06 July, 2015

Kutchi Memon Ramzan Iftar Dastarkhwan @ Bengaluru

Thanks to Anisa's kitchen, Fraser town, Bengaluru for this wonderful home-prepared Kutchi Memon dastarkhwan last evening at Fraser Town. And special thanks to our star food-walker Mansoor Ali and Nadir Aslam for guiding us through the menu.

Most of these are prepared/ served as part of Razman month & normally not available otherwise. The concept of this dastwarkhwan, organised by 'Bengaluru by Foot' is to encourage people from all faiths and social group to gather as one for their common love - food. And in the process it helps people practising faiths other than Islam, to learn about the holy month of Ramzan with its traditions.

Here is what was served last evening:
Starters - to break the fast:
 - Dry fruit Sharbat peppered with Zaffran (saffron)
 - Minced lamb meat 'Warqi somosas' (Warq means paper)
 - Mutton Brain pakoda
 - Mutton shammi kabab
 - Shikampur kabab
 - Arabian dates








Main course (all Kutchi Memon style):
 - Wheat phulkas
 - Green masala mutton chops (known in Dakkani language as 'Hare masale ki phaal')
 - Lamb trotters (Paya)
 - Chicken biryani with aloo
 - Mutton Khichda
 - Halwe ke puriyan
 - Mutanjan
 - Falooda.










Note: All content and images are copyrighted, please do not use them without permission. 

06 June, 2015

A pictorial introduction to Lal Bagh, the crown of Bengaluru's green spaces

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The main gate of  Lal Bagh, an 18th century garden in Bengaluru.
The construction of Lal Bagh garden in Bengaluru (formerly Bangalore) has been attributed to the father-son Mysore rulers Haidar Ali and Tipu Sultan during the 18th century when they ruled this part of India. The British Raj literature says that Haidar Ali's inspiration for Lal Bagh came from the Mughal-era Khan Bagh garden at Sira, Tumakuru (formerly Tumkur) District. Sira is a historically important town having been ruled by the Nayakas, Adil Shahis and the Mughals before changing hands between the Marathas and Haidar-Tipu. Beyond the death of Tipu Sultan on the battlefield on 4th May 1799 the British took over this garden and maintained it as a green space. They in fact contributed in their own way to its beautification and upkeep, till they quit India on 15 August 1947. Post-1947, these gardens have held on to their former glory with the Government of Karnataka's Department of Horticulture taking care of it.

Here are some images from a walk through this park with Historian Mansoor Ali, on 6 June 2015.

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Lal Bagh has historically been known for its wealth of vegetation. Some of the trees are over 200 years old like this tall mango tree, which bears fruits till date. 

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A board explaining the mango tree planted during the rule of Mysore king Tipu Sultan. 

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The garden has many old trees amidst it. 

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Among the historical structures in the garden is this watch tower rebuilt at the same place as the one erected by Kempe Gowda in 17th century. 

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Among the natural history objects highlighted in Lal Bagh are a gneiss (above) and the tree fossil (below).
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Lal Bagh is a treasure trove for colonial architecture lovers.

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The glass house built by the British in the 19th century.

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Inside the glass house

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The 150-year old Horticulture library

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A board explaining the Lal Bagh lake, located in the south of the garden.

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Another view of the Lal Bagh lake

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The British in India had an affinity towards the lion and it has been seen in many of their constructions.
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A mango mela or sale inside Lal Bagh.

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A more modern construction. Entrance to the Bonsai park. 

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One of the many peaceful pathways. 
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A view of the ever expanding city from the Kempe Gowda tower. 
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Lal Bagh is one of the few places in Bangaluru city for families to spend a few moments with pristine nature. 

27 May, 2015

Bonding made easy, thanks to online travel portals and apps

The hills are a favourite place for newly-weds to get away from the crowds
The days immediately following your marriage are the most important ones to know and understand your soul-mate. This is a period that helps you cement your relationship for the rest of your lives. Traditionally, the ideal way of doing so has been to get away from the daily routine and spend time with your better half. Newly-weds usually pick and choose from the array of honeymoon destinations and themes based on their common interests. While some choose the hills for their pleasant weather or the backwaters for their idyllic settings, others choose the sea to let loose the adventurer in them. When one thinks of the hills, the snow-capped Himalayas and the lush Western Ghats strike an immediate chord. Speaking of the sea, the vast vistas of Andaman and Goa come to our minds. 

Gone are the days, when people had to undergo the travails of booking their holidays through a maze of paper work, walking up and down the reservation desks or chasing unknown people. In this age of internet and smartphones, people prefer to do things on their fingertips, in the comfort of their home or office. Reputed online portals and apps facilitate one to choose the best honeymoon package, either in India or in exotic foreign lands. You can browse through the different honeymoon packages and get some exciting and romantic deals at prices that can make your honeymoon experience a truly ‘memorable’ one.
Online portals and apps make it very easy to choose your dream holiday.
Travel portals and their apps also provide newly-weds with ideas and tips to plan their honeymoon in the best way possible. Such suggestions can help couples have a safe honeymoon tour. A young colleague of mine chose musafir.com, a popular travel portal to book her honeymoon package recently. The ease with which she could book the package and all the package’s promises being delivered, put a smile on her face when she got back to work. For those of you who are planning to start your life in a truly fairy tale style or want to suggest a dear one do so, check out the exciting honeymoon packages offered by this travel portal. From shimmering islands to mesmerising mountains, picturesque hill stations to wildlife safaris, this amazing online portal will satiate the appetite for every kind of honeymooner!

12 May, 2015

Criss-crossing Quebec's Appalachians

Summary
Pristine lakes in dense, forested hills, occasional rolling farms along roads less traversed, clear skies and limitless supply of spotless clean air, what else does a nature lover need? Somewhere in the Appalachian mountain ranges, Route 232 passes near the 731 sq km Rimouski wildlife preserve, and joins the scenic Route 132, just after Mont Joli village. Driving down east and exiting south, one leaves Quebec province to reach what New Brunswick province proudly showcases as Appalachian range scenic route. 

The drive from Rivière-du-Loup to Interprovincial bridge criss-crossing the Appalachians
https://goo.gl/MdKZur
Day 3
At about 4:30 AM just as the sun was dawning, the early morning chill woke me up. Eager not to miss the sun rise and the opportunities to photograph it, I took off on Edmunston Road. At Cabano, I took a deviation north onto Route 232 as planned. Fortunately it was a deviation well taken as this was a picturesque drive. I stop along on numerous occasions to take pictures of the serene lakes, forests and of course the roads, particularly with the backdrop of Lac-des-Aigles lake to the south.

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Looking south on Route 232 with the backdrop of Lac-des-Aigles lake. 
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Looking south on Route 232 with the backdrop of Lac-des-Aigles lake. 
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One of the many little lakes that dot the route 
The scenic beauty increased as the road wound higher into the Appalachian highlands. I never thought Quebec would be so beautiful. Along the way I stopped at a small hamlet/ agricultural farm to collect some water to drink. A boy who looked barely in his late teens eagerly gave me some water. The boy could hardly speak any English and the only thing he spoke was French. Eager to thank him, I asked him his name to which he said Enrique. I told him I was from India and he asked me a question in reply ‘India’? Was this community so remote that this boy had not been taught about India in his school? I was surprised.

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Driving ahead I stopped just outside the hamlet and had a breakfast at a scenic outlook besides the road. The forest clothed Appalachians rose above the beautiful and well maintained agricultural fields. The air had a hardly any dust. I could hear sound of streams in the forests nearby. The birds though not many, still made their presence felt through their melodious calls. I enjoyed every moment of this.

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I continued along, stopping as I wished with none to question what I was doing. I tried to do justice to the beauty of the landscape through my lens. The idyllic villages along Route 232, the rolling farm lands mixed with dense forests, cattle lazily mowing the grass which was in plenty, made the landscape unforgettable. I could n’t but resist taking pictures of a beautiful church at St. Gabriel (Saint-Gabriel-de-Rimouski), a small hamlet.

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A beautiful church at St. Gabriel (Saint-Gabriel-de-Rimouski)
A few km down the road, I stopped at a place to ask which way I needed to drive to reach Mount Joli which was my next destination. A lady who could hardly speak any English pointed the direction. This was near Quebec’s provincial park of Rimouski. I asked the lady if there were any interesting places in the park to take pictures to which she replied something in French that I could not understand. I left for Mount Joli and on the way I took more pictures of the beautiful farmlands rolling down into lush green forests along with some beautiful flowers that dotted the landscape.

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After reaching Route 132 at Sainte-Angele-de-Merici, I took a deviation east without touching Mount Joli. I travelled along the beautiful countryside and lakes of Quebec province stopping at traffic lights of the communities along. 

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A freshwater besides Route 132 in Quebec


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I travelled through the small towns of Amqui and Causapscal where the road wound through dense forests amidst the Appalachians. These were beautiful stretches of the road meandering their way through the Appalachians with tall forests, dense forests clothing the mountains. This scene to me was a mix of Himalayan temperate vegetation in an area having the altitude of Western Ghat foothills, inter spread with the amazing roads of north America. Travelling down the Appalachians I reached the Inter provincial Bridge that connects Quebec with New Brunswick, just a few kilometres away from the Atlantic Ocean.

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View of Route 132 from the car

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A river besides the picturesque Route 132 in Quebec 
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An Indian immigrant's eight-day, 5300+ km solo driving adventure from Toronto to Canada's Atlantic coast and back, in Aug. 2005 - Post 2 (of 10)

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