The other Victoria Memorial


Victoria memorial in India is pretty much synonymous with Kolkata. But Allahabad has its own version too. Built with Italian limestone, this monument was opened in 1906. It resides in Chandrasekhar Azad Park (named in honour of the freedom fighter), originally called Alfred Park (to commemorate Prince Alfred’s visit to the city), and commonly known as Company Bagh (possibly a reference to the East India Company). Hey, don’t ask me why so many names!

Here are a couple of shots taken on an early morning in September.

Victoria Memorial, Allahabad
Straight on

There used to be statue of the Queen, to whom this was dedicated. Since its removal, the open skies have filled in.

Victoria Memorial, Allahabad
Up close, in perspective

This is post #20 in this year’s NaBloPoMo, or as Ra calls it Nano Poblano

NaBloPoMo = National Blog Posting Month = Thirty straight days of blogging

Sweet and sour


Quick, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind when I say the word: Jalebi

If you’ve grown up in India, sometime in the 90’s, then let me describe this for you.

A sulking boy, his head sunk low, marches into a railway station. He throws his bag on to the bench and perches himself, continuing to frown. He tells an ‘uncle’ that he has decided to run away from home because everyone scolds him. But then, when he finds out that there are hot jalebis being made at home, his eyes light up, and he decides to abandon his plans of running away (just for another 20 years, that is!)

Come on, you know what I’m talking about. Let’s say that together now,
Jalebi!

Here’s the iconic ad (in Hindi) for a not-so-healthy cooking oil, to refresh some old memories.

Jalebis are sweet orange bundles of pure sin—zero nutrition, and complete addiction. So I can understand why it is simple for people to fall in love with them. What I don’t understand though, is why they are almost universally prepared by the neighbourhood halwais (confectioners) only during the evenings. As I would find out, years later, this wasn’t as universal a truth, as I thought it to be.

* * *

We reached Allahabad in the morning, and my stomach was grumbling a little. “You want to get some breakfast? Let me treat you to the local speciality here.” It was our second trip to my in-laws’ house, about a month after our wedding—a new family, a new town, a completely new culture. I was expecting a very special something that would blow my mind. And blow my mind, it did!

“You know how jalebis are made only in the evenings in Delhi? Well, in these parts of the world, you won’t find jalebis in the evening. They’re made exclusively in the mornings. And they’re had for breakfast, with dahi (curd/yogurt).”

Say what?

In my world, curd was meant to be had as is, as a cool refreshing dish; as a dip with savoury paranthas; as a main course with rice (thayir sadam, yum!); or as a dessert in mishti doi or lassi. But sour curd with jalebi? It just didn’t sound right. The mental picture of the two together, ruined both dishes for me. Sitting at a table at a local halwai, though, I saw several customers enjoying their jalebi dipped in curd.

Eventually, I tried it too. The point is, apparently, to lessen the sweetness of jalebis with dahi. So that you increase your capacity to eat more jalebis (yay, for cholesterol and sugar!) I get the logic. But the taste, I suppose, is an acquired one. Even after several attempts, I always end up relishing them separately.

Dahi Jalebi

I had often wondered how people could eat jalebis with rabri (sweet condensed milk). Oh, how the mere thought of that much sweet hurt! But try as I might, dahi with jalebi will be more of a mystery to me.

So which foods do you find difficult to understand?


Photo taken with Moto G3. Click/tap to enter my Flickr Photostream.


This is post #8 in this year’s NaBloPoMo, or as Ra calls it Nano Poblano

NaBloPoMo = National Blog Posting Month = Thirty straight days of blogging

Sunset at Sangam


We’re in November! The year is fast ending. Now where did this year go? For those who know me, it’s been one heck of a roller coaster the past couple of years. And given all that’s going on right now, it would be madness to even think about participating in, what the blogosphere calls, the Nanos. So I’m not thinking about it. I’m jumping right in. If I can manage it, hurrah! And if I can’t, well, that’s okay too.

How about you? Are you going to blog every single day in the month of November? Are you planning to write a novel? Are you crazy enough to do both?! Let me know 🙂


I had previous written about our experience on the boat ride towards Sangam and the jolly boatman who thought we were out to steal his job! This is a picture of the boat on which we sailed. We reached Sangam—the confluence of the holy rivers Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati—at Sunset, and it was breathtakingly beautiful!

Sunset at Sangam
Sunset at Sangam, Prayag (modern Allahabad)

Picture taken with Moto G3, edited with Befunky. Click/tap to view my Flickr Photostream

It appears that I have several photos with curves in them ;). That makes this boat my third post for the weekly photo challenge! Check out my previous responses Lamps in the sun and On the road: Gangtok to Darjeeling


This is post #1 in this year’s NaBloPoMo, or as Ra calls it Nano Poblano

NaBloPoMo = National Blog Posting Month = Thirty straight days of blogging

The nauka


“Do you want to make a boat?” There was a hint of concern in the man’s voice – he seemed to have mistaken our behaviour as a threat to his livelihood.

Up until then, the nawik was quite cheerful. He encouraged us to feed the birds. Another man on another boat sailed by, selling goodies to be fed to the birds. “Don’t worry about polluting the river – the birds will swoop down before it soils the water”, he said, gently steering the boat across the remarkably clean Ganges. The Magh Mela had ended only a fortnight ago, and the temporary docks were still up – being taken down one nail, one plank at a time.

Seeing our keenness to photograph everything around us, and the special attention his boat was getting, he was at first amused, and then a little worried.

We couldn’t help laugh a little and reassured him that we were just fascinated and enjoyed getting up close to the many textures in front of us. We had no intention of making a boat.

Somewhat reassured, he returned to his usual cheery self and continued to row gently. “The other nawiks were interested in showing their muscle and speed at rowing. What’s the point? Why rush? I enjoy myself. Don’t you? You’ve clearly come from far just to see the Sangam*. You would want to spend more time, won’t you?”

We nodded our approval of his thoughts. He offered if we’d like to try our hand at rowing. Of course! He taught us to row and the technique for steering. We both took one oar each and rowed for a while. “I’ll take a picture of you two! You would want to keep this memory.”

We taught him how to use the phone camera and continued to row. He was a good teacher. And rowing was actually fun! After a while he took back the oars. It was, of course, his job!

We soaked in the glow of the golden sun as it began diving into the river and once docked at the ghat, we paid our nauka a tip for the memorable trip.

Here’s one of the many close-up pictures of our nawik’s prized possession – his nauka

Captain hook? One of the metal loops along the edge of the boat.

To see what details other bloggers around the world are clicking, zoom in to this week’s Photo Challenge


Glossary

Nauka: boat
Nawik: boatman
*Sangam: the confluence of three rivers at Allahabad: the Ganges, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati

Looking up


lookin_up
Looking straight up at one of the towers of the cable-stayed Naini bridge in Allahabad

We look up –
When we yearn for rain,
Or rays of sunshine
And for a silver lining.

We look up –
When we dream,
Or think of the struggle ahead,
And when we succeed.

We look up –
Whether for strength,
Or for hope,
And in glory.


To see what other people around the world are looking up to this week, head up to the Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge.

Learning Curve


learning_curve
The corridors of the mathematics department at University of Allahabad 

For more curvy photographs, be sure to visit the Weekly Photo Challenge.