I am the beloved of every human irrespective of their gender, irrespective of their age. The ultimate present of every occasion which never fails in retaining a laughter on an incident when one can bet of never smiling again. The richness of the cocoa, the sweetness of my bitterness lifts your spirits and serves as an eye opener on the nights meant for assignment completion. Yes, you guessed it right, I am your personal ambrosia, your life saviour, your CHOCOLATE, here I am today to take you on my journey from a bean to bar so are you ready?

My journey just like you my eater buddy is not that easy. I take birth in the tropical and humid climate which observes a short dry season and a regular rainfall of 1000-2500 mm per year, beginning my life as a cocoa bean amidst the greens of the cocoa trees I fill the surroundings with my rich aroma. The quality of the cocoa and the climatic conditions play a very important role in deciding my characteristics and flavour, and as quoted by sophocles, “If one begins all deeds well, it is likely that they will end well too.” holding the same relevant a good quality been is necessary for the production of a delicious chocolate.

After harvesting, the pods are opened and the seeds are removed which makes me ready for the next step which is fermentation. Just like a human baby after birth is given intensive care to increase its immunity for handling the exterior environment, similarly for intensifying my bitter flavour the beans are fermented for around five days. This process produces heat and demands a periodically regular stir. The perfectly fermented cocoa is then dried for around 15 days removing all the moisture attracting mould, when this process is over only the dried beans are selected and the remaining are discarded from further processing.

Drying marks a transition in my journey. A switch from the hands of my birth giver farmer to the hands of a professional chocolate maker. After drying, the chocolate maker roasts the beans at 210°F for around 10-15 minutes. Roasting, apart from sterilizing the beans also enhances its flavours and makes the next step much easier. This is followed by winnowing, the most important part of my journey which exposes the very best part of my initial bean stage. During this process the chocolate maker removes the outer shells revealing the nib of the cocoa beans – the most desirable part of the initial me.

The nibs are then ground either by machinery or in between heavy stones which result in the production of a heavenly elixir in which addition of sugar produces what is called as cocoa liquor. Changing my state from solid to liquid, grinding is the step producing the primitive version of molten chocolate. Sometimes, many makers instead of grinding go for the technique conching, which involves a continuous mix of the cocoa mass on a certain temperature. This technique does a combination of things such as drying (in case bits of moisture still remain), developing flavour and crushing the large pieces (if any).

Now, after all this to make me regain my original solid state the next step, which is known as tempering is done. During, tempering the chocolate produced in the previous step is heated and is allowed to cool slowly at its own, this enables the cocoa mass to stabilize and solidify properly. It is the most essential part in my entire production as in its absence my solid state does not harden well. And, finally after all these steps of intensive skill and hard work you have your favourite chocolate bar to scintillate your senses.

So, now my eater friends you know my entire journey, would love to know yours as well, you can share your journeys and your life stories on the below mentioned email Id. Till then farewell eaters and, keeping chewing your chocolate.

Feature Image Credits : Scopio

Kriti  Gupta

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Life in a metropolitan city might give you a capitalistic luxury but it will seldom give you a natural satisfaction. Tall buildings build barriers in the mind, tricky roads keep us busy with worldly questions, and the smoke often rises up in our heads and blocks our tendency to feel.
Trees appear a grotesque brown at times, and sometimes we use them to fill the great lack of nature and its soothing properties. I think it’s primarily because a metro is so altered from the natural that we feel disconnected.
Hence, one must always take some time off to visit unaltered spaces. It refills and rejuvenates. The unaltered beauty of nature gives answers to your hopelessness. It makes you feel connected and provides you with a purpose or reaffirms the purpose you had been striving for.
One of the places to refill and rejuvenate is located at an altitude of about 3500m in Jammu and Kashmir’s region, Leh in Ladakh.
There are innumerable reasons why you must visit it, mentioned below are only a few:

1. The journey via Manali or via Srinagar

We all know how highways can be very fascinating. This one is ethereal. The vacation begins with the journey and you are in awe at every single moment. The journey is a bit adventurous because of the rough road at some places. Nevertheless it is absolutely worth it.
We often take a nap during long journeys. This one is about 12 hours (via Srinagar) and you won’t even blink your eye because every single minute has you struck by a wow moment.

2. You get to know that huge barren stones can be beautiful

On the top of Zojila ( Via Srinagar-Leh Highway) you actually see the landscapes changing from green to totally barren. Behind you are huge green mountains and when you see ahead, the mountains awe you in your mind with their naked beauty.

3. You see views that you have never seen before

While you might be thinking that this write-up is landing into clichés,you are probably wrong. Your journey towards Leh is very obviously and undoubtedly going to give you visions that you have never seen before. For instance, you get to see huge rocks shining under the sun besides mountain tops where the snow actually appears to be velvety.

4. Your geography book comes to life

All your “Weathering and Types of rocks” lessons come to life on your way to Leh. The different coloured rocks which you had only seen in print now appear huge and bold. Your are spellbound with huge mountains of stone with colours of blue, green, purple and hues of brown. While this might seem unreal, the beauty is in the fact that it is not.

5. Leh, the town

When you reach Leh you catch the flavour instantly. It is very typical and extremely beautiful. At almost every kilometer you find Buddhist prayer wheels. They are exquisite and intricate besides being very colourful. The architecture is different and fascinating. Old palaces and monasteries against the backdrop of boundless naked mountains appear aesthetic.  Predominantly the area is filled with Buddhists but it has a fair share of Muslims too. The main market of Leh is filled with shops which sell local or typically Ladakhi products. However you can also find western wear in the market. Adjacent are other street markets like Moti Market and Tibetan market.
If you have been to Majnu ka Tila in North Delhi, you would probably be leading your group like a guide. The market is very similar to MKT in a lot of ways.

6. Pangong Lake, Palaces, Monasteries and more

While you can google your senses off with the pictures of these places and introduce yourself to the heaven you can possibly visit, there are other good things about such destinations too. On your way to these destinations, you experience the surreal. The roads to these places are amidst and often above the mountains. Everything seems unaltered. You feel like a new born person and re-discover the meaning of life in these untouched places. Lakes like The Pangong are a treat to your eyes because of magnificent colors and shades.

In addition, The Gomphas or the Monasteries such as Thiskey Gompha and Hemmis Gompha (Monastery) are also aesthetically pleasing. They are rich with details of the Buddhist way of life. Shanti stupa, Leh Palace, Sheh palace are some other attractive places you could visit.

The above mentioned reasons seem plausible enough to get you packing your bags already. Do not fly to Leh.  Hit the road with a bus, a car, mountain cycles or yes; a motor bike. Keep your cameras handy, your face selfie ready and your mind prepared to get mesmerized!

It’s a high mountain desert; you might want to put those shades on it!

Picture Credits: Tooba Towfiq

Tooba Towfiq

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