Six Local flavors of India


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.



Baby you can drive my car… Part II


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.

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


“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.