18 Dec

I arrived in Hyderabad, India at 3am on December 10th after about 24-hours of traveling.

Fortunately, I was able to get plenty of sleep in these from-the-future looking seats. As much as I would love to act like this was just another day in the life of Maggie Cook, I essentially spent the whole time feeling like I was in Star Wars or Wall-E.

I also got an in-flight massage.

And in-flight seared red snapper.

I arrived at the Westin Hyderabad at around 4:30am.

They had a Christmas tree waiting just for me

I slept for a few more hours and hung out at the hotel most of the day. In the evening, my two hosts picked me up and showed me around town. We rode to dinner in one of these:

For dinner, I had my first taste of Biryani. It was amazing.

The next day, my co-worker Kendra arrived. Kendra, Nivi, Kalyan, Chalin, and I spent the entire day fulfilling all the must-dos of Hyderabad.

On our way to the cinema, I noticed that lots of people drive scooters. Many of them look like they were once Vespas, but have had most of their parts replaced.

At 10am, we began the day with a 3 hour Bollywood movie, “Ladies vs. Ricky Bahl.” I recommend watching the trailer.

After the movie, we ate another delicious Indian meal before heading to Charminar; built in 1591 AD by the fifth ruler of Qutb Shahi dynasty after the capital moved to Hyderabad.

We climbed the claustrophobia-inducing stairs which had no fire-exit plan with about 5,000 other people

From the top, you can see lots of the city, including the market where we shopped for the next 5 hours

As you can see, there are no traffic laws, or lanes, in Hyderabad.

Next we went shopping

For Bangles

And scarves

And Jewelry

We opted out of buying Kit Kat bars from this cart

The rest of our trip was largely dedicated to working, but that didn’t stop us from eating some delicious food

Or partying the night away at the Facebook India office holiday party. They do some serious Bollywood dancing.

This group of people are all doing the same synchronized dance

The theme was retro bollywood

We left the party around midnight to catch our 4am plane back to the USA. While I enjoy being able to drink tap water again, my first time to India was a blast. Maybe next time I learn how to haggle.

Turning up the heat

18 Jun

About six months ago, Drew and I moved from the first floor of 300 N. Lamar, to the 24th floor of 360 Nueces.

It’s pretty great since we have a beautiful view and a pool…

But since this is the forecast for the next week,

we aren’t exactly laying around in the sun for hours. Instead of losing our body weight in sweat, we opted to make our new place a little more comfortable. First stop was the renegade craft fair

We had to put these prints up some how, so our next stop was Breed & Co (I recommend the original location linked here.) Breed & Co. has been around for 40 years and has every single home improvement, home decorating, gardening, and kitchen item you will ever need. Sound like Home Depot? It has one thing Home Depot will never have:

Craftsmen who know everything. They know at least 90 different English translations for the word, “thing.” They even sold us a fool proof plant.

Between the shopping, framing, nailing, and watering, we also found some outdoor furniture to relax in during those cool 80 degree evenings, making our last stop home.

It’s been about a year since Drew and I moved to Austin and summer #2 is in full swing.


30 Aug

As my grandma would say, I’ve been “quite the busy little bee” lately. Here’s What you’ve missed out on:

I got a job at Apple

I went to the Roller Derby

I’ve finally started baking again

Using ingredients from Whole Foods. This is $.02 worth of salt. Finding what you need at Whole Foods is sometimes like going on a scavenger hunt

In my spare time I’ve been hanging out with my friends

And drinking plenty of cold beverages in the 100+ degree weather we’ve been having.

Now you should be up to speed and ready for season 2 of Austintatious!

Cheap Ways to Have Fun

24 Jul

Sure there are plenty of events to attend, concerts to go to, fun vintage shops to shop at, art to buy. But there are also cheap ways to have fun here. These are a few.

One. Attend Wednesday Night Trivia at The Gingerman with your friends.

If you’re like me, it only costs the price of a Coke. But even if you’re a beer drinker there’s a possibility of coming out ahead since first prize is $50!

Not up on your current events? You could still break even since there’s a prize for the best team name

Two. Play  Settler’s of Catan as much as possible. You probably think you don’t know anyone who plays Settler’s of Catan. You’re wrong. There are closeted Settler’s of Catan players everywhere.

It wont be long before you have to use the expansion pack (allowing more people to play). Soon after that you’ll be organizing tournaments.

Three. Watch this guy juggling flames at the Tiniest bar in Texas.

This one is free!

Four. Take picture of things like this–also free

Five. Go to group interviews, emphasis on group. It doesn’t matter where, if it’s a group interview–it will be fun.

Six. Go running downtown at night. Make sure you run past as many bars as you can

Plenty of tipsy (or drunk) people hang out with their friends outside bars at night

they tend to reenact this kind of scene as you run past. I guarantee you’ll run a little faster after that

So there you have it. Six nearly, or completely, free activities to do in Austin, TX.

The Birthday Tour

17 Jul

Today is my dad’s 59th birthday. He might be 1,248 miles away (if you take I-44 E), but every day I do something here in Austin that reminds me of him. I’m sad that I can’t be in Holland to celebrate, but more than that I’m sad he can’t be here to celebrate! Here are a few reasons why.

First on the list is Whole Foods Market, specifically their salad bar. My dad is a big fan of salad bars. He’s quick to mention if a restaurant has a good salad bar, and eats salad every day from the the cafeteria at work. Once, we took a road trip and passed through St. Louis. We saw the Arch, but what did he talk about from that trip? The grocery store we stopped at ….with a salad bar.

I eat at Whole Foods every day. They have an amazing salad bar. I’ve seen my dad eat salad all my life and now I eat it all the time. Coincidence? the fact of DNA and the theory of modeling say no. Congrats dad, you’ve produced a healthy offspring.

Don’t worry, we both eat more than leafy greens–we also share a love of baking. We used to bake so much our family dubbed us the “M and M bakery.” (Mark and Maggie.)

Our next stop is Lance Armstrong’s bike shop, Mellow Johnny’s. My parents are both avid bike riders, and Austin has tons of bike shops, biking groups, and bike trails. I began riding a Trailabike when I was about 5. I hated it because people would ask us about it all the time. Since then I’ve come around and also love to ride.

My dad also loves to run. I run on this Lake Austin trail 4 times a week. Right on the water, dirt path, you can even watch the kayakers while you run.It’s right by our apartment, and most days I run there I think about how great it will be to run with my dad when he comes to visit!

Last but not least is the Ginger Man pub, and it’s sister bar The Ghost Room. The Ginger Man features a Wednesday Trivia night–something my dad is good at.

The Ghost Room features live music 5 nights a week–again, something my dad loves. Trivia and music are great, the atmosphere really ties it all together. Every time I see those two friends leaning against each other, pints in hand, I know my dad will be drawn in.

So those are just a few reasons I wish my dad could be here to celebrate his birthday. When I think of my dad I remember: Salad Bars, learning to bake, riding bikes together, enjoying the out doors, quirky intelligence, an appreciation of design, and a love for live music and friends.


11 Minute Burrito

13 Jul

Can you hear it sizzling? It smoldered for about an hour

Charity Bash

12 Jul

One neat thing Austin has to offer is something called Charity Bash . Charity bash is a volunteer based organization that throws parties once a month that benefit various charities around Austin. I went to this month’s Charity Bash on Thursday night.

It had rained most of the day, but it looked promising towards the evening, so I began the night by deciding against buying the $28 dollar umbrella I saw at Whole Foods on my way to the bash

Thursday night benefitted an organization called Explore Austin- an outdoor adventure/mentor program for 6th-12th graders. I entered this crowd of people around 8pm

I met this girl in the hat about 5 minutes after I took the picture because I found her apartment key on the ground. I got a few free drinks, hugs, and multiple “I love you”s out of it. She’s also the executive director of Charity Bash

I met another man who called himself “Mr. Clean,”  but don’t be jealous ladies, he made it clear he only sells the products-cleaning is still our domain!

I met two because of my “purple and green aura.”

Incidentally, purple is for my intense awareness and connection to spirituality

And Green means I’m a natural healer with an ability to make things grow quickly

I met a lot of unique individuals, and had a blast.

I ended the night getting completely drenched in a downpour on my walk home. No awnings in sight. Fortunately, Royal Blue Grocery was open, so I purchased an umbrella for $4.50. It came with a free cookie, thanks to the late-working high school girl

I would say the night was all-in-all $10 well spent


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