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77: Pour Your Whiskey

18 Mar

and sink into the soul of this,

 

and this one, which hits the spot every single time.

 

 

Have a lovely Saturday. :)

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72: Happy Holi!

13 Mar


…from us to you. :)

35: Of Monumental Gratitude

4 Feb

This is my third visit to Agra; the city of the one and only Taj Mahal. The first time I came here was with A for a day’s visit, back when he was courting me. Unfortunately neither of us were aware that it was the closed on the very day we’d taken time out to visit it – Friday. After all, who shuts a wonder of the world down for a day every single week, I ridiculed. We drove down on a Friday, obviously oblivious, and returned back thoroughly disappointed; I’d come all the way from Bangalore back then. Our second visit was dominated by family time and commitments, which left us with no room to step out. 
This time when we planned our travel, I’d left the idea on its own…if it happened, I’d be thankful, and if it didn’t happen, I’d have to wait till my time to see it arrived, I told myself. With that, we set off for Agra again, to visit family. 

Today, at long last, this happened. 


The only thing I remember saying when I climed the steps up to the mausoleum was an exclamation! I’ve never ever seen a building this beautiful, this humbling. I will talk about my experiences in greater detail sometime. However, all I’d like to say for now, is how immensely grateful I am for witnessing this piece of history, beauty, remembrance, love if you will, and melancholy that made me stop and stare, today. 

Back On A Time Machine

14 Sep

A and I made a trip to Govardhan, a first for me, back in March sometime, if I’m not mistaken. Yep, procrastination, among other blatant excuses, has kept me from writing this post which I so badly wanted to document the moment I set foot into this famed and extremely pious town for many, many devout Hindus. This sacred town which is actually most popular for its Govardhan hill, lies in Mathura district, Uttar Pradesh. This is where Lord Krishna; an incarnation of Lord Vishnu’s – one of the lords of Hinduism’s Holy Trinity – saved the entire village of Mathura from Lord Indra’s wrath by sheltering everybody during a storm under this same hill which he lifted with his little finger. 

Devotees throng this place year round, often performing parikramas (revolutions) around the hill in various forms – barefoot, in dandaasana, by prostrating, by walk or by road…but always with a sense of devotion I’ve never seen before. Ladies, men, children, young mothers, middle-aged family members, the elderly, sadhus, kids even…everyone embarks this journey with an unshakeable and unbreakable steadfastness. 

I’ve never been to a religious place of this historical and mythological stature before. Not only was my time there punctuated by sights like these, but it also almost took me back to a place where time had decided to stand still indefinitely. It’s a marvel of sorts to stumble upon the pages of history for real. For a thorough city-bred girl like me, Govardhan offered me a view of what life used to be like when I was small, or not around, perhaps. It certainly took me back to all the maze-like gullies and cobbled streets overflowing with oversized bullock carts, buffaloes, open drains, wooden doors without locks, bricklane pathways that I had long left behind when we moved away from UP back yonder. It was both overwhelming and wondrous – a walk back that I filled with photographs and snippets to keep fresh in my mind for the times to come. 

Here is my picture story of Govardhan. 


14 September

14 Sep

I’m still somersaulting in the rainbow of ma’s words. She knows me more than I know myself, but you and I both knew that anyway. There’s no way our parents don’t know the real us, and there’s really no hiding from them spelling the minutest of those details out to us; especially the unpleasant ones. Haha!

R and I honoured our plan to meet each other and she stopped by for a quick but very welcome break, yesterday. With her did she bring not only lots of newness amidst the familiarity, but also an opportunity for the two of us to just be ourselves like old times. Sipping over cups of tea and munching through tales of our every day lives and reflections, we clocked time like I haven’t done in a long while. So many memories were shared, so many new facets of our lives exchanged. The camera and taking photographs were completely forgotten about; or maybe we just don’t really do that sort of thing anyway. It is always hard to say bye, but it’s beginning to dawn upon me that these byes are born more out of gratitude and happiness, than from sadness. The small gifts that come along our way in the form of conversations, chuckles and laughter, a lingering eye contact that speaks of untold yet familiar stories…they’re all for keeps and cannot be filed alongside sadness. R arrived with a gift of sorts for me too, and it has been a delightful sight ever since I laid my eyes on it.


I’m not very versed in cuisines as such, but the possibility of owing a book makes me feel like I have already travelled to the place of its origin. This one is filled with stories, chapters, pictures, and of course, the magical delight of food.


I love South East Asian food for there’s a sense of comfort and fulfilment that always overflows so generously from the steaming bowls and plates they come in. My very limited travails have taken me through streets of food and discoveries that have always been a must do on my list; there’s always so much to learn and grasp.


This book seems to have it all and more. Besides, those pictures. And that fish; oh my.


What a perfect buy.

The thing that really calls out to me are the numerous similarities in the ingredients and methods of cooking Indonesian and Indian food comprise. I cannot wait to discover the treasures in this book; equipping me sufficiently for whenever a travel stop does happen to this famed island. Happies.


S called me ever so randomly yesterday – she has moved countries – and our conversation was rife with peals of laughter and curses, memories and time standing still. I miss her dearly. The last time I went back home to Bangalore was to say bye to her and it was just like how we would’ve said bye anyway – complete with conversations, lots of dancing, food, music, laughter and jokes. Marriage changes things not just for the couple but for their friends as well. But everyone is on their respective journeys and we’ve to learn to incorporate whatever we can into these newfound routes. Mad times. I hope they don’t ever change.

Here’s a song S introduced me to which she played during her wedding, and which I love to bits. Also, it fits because it’s Onam. Onamashamsagal (happy Onam), my dear friends.


*afk, dancing*

Ramzaan Reminiscing

17 Jun

First and foremost, Ramzaan/Ramadaan Kareem to each of you. I realize that this holy month started a while back, but here I am, hopefully still in time to wish you the very best of it, which winds up with a beautiful Eid and lots to learn and reflect about over throughtout this auspicious time. Being a non-Muslim, Ramzaan still holds quite a bit of significance to me, as does Lent, even though I am a non-Christian too. More than it being about food, which is just one factor that has made Ramzaan stand out in our world view for a lot of us, it does bring to perspective so much that we often either are too busy to see and acknowledge in and around us or that we simply just take for granted.

The last time I wrote about it was in this post here, as the time for me to leave my home city was nearing. I remember mentioning how our upbringing played a notable role in our perception and perspective towards other ways of life and living. Thanks to my mother, we grew up in the company of her friends who practised different religions, and whose ways were so different and yet so similar to our own. Some of her friends, who by society and family or by adoption, belonged to a certain religion and either practised it very actively or observed their respective religion minus its many rituals, while some didn’t participate in the active practice of it at all. It was a healthy mix to grow around, which also assisted in us forming our own ideas about religion, practice, understanding, and most importantly, about tolerance. My brother and I, owing to our school and our social interactions, do similarly have friends just like our mother does – some practice, some don’t, some remain spiritual while some believe to not make that a definitive part of their identity at all.

This is my first Ramzaan away from Bangalore. I remember the first time a friend and I decided to go to Mosque Road and MM Road specifically, to check out what all this fanfare about the holy month was, back in 2011 if I’m not mistaken. And so we went. When I look back, the first thing I remember thinking and feeling was a sense of awe and disbelief; because here was this same road I used to pass on a daily basis which was now alive and bustling with people and stalls, its air bursting with the aroma of grilled meat that makes you salivate instantly.That was the first time this concept of having stalls brimming with all kinds of meat, along the entire length of the road came into place. I hardly remember seeing such an event like this before, unless I’m forgetting.

If you love meat, then this is your place to be. I don’t think I even remember the varieties of meat on offer. Of course a lot has changed from 2011 to now; what with it becoming more commercial, hyped and accessible to a larger crowd. The first time I went, I remember not being jostled around as much while I ate my treats in peace. Today is a different scenario altogether, but one that still must be experienced. I won’t be surprised if it’s on Bangalore’s tourism guide, really. Here are a few pictures from the first time I went there; and of some of my favourite things to eat.

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One of my all time favourite meat treats is a good, juicy, bursting with flavour seekh (stick) kebab. It’s a must have if you’re interested and I promise you won’t be left disappointed.

Beef seekh kebabs One of the most melt in the mout

The first time I went, I tried my hand at seekh kebabs made two ways – one that was grilled (in the first picture) and one that was pan fried (in the picture above). I’d always had the grilled one all my life, but this particular pan fried version stole the show, really. I’ve tried looking for this man who made them but haven’t been able to find him since the first time. He was so confident I’d ask for another plate which also probably added to how delicious it really was – soft, juicy, packed with flavour and oh so tender.

Seekhs over embers just the way I dig them )

On trying the mutton and beef seekh kebab versions, I favoured the latter by a great deal. Sometimes ordering a mutton seekh kebab can be a risk because the ones I’ve had so far were either dry or lacking in flavour. The beef ones blow your socks off, in every measure and I highly recommend them. Besides, a plate of mutton seekh kebabs can range anywhere between 100 bucks and above, while an explosive plate of beef seekh kebabs can be as less as 35-40 rupees. The last time I ate a really good plate, which was last year, I remember paying 60 rupees for it.

Chicken satays coated with vermicelli (semiya)

MM Road will also be filled with truck loads of chicken dishes, should poultry be your choice of meat. These chicken satay sticks are quite delicious if you dunk them in a dipping sauce, without which they’re quite dry and lifeless.

Seekhs over embers )

But once you’ve had that mind-blowing seekh kebab, it’s hard to turn to a chicken dish, to be honest.

Beef mince pies

Another delectable snack was this meat pie that was zomg smashingly good. I remember having some on MM Road and packing some for home as well. Lip smacking is an understatement.

I love the variety available at MM Road – it’s nothing short of a gastronomic roller coaster ride. From chicken to quail to other game meat to camel, beef, lamb, mutton, veal to offal, desserts, thirst quenchers and more, this place has it all.

The stalls usually function full-swing around the time of iftar, which is around 5pm onward. It’s best to go empty stomach and really try not having lunch, either. It helps you pig out more minus feeling sick later.

Last year, we stumbled upon this roadside cart selling Arabic tea which was the bomb because it not only hit the spot (it was raining outside plus having a milk product after a particularly spicy meal reduces the heat factor drastically), but because it also had a sugar factory in it which sort of ended up being my dessert, sadly. But if a small cup of very sweet tea is not your idea of a dessert, like it isn’t for me, then do check out their dessert spread. It’s a tough choice to choose from their puddings and sweetmeats such a chaand ka khajur (which is my favourite), shahi tukda, among many, many more. If you’re feeling too full but would like to have a sweet bite, do indulge in the dates that are on display and sale from around the world. The ones from Jordan specifically, feel like a puffy melt in your mouth cloud once you bite into them. Divine.

But, if you do have space, hop over for some kulfi from Bombay Chowpaty which is right next to the mosque. They have a variety of flavours which helps soothe the fire that’s blazing in one’s mouth after all that gluttony.

My order to go

Come rain or shine, slush or too many people, iftaar at MM Road is an experience to have. I haven’t ventured towards the Shivajinagar area because MM Road has everything and more. I urge you to give it a try because there’s nothing like savouring a piping hot, tangy and tender plate of beautifully cooked kebabs in the company of friends, rain and that celebratory atmosphere in general.

PS, please do give this gem from our beloved Savoury a try sometime. You’ll go back for more if you have tummy space, I promise.

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The blitzing of lemon, mint, soda, water and sugar has never felt or tasted so delightful ever before. Pair it with your meat dishes, and you won’t be left with a sore and tired stomach the next day.

What are your favourite Ramzaan treats?

English, and then some…

24 Jan

I’ve always wondered about the concept of traveling alone. There’s quite some amount of romanticism attached to jetting off to unknown places by oneself, armed with just about enough self-confidence, courage and of course, money. I’ve seen people do it, have family who pushes for it (but who hasn’t necessarily done it), watched friends talk about it and certainly seen so much of it happen by means of photographs and anecdotes splashed all across Facebook. And read the many blog posts one comes across, especially if you’re a woman and preferably single…because what better than to just throw it all to wind and take off without being accountable or responsible for anyone else in your life, right? Talking of which, and to digress a bit, this was one piece I came across a while back and bookmarked in the hope to share it someday, with you. It’s about how every woman should travel alone. Do give it a read. It’s rather enlightening and refreshing and scary all in one.

Because we’re so attuned to doing things together with someone/people at almost all times (culturally, anthropologically and of course socially), there automatically arises a sense of adventure and novelty in venturing out alone or even doing things alone, to the point of attaching a sense of romanticism to it. Of course it’s a new feeling from the usual. Sometimes it is exactly what we need without it automatically becoming exactly what we always want. And so, I figure, we feel a certain romance about making new discoveries with our very own person, capacities and capabilities. Yes, it is a heady feeling to be able to stand out and feel a sense of victory for doing it all on your own, when the norm displays otherwise.

I fit somewhere in the boring norm of preferring to do things in company of others, barring the exception of shopping. I am a weird girl that way. And so it isn’t a surprise that I haven’t ventured out into foreign lands by myself with the determination to be the next best explorer my ego dreams I have the potential to be. I don’t say it’s impossible to do things alone, I certainly don’t. I just find it more appealing to be in (the right) company.

But it so happened that the time had come for me to take that step out, alone. And what have you, it wasn’t to someplace within my own country, but to Singapore. It was exciting and intimidating; the ratio of both being heavily skewed because really, the assurance of Singapore literally being the safest city/country in the world made all the difference. It was a lovely experience, I did things I wouldn’t be able to do in my own country/city without having to look over my shoulder or be on call with paranoid family at all times. It felt good to be out there like a small inconsequential drop of pollen flitting around a strange land. It was different. To be alone and not known was intoxicating because my travel came at a time when I needed exactly that. And soon enough, I was back here. It was perfect.

Before I realised it, it was time to be on the move again; this time to Thailand. I wasn’t traveling alone and the thought of more travel was too good to be true. But it was true and soon enough, I was in a country/city which seemed more foreign than I have ever felt in my life. Despite being in company, there was something starkly unnerving about the place…and that was this – the disappearance of something so innate and inborn (in my opinion); the disappearance of language; of a language I live in. And this realisation happened time and again when you’re down to your most basic form of communication; through gross representations of things you’re desperate to say via actions. And still being at sea. This isn’t to say that English is non-existent in Thailand. It is just that when something as basic as communication is impeded, it makes you realise just how we take things for granted. To assume things will be okay because we live in a bubble of a language thought to be global but really isn’t, is a rude shock for people as ignorant as me.

It struck me then that my travels to the UK and Singapore were such a breeze even in solitude because I had the biggest support and company of English. I definitely do not wish to sound or behave elitist because I do come from a culture and a country whose historical and cultural being is steeped in so much more than learning and understanding English. But Indians and our connection with English calls for another discussion that is empirically steeped in history and culture.

Maybe there is a reason why we’re told to take off alone. Because when you break the shackles of your own comforts of family, friends, associations and even spoken language, you find yourself standing on a ground that is at a level that enables your true sense of self-discovery. It is extremely unnerving and difficult. But it isn’t impossible. Because what I learnt when I was in Thailand, be it in company or alone, was that give and take all the strings that you hold on to or are attached to, you’re dealing with just another version of yourself out there; a self who shares a history of being closest to what you’re made up of; a self culture has taught us to call strangers. But if you are to look at it, we aren’t strangers at all. Because barriers of spoken language apart, something more innate and inborn took place; the exchange of wants, needs, feelings and to some extent, thoughts, took place. That through it all, communication took place. Because…