Blogger of Delicacies
Not everyone can be a great writer, but a great writer can come from anywhere. Though you can hone your skills in language, expressing things you see and feel, with a difference, is an art. No person can teach you that. If picture is worth thousand words, taste is beyond it. Our blogger this week – Ashish Chopra excels in this and he is, we ought to mention, is no small man. He has had several feathers in his cap, including:
- Honorary Advisor to Governor of Mizoram.
- Coordinator – SAARC Centre for Cultural Preservation.
- Vice-President Indian Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation, Sports and Dance.
- Advisor – Centre for Economic and Technical Studies, Kathmandu (Nepal).
- Executive Member – International NGO Forum, Geneva.
- Secretary, International Affairs, World Philosophers Meet.
- Member of Governing Council, Indian Tourism Development Corporation Ltd.
- Member, Indian Management Association.
- Convenor – Indo-Kenya Friendship Society.
- Executive Member – Tribal Welfare Committee.
- Project Director – National Youth Development Programme.
- Visiting Faculty, National Institute of Social Communication Research and Training.
Besides, having organized several Seminars and Conferences, and has been recipient of several National honours including National Integration Award (1993) and National Youth Award (1996). A laudable writer; he has authored two books and has contributed to various newspapers. Currently he is Executive Director of Institute for Environmental Management and Social Development (www.iemsd.org).
A blogger who is also a writer
NE Belly, his cookery book, covers North East India’s rich cuisine in great detail. The book has recipes of several dishes from the region. He has also documented royal cuisines of the erstwhile Maharajas for ITC WELCOME HERITAGE group of Hotels. At present he is penning a travelogue on North East India apart from contemplating on yet another title to be based on three hundred years old Royal cuisines of Diggi (in Rajasthan).
‘Apart from this,’ says Ashish, ‘there are a few more books in the pipeline. But I am not yet authorized to talk about them. All I can say is: they will showcase richness of rural India.’
An incisive voyager
Ashish, who has travelled over seventy countries and has visited every possible ‘nook and corner of India’, believes that ‘food, music and culture transcend all boundaries defined by mankind and share a common universal language.’ ‘My quest is to gather this knowledge.’ he asserts.
On North East India
Ashish has fallen in love, totally, with India’s North East. This becomes evident when he says ‘North East is where my heart is.’
‘What saddens me is the way in which media projects North East’ he regrets, before clarifying ‘If you look at North East through my eyes it is another name for paradise. I am greatly hopeful about Nagaland as a state. I can see a very strong sense of entrepreneurship amongst women folks here. The Nationalism in Arunachal is amazing. Sikkim is peaceful like its serene mountains. Overall, I see hope for this paradise if handled well by our political leadership.’
On Hospitality of North East
‘You must see to believe’ says Ashish. ‘I can show you footages of the warm welcome I get every time I go to any of these villages, for you to believe. I get unconditional love and respect at the grassroots.’
On his obsession with food
‘When I was ten year old’ recalls this foodie, ‘I used to sell household junk to buy sausages in Chandigarh – the city where I grew up.’
‘Can Ashish cook?’
‘Are you kidding me?’ he counters, before adding ‘On a serious note, cooking for me is meditative. It is virtue to be able to feed people with love and it is highly satiating to silently observe people relishing your food, losing all inhibitions. I feel that to feed with love is a great virtue and your kitchen can never go empty.’
On his fiancée
Alas, for ladies contemplating on having such a wonderful cook and foodie as hubby, sadly, he is engaged ‘to some one special’.
‘I am sure I have taught her more cooking than her mother did.’ he brags, adding ‘Not a very good thing to say but she has put on 15 kilos since I met her three years ago.’
And yes, before you start to believe in everything mentioned here… just pay a quick visit to his blog at http://ashthefoodie.wordpress.com/.