, wanting to do the same exact thing. Phew! We aren’t weirdos!

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my husband and I in the Catacombs

We took a subway ride from the Catacombs stop to the stop closest to the Pere Lachaise Cemetery (http://www.pere-lachaise.com/perelachaise.php?lang=en) We arrived late in the afternoon and at the front gate, were greeted by a guard.  He told us we only had twenty minutes because they will be closing.  “Shit!” We agreed and promptly said who we were there to see, asking him directions. The place was huge! Before even getting the sentence out, he knowingly started pointing in the direction of James Douglas Morrison’s stone. I smiled and said, “I’m sure you get this all the time?” He answered in English, but with a French accent, “I get asked this every day!” thewanderlustyogi.netthewanderlustyogi.net

We walked in the direction he told us, but we had trouble finding it at first. Along the way, we enjoyed the remarkable and beautiful gravestones of the other residents, and noted the intricate detail in some of the tombs that filled this historical site.  We finally asked another visitor if he might know where it was and he was kind enough to show us.  As we walked up the narrow lane towards it, we started seeing many more tourists/visitors grouped together at one particular stone. “That has to be the one!“, I screamed!  It was.thewanderlustyogi.net thewanderlustyogi.net

Jim Morrison’s grave was sort of tucked in behind other graves, and was surprisingly small to me. It was blanketed with candles, flowers, trinkets, framed photos of him, notes and even empty alcohol bottles on the grass near it. For some reason, I envisioned it to be very big, with loads of character and with a sculpted image of his head on top. I have no idea why I thought that? I’m nuts! I probably just dreamt that.thewanderlustyogi.net

Either way,  I was happy to have gotten a chance to see it first hand, just for the bragging rights alone. Also, it was a different side of Paris and had some history involved.  See, it was for educational purposes. I’m not just a rock band groupie! Well, maybe a little.

 

 

 

 

Best Cambodian Food in Boston: The Elephant Walk

by Friday, April 17, 2015

This week for Boston is a tough one. It was the two year anniversary of the marathon bombing on Wednesday and the sentiment of remembrance, sadness, as well as hope, was lingering all around us. Springtime in Boston around this exact time is always special, there’s the Boston Marathon, opening day for the Red Sox and the city is just starting to come out of hibernation.

My husband’s birthday was yesterday and we decided that we would both take the day off and spend it together, going to lunch and whatever we felt like, or should I say, he felt like.  We checked the weather and it looked like it was going to be a gorgeous spring day. Yay! What a nice thing to hear after this ridiculous long, cold and snowy winter we’ve had. This of course made us instantly think about doing something that involves being outside, at least for a little bit.

Maybe Portsmouth?

That’s a great idea, we could take a walk on the beach and then grab lunch at a restaurant downtown. Then he said that he thinks the beach might be a bit too chilly. It’s usually around 10 degrees colder, plus it was windy. He thought I’d be cold, I’m always cold. I said I would dress appropriately if he wanted to go and if it was just about me why he was saying that.  He said it was just what he was feeling and wanted to figure out something else.  I’m glad he scratched that from the list of where to go, because on further investigation, none of the restaurants in the area open until 4:00pm or 5:00pm, only serving dinner.  That wouldn’t work for a lunch date!

I started thinking of ideas and suggested the city. I’ve been wanting to try this Cambodian restaurant, my Cambodian friend raves about, and my husband loves ethnic food, any type. So I thought he would be interested in that.  Then we could also take a walk through the city, which we love doing on nice spring days. He thought it was a perfect idea.

Boston it is!

thewanderlustyogi.netThe restaurant is called The Elephant Walk I’ve heard such great things about this one Cambodian restaurant in particular, and not just from that one friend, but by food critics such as, the phantom gourmet, articles from the Boston Herald, the Improper Bostonian, and many other local foodies; all being positive, noting the authenticity and  top-notch dishes they serve. We were excited to try it and this was a great opportunity to.

thewanderlustyogi.netWe headed into Boston a little after 11 and arrived at noon. We live only about 40 miles north, but with traffic that can be anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 and half hours. Driving, not during rush hour always makes me feel like Boston is so close, “why don’t we enjoy the city more?” I would always ask myself, but then I remember the hellish commute in the morning time or dinnertime and instantly comes flooding back to me why.

We walked in and it had just opened. We were one of only 3 tables seated. We asked for a window seat and they obliged happily. The waiter greeted us and asked if we have ever been before, we of course replied, “No,  but we are very eager to try it, as it was suggested by a friend.”  He was pleased to hear and offered some suggestions of the popular and signature dishes. I was in no way going to question him and ordered everything he recommended.

thewanderlustyogi.netThe restaurant menu had a selection of French and Cambodian cuisine, which I wasn’t really sure why the two were combined, either way, each dish description sounded wonderful.  I did a little research of the history of this restaurant and answered my question about the French food selections.  The owner, Longteine de Monteiro, lived in  Cambodia until 1975, but moved when the Khmer Roughe took over Cambodia. Her family had to flee, but her mother and her brother were not as fortunate to escape, they died, along with 1.7 million other Cambodians, killed by the Khmer Rouges.thewanderlustyogi.net

They ended up in France and she started cooking for a living there. She learned French cuisine, but always added her style learned  from her mother’s cooking, infusing a Cambodian twist into her dishes. She later opened France’s first Cambodian restaurant, called Amrita.  Her daughter Nadsa,  also joined the family business, as well as her French husband, Bob Perry.

thewanderlustyogi.netThey all moved to America in 1991 an opened the first Elephant Walk in Somerville, Massachusetts, a suburb or Boston.  That location has since been closed, and today there are two locations, one in the South End of Boston and one in Cambridge.

They right from the beginning had outstanding reviews,  Esquire magazine, in 1992, the year after,  named them one of American’s best new restaurants,  heralding Longteine’s food as “absolutely delicious and enlightening!” and other reviews described the food as “a rare taste” and “exquisite”

Our meal 

thewanderlustyogi.netWe started with some special drinks. Non- alcohol ones, sorry to disappoint, but nonetheless, still great! They did however have a vast list of unique alcoholic beverages, cocktails, beers, wines, soft drinks, coffee and teas, by the pot.  We ordered their special iced chai drink and a raspberry spritzer -both delicious.

thewanderlustyogi.netNext we had the spring roll appetizer called Rouleaux,  that he suggested. We would have probably ordered it  anyway, since we love spring rolls. What was interesting about them was not only their flavor blend of spices, and perfect crunch on the outside, yet moist on the inside, it was how you were supposed to eat them.  I’m so glad our waiter told us, because we would have never figured that out ourselves.

You are to take the lettuce leaves and put a spring roll in the center, add the toppings provided; (bean sprouts, mint leaves, peanut sauce, and chili sauce), and then wrap it and eat it.  It really added a special flavor mix to the palate, eating it this way.  The mint especially, gave it a fresh taste.  He said he told us because he knew we wouldn’t have known, since most people just think the side arrangement is for garnish, We thanked him and told him how much we enjoyed it. He smiled.

thewanderlustyogi.netOnto the main course. My husband had the beef dish called Loc Lac which was a cubed beef tenderloin in a lightly caramelized sauce of black pepper, garlic and mushroom soy, served over lettuce and a dipping sauce.   I had a chicken dish that has been the staple dish for over 30 years, that he urged me to try.  It was called Poulet a La Citronnelle which was made with sliced chicken breast sautéed with lemon grass onion and red bell pepper sprinkled with crushed peanuts. We shared both dishes to be able to get a taste of each, both were absolutely delicious and you could easily taste it’s  authentic ingredients and expertise in the cooking.thewanderlustyogi.net

The waiter came back to check on our satisfaction and we gushed on how great everything was and that we will definitely be back soon and will tell others to try it.  He was very happy and let us know, if we were interested, and were sticking around the South End for the afternoon, that a Buddhist monk was coming to give a water blessing to the restaurant at 3:00.

I was instantly interested,and gazed to my husband to see if he was. He said sure. We told the waiter we were going to walk around a bit and be back around that time to watch the ceremony.

He said, ” Great, see you later guys and go out there and enjoy this beautiful day!”

thewanderlustyogi.netWe were in a wonderful area of Boston, the South End. It is known for its brownstones, and residential friendly area, with shops and restaurants sprinkled throughout. If I were to ever move to the city, this is where I’d want to live.

thewanderlustyogi.netWe walked through little tree-lined streets and neighborhoods of brownstones, towards Tremont St. It was sunny and breezy, with people walking on their lunch breaks from work, and students from the local school just getting out. We walked and talked and just had a leisurely stroll, it was a quintessential Spring day in Boston.

While walking and feeling a sense of contentment and happiness, I couldn’t help but see in the corner of my eye, a glimpse of a spray painted sign of the city’s slogan “Boston Strong” on a construction site. It made me stop dead in my tracks and switch my feeling of happiness to the feeling of empathy.  I walked over to the sign, took a picture,  and then took a moment of silence in remembrance. Life in the city continues to go on, and the people are thriving, but we can never forgot those who have lost their lives here on that day, two years ago.

thewanderlustyogi.netWe headed back to the restaurant and since we would be a little early, we decided we would have dessert and tea there, but first checking our time at our parking meter to see if we needed to add more quarters. Good thing we checked, because our time was almost out. During lunch, we were much too full for any dessert, but now that we’ve walked around a few hours, our appetizer came back a bit and we could definitely squeeze in a dessert each. Why not? It was my husband’s birthday after all and besides, their desserts looked awesome!

They were!

thewanderlustyogi.netWe got a pot of green tea and my husband got the Le peche’ au chocolate, which was a creamy rich chocolate truffle cake, paired with raspberry coulis and I got the Mousse aux fruits de la passions, which was a tart with a passion fruit mousse served in an almond lace cup, garnished with mango. They were both meticulously plated, as well as delectable.thewanderlustyogi.net

As we were finishing up dessert, we saw the car holding the Buddhist monk pulling up to the restaurant. The owner was driving; she parked and walked him in.  She was also with her husband. They came in and she seated him in the front of the restaurant. She started preparing for the ceremony, placing a rug on the floor in front of him, making an altar with a Buddha image, flowers, a candle, rice and cocoa leaves and placed it in front of him, along with a bowl of water (used for the blessing) and a hot tea.thewanderlustyogi.net

She instructed the bartender to lower the music and locked the doors of the restaurant. The people in the room were the owner, her husband, the monk, a PR photographer, the bartender, a waiter, a cook and us. That’s it! I’m not sure how we were allowed to stay in there, since we were just guests, but I was happy they welcomed us to watch.  Every so often a patron would try pulling the door open and then peek in, confused why it wasn’t open? And each time the bartender would send them away.thewanderlustyogi.net

The ceremony began. The owner and her husband bowed and sat on their knees in front of the monk, her first removing her shoes and draping her shoulders with a white scarf.  They began bowing and chanting a mantra in Khmer. Then the Monk started chanting back to them. It seemed like he was saying a phrase and then they would repeat him, but I don’t speak Khmer, so I could be wrong. This went on for close to 40 minutes, and then the monk started chanting a little louder and began lightly splashing them with the water for the blessing.thewanderlustyogi.net

A Cambodian Buddhist water blessing is a Cambodian sacred ritual that is believed to bring good luck and prosperity that dates back to ancient times.

The owner waved over the manager and he reluctantly went over. She strictly pointed out that he hadn’t removed his shoes. He quickly removed them, joined them on the floor and sat on his knees in prayer position.  You could faintly hear her whisper, “Don’t you want to be blessed?” and he nodded, yes, but you could clearly see the whole thing made him a little uneasy. He was definatley out of his comfort zone, but he did it to please her and to be respectful. I would have done the exact, same thing.thewanderlustyogi.net

As it closed, the monk proceeded outside and began splashing the holy water on the outside windows and the owner asked the manager to set the altar table in the front entrance area, and stated that it needed to be kept there for at least 3 days.thewanderlustyogi.net

It was time for us to go. We had stayed in the city longer than we originally planned, so we could avoid rush hour traffic, and now it was past 4:00 pm, which means we were sure to be in the midst of it.  We didn’t care. It was worth it and an honor for us to be able to witness this special tradition that means so much to the owner and her family.

We said our goodbyes and thanked the manager and he was glad we enjoyed it. He also mentioned that they usually do this, at all the locations, during this time each year, to celebrate Khmer New Year.

As we drove home, sitting in bumper to bumper traffic, I looked over at my husband and asked if he had a nice birthday.  He smiled and said,” It was perfect!”

 

 

 

 

Want to Lock your Love In Paris?

by Wednesday, February 4, 2015

thewanderlustyogi.netDo you want to lock your love in Paris like the  Courtney Kardashian and Scott Disick did? Many people have never heard of this until that episode aired, but you’d be surprised of the thousands that have already done just that. thewanderlustyogi.net
Paris is referred to sometimes as the “most romantic city in the world” , understandably due to it’s

  • first class dining (al fresco)
  • the lights at night (ex. Champs Elysees)
  • Seine River
  • architechular structures ( ex. Eiffel Tower)
  • art- (ex. The Louvre)
  • gardens (ex. Luxembourg Garden)
  • the theatre (ex. Moulin Rouge)

These are just a handful of examples.  Now you can include the Love-Lock bridge.  The location of this bridge is Pont de l’ Archeveche ( location of the love-lock bridge in Paris).

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The tradition of the “love-lock bridge” is two lovers attach a padlock with their initials on it and lock it somewhere on the bridge. Then they are to throw the key into the Seine River.  This is supposed to symbolize the couples commitment to each other of undying love, and lock it forever! There are now thousands of locks adorning the bridge from sweethearts from all over the world.

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Don’t worry, if you go to Paris and wanted to lock your love there, but forgot your lock at home, there are many vendors selling locks right on the bridge for a minimal fee.

This is something I did with my husband this past August, and even though we were being silly about it, it was quit romantic, in a way. I mean, when you are in Paris, you can’t help but feel romantic. It’s just in the air.

Now that Valentine’s Day is approaching and people are trying to come up with romantic things to do with their lover. How about taking a romantic getaway trip to Paris? This would be a romantic trip for anyone, even if for the most un-romantic person. Maybe you could even propose there if this is something you were planning on? Everyone proposes on the Eiffel Tower, how about changing things up a bit, propose there and then go to celebrate this monumental event, by dining on top of the Eiffel Tower after. That would be very special and unforgettable.

thewanderlustyogi.net

“I do, I do” two wedding couples walking across to the love-lock bridge to add their lock

When we went, there were two couples that got married at a church across the street.  After their vows, they walked over, all love-struck, to the bridge and locked their love for the rest of their lives. The many people around watching were smiling and congratulated them as they passed by. It was a very sweet thing to witness, and a unique way to solidify their vows.  One I surely would never forget.

thewanderlustyogi.net

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