“Amby” in city of joy

Calcutta (Kolkata) – mega city of Eastern India. In this vibrant city with a distinct socio-political culture, cabs are grand old Ambassadors from Hindustan Motors and most of cars are manufactured from the nearby plant of Uttarpara. This picture was taken next to major long distance Sealdah Railway Station which shows that city of joy still struggles with traffic congestion. Unlike of other major cities where Tata indica or fiat or Maruti are common hired forms of mechanised transport this city has almost all taxis as amby painted in yellow.

Yellow Cab of Calcutta

Before Maruti it was the only car on Indian road. This reminds me of my childhood times when me and my brother used to identify a Mark-II, Mark-III or Mark-IV by its sound (all these models looked very similar). It was a stupid game in era of Nintendo –Wii. The game was a simple one - we used to hide behind a wall as we saw an Ambassador approaching, try to identify the same by sound and confirm as soon as it passed by from behind.

While writing this post I just found the web page of this car and found 10 reasons to buy this car ……

  1. First Indian car – [born in 1950 (inception in 1948. Originally based on Morris Oxford ,United Kingdom ]
  2. Power Steering – [Trying to match up the new market with Maruti, TATA, Honda and Toyota.]
  3. Multi Fuel Injection – [Well, all new car has that - what a big deal?]
  4. Company fitted CNG – [Well, you can convert almost every petrol car in India to keep your running cost as low as 1 Rupees for 1 KM.]
  5. Tough
  6. Tough - [tested on Indian roads for long time but why they have to list the toughness twice?]
  7. Roominess - [Yes, more then 10 people can travel in a single car at a given time!!]
  8. 5 Speed Gear box - [Another lame reason, all car now a days has the same. ]
  9. Easy repairable – [They claim across the country all mechanic knows the car inside out.]
  10. Serves the country – [Used by Indian Army and de-facto car of Indian bureaucrats and politicians. ]

If I have enough money one day I will like to have a chauffeur driven amby for myself just to hang out in nostalgia or in the roomy car or to be different from every one else ;) .My eleventh reason or may be only reason for having this car.

Rainy Sunday

rainy-market

This picture was taken from my phone camera when I went to do our weekly vegetable shopping in APMC [Agro Product Market] close to Vashi. Prices for every vegetables went up. Due to lack of infrastructure it was a shame to see so much wastage due to heavy rain. From the posture of the seller it was quite clear he was not looking for lot of customers as he stretches his back. There are protest against big retail chains as they started selling Agro products in India. Although, with the entry of big retail players it will take away lively hood of lots of small businessmen and prices will shoot up but may be with time they will help us in saving the products from calamity like this with better infrastructure.

Hue of the sky

Siliguri is gateway to the North East of India. It is commercial city of North Bengal where tea, timber and transport are the main business. It is a base point to head towards Darjeeling, Sikkim, kalimpong, mirik etc. Besides, it is also the transit point for air, road and rail traffic to the neighboring countries of Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh.

snow clad mountain seen from Siliguri railway staion

Situated at foot of Eastern Himalayas it has very pleasant temperature but weather is very unpredictable as it gets shower any time. Summer is not like other parts of India which burns in hot lava. It hardly exceeds 32 C in day time and after every 3-4 days there is a light rain sometimes short sharp downpour. Winters are really biting cold with mercury level hardly rising to 15 C at day time. During winter, on clear day it gives excellent view of Himalayan peaks with an opportunity to see as backdrop of snow-clad mountains.

In the month of May, we went there for 10 days which was a great escape from Mumbai’s heat and frequent power failure. These pictures are from the terrace of my in-law’s house.

Day time at Siliguri

Clouds

Sunset at Siliguri

Udupi Thali

This thali is named after a small town of South western coast of India Udupi near to Mangalore. It is famous for Krishna temple where from udupi (also called udipi) cuisine got originated. It is basically delicious vegetarian cuisine with no onion, garlic as commonly found in rich north Indian cuisine. Udupi cuisine comprises dishes made from grains, beans, vegetables. The variety and range of dishes are wide and a hallmark of this cuisine is the use of locally available ingredients.

Udipi thali is very common in Mumbai where food is mostly served in Steel plate; but at certain resto you have choice of Plantain leave. Eating with bare hand is more fun although spoons are available. Normally, meals you get are with unlimited serving except the Sweet Dish (Only one portion of Sweet Dish is included like kheer or kalajamun). Service is very fast and before you blink your eyes you have the meal in front of you even at peak hours; hardly sometimes one has to wait for 10 min. at max. The menu is not at all spicy nor rich in oil but very close to ghar kaa khana (everyday meal). That is one main reason these places are very crowded during lunch hours.

Udipi Thali

    Thali consist of small dishes of several curries-
  • Chapatti (wheat bread) or Purri,
  • Sambhar - a soupy vegetable(pumpkin or gourd) liquid with a sour edge
  • Rasam ( spicy pepper water)
  • Chutney (mostly of coconut) or Dal (lentil curry unlimited),
  • 3 Vegetables (Fixed Qty) - one Dry Vegetable, One with Gravy and one made with freshly grated coconut
  • Curd (1 bowl)
  • Pickle
  • Pappad
  • One bowl steamed rice. (If you want to eat less Rice you can take 2 Chapatti or 3 puris or vice-versa).

But in recent times non-vegetarian variation of the same cuisine is making marks not only in India but across the world. Sea food cooked in coconut and whole red-chillies are one of the common one.

Bon Appetite – bien sur, while you tear off a small morsel of Chappati, dip and devour the taste of authenticity.