Madras Day

Madras (Chennai) means different things to different people. For some it is the charming old lady with a string of jasmine in her hair reading Mylapore Times; for others it is a young buxom woman dressed in choicest of colours and glittering in gold, drawing kolam at her doorstep, and for some, like me, it …

Discovering Lakshmi’s favourite sweet – in the land of Jagannath

Legend has it that once, upset with Krishna for not taking her along for the rath-yatra, Laxmi decides not to let him into the Jagannath temple. Upon his return, when Krishna discovers the doors to his home shut, he pleads with Laxmi to let him enter. Having had enough of the Lord’s hide and seek, …

Salli Boti, Berry Pulav, and K Rustomji

When it comes to Parsi food, old Bombay is a gold mine. There are numerous establishments – some well known, others not so famous – that offer the various culinary delights of the community to all and sundry. To be in South Bombay, and not sample Parsi food therefore is nothing short of sacrilege. Having …

Wagah – The Incomplete Pilgrimage

It is a scene straight out of a Hindi film. The day is bright and beautiful, the long straight road is flanked by lush green fields on both sides complete with tube wells and narrow irrigating canals; there is no trace of traffic or mankind only the odd car passing by. A few narrow lanes …

Of Memories & MTR

About fifty elderly men sip coffee from white china cups in and around the ground floor Coffee-Room. Some lean against the walls, some support themselves on narrow cement benches, and some, for want of space, have moved on to the pavement. The pavement outside is equally busy. There is a newspaper seller arranging English and …

Saigon Diaries

My trip to Ho-Chi-Minh was planned at a whim. I was close by in Singapore with a few days to spare and Ho-chi-Minh happened to be not only the cheapest and closest, but also the most interesting place that I could get to in the short time. And so one fine morning, I found myself …

Biriyani Blue in Lucknow

"Humari baat maniye Tundey ki nahi, agli gali mein Shakeel ki Biryani khaiyega, pasand na aaye to paise hum denge." Our rickshaw puller, who has apparently been eavesdropping on our non-stop chatter about food, tells us in his Lucknavi style as we get off his vehicle in the middle of a busy lane in the …

The Joy of Jalebi

It is 11.30 a.m. and we are as famished as we are tired. We have been out since 4 a.m., driven over 250 kms, visited the tomb of Itmad-Ud-Daula and the Taj Mahal, and are on our way to the erstwhile capital of Akbar, where we also plan to catch up on breakfast. But there …