Father's Day is June 16
Crawford Market

I woke up the other morning with an intense desire to travel. I had sworn off traveling for 2011, as it is the Year of Important Weddings (my two best friends, both in the same year!) and I want to devote myself (and my bank account) to them. Plus, I thought I wanted to take a traveling time out.

For the last 10 years, I've made it a point to go international at least once a year. I grew up shuttling back and forth to Japan to visit family, but it was perhaps my year in Italy during college that ignited my obsession for traveling. One could say that my travels have helped define who I am; it is why exploring the world through food is a defining factor of Umamimart.

To this day, visiting India for nearly four weeks in 2006 remains as my BIG! LIFE! EXPERIENCE! It gives me a thrill just thinking about it. To sound totally trite and Eat, Pray, Love-style (gross), I hold those weeks very close to me, in my heart and memory.

I work at Camino restaurant in Oakland, and we held a Bollywood-themed party this past weekend. The chef/owner Russell Moore and his team slaved away in the kitchen for a week, researching recipes, ingredients, and preparing for this massive event for 250 guests. He made chutneys, braised goats, pickled cauliflowers, fried pekoras. The menu went on and on.

Russ and his staff absolutely nailed all the dishes. Plates would whiz by me and with a sudden JOLT, I was transported to my memories of India. You know when someone walks by you who smells like an ex-lover, and your eyes glaze over, if only for a moment? A scent so familiar, yet tucked away somewhere deep in the corners of your sensory system--then suddenly awakened out of nowhere?

Russ' food did this to me. I have been thinking about my trip to India non-stop since the Bollywood party: the spices, the colors, the language, the flowers, the people, the streets. I dug up photos from my trip in 2006--before Umamimart was even born. Here he is: India, my ex-lover.


Spice Vendor
Street Spice Man, Delhi.


Mumbai. COOK FOOD. SERVE LOVE. Right on.

Keralan breakfast, on a houseboat.

HUGE prawns we picked up from a random guy while on our houseboat in Kerala. We paid him then and there.

14th Century Fishing Contraption
Cochin, Kerala. Huge fishing contraptions from the 14th century, that require a handful of people to operate. Several of these were lined up along the waterfront.



Crawford Market, Mumbai.

Banana Man, Mumbai.

Squeezing limes for a refreshing coca-cola drink.

Paan stall in Delhi.

Crawford Market, Mumbai.

Crawford Market, Mumbai.

Tiffins in Mumbai. The Dabbawala network in Mumbai is absolutely INSANE. Read about it on Wiki.

Crawford Market
Crawford Market, Mumbai.

Overnight train ride to Kerala, from Goa. This was shot from me hanging off the edge of the train. NUTS.

Taxi ride into Mumbai. That city is the ultimate drug.

Taj Mahal, Agra. My travel partners, Anmol + Alda. Man, it was SO FUCKING HOT that day. Sublime.

Me + Limca + India. Together forever.

I just turned 31 yesterday. My trip to India was hands-down my most memorable trip of my 20s. I wonder where my 30s will take me. Cambodia, Iguazu Falls, Buenos Aires. On and on.

Mexico DF, you're next! I may just come down to see you in 2011 afterall.


  • Awesome post! And you’re not kidding about this being the year of weddings. To count there are 6 weddings I have to go travel for this year, two of them on the same date!

    Paystyle on

  • Pay- 6 weddings! So crazy. I had 7 in 2009, so I sympathize. And of course, our lovely Erin is getting married—the day after my BFF’s in LA!

    Sakura- Seeing the Taj Majal was so special. I’ve never had a more singular, powerful, ‘HOLY SHIT!’ experience, ever, over a man-made monument. I want to go to Easter Island next for another of those moments.

    Kayoko on

  • It’s so awesome that you saw the Taj Mahal! It’s exquisite. And I like the picture of the basket of sugar fruit in Goa. It must have been an amazing trip.

    Sakura on

  • i have to say i feel kind of honored that the international community is missing out on their kayoko fix for my wedding. I can at least promise you there will be so many iranian’s around, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to a different country. Loved this post, beautifully written!

    saaara on

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