Monthly Archives: March 2015

Aside

Have you ever been to Crawford Market,Mumbai? Intense action, vivid colour and freshest groceries is a promise.

This article from Hindustan Times brought back to me some sweet childhood memories.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/travel/looking-for-the-hottest-chillies-mumbai-s-mirchi-galli-is-your-place/article1-1309887.aspx

Imagine a girl, accompanying her mother to a very busy street market, in the very heart of old city, Mumbai. She is tagging along, holding the end of her mother’s saree pallav, in a bid to keep firm contact with her mother. Yes, that’s me!

As a girl, I loved visiting markets, carrying shopping bags and watch my mother haggle over prices. Crawford market, is one such place. A haven for the Mumbai women, mostly Gujarati, Marathi and Rajasthani communities. They sourced the most competitive and fresh produce of seasonal mangoes raw ones for pickle, and ripe ones for a summer treat and chillies and lemons. Then, laboriously taking home few bags, they cleaned, cut and mixed them with spice. Fresh aromatic pickles were ready – bottled and stored in ceramic jars. Yumm….deliciously tangy,spicy and colourful!

Memories of streets being occupied by vendors, who sat cross-legged on floor, spreading out their fruit, comes first to my mind. I remember my mother buying few kilos of raw mango, then the vendor cut them into large pieces, removing the centre seed. Wait… I can almost hear mother bargaining and rambling, and the noise of other women screaming and shouting too:)

Now,enjoy the article describing Mirchi Galli, or Chilli street.

I promise to share a simple chilli /ginger pickle with you in due time.

Have you read my earlier post on Mumbai: the city with a heart?

 

 

Want to Buy some Chilli?

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Significance of Orange Colour

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Here is my entry for this week’s The Daily Post -Orange, Aren’t you glad it is photo time  https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/orange/

 ORANGE – A SYMBOL OF SUN AND FIRE 

Orange, is a warm colour. Have you ever been fortunate to watch a beautiful sunrise? Probably while sitting on the banks of a river or doing yoga on the beach front would be an idyllic place to witness the sky lit up gradually. A change of colour from a dark night to the first hues of pink and orange, and then the rising of the Sun lights up almost a Fire in the sky! Orange twilight. A heavenly gift ! 1129 Orange is also the colour of Fire. The base of the fire is a red, bright orange and streaks of yellow radiate forth from it. Here is a photo of the Homam or sacred fire during a prayer. DSC03361 The Sun and Fire have been worshipped by many ancient civilizations and religions. Orange is the main colour in both. Fire destroys or burns everything into ash, symbolically denoted by ignorance or darkness. In Hinduism  and Buddhism, Saffron or bhagwa, as orange is known, therefore is the revered colour, denoting renunciation, removal of ignorance and tyaga – shedding of worldly, materialistic pleasures to attain a Higher knowledge. Thus it is a preferred colour by Hindu priests and Buddhist monks, they wear Orange robes and use orange cloth for temple decorations.

Temple priest wearing orange robes

Temple priest wearing orange robes

Floor decoration or Rangoli done at doorsteps and temple altar generally use auspicious colours : Red, orange and green.

Colourful Rangoli floor design

Colourful Rangoli floor design

Bright orange marigold or zhendu, as known locally in India, are often the most sought after flowers for decorating temple altars, door entrances and wedding mandap or seating. Once again, orange is the auspicious and revered colour most preferred in Hindu functions.

Marigold garlands

Marigold garlands

My garden pots have just begun to bloom with Orange Marigolds, just in time isnt’ it. These are handy for daily prayers.

Marigold flower - Orange blooms

Marigold flower – Orange blooms

Al Ain Camel Souk: A Bedouin Experience

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‘Trust in God, but tie up your camel’

…..Arabic Proverb

Recently we visited the oasis city of Al Ain, UAE. The camel souq or market, provided an interesting and unique experience.

“Yalla – yalla. Come, come, I show you camels” said half a dozen camel minders who suddenly descended upon us, as we parked the car. ” You take photo?”inquired another. ” Ok ..free..no fees” he said. The souq, the last of its kind remains popular with local Arabic traders and livestock breeders, as well as with tourists. The camel minders of course can make a quick guess who is a real buyer.

Situated behind the Bawadi mall, the market was humming with activity. Hundreds of camels crowded in various large cages, livestock of cattle, goats and poultry making animal noises at the other end.  Large pick up trucks, visitor cars and vans carrying fodder, dry grass and sundries all making a beeline towards the souq in the morning.

Off the dusty roads and sandy patches, braving the scorching summer sun we arrived here for a traditional insight into Arabic and Bedouin culture. For isn’t the camel called the ‘ship of the desert.’?

Domesticated many hundreds of years ago, by traders that undertook arduous journeys across the deserts of Saudi Arabia, camels were trained to carry date fruit and food, turn water wheels and navigate the sand dunes. Camel milk intake is popular in Bedouin culture, and recently found its way into Date milk shakes and ice creams. Bedouin warriors even rode on Arabian camels while engaging in battles during Persian and Byzantine wars!

‘No camel route is long, albeit with good company.’

..Turkish Proverb

It was entertaining observing the animals. Camels came in different colours: soft cream, sandy beige, and dark brown. Some were standing tall, some sitting, some kneeling, others stretched out their long necks and moved their jaws ruminating on cud. Wobbled feet, tall thin legs, one hump ..such a queer sight!

If you want to keep camels, have a big enough door.’

…Afghan Proverb

‘You take photo?’ the camel minders lingered around us and pointed out cages they tended. There were about 50 young camels, all ready for sale and dressed with traditional striped straddle covers. Age, gender,weight and a good breeding determine the sale price.

Majestic glory - Camel getting dressed for auction

Majestic glory – Camel getting dressed for auction

True to Bedouin and Arabic culture, the keepers and other staff were very helpful and engaged in sharing their knowledge about the animals.Though camels have small ears, they are acute listeners, picking up distant sounds. Ears are lined with fur, helping to filter sand. Thick bushy eyebrows contrast with gentle doe shaped eyes. Thickened skin on bare spots develop on knees and chest, an essential natural cushioning for sitting, kneeling and resting in coarse sand.

Young camels in a pen

Young camels in a pen

‘Click, click, click’.my camera sounded. I had to make soak up this experience. Where else would I get this opportunity to stand so close and almost be kissed by a young camel?  The young Sudanese men, dressed in traditional white dishadasha were confident to guide me for a ‘special’ close up photo…..for FREE!

Camel minders pose in ethnic attire

Camel minders pose in ethnic attire

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

‘ In Islam, Allah is known by 99 names. However, there goes a theory that there exists a 100th name, which is known only to camels! Hence, if you may have noticed, they always seem to have a knowing smile on their face.

Read more at Buzzle: http://www.buzzle.com/articles/camels-and-sayings-about-them.html

‘Have you seen a Camel Beauty Contest?’ inquired the friendly camel minder. Al Dhafra, Western region UAE, is a must-see! Come winter, every year, 20,000 camels, well-groomed, well fed and dressed in colourful ethnic best, take part, vying for expensive prizes or even enter the Royal families entourage and collection!

And this is what camels eat while in the desert: Bedouins feed them grains like wheat, millet, barley and oats and plenty of Date fruit. They are allowed to eat dry grass and thorny plants. But for a royal treat: let them munch on a platter of almonds and pistachios instead of fodder!

 

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No wonder then, the Arabic people and Bedouin nomads respect this animal. Sharing much time with the ‘ship of the desert’ the camel be

Few days later, when we drove through the Liwa desert, camels crossing in a silent line painted a perfect, breath-taking picture, a deeper understanding of the animal and the cultural place in Bedouin life. Slow undulations across the sand dunes, as if telling us a story.

A Camel Safari crossing the desert

A Camel Safari crossing the desert

And…we waved to the Bedouin mounted atop the camel hump, wishing him a smooth journey.

Have you ever visited a Camel Souq?  Where ? What did you observe ?