Category Archives: Fresh Market Narratives (40)

fresh produce markets, flower market, Sunday markets, country /farm produce, local people, culture, food habits, dress

Post Cards from Tonga: Life on an Island

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If you’ve heard the name Tonga, you will immediately think of  deepest blue seas, soft sandy beaches, and swaying coconut fronds! Are’nt most islands like that? Well, yes and no. Each place is unique and Tonga in the Pacific Ocean is where you can swim with the enormous, yet gentle migrating whales! So informs P.

Well, after a BIG swim P decided to head to the local Nuku’Alofa market to find some fresh local vegetables. Maybe a walk in the sunshine would dull the bobbing in her head due to boat rides.

Underwater Mother Whale and calf, Tonga.

Here are some photos for a slice of Polynesian life.

From hand-made woven Pandanus leaf baskets, to Tapa mats, bunches of ripe bananas, tuber vegetables to whale-bone artistry, sea shell artifacts the Nukuálofa Tongan market has it all. Crowded and buzzing like all other markets, there seems to be a carefree calm spirit. Maybe the Sea (Moana) watch’eth and protect them all.

Bunches of yellow – green bananas are major produce, being tropical wholesome fruit. Hmmm.. do they use the oblong leaves of the plant ? In India, eating on the banana/plantain leaf is a traditional feature, in Malaysia fish and rice are cooked in small leaf pockets called ketupat. 

The long, brown tuber roots are Taro -the only local grown vegetable. Taro is much revered in Polynesian culture. Nothing else grew here. Washed and cleaned the root is hammered into a loose reddish white paste and has a mild flavour.

With the coming of colonials and recent migrants exotic vegetables like cabbage, tomatoes and lettuce, Chinese leafy vegetables find their place alongside local produce.

 

Coconut trees grow in sandy soil and need plenty of water, thus commonly found on most islands. Almost every part of the the tree finds use. There are many stories woven around the coconut tree, though each culture has its own version.

The coconut tree legend

Being an island, life in Tonga revolves around the Sea. The Moana is deeply revered. Ancient Polynesians were great navigators who traveled the high swells to hunt for whales and other fish, that was staple diet. They used the night sky and stars as their compass.

Effectively then, womenfolk busied themselves in making artifacts from whalebone, wood and sea treasures. Fancy a big sea shell carving? Or a musical clinking chime of seas shell to  hang in your home garden? Polynesian wood mask carving and bowls would make a treasured souvenir too! Besides promoting local Art.

You can’t miss these stalls at the market. THAT is what attracts the global visitor ensuring a peek into local culture. Special fine woven mats Ta’óvala worn by men and womenfolk are tied at the waist for ceremonies or funerals. Made with strips of thick coarse Pandanus leaves and patterned with a distinct red border it can take up to 2-3 months of preparation and weaving. They are generally passed from one generation to another.

See the starched paper or beaten leaves with Aboriginal drawings? Mostly sea creatures like turtles, fish, mermaids, Sea God and waves are sketched and inked.

What then is life on an island? Away from buzz of city pressure. In reverence with Nature, listening to the sound of the Sea, of sunrise and moon rise making poetry in the sky, of soft steps on the sand making temporary foot marks in time, of scanning the coast for the swish of fish tails, of communal celebrations of Life.

Yes! Don’t you , the city dweller dream of it?

Have you come across any cultural story in the Polynesian islands? Do share with us readers.

 

World Palate Recipes – Re blog Dosakaya Pappu

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Once again the Dosakaya /yellow cucumber creeper is growing well in our kitchen garden. We’ve harvested about 5-6 mild flavoured, thin skinned fruit. I’m experimenting adding them into various different lentils – but it tastes best in Tuvar or Arhar dal.

After taking new photos, I found I have already shared the recipe with you a while ago. See here.

Under the creeper are the dark green coloured triangular Colocassia /Arvi leaves flourishing in the recent rains. They are supposed to be rich in iron. The garden leaves are so tender, they cook up very fast. It’s important to retain nutrients, so no overcooking greens. For a recipe see here.

 

 

Summer Fruit: Mangoes reign Supreme

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Summer Fruit: Mangoes reign Supreme

Though the summer in most parts of India is now in full fervour,  mangoes are yet to make their abundant presence in the market and in the homes it brings the lip licking and drooling. Last week I did go to the market to get my first batch…but I was not impressed with its taste.

Mangoes when raw are green, but on ripening turn orange or golden yellow. Raw mangoes find their way into many a recipe and cuisine across India and South Asia. Mouth watering chutneys, tongue tantalising Andhra pickles, refreshing cool aam panna from Gujrat and Maharashtra, sliced wedges of raw mango dipped in salt for a tangy roadside snack to mamudikaya pappu or raw mango laced dal, a tangy dal salad or snack called vaatli dal.

In Sri Lanka raw mangoes are blended with coconut paste and used in fish curry.

So, as you wait for the mangoes with me, here is an older post. See here. I’ll be back soon.

 

 

 

Beachfront Weekend Market at Manly, Sydney

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Blue skies, warm weather, a long weekend in April were the perfect conditions to enjoy a day out at Manly beach, north Sydney. ( Yes, Sydney ‘Time Out’ listed its weekend markets, which was a bonus). Excitement and anticipation swelled as we waited in the long snaking queues at Circular Quay Ferry Wharf along with other tourists and Sydney siders for a ferry ride across the harbour.

At Manly wharf, eager holiday crowds descended on to the main street, heading towards the blue sea and surf. This quaint suburb had its very own distinct architecture. Art deco buildings of 1800 -1900’s had been given a fresh paint, buildings at street corners were shaped angular and balconies were round shaped. The main promenade or ‘The Corso’ has had multiple redevelopments. The local Council takes pride and interest in promoting local culture and heritage, which in turn stimulates business and tourism. The weekend market is one such project.

We passed many shops selling ice creams, sun hats, sunglasses and Billabong surf and beach wear. There were  travel agents selling flight brochures, a Cole’s supermart well stocked with groceries, and some other sundry items.

In the 1860’s there were just two or three hotels here and few cafes along the sea front. Today, Manly is a rich and bustling tourist suburb with many more charming beachfront bars and restaurants. White shade giving parasols and outdoor chairs made for a picture perfect scenic seafront.

Away from this frenzy quietly tucked away on Sydney street, was the colourful weekend market. With so many people there…it sure was a buyer’s and browser’s haven!

Care for a Hawaiian shirt or hand-made beaded jewellery? Soft smelling soaps or Art deco posters? The market had something for everyone! Else…head out to the azure blue waters and soft sands just across.

I took a carefree slow walk, peering almost at each stall. The open air market had a mixed smell – sea breeze mingling with aroma of roasted coffee beans wafting from the nearby cafes. How intoxicating! Stalls displayed a variety of loose printed shirts, beachwear in white, blue and coral colours, sunglasses, books and exclusive beeswax paper used to cover food items . There was handmade bead jewellery, bracelets of shells and raffia strings. Catering to the hungry crowds – the makeshift mobile vans at the far end of the street turned into fast selling food stalls. Caramel, boysnberry and pistacchio Gelato, Turkish Gozleme that are spinach and cheese wraps, burgers and sandwiches, hot fries, ham strips and Mexican nachos. “No one goes hungry. Come on, tuck in” called the vendors.

I settled in for a cappuccino and some handmade hazelnut chocolates. Hmmm…aromatic and the crunch complemented each other.

Want a Hawaiian print shirt? A soothing scented hand-made soap? Or souvenirs and paintings from locals ? Or just have a chat with one of the stall holders and hear about their way of life. Aren’t markets a great place to walk and talk?

Visit: http://www.timeout.com/sydney/shopping/manly-markets to know more and plan your trip.

Smelling the fresh seaside air, listening to live music in the background, smiling at children licking their ice creams while frolicking around water fountains, around this vibrant market was just so relaxing. I carried no bag, no intentions to buy.

But what is a place if you do not interact with its people? So…I introduced myself to the man behind the crafted books. “My name’s Bob, I’m a retired engineer” he said in thick Australian accent extending a friendly handshake. “Look, I have something special for you, Indian lady” he said as we exchanged more notes. ” Here is a lovely Indian dictionary for you, can you read it to me?” …..And as we re read…he turned pages to the discrete carved out hollow within! ” This is where you can hide your cash and put the book on the library shelf! ” he smiled and insisted he gifts me the book safe.

 

The lady at next stall was selling sweet-scented hand-made soaps and candles. “Making these is therapy for me, on weekdays I work as a Prison Manager” she said. “‘ The job is tough and compelling.” She has been a regular seller here for past two years and enjoys the market’s ambience and summer sea breeze. She is getting queries from customers for more product range and is planning to set up an online business. “Happy Easter” we wished each other.

I soon mingled into the ”other” seaside crowd. The soft sands, thundering waves and frothy foam seemed so magical. At one end were professional surfers and paddlers, at the other children and non swimmers gleefully wet their feet with froth and cool waters.

Manly – a slice of life for each holiday maker. Shopping street and cafes, the market and the seaside. What’s your interest?Come, live it up!

For another Sydney market, at the scenic Sydney harbour see here

Have you been to a beachfront market place? What curios caught your eye there? Do leave your comments below.

Post Cards from Pune: Historic Tulsi Baug Market

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History, tradition, crowds! That sums up this market in Pune, India. From being a barter trade market, to a temple area adjoined with shops, to becoming a bustling economic zone and a tourist spot …Tulsi Baug market has evolved generously over the years.

Apart from the crowded streets lined with everything households need, the area evokes old charm and rings bells of the Peshwai buildings and wadas. Carved with timber ceilings and lattice railings, low arches and high airy balconies they dot the surrounding areas that were once home to the ministers and officials. Peshwas ruled and designed Pune territories under the rule of majestic warrior Sivaji Maharaj.

Bajirao road, Laxmi road and Shanipur road are the trio of entry points to this centrally located market area. Today each road caters to specific sale of items – vegetables and fruits, kitchen needs, puja items and traditional clothes.

At the heart of the area stands the Ram-Sita temple, built around 1756 by the then ruling Peshwa. Its 150 m golden conical shikhar or spire can be prominently seen from the adjacent streets. History and architecture students stand in awe to admire the simple grandeur of wooden pillar work and lime stucco work  ( the temple is now under renovation and re structure).The surrounding temple area or wada, tucked interior and away from the bustling street market exudes a calm, soothing atmosphere. Once abundant with Tulsi (Basil) plants in the gardens, it is now home to shops selling traditional items. Two smaller temples and a Nagarkhana (music store room) are part of the temple complex. Brass lamps, artefacts, antique door bells and knobs, traditional kitchen utensils and brass, iron woks and spoons as well as fancy toran or door decorations made of plastic flowers or wool fill every inch of the tiny shops around the temple complex.

Old meets new, nostalgia meets novelty, Art meets History!

Out through the low wooden darwaza, onto the buzzing streets outside one is greeted with congestion, traffic and chaos (especially during the festive days!) The delightful, historic place suddenly becomes a nightmare! Beware of pickpockets and curt behaviour of people!

Bajirao road street market caters to clothing – cheap woollen shawls and socks ( yes, Pune did get cold to 12- 15 degrees.), eco-friendly cloth bags or pishwi in different sizes, traditional parkar- polka or girl’s long skirt/blouse, dhoti, jhabba, topi or traditional men’s attire worn by local rural population from Satara, Sangli regions.

Many shops in adjoining streets cater to puja lamps, cotton wicks, decorated seating stools, wedding clothes, fancy gift bags or potli and festival jewellery.

Sankranti, is a harvest festival celebrated in January, heralding the Sun’s northern movement. Traditionally it is celebrated with exchange of til -gul   

and married women dress in quintessential black saree and young girls in black and gold parkar polka, adorning themselves with unique tilache dagine (sesame and sugar jewellery). Young girls and boys under 5 years of age are showered with til halwa and sugar beads. Making of this festive jewellery is a dying art ( tiny poppy or sesame seed is covered in white or green coloured sugar coating).

Tulsi Baug market is THE place for such traditional items.

In a quick turn around to the crossing I spotted the famous Chitale Bandhu store, famous for its Baaker Wadi, Pedha and Srikhand. For the Puneri non-resident Indians living in far away USA and Australia – THIS is the store! They must stop by for the delicacies or pack and carry home.

Long live Pune traditions and culture, the seat of Marathas and Peshwas is held up high with every new young generation that aims to hold on to its past, in this era of modernism.

Tulsi Baug holds a special place in the heart of every Puneri, and we hope the municipal corporation sets adequate funds for treasure and unique history.

 

 

 

 

 

Year End 2018: My Blogging Journey So Far…

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2018, another year comes to an end. How has my blogging journey been so far, I often ponder?

”Have you thought of blogging?” someone asked me a few years ago. I didn’t even know what a blog was, let alone create one. I baulked, shyly but firmly decide a blog will be born!

That brought a flood of questions to mind. Why write? Write what? Should I share my personal stories with an unknown audience? How do I create a blog? How to upload photos? What are the basic techno skills required? Writing demands a certain discipline and a focus. Am I ready to sit on the magic carpet and take my audience around the world?

“The magic of traveling is a change of perspective. The journey is more important than the destination.”

~ Maria Lehtman

Finding a focus

The first daunting question before creating a blog and naming it was to find a theme or particular aspect of that interested or changed me! The numerous Kodak prints and Iphone photos covered in dust (in online folders) awaited proper organization. Phew!

Travel had taught us many a history, geography and cultural lesson. Should I write about people? Their language and peculiar accents? Should I write about cultures or some hilarious or scary incidents we encountered? While travelling, we often visited local markets to buy fresh produce, breads or local food. It proved a cheaper, healthier, novel experience each time, instead of a meal at a restaurant.

I had found a theme. Writing about markets seemed apt.

Often walking along the cobbled paths in European towns, or dragging my shopping trolley in Singapore was the easy way to reach the local market. So ‘walktomarket’ seemed an apt title. I choose wordpress for its simplicity and support in technology.

Singapore’s 5C’s: What it means at the Wet Market

Hyderabad Two Cups of Chai at Monda Market

             Courtesy: Internet – Quotes on web writing.

Genre and Writing Style.

As the stories were my personal experiences, I adopted the narrative style, using first person while telling anecdotes. After studying the different writing styles, planning my layout (initially on paper, later more efficiently on the blog site itself) I slowly began posting online. But I soon discovered that to describe events or places in details, I have to use sensory language, make the place come alive actually. Was I able to deliver that to the audience? (Thank you readers for leaving generous comments sometimes). It required lots of writing and editing practice…and continuing determination.

Narrative writing is a way of story telling, personal, and yet conveying a moral or message. The reader must be able to learn, feel or gather a particular impression to remain interested. (Courtesy: Internet essays on writing.)

Throughout our life we learn from our experiences, and travel had given me a new perspective. THAT was the message I wished to convey. Thus my writing had to show that thought. I often had casual personal interviews with the cheese, bread or fruit or vendors while shopping. Including these was a wonderful way of projecting the human stories to a wider  audience. Other creative ideas like captioning photos, writing postcard stories and leaving questions for the reader helped support reader interest. And that’s important.

A Photo Essay – Al Mina Market, Abu Dhabi

The story and planning 

No work can be achieved without a proper plan or outline. Planning helps channeling of thoughts. In writing, after making a first outline draft, details are to be added.Then editing and proofing are next steps. Every narrative has a beginning, middle and end. Thus my narratives too required some structure. If I introduce a certain event or person, then at the end I must close this topic so. Learning to write, think and plan takes up energy, time and brain power, that at times left me happily exhausted.

“How should I introduce the place? Should I begin with an interview? Or describe the traditional attire? Whom should I highlight as main character? Should I focus on the historical aspect or pin point the road map for the next traveler?” So many questions to ponder and write about, to entertain the reader and keep him engaged in my story!

Mauritius – In search of an idol of Lord Ganesh

https://answershark.com/writing/essay-writing/how-to-write-narrative-essay.html

http://canuwrite.com/essay_parts.php

Read more to write better? What is a writer’s block?

Some days words would flow like a running tap, other times not a seed of thought crossed my brain. ”How can I be committed to blogging and my audience?” I grew worried.  Days would pass without writing even two paragraphs! That’s when I read about a writer’s block.( Dictionary meaning: the condition of being unable to think of what to write or how to proceed with writing.) Doing regular exercise, going for a walk helped me not only to revitalize, but also to literally think on my feet! At times, I rushed home to put thoughts on paper (laptop) lest they evade me later in the busy humdrum of life.

“It usually helps me write by reading — somehow the reading gear in your head turns the writing gear.” -Steven Wright

To write better one needs to read more. To improve vocabulary, to get creative, to improve grammar…read! So to improve my writing I began reading travel blogs, books, novels, biographies -anything to keep my mind in learning state.

ME Time. Hobby Time.

“It is important to have a hobby. It not only keeps your creative juices flowing it increases healthy mental activity. It even reduces stress, depression and loneliness. The secretion of good hormone endorphin acts as tranquilizer and is calming when one is happily engaged in a hobby.” (Courtesy: Internet)

http://docdreyfus.com/psychologically-speaking/the-importance-of-hobbies/

“Go away boredom and loneliness” I often found myself saying as blogging became my new hobby. As a beginner, I had to discipline myself to concentrate and write daily. “Yipee! another blog written and posted” I would cheer myself. “Has anyone left a comment yet?” Writing became therapeutic and I grew more responsible to my viewers.

Blogging provided me with ample brain food – writing, editing, saving my work, uploading and sizing photos, creating new sections and pages, adding widgets, changing the Header photo, responding to comments, visiting other blogs etc.

A new Category : World Palate Recipes was added to compliment my travel stories. Many a times our home kitchen was a culinary experimenting lab that reminded us of our different cuisines we had sampled across the world.

Finally, it’s been an interesting, enlightening and happy blogging journey this far. My aim of using the many photos and documenting some wonderful travel experiences  has proved immensely refreshing and satisfying. I hope you have enjoyed reading my blogs.

For Year 2017 see here

                 Happiness, Health and Friendships

                     to all in the New Year 2019. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer in Canada:Maple Syrup,Summer Fruit and Outdoor Kiosks

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It’s summer time in the Northern hemisphere. On our recent visit to far away Canada we filled our stomach with lush summer fruit: golden peaches with hints of red blush, tangy sweet strawberries and juice dripping plums. Slurp! slurp. Snow covered streets was a thing of the past season.

London, Ontario

An easy walk down Talbot street, at corner of King street, London Ontario, was the iconic Covent market. Established in 1845,the brown stone building is a popular landmark. It’s large clock dial at the entrance, high ceiling and noveau glass panes make the architecture of this two storey building. The ground floor is home to local vendors, some who are here for more than 20 years, everyday! From gourmet cheese from south Ontario, fresh seasonal groceries, award-winning meat cuts to locally prepared breads and pastries, the market hall caters to all. Come summer, there’s even a special weekend outdoor market in addition to indoor stalls. ‘Want a special Maple syrup, Canadás very own?’ inquired a vendor, noticing my touristy attire and inquisitiveness. The early Aboriginal settlers taught the arriving Europeans (Canadians) to harvest maple sap from the trees, boil it in clay pots and use syrup to lace sweet treats.

‘Coffee and raisin bread?’ asked my friend. we quickly opted for the outdoor wooden benches at the street level, rather than the quietude of the first floor indoor coffee shop. ‘Just like other Canadians…soak up the sun, while it lasts, listen to the summer time live music bands playing in the background’ I chirped with a smile.

Courtesy: Coventmarket.com/outdoors

Montreal: Marche BonSecours

The old city cobbled walk was picturesque and informative, magnificent stone buildings dotting both sides of the street. On Rue St. Paul Est (yes, official language is French, in this Provence) the Marche BonSecours stood majestically. We stood in awe at this architectural grandeur!

The building almost occupied the entire street, perfectly symmetrical on each side of its imaginative central line.The six Roman columns make an imposing front central facade above which a triangular plaque bears the name of the market. We soon learned about the Palladian style architecture (perfect building symmetry, perspective in all round view and values) brought here by British architect William Footner. He copied from Roman and Greek styles so true to the time period. The central dome and rotunda was so high…almost touching the clear blue sky!

A very popular market in the 1800’s, it served local and regional population with produce coming from far away. After being shut down as a market in 1964, it served as Government office. In recent times, the large central hall and majestic first floor rooms and corridor are often rented out for community projects, marriage functions and exhibitions. It’s no longer functions as a produce market.

To cater to the summer tourists and locals (schools close for summer holidays) nearby streets stretched out with a variety of stalls. Souvenirs, exotic sugarcane juice, rows of Maple syrup, locally painted canvas Art, handcrafted jewellery, candy floss and ice cream treats, straw bags, handcrafted dolls…the street market was brimming had a very vibrant mood!

Ottawa

Very near the Parliament buildings and historical buildings in Ottawa is popular, bustling ByWard marketplace. With over 400 unique shops that fill this area, there is something for everyone! There is NEVER a dull moment here, come winter or summer. If not to shop, at least we can capture a memento photo at the iconic signpost, I thought.

The red stone buildings here have much history. In the yesteryear they were private residences of many officials and merchants. Today they have become business houses: shops, cafes, restaurants, bakeries and garden equipment markets. By the day the place attracts many a home maker, casual tourist, office goer looking for quick bite.

But as the sun sets …the sidewalk cafe, restaurants and beer shops attract another set of consumers! At times though…. sadly the street is strewn by glass bottles thrown by drunk people, it’s a place for small time robbery and fights too.

 

‘Don’t forget the maple syrup bottles,there is a special kiosk here’ called out a vendor. I noticed the ‘fleur’ blue and white flag, indicating the flag of the region.

My friend pointed out to some fresh strawberries and Rhubarb. Those reddish-purple stalks were unique, I thought. We picked up a bunch to make rhubarb compote. Then move on to sweet treat and cross cultural friendship hugs. The Óbama cookies reminded us of cross border friendship:) For the sugar treat  the big French Bakery was a perfect place.

It was time to head home, taking back memories and photographs of the city markets. It was time to ponder about  culture, food and seasons in lands far beyond. It was time to value what we have in hand and what we get…beyond.

Au revoir…till we meet again.

Winter Vegetables at the Street Market

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Yet another street market? What’s different, you may ask. With a discerning eye and a storyteller’s mind let me weave the picture.

Off the main road in Karkhana, Hyderabad I spotted this weekly street market, just by chance. It was Wednesday evening. Gradually the vendors had begun spreading their jute bags to carpet their predetermined area. In the backdrop brightly painted two-storied buildings in blue, deep yellow, bright green and pink brought added colour to the place. Winding steps cluttered with potted plants, open terraces with hanging cloth blankets or bontalu detailed the residential character of the street.

A push cart laden with colourful glass bangles vied for attention. Glistening in the evening sun red, blue, deep green, gold, yellow, grey and pink bangles were tied in clusters. Even the young peddler, with  mobile in hand, sported an equally colourful shirt!

Ahead, Nagamani Amma a bit amused watched me patiently. Would I be interested in buying brinjal, beans or okra instead? Bending to pick up some winter beans I noticed her wrists sporting a dozen green bangles. She was a picture perfect! Red saree, a nose ring, large bindi on her forehead and bangles on her wrists. Traditional simplicity!

Winter brings in its bounty of seasonal vegetables – Indian broad beans (chikudkaya), cabbage, cauliflower, radish. Fresh green bunches coriander, mint and spinach – everyone’s delight! I couldn’t wait to go home and add fresh chopped coriander to my dal.

Ahh….what aroma.

No market scene is complete without carts, vendors, carry boys, busy women with cloth bags or baskets (plastic is forbidden), pop corn or fruit stalls and loaders scuffling between the crowds.

If a street has a spirit, no matter how narrow it is, we can breathe comfortably over there.”
― Mehmet Murat

In that narrow, crowded street, life went on as usual. Children rushing out of their homes to play, women squatting on their doorsteps after a long day, chatting merrily with neighbours, yet others collecting clothes from the terrace ahead of dusk. Was the market like an ongoing weekly movie? Was it a nuisance as crowds gathered and leftover garbage littered the area? Or was it easy shopping at the doorstep?

Weekly markets or grower’s market are a common sight in many countries. Each has a distinct style and produce sale. What is your experience and where?

All content and images copyright belong to Veena S. (2013 -2017) http://www.walktomarket.wordpress.com. Please see copyright disclaimer.

 

 

 

A Flower Colour Burst at Monda Market

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”Flowers always make people happier, cheerful and add

         colour to life. They are Nature’s medicine for the soul.”

Marigold flower – Orange blooms

There’s no other market in Hyderabad that stocks truckloads of flowers for sale, except Monda market. (I don’t mean the Lilies, Roses and cut stem flowers). This market caters to the very Indian at heart – flowers for garlands, hair decoration and puja offerings.

Opening at 6 am everyday of the year (no holidays!) it’s the premier, overflowing marketplace adjacent to the fruit and vegetable market. Every festive season flower stalls swell to meet the enormous demand. Prices soar almost double and so do the people’s voices.

We went shopping early at 7:00 am. Mounds of loose marigold flowers, rose petals, paan( betel leaf), toran(door decorations), hardy brown coconuts were all being organized onto the makeshift pedestal stalls. Shopkeepers were in a frenzy ahead of the busy Friday morning, unfolding the moist red cloth tied around baskets to keep everything fresh.

There I began taking photos as usual, or striking a quick chat in the midst of this shopping maze. THAT distraction was enough to misplace my bag full of mango leaves and other puja necessities! Phew!

Today, being a puja day during the month of Shravan, loose flowers  were selling at Rs. 80 -Rs. 100 per kilo prices, higher than usual of Rs.50 – 60. Marigold, Aster, Zinnia and rose petals are in high demand during this time used for making door decorations and elaborate wedding pandals as well as puja offering.

Here is our hero for the day- A  young and smart shopkeeper with experience from his childhood days made a has been beautiful toran for us from fresh palm leaves in a jiffy. Just snip the palm leaf with a sharp blade, a twist here – a turn there – and behold!

 

 

How about some flower garlands for your hair, Madam? said this shopkeeper and wanted me to take his photo as he held up the jasmine and rose malai. The contrast of colours of the tightly hand knotted flowers and the perfume of  jasmine…..ahhh! was a beautiful invitation whether to the Lord or to a young Romeo 🙂

Heading to the adjacent fruit market, we bought 5 types of fruit for the puja and some paan.

Till then, hoping you will visit a crowded flower market to brighten your day and mood. Share your mood with us as you smell the flowers, wherever.

All content and images copyright belong to Veena S. (2013 -2017) http://www.walktomarket.wordpress.com. Please see copyright disclaimer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scorching Summer, Date Palms, Al Ain market.

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                    Sunshine all the time,

                    Makes a desert. ( Arab Proverb).

Driving past the sand dunes from Abu Dhabi to Al Ain city, last month when temperature soared above 40 degrees, was certainly not the best time. With a visit to the date farms and Al Ain market on the list… we had to meet the harsh weather, just like the Bedouins!

The drive took less than two hours, past the sand dunes in differing hues. Near the Al Nahyan Jahili museum, is the lush green curated (UNESCO site) palm plantation. With over 1000 palms and 50 varieties grown here, it was a blessing to stand under the shade of the fronds. Braving the sun, we explored the different plantations on either side of the central passageway. The traditional falaj irrigation system provides the required amount of water released as needed.

Expressway fro, Abu Dhabi to Al Ain

What a treat and unique experience it was as we plucked fresh crunchy, semi-ripe dates! Hanging in clusters of 10-20 fruit, the sugary fruit quickly saturated us. There were plenty fallen on the soft sandy soil. Crunch, crunch, crunch……and finally a burp!

Crunchy, fresh dates – best eaten raw.

The local grocer market at nearby Mina centre, is just a drive round the corner. The low-rise building was almost hidden from view. Don’t expect an open air souk, with goats or camel standing there. For that, visit the Camel Souk.

The airy covered and ventilated market area is quite large with shops on either side and a large central corridor for easy flow of customers and goods. The vendors are locals, immigrants settled here from coastal India, Philippine, neighbouring Oman and Sudan, but no Emirati shopkeepers. A friendly Emirati, clad in his traditional long white Kandoura, helped me choose the most succulent dates and nudged me into buying 5 kilo! ‘They are good, good…season fresh now’ he said.

There were plenty of stalls selling dry fish and sea food like cuttlefish, fish ball cakes, dry sea weed, fish crackers… produce brought in from coastal Oman and Kerala in India. These are a sought after delicacy among the Emirati population, who otherwise prefer camel meat and poultry.

Delicate woven straw baskets, aluminium trays filled with season’s dry dates like Barhi, Niloufer and local Al Ain specialties were aplenty. Most vendors were Keralites who had settled here many years ago, working on farms owned by locals.

I struck a good bargain, as a fellow Indian and offered AED 13 Dirham per kilo. These dates he explained ‘were season’s fresh, not dipped in any sugar syrup and unprocessed. And no packaging too’. He offered me 3-4 different varieties of dates to taste. There… I was burping again!

It was time to refresh with some cool Labaan, a popular yoghurt drink with enough salts and dairy to refresh you on a hot day. Small air-conditioned shops nearby catered to needs of the shopkeepers and buyers. Fresh vegetables like lettuce, mint, coriander, green leafy vegetables and bananas, melons and papaya – mostly grown in nearby greenhouse farms made their way to this market. The refrigerator kiosk was filled with dairy products.

Carrying plastic bags filled with fresh dates for friends and family, it was time to bid goodbye to the city market. We left richer – with bag loads of fruit and a deeper knowledge of the summer conditions that ripen the fruit. Locals briefed us about the nutritional content and importance of providing sustenance to those tired, weary desert Bedouins. No wonder then Mother Maryam was advised to ”shake that palm towards you, and the dates will fall and feed you” as mentioned in the Holy book.

 

Have you been to a date plantation ? Share your experience. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Lover’s Paradise: Koti Book Market

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Book Lover’s Paradise: Koti Book Market

Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counsellors, and the most patient of teachers.   

Charles William Eliot

 

Have you every visited a heritage family home? Faded plastered walls, hanging chandeliers, wooden round tables and above all… smelled the lingering musty, rich smell of books and papers?

Those were the days… without the digital screens:Television, iPads, Tabs, and Kindle.

Those were the days… when reading and reading aloud was encouraged during family meal times and on cold winter nights. Reading not only stimulates the brain, but promotes conversation.

Those were the days… when birthday and anniversary presents came in the form of books – just black and white print.

My Sunday morning turned special, as I took my helper to buy books for her new college term. We took a long ride by bus to Koti, across the Musi river in Hyderabad. ‘Aunty, please’ she reminded ”Don’t start taking photos, else the shopkeepers will stare, or may raise book price’ and I smiled.

What a visual treat stretched out on the street off the bus depot! Being a Sunday less traffic means more road space. Books, books everywhere. Universal Book Centre, RajKamal Books, NeelKamal Book Centre and Famous Book shop and others have stood the test of time here. College students come flocking to Koti at the start of the start of new term. The shops dizzying, neat vertical rows of curricular books, was indeed promising.

Rows of shops selling academic and fiction books

Kothi, in Hindi and Urdu means house. During the Nizam era the area housed concubines and other women folk attending to the royal family. Kothi has some famous buildings that house long-standing educational institutes. The splendid architectural Women’s college and nearby Osmania University caters to medical, nursing and Arts courses. Nearby the Gandhi Gyan Kendra , a good place for Yoga courses is a 40 year-long establishment. Thus the business of selling academic books in Koti has been thriving for many decades, changing to the needs of the day.

Medicine, Astrology, Science, Grammar, Spoken English books as well as guides for competitive exams such as TOEFL, CAT, EAMCET are most sought after. Ruled notebooks, account ledgers, drawing books, stationary items are also sold at competitive price. Ever bought notebooks by weight? Come here, there’s no haggling. At a fixed price of Rs. 100/ per kilo for notebooks of A4 size we bought 3 kilos plus course books for Rs. 430/ at a discounted government rate for the CEC curriculum ( Civics, Economics, Commerce). Heavy! heavy I cried.

Second hand books on sale

Further on, the dirty dilapidated subway near Andhra bank is not the best place for a Sunday visual treat! Yet, deep under, on dark descending steps multitude of book sellers cater to second-hand academic books. Best buys for needy college students as they get a loan period and discounts at Rs. 150 – 300.

Such a heartwarming sight! Few college girls were deeply engrossed into comparing syllabus books at these second-hand shops. The thirst for  education, the need for term books and being pocket wise was obvious.Well done!

Second hand book market, Kothi.

Further under the canopy of trees, spread out on large plastic sheets fiction books,classics and children’s story books covered entire stretch of the pavement. Hemingway, Stephen King, Eliot,Tagore, Salman Rushie and new Indian authors like Chetan Bhagat, Jhumpa Lahiri. Ah! what a spread! Though a serious buyer or collector may frown upon the small print, brown pages, authenticity of editing and grammatical errors, the competitive price at Rs. 300-350 seemed like a bargain for just quick lazy reads. Take it or leave it, no haggling.

Arms heavy with carrying the buy of the day, it was time to head home. Popular street book markets are found in most cities. In my college days I often went to Flora Fountain, Mumbai to buy classics or second-hand books. Maybe, I should turn the clock and revisit.

Have you been to a street book market in your city? How was it different?

All content and images copyright Veena S. (2013 -2017) http://www.walktomarket.wordpress.com. Please see copyright disclaimer.

 

 

 

Food and Markets during Festive Season of Ramzan

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To all my Muslim friends, readers and followers of this blog

    Ramzan Kareem or Ramadan Mubarak 

At the end of a month-long period of fasting(Sawm), Muslims all over the world celebrate Ramzan (or Ramadhan). In Arabic, the word Ramzan means dryness or scorching heat…referring to the stomach dryness during fasting.

Decorative lamps, table ware, flower bouquets, gifts articles, glittery slippers, sandals and purses, lace and zari trimmed dresses as well as special food treats are packed into every inch of space in shopping malls, markets and restaurants to usher in the festivity. Mounds of thin, crispy noodles or seviyaan sit in circles in sweet shops, Dates filled with pistachio or almonds grace dry fruit stores in the Gulf region and Haleem, a local Hyderabadi dish prepared with pounded wheat, meat and lentils is extremely popular.

Faux zari borders, lace and gotta patti

Here are some photos sent by friends as they get busy in the malls or their homes preparing for the celebration.

Shopping mall decorated for Ramadan

 

Fasting ends after the evening Asar prayers, and the first food to be partaken is the succulent, nutrient Dates. Here is last year’s post on Dates.

At this time of the year, Date Palm fronds are filled with reddish raw fruit, that soon turns golden-yellow in the summer heat. In Hyderabad, as people throng to city mosques for evening prayers,street carts filled with Date fruit and sliced mangoes, papaya and watermelon are sold.

Ripened Berhi dates

After the fast…then feast, then shop or visit friends and relatives to exchange gifts. My Lebanese friend, an excellent cook sends me some virtual treats 🙂  Kunafeh is a rich luxurious dairy dessert popular in Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine and the neighbouring countries. Filled with ricotta cheese and decorated with crusty shredded khadaif noodles, Kunafeh is laced with plenty of sugar syrup and rose water….yumm..melting in the mouth!

Dessert -Kunafeh

Helwat (Halwa) El Jabeen

Another friend from the Gulf region sends photos of her family reunion feast. They have been busy preparing sev ke ladoos (vermicelli coated mawa or cheese balls), almond filled Dates and a plate of Kharak laced with mawa, pistachios and almonds and popular Sheer Khurma. Nutritious, healthy and filling desserts! Thanks Nisrin…I wish I could come home to wish you all and enjoy the feast.

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Enjoy the food feasts, shopping and visits to family and friends this festive season. It’s a shame I’m not courageous to visit the famous Begum Baazar market in Hyderabad, where Ramzan charity markets are set up. The surging crowds are a bit daunting now.

Till then…Ramzan Kareem.

All content and images copyright Veena S. (2013 -2017) http://www.walktomarket.wordpress.com. Please see copyright disclaimer.