Travel Travails In Bandra Of Old

After reading the first three post on memories, food and books, you have probably concluded that I am an incorrigible nostalgia buff, yearning for the ‘good old days’ of the sixties and seventies.

But if there is aspect of our lives that has changed for the better it is traveling around Mumbai and more particularly in Bandra. Despite the overcrowding, double parking and the pot holes, we are better off today than we were forty years ago.

As I mentioned in ‘Growing up in Bandra’  when we first moved to Bandra, the road outside our building had not been tarred. Walking on that road was a nightmare, especially during the monsoon when you risked slipping and falling. Only a few years later, when more buildings were constructed along the road that the municipal authorities tarred the road.

To get around Bandra, in those days, you either had to walk or cycle, because though there was a bus service the frequency was around once in half an hour. And the bus traversed a long and circuitous route. So you sometimes reached your destination faster if you walked instead of waiting for a bus.

Initially, I used the school bus to get to school. But since we lived on the outskirts of Bandra, I was one of the last to be dropped in the evening. And as the long drive cut into my play time, I started skipping the bus on the return leg, instead walking home with my friends. Eventually, my parents got wise to this and discontinued the school bus.

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Owning a bicycle, in those days, was a status symbol in school. And a racer cycle with gears and cable brakes was the envy of all. So, when I reached the secondary section, I started pestering my parents for a bicycle.

My dad did not directly refuse to buy me a bicycle. Instead he laid down a condition; if I got a first five rank in my class at the examination, he would buy me the bicycle. Being a sucker, I agreed when I should have known that this was never going to be.

Eventually, I realised that was being taken for a ride by my dad. So, using a gift from my godmother who was visiting us as seed capital augmented by my ‘savings’,  a couple of years later, I bought a bicycle.  If I recollect right, the bicycle cost around rupees seven hundred, which was quite a fortune in the sixties.

With the acquisition of the bicycle, every morning I joined the peloton  at the start of what is today called Manuel Gonsalves Road, all heading towards the school. In the evenings, the peloton headed in the opposite direction.

Traveling out of Bandra to other parts of Mumbai or Bombay at it was then called was always a horrendous experience for me. As a consequence of an infrequent service, a bus would sometimes be so full that it would drive past a bus stop without stopping. Especially if no passenger needed to alight.

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For some reason, my dad did not like to use the local train to move around the city. Of course, getting into a local train in Mumbai, then as well as now, requires a special skill set and is not for the faint hearted. It was only when I joined a college that was located in the city that I began to use the trains, which I believe is the life line of Mumbai.

As I mentioned earlier, traveling is one area where I am glad that things have changed. Today the bus services have  improved phenomenally and with more people driving their own vehicles, the buses are no longer overcrowded. In addition, auto-rickshaws ply in the suburbs and make commuting quite easy. If fact, given the difficulty finding parking space, it sometimes makes sense to use an auto for shorter trips.

Also the government has invested in infrastructure like flyovers, subways and freeways all of which have made traveling around the city comparatively a happier experience. I know that many will still complain of the bottlenecks resulting in traffic jams or the lack of parking or the overcrowding of the local trains, but when I compare the present with the sixties and seventies, I’m not complaining.

I am taking part in the Write Tribe Festival of Words 8th – 14th December 2013.

Photo Credit: lecercle via Compfight cc

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Travel and Food

“If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.” ~ James Michener

Travel and food – they go together for me.

Last October we had the pleasure of visiting a quiet little town called Kumily in Kerala, South India. While we stayed there because of its proximity to the famous Periyar Tiger Reserve, we enjoyed our walks through the little town too.  Whenever we visit a new place, José and I make it a point to sample the local food.  So the first evening there we went to look for tea and snacks and here’s what we found.

These were kind of familiar and can be found in different parts of India  – a bun with a sweet filling – called Dilkush (which in Hindi means ‘to make your heart happy’. However, what made these different was the filling – a lot more coconut – which I love!

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 These are Thennai kozhakattai a sweet dumpling dish made of rice, coconut, jaggery/ sugar. We also tasted a sweet rice cake called vattayappam. Both of these were steamed – so they were easy on the stomach and made a good evening snack.

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Food is our common ground, a universal experience. ~James Beard (1903-1985) – an American chef and food writer

In this case it’s the tea that makes it a universal experience! 😉  José relished a good strong cup of it, unlike the lighter variety we have at home.

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Here’s the  shop in all its glory – Irfana Coffee House and Cool Bar –  at Kulathumpalam in Kumily, with its proud owner Zakir Hussain. He was most gracious in letting us take these pictures.  Notice all the banana wafers and tapioca chips in the packets on the counter in front. Fried in coconut oil, these too are a specialty of Kerala.

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The next day we were lucky to go to a biryani  festival in the town. Now there are various kinds of biryanis that unique to different parts of India and we got a chance to try quite a few of them.  Thalaserri biryani, particular to a region in Kerala, was one we hadn’t sampled before. It was rich with the spices that grown in Kerala – cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and bay leaves. I was certain I got the distinct flavor of rose water too.

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By venturing out of our hotel as we usually do, and sampling the local food, we get to interact with the local people and find out more about the place and culture.

Are you adventurous with food when you travel?

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I’m so glad to be the host of The Writer’s Post Thursday Blog Hop # 73. My prompt is rather long – but it’s open to interpretation.

“If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.” ~ James Michener

Do join in and add the link to your post here:



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This Moment {11 January 2013}

{this moment} – A Friday ritual.

A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week.

A simple, special, extraordinary moment.

A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

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If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.

‘This Moment’ is inspired by SouleMama.

 

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