Tag Archive | Mumbai

Six Local flavors of India

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If you were to travel or stay in India, you can be certain about one thing. The flavors would change when you move from one state to another. That wouldn’t mean less or more spicy, but the entire culture would have a traditional favourite one or two fruit ingredients appealing to local palette. While most of the country may have its own version of a mango species and the raw mango or Ambi would find its way into most preparations, there are some flavours which are predominant in some regions than others. In north be prepared to encounter the purple Jamun fruit, its colour staining the lips. The Imli, ( tamarind) would travel in most of the plains with you; but come west coast and you would find a red fruit called Kokum. I encountered this fruit for the first time in Goa in a vegetable dish. It’s natural red colour was a pale pink after cooking. At the steps to the east, across the country, a date and jaggery mix, called Nolen Gur is found. Move south and even the hotels could offer you a beverage “cold TC water” or Tender Coconut.

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Baby you can drive my car… Part II

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Continuation of previous Post.

Bombay is the heart of cinema in India, called Bollywood, aka Hollywood.

“You have such wonderful interiors!”. I gaped soaking in the ambiance contrasting to the shabby exterior.

“You have wonderful taste!Where did you get these prints from?”

“They took the car and covered it themselves. No charge to me.”

“How many such cars are there?”

“About five of us, I guess!”

I snapped the pictures of these living canvases of Bollywood personas before alighting.

Running a quick search on the net, discovered an artist behind Taxi Fabric. Interesting.

 

 

“Aajaa meri gaadi mein baith ja”… Part I

Saturday morning is generally quite lazy. After a few kilometers walk and a cup of beverage, it is more so. Rather than walking back, I decide to take a cab. Saturday morning at 8.00 am is in no way a good time to find a cab easily on Nariman point. Overpriced Merus and Cool cabs line against the street, waiting for an unassuming tourist to step out from Trident. I am in no mood to pay price of a Starbucks coffee for the short commute, so do what comes naturally to many Bombayites; hail a kaali peeli.

Kaali-Peeli , translated : Yellow-Black cab; comes in many versions. Gone are the days of the oversized Ambassador, the linear Fiat; now we see stout Korean brands, most newly bought; zipping past and stopping only if they like where you are going. (!)

So, when I spotted a kaali peeli, I got a bit disheartened.

“The old Fiat!” I sighed and waved to the driver.

He caught my eye and soon trudged down the road with his 1990’s engine roaring while I waited impatiently.

I almost shut my eyes while I mumbled out the destination.

It was just a moment, …then…Blink! Blink!

My seat was a canvas of colour. Bollywood colours and dialogues made me a captive audience.

Then I asked him about the interiors.

( to be continued tomorrow)

How do flamingos turn pink?

Every year starting winters, tens of thousands of flamingos make their way to a little known jetty point in Mumbai. They travel from the Rann of Kutch,  which is their breeding ground and make way to two areas in Mumbai, one is a less known jetty point for their morning feeding and the other is their evening spot near New Bombay. when they arrive here in early winter, their wings are a shade of white, but during thier departure they become a pink.

How does this happen? Our guide from BNHS explained that these muddy flats near Mumbai are filled with blue green algae from which the birds’ digestive tract extract the pigment from the carotenoid and an algae rich diet ensures the pink colour to the flamingos. those better the diet, the pinker will be the color to the flamingos.

Rann of Kutch is a good breeding spot for these flamingos but is not rich in blue green algae. The birds travel hundreds of miles till Mumbai to get their adequate dose of nutrition.

However, the story could be short-lived as there are plans to create a trans harbour link over this area and the effects of that on the ecosystem, diversity and habitat is not known.

Night lights

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As the day turns to night,

Glows an amber light,

Not of the warm sun,

But something magically fun.

 

Unbelievable but true.

If I were to tell you that I’ve spotted kingfishers, two pairs of hornbills, a family of coppersmith barbets along with several crows, sparrows and pigeons, parrots during the time it takes to have a morning tea, you may wonder which green belt I am on.

If I were to tell you that I see these birds from a window while having my morning tea, you may further assume that perhaps its a forest or a nature reserve.

If I were to tell you that these birds were viewed today morning in a busy part of the Mumbai city, I wouldn’t expect you to believe me because I couldn’t believe it myself.

This Morning’s Hornbill Conversation

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“Have you spotted him yet?” asked mama Hornbill, sporting a worried expression on her face.

“Not yet! But let me call out” said Papa Hornbill and sent out a high pitched call to his missing teenage son.

“Perched atop this Neem tree out in the jungle (read City) is not the safest place for us” said mama Hornbill. “Look at that swinging branch. Is that our son?” Said mama, looking towards the overhead wire crisscrossing the road from one tree to another.

“Naaa…” Said Papa, ” He was swinging there with Crows yesterday, but not today! Bad company, I tell you, exposing himself in the middle of the jungle with noisy animals (traffic) all around!”

“You look this side and I’ll try the next tree.” said Mama Hornbill worried about her missing son  and wondering if he had breakfast .

She gave one last desperate call before flying off to the next tree.

 

 

And then what happened…

Her name is Saneedha. That’s what she told me. After the morning encounter, she was totally on my mind.

“Will money suffice?” I asked myself.

The feet took me towards her “dwelling”, which was an occupied strip on the pavement, on way to my evening stroll on the promenade. After a brief chat I parted with a crisp note which I hoped would alleviate her misery. She was smiling. I then asked her to explain what had happened in the morning. Reminded of the incident, she burst into tears again.

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The next evening on way to the promenade, I glanced in her direction. Her toddler was playing with a brand new toy truck and a tiny airplane. The mother was lost in the joy of the play to notice. Feeling happy I continued my walk on the drive till the sun set and a hue of reddish pink became the sky.

On the way back, she saw me and beckoned me.

“I lost the money you gave me yesterday!” she said with a smile.

I nodded towards her and continued to go back towards the gated building compound leaving the noise, dust and poverty behind me.

Municipal building in Bombay

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Adjacent to the Central Line Railway station is the municipal building. If you remember my post where I saw this building, I was amazed at the architecture from afar. Go closer and you tend to rub shoulders with others on this busy intersection at evening time while cabbies line up to hurry commuters home.

Only one wish. Wish it was lit better to enhance the architectural detail.

A Bridge on the Sea

Almost middle of the month, I wonder if its the last April here. Being a traveller, everything looks new. You notice the lovely intricacies on pillars that others miss. You stare the Edwardian styled windows at the traffic signal. And you feel amused, not angry when you see women jostling for space trying to catch the evening train, while you walk slowly at a leisurely pace. Then one Sunday, while everyone is fatigued and tucked away home or the neighborhood mall, you take a drive and the empty streets wearied by the daily rush, welcome you. You get moments to admire the Bandra Worli Sealink and see what Bombay is all about if it were empty.

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You start on the bridge and to the left you see the buildings on the other side of the coast, the sea in between.Sometimes there are a few shipping boats anchored here.

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As you cross the heart of the bridge, the strong supports engulf you and then seem to disappear behind you, although you are going at 50 kmph.The sea is below you.

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Midway, when you are in the heart of the bridge, you get a steel cage, are you invincible or are you vulnerable now?

You move further and the “Town” part of the city welcomes you.